To Everything There Is A Season

Where do I begin? There's so much stuff in my head I'm pretty much going to explode and leave little gray bits of matter all over my cubicle this morning.

Free Range

First off, I'm now a Free Range Chicken. As the economy slumps and oil hits a new low, living in an Oil and Gas city has it's merits but it also has it's drawbacks. With a whack of new projects being cut from Petro Canada's budget my major client right now has to let me go. They've given me by the end of the year to finish up work which is super cool of them, rather than being led out of the office last week. Of course the next couple of weeks I'm doing a massive brain dump to the internal developer wiki to make sure everyone is up to speed on where things are and how we've been doing things. It's been an awesome road here as I started a couple of years ago with them doing taxonomy and SharePoint setup but then the last couple of years it's been primarily focused on Agile (mostly Scrum with some Kanban lately) mentoring and setup. The teams are focused now with everyone writing unit tests and practicing TDD; projects being generated initially from TreeSurgeon; Subversion over TFS for a source control system; and a whack of other new stuff that I'm proud to have been a key initiator of. Looking back it's almost draconian in how things were being done (no tests, VSS; old-style code-behind web sites with [ack] SQL statements in code, etc.).

While I am a Scrum/Agile practitioner coach and mentor and all-around SharePoint guy I considered a few other ideas for a new career:

  • Internet Mime. Mimes creep me out in person. I think if one came up to me I would probably punch him in the throat "just 'cause" but an Internet Mime! That's da bomb. I could post pictures of me doing Running Man or Geek in a Box and instructions as to how to become an Internet Mime yourself. Just not sure if the business model is valid at this point.
  • Personal Facebook Assistant. How often do you visit Facebook only to be annoyed by the latest Vampire vs. Werewolves invitations? Hire me and I'll perform the following duties for you daily:
    • Log onto your Facebook account and accept any invites you have to fill up your profile with loads of spam.
    • Grow your personal social network with people you hardly know. 
    • Post messages on strangers walls promoting your own website or service.
    • Participate in random message boards and say thought-provoking stuff like "Facebook sucks" and "I'm really a guy"
  • Link Junkie. Rather than you surfing the internet to find nuggets of info I'm sure your boss would appreciate if you paid me to do it for you. I'll comb the Internet for interesting things based on keywords you send me. Heck, if you don't know of any keywords you want I'll make some up for you. Consider me your personal Google appliance and I'll give you the best of the web without the bytes to download it.

In any case, I'm out and about and hungry like a wolf. Ring me if you're interested.


TechDays kicks off this week in Calgary at the Round-up Centre. I'll be doing two sessions on WPF with the details below. Hope to see you there!

Building Differentiated UI Applications Using WPF

The Patterns & Practices Smart Client Software Factory includes a set of guidance for developing composite smart client applications in WinForms. With the release of WPF, there is a need for bringing the Composite Client scenario to the framework. This includes supporting a new Differentiated UX experience. The "Acropolis" incubation project, which has now been folded into an upcoming platform release, is the future, but what is the answer for customers adopting WPF today? Come to this session and find out about new Composite WPF (CWPF) client guidance that Patterns & Practices are developing jointly with the UIFX team. We get in the driver’s seat and take CWPF out on the road to see what she's made of. We dive into demos, check out the new APIs, and talk about the features.

The Best of Both Worlds: WPF in WinForms and Vice Versa

While Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is a compelling new framework for building rich UI applications, a wholesale adoption of WPF is not always the best solution for current application development. You may have an existing investment in Windows Forms controls that you don't want to give up or a complex application that you just want to add some new visual features to. This session shows you how to leverage existing investments in capabilities in Windows Forms while taking maximum advantage of what WPF has to offer. Learn how to embed WPF controls in Windows Forms apps, Windows Forms controls in WPF apps, and see how the designer supports you for developing these hybrids. Also, learn how to best architect your UI applications to take advantage of these capabilities.


Terrarium is kicking up a few dozen notches. I had a great discussion with Eric Zinda last week on the phone about the origins of Terrarium and challenges the team had. Remember, this stuff was created back in the 1.x days (well, prior to the public release) so web services were new, code access security was virtually unknown (even to the Terrarium team) and here these guys were flinging .NET assemblies across the wire to run on a remote system. Overall, as I've said in presentations on Terrarium, it's a kick-butt demo app like no other. Web Services; Code Access Security; DirectX Client and WinForms integration; Peer to Peer networking. If you look at any n-tier LOB application today it probably doesn't contain half the features baked into Terrarium. Really. While it's connned a "game", it's a distributed n-tier application that has some pretty impressive stats on performance (at one point, most of Microsoft was running it internally as screen savers all slamming the server with little or no effect).

In any case, work has begun on WPF clients and new WinForms 2.0 clients. Web Services are being looked at to be overhauled to become WCF services (and eventually tie into the "cloud" via .NET 4.0 relay services). The 2.1 Vista and server fix is in QA. The user wiki is growing with new content on a regular basis (feel free to toss your own in, it's a wiki eh). There's a Facebook group to talk about it swap ideas, stories, or bugs (if you're into that social thing) and some other happenings that I can't go public with yet but you'll see them in the new year.

Overall it's picking up steam and I hope you'll give it a looksee and feel free to poke, prod, question, and contribute!

Tree Surgeon

No, I haven't abandoned my little Tree Surgeon buddy. In fact we're motoring ahead with 3.5 and looking at a few things to help aid in development. MEF is huge and I'm grateful we have awesome dudes out there like Glen Block pushing this stuff. The P&P group has been phenomenal the past couple of years (yes guys, I forgive you for Enterprise Library and the Database Application Block). Prism kicks butt and MEF is very cool. Not only the fact that it'll be included in the next framework release, but for a project like Tree Surgeon (where I've been toying with a Plugin architecture for awhile now) it fits like a glove. It took me watching Scott Hanselman's BabySmash for the Masses screencast from PDC08 to really "get" MEF but now that I do I'm looking at hooking it into Tree Surgeon. This should open up a lot of new possiblies for adding in or modifying how Tree Surgeon generates it's solutions. If you need more capabilties or even an entire directory structure change, it'll be just a plugin away.

SharePoint Forums and Knowledge Base Web Parts

The SharePoint monkey on my back that I can't seem to shake. I haven't done a proper release for over a year on my web parts and the SharePoint 2007 compatibility still isn't there. My bad. Need to get this done so trying to wrap up a nice Christmas package for all you little SharePoint geeks out there. Hopefully SantaBil will make the deadline of December 25th he's set for himself.

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