Well, it sure looks sexy ;o)

I like a good UI, and the folks working on Mesh have done a very good job of raising the bar for web apps.  This is still in tech preview, so there are some little pre-load things going on that you see, and it’s a little slow, but it’s looking really sharp.

You can’t actually do much yet, but I can see all kinds of interesting applications being built on this platform.

There are a few buggy things…the installer pops up behind other windows for me, so the security request didn’t get seen right away (I thought it had hung).

There are some things that aren’t quite what I thought they’d be.  For instance, I added a folder on my Mesh desktop (Meshtop? …sure, sounds good) and it immediately appeared on my laptop’s desktop (I had already added my laptop as a device).  I proceeded to open the folder and paste a photo in it, then I eagerly zoomed over to my…uh…Meshtop to see my picture magically appear.

No love.

How it handled what I did next, I’m not quite clear.

So, I went in to my Meshtop folder and then clicked the link to upload a file.  At the prompt, I actually selected my desktop folder (the one with the spanky Mesh icon that I assumed was a sync folder) and picked the photo I had pasted in locally.

It uploaded the file, or it appeared to have uploaded the file, but I couldn’t view it on Mesh by double clicking (I got a popup warning by IE, which, when I allowed popups and refreshed, appeared again briefly then vanished).

Closing Mesh and loading it back up, I went into my folder and double-clicked the image.  A groovy, if not basic, media viewer presented itself and the photo loaded.

A couple of things worth mentioning:

  1. First, when a folder is in icon view, the icons don’t behave how we’ve been taught to believe they would.  When I try to drag a file to the Meshtop it seems to just highlight the page, so evidently they do not have drag-and-drop implemented yet.  Thinking through that, with devices, wireless connectivity and files, there are some really neat things you could do there.  Hey, why not drag a photo from my phone to my work computer?  Cool.  I hope they implement these things.
  2. Secondly, the media viewer is fairly primitive, and I know it’s in tech preview here, but they have a long way to catch up to even some of the blogs that are out there for viewing large photos online.  I expect this to come.  Meanwhile, they’ve developed some clever gadgets to make moving through various media easier including a thumbnail viewer at the top of the folder.  Very nice, even a little hover animation for effect.
  3. There is still a lot of flickering going on, but I imagine this is just because of the early stages of the UI.  Uh…yeah, and when I say early stages, please keep that in context.  They have already put in place a multi-computer desktop management and file sync platform, so while an infant, it plays like a big boy.  Mesh will be a beast when it grows up.
  4. I really enjoy the way that news is tied to folders and items.  This is the Facebook of your desktop, and it has really interesting uses.  If you used Facebook back before it became application-infested, you’ll remember how important the feed was as part of the user experience.  Not only do they implement this on the Meshtop, but there is also deep shell integration that denotes changes, updates and additions to folders as they occur in your mesh. 

While I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, I’ve installed the plugin and will be playing with the remote desktop bits.  I think this is an interesting spin, especially if it allows for cross-platform remoting.  MS has done a great job with remote desktop, especially in the last few versions, and I can’t see this being a step backwards.

I’m going to see what’s available for developers to poke around in and maybe even have a try at something in the SDK if it’s available; perhaps that will give me a little insight on where things are at and going with Mesh.

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Haven’t quite got the whole WordPress thing figured out yet (I’m a Blogger convert) so I’m reposting the list here so that my tags are in the tag cloud for each of the items on the list.

Below is the list of things that I am going to start crossing off:

  • PILOT: Get my pilot’s licence
  • GAME: Fly Angie and the kids to Calgary for supper and a Calgary Flames hockey game using that spanky little pilot’s licence I got
  • CLIFF: Rappel down a cliff I have no business being at the top of
  • BIKE: Cycle across Canada – coast to coast
  • TIGGER: With all the Eeyores in the world, I want to teach my kids to live like Tiggers by living like one myself
  • WALL: Visit the Great Wall of China
  • BABY: Hold babies in an orphanage in a third world country
  • FOUR: Convince Angie to have another baby (after this one)
  • COASTER: Ride a really big rollercoaster with all four of my kids
  • SCREAMING WIFE: Convince Angie to ride the same rollercoaster
  • STONE: Sit in the middle of stonehenge
  • DIVE: Cliff jump into a waterfall…again
  • SMARTS: Get a degree majoring in math, physics, or comp sci
  • ARTICLE: Write an article for MSDN magazine
  • ARTICLE: Write an article for MSDN magazine that actually gets published
  • BITS: Teach a group of high school students about computer programming
  • RINGER: Meet Rob Bell
  • BIG ROCK: Visit Uluru – which I always thought was called ‘Air Rock’ lol
  • CURE: See a cure for Juvenile Diabetes
  • STICKS: Design and build a house

Preparing for the Pitch

July 29, 2008

I have been doing a little research as to the topics that MSDN Magazine is looking for and how that aligns with my experience and expertise.  I have decided that I’m going to go after either Visual Studio extensibility or testing and debugging techniques, but I have also decided that I am going to contact the publishers and see if they have a more updated list.  It’s not that these topics aren’t a good fit for me, it’s just that with “WinFX” as a hot topic, I’m not sure that they’ve been maintaining their list.  Web services specified over WCF?  I’m not so sure.

Anyhoo…I’ve got some reading and expertification to finish before I make my pitch.  I have my MCTS for web and I’m going to write my MCTS for WinForms in the coming weeks.

MCTS Exam 70-526 Study Guide

MCTS Exam 70-526 Study Guide

Hrm…I’ve said that twice tonight.  Okay, here, I’ll write my test by October 15th. 

That will give me time to study up before I write, stay focused with my crazy-long-hours job and still maintain some semblance of a normal weekend break when I come home.

The book I’m reviewing to refresh before I write the test: MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-526)

What’s interesting is that this will actually help me along on a couple of goals at the same time. By delving a little deeper into the tools – going beyond what is needed for daily use and transitioning into a teaching capability – I will be moving myself closer to getting my MCA certification. It’s a longer-term thing, for sure, but every piece of work that broadens my exposure to underlying concepts and mastery of tools, regardless of vendor, will help in my efforts to get certified.

A C-172 much like the tutor I'll be flying in
A C-172 much like the tutor I’ll be flying in

…well, actually…it’s a plane.

But not just any plane, mind you, this one belongs to the folks at Brandon Flying Club and they gladly let you fly it while you’re obtaining your pilot’s licence.  In other words, it’s the kind of plane that’s right up my alley.

I spoke with a fellow today from the club who filled me in on what you need to do in order to start training.  First of all, you need to meet all the pre-qualifications; basically, you have to be 16 years old and breathing (so I’m in).

Next at hand was the issue of payment, and it ain’t cheap.  We’re likely looking at about $7000 all-in, likely more.  The gentleman suggested that I work at a pace of two or more flights per week, which would cost on average about $400-500 a week (around $2000/month).  So yeah, I’m not likely going to tackle it at that pace.

I’m going to get a bit of a savings going so that in the summer of next year I will start my flight lessons up, but I hope to get an introductory flight in here sometime in the next few weeks.  If I work it right, I’ll try to get my kids up there with me, or maybe my wife and oldest son (I’m not thinking Andy would be too into this…he’s kind of a “I’ll watch from the ground, thanks” kind-of kid).

Having this list feels really good, but after only a few days I’m realizing that I’m likely going to have to get some capital together to pull this off.  I may even need a budget…

Digging for Stones

July 28, 2008

A quick search on Expedia shows me that for about $6000, plus a couple hundred dollars in tour bus fees, we can travel as a family and make it to Stonehenge in a whirlwind four day tour.

Hrm…now where to put that on the priority list…

Curing Diabetes

July 27, 2008

This is one of the toughest items to knock off my list.

To be clear here, I’m talking about Type 1 Diabetes, the insulin-dependant kind that is a result of having part of your pancreas killed by your immune system. 

I am the father of a Type 1 Diabetic.  My now-six-year-old son was four when he was diagnosed.  Two years – and over 6000 needles later – we parent in a way that we hope will instill in our son a sense of self-belief, a sense that he can manage the disease and live a long, healthy life.

I don’t rightly believe that I, myself, can cure diabetes.  But I believe I can help.

Next year I am embarking on cycling trip that will span 2500 kilometers (about 1550 miles) in 21 days, stopping in schools and visiting service clubs and media along the way.  We’ll be talking about Type 1 Diabetes, what it is like to live with the disease, to raise awareness of the JDRF and to raise $100,000 for research in finding the cure. You can find out more about our quest at http://www.bikingforacure.com

Still, even if we meet all our goals, it won’t necessarily mean that I can stroke this one off.  It may very well be the one that lingers on for five years…a decade…maybe more.

My son is a bright, energetic kid who will make the most of his life.  He already knows to make good with what he’s got – bloom where you’re planted – and he’s got a great support network around him to help him take this thing by the reigns and keep it in control.  He tests his own blood sugar, he’s great at taking needles and I don’t know of any other six year olds that can guestimate carbs per serving quite like he does.

Guess I don’t suppose I think I should…

Still, it’s hard to know that over his head looms the risk of heart disease, organ failure, coma, DKA.  Every time he sighs in his sleep you wake up wondering if his blood sugars are crashing.  I don’t want this for my son.

I don’t want this for my son…and so it’s on my list.

In 2003 I submitted a proposal to MSDN Magazine called “The Depths of Regular Expressions”.  They accepted the proposal and had me write 5000 words (plus code and related projects) for an upcoming issue.

I worked hard, researched the topic intensely, got very active in forums and even made my first deadline!  Feedback was very positive and the editor said he was looking into placement as soon as possible.

About six months later I sent an inquiry as to the status of my article, which had not yet been published.  About two weeks after that I got an apology; my article didn’t really fit their current line of content.

I never did get a release so I wasn’t able to post the article anywhere else.  I also didn’t get the $150 cheque you’re supposed to get as compensation for holding up the article…but no grudges held.  Burried in my boxes of things I haven’t looked at in years is my first ever publishing contract.

So, I changed my entry in the list.  This time, I want to write an article for MSDN Magazine that actually gets published.

Hey…I never said the list should be easy.