# Saturday, 06 October 2012

“Who moved my Cheese” was how a number of people at Microsoft have characterized people’s reaction to Windows 8. In other words – “all the stuff you need is there, I know its uncomfortable that we changed things but its just cosmetic”.

To a degree this characterization is right that mostly existing functionality it there just you access it in different ways – and there is new functionality that we didn’t have before. However there is a bigger issue with Windows 8 – one of chocolate.

The Windows 8 desktop is cheese – that’s users’ familiar world prior to Windows 8. But in Windows 8 we have another way to access functionality – one that’s tablet friendly, iPad user friendly, touch friendly – that’s not cheese, that’s chocolate – people love chocolate! Finally Windows has a world that means they are not offering cheese to those chocophiles and that can only be a good thing from Microsoft’s perspective.

I’m a professional software developer basing most of my work in the Windows world. I’ve used Windows heavily since Windows 3.1 and I’ve (mostly) liked the evolution of the operating system. I currently run a big multicore machine with two high-resolution monitors for software development. The important thing for me is being able to have my development environment (Visual Studio 2012 now) as my focus but have my email, browser windows, Skype, a few Windows explorer windows, VSphere, Excel, Powerpoint and many other applications running concurrently and being able to have many of the visible at the same time correlating data between them - all of these are cheese applications.

I have been running Windows 8 for a while and really like the immersive nature of many of the “Modern Windows” (or Chocolate) applications – especially as I can run these on one monitor and have my Cheese applications running on the other monitor. And if I need to, both of my monitors can be cheese based if I have a bunch of cheese like things going on.

The problem is I just don’t like Windows 8.

It’s the damn Windows key.

If I’m in the mood for chocolate then I really like chocolate – and if you always offer me chocolate I’m very happy.

But actually I’m a savory guy – I spend most of my time wanting cheese. When I press the windows key you offer me chocolate and I select cheese – if I had to do that once I would be OK with that but every single time I want cheese you say “Aha! I think you want some chocolate” Dammit! I’ve chosen cheese every time for the last hour I obviously don’t want chocolate at the moment!

OK I’ve done that metaphor to death. The problem with windows 8 is you force me to context switch every time I want to run another desktop application. It is disruptive and painful as a user experience. If I’m in the desktop world then please, please let me start another desktop application without going via Metro.

Saturday, 06 October 2012 22:39:01 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Thursday, 01 October 2009

I used to be a C# MVP a couple of years ago. When I took on the role of CTO of DevelopMentor I found I had a far smaller amount of time to devote to community based activity and so I lost my MVP status. I stepped down as DevelopMentor’s CTO back in January and as a result suddenly found I had time again and so can often be found hanging out at the MSDN WCF forum, speaking at conferences, etc. Consequently I have just heard that I’ve been awarded MVP status for Connected Systems :-) - nice to be back in the fold

.NET | Life
Thursday, 01 October 2009 16:22:59 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Monday, 01 June 2009

it seems that the ever increasing immediacy of social networking and blogging has some downsides. Ted Neward has posted a eulogy for Developmentor (who I regularly teach for). Unfortunately Ted didn’t bother checking his facts. DM are very much still in business and delivering courses (I’m teaching one the week after next and the week after that in fact! Plus several in July and September!)

.NET | Life
Monday, 01 June 2009 19:29:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, 10 January 2009

I'm really excited to announce that I've joined thinktecture as a consultant. I've known Ingo, Christian and Dominick for some time now and its great to take that relationship on to a new level. I have huge respect for the abilities of the thinktecture team and so it was fantastic when they asked me if I was interested in working with them.

I'll be focusing on all things distributed at thinktecture - so that includes WCF, Workflow, BizTalk, Dublin and Azure. And I guess I'll have to learn to speak German now ...

Azure | BizTalk | Dublin | Life | WCF | WF
Saturday, 10 January 2009 18:27:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Monday, 08 December 2008

For the last two years I have been DevelopMentor's CTO. This has meant determining the technical direction of the company, deciding what courses should be developed, being the technical voice on the management team and much more. However, I have missed cutting production code and so I have decided to step down as CTO and return to consulting and teaching on a freelance basis.

I'm looking forward to getting back to the coalface with WCF, Workflow, BizTalk, Azure, Dublin and all the new goodness coming out of Redmond

Monday, 08 December 2008 15:57:50 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Monday, 07 July 2008

Shawn Wildermuth called me out to put my two-penneth together in this ongoing Meme. So ...

How old were you when you first started programming?

16. At school I’d just finished the compulsory part of my education and was moving on to do A levels. Me and a couple of friends found out there was this machine: a Research Machines 380Z in the building - so intrigued, we went to find it. Eventually we found the “computer room” housing the legendary RM 380Z and this other thing that looked like a lathe and apparently was used to consume punched cards. But the punch card lathe was not remotely interesting to us – the 380Z had a screen and keyboard.

How did you get started in programming?

There were other people in the room so we took it in turns to use this strange environment on there called BASIC:

10 PRINT Richard

20 GOTO 10



That was so awesomely cool I started learning about all these other things – apparently GOTO wasn’t the only way I could make the program “move around”: GOSUB worked too – and I could get it to come back to where I’d called it when it was finished too! At one point one of the guys (yes we were all male) started talking about this thing called erase which apparently you could use to hold data but that was just some weird voodoo magic in my opinion.

So I managed to persuade my parents to push the boat out and buy me my very own computer – a Sinclair ZX81. At Christmas I eagerly unwrapped it and plugged it into the TV. I wrote my first program on it:

10 PRINT Richard

20 GOTO 10

Look everyone – how cool is that! No one in the family apart from me seemed to think this was very interesting. Unfortunately I soon realized that 1Kb was not a lot of room to write anything very interesting and we couldn’t afford the 16 Kb RAM Pack – or the duct tape to stop it falling off the back of the machine. So I returned to my first love – the 380Z. By this time I’d managed to work out that BASIC was just something you loaded on like my programs and more importantly you could alter it. Ahh the fun I had swapping the RUN and NEW commands. Unfortunately my teacher failed to see the funny side when he spent an entire day typing in an economics simulation from a listing in a magazine and then tried to run it.

What was your first language?

Well as you can see BASIC was my first language. I tried to learn C using a Lattice C compiler on my Atari ST but I found Kernigan and Ritchie apparently less accessible than all my cool computer friends. Eventually at college I learned Fortran and then Pascal. And that was my programming life until I started my first real job in 1989.

What was the first real program you wrote?

I started working for a bank in Sheffield. I sat there with a senior programmer (wow what a job that was to aspire to) while he showed me the line number and wrote down the code that I had to enter in an Algol (yes Algol) program. I had to change a limit from £4000 to £5000. I nervously started up a text editor and made the change. Before I committed the change the senior programmer looked over at the code and gave it his approval. I worked on the interactive branch office system as a programmer and systems tester, learning COBOL along the way, for about a year. I finally realised that with many years ahead of me in this industry I should probably try to get myself into the bleeding edge and so found myself programming C on OS/2 (yes OS/2).

What languages have you used since you started programming?

So I started with BASIC, then Fortran and Pascal. From there I learned 3 flavours of Algol and COBOL along with some Paradox along the way. I then started using C on OS/2 and then switched to C++ on Windows. I spent a long time in C++ and Windows – also using VB3, 4, 5 and 6. I learned TSQL so I guess that counts too. At one point I learned a strange little language called JADE and also VBScript and Javascript. I dabbled a little with Java but finally found my spiritual home with C#. I can write VB.NET if I really have to and have played with Ruby (emphasis on played) – oh and I mustn’t forget LOLCode.NET.

What was your first professional programming gig?

I think I answered this one above

If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?

Absolutely – but I’d have skipped a couple of the jobs along the way

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?

When you tell a project manager how long something is going to take they really do not believe the figures you give them. Their job is not to plan the actual project, it’s to plan the project they think their manager will approve.

Oh actually here’s a second one: UML is a tool not a way of life

Oh and a 3rd: a team of 8 very good programmers will outperform any team of 20 programmers no matter how good some of them are.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had … programming?

Ahh this one is really difficult. I worked with some great people on the National Police systems buried in hardcore ATL. Moving from a project of 100 people to a team of 3 for my next contract was mindblowing in terms of how simple life could be if you wanted to get something done. But the most fun has been some of the hacking together demos in the middle of a Guerrilla.NET course with the other instructors to show some stuff we’d just discovered or decided would be compelling. Last week it was building a Silverlight app that consumed a WCF REST based service that reproduced the “type the alphabet” game that seems to be going around with a high-score table that all the students could play.

So who's next?

I nominate:

·         Dominick Baier

·         Andy Clymer

·         Christian Weyer

·         Marvin Smit

·         Mark Fussell

Monday, 07 July 2008 11:34:06 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Sunday, 17 June 2007

So I was teaching a cut down version of our Essential BizTalk course last week and one thing I was talking about struck me as making a good blog post (to follow shortly). So I cranked up my BizTalk virtual machine and realised I hadn't run it on this computer before as it discovered lots of new hardware.

I noticed that I also hadn't yet installed the VMWare Tools so I installed them and rebooted. At that point I remembered why i hadn't installed the VMWare Tools. this was a VPC image that I had converted that had the VPC Additions installed and the two don't play nice together.

I found myself at the CTRL-ALT-DEL screen with the image refusing to recognize any input such as CTRL-ALT-INS or using the menu to send the CTRL-ALT-DEL to the virtual machine.

I decided to reboot into safe mode and uninstall the VMWare Tools - no dice - still no input accepted. At this point I was faced with having to rebuild my image from scratch (stupidly I'd never taken a snapshot so I had nothing to recover to).

Then I remembered that the VMWare conversion was non-destructive, so I deleted all the VMWare bits of the image and left myself with the .vmc and .vhd files. This time when I re-added the image it re-converted and I got back to my starting point ... I immediately took a snapshot this time.

I keep on being reminded why I like VMWare so much.

Sunday, 17 June 2007 16:08:48 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   | 
# Saturday, 09 June 2007

Sometimes you have to wonder at the stupidity of organizations.

There were thunderstorms over Miami where my flight home to the UK from TechEd so amid chaotic scenes at gate 15 my flight got canceled. Unfortunately when they made the announcement I was on the phone so didn't initially realize. So when I finally worked out what was going on the gate was clearing. I was told to go reclaim my bags in the baggage hall then reschedule my flight at ticketing. And here I have to state my amazement of how massively inefficient the baggage handing appears to be at Orlando - I waited 1:15 on my way in and it took about an hour for my bag to come out after they canceled the flight even though they hadn't actually taken it on to a plane - most bizarre.

So I eventually get my bag and head up to ticketing only to find the other 200 people on my flight in front of me. Now the problem is that the line was so long it now went outside the terminal - ahh Orlando in the summer and the joy of non-A/C environments. The queue was moving very slowly but it turned out that people had been given a 1-800 number to call to rebook their flights. So I got that number off someone and got my flight rebooked for tomorrow. However, the airline were putting people up at a hotel and were giving out vouchers which you had to stay in the queue to receive. 

So here is what I think is stupid: a whole bunch of people in that queue had already got different flights and were simply waiting to get their hotel voucher - why on earth didn't they have someone walking down the queue giving out the vouchers to people who had already resolved their flight?

In the end i got sick of waiting and went and booked my own hotel over the Internet ... hold on, maybe I just answered my own question.

Saturday, 09 June 2007 04:09:13 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |   |