Colinizer: taking up residence in your tech brain

Wednesday January 26 2011

Get Free training With Great WP7, Silverlight & Azure Sessions at Microsoft Mix11

 

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This year’s Microsoft Mix 11 conference is taking place from April 12th to 14th in Las Vegas.

I have 4 sessions proposals that have been selected for voting by the Mix panel, and with your help, I can present them at the conference for you to see in person or for free on-demand shortly afterwards.

As well as from commercial projects and published articles/shows, these sessions are based on my expertise as a Microsoft MVP for Silveright, a workshop trainer for Microsoft on the Windows Azure Platform & the developer of the first WP7 training bootcamp delivered across North America.

To vote for sessions by Feb 4th…

For each of the web links below, click on each one and then vote by first clicking on all of the animal pictures of the indicated type (usually cats awww) and then clicking “vote for this session”.  Repeat for each of the 4 links.  The picture clicking thing is to make sure you are human and not a cheating robot of course.  If you select the wrong animation by mistake, you can click it again to unselect it.

Thank you for your interest and support!

 

0 to Phone App in 60 Minutes (based on a popular TechDays session)

Windows Phone 7 devices are out there. Will you have an application in the marketplace this year? The tools are free to download but it helps to get a jump-start to get moving. Do you understand the MVVM design pattern and how it applies to Windows Phone? Would you like to see how it’s done from scratch? Come along and see Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, show you how to build an application step-by-step and answer questions along the way.

 

Getting to grips with MVVM on Windows Phone

You’ve downloaded the phone tools and created your first project. Now you’re venturing into the other project templates and have found all kinds of extra xaml files, bindings and classes. You’re in the world of MVVM architecture and you feel like you’ve fallen down the rabbit whole. The MVVM patterns in the templates are there to leveraged, but you need to know how to work with it. In this session Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, will cover the MVVM concepts, the templates and go beyond viewing data to using commands and explaining key choices.

 

Windows Azure Platform as the backend for Windows Phone experiences

The launch of Windows Phone has been a source of much interest and developer enthusiam. There are 1,000s of appplications in the Windows Phone Marketplace. However, not many of those applications interact with a service created by the same developer. In this session, Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, will show you how the Windows Azure Platform is a natural backend for Windows Phone experiences and how to use the various components.

 

On-Premise Data to Cloud to Phone – Connecting with Odata

You have corporate data to disseminate into the field, or service records that need to be updated in the field. How can you quickly make that data accessible from your on-premise system to Windows Phone users? Come take a look at OData with Microsoft MVP for Silverlight and leading WP7 trainer, Colin Melia, and see how you can expose data and services into the cloud and quickly connect to it from the phone, from scratch

 

These are 4 of just 14 sessions by Canadian-based developers highlighted by Microsoft Canada.  You can vote for all to 10 in total.

Monday December 20 2010

Become a Windows Azure Administrator in Just 15 minutes

Got a few minutes to kill, and want to get to grips with Microsoft’s Windows Azure Platform? Let’s do it in the best possible way – by actually trying it. I’m about to show you just how easy that is and also explain how valuable that knowledge can be.

If you do this in Canada by Dec 31st 2010 and tell Microsoft Canada about it (see below), Microsoft will give CDN$25 to your nominated user group AND send you a $25 gift card too!! Smile

Let’s get a few questions out of the way first…

(more…)

Monday November 15 2010

Discover The Future of Silverlight at the Ottawa Silverlight Firestarter Event

Come to the Microsoft Ottawa office on Dec 2nd 2010 @ 11:45 am ET sharp to watch the the future of Silverlight unfold. 

On Dec 2nd 2010, Microsoft is running the all-day Firestarter event about Silverlight.  It opens with a keynote from Scott Guthrie (Corporate VP of the Developer Division) on the Future of Silverlight and features various sessions from renowned speakers.   It’s like another day of PDC just for Silverlight. 

We’ll be watching and discussing the morning portion of the live event as a group.  As a Microsoft MVP for Silverlight I’ll be there along with Microsoft’s Christian Beauclair to discuss the event and answer questions.

Silverlight is THE developer platform for rapidly building and deploying UI- and media-rich data-connected business and consumer applications for the web, the desktop and the phone.  It’s available today.  Microsoft has invested and will continue to invest in Silverlight, and in products that use it including LightSwitch, Lync, Windows InTune, the new Azure Portal, etc.

 

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No registration is required.

Dec 2nd 2010

11:45 ET (event started at noon)

100 Queen Street (the World Exchange Plaza – with underground parking)
Suite 500 (5th floor)
Ottawa, ON
K1P 1J9

Discover The Future of Silverlight at Another PDC-Like Day just for Silverlight

On Dec 2nd 2010, Microsoft is running the all-day live streaming Firestarter event about Silverlight.  It opens with a keynote from Scott Guthrie (Corporate VP of the Developer Division) on the Future of Silverlight and features various sessions from renowned speakers.   It’s like another day of PDC just for Silverlight running from 9:00 am PT to 5:15 pm PT. 

Silverlight is THE developer platform for rapidly building and deploying UI- and media-rich data-connected business and consumer applications for the web, the desktop and the phone.  It’s available today.  Microsoft has invested and will continue to invest in Silverlight, and in products that use it including LightSwitch, Lync, Windows InTune, the new Azure Portal, etc.

SLFirestarter_300X250 (2)

This Firestarter event was announced before PDC and with the recently announced keynote on the future of Silverlight, it emphasizes Microsoft’s commitment to Silverlight.

Want more commitment?  Read or see what Microsoft executives have had to say:

The State of Silverlight with Scott Guthrie and John Papa (Oct 21 2010)

PDC and Silverlight – by Bob Muglia, President, Server & Tool Business (Nov 1 2010)

Silverlight Questions – by Scott Guthrie, Corporate VP, Developer Division (Nov 4 2010)

Also, here’s a great post on the subject:

Silverlight’s Bright Future – by Ward Bell (Nov 10 2010)

Tuesday July 20 2010

Quick-Start Primer Video to Windows Phone 7 Tools, Data Access and Notification Services

I recently did a 1-hour screencast interview with Carl Franklin for Dot Net Rocks TV.

It’s a good primer for a few areas of Windows Phone 7 developer.

20100720 video

If you are looking for in-depth rapid training on developing for Windows Phone 7 then you should consider registering for this first major boot camp running across Canada.

Windows Phone 7 Boot Camp

The recording was done using the April refresh of the tools.  I’ll be following up with another one soon using the Beta tools to explain things like themes and application life cycle in more detail.

We covered the tools…

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The emulator…

20100720 emulator

Project types…

20100720 project types

 

Visual Studio Tools…

20100720 vstools

Mapping Applications…

20100720 mapapp

Data Binding/Access… to a service exposed through Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus

20100720 dataaccess

Notification Services which is essential to building applications that receive information from the cloud.

 

20100720 notification

Hopefully the video gives you a good sense of what is possible, and if you want this speed of knowledge transfer or faster… go for the bootcamp.

Windows Phone 7 Boot Camp

Monday April 26 2010

Bringing Azure+OData+Silverlight Goodness to Open Data Apps in Ottawa

On Saturday April 24th 2010, at Open Data Ottawa Hackfest, a team built the ‘OttGuide’ application (here showing 6000+ bus stops on the Ottawa public bus transit network), built on the Open Data Application Framework using Silverlight and Bing Maps, accessing an OData service built with .NET 3.5 and hosted on Windows Azure and SQL Azure.  For more on open data and cross-platform togetherness, consider for the Make Web Not War conference on May 27th 2010 in Montreal.

odata1

This passed Saturday Apr 24th 2010, the very successful Open Data Ottawa Hackfest took place for the first time in Ottawa City Hall organised by Edward Ocampo-Gooding and friends.  A large number of people (enough to exhaust the free t-shirt supply) attended for 4+ hours from different fields (developers, designers, librarians, statisticians. media and city officials).  The event included opening presentations, a hack fest where attendees worked on applications showing use of Ottawa data and closed with a series of presentations showing the fruits of the attendees’ labour.

Prior to the event, the City of Ottawa (unlike cities like Vancouver and Edmonton) hadn’t officially published municipal data or a data publication policy.  This meant that attendees to the hackfest were using various interesting methods to get data for their application from screen scraping to manual data re-enty.

I had the opportunity to talk at length with the city’s CIO, Guy Michaud, and discovered that the city is in fact on the verge of agreeing a policy and then immediately publishing a few initial sets of satic data, most likely sometime in May.  It’s quite possible that the hackfest event helped push this action ahead, but Guy is clearly a guy with forward-looking ideas on the issue of data publishing.

I was told about the event a few weeks ago by friend and Microsoft Canada IT Pro Advisor Rick Claus who was planning on attending.  So, in those weeks, I took a look at some of the work that has been done to obtain Ottawa municipal data and at open data work in general.  In particular I looked in 3 things:

odata2

  • Craig Davey had done extensive work on taking Google-compatible data published on the City’s OCTranspo site, augmenting it, converting it to GTFS format and publishing it with updates in a feed.
  • I had been familiar for some time with Microsoft’s open protocol for providing access to queryable and updateable data sets in a RESTful way – OData.  I did further research into this.  OData builds on ADO.NET Data Services and is fully incorporated into WCF Data Services within the recently released .NET 4 framework.  OData is designed to be consumed (or produced) by many different clients on many platforms. There are client libraries available or in the works for .NET (3.5 with an update & 4.0), Silverlight 4.0, iPhone, Javascript, Windows Phone 7, PHP & Java.  In fact, any client that can make web requests and handle XML can access OData-based services.

The night before the event, on a total whim, I decided to knock up an OData service exposing OCTranpo data, so I: 

  • started with Craig’s GTFS-format data provided as CSV files in a ZIP file. 
  • created an ADO.NET Entity Framework Model in a new .NET 3.5 Class Library project in Visual Studio 2010 to represent the GTFS data with entities and relationships
  • used the designer tools to generate DDL script to create the database schema
  • generated the schema using the script
  • created a database in my local SQL Server 2008 server
  • wrote code to import the CSVs and use the ADO.NET Entity Framework classes to import the data which was taking 3+ hours
  • wrote new code to import the CSVs with the SQL using bulk copy class bypassing the model which did the import of over 2 million bus stop time rows in a few minutes
  • added a WCF Service project and removed the default service from the project template
  • added a WCF Data Service item, setting it up to use the class of the entity model I created and providing read access to all entities
  • copied the connection string from my entity model class library app.config into the WCF Service web.config
  • tested my OData service using the OData URL query syntax, here showing a list of all stops… but this could be queried to find things like a nearby stop (from GPS coordinates), the bus times for a stop, the trips (e.g. ‘saturday service to ABC on route x’) and routes (i.e. bus number) going through a stop, find the stops on a trip, when a specific service gets somewhere, or even for full journey planning, etc.

odata3

  • re-opened by solution as administrator so I could use the Azure Cloud tools
  • added a Windows Azure cloud project with no roles and added my existing WCF Service project to the roles
  • tested OData access running in the local Azure Development Fabric connecting to my local SQL Server database
  • created a SQL Azure server and database in the cloud using the SQL Azure portal
  • connected to SQL Azure using SQL Server Management Studio and created my database schema using a modified version of my existing DDL script (removing USE statements)
  • used the bcp utility to export tables from my local database to local files and then again to import those up to SQL Azure
  • updated the connection string in my web.config to use the SQL Azure database
  • tested OData access running in the local Azure Development Fabric connecting to the SQL Azure database
  • published by cloud project in Visual Studio, created a Hosted Service on the Windows Azure portal and deployed the application to Azure using the portal
  • tested OData access running in on Windows Azure connecting to the SQL Azure database

So I had an OData service exposing the OCTranspo bus routes, trips, stops and trip stop times – sweet!

When I got to the event at 3:15pm, I met up with Christian, Rick & John Weigelt (Microsoft Canada’s National Technology Officer).  They were looking at the VanGuide application and potential Ottawa data sources to hook up to it as a demonstration.  Demonstrations were due at 4pm.  Of course, as I’ve stated, good data sources were hard to find because the City of Ottawa hadn’t published any official open data sets.

OData service to the rescue…?

We set to work on integrating my sample OCTranspo OData service (which was already running the cloud), into the the Open Data Application Framework, transforming the VanGuide application into an ‘OttGuide’ application.  The framework includes a Silverlight application project that includes dynamic handling of web-based data sources (the dynamic list of landmark sources on the left of the UI) and asynchronous data retrieval and handling code (that takes KML and other format data and adds data points as map points on a Bing Maps Silverlight control).

We wanted to make this Ottawa specific, wo we went ahead and:

  • modified the data source list to show an entry for OCTranpo and removed the other ones
  • removed other Vancouver-specific map region options
  • added custom code to handle OCTranpo GTFS entities in a feed (our OData feed) using Linq to XML to create Landmark instances that the framework already understands
  • made the application zoom in on Ottawa
  • made some other cosmetic changes for Ottawa

The result is the application you see at the start of this blog entry.  For full disclosure, we got the full bus stop retrieval and map point creation working literally 1 minute after the public presentation section finished, but Christian managed to demonstrate the VanGuide version and the OData feed.

The ODAF framework means that an OttGuide application user can select bus stops, rate them, add comments, etc.  It would be relatively easy to add datasets for other ‘landmarks’ (e.g. water foundations, tourist spots, parks and even pot holes).

The same OData service could be used on clients like the new Windows Phone 7 platform to give bus services users valuable travel information :).  Perhaps more on that later…

Open data and open web technologies are current hot topics and OData is a great protocol to bring things together on many platforms.  Silverlight is a great technology to deliver rich user experiences on many platforms using data sources from a variety of platforms. 

Microsoft and Open Source Communities are sponsoring the Make Web Not War conference on May 27th 2010, showcasing the latest cross-platform techniques and technologies, including presentations, panels, workshops, a codefest, the FTW coding competition and a party!  Open Data, HTML 5, PHP, JQuery, Mobile, SEO and the Cloud, are amongst the topics being covered.  Speakers and panelists attending include myself, Microsoft Canada team members and many open source experts.

Make Web Not War

Tuesday January 5 2010

Windows Azure Platform Now Open for Business

Filed under: Azure, Cloud Applications, Microsoft — colinizer @ 3:54

There were some bumps along the way today (like the SQL team saying things were ready for purchase, but there were now Buy Now buttons on the portal for several hours afterwards, and the Billing link went either nowhere or to Microsoft Online Services with no Azure services listed), but… it’s now open for business.  CTP accounts continue to be free until the end of Jan.  See information about the billing on-ramp.

If you on the Azure CTP and you purchase an offer on the Microsoft Online Services site with the same Live ID that you already use for your CTP, then your CTP account will be associated with that plan, so tread carefully.

See my previous entry and the links therein, especially if you are a partner or MSDN subscriber – this isn’t a half bad summary of the options.

Monday January 4 2010

Microsoft’s Opening Package Offers for the Windows Azure Platform

Filed under: Azure, Cloud Applications, Microsoft — colinizer @ 23:11

Today is the official launch date for Windows Azure Platform and Microsoft is offering 4 packages:

  • $0 – Introductory Special – A (not very useful) level of free consumption until June 30 2010
  • $59.95 – Development Accelerator Core
  • $109.95 – Development Accelerator Extended
  • $Varies – Consumption – pay for what you use

Check out the official comparison table.

For a minute, I thought Microsoft was really serious about promoting this, but the Introductory Special is somewhat pointless – it’s more of a discount or minor test package.  It includes 25 computer hours which is just over one day of operation per month on one node – think of it as one free day on one node.  It does come with 1GB of SQL Azure, but that’s also only for 3 months :(.  There’s also 100,000 AppFabric messages and a measly 1/2 GB of data transfer in/out.  So, you can do some testing with this, although if you are an MSDN subscriber you have addition options.

Now the next two packages are better with both packages offering 750 hours of Windows Azure compute time which equates to 1 node for a month, e.g. a website.  The Extended plan includes a 10GB SQL Azure database, normally priced as $99.95 per month on its own.

The Consumption plan is apparently what you pay if you go over the included quantities.  With some other providers, the overage fees go down as one moves to higher pre-paid packages.

Microsoft can beat other providers when it comes to the SQL Azure offering.  Other providers, who have to license SQL Server to customers through Microsoft’s Service Provider License Agreement, may pay Microsoft over $200 a month for a SQL Standard processor license.  Microsoft is offering a 1GB SQL Server for $9.99 per month and $10GB for $99.99.

I need to do further analysis on provider price comparisons in the future.  I make solid use of GoGrid who consider themselves an infrastructure provider and Microsoft to be a platform provider, though they both offer cloud computing.  With GoGrid, I do all the server admin (while they provide cloud nodes, network, admin UI/API and other services) while Microsoft is aiming to cover lots of the redundancy infrastructure automatically.

In addition to these offers and the MSDN subscriber offer, there’s also a special rate version of the 3 paid plans for Microsoft Partner Network members – currently stated as being 5% off the regular rates (but not applying to data transfer or Windows Azure storage).  It’s not clear yet how all these offers/packages operate together if at all.  Do the MSDN subscriptions provided with Partner accounts each qualify?  According to the notes on the offer pages for migration a CTP account to, “Your CTP account(s) are automatically associated with the first offer you purchase with that Windows Live ID.”

I have not yet received any information on how to upgrade to a commercial account and the Billing link on the portal goes to the Microsoft Online Services portal which doesn’t show anything about Azure.  I can hear the Microsoft elves sweating right now along with the patter of tiny feet to refill the free soft drinks :)

P.S.  Hopefully the grammer elves will ‘shoot’ the ignorant Microsoft website elves using the phrase “a …savings” :P

Windows Azure Platform Goes Live Today

Filed under: Azure, Cloud Applications, Microsoft — colinizer @ 21:44

Today is the day for Azure to go live.

What this means (according to communicating to Community Technology Preview participants) is that Microsoft should start issuing instructions this week on how to move from CTP to a commercial account.

It’s also not clear yet, how the relationship will work yet (and there are some broken links from the Azure portal) between billing, portal account and login ID, but I imagine there needs to be Live IDs for the billing accounts and then permitted administrator Live IDs for the portal.

The Windows Azure Platform continues to be free until Feb 1 2010, during the first billing on-ramp phase.

If you are interested in giving Windows Azure a spin while it’s still free in January then you may want to try this Azure deployment guide with included sample application, successfully used by hundreds of people.

More posts soon on some of the insights of building a Silverlight application and hosting it on Windows Azure…

Tuesday December 22 2009

Azure Platform Billing On-Ramp

Here’s the timeline for the ramp-up of Azure Platform Services billing:

  • Jan 4 2010 – CTP accounts can be upgraded to commercial accounts in the countries listed below.
  • Feb 1 2010 – Billing starts for upgraded accounts and non-upgraded accounts are disabled with Windows Azure Storage going read-only and no new database creation in SQL Azure. 
  • Mar 1 2010 – non-upgraded SQL Azure databases will be deleted
  • Apr 1 2010 – non-upgraded Windows Azure Storage will be deleted

Available Azure Platform Services billing locations from Jan 2010

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
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