Microsoft Small Basic – a learning by doing programming environment

Microsoft just released a small tool with the name “Small Basic”. It’s a all-in-one programming environment for beginners:

smallbasic

“Small Basic is a project that’s aimed at bringing “fun” back to programming. By providing a small and easy to learn programming language in a friendly and inviting development environment, Small Basic makes programming a breeze. Ideal for kids and adults alike, Small Basic helps beginners take the first step into the wonderful world of programming.”

Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/devlabs/cc950524.aspx

Mono 2.0 released!!

“Mono 2.0 is a portable and open source implementation of the .NET framework for Unix, Windows, MacOS and other operating systems.”

  • Compiler
    • C# 3.0 compiler implementation, with full support for LINQ.
    • Visual Basic 8 compiler.
    • IL assembler and disassembler and the development toolchain required to create libraries and applications.
  • API
    • ADO.NET 2.0 API for accessing databases.
    • ASP.NET 2.0 API for developing Web-based applications.
    • Windows.Forms 2.0 API to create desktop applications.
    • System.XML 2.0: An API to manipulate XML documents.
    • System.Core: Provides support for the Language Integrated Query (LINQ).
    • System.Xml.Linq: Provides a LINQ provider for XML.
    • System.Drawing 2.0 API: A portable graphics rendering API.

mono2

Source: http://www.mono-project.com/Main_Page

the Hyper-V Server 2008 is available… for free…

I virtualization heaven! I am currently using VMWare Server on most of the machines I am doing virtualization on – but the fact that the Microsoft Hypervisor “Hyper-V” is available for free now is really cool:

“Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, a bare metal hypervisor-based server virtualization product, is now available as a no-cost Web download at http://www.microsoft.com/Hyper-VServer. Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 provides a simplified, reliable and optimized virtualization solution for customers to consolidate Windows or Linux workloads onto a single physical server or to run client operating systems and applications in server-based virtual machines in the data center. Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 allows customers to leverage their existing provisioning, updating, management and support tools, processes and skills.”

hypervsetup1

Source: http://hypervoria.com/

freebie day? Another Vista Ultimate game is available…

It seems that today it’s the freebie day (well… for some of us). Because today the next Windows Vista Ultimate Extra is available: Tinker.

Tinker – to shorten up things – is a Sokoban interpretation with some interesting twists.

tinker_update

“Being a small robot isn’t always easy. Being a small robot marooned in a surreal world of clockwork, obscure mechanisms and infuriating puzzles, even less so. In Tinker, a puzzle game that pushes the boundaries of robot frustration, you’ll guide your robot through switches, lasers, teleporters, and a host of other contraptions to reach the exit. He’ll only do what you command. He’ll only go where you tell him to. Will you lead him home, or will you doom him to eternal confusion?

Featuring captivating visuals, an original music score, and 60 levels that range from the facile to the infuriating, Tinker is an isometric, two-dimensional puzzler published exclusively as an Ultimate Extra for Windows Vista Ultimate Users. Tinker features tutorial level, and will include regularly released level packs to expand the experience. Want even more? Download the level builder, and create masterworks of ingenuity to keep your friends scratching their heads. What are you waiting for? Start Tinkering.”

tinkergame

It’s good looking, fun, the music is great and it’s free…

And it’s got it’s own Level Editor:

tinkereditor

Source: http://www.fuelgames.com/

create panoramic images with a free tool

There was the Digital Image Suite and several other tools like Hugin and Cool360 which I used over the last years to create panoramic images. Now there’s a new tool available in 32 and 64 bit (for really really huge images!) from Microsoft Research. It’s free at this point and if you’re on Windows it’s definitely worth the try.

msice

“Microsoft Image Composite Editor is an advanced panoramic image stitcher. You shoot a set of overlapping photographs of a scene from a single location, and Image Composite Editor creates a high-resolution panorama incorporating all your images at full resolution. Then save your stitched panorama in a wide variety of formats, from common formats like JPEG and TIFF to multi-resolution tiled formats like HD View and Silverlight Deep Zoom.”

Source: http://research.microsoft.com/ivm/ice.html

If you need to edit XML files…

…take the XML Notepad.

“Handy features include:

  • Tree View synchronized with Node Text View for quick editing of node names and values.
  • Incremental search (Ctrl+I) in both tree and text views, so as you type it navigates to matching nodes.
  • Cut/copy/paste with full namespace support.
  • Drag/drop support for easy manipulation of the tree, even across different instances of XML Notepad and from the file system.
  • Infinite undo/redo for all edit operations.
  • In place popup multi-line editing of large text node values.
  • Configurable fonts and colors via the options dialog.
  • Full find/replace dialog with support for regex and XPath.
  • Good performance on large XML documents, loading a 3mb document in about one second.
  • Instant XML schema validation while you edit with errors and warnings shown in the task list window.
  • Intellisense based on expected elements and attributes and enumerated simple type values.
  • Support for custom editors for date, dateTime and time datatypes and other types like color.
  • Handy nudge tool bar buttons for quick movement of nodes up and down the tree.
  • Inplace HTML viewer for processing xml-stylesheet processing instructions.
  • Built-in XML Diff tool.
  • Support for XInclude
  • Dynamic help from XSD annotations.
  • Goto definition to navigate includes and XSD schema information. “

xmlnotepad

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=72d6aa49-787d-4118-ba5f-4f30fe913628&displaylang=en

how to create your own photosynth

Photosynth is publicly available and it’s time to give it a try and play with the technology. Before starting you should be aware of some facts about the public photosynth technology-preview:

  1. all synths are uploaded and only available online (broadband needed)
  2. all synths are public, everyone can access them
  3. the synther tool runs only on Windows
  4. you’ll need a Live ID

When everything is checked you can go and upload up to 20 Gbytes of image data – my test synth takes up 200 Mbytes of the available space – so you have plenty of space to play with.

To start just install the photosynth application to view – and click “create” on the website. After the obligatory login you immediately can upload your pictures. Give it a name, ssome tags and a license and select your pictures.

createsynth_step2

Your pictures should show the same scene from different perspectives – photosynth is all about matching perspectives. After clicking on “Synth” the process starts.

createsynth_step3

And after a surprisingly short period of time your synth is done. Click on “View Synth” and you’re taken back to the website and you can browse your synth. That’s it – easy!

createsynth_step5

Source 1: my first photosynth
Source 2: Photosynth is open for the public
Source 3: create a synth

Photosynth is open for the public

Believe it or not – it’s been 2 years since I first wrote about Photosynth technology. Today Microsoft made it available to the public. It’s not a tool (yet) – like I wanted – right now but it’s built into this website – so you have to upload your pictures, they are processed and then you can browse on this website… well it’s a start for a really great technology.

“We’re pleased to announce the first full release of Photosynth, available now at photosynth.com. Photosynth takes a collection of regular photographs and reconstructs the scene or object in a 3-D environment. For those of you who have seen the videos or tried our tech preview, you could experience synths that we made in the lab and get a feel for what Photosynth is and how it works. But now, for the first time ever you can create synths from your own pictures and share them with your friends. Explore great synths from others or create a few of your own.”

halo3photosynth

It’s not going to work on anything different than Windows. So stick to the movies if you’re on anything else. But as far as I know it’ll run o

Source 1: http://photosynth.net/Default.aspx
Source 2: http://www.schrankmonster.de/PermaLink,guid,fdc3d1fb-4966-418b-83ea-1e0c12aae833.aspx

giving better looking presentations: pptPlex

There’s a new free tool available from officelabs:

“pptPlex is a plug-in that explores an alternate method for presenting a PowerPoint slide deck. Using pptPlex, you can present your slides as a tour through a zoomable canvas instead of a series of linear slides.”

pptplex

Source: http://www.officelabs.com/projects/pptPlex/Pages/default.aspx

read the MSDN Forums with a cool client interface

I often read in the MSDN Forums but I will read more often because now there’s a client application available:

“After many months of hard work we are proud to announce the availability of our first CTP of the Microsoft Forums Client. Much of the work for this CTP is in foundational code that will let us build the rest of the application, but we hope that this first preview will let you see what direction we’re heading in, and also give you a chance to give us feedback!
Things that work in this CTP:

  • Getting the list of available forums
  • Subscribing to forums you’re interested in
  • Manually (by right click menu) synchronizing the Question and General Discussion threads in a forum
  • Reading posts that have been synchronized
  • Hierarchical (threaded) view of conversations”

CTP Main Screen

Source: http://www.codeplex.com/msdnforumsclient

the Visual OpenType Layout Tool

If sometimes you need to just create your own font… well maybe that’s a bit too much theoretical – but it’s interesting to play with a tool like VOLT. It’s out now in a new Version and I suggest taking a look:

“The Microsoft Visual OpenType Layout Tool provides an easy-to-use graphical user interface to add OpenType layout tables to fonts with TrueType outlines. It is licensed free and can be downloaded from the online community set up for it. The community hosts an active discussion forum, version history information, a wish-list and related downloads. Links to VOLT’s release notes, as well as tips and tutorials are also posted.”

glypheditor

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/typography/VOLT.mspx

.NET Open Space 2008 – 18.-19.10.2008 in Leipzig

Das wunderbare Leipziger Team tritt nun bald wieder mit dem .NET Open Space 2008 in Erscheinung:

“Die besten Gespräche hat man fern ab von einer festgelegten Agenda, bei einem Kaffee und beim “du”. Dort gibt es keine Rollenaufteilung in Sprecher / Zuhörer und die Themen finden sich vor Ort ganz von selbst. Das ist die Idee vom .NET Open Space. Hier sind alle gleich. Auch die Organisatoren halten sich im Hintergrund und moderieren nur ab und an etwas. Die Verantwortlichen der Themenfelder sorgen mit Einladungen für Teilnehmer darin.
.NET Open Space besteht derzeit aus den drei parallelen
Themenfeldern:

  • ALT.NET
  • Mobile Computing
  • Soft Skills”

NET Open Space

Eine Agenda gibt es nicht, dafür aber einen Zeitplan:

Zeitplan

Source: http://netopenspace.de/

So writing a filesystem in .NET isn’t a bad idea after all :-)

Ever since we started writing a complete and cutting edge filesystem in C# and only managed code we are confronted with questions like

“Why C#? Why .NET? Why not in a more low-level language? Why a filesystem after all?”

I don’t want to talk just yet about our reasons but we can’t be that wrong if even Microsoft Research is trying to get their .NET Operating System research project Singularity ready for customers:

“Midori is an offshoot of Microsoft Research’s Singularity operating system, the tools and libraries of which are completely managed code. Midori is designed to run directly on native hardware (x86, x64 and ARM), be hosted on the Windows Hyper-V hypervisor, or even be hosted by a Windows process.”

This would be an Operating System 100% in managed code – hey Microsoft – maybe you want to talk with us about our 100% managed code filesystem?! :-)

To prevent rumors: no – we are not working on anything Microsoft related, yet.

Source 1: Microsoft Research – Singularity
Source 2: Codename Midori

Graph theory: How to visualize a network

Since I am a bit familiar with graph theory and building technologies around graphs I came across this neat little library originally developed by Marc Smiths Team at Microsoft Research. It’s now up on Codeplex for your own study and research:

“.NetMap is a pair of applications for viewing network graphs, along with a set of .NET Framework 2.0 class libraries that can be used to add network graphs to custom applications.

A network graph is a series of vertices (sometimes called nodes) connected by edges. See this Wikipedia article for an overview of network graphs.”

Graph6 Graph1

Graph12

It even integrates into Excel…well if you need that… more interesting is:

“The Windows Forms control is one of several graph “visualizers” that are packaged in a Microsoft.NetMap.Visualization assembly. There is also a Microsoft.NetMap.Adapters assembly for reading and writing graph data in various formats, a Microsoft.SocialNetworkLib assembly for analyzing social networks, and a Microsoft.NetMap.Core assembly that implements the low-level vertex, edge, and graph classes. The framework for a Microsoft.NetMap.Algorithms assembly is also provided, although most of the graph algorithms are still work items as of May 2008.”

Source 1: http://research.microsoft.com/~masmith/
Source 2: http://www.codeplex.com/NetMap

a tool to convert a Windows Server 2008 machine into a useable workstation without loosing anything

a similar tool is available for Windows Server 2003 and now for 2008:

“Probably you are thinking at the moment: “Why the heck should I use Windows Server 2008 as my Workstations Operating System?? Vista works fine for me…”.

The answer is clear: Windows Server 2008 has almost exactly the same features as Windows Vista (SP1), but is remarkably faster and more stable!

converter_general

I cannot talk about the “more stable”-part since my Vista machines do not crash but if you’re one of those who just cannot live without the newest cutting-edge kernel version go ahead install Server 2008 and convert it into a useable workstation with Sound and stuff :-)

Source: http://www.win2008workstation.com/wordpress/2008/07/17/windows-server-2008-workstation-converter/

Hyper-V vs. Virtual Sever 2005 R2 – a “benchmark” using Sharepoint

Michael O’Donovan has a great benchmark-comparison of the brand new Hyper-V and the older Virtual Server 2005 R2:

“I have done a fair amount of SharePoint demos and developement over the past few years, and have always done this on my laptop using Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 or Microsoft Virtual PC, to host and run a SharePoint environment. Last year at Tech-Ed, while I was doing a demo, I had a comment from someone in the audience “Why is SharePoint so slow?” To some degree it makes sense, the specific SharePoint virtual environment which I was using at the time had almost every product known to man installed (the virtual hard drive size was 40GB), as well as being a domain controller and running on a laptop which only had 1GB ram assigned to the virtual machine. However, with the RTM release of Hyper-V (on Windows Server 2008), I wanted to see if performance was better now.”

One graph from his article:

image_2

Guess now – which color is which product?

Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/modonovan/archive/2008/07/09/sharepoint-under-hyper-v-versus-virtual-server-2005-r2.aspx

Meet the C# 4.0 design team…

Channel 9 has the bits and pieces:

“What’s the C# team up to these days? Who’s on the C# 4.0 design team, anyway? With the looming problem of manycore facing developers now and certainly in the near future (to a much greater extent – programming for 80 core (asymmetric to boot) processors, anyone?). I thought it was time to find out what Anders et al are working on to get a clear sense of C#’s near (and not-so-near) future so I asked if I could come to one of their design meetings to have an informal chat (are we ever formal on C9?) and meet the people behind the next iteration of the most popular .NET programming language.”

csharp4c9

Source: http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/Charles/C-40-Meet-the-Design-Team/

RAW digital photo codecs for Windows Vista

If you got a digital SLR camera you probably do RAW shoots from time to time…so this could probably be interesting:

Many photographers—especially those with digital SLRs—shoot in ‘RAW’ mode, which outputs a file format that is proprietary to their camera make and model (for example, .CR2, .NEF). These RAW formats preserve more of the original information from the camera than the JPG file that most other cameras output. This extra information provides greater quality, but it comes at a price of convenience. JPG is a universally supported image file format, but as anyone who has used RAW files can tell you, they are anything but universally supported.

In the past, RAW shooters had to either rely on RAW conversion software provided by their camera manufacturer, or put their fate in the hands of the myriad of software makers who have attempted to reverse-engineer these formats for support in their software applications. This led to a number of problems: compatibility issues, varying quality or inconsistent results from one application to another, and holes in the user workflow where RAW support is lacking.

Windows Vista attempts to solve these problems by providing an extensible platform that allows support for these (and other) new file formats to be added to Windows by the owner of the file format. This support comes in the form of a codec, which users will get from their camera manufacturer, either by downloading it, or provided with a new camera body. The Photo Gallery will even detect the presence of these files and help you download a codec when it exists.

Microsoft has been working with the major camera manufacturers so that they can provide codecs for their various RAW formats to their customers. Once these codecs are installed, users will find that they can view their RAW files and thumbnails throughout Windows Vista.

There are Codecs available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax and ArdFry

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/prophoto/downloads/codecs.aspx

Say goodbye: Windows 3.11 reached end-of-life

Amazingly enough OEMs could license WfW 3.11 for this long period of time…

“we recently announced that effective November 1st, 2008, OEM’s will no longer be able to license Windows for Workgroups 3.11 in the embedded channel.”

wfw311logo

but it’s time to say goodbye.

Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/jcoyne/archive/2008/07/09/it-s-the-end-for-3-11.aspx

Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Improvements for .NET 3.5 SP1

Servicepack 1 for the .NET Framework 3.5 is coming out so there are many new features and improvements… like this list of WCF Improvements:

  • New Hosting Wizard for WCF Service projects.
  • Enhancements in Test Client such as support for RM Sessions, Message Contract and Nullable types enables testing of broader set of WCF-based services.
  • Expanding reach of DataContract Serializer by relaxing the need of having [DataContract]/ [DataMember] on types and by supporting an interoperable mechanism for dealing with object references.
  • Improved Partial Trust Debugging Experience with support for Event Log.
  • Support for ADO.NET Entity Framework entities in WCF contracts.
  • Improvements in writing REST based services ranging from easily supporting ServiceDocuments publication and consumption to providing greater control and usability of UriTemplate.
  • Significant performance improvements on large workflow-based projects in Visual Studio.
  • Considerable scalability increases for hosted WCF services in IIS7-integrated mode.

Source: http://hyperthink.net/blog/we-are-pleased-to-bring-you-new-features-in-net-3-5-sp1/

Writing an application a day keeps the doctor away… a new Windows Mobile application each day

Chris Craft has did a very interesting project – He wrote a new application every day. The “Application Calendar” is now available:

“I have put together a calendar of applications for the 30 Days of .NET [Windows Mobile Applications]. Here you can get a quick feel for all the applications we’ve created so far, and will write in the coming days.”

anappaday

The best is – these are actually useful applications – like Trippr – a tool that displays all Flickr pictures that are tagged with your current location (gps based)… how cool is that? There are many more… Callblocker, GPS Clock, GeoCash and there’s one I sure will take a look at:

speedo

That’s a GPS based Speedo! :-)

Source: http://www.cjcraft.com/blog/default.aspx

Hyper-V RTM is now available for Windows Server 2008

As of today Microsoft offers the KB950050 update for Windows Server 2008 – which means: Hyper-V – the hypervisor of Windows 2008 is now available in the final release version.

image_2

“The update to the Hyper-V role provides improvements to security, stability, performance, user experience, forward compatibility of configurations, and the programming model. All users of the Hyper-V role should apply this update. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer. After you have installed this update, it cannot be removed. This update is provided to you and licensed under the Windows Server 2008 License Terms. With this update, you can now use Hyper-V in a production environment for supported configurations. Please see Windows Server 2008 Licensing and Support terms for more information.”

Source: KB950050

a cross-team blog about the Windows Foundations

The .NET Endpoint is a new blog of several teams inside Microsoft that work on the Windows Foundations (you know… WCF, WFF…)

“This is a Microsoft cross-team blog – meaning that multiple groups here at Microsoft will be posting, including the WF/WCF development team, testing team, .NET product management, and some of the more influential folks in our field. Additionally, this blog will be consolidating a couple smaller team blogs into one place, and adding a few link collections to help WF/WCF novices and experts alike locate content. The goal is simple: this will be the one blog to subscribe to if you want to stay on top of WF and WCF stuff.”

Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/endpoint/

A .net web debugging proxy tool

If you’re frequently debugging web traffic (http/https) you may want to take a look at Fiddler:

“Fiddler is a Web Debugging Proxy which logs all HTTP(S) traffic between your computer and the Internet. Fiddler allows you to inspect all HTTP(S) traffic, set breakpoints, and “fiddle” with incoming or outgoing data. Fiddler includes a powerful event-based scripting subsystem, and can be extended using any .NET language.

Fiddler is freeware and can debug traffic from virtually any application, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and thousands more.”

fiddler

Source: http://www.fiddler2.com

a .NET profiler for the compact framework

Thank god there’s now a .NET Compact Framework profiler available – we can now start to optimize our compact framework applications – and the best of the story: this one works well and is completely free.

Key features:

  • The EQATEC Profiler is a code profiler, not a memory profiler.
    So it’s all about making your app run faster, not about tracking
    objects and memory.The report will tell you exactly how many times each method was
    called and how long it took. You can then speedup
    your application by optimizing just the most expensive methods.
  • The profiler and viewer are very easy to use. The viewer
    in particular has been designed to make digging into the
    report easy and useful.Instead of
    “percent of total execution time”-bars and filters and stuff that look fancy,
    but are often useless in practice, we’ve made it easy for you to see and navigate to
    what really
    matters: the most expensive methods and their context.
  • The overhead depends on the instrumentation-level and
    the application itself, but typically
    your app will only run 20-40% slower and become 30-50% bigger. This low overhead means you’re usually able to run your app just like
    normal, even for timing-critical code.
  • “-and free means crap, right?”
    Well, not always. You know, some users have actually taken time to write us saying that we ought to charge them for this kind of
    quality tool. Really, its true!
    However, for now we’ve decided not to.

Source 1: http://www.eqatec.com/tools/profiler/features

German Microsoft Student Technology Conference 08 announced!

“Das Datum steht fest: Unsere STC 2008 findet am 15.05.2008 statt!

Wir laden Dich herzlich nach Berlin ein und freuen uns auf einen tollen Tag mit Dir! Es erwartet Dich eine tolle Location, spannende Vorträge und Austausch mit Microsoft-Experten und –Ansprechpartnern, so dass Du ganz im Sinne des Networkings Deiner Karriere auf die Beine helfen kannst.

Zudem hast Du hier die Chance mit zu verfolgen, welches Imagine Cup Team im Software Design die deutsche Fahne beim internationalen Finale in Paris vertreten wird. Der Imagine Cup ist der weltweit größte Technologiewettbewerb für Schüler und Studierende – alle Infos zum Wettbewerb findest Du unter www.imaginecup.info.”

stc08

Stattfinden wird die STC dieses Jahr in der Kalkscheune in Berlin.

Source 1: http://www.studentconference.de
Source 2: STC 2007
Source 3: http://www.kalkscheune.de/