Thursday, 13 December 2007

Microsoft Buys Multimap

Microsoft have bought out Multimap, with the deal looking to land the founder of Multimap Sean Phelan £12m.

This will help Virtual Earth compete with Google Maps, especially as Multimap is one of the top 10 most visited site in the UK.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Imagine Cup: Software Design Round 1 Extended

The deadline for the first round of the Software Design invitation has been pushed back, from 14th December to 9th January.

This may come as good news for some groups who were scraping together their final bits for the entry. Luckily my team was ready to hand in our entry this Friday, the extra time will allow us to polish up on our entry and add some extra content.

Also meaning that people who have only just found out about the Imagine Cup, have a month now to get their idea typed up and submitted!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

MIX@MMU Review

MIX @ MMU was a great event, with great presentations from our gueset speakers Phil Winstanley and Mike Taulty.

I started the event out with a present about the Imagine Cup, going through what is involved in the Imagine Cup and the various prizes that are up for grabs, from a trip to Redmond working with the Popfly team to the pile of Xbox 360s that Microsoft are giving away.

To register your interest in the Imagine Cup go to:


Remember just registering your intrest will enter you into a prize draw to win an Xbox 360 Elite every month (Not bad for 2 minutes of your time).
The slides that I used in the presentation can be found on my Skydive account, feel free to download them:



Phil Winistanley then went on to talk about developing websites using ASP.NET. Some of the topics that Phil covered were:

  • A comparison of C# to Java
  • Overview of the .NET framework and the languages supported
  • Master pages and CSS to build up a consistent theme throughout the project
  • Controls with back end functionality (Imagebutton that fired an event)
  • Implementing AJAX into your ASP.NET pages
  • Login and user creation components that are supplied with ASP.NET
  • Rich video, using the forthcoming ASP.NET 3.5 Framework

During his talk Phil mentioned Visual Studio Express Edition which can be downloaded from the following link:

http://www.microsoft.com/express/

This comes with the .NET Developer Server, which is used instead of such things as the TomCat server which you may be more familar.



Phils talk ended with rich content in a website which was an ideal starting point for Mikes Silverlight demo. Mike covered a wide range of topics:

  • Silverlight & XAML Introduction
  • Silverlight V1.0 (current build)
  • Silverlight V2.0 (future release)
  • Rich Interactive Media, showing the Silverlight Airways and the Fox Film site
  • cross platform capabilities
  • developing Silverlight with JavaScript and the .NET Framework
  • Expression Studio, for creating XAML

There are various ways of creating XAML but by far the best is by using Microsofts Expression Suite which is a family of programs (Design, Blend, Web and Media) which come togther to allow designers and developers to create rich web content. Trials of the Expression Suite can be found at:

http://www.microsoft.com/expression/

All in all the event was a great success, even with my it being my first public presentation. I would like to once again thank all those of you who turned up and a special thanks to Mike and Phil for giving some great presentations.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Check out this awesome song and video by The Richter Scales , found this video whilst reading through Scott Hanselman's blog. Very funny definatly worth watching!

Monday, 3 December 2007

ANN Backpropagation Solved


As I had previously posted I was having trouble with my bipoloar neural network. A bipolor neural network deals with input and output between 1 and -1 this allows for faster training as negative values can be passed through the network.
During backpropogation the weights will be changed in the network till the output is the desired output, however in changing the output sometimes the output will become 0. In this case when we use the output to calculate other values such as the error, this will also become 0 as we are multiplying by the output of 0. Hence everything will eventually be set to 0 and no more learning will occur.

This problem has been solved using an imput bias which can be seen in the above diagram. Each of the layers in the network have a bias representing them and the bias input is added to the sum of the rest of the inputs this makes sure that the output will never become 0.
So after "jigging" (yes, that is a technical term) about with the code I got it to work with bipolar input and the result is a faster training network.
Now all i need to now is turn all the aspects of the code into proper objects so that i can easier make multilayered network with "n" neurons

Sunday, 2 December 2007

MIX@MMU Wednesday 5th December



MIX @ MMU is fast approaching, with only a couple of short days to wait we have another speaker confirmed!

Mike Taulty a Microsoft Development Evangelist and Silverlight guru will be attending, giving an insight into development using Silverlight, Microsofts latest web technology which gives developers the ability to create rich interactive user experiences.

MIX promises to be a great event, especially with Phil and Mike offering a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Friday, 30 November 2007

C# XOR Neural Network

**************************************************
Please do not use the code in this blog for academic work
**************************************************

Over the last couple of days I've been locked away in my room programmin a neural network. I know not the most fun thing I can be doing.

The XOR Neural Network users back propergation to calculte the errors of each individual connection in the network. This is done by finding th error at the output to the network and then passing this back to the networks previous nodes.

My current alpha version of the network will train the network on a set of test data and then can be used on a live set of data to see if it works, at the current time I only have the network working for unipolar input as the bipolar input is sticking when the output hits zero. This causes the messy problem of multiplying by zero when we pass back the error. I still have yet to figure out how to solve this, but will keep you informed when I find out.

The code below is part of my network:

private void train(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
//set training set
// input 1 input 2 desired out
td[0, 0] = 0; td[0, 1] = 0; td[0, 2] = 0;
td[1, 0] = 0; td[1, 1] = 1; td[1, 2] = 1;
td[2, 0] = 1; td[2, 1] = 0; td[2, 2] = 1;
td[3, 0] = 1; td[3, 1] = 1; td[3, 2] = 0;

//randomise weights
randweights();

//do while loop checking to see if training is complete
do
{
E = 0;
for (vector = 0; vector < 4; vector++)
{

forwardsprop(2, 2);

double output = calculate((y1[0] * w2[0]) + (y1[1] * w2[1]));

double error = calcerror(output);

backprop(error);

chageweight(error, 2, 2);

E += cycleerror(output);
}

number++;
}while(E>Emax && number < epoch);

MessageBox.Show("Training Complete, E = " + E.ToString() + " Epochs = " + number.ToString());
}


This is the general overview of what happens in the program, the training section of code will repeatedly input the training data and calculate the new weights for each of the connections this is done by first forward propogation to get the output of the network.

//propogate forwards throught the network
public void forwardsprop(int inputs,int outputs)
{
int i = vector;
int count = 0;
for(int y=0; y<outputs; y++)
{
y1[y] = 0;

for(int j=0; j<inputs; j++)
{
y1[y] += td[i, j] * w1[count, j];
}

y1[y] = calculate(y1[y]);

count++;
}
}


This gives the output for each node and also the overall output of the network. Given this overall out put we can then find the error in the system, using the desired output in the training set and pass this value back through the network. This is called back propogation.

//pass errors back through the network to calculate new weights
public void backprop(double error)
{
for (int i = 0; i < 2; i++)
{
double nodeerror = (error * w2[i]);

nodeerror = (y1[i] * (1 - y1[i])) * nodeerror;

chageweight(nodeerror, i, 1);
}
}


Once we have all the errors for every node in the network we can work out have we need to change the weightings of each of the connections to reduce the ammount of error in the netwok.

//messy way to calculate the new weights for a connection
public void chageweight(double error, int node, int layer)
{
int i = vector;

if (layer == 1)
{
for (int j = 0; j < 2; j++)
{
double wadjust = n * error * td[i, j];
w1[node, j] += wadjust;
}
}

if (layer == 2)
{
for (int j = 0; j < 2; j++)
{
double wadjust = n * error * y1[j];
w2[j] += wadjust;
}
}
}




The weights havenow been changed in the network and next time you put data into the network the ammount of error given will be less.

To train the network you continually do this process untill you have reach Emax the maximum ammount of error that the system is allowed, or untill you have reached the desired number of epochs (amount of loops of all the data in the training set).


Once the system has been trained you can then test out the system to see if it actually works for the desired purpose.


As can be seen in the images work still needs to be done to the network, however the hard stuff is done and I can eventually get on with the other sections of work within my project. Along with trying to get the code to work for bipolar networks.



Thursday, 29 November 2007

Silverlight V2.0

Silverlight V1.0 has been going for a short time now, with V1.1 adding parts of the .NET framework still in Alpha. However there is already news of Silverlight V2.0.

Version 2.o will add more of the .NET framework to Silverlight including a set of rich controls such as textboxes, buttons and. lists, all the common controls you will need for a basic Silverlight app. This really exitetes me as it will make it much easier for people to develop with Silverlight and will be less of a faf than it is currently. There are also alot more content of the V2.0 release that MS are not willing to make public at the moment, but be sure that come release date, Silverlight V2.0 will deffinatly be crowned a Flash killer.

For the full article check out Scotts full blog post here.

Friday, 23 November 2007

MIX@MMU



MIX @ MMU is going to be my first major event as an MSP and hope as many people from the universiy can make it down. It promises to be a great event with talks from myself and Phil Winstanley. Not to mention the free beer and pizza (if we dont get kicked out by the Dean lol).

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Visual Studio 2008

Visual Studio 2008 is now avaliable to all those with an MSDN subscription!!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Microsoft Manchester

Just recived some inside information that Microsoft are going to be building a new office in Salford Quays. Along with Microsoft, Google will be building a Manchester office and both are currently trying to out do each other with the design of their buildings.

Hopefully this will mean more jobs avaliable for students such as myself :)

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Visual Studio 2008 November Release

It was announced at Tech Ed Barcelona this week that Visual Studio 2008 (Codename Orcas) will deffinatly be released by the end of the month!!

For more informaton click here.

Friday, 9 November 2007

The NEW waterfall model

Whilst browsing for information for my final year project I found this great diagram of how the waterfall model should truly be implmented.


Lets see all you code gurus get out there and implement this method!

Silverlight Physics

Take a look at these amazing silverlight demos that I found via Mike Ormonds blog:

http://www.bluerosegames.com/farseersilverlightdemos/

These silverlight apps are using the farseer physics engine, which can be freely downloaded to create brillinant web games which include physics.

More about the Farseer Engine:

The Farseer Physics Engine is an easy to use 2D physics engine designed
for Microsoft’s XNA and Silverlight platforms. The Farseer Physics Engine
focuses on simplicity, useful features, and enabling the creation of fun,
dynamic games.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Register for the Imagine Cup and win an Xbox 360

Want the chance to win an Xbox 360? Well every month Microsoft will be giving one away, all you have to do is register your interest in the Imagine Cup. Go to:

www.imaginecup.co.uk

Then click on register, easy as that!

The Imagine Cup is the world’s largest technology competition with students all over the world taking part. It gives you brilliant opportunities to build up connections with people in a wide range of computing companies, last year one of the UK’s entrants was offered a job based upon his entry into the imagine cup.

This year the Imagine Cup is being held in Paris, France and with a little effort you will be able to get an all expenses paid trip there to compete all you have to do is enter. Also for the first time ever the UK will be giving out country specific prizes, to some of the groups that reach the third round of the competition. Some of these prizes include 2week work placement with the Microsoft Popfly team in Seattle, 2 week work placement with a Microsoft Games Studio, HD Video Camera and loads of Xbox 360 Elites.

For more information on the Imagine Cup check out the website: www.imaginecup.co.uk

Unreal Tournament 3 BETA

The Beta Demo for UT3 has been released! It is extremly good and theres more gun toating action than you can shake a stick at!

Download it now from here:

http://www.gamershell.com/download_21427.shtml

Also check out the UT3 site:

www.unrealtournament3.com/

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Building Dynamic Web Applications with Microsoft Silverlight

Want to learn about the latest internet technologies? Well now’s your chance, Mike Ormond a Microsoft Development Evangelist is coming to Manchester on the 15th November to give a presentation on developing web apps using Microsoft’s latest web technology Silverlight.

Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering rich media experiences and applications for the Web. Silverlight provides a highly productive platform for designers and developers to collaborate in building a new generation of web experiences enabling you to build visually stunning interactive content and applications that run on multiple browsers and operating systems.

Mike will also be taking a look at XMAL a mark-up based language based on XML, which is currently being used to develop rich media experiences such as those you will see when developing with Silverlight or WPF.

For more information on the free event go to:
http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032355901&Culture=en-GB

or check out Mike Ormond’s blog at:
http://blogs.msdn.com/mikeormond/default.aspx

Hope to see you all there!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Great Presentation Tools

Zoomit and NLarge are two great tools that can be utalized when doing presentations, each allow you to draw onto the screen to highlight various points of intrest to your guests.

This makes a presentation even more interactive and makes the crowd really feel part of the action. Both have functions allowing you to zoom into the screen, which is especially useful when giving a code demo and you want to get across the importance of a section of code.

Guy Smith Ferrier (Microsoft MVP)discusses both of these peices of software in his blog post NLarge Vs Zoomit, with the opinion that Zoomit is the better of the two products.

Give the software a download and make up your own mind. I for one really like the extras that the software adds to a presentation.

Friday, 2 November 2007

IBM Mainframe Contest

So we have all heard of Microsoft's Imagine Cup, it now looks like IBM want in on the student tech contests with their Mainframe Contest.

This is split into 3 rounds the first of which helps to get the students thinking about mainframes and a general introduction, with the first 200 students to finish the stage winnig IBM mainframe t-shirts.

Stage 2 is a much more practical stage withe students using the skills they learned in stage 1 to do various programing tasks. Again the first 25 students to complete the stage get Sony PSPs

The final stage the most challenging stage with students working on a project over a number of weeks, with the best 3 entries winning think pads.

Also up for grabs is a trip to IBM Hursley where the lucky student will be able to see what life at IBM is really like.

Check out the website at http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/uk/z/mainframecontest/ for more information.

Microsoft Graduate Scheme!

I just got some really good news, I have passed the first round of applications for the Microsoft Graduate Scheme, the first round was submitting my details online and answering a number of general work questions such as giving details of when I have worked as part of a team etc.

Now all I have to do is wait for a phone interview, where I will talk with someone at the recruitment agency. Hopefully this will not be too bad as I can talk for hours on why I want to work for MS and what relevant work I have done.

Ill keep you posted!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

IT Carrers Fair

I know its a bit short notice but today there is a Carrers fair at the G-Mex Centre, Manchester.

All the large IT corperations will be there for a chance for you to speak with the employees and to get more of an idea of what it is like to work for an IT company.

So if your looking for a year placement or a graduate oppertunity head down to the G-Mex and see if any of the jobs take your fancy.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Imagine Cup

"Imagine a world where technology enables a more sustainable environment for all"

This is the slogan for this years Imagine Cup and with the enviroment being a key buzzword at the moment what better than to hold an event focusing on how we as developers can help create a better enviroment.

Check out the latest blog post on Mint Source to learn more about the imagine cup. One of the prizes which I am really stoked about is the opportunity to go to Redmond and follow the Popfly group.

Also if your up for a challange and want your university to be known as the best take the online quiz. Come on MMU!!

Re-Inspiration Tour

The Inspiration Tour will be heading back to MMU in the new year to re-do the event which suffered from technical difficulties last time round.

The new date for the event is

Thursday 24th Jan, 11-2 in C0.14.
This will be in the John Dolton building so easy enough for all computing students to get to.
An advertising campaign will be lauched a few weeks before the event so everyone is aware of event.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Imagine Cup Website

With the 2007 Imagine Cup competition finished it is now time for everyone to get signed up and involoved with next years competition.
The UK website for the IC has just been launched and can be found at:
Make sure you head over and take a look, there is also some cool competitions with the chance to win an Xbox 360.
If you have not yet registered for the IC then register on the main site which is:
There will be more excitement and news to come in the next couple of months, so go sign up and start thinking about what sections you will be entering.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Channel 8: Scott Guthrie Interview

I previously posted a video of Kevin and myself interview Scott Guthrie at MIX:UK, this video has now been put up on th Channel 8 website, the link is:

http://channel8.msdn.com/Posts/Microsoft-Student-Partners-with-Scott-Guthrie-at-MixUK/

Thanks to everyone who has helped get the video on Channel 8 and a big thank you to Scott.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Inspiration Tour??

The Inspiration Tour kicked off today and where better to start it than right here in Manchester! However after some major technical difficulties the event started to look gloomy. Ed and Ben encoundted technical problem with the projector and were only able to use the project for about 15 minutes, which left the rest of the event being presented without any demos or slides.

However all is not bad news, we have been asured that the Inspiration Tour will return to Manchester and give a fully fledged event. Possibly starting and ending the tour Manchester.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Silverlight Video Streaming

So you were out drinking last night and got an awesome video of your best friend making a fool of himself, what better way to share it with the world than by using Microsoft’s latest technologies Silverlight and the Expression Suite.
Microsoft are currently offering Silverlight streaming facilities for everyone with a .NET passport, this means anyone with a hotmail or msn account. Silverlight streaming gives users up to 4GB of storage space where Silverlight media and applications can be uploaded. All of which is absolutely free! So what do we need to take full advantage of this:
Crazy Video Footage (not supplied by Microsoft :p )
Expression Media Encoder
Silverlight Streaming Account (.NET Passport)

Preparing Video Footage

Once you have you footage uploaded from your camera or phone and its stored on your PC its time to convert this into a smaller file that can be easily streamed from the web. An ideal tool to do this is Microsoft Expression Media Encoder which can be downloaded and installed in a matter of minutes.

Expression Media Encoder allows you to optimise and imported video depending on how it will be utilised, you can choose from a number of different video settings such as Streaming Broadband, Web Server Broadband, Streaming 512K DSL this will then decide how best to encode the video so that is optimized for the chosen usage. You can also choose the audio settings, so for example if you were uploading a music video you could encode the audio in a higher quality.

Now that you have selected your encoding type you can compare this to the original footage that you recorded by using Media Encoders great “A/B Compare Mode” this splits the video so that half of the clip is in the original video format and the other half is in the proposed encoding format. The compare mode can be done in a number of ways, splitting the video vertically, horizontally or just creating two instance of the video one in the old and one in the new format.

Finally you need to select the output template for the video this is how the video controls will look, there are a large selection of different templates that you can use. However if you are feeling particularly creative you can create your own template in Expression Blend, using all the great features of Blend to create a rich interactive media player.






After pressing Encode the video will be encoded to the correct format and placed on your PC, all that needs to be done now is preparing it to be uploaded to Silverlight Streaming.

Getting Ready to Upload

When you have located the folder containing all the items created by Expression Media Encoder you will be presented with a large number of files, not all of are needed. We only need the following:

MicrosoftAjax.js
BasePlayer.js
PlayerStrings.js
player.js
StartPlayer.js
Player.xaml

Alongside these files we also need to create a Manifest XML file with the following code:

<SilverlightApp>
<version>1.0</version>
<loadFunction>StartWithParent</loadFunction>
<jsOrder>
<js>MicrosoftAjax.js</js>
<js>BasePlayer.js</js>
<js>PlayerStrings.js</js>
<js>player.js</js>
<js>StartPlayer.js</js>
</jsOrder>
</SilverlightApp>

We now have a folder containing all the needed files so that the video can be uploaded to the web, we need to zip these files into a single .zip file.


Upload Your Video

We now need to head across to https://silverlight.live.com/ and using your .NET Passport register with the site to receive your 4GB storage space, once registered head to Manage Applications, and then select Upload Silverlight Application.
Here you will give your video a name and then browse your PC to find the zip file you created previously containing the video and manifest.
We now have our video hosted on the Silverlight Streaming site and can use the given three code snippets needed to embed the video into a website of our own.

What You Waiting For?
Now that you have seen how easy it is to go out and get your free web space and upload some videos.

Dominic Green (MSP)

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Inspiration Tour UK


The Inspiration Tour will soon start making its way around the country and where better to start than right here in Manchester!

With topics like the .NET Framework, Silverlight and XNA it covers all bases for those students who want to go on intoth tech industry.

Scott Guthrie MIX Interview




Scott Guthrie was kind enough to give Kevin Pfister and myself an interview during his busy schedule at MIX:UK. This is just a preview of the finished video which will be uploaded onto Channel 8 as soon as the audio is cleaned up.

If you like this take a look at my MIX mashup as well.

Bob Geldof?

So we are living in a world where technologie is all around us, wether it be the desktop PC or the fridge frezer with all its gadgets. One of the most known companys around the world due to this is Microsoft and it's creator "Bob Geldof"?

OK so I know this isn't true, however I was talking to a girl yesterday who swore blind that it was! She was soo convinced she started saying about how he also organised a concert ...

Some people need educating

Monday, 24 September 2007

ukstudentzine Article

So everyone who's read my blog in the last couple of weeks knows about me going to MIX:UK, well part of reciving tickets to go I agreed to write an article about the expreience. The article has now been published and can be found on the Microsoft ukstudentzine, check out my article here.

Feel free to leave comments about what you think of the article or even your time at MIX.

MIX:UK Video

Check out my Mashup of what happened at MIX:UK




I originally used silverlight streaming to host this video, however blogger as yet dosn't seem to support the featue. Therefore couldn't get the silverlight video to be embedded properly in blogger, however I will still make a post shortly on what you have to do to use Silverlight Streaming.

For now enjoy the youtube vid.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

PHP support in Expression Web 2.0

At the end of MIX:UK there was a small section giving us lucky few a glimpse of things to come. During this section we got to see a great application built in WPF looking at CT scans, a talk on multi threading programming and also a quick peak at Expression Web 2.o.

We were shown that in the new edition you will be able to create new pages in PHP!!!!!!!!!

This means there will be intellisense support for php and as php is the most used tool for creating web pages I think this will be extremly influential in getting alot more people to move from Dreamweaver over to the Expression Suite.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

MIX:UK Day 2

Day two of MIX, was kicked off in true developer fashion with Scott Guthrie jumping straight into programming in .NET 3.5 and the new Visual Studio 2008 (formerly Codename Orcas). The two hours spent going over the new features of VS2008 not only showcased some of the new features of the development environment but in true fashion was entertaining. With the session only being a two hour slot, we were only able to scratch the surface on the new features. The new LINQ querying language was particularly impressive with demos of LINQ in action querying object, databases and more. Also demonstrated was the new WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) controls for VS2008 taking much of the functionality from Expression Web to allow the user to create stunning applications, as well as easily managing CSS.
During the break between the first set of presentations I managed to get my much anticipated interview with Scott, which if the audio turns out find will be posted up on Channel 8 with the rest of the footage that was captured at the event. Scott was a genuinely nice guy to meet and have a chat with, we managed to talk with him about a number of things from how he got started in Microsoft, where he sees the web going in a couple of years time and my personal favourite was when we asked him about the best “freebee” that he had got since he started working at Microsoft. It turns out that the best thing he received was a basket ball signed by Bill Gates asking him to come and work for the company which he still has in his office today.
After this talk we then went on to a presentation on where to get started with WPF and Silverlight applications, this talk was much more cantered towards a group of developers / designers however was still very interesting. The talk was mainly about trying to achieve the balance between design and development, as well as how the use of the internet and sites on the net has changed over the past 10 or so years. One interesting point made was the emergence of a new role, during the creation of a web app or desktop application which is a middle man between the designer and developer. This is a role well suited to people who can both develop and also have an interest in design, they are then able to easily identify if a design is far too flashy to be made into a viable application, and these member of the team would ideally be XAML gurus.
I had never heard of tech based gameshows before today but they are extremely entertaining with myself and Kevin Pfister volunteering ourselves to play. The game was called “Swaggily Fortunes” and the questions were based on the answers given in a handout at another event. I managed to win my fair share of sway and have a great time whilst doing it. Also I must say that I nearly have enough “Microsocks” to last me a week and my prized runner up trophy.
The final session of the day was dedicated to giving us a Sneak Peak into what is currently being developed with Microsoft Technologies, by themselves and third parties. We had a sneak peak at some new Halo 3 footage, a look at multicore programming and also what can be done with the Microsoft Robotics package.
The whole MIX experience has been great and I would defiantly recommend other people to attend such events as you not only get a more in depth look at the latest technologies but there are so many people there to meet and get talking to.
Hopefully I will be able to attend more events in the future, but until then keep an eye out for any footage of MIX on channel 8.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

MIX:UK Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of MIX:UK 2007 and it couldn't of been better.
The day started of with a brilliant keynote, presented by a large numbe of people it gave a brilliant overview of what MIX is all about. Starting off by wowing the audiance with brilliant footage of silverlight in action. The keynote was made up of a number of demos from Microsoft employees and companys who use Microsoft technologies to develop great solutions.
There was a demo on how to build a silverlight media player application, using expression blend which took under five minutes to get a stunning end peice with rich animated graphics.

After the footnote and a short break, Scott Guthrie went on to explain silverlight development in much more detail, starting with the basics of how to use XAML to create a brilliant GUI by using different shapes and effects. The main thing that struck me in the design and creation of the GUI was how similar it was to creating SVG with XML. Once Scott had got the basics done with the GUI he went on to show us some more advanced techniques such as using transform matricies to transform and rotate buttons and shapes. Also connecting Silverlight to the users local machine to use folders from there pc was really interesting. This presentation has really given me the silverlight bug, and once I download VS 2008 beta (as Express dosn't support SL) I will get progamming and designing some small applications.

The next presentation was all about harnessing the power of Windows Live apps in your own web sites so using such things as Virtual Earth to create websites such as Track Me and another sports tracking system which allows uses to track there excercise by using a GPS device which is then synced with a map to show the route that the user has run on a map. There was also talk about a Silverlight hosting system where you can get up to 4Gb of FREE storage for your silverlight videos and applications. When you upload your apps you are then given a section of JavaScript that you can copy and paste into your own web site for free video hosting. For more information on using Windows Live apps on your web sites have a look at http://dev.live.com/.

Throught the day we managed to get a number of interviews and am really looking forwards to an interview with Scott Guthrie on the second day of MIX.

The day ended with a final show down between the people attending the event fighting for the crown of Guitar Hero. I think this was a billiant competition with all competetors putting on a great show. The winners ended up bagging themselves a great graphics tablet and also means I will now start training my Guitar Hero skills for the next MS event that I go to.

Overall the first day was a great experience and I can't wait for what they have in store for us in the second day of MIX. There is a number of talks on Orcas and the .NET 3.5 framework that I am particularly looking forwards to not to mention whatever tricks they have up their sleeves.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

MIX:UK Fast Approaching

MIX:UK 2007 just around the corner, with a couple of days to go until the event. MIX is a annual event held by Microsoft, displaying the newest technologies both for designers and developers. This years agenda seems to be focusing on web design/development with alot of focus on Silverlight, RIA and how to create and get the most out of these cutting edge goodies.

Lucky for me being a MSP I have been able to grab myself a ticket to attend the event. Whilst at the event I will be hunting down unsusspecting attendes and speakers to try and get video interviews which will be posted on Channel 8 at a later date.

Recently I have been trying to get in touch with as many people who will be attending to try and secure interviews with some of the speakers but as you can imagine with the amount of people at the event as well as the local media it isn't plain sailing.

However I have been told there is a possibility of getting an interview with Scott Guthrie, which is awesome as apparently he will not be giving interviews to the press. This does put a little more pressure on us to get a good interview. Scott is a general manager of a number of teams at Microsoft over in the states, he is in charge of teams which develop such things as ASP.NET, WPF and Silverlight to name just a few. Scotts blog can be found here.

MIX isn't all about learning about the latest tech but also getting to know other people in the community and with the MIX Munchies after the first day of the event this is the place to mingle. There will be a DJ and drinks being put on before we head out for a bite to eat, I have to say this is one of those opportunities to make the most of as there will be so many interesting people about.

I have also just found out that the tube strike has been canceled which means that the hassle of trying to get accross London for 8:30 in the morning is reduced.

I'm really excited about the event and can't wait till it all starts. I will hopefully keep you updated as the event develops (if I can find a WiFi access point).

Thursday, 6 September 2007

WWE Silverlight

Everyone has to check out this new site from the WWE (Wrestling) built using silverlight it is apsolutly awesome. It has some cool vids on there Wrestle Mania 3! Check it out!

http://www.wwe.com/inside/silverlight/launch/

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Posting Code in Your Blog

On some of my resent posts Ive been having trouble displaying code on my blog due to blogger trying to turn the code into HTML objects such as buttons, so instead of seeing the code like I wanted an actuall button would be displayed.

My first thought was to use the <code></code> tags but this wouldnt display properly so I also tried <pre></pre> but still I had the same problem the page was converting the HTML to an object and not displaying the code.

After searching the net for a while I found a site that would encode / decode HTML so that it can be displayed in a browser and not converted to an object etc.

The page is http://centricle.com/tools/html-entities/ give it a try,it's worked wonders for me!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

WPF Calculator






In my last post I went through creating my first application in WPF and straight away I started thinking about creating a much more visually attractive application, so I decided to create another basic application, this time a simple calculator.

Using Orcas Beta 2 I was able to create a WPF form with 2 text boxes for user input, a combo box, button and a label for the result of the calculations.

I first started out with the combo box displaying text to signify different calculations (e.g. +, -, /,*) however as I was making the rest of the application found myself getting more confident and decided to add images to the combo box so that a user can select an image representing there choice. Implementing this was much easier that I first thought it would be and using only a couple of lines of code in the XAML file and altering some of the code behind file I was able to use the image combo box to select the type of calculation. The XAML for this is:


<ComboBox Margin="40,107.457,0,79.968" Width="120" Name="comboBox1" HorizontalAlignment="Left">

<Image Name="add" Source ="images\add.jpg" />
<Image Name="minus" Source ="images\minus.jpg" />
<Image Name="multiply" Source ="images\multiply.jpg" />
<Image Name="divide" Source ="images\divide.jpg" />

</ComboBox>




And in the code for this to find which of these images your user selected simply find the index of the items in the combo box.






All the images that I have used in the combo box were created in Expressin Design and Exported as jpg files. With creating the images myself I was able to directly match the hex color value for the rest of the application to this creating a unified feel to the program.



Overall I dont think it was a bad effort at all for an hours work, an experienced programmer would be able to create some amazing things with WPF can't wait till it hits the mainstream and all released products look this good.


WPF "Hello, World"

So I managed to complete the WPF introduction course which I last posted about and after doing this I thought I would like to create a simple application using XAML and WPF to feel a little more at home with the whole subject, so I decided to download me a copy of Orcas Beta 2 Express and create a Hello World App.

Hello World applications are normally the first application (if you can even call them that) that most people will make when they start looking at a new programming language or programming concept. So heres how I went about creating my first WPF application.

I used Orcas, which is really nice I love the split layout that is used to display the design in the top half of the screen and the XAML code in the bottom section, this reminds me of using Expression Web and how the design and code is split on a single screen making it easy to tweak little bits of the program without constantly switching to a code view. However to see the code behind file for the application (much like the code behind files in ASP.NET) you have to open a new tab to get to this.

So getting started I just dragged and dropped a button and text box onto the form, this like i said before generates the XAML in the bottom half of the screen, so you can see how buttons are made in XAML. The XAML is really easy to understand and if like myself you have had some previous experience with XML you will find it pretty straigh forward.


Once I have my form layout how I want it, I then have to get the XAML button to respond to an event, this can either be done just like in a C# windows application by double clicking on the button or it can be done in the XAML code itself. To add an on click event you simply add a "click" attribute to the button tag.


So we now have:

click = "button1_click"

added to the attribue list for the button tag.

The click attribute says that when the button is clicked go and find the event handler called button1_Click in the code behind file.


For this event handler in the code it is extremly simple to display the desired text in the text box done just how you would if you were using any other language.


private void button1_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
textBox1.Text = "Hello, World";
}




This then just simply displays the text "Hello, World" in the text box we created in design view. Now we can run the code and see the amazing aplication in all its glory.


I am hoping to get a little time to play about with WPF before I have to start uni so hopefully will start to make some better appliations than this.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

MS E-Learning on WPF

I decided with the upcoming events both MIX:UK 07 and the MSP "Boot Camp" I should do a little geeking up on some of the subjects which are going to be appearing at both of the events, I have chosen to first take a look into the new exciting world of WPF, otherwise known as Windows Presentation Foundation. This enables designers and developers to work together without compromise to create a "rich" (the current buzz word) user interface.

I took a free e-course called "Clinic 5135: Introduction to Developing with Windows® Presentation Foundation and Visual Studio® 2005 " which can be found here. The course is split into a number of sections:
  • Introduction to WPF
  • History of WPF
  • WPF Features
  • Creating WPF Applications
  • Building WPF Applications
  • Hosting and Deploying WPF Applications and Custom Controls
  • Interoperating WPF and Other Application Models
  • Undestanding WPF Object Models
  • The WPF Application Object Model
  • The WPF Programming Object Model

Each of these sections of the course have content to either read, listen to or watch, when you have then completed the section there is a short self test to partisipate in making sure you have understood the section.

I found each of these sections easy enough to follow although at time I felt like some of it was going over my head and if I knew more about programming I would be faring a little better, in saying this the course has now given me a much better understanding of how WPF is incorperated into the development of applications.

The only disapointing part about the course is that it didnt run us thorough much more than how to create a simple hello, world application. I would of liked to of seen a bit more on the development side of this like a couple of videos that walked you through creating say an RSS reader or such like.

Overall the course was well worth the time spent reading throught the material (even with a bad internet connection in my new flat). I would advise anyone who is inerested in WPF or just wants to know some more of the technical stuff behind creating WPF applications to give it a shot.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Microsoft SkyDive

For me the future looks bleak for desktop PC as we know it today, for a number of years I have been waiting eagerly for the "on line" hard drive to come into play and now it has. Microsoft has released SkyDive, this is an on line storage space where users can upload there documents, music and videos.

To be honest I thought Google would be the first to offer such a service, but as far as I know they have yet to do so, this is good news for the guys at Microsoft to be at the forefront of this technology.

You log into SkyDive using your Live account, which is the same thing which you would use to log into your Hotmail accout, meaning that you dont have to remember any new username and password, this is why I really like the Windows Live services you can access them all from one username and password. If you do not have a Live account yet your really should jump on the bandwagon and go sign up.

SkyDive is a great online service once you log in you can upload and manage files just like you would on your hard drive and it seems to follow the same layout and icons as are used in Vista which is really cool. SkyDive also gives you the ability to share folders and make them public as well meaning everyone can assess what you published in that folder, all you have to do is send them a link to the folder or embed the folder into your website. This solves a lot of trouble with overly large emails and also problems with people not being able to pickup the files.

At the minute each user has been given 500 MB of space and seen as though SkyDive is still in its beta stages I can see this growing exponentially in the future, especially with the recent announcement that Hotmail are taking there inbox upto something like 4GB. File upload is very much dependent on your connection as you would expect so expect some waiting when trying to upload your favorite songs or video clips. However all is not glum, when waiting you can play a really cool bouncing ball game which is a nice addition to the site and makes uploading files less boring, however I find it a convenient break to go make a coffee.

This upload game is a really neat idea, I have also seen it put into action on the adidas site and makes waiting for long page loads much less of a hassle, however I would much prefer not the have the upload wait to start with.

Office Outlook Connector

Most people now have several email accounts spread out around the web, some for personal, some business and whatever else you want to use them for. So having set up a Google account, a Hotmail account and also having a work email it would be nice to have them all linked together right? Well now you can.

Microsoft recently released Office Outlook Connector, this allows users for the first time to recive Hotmail emails through Outlook all you have to do is download the file here. Follow the on screen instructions and you should have Hotmail via Outlook. Then you can add your Google and other mail accounts via the normal Tools --> Email Accounts... route.

So setting this up should be a doddle, but it wasn't the case for me. I validated my version of Office and downloaded the file which pops up asking me if I want to save or open. So I save the file, which is called msnolcon.msi and follow the on screen instructions to install and set up my Hotmail Live account with Outlook. Now all I get in the bottom corner of Outlook is an error symbol and when I click on it, it kindly informs me that there is a connection error and the Outlook Connector is only available to subscribers.

Now I know that this isn't the case, as its all over the place that this service can be used without being a subscriber (paying for hotmail) however you will not be able to sync your calender and tasks, which I have no problem with. So After talking with various other people about the problem I go of on a mission to get it working correctly. I installed it on Vista, XP, Office 2007, Office 2003 and none of these seem to fix the problem.

After a good few hour I go back to try and find some help from Microsoft Download Center and when I get to the help I find a file called "OutlookConnector.exe" so I download this, follow the on screen instructions and ... bam it work!

Now trying to find this file again is a nightmare and I still havn't been able to find it again in the maze that is Microsoft Download Center. The difference between the two downloads is that one of the files are an old version and this is the one that auto downloads. Here are the version numbers:

msnolcon.msi --- Outlook Connector Version 1.8.3501.0

OutlookConnector.exe --- Outlook Connector Version 12.0.4518.1058

Thats a massive difference in versions!!! So just make sure you are downloading the right file if you are having problems with trying to configure the Outlook Connector.

Anyway when I have got this download it works like a treat, I can now use this to download all my emails without having to scour the whole of the web and refreshing alot of different pages.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

How to crash Vista in 1 easy step!

I recently found an article saying that you can crash Vista by only pressing 2 keys, what your support to do is press:

Ctrl + E (keep hold)

Now this normally brings up the My Computer window, where you can see all your drives, however in Vista if you keep it held down its suppose to crash the OS.

Give it a try.

(Got to say I'm not running Vista so have yet to test out this little "trick" so please dont shout at me if it dosn't work)

MIX:UK 2007


Woohoo! I got some great news today, I have been given a ticket to attend MIX-UK 2007 this is a technology event held each year by Microsoft, displaying its latest technologies and gadgets.

I got the ticket as part of the MSP program and will be doing a video review, which hopefully will be put on channel8 and blogging about the experience. This is a brilliant opportunity for me to learn about the newest things that are about to be released.

The schedule for the event can be found on the MIX-UK web site and the current event which have been penciled in seem to focus heavily on Silverlight and Orcas. Which are tipped to be the hottest things for is year.

Schedule Includes:

  • Building Silverlight Applications
  • Design for Silverlight
  • Windows Live Services
  • Visual Studio 2008
  • ASP.NET 3.5
  • 3D solutions on the web
These are just a few of the topics being covered over the event, one session that I am really interested to find out what it's about is "Who's afraid of the blue monster?" I suspect that this will be a session about Vista and why people shouldn't be scared of the move.

Overall the event looks great and I'm really stoked to be attending, I will be attending along with my fellow MSP Kevin Pfiser who's blog can be found here.

I will keep you updated about what happens and the event and where the reviews can be found.

MSP 'Boot Camp'

Ok so it's been confirmed, its official the first MSP 'Boot Camp' is nearly upon us. The first 'Boot Camp' of the academic year is being held at Microsoft London on the 17th and 18th of September and looks to be a great event.
It will be the first time that this years UK MSP's will meet and I'm really looking forwards to meeting the rest of the crew, talking to each other in online forums is great but meeting and getting to know someone in person is much better. Hopefully this will make us a much tighter group and result in more topics and ideas being shared online.
At the current time I do not have a run down of what will be happening at the even, there will be some presentation techniques invloved which will help all the MSP's give better demonstrations and presentations to there respective universitys about the new Microsoft technologies. I am also hoping that there will be a number of workshops focusing on such things as WPF, WF, WCF, XAML and AJAX.
I will be traveling down to London the day before the event so that I don't have to rely on British transport to get me from Manchester to London for 10am. So if anyone else is in London at this time it would be great to hear from you and meet up.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Network Management Tools

I received a letter through the post this morning about my university final year project, I have been given a project with the title and project brief:

Network Management Tools

This project is to develop a network management tool that provides graphical and table information for network management. The tool will run under the Linux operating system and build on the SNMP protocol.

I am really looking forwards to getting my teeth into this project, I have yet to do any work with the SNMP protocol but find it an interesting subject.

No doubt I will be blogging about my ideas and how the project is maturing in the future.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Visual Studio 2006 'Orcas' Event

There is an upcoming event from Microsoft to demonstrate the new features of Visual Studio 2008, formerly codename 'Orcas'.

The event will be split into 2 sessions the first covering LINQ (Language Integrated Query) which I am personally looking forward to as LINQ looks extremly promising and looks as though it will be easy to pick up due to the syntax being much like that of SQL. I can see LINQ being a major part of new development, especially if all documents etc. have an XML back end.

The second session of the day covers the remaining features of Visual Studio 2008.

The event will take place both in Reading and London with the same content on each day, links to the event are below:

Reading - 04 September 2007

London - 05 September 2007

If I can find a cheap ticket I will be attending, hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Vista Service Pack

Microsoft have announced that the only service pack that they will not be releasing a full service pack for Vista this year, however they will be releasing a beta version of the SP sometime in 2007.

Hopefully the official SP will be release early 2008.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Microsoft Expression Web

Microsoft release it's new web development suite "Expression" a couple of months ago, the Expression suite is broken down into four applications Expression Web, Blend, Design and Media. All of which give the user the ability to make in depth web2.0 pages.

I was lucky enough to be given a free copy of Expression Web the other month when I attended the Microsoft SLIDE 7 event. I haven't used any web development products before such as Dreamweaver all of the web pages that I have created in the past have all been done in Programmers Notepad, which I find is a brilliant light weight programming tool for a wide variety of languages. So when installing Expression Web I had no idea what to expect and found the idea of designing and creating a visually pleasing web site quite daunting. However I quickly found that this is not the case, this software is easy to use, it is perfect for beginner Web developers and designers, as well as any developers who want to concentrate on the front end of there site.

The training DVD supplied in the box was extremely good, going through features of the package step by step on screen, however only contained the first two lessons so I went out and bought the full set of lessons and have been going through and now feel confident that I could develop a great website using Expression Web.

The software has some really good features it uses the intellisense from Visual Studio, this is something that I have really missed since I have been developing with java and PNotepad recently and makes life alot easier.
The inbuilt CSS control is also very nice and allows you to move and share styles all through the pages on your site. Even with it being a Microsoft product the ability to preview your site in other browsers such as Firefox and Safari make it great to develop pages that will be displayed correctly in all browsers due to how each of the browsers deal with CSS.

Expression Web also has ASP.NET functionality which I have yet to sample as I am still in the process of learning of learning the technology, but will go back and take a look how much of ASP.NET is supported when I am more proficient with it.

Great software! I am now looking forward to get time to start developing and designing web sites.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Channel 8


This week sees the launch of Microsoft's Channel 8 web site. Which promises to hold a lot of great developing material and tech news for students.

The site looks to be much like it's predecessor Channel 9 which offers videos to a wide audience from IT professionals to developers.

I cant wait for the site to get into full swing no doubt there will be a lot going on with the new site and Imagine cup and hopefully some nice learning resources we can get our teeth into.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Spartan 360

It's getting closer all the time to the release date of Halo 3 which promises to take the 360 to an all new high and will no doubt dominate the next gen console war.

With this upcoming release of Halo 3 Microsoft has also announced the release of a special edition Xbox 360. This special edition is spartan green and gold, bringing the colors of the great master chief to the console hardware.

The console sports a 20Gb hard drive and HDMI output port much like what will be on the black elite version. The only question now on everyones lips is how much?

"Orcas" Microsft Visual Studio 2008

As most people are now aware Microsoft are going to be releasing a new version of Visual Studio which has been codenamed Orcas. This is due for release in 2008, however you can get your hands on an Express Beta edition of VB, C++, C# and Web Developer at the following link:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/future/downloads/default.aspx

Manchester Robot Invasion


So your walking through Manchester on a surprisingly sunny afternoon and the last thing you expect to see is a robot walking around singing and making fun of people but thats just what I found this weekend in the city center.

This robot was awesome, although had to of been being controlled remotely as it was just too life like! It seemed to walk and move around much better that even the Honda robot you see on the Internet and TV adverts. At one point he even broke into a sort of robot run at the crowd as we followed him about shouting at us "Running away won't save you!"

I managed to get a few video's of him however cannot post them here if you want to see the videos of him in action just message me and i will send them.



I hope we get too see much more things like this as it was really cool, hopefully with the upcoming release of Transformers we will do.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Google buy web security firm

This just in! Google has now splashed out a whopping $600 million for web security firm Postini, the company covers a wide range of security aspects from e-mail filtering to instant messaging security.

I spoke last week of Google buying out One Central phone company, now this is there no bottom in the Google bank? Splashing out money left right and center. How can they afford this? And when will it come back and hit the users in the ass?

All we have to do now is worry what they have planned for all these company's and technologies that they are buying.

NEW LAPTOP

I’m super stoked at the minute I’ve just ordered a new laptop from Dell and this thing is the mutts nuts!! It’s the new Dell XPS M1330 with a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card. It’s also very small and portable, meaning I don’t have to lug a great big thing around.

Here are the spec’s:

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor 1.8Ghz 2MB Cache
13 inch WXGA Truelife Screen
Fingerprint reader
2Gb memory
120 Gb HDD
DVD Slot loaded re-writer
NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400
Wireless N network card
Bluetooth Module
Windows Vista Home Premium

Check it out

What a beautiful machine!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Ever tried to find the wire you want in a sprawling tangle of wires? If so you will know how frustrating this is having to follow a wire through a spaghetti junction to find out what connection it’s plugged into.


The wiring in the server room at work is such a mess that you have to trace each wire to make sure it’s the correct wire you are looking for and even when you do find the correct one replacing it with another is a nightmare having to pull it out via a tangle of other cables. This isn’t easy at the best of times but if you’re not using snag less cables you will no doubt be left wanting to throw a set of switches through the nearest window.


I’m not sure if there is a set of standards for cables and wires but I defiantly think there should be this would make it much easier to find and replace cables.

When I started wiring up the new switches at work we have all decided that each set of wires needs to follow a set of standards. These are:

  • All cables are to be snag less
  • Start and end of cables label with where it connects to
  • Cables label at meter interval down there length
  • Cables are to be colour co-ordinated (Green LAN, Purple server etc.)
  • Groups of cables should be cable tied together.
  • As much cabling as possible to be hidden away.


OK so this sort of cabling takes much longer to set up, I spent a good few hour yesterday labelling and tying up cables but it will make the whole system much better at the end of the day. Everyone will be able to see where each cable goes and not worry about unplugging an incorrect cable and crashing the system.

I definatly think we will see the benefit of this in the long run.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Googleplex!

Google has just bought out GrandCentral Communications for $50 million, mere pocket change for the global phenomenon.

GrandCentral allows users to access multiple phone numbers and voicemails from a single phone, so no more having to carry around multiple phones for work, home and also your blackberry. You will also be able to access and listen to your voicemails online.

It allows users to make calls from any of there phones at a click of a button, call blocking, listen in and text voicemail are just some of the features proposed.

At the moment this service is beta and only look to be offered in the states but no doubt when its success is realised it will be readily available all around the world.

Using GrandCentral on the move will require a web enabled phone with the ability to play mp3’s, however I hope in the future we will be able to accept calls on a Google mobile with all the features of GrandCentral built into it.

For more information on GrandCental and its feature go to www.grandcentral.com

Rock on Google.

Monday, 2 July 2007

How to Create A Microsoft Word 2007 Blog

So, in one of my previous blogs I went through different aspects of blogging using the new version of Microsoft Word now I will show you how easy it is to set up this blog tool in word. I have found using word to blog much more beneficial than just standard blogging tools.


To start of we need to click on the office button, and then New this will bring up the different types of documents that can be created in word. We want to select new blog post if you cannot see this option in the recently used documents as mine is just navigate your way through installed templates to get to it.



As you can see we are now asked if we would like to register an account, which of course we do so select the Register Now option.


This wizard is pretty self explanatory and easy to use, so now wecan click the drop down list and select the type of blogging account. I’m going to choose Blogger as this is where I have my account.




You are now prompted to enter your username and password, I would also advise you to select remember my username and password because as you will see later this will allow you to quickly create a post in the future.

We are now told that we have successfully registered our account, and we can work on our new post. As you can see from the screen dump that we can easily input the title of the post as well as being able to use all the formatting techniques available asif you were creating a standard Word document.

There you go now you’ve seen how easy it is you too can start blogging with Microsoft Word.

Enjoy!

SLIDE 7

I recently had the opportunity to attend the SLIDE 7 event at Microsoft Campus Reading the mainly covered web development, using a verity of approaches.

The format of the event was basically split into two, one half of the attendees taking the more advanced topics such as Advanced ASP.NET and Connected Mobile Devices, whilst the other half (myself included) took the easier route covering an introduction to ASP.NET and AJAX. There were also common topics such as Silverlight.

I thought the topics on ASP.NET and AJAX were an excellent introduction to someone like myself who had not used either of the technologies before. Not surprisingly I found many similarities with ASP and JSP which I am much more accustomed to, after a year doing it at university. My JSP also helped me understand what was happening with AJAX.

These lessons have now inspired me to go out and try to learn more about each of the topics and I have started learning some basic ASP.NET and will hopefully move onto AJAX in due course.

Mark Johnsons presentation on Silverlight was excellent all be it with minor compilation errors. Also to my surprise a mac was used to give some of the presentation along with the friendly jokes along the way.

Swag, galore!! Everyone who attended also received a bag full of swag, containing a copy of Expression Web which at first look I am really impressed with.

Overall a great day and I will defiantly be attending next year!

Smell that scalextric!

Just took a overheated memory slot out of a PC and the smell of it reminded me of scalextric!!

Brings back the good old days :p

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Hak.5

I've just recently started watching an IP TV show called Hak.5 (www.hak5.org) which is a tech program covering a variety of topics. It is hosted by two geeky but great hosts Wess and Darren, along with other friends who make appearances through the show.

The show is currently up to its 10th episode of its second season and will hopefully be going strong for some time. There are some great things on the show such as modding various aspects of computers, whether it be customising that old keyboard you have in the attic, with a coat of paint down to running Doom on your DS. There is also a great security section of the show hosted by Harrison, where he identifies vulnerabilities in various networks (mostly there local coffee shops Wi-Fi). There's other great projects to be found as well such as customising a laser pen so that you can play your I-pod wirelessly via your stereo.

I've picked up a lot of cool things from the show which when I get a spare weekend I will follow up and check out in more detail, such as the PC alarm clock with an RSS newspaper.

So go to the shows web site and check it out, and remember, "Trust your Techno Lust".

Friday, 29 June 2007

Web Server Down!

We were changing switches on the network this past week due to our old switches having a status of fatal. No wonder people keep getting kicked off the network and the AS400 shutting down overnight. At first we thought that it was due to the server room overheating and the poor air conditioning, but no we needed to buy new switches to replace or help out the old ones.

So the boss orders us some new "managed gigabit" switches (boy, that would be sweet for files sharing) to be installed into the network. When the switches arrive me and my co-workers start to rewire the network so that the servers all will go through a dedicated "server switch". What I didn't know was that the DMZ connection for a number of the servers didn't go into the new server switch but should stay as it was already configured.

DMZ stands for de-militarised zone and is used for people connecting via VPN's , allowing them much more access to such thing as the files server and mail server. This area still goes through the firewall like any other external traffic but isn't subjected to as many rules and checks, allowing registered users access to servers whilst keeping the network secure.

But anyway I corrected my mistake and carried on putting all the servers through the new switch, checking as I went along that they were showing as being connected on each screen. When my boss arrives at work, the web server starts giving out warning beeps, displaying a message that the RAID 5 was in error on one of the drives or something.

So he decided to pull out the problematic drive and then all hell breaks loose. Another 2 of these drives go into error and he can't seem to recover them, so he decided to reformat the server and in doing so looses the whole web site for the company. By this time we had people ringing in telling us they couldn't connect to the website. So a holding page is hastily sets up to tell users that we are having problems and check back soon.

It turns out that the web server hasn't been being backed up properly and we have lost all of the data for the site. So in hope of help we contact our web host and see if they have a backup of the site from when they last did work on it, luckily they did and would get the site up and running again. After much stress and worry the site was returned to its original state and our problem with the server was fixed by replacing the faulty drive.

Moral of the story is remember to back everything up properly and if a disc is in error don't just wipe the discs.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Word not fully supported?

So as you can see my last post, all of 3 minutes ago didn't go quite as planned. The image and underlining of the text didn't go as planned.

There are suppose to be red squiggles underneath the words "blog" and "blogging" which have just appeared as normal underlines and also my lovely circuit board image didn't get uploaded. I will have to further look into these things, but I suspect only the html that would normally be used in a post are supported.

Still its not bad overall me thinks.

Microsoft Word 2007 Post

This is the first post I have created utilising the features of Microsoft Word 2007 and its new blog template. Having recently installed Office 2007 onto my pc I decided that I needed to have a look around and check out the new functions, well obviously the first thing that strikes you as you load any of the applications is the new total overhaul of the interface and looks.

I feel that this interface will be a brilliant addition for all us young pups using the applications; however I feel that for all the people who are still trying to get to grips with previous packages such as Office 2000 etc which many offices and workplaces are currently using it will be a source of much heartache. I know for sure my own dad would instantly be lost, and be shouting at me to come fix his pc (as if it was broken). As far as I can tell at the minute with my 30 minute exploration of Word there is no option to revert the interface to that of the previous editions. This would be a much welcomed patch, and would no doubt be a quick fix for all IT departments thinking of taking the plunge into 2007.

The blogging option is really nice meaning that you can edit and play around with your content in a much easier way also meaning no time outs on the server if you get distracted and go make a cup of coffee. One of the first things that I notice though is Word's dictionary does not consider blog or blogging (how cool, I can add squiggly red underlines) words, which strikes me as odd seen as though they are used within the application and are now considered to be mainstream words with every man, woman and fury animal having there own blog, which reminds me to get my dog a blog.

When loading in and being asked to select a blog provider and inserting your password etc the service seems to run really slow, I don't know whether this is just as its the first time using the blog feature and will run more efficiently in the future, my torrents are slowing the show down (keep seeding) or that I will just have to put up with the slow login section if I want to blog via Word.

I haven't used clip art in such a long time I forgot how fun they could be the search facility has improved so much since then, back using Publisher 97 and it took at least 5mis to get a picture. Also after clicking on the image, we are presented with a new option tab at the top where we can do some cool alterations to the image and ive gone with the 3D effect as can be seen above.]

I would also like to see a preview section added where you would be able to view your post in a browser before you released it onto the web, much like you can do in Expression Web.

Overall a great new section for Word and I will be using it again in the future, however I don't think that it is yet up to fully replacing me logging onto www.ctrl-alt-die.blogspot.com and posting via the site.

Much love!!

Monday, 25 June 2007

ctrl-alt-die

ctl-alt-die

Hi Everyone,

Ok so where do I start with this stuff, this is my first every blog (shock horror a blog virgin) and its a blog about general tech related stuff such as what I do either at work or just general cool stuff that I've either created or found on the net.

At the minute the biggest tech related stuff in my life are as follows:

  1. University
  2. MSP
  3. Work
So, the best place to start is probably at the top of the list:

3. Work

I'm currently working at a company in the midlands and am involved in an IT Support role, I am doing this to gain experience in the field of IT as I don't really have much hands on experience in the field all I have is what I have been taught through my education. Which as you can guess tends to change a lot when your in the workplace. No doubt i will cover all the trials and tribulations in later posts.

2. MSP

I am one of the lucky few in the UK to be selected to be part of the MSP program, which stands for Microsoft Student Partnership, this not only gives me great opportunities to view new products and experience many new tech related stuff, but also allows me to pass on my new found experiences to other students at my University. I'm soo stoked about the whole thing and can't wait to get into the full flow of the program.

1. University

Ok, so i lied and started from the bottom of the list (what a rouge). University is the thing which is dominating my life at the minute, I study Computing at Manchester Met Uni, and focus mainly on programming and web dev. I am really enjoying my time at uni (all be it after a rock start) and love doing the work especially the projects which i have to admit I'm kicking ass!! Along with uni will be stories about the guys I live with, I wouldn't say we are geeks cos we party like no body's business but we are really into all tech related stuff and even have old parts of motherboards and stuff to go on the walls of our flat (gotta love it), I can't wait to put it up.

Sweeeet, so i think i sorta lost my blog virginity, and will be posting all about my intrests in the future.

Until then, keep on truckin'