Monthly Archives: March 2004

Whats yer poison!

Scott posted up about a computer game that he has been playing recently called Kings of Chaos so I thought I would share the name of my diversion. Now before I point you to the game, you need to understand that I was a mad keen Elite player on the good old Commodore 64 and ever since my last C64 bit the dust I’ve been looking for something to fill the void (yes I know about C64 emulators).

Well, a few years ago I was in Redmond checking out some cool bits at the Microsoft campus and Mac Kloberg (sorry Mac, I don’t have a more recent link for ya) were sharing an ale talking about classic computer games. Mac mentioned that he had been playing EVE Online. Anyway, I tucked that nugget away and decided to have a look at it when I had the chance.

A few weeks ago I was feeling a little bored one night and the C# 2.0 compiler just wasn’t doing it for me so I decided to look the game up. It took me about an hour to remember what the name of it was (I stored that nugget deep). Anyway, after downloading the game and signing up for a trial month I’ve found many things that remind me of Elite. The great thing about it is that it is a massively multiplayer online game so the environment is very dynamic and there are people to chat with on those long hauls across the galaxy.

I still haven’t decided whether I will go for another month as the game itself still has a few bugs (crashes every now and then). Now I can tell you are really interested in all this, so here is a picture of my current ship. As I mention in the picture comments, I’m flying towards a stargate which transports you over very long distances in the fraction of a second. You can also move over short distances pretty quick too!

I aspire to be a Software Test Engineer

If you have been watching Microsoft’s quadrant of blogspace recently you would have noticed an increase in the number of less public faces taking a stab at writing a blog. I’m really thankful for this because I believe that I can become a better developer by observing how successful product shipping organisations work. Shipping quality product is a big part of being successful which is why I subscribed to the Software Test Engineering @ Microsoft feed.

Reading this blog entry by Chris Dickens confirmed by long held view that being a software test engineer at Microsoft has to be one of the coolest jobs in the world. Now it might not seem like your cup of tea so let my explain my thought process. First, Microsoft appears to be fertile ground for new ideas which means you would often get the opportunity to road test new software before anyone else. Now I could stop there, but I wont. The second thing is that testers get to bounce around the coolest part of the software equation which is understanding the customers pain and helping prove that the software makes things better.

While Microsoft may have a handle on what it really means to be a good tester, I don’t think the rest of the industry does. If I can get my thoughts organised over the course of the next week or so I might make a few posts on “what I reckon”.

driverquery.exe: Cool little utility!

I’ve been emptying out my Inbox (apologies if I haven’t gotten to your e-mail yet). And I came across a link to this page at Microsoft. Now, I knew about most of these little tools (hey, I was a systems guy once), but one that I didn’t know about was “C:\WINDOWS\system32\driverquery.exe”. Running this utility gives a console dump of all the drivers that are installed on your system. More than anything this post will serve as a reminder to me about this tool in the future.

Speed Camera Foiled!

When I was driving back from Wollongong I was concerned about speeding tickets (not that I was speeding or anything). Anyway, it was fitting that in my mailbox this morning was an e-mail from a friend with this image attached.

Good to see some fellow Canberra residents getting one over on speed camera cave dwellers.

Wollongong .NET User Group

I drove over to Wollongong last night evening to attend the first Wollongong .NET Users Group meeting. It was pretty cool there were a bunch of guys there that I know from some consulting work that I did out there around this time last year. There were also a few people that I hadn’t met before.

We ate some pizzas spoke about the user groups goals and directions and then had an impromptu presentation on extender providers. Scott McCulloch was selected as the user group leader and is really a formal recognition of the role he has been playing getting all this organised.

I’m hoping to make it over every now and then. Unfortunately, my home group, the Canberra .NET User Group meeting last week was post-poned to last night, so I missed that one. I guess I’ll just have to wait until the next time to catch up with folks in Canberra.

Update: The next Wollongong .NET User Group meeting is on the 22nd of April and will be on DotNetNuke 2.0 which Scott would have to be the local authority on. Scott is planning to update the user group hompage soon with the details.

One Killer App for $100,000!

FrankArr has posted up about a competition that Microsoft is running for the ISV community who are to build a “killer app”. If you ask me, the real trick here isn’t the development task since the guys over in Redmond have made it so damn easy to build sexy looking applications. What you will earn that $100,000 for is the concept. If you look at the Tablet PC today its a real compelling interface for those people that need to go to meetings, design enterprise architectures on a napkin or play some of those wicked Tablet games! But what would my mum use it for?

The judging criteria are:

  • Broad Usage Factor
  • Usability
  • Cool Factor
  • Mobility
  • Use of Pen and Ink

I’ve got a few side projects on the go at the moment so I probably won’t be able to put anything together – but if I come up with a killer idea I might be compelled. I wonder if the prize is available to Australians living in the ACT (I know that there are issues with alot of competitions).

Rory Blyth: Software and Salad

I started reading Rory Blyth’s blog after it was referenced in a recent post by Chris Sells. Some of the older posts have seen alot of attention from one particular person with a very definate point of view. I’m guessing that most readers of this blog will have a fairly pragmatic outlook on life so I wouldn’t recommend reading the comments of those posts unless you want to be reduced to a screaming heap.

However, Rory’s latest post used a really interesting metaphor for software development schedules and salad. I highly recommend having a bit of a read of this one as you see these themes time and time again in this game.

Longhorn and eBooks

I just finished downloading my Microsoft Reader eBooks onto my iPAQ and couldn’t help but wonder what the future of Reader technology was with Longhorn in the pipeline. Will fixed XAML documents become one of the publishing options for these kinds of user experiences and if so will Microsoft be developing a XAML reader for fixed format documents on existing Windows investments.

Woohoo! I’m a dedicated developer!

I didn’t have any connectivity today while I was at a client site so I had to pull down the few hundred e-mail messages from mailing lists etc that had accumulated through the day over a 28.8Kbps dial-up connection. Eventually it all got down and I was really excited when I saw that my MSDN Connection approval had gone through and that I am a foundation member in the “dedicated developer” tier.

This is cool stuff. Can’t wait to get the welcome kit and stick the user group stickers on the membership card. I think what I might do is build an app where people can upload scans of their cards something showing how many stickers they have on it! I’ve got to right a magazine article over the weekend so maybe that could be my pet project after that – unless anyone else can take a stab at it first.