Monday, July 14, 2008

PDC 2008

The PDC 2005 was the best conference I ever attended. Seeing WF and WCF for the first time, as well as the DSL Tools and lots of other stuff, plus the several contacts I did while there, helped understand what was to come in technology, and this help |create|it| prepare for this future.

I am also attending this year's PDC2008, where a lot is expected, for example, in what regards Microsoft's approach to Cloud Computing. BizTalk Services is sure to be there, as well as BizTalk "Oslo", Live Mesh and other initiatives like SQL Data Services. Just check the session list, full of vague descriptions so as to not spoil the surprise, and you'll realize this has the right ingredients to be a great conference again.

I know of several other (Portuguese) people who are attending, and if you can, try to be there. The PDC2008 is about future technologies, and it's the Microsoft conference to attend this year.

BizTalk Server Performance Optimization Guide + MsgBoxViewer

Microsoft has published a few days ago a new guide around optimization of BizTalk Server performance. This is a lengthy guide (over 200 pages), but it has a lot of very interesting information, some of which you can't find anywhere else, and there's always something to learn. Highly recommended. You can download it here.

A second recommendation is a little tool that is very helpful in gathering information about a BizTalk installation, and which also gives you a report about your installation. A little like the BizTalk Best Practices Analyzer, only deeper and with more information. It's MsgBoxViewer, and you can download version 9.20.3 here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

XNA Games on the Zune

Last night I finally had the opportunity to install the new Game Studio 3.0 CTP, and deploy some games to my Zune. I've tried 4 games (the official sample plus stuff I got from ZuneBoards) and one app (an e-book reader).

These are very simple, and most of them had small quirks and bugs that occasionally restarted the Zune, but my music and podcasts are not damaged in this process.

What disappointed me a little was the control schemes: the Zune touchpad is very sensitive, and some games use this, others use clicking on the large button, with wrong moves being done frequently. For example, when playing Sirtet (a clone of Tetris), I have to click the left part of the large Zune button to move the pieces left. Frequently, while doing this, I'd end up clicking either UP (rotate piece) or the center of the button (hard drop of the piece). Clear nuisances! And I imagine left-handed players will have the inverse problem.

Other interesting thing is that people are using XNA/.Net to develop applications for the Zune, some of them are here. Most seem like early releases of simple stuff, like clocks, stopwatches, instant messengers, phone books or text file readers, but are very interesting nonetheless.

A final note to mention how quick and simple the process is: just connect the Zune, open Visual Studio, select the Zune as the deployment location, then build your project and select Deploy. DONE!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BizTalk Server MVP, Year 3

Microsoft has decided to re-award me with the MVP title for another year, still in the BizTalk Server category, which means another year in the wonderful world of Connected Systems technologies, and more learning ahead. :-) Hurray! With Oslo and BizTalk Services coming out with new stuff at the PDC2008, there will certainly be a lot to explore.