Messing Around with OBA and TwitLook is Spawned

4/22/2009 5:39:34 PM

Twitlook-small Had a spare few minutes so I started messing around with OBA a bit and thought, “Hey, I spend a ton of time in Outlook... be kinda cool to see Twitter updates in there as well.”  So I spent about an hour and change and came up with version 0.1 of TwitLook.  No update, no ability to post... pretty much nothing but showing updates from my Friends.  I’ll bang away as I get time and if anyone is interested (leave a comment), I will eventually post the code and the add-in exe.

I know... the world really needs another Twitter client.  I don’t use Twitter clients, relying instead on the browser since I am in in frequent Tweeter and really only check it once in a while to see what others are talking about.  But it would be handy to have Tweets right in the place I spend most of my time.  So there ya go...


Slick Thoughts

Build Your Skills Content

4/6/2009 7:57:00 AM

Posted below are links to the slides/content delivered by the speakers during the Saint Louis and Minneapolis Build Your Skills events.

Profiling – Scott Colestock
Find here

Loosely Coupled Applications - Shannon Braun
Find Here

Exceptions - Jason Bock
Find Here

Intro to Unit Testing - Kirstin Juhl
Download Here

Advanced Unit Testing - Raymond Lewellan
Download Here


Library | Slick Thoughts

Call Me Jaded, Call Me A Shill, But "Duh!" Is My Reaction

3/28/2009 9:58:00 PM

I read this InfoWorld article and my reaction was, “Well, Duh!”.  The quick recap...  Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst was lamenting the fact at the Open Source Business Conference that enterprise IT departments do not seem to contribute back to the open source software that they are more than willing to deploy and use for free (i.e., they are not buying support).

I only read his comments, so I can’t comment on the tone he used to deliver that observation, but to have expected anything different seems to be near delusional.  Corporations, predominately, look at software development as a necessary evil and one that they really wish they could do without.  There are exceptions to the rule, but that is the attitude of the majority of companies I interact with.  The huge shift to offshore development is just one example of how they want to minimize the costs associated with software dev.

If a company feels that way bout developing software for their own bottom line, why is it surprising that they are not contributing back to open source software?  It has been my experience that few if any companies even look at the code behind open software, much less modify it.  This is more true with things like Linux, but it applies to other solutions as well.  If I managed an IT department, contributing back would be low on my list of priorities, as well.  When the CIO/CFO/CEO comes to me and asks to show the RIO for the work my developers are doing, it will be a heck of lot easier to show that for software supporting in-house systems than work that goes back into the open source community.

Maybe it is just me, but I don’t find the lack of corporate participation all that surprising.


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Silverlight March Madness

2/16/2009 2:32:05 PM

It was announced that CBS Sportsline and Microsoft are teaming up to deliver NCAA Basketball Tournament games using Silverlight!  I am a HUGE, HUGE NCAA Tournament junkie.  For the last 18 years I have taken the first Thursday and Friday of the Tournament off to do nothing but sit at home in my sweats with a lot of junk food in order to watch the opening weekend of games.  You may be asking why I think this is such a great announcement.  Well, outside the obvious that this is great news for Silverlight and Microsoft, this will also be the first time in a looong time that I will not be taking the first couple days of the tournament off.  I will be going to MIX 09 this year which means I will be working the conference the first two days of the tournament.  I will be crossing my fingers that the conference wireless will stand up to the load and I will be able to sneak a peek at an occasional game.  Of course, I may get lost and find myself in a sports book when my Michigan State Spartans are playing. ;-)


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I Just Fell In Love with the Windows 7 Taskbar Thing

2/16/2009 10:37:00 AM

As many of you know, Win7 has the cool new taskbar thing that groups application windows (if you want it to) and provides previews of those windows when you hover over the taskbar icon.  That is pretty cool.  But with Internet Explorer, you get this cool effect when you are downloading a file...


What’s going on?  Well, the IE icon background fills with green as a download progress indicator.  Now that is rich, chewy UI goodness!


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Understanding Why Cloud Databases Are Different

2/13/2009 8:32:42 PM

The fact that Azure Table Storage and SQL Data Services are key/value databases instead of “traditional” relationship DBs always raises a few eyebrows.  Here is a good article explaining why and some of the pros/cons of that approach.


Slick Thoughts

NetFlix and XBOX 360: I Joined the Million Man Download

2/6/2009 10:19:06 AM

I finally took advantage of NetFlix via XBOX the other night, becoming part of a million person movement and contributing to the 1.5 billion minutes of downloaded content (thank goodness there is no video minute cap and trade legislation in the works).  I wasn’t a NetFlix subscriber so I took advantage of the trial, and let me just say, I will be a subscriber now.  Wednesday night, with nothing on TV, my son (11 years old and avid XBOX Liver) tells me we should check out the NetFlix service to see if there was something we could watch.  In under 10 minutes, we were signed up and watching a stream of the movie Hoosiers (“Don’t get caught watching the paint dry!”).

All in all it was a pretty good experience.  It wasn’t perfect – the early part of the movie was bothered by some bandwidth issues and had some weird “shaking” going on in the background. But after a little bit, it either went away or I got used to.  I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t browse the movie catalog directly from my XBox.  It seems a bit “long winded” to have to go to my laptop to pick a movie to watch on my XBox.  But I threw a bunch into my Instant queue so I won’t have to do that again for a while.  The selection is decent, not great, but it is supposed to be expanding over time so that is not a big concern.

All in all… I am glad to be part of the “movement”…


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Lincoln .NET UG Azure Error Identified

1/29/2009 9:01:26 AM

I was presenting at the Lincoln .NET User Group last night and about midway through, my Azure project failed.  I was getting an error that said the Account Name was not specified when my app tried to work with Azure Storage. It was bizarre because the first demo had gone great and the same error was showing up even when I went into my “completed and I know this will work” project.  It was very weird. 

I started to bang on it today, and discovered that somehow the Startup Project in the solution (in both solutions actually which made it doubly weird) had switched from the Azure Service project to the WebRole project.  That meant that my app was being run as a normal ASP.NET app and not being packaged and deployed into the Azure Development Fabric.  Without being in the Fabric, the StorageClient code could not access the Config Settings from the Azure Service project – BAM! No account name to be found!

Sorry to my Lincoln folks for that stumbling block. I’ve never had that happen before and not sure how it switched in mid-demo.  But now we know… ;-)


Azure | Slick Thoughts

Microsoft Research Out to Help Musicians

1/8/2009 5:31:51 PM

Here is a nice little article on Songsmith - basically its Karaoke in reverse.  What does that mean? To quote the article, "Called Songsmith, the $29.99 application creates musical accompaniment based on whatever is sung into the computer's microphone."  I have zero musical talent so I will leave it up to others to evaluate this for it's true "coolness factor".


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Windows Mobile Rebirth?

11/12/2008 10:03:37 AM

I will admit it, I have been coming close and closer to breaking down and getting an iPhone.  I am spending more and more time on my phone (who isn’t?) and once iPhone got the ability to synch email with Exchange, along with a killer browser experience, I really felt my days as a Win Mobile phone user were numbered.  Throw in the tethering option next year and it was a done deal.

Now, however, there have been some rumblings about Win Mobile 6.5 coming in the not to distant future (, and add on these cool “leaked” screen shots ( and now I think I may hold off a bit longer, if possible.

Why do I say, if possible???  Well, the one detail (among many) that is sorely missing from these announcements is what kind of web browsing experience will be provided with Win Mobile 6.5/7.0.  The current experience absolutely sucks. IE 4 is awful.  I use Opera Mobile and it is better, but still pales to what the iPhone can do.  As soon as I can get an idea of what the browser story is, I will have to make some hard choices.  Go for the “available now” goodness or wait for the possibly outstanding experience later.


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Jeff Brand Jeff Brand

This is the personal web site of Jeff Brand, self-proclaimed .NET Sex Symbol and All-Around Good guy. Content from my presentations, blog, and links to other useful .NET information can all be found here.

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