Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale

Traditionally in the US stores tend to provide huge discounts on all sorts of stuff that you don’t need or don’t want to buy. There are however a couple of offers that I don’t want to hold back on as I either already use the product or just purchased it myself and think could be a benefit for you as well:

Crashplan

The first offer that I just purchased myself is the CrashPlan+ or CrashPlan+ Family Unlimited plan (I purchased the Family plan). It offers you a backup plan in the cloud to ensure your valuable files are in a safe location just in case something bad happens to your local storage. You can get the offer at http://www.crashplan.com/bigsale and it started today for free but it will become more expensive as time goes by. I got it for  $8, it’s now $12 as I write this down and will go up to the 42% discounted price on Monday! Still not bad … after that it will go up and discount is dropped.

Axialis

The second offer, and you’ve seen it here in the years before, is a 50% discount on everything and this offer ends Monday 26th. Axialis offers great tools to build your custom icons and integrates with Visual Studio. If you want to save time Axialis also provides a shipload of stock icons ready for you to use in your applications.

http://www.axialis.com/

Both offers are only valid between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you want to enjoy the products and save a lot of money on some excellent tools there is only one thing you can do … Hurry!

 

 

An update rollup is available for Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime 4.0

Today a rollup update for Visual Studio 2010 for Office Runtime 4.0 that was auto-magically released November 13th has been deployed to (at least one of) my machines.

This rollup fixes about four issues with the Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime and one fix in particular of a bug that I found and posted on Connect:

http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/705610/cached-data-storage-fails-in-protected-documents

We worked close with the VSTO development team to identify and isolate the issue and they were able to solve it for us to allow us to continue working with the runtime.

The issue isn’t touched a lot beside our organization (it is a specific user scenario not used by many others) so distribution of the fix was ‘delayed’ until deployment of yesterdays rollup (a hotfix could be requested for in case you ran into it).

So as of yesterday the fix became available for everyone along with a couple of other fixes. Again, probably not many of you will notice any differences but I’m sure the users using one or more of the fixed features will be pleased to see it released in the main branch of the product.

If you want to download the VSTO Runtime on your own, not waiting for Microsoft Update or WSUS you can download it at the Microsoft Download Center.

On a side note, also Office 2013 tooling was released this week to enable you to build VSTO solutions targeting Office 2013 but I will spend some time on that in a separate blog post.

Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools

Remember Visual Studio 2010? Visual Studio 2010 had a couple of Power Tools available that provided you some productivity options that made life within Visual Studio just a little bit better. Some of the tools ended up in the next version (2012) such as the Find option, Solution Navigator and the References Dialog.

With Visual Studio we lost some of the options available in the 2010 version. Personally I really liked the Enhanced Scrollbar feature showin a little outline of your source document where you immediately could identify where issues are located in the code.

But now it’s back! Microsoft deployed a Visual Studio 2012 (November) edition to the Visual Studio Gallery:

http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/3a96a4dc-ba9c-4589-92c5-640e07332afd

Visual Studio 2012 (November) edition features:

New additions for Visual Studio 2012

  • Quick Tasks
  • Power Commands
  • Color Printing

In Addition to

  • Enhanced Scrollbar
  • Middle-Click Scrolling
  • Organize Imports for Visual Basic
  • Custom Document Well
  • Tools Options Support
  • Auto Brace Completion
  • HTML Copy
  • Fix Mixed Tabs
  • Ctrl + Click Go To Definition
  • Align Assignments
  • Move Line Up/Down Commands
  • Column Guides
  • Colorized Parameter Help

Go to the Visual Studio Gallery (Tools/Extensions and Updates and search Online for “Productivity Power Tools”) and try it.

For more information on each of the features and a full description go to the Visual Studio Gallery page and read all about it:

http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/3a96a4dc-ba9c-4589-92c5-640e07332afd

Do you know more great tools our readers should know about? Leave a comment!

Have fun!

Download all Build 2012 videos

Earlier I created a custom downloader to download videos from //Build (2011) and was thinking about creating another one for //Build 2012.

I did however remember there was a batch download tool for Channel 9, where the //Build and other events are hosting their videos and searched for it and found it:

Select your //Build 2012 videos and download them here:
http://dayngo.com/channel9/Events/2a7a1747-b3e7-4e55-96f5-a0f9002298dd/Build_2012

It creates either a PowerShell script or a WGET script for you to use and download the videos in one batch. Saves me some work to create another downloader.

The number of sessions this year was a lot lower than last year. Compared to last year //Build 2012 had only 60% of the number of sessions at //Build 2011 (275 last year against 164 this year). This is probably related to the fact that the venue in Anaheim in 2011 was much bigger and Microsoft Campus has only limited space to host their sessions.

Enjoy downloading and watching the //Build 2012 sessions!

WinRT Surface–experiences

Today we went over to the Microsoft Store again to review the WinRT Surface device and try it on our own.

Tablet Plus

The first impression of the Windows RT device is that it is more than just a tablet. As it contains Office 2013 it is also a productivity tool. It is easy to just write a letter, do some spreadsheeting or create a presentation using PowerPoint. Obviously you won’t be doing those sort of things by just using a tablet, you’ll need a tablet++.

Weight

It is hard to decide what the weight does to the machine. Yesterday I quickly touched Surface and somehow thought it to be somewhat heavier than expected. Today however, when in depth looking at the device I now thought the device to be a lot lighter.Especially when removing the keyboard, power chords etc it resulted much more as a ‘real’ tablet. Easy to hold, and excellent to carry around, stand included on the default machine.

Here are some pictures

 

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Build 2012 – Pre Conference comments

buildlogo

A long trip behind us from Amsterdam to Seattle but we arrived safe and sound and in one piece at our hotel on Saturday. The flight was delayed for more than a couple of hours as the Delta crew found one of the front tires of the plane to be a bit under pressure. So back to the gate… An other hour went by, the tire was tested and had the right pressure so the sensor showed wrong readings. I really don’t know what is worse, a flat tire or bad reading. I’d hate it to get in a landing sequence with instruments stating to be a 100 feet higher than its actual height!

Due to the fact that we had to return to the gate we also used a part of the fuel needed to complete our trip. That meant refuelling, waiting for a fuel truck and to fill out the paperwork by the crew. We lost about two to three hours and they didn’t allow us to get off the plane… Anyway, we arrived in our hotel and it was time to do some sight seeing. First mission was to check out the Microsoft Store to have our first look at the new WinRT Surface tablets that Microsoft released this week.

The shop was actually very crowded and it was almost impossible to have a look at the devices other than trying the keyboards to a certain extend. One other thing that came to mind is that we wondered how the charger would be able to fit in our 220V European connector as the US connector has a plug fixed in the  casing. We asked around and it looks like the adapter is going to need another adapter when buying a US tablet. Chargers are however sold separately and could, at this time, maybe be ordered in the German store.

Sunday we decided to take a trip to Seattle and go over the highlights of the city. Our goal was the see Renton, but missed the bus and didn’t want to wait for two hours to get the next one. Most parts of Seattle we already have seen before as we’ve been there several times but still, I finally found the Hardrock Cafe I missed in all the earlier years. I bought the black Hardrock Cafe Seattle cap to add to my collection of HC caps. Tomorrow registration, that is … if there is a shuttle to take us there and a couple of pre-conference events in the evening from DevExpress or DeepFriedBytes. Can’t wait for the conference to start!

Build 2012 … counting down

Tomorrow is the day I will drive to the airport, hop on a plane and move myself to Redmond (Bellevue to be exact) to settle down for the second edition of //Build, Build 2012.

What can we expect? I don’t know … According to the agenda registration opens on Monday from 3-8PM to collect a … badge (again, according to what we know is published on www.buildwindows.com).

Other than that, there is Breakfast, Sessions, Lunch, More Sessions, Lunch, Breakfast, Sessions, Lunch, More Sessions and hé a “Beer Fest”, on Haloween!

Breakfast, Sessions, Lunch, More Sessions and another (!) party, the Attendee Party. Breakfast, Sessions, Lunch, More Sessions and … Conference Ends.

What?!?!? You say … Is that it? Is that why it sold out within the hour? What is all the fuzz about, you may think?

Well yes and no. Sure, it’s ‘just’ another conference as every other conference. Sessions, eating, drinking and sleeping. That’s it.

No, stupid! That’s not it! There is so much more than meets the eye! Let me discuss a couple of things and maybe I can convince you.

First of all there is the dedicated attention from you to the presenter. When I’m at home, I often try to find a webcast, recording, LiveMeeting of session done on earlier shows and conferences just to learn a couple of new things when I’m having my lunch or just ate dinner. I start to listen to what they have to say but I realize that after a while I started to do some other things. Opening another browser, working on my administration, test some code … you get the picture. My attention moved away from the presentation to do ‘more important’ stuff. It is not more important, but that is what you think at that time. On a conference, you are traveling light. You don’t bring all the stuff you have at home so even if you wanted you cannot do what you did at home. Also there he/she is, right in front of you, so it is somewhat embarrassing to do other things in a big crowd.

Second, there is the networking element. The conference is hosted on Microsoft Campus this year, so changes are that you’ll meet one or more guys from the development team and talk to the guys one on one. I’ve been there before and it appeared that the bug you reported and never got through to fix you were able to show them but now one-on-one and you could put your comments next to it and all the sudden the bug is picked up and fixed a couple of weeks later. It really happens! That alone is worth a lot more than the conference fee and T&C all together.

Third, there is the networking element. Ohw, I already mentioned that? No I didn’t! This time I mean networking with your peers. You are there with hundreds, no thousands of other developers, designers and architects and there is a 100% chance, not even a chance anymore, that you will see some things from those guys that you have never seen before. A shortcut, a library, a method, way of working, whatever. Guaranteed you will pick something up that you can use from now on!

Fourth … Energy! You’ll get so much energy from these events. Everyone who has been at one of the shows before, PDC, TechEd, DevDays, will confirm that they left the conference full of new ideas and can’t wait to start working on it. Downside is that, almost immediately, you also get back into the old issues that are still there when you return home. But now you have this glow of energy to move on. Think of other great solutions that you haven’t thought of before!

Fifth, meeting all your old other conference buddies. There are people that I know from years and years ago, and it is always a pleasure to meet one or more guys from the ‘old boys network’.

Sixth … Well I can go on and on about it. Even as the contents for the conference is not revealed I am pretty sure the conference will be a success. And if I have a couple of hours left I drag what’s left from me over to the Microsoft Store, Apple Store and Best Buy to name a few and bring some cool gadgets home that we don’t have (yet) in the Netherlands!

Looking at the clock it is almost 1PM again and in about 6 hours I must be up and awake again, ready to move to the airport. The next days I will keep you updated and if there is news you’ll hear it, through my Twitter account (@aafvstam), Facebook or this blog!

See you at the other (for some the right) side of the ocean!

Build 2012

Build2012

Last year I attended Build 2011. It was highly secretive and more or less Apple-ified kind of conference held by Microsoft however this time. No one knew what to expect other than that Microsoft planned to make a big shift in their plans for the upcoming years. As I blogged about it last time, it seemed that Microsoft decided to align all products with the same type of User Interface and able to run on most devices from phones to data servers.

One of the big announcements was that Windows would be able to run on ARM processor based devices and would be prepared as touch enabled Operating System.

Tomorrow, Eight-Eight-Eight (8-8-8, August 8th at 8AM) it will happen again. Microsoft is opening their doors this time on Microsoft Campus in Redmond, not in a fancy location with Disneyland or Vegas setting but ‘just’ at Microsoft’s home base.

Again, no-one knows what to expect and what to arrange for traveling and lodging but I’m pretty sure it will provide a lot of interesting information and options to build your network for the next year or so. Build 2011 provided insights in completely new areas and was definitely worth attending. In general I am an autodidact, the reason often is that I am learning the things that I ‘predict’ to be big in the -next- couple of years and a lot of it is simply not available soon enough. Living on the bleeding edge. Events like Build are different, mainly because the speakers on the conference -are the developers- working on the new technologies. Not some consulting guys but the ones who designed it.

So, it won’t take more that 24 hours until we know what it’s all about. Or maybe not … maybe you only know how to register and where to stay. That was what happened last year. No information at all.

For me I’ll try to register and see if I can get a ticket to learn what to focus on the next couple of years. Maybe my boss is willing to sponsor me, maybe not -in that case I’ll break my piggybank and will it be my early Christmas vacation- but the ones who get in will be the ones with the Golden ticket ….

Let me know, are you trying to get registered, to get the Golden Ticket …?

To be continued …

A world with new software and a landing

Visual Studio 2012 Logo

Last year

… has been a rollercoaster ride of new beta opportunities in a wide variety of software products. Not one product but the complete line, ecosystem if you like, was going through a huge make-over. Within Microsoft there was finally the decision to align all products and make sure each product is complementing the other.

This was something I personally favored for a long time. Instead of having all these products doing their own thing let’s have all the tools and applications in one big bowl and make sure everything looks similar and one product ads to the other. One and One is Three!

I was lucky to be able to beta test a lot of the software that is about to get released soon. This, for me is an important part of my work and just fun to do as a hobby. The software wasn’t publicly available, but I was most certainly not the only one outside Microsoft working with it. Thousands of others with me provided input and recommendations that we thought were important to implement. Obviously to say that not all of our recommendations will make it into the product but I’m sure that a large part of the feedback was adopted making the products even better.

While working on the beta software, next to our daily lives and coping with professional issues at work along with doing your stuff at home not all the things we worked on could be discussed in public was not ready to be blogged about. So that created somewhat of a gap in my blog history.

Let’s see if we can change that. A lot of exciting things is about to happen over the next few weeks and months and I’m sure that with your holiday season at the end of the year, only a few months from now, you just don’t know where to start acquiring all the new stuff and get your wannahaves.

Some history

Years ago, and I -mean- yeeeeeaaaars ago, there was this vision of one solution on multiple screens. You would be able to run the things you needed to run on all devices. Going from mobile (Windows Mobile Phones), palmtop (remember the ‘small’ iPaq devices), laptop, desktop to server machines.

Reality was however that it never was a real tight fit. Windows Mobile Phones were just clumsy and hard to handle synchronizing using a wire. Same thing with the palmtops, internally running an embedded OS lacking the wireless connection (you could go wireless but that needed a sleeve to put around the device that was even bigger than the device itself).

The laptop and the desktop integration was a bit better, it ran the same operating system but servers, (How many server types can you name, from Windows Home Server to Data Center?) was, again, another complete different story. And the cloud was not even there yet!

Improvement was needed

As you can see, if you overlook all these things, it was quite a mess. Sure the tools if you each view them in their own context often were great tools. From the start they accomplished a huge boost in productivity. Let’s be real. A lot of’em I still use every day for my personal use, professional life or just as a hobby and I love working with it.

It is however time to change. All products have been re-evaluated, been looked at, and it was decided how the product will fit in scope of all the other products. Are there duplicates? Is there something missing?

The new world of software

With all of that, a complete range of products were developed that covered all devices. Some products are new others are existing but had a complete makeover. Going from small devices (phones) to handhelds (tablets), traveller machines (ultrabook), mobile workstations (notebooks), desktops, servers and all the way to the cloud.

All devices will get the same Windows 8 style UI interface and each tailored to the way it will fit on the device. Integration will take place between your mobile devices, your desktop workspace and The Cloud. A lot of work has been put into the scenario to access all your data wherever and whenever you need.

Some of it is already in a position ready for release other parts are about to be released to manufacturer and another set of parts will be on the release schedule very soon.

If you haven’t already done so, go over to the locations I added below and start exploring some of it. Go slow, there is lots and lots of it where that came from and a lot to learn!

Curiosity

And what better way to conclude this blog item for today with the other great event that just happened. Today the Curiosity Rover  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curiosity_rover) landed on Mars to explore the things we don’t know. Exciting time to live in and looking forward to see what Curiosity discovers …

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

The new Software

Windows 8 Release Preview

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview

Office 2013 and Office365 Customer Preview

http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en

Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate

http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us

 

Office 15 Technical Preview, Visual Studio Beta, Windows 8 Customer Preview

 

2012 is going to be an exciting year where you can expect that your cheese will be moved if you are a Microsoft customer. There hasn’t been any word about release planning, roadmaps or whenever what bits will be available to you. What we do know is that a couple of weeks ago the Office Team started their Technical Preview program (http://blogs.office.com/b/office-exec/archive/2012/01/30/quot-office-15-quot-begins-technical-preview.aspx), The Customer Preview for Windows 8 is mentioned to be released next week the 29th of February and today Jason Zanders, corporate vice president for the Visual Studio team in the Developer Division at Microsoft, announced in his blog Sneak Preview of Visual Studio 11 and .NET Framework 4.5 Beta the release of the beta for the 29th of Februari next week as well!

If you ask me, but who am I, we are heading to a BIG BANG this year. Will we see a year where for the first time most major Microsoft products will be released in a new version, Office, SharePoint, Exchange, Visual Studio, TFS, Windows (client and server) -and- SQL Server all in the same year?

Man, all engines are running full speed in Redmond, that’s for sure!

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