User Group Library in Use

User Group Library in Use

It’s great to see that not only is the Perth .NET Community of Practice library growing (thanks to Mitch who is really working with the book publishers to get access to more books), it is actually being used. At the moment we have 10 books out of a total of 37 on loan to user group members.

Recent additions include:

For quick access to the library and to reserve a book, head over to HireThings.

Hint: If you are attempting to search for the user group books make sure you set the location to Australia!

Do changes to Australian media ownership laws mean the end of boutique media outlets?

Do changes to Australian media ownership laws mean the end of boutique media outlets?

I wonder how much of this discussion will be focused around new-media v’s old-media.  To be honest I can’t remember the last time I read the paper hoping to find out what is going on in the world – most of the Australia papers are little more than light comedy relief.  Most of my news, current affairs and technology information comes online from one of my countless rss feeds.  If I can’t subscribe to it I can guarantee I’ll only look at it once. 

Personally I’m looking forward to this discussion and would encourage others to attend:

 

INVITATION
Walkley Media Forum – The War of Attrition: Influence & Diversity
Thursday 23rd August 2007, 6.30pm
The Ernst & Young Building
11 Mounts Bay Rd, Perth

New federal laws are radically reshaping Australian media ownership. The first round of mergers has seen Rural Press swallow up Fairfax, Packer capture Channel Nine Perth and Seven Network seize a strategic stake in The West Australian. What does this mean for WA and where are our media industries headed?

Join our panel of experts to find out more about the future of our work. Moderated by Michael Sinclair-Jones, WA Branch Secretary, Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance

Panellists include:

· Gary Adshead, Snr Reporter Channel 7

· Bronwen Clune, founder Norg Media

· Martin Turner, Community Newspaper Group

RSVP to the Alliance call 1300 65 65 13 or email [email protected]

Silicon Beach House

Silicon Beach House

silicon_beach_house.jpg

At the end of last month I posted that we were setting up a co-working space here in Perth.  Well, a lot has happened since then and we now have the following companies involved with Silicon Beach House (blog, site etc still to be created…):

As you can see we have a range of companies involved, with each company working with different technologies.  Although there is a clear web focus for a number of the companies there are some that have seen the light and are either building occasionally connected applications (namely Intilecta) or are not developers (Tuscan IT).  There is also the ever contentious issue as to what hardware to run – it seems that the majority of the office prefer Macs, which I must say gives the office a bit of style 😉

Yesterday we took delivery of additional tables and chairs so that everyone is comfortable and despite the downtime from the ever useless iinet everyone seem to feel at home.  If you are thinking that you would like to be part of this hive of activity we are still looking for another 2 or 3 people to move in. If you know anyone who is currently working from home and would like to enjoy the numerous benefits of inner city working life, please feel free to contact me

Perth .NET – Introducing Graeme Foster

Perth .NET – Introducing Graeme Foster

Despite being a relatively new import into the Perth .NET community, Graeme Foster has already volunteered to present at the next meeting of the Perth .NET Community of Practice.  Whilst the last session was dedicated to all the new coolness that Microsoft is bringing us in the UX space there are still a lot of fundamentals that most organisations don’t do well.  Graeme is ambitiously going to cover CAB, MVP and TDD all in one session.

Most people have heard or the Composite Application Block (CAB), the Model-View-Presenter (MVP) pattern and Test Driven Development, but few can really say that they can use them together.  Luckily some of the larger development shops around Perth are starting to use these to build a real world applications.

Check out Graeme’s session on the 2nd of August!

Perth .NET User Group gets Jobs Board

Perth .NET User Group gets Jobs Board

In addition to our expanding library the Perth .NET Community of Practice has recently put together an aggregate feed that allows recruiters to post Perth based job notices.  You can subscribe to this feed from here or using the RSS button on your web browser when visiting the user group website (http://www.perthdotnet.org).


Congratulations to Robert Walters who are the first to make use of this resource by placing a 1Yr C# .NET Application Developer contract on the feed!

Move over Palringo, Fring is here

Move over Palringo, Fring is here

From Mauricio’s post I just signed up for and downloaded a new IM/Skype client for my Windows mobile device.  Having only recently removed Palringo (which was a cute concept but not overly useful) I am being a bit critical of messaging/VoIP clients and I must admit I wasn’t impressed with Fring.  Granted the sign up process was well thought out – they send you an SMS to your device which the download url, which you click to install the application.  Unfortunately the usability of the application left a lot to be desired and it seemed to drain a lot of system resources for such a small application.  In fact during the initialisation phase it crashed my device the first time!  I don’t think I’ll be recommending the first version of this application but will keep it bookmarked for future releases.

Professional Visual Studio 2008 – Got that writing feeling.

Professional Visual Studio 2008 – Got that writing feeling.

Early last year Andrew and I completed the book [VS2005] which was subsequently published around August.  Unfortunately we are already in the throws of beta testing the next edition of Visual Studio.  This means that it is time for us to start working on the next edition of the book.  Of course this time the book’s title will be updated to Professional Visual Studio 2008 and will again be a Wrox title.  However, due to other commitments Andrew has decided to pass on the batten – he will remain on the team as an editor for this edition.  I’d like this opportunity to welcome fellow Perth developers, Mitch Wheat and David Gardner, who have agreed to help me put together this book.

Based on some of the feedback from the first edition of the book I would like to extend an invitation to .NET developers out there who would be interested in reviewing one or more chapters of this book to drop me an email, or contact me via Facebook (which we will be using to comunicate the progress with those involved).

Imagine Cup meets Second Life

Imagine Cup meets Second Life

I have been a bit remiss for not having congratulating the winners of the Australian Imagine Cup competition.  Whilst this was blogged a while ago by Frank and Nick I would still like to pass on my congratulations as this is a significant achievement for those involved.  However, this is only really the first stage and, as I posted a while ago, there is much more to the competition to be found at the world wide finals, this year to be held in Korea.

As some people will already know I have been invited to attend the finals as one of the judges for the software design competition.  This is an experience I’m definitely looking forward to and as such I have been eagerly watching some of the activities that have been going on around the world.  One such event that Microsoft EMEA have put together is the Imagine Cup Gallery in Second Life:

The Imagine Cup Gallery in Second Life runs until August 5th 2007 so you can visit anytime. However we’re holding three open events for you to come and meet the different teams and these will be held from 19.00-21.00 Central European Time on July 12th, 19th and 26th 2007. If you already have a Second Life Avatar teleport directly to the Microsoft Island

More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre/SecondLife/default.mspx

When Your Groove Account Grows Old…

When Your Groove Account Grows Old…

I’ve used Groove a number of times over the last couple of years but haven’t used it much this year until this evening when I thought I’d dust off the covers and give it a go for a project I’m embarking on (more on that later).  Anyhow I have recently changed users on this computer and I haven’t used Groove under the new account.  Luckily I had previously emailed my Groove account to myself so I figured I could just use that account information to get me up and running again.  Unfortunately this failed with a message saying that the account was too old:

“Saved account for Nick Randolph is too old and cannot be installed. Please import a more recently saved version of this account.”

Huh, surely not….. Luckily I hadn’t removed the previous user account off this computer so I went trawling through the application data folder to see whether I could manually restore the account. It turns out that there is a folder “C:Users<user>AppDataLocalMicrosoftOfficeGrooveUser” but unfortunately copying this from one user to another generates a warning message claiming the account is incomplete, an exception and then Groove bottoms out completely.  As a last resort I decided to copy the entire “C:Users<user>AppDataLocalMicrosoftOfficeGroove” folder across to the new user and this worked a treat!  I’m all to go with all my old workspaces.

Thales Australia Launches Perth based Software Development Centre

Thales Australia Launches Perth based Software Development Centre

Last night at the Martime Museum in Fremantle Thales Australia launched their Software Development Centre.  Over the last 12 months Thales Australia has emerged as a single entity bringing together a number of smaller companies into a single entity.  With strengths in both military and civil industries, Thales also boasts a large software development branch with approximately 150 developers based here in Perth.

Under their former banner, ADI, most of their development was reportedly C/C++ and Java.  Through discussions with a number of the local Thales Australia staff I understand that they are doing a substantial amount of work in C#/.NET.  This move necessarily increases the pressure on the market to deliver more .NET developers which unfortunately are a scarce commodity at the moment.  Thales joins a number of other large .NET employers such as UnisysWest, HBOS/BankWest, Change Corporation and Fujitsu to name but a few.

With such pressure on the local .NET industry it begs the question as to what the future holds – what’s going to happen when there just aren’t enough developers to go around?  We are already seeing this happen with a number of people moving jobs in the past month.  There is an increase in the number of developers preferring short term contracts to permanent employment – this adds considerable overhead to projects due to the time lost due to replacing staff as they churn.  It was a relief last night to hear the Minister for Energy, Resources, Industry and Enterprise, Franics Logan, talk about a recent meeting where it was agreed that all states in Australia would follow Victoria in rolling out an advertising campaign targetting high-school leavers.  This would encourage them into tertiary ICT courses which will help fuel the next generation of technology workers.

.NET Library: Mobile Development Handbook

.NET Library: Mobile Development Handbook

A while ago I posted about the Microsoft Mobile Development Handbook that Andy, Daniel and Peter wrote.  As I was fortunate enough to be involved in reviewing the book I was sent a complimentary copy which arrived at the office this morning.  This has of course been added to the Perth .NET Community of Practice library but if you are doing mobile development I would really encourage you to order a copy.

User Experience is more than just Flash (or even Silverlight) Annimations

User Experience is more than just Flash (or even Silverlight) Annimations

Last night Shane Morris gave his “age of user experience” presentation to the Perth .NET Community of Practice which was extremely well attended with over 50 people turning up to hear the Microsoft user experience story. I would like to thank Chuck for making this happen – I think that everyone who spoke with Shane took something away from his engagement.

Some general feedback on the session was that it was great to have a non-developer present on this topic as it gave a bit of credibility to the Expression story.  That said, given that the room was almost entirely developers, I think that the lack of source control integration for these products was definitely a sore point.  A few people mentioned that they were hoping Shane would drill down deeper into what constitutes a good user experience but I feel that given this was Shane’s first visit and that we hadn’t given him any focus for his session that the overview he gave was well suited for the group.  Perhaps if there is enough interest we can get Shane back later in the year to conduct a usability workshop or another session more targetted on the design process – if this is something that interests you make sure you let me know!

Don’t forget:

  • Next month Graeme is going to deliver as session on CAB and TDD – make sure you are registered at the user group site so that you receive reminders
  • The .NET library is continually growing – we just took delivery of a number of .NET compact framework books that might be of interest if you are doing mobile development
  • There are still spaces in the SoftTeq co-working center – for more information see my previous post (if you know a startup company looking for office space in the CBD feel free to spread the word)

Languages – Only part of the equation

Languages – Only part of the equation

I’m sorry did I miss the point where we started caring again about what language we are writing in. This was a discussion point 5 years ago when we didn’t have powerful IDEs to help us write applications. Now it should be “what job do I want to get done?” and “what technology is going to deliver that the quickest, cheapest and highest quality output?

By technology I think there are at least four key areas to look at:

  • Skills availability (who’s going to write the code)
  • Framework (.NET, Rails etc)
  • Tools (VS, Eclipse etc)
  • Language (Java, VB.NET, C#, Ruby)

And imho you shouldn’t make a decision based on one of these factors alone.  Particularly in Australia atm where getting skilled developers in nearly any technology is proving very difficult.

Unlike Alex I don’t much care for C# or Ruby for that matter.  I find that despite being more verbose VB.NET is still my preference but again this doesn’t mean I will always pick it for the job.

Software Engineering Forum: Risk Management and Taxonomy

Software Engineering Forum: Risk Management and Taxonomy

Last night I attended the software engineering forum on risk management and taxonomy that was hosted by Stewart Johnsonon behalf of Engineers Australia. This forum is a small group of software engineers that gather monthly to discuss various issues to do with the proces of building software. The typical format is that the host gives a short introduction to the topic after which the forum is open for discussion. As most attendees ahave been around the industry for sometime these discussions are a based on a large number of personal experiences.

The topic of risk management as presented by Stewart can be divided into identification, analysis, monitoring and resolution. Stewart’s presentation focussed on identifying the mapping that happens between the investigation/analysis phases to the corresponding monitoring/resolution phases. Of course as with any action in a software project there are always going to be reprocussions and I suspect that they need to consider a mapping back from any monitoring/resolution activities back to the identification/analysis phase. This would not only give the project team the feedback channel that is necessary for risk management it would also give them a process through which to iterate it in a similar way to the actual software dev process.

There was a bit of discussion as to which orgs this process should apply to and the general concensus was that we were talking about CMMI 3+ orgs. Imho this is wrong and that risk management should apply equally to all org sizes. Whilst a small org might not have the same number of projects from which they can extract data their projects are likely to be less diversified making their data more relevant to future projects. Further, if the process of risk management is so complex/time consuming that a small org can’t do it because of resourcing issues then it is questionable as to whether it is cost effective for an org of any size to carry it out – in all cases the process should be refactored to encompass the whole team, thus reducing the burden on any one person. This also gives the whole team ownership of the problem that raises its significance within the team.

I’d like to end this post with some open questions:

  • How do you manage your risk?
  • Do you look at the risk of a project at the beginning, plan tasks to resolve/mitigate and then tick off risk mgnt, or do you revisit risk at each project meeting?
  • Is the current risk of the project an on going measurable item?
  • How do you identify the risks of your project – do you have a set of standard risk areas or do you just brainstorm for areas of the project that might go wrong?
  • How do you plan the monitoring/resolution tasks – do you have a mapping from risks to strategies?

Great work Frank!

Great work Frank!

If you haven’t already you should check out today’s Australian Financial Review as there is a great photo of Frank and article about Silverlight which follows Frank’s postt about an interview he gave last week. Whilst the photo isn’t in the same league as Stephen’s cartoon I think there are some great points in the article. Imho it goes short of saying that Silverlight will be the platform of choice for enterprise web apps in the future. Unlike Flash, that has remained in the realm of creative/media/game development, I believe that Silverlight is perfectly placed for building full featured occasionally connected apps. When you couple Silverlight’s ability to use isolated storage with some of the new sync frameworks being built by Microsoft you have a solution that competes with the likes of google gears. Future versions of Sql Server Compact Edition might even be able to run client side allowing developers to sync and work locally with data in a similar way to traditional smart client applications. With this in mind Microsoft’s silverlight imho is perfectly position to take on the next round of web 2.0 where it is all about enterprise and mobility.

Podcamp Australia 2007 – Stake Your Interest Perth

Podcamp Australia 2007 – Stake Your Interest Perth

Here’s an event that would be fantastic to be held here in Perth – If you are keen to see Podcamp Australia 2007 come to Perth then you need to Stake Your Interest. Unfortunately as with all these sorts of poll it is done on raw numbers rather than a percentage of population so it is unlikely we will get the event but hey with enough people voting we might be in with a chance.