Monday, October 16, 2006

Yes, Mom, your copy is in the mail...

'm a published author!

After reading of Nick Carr's hilarious take on the word "blogger" this weekend, I'm proud to be able to give myself a different moniker this week: published author.

Robert and I wrote an article for Dr. Dobb's Journal, and it's in the November issue (which, with the time-travelesque publishing schedules, is already out).

The title of the article is "Scaling SOA with Distributed Computing;" it's a look at a real-world customer who implemented a Service Oriented Architecture on a grid. It's worth reading for anyone who is in the process of implementing an SOA or is considering the scalability issues of SOA.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Bigger Is Better. But Two Is Twice as Nice.

 veryone is all a-flutter about the study (commissioned by Apple, reported here in Computerworld) that found that 30-inch monitors make users more effective.

Some people doubt the validity, but I don't doubt it at all.

Have you ever walked onto the trading desk of any financial services firm? Four flat screens per person is considered a normal workstation. Six isn't unusual. I was at one of our customer sites recently, and many traders had eight monitors (two rows of 4). The reason? It makes them more productive. It puts more information in front of their eyes rather than behind other windows. It allows the users to multitask.


I only use a paltry two-monitor set up, but I can tell you that adding that 2nd monitor had a huge effect on my productivity.

I'm always amazed when I walk through Microsoft's San Francisco office and I don't see two monitors on every desk--I know Scoble used to harangue management to give 2 monitors to employees, but it hasn't happened yet.

Now, the funny thing about Apple's study is that they didn't study increasing screen real estate in general--they studied the effect of having a $2,000 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display. Granted, these are beautiful monitors.

But: pssst! Here's a secret: You don't need one! Buy a second 17" display, and see how much you like it.

Photo credit: kinderkram

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Code Camp Redux

  any thanks to the enthusiastic learners who showed up to my session at Silicon Valley Code Camp over the weekend. It was early on a Sunday morning, and I'm glad 15 or so of you found your way into my classroom.

The topic was .NET Development and Excel Services, and I think it was very well received. It had a better curriculum than the MSDN Webcast (which is available for download here) I had done the previous week. In my MSDN session, I bit off more than my audience could chew. I was explaining uses of grid computing to scale UDFs behind Excel Services. It's a very cool topic, and in the coming couple of years it's going to help a lot of people...but it's too early for that now.

Most people (even developers and Office power users) don't really know what Excel Services is all about. Informal polls at both my webcast and my Code Camp session proved that. So, in trying to explain why grid computing will be an important tool for people writing UDFs, I was really a few months too early. At Code Camp, I just talked about writing .NET add-ins for Excel Services, and that in itself was plenty to fill up an hour!

All in all, I had a great time at Code Camp. Attendees are always very enthusiastic, so the atmosphere is great for speaking. I received an invitation this week from Jason Mauer to do a session at Code Camp Seattle v2.0 (I spoke on grid computing at v1.0).

Arg! I wish I could. I've got a bunch of travel coming up, both personal (hanging in Vegas with my rock star friends) and professional (no links here, but some exciting trips on the near term horizon). Have fun at camp, Jason.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

"We Are the CITs So Pity Us...

...the kids are brats the food is hideous!"

So sang the counselors-in-training in the 1979 movie Meatballs. I assume that the conditions at this weekend's Silicon Valley Code Camp will be better! Silicon Valley's best and brightest certainly won't be brats--they're all attending on a weekend because they like this sort of thing. Plus, the food is being provided courtesy of Microsoft, Amazon, and Exact Software--they'll do better than the "some kind of beef" served at Bill Murray's summer camp back in 1979.

I've got a good hunch that the instruction at SVCC will be better than at Camp Northstar, too. Taking a look at the presenters page, I see .NET notables like Juval Lowy; evangelists from heavy hitters such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo; Bay Area developer stalwarts like Chuck Berg; and a ton of other folks, too.

My colleague Kim and I are both giving sessions. Kim is giving two: VS2005: Debugging Tips and Tricks at 10:45 on Sunday, and Concurrent Software Development at 1:15. My talk is Sunday morning at 9:15, and is entitled .NET Development and Excel Services.

There are terrific sessions both days, and it's being held this Saturday and Sunday at Foothill College in Los Altos. I highly encourage software developers in the Bay Area to attend this totally free event!

Register here.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Webcast Resources

hanks to everyone who attended my MSDN webcast today.

The intro was really quite exciting (although people on the webcast couldn't tell). For some reason LiveMeeting wasn't working properly on my machine; I couldn't "share" applications or my desktops. Since the idea of giving a talk with no demonstrations wasn't appealing to me, I had to reinstall and reboot--all of this in the 10 minutes before the webcast began! As Tracey was beginning the introduction, I was still setting up the two Visual Studios, two command prompts, remote desktop session, Excel 2007, etc. We cut it close, but we made it!

Here are the links I promised:

Excel Services overview

Free Developer Edition of Digipede Network
  • Full-featured version of the Digipede Network, free for developers: here
Great Excel blogs
  • Shahar Prish writes about Excel Services here
  • David Gainer (and many other members of the team) write about Excel 2007 here
My only regret with this webcast was that I had too much material: an introduction to Excel Services, an introduction to grid computing, and "two great tastes that taste great together" was a lot to accomplish in 55 minutes. For people who felt like they want more of an introduction to grid computing, I highly recommend reading all of my posts. ;-)

Alternatively, I suggest you watch my previous two MSDN webcasts: Object-Oriented Programming for Grid: Grid Computing for .NET and Advanced .NET Programming for Grid Computing.

They're each an hour long. They give a good grounding in grid computing on the .NET platform.

And, of course, if you're interested in a webcast about our product, you can always sign up for one of our webcasts here.

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MSDN Webcast This Morning

  re you looking for a good time this morning? I'm giving my third MSDN webcast at 10:00am; the title is "Using Grid Computing to Scale Excel Services". Register here.

Sign up!