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March 2008 Entries
Gator Nationals 2008 - One More Time...

I've had a couple people ask me if we took any pictures while we were "behind the velvet ropes" at the races this past weekend. Here's one of me standing next to the Torco Top Fuel dragster driven by JR Todd. You can see the crew busy in the background. They were in the process of tearing down the engine and rebuilding it for the next qualifying pass.

Thanks again to Don Higgins of Crew Chief Pro 7.0 software fame and the accommodating crew members on the JR Todd and Hot Rod Fuller teams for putting up with us during our tour of their pit areas. I'm already looking forward to next year's event.

Posted On Wednesday, March 19, 2008 10:46 AM | Comments (1)
NHRA Gator Nationals 2008 Drag Racing And Crew Chief Pro 7.0!

I made my annual trip down to Gainesville, FL this past weekend to attend the NHRA Gator Nationals and had a blast as usual! Nitro burning Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars just do something to get the testosterone a pumping!  There is nothing like watching (and HEARING!) a car go from zero to over 330mph in 4 seconds!

While this post doesn't appear to be technology related it is. How so? Well I had a chance to meet Don Higgins, lead software developer of Crew Chief Pro 7.0.

Crew Chief Pro 7.0 is used by a wide variety of drag racing teams to help predict their performance based on weather conditions, previous runs, and other factors. Customers include professional teams such as the Caterpillar top fuel dragster racing team driven by Hot Rod Fuller, down to the unsung Sportsman categories.  Crew Chief Pro 7.0 is the result of Don's years and years of experience in the drag racing world and it shows.

Don himself is a drag racer though unfortunately his car wasn't ready for this years Gator Nationals.

My thanks to Don and a number of his customers for allowing my friends and I to watch his software in action. I learned a TON about drag racing this past weekend!

Have a day. :-|

Posted On Tuesday, March 18, 2008 11:09 AM | Comments (2)
Extending Visual Studio with the Visual Studio Extensibility Developer Center

While at Mix '08 last week I had a chance to have lunch with CoDe Magazine Editor, Rod Paddock and a mutual old friend, Ken Levy. I've known Ken since waaaaay back in our Visual FoxPro days. These days he's the Product Manager for the Visual Studio Ecosystem. Microsoft designed Visual Studio to be extensible and encourages the community to contribute tools and utilities to make other developer's work more productive. If you're interested in writing your own Visual Studio add-in head over to the Visual Studio Extensibility Developer Center and checkout the resources there. Interested in what others have already contributed to the VS community? If so check out the Visual Studio Gallery.

Ken was recently on DotNetRocks discussing Visual Studio Extensibility with Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell.

Have a day. :-|

Posted On Tuesday, March 11, 2008 1:08 PM | Comments (0)
Microsoft Group PM for the .NET Framework Brad Abrams Presenting at TRINUG in April

Mark for calendar for Wednesday, April 9th as Microsoft Group Program Manager for the .NET Framework, Brad Abrams, will be in town and presenting at the Triangle .NET Users Group (TRINUG) meeting that evening. For details on what he'll be presenting check out Brad's blog. I for one will be there.

Have a day. :-|

Posted On Monday, March 10, 2008 12:46 PM | Comments (0)
MIXing it up....

Well I'm back from Vegas having attended the Microsoft Mix '08 conference. It was a first time Mix attendee and I must say my walking away impression is very positive. One of the things I liked the most, in addition to Silverlight 2.0, was the incorporation of designers AND developers. Typically, the conferences I attend or present at have an obvious, developer-centric slant on content. I enjoyed the sessions discussing design issues, strategies, and user experiences.  I specifically enjoyed a number of the panel discussion sessions because of the different opinions you hear. My plan is to download a number of the recordings for the sessions I didn't get a chance to attend. If you didn't make it out there yourself, hit the Mix 08 sessions page and download the content.

Scott Hanselman Rocks!

One of the highlight sessions for me was Scott Hanselman's Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the Model View Controller Pattern session. This was the first time I had the opportunity to see Scott present in person and I wasn't disappointed. Informative, well-prepared, very-knowledgeable, funny, and engaging all describe Scott's very professional approach to delivering a session. I can see why he is always an audience favorite. I was also fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet Scott and chat for a few minutes Thursday evening before dinner.

Karen Corby Rocks!

Another session I was very pleased with was Karen Corby's Creating Rich, Dynamic User Interfaces With Silverlight 2 session. Her enthusiasm and passion for her work on the Silverlight team were evident from the beginning. She was energetic, informative, polished, and fun to watch.  Check out her session on the Mix 08 sessions page.

Microsoft Partner Program Session

One session I didn't have time to check out in person was the Understanding Microsoft Partner Programs for Designers, Developers, and Agencies session. I did download it and watch it on the flight back home. It was very informative and points you in the right direction if your business is interested in pursuing becoming a Microsoft Partner. There are three basic levels, a Registered Partner (FREE!), a Certified Partner, and a Gold Certified Partner. While I'm not going to go into the details of the requirements for each level, one tip I can pass along is as a partner, even as a Registered Partner, you can purchase the Microsoft Action Pack for $299 which includes more Microsoft software than you can imagine. Check it out...

Keynote II

Of course, last but not least, is the Guy Kawasaki interview of Steve Ballmer in front of about 2,000 of their closest friends. That is also available for you to download and checkout on the Mix 08 sessions page. Guy didn't pull any punches and hit Steve with a number of direct questions. The chemistry between the two of them was great! I enjoyed that quite a bit.

Next Year!

One of the announcements out of Mix 08 was the calendar for Mix '09. Mark you calendars for March 18-20, 2009 at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Ok, that wraps up my take on my Mix experience. Go to the sessions page and download the session content as well as checking out the Mix University which is full of educational content as well.

Have a day. :-|

Posted On Saturday, March 8, 2008 3:50 PM | Comments (0)
I'm on TV, Ok, Well dnrTV Discussing Virtual Earth

I was given a wonderful opportunity to make an appearance on DotNetRocks TV (dnrTV) last week. I'll use Carl Franklin's words to describe my appearance:

"Jim Duffy comes to the dnrTV screen this week with a great presentation using Microsoft's Virtual Earth in ASP .NET. Jim shows you how to incorporate live maps in your applications complete with push pins, lines, shapes, links and more."

While it doesn't say it specifically, I also covered how to import GeoRSS data feeds into Virtual Earth providing a way to quickly and easily display your existing data in a geospacial format. If you haven't tried adding Virtual Earth features to your ASP.NET applications you really ought to give it a try. It is VERY straightforward, is well documented, and just requires a little JavaScript coding.

You'll also notice on the dnrTV page I'm giving VB some lovin' with the picture I selected... :-)  My thanks to Microsoft Program Manager on the Visual Studio Community Team, Beth Massi who's Northwind Meets Virtual Earth - Generate VE Maps with LINQ blog entry was very helpful!  You rock Beth!

Have a day. :-|

Posted On Monday, March 3, 2008 5:25 PM | Comments (1)
Notes From Computers 2K8 Radio Show! (March 2, 2008)

"Good morning everybody, you're tuned to Computers 2K8 on sports radio 850 The Buzz" and so began today's show as we do every Sunday morning from 8am - 10am here in Raleigh, NC. You can download the show from the show's website or you can listen do us live as we stream the show across the web.

Hard Drive Recovery When Drive is Knocked Off the Desk and Crashes to the Floor!

The most interesting topic on today's show was the result of a caller inquiring about what to do about the fact his daughter had knocked her external USB hard drive containg a project she was working on from school (not backed up of course) off her desk and on to the floor. He said the drive made some noice so it was spinning up but the drive was unreadable. Another caller suggested he check out a hard drive data recovery utility called GetDataBack. My co-host Spencer downloaded the program and tool a quick look at it. He said it looks fairly comprehensive and he will be checking it out this week. The caller who mentioned this utility said he has had wonderful success recovering data from drives long thought dead. So while I can't reccomend this hard drive recovery utility because I haven't used it, it does appear to be a less expensive first choice than sending the drive off to a data recovery company.

I'm Heading For Mix '08

I mentioned I was heading for Mix '08 in Las Vegas (or is that Lost Wages!) this week to learn all there is to know about what is coming (or already arrived!) from Microsoft in the web development world. If you see me at Mix make sure you say hi and let me know if you listen to the show streamed across the web or if you read my blog!

Posted On Sunday, March 2, 2008 11:30 AM | Comments (0)