CodeCamp 10 Presentations Online

Yesterday I gave my aforementioned presentations at the New England Code Camp. Overall, things went well, especially considering this was my first public speaking opportunity. My presentations did run a bit long, and I had to omit some things I had originally wanted to go over. From my own notes, some one-on-one feedback, and some of the review sheets (which were quite positive…thanks!), I plan to make some changes to the presentations in the hopes that they will flow a little faster and hopefully we can concentrate more on the content and less on my ability to type in an audience setting.

I am taking 2 approaches to publishing the presentation content. First, the raw slide decks and Visual Studio solutions have been published (links below.) Then, over the next few days, I will both augment the code so that the key points are called out (more comments, etc.) as well as write some posts dedicated to covering some of the details in a more conversational format.

Because WordPress is a little flaky when it comes to how files are stored, I am storing the content in some publicly accessible SkyDrive folders. The PowerPoint slide decks are written in PowerPoint 2007, and the source code projects are Visual Studio 2008 projects. (For Office 2003 & Office XP users, some compatibility information is available here.)

C++/CLI Presentation Content

MMC Presentation Content

Many thanks to my 2 audiences and for the congratulations and well-wishes I received. I definitely plan do this again – only better.

Office 2007 Compatibility

I have been using Office 2007 since the Betas and followed its development extensively (Jensen Harris is a Program Manager in the Office User Experience Team who published a series of Blog posts that gave an incredible amount of detail into the how the new UI came to be, as well as the some valuable history into the evolution of the Office Suite. His Blog can be found here.) I have been quite impressed with the new products. The new XML-based documents allow for some great programmability options, and the Ribbon UI was quite easy to adapt to, and now that I am used to it, I really do feel that my productivity has actually increased (I am looking forward to the integration of the ribbon UI into parts of the upcoming Windows 7 UI.)

All that being said, a lot of people have not made the move, for quite a number of reasons. Sometimes it is organizational / cost related; other times it can be because the transition from memorized menu-command layouts to the Ribbon layout can be daunting. There are actually a few really interesting tools to help bridge some of these gaps, and I will discuss a few below.

Office Compatibility Pack

Microsoft actually released an update for the Office XP and Office 2003 suites that allows Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files written in Office 2007 (docx, xlsx, and pptx extensions respectively) to be opened in these earlier versions of the suite. The Compatibility Pack description and download link can be found here.

Interactive Command Guides

Another tool that was released to help bridge between the two suite versions is an online interactive command guide. The various web apps present the original Office 2003 menus and toolbars. Selecting an item will trigger an animation that shows the corresponding location of that command within the new Office 2007 UI.

Figure 1- File/Save in Word 2003 and Corresponding Save in Word 2007

Links to the Command Guide Follow.

Word Command Guide

Excel Command Guide

PowerPoint Command Guide

Outlook Command Guide

Getting Started Addin

The last compatibility tool I plan to discuss is the Getting Started addin for the Office Suite. Downloading and installing this addin from Microsoft adds a new “Get Started” tab to Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. The new tab includes demo videos, links to the Interactive Compatibility Guides listed above, and other interactive learning materials. Information about the addins and download links can be found here.

Search Commands Addin

Microsoft created a group within the Office team called the Office Labs. As Jensen Harris puts it, the group’s charter is largely to “create concept cars.” One of their efforts has yielded an addin called Search Commands. Installing Search Commands results in a new tab in your Office applications that allows you to enter a term and search for matching commands. The Search Commands ribbon contents are populated with the command buttons that match your search term, and you can select the command directly by selecting one of these buttons. The Search Commands Addin is available here.

Keep in mind that the tools produced by the Office Labs are experimental, and neither support nor continued development is guaranteed.

Figure 2- Searching for Open in Word

I’m Going Camping

The Schedule for Code Camp 10 (Dev InTENsity) was published this morning, and it looks like I’ll be presenting. I’ve signed up to give 2 presentations: “When .Net Isn’t Enough – An Introduction to C++/CLI” and “Using MMC 3.0 and .Net to Write Custom Administration Tools”. I’ve been scheduled to speak at 9:10 AM and 10:35 AM on Saturday, September 20.

Beyond my presentations, there are a lot of other presentations on a variety of .Net topics going on throughout the weekend. The presentation list is available here. Lunch will be provided on both days courtesy of Magenic and Syrinx. On Saturday there will be a “Geek Gathering” (if my wife reads this, I’ll never hear the end of it…) following the sessions at the Waltham Westin lobby bar.

I’m trying to figure out how to do all this on Saturday and still catch the Florida / Tennessee game (3:30 PM kickoff.) Hopefully my SlingBox will have me covered.

More details, including the full schedule and a link to the Microsoft Waltham office location can be found at Chris Bowen’s Blog. See you there!

Where I Lay My Head is 127.0.0.1

With all due respect to Metallica…

Okay…time for the big announcement. A few weeks ago XOS Technologies and I parted company. This ended a 10-year run in a very narrow vertical market – aimed at Sports Video and Analysis technology. Actually, it goes a little longer than that, as prior to being a member of the Engineering team (at Avid Sports,) I was actually a customer at both the University of Florida and the University of Illinois.

I have accepted new employment out of the Waltham office of Burntsand, and begin tomorrow (September 3.) I will be joining Burntsand as a Senior Consultant, and I believe that my first engagement with them will be as a subcontractor under Microsoft Consulting Services for a New England client. Burntsand is a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner and a leader in business consulting and technology services.

For me, this is a phenomenal opportunity, and I am excited to the point of being downright giddy. Obviously, I have been in one market for a long 10 years (albeit with very different companies through that period, including Avid Sports, Pinnacle Systems, and XOS Technologies.) This opportunity should give me, over time, the chance to be exposed to several other markets. Also, I often participate in regional development events, and many of the speakers who have impressed me through the years have themselves been employed by Consulting Firms – I am getting a chance to walk in good footsteps. The relationship with Microsoft was also a big draw for me. Along with this, they have a practice of actively encouraging certifications and career development…why not get acknowledgement for what I do on my own time anyway? Finally, the people there have been top-notch. At XOS, we had been engaged with Burntsand for several months now, and overall I have been impressed by the guys I’ve had a chance to collaborate with.

So now it is time for a new adventure. I’ll keep folks posted as to how things go. It should be fun…