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 Friday, 02 December 2016

I consider myself a strong ally for diversity in technology in general, and women in technology more specifically. I work to improve matters through my role as CTO at Magenic, as a conference chair for VS Live and Modern Apps Live, through my social media channels, and in any other way I can.

Today this tweet came through my feed from @CallbackWomen:

The idea of a conference giving out Playboy magazines in their welcome pack is surreal, and clearly violates the spirit (and I think the letter) of their own code of conduct.

I do want to pick a nit with the tweet regarding the lack of diversity in the speaker lineup though. I agree there's a problem with a lack of diversity in their lineup - and the lineups of nearly every tech conference out there.

But as a conference chair I can say that finding women to speak at tech conferences is really hard. This is something I've been trying to overcome for years now, and have solicited help and input from female colleagues, other allies like myself (such as John Scalzi, friends, random people on twitter (like the @CallbackWomen community and others), and speakers at conferences specifically about diversity in tech (such as AlterConf where it is easy to find women speakers).

If I look at VS Live and Modern Apps Live in particular, we've done things like create and actively enforce an anti-harassment policy, and many attempts to reach out to various online communities focused on women speakers in tech. This is ongoing over the past several years, so not a recent thing or a one-time thing.

The result, over all this time, has been new submission from women to our CFP process. And we had her speak and she was excellent.

What I'd like from this post

What I'd like to see from this post is perhaps a broader conversation and input on ways to bring in more submissions from women speakers to tech conference call for presentations/speakers/papers. As conference chairs we can't increase diversity in our speaker lineups if no women even submit to speak.

If you are a woman in technology, do you speak? If so, how do we attract your attention?

If are a woman in tech and you don't speak (but would like to), how can we encourage you to speak? Or help you develop speaking skills? Are there gender-specific blockers that are preventing you from becoming part of the speaker community?

And there is a speaker community by the way. Well, I'm sure there are many different such communities. In the Microsoft app dev tech space there's a large and vibrant speaker community. And this community has some diversity, including some extremely accomplished women. But the number is so small that I believe I know all of them, and count most as friends. I don't know all the men in the community, because there are too many. That highlights the issue in a sense.

So again, what I'd love to see is a conversation about what it is that prevents accomplished women technologists who are public speakers from submitting to conferences like VS Live? And what prevents women technologists who want to become speakers from pursuing that avenue?

Friday, 02 December 2016 12:15:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Wednesday, 30 November 2016

This is a test using Markdown Monster to create a blog post.

If it works it will be awesome because I get to compose in markdown, and post directly to dasBlog.

public void foo()
{
    // nice code entry like GitHub
}

And code inline like you'd expect.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 10:21:51 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Tuesday, 01 November 2016

This (somewhat morbid) question comes up (in various forms) from time to time. And, as you might imagine given my health issues over the past few years, I put very real thought into this whole concept. Three different times it was quite possible that I wouldn’t make it.

The concern though, is the same with Angular, Java, Spring, or any other open source framework or tool. It is also the same with any commercial tool – anyone who’s been in this business for a while has surely dealt with commercial vendors going under, leaving them stranded with a component or technology that’s no longer supported.

In the commercial space the biggest offset to this is code escrow. In the OSS space the code is open, so it is “automatically” escrowed.

In the commercial space there’s really nothing beyond escrow either. You can’t bind a company to provide you support once they are gone. But in the OSS world things rest on community, so at least there’s some hope past escrow.

CSLA .NET has a broad community of contributors. There’s a site out there that collects metadata around OSS projects, including CSLA: https://www.openhub.net/p/cslanet

There’s a core leadership team for CSLA, including myself, Jonny Bekkum, Jason Bock, and Kevin Ford. So some Magenic, some non-Magenic. The framework is copyrighted (owned) by an independent LLC (that I own, but still, it is an entity that will outlive me).

Any platform, framework, or tool you use to build software deserves no more or less scrutiny than CSLA. People might dismiss ASP.NET because (a) it is OSS, or (b) because Microsoft owns the copyright. But Microsoft has abandoned technologies before (some quite recently: LightSwitch? Silverlight?). Were Microsoft to abandon ASP.NET, or perhaps Microsoft goes out of business (like DEC did in the 1990’s: they were the #2 computer maker one year, basically non-existent three years later), what would happen to ASP.NET? Well, it is OSS, so the community would hopefully pick it up.

Same thing with CSLA .NET.

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 15:14:12 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Wednesday, 24 August 2016

DCSPK17ANSPK17Visual Studio Live is coming up fast in both Anaheim and Washington DC.

I’ll be speaking at both events, and I hope to see you at one of them. The great thing is that you get to choose west or east coast, whatever works best for you. Or maybe you get to choose Disney or the Smithsonian Museum, depends on how you choose to think about it Smile

Click on the appropriate image to go to the registration page for each event – these links provide a $400 discount off the regular conference price.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 13:17:02 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Monday, 22 August 2016

Working with .NET Core isn’t for developers focused on productivity or who want modern tools.

Why do I say this?

Because Visual Studio tooling hasn’t been released (or well-updated) to deal with .NET Core or ASP.NET Core, so you have to deal with a lot of bugs, missing features, poor templates, etc.

Generally you are probably better off relying on circa-1989 “modern tooling” like command lines and text editors (though VS Code is pretty good) at the moment.

Microsoft is working on next-gen tooling, so this isn’t a permanent issue, but it is somewhat frustrating to go back in time 25+ years when I’m used to this century’s tooling.

My biggest current frustration is that (working on CSLA .NET) I have a master solution that includes projects for all the platforms CSLA supports:

  • .NET Core (netstandard1.5)
  • Full .NET (4, 4.5, 4.6)
  • UWP
  • Xamarin (Forms, iOS, Android)
  • WinRT (Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1)

And all my actual code is in shared projects so I only have to maintain the code once, even though it builds for 11 different platform targets in total.

Normally (when you don’t have a .NET Core project in your solution) you can switch your code view between the various platforms in your solution. This is the drop-down in the top-left corner of your code window. Unfortunately when you have a .NET Core project (netstandard project) in your solution this drop-down stops working.

As a result I’m finding that I need to have 3 solutions:

  • A master solution to build everything, including netstandard
  • A non-netstandard solution to work on everything except .NET Core
  • A netstandard solution to work on the .NET Core and ASP.NET Core projects

This way, in the netstandard solution I can actually see what’s going on with the correct code and Intellisense for .NET Core:

snip_20160822171318

And in my non-netstandard solution I can switch between the rest of the platforms to get the correct experience:

snip_20160822172009

Three solutions where I should have (and used to have) just the one master solution.

I can’t wait until the tooling catches up to the platform so things get simpler again!

Monday, 22 August 2016 16:22:03 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer

MCM-logo-s.jpgOver the past few months a group of us have been working on a Mobile Kids Id Kit app for Humanitarian Toolbox and Missing Children Minnesota.

We’re nearing the point of an MVP release and think we’ll get there with one good day of work – that day is this Saturday, August 27.

The location will be in Eden Prairie, MN. Please consider joining us if you are in the area and have skills in any of these areas:

  • Xamarin mobile development
  • Xamarin Forms XAML themes or styles
  • Hockeyapp
  • Microsoft Azure web site development (ASP.NET)

This app will support iOS, Android, and Windows. It will provide parents with a valuable tool to help them in the unfortunate possibility that their child goes missing.

How often do you have a chance to apply your software development or design skills to directly and literally make the world a better place? This is your chance!

If you are already part of the development team, full details are on our Slack channel. If you are not yet part of the team, we welcome your help! Please provide me with your email address in a comment on this post or via one of the my social media channels at about.me/rockfordlhotka and I’ll get you looped into the team.

Oh yeah, and because it is summer in Minnesota, this codeathon will also be a BBQ with typical summer grillables provided!

Or, if you have the skills and time, but aren't in the Twin Cities area you can still participate in the codeathon, but you'll have to provide your own summer BBQ while you work from wherever you are :)

In other words, we have all sorts of remote collaboration technologies, the code is in GitHub - so anyone in the world should feel free to get involved!

Monday, 22 August 2016 11:13:27 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Friday, 12 August 2016

I’ve heard a few people complaining recently because Microsoft isn’t enabling Windows 10 upgrades for all the legacy Windows 8 and 8.1 phones that exist out there in the world.

I understand that complaint and the frustration. Everyone wants the newest stuff!

The thing is that we have examples of different strategies around vendors upgrading legacy devices to their latest OS, and there appears to be no perfect answer.

For example, Apple is quite aggressive about upgrading people to the latest OS, often resulting in complaints as people agree to the upgrade and then find that their phone has become almost unusably slow.

Google/Android is less aggressive overall (I understand this is due to carrier constraints more than Google itself). But all my Android devices have been carrier unlocked, and so I’ve been able to upgrade them as each new version of Android comes out. My tablet is now entirely useless because it is so amazingly slow. Most apps just crash, and those that run are glacial. And this device is just 3-4 years old, so what gives?

Microsoft is just being (imo) upfront that if you did upgrade some devices to Windows 10 that your experience would be terrible. Just like the experiences of many people on iOS and Android. So they aren’t supporting an upgrade that would make us all cry.

I don’t know the right answer here. Is the Apple/Google approach correct? Encourage and/or let people upgrade to the point that their device is a brick? Or is Microsoft right by not allowing people to upgrade their device to where it is useless?

At the end of the day the result is the same: we all end up having to buy a newer device to run the OS we want to use.

Friday, 12 August 2016 13:25:49 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Monday, 25 July 2016

I have an existing .NET project (CSLA .NET) that uses resx resource files for localization. While adding support to CSLA .NET for .NET Core I had to figure out how to use resx files in a .NET Core (NetStandard 1.5) Class Library.

There is a doc for .NET Core Globalization and Localization that has good info, but it did lead me down a bad road given that I’m bringing in existing code and resx files.

There’s not currently tooling in Visual Studio 2015 for dealing with resources in .NET Core projects, or at least not like you’d expect from VS with full .NET. But there’s enough tooling that if you copy or create a Resources.resx file in a folder of your project you’ll end up with the appropriate generated designer.cs file.

Note that the Microsoft doc says that they think most of us won’t use that generated file. I think they are full of crap, because the alternative is to not use strongly typed access to your resources, and to manually craft a class to access your resources. WTF!?! So I’m ignoring their non-recommendation/supposition that I think is completely wrong, and I’m continuing to rely on the designer.cs file that has provided so much value since 2002.

The problem I encountered is that in the Microsoft doc they talk about putting your resx file(s) into a Resources folder. DO NOT DO THIS.

The tooling that generates the designer.cs file uses the folder name to create the namespace for the generated code. If you use a Resources folder the resulting name (for me) was Csla.Resources. And the class they generate is named Resources. So you have a class named ‘Csla.Resources.Resources’ – and it is a static class. As a result you basically can’t access any of the properties or methods in the class without using the full type name (no using statements allowed)!! It is a total mess.

SO DO NOT NAME YOUR FOLDER ‘Resources’!!

A related problem flows from the fact that I’m using existing code, all of which assumes the resx files are in the ‘Properties’ folder, so the namespace is ‘Csla.Properties’. So really what I need is to have all my resx files in the ‘Properties’ folder within my project so the full type name of the generated code is ‘Csla.Properties.Resources’ just like it has been in .NET projects for years and years and years.

The resx code generation tool appears to only run if the Resources.resx file is really in that folder (not linked from elsewhere), so I needed a way to copy my resx file from its original location into my NetStandard project.json:

"scripts": {     "precompile": "copyResources.cmd"
},

And of course this means that I also have that cmd file in my project’s root folder (a peer with project.json):

del Properties\*.resx
copy ..\Csla.Shared.Resources\*.resx Properties\

Notice how I’m deleting and recopying the files on every build. This is because the master source for my resx files is in the ‘Csla.Shared.Resources’ folder, and I don’t want anyone thinking they can edit the resx file in this copy – that’d be a maintenance issue! (as an aside, I also added these copied resx files to my .gitignore file so they never get checked into source control – they are just a build artifact after all)

As soon as the Resources.resx file is copied into the folder the designer.cs file is created, which means all my code that has ‘using Csla.Properties;’ and that uses the strongly typed members from the ‘Resources’ class will all work.

However, it is also critical that the resx files be leveraged as embedded resources when the project builds. To make this happen I had to add more lines to the project.json file:

"buildOptions": {     "compile": [ "../Csla.Shared/**/*.cs" ],
    "embed": {         "include": [ "Properties/Resources.resx" ]     },
    "define": [ "NETFX_CORE", "NETCORE", "NETSTANDARD" ],     "outputName": "Csla",     "xmlDoc": true
},

The “embed” build option indicates that the Resources.resx file should be embedded as a resource in the compiled DLL from the project. All the other localized resx files are automatically picked up and used to create satellite assemblies just like in full .NET. The result is that my build output directory contains ‘Csla.dll’ with the default resources embedded, and satellite assemblies in per-culture folders as you’d expect.

snip_20160725134541

To summarize:

  1. Do not put your Resources.resx file into a Resources folder – that way lies madness
  2. If porting existing code to .NET Core you’ll almost certainly want to put the resx files into your ‘Properties’ folder to get the same namespace as full .NET
  3. If porting existing code, use a precompile directive to copy the resource files to the target location
  4. Use the “embed” build option to embed your Resources.resx file into your assembly to make the default culture available
Monday, 25 July 2016 12:48:20 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Friday, 22 July 2016

I am thrilled with the “Your Groove” functionality in the Groove music app.

Years ago I begged and pleaded to get Pandora-like functionality in the (then) Zune app. Microsoft responded with SmartDJ, which later became Radio – and that has been excellent all these years – and I still use that functionality a lot.

However, this new “My Groove” feature adds a new dimension to the overall experience that I really like a lot. For example:

msohtmlclipclip_image001

The Radio feature sometimes provides new music, but dynamic channels like this one provide a lot of new music. And they auto-update weekly, so they never get stale.

I’m at the point where I think I’ll cancel my SiriusXM subscription in my car, because I can just sync these playlists to my phone and play them via BlueTooth – who needs SXM Octane to find new music when Groove does a better job for a lot less money!

Friday, 22 July 2016 13:22:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
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