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Non nobis Domine non nobis sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.


Who is dotNetTemplar?

Sun, 25 Sep 2011 21:20:15 GMT

This blog has been retired. For the foreseeable future, I will maintain the content here as is.

Check out my current blog(s).

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Love the Bomb

Thu, 15 Sep 2011 01:58:18 GMT

Courtesy of ZDNet Much ado has been made in the recent months about the impending death of . This week, at BUILD, Microsoft has finally stepped up and shown us what their view of the future is. Note that, in their architecture diagram, the current "desktop" technologies are represented as a peer. Included in the right side is Windows Forms, which of any .NET technology has long been exaggerated as dead; and yet it is still alive. The point is, despite all the "future is Metro" talk by other analysts (e.g., Mary Jo herself), the fact remains that these are peer technologies, and Microsoft is not "killing" anything in the right side. In fact, there is no such intent expressed implicitly or explicitly. That's not to say, of course, that nothing has changed. That's not to say that we can or should ignore Metro/WinRT (duh!). But there seems to be this common knee jerk reaction when a new technology is released to say that the current ones are now dead or somehow not worth investing in further. That reaction just doesn't reflect reality. As impressed and (mostly) happy as I am about the direction expressed in the Win8 stack, we need to keep in mind that we are still in the early stages, still in gestation. The baby isn't even born yet, and once it is born, it will take time to grow up and mature. In the meantime, we have these mature, stable, currently released technologies that are great to build on. I think it's great that Microsoft has released this stuff early. I like that about them better than other tech vendors. Although they've been more tightlipped about this than any other tech they've released, the fact remains we have plenty of time to plan, prepare, design, prototype, explore, and ultimately build for the new stack. In the meantime, we can still safely invest in the current technologies. The future is uncertain. That is the nature of the future. Devs need to quit unrealistically asking Microsoft to guarantee them the future of technology. We know that it would be bad business for Microsoft to kill off these current technologies; so bad, we should feel it as a positive guarantee that they are here to stay for any future that we should be currently planning for. We will always have legacy. Someday, the Win8 stack will, I assure you, be legacy. The things that remain constant are: Understand the needs of your application context. Understand the capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses of the various technologies you can build on, including current investments. Understand your team's capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses, including current investments. And choose the technology stack that makes the most sense, best balancing all these considerations, realizing that you won't make all the right choices (in retrospect) and that this is just life as a software professional. Everything else is just a bunch of unnecessary worry and hullaballoo. [...]

Silverlight Controls

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 09:10:19 GMT

The good folks over at Microsoft have released their Silverlight Toolkit today (or I guess yesterday, now).  It's a good start to complement what you get in the core/box.  I personally found the AutoCompleteBox probably the most interesting control, and the theming capabilities being introduced with the ImplicitStyleManager are promising, too.  I also like the way the team is running the toolkit project on codeplex and all.  Shawn Burke (of Ajax Control Toolkit fame) is a great guy to be leading that group of talented folks. Of course, in my humble opinion ;-), no discussion of Silverlight controls would be complete without looking at the outstanding work that Infragistics is doing, particularly in the data visualization space.  In our current CTP that you can download now, we have the xamWebChart, xamWebGauge, xamWebMap, xamWebTimeline, and xamWebZoombar. If you go to, you can read about all those controls, but I encourage everyone to just go play with them in our really awesome (if I do say so myself!) Silverlight controls samples browser.  I mean, it is just plain fun tweaking around with it.  I could sit and watch the datapoint transitions all day, and the chart zooming is freakin' cool.  Needle dragging gauge, overview plus detail implementation for the map, timeline...  Heck, who am I kidding?  It's all sweet!     I'm not just saying that because I work there; I really was just having fun and am frankly impressed with the work our guys are doing.  Kudos to our entire Silverlight team!   Great job, guys!  I'd name names, but I'm bound to forget someone.  You know who you are! And the fact that I'm playing with this in Safari on my Mac over my crappy hotel internet access just makes it that much cooler and fun.  You gotta love Silverlight!  If you're interested more in Line of Business (e.g., Outlook bar, hierarchicial data grid, tree, etc.), check out our info on Silverlight LOB controls.  According to our roadmap published there, you should see a CTP of our first release towards the end of this year.  Silverlight rocks, and I'm looking forward to seeing it develop and being a part of making it even better. You should stop by our booth at PDC, if you haven't already, and ask about all this.  We're Booth #201 (about 3 down on the left from the middle entrance).  There's still some time left, and you can pummel the guys and gals there with your questions.  Of course, you can always just call, chat, or email someone as well (or use the contact link on this blog, and I'll put you in touch).  Also, feel free to stop me in the hall at PDC if you want.  I won't bite.  Everyone says I look like Kevin Smith (which is why I was Silent Bob at the Expo reception Monday), so you should be able to recognize me, even without the trenchcoat. :)  Now I have to get to sleep so I can keep my promise and not be a zombie (and ergo not bite).  G'night! [...]

Life Isn't the Only Issue

Thu, 23 Oct 2008 03:42:12 GMT

My most recent post on how I choose whom to vote for dived into a bit of depth on the two key principles that factor into my decisions in this important part of our lives as citizens in a democratic republic.  One of my colleagues said to me something like "it's just plain silly to vote on one issue."  Put another way, "life isn't the only issue, dude."  This is actually a common sentiment, especially by those who, for whatever reason, want to justify voting for candidates who support (usually) abortion as part of their platform. And yes, it's true.  There are more issues to think about than life issues and abortion in particular.  No doubt about that. Issues of Consequence But to be a responsible voter, we have to think like adults--we have to weigh issues not only in number but also in importance, in consequence.  For instance, is a candidate's position on technology of more or less consequence than his position on education?  That's certainly debatable--there are many nuances and ways of tackling both of those, some of which would be a win-win. On the other hand, when you compare the consequences of a candidate's position on abortion to even something as near and dear to our hearts as the state of the economy (our own personal savings), which seems to be capturing folks' imaginations these days thanks to current events, there is just no comparison.  I don't care if my life savings is wiped out.  My pecuniary situation must take second chair to protecting the lives of the millions who have been and will continue to be killed with the consent of the law.  Today, there are very few issues that can claim the priority and consequence of abortion.  As explored in my last post, protection of life must come first.  It trumps economy; it trumps education; it trumps health care; it trumps foreign policy, and it even trumps social services.  If you don't have life, none of this matters.  It is plain, simple, straightforward logic.If you vote for a candidate who supports abortion, you are consenting to and indirectly participating in the death of each and every baby who has its brains sucked out, who is mangled, chemically burned, poisoned, or killed in any one of the many diabolically creative ways they've figured out how to do take human life in a mother's womb.  I apologize if it offends sensibilities, but you need to make an informed decision and realize there is real, moral culpability involved in voting for candidates who support abortion.  Is your 401(k) worth more than these babies' lives?  We can disagree on the propriety of the Iraq war (I have always opposed it but believe we are responsible to try to fix the mess we've made); we can disagree on the most effective means for social and economic stability; we can disagree on the  death penalty, and we can argue about the right way to fix the environment.  There are plenty of issues where good, honest folks can have good honest disagreements.  We have to think about all these, but we also have to weigh them proportionately.  Religion or Science? [If I could do side bars on the blog, this would go there.  So just imagine it being there.]  A lot of folks, including Senator Biden, seem to think that when life begins is a matter of faith.  It's not.  Life is not just a religious issue; it's about as biological and primordially human as it gets.  Human life begins at conception; this is scientific, not religious--if you don't interfere with a newly-conceived human being, he or she will develop into an adult human being.  It doesn't matter if they're self aware or not; they're still alive and have everything, genetically speaking, they'll have as adults.  You can't distinguish based on awareness--that's a slippery slope.  What about the severely mentally retarded or the senile?  What about newborns?  What level of self-awareness do you require?  What's the IQ score you have to have?  Who decides?Our C[...]

How Do I Choose Whom to Vote For?

Tue, 02 Sep 2008 00:16:38 GMT

[Download/Print] In writing this first and hopefully last political entry, I hope to help others who struggle with the question “How should I vote?” or “How do I choose whom to vote for?” If nothing else, I hope it will contribute more depth to the often polemical and superficial discussion that is our political milieu. First off, let me say that sometimes I wish I could be a Democrat. Democrats have a great story. They work for the average Joe. They want to make sure that the poor are taken care of. They want social justice. That’s admirable; that’s something I can get behind. For my part, I consider it part of my moral obligation to help the poor and those less fortunate. As a Catholic (or even just a Christian for that matter), it is pretty clear that caring for the poor is a basic moral principle for us, and what this means has been elaborated on and acted on throughout our two thousand year history. It has taken different forms as the cultural, political, and religious landscape has changed, but it was and remains a core concern for the devout Christian. Fundamental Principles By the same token, it’s also my Catholic/Christian philosophy that informs how I think about other social and political issues, including those far more fundamental, those that are the logical source of an active care for the less fortunate You see there are those, both antagonistic and sympathetic, who suggest that a concern for others, a care for the less fortunate, should trump these more fundamental concerns. For some, this argument is purely rhetorical, but there are surely those who honestly believe in this perspective. Some of these people are close to me, and I don’t doubt their sincerity. The problem is, I think, that there is a failure to understand the connection between these more fundamental issues and governments’ role in them, to understand the pragmatic importance of these issues, or, in some cases, to even properly value them. The fundamental issues I am referring to are those of life, first, and family, second. Why Life Matters Let’s begin with the first principle of life. Even our founding fathers saw the primacy and importance of this topic. Our Declaration of Independence begins with what they claim are self-evident truths, a list of unalienable rights, the first of which is the right to life. These are there to introduce the primary principles for which government is established and, in particular, our own here in these United States. It doesn’t take a religious perspective to appreciate the fundamental importance of life, and it is not a logical jump to understand that government, which should be directed toward the common (i.e., shared, social) good, should set as its number one goal to protect the lives of its citizens--all of them, especially those who cannot, for whatever reason, protect their own lives. It is from this fundamental principle of life that the other principles and rights both logically and practically flow. And therefore there is an implicit subjugation of these other rights (such as liberty and the pursuit of happiness) to the right of life. It follows then that a government can, in order to ensure the most fundamental right to life, restrict these others. I would suggest that it also follows that if a government inverts this order, it is inherently disordered and consequently needs to be corrected. For if a government cannot duly ensure the right to life, all of these other rights and, certainly, privileges are in no uncertain jeopardy. We must protect life first and foremost and, if necessary, at the cost of other admirable ideals such as liberty (or “choice” as some put it) as well as concern for the economic welfare that enables the pursuit of happiness (or proper[...]

Clan Little Expanding to Six

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 01:42:05 GMT

Today I went with Mrs. dotNetTemplar, along with our three ambulatory munchkins, to see the latest addition to Clan Little on the big screen.  Well, it was like a 25" screen, anyways.  At the last ultrasound, the technician said she thought it was a 90% certainty that the new one is a boy, but today it was confirmed pretty much beyond doubt.  That makes 3 boys!  Yikes! :)

It's always nice to see the little boogers kicking around, even in low fidelity, and the other kiddies enjoyed it too.  It's very clear that there's a person there, and he already bears the name Thomas Martin Bonaventure, after St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Martin of Tours, and St. Bonaventure.

So it was with that in mind when I bumped into the news that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi totally misrepresented the Catholic position on abortion in an interview on Meet the Press.  Thankfully numerous Catholic bishops have spoken up to provide the accurate Catholic position, but it's unfortunate that it happened because no doubt there will be plenty who take what she said at face value and never hear the correction.

I must say I was very surprised.  I mean, most politicians who identify themselves as Catholic at least have some integrity to dodge the issue by saying that their personal opinion should not be their public policy, which of course is deeply questionable in itself, but to outright contradict one of the most well-established Catholic doctrines--established in one of the earliest Christian documents we have and held since--and say it is an okay position for a purported "ardent, practicing Catholic" to hold is just plain wrong.

It may be challenging to argue against abortion without reference to Divine revelation, but it's just plain easy to do with it.  I mean, come on.

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Cooper's Keynote at Agile 2008

Sat, 16 Aug 2008 18:45:23 GMT

I just ran across Alan Cooper's keynote at Agile 2008.  The gist is that he's making the case for integrating interaction design into Agile development, something that is near and dear to me, as well.  I was pleasantly surprised by his talk, and I recommend it to all my dev friends. 

You can quickly scan through the slides and his notes to get the whole story.  I'm not sure if I could have said it better myself!

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Get My UX On!

Sat, 09 Aug 2008 02:36:18 GMT

I'm heading out to San Francisco Monday to get my UX on at UX Week 2008! It's my first time both in the city and at that conference. Looking forward to meeting new folks and talking about making great software experiences. If you're in the area or at the conference, send me an email (ambrogio[at]gmail) or ping me on crowdvine. I'd be glad to get together to talk about UX, software, architecture, whatever!

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Wrox Silverlight 2 Programmer's Reference Early Access

Tue, 29 Jul 2008 18:35:41 GMT

Wrox has started a new thing as of late they're calling Wrox First.  It's essentially a wiki of the book that I and my fellow Silverlight 2 authors are working on--Silverlight 2 Programmer's Reference.  Not only do you get early access, you can also shape how the book develops by making comments and suggestions.  My understanding is that it's just $19.99 and will get you access to drafts, revisions, and the final chapters as they are in the book for up to a year after publishing. 

Seems like an interesting option for those who want the book and sample code now rather than waiting until later this year when it is published.  Let me know what you think!

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Podder Skinning Contest Extended

Wed, 02 Jul 2008 13:39:04 GMT

Phwew!  I just moved yesterday (actually all weekend and yesterday and still more unpacking to go now!).  Man, all that moving is starting to wear, but we're very happy in the new place.  A lot more space to make room for number four! :)

On to the point.  Josh Smith has extended his Podder skinning competition.  For those who don't know, Podder is this nifty WPF-based podcasting client/player.  He designed it so that you can completely change the look and feel using skins.  I suggested a better term would be skeletoning, since you can change the structure in addition to the styling, but so far that hasn't caught on.  Be sure to tell him you think that's a better term!

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Minimizing Email Distractions

Fri, 20 Jun 2008 21:28:31 GMT

I'm not sure why this didn't occur to me before...  I read recently another brief article about the negative impact of email on productivity the other day, so I was thinking about a way to deal with it that didn't involve, e.g., closing Outlook and maybe even setting an "I'm not available by email until 3p today" out of office type message--seems a bit extreme, and it would also preclude my getting meeting reminders.  It occurred to me that what usually happens is I get the nifty little toaster popup notification while doing something, almost always click on it for more detail, and then get drawn into a distraction over it.  Similarly, I was using one of those Gmail Vista gadgets that would highlight when I had Gmail waiting, or I'd leave it open and minimized and see the Inbox count in the taskbar.  The problem was not (for me) so much getting too much email as having the regular interruptions that were occasioned by these terribly useful notification mechanisms.  Having isolated the problem, i.e., having framed the question correctly (which usually the most important part of solving a problem), I asked "How can I make these notifications go away?"  And the answer was immediately apparent: turn them off. :) To that end, I went into Outlook advanced email options (Tools -> Options -> Email Options -> Advanced Email Options--who knew notifications were advanced?!) and deselect all the notification options: I then removed the Gmail notifier gadget, and I close my Gmail when done with it.  The magic is that I still get my task and meeting reminders, but I don't get the regular interruptive notifications.  This had an immediate noticeable effect--I could work through to a good stopping point on the thing I was working on, i.e., a point I'd normally take a break, and then I'd check my email.  Wow!  Who knew something so simple could make such a difference?  I figure if it is critical, somebody will call or come knocking on my door. :) As a complimentary technique to that, I have taken my Inbox strategy to the next level, following a bit of advice given by Mark Hurst (who wrote a book on Bit Literacy [that I haven't read]).  One of his suggestions to avoid information overload is to keep your Inbox empty.  I previously already worked to do that because I used my Inbox like a to-do list (and don't like having a long to-do list), but Mark's advice is precisely not to do that--use it as an Inbox and get stuff out of it immediately.  Having not read the book (in which I'm sure are tons of helpful little tidbits), I take that to mean act on it immediately if possible, file it if need be, or set up a task to do something with it later.  I was already doing the first two, but I've found this additional third technique to be a nice add.  There is a distinct satisfaction (for me anyway) to having an empty inbox--maybe it's my personality type. :) I hope this maybe helps others out there in the same boat. [...]

Procrastination is...

Thu, 12 Jun 2008 13:38:08 GMT

Thanks to Mark Hurst over at Good Experience for blogging this one.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  My favorite: "Procrastination is playing imaginary computer games with your furniture."  I laughed out loud in public..

Now I'm going to try my first embed; let me know if there are problems.


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OpenSocial - The OpenID for Social Networks?

Thu, 15 May 2008 17:02:49 GMT

I haven't done any research, so maybe it is out there.  But I had a thought the other day as I accepted yet another invite to connect from yet another social networking site from someone I have connected with numerous times. 

Wouldn't it be great if I could have one, unified set of social contacts, my social network, that I could then just share out to various social networking sites?  I mean, sure, folks would have to opt into it, someone would have to think about the privacy issues, but good grief, it seems like we need something like that...

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We Don't Need No Architects--Really!

Wed, 23 Apr 2008 19:15:42 GMT

Just reading the first article in the latest edition of Microsoft's The Architecture Journal.  It's called "We Don't Need No Architects" by Joseph Hofstader.  I thought, oh good, someone voicing a dissident opinion, but the article is rather a rebuttal to that claim.  I figure maybe a response to the response is in order. :) Mr. Hofstader suggests that architects think in terms of bubbles and devs think in terms of code and, by extension, only see part of the picture.  He describes various "architectural" activities such as analyzing the problem domain, choosing and applying appropriate technologies to solve problems, and the use of patterns. Is it just me, or is this a sort of dumbing down of the developer role in order to support a, potentially unnecessary, distinction between it and "the architect"?  I mean, a smart developer needs to do all of these things, too.  They're not just code monkeys. In fact, in introducing such a division in responsibilities, we would actually seemingly perpetuate a long-standing problem in software development--a disjuncture between the problem and solution space because we keep trying to insert these business translators (call them technical business analysts, software architects, whatever you want) into our methodology.  What's wrong with this?  First, it puts the burden for understanding the business onto one (or a few) persons, but more importantly, it limits that mind share to those individuals.  That is never a good thing, but it is especially bad for software.  In so doing, it also puts a burden on those individuals to correctly interpret and translate (a considerable challenge) and finally to sufficiently communicate a design to developers--enter large specification documents, heavier process, and more overhead. On the other hand, domain-driven design, for instance, is all about instilling domain knowledge into the solution and coming to a common alignment between the business and the solution creators.  It's axiomatic in business that you need a shared vision to be successful, and this approach to software creation is all about that.  Shared vision, mutual cooperation, and a shared language.  It eliminates the need for a translator because both learn to speak the same domain language.  It eliminates the knowledge bottlenecks (or at least really reduces them), and it increases shared knowledge.  And DDD is not burdened with the distinction between an architect and a developer.  Agile methodologies in general are geared towards reducing barriers and overhead in the creation of software (and that's why they're generally more successful, and they can scale). I hope that all the brilliant and more-well-known/respected folks will forgive me; this is not intended as a slight, but I have to ask--are we creating the "architecture" profession unconsciously just to create a more defined career path (i.e., a way for us techies to move up the ranks)?  Are we just going with the flow from an old but broken analogy?  Are we introducing roles that really would be better served through other, non-architecty roles? To this last point, I see some folks suggesting "infrastructure" and "business" and "software" and "whatehaveyou" architects.  Why are we so keen on the term "architect"?  I'll grant, it does sound really fancy, but it is so, so painfully clear that it is ambiguous and overloaded (and inaccurate, if you ask me) .  Maybe these other roles do need to exist in some organizations, but it seems like we're just bent on calling them "architect" for no apparent good reaso[...]

Radical Freedom and Lasting Happiness

Sun, 20 Apr 2008 22:24:28 GMT

I was just reading the sermon Pope Benedict gave today in the Bronx.  The following struck a cord: The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. "In his will is our peace." Real freedom, then, is God’s gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32). And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on "the mind of Christ" (cf. Phil 2:5), new horizons open before us! I've thought about this seeming paradox on a few occasions--that real, radical freedom is found in truth and living in conformity to that truth.  Loss of Freedom? There's a common perception that morals, ethics, and religion in general limit our freedom--that we're sacrificing freedom for some greater good.  But we're not actually sacrificing freedom--we're still free to choose to think and act otherwise, however, we are using our freedom, choosing to live in accord with what we believe to be true.  It's a different way to think about it, one that puts it in the right perspective.  I think it is put in a negative perspective so often because we focus on the things we're not supposed to think or do instead of on what we are freely choosing--positively--to think and do. The funny thing that I've found is that in choosing to align my beliefs and actions with Catholic doctrine, I feel far more at peace and far freer.  I think it is because if we're constantly struggling with the basic (but important!) questions of life, such as our origins, the existence of God and our relationship to the Divine, as well as our right relations with others, we never get off the ground, so to speak--we're always stuck in an infinite loop, wondering and (maybe) worrying, if we are conscientious.  But if we settle all that, we're free to move on and explore new horizons.  Not only that, I think we are better equipped to explore those new horizons, because we are aligned with truth, with reality. Mental & Conceptual Models This reminds me of the idea in psychology of mental models and conceptual models.  My understanding, based on Donald Norman's The Design of Everyday Things (a.k.a., The Psychology of Everyday Things), is essentially that there is a conceptual model that designers create and use when they design and build things.  This is the actual and correct model.  Then there are mental models that users of the design form and use when perceiving and interacting with the design. The trick in design is to sufficiently express the conceptual model (through a variety of design mechanisms like affordances, feedback, "knowledge in the world," etc.) so that users will form the correct mental model--one that closely aligns with the design's conceptual model.  The reason this is important is that it empowers the users to use the design effectively and not spend undue time and energy trying to figure it out, dealing with frustrations and inefficiencies that come from having a wrong mental model.[...]