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Last Build Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2015 19:17:07 GMT

Copyright: Daniel Moth
 



Speaking at VSLive! and Registration Discount Code

Thu, 09 Jul 2015 19:17:07 GMT

Save $500 and use my special discount code (RDSPKMS) to register for Visual Studio Live!

I'll be presenting the following keynote

Title: Visual Studio 2015 – Any App, Any Developer

Abstract: First you’ll take a brief tour of how Visual Studio caters to any development need, regardless of programming language choice, or type of app that you are building. Then you’ll see demos of the productivity gains you can enjoy with your existing or new code. Last, you’ll see the recent progress in the .NET stack and how that benefits you, including open source and cross-platform support.

Register now for 5 days of immediately usable training.

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Multi-Device Development in Visual Studio

Wed, 28 May 2014 04:20:02 GMT

You've read on Soma's blog post that Microsoft is broadening Visual Studio's reach to other platforms (including for example Android)…  specifically this is what Soma wrote:

"With bring-your-own-device trends in the enterprise, and heterogeneity in the consumer mobile device market, developers are increasingly focused on building apps that can target a variety of devices. We are committed to enabling developers to build apps for this heterogeneous, mobile-first world with Visual Studio for the technology of your choice - whether .NET, C++ or JavaScript."

If you live in Washington state in the USA (or are willing to relocate here) I am looking for a Program Manager to help with this effort – read the rest of the job description here which is also where you can apply for the position (or email me).

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Attend my Tech Ed 2014 session: Debugging Tips and Tricks

Tue, 06 May 2014 01:48:10 GMT

Just a week away, at Tech Ed 2014 NA in Houston Texas, I will be giving a demo presentation that you will not want to miss (assuming you code in Visual Studio). Add it to your calendar now:

DEV-B352 Debugging Tips and Tricks in Visual Studio 2013 (link)

Monday, May 12 1:15-2:30 PM, Room: General Assembly C

As a developer, regardless of your programming language or the platform that you target, you use the debugger on a daily basis. Come to this all-demo session to learn how to make the most of the Visual Studio debugger, and hence be more productive and effective in your everyday development. We tour almost all of the debugger surface and many of its commands, throwing in tips and tricks as we go along, and also calling out what is brand new in the latest version of the debugger in Microsoft Visual Studio 2013. Whatever your experience level, you are guaranteed to leave with new knowledge of debugger features that you will want to use immediately when you are back at your computer!

 

I am also co-presenting another session later in the week.

DEV-B313 Diagnosing Issues in Windows Phone 8.1 XAML Applications Using Visual Studio 2013 (link)

Thursday, May 15 10:15-11:30 AM, Room: 340

Come to this demo-driven session to learn how to use the latest diagnostic tools in Visual Studio 2013 to make your Windows Phone 8.1 XAML apps reliable, fast, and efficient. Learn how to make the most of existing capabilities in the debugger as well as new debugging features for diagnosing correctness issues. Also, see the Visual Studio Performance and Diagnostics hub in action with its performance analysis tools for diagnosing CPU usage, memory usage, and energy consumption. The techniques covered in this session apply equally well for Windows Store apps as well as Windows Phone Store apps, so all your device development needs will be covered.

 

Links to both sessions from my Tech Ed speaker page. See you there!

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Work for me on Visual Studio Diagnostics

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 23:54:00 GMT

Do you want to work as a Sr Program Manager on the team that owns the Visual Studio debugger, profiler tools, and IntelliTrace? Do you fulfill the requirements outlined in the job description? If you do, then email me or apply online.

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Best of “The Moth” 2013

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 08:47:36 GMT

As previously (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) the time has come again to look back over the year’s activities on this blog, and as predicted there were 3 themes 1. It has been just 15 months since I changed role from what at Microsoft we call an “Individual Contributor” (IC) to a managerial role where ICs report to me. Part of being a manager entails sharing career tips with your team and some of those I have put up on my blog over the last year (and hope to continue to next year): Effectiveness and Efficiency, Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way, and Perfect is the enemy of “Good Enough”. 2. It has also been a 15 months that I joined the Visual Studio Diagnostics team, and we have shipped many capabilities in Visual Studio 2013. I helped the members of my team blog about every single one and create videos of many, and then I created a table of contents pointing to all of their blog posts, so if you are interested in what I have been working on over the last year please follow the links from the master blog post here: Visual Studio 2013 Diagnostics Investments. We are busy working on future Visual Studio releases/updates and I will link to those when we are ready… 3. Finally, I used some of my free time (which is becoming eve so scarce) to do some device development and as part of that I shared a few thoughts and code: Debug.Assert replacement for Phone and Store apps, asynchrony is viral, and MyMessageBox for Phone and Store apps. To see what 2014 will bring to this blog, please subscribe using the link on the left… Happy New Year! Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]



Debugging and Profiling in Visual Studio 2013

Thu, 18 Jul 2013 15:51:35 GMT

The recently released Visual Studio 2013 Preview includes a boat-load of new features in the diagnostics space, that my team delivered (along with other teams at Microsoft). I enumerated my favorites over on the official Visual Studio blog so if you are interested go read the list and follow the links:

Visual Studio 2013 Diagnostics Investments

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Effectiveness and Efficiency

Sat, 13 Apr 2013 04:22:47 GMT

In the professional environment, i.e. at work, I am always seeking personal growth and to be challenged. The result is that my assignments, my work list, my tasks, my goals, my commitments, my [insert whatever word resonates with you] keep growing (in scope and desired impact). Which in turn means I have to keep finding new ways to deliver more value, while not falling into the trap of working more hours. To do that I continuously evaluate both my effectiveness and my efficiency. EFFECTIVENESS The first thing I check is my effectiveness: Am I doing the right things? Am I focusing too much on unimportant things? Am I spending more time doing stuff that is important to my team/org/division/business/company, or am I spending it on stuff that is important to me and that I enjoy doing? Am I valuing activities that maybe I have outgrown and should be delegated to others who are at a stage I have surpassed (in Microsoft speak: is the work I am doing level appropriate or am I still operating at the previous level)? Notice how the answers to those questions change over time and due to certain events, so I have to remind myself to revisit them frequently. Events that force me to re-examine them are: change of role, change of team/org/etc, change of direction of team/org/etc, re-org, new hires on the team that take on some of the work I did, personal promotion, change of manager... and if none of those events has occurred since the last annual review, I ask myself those at each annual review anyway. If you think you are not being effective at work, make a list of the stuff that you do and start tracking where your time goes. In parallel, have a discussion with your manager about where they think your time should go. Ultimately your time is finite and hence it is your most precious investment, don't waste it. If your management doesn't value as highly what you spend your time on, then either convince your management, or stop spending your time on it, or find different management: Lead, Follow, or get out of the way! That's my view on effectiveness. You have to fix that before moving to being efficient, or you may end up being very efficient at stuff that nobody wants you to be doing in the first place. For example, you may be spending your time writing blog posts and becoming better and faster at it all the time. If your manager thinks that is not even part of your job description, you are wasting your time to satisfy your inner desires. Nobody can help you with your effectiveness other than your management chain and your management peers - they are the judges of it. EFFICIENCY The second thing I check is my efficiency: Am I doing things right? For me, doing things right means that I deliver the same quality of work faster [than what I used to, and than my peers, and than expected of me]. The result is that I can achieve more [than what I used to, and than my peers, and than expected of me]. Notice how the efficiency goal is a more portable one. If, by whatever criteria, you think you are the best at [insert your own skill here], this can change at two events: because you have new colleagues (who are potentially better than your older ones), and it can change with a change of manager (who has potentially higher expectations). That's about it. Once you are efficient at something, you carry that with you... All you need to really be doing here is, when taking on new kinds of work that you haven't done before, try a few approaches and devise a system so that you can become efficient at this new activity too... Just keep "collecting" stuff that you are efficient at. If you think you are not being efficient at something, break it down: What are the steps you take to complete that task? How long do you spend on each step? Talk to others about what steps they take, to see if you can optimize some steps away or trade them for better steps, or just learn how to [...]



Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way

Fri, 29 Mar 2013 06:16:36 GMT

This is one of the sayings (attributed to Thomas Paine) that totally resonated with me from the first time I heard it, which was only 3 years ago during some training course at work: "Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way" You'll find many books with this title and you'll find it quoted by politicians and other leaders in various countries at various times... the quote is open to interpretation and works on many levels. To set the tone of what this means to me, I'll use a simple micro example: In any given conversation, you are either leading it or following it, at different times/snapshots of the conversation. If you are not willing or able to lead it, and you are not willing or able to follow it, then you should depart. The bad alternative which this guidance encourages you NOT to do is to stick around and obstruct progress by not following, not leading, and simply complaining or trying to derail the discussion in no particular direction. The same pattern applies at your position/role at work. Either follow your management/leadership team, or try to lead them to what you think is a better place, or change jobs. Don't stick around complaining about the direction things are going, while not actively trying to either change things or make peace with it. In the previous paragraph you can replace the word "your management" with "the people reporting to you" and the guidance still holds. Either lead your direct reports to where you think they should go, or follow their lead, or change jobs. Complaining about folks not taking direction while doing nothing is not a maintainable state. To me this quote is not about a permanent state, it is not about some people always leading and some always following: It is about a role/hat that anybody can play/wear at any given moment. One minute I am leading you, the next I am following you, and the next we are both following someone else and so on... When there is disagreement, debate the different directions for as long as it takes for you to be comfortable that you can either follow or lead. If you don't become comfortable with either of those, get out of the way. Something to remember is that it is impossible to learn how to lead well, without learning how to follow well (probably deserves its own blog entry)... Things go wrong when someone thinks that they must always be leading, or when everybody wants to follow and nobody steps up to lead... Things go wrong when more than one person wants to lead and they don't try to reach agreement on a shared direction, stubbornly sticking to their guns pulling the rest of the team in multiple directions... Things go wrong when more than one person wants to lead and after numerous and lengthy discussions, none of them decides to follow or get out of the way... Things go wrong when people don't want to lead, don't want to follow, and insist on sticking around... While there are a few ways things that can go wrong as enumerated in the previous paragraph, the most common one in my experience is the last one I mentioned. You'll recognize these folks as the ones that always complain about everything that is wrong with their company/product but do nothing about it. Every time you hear someone giving feedback on how something is wrong or suboptimal, ask them "So now that you identified the problem, what do you think the solution is and what are you doing to drive us to that solution?" The next time things start going wrong, step up and remind everyone: Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way. For more perspectives, and for input to help you form your own interpretation, search the web for this phrase to see in what contexts it is being used (bing, google). Finally, regardless of your political views, I hope you can appreciate if only as an example this perspective of someone leading by actually getting out of the way. [...]



MyMessageBox for Phone and Store apps

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 10:41:00 GMT

I am sharing a class I use for both my Windows Phone 8 and Windows Store app projects.

Background and my requirements

  1. For my Windows Phone 7 projects two years ago I wrote an improved custom MessageBox class that preserves the well-known MessageBox interface while offering several advantages. I documented those and shared it for Windows Phone 7 here: Guide.BeginShowMessageBox wrapper.
  2. Aside: With Windows Phone 8 we can now use the async/await feature out of the box without taking a dependency on additional/separate pre-release software.
  3. As I try to share code between my existing Windows Phone 8 projects and my new Windows Store app projects, I wanted to preserve the calling code, so I decided to wrap the WinRT MessageDialog class in a custom class to present the same MessageBox interface to my codebase.
  4. BUT. The MessageDialog class has to be called with the await keyword preceding it (which as we know is viral) which means all my calling code will also have to use await. Which in turn means that I have to change my MessageBox wrapper to present the same interface to the shared codebase and be callable with await… for both Windows Phone projects and Windows Store app projects.

Solution

The solution is what the requirements above outlined: a single code file with a MessageBox class that you can drop in your project, regardless of whether it targets Windows Phone 8, or Windows 8 Store apps or both. Just call any of its static Show functions using await and dependent on the overload check the return type to see which button the user chose.

// example from http://www.danielmoth.com/Blog/GuideBeginShowMessageBox-Wrapper.aspx
if (await MyMessageBox.Show("my message", "my caption", "ok, got it", "that sucks")
== MyMessageBoxResult.Button1)
{
     // Do something
     Debug.WriteLine("OK");
}

The class can be downloaded from the bottom of my older blog post.

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asynchrony is viral

Tue, 05 Feb 2013 03:46:48 GMT

It is becoming hard to write code today without introducing some form of asynchrony and, if you are using .NET (e.g. for Windows Phone 8 or Windows Store apps), that means sooner or later you have to await something and mark your method as async. My most recent examples included introducing speech recognition in my Translator By Moth phone app where I had to await mySpeechRecognizerUI.RecognizeWithUIAsync() and when moving that code base to a Windows Store project just to show a MessageBox I had to await myMessageDialog.ShowAsync(). Any time you need to invoke an asynchronous method in your code, you have a choice to make: kick off the operation but don’t wait for it to complete (otherwise known as fire-and-forget), synchronously wait for it to complete (which will entail blocking, which can be bad, especially on a UI thread), or asynchronously wait for it to complete before continuing on with the rest of the method’s work. In most cases, you want the latter, and the await keyword makes that trivial to implement.  When you use the magical await keyword in front of an API call, then you typically have to make additional changes to your code: This await usage is within a method of course, and now you have to annotate that method with async. Furthermore, you have to change the return type of the method you just annotated so it returns a Task (if it previously returned void), or Task (if it previously returned myOldReturnType). Note that if it returns void, in some cases you could cheat and stop there. Furthermore, any method that called this method you just annotated with async will now also be invoking an asynchronous operation, so you have to make that change in the body of the caller method to introduce the await keyword before the call to the method. …you guessed it, you now have to change this caller method to be annotated with async and have its return types tweaked... …and it goes on virally… At some point you reach the root of your user code, e.g. a GUI event handler, and whoever calls that void method can already deal with the fact that you marked it as async and the viral introduction of the keywords stops there… This is all wonderful progress and a very powerful mechanism, and I just wish someone had written a refactoring tool to take care of this… anyone? I mentioned earlier that you have a choice when invoking an asynchronous operation. If the first time you encounter this you wish to localize the impact of all these changes and essentially try to turn the asynchronous behavior into synchronous by blocking - don't! For reasons why you don't want to do that, read Toub's excellent blog post (and check out the rest of his blog with gems on async programming starting with the Async FAQ). Just embrace the pattern knowing that when you use one instance of an await, you'll propagate the change all the way to the root user code method, e.g. typically an event handler. Related aside: I just finished re-writing my MessageBox wrapper class for Phone projects, including making it work in Windows Store projects, and it does expect you to use it with an await :-). I'll share that in an upcoming post for those of you that have the same need… Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]



Debug.Assert replacement for Phone and Store apps

Mon, 14 Jan 2013 05:42:03 GMT

I don’t know about you, but all my code is, and always has been, littered with Debug.Assert statements. (image) I think it all started way back in my (short-lived, but impactful to me) Eiffel days, when I was applying Design by Contract. Anyway, I can’t live without Debug.Assert. Imagine my dismay when I upgraded my Windows Phone 7.x app (Translator By Moth) to Windows Phone 8 and discovered that my Debug.Assert statements would not display anything on the target and would not break in the debugger any longer! Luckily, the solution was simple and in this post I share it with you – feel free to teak it to meet your needs.

Steps to use

  1. Add a new code file to your project, delete all its contents, and paste in the code from MyDebug.cs
  2. Perform a global search in your solution replacing Debug.Assert with MyDebug.Assert
  3. Build solution and test

Now, I do not know why this functionality was broken, but I do know that it exhibits the same broken characteristics for Windows Store apps. There is a simple workaround there to use Contract.Assert which does display a message and offers an option to break in the debugger (although it doesn’t output the message to the Output window). Because I plan on code sharing between Phone and Windows 8 projects, I prefer to have the conditional compilation centralized, so I added the Contract.Assert workaround directly in MyDebug class, so that you can use this class for both platforms – enjoy and enhance!

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Perfect is the enemy of “Good Enough”

Mon, 14 Jan 2013 04:55:29 GMT

This is one of the quotes that I was against, but now it is totally part of my core beliefs: "Perfect is the enemy of Good Enough" Folks used to share this quote a lot with me in my early career and my frequent interpretation was that they were incompetent people that were satisfied with mediocrity, i.e. I ignored them and their advice. (Yes, I went through an arrogance phase). I later "grew up" and "realized" that they were missing the point, so instead of ignoring them I would retort: "Of course we have to aim for perfection, because as human beings we'll never achieve perfection, so by aiming for perfection we will indeed achieve good enough results". (Yes, I went through a smart ass phase). Later I grew up a bit more and "understood" that what I was really being told is to finish my work earlier and move on to other things because by trying to perfect that one thing, another N things that I was responsible for were suffering by not getting my attention - all things on my plate need to move beyond the line, not just one of them to go way over the line. It is really a statement of increasing scale and scope. To put it in other words, getting PASS grades on 10 things is better than getting an A+ with distinction on 1-2 and a FAIL on the rest. Instead of saying “I am able to do very well these X items” it is best if you can say I can do well enough on these X * Y items”, where Y > 1. That is how breadth impact is achieved. In the future, I may grow up again and have a different interpretation, but for now - even though I secretly try to "perfect" things, I try not to do that at the expense of other responsibilities. This means that I haven't had anybody quote that saying to me in a while (or perhaps my quality of work has dropped so much that it doesn't apply to me any more - who knows :-)). Wikipedia attributes the quote to Voltaire and it also makes connections to the “Law of diminishing returns”, and to the “80-20 rule” or “Pareto principle”… it commonly takes 20% of the full time to complete 80% of a task while to complete the last 20% of a task takes 80% of the effort …check out the Wikipedia entry on “Perfect is the enemy of Good” and its links. Also use your favorite search engine to search and see what others are saying (Bing, Google) – it is worth internalizing this in a way that makes sense to you… Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]



Best of "The Moth" 2012

Tue, 01 Jan 2013 15:31:56 GMT

As with previous years (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year and share a quick review of my blog posts from 2012 (plus speculate on my 2013 blog focus). 1. Like 2011, my professional energy in 2012 was dominated by C++ AMP including articles, blog posts, demos, slides, and screencasts. I summarized that over two posts on the official team blog that I linked to from my blog post here titled: “The last word on C++ AMP”, which also subtly hinted at my change of role which I confirmed in my other post titled “Visual Studio Continued Excitement”. 2. Even before I moved to the Visual Studio Diagnostics team in September, earlier in the year I had started sharing blog posts with my thoughts on that space, something I expect to continue in the new year. You can read some of that in these posts: The way I think about Diagnostic tools, Live Debugging, Attach to Process in Visual Studio, Start Debugging in Visual Studio, Visual Studio Exceptions dialogs. 3. What you should also expect to see more of is thoughts, tips, checklists, etc around Professional Communication and on how to be more efficient and effective with that, e.g. Link instead of Attaching, Sending Outlook Invites, Responding to Invites, and OOF checklist. 4. As always, I sometimes share random information, and noteworthy from 2012 is the one where I outlined the Visual Studio versioning story (“Visual Studio 11 not 2011”, and after that post VS 11 was officially baptized VS2012) and the one on “How I Record Screencasts”. Looking back, unlike 2011 there were no posts in 2012 related to device development, e.g. for Windows Phone. Expect that to be rectified in 2013 as I hope to find more time for such coding… stay tuned by subscribing using the link on the left. Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]



Join the Visual Studio diagnostics team

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 18:42:57 GMT

I have a Program Manager position open on the Visual Studio diagnostics team which owns the debugger, the profiler tools, and IntelliTrace.

If you have never worked for Microsoft you may be wondering if the PM position at Microsoft is for you. Read the job description to see what the role entails and to see if you are a fit.

I’ll preempt the usual question and say that this is a Redmond-based position. Beyond that, if you are interested in what you read and you think you have what it takes, then email me.

http://www.microsoft-careers.com/job/Redmond-Program-Manager-2-Job-WA-98052/2321458/

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OOF checklist

Fri, 16 Nov 2012 22:05:15 GMT

When going on vacation or otherwise being out of office (known as OOF in Microsoft), it is polite and professional that our absence creates the minimum disruption possible to the rest of the business, and especially our colleagues. Below is my OOF checklist - I try to do these as soon as I know I'll be OOF, rather than leave it for the night before. Let the relevant folks on the team know the planned dates of absence and check if anybody was expecting something from you during that timeframe. Reset expectations with them, and as applicable try to find another owner for individual activities that cannot wait. Go through your calendar for the OOF period and decline every meeting occurrence so the owner of the meeting knows that you won't be attending (similar to my post about responding to invites). If it is your meeting cancel it so that people don’t turn up without the meeting organizer being there. Do this even for meetings were the folks should know due to step #1. Over-communicating is a good thing here and keeps calendars all around up to date. Enter your OOF dates in whatever tool your company uses. Typically that is the notification to your manager. In your Outlook calendar, create a local Appointment (don't invite anyone) for the date range (All day event) setting the "Show As" dropdown to "Out of Office". This way, people won’t try to schedule meetings with you on that day. If you use Lync, set the status to "Off Work" for that period. If you won't be responding to email (which when on your vacation you definitely shouldn't) then in Outlook setup "Automatic Replies (Out of Office)" for that period. This way people won’t think you are rude when not replying to their emails. In your OOF message point to an alias (ideally of many people) as a fallback for urgent queries. If you want to proactively notify individuals of your OOFage then schedule and send a multi-day meeting request for the entire period. Remember to set the "Show As" to "Free" (so their calendar doesn’t show busy/oof to others), set the "Reminder" to "None" (so they don’t get a reminder about it), set "Low Importance", and uncheck both "Response Options" so if they don't want this on their calendar, it is just one click for them to get rid of it. Aside: I have another post with advice on sending invites. If you care about people who would not observe the above but could drop by your office, stick a physical OOF note at your office door or chair/monitor or desk. Have I missed any? Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]



Responding to Invites

Mon, 12 Nov 2012 01:40:32 GMT

Following up from my post about Sending Outlook Invites here is a shorter one on how to respond. Whatever your choice (ACCEPT, TENTATIVE, DECLINE), if the sender has not unchecked the "Request Response" option, then send your response. Always send your response. Even if you think the sender made a mistake in keeping it on, send your response. Seriously, not responding is plain rude. If you knew about the meeting, and you are happy investing your time in it, and the time and location work for you, and there is an implicit/explicit agenda, then ACCEPT and send it. If one or more of those things don't work for you then you have a few options. Send a DECLINE explaining why. Reply with email to ask for further details or for a change to be made. If you don’t receive a response to your email, send a DECLINE when you've waited enough. Send a TENTATIVE if you haven't made up your mind yet. Hint: if they really require you there, they'll respond asking "why tentative" and you have a discussion about it. When you deem appropriate, instead of the options above, you can also use the counter propose feature of Outlook but IMO that feature has questionable interaction model and UI (on both sender and recipient) so many people get confused by it. BTW, two of my outlook rules are relevant to invites. The first one auto-marks as read the ACCEPT responses if there is no comment in the body of the accept (I check later who has accepted and who hasn't via the "Tracking" button of the invite). I don’t have a rule for the DECLINE and TENTATIVE cause typically I follow up with folks that send those.   The second rule ensures that all Invites go to a specific folder. That is the first folder I see when I triage email. It is also the only folder which I have configured to show a count of all items inside it, rather than the unread count - when sending a response to an invite the item disappears from the folder and hence it is empty and not nagging me. Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]



Sending Outlook Invites

Mon, 12 Nov 2012 01:18:48 GMT

Sending an Outlook invite for a meeting (also referred to as S+ in Microsoft) is a simple thing to get right if you just run the quick mental check below, which is driven by visual cues in the Outlook UI. I know that some folks don’t do this often or are new to Outlook, so if you know one of those folks share this blog post with them and if they read nothing else ask them to read step 7. Add on the To line the folks that you want to be at the meeting. Indicate optional invitees. Click on the “To” button to bring up the dialog that lets you move folks to be Optional (you can also do this from the Scheduling Assistant). Set the Reminder according to the attendee that has to travel the most. 5 minutes is the minimum. Use the Response Options and uncheck the "Request Response" if your event is going ahead regardless of who can make it or not, i.e. if everyone is optional. Don’t force every recipient to make an extra click, instead make the extra click yourself - you are the organizer. Add a good subject Make the subject such that just by reading it folks know what the meeting is about. Examples, e.g. "Review…", "Finalize…", "XYZ sync up" If this is only between two people and what is commonly referred to as a one to one, the subject would be something like "MyName/YourName 1:1" Write the subject in such a way that when the recipient sees this on their calendar among all the other items, they know what this meeting is about without having to see location, recipients, or any other information about the invite. Add a location, typically a meeting room. If recipients are from different buildings, schedule it where the folks that are doing the other folks a favor live. Otherwise schedule it wherever the least amount of people will have to travel. If you send me an invite to come to your building, and there is more of us than you, you are silently sending me the message that you are doing me a favor so if you don’t want to do that, include a note of why this is in your building, e.g. "Sorry we are slammed with back to back meetings today so hope you can come over to our building". If this is in someone's office, the location would be something like "Moth's office (7/666)" where in parenthesis you see the office location. If some folks are remote in another building/country, or if you know you picked a time which wasn't free for everyone, add an Online option (click the Lync Meeting button). Add a date and time. This MUST be at a time that is showing on the recipients’ calendar as FREE or at worst TENTATIVE. You can check that on the Scheduling Assistant. The reality is that this is not always possible, so in that case you MUST say something about it in the Invite Body, e.g. "Sorry I can see X has a conflict, but I cannot find a better slot", or "With so many of us there are some conflicts and I cannot find a better slot so hope this works", or "Apologies but due to Y we must have this meeting at this time and I know there are some conflicts, hope you can make it anyway". When you do that, I better not be able to find a better slot myself for all of us, and of course when you do that you have implicitly designated the Busy folks as optional. Finally, the body of the invite. This has the agenda of the meeting and if applicable the courtesy apologies due to messing up steps 6 & 7. This should not be the introduction to the meeting, in other words the recipients should not be surprised when they see the invite and go to the body to r[...]



How I Record Screencasts

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 19:51:57 GMT

I get this asked a lot so here is my brain dump on the topic. What A screencast is just a demo that you present to yourself while recording the screen. As such, my advice for clearing your screen for demo purposes and setting up Visual Studio still applies here (adjusting for the fact I wrote those blog posts when I was running Vista and VS2008, not Windows 8 and VS2012). To see examples of screencasts, watch any of my screencasts on channel9. Why If you are a technical presenter, think of when you get best reactions from a developer audience in your sessions: when you are doing demos, of course. Imagine if you could package those alone and share them with folks to watch over and over? If you have ever gone through a tutorial trying to recreate steps to explore a feature, think how much more helpful it would be if you could watch a video and follow along. Think of how many folks you "touch" with a conference presentation, and how many more you can reach with an online shorter recording of the demo. If you invest so much of your time for the first type of activity, isn't the second type of activity also worth an investment? Fact: If you are able to record a screencast of a demo, you will be much better prepared to deliver it in person. In fact lately I will force myself to make a screencast of any demo I need to present live at an upcoming event. It is also a great backup - if for whatever reason something fails (software, network, etc) during an attempt of a live demo, you can just play the recorded video for the live audience. There are other reasons (e.g. internal sharing of the latest implemented feature) but the context above is the one within which I create most of my screencasts. Software & Hardware I use Camtasia from Tech Smith, version 7.1.1. Microsoft has a variety of options for capturing the screen to video, but I have been using this software for so long now that I have not invested time to explore alternatives… I also use whatever cheapo headset is near me, but sometimes I get some complaints from some folks about the audio so now I try to remember to use "the good headset". I do not use a web camera as I am not a huge fan of PIP. Preparation First you have to know your technology and demo. Once you think you know it, write down the outline and major steps of the demo. Keep it short 5-20 minutes max. I break that rule sometimes but try not to. The longer the video is the more chances that people will not have the patience to sit through it and the larger the download wmv file ends up being. Run your demo a few times, timing yourself each time to ensure that you have the planned timing correct, but also to make sure that you are comfortable with what you are going to demo. Unlike with a live audience, there is no live reaction/feedback to steer you, so it can be a bit unnerving at first. It can also lead you to babble too much, so try extra hard to be succinct when demoing/screencasting on your own. TIP: Before recording, hide your desktop/taskbar clock if it is showing. Recording To record you start the Camtasia Recorder tool Configure the settings thought the menus Capture menu to choose custom size or full screen. I try to use full screen and remember to lower the resolution of your screen to as low as possible, e.g. 1024x768 or 1360x768 or something like that. From the Tools -> Options dialog you can choose to record audio and the volume level. Effects menu I typically leave untouched but you should explore and experiment to your liking, e.g. how the mouse pointer is capture[...]



Link instead of Attaching

Wed, 31 Oct 2012 05:37:48 GMT

With email storage not being an issue in many companies (I think I currently have 25GB of storage on my email account, I don’t even think about storage), this encourages bad behaviors such as liberally attaching office documents to emails instead of sharing a link to the document in SharePoint or SkyDrive or some file share etc. Attaching a file admittedly has its usage scenarios too, but it should not be the default. I thought I'd list the reasons why sharing a link can be better than attaching files directly. In no particular order: Better Review. It allows multiple recipients to review the file and their comments are aggregated into a single document. The alternative is everyone having to detach the document, add their comments, then send back to you, and then you have to collate. With the alternative, you also potentially miss out on recipients reading comments from other recipients. Always up to date. The attachment becomes a fork instead of an always up to date document. For example, you send the email on Thursday, I only open it on Tuesday: between those days you could have made updates that now I am missing because you decided to share an attachment instead of a link. Better bookmarking. When I need to find that document you shared, you are forcing me to search through my email (I may not even be running outlook), instead of opening the link which I have bookmarked in my browser or my collection of links in my OneNote or from the recent/pinned links of the office app on my task bar, etc. Can control access. If someone accidentally or naively forwards your link to someone outside your group/org who you’d prefer not to have access to it, the location of the document can be protected with specific access control. Can add more recipients. If someone adds people to the email thread in outlook, your attachment doesn't get re-attached - instead, the person added is left without the attachment unless someone remembers to re-attach it. If it was a link, they are immediately caught up without further actions. Enable Discovery. If you put it on a share, I may be able to discover other cool stuff that lives alongside that document. Save on storage. So this doesn't apply to me given my opening statement, but if in your company you do have such limitations, attaching files eats up storage on all recipients accounts and will also get "lost" when those people archive email (and lose completely at some point if they follow the company retention policy). Like I said, attachments do have their place, but they should be an explicit choice for explicit reasons rather than the default. Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]



Visual Studio Continued Excitement

Mon, 24 Sep 2012 05:45:24 GMT

As you know Visual Studio 2012 RTM’d and then became available in August (Soma’s blog posts told you that here and here), and the VS2012 launch was earlier this month (Soma also told you that here). Every time a release of Visual Studio takes place I am very excited, since this has been my development tool of choice for almost my entire career (from many years before I joined Microsoft). I am doubly excited with this release since it is the second version of Visual Studio that I have worked on and contributed major features to, now that I’ve been in the developer division (DevDiv) for over 4 years. Additionally, I am very excited about the new era that VS2012 starts with VSUpdate for continued customer value: instead of waiting for the next major version of VS to get new features, there is new infrastructure to enable friction-free updates. The first update will ship before the end of this year, and you can read more about it at Brian’s blog post. I also noticed that a CTP of the first quarterly update is available to download here. In the last two months, the VS2012 family of products we all worked on in DevDiv shipped, coinciding with the end of the Microsoft financial/review year, and naturally followed by a couple of organizational changes (e.g. see Jason’s blog post)… On a personal level, this meant that I was very lucky to have an opportunity present itself to me that I simply could not turn down, so I grabbed it! I’ll still be working on Visual Studio, but not in the Parallel Computing part of the C++ team; instead I will be PM-leading the VS Diagnostics team… Stay tuned for details of what is coming in that space, in the VS updates and in the next major VS release, as I am able to share them… Comments about this post by Daniel Moth welcome at the original blog. [...]