Friday, January 23, 2009

Nashville Web Developer January Meeting Review

We had a great turnout for our first meeting and came up with some great suggestions for presentations. Thanks to everyone who participated. Here's a list of the meeting topics we're considering:
- Silverlight & XAML
- Silverlight 3rd Party Components
- ASP.NET Performance Considerations
- ASP.NET Security Considerations
- ASP.NET Page Lifecycle
- Introduction to JQuery
- Ajax/JavaScript Development
- Designing with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
- DotNetNuke Installation & Configuration (1/2)
- DotNetNuke Module Development (2/2)
- Overview of Visual Studio 2010
- Converting Classic ASP/ActiveX to ASP.NET
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Joseph Wichman shared his experience creating streaming videos with Silverlight. They can be found in the Research Videos section of

Friday, January 16, 2009

Nashville User Group Meetings

How enthusiastic do you think you would be if you had a 1/5 chance to win a really nice prize worth up to $1,300? We gave away a ton of great stuff at the Nashville .NET User Group meeting, but the enthusiasm level seemed abnormally low. Our first meeting at the Brentwood library went really well, despite the reserved mood and the (new) projector refusing to work for the first 10 minutes. The library conference rooms are quite nice, the speaker (Chris Hefley) was great, and we had a fair turnout considering the meeting location change.

Now that the January .NET UG meeting is behind us, I'm excited about the first Web Developer meeting this Thursday @ Compuware. If your job involves developing web sites/applications or you're just interested in learning to publish your own sites, come join us. We'll be discussing what topics people would like to see presentations on.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Microsoft Tag - Cell phone bar code scanner

I remember thinking how cool it would be to write a program that would use my cell phone's camera to scan a book bar code then automatically add that book to a digital library or shopping list.

While Microsoft Tag wont let you scan traditional UPC bar codes, it does let you create your own bar code that will send a user to a website, place a phone call, add a contact or just show regular text. The main thing I see this being useful for is posters with a URL. Imagine seeing a concert poster and wanting to buy tickets online, where all you have to do is point your phone at the poster and it pulls up the ticket purchase page.

Pretty cool stuff, but of course it all depends on people adopting the technology and printing these bar codes on their products.

You sign up for the beta by visiting Just for fun, here's a tag for this Blog.

New Site:

Palm announced a new phone named the "Pre" yesterday for release on the Sprint PCS network. It's already created quite a bit of buzz, so last night I put together a community website for it. Now my task is putting useful information on the site and getting the word out so future Pre owners start using it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

XNA Game Development for the Xbox 360

If you have an Xbox 360 and a bit of time on your hands (ie. no children) you've probably visited the marketplace to browse the Live Arcade games for something new. You may have noticed that they recently added Community Games, which is where amateur game creators can publish their games for everyone to try and rate. If a game becomes popular enough, it is added to the Xbox Live Marketplace. I was flipping through the community games the other day and was not impressed. Like a typical software developer, I thought to myself, "I could make a better game than this...if I knew anything about making games."

I mentioned this to some coworkers who are into game development and they explained how simple it is to make games for the Xbox using Visual Studio and XNA Game Studio. Now I'm intrigued. You mean I can leverage my existing skills with Visual Studio and C#? Sure, I don't know much about modeling or bump mapping, but I'm a big fan of old school games and would love to make a simple Mario-style platformer or 2D puzzle game.

The spark of interest has been coaxed into a flame of creativity. I don't want to let my other projects suffer, however I intend to check out XNA and see if I really have what it takes to put something together. I'd love to hear from others who are thinking about trying their hand at XNA or who have already developed with it.

Nashville User Groups (.NET and DotNetNuke)

Since being appointed as Vice President for the Nashville .NET User Group, I've felt like a fireman without a fire. My task as VP is to handle sponsorship and the all important SWAG (Stuff We All Get). The previous VP had a child and needed to step down early, so I expected to be swamped with current and potential sponsors to contact and have a list of companies who had donated products/books for giveaways to hit up for more stuff. This was not the case. The user group has been blessed with a number of very faithful sponsors and, although we did have to scramble for a new meeting place, doesn't seem to have any urgent needs.

As anticlimactic as this felt, I'm grateful in that I have more free time to devote towards personal projects and organizing a Nashville DotNetNuke User Group. The plan is not to create an altogether separate UG, but a child group within the .NET UG. My task now is to find out what date would be good for our first meeting. Is Thursday the best weekday? Chime in with your suggestion. Would it be a good idea to have it the Thursday after the .NET User Group meeting?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Silverlight in DotNetNuke

Have you ever been fired up about doing something, but every time you try to start you get bogged down in the details and loose interest? If you're a developer and tinker with projects at home I'm sure this has happened a time or two. I had an idea for a website, similar to Craigslist, but instead of hosting classified ads it would host a calendar of events for motorcycle enthusiasts. If you want to plan a ride to a specific destination next weekend, just go to your city's site and post a ride. Other members can join in if they're interested. It wouldn't be limited just to rides, but also bike rallies and club events.

I brought all the pieces together except one major facet, the event calendar. I used DotNetNuke as a basis for the site and couldn't find a decent event module. The core module didn't display well and was a bit buggy, and on top of the standard limitations I was trying to customize the site so events would tie in with discussion threads. Post an event and an associated thread would be created where people could ask questions and talk about the event. I also saw the need for moderation/abuse reporting, which would need some custom work. Every time I tried to make some headway it seemed I was farther away from my goal.

It's been over a year since I started struggling with the site and tonight I resumed my efforts to get something launched. What makes now different than all the other times? My current client needed a management portal and wanted it created using DotNetNuke. This gave me the opportunity to develop some custom modules in an environment where I was focused with no distractions. The result was some pretty nice modules and a lot of useful experience. I also did some work this summer with Microsoft Silverlight. If you're not familiar with Silverlight, it's similar to Flash in that it's great for making media-rich web interfaces. This is perfect for an interactive calendar. The last piece of the puzzle is Silverlight Desktop for DotNetNuke. It provides the framework for easily including Silverlight applications in a DotNetNuke site.

My goal is to have SOMETHING working by the end of the weekend. It probably wont be very pretty and it surely wont have all the functionality I want, but if I can get something published it should get me out of this rut and help generate some momentum.