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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here. April 2008 Entries
Have you checked out RoboChamps?
Today Microsoft unveils RoboChamps (, a simulated robotics league that is open to academics, hobbyists and developers from around the world, that demonstrates the power of the Microsoft platform to enable a broad range of developers to explore new ways to use .NET for robotics programming. RoboChamps is built on top of the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio(MSRDS) 2008 CTP, and uses that product’s robust, physics enabled simulation environment to remove the barriers of entry that ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 29, 2008 11:48 PM

non-technical books
It's all about equal time, right? In my last post, I asked about technical books. So on the other side of the coin, what non-technical book(s) are you reading? For example, I'm reading: 1. Storm of the Dead (Book II of The Lady Penitent) by Lisa Smedman (btw, D'Arcy... has book 3 come out yet?) 2. The Skinsaw Murders (Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords, Book 2) by Richard Pett How about you ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 29, 2008 7:16 PM

What tech book are you reading right now?
What tech books are you currently reading? The rules: 1) Don't count books you're being compensated to read. (paid reviews) 2) Don't count books that haven't come out yet (i.e. tech editing, or writing yourself) 3) List the author (optional) so others can find it. For example, I'm reading: 1. Doing Objects in VB2005 by Deborah Kurata 2. Exploiting Online Games by Greg Hoglund & Gary McGraw 3. Programming SuDoKu by Wei-Meng Lee ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 29, 2008 6:45 PM

Twin Cities Sharepoint Camp
Magenic and New Horizons of Minnesota is proud to present the first Twin Cities SharePoint Camp, a one day FREE event for both SharePoint Administrators and Developers. The event is scheduled for Saturday, June 14 from 8:30 – 5:00 at New Horizons of Minnesota in Edina. We see this being a bi-annual event, falling in May and November each year. We need your help to make this event a success. We are currently looking for speakers… topics ideas include: · A success story presentation on the business ......

Posted On Monday, April 28, 2008 10:38 PM

Let me sleep on it...
OMG D'Arcy...  Meatloaf's your dad?  That's awesome!

How's that Go-Phone working out for you?

Posted On Monday, April 28, 2008 10:24 PM

Mandatory Fun
This post from Theo reminds me of some mandatory fun I've had at previous companies over the years. My current employer hasn't done this to us, although one gig I was on did try it... nobody participated though. One previous employer had a mandatory company dinner, spouses included, where they spent 45 minutes reading the vision statement to us and then presented us with our "special gift wrapped present" which was a mousepad that had the vision statement printed on it. All 6 sentences. (Yes, they ......

Posted On Monday, April 28, 2008 5:37 PM

Projector Problems
In addition to my Blu-Ray post, I have another issue I need to sort out. The lamp in my projector blew out about a week ago. The projector was an Infocus X1 (1100 lumens, 800x600) that I've had for about 5 years. I paid about $1200 for it at the time. A replacement lamp is ~$300, which is a non-trivial amount. A replacement projector (same exact model, with a new lamp) is about $350 and would come with a warranty, which has obviously expired on my current projector. It's tempting to go this route, ......

Posted On Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:32 PM

Blu-Ray decision
I deliberately avoided buying a next gen player during the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray wars. Now that Blu-Ray has won though, I'm thinking I might as well bite the bullet and jump in. I don't own a PS3, but I know they ship with Blu-Ray. Is that enough justification to buy one though? Are there better Blu-Ray players on the market, for a comparable (or significantly lower) price? Does the PS3 have enough games to make it a worthwhile purchase? I know a lot of you have opinions on this topic, so let's hear ......

Posted On Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:24 PM

The cookout
The snow abated. The sun came out. The cookout happened.

People came and went throughout the afternoon/evening, but at one point there were about 25 people here.

Many many burgers, hotdogs, chicken, ribs, sausages, etc... were cooked and consumed. Much beer was brought in, not so much was drank... there's a lot left over. No worries though, I won't let it go to waste.

Today started crappy but ended up a pretty kickass day.

Posted On Saturday, April 26, 2008 11:44 PM

New INETA VP of Membership
Recently, I blogged about some of the changes I would make within the membership division if elected to the INETA Board of Directors. It's a terrific opportunity to do some good within an organization I believe in, and within the developer community as a whole. While at the MVP Summit, I interviewed with the board members. Answering questions and presenting my thoughts on what areas need improvement. So... this morning (a week later), when I received an email titled INETA Board Elections, I was pretty ......

Posted On Saturday, April 26, 2008 3:34 PM

it's snowing
The weatherman is a lying bastard. "Flurries", he said.

Well, I've got at least a half inch of "flurries" on my back deck as I type this.

"Flurries", my ass...

update: we've got about 1 - 1.5 inches of snow at this point.

update update: most of the snow has melted, and we're getting flurries mixed with rain. so the yard is a muddy mess, but otherwise all is well.

Posted On Saturday, April 26, 2008 12:59 AM

Weekend Update
My week in review... 1) The weather forecast for my cookout has been downgraded to flurries (which is better than snow, for sure.) Still it's gonna be pretty cold. (30-40F) 2) The arcade pickup is getting complicated. The guy I'm picking the game up from is now going to be out of town all weekend through around Wednesday. I leave Friday for Iowa Code Camp, so that doesn't leave a very big window to pick it up. I don't really want to pay for delivery, but that might become my only option if I can't ......

Posted On Friday, April 25, 2008 9:35 PM

Snow?!? Are you serious?
I've got big plans for the weekend. I'm making fire and grilling dead animals. I've been planning this for weeks.

I've got friends, beer, dead animals, charcoal, a new grill... everything I need... and apparently I have SNOW on the way too...  %^$#@%& SNOW....  Yes, the weatherman is calling for snow, on April 26th. What are the odds?

Snow be damned, I will grill this weekend. Just watch me.

Posted On Friday, April 25, 2008 1:53 PM

the best game ever: Ikari Warriors
I played the hell out of this game, back in high school... ...and now it's mine! Yay! Thank you eBay. Description: Rambo meets Front Line in this popular classic that spawned several similar games, like Heavy Barrel, Time Soldiers, and Guerrilla War. The game could either be played by a single player or by two players simultaneously. The goal was to reach the village of Ikari. Preventing the player from reaching the village were a slew of enemies like soldiers, tanks, helicopters, super tanks, and ......

Posted On Thursday, April 24, 2008 7:38 PM

This summer is filling up fast
What I'm doing, where I'm speaking... throughout the summer. MAY 08 Iowa Code Camp Iowa City, IA - 5/3/08 JUNE 08 BDNUG Bloomington, IL - 6/10/08 Day of Sharepoint Minneapolis, MN - 6/14/08 Magenic Technology Council Chicago, IL - 6/18/08 - 6/22/08 JULY 08 Iowa City .NET User Group Iowa City, IA - 7/2/08 TCXNAUG / IGDATC Cookout Golden Valley, MN - 7/19/08 AUGUST 08 nothing yet :( SEPTEMBER 08 HDC Minneapolis, MN - 9/28/08 - 9/30/08 (session submitted - awaiting confirmation) OCTOBER 08 Twin Cities ......

Posted On Thursday, April 24, 2008 2:13 PM

Congrats D'Arcy - now where's MY loot?
Congrats go to D'Arcy for winning (and receiving) his 8 Bit Tie from I won the top prize last month, a Bluetooth Rearview Mirror. Since D'Arcy just got his prize, hopefully that means I should be receiving mine pretty soon too!! I love the idea of, it really is a great way to encourage people to do more. The prizes are fun, and the competition can be pretty fierce ......

Posted On Thursday, April 24, 2008 1:11 PM

Gerson Lehrman Group
A few months ago, I was invited to apply to something called the Gerson Lehrman Group Councils. It appears to be some type of web based independent consulting* system. (*not the software consulting I do all day long. more like market research and conference calls, filling out surveys, etc.) From their "Terms and Conditions" document, it says opportunities would include: Telephone consultations and Online surveys. and possibly: In-person meetings; Seminars, roundtables, master classes, conferences; ......

Posted On Thursday, April 24, 2008 9:17 AM

Iowa Code Camp - May 3
Coming up in <2 weeks (May 3rd), the Iowa Code Camp looks to be a pretty good time. A bunch of Magenic folks are heading down to the University of Iowa (Iowa City) from Minneapolis. Some of us are speaking, some are just attending & hanging out. Hopefully we'll see you there. If you're in the area, be sure to come by and check it out. Just don't forget to register. Events like this fill up fast ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 23, 2008 8:23 PM

War of the Century??
I'm not so sure I'd call it the War of the Century, but Jeff's not the first person to take an interest in my and D'Arcy's race to the top of the GWB blogosphere... (technically I was already at the top... but the 1000 mile marker is closing in fast.)

At least Jeff was nice enough to supply us with pretty pictures to look at along the way.

Posted On Wednesday, April 23, 2008 6:37 PM

D'Arcy's Lost that Loving Feeling...
Uh Oh... Big D is going through the same thing all of us go through, every time the technology landscape shifts.

It's ok D, I'll get ya a "Hang In There" poster... you know the one.

Posted On Wednesday, April 23, 2008 6:32 PM

I have a dream
Last night, I fell asleep at my keyboard for a bit. (Cut me some slack, it was 2am.) While dozing off, I had a dream about the MVP Summit. Not so much a dream really as a kind of an instant replay. I do this sometimes... it's my brains way of processing things later (on a separate thread I guess.) In my dream, there were several semi-related events boiling down to a single slide-show: 1. Drunken Podcast in the Westin Hotel lobby. I watched several intoxicated MVPs attempt to pontificate on (something... ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 23, 2008 10:52 AM

How do I promote my user group?
This is a repost/rethinking of a post I made about 3 years ago. It still applies today. INETA asks what they can do to better serve the user groups... well, as a user group leader, here's my suggestion: Advertising! Small to medium sized groups have little or NO budget for advertising, and it's incredible how many times I meet people in the developer community that have no idea a local user group even exists. This is NOT due to a lack of effort on our part. So it comes down to advertising... specifically, ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 23, 2008 1:38 AM

Twin Cities XNA User Group - Shawn Hargreaves Double Feature
Next month, on May 15th, the Twin Cities XNA User Group is hosting a very special guest. Shawn Hargreaves (Microsoft, XNA Team) has agreed to come present TWO sessions to the user group in one night: Session 1: Defeating the Network Game Gremlins The speed of light. Quantum uncertainty. Parallel universes. Bandwidth that for some reason never turns out to be good as the advert from your ISP claimed it would be. When you set out to write a networked game, you have to worry about these things. This ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 23, 2008 12:43 AM

Twin Cities Code Camp V
It's official! Twin Cities Code Camp V is on the calendar for October 11th. So far we have 5 rooms reserved, with a possible 6th as needed. We already have about a half-dozen speakers signed up and it's only been open for a day. If you're wanting to speak at this one, be sure to submit a session topic and description ASAP. Last time they filled up really fast. For more information, go here: ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 23, 2008 12:36 AM

apparently intelligent life is hard to find on this planet too...
I was at Borders tonight, after my guitar lesson, picking up some chai before heading home to do more tech-editing. A quick detour through the RPG section and I spy sealed boxes of Yu-Gi-Oh! Strike of Neos (1st Edition) boosters. I don't normally see those in that section, and I know Borders occasionally screws up the price on stuff they don't quite understand. So, I flip over the box and sure enough, it's marked $3.99. This is the price of ONE booster. A sealed box of 24 boosters goes for around ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:13 PM

Intelligent Life Unlikely
In spite of what you may find in the blogosphere, and right here on Earth, many of us were still holding out hope that there might be intelligent life somewhere else in the universe. Sadly, if you believe this article, it's become significantly less likely. Apparently we evolved fairly late in the habitable life cycle of our planet... In about a Billion years we're toast. Interesting ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:37 PM

D'Arcy Lussier - newly baptised .NET Linguistic Parity Evangelist
Amazing... you let someone go to ONE MVP Summit and sit in a couple VB sessions and now he's a man on a mission. You're preaching to the choir here D. (Not that your message isn't right, because it is... I just find the newfound enthusiasm amusing.) Read more here... He's right of course... the lang wars are soooo 5 years ago. The divide is getting narrower and narrower every year. One thing I've noticed is that you don't really see the VB guys bashing C# nearly as much as the other way around. Wanna ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:13 PM

VB.NET Still Kicking
C#'s butt, that is...

Jim Duffy recently blogged about a report I find very interesting, and encouraging. Click here for more info.

Posted On Monday, April 21, 2008 8:37 PM

What would I change about INETA?
While at the MVP Summit, I interviewed for an INETA Board Position. Specifically, the VP of Membership. I have no idea if I'll get it, though I hope I do. If I do get it, there's going to be some ch-ch-ch-changes. If I don't get it, I hope whoever they do pick takes these suggestions to heart. #1 The membership committee needs some SERIOUS house cleaning. As a User Group leader, I can count on one hand (actually one finger, with room to spare) the number of unsolicited emails I have received from ......

Posted On Monday, April 21, 2008 4:21 PM

This is NDA (aka Oops, My Bad)
A while back, I posted something I shouldn't have. It was a mistake. Don't bother looking for it, since I already removed it. I wouldn't even bring it up now, since it's a little embarrassing, but the whole story makes for an interesting lesson in internet propagation. A few weeks ago, a buddy of mine sent me something via email. I found it interesting, so I posted it in my blog. Other people saw it and also found it interesting... and, you guessed it, posted it in their blogs. People I work with ......

Posted On Monday, April 21, 2008 10:28 AM

new PC - build or buy?
I want a new PC, but I'm really struggling with Buy or Build. I've always built my own systems from scratch in the past... but they tend to be quirky... kind of like the Millenium Falcon. You know they're fast, but you have to be somewhat gentle with them at times and you'd never hand them over to anyone else (willingly.) When they work, they work well, but when things start going wrong it can get really frustrating. The process of construction can be entertaining though. I took out power to an entire ......

Posted On Monday, April 21, 2008 9:57 AM

So many people twittering, myself included. It makes me wonder if this is a good or bad thing. SHanselman pointed out earlier this week that his wife doesn't necessarily think it's so great. I guess she has a point, are Twitterers so self-important that we feel people need to know our every move? Do you care that I'm stuck in traffic, or what I had for dinner? Then of course there are the self-promoting Twitterers (although, really, aren't we all?) that tweet every time they make a blog post, like ......

Posted On Monday, April 21, 2008 9:40 AM

I got nothin...
I'd love to crank out 10 or 15 posts and give D'Arcy a run for his money for his race to 1000 posts, but honestly... I got nothin. I don't really have anything to complain about, I'm kinda busy catching up on some tech-editing and I skipped ALTNET so I could get home and relax. I could tell you about how my D&D game went, but I don't really think anyone would care. So... I know you're traveling right now but I'm guessing when I wake up in the morning, you'll have the top spot. Good luck holding ......

Posted On Sunday, April 20, 2008 8:41 PM

My thoughts on Open Spaces
At the beginning of the MVP Summit, we had these talks called Open Spaces. The idea behind this was a free exchange of ideas with little or no agenda... just a topic. It's been done other places with varying degrees of success, but unfortunately the sessions I attended would have to be classified as a failure. Why? The first problem was the lack of moderation. We had a facilitator, but honestly he lacked a strong enough personality to reign the group in. It eventually got to the point where an MVP ......

Posted On Friday, April 18, 2008 1:24 PM

end of the summit
The MVP Summit is over, and it rocked. Totally rocked. It was very cool seeing so many of my friends and colleagues again. Definitely way too many people to list here. I also made a bunch of new friends. I can't wait for the next event. I spent some time talking with Microsoft about VB Community, and even got to present some of the VB XNA stuff I had been working on at the Summit. It was very exciting to be addressing Microsoft and a room full of MVPs. I also spent some time with the INETA Board ......

Posted On Thursday, April 17, 2008 11:36 PM

VB is many things, but... cold and refreshing?
Apparently our VB Community Lead thought so... here's a pic of Beth Massi: ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 15, 2008 5:18 PM

MVP Summit Day 1, morning.
So, the summit is going along pretty well so far. Yesterday was Day 0 with registration, open spaces discussion sessions and the welcome dinner, with lots of chances to reconnect with people I know throughout the industry. Especially some I haven't seen since last year. This morning is really Day 1, with the product team sessions kicking off. Right now Amanda Silver is discussing VB LINQ. It's going well and she's always interesting to listen to. There's this one guy though, that keeps interrupting ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 15, 2008 11:21 AM

why airlines suck, part XVIII
I flew from Minneapolis to Seattle today via NorthWest Air. Last night, I checked in online. I'm Elite with NWA, so they asked me if I wanted a complimentary upgrade to First Class. Hells Yeah!! I thought, so I clicked yes. "Sorry, there are no first class upgrades available" uhh? WTF? Oh well, wasn't expecting to fly first class anyway, so it's not a big deal. This morning, I get to the airport a couple hours early, and the place was relatively empty compared to all the other AM flights I've taken. ......

Posted On Thursday, April 10, 2008 5:04 PM

good news
As I prepare for my yearly pilgrimage to Microsoft (also known as the MVP Summit), I also happen to be wrapping up my current gig through Magenic. When I get back from Redmond, I'll have a day left here and then the weekend. After that, I'm off to whereever Magenic sends me next. I also got some good news via email today. I've been appointed to the Magenic Technology Council. From the email: The purpose of the MTC is to recognize Magenic consultants/associates who are evangelizing Microsoft technologies ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 9, 2008 2:04 PM

What do these bands all have in common?
I'll take "Famous Music Acts" for $1000 Alex... Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West and Wilco If you said "What bands are headlining the 2008 Lollapalooza Tour?" then you're a winner. Tickets are a little steep @ around $200 each (woof!), but there is an impressive lineup aside from the headlines, including: Raconteurs, Love And Rockets, Gnarls Barkley, Bloc Party, the Black Keys, Broken Social Scene, Battles, Mark Ronson, Cat Power, Lupe Fiasco, G. Love & Special ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 8, 2008 9:00 AM

Twin Cities Code Camp 4
Twin Cities Code Camp 4 is almost over, and it's been awesome. Red Bull just showed up with the cool Red Bull car, cute Red Bull girls, and a couple hundred cans of ice cold Red Bull. (My legacy as a geek god is forever intact.) As usual, I didn't catch many sessions since I spent most of the day working on my own demos... what I did catch was very good though. My session went well (VB.NET, XNA, AI) with plenty of good questions. It was a small session, with about 10-11 people. No time to relax though. ......

Posted On Saturday, April 5, 2008 3:11 PM

Congratulations, you've learned how to Copy & Paste
Congratulations Mr. Copy & Paste Blogger Guy I'm awarding this clipboard barf blogger with our 3rd More On Alert: What has he done to deserve such an honor? Allow me to list his qualifications... Not posting a single original thought in nearly 2 years. Even the blog tagline is an unattributed quote. Blatantly ripping off other people's content (CTRL-C, CTRL-V) without giving any credit ANYWHERE. Vomiting all over the GeeksWithBlogs main feed with ......

Posted On Friday, April 4, 2008 10:38 AM

I'll keeeel you!

I'll be the first to say that 4th grade kinda sucked, but... WTF?

Group of 9 year olds plot to attack teacher.

Wow.  Makes you wonder what the teacher did to provoke such wrath.

Posted On Thursday, April 3, 2008 1:28 PM

user group tips
Occasionally I get emails from people who have recently started user groups or are trying to revitalize an existing group. One of the top questions is about finding speakers. INETA gives groups a couple of speakers each year, but finding speakers can be tough on a monthly basis. The great thing is most of the time you actually don't need to look any further than your own members. Here are a few tips I have found to be pretty successful... Reduce the amount of time people have to speak. Instead of ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 2, 2008 11:55 PM

SharePoint Class day 2
Today was day 2 of the MOSS boot camp. I didn't actually realize it was a boot camp when I initially signed up. I'm not really a fan of that format, as I don't think they're terribly effective for most people. Still, the class is going pretty well. We covered Web Parts today, which was pretty interesting. We also digressed a bit here and there, covering various 3rd party tools the instructor thinks are neat. That's fine... I'm all for anything helpful. The labs are going really smoothly although ......

Posted On Wednesday, April 2, 2008 11:15 PM

toy? robot? You decide.

If you're a Robotics Geek, or just into cool geeky toys, this is worth a look:

Check the video too...

Posted On Wednesday, April 2, 2008 12:21 PM

SharePoint Class day 1
Today was my first day of SharePoint training. I've been to the New Horizons facilities here before (for Code Camp) so other than the foot of snow in my driveway, it was pretty uneventful getting there. The class is going well so far. Lots of introductory material which is good since I'm a total SharePoint newb. The instructor has a decent sense of humor (thankfully, since I busted on him a couple times... hey ya gotta do something to stay awake after lunch!!) I can already see some pretty cool potential ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 1, 2008 9:38 PM

see ya.
That's it, I'm done. No more blog. No more tech. No more consulting. No more speaking. I'm dropping out of the tech community and I've lined up a promising new career on an Alpaca farm in New Mexico. I'll supplement my income selling peyote to tourists and doing alien tours of Roswell. (So, yeah... no more snow either.) Peace. Sorry D'Arcy. This was an April Fools Joke. Everyone knows there are no Alpacas in New Mexico. (ok apparently I'm lying... a quick live search reveals there are a buttload ......

Posted On Tuesday, April 1, 2008 2:18 PM

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