Windows Vista is out! who's excited?

I took a break from blogging for a couple of days after two weeks of continuous bloggging. I have started work on Part 2 of C# 3.0 features but it's moving at a really slow pace. I am not finding the time to research and get my concepts clear before blogging about it.

Anyways, back to Windows Vista. Vista is finally out and I hear that some stores saw people line up oustide for about an hour to get their hands on Vista. Not something that I expected. As for me I am already looking forward to what's next. The Windows team has already started work on the next version and based on history, the team started talking about Longhorn on Jan 2002. XP was out on October 25 2001. So it will be another 3 to 4 months before we start hearing about Vienna. I am looking forward to that release as I wasn't super thrilled about Vista given the endless delays and lack of super rich features. It definitely is a must have over XP, but I think as I saw the endless delays and feature cuts, I lost my excitement for Vista.

World's greatest macro photographer

WOW, check out these amazing photos captured by Lord V on flickr. Truely amazing! You can read how he does it here. He uses two of my favorite cameras Cool. Although I think it is the magic in his hands that do the trick not the camera.

Update: From one expert to another. I found this guy's link in the comments section of Lord V's explanation of how he takes his photos. I know what I am going to be doing for the next couple of days Smile. These guys have rekindled the itch for photography in me. What amazes me the most is that all their shots are taken with a sub $1000 Digital SLR cameras. I know you may be thinking that's too much but to give you perspective the truely pro cameras come for over $3000. Can you tell by looking at those photos that they were taken with a amatuer level camera Smile

Are you ready?

Windows Vista ships in less than a week from now. So are your ready? I am not going to be ready until I see some really good applications launched for Vista that makes it a must have.

By the way, students are getting Windows Vista Business Edition from the University of Houston Clear Lake for $10. You need to be enrolled for the semester and you need to show your ID to get a copy. One copy per student. That is a real sweet deal, $10 for something that retails for $300.

We just got AJAXed

Woohoo! Microsoft has released the final version (1.0) of ASP.NET AJAX library. That means we can finally write production quality AJAX applications. Microsoft fully supports the library and is giving out the source code for the entire library for free. You can modify and re-distribute the source code at will for both commercial and non-commercial applications. You can read more about this on Scott Guthrie's blog. The AJAX library will be embedded into the next version of ASP.NET (3.0) scheduled to be released by this year end.

Update: I have updated this website to use ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 RTM build Cool


Added Smiley support

I have added smiley support to this blog. It is enabled for both posts and comments. In order to get the smilies you just use the standard chat shortcuts.

Use the following for the smilies without the space in between:

: ) or : smile : = Smile Smile
: ( or : sad : = Sad Sad
: | or : neutral : = Neutral Neutral
; ) or : wink : = Wink Wink
: p or : tease : = Tease Tease
: D or : grin : = Grin Grin
: x or : mad : = Mad Mad
8 ) or : cool : = Cool Cool
    : oops : = Oops! Oops!

Credit: I have used the smilies from Long Zheng's and extended it to create my own mad, cool and oops icons. He uses WordPress as his blogging engine, but his icons are a lot more polished than those of WordPress. Of course WordPress supports a lot more emoticons than I do, but I will create better versions of those over time.

Visual Studio 2007 (Orcas)

Looks like Microsoft has been busy working on the next version of Visual Studio codenamed Orcas (may be named VS 2007) scheduled to ship by the end of this year. A ton of features and performance improvements. You can read all about it here and here. Also note that when VS 2007 ships we will have a new framework versioned 3.5. I personally think Microsoft has messed up versioning. Up until v.2.0 everything was actually v.2.0 (ASP.NET 2.0, C# 2.0, CLR 2.0) but when Microsoft released WinFX the new set of technologies for Vista, they decided to rename it to .NET 3.0. Which means that all these WinFX technologies sit under the .NET umbrella.

So what does that mean? It means v.3.0 consists of  CLR 2.0 (ASP.NET 2.0, C# 2.0) + WinFX (1.0). When v.3.5 ships it will be CLR 3.0 (ASP.NET 3.0, C# 3.0) + WinFX (1.0). WOW! I need to take a break, my head is already spinning just by typing all this.

Note: I am not finding enough time to write Part 2 of the C# 3.0 series, so posts like these are simply fillers Sad

XBox 360

WOW, I was listening to this diggination videocast and according to Alex from this videocast, when the new 360 launches it will be priced at $399 (the price of the current premium 360) and the existing premium 360 will come down to $299. Of course Microsoft has not announced anything so please take this with a grain of salt. Mostly products are released in a Christmas to Christmas cycle. So don't expect any new product until the later half of this year.

C# 3.0 - New features - Part 1

If you listened to the two channel 9 videos I posted you might have heard a lot about functional programming, Lambda expressions, LINQ and so on. It was overwhelming to hear so many terms all at once and not know what exactly each meant. On top of that the speakers talked about multi-core and concurrency and my head started spinning, so I decided I would learn each of the terms mentioned and even better record it for others and myself for future reference.

Instead of going into the details of different terms used above let's see first hand what exactly we will be able to do in C# 3.0.

var customers = BusinessLogic.GetCustomers();

The above statement gives a sense of dynamism to C#. You would be thinking that you no longer have to specify the Type hence C# has become like VB where customer can be of any Type. While the first conclusion is correct, the second one is not. With the above statement the compiler tries to infer the Type using the right side of the expression. If it cannot figure it out, it throws an error. Also, after the above statement, if you write the following statement the compiler will throw an error:

customers = 10;

Although this syntactic sugar makes C# appear like a dynamic language, in reality it is actually statically Typed. Also note that you can only use the var keyword with local variables. There are a few other restrictions and you can read some of them here. There have been many times when I have felt a bit retarded to type the Type of a class two times. For Example Customer c = new Customer(); instead var c = new Customer(); makes it much simpler.

The real reason var was added is so that we can declare a strongly typed variable without needing to know the name of the variable's type. This is required in order to enable another new C# 3.0 language feature: anonymous types. You wouldn't be able to declare a variable of an anonymous type if you always had to include the type name as part of the variable declaration. That's the main reason var has been added to the language.

- from this article by Ian Griffiths

More to come ...

Channel 9 videos

Good Channel 9 videos on the future of .NET. I used to have a lot of debate with a friend of mine on .NET vs Java. The outcome of it was, I always learnt what was going in the Java world.

Ask the Expert: Anders Hejlsberg
Software Composability and the Future of Languages

Anders Hejlsberg (the chief architect of C#) talks in the first video about the Java language not getting to innovate a lot because of the Java Community Process where multiple people drag the language in different directions.

.NET languages this year are getting a lot of dynamic language features (Python, Ruby and so on). It makes me curious to see what approach Java is taking. With .NET it's time to start learning new syntax and language features. The new version of these languages are due to be released by the end of this year. My guess is that it will be ready by the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference scheduled for the month of October.

Windows Vista Ultimate Extras!

There was a time when I used to think that Operating System prices would go down overtime as the OS market stabilizes. I guess I was wrong. The prices have steadily gone up over the years and has now reached a whopping $400. Yes that's right, that's how much you would pay for Vista Ultimate. Knowing that Vista Home Premium is what would sell the most Microsoft created Vista Ultimate Extras (addon software only available to Ultimate users) to try and lur the geeks to buy the Ultimate version. Extras sounds very familiar to the doomed Plus! pack MS had created for Windows 98, except that it comes only with Ultimate and it's free. They previewed the Extras pack at CES and by the looks of it, it appeared far from ready. They only previewed two pieces of software as part of the Extras pack, but I suspect there will me a lot more applications that would be part of it. Here are the two pieces they did demo:

  • DreamScene (formerly know as Motion Desktop). In simple words this is a video that runs as your Windows Background. So far we only have been able to set an image as a background, but with this new Extra we could set any home video as Desktop Background. They did show some cool looking videos like Water dropping from a leaf, Waterfall that turns into a river, Rain drops. All these are very sutle videos which do not change the scene that much and only a couple of parts in the scene are moving. They have also taken a lot of care to make sure the video loops back properly without any hiccups in the scene, resulting in an infinitely running video.

  • GroupShot (A photo fixing application). Imagine you taking a family photo. To be sure you got the best possible picture you would take two or three snaps right? Well imagine that all three turn out to be bad, where one person is blinking in one photo, while another person is blinking in another photo and so on. What you can do with this application is that you can choose the select the good areas from each of the photos and the application will merge them into one good photo. It is really amazing to see how it creates a new photo out of all the actual photos. Words cannot describe it enough. You have to see it. Unfortunately I don't have a link to the video so you will have to see the entire CES keynote video by Bill Gates and forward it slowly until you reach the Vista demo.
  • There are a few other applications. You can read about them in Paul Thurrott's review which went live after I wrote this entry.