Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

DDD In January

17 Dec

I’ve some sessions up for consideration for the next DDD which is January 30th 2011 in Reading.

My proposed sessions are:

Computer, earl grey tea, hot

Ok, so this is a little more difficult to arrange with home automation, but controlling lights, heating, curtains and just about every other device in your house just by talking to it, is actually Science Fact. Take a tour around our automated house and see whats possible with a little effort.

Media Center and Windows Home Server – Marriage in your living room

With the newest version of Windows Home Server, codename Vail, out soon, this talk will be what having your own server in your home.
No, you dont have to have a temperature controlled room, and lots of noisy fans and cables.
What you do get though is a way of shring media around your house and protection from deleting an important file from your laptop, with automatic backups.
Media center can schedule TV recording and ask Windows Home Server to distribute it around the house…
Theres loads more, but you’ll have to listen to the session for that..;-)

Fitting a new kitchen sync – oData, oData, oh oh oh!

At PDC10 in October, Microsoft announced an update to the Sync Framework. Its one heck of an update though, adding a load of functionality to make sync’ing to Silverlight, Windows Phone 7 clients so much easier, including built in classes for oData formats, particuarly moving just about all of the processing off into the service side, enabling the client to be a slim as possible. We’ll take a look at this new sync stuff, and its new tooling to see how it can significantly improved the user experience when a network is not available, without adding a load of work to the developer

If you’d like to hear these sessions, then you need to vote for them! You can do so by going here, ticking the boxes next to the sessions you like, then clicking on the vote button at the top or bottom of the page.

You can find out more about DDD at


Catch up Post – Last months Activity

16 Apr

I havent updated my blog for a while, so I thought I’d post an entry telling you all what I’ve been up to for the past month..

Having spent some time with the Microsoft Sync Framework, I did a talk on getting started with the Sync Framework. Covering how it works, how to get started and some best practices and workarounds. Basically enough to start using it.

I’ve had some encouraging feedback from people saying that they are now investigating using it in some real projects, as well as 5 new projects that are using it for real now.

I did this talk, with variations (you learn what works and what doesnt, based on feedback and peoples questions) 4 times for NxtGenUG, in Oxford, Southampton and Coventry. And again when our scheduled speaker cancelled at the last minute in Cambridge.

With Coventry being my ‘Local’ NxtGen, I decided that, as this session included demos, the audience needed some protection from the demo gods.. Robert Minchin, one of the Oxford Coordinators, took this literally 😉

To read more about the event, visit this event page on NxtGenUG.

It was good to see this level of interest, and nice to meet a larger section of our members in the flesh. Thanks for coming and saying hello guys and girls…

I also did a Media Center presentation for VBUG, Bracknell at the last minute. (By last minute I mean I didnt know I was doing it until that morning!). The speaker had cancelled, Tim Leung asked for help, and I’m happy that I was able to oblige.


DDD Southwest Registration Opens Tuesday 20th April

16 Apr

If last years event was anything to go by, its worth turning up just for the food! Seriously, if you have plans to attend this fantastic days worth of presentations down in the Bristol area, you need to be ready to sign up when registration opens on Tuesday. Find out more, and see clips of last years events, including your truly, at


DDD8 fills with record speed

16 Jan
I did warn you, but this time DDD8 has reached capacity and is now operating a waiting list. Whats more it did this in 15 minutes!

While I wasnt chosen as one of the speakers, I dont mind based on the fantastic talks that are now included on the agenda, which you can see here.

Better yet, I managed to register in that short time window so will be able to relax a bit and watch and learn from these guys.

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Build your own Warthog at PDC09

20 Nov

Only difference is, this one was wired up to use an Xbox 360 wireless controller to drive it! Cool!

Better yet, the guys had mounted an electronic rifle on the back of the car… and then configured it to operate the same way as the gun on the Warthog in Halo. Reloading included!

All I can say is….. You guys rock!

More info to their blog at



DDD Southwest

10 Jul
DDD Southwest was a brilliant event a few weeks ago, and not just because I was speaking at it! For those of you who couldn’t make it, and also for those of you that did and are getting nostalgic, the DDD Southwest team have put together a video showing some of the goings on. Go on, watch it – Happy memories.

Roll on DDD SW2 (sounds like a postcode;-0)
You can find the video here


Speaking at DDD Southwest

20 May

I am privileged to be speaking at DDD Southwest on the 23rd May (Saturday).

I’ll be talking about Media Center development and how to use it for home automation.

You can find out more about DDD Southwest by visiting the site, which is If you are about, come and say hello.

PS. Richie Costall is also going to be there doing something with Silverlight, which will also be a very good session. (I’ve seen it already). Just dont tell him I said so… ;-0)

Web DD Registration is open

31 Mar
Registration is now open for WebDD, which is the web dedicated arm of the fantastic DDD series of days.
Heres the link to register
I personally am looking forward to Andy Westgarths Deployment presentation, and Mike Taultys Silverlight 3 one.
I will have to put up with Richy Costall doing his Miner Willy Talk, though Pete McGann is awesome as usual. If you want to see what’s possible with Silverlight and XNA then go watch this. Alternately, you can play the game for yourself on the NxtGenUG site.
The complete agenda is here
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Its been a long time

30 Mar
Its been some time since I last made a post here. Not going to make excuses, usual things like work getting in the way!
I did a couple of presentations on using home automation and tie-ing into Media Center, the last one being for VBUG in London.
Thanks for your hospitality Sam!


Live 2 Code – Code 2 Live – Swagilly Fortunes

16 Jun


As one of the founders of the NxtGen user group, myself and the other two reprobates, Rich and Dave, realised that after spending a whole day listening to presenters talk about the latest technology, there’s only so much information that the human brain can absorb. I felt that some light relief was needed at the end of the day. So, Swaggily Fortunes was born.

Since its first outing at NxtGens’ Fest 07 at Reading, its appeared 4 times since, including at TechEd Barcelona. We still receive requests to run it at various events.

So, what is it? I’m sure you remember Family Fortunes on ITV, (even if you don’t want to admit to it!) Well this is my take on this game show.

There are 2 teams and one member of each team steps up to a table, then the quizmaster asks question and whoever buzzes first gets to answer, if they get it right the whole team gets to come up with answers. Each correct answer earns their team some points. Get it wrong, and you lose a life. Lose 3 lives and the other team wins.

So, whats the technical makeup of this? Well, first there’s the question master. In Swaggily Fortunes thats Microsoft Anna. She reads the question out each time, and waits for the buzzer.

Theres some hardware involved as well, the buzzers. They are big red buttons mounted on plastic boxes connected via some howngrown electronics to a usb port, where they are recognised by Vista as a HID (Human Interface Device)

The input from the buzzers is dealt with by DirectX, Direct Input to be precise. This scans the game controller ports looking for which button is pressed first.

When one is, the WPF code runs an animation to show which team pressed and well as playing the obligatory buzzing sound.Theres 2 screens that make up this application.

 The first is want the audience sees, the main game screen. This is a WPF application that shows the question in play, the answers given and the lives lost down the side.

The second screen, which is where I run the game from, appears on the Laptops own screen, whereas the main screen is put out to the projector using some .NET code to detect the presence of the number of monitors and allocates the right thing to the right display.

From the control screen, I can allow people to test their buzzers, choose the question, change which team is playing, although this is automatically selected. If the teams take too long to answer, I can also play a tick tock sound to tell them to hurry up.

So, if you hear that Swagilly Fortunes is playing at an event near you then come and say hello!