Monday, 08 November 2004

The one where I try to sound smart, but really just make a fool of myself in the process. But if I learn something new, it's all good.

I'm just a glutton for punishment, so it's not too unusual that I would attend a developers' evening conference event put on by Microsoft about development for mobile devices, regardless of (or perhaps in spite of) the fact that I am most definitely not a developer.

That said, don't use anything I write here for anything real. Don't quote me or anything. Please. This information is all wrong, I can pretty much guarantee it. This is just an attempt on my part to see how much I can learn in three hours, in an area where I easily get lost.

But I mean hey, I keep seeing these techie developer-like guys writing two lines of code at most in these sessions and how they just magically make things work, shazam!, so I figure even a guy like me should eventually be able to figure this stuff out, at least sort of. Enough to create something useless but functional, at any rate.

Because secretly I sometimes wish I was a developer. I long to make things. New things. Different things.

I just want to create.

So here I am, seeing if I can learn any of this stuff. And I am finding - as usual - that its kinda cool.

Windows Mobile development random thoughts (or maybe this is just a cheap excuse to use bulleted lists):

  • Design applications assuming your app will need to rotate portrait>landscape>back again.
  • Screen dimensions - be flexible here and include hi-res resources for VGA quality screens in the future (use higher res to improve quality, not so much for more real estate).
  • Emulators are cool - deploy, test on a software phone or Pocket PC.
  • will compile and deploy x86 executables to emulators, and ARM compliant code to the real devices. In the future the emulators will emulate ARM chip-sets.

Ok, so this dude just wrote 2 lines of code and made an app that collects a ticker symbol from the user, calls a web service and returns the current price. Two lines of code. Cool. The term code-behind probably relates to this. But I'm not a developer, so I am guessing here.

Look Mom - TWO LINES! Neat.

Idea: Have special evening sessions just for non-developers, where you teach them to develop cool simple stuff. People like me, whose brains are a little older and slower, but who desperately want to be a cool nerd (like that makes sense) and create things. Seriously. I'd go to every one of those events. No real nerds allowed, unless they are teaching (sorry to all my developer friends - I need someone to work at my pace heheh). Target guys like me, who really want to learn, the ones who spend the money. Focus on making something simple, cool and complete. Let me create something, let me feel like I understanding these guys that work for me and around me. Help me grok your world. Let me create something that works, something that when we're done is all mine and does something - hey, anything - useful.

Okay - back to the session...

Ahhhh here we go - demos. I like it when I can see something created and then working. :-)

Tipper is a little program someone wrote that helps you figure out how much of a tip to leave. Cool, especially for foreigners who may not be accustomed to the tipping stuff.

  • Windows forms and controls - I think I know what this all means... Looks like there are some controls not available in the mobile framework, which makes sense, since it's a more limited memory space and less-powerful hardware.
  • Networking - looks like you don't have to understand HTTP in order to use it. Something about streaming and stuff that escapes me. Okay, it's actually way over my head, but "escapes" sounds cool.
  • Data - XML or SQL Server CE for storage, depending on type, amount and size of data (SQL for bigger/more I guess). Web services for data exchange. SQL Mobile 2005 will be a cool enhancement with all kinds of new stuff like data grids and binding and stuff. Make SQL CE development easier. Not require you to use a SQL CE device to develop a database. Nice.
  • XML Parsing - XmlTextReader and XmlTextWriter parse a doc, but with no in-memory caching. XmlDocument lets you parse a complete document at once and traverse it in memory.
  • ADO.NET - Uhhh, yeah. Way over my head. Heh.
  • Web Services - This I get. Sort of. more so than anyhow heh... XML web services, both basic and digest authentication. SSL encryption support here, too. SOAP stuff. Clean is good, right?

More demos... A news reader that goes out and reads RSS feeds - now that's a cool one. Thom Robbins wrote this and some of the other demos. The news reader and others can even be downloaded from his blog, here.

Hmmmm Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Cool - that should be interesting...

There was an interesting presentation about the future of the compact framework and Windows Mobile, and there will be positive changes in VS.NET 2005 for the new version, too. Life becomes friendlier and easier for the mobile developer.

Microsoft Location Server - lets your application find itself or other apps. Real time location information integrated with MapPoint technology. Very, very cool. Hosted by your company, not Microsoft, which is even cooler.

Ok, I am prety close to brain dead now, and I need to save a few brain cells for my trip to buy Halo at 12:01am. Cool stuff here. I have no idea what I am talking about, really, but I do feel smarter, so that's good. :-)

Thanks to Bliz for the heads-up and invite.

Add/Read: Comments [2]
Geek Out | Mobile | Tech
Monday, 08 November 2004 20:29:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Referred by: [Referral] [Referral]
Tuesday, 09 November 2004 09:27:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
The issue with offering "development sessions for non-developers" is akin to the old story that can be found here:

Which is:

Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory, which was having some kind of difficulty. Ford asked Tesla if he could help identify the problem area. Tesla walked up to a wall of boilerplate and made a small X in chalk on one of the plates. Ford was thrilled, and told him to send an invoice.

The bill arrived, for $10,000. Ford asked for a breakdown. Tesla sent another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for marking the wall with an X, and $9,999 for knowing where to put it.

Being able to write cool things in two lines of code is really cool, and it looks simple. The trouble is knowing WHICH two lines of code to use. Teaching someone two special lines of code shows them how to code applications using just those two lines; if you want to write other cool two-line applications, you need to understand the rest of the language you're using: the fundamentals, the libraries available, how it all comes together. For example, the ADO.NET portion of stuff, which sounded to be a little complex for your first night out, is key to understand if you're going to get data from somewhere or send data to somewhere.

That said, if you can figure out a way to get all that information across to non-developers without actually teaching it to them and making them into... well, DEVELOPERS... you'll be a rich man. Send me a t-shirt when you get there. :)
Tuesday, 09 November 2004 13:48:29 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I see your point, but the idea is not to make non-developers into developers, or to make them dangerous. It's more to make them have some kind of hands-on, practical experience that gets them on-board in a new and interesting way. I agree it's not realistc to expect people to learn anything truly useful in the developers' world with this idea, but that is not the goal, really. The whole idea is that it's for non-developers, but the people who spend the money, if you will. I knwo it's a loose idea, but hey, I'll be sure to remember the tshirt request. Heh. :)
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