# Saturday, October 31, 2015

When I moved to Chicago, I did not know many people in the developer community. But after living here over a year and working here for over 2 years, I've discovered that the metropolitan Chicago area boasts a strong developer community, led by a number of dedicated influencers. I was impressed by the number of meetups, code camps, and other events that are run by volunteers.

On October 19, Microsoft invited influencers from Chicago and its surrounding areas to come to our office for a Chicago Influencers Summit.

The goals of the summit were:

  • Get to know the influencers better;
  • Let them know that I am here to help;
  • Let them know about Microsoft DX and what we can offer
  • Give influencers a chance to get to know one another better

We invited leaders of key user groups from around Chicagoland, as well as influencers who frequently lead community events.

Not all the influencers were from the .NET community, as we invited leaders from Java User groups, the node.js meetup, Ruby developers, and many others who have very little interest in Microsoft technology but who still volunteer their time supporting the local developer community. 18 influencers attended, as well as Microsoft Technical Evangelists Sarah Sexton and me.

We began by giving everyone a chance to introduce themselves, followed by an introduction Microsoft DX and its goals within the community.

We had an excellent discussion about how we can better communicate with one another and debated the value of regular phone calls, threaded discussions with tools like Yammer and Slack; and a community calendar. We decided on creating a Wordpress site with a calendar and a comment section. We also decided to reboot the monthly "Midwest Geeks Call" - a once-popular Skype call that has not been well-attended in recent months. We settled on a more convenient day and time for this call.

An open discussion on issues faced by event organizers yielded some interesting conversation topics, including an exchange of ideas on the importance of diversity among conference speakers and how to increase diversity.

We also discussed the possibility of hosting a community event in early 2016, but did not finalize plans for this before adjourning for the day.

The biggest benefit we gained from this event was an opening of communication channels - not only between Microsoft and the community; but also between supporters of disparate areas of the developer community. I believe this will be a good step in the direction of keeping these communication channels open.

Saturday, October 31, 2015 3:26:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, October 30, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin pounded the east coast much of the week and threatened to cause havoc with thunderstorms in Huntsville, AL, hundreds of miles from the ocean. Chris Gardner, organizer of the first DevSpace conference, crossed his fingers, glanced at the sky and hoped the weather would not deter attendees and speakers.

Huntsville, AL

Ultimately, the thunderstorms did strike Huntsville, but only in the evening and they were not enough to disrupt the first DevSpace conference.

In its first year, the DevSpace conference in Huntsville, AL attracted about a hundred attendees.

Although the attendees were mostly from within 200 miles of Huntsville, the speakers came from all over the US, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and California.

Sessions covered a variety of software development technologies, including JavaScript frameworks, Application Lifecycle Management, PowerShell, Azure Machine Learning, Unity game development, and Python.


There were a surprising number of presentations on Application Lifecycle Management and quite a few talks on soft skills, such as Finding Leadership Opportunities, Public Speaking, and Improving Listening Skills.

Alan Stevens of Knoxville, TN delivered an excellent keynote in which he talked about the inherent imperfections in production code and how we can continually improve that code base.

I delivered 2 sessions: Own Your Own Career - Advice from a Veteran Consultant; and Microsoft Azure Without Microsoft.


Huntsville, AL is also home of the University of Alabama - Huntsville and Chris arranged a student workshop for me at the university the day before the conference. I was able to teach students about cloud computing and Azure and get them to activate their Dreamspark Azure accounts and deploy a web app.

DevSpace is one of several smaller conferences that have started or grown recently in response to the cancellation of DevLink in Nashville, TN.

Conference organizer Chris Gardner announced plans for a 2016 edition of DevSpace.

Chris Gardner

This was my first visit to Alabama and I really enjoyed it. The people were friendly, the area is beautiful, the conference was enjoyable, and Hun4tsville has a quaint, pleasant downtown area. My only regret is that I did not get  a chance to visit the Space Museum. But that gives me a reason to return.

Friday, October 30, 2015 2:21:42 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, October 29, 2015

In this screencast, you will learn 3 different ways to create an Azure Web App using the Azure Management Portal.

Azure | GCast | Video | Web
Thursday, October 29, 2015 10:42:58 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 2:41:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, October 19, 2015
Monday, October 19, 2015 3:00:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, October 15, 2015

In this screencast, we show how to create a new Virtual Machine in the Windows Azure portal.

Azure | DevOps | GCast | IAAS
Thursday, October 15, 2015 5:57:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I recently spoke with Data Scientist Richard Conway from Elasta Games, who described how his company does analysis of online games.

You can watch and listen to this interview below.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 12:36:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In order to use Azure tables, blobs, and queues, you must first create an Azure storage account. In this article, I will walk you through the steps to create a new Azure Storage Account.

Log into your Azure account and launch the portal (https://manage.windowsazure.com/).

In the left menu, click the "STORAGE" icon (Fig 1). This will list any storage accounts you currently have for this subscription.

Fig 1

To create a new Storage Account, click the [NEW] button (Fig 2) at the bottom  left of the portal and select DATA SERVICES | STORAGE | QUICK CREATE from the popup menu (Fig 3).

Fig 2

Fig 3

The QUICK CREATE dialog displays, as shown in Fig 4.

Fig 4

At the URL field, enter a name for your storage account. This name must be a combination of only numbers and lowercase letters and it must be unique among storage accounts because it will be accessible publicly with a name like https://accountname.core.windows.net

where accounttname is the name you assign to the storage account. The portal will let you know if you enter a name this is not allowed or that is already taken.

At the LOCATION/AFFINITY GROUP field, select a region in which to create your storage account. (Affinity groups are no longer necessary and have been deprecated.)

At the REPLICATION field, select the type of replication you would like for your storage account.
Azure always makes extra copies of your storage accounts, but you control how much redundancy and where that redundancy is stored. Options are:

  • Locally Redundant
  • Geo-Redundant
  • Read-Access Geo-Redundant
  • Zone Redundant

For an explanation of each type of replication, see my article: Azure Storage Replication Options Explained

Click the [CREATE STORAGE ACCOUNT] button to create the new storage account with the settings you have entered.

When finished, a confirmation message displays (Fig 5) and your storage account should be listed in the portal.

Fig 5

You are now ready to use your storage account.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 3:15:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, October 12, 2015
Monday, October 12, 2015 9:11:28 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Earlier today, Microsoft held an event in New York city to talk about devices that support Windows 10. Most of these devices (Surface Pro 4, SurfaceBook, new Lumia phones, Microsoft Band v2) will be released in the next few weeks, while the Hololens will likely be out next year.

Personally, I am most excited by the new phones (Continuum is amazing) and by the upcoming SurfaceBook (which I did not know about before today), but there was impressive news in every category.

Below are my notes while watching this event:

  • Keynote
    • 110+ Million devices now running Windows 10
    • Facebook, Audible, Uber building universal apps for Windows 10
    • Upgrading all Xbox Ones to Windows 10
    • Xbox One will play Xbox 360 games
  • Hololens
    • Mixed reality
    • "Project X-Ray" mixed reality game
    • Holograms you can hold: Gauntlet that moves with his arm
    • Robots know where the walls and furniture are
    • Holograms interact with each other and the real environment
    • Spatial sound
    • No wires; no phones; no connection to a PC required
    • Applications accepted today for Hololens dev kit. Starting Q12016. $3000
  • Microsoft Band
    • New version released
    • Comfort: Curved screen; no hard edges
    • New Barometer sensor
    • Estimates VO2 Max: Maximum oxygen intake
    • Golf app
      • Tracks golf strokes
      • Recognizes practice swings
      • Knows which tee you are on
    • Microsoft Health app works across phone, PC, tablet
    • Available 10/30: $249 retail (Pre-order today)
  • Microsoft Lumia (phone)
    • 950 and 950XL available in November
    • 2 antennas
    • LED screen
      • 500 dpi
      • 5.2" and 5.7" display
    • Camera
      • Triple LED RGB Natural flash: better color; no red eye
      • Stabilizer
    • Quick charging: <30 mins = 50% charge
    • Windows "Hello" (biometric ID) now in Beta on phone
    • Continuum
      • Microsoft Display dock
        • HDMI and display port
        • 3 USB ports for accessories
      • Plug in mouse and keyboard
      • USB access
      • Keyboard shortcuts (CTRL+C; CTRL+V; ALT+TAB)
      • Taskbar
        • Displays open apps
        • Highlight current app
        • Task View
      • Full apps (e.g., Word, PowerPoint)
      • Phone experience not interrupted while Continuum is active
  • Surface Pro 4
    • Available 10/26. Pre-order now.
    • Starts at $899
    • 98% of people who use Surface Pro 3 recommend it
    • Faster processor
    • 30% faster than Surface Pro 3
    • 50% faster than Macbook Air
    • Up to 16GB RAM; 1TB storage
    • Thinner than SP3 (8.4 mm)
    • 12.3" diagonal (larger screen but same footprint)
    • Fingerprint reader
    • Screen
      • "PixelSense" technology - pen and touch
      • Cover glass: 400 microns thick gorilla glass
      • 267 ppi screen (5 million pixels) 60% more pixels than SP3
      • G5 chipset
    • Pen
      • 1034 points pressure
      • 1 year battery life
      • Built-in Eraser
      • Magnetic pen storage
      • Hold down pen: Calls Cortana
      • Interchangeable pen tips (fine-line, felt tip, etc.)
    • Surface Pro docking station
      • Works with SP3 and SP4
      • Connects to USB
    • Keyboard
      • Light
      • Works with SP3
      • Backlit
    • Trackpad
      • 40% larger
      • 5-point multi-touch larger track pad
  • SurfaceBook
    • First laptop built by Microsoft
    • 6 million pixels
    • 13.5" diagonal
    • "Pixelsense"
    • Thin gorilla glass
    • Trackpad - 5 touch points
    • 12 hours battery life. Doesn't burn battery while closed.
    • 2x faster than MacBook Pro
    • Works with docking station
    • Starts at $1499
    • Available 10/26. Pre-order now.
    • 1.6 lbs.
    • 7.7 mm thin
    • Detachable screen
    • GPU is in the base
    • Supports pen and touch
    • "Muscle Wire" locks and unlocks screen
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 8:35:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, October 5, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015 2:15:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, October 4, 2015

Today I am grateful for time spent yesterday with friends at the MSU football game  and dinner afterward in downtown East Lansing.

Today I am grateful for 1500 Twitter followers.

Today I am grateful for a chance to spend an afternoon with Bill Fink and his family yesterday.

Today I am grateful for my first tech presentation at the University of Illinois and the premiere of a new talk last night.

Today I am grateful for a chance to meet up with local MVPs last night.

Today I am grateful the 3 cloud camps are successfully behind me.

Today I am grateful for -A call from my brother yesterday -A chance to see the super blood moon last night from my roof

Today I am grateful for a good night sleep 3 nights i a row.

Today I am grateful that I did not gain weight while traveling the last 3 weeks.

Today I am grateful for dinner last night with Jason Fox.

Today I am grateful for Texas barbecue.

Today I am grateful to Eric, Michael, and Randy for helping make the first cloud camp a success yesterday.

Today I am grateful for a chance to visit my mother this past weekend.

Today I am grateful for John and Kim's wedding celebration yesterday.

Today I am grateful for: -The MDOT worker who rescued me when my car died on the freeway yesterday. -Dinner & drinks with college friends last night.

Today I am grateful for: -A week in San Diego -Dinner with Nick last night -A place to stay this weekend, thanks to my sister and her family -A good night sleep (finally)

Today I am grateful for yesterday's events: -Improv training -An afternoon at a San Diego beach -A party on the USS Midway

Today I am grateful for time with the DX team from all across the country this week.

Today I am grateful for a chance to learn about Azure Machine Learning at yesterday's hackathon.

Today I am grateful for a chance to visit yesterday with Steve for the first time in years.

Today I am grateful for my first trip to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to watch the Chargers-Lions game yesterday.

Today I am grateful to watch a huge Spartan victory from the um campus. #GoGreen

Today I am grateful my son stopped by to visit yesterday while I was in town working the hackathon.

Today I am grateful for a full room last night for my first time speaking at the ACM Chicago chapter.

Today I am grateful I was able to make it to Purdue yesterday in spite of a driving rain storm.

Today I am grateful to spend time with WhatsThe BigIt yesterday for the first time in months.

Today I am grateful for my first game at the current version of Busch Stadium last night.

Sunday, October 4, 2015 3:27:06 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, October 3, 2015

Earlier this week, I interviewed John Brengman of Radication Games. He and a group of students have created applications that teach about diseases and their treatments while playing games.

DevRadio | Games | Video
Saturday, October 3, 2015 3:19:09 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)