20 Years of Visual Studio: #MyVSStory

Today Microsoft is marking the 20th anniversary of Visual Studio, their integrated development environment. To celebrate, they’ve released Visual Studio 2017! Over the last month or two, Microsoft has encouraged developers to share their Visual Studio story on social media. Here’s mine!

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET

I became interested in programming at a very early age and started playing with BASIC on our computer at home. I remember writing a program that asked you for your name and favorite color and then printed something like “Hi Name!” in that color to the screen. I’m pretty sure I tested it on my younger brother, but he was much less interested than I was. I thought it was magical.

One day I was in my Dad’s office and found a box for Visual Studio 97, the first release of the product. He let me take it home to install on our home computer and that started a long and fruitful relationship with Visual Basic. Though I started to learn other languages too, it was VB6 that I really enjoyed. When I started my software company Paramagnus back in 2000, it was VB6 that we wrote our first programs in.

While I probably did use Visual Studio 6.0, the second version that Microsoft released, it was Visual Studio .NET that came out in 2002 that really changed things. I was able to transition my VB6 knowledge into VB.NET and became smitten with the new .NET platform. I remember reading a magazine article about something called “COOL”, a new “C-like Object Oriented Language” from Microsoft that was kind of like Java. Well that became C# in Visual Studio .NET, and it wasn’t long until I switched from VB.NET to C#. It became my primary language and remains so today.

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET

In the early 2000s, I was involved with a .NET user group here in Edmonton. I remember meeting developer evangelist John Bristowe through that in 2005 when he came up from Calgary to show us “Whidbey” which would become Visual Studio 2005. I always enjoyed John’s presentations and his passion for Visual Studio, which he often called “God’s IDE”. That always stuck with me!

From 2003 until 2005, during my time at the University of Alberta, I had a side job as the Alberta Student Representative for Microsoft Canada. Part of my role was to organize and deliver presentations for students, and in 2004 I became an Academic MVP. That brought some nice perks along with it, including an MSDN subscription which meant all of a sudden I had access to everything!

Tech·Ed North America 2010
With the Channel9 guy at TechEd North America in 2010

It’s safe to say that Visual Studio has had a big impact on my life. Everything from my profession to some really rewarding personal experiences. I competed in the Imagine Cup student programming competition in 2003 and represented Canada at the worldwide competition in Spain, for instance. Along the way I’ve met some great people and learned a lot from some excellent developers.

I still use Visual Studio every day, though not always the IDE. These days there’s Visual Studio Team Services, which offers a place to store code, plan work, and test, build, and deploy software. I also use Visual Studio Code, a lightweight, cross-platform code editor. In fact, I’m writing this blog post inside Code because it is such a fantastic Markdown editor. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring.

Happy birthday Visual Studio!

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #243

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Mayor Don Iveson
Mayor Don Iveson speaks to the media Ambrose Place

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for March 5, 2017

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Walterdale Bridge to Alberta Legislature
Walterdale Bridge to Alberta Legislature, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Edmonton River Valley
Edmonton River Valley

Recap: #MeetInTheMiddle

Early in the new year I received an email invitation to take part in the inaugural Meet In the Middle event, scheduled to take place near Olds, Alberta on Agriculture Day in Canada (February 16). Along with the promise of a five course meal and bus transportation from Edmonton or Calgary, this was the pitch:

“We’re bringing together 150 of the up-and-comings, the established, the industry leaders, the fifth generations and the never-set-foot-on-a-farm to talk about food over a five course meal. Each course is prepared by a different local chef and features food grown in Alberta, paired with a craft beverage from a local brewery or distillery. What better way to celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day than bringing consumers, producers and industry leaders together – all at the same table!”

The event was organized by A Seat at Our Table, an initiative launched by ATB Financial with partners the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance, Tourism Calgary, Edmonton Tourism, and the Alberta Motor Association. I decided to accept the invite, and found myself on a bus to the Willow Lane Barn that afternoon with a dozen or so other Edmontonians.

#MeetInTheMiddle

I was relieved to know that I wasn’t the only one uncertain about how the evening would unfold. The organizers had sent an online survey in advance of the event (the results of which were to be shared with the event partners and provincial crop and livestock organizations) but few details about what to expect. It’s too bad I hadn’t discovered this article before the event! Evidently we were all to be millenials.

We were greeted with Village Brewery’s Blonde ale. Nothing like a little beer to get the conversation going! At some point an announcement was made that a coffee roasting demo was going to take place before dinner. I think Calgary Heritage Roasting Co‘s story is pretty interesting, but I was not expecting that. You get 150 Albertans together, on an Albertan farm, and you show them…coffee? Odd. I skipped the demo and snuck inside to check out the barn.

#MeetInTheMiddle

As you can see, Willow Lane Barn is a beautiful venue. Despite the fact that it is on a real farm, the barn building we were in was expressly built for events (especially weddings). Very Instagram-friendly. The organizers and kitchen staff were very busy preparing hors d’oeuvres and pouring drinks.

#MeetInTheMiddle

The namecards at each place setting were a nice touch and I was happy to see we were seated with people from all over the province. Throughout the dinner some people played musical chairs, a somewhat successful attempt to facilitate networking.

#MeetInTheMiddle

The food was delicious, though somewhat mysterious. There were no menu cards at the table, and while the emcee (Global Calgary’s Amber Schinkel) did speak to the chefs throughout the evening, it was more about their stories than the dishes. I realized part way through that each course flashed up on the screen momentarily, but I think this aspect of the dinner could certainly have been improved. I managed to convince one of the volunteers to send me a PDF of the menu.

#MeetInTheMiddle

I was happy to know only a handful of people in attendance, and I really did have some great conversations over dinner and on the bus ride down and back. I met a pulse farmer, an electrician, a brewer, a physician, a maker of skin care products, a fruit rescuer, a fashion designer, and a rancher, to name just a few. It was a really diverse mix of Albertans.

Willow Lane Barn

I couldn’t resist sneaking outside once or twice during the dinner to take in the sunset. It makes sense that you’d want to hold an event like Meet in the Middle on a farm, but it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see more of it while we were there.

#MeetInTheMiddle

The chefs for the evening included: Samath Rajapaksa from Rajapaksa Catering, Marie Willier from WinSport Canada, Jesse Woodland from Chartier, Rieley Kay from Cilanto and Chive, and Danielle Job from The Pink Chef. Great stuff from all!

#MeetInTheMiddle

Most people seemed to have a good time, but the evening was just too rushed to get much beyond introductions. As soon as the dessert course was served we were being reminded to get on the bus! We left Edmonton at 2:30pm and got back at 9:30pm, but the actual dinner was basically 5-7:30pm. Especially for the folks who travelled from even farther in the province, it’s hard to see how that was a good use of time.

I understand the intent of the event was to get a mix of young Albertans together over dinner and to encourage conversations that might not otherwise take place. The food and drinks were fantastic, the conversations were great, and overall I had a good time. It was certainly a great idea to get everyone together from across the province around a single dinner table, but I think the event could have had a much bigger impact with fewer attendees and less travel. I’d certainly be open to attending future events organized by A Seat at Our Table, but would hope for a more intimate, close-to-home affair.

Thanks for the opportunity to attend!

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #242

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

February 2017 Journalism Magazines

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for February 26, 2017

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Intact Insurance Building, Edmonton
Intact Insurance Building, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Pink Shirt Day 32390
Pink Shirt Day, photo by Premier of Alberta

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #241

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Alberta’s 15th Premier, Honourable Dave Hancock, Recognized with Legislature Portrait 32191
Alberta’s 15th Premier, Honourable Dave Hancock, Recognized with Legislature Portrait, photo by Premier of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for February 19, 2017

Have a fantastic Family Day tomorrow! Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Posing - Valentine's Day
Posing – Valentine’s Day, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Flare [Explored]
Flare, photo by Jeff Wallace

Getting wise about waste in Edmonton

We currently divert more than 52% of our waste from landfill here in Edmonton and the goal is to increase that to over 90%. That’s going to take multiple approaches and a lot of hard work. Recycling is key, so it’s great that more than 90% of Edmontonians currently use the blue bag recycling program, according to the City. But sometimes we put the wrong things in the bag! That’s where the City’s new app called WasteWise comes in.

WasteWise

A launch event with a friendly waste sorting competition was held on October 26 at City Hall and I was excited to participate along with Councillor Andrew Knack, former Oiler Andrew Ference, and the kids from City Hall School. We each received a few bean bags with items on them and we had to determine whether that item should be recycled, taken to an eco station, or put in the garbage. We could guess, use the poster, use the app, or ask the audience for help. We got one point for getting that right, plus another point for tossing the bean bag through the right hole. It was more challenging than it sounds!

Edmonton WasteWise

You can see some video highlights from the event at the Journal. Somehow I managed to win the competition, even though I made a big mistake!

Edmonton WasteWise

My mistake was apparently a common one among Edmontonians. One of the items I got was shredded paper, and I thought “aha! paper! surely that’s recycle!” Needless to say I got no points for that incorrect guess. Unlike sheets of paper or newspapers, shredded paper should be put into the garbage because “it clogs machinery at the recycling sorting plant, causing damage and plant shutdowns.” Because it is already shredded, it composts well. So, it was an educational event!

Some other commonly mistaken items include pizza boxes (they go in the recycle, even if a bit greasy), compact discs (CDs go in the garbage, or to the Reuse Centre), and plastic shopping bags (they get recycled too). If it has a cord, it should generally be taken to the Eco Station. You can challenge yourself by playing the WasteWise game What Goes Where?

WasteWise App

The new WasteWise app is powered by a service called ReCollect. Other municipalities in Canada have gone with the same system, including Vancouver, Victoria, and Ottawa. The City was happy to point out that using an off-the-shelf tool was cheaper than building a brand new app, not to mention they get to take advantage of having the kinks largely worked out by others. In addition to being able to quickly look up whether an item should go in the garbage, recycle, or to the Eco Station, you can also get reminders about your waste collection day.

As of this week, the app has been downloaded more than 6,000 times and users have searched more than 67,000 times! The most commonly searched items are pizza boxes, styrofoam containers, and plastic containers. A little over half of app users have signed up to receive reminders.

You can download the Edmonton WasteWise app for iOS or Android, or you can access it via the web widget.

WasteWise Open Data

In addition to making the new app available, the City has released all of the data that powers it via the open data catalogue! In particular you can access:

These datasets are all fairly new so we’ll have to see how developers take advantage of all that data. I think an augmented reality app would be cool – imagine just pointing your mobile phone’s camera at an item to have it recognize the item and tell you where it should go. Would make all those de-cluttering challenges that seem so popular lately a little more interesting!

You can learn more about the City’s waste management programs & services here.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #240

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

trump panel on CTV

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

This week’s update was brought to you by Taproot Edmonton, a source of curiosity-driven stories about our city, cultivated by the community. Become a member today to help us publish great stories about Edmonton.