Tech stuff I’ve been learning about lately

I haven’t done one of these lists in quite a while, so I figured it was time for an update. Here are some of the geeky tech things I’m currently playing with/learning more about:

Facebook Connect
I’ve added support for Facebook Connect to ShareEdmonton, and was surprised at how straightforward it was. Little bit of a learning curve initially, but nothing major. I’m impressed with the way it works.

Looking into this one for use with Twitter and Brightkite. I’m not very far along yet, but it also seems fairly straightforward. Check out this ReadWriteWeb article on how a recent OAuth security flaw was addressed by the community.

I’ve been using this since January, actually. It works great, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again. I want to explore some of the more advanced uses now.

You might consider it a semantic web service, because Calais is all about giving meaning to data. I came across it via, which uses Calais to automatically extract names, places, and other metadata from the links you shorten.

Google Maps API
Again, this one is fairly straightforward. Lately I’ve been looking into the non-visual services it provides. For example, geocoding and reverse-geocoding in the background, without necessarily having a map on the page.

Public Data Sets on AWS
This one I’ve looked into the least so far, but I’m keen to check it out. In particular, I’d like to explore working with the Freebase data dump. It’s still amazing to me that you can tap into such a vast amount of data with relative ease.

As you can probably guess, almost all of these are related to work I’m doing with ShareEdmonton. I should have an update on that soon.

Technologies I’ve Been Exploring Recently

code Tomorrow is Edmonton Code Camp 2008, so with that in mind I thought I’d mention a few of the developer-focused technologies I’ve been messing around with lately. Nothing too in-depth, but enough to get a feel for things.

MSMQ – Microsoft Message Queuing
This technology has been around since Windows NT 4 and Windows 95, but I’ve never really used it before. I decided to check it out after hearing John Bristowe sing its praises at ALT.NET Calgary. So far I’m really impressed. I still can’t believe I never looked into it before! I was able to get a decent sample going for both reading and writing from the queue (transactional too) in about 40 lines of code.

This is a dependency injection framework for .NET applications. Dependency Injection (DI) is a technique that helps you create loosely-coupled, flexible code. I’ve looked at other DI frameworks, but was always turned off by the XML configuration files. In that regard, Ninject is a lot like SubSonic – everything is done in code! It’s pretty easy to get started with Ninject. Reading the User Guide on the wiki definitely helped me.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with the Twitter Search API, which returns data in either ATOM or JSON format. I figured JSON would be better, as it’s a little more lightweight. The .NET Framework doesn’t understand JSON natively, so I looked for a library to help. I can’t say enough good things about Json.NET – it’s fantastic!

Okay this doesn’t really belong on this list, because I’ve been using it for a while now. I keep learning new things about it though, such as the data() method that Marc Grabanski wrote about recently. Very cool. I’ve also been enjoying Intellisense support!

There you go, a few of the things I’ve been exploring lately. I’m looking forward to Code Camp tomorrow! If you’re tagging photos, tweets, blog posts, and other things, use the tag #ecc08. Be sure to keep an eye on the wiki. See you there!