Silverlight Twitter Badge

It’s by no means perfect, but I’ve got a new Twitter Badge on in the right hand margin.

I was sitting at the Flex and Air Jam and started working with James Ward on a Flex twitter badge and started thinking about what a Silverlight Twitter Badge would look like. James had this concept for creating a clock for the time to really give the badge some context and pop. I liked the idea so I stole it… :).

I’ll post the whole source code and all shortly. I’ve got a few more things that I want to play with – like making the white background transparent.

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Rainbow in Crested Butte

<update> – my pictures were from my camcorder kinda on the spur of the moment. James Ward took a real camera and went on a quest for a great picture and he exceeded expectations with the photo in his post about the Pot of Gold at the Flex/Air Jam. </update>


That’s the left and right side of the crispest rainbow I’ve ever seen – notice the purple at the bottom…

I have got to spend more time in Crested Butte…

Adventures With Mapping And Offroad Fun

2007 Dodge Nitro R/T and SLTI am currently in Crested Butte, CO and I had a heck of an adventure getting here. I have been a long time MapPoint user with a GPS and it’s never failed me. In fact, it did get me here this time, just in a slightly more hair raising manor than I had anticipated. To fly into Gunnison, which is 45 minutes or so away from Crested Butte would have cost me $1,200 or so when I could fly into Denver for $500 and rent a car for roughly $200 and have a scenic drive. I chose Denver. When I get to the rental car lot, they tried to give me a Taurus. 🙁 I asked them for something else… They gave me a Dodge Nitro with 4×4. I’m really pleased with this choice and get started on the trip. As is my habit, I pull out my bluetooth Holux GPS device and fire up Mappoint 2006 for driving directions. I really like the 2006 edition because it talks to me. I don’t even have to look at the screen – in fact I usually just put the laptop on the floorboard and listen for directions. And I start driving.


The route has me traveling through Vail and up to Glenwood Springs and then over to Crested Butte. This is a gorgeous trip. It truly is some of the most beautiful country side that I’ve ever had the pleasure to travel through. I once, when I was a teen, came up with the family and camped for several weeks just outside Eagle, CO. That was amazing and is still one of my fondest memories growing up. We have friends in Eagle that own land that they let us camp on right on a small creek – oh yeah, this creek grows and widens over 1,469 miles as it’s the Arkansas River.

BeaverLakeApproachBack to my current trip… I turn off of i70 at Glenwood Springs and start heading into the mountains. I’m awestruck by the scenery. It was a little disconcerting when the road turned to gravel as I passed Beaver Lake. However, I know that Crested Butte is a little ways off the beaten path so I’m not concerned too much. And, how could I pass up this scenery. I keep going, still following the GPS, and come to a little town called Marble. Marble is a quaint little down that borders the national forest. It’s name such because there are huge chunks of Marble in the town. There are some people that have done some more elaborate work with some of the loose pieces but it was kinda cool to see raw marble in Marble.

4x4SignShortly past Marble though, I passed a sign that made me stop and recheck the map. It said 4 Wheel Drive Only Past This Point. Whoa! What does that mean? Well, the map still said that I was on course. I thought – well, I am in a 4×4 and this is Colorado and I don’t get the chance to do this very often anymore – so what the heck. I kept going. PIC_0049The road gets a little rutty but nothing bad. I’ve done worse in my old VW Jetta that I had when living in Arkansas so I wasn’t all that worried about it. Somewhere in here I did realize that this can’t be the only way to Crested Butte, but I’m having fun.

Then I see a sign that says “Detour Ahead is Open Only to High-Clearance 4WD Vehicles”. Ok – this is getting more interesting and what’s the definition of “high-clearance”?PIC_0059 However, at this point, I’m behind a Range Rover and I’ve definitely got more clearance that it does. The trail was narrow, rocky, a little rutty but it wasn’t too bad at all. The most interesting part was at the bottom of a tight little hill where there was a creek that we had to cross. It was somewhere between 12-18 inches deep but it had a rock bed so it was no issue. I’m having ton of fun at this point just taking my time and moving through slowly. I was going 3-5 miles an hour most of the way.

PIC_0069The drive was beautiful. I saw flowers, trees, deer, odd buildings and more. There was one in particular that I stopped at and took some pictures at. It had been around since 1892 and it was a “two story out-house”. Just pas this I drove through a little town called Crystal. I thought this was a wild idea – this town that could only be accessed by 4×4, helicopter, foot or horse back. I did see a lot of horses there.

Shortly after Crystal – ExtremeSignI was about 3 hours in when I saw a sign that made me stop and really think about this proposition. It said “Attention Drivers Extremely Rough Road Ahead. Vehicle Traffic Discouraged. 4×4 with Experienced Drivers and Narrow Wheel Base Only”. Wow – that’s quite a statement. I stopped the truck and looked at the GPS – positive that I was way off course at this point. Nope – I was still right on track. Ok – now what? I started thinking about the past couple of signs and thinking about the fact that they had been a little overblown. And then I looked on the map and thought about my options. I could either push on (I only had 3.5 miles left according to the map) or I could go back and around. Then I started looking at the map solutions and it was going to be 3 hours back to pavement and then 3 hours around the mountains to get to Crested Butte by a different route. PIC_0061Wow – that’s a tough choice. IMG_3193I’m still not positive that I made the right choice – but I decided to push forward. I really didn’t know what I was getting into… It started out fine until I got to a point where I had to get out of the truck and take a look down the slope to see what was coming. This was a touch nerve-racking but it looked fine once I got onto the hill. Then the real fun start up. I now know that I was at the “Devil’s Punchbowl”. There’s a tight little valley that’s probably 75 yards across with a beautiful waterfall and pool at the bottom that I didn’t get pictures of because the camera was the last thing on my mind at that exact moment. I stopped at the bottom and watched a modified Jeep go up the hill in front of me. There were a few tight places but it made it. I sat there for about 10 minutes watching that Jeep and rethinking my decision to go forward or not. This was the scariest moment in the adventure. I stared at that hill and finally decided to push forward. There was one moment where I was positive that I was done. I was pushing up the hill and there was a LARGE rock in the middle of the road, the road was slanting away from the hill and towards the drop off, I couldn’t see the road out of the drivers side window because the edge was too close and my oil light came on all at the same exact moment. I can’t repeat the words that went through my head at that moment – not because they were dirty but because it was unintelligible goo sliding out of my ear as my brain melted in fear. After a few seconds that took years to complete – I pulled it together and made it past the rock. Eventually I got to the top of the hill and it evened and widened out. Now I’m trying to figure out what happened with the oil light. I’m positive that one of the times that I bottomed out I must have punched a hole in the oil pan and I’ve just killed the rental car. How am I going to explain to them where to pick up their car? I’ll never be able to rent from this rental agency again… Just then, the oil light went off. WHEW! It was just that the hill was steep enough that all of the oil had slide to one side of the pan and away from the sensors… Wow – that was a steep hill.  

SchofieldPassSignI had just pushed through what’s known as Schofield Pass. This is the “Deadliest Pass in Colorado”. Once I got to safety, I looked it all up online and the first hit that came back was Code 4×4 – Schofield Pass Pucker. It talked about how tough and scary this pass is. Different sites had different death tolls but they ranged from 14-19 over the past 20 years. Did I say that I’m really impressed with the Dodge Nitro? All of the locals in Crested Butte have been very impressed that I came through the pass and that I made it. Bruce Eckel said – “I’m not sure what to think of that, I’m not sure if that makes you crazy or not. But everyone here (in Crested Butte) is a little crazy so maybe it means that you fit right in.” I’m the first person that he’s known that’s actually followed the map all the way here – a lot of other people are a little smarter or saner than I am I guess.

MapGoogleNow – how did Mappoint get it so wrong and send me over this death trap? I’m not sure but I verified that Google Maps point you over the exact same passage if you are traveling from Vail to Crested Butte.

So, I got back to civilization and Dianne Marsh twittered to me – “Did you go the way that I told you not to go?”. Oh crap – that’s right. She and I were on IM and she told me that the map programs were wrong and told me to make sure that I came in through Gunnison instead of Marble.

The moral of the story here is to verify directions with locals when dealing with the map programs.

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Contributing to the DLR and IronRuby

The Iron ManThis was a big enough bit that I thought that I needed a separate post from John Lam on IronRuby at the Portland .NET Users Group.

One of the things that John Lam addressed in his session was how submissions are going to work with the DLR and IronRuby. There are three separate bits, the libraries (this is most of the language), the core compiler (this is the interface between the libraries and the DLR) and the DLR itself.

IronRuby will take contributions to only the libraries until they get a whole lot closer release of the compiler and the DLR. Right now the DLR is such a moving target that it doesn’t make sense to have people contribute to the layers that run right on top of it as it’s likely going to change.

IronRuby will take contributions to the core compiler once 1.0 ships.

The DLR will be released with the MS-PL license, but it will likely not ever accept contributions. This was a bit of a shocking statement to me when he said that but then he explained it. It was a bit of a gloss-over though so I’m not sure that people caught this. The DLR will ship inside of the CLR which ships inside of Windows. Therefore, they can’t accept submissions to the DLR because they need to keep that IP pure.

When he said that a lot of things snapped into place for me. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of that myself. If they don’t keep the Windows IP pure, they are opening themselves up for potential lawsuits from someone who’s IP was injected into Windows without the proper licensing in place and so on.

FYI – you should check out It talks about Microsoft and it’s views on Open Source. It might surprise you.

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Microsoft ArcReady: Web 2.0

ArcReady is ramping up again for another quarter’s worth of content. This quarter we have Jon Rauschenberger from Clarity Consulting putting together content on Web 2.0 based on his experience with creating the FaceBook Developers API and more.

Applying Lessons to Your Company

After Tim O’Reilly’s article “What is Web 2.0” in 2005, there has been considerable buzz around Web 2.0 technologies and the companies that use them. From the open platform Facebook to the rich user interfaces of web mail clients like Microsoft Exchange, the architecture of web applications is changing rapidly. While other companies have begun to see potential business value in Web 2.0 technologies, there is still uncertainty on how to integrate those technologies into corporate activities. How can you balance corporate security needs without negating the architecture of participation that is important in Web 2.0 applications? Where is the line between internal and external applications? What can we learn from the most successful public Web services and does it apply to our internal SOA?

In select cities, our guest speaker will be Jon Rauschenberger, CTO for Clarity Consulting. Together with the Central Region Architect Evangelists, we’ll discuss lessons learned and best practices around collaboration, rich user experiences, and data syndication from existing Web 2.0 application architectures. We’ll also provide guidance how current Microsoft platform technologies like AJAX for ASP.NET, SharePoint Server 2007, and WCF can be used to turn those lessons into a practical corporate Web 2.0 architecture. Finally we’ll take a look at the next generation of Microsoft technologies like Silverlight and Visual Studio 2008 and discuss how architects can design and deploy applications beyond the current Web 2.0 experience.

Hopefully I’ll see you there…

  • Detroit – 8/21/07 (I’ll be there)
  • Houston – 8/28/07 (Phil Wheat will be there)
  • Dallas – 8/29/07 (Phil Wheat will be there)
  • Austin – 8/30/07 (Phil Wheat will be there)
  • Memphis – 8/30/07 (I’ll speaking)
  • Minneapolis – 9/11/07 (Denny Boynton will be there)
  • Chicago – 9/12/07 (Larry Clarkin will be there)
  • Milwaukee – 9/13/07 (Larry Clarkin will be there)
  • Indianapolis – 9/18/07 (Larry Clarkin will be there)
  • St Louis – 9/19/07 (Denny Boynton will be there)
  • Kansas City – 9/21/07 (Denny Boynton will be there)
  • Cleveland – 9/25/07 (I’ll speaking)
  • Columbus – 9/26/07 (I’ll speaking)
  • Cincinnati – 9/27/07 (I’ll be there)
  • Nashville – 9/28/07 (I’ll be there)

    Microsoft ArcReady


    John Lam on IronRuby at the Portland .NET Users Group

    John Lam was at OSCON and stopped by the Portland .NET Users Group and did  session. Someone, probably Scott Hanselman, had a video camera and taped the whole session. Scott got the video and posted it on his site as a Silverlight streaming video. It’s pretty slick. There’s a lot of fun banter between Scott and John.

    image I’ll warn you now – he’s not going to teach you IronRuby in this video. He assumes a lot of knowledge around dynamic languages in general and a little bit about Ruby in particular. Some of the bits that he gets into are deep in the framework. He talks quite a lot about how the method invocation and object creation bits work, performance and . It’s fascinating stuff.

    Fun trivia that will make you popular at parties:

    • .NET’s GetType() on an object is 69 machine cycles.
    • MS-Permissive license has been submitted to OSI for approval. If they approve it, then we can officially say that we are doing open source. Otherwise we are just sharing code.

    It was also fun to hear him talk about why he can’t go look at the source code for the Mats Ruby Interpreter. Since he can’t, he asks a lot of “silly questions” on mailing lists asking about inputs and outputs of particular APIs and the like.

    Since they are working on the language still – they have been doing their best to get to a point where they can run the standard TestUnit, RSpec or even mini-spec. These testing frameworks use way too many features of the Ruby language so they can’t get it to run at the moment. John, created a simple mini-spec that does some really lightweight testing and specing. The goal, obviously, is to be able to run a full suite of tests against Ruby and IronRuby to be as close as possible on the original implementation.

    Another bit that very good was that John said that getting Rails running on IronRuby is the only way that anyone will believe that it’s Ruby. It’s good that they are taking that very seriously.

    John asks – “Would it be valuable to get Ruby running on ASP.NET?” – I’d love to hear the answer to that question myself. Feel free to leave comments or contact me directly

    Scott’s original post on the topic is – Silverlight Video of John Lam on IronRuby at PADNUG 

    Direct link to the video –

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    Jeff Blankenburg – Developer Evangelist


    DSC00273DSC00291It’s out in the open now… Jeff Blankenburg is my new Developer Evangelist for the Heartland District (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee). I’m really looking forward to working with Jeff. He’s got passion, technical chops and stage presence. It will be a lot of fun to work with him to channel all of that power to good. 🙂  For those of you who don’t know him – you should make a point to meet him in the near future. He’s a good guy who will offer a lot to the Heartland District. You might have seen his work before as he was the designer behind the CodeMash gear head logo. He was instrumental in the logistical support for CodeMash. He helped with the web site, registration and ran thousands of errands.

    codemash.pngHe’s leaving Quick Solutions to join us. That’s the only downside here. It’s been great to have Jeff in the field as a community influential and independent voice. This is going to be a strength of his though as the main focus of his job is to help grow this community. As he knows the community, it should be second nature to interact with the community and help them out. I’ve talked to Brian H. Prince about Jeff’s new position. While he’s sorry that he has to loose Jeff, he’s proud of Jeff and is excited about Jeff’s future at Microsoft.


    For those who are asking “What about Drew?” – Drew Robbins is leaving to be the IIS7 Technical Evangelist out of Redmond. This is a huge move for him and a good one for Microsoft. Drew had been doing of this work already speaking at PHP conferences internationally (including Russia) and more.

    Blankenthoughts: Developer Evangelist

    Mindview Rich Internet Application Summit August 15-17, 2007

    This is 3 days of conversations around RIA (Rich Internet Applications) with some of the movers and shakers in the RIA movement. There are going to be a lot of great minds at the table, including James Ward (the RIA Cowboy) and Bruce Eckel. This should make for a lively conversation. I’m not sure who else is going to be attending.

    I’m going, are you? I’m pretty excited actually – this should be a fantastic gathering. I know that it couldn’t be in a whole lot more ideal of a place. If you’ve not heard of Crested Butte you need to check out these photos and these photos. It’s 4-5 hours driving from Denver. I’m really looking forward to that drive though – it’s through Colorado in the summer crossing the continental divide. I’m flying in on the Sunday before and planning on taking my time driving up with lots of stops to take in the scenery.

    Once the summit starts, it’s an interesting format that you might or might not have heard about called an Open Spaces Technology format. There are 4 “laws” that are in effect at any Open Spaces conference.

  • Whoever comes are the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • Whenever it starts is the right time
  • When it’s over, it’s over

    It is fairly limited seating so you should reserve your seat now.

    Mindview Rich Internet Application Summit


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