Missing Codemash this year

CaptureI’m really sorry to be missing CodeMash this year. This is the first CodeMash that I’m going to be missing. I was one of the founders before I joined Microsoft and it’s been on of the things that I’ve been extremely proud to be involved in in a small part and has grown far bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. The fantastic board (Jim Holmes, Jason Gilmore and Brian H. Prince) have been true visionaries and have done an amazing job of walking the balance beam between guiding and pushing CodeMash and letting it remain something of and from the community. It’s inspirational.

The meme with CodeMash is that people are to mash, not to bash. Developers of all sizes and religions are invited from .NET to PHP to Python to Ruby to Java. And everyone is pushed to learn something new. It’s where I learned, as a .NET guy, about Ruby, Python and PHP. That’s in the spirit of CodeMash. Get out of your comfort zone and learn something new. It doesn’t mean that you will be doing that new thing in your everyday job but learning something new will make you better at your full time job.

One of my favorite talks that I did at CodeMash was that I, as a .NET guy, did a talk on Dynamic Languages such as Ruby and Python. My demos were in Ruby. It didn’t matter if anyone in the crowd was ever going to do Ruby for the full time job, learning more about it will make them better C#, Java, PHP or whatever.

Some of the great outcomes of CodeMash were that all of the community has grown stronger and more inclusive throughout Michigan and Ohio in particular. The Ruby guys are going to the .NET user group and the .NET guys are going to the Ruby user groups and so on. 

imageOh yeah – and it was at the first CodeMash that I shaved my head (well, Jennifer Marsman did it actually) for the first time. I bet the audience that they couldn’t get 600 posts up on Technorati by the end of the conference and they not only did that but we crashed Technorati and were the number one topic for two weeks outranking the announcement of the new iPhone and Hillary Clinton announcing that she was running for president.

Oh yeah – and I met some of my best friends in the industry at CodeMash. I’ll miss all of you this year…

I’d love it if something like CodeMash started up here in Ireland.

Small poll on social networks

primaryImage[1]I’m working on a mobile app to take fun pictures. I’ve released a v1 of the app called Tiny Photo Fun – Christmas Edition. I’m planning to build a lot more with it including giving the option to upload the photos to social networks, new photo packs and much more. But as I’m trying to decide what to do first, I thought I’d put up a simple poll and asked this question:

Writing a mobile app to take photos and then share them on a social network and offload auth to that network. Which one should I do first?

It was interesting to see the responses. I first put it up on twitter and immediately, Daniel Cousineau spotted a flaw in the questioning.

@dcousineau: @joshholmes taking the poll on twitter leads me to believe the results are going to be biased towards twitter :P”

So I posted it on Facebook, Live and Linked In as well. I still thought that the results were interesting to watch unfold.


Twitter won out overall. Live only got 2 votes overall. But the more interesting bit was the geographic spread.


The US was 73% for Twitter and 25% for Facebook whereas Ireland was 50% for Facebook.

This doesn’t prove anything and I’m drawing no conclusions other than Twitter is probably my first social network integration.

Dublin Gamecraft

tumblr_lw9gj1MrmG1r2bsum[1]I’m looking forward to Dublin Gamecraft on Feb 25th. It’s not a traditional conference, it’s an 8 hour coding marathon. The idea is that you have 8 hours to build a game, either by yourself or on a team.

  • Yes, you have to start from scratch.
  • Yes, you can build for platform X (where X is XBox, PC, iPad, WP7, iPhone, Android, or any other platform that you can write games for).
  • Yes, you can bring a team.
  • Yes, you can join forces with someone on the day.
  • Yes, there’s a need for coders, designers, storyline folks and more.
  • Yes, it’s free.
  • Yes, you should come.
  • Yes, it’s being organized by cool folks like @roundcrisis

On hand will be some of the up and coming games studios in Dublin such as Open Emotion Studios.

If you’re interested in learning to write games, there’s not a whole lot better of a way to do it than jumping in the deep end. At the very least, you’ll get to meet and hang out with some of the most fun folks in all of Ireland’s tech scene.

Any question? Ask them at http://www.dublingamecraft.com/ask.

Anyone can write games for Kinect with Scratch

imageThat’s a bold statement but it’s true – any kid even can write games for Kinect with Scratch. Scratch is a programming language for kids out of the MIT Media Labs. Steven Howell saw the potential of combining this with the Kinect and connected them together. Kids all over the world can now write natural user interface games with the Kinect.

This project is not for you to write XBox games at the moment but rather it works with the Microsoft Kinect SDK BETA 2. There are a lot of awesome projects that are using Kinect for the PC. I talked about the stuff that Von Bismark is doing the other day. I’ll dig into that more in an upcoming post.

imageI love this because it captures the imagination as to what’s possible if you can quickly and easily create a natural user interface by dragging and dropping code snippets.

Scratch and Kinect from Stephen Howell on Vimeo.

Full instructions on how to set it all up and get started writing games is on Steven’s site at http://scratch.saorog.com/.

For lots of information about the Scratch project:

Educators – Information for educators using Scratch

News – Stories about Scratch in the media

Research – Papers and presentations about Scratch

Donate – Support the Scratch project

Voice Control with Amulet Devices

logoOne of the things that gets me excited is working with new forms of user interaction. Or rather old forms of user interaction that humans use being used with our users.

Amulet devices are doing just that. They are a BizSpark startup based in Dublin, Ireland. They are a device and software company. The software does voice control of Windows Media Center which can be the hub of your home entertainment.

Amulet_Detail_0246[1]Their remote is a universal remote that has a very clever microphone that is activated by a gyroscope. When you tip up the remote, it activates and allows you to control your media center by voice. It means that the remote won’t accidently pick up your voice and start changing channels on you right before the winning goal or the bad guy gets the bad guy. It also means that it’s you can use it in a crowded and noisy room as the mic is right next to you.

They are, unfortunately not available for sale in Europe but they are available all over North America.

Glancing ahead in 2012…

Welcome to 2012! This is the time of year that everyone sets new resolutions and prognosticates about the future. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what 2012 brings. I’m excited about the promise of the year though and I’ve got a few things that I’m looking forward to.

We are at an interesting juncture in technology where truly the only limits are our imagination.

kinect[1]I look at movies like Minority Report and how advanced we thought the technology was when he was traversing the computer with his glove. Here we are less than 10 years later and the Minority Report is old school because he had to wear a glove. Technologies like the Kinect are revolutionizing how we interact with technology. There are some companies doing some remarkable things with it. For example, VonBismark is one of my great Irish startups and is doing amazing things with Kinect. They have been working on a prototype. They placed their prototype at Liffey Valley Mall and had 15k interactions in the first 3 days.

Nobody needed instructions or to be pushed into trying it. It was just there and people interacted with it. I’m looking forward to a near term future where I walk into my living room and my computer not only recognizes me but sees that I’m in a good mood so puts on a little progressive rock or that I’m in a bad mood so fires up the metal.

What I love about this is that technology is disappearing into the background and just working for us rather than us working for it. I really hope that this is a glimpse into the future.

And then combine that with the ability to launch a startup with global reach and the ability to scale to all size customers in practically no time.

zartis_tag[1]For example, take a look at a Zartis – another great Irish startup. They went from concept to customers in 10 weeks. They are 6 months in and they have 500+ customers and the vast majority are not from Ireland. They were able to do that with almost no capital investment due to technologies such as Azure. Through BizSpark they were able to start on Azure for free and then as they scale, with revenue tied directly to traffic, they pay for overages when they go beyond the free benefits.

So unlimited computing power combined with unhindered and amazing user experiences speaks to a very bright future to me.

Happy New Year!