We Are Microsoft Charity Challenge


I am issuing a challenge to the development community in Northwest Arkansas to attend this event and make a difference.

The We Are Microsoft - Charity Challenge Weekend is a software development competition for a good cause.

This 3-day event matches developers with charities to develop applications for those charities. At the end of the 3 days, all of the participants will vote and the winners will be proclaimed champion coders.

A few of us went down for this last year and had an awesome time working with other developers to use our craft to provide needed software for charities in the greater Dallas, TX area.

We are building a team this year, if you are interested in joining out team please register at the http://wearemicrosoft.com website specifying the team name “CodeHogs” and shot me an email so we can coordinate travel and lodgings.  Registration deadline is November 28, 2008, register today!!!!

Another reason I would like to get a huge turnout for this is to gain some knowledge to have one of these event in Northwest Arkansas.

The We Are Microsoft – Charity Challenge Weekend is part of the GiveCamp Series of events.

Cool Tools List

multibuck A colleague of mine recently posted to an internal blog a list of helpful utilities.  I have been wanting to publish a list of my favorite tools and this was just the motivation I needed to put my list together and make it available.  There is a mixture of general tools and some that are specific to programming, but they all work together for me.

I would like to challenge others to also publish a list of their favorite tools. 

Get the word out, make someone else's life easier!

Windows Utilities

UltraMon - UltraMon is a utility for multi-monitor systems, designed to increase productivity and unlock the full potential of multiple monitors

Launchy - Launchy is a free windows and linux utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!

Process Explorer - Process Explorer display consists of two sub-windows. The top window always shows a list of the currently active processes, including the names of their owning accounts, whereas the information displayed in the bottom window depends on the mode that Process Explorer is in: if it is in handle mode you'll see the handles that the process selected in the top window has opened; if Process Explorer is in DLL mode you'll see the DLLs and memory-mapped files that the process has loaded. Process Explorer also has a powerful search capability that will quickly show you which processes have particular handles opened or DLLs loaded.

UnlockerA great utility to help when you get that “Cannot delete file, it is being used by another program” message.

Cropper - Cropper is a screen capture utility written in C#. It makes it fast and easy to grab parts of your screen. Use it to easily crop out sections of vector graphic files such as Fireworks without having to flatten the files or open in a new editor. Use it to easily capture parts of a web site, including text and images. It's also great for writing documentation that needs images of your application or web site.

Sizer - Sizer is a freeware utility that allows you to resize any window to an exact, predefined size. This is extremely useful when designing web pages, as it allows you to see how the page will look when viewed at a smaller size. The utility is also handy when compiling screen-shots for documentation, using Sizer allows you to easily maintain the same window size across screen grabs.

KeePass - KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish).

Notepad++ - Notepad++ is a free (as in "free speech" and also as in "free beer") source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages. Running in the MS Windows environment, its use is governed by GPL Licence.

ZoomIt - ZoomIt is screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations. ZoomIt runs unobtrusively in the tray and activates with customizable hotkeys to zoom in on an area of the screen, move around while zoomed, and draw on the zoomed image. I wrote ZoomIt to fit my specific needs and use it in all my presentations.

Development Tools

I thought I would also share my favorite development frameworks

nHibernate - NHibernate is a port of Hibernate Core for Java to the .NET Framework. It handles persisting plain .NET objects to and from an underlying relational database. Given an XML description of your entities and relationships, NHibernate automatically generates SQL for loading and storing the objects. Optionally, you can describe your mapping metadata with attributes in your source code.

StructureMap - StructureMap is a Dependency Injection framework that can be used to improve the architectural qualities of an object oriented system by reducing the mechanical costs of good design techniques. StructureMap can enable looser coupling between classes and their dependencies, improve the testability of a class structure, and provide generic flexibility mechanisms. Used judiciously, StructureMap can greatly enhance the opportunities for code reuse by minimizing direct coupling between classes and configuration mechanisms.

nUnit - NUnit is a unit-testing framework for all .Net languages. Initially ported from JUnit, the current production release, version 2.4, is the fifth major release of this xUnit based unit testing tool for Microsoft .NET. It is written entirely in C# and has been completely redesigned to take advantage of many .NET language features, for example custom attributes and other reflection related capabilities. NUnit brings xUnit to all .NET languages.

Rhino.Mocks - A dynamic mock object framework for the .Net platform. It's purpose is to ease testing by allowing the developer to create mock implementations of custom objects and verify the interactions using unit testing.

TestDriven .NET - TestDriven.NET makes it easy to run unit tests with a single click, anywhere in your Visual Studio solutions. It supports all versions of Microsoft Visual Studio and it integrates with the best .NET development tools.

ReSharper - The must-have productivity tool for Visual Studio, ReSharper 4 provides solution-wide error highlighting on the fly, advanced code completion, superior unit testing tools, over 30 advanced code refactorings, multiple handy navigation and search utilities, single-click code formatting and cleanup, automatic code generation and templates, and a lot more productivity features for C#, VB.NET, ASP.NET, XML, and XAML. ReSharper fully integrates with Visual Studio to intelligently and powerfully extend the functionality that is native to Visual Studio.

TortoiseSVN - TortoiseSVN is a really easy to use Revision control / version control / source control software for Windows.
Since it's not an integration for a specific IDE you can use it with whatever development tools you like.
TortoiseSVN is free to use. You don't need to get a loan or pay a full years salary to use it.

.NET Reflector - .NET Reflector enables you to easily view, navigate, and search through, the class hierarchies of .NET assemblies, even if you don't have the code for them. With it, you can decompile and analyze .NET assemblies in C#, Visual Basic, and IL.

Getting started with C# - for free!

This is a re-blog of a post by Christian Liensberger, that was posted on Microsoft Channel 8 website.  I usually don’t subscribe to repeating others blogs but thought this one was worth breaking that rule.

Always wanted to learn C#? Never wanted to buy a book for that? There are great news for you! Rob Miles, a professor at the University of Hull and .NET Micro Framework [2] addicted, released his C# teaching materials for free.

He called it the "yellow book", since it is structured like a normal book, and made it available from www.csharpcourse.com.

The book contains 185 pages and covers everything from how to start with C# (like the basic language constructs) to how to create user interfaces, components and even how to encapsulate the logic of your application into business objects.

After having read the book you probably want to try what you learned. To do that you might download the Visual C# Express Edition package. It is a free version of Visual Studio and comes with everything that is required to develop programs in C#.

Thanks Christian for posting this awesome resource,  you can read Christian’s post here, or head on over to http://csharpcourse.com for Robs original post and to download it.

Microsoft ArcReady Events in Dallas, TX

Microsoft ArcReady Event November 20th, 2008 in Dallas, TX


Professional Patterns on the Job

You're smart. You deliver. What more could your company want from you?  Why don’t they come to you for the big technical decisions? Why won’t they listen to your proposals? It seems like everyone has an agenda and they’re doing everything they can to kill your great ideas.

Join us this quarter as we focus on the soft skills that architects need to master. Learning these skills will boost your emotional intelligence and help you become a more professional, well rounded contributor. You’ll gain insight into the architect’s role as leader, influencer, and business professional and learn how to leverage your position to become a positive force within your organization.

Session 1: Mastering the Soft Skills
In this session, we’ll discuss key interpersonal skills and how they can affect your projects and career. We cover how to positively connect with humans, how to participate in and influence the business processes you support, and how to transcend your technical role and maximize your connections with all members of your organization.

Session 2: Organizational Dynamics
This session examines the dynamic nature of large organizations – their structures, decision making processes, and political landscapes. We’ll discuss the goals of key business and technical decision makers and their influence on architects and software projects. We’ll conclude with some strategies for maximizing the soft skills from Session 1 to ensure successful outcomes for your projects and career.


Architects and Senior Developers who are interested in becoming an architect.


Events are held in 19 cities across Central Region, the closest in our area is Dallas, TX on November 20th..  To register for this event, please visit www.arcready.com.


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