I’m typically not a fan of most casual, puzzle-type games. But this week I’ve been playing a considerable amount of D.N.A. It’s a rather polished little game, in which you have to combine proteins of different colors to create a new color and fill your quota for the current level. Chain together long strings of proteins for massive points. I’m not quite sure what it is about the game, but it’s got a rather strange allure to it that had me hooked after the fourth or fifth level. Add to that, the recently-released-on-GameTap GumBoy, which is also vying for my attention, and I find that I’ve not had time for much else in the way of gaming.

We rolled into Murray late last Saturday evening after a tiring, though thoroughly enjoyable and two days at devLink 2007. I came back with plenty of ideas, some of which I’ve been busily trying out this past week; more on some of those later. The conference was definitely a great experience and I’m now eagerly looking forward to devLink ’08. Only two of us from the office went this time, but schedules permitting, I’m going to try and make sure that the whole team attends next year. There were lots of time slots that I had a hard time deciding which session to attend, so maybe with more people next year, we can at least get one person from the team to attend each relevant session. I’d definitely recommend it to any developers in the area.

On August 29th at 3:08pm, my wife and I became the proud parents of our second child. Baby Alex was 7 lbs, 6 oz and 20″ long at birth. He’s a pretty content and agreeable little fellow, just like his big brother was, and usually only cries when he’s hungry. Time once again for those sleepless nights and 3am feedings. 😉

I’ve been writing a lot of code recently in Beta 2 of Visual Studio 2008. Today was my first attempt to create a setup project to manage deployment of the application we’re writing. We’ve been pretty diligent in abstaining from targeting version 3.5 of the .NET Framework, since it’s not yet an officially released product. Imagine my surprise then, when I try to create a setup project that bootstraps the 3.0 version of the Framework, that I find it missing. I can target .NET 2.0 and .NET 3.5, but strangely, not .NET 3.0.

Fret not, however, for I have found the answer! If you’ve got Visual Studio 2005 installed, this should be easy. Just follow the steps listed here to make sure you have the redistributable packages setup there. After doing that, you’ll want to grab the entire NETFX30 folder from C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\SDK\v2.0\BootStrapper\Packages\ and dump it into the folder at C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\V6.0A\Bootstrapper\Packages\. Now, when you visit the prerequisites section in your setup project’s properties, you should now be able to include the bootstrapper for .NET 3.0. Enjoy!

After installing Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 and opening an existing solution, you’ll be presented with a conversion wizard, much like you would when moving a VS2003 project up to VS2005. I’ve done some experimenting and so far, it seems like loading these newly converted projects back into Studio 2005 causes no problems. In fact, about all that’s changed in the project files is the version number and the addition of a very few XML elements that VS2005 could care less about.

Of course, solution files are completely incompatible. But that’s not such a big deal when you consider that the solution file isn’t a big deal to recreate. What I did was to simply make a copy of the solution file I typically use, and pass that through the project upgrade wizard instead. Voila. Now I have a solution that will work with 2005, and one that will work in 2008.

If you haven’t already tried out Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2, I definitely recommend checking it out. Even if you don’t plan on using the new language and framework features like LINQ, there’s plenty of improvements to make it worth investigating. There’s even some VirtualPC images available, which makes trying it out a risk-free endeavor.

devLinkI just picked up my conference pass for devLink 2007; a 2-day software development event that’s being held in October at Lipscomb University in Nashville. For $50, it seems like a steal, especially when you consider the list of presenters. I’ve had the opportunity to hear a handful of these speakers at various other events, and I’m looking forward to hearing them and a few others give their talks. You can find the preliminary agenda on the site as well. I plan on hitting up as many of the .NET sessions as I can, but I may be lured away into some of the database and architecture presentations as well. Oh, and they’ve also made available several sessions from the 2006 conference as well. Now I just need to get a hotel booked and I’ll be all set…

Feel free to drop me a comment if you’re from the area and planning to attend. See you there!

In between my day-to-day programming, I’ve been trying to teach myself WPF. And what a paradigm shift it’s been! I’m still somewhat mystified by a lot of what the technology has to offer, but I’m getting more comfortable with it every day. I picked up several books which have been invaluable in learning the platform.

First, is Chris Anderson’s Essential Windows Presentation Foundation. Chris was one of the architects of the WPF platform, so who better to give a comprehensive overview of the technology? This book is great at bringing you up to speed, especially if you’re a WinForms developer like me. At just under 450 pages, it’s a fairly quick read as tech books go, and does a really good job at explaining the basic controls that go into making up a WPF app.

Next, I read through Windows Presentation Foundation Unleashed by Adam Nathan. The best part about this book is its full color illustrations. For a media-rich platform like WPF, I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial that is. I felt that Nathan went into a bit more detail, and that this book complemented Anderson’s book very well. I would recommend reading this one after Essential Windows Presentation Foundation because I felt the basics were covered in a bit more detail by that book.

I’m currently reading Charles Petzold’s Applications = Code + Markup. This is the heftiest of the three (almost 1000 pages), and takes a different approach to teaching WPF. While the other books focus pretty heavily on using XAML markup to create applications, Petzold devotes the entire first half of his book to using only C# to create apps. I originally started with this book first, but soon after postponed my reading in favor of the first two books I mentioned above. Now that I’ve got a bit better grasp on the technology, I’m finding the explanations in Petzold’s book much easier to follow. The first two books get you accustomed to the technology on a general level, but this book digs a little deeper and explains the why and how behind a lot of the techniques introduced.

I finally got my Nintendo Wii this past Friday after searching for over a week. Thanks to the people discussing their purchases over at Amazon’s product page, I was able to snag a bundle from Walmart.com. Fortunately, I was able to call up and have all the games in the bundle canceled, so I ended up only paying for the system and one game that was shipped before my cancellation took effect.

One thing that I have to say about the Wii is that it is the most genuinely fun system I’ve played in a long, long time. The interface is wonderful and everything behaves exactly how you would expect it to. Being able to point a remote at the screen and click on things is surprisingly more intuitive than I ever thought it would be. Since using it, I’ve been wishing I had a similar interface to move the mouse pointer on my machine here at work! The sports game that comes packaged with the game was fun and easy enough to draw my wife in, who before now has never shown even a hint of interest in my gaming hobby. I actually had to tear her away from her hour-and-a-half long session of bowling last night.

Naturally, I also picked up Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This game is phenomenal, and in my opinion gives even Ocarina of Time a run for its money. The one thing hurting it might be that the story isn’t quite as accessible as some of the previous Zelda games, but I also may be premature in making that statement, as I’m just now reaching what seems to be the halfway point of the game. Using the remote and nunchuk attachment as sword and shield is inspired, and while I had difficulty controlling them at first, after growing accustomed to the controls, I’d hate to play the game any other way.

In leaving, I’ll direct your attention to this video, which had me laughing hysterically for a good ten minutes. 🙂

Found and interesting article a few days ago explaining some of the major risks Sony is going to be taking with the launch of the PS3. While I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty faithful Playstation owner, I have to admit that I’m not all that excited about the new PS3. In fact, the only reason I’d buy one when it comes out is that my old PS2 is on its last leg and isn’t playing some of my games, but that’s hardly worth spending $600 on a new system for. What’s more, the games are slated to be priced between $60 and $90. I can’t imagine what Sony’s plan is. It’s bad enough that the standard price for an XBox 360 game is $60, but there’s no way I’m going to pay more than that. As it stands, I’m most looking forward to the Nintendo Wii. They’re going to have several excellent launch titles, backwards compatibility with the Gamecube, and more reasonably priced games. It definitely looks like the most fun system of the current generation to me. Maybe after a few months I’ll actually break down and buy a 360 as well, since I hear nothing but praise for it. As for the PS3, well, Sony’s gonna have to do some major work to win back my gaming dollars, I’m afraid.

What is this? Could it be Amarok running under Windows?

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I think so!

So how did I do it? Well, it’s not actually running on Windows, I guess. I followed the instructions posted here to get Windows connecting to a virtual machine running Linux using Putty and a sweet little program called XMing. That article wasn’t very explicit about how to get the ssh daemon up and going though, so after some research, I found the apt-get command to use for Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get openssh-server

Instead of using VMWare, I used VirtualPC, since I already had a VM with Ubuntu Linux and Amarok installed in it. VirtualPC’s sound emulation kinda sucks though, so I may end up trying VMWare Player with a premade Linux installation as suggested in the article and see if it’s any better.

The cool thing is that now, I should also be able to run any other Linux applications in addition to Amarok, which oughtta be very handy.