Monday, July 27, 2009

Games are the Way to Test Software

When the .NET framework was being developed one of the mechanisms that Microsoft used to test the framework was a game available to any employee. The goal was to give the framework a more thorough and real-world test pass by crowd sourcing and disguising the fact that the gamers were actually testers. (OK, that's not quite true, they told us point blank that the aim was to test.)

The bing search engine Page Hunt game has once again proven that the best way to test software is to make testing fun. This game is designed to provide information about the search phrases that people expect to use to find websites they want to find. However, the test is packaged up in a spoonful of fun and challenge. Give it a try and help make Internet searching easier.

- the bing Page Hunt game

Read more about the bing Page Hunt game at

Update: here's a video that supports the fun theory: Piano Stairs

Update: Microsoft Ribbon Hero allows gamers to test the Office Ribbon UI

Friday, July 24, 2009

bing images are cool

I've really been enjoying the background images used on the bing search engine page.

Here's the one from yesterday...

I'd like to have access to a store of the images, but the only one I've found is the bing images on Facebook and they're not very good quality.

- Moorea

Bing has a "previous image" option in the lower right corner that allows you to scroll through other pics.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Worldwide Partner Conference 2009

This year's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (#WPC09) took place in New Orleans. It was the first time I had been back to New Orleans since hurricane Katrina, so I excited to see how the city is doing. However, we ended up being so busy at the conference that I didn't get a chance to get any further than the French quarter, so I really didn't see much at all.

- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during a keynote (photo:

The hottest topics at the show were SharPoint 2010, bing and Windows 7. Of course, since Metalogix is the leader in SharePoint and Exchange productivity solutions, I was particularly interested in the SharePoint 2010 sneak peak session that Arpan Shah. I had heard that SharePoint 2010 would support different browsers, but it was interesting to see that all of the demos were done with Firefox.

I'm really excited about the developer tools that are coming. Check out the SharePoint 2010 developer sneak peak video. The visual web part editor looks great. As soon as I got back to the office I started setting up a Hyper-V image to run the technical preview build of 2010. I haven't installed the dev tools yet, but the install went smooth and I'm looking forward to diving in.

In terms of the success of the show, I sent out a tweet that started "recession, what recession?" Attendance was strong and we had more attention this year than in the past. The only sign of cutbacks were the feeling (maybe it was just me) that the air conditioning was noticeably less than in previous years and they actually ran out of attendee bags. I don't remember that ever happening before. In fact, exhibitors usually have to wade through them to get out on the last day.

Of course, since I hadn't been to New Orleans since 2004, I also got to catch up with some old friends from my Microsoft days and even one from junior high.

- ran into an old friend. Bruce from

YouTube sensation Playing for Change killed with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" at the closing party.

- Playing for Change playing the attendee party (photo:

- New Orleans still has its shine (photo:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Does your Xbox Blog?

I just came across this great post on SharePoint expert Mike Gannoti's blog and just had to share.

"Did you know that my Xbox 360 blogs? No, not me blogging about my Xbox, but my Xbox blogging about me and my gaming exploits (okay more it blogging about my son playing on it). Seriously, it seems everyone is blogging including machines. My Xbox has its own blog at and it is pretty active in it’s commentary. On July 17th my Xbox 360 wrote:

“My power supply almost exploded! MasterG turned on the juice and we did some serious gaming! 5,025 points of total gamerscore is pretty good. Admit it. That is an improvement of 20 points over last time! He made some progress on Infinite Undiscovery finishing 2 achievements, and without even blinking! Ok, maybe he blinked once...”

Now how the heck can an Xbox blog? Well it is a pretty neat example of the magic of software couple with web services. Xbox 360 is hooked to Xbox Live. When I, or in this case my son, is logged in and playing, the Xbox supplies the service with raw data that is then exposed by some public APIs and then a service such as this blogging one uses an AI engine to look at the activity, or lack thereof (you should see what it starts saying when no one plays it for a while) and generates auto text complete with links to info. If you are a gamer you can grab one of these yourself and let your own Xbox start telling the world about you and your exploits, or is it Xploits? Check it out at"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SharePoint 2010 NDA

The Microsoft SharePoint team has become frustrated with people failing to live up to their NDA obligations for SharePoint 2010.

This is from Joel Oleson's post on the topic:

SharePoint 2010 is "Still in TAP, Still NDA except for specifically revealed info during one of the PDC keynotes, Channel 9 interview video, WPC Elop keynote (well done Takeshi!), Arpan’s Preso at WPC, System info on SharePoint blog, SP2 detail, Tom’s SharePoint Roadmap preso at Teched, the 2010 Sneak Peak videos and other info on!"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

SharePoint 2010 Dev Docs Preview

Curious about developing on the SharePoint 2010 platform? Download the technical preview of the SharePoint 2010 developer documentation today.

This is taken from the readme in the download:

"This download contains the following pieces of developer documentation:
Customizing the Ribbon in Windows SharePoint Services “14”: The Ribbon is now included in the user interface for Windows SharePoint Services “14” and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. This white paper describes how developers extend the Ribbon by using a combination of XML and ECMAScript (JavaScript, JScript). Customizations to the Ribbon in the included example are created by using the Feature infrastructure, and can be deployed by using a solution package (.wsp file). This white paper is provided in both PDF and XPS format.

SharePoint Products and Technologies 2010 Technical Preview Managed Reference SDK: This compiled help (.chm) file contains reference topics focusing on types and members new to the SharePoint Products and Technologies 2010 managed object model that are called by other Microsoft applications. This reference does not reflect the entirety of the SharePoint Products and Technologies 2010 managed object model."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Paul McCartney in Halifax

So you can file this in the 'right place at the right time' category...

My brother and I leave the Halifax Jazz festival and decide to go check out the Paul McCartney gathering in front of the Lord Nelson hotel. Tipped off by a local radio station about a Sir Paul sound check, the crowd believes they might get a glimpse of the superstar.

Well, after about 15 minutes and a few Beatles songs--led off by the Halifax Police Department, I kid you not--Paul's security comes up the ramp from the underground parking. I figured we'd be lucky to see anything but it turns out that the vehicle slows down, his window is open and he's filming the crowd. I was amazed how close we got.

- Sir Paul films the crowd filming him

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

SharePoint Stops IP at the Door

My father-in-law has a great understanding of the difference between a traditional bricks and mortar company and a modern software business. For example, he once commented that "the value of a software company walks out the door at 5:00 every day."

Most people half his age don't appreciate this point--we'll set aside the fact that 5:00 doesn't mean much in the software world. Clearly, what he was saying is that the knowledge and experience of the people is the most important intellectual property in any software organization. Of course, there is value in the source code and collateral that employees create, but imagine the impact of your staff leaving without any sort of knowledge sharing.

In the past, I have made my own efforts to help prevent the loss of data as I moved from one company to another. At Microsoft, I used the MCMS FAQ as a way of sharing knowledge about Microsoft Content Management Server. When I left, it was just Stefan Gossner and myself working on it--it wasn't a community project, but it probably should have been.

But times have changed, with systems like Microsoft SharePoint taking hold in organizations, social computing can keep that valuable knowledge inside the company. The SharePoint social computing demo discusses the different ways that people share knowledge with MOSS 2007 and the new new methods seem so obvious now--for the MCMS FAQ, I had to write custom code to package the data in a consumable format. However, before I left Microsoft, SharePoint MySites were starting to be used, and the wave of change was clearly on the horizon. Nowadays, I can create a wiki on the Metalogix SharePoint intranet in just a few clicks.

What's coming in the future? Well, details about SharePoint 2010 are hard to come by right now, but there are certainly going to be some improvements. For example, the new SharePoint 2010 taxonomy features will allow users to categorize their information and further remove any friction from knowledge sharing. Instead of your IP walking out the door, it can be blocked at the firewall.