I spent a really good winter vacation doing nothing. And by nothing, I mean nothing. I played games with the kids, went to some theme parks, and watched some movies, but for the most part I didn’t do any Twittering, Facebook posting, or anything in the social networking space. I did post pictures to my Flickr account, but that takes no effort and it’s stuff I want to look at in the future.
So now that I’m back this week, I’m thinking I want to get back into doing more blogging and social networking stuff.
To kick this off, I just want to list some of the stuff I’m going to blog about in the coming year.
- Startups in the East. It’s my job, but it’s also my passion. I love finding companies that are building cool products. I’m going to find as many of these this year as I can and try to let as many people as I can know about the work they’re doing.
- Web design firms in the East. That’s another work related topic, but I’m looking for WebsiteSpark companies that are building kick ass sites. If you know about some, let me know.
- Motorcycles. Yeah, I need to make myself ride sometimes, but it changes my perspective on life. Some day I want to rewrite Moby Dick as a biker book. I think this is the passage that hits me. Replace sea with “get on a bike”, and my perspective changes.
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
- Photography. I just need to do more. I love to take pictures of animals and my kids. I’ll post those to Flickr.
- Gadgets. It’s been a while since I was an alpha gadget geek, but I may get back into it this year. We’ll see. I may go a little retro and just use software to resurrect some older tech for the fun of it. If I do that, I’ll write about it.
- Writing. I need to write some more. It’s time I put a new book together. 2010 sounds like a nice round year for that. As I plan it, I may blog it. We’ll see.
That’s the short list, but it’s what I want to do and I want to get it out there. I didn’t really list my family stuff, simply because that’s just a given and I don’t need a list to tell me what I need to do there.
When I don’t feel like posting anything, I just don’t post. We used to apologize for not posting, but I don’t think that’s really necessary, because, as my good friend Kent says, “Nobody cares.” 🙂
Have a great 2010!
Digging into this now. The download has a rich set of samples that demonstrate accessing the Windows 7 APIs from .NET applications very easily. Check out the blog entry for the details. You can get the samples and the source for the managed library here.
I’m speaking at the Space Coast .NET User Group tomorrow and I’ll be going over these samples as part of my talk.
The Windows SDK team built the Windows API Code Pack to provide easy access to Windows 7 features for .NET developers , lowering the bar for developers who want to target Windows 7 Client applications. Basically, it is the closest thing a .NET developer will have to managed code APIs for Windows 7.
The Windows API Code Pack (Code Pack) is much larger in terms of offered functionality and quality than its older brother, the Windows Vista Bridge. The Code Pack contains a wide variety of APIs, including very comprehensive Windows Shell namespace objects, Windows Taskbar, Libraries, and Windows 7 Extended Linguistic Services. The following is a short list of the APIs contained in the Windows API Code Pack:
- Support for Windows Shell namespace objects, including:
- Windows 7 libraries
- Known Folders
- Non-file system containers
Windows Vista and Windows 7 Task Dialogs Support for Windows 7 Explorer Browser Control Support for Shell property system Windows 7 Taskbar Support for Windows Vista and Windows 7 common file dialogs, including custom file dialog controls Support for Direct3D 11.0 and DXGI 1.0/1.1 APIs Sensor Platform APIs Extended Linguistic Services APIs
I don’t know too many people who are completely confident they’ll make it through the waves of layoffs that have hit the tech industry since last year. Like everybody else, I worry about this kind of thing, but I also think about what kind of opportunity a change like this could afford me and how I could best take advantage of it.
In my job as a developer evangelist, I’ve been able to talk to a diverse set of audiences about all sorts of topics. One of the things I’ve mentioned in talks I’ve done in the last few months is that, if I lost my job tomorrow, the first thing I would do is sign up for the BizSpark program. Coincidentally, I’ve been lucky enough to have landed a new role at Microsoft where my job is to promote programs like BizSpark to startups.
With that in mind, I wanted to share with you my five step plan for starting a new software company, very inexpensively, built on the Microsoft stack. This plan is non-technical. I assume here that if you’re a dev, you have an idea of what you want to build, even if it’s a vague idea. (Picasso quote) That’s good. These are the steps that you can take to start turning that idea into a business.
What you’ll need to begin is a computer capable of running the software you need to build your product. Usually that will mean a machine capable of running Windows Vista or Windows 7. I also recommend a copy of Office 2007 so that you can create business plans, build PowerPoint presentations, and manage your e-mail, along with other office functions.
You can get almost everything else on the list below right now for free.
- Download business templates from http://microsoft.com/office and use them to define your new business. Having a plan is important and you can learn a lot about creating a business plan just by looking at some of the templates that are available. Here are some suggested searches to find the documents you need:
- Get a free Office Live Small Business workspace so that you can collaborate, store your documents online, and build company web site. This step is pretty straightforward, but you’ll want to spend some time learning about the collaboration site you create. An Office Live Small Business workspace lets you do some pretty interesting things like manage contacts (some simple CRM), calendar management, newsletters, document sharing and storage, and more. To create this site, you’ll need to use your Windows Live ID. You can create a new Live ID here. Once you have that, go to this Office Live page and sign up to create a new web site. Choose the name of your company and the business that you are in carefully, as an Office Live URL will be created using the business name and the business type you chose.
- Set up a new domain and build your company web site. A domain from Office Live is free for the first year and it $14.95 annually after that. Once you decide on your domain, you have a number of options for creating and managing a company home page. You can use the built-in templates and tools to build your site, or you can set advanced options to delete the template content and upload a web site built using your own tools. (I have a page at http://brianjo.us you can visit to see what a customized, template-based site looks like.)
- Join the Microsoft BizSpark program to get access to professional development tools and other benefits. Check the MicrosoftStartupZone site for full details. BizSpark gives you access to an MSDN Premium Subscription, which includes Visual Studio Professional, Microsoft Expression Studio, and much more.
Joining BizSpark is easy, just go to this page, and follow the directions. They can have you set up in just a few hours. Alternatively, search the Network Partner directory for a network partner near you and they can have you set up very quickly.
- Find a host for your product application. You have a number of options here: You can set up your own servers, you can find a Microsoft Partner or another host for your application (many of our Network Partners are also web hosts), or you can build on Azure. There’s a full page of information about this on the MicrosoftStartupZone.
Really, that’s all there is to it (besides doing all the work and shipping a product). If you have an idea for a startup company, this is one way to pull it together. In addition to all that, you can get your company placed into the BizSparkDB directory where potential investors can review the work that you’re doing and contact you about possibly financing your company.
As I said at the beginning of this post, this is what I would do if I wanted to start a new company tomorrow. (And I’ve always got at least 3-5 ideas in my head.) If you end up starting a new company with BizSpark, or if you have questions about the program, please drop me a note at email@example.com. Let me know how it goes.
I also posted this to Facebook. Congrats to the team on 12K BizSpark startups! For information on the program check out Microsoftstartupzone.com. If you have questions, just drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m going to be doing some BizSpark events in the east soon. Stay tuned for details.
Six months ago, Microsoft announced the availability of a new global program for Startups called Microsoft BizSpark.
Today, as we celebrate the program’s 6-months, we are pleased to announce that more than 12,000 Startups have already joined BizSpark.
BizSpark is available in 82 countries around the world, and, interestingly enough, we’ve seen significant uptake in countries like Brazil, Russia, China and India (4 out of the top 6 countries in terms of enrollment). BizSpark is fulfilling unmet demand for tools and technologies and we are seeing an increasing number of startups in these markets with high potential software industries.
Windows 7 RC available to all. Brandon has some good information here:
As we previously announced, today the Windows 7 RC is now available for anyone interested in giving it a spin! Typically, a release candidate is the last development milestone before release to manufacturing (RTM), signifying that engineering and development have made significant advancements and that the code is entering the final phases of testing. Essentially, the Windows 7 RC is the result of a lot of the great feedback we received during the Windows 7 Beta. That’s why I’m so excited to use it and excited for YOU to use it!
It’s out and I’m hearing good things about it.
The 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 (SP2) provides customers with the latest updates to the 2007 Office suite (the products that are affected by this update are listed below). This download includes two types of fixes:
- Previously unreleased fixes that were made specifically for this service pack.
- In addition to general product fixes, this includes improvements in stability, performance, and security.
- You can find out more information in Knowledge Base Article 953195, where product-specific changes are described.
- All of the Public Updates, Security Updates, Cumulative Updates, and Hotfixes released through February 2009.
- Before installing this service pack, you are strongly encouraged to read 953195, which describes some big improvements introduced by SP2, and also calls out some important information that you should be aware of before installing.