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Monday, December 31, 2007

Tips of the Year for 2007 (Speeding up XP and Vista Both)

by Don Burnett

Over the holidays, I went to quite a few stores looking at new hardware and software.. A lot of people at these retail stores by from salesman and give their feedback about product speed and performance to the people they bought their computers from, so I asked what the major complaint that most people were having.. Most of the complaints was that Windows Vista was "slow" in situations that were common..

The over all biggest concerns were file copies and Window refresh and redraw with layered windows.. It kind of surprised me to hear this, but I took what was being as fact. I keep an eye on Microsoft's HOTFIXES so when issues like this spring up I fix these right away. Apparently though a vast number of consumers who buy through the retail chain don't know about these and companies like HP and others don't always suggest people install these until Microsoft decides to issue a service pack.  So, as an end of the year, suggestion if you haven't installed the following updates, RUN don't WALK! to install these. You may see some very serious performance boosts.. Some of these are still being tested, so I would just advise you that you might not see these on Windows Update right away..


For Windows XP and Server 2003:

Performance is poor in a WPF-based application in which you have enabled layered windows in Windows XP or in Windows Server 2003

You may have to use this link to Request the Hotfix (Which Microsoft should just link to, not make people request it.)

Request the HotFix from Microsoft

For Windows Vista:

Performance for a WPF-based program that uses the layered windows feature may be less than expected in Windows Vista

Request the HotFix from Microsoft for Vista

Other Fixes:

Video performance may suddenly be reduced when certain Windows elements overlap the video window in Windows Vista

File Copy Hotfixes

You experience slow performance on a Windows Vista-based computer after you establish a VPN connection


Multi-GPU Performance Enhancement (do have more than one graphics card?)

Graphics performance can be improved in certain multiple-GPU scenarios on a Windows Vista-based computer

3rd Party FTP Server File Copies

VPN file copy performance Issues

You experience slow performance on a Windows Vista-based computer after you establish a VPN connection


Friday, December 28, 2007

Phizzpop Design Challenge Chicago- Video Diary

By Don Burnett


During the Chicago Design Challenge I had the pleasure to be asked to come out and help mentor the teams and take a look at the competition first hand. During this time I got some great footage of some of the teams going through their competition preparation. The folks at the time were really doing a lot of hard work.. I also got some footage of the actual event itself and some of the final product.

During the actual event I have footage in here too. Unfortunately during the event itself at the Underground,  there was a lot of issues with audio and serious distortion due to the loudness in the actual venue. I unfortunately couldn't adjust very well for that. So my apologies for this up front, but the footage and the quality of the presentations (which I will be reviewing in a later posting) is worth taking a look at..

Double clicking anywhere in the video window below will bring the video full-screen.. Note I am not streaming this video, it's being downloaded via HTTP: buffering due to size constraints and my server availability..

Phizzpop Design Challenge Video Diary- Don Burnett


Attachment: DesignChallengeDiary_0001.wmv 


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seasons Greetings

by Don Burnett


This is probably my last post of the year here, to which I would like to wish everyone a great holiday season and thank you for your readership over the last year. I am planning a great 2008. May your 2008 be the best year ever.. Some things coming up in January, the launch of our pod cast and video cast. We are taking time to make the production values as professional as possible, not just folks sitting around in a room. I have been taking extra time with this due to my video production background, as I want this to shine. We are working with the folks at (and Techsmith) to make this a success. Techsmith is a great Michigan based company focused completely on user experience oriented products and they make the best tools on the market for screen capture and usability testing. If you aren't familiar with Morae, UserVue, SnagIt, or Camtasia Studio then you should investigate their site right now..


Speaking of great blogs and WPF/Silverlight Stefan Wick has a great site for folks developing WPF and Silverlight applications for TabletPC and Ink.. He has a super article on how to render ink and image to a bitmap using WPF. He also made a great Silverlight Holiday Greeting that is so cool that I wanted to give it as my holiday card to you.. He also shows you how you can add it to your own site.




Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Did you ever dance with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?"

by Don Burnett

Okay so the quote doesn't really fit with what I am actually writing here, "but I just like the sound of it.."...

Sorry folks I could hardly resist that one after seeing the new Trailer for the Dark Knight. It looks way cool with a Joker done in a way that Nicholson or even Caesar Romero could have never brought out.. It was playing during the really great Will Smith movie "I am Legend".. Which is set in not so future New York.. It was neat seeing the fake billboards in the movie for the Superman/Batman Movie that had a release date of sometime in 2010... Anyone catch that stuff?? The logo looked cool. It had the batman/superman logo from the comic but with the new Superman logo..

"Why so Serious??"

Anyway the recurring theme of tonight's tidbits come from the Moonlight FAQ over at Novell..


Important answers that I am sure everyone want's to know about the Silverlight version for Linux.. This should fill in everyone about how video codecs, etc. will be available for Moonlight when it's released in 2008...


Quoted from their FAQ: "


..How will Moonlight be delivered?

  • Moonlight will be available as a single download from Novell which will include the browser plugin plus the Silverlight graphics engine and the Mono runtime. The codecs necessary to host Silverlight content on Linux will be available from Microsoft. The Moonlight installer will make obtaining the MSFT codecs a seamless step in the process.
  • I thought the codecs were Microsoft proprietary technology. How do I get those for Moonlight?

  • Microsoft will make these codecs freely available for Linux.
  • How much will Moonlight cost?

  • Similar to Silverlight on Windows, Moonlight will be freely available for all supported platforms.
  • When will Moonlight be available?

  • Moonlight version 1.0 will be available at the beginning of 2008.
  • Will Moonlight be feature compatible with Silverlight on Windows?

  • Yes.
  • Can I use Microsoft's Silverlight development tools to build Moonlight applications?

  • Yes
  • Will Moonlight be open source?

  • The Moonlight browser plug-in, the graphics engine and Mono runtime which will be available from Novell are open source components. The necessary audio and video codecs are proprietary components.
  • How are Microsoft and Novell collaborating to provide Moonlight?

  • This collaboration between Microsoft and Novell is a formal engineering development program. Novell is bringing the .NET-based Silverlight framework to Mono, an open source framework for running .NET applications on multiple platforms including Linux. Microsoft is providing a version of the necessary codecs for Linux.
  • Will Moonlight be available for Linux distributions other than Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop?

  • Yes, Moonlight will be designed to run on most Linux distributions, on any platform that Mono supports.
  • Why is Moonlight necessary when Flash already runs on Linux?

  • Moonlight provides users and developers of rich media another platform for delivering content. Moonlight provides users additional choice when creating content or viewing web-based rich media content.
  • Does this mean that Microsoft is officially endorsing Mono as an acceptable framework for running .NET applications on Linux?

  • We are focused on enabling developers and customers to run Silverlight applications on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems. Beyond this collaboration with Novell on the Moonlight project, Microsoft currently does not have plans to endorse Mono broadly...
  • "

    Bah Humbug, Vista

    By Don Burnett

    Well I was very curious to how well Vista is doing over the holidays. So I decided to stake out my local Best Buy and Circuit City Retailers in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I stood around for a while looking at hardware while a number of first time computer buyers. Everyone I saw there was impressed with the wide array of hardware from many companies.. However two out of five (unscientific numbers) had a question to ask.. I will walk you through what I heard..


    Salesman: "Hi folks can I help you find anything today..."

    Customer:" Well I would like to find a new computer, and I really like the hardware over here... But I do have one question can I get this without Vista but with XP. I hear from my friends it's slow and incompatible and has problems and I don't want it.."

    Salesman:" Well the OS is new, it's less than six months old, it does have some problems but it is really nice. Even XP had problems when it came out three to four years ago, it's no worse than that was back then. So give it some time, but yes to answer your question THIS model's manufacturer has a downgrade program so you can get Windows XP still for it"..

    Hearing this rather frequently in two stores was rather alarming.. Could this many people really have questions about the reliability of Vista. So when I talked to the sales folk and asked them, the general consensus is you can't easily fight perceptions about these kinds of issues very easily. You can "acknowledge perceived issues" and offset that. Some of them took the approach to say that Vista has problems with old hardware, but the new hardware we want to sell you is completely supported and it is not an issue at all with new machines because they are fast enough and "Designed for Vista"...

    However, this perception issue is something that really needs to be turned around in people's minds. It is more widespread than I first thought it was. People hear things from others and word of mouth isn't working in Vista's favor this holiday season. However the same sales guys made a point to tell me that they had a bunch of first-time computer buyers to buy Vista and totally loved it. It was their first experience with computers and after buying it they had a very incredibly favorable response..


    Other Questions I asked Sales folks:

    What's WPF?


    Of the unscientific 7 people surveyed,   0 people knew what it did and how it makes Windows applications more powerful and cooler graphically.


    What's Silverlight?

    Of 7 people surveyed one person told me "It's the new Adobe Flash version from Microsoft". The rest had no clue what it was..

    What is Expression Studio?

    Of 7 people surveyed no one knew what it was, even when handed the box, however each of them knew what Adobe CS3 and Photoshop were..


    What is Expression Web?

    Of 7 people surveyed only one knew that it was the "new version of FrontPage"


    These are pretty disappointing things to hear this time of year, with all the change Vista brings, no one knew why they would buy it over the old Windows.

    Vista Problems?? Name one...

    For the heck of it, I asked the customers "Vista has problems, what problems specifically?" Well the first time buyers didn't know but their friends told them games and programs didn't work with it along with printers didn't work and they'd seen the "Mac vs PC" advertising that stuck in their mind that Vista has problems and they should buy XP (but they didn't want to buy a Mac interestingly enough).

    Even with these perception issues, apparently people who have bought Vista are giving the OS rave responses that they just love using it and working with it, and it's better than they thought.. This was from a customer who had bought the machine a week earlier and was now in shopping for "Vista" software and Games for Windows. None the people who thought Vista  had problems could name a real problem with it..

    It seems to me that two out of five people with "concerned"  perceptions about Vista's stability is enough that Microsoft should be really working with the retail sales channel regionally and locally to address these issues, and the salesman should have a "game plan" for overcoming objections that maybe more perceptions than fact. It's true Vista may have problems with some legacy hardware, but new machines in the local electronics stores designed for Vista with full support already there for all of the new hardware should really show folks that perceptions sometimes are unfounded. Especially with a completely supported machine platform.

    The more concerns I had were mostly in the realm that no one knew what WPF and Silverlight was and how it improves both the web and windows applications user experiences with hardware acceleration as well under Vista.

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Macs, Parallels, and Vista, Oh My!

    by Don Burnett

    Well there are a few things amusing about the Apple Mac community. Most of it has to do with how they feel about PC's and Windows, and other operating systems. If you listen to the overall theme from Apple, with their Mac Vs. PC ads you'd believe that no one owning a Mac ever wants to touch Windows or needs to do interoperability with other platforms. Well, I have owned Classic Macs in the past as well as currently owning an Intel  Leopard Mac, along with many Windows machines in the past. I have done development on QuickTime and Photoshop on the Mac for folks like Disney, Universal, and SegaSoft in the past..  So believe me I have covered the gamut of development. Having said that I like Apple's past and current work.

    I use Windows machines too. I find the interface more sophisticated and customizable on Windows, but that's my own opinion. What I like about Macs is that they are very easy to use and work with and it's great for non-technologists. But in the current situation of things (even with Leopard and Vista) they both approach parity for ease of use and capabilities. There isn't one with a big edge over the other. I find many people not into "technology" like the Mac because they can get things done faster and approach people without a great deal of computer knowledge in a very easy to use way.  Even though I really do like the "Mac vs PC" ads because they are witty, I don't find them very insightful or really say why it's better to use a Mac than a PC. Both platforms have very mature software for specific tasks. One really isn't that much easier to use than the other these days. But that's a perception issue that the individual will find.

    I saw this video up on and just had to respond, because I see it every day with designers, because they have got it right, they have merged the best together into one box and are using it..


    Vista on Macintosh at IdentityMine


    So expanding on the article there... What's attracting PC users to Macs these days, certainly not Mr. Jobs advertising. I asked a bunch of designers what appeals to them about having Apple hardware.. They told me the following:

    • It's the best of both worlds, all Mac's are Intel designed hardware with great performance.
    • They can run both Vista and OS X on the same hardware. The OS X Leopard disc includes drivers with BootCamp for Windows Vista. So you can run it natively or in a virtual machine with a product like VMWARE or Parallels.
    • The performance tracking under Vista gives the Mac hardware on a Mac Pro a "4.8" which is almost top of the line performance that you can get in Windows..


    Here are some current Mac facts that the Mac community doesn't like to talk about but it's true...

    According to the marketshare of Mac's look like this (those hitting the Internet and looking at websites)..




    Current Macs make up about 3.59% of the Internet consuming users, while dropping drastically to 3.22 is the older PowerPC chip based Macs. That seems to indicate people are going out and buying new Mac Intel machines quite a bit and the population of Intel Macs have caught up with and surpassed the PPC Macs of the past..  Note, just in browser usage it seems Vista is doing quite a bit better there than folks are giving it credit for a 9.1 percent..

    This really speaks to the fact that every time I go do a design forum or conference I see many Mac laptops running Vista along with Mac OS. Someone told me, though I don't remember who that Mac hardware folks are the biggest group buying Windows Vista Ultimate retail copies. I don't doubt this at all.. Windows is so big, most Mac folks can't ignore it because of work or whatever reason, even if it's not the choice they use at home for themselves.

    I am sure I will get some computer religious Mac Hack out there to be upset by this and reply to the information I am presenting here and tell me it's the Mac, but what is the Mac anymore it's just and OS like Windows, the hardware will basically run any OS out there you want.

    It's really not my intent here to be smug, or to try to say "Windows is Better", but honestly this is what's going on in the market, people are en mass buying Apple hardware and putting Windows on it to run alongside OSX to get what they are required done for work or some other reason. Apple has created one of the best hardware compatible Windows systems ever, in addition to being able to run Mac OS (and Linux, and AROS, etc..). If you want a great hardware solution that's going to do what you need it to both on Apple and Microsoft platforms, go out and buy the Apple machine.  You really can't get better price performance.

    There might also be something to the fact that the "speed and performance" improvements may have something to do with their BIOS which isn't a legacy thing, like most PC hardware makers use. Intel also worked with Apple to provide a top of the line performance and design which completely shows through, no matter your OS of choice.. In my opinion if I was going out for performance, over the other PC hardware makers for a Vista machine, it would be hands down to Apple at the moment. Sure you have PC makers mimicking the design shapes of machines out there, but it's all about the overall design and how everything works together. In hardware Apple really has that down.

    Unlike one of the commenter's on that VisitMix blog article who accused this of being "anti-mac", it's not. I think both articles, his and mine are telling people to go out and buy Mac hardware and explaining why people are doing it to run Windows and Mac.. It's actually a tribute to the Mac's hardware functionality. Apple gives you Windows support on Mac for a reason, and I expect that it will totally merge these platforms eco-systems in very new ways (Especially seeing Vista programs running along side Mac ones on the same desktop).

    The story is a good one, because you finally don't have to "CHOOSE", consumers are winning this one with the melding of these to environments into possible one better one together.. It certainly makes the job easier for designers and is a better story if you have to work with both or even *WANT* to.. Which personally works for me..

    If I were a zealot Mac user, I would consider the fact that the hardware wars are OVER.. It's not about what OS you run or what hardware really now (beyond the performance question, it's all the same hardware). I think the smart companies are realizing that most people's computer experiences with software are now in the web browser. It's what you have there cross platform is going to tell you who wins the hearts and the minds of the public. I think Silverlight for Mac and PC is one of those technologies..So it's not the OS but the browser that has become the center of the universe for most people now.


    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Yahoo Messenger Vista- Quick Notes

    by Don Burnett

    If you are installing Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista and getting the message that ACTIVE MOVIE can't find component or can't find "ad2mpegin.dll" and also telling you that reinstalling the application might solve the problem, well it won't..  I got really frustrated by this, and hadn't been recommending people install this application. Until I realized Yahoo! was not the problem, Adobe was!

    Here's the answer to the problem.. It seems you might get this message if you have an older version of Adobe Premiere Elements installed on your machine. If this is the case the answer is to simply copy the  ad2mpegin.dll and ad2mcmpgdec.dll files from your Adobe Premiere Elements folder over to the Yahoo Messenger for Vista Folder (if you are on Vista x64 beware of the Program Files and Program Files (x86) pathing). Then your problem will be solved and Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista will perform properly..

    I figured out this fix by researching what installs ad2mpegin.dll and it's Adobe Premiere Elements. Yahoo! Messenger isn't the only program that has a problem with this.. Adobe mentions this on their site, though I doubt the Yahoo! team knows about this yet, considering Messenger for Vista is still in testing.. This is another reason I am highly considering removing my purchased copy of Premiere Elements from my machine. I rarely use it anyway, and it's been a constant source of problems with compatibility with other software. Somehow considering who makes this, I am not surprised  by this development at all


    2007: The Year In Review, 2008: The Year to Come

    by Don Burnett

    I read many blogs, one of my favorites is by Aral Balkan. He keeps me up with what's going on in the Adobe community and also is working on a data exchange format called SWX for Flash and other technologies including PHP and others that allows you to pass complex data objects between server and client. At the end of year we all blog about predictions for the year ahead. His blog states "In my predictions for 2008, I talked about how we will be seeing more RIAs in 2008 -- both from Adobe and third parties -- how Silverlight is not going to have a widespread impact".

    I have a very hard time not looking back at 2007 for myself and seeing the impact first hand. Silverlight is only in it's infancy. It isn't to version 9.0 like Adobe Flash is. I like Flash, I have used it on website designs ever since the days it was something called FutureSplash Animator. During that time FutureSplash was working with Microsoft to make it one of the first ActiveX controls for Internet Explorer 4.0. I was also there for ActionScript 1.0... and so forth..  Don't get me wrong I love Flash, but it's not the end-all multimedia plug-in. It fits the needs of many people but it's not a one-size fits all proposition.

    I only need to look back some to look ahead...

    Silverlight has been around for about nine months, before that it was called WPF/E..  What has nine months brought us... Well lets take a look at some Silverlight 1.0 applications..

    A new world of video for the web and unparalleled functionality...

    SilverlightTV Demo (Count em 9 Picture-in Picture Video sources)


    Video Puzzles in 720p HD


    Video Overlay for Advertising


    Dynamic Languages running cross platform (with Silverlight 2.0, still in development) with Intellisense...


    Virtual Earth Viewer


    Video Editing from inside a Web Browser (Metaliq's Top Banana)


    I look at these examples and I find myself in saying wow! I don't think we would have ever seen things like this a year ago, especially inside a web browser.. It has become a platform unto itself, running independently of any operating system, but running in many (including Safari and the Apple Macintosh).

    But it's not just these examples, we see many being used in real life. Microsoft is busy documenting these world-wide and you can see them at Before Silverlight the web had no HD video (even from those other guys out there). Let's face it the prevailing multimedia plug-in (when Silverlight came along) had no reason to improve or get better and only saw gradual UI/Animation/Video improvements. The web browser has become the center of life now for many users and their applications. Even with Silverlight being so new, the technology reflects that now mostly centrist view that many people have.

    Building on that, how about a full "You Tube" style video site sample so you can build your own, with full media encoding? Thank you Vertigo..

    The fact is Silverlight has had a very huge impact on the web already. If you want to see more go to In the showcase right now there are more than 94 different applications from over 30 countries profiled. If that's not impact, You've got me..



    As far as it goes for My predictions for 2008, a new improved 2.0 with much of the functionality already available to Windows applications (WPF), and a great integration story with browsers and platforms..

    One of the things people are predicting for 2008 is advances in 3D. Silverlight at the moment doesn't include it's own in-built3D engine, much like Adobe Flash. Mostly this is due to the need for hardware accelerated 3D but no way to know this is available because it runs in the browser and just what capabilities it might have (like shader technology and hardware acceleration).

    That doesn't mean you can't run a Windows Application with Accelerated 3D right now from an IE browser window. The only caveat, is this isn't cross-platform like Silverlight and you must be on a Windows OS to view. But exciting as well, is the fact that, even with those limitations people are doing some great no-install applications. Including this one from a Japanese Zoo, which is an incredible 3D multimedia learning experience.




    So if you think Silverlight isn't making a serious impact, you only have to look at what's really going on to see that 2007 has been a great year for the technology and 2008 is going to be an even greater year, especially with .NET 3.5's release and Silverlight 2.0's impending release which adds the power of .Net applications to the "mix".. It's been an exciting year for innovation and there will be even more this next year..

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    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    The latest Addition to My Extended Family..

    By Don Burnett

    Sorry for the interruption here in regular content, but I am so excited and I needed to share.. I couldn't help but feel really happy for my cousins Teresa and Ray up in Ontario. They are having a beautiful baby boy.. This is the latest in 3D Imaging from GE...





    Video.Show updated for Visual Studio 2008

    By Don Burnett


    Vertigo has been doing some excellent reference quality samples for both the Silverlight and WPF communities lately proving that you can create very professional applications and websites with not a lot of work.  One of the most exciting reference web applications I have seen in a very long time is their Video.Show application. It supports end-to-end functionality and the code is very well written and is a great example of how you can create a "videos" type site, in the spirit of Now having said that this sample doesn't support the sheer volume of videos that does every day, but it will get you on your way to your own video site.

    You can download and install the source on CodePlex and then start delving into all the great functionality this site offers. One of the most exciting features about this site is that the site will let you encode videos using Expression Encoder for the site (if it's installed on your webserver).

    It supports uploading videos to the Live Silverlight streaming site..

    If you are trying to build such a site for yourself it gives you some great how-to code samples, including:

    • Video is hosting at Silverlight Streaming, which gives you 4GB storage and 700 Kbps bandwidth via Microsoft's worldwide Content Delivery Network
    • How to add user comments to the site that are time-based and are synchronized with video playback
    • Demonstrates how to a data layer built using Linq To Sql
    • Broad media format support (avi,mp4,asf,mpeg,dvr-ms,mpg,m2v,ts,m4v,vob,mov, and wmv) via Expression Encoder. That means you can upload quicktime movies, MPeg, DVD assets, and many more.
    • It will show you how to leverage the AJAX Control Toolkit to add animations and interactivity.
    • Encoding properties are configurable via standard Expression Encoder job files. This means you have total control of videos size and quality.
    • How to create a Cross broswer (IE 6 and 7, Firefox 2, and Safari 3)  application.
    • It's Open Source!!! And it will show you how to create a webservice based architecture.


    Vertigo Rocks with Slide.Show for Silverlight

    by Don Burnett

    Vertigo is a great development firm they keep coming out with great application reference samples and code for the WPF and Silverlight Community.. In the past they have done such very work as for WPF (a genealogy program) and (a "mini" YouTube  style site for Silverlight that takes advantage of Expression Media Encoder on the server-side).. The Slide.Show control would be great for professional photographers looking to show of their high quality pictures on a Silverlight based website.


    They have recently release version 1.1 of their Slide.Show Silverlight "control" for doing great commercial quality slide shows with Silverlight. They have also made this release open source and available for download on Codeplex.


    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Design Challenge Chicago a Hit!

    by Don Burnett

    Over at Shellie Hall has more great coverage of the Chicago Design Challenge. I had the pleasure of meeting Shellie at the Challenge and she did a very nice job with interviews and contest coverage. CreativePro is a great Site/Magazine for the creative talent. Her coverage was very complete and she is really a fun host and a total sweetheart. Rumor has it that yours truly might even been in some of the footage she has up on YouTube (and it didn't break her camera!).


    Silverlight on the Apple Mac- The Story Continues

    by Don Burnett

    Since the 1.0 version of Silverlight has shipped on the Apple Mac platform, it has become a very popular plug-in, not just with users but with third party developers. It's hard not to see the potential for the plug-in's great cross platform video solution Silverlight presents. Sure it's new, and there are a few things they are still working out on it, but for most people it's a trooper.  The Mac community has been clamoring for a way to natively on OS X encode Silverlight Video and output it directly on the Mac, especially in broadcast arenas. The Apple platform is famous for it's digital video solutions in QuickTime and  Final Cut Pro is one of the most used professional editing tools out there.. Having said that, to create Silverlight video, until now you could only go part of the way, producing a WMV output file. To create Silverlight video then you'd have to import video into Expression Media Encoder (either .MOV (QuickTime) or .WMVs). That still left no native way of producing Silverlight video natively in OS X until now..


    Enter Flip4Mac's Silverlight Support..




     Flip4Mac makes a set of well known Components for Quicktime that allow it to play and manipulate Windows Media Video and Audio formats.  The latest beta supports encoding to Silverlight directly and will add the well known media player and media skins that are available with Expression Media Encoder. This is exciting news for those looking to create Silverlight Video and not having access to a Windows box to do it.

    Check out the new support today at right now..



    Monday, December 10, 2007

    'Tis the season for Great Contests and Prizes in the WPF Community

    By Don Burnett

    I received a notice about a great contest for creating WPF financial applications. It sounds like a superb opportunity to show off your skills and win some great prizes, including a trip to New York City.... Everyone (by the way) have a great holiday season! I look forward (as you) to a bright and shiny and peaceful new year.. If you are a great WPF developer and really want to show off your skills this is another great opportunity to do so.

    Here's the Press Release verbatim.. Dig in folks (You know you want to enter this one).. and thanks to Katie Meenan for the scoop on this.. I will be following this one closely...


    Press Release:



    Metia Inc.

    Sheryl Lee / Tinne Teugels

    Tel: +1 917 320 6462/ 6458

    Email: or


    NEW YORK, December 1, 2007

    What: Lab49, a consulting firm that specializes in building advanced technology applications for the financial services industry, is hosting a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) Contest to find developers capable of delivering revolutionary applications for the financial services industry. Using Microsoft WPF, contest participants are challenged to develop applications showcasing new and original ways to present and interact with financial data. With WPF luminaries Josh Smith, Rob Relyea and Charles Petzold serving as judges, participants will be judged on the originality of their application, the quality of the code, performance, appearance, and overall functionality.

    Why: WPF provides a next-generation development platform for graphical user interfaces that incorporates two and three dimensional graphics and animations, real-time data feeds and rich user interaction. As an early adopter of WPF, Lab49 has been prototyping and applying Microsoft’s WPF to financial applications since its introduction. It was the first to create a prototype trading system entirely in WPF and the first to launch a dedicated Microsoft WPF development practice for the financial services industry.

    Where: Contestants can find additional information and register at:

    When: The deadline for early acceptance is February 14, 2008. Deadline for final submissions is February 29, 2008.

    The three finalists will be contacted the first week in March. On March 12, 2008 the finalists will appear at the Microsoft Financial Services Developer Conference where the winner will be announced and prizes will be presented.

    Prizes: The contest will give out over $15,000 in prizes. The grand prize winner will receive two nights accommodation in New York City for Microsoft's Financial Services Developer Conference, where the winner will be announced and the winning application demonstrated. They will also take home the Ultimate WPF Developer's Machine sponsored by Alienware. Along with these prizes comes an acknowledgement in WindowsFS Magazine as a premier WPF Developer and a WPF t-shirt signed by the product team at Microsoft.

    Additionally, the top three finalists will win an AMD ATI FireMV Workstation Graphics Accelerator, ComponentOne Studio Enterprise 2007, Expression Studio, Visual Studio 2008, Xbox360 Elite with games, Vista Ultimate, and a Zune.

    The first 25 applicants will receive a Corsair Flash Padlock, a subscription to WindowsFS Magazine, a ComponentOne t-shirt, three books from Microsoft press, and coupons for Xceed DataGrid for WPF.

    For a detailed list go to

    Who: Lab49 is a consulting firm that specializes in building applications for global financial institutions. Lab49's services range from design and deployment of next-generation trading systems to innovative risk aggregation and reporting systems to entirely new lines of business created through customer-facing technology.

    Lab49, founded in 2002, serves leading global investments banks, hedge funds and mortgage institutions and has completed custom software engagements in equities, fixed income, foreign exchange, portfolio management, and real-time risk information delivery systems. Lab49 is the financial services division of Corpus, Inc., a global information technology solutions provider with numerous Fortune 50 clients in the Media & Entertainment, Telecommunications, and Banking & Financial Services verticals. Visit and

    The contest is supported by, Microsoft, Alienware, AMD, ComponentOne, Corsair, FactSet, Windows in Financial Services, and Xceed.

    Sunday, December 9, 2007

    The Sunday Night News

    by Don Burnett



    And the Chicago winner is... Clarity Consulting..

    Well this has been a crazy busy week for me. I spent Sunday through Thursday at the Chicago Phizzpop Design Challenge, Mentoring and documenting the event?   So where's the content you ask? It's in the pipeline. Instead of the usual blogging I decided to do it in video diary form. Since all of the other events aren't getting exactly the same level of coverage, I have decided to do the coverage of the Chicago Challenge in video diary form, to give you some perspective on how hard the teams worked. This was a bit of a challenge at first because a few of the teams decided to work off-site, making covering them and the other contestants (and giving the same level of coverage impossible). I wanted to document the event so the average person could follow the competition from start to finish and get an idea of how the contestants would be working from the training days to the actual competition hours before the first person ever entered the doors at the Underground event.

    What can you learn from doing this? Well a whole lot! Not just how the teams did a great job under tremendous working pressure, but how they scaled their presentations to fit the working knowledge they had of the technology and how they could fit such a comprehensive challenge into one short presentation. I would like to say that each and every team did a tremendous job, on a very large and difficult set of parameters set forth by the challenge. I will be profiling three of the teams who were on-site including Clarity Consulting.

    It was obvious those at home with the Microsoft toolset and who had previous exposure found the workflow easier and more effective to get their designs completed and out the door. Those that experienced the "learning curve" associated with being new to these tools also seemed to find they had more flexibility in the both the way they worked and the many options they had to approach their problems from different directions.

    I asked the teams what they liked about the tools and for a "first generation product" most of them found the Expression Studio (and Blend specifically) very easy to work with after they learned about ordering of timelines and events. The most prevalent comment I got while talking to the teams a couple of days in to their work was they really felt the new workflow between their developers and designers/artists extremely easy and after a few iterations of work they realized that they weren't going to have the "work collisions" they had using other products for design and development.

    Look for the video diary up on very soon. I am busy editing the content and encoding it (with Expression Media Encoder of course) and the content will be up very very soon. I am sorting through about 4 gigs of 720p HD footage to find the best highlights and tell the story. I expect some pictures up before the actual video.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2007

    Design Challenge Day 2

    By Don Burnett

    Well all of the teams today were extremely busy, each has some very creative and different approaches to the problem they were assigned. I am waiting until the challenge is over to reveal the problem they were assigned. It's nice to see so many very talented people working so hard on the solution. The solutions and judging will be Wednesday night at the Underground, here in beautiful Chicago. The weather is crisp this time of the year.

    The teams are busy at work, and we'll be lucky enough tomorrow evening to celebrate their great work. I have to say the dedication of the teams are far and above what I expected to see.. More news as it happens..

    The questions coming out of the competition are interesting.. Here's a random sampling..

    Can you change the z-order and layer a web browser using a <winformshost> and a web browser control in WPF?  In other words WPF content on top of a hosted browser control..

    Simple answer no, the Winforms controls always gets rendered atop WPF and there is no layering. However you can use the <FRAME> control  to render out HTML and a web page in WPF and attempt some work around though no layering..

    <Frame Source=>

    By contrast in Silverlight, you can layer XAML ontop of HTML and combine the two in the web browser..

    If you want to check out some good examples of people playing with <winformshost>, <frames> and HTML check out these blog entries..


    More news upcoming...


    Sunday, December 2, 2007

    The PhizzPop Design Challenge has arrived in Chicago

    by Don Burnett


    I have arrived today in Chicago for the Design Challenge. I am staying at the luxurious Hotel Sax next to the House of Blues. It's spacious and very comfortable. So why travel all the way from Michigan to Chicago? Well quite an exciting event is happening this week. Microsoft is holding the Chicago Edition of the Phizzpop Design Challenge.  What's so exciting about this event?  Microsoft is getting the best of the best designers together for a competition. This event is exciting because hopefully people will walk away from it with a whole new outlook in solving design challenges and issues in a limited amount of time. A lot of spectators at the competition are expected to be attending the event as well. It's not often you get the kind of talent in the room that Microsoft is bringing to the table for this event. The event will be held this coming Wednesday at Chicago's swanky  The Underground nightclub. The winners of Wednesday's regional event will go on to national competition at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, TX.


    If you haven't heard about South by Southwest, it's held this year March 7-11th. The interactive conference celebrates the creativity and passion behind the coolest new media technologies. In addition to panel sessions that cover everything from web design to bootstrapping to social networks, attendees make new business connections at the three-day Trade Show & Exhibition. The newest element of the event is ScreenBurn, which adds specific gaming industry programming as well as a two-day Arcade to the mix.

    The event has grown over time, it also includes the SXSW MUSIC AND MEDIA CONFERENCE , which showcases hundreds of musical acts from around the globe on over fifty stages in downtown Austin. By day, conference registrants do business in the SXSW Trade Show and partake of a full agenda of informative, provocative panel discussions featuring hundreds of speakers of international stature.  The SXSW FILM CONFERENCE AND FESTIVAL emphasizes all aspects of the art and business of independent filmmaking. The Festival has gained international acclaim for the quality of its programming with a special focus on emerging talents who benefit from having their films in the company of the cinematic greats whose work is regularly presented.


    Meet the Challengers

    I hope this week to add a new feature to this blog and bring video blogging to document the competition first hand and interview some of the folks competing in the Design Challenge, plus a take an "insider" look at the competition. This wouldn't be possible without the full cooperation of Microsoft (and in particular Chris Bernard) for allowing me in to take an in-depth look at what's going on. Thanks so much to Microsoft for allowing me such an "all-access" pass to the event. Hopefully I can bring you this same kind of look. So keep a close eye to this blog and This week as news happens, I will be posting it to Phizzpop, along with interviews and a action-to-action play-by-play of the event..

    Saturday, December 1, 2007

    Lang.NET Symposium 2008 is Coming..

    by Don Burnett


    Lang .NET is a forum for discussion of programming languages, managed execution environments, compilers, multi-language libraries, and integrated development environments. It provides an excellent opportunity for programming language implementers and researchers from both industry and academia to meet and share their knowledge, experience, and suggestions for future research and development in the area of programming languages.

    Lang.NET 2008 will be held from January 28 - 30 on the Microsoft corporate campus in Redmond.

    The conference program will focus on the pragmatics and experience of designing languages, implementing compilers, and building language tools that target either native or managed execution platforms, such as the DLR, .NET CLR and other implementations of the ECMA CLI. That is, on how to get real programming tools into the hands of real programmers to solve real problems, and on how researchers and practitioners can learn from each other to make this happen.

    If you are a language designer, compiler writer, or tool builder in industry or academia, Lang.NET 2008 is a unique opportunity to directly interact with the architects of Microsoft language platforms. Microsoft language technologist will be very active participants in the conference but at least 50% of the program is reserved for presentations by non-Microsoft employees. Each day is concluded with a panel debate. In the evenings there will be ample opportunity for networking during the social events and dinners.


    Silverlight Does Love Visual Studio Express 2008 After All...

    By Don Burnett

    Dan Fernandez was extremely nice enough to respond to my blog posting.. Silverlight Tools Alpha's Requirements state Visual Studio Standard as it's lowest requirement.. So it was nice to hear from Dan who had this to say..

    "My team owns Visual Studio Express and we are definitely adding Silverlight support by summer of next year for Silverlight 2.0 (1.1 was just renamed to 2.0).
    See the 5th comment on my blog post on this:

    Dan Fernandez
    Lead Product Manager
    Non-Professional Tools"


    Thanks Dan for the clarification, it's nice to hear the cost of getting into Silverlight development will be minimal for first time developers and students..