# Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Recently, I wrote my first Windows Phone 8 application. In order to share my application with the world, I needed to publish it in the Windows Phone app store and in order to publish it, I needed to register with the Windows Phone Dev Center. Most dev centers like this charge about $100 a year and I believe that is Microsoft’s usual fee.

But currently, they are running a special and charging only $19. This offer is good until August 27. If you are thinking of writing an app for Windows Phone 8, this is a good time to do it. You can register and pay your $19 at https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-us/join?logged_in=1.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:10:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 22, 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013 9:23:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

We can all agree that some code is better than others. But if you write code that compiles and meets all the user's requirements, is it possible to improve this code?

Robert C. Martin's answer is an emphatic "Yes". Although sloppy code can meet short-term requirements, it quickly becomes difficult to maintain. Clean Code, Martin argues, is easier to read, understand, and test; and safer to change. Our goal should be to write Clean Code.

Robert's C. Martin (sometimes affectionately referred to as "Uncle Bob") has compiled some guidance on writing clean code into a book with the self-describing title "Clean Code".

Martin did not write the entire book- he enlisted other software developers active in the Software Craftsmanship movement to contribute. Tim Ottinger, Michael Feathers, James Gremming, Jeff Langr, Kevin Wampler, and Brett Schuchert each contributed at least one chapter, outlining a specific idea of Clean Code.

Among the key concepts: Keep classes and methods small and narrowly focused, give meaningful names to variables; don't use comments as a replacement for difficult to read code; and avoid output parameters and an excessive number of parameters.

He follows up advice on craftsmanship with a set of case studies in which he describes the refactoring of existing code bases.

Although most of the examples are in Java and I am primarily a .NET developer, I found this book very useful and applicable to any language - particularly an object-oriented language, such as C#.

Code Complete was a good book for me to read when I did. I am in the process of refactoring some code that is very difficult to maintain. I knew that it is not clean, but found myself unable to articulate exactly why.

The book is not for beginners. You should have a solid understanding of your language and of OOP concepts before tackling it. But it provides excellent guidance on writing readable, maintainable and testable code.

Agile | books
Monday, July 22, 2013 9:13:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This morning, my first Windows Phone 8 app was approved and is now available in the Windows Phone store. You can download and install it on your phone from here or search for "MathFlashGame" in the store.

The game simulates arithmetic flash cards, displaying an addition, subtraction, or multiplication problem. The user supplies the answer and the game tells him if that answer is correct. You have the option of limiting the operators and the range of numbers displayed.

I began the app about 4 weeks ago as a learning exercise. Not only have I never written a mobile application, but I have very little experience with XAML. Everything was new to me, from the data binding to local storage to the mechanism for responding to a change in phone orientation.

I learned a lot on this project and I am inspired to write more applications for this platform. The experience was fun. If you are considering writing a Windows Phone app, I encourage you to take the plunge. There are a lot of helpful resources online and the cost for a developers license is currently very low (only $19).

And if you have a chance, please check out my app and let me know what you think.

b309785d-cbb4-4bb2-8d6a-4a56c3ae013c[1]

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 11:49:23 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 15, 2013
Monday, July 15, 2013 6:02:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, July 13, 2013

Earlier this month, I was honored to be renewed as a Microsoft MVP. This is the third year in a row I have received this award.

Although Microsoft is not specific about criteria, I believe that I receive this award primarily because I've been willing to share whatever knowledge I have with those around me. This community involvement, helps Microsoft to evangelize their products and it happens to be something I enjoy doing.

For me, there are two main benefits of the Microsoft MVP Award.
1. It is recognition that I'm doing some good in the world and that my skills don't suck. I won't pretend that peer recognition is not important to me. I get warm and fuzzy when I earn the respect of someone I respect and this is some pretty nice validation.
2. I get to attend the Microsoft Global MVP Summit. I go to a lot of conferences and each has its strength, but the MVP Summit attracts a high concentration of really smart people. Attendees get to see the next version of Microsoft products and even provide feedback to affect the direction of the development of these projects. But for me, the best part of the conference is the chance to talk face-to-face with authors, speakers, bloggers, and product team members. Many times, I've had the chance to meet someone

The MVP program does provide other benefits - most notably free software, both from Microsoft and from its many partners. But, for the most part, I could receive this through my work or my user group anyway.

As with most awards, many others helped me to earn this one. The volunteers at the Great Lakes Area .NET User Group (GANG); the speakers who traveled to Detroit for GANG; the conference organizers and user group leaders who invited me to speak at their events; and INETA, Sogeti, and Telerik, who helped by financially supporting my travels, making it possible for me to speak far from home; and everyone who agreed to appear on my TV show.

Recently, a well-respected member of the Developer Community started a debate on Twitter, questioning the value of receiving an MVP award. I cannot speak for him, but the advantages I listed above are enough incentive for me to fill out a brief form every spring.

The best part of this deal is that I'm rewarded for doing what I love and what I would be doing anyway.

MVP2013Trophy[1]

Saturday, July 13, 2013 7:34:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 8, 2013
Monday, July 8, 2013 7:54:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, July 1, 2013
Monday, July 1, 2013 7:52:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, June 24, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013 12:47:31 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, June 16, 2013

My father passed away last month. He was 81 years old and he was a survivor. Since his death, I’ve been thinking about all the challenges he faced in life and how he managed to survive them.

My father was in high school when his own father died. His response was to enlist in the US Navy after graduation so that his mother would not be burdened by another mouth to feed.

He didn't just enlist in the Navy: He served honorably for 23 years; he went to school at night and on weekends, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree from George Washington and a Master’s degree from the Naval Graduate Academy. He and my mother raised 6 children (including me). He received his commission, served in 2 foreign wars, saw combat in Viet Nam as a Hospital Corpsman, and retired as a Lieutenant Commander after 23 years of honorable service.

After retiring from the Navy, he entered private left and he excelled at this as well. He worked over 20 years at St. John Hospital, overseeing its expansion into one of the largest health care organizations in Michigan. He was active in the community and served as a President of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club. His children grew up and moved away and began families of their own. By the time he retired, he was Vice President of St. John Medical Center and ready to move to Florida to play bridge.

In Florida, he didn’t just take up bridge: He learned the game so well that he became a Life Master within 5 years. He was also active in his new community of Sun City Center, serving as President of the Bridge Club and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He remained very active while his health allowed him to be.

In his later years, his health began to fail. Skin cancer, blood disease, and nerve damage in his back and leg all took their toll on him. But he remained positive and downplayed the limitations of his physical body. The Vietnam War did not kill him and raising 6 kids did not kill him and the stress of running a hospital did not kill him, so what chance did skin cancer have?

Two years ago, he was struck by his greatest physical ailment when Alzheimer's began to rob him of his memories and his speech and his mind. Still, he remained positive. I heard from multiple caregivers that he always had a kind word for them. This was his way of defeating Alzheimer's - at least temporarily.

Last month, Normand Giard finally succumbed to all the physical trauma he had endured. He slipped into a coma and died quietly within 48 hours. My father passed away on May 10, 2013. My family flew to Florida to mourn him and to comfort my mother and to hug one another; then we each flew back home to resume our lives.

But the story doesn't end here. When I think of my father and his life, I am struck by what I see as his greatest strength - his ability to face the difficulties thrown in front of him and perceive these as challenges, rather than obstacles. My father focused on finding solutions to his problems, rather than dwelling on unfortunate circumstances.

My plan is to honor my father's memory by trying to emulate this trait. By focusing less on the obstacles in my path and more on the opportunities these obstacles present; By seeing each challenge in my life as an opportunity to excel, rather than an excuse to fail; by finding things to be grateful for, instead of things to complain about.

This will be my gift to my father - Normand Giard, the survivor, whom I miss very much on this Father's Day.

Giard_013-M[1] Giard_008-M[1]

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Sunday, June 16, 2013 4:06:18 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)