# Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Knave Blackjack was created by my friend Jason Follas. It realistically mimics the experience of playing blackjack in a casino, down to the texture on the table and the sound of the cards flipping out as they are dealt.

In its simplest form, the player receives 2 cards and elects to hit (accept another card) or stand (keep and play the cards dealt). The player competes against the dealer for the highest score without exceeding 21. 

However, there are multiple options that allow you to add more players; change dealer defaults; and even select the dealer's next card by clicking a spinning deck. The game also includes information to help you learn blackjack, such as a "Hint" button; a "Strategy" diagram, indicating recommended moves based on the player's cards and the dealer's visible card; and a "How to Play" button that explains the rules of blackjack and this video simulation.

The free version shows an ad on the left, but you can pay $1.49 to remove all ads.

I found Knave Blackjack fun and educational, particularly for those of us who don't play blackjack very often. You can download this game at http://www.knave21.com/index.html.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:31:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, November 11, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013 11:05:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, November 8, 2013

Earlier this year, I wrote a Windows Phone app. I had to register for the Windows Phone store (and pay $19) so that others could download my app. Later in the year I wrote a Windows 8 app and registered for the Windows 8 store (for an extra $49).

Registering for these stores was not a huge chore and the cost was still cheaper than the iOS store. But this process just became much simpler and much cheaper. Microsoft announced this week that developers can register for both the Windows store and the Windows Phone store for a single annual fee of $19.

If you are already registered for one of these stores, you will automatically have access to the other; and, if you've registered for both (like me), you receive an additional year for free.

Full details of these changes can be found at http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/appbuilder/archive/2013/11/06/unifying-developer-registration-windows-and-windows-phone.aspx

This is good news for people like me who like processes to be simple and fees to be low. It removes much of the friction of publishing an app.

Friday, November 8, 2013 6:01:00 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Word Guesser is a simple 2-player Windows 8 game. Player 1 enters a word and player 2 tries to guess the word in as few attempts as possible. The only clues are that the word is between 2 other words in the dictionary. The boundary words are refined with each guess.

This looks like a fun game for children of elementary school age. I can see this game as a good one to hand to kids on a long car trip. It can help to teach both vocabulary (assuming you are providing challenging words) and the concept of a binary search algorithm.

Download Word Guesser at http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/b85001c1-0782-4d4a-af96-caf23d56806e


Have you written a Windows 8 app or downloaded an app that you would like to see featured here? I will give preference to apps written in the US Central District after July 1.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 10:44:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, November 4, 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013 6:00:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Saturday, November 2, 2013

Yesterday was my first solo flight for the Microsoft DPE team.

I've been at Microsoft over 2 weeks and I've spent my time learning technologies, filling out forms, learning about the company, and shadowing other evangelists.

But yesterday, I traveled to DeVry University in Tinley Park, IL to teach students how to build games for Windows 8.

The hosts at DeVry were great. They were extremely nice, they accommodated every request I made, they made sure the room was set up properly, and they even bought me lunch (Aurelo's Pizza is to die for, BTW).

I built a sample application of a game in which a player shoots monsters that chase him around a 2D landscape. We used the Construct2 game engine from Scirra Ltd - an impressive tool for building such games. The students followed along with my demo and built the project with me.

The students were great. About 30 high school students traveled to DeVry by bus and 4 DeVry students were in the audience. I was impressed that they not only picked up the tool and the concepts, but that they extended my demo - modifying the game in clever ways. One student flipped the game around so that the monster was shooting attacking humans; another bundled multiple players together so that he fired 10 rounds at once; another replaced all the game characters with NBA players. I was delighted to see so much creativity from high school students.

It wasn't all smooth sailing.  When I arrived, I discovered the only browsers on the student machines were IE8 and Firefox 3. Since these browsers don't support the HTML5 features of the Construct game, we could not use them. But the DeVry IT department quickly fixed this and I now have one more detail to add to the classroom setup sheet I hand to the next event organizer.

I was excited to get my first event out of the way successfully and I'm looking forward to the next thousand events.

Saturday, November 2, 2013 6:42:20 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, October 28, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013 2:41:01 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, October 27, 2013

10/27 Today I am grateful to Scott Zischerk, who helped me figure out my Outlook issues yesterday.

10/26 Today I am grateful for a rare opportunity to sleep in.

10/25 Today I am grateful to Jason Farrell, who introduced me to elk burgers last night.

10/24 Today I am grateful to wake up to this view.

10/23 Today I am grateful I was able to find a sweatshirt in my size downtown last night after the temperature plummeted and before my walk "home" across the river.

10/22 Today I am grateful for the hospitality and generosity of Charles Stacy Harris III. Thanks to him, I am not sleeping on the streets of Chicago.

10/21 Today I am grateful for my first day working in Chicago as a Technical Evangelist.

10/20 Today I am grateful for an enjoyable 4 days in Phoenix and the great community of FoxPro and XBase++ developers at Southwest Fox.

10/19 Today I am grateful that my brother-in-law Britt, whose liver began failing years ago, underwent a successful liver transplant last night.

10/18 Today I am grateful to the MVP program, which I had to leave when I joined Microsoft. I was honored to be a part of it and the MVP Summit remains one of my favourite events.

10/17 Today I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at Southwest Fox in Phoenix, AZ.

10/16 Today I am grateful that CodeMash has invite me back to speak again.

10/15 Today I am grateful for the information and mentoring of Jennifer Marsman, who is helping me to understand and adjust to life at Microsoft.

10/14 Today, I am grateful for new opportunities and past adventures and good changes.

10/13 Today I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing, dedicated people on the INETA Board of Directors these past 2 years.

10/12 Today I am grateful for the support of Telerik and their Insiders Program, who sponsored so many of my presentations these past 4 years, allowing me to speak at many more events than I otherwise could have.

10/11 Today I am grateful for the support of Telerik and their Insiders Program, who sponsored so many of my presentations these past 4 years, allowing me to speak at many more events than I otherwise could have.

10/10 Today I am grateful that my son, who was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night with dizziness and an accelerated heart rate, is feeling better and appears to have recovered.

10/9 Today, I am grateful for all that I learned and all the great people I met and the great experiences I had and the interesting projects on which I worked and the customers that I respect during my 5+ years at Sogeti.

10/8 Today I am grateful for the outpouring of support and kind words following my announcement yesterday.

10/7 Today, I am grateful for the current team at my customer site - one of the best group of people with whom I have ever worked.

10/6 Today I am grateful to be going home. It has been a great trip, but I've been away a long time.

10/5 Today I am grateful to spend a weekend in Las Vegas with my son Nick, celebrating his college graduation.

10/4 Today I am grateful to Chander Dhall and to the team at Penton for putting on an excellent conference and for inviting me to speak at DevConnections

10/3 Today I am grateful that my DevConnections presentations are behind me and that they went well. I've been stressing over these for months.

10/2 Today I am grateful to those who came up to me after my presentation today and told me how much they enjoyed it.

10/1 Today I am grateful to Jose Mojica for giving me a ride to the airport yesterday and for a chance to see many old friends last night.

Sunday, October 27, 2013 8:42:00 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, October 21, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013 11:02:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

I wanted to speak at Southwest Fox because I had heard good things about conference and because FoxPro was the first computer language I was paid to program in. I have fond memories of both the technology and of the community surrounding this language.

Spending time with FoxPro developers 15 years ago gave me my first taste of a passionate developer community. People who developed in FoxPro believed in its power and often expressed frustration that it didn't have the commercial success of other products. I remember hearing the audience boo loudly when a photo of Visual Basic 6 displayed on-screen at a FoxPro Developers Conference in the late 1990s.

So, here I was - back to my roots - hanging around people who make their living writing Visual FoxPro – a language that finally released its last version a couple years ago.

You would think a community like this would be ready to move onto something new, but that wasn't what I found. There are thousands of applications successfully built with FoxPro and still going strong in Production. And in many cases, the businesses have no compelling reason to migrate these applications to a newer language. I learned there are even some good reasons to stay put, such as the low hardware requirements. As a result, many people have found a good business maintaining and enhancing these applications.

Attendees flocked to Southwest Fox in Phoenix, AZ from all over the world. I met people from New Zealand, Germany, Holland, and Nigeria. They came because this is one of the few events where you can learn about FoxPro in person and meet other Fox developers.

This year marked the tenth consecutive year of the conference and about a dozen people had attended all ten conferences.

It was my first time attending.

I delivered almost 7 hours of content at Southwest Fox - 3-hour session on HTML5; 2 75-minute sessions on jQuery; and a 75-minute presentation on maintaining legacy code. Even though my sessions had nothing to do with FoxPro, many people went out of their way to tell me they learned a lot from them.

Several people told me that Southwest Fox is their favorite conference - an event that attendees look forward to all year. Partly, this is true because so few conferences have a focus on FoxPro; but the most common reason was that people had the chance to see friends they only see once a year.

"It's about the people", said speaker Jody Meyer.

The event felt as much like a family reunion as a developer’s conference.

I am grateful I was invited as part of this family event.

Monday, October 21, 2013 3:57:10 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)