My direct team at Microsoft, which owns content for Visual Studio (pretty much everything you see under https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/) has a new opening for a Content Developer! All the details are on the Microsoft Careers site for job ID 286233. This posting is for a junior position, as the experience bar is set at only 2 years of software-related work, even if it's not directly in content.

What is a Content Developer? Well, we are responsible for the Visual Studio documentation, but content also includes working on videos, sample code, and anything else that helps developers understand how to be productive with Visual Studio and other related tools (I handle the NuGet docs too, for example).

Perhaps this doesn't sound as glamorous as writing code, but consider this: the primary factor today in the adoption of a technology is content, not features. Knowing this, us content developers strive to make that content experience the best it can be because it has so much impact on the success of the products. As Miguel de lcaza tweeted, "When I ask myself "what would have the most impact today?" I sit down and write documentation."

So come join us and have that impact yourself. You can apply directly, of course, but also feel free to contact me directly for more, including @kraigbro on Twitter.


Among other extracurricular projects, I'm in the final stages of a new non-tech book called Solving Stress: The Power to Remain Calm and Cool amid Chaos, to be published later this year from Crystal Clarity, Publishers (cover design below). Unlike many books on stress reduction, this one goes to the heart of why were experience stress in the first place and looks at solutions from that standpoint, providing then some very direct and effective exercises—one’s I’ve personally used for many years.

I'm now specifically looking for reviewers who would be willing to write a supportive testimonial. For obvious reasons, I'm especially interested in those of you who have meaningful credentials that look good on the tag line of the testimonial. For example, higher degrees, books that you've authored, some standing in your industry or profession, etc.

If this is something you'd be willing to do, let me know via the Contact page and I'll get a PDF to you. I would need the testimonial by end of June, but don't worry, the book is only 138 pages which includes filler pages and a number of illustrations, so it's a reasonably short read!

cover-small


I've had the services below running for a few years to support Programming Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Hwoever, given that the books themselves are getting a bit out of date, I figured it's time to shut them down. Using the examples in the books, similar services would be easy enough for you to deploy to a host of your own. Let me know if you have questions.

http://programmingwin-js-ams.azure-mobile.net

http://programmingwin8-js-ch13-amspushnotifications.azure-mobile.net

http://programmingwin8-js-ch13-hellotiles.azurewebsites.net

 

 


And now for something completely different.

 

I'm pleased to announce that, in contrast to my many appearances at developer events over the years, I'll be speaking at the Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge (CPAK), Sept 30-Oct 2 in Palm Springs(Rancho Mirage), CA.

 

TL;DR – if you have any interest in ancient technologies like the Baghdad Battery and the Antikythera device, or in subjects like non-traditional Egyptology and the 10,000 year-old ruins of Gobekli Tepi in Turkey and throw a wrench into mainstream views of cultural evolution, read on.

 

I've attended CPAK in the past, and it's full of intriguing research and reports by some real characters, which I guess now includes me. :) But perhaps what attracts me most is this disclaimer on the conference's About page:

 

Warning: This conference may address untraditional viewpoints subject to prosecution by the paradigm police. If you work in an untenured position in academia or other learning institution where unorthodox thinking is discouraged we advise you to avoid this event.

 

For the curious, the origins of this conference and its subject matter starts back in the late 1800s, with one Swami Sri Yukteswar, who is known as the guru of Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi–yes, the book that Steve Jobs, among others, rave about. Sri Yukteswar wrote a short book called The Holy Science that, among other things clarified the ancient Vedic tradition of the "yugas" or cycles of time. Based on faulty calculations in that tradition, many believe that the world is heading into a 432,000 dark age within a cycles of millions of years (abandon all hope, ye who enter here). Yukteswar instead wrote that the cycle is more on the order of 24,000-26,000 years, and is related to the astronomical phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes (see Wikipedia). Accordingly, he pointed out that we today are in an ascending arc of an age of energy, which makes a lot of sense looking at the last couple hundred years. Yogananda made note of this in Autobiography of a Yogi (Chapter 16, read online here or here).

 

Based on Yukteswar's work as well as worldwide traditions about similar cycles–e.g. the Greek traditions of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron ages–a number of historians, scientists, and other researchers have taken an active interest looking for evidence of the cycle within ancient sites and ancient knowledge (e.g. myths and legends). There have been general studies, such as Hamlet's Mill, The Yugas (the author of which is my next door neighbor) and Lost Star of Myth and Time (written by CPAK's organizer), and the DVD The Great Year (narrated by James Earl Jones).

 

There is also a host of more specific, ongoing research, such as the work of Boston University geologist Robert Schoch and Egyptologist John Anthony West, TV programs like The Pyramid Code (on Netflix), and more. I just recently finished reading two books by software engineer Laird Scranton that analyze ancient creation myths of both the Egyptians and a modern-day tribe in Mali called the Dogon, demonstrating that those myths clearly spell the atomic and subatomic theories of matter along with the fundamental tenants of modern string theory. Go figure.

 

Like I said, something completely different, and I'm looking forward to participating as a speaker this year. My topic is Participating in the Cycle of the Ages, Today. Should be fun!

 

Perhaps you might join us! Register at https://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1810152.

 

CPAK-SpeakerPromo-Brockschmidt


I just finished publishing a body of content on unit testing for JavaScript in the context of Apache Cordova, including both command-line and Visual Studio interfaces. I had a lot of fun learning about the subject and finding ways to communicate a number of concepts. I also found a direct example of a slight difference between JS runtimes that can bite you, but I'll leave that for the articles themselves.

You can find it all on http://taco.visualstudio.com/, the docs site for the Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova, under the "Test" node. Here are the individual topics:

There are two other topics in that node that I'll be revising and/or integrating into the stuff above: Test Apache Cordova apps with Karma and Jasmine and Test Apache Cordova apps with Chutzpah.

I'd love to know what you think, as this material is easily the basis for a video course with Microsoft Virtual Academy as well.

In January I'll start diving into UI testing for mobile–should be fun!


Microsoft's Developer Division just hosted its second Connect(); event, which I suspect many of you have been following on http://www.visualstudio.com/connect2015.

I got to be in the heart of things this year. I've been temporarily managing the Visual Studio Blog while Radhika Tadinada, the PM who owns it, is out on maternity leave until about March enjoying her adorable little baby girl. For Connect();, this meant two things. First was managing the content for the VS blog itself, which included working closely with John Montgomery on posts like his news/announcement rollup. Second was that I coordinated the efforts of all the other blogs that are represented on the header menu on the blog site…and that was quite a few of them!

Anyway, I compiled a list of all the blogs that went out yesterday for Connect(); and wanted to share that here.

.NET
Announcing .NET Core and ASP.NET 5 RC
Entity Framework 7 RC1 Available

App Insights and HockeyApp
Introducing Mobile DevOps with Visual Studio Team Services and HockeyApp
Deep Diagnostics for Web Apps with Application Insights
Azure Diagnostics Integration with Application Insights

Apps for Windows
Vungle SDK for Windows 10 Released
November improvements in Dev Center: submission, promotion and developer agreement
Windows Bridge for iOS: Where we are and where we are headed

Azure and Azure SDK
Azure: The cloud for any app and every developer
Public preview of Azure Service Fabric
Public preview of Azure DevTest Labs
Announcing the Azure SDK 2.8 for .NET

Brian Harry
News from Connect(); 2015

C++
Announcing the VS GDB Debugger extension

OfficeDev
Introducing the Microsoft Graph

Visual Studio
News and Announcements at Connect(); //2015
Node.js Tools 1.1 for Visual Studio Released
Announcing the Intune App SDK

Visual Studio Code
Announcing Visual Studio Code Beta

Web Development
Announcing ASP.NET 5 Release Candidate 1

Visual Studio ALM
Getting Started with DevTest Lab for Azure
MacinCloud Visual Studio Team Services Build and Improvements to iOS Build Support
Announcing Public Preview for Visual Studio Team Services Code Search
Announcing the new Release Management service in Visual Studio Team Services
Subversion integration with Visual Studio Team Services
Announcing Public Preview of Visual Studio Marketplace
Announcing easy to use browser-based exploratory testing for Visual Studio Team Services
Git Credential Manager for Mac and Linux
Test Results in Build

Xamarin (I didn't have anything to do with this one, but it's referenced from the VS blog, so I’m including here)
Introducing Xamarin 4


Over the next few weeks I'll be taking over management of the Visual Studio blog on MSDN while Radhika Tadinada, the usual owner, heads off on maternity leave until the spring. I've already done a couple of roll-up posts (Top News for July, and Top Azure News), and am now managing the pipeline of content coming in from the various DevDiv engineering teams. That said, I'm not sure what cycles I'll have for blogging here on my personal site, but I might have some guest posts coming.


The second part of the article I posted earlier is out now: Cloud-Connected Mobile Apps – Build a Xamarin App with Authentication and Offline Support. I think it's been out for a week already, but I've been catching up from the last hurrah of summer vacations.

This Part 2, which covers the Xamarin client side of the project, is the piece that I mostly wrote, with contributions by Mike Wasson on the authentication parts. The code for both the backend and the client are available now via https://aka.ms/altostratusproject (which goes to GitHub). Feel free to make contributions!

And a reminder that there are three extra pieces of content for this article that are posted on my blog here already:

Enjoy


We just published Part 1 of a two-part series in MSDN Magazine that covers the cloud-connected mobile app project I worked on earlier this year, which we called “Altostratus” (the name of an interesting cloud).

Part 1 is entitled “Cloud-Connected Mobile Apps – Create a Web Service with Azure Web Apps and WebJobs”, and is on https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/mt185572. I didn’t write much of this first article, personally, as it covers the backend part of the project and I worked primarily on the client.

The Xamarin client is the focus of Part 2 that will be published in early September. In advance of that, you’ll see a couple posts here with some extra material that didn’t fit into the ~5000 words of the article. I’ll be making those posts shortly because we want to make sure the URLs are accurate before going to print. :)

The code for both the backend and the client are available now via https://aka.ms/altostratusproject (which goes to GitHub). It is an open project, so if you see anything to improve, we’re happy to accept contributions.

Enjoy


I know it’s been a while since I posted much on my blog here. The coding project I was engaged in at Microsoft took up much of time between January and March, and the focus on coding didn’t leave much time to write about said coding. The //build came along and I’ve been working on Visual Studio feature guides with our marketing team.

I also discovered, in the process of coming back to my blog and updating WordPress, that the MySQL database that you can get through an Azure account (where I host this site), has a 20MB limit on ClearDB’s free tier. While updating WordPress, which does database updates as well, the MySQL file exceeded that limit and so the database got set to read-only. This, of course, meant that the database couldn’t be updated which then got me stuck in the WordPress database update loop-of-death.

Having returned from //build last week (where I spent most of my time in the Visual Studio cross-platform development kiosk talking to developers about Cordova, Xamarin, the Universal Windows Platform, and cross-platform C++), I finally got this sorted out by deleting all the spam comments from the WordPress database to reduce the file size, after which the update worked and I can post again.

[Addendum: the spam comments continue to come in at a frightening pace! Fortunately, the akismet plugin for WordPress does a good job at catching them, and will supposedly auto-delete in 15 days. However, the sheet volume of spam (many of which are 1-2 pages long) and all of akismet’s metadata it saves for each one, generates quite a few MB of garbage data in the database. So I’m having to monitor all this more closely. I hope soon to migrate the whole DB to an Azure database with a much larger quota.]

Speaking of cross-platform development, two other pieces I worked on recently are summary topics for Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) features as they apply to Cordova and Xamarin projects. You can find those topics on the MSDN Library:

In the meantime, our coding project team has been writing up our learnings for MSDN Magazine, so you’ll see those articles later this summer. I’m working on cleaning up my Xamarin client code, which will be the focus of Part 2 of the article.

A few folks have asked, by the way, whether I’ll be updating Programming Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for Windows 10 and the Universal Windows Platform. Because I’m no longer with the Windows team, I won’t have working hours to focus on that project. What I’m looking at, however, is moving to something of an open-authoring model. I’m hoping first to split the Windows 8.1 book into two parts. The first would be WinJS-focused and separate from Windows, as WinJS is now its own open-source library. The second part would be Windows apps using JavaScript without the WinJS stuff.

Then I can put the files on GitHub and invite contributions, serving more in the role of an editor than a writer, though I’d probably still write some. Anyway, let me know what you think of the idea!