Sunday, January 20, 2008

Agile methodologies and Spelling bee?

Yes, I am the proud father of a little walking dictionary. My oldest son qualified to be part of the team that might be representing his school to compete against other schools for the Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition. Now, how do you study those 870+ words needed for the competition with a 11-year-old whose parent's first language is not English?...

Geek time.! I have an old iPaq 5555 that is pretty much sitting collecting dust. So I decided to write a program that will allow him to practice those words. A pocketPC seems to be the perfect platform for it, since it has built-in support for hand-writing and sound. So it is like having an interactive flash card.

My idea is to have the word being pronounced by a native speaker, and then have him write the word. This is my first take on this idea:


I also put a show button for studying/reviewing. So that as he moves around the list of words, not only he can click on the PLAY button and hear it, but he will be able to see: language, definition, sample use.

One of the trickiest part of the program was getting it to play those wave files.! Yeah. My Google skills are either fading out, or there was not that many people writing media applications for the pocketPC. :( I have to admit it took me longer that I expected to find the right information.

Here is the link to MSDN to the article that I use

Basically, it uses the CoreDll.dll library to accomplish this

[DllImport("CoreDll.DLL", EntryPoint="PlaySound", SetLastError=true)]
private extern static int WCE_PlaySound(string szSound, IntPtr hMod, int flags);

In true agile fashion, I have written the alpha 1.0 and tested it with my *end user*. Feedback is always good when you are writing an application with so little requirements. This version 1.0 is very crude, but it accomplishes the primary objective. Now while he is *testing* the first iteration of the application, I am working on features for the 2nd iteration.

Then I have shown the program to the PM of the Wing's house(aka. Wifey), and now my feature list has grown by 2x, and of course my deadline is still the same... :'(

I have put this program on Codeplex/FlashBee. It is more of a rough 6hr-POC. The cool thing is that he and me sat down and wrote the application together (not all 6hrs). Anybody said pair programming? ;)

Monday, January 14, 2008

KidzMash @ Codemash

CIMG5353 I had an opportunity to volunteer some time for Kidzmash at Codemash. This is a great way to try to influence young minds to stay on a technical career.
The slides and sample code that I was "planning" on using can be downloaded here.

Jim Holmes, told me that he did not know how many kids will come or what the ages were. Well, I have volunteered before at my son's school, and I had 30 kids in the computer lab [previous post]. Of course,the kids at school were 10-13yr-olds that knew how to read and type on a computer..... ;)

Hello KidzMash..!! I had like 10+ kids with their parents showing up. Oldest one? 9-year-old.!! Youngest one? 5-month baby... yikes..!! I asked who knew how to read.? like 4-5 hands went up.

After about 5 minutes of Kids Programming Language (KPL), where you could hear crickets on the background, I decided to dump KPL, and I switch to Scratch.

Scratch is programming tool developed by MIT, to teach kids about programming concepts. I have download Scratch about 2 weeks ago, and I have put it to the test with my kids and they were able to use it within 5 minutes. Since this program is aimed at a younger age, I decided to use this program.

Kids were more receptive to this program. Thanks goodness.!! Here is the link for Scratch:

Doodle Game included:

image The intuitive editor for some of the graphics is just plain simple, they were able to draw, and play with this one character all of the time.!!

I have asked for volunteers helpers, and they were all raising their hands to take a turn at using the laptop. :D

Once again, this was just another way to influence young minds to the wonderful world of programming.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Codemash - Day One.!!

Brian decided to dress as the head gear dude from the Codemash logo.

So this great company I work for: Quick Solutions is giving away a Rock Band set for the Xbox 360 after Codemash. During the conference they are running a special contest to see who can score the highest point in Rock Band. Even Scott Hanselman got into the competition (singing and/or playing the drums).

Today was a blast. Neil Ford and his Poliglot programming keynote was very thought provoking. However, it was Scott's presentation about himself that just got everyone laughing very hard.

Favorite keynote moments:
1 Test = 1000 opinions
a VI version of clippy...!!!
looking forward tomorrow sessions.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bill Gates Last day at Microsoft video.

This is hilarious... :D

favorite part? Seen him playing Guitar Hero.!!!

One of the most influential person in the IT industry shows everyone that he still has a great sense of humor.!

Monday, January 07, 2008


So there is this new unique conference that will take place THIS week. It is a nice, well thought out conference unlike anything I have been before. It has the feel of a CodeCamp but with a wider selection of topics.

The main theme is not to hear Microsoft talk about how great are its products (which they are..!!!) or to hear about how Java is so awesome that it is everywhere. No. The conference is about learning other technologies. Seeing what else is out there. Learn something outside your comfort zone. That's the key to this conference.

Last year's Codemash was awesome, it was nice to see how people were embracing the new paradigm of learning something new.

This year we were promised a lot more quality sessions by great speakers, not to mention the keynotes... (Scott Hanselman, Neal Ford, Brian Goetz).

And the Kalahari resort is an awesome place to see a real-live herd of white-pasty-oversize-developers with their offsprings... ;)

Dan and Matt build this cool Session scheduler..!! Here is my agenda for Codemash: Agenda for Arnulfo Wing.

I am looking forward seeing some Eyebrows being shaved this year (shaved heads is not cool anymore... ;)