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of course if you are already a part of the broader .net user group community, you've seen this already.  but if you aren't (shame on you), you should head on over to azgroups.com and look at the event on the 20th of December.  be sure to sign up to the AZGroups mailing list as well for updates and future events.

at the phoenix (tempe) installfest, people who are registered and attend will receive a special trial DVD of visual studio that will enable them to get a visual studio 2008 professional licensed copy sent to them as participating in this event...pretty sweet for being a supporter of the user group communities!

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i hopped on a plane at 4am this morning to head back to phoenix from seattle.  oddly enough i landed in rain.  what gives phoenix?  actually it is a welcome refresh for me.

i was in seattle for the fire starter event with my comrade mithun.  this was basically a one-day silverlight lovefest.  and the lineup of people was awesome:

it was awesome.  if you had silverlight questions, this was the place to be.  i mainly lurked in the back and twittered occasional thoughts on what i was seeing (which probably did nothing since a poll to the audience showed not many people are on twitter in that area).  i saw a lot of people ask the presenters questions which i assume is always a good sign.  i learned some new stuff myself which is always great.

adam kinney proved no smoke and mirrors on his...er...i mean...lenny's xbox live gadget built in silverlight.  after getting gamertags from the audience i think he suddenly realized that the statuses would be offline because they were all there :-) -- but yet, one person had a "1 minute ago" update and they were in the audience...hmmm...portable xboxing?

the popfly demonstration seems to always get a smile from most even if you aren't interested in mashups or anything.  i think it is because you just realize the ease of bringing information together and not having to spend a ton of time together -- and getting an interesting visualization!  adam actually whipped up a similar xbox live gadget in a few minutes using popfly (not the same features, but for not writing a lick of code and getting xbox live gamer information and a silverlight UI plus implemented in a vista sidebar gadget that was impressive).

there was a couple of things i twitter'd about that might be worth mentioning here as well (aside from my happiness to chocolate milk on campus)...

    • arturo demonstrated the desginer/developer workflow of
    • laurence's book on silverlight 1.0
    • there was a question about positioning text within elements.  although silverlight 1.0 does not have justification settings in elements explicitly, you can do it.  the code in my user controls in 1.0 sample has some code that you can look at how i used some simple functions to center the text on a button based on the text and size of the button...very simple.  hoping this will be obsolete in silverlight 2.0.
    • adam kinney talked about user control patterns and specifically called out an important createFromXaml parameter (second, optional parameter) which is createNameScope.  this boolean parameter provides a unique name to each element that you create.  this is very helpful (and required almost) when you are creating a lot of same controls in an iteration for example.
    • i learned of two tools JSLint and JSMin.  the latter is for 'crunching' javascript to reduce size of the script files (you know remove whitespace, etc.).
    • adam nathan's book on silverlight 1.0 unleashed
    • ernie had really good pointers on working with media, specifically with what attributes in playlists are supported.  i couldn't capture them all in time, but the content will be posted.
    • ernie also had a session on what silverlight might look like in the future...his message: understand WPF.

great sessions.  the content was recorded, so subscribe to this blog and i'll update a link once it is available.

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yo, check it.  expression design has released a service pack

what!?  i know how can that be?  a service pack < 8 months after its release?  i say awesome.  i've been wanting microsoft teams to continue to become more and more agile especially with regards to very helpful features or great improvements of existing features based on user feedback.

one such point of feedback that is implemented in is that of xaml generation of the layers and/or complete surface.  you didn't know design can generate xaml?  shame on you.  i did a podcast (you should really subscribe to the podcast feed on the left of my blog or just use this link) talking about using vector images (svg) and importing into expression design and getting xaml that you could use in your applications. 

there are essentially two ways of doing this in expression design:

    1. if you only want pieces of your design file to be xaml (i.e., you want to xaml-ize a fragment of the design), you can select the layer(s) in your design file and go to the edit menu and choose 'Copy as XAML' and bam, you now have xaml for those selected fragments in your clipboard.  go forth and develop.
    2. if you want the entire design surface to be a xaml representation, you would use the file menu and choose export.  from there you'll be presented with what looks like a typical 'save as' dialog box.  change the file type to xaml and after choosing location/name click ok.  you'll now be presented with a much improved options window (in service pack 1):

in previous versions the options weren't exactly clear.  for instance the xaml type you wanted (either WPF or ) was in a different tab).  i really like this improved export user interface.  i especially like the option of converting text to paths.  this really helps when you don't want to (or can't) redistribute any type faces.  upon export, you will get all the xaml plus (if you chose that option) path data for your text areas.  very cool.

so if you have design files or vector files that you would want to use in silverlight, this is the perfect tool and function to create the xaml representation of that data.  so go get service pack 1 for expression design and you'll be happy.

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later tonight, daylight savings time in north america will end, one week later than usual.  you can see some more details on the new DST start/end times on http://www.microsoft.com/time (this is a new URL reference for future references to DST/time zone changes/issues beyond 2007).

for a list of microsoft products that might be impacted, see the Product Impact Support page as well as the DST/TZ hot topics page.  make sure your windows mobile devices have the correct information as well or if older, have had the windows mobile patch applied.

for developers, visual studio specific information can be found here:

as always, if you have questions, please let me know in the comments below or view my contact information for various ways to get in touch with me.

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some news on the windows live platform front...now you can link your passport live id accounts!  i like a lot of the windows live services, but one that i've struggled with is live id.  not the concept, but rather the implementation.  it is getting incrementally better day by day and this one change in particular made me happy.

when passport first came out, most got one.  when messenger came out, you used your passport.  then you could create a passport/live id with your own email account (didn't have to be hotmail.com), then there were some changes and you might have had to migrate yours...etc.  you can see where i'm going here -- i have roughly 4 live id accounts.

then you have your corporation, like mine :-) -- sometimes they require registrations from a live id ending in @mycorpdomain.com -- that frustrates me, but oh well.  i basically have two primary live id accounts i use and when i login/out of sites because i may have created sites under one account, etc. -- i would have to lose major context of what i was doing...not anymore!

here's what you do to link your various live id accounts...

1) go to http://account.live.com and login with your preferred live id

after you login you'll see the summary page and on it you should see the "Linked Windows Live IDs" section:

2) click on the 'Manage Linked IDs' and you should see:

3) click on the 'Link an existing Windows Live ID' and you'll be asked to confirm your logged in live id password, and then you'll be able to add another Windows Live ID account:

4) once completed you'll see that your accounts are now linked:

great, so now what? well when you go to a live id-enabled site you'll be able to switch identities immediately on that site without having to logout/login to a different windows live id...you'll be instantly changed on the same site...that is awesome.

so go link your most used windows live ids!  thanks windows live team!