LINQ training and trip to Princeton, NJ, USA and Swiss elections

.NET, Personal, Technical stuff
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LINQ hands-on lab at Microsoft Switzerland

Yesterday, a colleague and I attended a free LINQ hands-on lab given by Microsoft Switzerland in their offices of Wallisellen near Zurich. It was really good. I have seen LINQ in action a few times this year (actually, I had it demonstrated by no less than Anders Hejlsberg himself on one occasion, and Scott Guthrie on the other) but I had never tried writing queries myself. It was a good, 4 hours occasion to try it by myself. Needless to say, I was really impressed. What I really loved is that even though some parts are rather “magic” (lambda expression, object initializers, etc…) and remind of JavaScript, in the background everything is strongly typed. You get full Intellisense, and you can even debug the lambda expressions. Additionally, when you query against a SQL Server database (with the so-called “LINQ to SQL flavour of LINQ), and by installing a plug-in, you can even visualize the SQL query which is actually sent to the server.

As a software developer specialized in UI development, my SQL skills are not the best. I am absolutely capable to create a SELECT statement, to filter and even group, but there is always a point where I am over my head, and I have to get a manual. I have actually seriously considered taking a SQL training sometimes, but with LINQ available, I am really not sure I need that anymore. Granted, some developers will always need strong SQL skills, I am just not sure that, with the bulk of my activities being in the upper layers of the application, I should spend time to improve these skills. I have the strong feeling that LINQ will be the exact right answer for a guy like me (if 3.5 is available, obviously :)

Since my ISP (the excellent offers 3.5 hosting, I am seriously thinking of moving my (private) ASP.NET projects to that platform, and start using LINQ to do my queries. In the moment,I already use a lot of XML files for storage, and it’s annoying (and error prone) to have to parse them. LINQ to XML will bring a great alternative. Additionally, I have been considering using SQL server express more, so that could be the next step. When I have time. Next year.

I strongly believe that every .NET developer today should take a LINQ training. In 4 hours you get a good overview. In one day, I think you get all the information you need to use it in a project. If you’re managing a software team, I really think this is something you should consider for your developers.

Trip to Princeton NJ

Last time I travelled, I said it should be the last trip this year. Turns out I was wrong, but it’s for a good reason. I am really excited to be here in Princeton NJ for a week, because we are going to do design. Not UML design, graphics design. We have a team of designers here, and they’ve been working a lot on wireframes and styleguides until now, but now it’s getting serious, baby, we’re going to create XAML assets. This word is often used to talk about XAML elements like brushes, icons, control templates, data templates, etc… All these elements which set an application’s look and feel, but not its behavior. I want to go back to Switzerland on the 21st with XAML code in my luggagges (well, metaphorically) that is integrated in the application. These designers are now, as I use to say, true members of the development team, and they create code. And this code will be compiled and will run. That’s a big difference, and the learning curve is obviously steep, which is why I am on location to assist them (in this project, I work as WPF coach and WPF integrator). I am really looking forward to see what they will come up with in a week.

Switzerland’s right wing extremists took a bad hit yesterday

As a matter of fact, yesterday was really a great day. I am not into politics much (bunch of liars and useless people, most of them) (except Midnight Oil’s ex-singer Peter Garrett, way to go man!!!), but I was obviously concerned by the development of swiss politics in the last few years. The politicians really gave a bad image of Switzerland, and led others to believe we’re a bunch of ignorant racists. Well, yesterday the national assembly took a courageous step forward and sent back the most extremist of its ministers back home. After 4 terrible years spent dismantling some of our most noble institutions, the worst minister we ever had, Christof Blocher, was not reelected, and a much more moderate woman (!) was elected in his stead. It was surprising, because swiss politics is often made of status quo. It was most welcomed. It was, indeed, a great day. With 3 women and 4 men in our executive government, all moderate and ready to talk instead of yell, I think we will get a much better job done.

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