Learning to Program with Code.org

If you receive my email every week, then you will already know that I’m really impressed with http://code.org.

It uses the Blockly programming language which helps people to get started programming without getting bogged down in a particular language’s syntax.

The gist of the video below is that I think it is an awesome tool to help folks who are thinking about getting into programming, regardless if they are in grade school or if they are thinking of a career change.

If you are looking to learn to program (or know of someone who is) I’d recommend going through the Code.org exercises and see what you think.

Happy Coding!

Fun in Disney

I’m taking the week off, so my blog post this week is coming from Orlando, FL.

On Friday, I was able to give a HoloLens talk at the MVPDays in Orlando. It was a lot of fun.

But being on vacation with my family at Disney World is even more fun 🙂

From Magic Kingdom, to Epcot, to Hollywood Studios, to Animal Kingdom and back again I feel like our family has done and seen everything. Of course, that is impossible, but it’s been a great experience so far!

I’m curious where you went or are planning to go on vacation this year / next year. My kids are at the ‘perfect’ age to go to Disney this year so I’m glad we were fortunate enough to make it. I have no idea if we will ever come back to Disney World, but this was a good trip.

Two weeks ago I asked those who receive my email if they would rather see a music visualizer app on the Xbox One and HoloLens or the HoloWheels game on the HoloLens. So far it appears that the Visualizer is winning, so unless I get feedback going the other way I’ll work on the visualizer early next year.

However, while here at Disney, I’ve gotten a few ideas for the HoloWheels game after doing Test Trac a few times. As always, there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. In the past, I’d just try to do everything and get frustrated with myself that I couldn’t. Now, after reading and re-reading Essentialism, I understand that I need to pick and choose what I want to do and saying ‘yes’ to something means saying ‘no’ to at least one other thing (if not a bunch of other things).

I saw a quote from Walt Disney yesterday that said,

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

I’ve been in rides like the Carrousel of Progress and O’ Canada where the technology used to achieve the effects were complicated and rather cumbersome. In line for the Carrousel of Progress you can see a video of Walt Disney talking about the attraction as it appeared in the World Fair in New York back in 1964. At the time the main actor was sitting in this contraption with what looked like a robotic shell where the model in the show would mimic what this actor was doing.

Of course, I’m sure now days it is just programmed in, but I couldn’t help to think how any of us could create something similar armed with just a $150 Kinect.

The O’ Canada show is a 360 degree video that surrounds the audience with 360 degree video. Of course, 360 degree cameras are available to the mass markets these days and the shots could all be done with drones, I believe.

Anyway, it is interesting how the “impossible” before isn’t so impossible these days. Things that were science fiction in the past, like holograms, are now a reality.

It is pretty amazing really at how fast technology is changing and being adopted.

In this week’s video I want to know where you have been on vacation or where you want to go next year? Let me know in the comments!


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Regardless if you are in the United States or anywhere else in the world, I hope you can take a little time think about what you are thankful and grateful for.

It is really difficult to complain or be fearful when you spend your time thinking about all the things you have to be grateful for.

I made a quick two-minute video mentioning what I’m thankful for.


I’d love to hear about what you are thankful for. Please leave me a comment and let me know!

Microsoft Really Wants Your Feedback

I’m writing this blog post from a hotel room in Seattle. I’m attending the Microsoft MVP Summit. To attend this summit, you have to be a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP).

I was fortunate enough to receive this award from Microsoft back in 2009 and every year since then.
Originally, I received this award for DirectX/XNA. I’ve written a few books and two of them were on game programming using XNA. XNA was the game programming framework created by Microsoft that powered the vast majority of Indie games available on the Xbox 360.

Folks who have a large XNA library code should take a good look at MonoGame.
For those who don’t, should look at another game engine like Unreal or Unity.

If you want to do HoloLens development, I’d highly suggest you get going with the Unity engine.

One of the big benefits of being a Microsoft MVP is that you get to meet the product teams at Microsoft and provide feedback.

Here’s a secret…

If you are into web development at all …

If you want to know what it’s like to be a MVP, then watch the weekly stand-ups of the ASP.NET team. The work is done in public and everything is open source. Your feedback can be heard. You don’t need to be a MVP to talk to the product team.

User Voice is another great way to get in front of the product teams.

The Forums is another great way to get in front of the product teams.

If you have a suggestion for Microsoft, you can make it heard all of those ways. You don’t have to be an MVP to get your voice heard.

Microsoft is very big on feedback. They want to make products that you want. So if you see something that should be done better, let them know!

It’s a great privilege to be able to come out to Seattle every year and meet with the product teams. I’m hoping I’ll be fortunate enough to be able to attend next year.

I’ve heard over and over again so far this week from Microsoft that they want feedback. And it is true, they take the feedback and they make products and/or product changes because of the feedback.

It is a great time to be a software developer. HoloLens and augmented reality is really exciting. I’m grateful that a great community is building in the Learn HoloLens site.

If you are interested in HoloLens development, make sure to check out the Learn HoloLens site and sign up for the notification list.

If you are wondering if you should get into software development in general, then go check out code.org and try it out. You just might like it… and being able to tell the computer what to do is a pretty satisfying feeling!

I made a companion video to this blog post, which you can see below: