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Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 11/11/2011+

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A compendium of Windows Azure, SQL Azure Database, AppFabric, Windows Azure Platform Appliance and other cloud-computing articles. Note: This post is updated daily or more frequently, depending on the availability of new articles in the following sections: Azure Blob, Drive,

Best Practices to help you build more efficient mobile apps

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by AT&T Developer Program AT&T Labs Research found that a few simple design approaches could significantly improve application responsiveness on all wireless carriers. You can read more about the research at: And, read these Best Practices to help you build more efficient apps: Understand Mobile Networks Handle Multiple Simultaneous TCP Connections Reduce Inefficient Connections with Periodic Transfers Deal with Connection Opening Problems Close Connections As Soon As Possible Offload to Wi-Fi Handle Duplicate Content and Caching Utilize Pre-fetching Manage Peripherals Upgrade from HTTP 1.0 Handle Screen Rotations

.NET Gadgeteer Module Contest at GHI

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I love electronic sounds. My bin of SID chips and my waiting-to-be-built MFOS sound lab ultimate boards all attest to that. But what can you do in a relatively small amount of space with a Gadgeteer and a Piezo speaker? Maybe it's not even sound generation, maybe you can use the piezo for something else? You can use them as speakers as well as microphones and sensors. In fact, I believe many inexpensive electronic drum triggers are actually just a piezo with a drum head. Have some ideas kicking around? Good! Submit the idea to GHI's Gadgeteer Piezo Module Design Contest by December 1,
and if your idea is one of the ones selected, build out the prototype module by January 15th. Here's the information from GHI's site: Background Piezos are great for making sounds at a low cost. For piezos to work, they need some sort of waveform. Although the processor on a Gadgeteer mainboard is capable of generating waveforms, this will waste some processor utilization for something that can be handled better in hardware. Take the 555 timer for example, great for generating alarm sounds. You may also use a simple microcontroller to generate noises. The Propeller chip is a good example, it can synthesize retro-style arcade sounds. Contest GHI is interested in offering a...(Read whole news on source site)

Update to .NET Gadgeteer Larson Scanner

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So, I got to thinking (with the help of some friends) about the current sourcing capabilities of the pins on the Gadgeteer main board. Modern microprocessors generally aren't set up to be able to provide much current to things like LEDs. I  saw a fair bit of that with the results I was getting with the scanner. So, what about wiring in reverse? LEDs can be wired in two different directions. The first, which I used yesterday is to use the microcontroller as a current source. There's going to be a fair bit of variation here, and the MCU really can't source much current to
begin with. The other approach is to use the MCU as a current sink. You can see that in this version, the LED is reversed. Rather than current flowing from the MCU, through the LEDs and to ground, it flows from the power supply through the resistors and LEDs and then to the MCU pins. To light the digital pins then, you have to make the pins low (ground) at this point, rather than high. The program change is a simple reversal of the logic in the OnTimerTick method. private void OnTimerTick(GT.Timer timer)
// turn off old LED
...(Read whole news on source site)

Friday Links 2011-11-11

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From the Archives
Avoiding Do-Overs – Testing Your Key Engineering Decisions - From what I've seen, the most important problem is failure to test and explore key engineering decisions.  By key engineering decisions, I mean the decisions that have cascading engineering impact. Why 30 Day Improvement Sprints - I get asked this often enough that I think I should distill the keys. From the Web
Time Management Tips for Taking Action - Taking action is skill. It's one of the best skills you can
use in conjunction with time management. The trick is to combine your time management skills in a way that helps you take more action. Here are 10 ways to take more action and improve your time management. Time Management Tips on the Job – How To Be More Productive at Work - Time management is a skill you can use to be more effective at work and life. The trick is to focus on the vital few time management tips that keep improving your time management skills over time. This article shows you the key time management...(Read whole news on source site)

Meaningful Work

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Meaningful outcomes are the backbone of meaningful work. Meaningful outcomes help guide and shape your meaningful work. If you have a vision for the end in mind, then you have something to work towards. To figure out meaningful outcomes, you ask yourself what you want to accomplish.   Another simple way to do this is to ask yourself, “What will the wins be?” One of the challenges is when it feels like your work has no meaning. Keep in mind that you are the ultimate filter for everything that happens in your life. You assign the meaning to
your work. Make the work meaningful. One way to create meaning is to master your craft. Do so by focusing on continuous learning and improvement. Teaching your craft and being a mentor for others is another way to both amplify your learning and your impact. Work on stuff that’s valued, and remember that value is in the eye of the beholder. This makes work more meaningful. You should be aware whether it’s valued by you, by your employer, or by your customer. It’s fine if it’s valuable to you but nobody else, but be aware of it, and make...(Read whole news on source site)

Dynamically creating a Generic Type at Runtime

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I learned something new today. Not uncommon, but it's a core .NET runtime feature I simply did not know although I know I've run into this issue a few times and worked around it in other ways. Today there was no working around it and a few folks on Twitter pointed me in the right direction. The question I ran into is: How do I create a type instance of a generic type when I have dynamically acquired the type at runtime? Yup it's not something that you do everyday, but when you're writing code
that parses objects dynamically at runtime it comes up from time to time. In my case it's in the bowels of a custom JSON parser. After some thought triggered by a comment today I realized it would be fairly easy to implement two-way Dictionary parsing for most concrete dictionary types. I could use a custom Dictionary serialization format that serializes as an array of key/value objects. Basically I can use a custom type (that matches the JSON signature) to hold my parsed dictionary data and then add it to the actual dictionary when parsing is complete. Generic Types at...(Read whole news on source site)