DDD 14 at Reading

Thanks for being a great audience folks

Thanks for being a great audience folks

I’ve not been to Microsoft Thames Valley Park for a while. It was very nice to be back there for the day at the Developer, Developer, Developer (DDD) conference. It was awesome. Four tracks of excellent content. I was talking about Air Quality and top hats and whatnot. I had a fantastic audience all my demos worked. (Note to self: stop sounding surprised when this happens). If you want the slide and the sample programs you can find them here.

These events are always amazing and kudos to Microsoft, the Black Marble Team and all the speakers. There was also a splendid set of lunchtime talks. The next DDD will be DDD North which will be back in Hull on Feb. 29th 2020. Make a note of the date now folks. I have.

Azure IoT Devkit

Image shamelessly stolen from the IoT Devkit site…..

Image shamelessly stolen from the IoT Devkit site…..

At the talk yesterday I mentioned the Azure IoT Devkit. This can be used as an IoT Endpoint for Azure among other things and has the benefit of a properly secure architecture including proper security to prevent details being stolen from the device or the device being compromised by naughty firmware. It also has a nice little OLED screen and a whole bunch of useful sensors.

You don’t develop for this device using C# and Visual Studio, but you can use the awesome Visual Micro or Visual Studio code to work in C++.

It’s a great place to start creating proper cloud connected devices.

Insider Dev Tour Hardware Mayhem

Picture of a missing train

Picture of a missing train

I should have expected trouble when I discovered that my first train to Manchester didn’t exist. Even though the station display confidently predicted its arrival, and the app on my phone showed a dot moving down the rail line the actual bit lump of moving metal failed to turn up. Not impressive.

Fortunately, I was able to catch the next train (which did exist) and then make it to my connection with literally seconds to spare. Then all I had to do was walk through a cloudburst to the venue in Manchester.

Once I was inside and dried out, things improved a lot. Free coffee and some great sessions. I’d bought a whole bunch of hardware with me and I planned to spend my lunch hour setting it up and making it work.

I got all the way to the end of the setup and then my demonstration Raspberry Pi decided to fail completely. No idea why. Life I suppose. Perhaps last night fate heard me thinking “No need to take a spare device, it all worked fine in London”. Anyhoo, even rebuilding the entire operating system failed to bring the machine back to life and anyway, it seemed that the rather picky video display at the venue refused to talk to the Raspberry Pi at all.

Fortunately I had a plan for this too. It involved my LogoBlaster. In the end I was able to do the Raspberry Pi presentations using the projector on the LogoBlaster to show everyone how a Windows Universal Application can interact with hardware and Azure services. Thanks to Luce and Pete for holding up various devices and helping me get it all to work.

A very patient audience. Thanks folks

A very patient audience. Thanks folks

If you want to play with my demos, you can find them all here.

You can find all of the Insider Dev Tour lab conten (there’s tons of good stuff) here.

Insider Dev Tour London

A happy audience at the start of my session. Aren’t they always…

A happy audience at the start of my session. Aren’t they always…

We took our Manchester Insider Dev tour to London today. I was there with a Raspberry Pi, the Logo Blaster, and my trusty Surface Go. I’d made all kinds of plans for network and video contingencies, and I was very pleased to find that they had two (yes two!) wired connections and a really fancy video switching system, along with a bunch of fantastic tech folks who knew how to make it all work.

All the sessions I saw were great. I always leave these events with lots of thing to try and ideas for building stuff. When it came to my session I managed to get everything to work eventually. The Surface Go got there in the end, and left me plenty of time to tell all (both) of my wonderful jokes.

Many thanks to the XamlLlama for stepping in when I realised I’d forgotten my mouse to trigger the cognitive services demo and even providing a winning smile for the camera (that was even recognised correctly).

For those who were there yesterday I’ve put all my code up on GitHub here.

On to Manchester on Thursday.

Bandwidth idiot


So, today I’m doing the final tests for my sessions this week at the Insider Dev tour. My plan, such as it is, involves hanging all my devices off the mobile hotspot in the phone. I was testing the whole workflow, including creating a new Windows 10 image for the Raspberry Pi. While I was doing this I noticed that the network was a bit slow. Not painfully so, just slower than I expect in my Lighstream powered house.

Of course, it turned out that I’d done the entire exercise, including fetching the Windows 10 image, on my phone. This is both impressive (it’s nice to know that you can do this kind of thing over a phone network) and potentially expensive (I’ve no idea how close this has taken me to my limits for the month).

Spotting a smile with Windows IoT


I’ve been working on my demos for the Insider Dev tour. One of the examples shows how to use Azure Cognitive Services to analyse a picture, find faces and see how happy they are. I’d like to use this in my demo, but I want to use the camera rather than a fixed image.

Anyhoo, I’ve got it working. The Raspberry Pi snaps a picture, sends it to the cloud and then gets back the location and happiness of anyone in it. I’m looking forward to showing it off next week.

I don’t intend to point the camera at the audience though……

IoT at the Insider Dev Tour


I’m doing some IoT sessions for the Windows 10 Insider Dev Tour. I’m in London on the 18th of June and Manchester on the 20th. If you fancy going I’m afraid they are all booked up, but there should be some recordings.

Anyhoo, I’ve been brushing up on my Windows 10 on Raspberry Pi skills. It’s come on a bit since I started playing with it a few years ago. You can create SD card images and deploy them from a single program. The Windows IoT Dashboard also lets you search for devices and there is now a neat device portal that you can use to remotely manage them. Deploying and debugging programs from Visual Studio is as easy as I remember. This is going to be fun.

Air Quality Fun at Leeds Sharp

Some of the audience at the start. Note my lovely Surface Go running the whole thing…

Some of the audience at the start. Note my lovely Surface Go running the whole thing…

Had a great time at the Leeds Sharp meetup tonight. I was there to talk about Air Quality, Azure Functions and Lora. With a guest appearance of my Air Quality top hat. I’m pleased to be able to report that every demo worked. Even the impromptu one that I wasn’t expecting to…If you want a look at the slide deck you can find it here.

One of the lovely things about the night was that the first two folks that I saw at the venue were a couple of Hull alumni, Joshua and Andrew . They were there to make a video of the event. So they did. It’s really good, they’ve caught the presentation content along with some shots of me prowling around looking nervous. I think I’ll hire them for all my events. They’ve put the video on YouTube, you can find it below.

Air Quality, Lora and Azure Functions at Leeds

I’m treading the boards again on Thursday evening this week in Leeds. I’m talking about our work with Air Quality sensors and whatnot. With a special guest appearance of the Air Quality Top hat. Should be fun.

If you live in Leeds you can register here. If you don’t live in Leeds you can still travel there and attend if you wish, but I’d probably draw the line at intercontinental flights to get there…..

Please note that, in a break with recent tradition, this session will not be rhyme. (unless they offer me money)

DDD North was super awesome

The best conferences are the ones where you go and learn a bunch of useful stuff and also like to think that you’ve told a few folks useful things that they didn’t know.

DDD North yesterday was one of the very best. I was blown away by the quality of the sessions, the enthusiasm of the audiences and the sheer good humour of the whole event. I learnt a whole slew of new stuff; from IoT development tools that you can run from you laptop through Mob based development techniques, some nifty .NET library tricks and a lovely take on how to use generics in C#.

I even presented a session of my own which I hope taught people a few new tricks. I was so engrossed in my bits and bobs that I totally failed to take any pictures (which is most unlike me and a measure of the quality of the occasion).

And to make it even better, it was in based in my favourite university and old stomping grounds in Hull, so I just had to get up, grab breakfast and tootle down the road to take part.

Hats off to the organisers for making it all work, the sponsors for paying for great food and a lovely setting and the speakers for taking their time out to spread knowledge. You could pay an awful lot of money in conference fees for an experience nowhere near as good as this one.

If you ever get the chance to go to one of these in the future, you really should.

DDD North is tomorrow and I'm presenting


I’m getting rather excited. It’s DDD North tomorrow. Four tracks of excellent computing content crammed into the lecture theatres in Hull University. A whole day of splendid sessions.

And one from me.

I’m on at 2:30 pm in Lecture Theatre A in the Robert Blackburn Building talking about Azure Functions, Air Quality and a bit of LoRa. I’ve just finished the slide deck and the demos. Should be fun. If you happen to be on campus at Hull you really should come along. I’d love to see you.

AI Frenzy at c4di


We had a Barclays AI Frenzy with Codepen Hulll tonight. There was plenty of frenzy in my session, where I built a complete Machine Learning application in around 12 minutes. There were also a bunch of other great sessions from Sherin Matthew who gave a splendid overview of the field, Aparna Garg who showed a lovely example of an advanced AI application and Neil Gordon who talked about research at Hull University and how companies can work with it. 

If you want to see my sample application and the presentation you can find it on Girhub here.

Barclays AI Frenzy at c4di

Just a quick heads up about an event that I’m speaking at. We had a call about the content yesterday and it all looks very interesting.

And there are free refreshments.

If you want to know more about Artificial Intelligence, see whats happening in the area and meet up with like-minded folks to talk about how you can use the technology, you should come along to the event next week. At’s at c4di on Thursday evening. I’m doing a demonstration of how easy it is to take some data and then build an application that uses AI. You can sign up here.

Barclays AI Frenzy Event

I’m doing a tiny session in the Barclays AI Frenzy event in February. I’m going to be showing just how easy it is to make a C# AI enabled app, starting with training data and ending up with a working program. I’m not sure how much frenzy I’m going to bring along, but I’ll do my best.

There are going to be lots of other speakers too, along with a chance to talk to a bunch of like-minded folks.

The event is on the 21st of February starting at 17:30 in the afternoon. You can sign up here.