Mario Cardinal

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" – Marcel Proust


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MVP Renewal Day!

I’m an April 1st recipient of the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award. Each year on April 1, while the rest of the world focuses on the April Fools, I usually find my MVP renewal amongst the other emails coming in.

This year is no exception. For thirteen consecutive years, I am the proud recipient of the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award from Microsoft.

MVP status is awarded to credible technology experts who have demonstrated their deep commitment to helping others make the most of their technology, voluntarily sharing their passion and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with the community. While there are more than 100 million social and technical community members, only a small portion are selected to be recognized as MVPs. Each year, around 4,000 MVPs are honored. They are nominated by Microsoft and other community individuals for this annual award. Candidates are rigorously evaluated for their technical expertise, community leadership, and voluntary community contributions for the previous year. They come from more than 90 countries, speak over 40 different languages, and are awarded in more than 90 Microsoft technologies.

According to the MVP blog, there are 1024 of us awarded today. I’m happy to be included once again!


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Success is all about structure

The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth, while naming is the origin of the myriad things.— Lao-Tzu

higher mindWe live in a complex world and one of our first challenge is to structure it so that it seems simple. Obviously, we will not be left to ourselves facing this major challenge. Early on, our parents will provide us with the foundations. Among other things, they will teach us a language and the meaning of words. We often forget that the simplest way to reduce complexity is to name things appropriately. A Chinese proverb says that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.

Slingboards Lab is not the first company that I founded. In 1991, after completing my master’s degree in management of technology from the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, I founded a software company to market a drawing program for value engineering. Unfortunately, my company did not had the expected success. This is explained by the fact that my product, whose name was Fastdraw, found himself competing against the Visio drawing software. I had customers, but not enough for this to be very profitable. After a few years, I closed the business. Oddly enough, 24 years later, I still have an old client using my product. They still consider Fastdraw as a better option than Visio. Lately, they contacted me because they wanted me to program a modern version. I politely refused while freely providing them with the original source code.

FD-DialogA few days ago, I took a look and I was amazed by the structure of the sources. This program was a 16-bits Windows 3.1x app written in C ++ using the Borland C++ v4.0 IDE and OWL library. Each object has its own CPP and H files. The naming convention makes it easy to identify visual objects such as windows and dialogs.

For those too young, in early 90’s the filenames were limited to 8 characters (a MS-DOS constraint), here is why we find names like TOOLBARW instead of TOOLBARWIN.

FD-Windows

As you can see, already at the beginning of my career, I was from the school of those who believes that words have meaning and names have power. By setting up an appropriate structure such as the combination of words with a convention, you can reduce complexity and make your code easily understood even 24 years later. Success is all about structure.


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Farewell to Chris Squire

Tales_from_Topographic_Oceans_(Yes_album)I was so sad yesterday to learn about the passing of Chris Squire, the legendary bass player and founding member of Yes. Of all the rock band I’ve listened in my youth, Yes has always been my favorite. Even today, on occasion, I listen to early Yes albums like Tales from Topographic Oceans or its first solo album Fish out of Water.

As I do not follow closely their career, I was not aware that Chris Squire was seriously ill. A few weeks ago, I listened to the song South Side of the Sky from the Fragile album. What a masterpiece. The lyrics expand on the idea that death could be beautiful. Not only do I love the power of this song but I also enjoy just as much the wordless vocal harmonies with Rick Wakeman’s piano. As wrote to me earlier today my childhood friend Luc Viau, “We just lost a great musician who scored the music of our teens.”

Soon, oh soon the light
Pass within and soothe this endless night
And wait here for you
Our reason to be here

Soon, oh soon the time
All we move to gain will reach and calm
Our heart is open
Our reason to be here

Long ago, set into rhyme…


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Your brand is a product

In this post, I present insights about how to reinvent yourselves in a structured way.

As I pointed out last April, I was renewed for a twelfth year as a Microsoft MVP. Sometimes, developers that I met at User Group or during conferences ask me how to become an MVP. The best answer that I read about it is this blog by Mike McKeown: How can I become a Microsoft MVP? I agree with the author that there is no clear-cut recipe on how to become an MVP. It is a happy pairing of passion and personal branding.

Regarding passion, you must let your desires become the determining factor, and it can hardly be taught. In return, it is different for personal branding.

vsts_300Your image and your mind are a product. If you speak French, I just recorded a podcast about personal branding with Frederic Harper. Frederic is the author of the book Success in Programming: How to Gain Recognition, Power, and Influence Through Personal Branding.

Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. If you wish to acquire very good knowledge about personal branding, here are two courses offered on the online training site Pluralsight that I attended in recent years and that I recommend:


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MVP Renewal Day!

I’m an April 1st recipient of the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award. Each year on April 1, while the rest of the world focuses on the April Fools, I’m still curious to know whether I receive this recognition again.

DOS-MARIO-CARDINALWhile the news networks relayed the launch of MS-DOS Mobile, I watched my inbox carefully. MS-DOS Mobile is a joke but you can actually install and run MS-DOS Mobile to see the command-line interface of yesteryear’s computers running on a modern Lumia phone. I took the time to install this application and experiment with it. Going into the C:\PROGRAMS\PHONE directory shows programs like CAMERA.EXE which launches the camera but takes photos composed of ASCII-art characters or dithered monochrome pixels — ASCII being the venerable alphabet-focused encoding system for text on computers.

While dealing with email and avoiding April Fools, I was glad to find my MVP renewal amongst the other messages coming in. This year was no exception.

For twelve consecutive years, I received the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award from Microsoft. MVP status is awarded to credible technology experts who have demonstrated their deep commitment to helping others make the most of their technology, voluntarily sharing their passion and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with the community. While there are more than 100 million social and technical community members, only a small portion are selected to be recognized as MVPs. Each year, around 4,000 MVPs are honored. They are nominated by Microsoft and other community individuals for this annual award. Candidates are rigorously evaluated for their technical expertise, community leadership, and voluntary community contributions for the previous year. They come from more than 90 countries, speak over 40 different languages, and are awarded in more than 90 Microsoft technologies.

According to the MVP blog, there are 984 of us awarded today. I’m happy to be included once again!


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Ten years of podcast

Slingboards Lab is not my sole active project. For those of you who speak French, you may know me as the host of the Visual Studio Talk Show, a podcast about software architecture. Each episode is an interview with a software development expert. This month, I am not only publishing episode #177 but I also celebrate the tenth anniversary of this podcast.

10-years-in-computer

On November 22nd, 2004, I published the first episode of the Visual Studio Talk Show. Being online for 10 years now, it is probably the oldest French podcast discussing technology. At the time the word podcast was not even part of the standard vocabulary. To explain what a podcast was, I presented it as a radio show on the Internet.

vsts_300The guest for this first episode was Eric Coté . We discussed .NET certification and multilingual website programming. When I launched the podcast, I did not have a co-host so when I recorded the second episode, Eric became co-host. The experience lasted two years before he decided to leave the show. He was then replaced by Guy Barrette which is still the current co-host.

Already ten years. Time goes by too quickly. Anyway, this is worth celebrating.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our listeners across the globe. Through your emails, all over these years, we discovered that we had listeners on every continent. What a nice surprise this was, not to mention your kindness. Thank you!

Happy ten years. Let’s hope that we will still be online for the 20th anniversary.


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Tap into the “slideshare” traffic potential

If you can write short, readable, engaging content you qualify to publish slide decks onto slideshare. Slideshare is a web slide hosting service. It enable users to publish and share public presentations in a social-networking environment. Slide decks can then be viewed on the site itself, on hand held devices or embedded on other sites. For over two years, I am using Slideshare and more than 16k viewers watched my slide decks so far.

Even though all my energy is focused on Slingboards Lab, my start-up company, I still need to earn money to support my family and pay the bills.

Last week, I spoke at a privately held conference organized by DevTeach. I presented two sessions:

  • HTTP Fundamentals for Developers
    HTTP is the protocol of the web, and in this session we will look at HTTP from a web developer’s perspective. We will cover resources, messages, cookies, and authentication protocols and we will see how the web scales to meet demand using cache headers. Armed with the fundamentals about HTTP, you will have the knowledge not only to build better Web/Mobile applications but also for consuming Web API.
  • Best Practices for Architecting a Pragmatic Web API
    This presentation teach how to design a real-world and pragmatic web API. It draws from the experience I have gained over the years being involved architecting many Web API. This presentation begins by differencing between a Web and a REST API, and then continue with the design process. We conclude with the core learnings of the session which is a review of the best practices when designing a web API. Armed with skills acquired, you can expect to see significant improvements in your ability to design a pragmatic web API.

I took the opportunity to update my slide decks on my slideshare:

http://www.slideshare.net/mario_cardinal

I am pleasantly surprised at the visibility I get through Slideshare. slideshare-stat
In total, more than 16k viewers watched my sessions. Alone, my session on Web API got over 14k viewers.