Philip Lippard

Please say it ain't so

RIA Services - July CTP ==> Great Stuff...

To-date I have been a casual user of Microsoft's Silverlight technology, however that is all changing with Silverlight version 3 and a new companion product called RIA Services. 

With Silverlight version 1, I wrote quite a bit of JavaScript based Silverlight, plenty of animation, etc.  I avoid Silverlight for animation in favor of jQuery where practical, simply because of the browser audience.   jQuery has a wider browser acceptance, and since the introduction of Silverlight version 1, Microsoft has also embraced jQuery.  If the world is my audience, then I avoid Silverlight, although I consider the underlying technology to be great.

I was pleased to see a more business application oriented direction with Silverlight version 2, however data access from the client was still somewhat problematic with the use of WCF or ADO.NET Data Services.  I worked with both, however fast simplified data access had not yet arrived.

Silverlight 3 was released on 10-Jul-2009, and at the same time a RIA Services July CTP was made available.  RIA Services provides an object oriented approach to Silverlight client data access in the form of a RIA Services client proxy accessing a RIA Services Domain Service Class on the server.  The RIA Services Domain Services Class provides many of the same benefits as popular Object Relationship Mapping (ORM) offerings; Sub-Sonic, nHibernate, etc.   Presumably, this is the reason why RIA Services will be shipping as a separate product.  While providing many benefits for Silverlight 3 applications, RIA Services's benefits are not limited to Silverlight.

An extract from the RIA Services introduction...

Microsoft Silverlight provides a strong foundation for building Rich Internet Applications (RIA). Microsoft .NET RIA Services introduced in this document further simplify Line of Business (LoB) RIA development. They complement the existing Data Access Layer and presentation components in the .NET framework and Silverlight. They build on the foundation of ASP.NET and codify, evolve and support some of the common patterns in web applications.

The underlying Server data access layer for RIA Services can be an Entity Framework data model, LinqtoSQL  or a Plain Old CLR Object (POCO).  I prefer using LinqToSQL as my underlying data access layer.

Classic Web Application

Word on the Internet is that we are likely to see a RIA Services release date of late 2009 or early 2010.

There are some excellent reference articles on the Internet:

Nikhil Kothan's BLOG

Brad Abram's BLOG (a NC State graduate)

While I still avoid Silverlight when the world is my audience, I think Silverlight coupled with RIA Services is a great technology to use for Intranet applications, where the browser usage can be controlled.  Silverlight 3 and RIA Services provides a native Windows application look and feel, thus providing many advantages over the traditional web application.

Google Voice - What is it ?

Google Voice is the Internet based phone forwarding service by Google. It was previously known as GrandCentral. Google Voice is free except for international calls.

Google Voice gives you a separate phone number which you can give out as if it is your regular phone number. You can then change your settings to have calls forward to any of your phones.

You can forward to one group of phones during the day and another at night. You can have calls from certain numbers forward differently than calls to other numbers. You can block spamming callers and send some calls straight to voice mail.

You can send yourself an SMS message or an email whenever you get a voice mail message, and you can check your voice mail from the Web or from your phone.


The iPhone Apps That Have Changed My World

The iPhone has definitely changed my world, since getting my first in Aug-2008.iPhone   I have gone from using a Motorola RAZR (and having a Windows Mobile PDA in my closet which I never used) to having the iPhone constantly by my side.  I enjoy reading the morning paper on the iPhone rather than the black ink edition of the local newspaper.  It is nice to be able to email news articles to friends over breakfast.  I have also purchased a Mac Pro laptop for iPhone software development purposes.   I have not yet gotten past use of the iPhone simulator, however I am hoping to have more time for iPhone development soon.

So what are my favorite life-style changing iPhone apps ?...not including the built-in apps from Apple ?

  1. Dice - My very 1st 3rd party iPhone app.  Good for a roll of the dice.  Perhaps the Obama Administration should use it when projecting next year's budget deficit.
  2. Linkedin - The iPhone edition of the business oriented networking web site.
  3. MissingCalc - A scientific and programmers calculator (Octal, Hexadecimal, etc)
  4. Urbanspoon - Restaurant directions based on local GPS coordinates.
  5. Google Earth - Zoom in on your favorite spot on planet Earth.
  6. Google - A number of miscellaneous Google apps, many of which simply redirect you to the iPhone Safari browser.
  7. iTalk - Griffin's voice memo app.
  8. Say Who Lite - A Voice Dialer, which I will dispose of when I get my iPhone 3GS next April.
  9. MiniPiano - Just what it says, yet somewhat amusing.
  10. WikiTap - Not sure where this came from.  Not real sure what it does.
  11. OpenTable - Another Restaurant locator GPS service.
  12. VR+ - Another voice memo facility.  Also popular on the Blackberry.
  13. Light - Lights up the room so one can see.  Some people will think of everything.
  14. Skype - The famous Skype client.  Has been out now since Apr-2009.   Definitely one of my favorites.  Voice over WI-FI works rather well.
  15. LOCiMe - Start this app and you can record your current GPS location at the LOCiMe web service, and then monitor all of your movements via web queries.
  16. Twitterrific - Follows Tweets for nearby Twitter members, based on GPS location.
  17. Stanza - Electronic book reading subscription service.
  18. Currency - Converts International currencies.
  19. Yellow Pages - Do you need to ask ?
  20. Facebook - The iPhone edition of the favorite social networking site.
  21. Zillow - The iPhone edition of the real estate research Zillow web site.
  22. WSJ - Wall Street Journal.
  23. NYTimes - New York Times.
  24. Dictionary - The iPhone edition of the web site.
  25. AP Mobile - Associated Press News Service.

Have you ever noticed how some people (Palm and Blackberry users) simply will not admit that perhaps... just perhaps... Apple has the best product with the iPhone.  After all, Apple now has over 50,000 applications on the iPhone App Store.  Now this is what I call mobilizing the software development community.

And just think.  In 1980 I was using a used IBM Selectric typewriter as a business productivity tool.

Please let me know of your favorite iPhone apps.