I am a Microsoft MVP!

On Thursday 1st of August at 6 PM I was shivering. I got a beautiful mail that I became an MVP Developer Technologies.

A Microsoft MVP or Most Valuable Professional is an award for your work in the community. Community work is by example: running a user group, speaking at conferences, contributing to OSS and a few more.

Most of the MVP’s have besides their MVP status work as a paid job. For me being an MVP without a paid job is a real honor for me. I know that I am with the little few. I promise to take my responsibility for the community.

And want to thank you all. All of you attended sessions from me at conferences or Meetups. Organizers of conferences and meetups who gave me the chance to speak to their audience. Without the opportunity to talk at a lot of conferences and meetups last year I wouldn’t be an MVP. 

I plan to speak a lot more conferences in the next year (I mean from September until July). I hope to surprise you with new topics within my expertise. I believe I can make a difference in Accessibility and Diversity and Inclusion. But not only in these fields.

So I plan also a series of technical talks where I do discuss technologies that I use to make our (DDSoft) ‘s accessible software. I want to reach people that aren’t in the scope of accessibility but that will benefit from my product/technology knowledge.

And I have a little surprise: in one of the coming blog posts, I do an announcement…

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Let’s talk 🔥🔄 (Hot Reload) and accessibility!

So as I make apps for people with disabilities and my biggest user base at this time are people with intellectual disabilities in Belgium means that an accessible and easy to digest UI is really important on Android phones. Most of the people in this category live on a fee and an iPhone is most of the times too expensive. But I have an iPhone thanks to a beautiful sponsorship for our nonprofit from Rotary. So testing my UI was in the past pretty difficult. Android emulators are mostly pretty slow, even on a quite good laptop. So the time it takes to stop debugging, do some UI changes and rebuild and reload on the emulator can take some time. Do we want this? 

I was choked from the 🔥🔄  announcement at the Xamarin Dev Summit. I wasn’t there in person but as a good Microsoft fan, I  watch pretty much every live stream. Thanks to Maddy Leger I had the opportunity to go into the early access preview and in 1 week time, Hot Reload changed my life! 

Adjusting little tweaks in UI, adjusting bigger UI changes, it’s all in the speed of light. It’s pretty fast! 

I can write hours about this, but maybe a video about me playing with 🔥🔄 will show you how easy you make an accessible UI:

Playing with 🔥🔄

What I am doing in this recording:

-I add text to the Emoji’s

-I change the text color

-I change the background color.

Here you have before and after:

So in less than 3 minutes, I made my application more accessible. Is this the end of this application? NO! It’s just a play around in 5 minutes. Before this recording, I’d played already with  🔥🔄 and I experimented with changing form a stack panel to a grid, and I played even with Shell and Visual! Hot Reload works pretty fast and fluid!

I feel (Xamarin) Love

Thursday I live-streamed a part of Xamarin Dev Summit in Houston. Honestly, I submitted a proposal for some talks at this event. I wasn’t chosen. Pity but proposal declines are a part of speaker’s life. You have to deal with it.

I saw the Keynote and was very impressed about Hot Reload for Xamarin.Forms, a really cool feature that will be in private preview very soon. So I hope to be in the group of lucky ones for the preview. More official Microsoft communication here: https://devblogs.microsoft.com/xamarin/xaml-hot-reload/.

I believe as a developer of accessible apps, where UI is very important this will be a major dev improvement for me. Testing as much little tweaks like back and foreground colors, sizes and font sizes of objects will be a very fluent job.

Since the keynote I felt big love, Xamarin Love. When I heard about the latest updates, I updated my Visual Studio 2019, some Android SDK’s and upgraded to the latest Xamarin.Forms 4.1.0.x and Xamarin Essentials 1.2.0. When all updates were ready (and this didn’t took much time!) I’ve started debugging my current project (DDGuard) and everything did run smoothly! This was like MAGIC!

I am 10x autistic!

On the night of 13th of July (CET +1) the 10x hype, or the 10x Engineer hype raised on Twitter! As some of you may know, I am not a fan of hypes. Or am I not? I don’t want to be a fan of hypes. But sometimes I am a fan of some hypes, and do participate in some hypes. Just to tease: I am planning to make a conference talk: “Mind the Hype”. This talk will be about the good, the bad and the ugly of hypes. If people are interested in this talk, please let me know!

So, let the introduction behind, let’s talk about the I am 10x, or the 10x Engineer hype!

Today I posted this tweet:

This tweet was based on the 10x engineer hype. I didn’t put in ‘engineer’ and I forgot the hashtag. Of course I didn’t forgot my own two hashtags. So I even could add: “I am too impulsive”. I see the Tweet and as fast as possible I want to make my own tweet without taking enough time to check if I added the correct hashtags or if I don’t have typo’s! If you see Tweets from me with typo’s it’s because I was too impulsive, a drawback of my autism.

But it’s not all negative. This tweet has a negative sound. But to be clear: autism also has a lot of advantages. So I could write:

“I am 10x autistic

– I am a proud volunteer

– I have unique insights

– I love to share my stories

– I am very honest.”

Xamarin Expert Day Munich

The Venue, Microsoft Munich offices
The Venue, Microsoft Munich Offices

Munich, Germany! Beside of USA, visiting Germany was for me a dream destination! Why? I like the German language and the ‘meat culture’. In June I had the opportunity to talk at Xamarin Expert Day in Munich, and.. I had a blast!

I start with the culture. Germany has as I said a ‘meat culture’ and a ‘beer culture’. For me, as a Belgian, maybe I say stupid things if I say: “I like the German beer culture.” Big glasses, beer gardens, and why don’t you combine your IL beers with some meat?

A German beer garden
A German beer garden

Back on topic, Xamarin Expert Day! Start with the keynote! Jim Bennett not a complete unknown Xamarin guy – was really rocking the stage! ‘Xamarin, past, present and future’ was his talk. It was a nice overview of the past, and the present. But the future was more teasing. Of course there are rules about “Microsoft’s’ internal kitchen” and MVP Summits. But for an autistic person, I was thinking the complete day about the future.. But I loved the talk and the energy!

Jim Bennett is rocking the stage!

Luce Carter gave a talk about Xamarin Shell, I really loved this concept and her explanation. I believe Xamarin Visual (a part of Shell) will help me for accessible apps!

Come Out Your Shell with Luce Carter

Ulrike and Sia made another Accessibility Talk, I liked their concepts. It’s nice that the field ‘accessibility’ is so big! In their talk ‘Beyond Accessibility’ I heard a lot of renewing concepts, really helpful concepts and this concepts fit all together with mine concepts. Nice that you can apply different ‘views’, ‘angles’ of accessibility to make the most accessible solution ever!

Beyond Accessibility Wtih Ulrike and Sia

Of course I had my talk, I presented for the first time “Improve People with disabilities’ lives with Xamarin.Essentials”. A talk how you can engage accessibility with API’s from Xamarin Essentials. I covered, Text To Speech, Settings, Device Info, App Info, Connectivity and a few more. Yes, all this API’s improve accessibility!

And my talk, spoke for the first time in a T-Shirt, a Xammagon T-Shirt 🙂

So I liked Munich and I loved the German culture, Xamarin Expert Day Munich as a great conference and  I really had a blast and learned new concepts!

#DreamingIsBelieving #7ThYearMagic

#7ThYearMagic

By the end of 2018, I realized that 2019 will be the year of #7ThYearMagic, I invented this hashtag because I believed my life-dream was going to be reality.

Why was 2019 the era of #7ThYearMagic, there’ s no ‘7’ in 19? Well, well, in 2012, 7 years ago, I made the decision to give my programming talent as volunteer. If you are like me, quite spiritual, 7 is a magic number. It’s going to happen in 2019!

My life-dream was going to USA as speaker and visit the Microsoft Headquarters! But was this my only big dream? What if the dream is over? Last month ‘my dream’ finally happened! I visited Microsoft HQ in Redmond and spoke at my first US conference #ndcminnesota.

THE MICROSOFT REDMOND HEADQUARTERS

While I was living the dream, I noticed: “this is not the end, maybe just the beginning”. Do I have other dreams? Is it over? NO! I’d love to share my knowledge as public speaker. Traveling to tell the world to be inclusive for people with disabilities doesn’t end if I visited US Once!

The Missipi River St Paul

So proud to share next URI, my speaker site! It covers all my past and next talks. In this fall I have already 3 nice conferences! But my #7ThYearMagic dream doesn’t stop here!

http://www.ddsoft.be/speaker

Microsoft Ignite, The Tour London

Microsoft Ignite, The Tour London

On January 25th I travelled for the 2nd time this year to London. I really love London and the variety of conferences this metropole hosts.

This time it was time for a brand new conference: Microsoft, The Ignite Tour. Microsoft Ignite is a big conference in the US. But since fall 2018 many of the Microsoft experts are touring the world.  The concept of the conferences is: no keynotes, but a lot of break-outs straight from the experts.

The conference bought also a nice networking experience. You could network at the Microsoft booth with the experts from The States. I call it Microsofties as you know from other blogposts. There was also a drinks reception, specific booths par division. I liked especially the Diversity in Tech booth. More about Diversity and Inclusion are also covered in my session report.

This conference covered a lot of Diversity & Tech talks and panels. I really liked it. I visited more D&I than tech talks, at a tech conference! Love it!

The technical talks:

I liked the talk Discovering Microsoft Azure form Jim Bennett. I use Azure quite a  long time but Azure expands so fast. When I started by example, containers didn’t exist. In this talks Jim gave a good explanation of containers in Azure. There are also a lot of new compute options. Jim covered them all. But the biggest take-away from this talk is about the Azure Resource Manager. I used it wrong, honestly. With the new knowledge I can configure it the right way right now!

“I have a hammer, a hammer in the morning, a hammer in the evening…” is the song Jim Bennett pushed into my brain in his demo of Microsoft Cognitive Services in the talk Using Artificial Intelligence to augment data. This was a good talk with a very good understanding to get started.

What’s the difference between a picture (file) in Azure Blobs and Azure Files? A big difference! Azure Files are for data storage. The data can be a picture by example, but also a lot more. The files can be used via an external disk. If you are putting a picture in Azure Blobs it’ meant to be shared as JSON. This was one of the lessons Amy Boyd learned me at the session Storing Data in Azure!.

D&I

How were the Paralympics in London accessible to all? What were the first opinions? What happened to the UK people after the Paralympics? The London Paralympics has definitely changed a lot in the mind of people about life with physical disabilities. A view under the hood of the London Paralympics was covered by Dan Brooke, Hector Minto and Kerry Hollis

The Autism Hiring Program is my favorite one in US. Pity it’s not in Belgium. As people know I am autistic and working for Microsoft is one of my dreams. I learned more about the program in the talk It’s Ok to be not ok. Ayeshna Hirani, Marleen Reininger and Rob Ede covered also what Microsoft is doing to support mental health.

The rest of the conference was filled with topics as the LGBT+ Community. D&I islands in corporates and of course a lot of sessions about Microsoft Teams.

After this conference  I needed to make an action plan to get started when I am home. In fact everyone should do this? Which people will you contact first? Which technology to test first. One of my actions of my action plan was definitely subscribing to the Diversity and Tech community online. I am happy with this step.

So this was my report of Microsoft Ignite The Tour London. I loved it! More legs of the  tour here: