Are Answers On The Menu?

Reading in the newspaper this week about the technological advances in political campaigning set my mind wondering about whether there is an ethics/success trade-off in most areas of work, as well as in life generally. I don’t mean cheating in order to win; it’s more about how you balance what you do, with what you…

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Semantically Speaking…

So I’ve temporarily escaped from Azure to lend a hand with, as Monty Python would say, something completely different. And it’s a bit like coming home again, because I’m back with the Enterprise Library team. Some of them even remembered me from last time (though I’m not sure that’s a huge advantage). Enterprise Library has…

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General Cluster’s Probably Not Last Stand

I don’t know if General Custer ever made a last stand against the Apache, but I feel like I have. My Apache is, of course, the Hadoop one. Or, to be technically accurate, Microsoft Azure HDInsight. And, going on experience so far, this is unlikely to actually be the last time I do it. After…

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Defensive Writing

One of the facts of life when you write technical documentation and guidance is that it will get reviewed by other people, resulting in regular changes to the content as you try to follow shifting advice, conflicting feedback, and suggestions that sometimes even make sense. It doesn’t help, of course, if the technology you are…

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my data are getting littler

It looks like our Big Data is getting smaller. At least that’s the impression I get from the exhaustive investigation carried out by the editor on our current project. Of course, “data” is actually a plural word so perhaps it’s just that each datum is getting smaller. Or maybe there are fewer (not “less”) of…

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I Can See Patterns In The Cloud

Well, we finally did it. After many months of redesign, reconsideration, rewrites, and recombination we’ve let loose on the web our first release of the Cloud Design Patterns guide. The guide is a combination of design patterns that are especially applicable to cloud-hosted applications and services. It explores the patterns in detail, provides good practice…

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Gimmie The Code!

It seems like a question that has an obvious answer: How should you show code listings in guidance documents? I’m not talking about the C#/VB/other language debate, or whether you orient it in landscape mode to avoid breaking long lines. No, I’m talking about the really important topics such as what color the text is,…

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Agile Documentation – Tested to Destruction

Agile development is an important technique here at p&p; and throughout much of Microsoft. However, I’m yet to be convinced that it’s a good way of creating user guidance and documentation. It seems to me that the process often gets in the way more than it helps to produce a great final product. I’ve rambled…

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A Cloud Service By Any Other Name…

As a firm believer in freedom of expression, I guess I can’t complain about the names that the Windows Azure team give to their services and features. After all, my responsibility is just to write about them. In theory that can call them whatever they like. The problem is that they keep calling things what…

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Over-egging the Curator’s View

At one time you had to work in a museum to be a curator, but the wonders of information technology mean that now we can all exhibit our technical grasp of complicated topics and elucidate the general population by identifying the optimum resources that help to answer even the most complex of questions. I’m talking…

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