New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released

I am pleased to announce that my latest Pluralsight Course called, Improving Brownfield .NET Apps with Code Analysis and Metrics has been released. This course is all about trying to improve the quality of your code by using the code metrics and static code analysis tools that come with Visual Studio, including Visual Studio 2017.

The course is nice and short and to the point, which makes it very easy to watch and digest the information in a short space of time. I explain how all of these tools work in detail and follow up with live coding demos. If you have to work with large legacy code bases then these tools are very good at helping you understand the state of the code to make refactoring easier, and the code analysis tools make it easier to ensure your code confirms to Microsoft best practice.

New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released
New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released

The course is split into 5 modules. The first module is the trailer and information about the course. Next, we have a module that talks about what quality is and the impact of poor quality code to businesses and their users. Then I walk you through the standard code metrics that are available and how to use them. Next, I show you how to configure and use the code analysis tools in Visual Studio, with a demo, before wrapping up the course.

New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released
New Pluralsight Course on Code Metrics and Static Code Analysis Released

Here is the official description of the course.

For many people maintaining brownfield software is a large part of their job. When you maintain this older code, having the ability to analyze code quality and setup automated code quality checks can be invaluable. In this course, Improving Brownfield .NET Apps with Code Analysis and Metrics, you’ll look at the tools built into Visual Studio to help you improve brownfield application quality with code metrics and static code analysis. First, you’ll explore what quality means to software and its users, along with different types of testing that can be utilized. Next, you’ll discover the tools built into Visual Studio, such as the built-in code metrics that you can generate from your own code. Finally, you’ll learn how to setup and interpret the inbuilt static code analysis tools. By the end of this course, you’ll have the necessary skills to efficiently use code metrics and static code analysis.

 

Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones

I do a lot of traveling for my work both on the train and by air. Whenever I used to travel, I always used to get quite bad headaches once I got to my destination. I was discussing this with a colleague once and he recommended the Bose QC35 noise canceling headphones. The idea is that when you are wearing them, they listen to the sound around you and generates a canceling sound wave that is played in the headphones. This means noise around you like a train engine or the engines of an aircraft are significantly reduced.

On his recommendation, I purchased a pair last year and I now use them daily as my main headphones. Since wearing them for travel, I no longer get headaches as my travel is now much quieter. Also, for a set of headphones the sound quality when listening to music is also pretty good. They are not the best quality sounding compared to other high-end headphones, but they sound pretty decent, and the noise canceling also means that you do not need to play music as loud when out and about.

Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones
Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones

The build quality of these headphones is exceptional. They are light in weight and very sturdy. I think I will get many years of use out of them. The headphones are also Bluetooth which means I pair them with my iPhone, IPad, and laptop, so I never need a cable. Saying that though, they do come with a standard audio cable in case you want to use them with a device that doesn’t support Bluetooth.

To use the noise canceling you must charge up the headphones and I have found that the battery lasts a whole week with moderate use every day, and they charge pretty quickly. If you use the included cable, they act more like a traditional set of headphones, which means they do not require battery power. This has been useful on the one occasion where the battery ran out and I didn’t have a means of charging them, so I just switched to the cable.

Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones
Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones

The Bose QC35’s also come in a very handy and tough carry case which means I can keep them protected when I put them in my laptop bag. I never leave the house without them now. They have become an essential part of my daily life. They are not the cheapest headphone on the market, so they are most likely outside the impulse purchase bracket, but I have to say, the price is definitely worth it, especially when traveling to reduce the headaches I used to get.

Focusing on Your Work with Noizio

In today’s busy lifestyle with the many distractions, I constantly find it hard to focus and concentrate on a task so like most developers I reach for my headphones and try to drown out the world around me with music. But sometimes I find music can itself become distracting and what I want is something else to drown out the world to let me focus.

Recently I discovered a fantastic app on the Mac called Noizio. Noizio is an app that has many different sound effects like thunderstorms, campfires, wind, water etc. that you can enable and mix together to create your own background noise effects.

Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work
Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work

The sounds that are mixed together are then played in your headphones and they create just enough distraction to block out the real world but is not distracting that you can’t concentrate. I love the fact you an create your own mixes in this application. I was recently on holiday in Lanzarote with my family, and I really miss being there, so I have created a nice mix in Noizio that has the sound of waves lapping at the shore with a little breeze and the crackle of a campfire on the beach. I have been using this recently and it has helped me get in the zone with work several times.

I also have another favorite mix that is the sound of rain, wind and a thunderstorm. There is just something about a thunderstorm that I find really relaxing which helps with my flow when trying to concentrate on tasks.

Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work
Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work

I use this app on my Mac laptop and it is available from the Mac App store as well as the 3r party app store called SetApp. Noizio is also available on IOS from the IOS App store. I don’t think there is an android version, but I am sure there is something similar for Android users on their platform.

If you are wanting a way to easily focus without being distracted then I highly recommend trying this app out, it has made a big difference to my productivity.

Speaking at Techorama in Antwerp

In the week of the 22nd May 2017, I had the good fortune to speak again at the Techorama Tech conference in Belgium. This year the conference moved from its original venue in Mechelen to the city of Antwerp. I spoke at Techorama last year and really enjoyed the experience. For the venue, they hire out a huge cinema, which means you are presenting on stage with huge cinema screens behind you. This is perfect as a venue because a cinema is perfectly equipped for audio and visual projection.

Techorama Conference in Antwep
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

Once I arrived at Brussels airport, I had to get the train to Antwerp. This journey took about an hour and once I reached Antwerp, I was greeted by the most amazing train station that was architecturally fascinating, as you can see in the photo above. All the speakers this year were staying at the Lindner hotel just behind Antwerp Central station. The hotel was about a 15-minute drive from the conference venue, so the organizers arranged transportation to take us all to and from the venue.

Techorama Conference in Antwerp
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

The stage setup, as you can see in the photo above, is excellent. Easily the best stage I have ever presented from. This year I was presenting my Rollercoasters fun talk. This talk is about software design patterns and abstractions, but instead of just reeling through design patterns and boring the audience, I picked another industry to talk about which is Steel Rollercoaster design. In this talk, I break a rollercoaster down into a series of abstractions and design patterns. Ultimately the talk is about the importance of abstractions, patterns and shared terminology in a team. It is a good fun talk and is ideal for the last day of a conference where everyone’s brains have turned to mush from all the great technical content.

Techorama Conference in Antwerp
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

The talk seemed to go down well and I got quite a few laughs from the audience at all the right places. What was really cool was the talk I show a couple of First Person Perspective rollercoaster videos and they looked AMAZING on the large cinema screen. So much so, as they were playing I said to the audience that I need to come and sit in the front row to watch it. So I sat there with the audience whilst I narrated what was going on. It was all really good fun.

Techorama Conference in Antwerp
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

I had an amazing time here again at Techorama. It is a very well organized and run conference and having spoken here last year, it was as consistently good as last year. I hope I am lucky enough to get to speak here again, as I will definitely be applying again.

Speaking at SDD Conference in London

The summer has so far been very busy for me with speaking at many great conferences.  On the 15th May, I headed down to London to talk at the SDD Conference hosted at the Barbican Centre. It is the first time that I have spoken at SDD, so it is great to get to experience a new conference setup.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

We were staying at a hotel called the Hoxton in Shoreditch, which I have to say is the most hipster place I have ever seen in my life, and this is a good thing.  The hotel had loads and loads of character and it was good that all the speakers were staying there so I got me meet up with lots of old friends and make many new ones.

I was doing 2 talks at this conference. First was my talk on what product manufacturing can teach us about software development. Essentially it is a talk about Lean Software development and it seemed to go down well. My second talk was more of a fun talk about Rollercoasters. This talk is about software design patterns and abstractions, but instead of just reeling through design patterns and boring the audience, I picked another industry to talk about which is Steel Rollercoaster design. In this talk, I break a rollercoaster down into a series of abstractions and design patterns.  Ultimately the talk is about the importance of abstractions, patterns and shared terminology in a team. It is a good fun talk and is ideal for the last day of a conference where everyone’s brains have turned to mush from all the great technical content.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

 

Whilst I was there I also got to see some other talks in between having to work from the speaker’s lounge. Two of my favorite talks were actually by Jeremy Clarke. The first was on Async and Await, and the 2nd was a soft skill talk about being introverted and how to interact with people as a developer.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

Overall I was very impressed with this conference. It was well organized and well run. I will certainly be applying to speak there again next year. I feel very fortunate with the events that I get to speak at as they are a great way to meet new people and interacting with the audience after a talk is always so much fun.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

What was really cool, was that some new speakers that I met were also speaking the following week at Techorama in Antwerp, which I was also speaking at, so a lot of the speakers tend to go to similar events, so some conversations were picked up the following week. How cool is that…

Speaking at Code Europe in Krakow Poland

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to Krakow in Poland to present at the Code Europe conference. The conference organizers first got in touch with me a few months ago to ask me to speak, and I was invited to present my cryptography talk,.NET Data Security – Hope is Not a Strategy. This has been a popular talk of mine over the last 18months, so I was delighted to travel to Poland to deliver the speech.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

The conference itself was hosted at the Krakow ICE Congress Centre, which was a fantastic venue. The building is less than 3 years old, and it looks very modern and new. I am a big fan of architecture, and this building didn’t disappoint. Before being invited to Code Europe, I had not heard of this conference, but I must say it was very well organized and as speakers we were all well looked after. Our hotel was next to the arena, so it was very convenient to get to the event. This particular event was a 1-day show, with 2 following days in Warsaw later in May.  Even though it was 1 day, I decided to stay out an extra day so that I could see a bit of the city.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

My talk was at 11.30am and seemed to be well received and I had a full room, which I estimated to be around 150 people. Once I had finished my talk and had a walk around the conference, I did a bit of sightseeing with my good friend Filip Ekberg from Sweden. Krakow is a beautiful city and I spent a fair bit of time walking around the old town. The weather wasn’t the best as it was raining a lot, but I made do and still got a lot of sightseeing done.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

Overall Code Europe was a great experience and I hope I get the opportunity to speak at this event again. The conference was well organized, everyone was very friendly and helpful and Krakow is a really nice city to look around.

Hacking Humans : A Talk About Social Engineering

Back in January I did a talk at NDC London about Social Engineering. This was a new talk and I very much enjoyed doing it to an almost full room. The conference organisers have now published all the videos from the conference. You can see this talk in the video below.

Here is the official talk description:

Social engineering is one of the biggest threats to our organisations as attackers use manipulation techniques to coerce people into revealing secrets about our companies to allow attackers to gain access to critical systems.
In this talk we will look at some of the techniques used in social engineering and look at how to guard yourself against them. We will cover subjects like pre-texting, elicitation and body language as techniques for manipulating people.

Tim Ferris Tricks for Combatting Procrastination

I am not going to write a big article around this, but procrastination is something that effects us all, especially when you have a big project to complete. This happens to me all the time and I constantly have to train myself to get past it.

The tips in this video are very useful, I highly recommend watching it. Over to you Tim….

Speaking at NDC {London} 2017

Last week I had the pleasure if attending NDC {London} again as a speaker. The NDC conferences are such an amazing experience and they are run by the awesome people at programutvikling. This is my 2nd time speaking at NDC {London} and like last year where I spoke about Cryptography, I was keeping the security theme going by talking at Social Engineering and Human Hacking.  I was fortunate enough to spend the entire in London for this conference, which included the 2 workshop days before  the main conference.

The reason I wanted to attend the workshop days is because I would like to plan a workshop, so I wanted to sit in part of one to see how they are run. Troy Hunt was kind enough to let me sit in his Hack Yourself First Workshop. I learnt a lot here, not only about security, but the mechanics of running a workshop, including the introduction, pacing, slides, and style etc. This was very useful and I am now ready to plan a workshop of my own.

Stephen Haunts at NDC {London} 2017
Stephen Haunts at NDC {London} 2017

During the first 2 days in London I got to spend a little downtime walking around London with Lars Klint. This was quite relaxing as we caught a train to Tower Gateway and then walked from the Tower of London down the Southbank, through Trafalgar Square and around other parts of London. We easily did 18km that day. My feet were killing me, but was great fun. It was the first time Lars had been to these areas, and for me, I hadn’t walked around those parts of London since I was a kid.

Recording a Pluralsight Play by Play course at NDC {London}

During my recent speaking trip to the NDC London conference, I was also invited to record a Play by Play course for Pluralsight. A Play by Play course is a short film course that is in a conversational style. This involves having one person who is the subject matter expert for the course, and a 2nd person who is the facilitator for the course. It is this persons job to introduce the course and help draw information out of the subject matter expert by asking questions. This conversational style should make it easier for the learner to get a good gist of the subject in a short space of time. These types of courses are not meant to be super in-depth, but an introduction to a subject, or focusing on one area of a larger subject.

My partner in crime for this course was Lars Klint, who is another Pluralsight author. Lars has done a few of these courses before, so I knew I was in good hands. The course we was recording was about enterprise data security using Azure KeyVault. Essentially the course was about encryption key management using hardware security modules, or abstracted hardware security modules like Azure KeyVault.

We started the planning for  this course in December where we put together the proposal  that split the course down into modules. Each of these modules then had a content plan so we knew what the overall narrative would be from start to finish. Once this was approved I then split this out in to a slide deck where we have bullet points for each modules. I had this on my screen whilst we were recording. This acted as a prompt for me and Lars. Whilst this prompt would have been recorded on my laptop, none of this will be seen as it will be edited out.

Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course
Stephen Haunts recording a Pluralsight : Play by Play Course

When I first walked into the room on the day of recording, I will admit that it felt a little intimidating seeing all the lights, 3 large cameras and 3 camera operators, but luckily Lars and Troy Hunt were recording a course first, so they were happy for me to sit in and watch. I am glad I did this as it meant I could see what was involved, including how best to recover if you make a mistake. The technique here is to remember what you last said, pause and carry on with the same intonation in your voice to help make it a clean edit point for the editor. Every now and again we would speak out editor notes to the camera, but of course this will all be edited out of the final course.

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