Thursday, September 24, 2009

Visual Basic Resources

I was asked on Twitter if I had a Visual Basic resource page for teachers and I had to admit that the one I used to maintain was sadly out of date. That’s just wrong. So I went through all the Visual Basic keyworded post on this blog, visited a couple of other sites and put this list together. I’m going to try and keep it up to date. Please let me know (at my main blog) if you find other things that should be here, broken links or any other recommendations you may have.

Curriculum Sites

K-12 Faculty Community Site A source for curriculum resources, teacher forums, and program announcements

Beginner Developer Learning Center A web site for people of all ages who want to learn programming and web development. Tutorials, videos, projects and web casts

Projects and Feature Discussions

Visual Basic .NET Projects - A set of projects for the classroom. There are teachers notes for each project as well as pages that can be duplicated for distribution to students  as programming assignments. You can find this (and more) at the K-12 Faculty Community Site as well.

An article I wrote on creating control arrays. This article covers both Visual Basic .NET and C#. It is suitable for beginners. Teachers who are used to teaching with control arrays in Visual Basic 6.0 and earlier will find this useful.

Simon is a simple game I wrote. Simon is a game that involves four different colored buttons that randomly depress and beep. The player then has to press the buttons in the same order that they beeped. This most useful part of this project is a special button class that inherits from the PictureBox object.

Fun With Colors – This little project with about six lines of code may be a more interesting “hello world” than “hello world.” It uses some sliders to select a color to show up in a picture box. This is also a nice way to introduce how computers handle colors. Yes, the code looks like C# but if you remove the semi-colons it works just fine in VB.

When Is A Short Circuit a Good Thing? Confused about the difference between And and AndAlso and Or and OrElse? This post explains it all.

Sshhh… it’s a secret (Matt Gertz) Matt Gertz shows you how to code up and deal with substitution ciphers. Ciphers are a lot of fun and seem to interest both boys and girls.

Prime Numbers, Code Challenges, and Programming Languages Coding up a solution for generating prime numbers. With some added discussion about different programming languages.

Coding 4 Fun A web site for hobbyists and computer tinkerers - sample projects and information for doing fun and interesting thing with programming; often combined with interesting or unusual hardware.

Code Samples A large collection of code samples in Visual Basic for doing all sorts of things. Looking for sample code for students to review and/or use? Send them here. (Provided by Microsoft) See also:

  • How Do I in Visual Basic
  • “How Do I” Videos — Visual Basic

    Exceptions, Data Validation and Political Correctness A discussion on the differences between different styles of error handling and data validation.

    Software Access

    MSDN Academic Alliance A Microsoft program for schools to get Microsoft Development software for labs, teachers, and students for very little money.

    DreamSpark for High schools DreamSpark High School provides professional-level development and design tools to students enrolled in an accredited, secondary educational institution at no charge. Sign your school up today and start handing out access codes to students and get out of their way. :-)

    Visual Studio Express Editions Free development tools (IDEs) for Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C# and Visual Web Developer

    Add ons and Tools

    The Visual Studio Learning Pack 2.0 is a software package created by Microsoft to help students learn about computer programming. It consists of the following five components: Sort Designer Control, Search Designer Control, Visual Declarative Designer, Assistant Class Designer and Visual Programming Flow Chart

    VB Coding Standards Document Not from Microsoft but still a very interesting look at what coding standards look like in the “real world.”

    Career Information

    Are you students asking who uses this Visual Basic stuff? Send them to the “I’m a VB” web site for interviews and videos with members of the Visual Basic team and lots of professional developers who use Visual Basic.

    Third Party Web Sites (Not Microsoft and I can’t vouch for everything there)

    Temple of VB web


  • Friday, September 18, 2009

    Engaging Students in Computer Science – Teacher Workshop in New Jersey

    I’ll be heading to New Jersey in a couple of weeks. Now if you are not from New jersey you may not think that is a good thing. A lot of people have a very limited perception about New Jersey from some TV shows and movies I don’t have to name. But those of us in the know understand that New Jersey is aptly named “The Garden State.” The people there are great and I enjoy attending and speaking at events there a couple of times a year. So I’m pleased that I will be speaking at a workshop day at Drew University that is being organized with the Computer Science Teachers Association NJ chapter Saturday, October 17, 2009.

    Drew University and CSTA Northern-NJ Chapter will host a CSTA TECS workshop for computing teachers on Engaging Students in Computer Science.  The workshop will be held at Drew University on

    Saturday, October 17, 2009.

    The workshop will include the following presentations:

    • The Real Projects for Real  Clients Course ( RPRCC) Initiative: Attracting Young Women to Computing Majors: An ACM-W Project Presented by David Klappholz from Stevens Institute of Technology
    • Introduction to Alice2.2 and Alice 3 Presented by Don Slater from CMU and part of the Alice team there
    • Promoting a Code of Ethics and Professional  Conduct throughout your Computer Science Curriculum Presented by Steve Kass from Drew University
    • Introduction to Programming Through Game Development Using Microsoft XNA Game Studio Presented by Alfred Thompson which would be me. :-)

    For more information about the workshop visit

    It promises to be a very interesting and educational day. I’m really looking forward to it. I hope to see some of my blog readers there.

    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Firestarter Event Series – Information about Microsoft Technologies

    Are you a school or district IT person looking for more information about the latest Microsoft technologies. Or perhaps you are a teacher looking to introduce some of these technologies to your students. In either case these free sessions may be useful for you.

    Heat up your skills with the all-new Firestarter event series. Each day tackles a single Microsoft technology, including free sessions presented live by Microsoft developer and IT pro evangelists and technology specialists - with special appearances from community luminaries. Attend in person, via live meeting or download the webcast at your convenience.



    Seattle - Silverlight

    Thursday, Sept 17, 2009

    8:45 AM - 5:00 PM Pacific Time


    Microsoft Conference Center/ Bldg. 33

    1st Floor, Cascade Room, 16070 NE 36th Way

    Redmond, WA 98052 – USA



    Get ready for this season's hottest technology event. The FREE Silverlight™ 3 Firestarter sessions will burn up Redmond, WA on Thursday September 17th and we've got a stellar line-up of Microsoft speakers, including a keynote from Scott Guthrie and presentations from Tim Heuer, Brad Abrams, Karl Shifflett and other community leaders. You'll learn what's new and noteworthy in the latest releases of Silverlight and Expression® 3. We'll also give you a rundown on .NET RIA services, toolkit, and more. Don't miss this sizzling opportunity to go deep into Silverlight 3 with Microsoft's best and brightest.

    Seating for the live event is limited, so register today. If you can't join us for the in-person event, register for the online event experience.

    New York - ASP.NET MVC

    Saturday, Oct 3, 2009

    8:30 AM - 5:15 PM Eastern Time

    Grand Hyatt New York Hotel/ Ballroom B

    109 East 42nd Street

    New York, NY 10017



    In March 2009, Microsoft added a new option for developing web applications on the .NET platform: the ASP.NET MVC Framework 1.0. You've probably heard quite a bit of buzz in the Microsoft web development community about it. But perhaps you haven't had a chance to take a deeper look at it yet. Then we have an event for you! We will be hosting a full-day ASP.NET MVC Firestarter event live from New York and online to take you from 0-300 level in a day.

    At the ASP.NET MVC Firestarter, we'll give you a quick tour of the framework, then peel back the layers and dive deeper into how it works. As part of that, we'll spend time discussing the design and development practices that lead to the creation of the MVC framework. By the time you leave, you'll have enough knowledge to get fired up and start building web applications on the .NET platform.

    Seating for the live event is limited, so register today. If you can't join us for the in-person event, register for the online event experience.


    Seattle - Windows

    Friday, Sept 18, 2009

    8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Pacific Time

    Microsoft Conference Center/ Bldg. 33

    1st Floor, Cascade Room, 16070 NE 36th Way

    Redmond, WA 98052 - USA



    Windows® 7 and Windows 2008 R2 introduce fantastic new technologies to streamline your business, enhance security and save you money. This Windows Firestarter event will introduce you to these features and then dive deep into how they work. See how DirectAccess provides the remote user with virtually the same experience they would have if they were in the office. Learn how Group Policy and PowerShell can simplify the administration of your network, regardless of how large or small it is. Experience a simpler yet more rich Web surfing experience with new Internet Explorer® 8 features. See new BitLocker™, AppLocker and User Account Control Features that are designed to protect your data no matter where it is. We will also dive into how easy it is to deploy Windows 7 the way you want it deployed - your image, your way - even if you are migrating from Windows XP. Join us for this demo heavy session on all of this and more at Windows Firestarter.

    Seating for the live event is limited, so register today. If you can't join us for the in-person event, register for the online event experience.

    Alpharetta - Windows 7

    Saturday, Oct 17, 2009

    8:00 AM - 4:45 PM Eastern Time

    Microsoft Alpharetta Office

    Centennial Park 1125 Sanctuary Pkwy Suite 300

    Alpharetta GA 30009



    Windows® 7 introduces some fantastic new technologies to streamline your business, enhance security and save you money. We'll start this Windows Firestarter event from the users point of view and have a fun and lively introduction to some of the new features in Windows 7. Next we'll move onto DirectAccess and show how remote users can connect seamlessly to the corporate network, giving them virtually the same experience as being in the office, all of this without VPN! We'll then move on and learn how to protect your drives and data with BitLocker™ and show how Windows 7 extends this protection to USB drives with BitLocker-To-Go™.

    Finally we'll round off the day with an in-depth look at how to automate your deployments of Windows 7 with System Center Configuration Manager. This information packed, demo intensive day will kick-start your Windows 7 knowledge and get you well on the way to being prepared for deploying Windows 7.

    Seating for the live event is limited, so register today. If you can't join us for the in-person event, register for the online event experience.

    Monday, September 07, 2009

    Interesting Links Labor Day 2009

    I’m not really working today. Well just this post really. For the most part I have been largely offline for Labor Day weekend. Enjoying family, sun, books, and relaxing. My wife and son start school with their students tomorrow. They’ve been doing the usual back to school teacher days last week. Their rooms are ready. Plans are in place and tomorrow it is what I like to call “show time!” But to help you get going I have a few links from the previous week to share.

    Glen Westbroek a teacher I follow on Twitter @gardenglen has been sharing posters from his classroom. I thought this one about how many days without a failing grade was fun.

    According to this post at the CSTA blog Race to the Top should make STEM a higher priority and make sure it includes computer science. I have to say that I completely agree. Speaking of the CSTA, are you a Computer Science Teachers in K-12? Are you a member of the CSTA? What is the CSTA? You should join!

    Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) continues to Tweet interesting links  “Yes Yes! We should be teaching our children to think  - The Observer”

    From Leigh Ann Sudol (@lsudol) Programmers top 10 sentences Though you may want to be careful with what WTF means.

    If you use or want to create Math worksheets Microsoft has released a new prototype Math Worksheet Generator from Education Labs There are more tools for teachers coming from Microsoft

    The US Imagine Cup web site is online The US rules have been changed this year to allow high schools students 16 and older to participate. Some of my co-workers are a little afraid of the idea that high school student teams may show up some of the college teams. I say go for it. Make a name from your self as a high school student.

    Interested in astronomy? The Worldwide Telescope team at Microsoft Research launched a big update last week. Read about the new worldwide telescope changes here.

    From Microsoft Learning (@MSLearning) there is a new (and free!) E-Learning Course: Introduction to XAML

    Dimitris Gkanatsios (@dgkanatsios) has a new blog post (in English he’s in Greece) on a simple shooting game with Silverlight 3 and C#

    I found this interesting leaning game - Fun with Math Imaginary Blackjack Game in a blog post by Megan Golding (@mgolding) which is more a math thing – imaginary numbers are a big part of it – but I thought it worth sharing more widely.

    Have interesting links to share? Feel free to email me (alfredth (at), leave a comment or Twitter me @AlfredTwo

    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    Latest Interesting Links September 1 2009

    August was something else for me. I had some travel. I had a lot of work. And I did some things around the house. That’s what August is for right? You may or may not have noticed but blogging was a little lighter than usual for me in August. Only the third time in the last close to four years that I posted fewer than 20 posts in a month. I’m trying to work on quality over quantity. Judging by the large numbers of comments it may be that I am improving. I hope so. I want to provide value, provoke discussion, and ideally build a little bit of community. It’s a work in progress.

    Community leads me to my first link of the week entry. Scott McLeod is continuing his PUSH to get links to top blogs in PK-12 education. Last week one item he was looking for was excellent PK-12 business and computer science education blogs. Mine is there as are several I have listed on the side of my blog. We could use many more though so I hope if you know some you will contribute. They are looking for a lot of other subject matter blogs as well so jump on in. Thanks!

    Are you still running Internet Explorer 6 at your school or on your home computer? Time to upgrade. Microsoft is donating 16 meals to Feeding America for everyone who upgrades from IE 6 to IE 8. They are donating 8 meals if you upgrade something else. If nothing else this should be an incentive to at least give IE 8 a try. I’m using it and have been since early beta.

    I get the occasional question about people who want to teach and/or learn something of the more important, key features of Silverlight 3. Well a number of hands on labs were developed for and with the National University of Singapore and they are available now. in a hands-on manner I am hopeful that well see more soon so keep looking here for news.

    I love the Computer History Museum and recently came across a small Photo Gallery showing some of the  weird, fascinating objects including a giant Cray super computer and a 60Kg hard drive that they have on display. You can’t see it in any of those pictures but some of the early military computers actually had ashtrays and cigarette lighters built into the console tables. My how things have changed!

    WIPTE.ORG is running an educational video contest. $3000 for 3 Minutes: Tablet PC in Edu Video Contest from WIPTE.ORG Check it out if you use Tablet PCs in your school or classroom.

    Well Popfly is not mostly gone which makes me very sad. But the Popfly Game Engine Code has been released on Codeplex under the MS-PL.

    Also last week I found "The community portal for robotics and education" Looks like some good links.

    Foundations of Digital Games conference calls for papers are out. It will not be on a ship this year which is good for people who could not convince deans and principals and business manager that it was a real conference. Some of us will miss the ship venue however.

    BTW Microsoft has opened a new higher education portal for faculty, students and administrators at