December 2008 - Posts

This announcement on Scott Gu's blog touts the success of the launch of Silverlight 2.0 and announces Silverlight 3.0.  Out of the success stories noted on the blog one of the coolest applications is the new Netflix player!  Having worked only a little in Silverlight but a lot in WPF I have been very disappointed with the lack of databinding in Silverlight 2.0! It sounds like I am not alone in this line of thinking so Silverlight 3.0 promises to fix a lot of that.  Another great feature is hardware acceleration (using OpenGL?) which would be really sweet!  These tools should be available early next year.

Here is a screen shot (taken from Scott's Blog):


I really hope that they bring WPF and Silverlight more in line with each other -- increasing capability and compatibility!  It's ridiculous to think that we have three different but strikingly similar tools that don't interop!  Of course the three being WPF, Silverlight and MCE Media Center.


I know this is a little off topic for my blog as I only usually blog about technical stuff, but I LOVE 7-layer bean dip!  I have been "perfecting" the recipe ever since I've been married and I have a pretty good recipe on my hands.  Of course many of these ideas are not my own but rather borrowed, but I don't know of anyone else that does this combination.  My recipe is based on the principal that the dip should never break a chip and that you should be able to get something from all seven layers in each bite.

Shopping List

  • Refried Beans - Get the good quality, name-brand beans!  You can really taste a difference if you don't.
  • Sour Cream - Small
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Pace Salsa
  • 1 can medium or small olives
  • 1 Firm Avocado
  • 2 Firm Medium Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 pkg Cheddar Pizza Cheese (or a block of Cheddar will do)
  • 5 green onions



Open the can of beans and dump into a medium mixing bowl.  We want to "thin" out the refried beans a little bit.  I like to use Salsa!  Add about 1/4 cup salsa to the beans and mix thoroughly.  Add more Salsa if needed to get the beans to a soft but "stiff" (not runny) texture. I consider this to be an original idea but I am really not sure if I was the first to think of this. Spread the beans evenly in an 8x10 casserole dish. 

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Open up the container of sour cream and empty into a smaller mixing bowl.  Add about 1 Table spoon of taco seasoning (half a regular package).  Mix and spread thinly and carefully on top of the beans.  Make sure the sour cream is not "too deep" or "too thin" in places.

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Open the can of olives and cut them into ringlets.  I prefer to use smaller olives as they usually have better taste, are firmer, stay fresh longer, and allow people to get a ringlet of olive in every bite.  They do sell cans of "pre-cut" olives and you can use them but these are no where near as good as quality!  Hand-place the ringlets of olives on top of the sour cream.  It's important to hand place these because their shape can make the dip uneven looking.  Also the olives form a moisture barrier between the layers that keeps keep the dip fresh longer.  It is also important to make sure the ringlets are completely dry before applying to the dip.


Next we want to chop the avocado into little chunks.  The avocado needs to be a bit firm (usually a day or so before ripe) or the dip will not keep for long.  Also, in the context of the dip pre-ripe avocado tastes better than fully-ripe avocado.  Also, I always prefer fresh avocado to guacamole.  Sprinkle the pieces of avocado onto the dip and salt.  The salt will improve the flavor and help the dip keep.


The tomatoes come next.  Quarter the tomatoes top-wise and remove the "tasty slimy" inner parts of each quarter (shown below).  The insides of a tomatoes add too much moisture to the dip so they have to go!  They also don't stay fresh for long.  Chop the remaining bits of the tomato and sprinkle evenly onto the avocado.  Salt again.

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Next comes the cheese!  The pizza cheese is dry, stays fresh a long time and is the right flavor for the dip.  If you do not have the packaged cheese you can grate cheddar cheese or a similar flavor.  When grating remember to use the "small" grater to make smaller diameter cheese threads.  Also don't press the cheese into the grater very hard as that tends to create longer threads when we want short ones.  Spread the cheese evenly.  You can use as much or as little as you like but I like to use a whole package.


Green onions are optional.  I like them but they add a very strong smell!  If you are going to use them chop them into ringlets and apply lightly to the top.  After the dip is finished keep covered in the refrigerator.  If made and kept properly it will last 3-4 days or more.


Personally I think it's better if you can serve it fresh, but if you made it the night before a party then let it "warm up" by letting it sit out of the fridge for 10-20 min's before serving.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  If you have any of your own recipe tweaks let me know about it. 

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There is Expression Blend, Visual Studio, XamlPad that we are all aware of and use on a regular biases for creating our XAML.  One that I am adding to the top of my XAML editor list is Kaxaml!  This is the lightest weight most useful XAML editor I have ever seen!  It's got a great WPF/Blend look and is light and fast.  No more waiting 10-30 seconds for Visual Studio to fail to load your XAML documents!  If there were a way to replace the Visual Studio editor with this I would totally do it! 



Unlike Blend it has code insight.  Unlike Visual Studio 2008 it is fast and functional!  My favorite feature is the XAML Scrubber which will "pretty up" your XAML by organizing the tags and attributes.  It will even put the most important attributes at the start of the tag.  It removes much of the pressure of writing XAML!

Hopefully some future versions will include a visual tree and perhaps even a feature where you can click on an click on an object and be taken to the applicable part in the XAML.  The XAML Scrubber only uses spaces and I am a tab guy -- oh how I wish it supported tabs!  Also, I noticed that once I added an event to a control it said I had to compile the XAML -- not sure what that means.  That means it's probably mostly useful for creating the user interface before you start hooking code into it. 

If you need a good place to hammer out some design -- this may be your best bet! 

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