Sebastien St-Laurent is a software engineer for the Microsoft Game Studios and author of several technical books. Read about my work and life.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sahil Malik posted a first review of Practical .NET2 and C#2.


If you knew C# 2.0 already, what C# 2.0 book would you buy?

Wait a minute, if you already knew C# 2.0, why the heck would you bother to buy another C# 2.0 book? Because learning C# is probably 0.05% of what you need to know. The rest of the 99.5% is the framework.

I have been recently poring through a pretty fantastic book - Practical .NET 2.0 and C# 2.0 by Patrick Smacchia. I have to admit, if you are hard pressed on time like I am, and don't have the patience to read through 5 different books to learn what you need to, then keep this book at an arms length. I really like how the chapters are laid out in logical topics, which make it so much easier to find the specific information I am looking for.

What makes this book great, is that this book is so much more than just C# 2.0, it's really about the framework (wasn't it always about the framework?).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

EasyRegex update and EasyBarcode released.

I have released a minor update to EasyRegex. Turns out a little bug in my licensing code would cause some machines to report the beta license as being expired. Before installing the update, you will need to uninstall the previous version. The updated version can be downloaded from

I have also released EasyBarcode 1.0.0 today. A quick and easy little software to generate print-ready EAN/ISBN barcodes.

  • Generate EAN barcodes for both ISBN and ISBN-13 numbers
  • Built-in ISBN validation to ensure the numbers input are valid
  • Generates barcodes which also include the ISBN information and the optional price UPC-5 supplement
  • Exports barcodes to PDF files for easy inclusion in your layouts and projects

An EasyBarcode trial can be downloaded from:

Saturday, February 11, 2006

EasyRegex, the perfect tool for the avid .NET Regex developer

Download EasyRegex 1.0.0 and use it free for the beta period.

  • Build libraries with your regular expressions. Take advantage of the built-in expression builder to quickly and easily put together expressions.
  • Build a test matrix for your expression by adding various text sources and run your expressions against your test matrix to find problems and regressions.
  • Do performance testing of your regular expressions. Test various expressions against each other and compare the performance difference between run-time regular expressions and pre-compiled expression in the .NET framework.
  • Take advantage of a new feature of the 2.0 .NET framework by taking your regular expression libraries and pre-compiling them into assemblies which can be used directly in your .NET projects.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Amazon Sales Rank Watcher Version 1.1 is now out...

Managed to find some time to do some more work on my Amazon Sales Rank Watcher software. I want to thank everyone who tried the initial release and sent me some great feedback. The work on this version focused mostly on adressing bugs, implementing suggestions and solidifying the application. Here is the "what's new" for this version.
  • This version fixes most of the bugs which were reported with the first version. Such as the occational exception with the display of the rank graph.
  • Added a "Check for Updates" button
  • Added filtering capabilities on the Amazon search to restrict the search to a specific type of product.
  • Application now minimizes into the try and can display a pop-up when new ranking information is downloaded
  • Improved the overall graph display.

The latest version of Amazon Sales Rank Watcher can be downloaded from the Paradoxal Press website.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Practical .NET2 and C#2" featured on The Code Project

A new post is up on "The Code Project" in regards to "Practical .NET2 and C#2" containing general book information as well as various content extracts from the book... Check it out!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

We have recieved our copies of "Practical .NET2 and C#2" last week and all orders on are now shipping!

In addition, to celebrate, all books on Paradoxal Press are now on sale at 10% off Amazon's price for the month of Feburary. This means $33.99 for "Practical .NET2 and C#2" and "The COMPLETE Effect and HLSL Guide" for $23.75.

We are also offering a complete Paradoxal Press bundle which includes "Practical .NET2 and C#2", "The COMPLETE Effect and HLSL Guide" and "The COMPLETE HLSL Reference" for only $51.50, which is 50% over the retail price.

And all orders to the continental USA ship for free.

That's it for my plug ;)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Flight Simulator 10 : 2.0, 3.0 Shader Hardware, do I need to upgrade?

By now, i'm sure you have seen some of the latest screen shots for Flight Sim 10. If not, take a look at FS Insider. This has brought forth alot of questions in regards to hardware support and what type of shader hardware is required to take advantage of the new visual features. Of course, keep in mind that we are still working on the product and things may change but here is my current point of view.

Architecturally, our rendering architecture was designed to be flexible and take advantage of the current hardware setup. Our main shaders are essentially components (such as lighting, bumpmap,...) which are pieced together and pushed to the hardware. The features used and put together generally depend on the detail settings and the underlying hardware on the machine.
Functionally, 2.0 and 3.0 shaders are mostly the same. One of the main difference being from a performance point of view and also in terms of the maximum number of instructions that a shader may use.

Under most circumstances, our shaders fit well under 2.0 shaders but there are a few cases where we can exceed the maximal number of instructions and turn features off. These cases would benefit from 3.0 shader hardware, but they are rare.

Now, from a performance point of view, 3.0 hardware is generally more performant and will of course yield better graphical performance. But a consideration that is probably more important is that Flight Simulator is a memory hungry application. This is even more true now that we are increasing the texture resolution in the game. Even on a 256MB card, with the settings cranked up, we run out of memory on the video card. No worries, we are smart about it and implement level-of-detail schemes to ensure the optimal use of the video card memory.

In fact, our performance on video cards is generally more bound to bandwidth usage (to transfer textures and geometry) more than shader bound. This means that you may have a better performance benefit in Flight Sim from going to a video card with more video memory rather than a card which can do faster shader operations. This is a consideration to keep in mind if you prefer to texture detail over various visual effects.