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They allow you to write code in a familiar fashion, with well-defined points of asynchrony, resulting in programs which are understandable by real humans like you and me.
In this talk, Jon explains why the status quo isn't good enough, how asynchronous methods can be used on both the server and the client, and then go under the covers to show how they work.
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Async Methods in C# 5
Jon Skeet is a Senior Software Engineer at Google, working out of the London office (and his shed). By day, he works on making Google Cloud Platform an awesome environment for C# developers, focusing on client libraries for Google APIs. By night, he maintains the Noda Time date/time library for .NET and writes about C#. On days containing a "y" in their name, he trawls Stack Overflow for interesting C# and Java questions.