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Chris Breisch   .NET Data Practices
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October 2006 Entries
FireTune for Firefox
Totalidea, the folks that brought you TweakVI, and Tweak-XP Pro have a Firefox "tweaker" now that optimizes your Firefox settings. It's called FireTune and is pretty nice. I have one minor complaint. The "check box" below labeled "Create backup of configuration" isn't actually a check box. It's a button to create your backup. You'll want to push that button before you do anything. Other than that, no complaints ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 31, 2006 7:10 AM

A .NET State Machine Toolkit
There's a good three part series on a .NET State Machine Toolkit on Code project. Part I introduces the toolkit, Part II digs a little more into some advanced features, and Part III introduces a state machine builder. The toolkit appears to be very flexible and surprisingly easy to use. This project has been on Code Project for just over a year, but has been tweaked to the point where it's very solid now. Check it out ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 31, 2006 7:00 AM

TestDriven.NET 2.0
Jamie Cansdale has released TestDriven.NET 2.0. I admit that I haven't used the 2.0 betas, but I'm still excited about this. Quite a bit of the TestDriven.NET functionality has been assimilated into Visual Studio Team System, but not everyone is using Team System, and that might be overkill depending on the size of your project. In addition, there are very good reasons to stick with something like TestDriven .NET; it should have more frequent updates, you can get closer to the developers if you need ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 31, 2006 6:53 AM

How Many Asserts In a Unit Test?
No, this isn't like "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin". There's a somewhat animated debate in the agile community right now on the benefits of having a unit test with multiple asserts. I've written them that way, and I've written them with just one. Each has pros and cons. With multiple asserts you don't know the true success/fail state of the test. Once one assert fails the test stops, so you don't know if the other asserts would've succeeded or not. This is a big problem. However, ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 31, 2006 6:48 AM

Windows Media Player 11 Now Available
I find WMP 11 to be impressive. They've almost caught up with iTunes after being far behind. And I'd actually use it instead of iTunes if I hadn't been caught in the iTunes trap of DRM and multiple libraries. I could change to WMP, but it'd be painful now, so I'll just stick with iTunes for a little while longer ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 31, 2006 6:41 AM

Big Ten Rules - Writing Correct Requirements
Earlier, I blogged about this series from Tyner Blain on Writing Good Requirements. It was called the "Big Ten Rules" because they had ten rules on the subject. Well, like the Big Ten conference, there are now eleven: The Big Ten Rules - Writing Correct Requirements Correctness in requirements is simply about getting it right. We wrote previously about how to apply use cases to creating correct requirements. Writing requirements correctly is as much about getting accurate information as it is about ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 31, 2006 6:37 AM

Is CAPTCHA Safe?
Boy, wouldn't it make your life miserable if the answer was 'no'? You do know what CAPTCHA is, don't you? I'm sure you've used it. CAPTCHA, which stands for (C)ompletely (A)utomated (P)ublic (T)uring test to tell (C)omputers and (H)umans (A)part... Here's a sample from the comment form from my blog: Pretty straightforward, right? You look at the picture and you type in what you see. But is it safe? Jeff Atwood takes a look. Oh, come on, you don't expect me to spoil the surprise, do you ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 31, 2006 6:32 AM

I've Added Search to My Blog
I was trying to tweak my blog a bit yesterday, so I did some research on "Custom CSS Selectors". I didn't figure out how to do what I wanted to do (still researching), but I did figure out how to do a number of different things. A lot of the info I used, I got from this post by Josh Ledgard. I had to modify his directions a bit to add search to my blog, but it's pretty close. I changed my subtitle to the following: .NET Data Practices<div id="s">Blog Search<br><input class="BS" type="text" ......

Posted On Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:03 AM

Firefox 2 vs. IE7
Scott M. Fulton at BetaNews isn't happy with Firefox 2 and thinks that it doesn't compare well with IE7. Actually, that's a misrepresentation of his remarks. Basically his gripe boils down to that IE7 is a much more signifacnt upgrade over IE6 than Firefox 2 is over Firefox 1.5. This is a true and accurate statement. The biggest thing I notice between Firefox 1.5 and Firefox 2 is that half of my add-ons no longer work. Other than that, I don't usually notice any differences. As he says: One little ......

Posted On Thursday, October 26, 2006 9:40 AM

CodeSmith 4.0 Beta 2 Available

It seems like it was just last week (maybe because it was) that I mentioned that CodeSmith 4.0 Beta 1 was available.  Well, now you can get Beta 2.

Posted On Thursday, October 26, 2006 9:16 AM

Project Server - Visual Studio Team System Connector
Using Visual Studio Team System and Project Server and constantly being annoyed that they don't play well together? All (ok, some of) your prayers have been answered, as Ameya Bhatawdekar posts: I am pleased to announce that Avanade has released an upgraded version of the connector. The upgraded connector is available at here. The connector is also available as a part of the Avanade Software Lifecycle Platform™. You can learn more about it here ......

Posted On Thursday, October 26, 2006 9:03 AM

Happy Birthday Windows XP
neowin is reporting that 5 years ago today Windows XP launched worldwide. Typical time between new OS releases has been about 2 years, but we're still waiting on Vista. Some people say that we'd be better off waiting for another year for Vista, and that it's still being rushed out the door. I haven't played with it all that much, so I'll hold off on statements like that, but I constantly worry about how well it will run on my existing hardware. XP seems slow enough to me already. I don't really want ......

Posted On Thursday, October 26, 2006 8:56 AM

Firefox 2 Now Available

Being away for a couple days caused me to miss this.  You probably know about it already, but just in case you've been hiding under a rock, you can download it here.

Half my add-ons still don't work.  :(

Posted On Wednesday, October 25, 2006 8:47 AM

ASP.NET AJAX Beta 1 Released
From Scott Guthrie's Blog: Today I am very pleased to announce the first official Beta release of Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX v1.0. You can download it now from the http://ajax.asp.net site. Available on the site are three download options: 1) The ASP.NET AJAX v1.0 “Core” download. This redist contains the features that will be fully supported by Microsoft Product Support, and which will have a standard 10 year Microsoft support license (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year). The download includes ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 25, 2006 8:25 AM

The Last Responsible Moment
Jeff Atwood blogs about The Last Responsible Moment, which involves delaying decisions as long as possible, but not longer. This sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe is a key ingredient in YAGNI. Making decisions at the Last Responsible Moment isn't procrastination; it's inspired laziness. It's a solid, fundamental risk avoidance strategy. Decisions made too early in a project are hugely risky. Early decisions often result in work that has to be thrown away. Even worse, those early decisions can ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 25, 2006 8:20 AM

Add-ons for IE7

A friend of mine has only one major gripe with IE7.  "I love my Firefox add-ons.  IE doesn't have anything like that."  Apparently he's never been to www.ieaddons.com, or read this blog: Must Have Add-Ons for IE7.

Posted On Wednesday, October 25, 2006 7:46 AM

xDirectory.Copy() - Copy Folder, Sub-folders, and Files
A good article on CodeProject detailing code for a Directory.Copy() method. This version also is a good example of how to use events with your background threaded code. I was near the end of a drawn out development project for adding users to an Active Directory server when I was informed I would also need to set up their Thunderbird client settings. This required me to create a copy of a directory, sub-directories, and files over at the user's "My Documents" folder. I tried using Microsoft's MSDN ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 25, 2006 7:38 AM

Jeff Atwood Writes about "The Iron Stool"
Basically, Jeff's point is that the classic iron triangle view of Time vs. Resources vs. Functionality (Scope) is inadequate. Sometimes all three dimensions of the triangle are locked. If you're given three people, four months, and a non-negotiable budget of $300k to build software, then that's what you do. But how is this possible? Something still has to give. There's an unstated fourth ingredient in the iron triangle: quality. Once you add the fourth ingredient, the triangle metaphor breaks down. ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 25, 2006 7:34 AM

CodeSmith 4.0 Public Beta Released
From their website: CodeSmith 4.0 Beta 2 has been released and is now available to the public. Here are just a few the new capabilities in CodeSmith 4.0: CodeSmith Projects (.csp) - This feature makes automating your code generation process really easy and consistent whether you are working from inside of Visual Studio 2005, MSBuild, Windows Explorer, a command line / batch file, or CodeSmith itself. ActiveSnippets - Imagine Visual Studio 2005 snippets, but with the full power of CodeSmith available ......

Posted On Thursday, October 19, 2006 7:34 AM

IE7 Now Available

It beats Firefox 2 out the door.  Barely. Download it here.

This is a major improvement over IE6, both in features (tabs, finally!) and in security.  It's still a step behind Firefox in my opinion, but has significantly narrowed the gap.

Posted On Wednesday, October 18, 2006 8:18 PM

Martin Fowler Discusses the "ImprovementRavine"
We all want to learn new ways of doing things, right? The problem is that during the learning curve of this "new way", you may actually be worse/slower at accomplishing your task than you were when you were doing it the "old way". This shouldn't cause you to give up on the "new way", though, as Martin Fowler explains: The point is that when you try a new technique it'll often make you worse, at least initially. You have to work with something unfamiliar, perhaps also unlearn something else that gets ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 18, 2006 10:51 AM

SQL Refactor from Red Gate
The always-on-top-of-things David Hayden has a great blog post about a beta product from Red Gate software called "SQL Refactor". This software does what it's name implies. It helps you to refactor your database and SQL code. To me, this holds much more promise than SQLPrompt, which usually ends up just getting in my way ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 18, 2006 10:48 AM

ExControls 1.0

ExControls 1.0 are extended controls for WinForm apps supporting round labels, text boxes, comboboxes, etc.

 

Looks pretty cool for a 1.0.  I'm interested in seeing where the author (Hesham Desouky) takes this.

Posted On Wednesday, October 18, 2006 6:39 AM

500

500 posts.  You might have thought that I'd have had something special planned for this one.  Nope.  I didn't even realize I was close to that until a friend pointed it out this weekend.  I'm halfway to my goal of 1000 posts, but I'm less interested in whether I ever make it.  I'm more interested in just posting about what interests me.

Posted On Tuesday, October 17, 2006 7:04 AM

Multiple File Uploader With Progress Bar Using Flash

This is pretty nice.  I wish more sites had something like this.  File uploads always seem to be one of the "clunkiest" pieces of web apps.

Posted On Tuesday, October 17, 2006 6:56 AM

Mozilla Inches Closer to Firefox 2

Firefox 2 RC3 has been released.  I'm running it.  I can't tell any differences between it an RC2, which is probably a good thing.

Download it here, or using the updater inside Firefox 2.

Posted On Tuesday, October 17, 2006 6:52 AM

MassDataHandler - Generate Unit Test Test Data
This is my week for information about unit testing against databases, apparently. MassDataHandler is available from CodePlex: The MassDataHandler is a framework to assist with Database Unit Testing. The framework makes it very easy to insert test data into a database, which in turn makes it very easy to write database unit tests. The user merely needs to specify their relevant data in a simple XML fragment, and then the framework uses knowledge of the database schema to do all the grunt work and ......

Posted On Monday, October 16, 2006 7:22 AM

Run a Meeting Like Google
Yes, I'm about to say something good about Google. Don't faint. There's an article on BusinessWeek about how Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products at Google runs her meetings. This is extremely valuable advice. I've been to too many meetings over my career that have been essentially failures, because they didn't follow these simple rules. Her main points? Set a Firm Agenda Assign a Note Taker Carve Out Micro-Meetings Hold Office Hours Discourage Politics, Use Data Stick To The Clock As they say, read ......

Posted On Monday, October 16, 2006 7:14 AM

Free E-learning For .NET 3.0
From Rob Caron: Microsoft Learning developed a series of e-learning clinics (Collection 5134 : Developing Rich Experiences with Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.0 and Visual Studio® 2005) you can use free of charge (for a limited time!) to learn how to develop rich experiences using Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation, and Windows Communication Foundation. Collection 5134 : Developing Rich Experiences with Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.0 and Visual Studio® 2005 includes: Clinic ......

Posted On Monday, October 16, 2006 7:08 AM

dataFresh - A Database Rollback Library for Unit Tests
Wow, this is sweet. I'd describe it, but EntropyZero's own words are better: Entropy's dataFresh is a toolkit that assists test driven development projects in restoring their database to a known state before each test within a test fixture. The time consuming effort of having to write tear down methods to clean up the database after running your tests are a thing of the past. Our approach is unlike others as we do not attempt to rip and replace the entire database. Instead we track database modifications ......

Posted On Sunday, October 15, 2006 4:08 PM

Simple Password Manager and Why You Shouldn't Use the String Class to Store Passwords
This is a simple little password manager like (eWallet) on Code Project. It's more of a proof of concept than anything else, but it does show off some of the basics of System.Security and why you need to use SecureString instead of String to store sensitive information. Why do we need SecureStrings? Well, the MSDN documentation is very explicit on this, I will just quote it: "An instance of the System.String class is both immutable and, when no longer needed, cannot be programmatically scheduled ......

Posted On Saturday, October 14, 2006 2:58 PM

Goal-Driven Documentation
Besides not doing proper testing, my other biggest pet peeve is incomplete documentation, both internal and external. The folks and Tyner Blain have been reading my mind again, because there's a great article on this very subject posted just a few days ago. Why do we write documentation? Because someone told us to write it? Because our competitors have it? Or because we want our software to be easier to use? It should be the third one, but often, writing documentation is an afterthought, and it is ......

Posted On Saturday, October 14, 2006 2:45 PM

Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 Beta 1
Microsoft has released Beta 1 of Virtual PC 2007. You can apply for participation in the program here. New Features (emphasis mine): Support for hardware virtualization (Intel and AMD) Support for Windows Vista as a host operating system Support for Windows Vista as a guest operating system Note: No support for Aero Glass though - just Aero Basic Support for 64-bit host operating systems Note: Virtual machines are 32-bit only Improved performance There's much more information on the Virtual PC Guy's ......

Posted On Saturday, October 14, 2006 2:37 PM

User Settings in C# 2005
Pretty good article on MSDN regarding using user settings in C#. It sounds like it was written for those of you with "My" namespace envy from Visual Basic. The .NET Framework 2.0 allows you to create and access values that are persisted between application execution sessions. These values are called settings. Settings can represent user preferences, or valuable information the application needs to use. For example, you might create a series of settings that store user preferences for the color scheme ......

Posted On Friday, October 13, 2006 10:34 AM

Spec Explorer is Available For Download From MS Research
Spec Explorer is a software-development tool for advanced model-based specification and conformance testing. Spec Explorer can help software-development teams detect errors in the design, the specification, and the implementation of their systems. The tool is intended to be used by software testers, designers, and implementers. Download it here ......

Posted On Friday, October 13, 2006 10:04 AM

Spec# for VS 2005 Is Available For Download
Spec# is an experimental language that extends C# with several design-by-contract features. The new features of Spec# include a non-null type system, method pre- and postconditions, loop invariants, and object invariants. The Spec# Programming System provides design-time checking, run-time checking, and also a static verifier. This version of Spec# runs on .NET Framework version 2. Download it here ......

Posted On Friday, October 13, 2006 10:01 AM

The Masked Blogger
You may have read here or on Scoble, that someone from Apple has started blogging, albeit anonymously. I applaud him, and I hope he's successful in bringing blogging to Apple, but I doubt he will be. Let me be frank; I don't own any Apple products. Ok, two. I bought my wife an iPod Mini about a year and a half ago. Oh, and I play around occasionally with a fully licensed copy of MacOS X using PearPC. That's it. That's the extent to which Apple has invaded my life. There are a number of reasons for ......

Posted On Friday, October 13, 2006 9:16 AM

Two More Outlook RSS Readers
I've previously blogged about inclue!, Attensa, Blogbot, and NewsGator. I've just stumbled upon two others, intraVnews ($), and RSS Popper (Free). Rss Popper even works with Outlook Express. intraVnews looks pretty powerful, and even supports posting to your blog from Outlook. RSS Popper seems somewhat basic (but really, how much flexibility do you need?) Anyway, worth a look. So far, I still prefer NewsGator, even over the built-in reader in Outlook 2007 (which still seems a little quirky). Eventually, ......

Posted On Friday, October 13, 2006 8:25 AM

Is "Office 2.0" For You?
Tom Hollander doesn't think so. Admittedly, Tom is part of the p&p group at Microsoft, so his opinion might be biased. Every couple of years, the tech media giants get together to hold a secret meeting. According to my sources, it takes place in a cave, deep underground, somewhere just east of Wagga Wagga. The main order of business is to choose the next technology that will be the death of Microsoft... this time for certain. Past appointees, in chronological order, include Netscape, Java, Linux ......

Posted On Friday, October 13, 2006 8:07 AM

Firefox 2 RC2
Neowin is reporting that Firefox 2 RC2 is available. Ok, it is. I've bitten the bullet and downloaded it. Seems ok, I guess, but I don't see anything exciting and different other than that my Tab Mix Plus extension doesn't work. And that's exciting and different in a bad way. Fortunately, an interim build of TMP is available here. There are three Firefox extensions that I cannot live without. Adblock Plus IE Tab Tab Mix Plus So, now that I have those three, I'm good to go. I'm still missing quite ......

Posted On Friday, October 6, 2006 10:46 AM

Elevator Floor Illusion

I think that it would seriously freak me out to walk into an elevator whose floor had been painted to look like an elevator shaft.

 

Posted On Thursday, October 5, 2006 7:00 AM

CodeSpell
Thanks to Eli Lopian for pointing this out. CodeSpell is a spell checker that integrates with Visual Studio. CodeSpell bring high speed as you type wavy-line spell checking and full solution spell check to Visual Studio. Using integrated and automatic full text indexing of you source code that understands code punctuation, camel casing, and even ASP.NET and HTML files you can quickly find and fix spelling errors. The price? $29. Not exactly a bank-breaker. And there's a free trial also ......

Posted On Thursday, October 5, 2006 6:58 AM

Multi-Tasking Makes You Dumb

We all know that working on multiple projects simultaneously makes us less effective, but this post on Coding Horror quantifies it.  It also shows that the idea of only reading your e-mail once or twice a day is a good one.

Posted On Wednesday, October 4, 2006 8:02 AM

MSDN Nuggets
Rob Caron wants to know if people are using the MSDN Nuggets and what they think (or even if you're aware of their existence). Don't have the time to read a 10-page how-to article or watch a full length webcast? Try an MSDN Nugget, a webcast that takes you step-by-step to discovering new functionality or exploring a hot developer topic, all in 10-15 minutes. View them online now or download for later reference. I haven't tried any out yet, but looks like they might be cool. They have 4 different ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 4, 2006 7:46 AM

October 4, 1957 - The World is Suddenly Much Smaller

On this day in 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, officially starting the "space race" and changing the world forever.  Suddenly, there was a renewed emphasis on math and science not only in the American classroom, but around the world.

Posted On Wednesday, October 4, 2006 4:43 AM

Helping IE understand Transparent PNG's Using a Control Adapter
I have to admit, I wouldn't have thought of this. IE won't display transparent PNG's properly using the <img> tag. So, this control adapter modifies the rendering of your <img> tag to something that IE can use to display the PNG properly. Control Adapters are a means for you to intercept the rendering functions of a control and replace them with your own. There's a great article by Fritz Onion in the October 2006 edition of MSDN magazine explaining Control Adapters in more detail than ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 3, 2006 11:46 AM

NetSetMan - Set Your Network Configuration Easily
Thanks to Roy Osherove for pointing out this handy little utility. If you're a laptop user and you switch from various locations and need something to manage your network settings, this is it. NetSetMan is a network settings manager which can easily switch between 6 different, visually structured profiles including: IP Address Subnet Mask Default Gateway Preferred & Alternate DNS Server Computer Name Workgroup DNS Domain WINS Server Default Printer Run Scripts Additionally only in the Pro version ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 3, 2006 4:21 AM

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