Tim Murphy's .NET Software Architecture Blog

Misc

Getting Back Into The Swing

It has been forever since I have posted to this blog.  Since I have spending all my time working on a revision of a .NET Windows Service and ASP.NET Web Forms application I have been feeling the need to start learning something new and get back to writing.  As this project approaches the point of winding down I am looking to get back to work on Azure and general cloud technologies.  Stay tuned …

Time To Reboot

It has been nearly six months since I blogged last. Thankfully this means I have been busy working on client projects. It is a new year and just back from spring break so I think it is time to start digging into technical topics again. This post will actually help to do some testing for an Azure Logic App POC that I am working on. Watch for a future post on this and other Azure topics. Until then … ......

Can Sketch Noting Help You Keep Up With Technology?

I saw a post from someone who had created a Sketchnote of one of Scott Hanselman’s talks. It was the first time I had seen this as an defined process for note taking. As I get older and technology moves faster I am finding that it is getting harder to keep up and remember everything I need to learn. This approach looks like it could be part of the solution. This post documents my findings as I start to use sketchnoting. One of the things I noticed as I learned more about sketchnotes is that I have ......

Rejuvenate Your Career

We can all get in a rut after years in this industry. We get comfortable doing what we know. The problem is that technology does not stand still. If we don’t keep reinventing ourselves then we will eventually find that we don’t have the skills that the industry requires. This is so important an issue that I often ask prospective employment candidates how they keep up with technology. So what is my answer to rejuvenate your career? Because I spend most of my time developing solutions for the Microsoft ......

Is It Time To Specialize?

Over my career I have made a living as a generalist. I have been a jack of all trades and a master of none. It has served me well in that I am able to move from one technology to the other quickly and make myself productive. Where it becomes a problem is deep knowledge. I am constantly digging for the things that aren’t basic knowledge. How do you make a product like WCF or Windows RT do more than just “Hello World”? As an architect I need to be a jack of all trades. This is what helps me to bring ......

Cookie Cutter Versus Custom Development

I recently had a potential client ask for an estimate of some work they wanted done. They already had a price in mind which I was pretty sure I couldn’t come close to. The reason for this is because they were comparing off the shelf, commodity type development to the custom development that it would require for my team to do the work. So does this mean that custom development can’t be the right answer if a subject area has commoditized? Not in the least. In many cases (but not all) these quick solutions ......

Windows 8 App Wish List

As I have been using Windows 8 more some of them apps that come with the system have been missing some features that I would like to see. So Microsoft, here is my wish list for some new features. Skydrive Copy files from one folder to another in Skydrive Get public and read only URLs of a file OneNote MX Print a page Mail Accept/Reject appointments Sort inbox Search inbox (use the search charm) Print email Store Keyword search (use the search charm) del.icio.us Tags: Windows 8 ......

To Start Or Not To Start

On a recent Windows Weekly podcast Mary Jo Foley and Leo Laporte had me talking to my Zune HD (practically yelling) as they discussed if Microsoft got it wrong with Windows 8 by taking away the start button and forcing Metro full screen apps on users. Leo’s main argument was around the fact that the reason people buy big screens is so that they can have multiple windows open at the same time on the same screen. I really took exception to this. Even with every version of Windows leading up to Windows ......

Blogging Withdrawal

Did you know that blogging is a drug and that if you go too long without posting something you actually go into withdrawal? It turns out to be the case, at least for me. Whatever the excuse may be, when I go for a long stretch without a significant topic posted I feel anxious, almost as if I had abandoned my child. Lately the IT consulting business has been so busy it just doesn’t leave much time to blog. Working a full day at one client and then doing support work for others in the evening is seems ......

More Chicago Code Camp Information

It seems the guys have posted the venue. The Chicago Code Camp will be held at the Illinois Institute of Technology on May 1, 2010. Sign up and join in. IIT- Stuart Building 10 West 31st Chicago, IL 60616 del.icio.us Tags: Chicago Code Camp ......

200th Post

I didn’t break any speed records getting getting to 200 posts, but I am here. So what is the prize for getting here? You have to put out the obligatory post announcing the achievement. It also means that it is time to put “Yes, I’m a geek” on your business card. Well, there it is. Now go about your business. Nothing to see here. del.icio.us Tags: 200th post ......

2010 Chicago Code Camp Coming In May

The Lake Count .NET User Group is putting on it’s second Chicago Code Camp on May 1st. I would encourage everyone to come out and participate in the Chicago area .NET community. You can register here. Better yet come of with a presentation of your own. I have submitted an abstract for a presentation on Office Open XML. del.icio.us Tags: Chicago Code Camp,presentations,Office Open XML,LCNUG ......

Curating Employee Blogs

I’m not sure if it is ego or a desire to inform our community, but many of us try to post to blogs on a regular basis. Many companies choose to have their own blog server to host content from their employees. But this doesn’t always work, especially when your employees already have a community presence before joining the team. Recently our company has been trying to conquer this very issue. The first question is “what are your goals”. For us it is to aggregate blog postings/articles that could be ......

Why Twitter Needs Third Party Apps

Yesterday Twitter released their Windows 8 native application. This is just a short time after releasing an update for Windows Phone. It took my all of two minutes determine that these applications are unusable for the way I use Twitter and their web site doesn’t cut it either. Now I admit that my usage may not be the same as the majority of Twitter subscribers, but I don’t think it is entirely outside the norm either. I use multiple accounts because of user groups that I work with and employer accounts. ......

Platform Religion Leads To Bad Business Decisions

I have been accused of being a Microsoft fanboy which has probably become more true as the years go by. Of course this is due in great part to the fact that developing for Microsoft technologies allows me to feed my family. In truth though, despite my reservations about other platforms, I am pragmatic when it comes to recommending implementations for clients. You should always take into account things like existing installed technologies, development team capabilities and ROI when determining the ......

Be Honest With Product Reviews

As you gain attention in the technology community you will get asked to review books and products from time to time. In doing so you are going to find that not everything that you are asked to review will be something you believe is useful or agree with the author. I have found that being honest with the person who asked for the review is the best thing that you can do for both yourself and them. Contact them and explain your reservations and ask if they still want you to publish the review. While ......

Why Does Bing Not Have Blog Search

This is more of a short rant than anything. For the most part I like Bing. Once in a while I still find I get better results from Google. The main thing I find myself missing that I had with Google is the blog search feature. All to often I can filter out a lot of garbage just by using that option. So my request is “when will Bing implement blogsearch”? del.icio.us Tags: Bing,Google,blogsearch ......

Thunking Anyone?

Now how many people understand the reference in the title. I don't know if it something that is still done today, but it was a big deal when we moved from Win16 to Win32. I essentially allowed 16bit applications to run on a 32bit Windows machine. Today I was reminded of this as I removed Windows 7 64bit from my machine because certain applications still do not work on that platform. Event through 64bit processors and even operating systems have been around for a while they still haven't achieved ......

Scratch–Programming For Kids Or Going Old School

I was watching the TED session on Scratch after seeing it linked to in the DZone newsletter. I was interested to find out what it was and see if my kids might be interested in playing with it. Of course I also needed to find a new programming language to learn for the year (ok, couldn’t resist a little dry humor). The Scratch programming environment can be downloaded from MIT’s site here if you want to give it a try. Scratch is an interesting little drag-n-drop language that is great for understanding ......

DZone MVB Goody Box Arrives

There are small perks that go along with blogging. In this case it looks like it is cubical war time. I got home yesterday to find that DZone had sent a goody box including stickers, post cards, a cozy, ref cards, note pad, a thumb drive and best of all ICBMs (Inter-Cubical Ballistic Missiles). Very cool. So what is all this for. This blog is reposed on a regular basis on DZone where I am part of the MVB (Most Valuable Blogger) program. Be sure to check out my posts and all the content on DZone. ......

Learn A New Programming Language Every Year?

I heard someone mention the other day that they have forgotten more programming languages than most developers have learned and it made me remember all the suggestions to learn a new language every year. I have probably even made this suggestion before. As I thought about it I realized that it isn’t important for it to be a language that your learn, it is just important that you learn something new. Experiment with a new platform, study data theory, join the enemy’s camp and understand their point ......

The Importance Of R&D For Consultants

In most companies it is important to keep up with the latest technologies. In a consulting firm it is critical because what you are selling is knowledge and experience. The ability for a consultant to advise a client both from a business perspective and from a technology perspective adds to the value of your people. The business knowledge relies on real world experience, but the technology knowledge mean many hours of research and prototyping with betas. A company needs to look at the time and money ......

Blog Goals For 2013

It is the beginning of a new year. No better time to take a look what we want to accomplish over the next year. My first goal is to have more Windows 8 and Windows Phone development content. This is a technology that I really enjoy developing for and I see challenges that every developer would like answers to. Things are also evolving on a daily basis which gives us a lot to discover and discuss. I am also looking to have more architecture topics. These will be both high level concepts and integration ......

Gaming Keeps The Family Together

Years ago I used to spend a fair amount of time playing computer games. The problem is that I found it to be quite a time suck. Fast forward to this Christmas and my children got a Wii as a present. I never thought that a game could increase quality time with your kids. I found that it gives me an opportunity to interact with them on a more relaxed basis than just helping them with their homework. Multi-player video games are the board games of the 21st century. Who needs Candy Land when you have ......

Enjoying Vista Image Features

If you have followed my blog for a while you know that there were a number of graphic issues I had to begin with. In a change of event I am noticing lately that there are features of the Windows Explorer that are coming in handy. The first thing was the rating system for images. Many times I have heard the Lightroom experience described and its star rating system. From the day I started using Vista I noticed that it had similar capabilities, but it wasn’t clear how to use it beyond a single file. ......

Nokia Windows Phone 8 App Collection

I recently upgraded to a Nokia Lumia 920. Along with it came the availability of a number of Nokia developed apps or apps that Nokia has made available from other developers. Below is a summary of some of the ones that I have used to this point. There are quite a few of them so I won’t be covering everything that is available. Nokia Maps I am quite pleased with the accuracy of Nokia Maps and not having to tap the screen for each turn any more. The information on the screen is quite good as well. ......

2012–The End Of The World Review

The end of the world must be coming. Not because the Mayan calendar says so, but because Microsoft is innovating more than Apple. It has been a crazy year, with pundits declaring not that the end of the world is coming, but that the end of Microsoft is coming. Let’s take a look at what 2012 has brought us. The beginning of year is a blur. I managed to get to TechEd in June which was the first time that I got to take a deep dive into Windows 8 and many other things that had been announced in 2011. ......

Interesting Blog Stats–What Sells

Just out of curiosity I decided to find out what the most frequently post were on my blog. I knew what number one would be just from checking daily stats from time to time. The main theme that I found in the data is that either pain or humor can really bring people to find your posts. My most viewed post is on turning off Toshiba Flashcards at over 54K views (I think Toshiba should take notice of this massive fail). The second highest is on Interesting Blog titles. This was nothing more than a post ......

Review: Windows 8 - Initial Experience

I originally started this post when I had the Windows 8 preview setup on VirtualBox image. I have since put the RTM bits on a Dell E6530 that is my new work laptop. It isn’t a table so I am not getting the touch experience, but as a developer this makes the most sense for the moment. This is the first Windows OS that I have had to spend much time exploring to even get started. The first thing I ran into was when I clicked on the desktop icon I was lost. Where is the Start menu? Where are my programs? ......

My Favorite Free Windows Phone Twitter App

Windows Phone 7 has been out for about two years now. In that time I have switched back and forth with different free Twitter apps. Mostly the has been because someone has mentioned one or another that they like. I figured I would give a quick run down of what I felt were the pros and cons of each. These are only the ones that I have used and your mileage may vary. So here we go. WP7 Built-In Twitter Functionality While it is great that Microsoft put this functionality in, it is extremely limited ......

Why Social Metrics Are Only As Good As Their Input

As more and more social media sites come online people are looking to see what kind of influence you have on the community. Some employers are even checking your Klout or PeerIndex scores before they go into an interview. My problem is that these sites don’t even come close to telling the whole story of a person’s influence in the community. The first thing is that they can’t measure things such as user group interaction. How many conferences do you attend or speak at? Are you responding to forums ......

Features I’d Like To See In Windows Phone 8

With Windows Phone 8 around the corner I figured I would get the wish list out. I am encouraged by what we have seen so far. This is a short list of the things that have bugged me over the last two years of using and developing for the platform. I realize that some of them are pure fantasy and will never happen, but we can dream. So here we go. Separate volume controls for phone and alerts Videos can be taken in portrait and will be saved that way Tweets created in the People Hub should be able to ......

Windows Phone 8 Announcement

As if the Surface announcement on Monday wasn’t exciting enough, today Microsoft announce that Windows Phone 8 will be coming this fall. That itself is great news, but the features coming were like confetti flying in all different directions. Given this speed I couldn’t capture every feature they covered. A summary of what I did capture is listed below starting with their eight main features. Common Core The first thing that they covered is that Windows Phone 8 will share a core OS with Windows 8. ......

3 Reasons You Need To Know Something About Every Technology

I make my living as a consultant and a general technologist. I credit my success to the fact that I have never been afraid to pick up any product, language or platform needed to get the job done. While Microsoft technologies I my mainstay, I have done work on mainframe and UNIX platforms and have worked with a wide variety of database engines. Each one has it’s use and most times it is less expensive to find a way to communicate with an existing system than to replace it. So what are the main benefits ......

Blogging After The Blog Boom

I have been blogging on Geeks With Blogs since 2005 and on other blogging sites before that. In this age of Twitter, Facebook and G+ it feels like we are in the post-blog age and yet here I continue. There are several reasons for this. The first is that I still find it to be the best place for self publishing long form thought that won’t fit well on Twitter or Facebook. Google+ allows for this type of content, but it suffers from the same scroll factor as the other social media platforms. If you ......

Preparing For TechEd

This being my first time going to TechEd and I want to make sure that I get the most out of it. The first goal is to make sure that I get to the sessions that cover as many topics as possible. This is important for me as a Solution Architect consultant specializing in Microsoft technologies. To this end I have spent some time going through the sessions on the myTechEd site. The other reason for the trip is to connect with the Microsoft development community. This includes both members of my local ......

Why Do Computer Scientists Need To Understand Software Developers

I saw a tweet asking why do we educate computer scientists to get developers and compared this to structural engineers and stone masons. I believe this is a good question with a flawed premise. The flaw is in thinking that a developer’s job is as simple and limited in variations as that of a mason. Almost every problem attacked by a developer requires that they bend their tools and materials in a new way. This requires that everyone on a team communicate and at least on some level understand each ......

The Hidden Costs Of Offshoring Your IT

While I am not a fan of offshoring IT development, I do understand the attraction. From a rate perspective they look very attractive, but in my experience that is the smallest part of the story when it comes to offshore resources. There are a number of hurdles you will have to deal with if you are going use developers that are half way around the world. The first obstacle is the language and cultural barrier. I am not talking about just understanding the words, but understanding the meaning behind ......

Choosing A Windows Based Web Hosting Service

Recently I have gone through the process of selecting a web hosting company for one of my clients. There are a lot of options out there and a number things you need to be cautious about. I will go over some of the decision points and questions you will want to ask a company before signing a contract. The first thing you need to do is define the features that make up you site. Is it made up purely of static content or does not use a database? If that is the case then you can choose just about any ......

Organizing Your Work With OneNote Page Templates

If you have seen the Windows Phone commercial where the father is in the grocery store with the shopping list in OneNote you have gotten you first taste of the flexibility that can be had with OneNote. I like most consultants have a lot of fires going and once and I am finding that the templates in OneNote are helping me to get a handle on the different projects and tasks I need to track. I started using OneNote to do simply what its name suggests: take and organize notes. Lately though I am finding ......

Ways To Pass Time On Window Phone – TouchDevelop

A co-worker was showing me an in phone scripting environment on the iPhone and I knew I had seen one mentioned for the Windows Phone before. TouchDevelop is an app from Microsoft Research that allows you to create small applications that do a wide variety of operations including using most of the capabilities of the device. So could this be a fun way for us geeks to waste some time while waiting for our oil to be change or a table to open up at your favorite restaurant? So what does this language ......

2011 Year In Review

2011 has been an amazing year in which I ended up working on an exciting number of projects. SharePoint has continued to be the hottest requested technology that I deal with. At the same time Windows Phone 7 has put Microsoft back in the mobile market and I will be finishing off the year additionally writing for this platform. At the same time the old standards of WinForms and ASP.NET have not left our market space. Ultimately, the IT market is still on fire and I am looking forward to great things ......

TweetMeme Button or Template Plug-In for WLW

In my search for a way to allow readers to tweet post that I put on GWB I have come across the TweetMeme plug-in for Windows Live Writer. It automatically puts a twitter button at either the top or bottom of your post depending on how you configure it. It comes with a warning that it does not work with blog servers that strip out script from posts which I made me afraid it was going to make it incompatible with GWB. This turned out to be the case so I figured we would need either an upgrade to the ......

Adding Tweet Button To GWB Post

I have wanted to have a Tweet button on my individual posts for a short while. So here is a test to see if the Twitter code for their button con work on Geeks With Blogs site via Windows Live Writer. Tweet del.icio.us Tags: Twitter,Tweet blog ......

SkyDrive and Consumer Cloud Services

Paul Thurrrott recently posted an article on the future of SkyDrive and I was asked what I thought about its future by @UserCommunity. So let’s take a look. The breakdown from Microsoft that Paul described I believe is an accurate representation of users and usages. While I can’t say that I leverage SkyDrive to the extent that it was meant to be I do enjoy having OneNote hosted their and being able to consult and edit it from the desktop, web and Windows Phone. Taking that one step further is the ......

GWB Influencer

I was pleasantly surprised to find out this week that I am now part of the Geeks With Blogs Influencers program. It is hard to believe that it has been 5 1/2 years since I started blogging here. It has always been a great community and it is great to be able to show off how much I appreciate having this soapbox here to share ideas. I look forward to being here a lot longer. Finally, thanks to Jeff and the crew for keeping the lights on and continued improvements. del.icio.us Tags: GWB,Geeks With ......

Microsoft Is Dead, Long Live SalesForce?

A number of people returned from the recent Dreamforce conference. One told me that this is now the largest IT conference. This information was followed up with the statement that Microsoft is missing the boat and will soon go the way of Novell. This got me to thinking. Does this statement hold any water? Any large company definitely has the possibility getting tunnel vision. Microsoft is not immune to these issues. But is it possible that their culture might could as an anti-virus. There is one ......

This Developers Life Podcast

This Developers Life is a podcast put out by Scott Hanselman and Rob Conery. In the most recent episode there were a couple of things that really struck me. The fist was on motivation. Why is it that we keep spending every free hour keeping up with the latest technologies and techniques? Personally, I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of solving problems with technology. Hey, if you aren’t one to join sports then you need some sort of challenge. Of course getting to play with new toys like Windows ......

Memories Of The Past While Learning The Future

The last couple of weeks I have been working through some proof of concepts for Windows Phone 7. While working through one exercise I had a flashback. The book I was reading mentioned how you needed to code your application to have the smallest possible memory and and processing speed footprint. Suddenly I was back in high school with my Tandy hand-held computer which had a single line of text screen and a whopping 1K of memory. Talk about limitations. So what else can you learn from developing in ......

Windows Live Writer 2011

The new WLW 2011 has been a shock to the system. I am used to having my history/drafts and and plug-ins at the ready down the right side of the window. Plug-ins are now under the insert tag on the ribbon. The history and drafts are now under a drop-down file menu in the ribbon. I’ll have to see if this configuration works for me. There doesn’t seem to be an option for a “classic” setup so I may end up looking for a new blog editor that is more efficient for me. I realize to some people these may ......

What I Learned From Thirsty Developer

A few months back I sat down on a conference call with Dave Bost and Clark Sell to record an episode of Thirsty Developer. I had suggested that we could talk about Office Open XML and how it can be used to automate the generation of documents. Now for a number of reasons this episode will never see the light of day (at least not as we originally recorded it). But the reason that sticks in my mind is that the story wasn’t there. As technologists we spend a lot of time learning tools, languages and ......

Why Standards Only Get You So Far

Over the years I have been exposed to a number of standards. EDI was the first. More recently it has been the CIECA standard for Insurance and now the embattled document standards of Open XML and ODF. Standards actually came up at the last CAG meeting. The debate was over how effective they really are. Even back in the late 80’s to early 90’s people found they had to customize these standards to get any work done. I even had one vendor about a year ago tell me that they really weren’t standards, ......

How Are Podcasts Made

Larry Clarkin of The Thirsty Developer podcast is one of the leaders of the Chicago Architects Group and makes the Microsoft office available for some of our meetings. As we were setting up for last week’s meeting Larry was recording an episode of The Thirsty Developer. There were a few things about the situation that surprised me. The first thing was that I always imagined a large box for recording and head sets and everything hooked up to a computer. The whole setup was barely noticable except ......

Can Technology Bring Back Truth In Elections

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of a candidate or party. Please do not leave comments about either since I do not believe that GWB is the proper place for such a discussion. This is an examination of the capabilities of today's technology related to elections. I was watching part of a political speech given by a supporter of one of the presidential candidates the other night and my bovine manure detector started going off. So what do I do? I start a Google search. The first site that I happened ......

No One Is Immune

I guess it can happen to anyone. This weekend I started getting emails from friends and automated rejections form mail servers. It seems that my Yahoo account got hit with a virus that sends spam from my mail account to everyone in my address book. Now the surprising part is that this happened while running a web mail browser session which did not give an indication that a message was sent either visually or leaving a message in my sent mail. It also occurred without setting off warnings from either ......

Interesting Blog Titles

Ok, it is time for random thoughts. I was going through my blog reader and suddenly became aware of some of the more interesting post titles. Below is a list of a few recent ones. What would you think if you only had the title? Nothing to blog Are we living in Nazi Germany Dumb Stuff about Smart Clients Let me sleep on it Aha! You've been 'Creamed Surprised? No, not really ... Connecting women and men Addicted to blog love ......

Maintaining Blog Post Lists

I just don't know how other people do it. There are a number of individuals around the blogosphere who create lists on a daily or weekly basis which reflect what they think are hot topics. I have been creating a list that I email out to the members of the .NET community within my company for the last few months. For about the last three weeks I just have not been able to keep up with this effort. Part of the challenge is that I am not finding a lot that looks of interest to me. The raises a dilemma. ......

Quoted In Redmond Developer News

As a result of an earlier post on Krugle I got a correspondence from Michael Desmond at Redmond Developer News. The result of this got printed in the April 15, 2008 issue. Now he only picked a couple of sentences from my response, but in all I think it was pretty accurate. The one thing I would correct is that I was speaking more about the public site than the appliances that Krugle supplies, since that is what I have experience with. Either way the idea still holds true that reading other peoples ......

An Adventure Not To Be Repeated

Last weekend I had to travel out of town for a funeral and the flight out was one I don't want experience again. So what happened? I got to the airport early, but evidently that isn't a requirement for the flight crew. We were told they were coming in on another flight and hadn't arrived yet. Oh, and by the way the maintenance crew is looking at the breaks of our plane. Great! The crew finally arrived, but they decided it would be better if we didn't fly this particular aircraft. So an hour later ......

Off To DevConnections

It is unusual that I get to go to conferences.  I think I am really going to enjoy this one.  The speaker list is top notch and it looks like the weather is going to be beautiful.  See you when I get back.

RAW file CODECs for Vista

Here is a software suggestion for those of you out there that enjoy doing digital photography and save to RAW format. I am using Photoshop Elements and was getting annoyed having to open all of my files individually in the editor to weed out the unacceptable ones. The Windows Image viewer wouldn't read the RAW files, so what do you do? The answer, as always, is Google for a free solution. It turns out that most of the major manufacturers of digital cameras are now putting out CODEC files so that ......

You Mean There's Lakes Under That Snow

It seems like years since we have had a lack of snow cover in the Chicago area. It isn't that we got dumped on all at one time, but we seem to have had snow fall at least once a week since around Christmas. This week I think is the first time since about the same period that we have had more than one day in a row above freezing. Today many open areas are finally without snow. Of course with the melting and the fact that it is raining we now have lakes where the snow once was. I am longing for summer. ......

Pay Attention To Your Start Page

There are so many things that pass by our gaze, but we just don't pay any attention to them. I discovered today that the Start Page of Visual Studio is one of those things that I don't notice. I start my day by picking a project to open, but what is that on the right hand side? In true 80s speak "Oh my gosh". Yes those are blog entries. Ok, so some times I can get so preoccupied that I miss the obvious. Don't do the same thing. Check out the blog entries. Today there were some good ones from Scott ......

Al Gore Hasn't Been To Chicago In January

Ok, I'm not actually going to get into the whole global warming debate.  I just thought it would be a funny title for a post about a very cold day in the the Chicago suburbs.  If you look back a year on this blog you will find a post with a picture of sign saying -4.  When I woke up this morning it was at least -7 with a wind chill of -30.  Of course a little over a week ago it was +60.  As they say around here, "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change".  Stay warm.

A Reminder About The Small Things

This week has been pretty busy with the promise of it only getting busier, but I am feeling pretty good. What is the reason for this optimistic outlook you might ask? Mainly it is the number of compliments on my work this week. Thankfully it has made me realize that this is something I need to do more often. Nothing makes your life better than lifting up those around you. So let me start by thanking all of you who read my blog and all of you who have contributed constructive comments. While I am ......

Passion For What You Do

The most recent Polymorphic Podcast does not have a lot of technical content, but I found it very interesting all the same. I am sure the most people go through times in their career where they wonder why they doing the job they are. Putting it another way, "what do you want to do when you grow up"? Of course we know that people in IT never grow up, but that is besides the point. Since this is the beginning of a new year it is a great time to get fired up about goals. Mine for this year include stepping ......

Toshiba FlashCards Annoying

I have been dealing with an annoying feature with my Toshiba laptop since I got it back in October. There is a drop down, auto-hide menu at the the top of the screen that doesn't seem to hide very well and covers up you title bar controls when it is active. It didn't even give an indication of what it is called so it took a while to locate the way to turn it of. It is call FlashCards and here is how to turn it off. Run msconfig On the startup tab deselct the Toshiba FlashCards application Click Ok. ......

To Link List Or Not To Link List

In the past I have had an aversion to link list posts. I have picked up a large number of blog subscriptions and most of these lists just contain what I have already seen. Lately my opinion has changed slightly. I am trying to evangelize within the company that I work for. In order to grow awareness of what is going on in the community as a whole I have started sending out emails with a distilled list of blog links. I figure if I have already found what I think are the jewels I can save others the ......

Impressive Product Support

This has happened before with but it still impresses me when a company is scanning the blogosphere to see what is being said about there product and help out people with questions. Today I got a comment from the Sr. Product Manager at Corel to give a tip on my previous post. All I can say is that this is the way you gain and keep customers. We can all learn from this example ......

Invisible Captcha

This is another one of those things I heard about on .NET Rocks.  I believe that it is being used here on GWB, considering the visible one doesn't seem to be in use any more.  It is an interesting approach to a difficult problem.

Now the question is what is next when the spammers figure out how to defeat this barrier?  I'm waiting for the retina scanner.

The Things You See On The Way To Work

Here is something you don't see every day.

 

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Yahoo Spam Filter Gone Crazy

I don't know what is happening, but for about the last week Yahoo's spam filter has started putting half of my emails to the spam folder.  If I didn't go in there every so often and check things out I would still be wondering where some of them were.  Go figure!

Deciding On Photo Editing Software

Ok, so if you didn't already know it I am a shutter bug. Everyone who is into photography knows that the big dog on the block is Photoshop CS3. Unfortunately if you don't get paid for your photography or get the "CEO's" approval for such an expenditure it is just way too expensive. So lately I have been looking at alternatives. This post will describe some of the plusses and minuses of a couple of editing packages. So which applications did I look at: Paint.NET, Nikon Capture NX, Paint Shop Pro Photo ......

Polymorphic Podcast Firing On All Cylinders Again

I have mentioned before that one of my favorite podcasts is the Polymorphic Podcast hosted by Craig Shoemaker. Things were a little slow there for a while. I am guessing because Craig has done this because he wants to, not because he gets paid to and life just gets in the way some times. This week he is fired back up to full steam. He has a great interview with Scott Hanselman. The only unfortunate part of the show is that it is making me feel old. I am five years older than Scott and haven't done ......

Windows Vista User Experience at T+ 48hr

Ok, so I am a little behind the adoption curve for an IT person. I had a machine crash recently and finally purchased a computer with Vista installed. I have to say that so far I am less than impressed. I am sure that the computer needs more memory but I am experiencing random screen flickers where the screen will black for a second and then everything is fine. This seems to only happen when there are a number of popup bubbles. Another wierd thing is windows keep resizing themselves when I am clicking ......

Browser Style Difference

I was visiting a photography blog the other day and was having a lot of trouble reading it. All of the links we blending into the background. Being color blind I was wondering if it was just me and that was the way it was intended. When I asked the site owner about it he said it was a problem with IE and didn't know how to fix it. Of course being the geek that I am I couldn't leave it at that. I pulled down the source (evidently a WordPress template) and his style sheets. Everything looked fine, ......

A Quote From My Favorite Author

I heard this on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe and had to post it since it works for science as well as software development.  It also happens to be from one of my favorite authors.

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'" (Isaac Asimov)

Ultimate Tool List

He has done it again.  Scott Hanselman has come out with his 2007 Ultimate Tool List.  If you value your time check it out.

OT: Floating Away

Last month we were begging for rain.  My grass is completely dead in spots and the only thing growing are weeds and crab grass.  This month it just won't stop raining.  I looked up some figures this morning.  The county I live in gets an average of 4" of rain in August.  One town is reporting almost 10" so far this month with two weeks to go and a forcast of rain all this week.  I'm thinking of building an arc.  Anyone want to join me?

IT: The Next Generation

I was talking with a neighbor who is going to DePaul University for software engineering. Things have definitely changed since I was in college. He was working on a Java PDA app and a traffic light controller application. That is a long way from encryption programs and inventory reports. One thing that is a little scary is that he says his focus is on project management. Now maybe my thinking is outdated, but I don't believe that you can effectively manage developers without knowing how to develop ......

Now That Is Dedication To Your Product

Yesterday I posted about adding whatIf functionality to a PowerShell script. Less than 24 hours later I had a comment from Jeffrey Snover of the PowerShell team. This isn't the first time that I have noticed hits to my blog from Microsoft addresses after posting on one subject or another. I find the fact that the product teams are keeping an eye on the community reassuring. Keep up the good work guys ......

Xiine Who?

I heard about Xiine on .NET Rocks and figured I would see what all the hype is about. It is a reader for magazines, books and other formatted content built on .NET 3.0 technologies including WPF. Future releases are also support RSS from what they were saying on the show. I have to say that the interface is pretty clean. The one thing that I notice is missing from the current release is discoverability from within the application directly. The main navigation uses a bread crumb menu, which I find ......

Cool Celebration And Team Building

We had some fun tonight to celebrate a major release for one of our clients and do a little team building.  Fast, some what violent sports are always fun.

Daugherty Chicago Indoor Racing

Be A Better Developer

I have seen posts like this floating around and then the other day I listened to Hanselminutes where Scott and Carl discussed the subject. I figured my enthusiasm has been lacking lately and maybe this would be a good way to bump it up a notch. I need to find a new way to get Microsoft products to learn on. One of the clients I used to work for had been paying for my MSDN subscription. With that gone and my current company being a miser with the developer tools I need to come up with a new plan. ......

Long Work Week

It is one of those production preparation weeks.  You know the ones I am talking about.  The ones where every defect you don't need popping up at the last minute does!  I know, one more reason to use TDD.  Of course that is also the good thing about being a consultant.  You tend to move right onto another project where you can apply the lessons you have learned.

Back Up! Back Up! Back Up!

I know that all too many people have shared this experience.  Last night my main laptop hard drive crashed.  We aren't just talking made a load noise and came to a screeching halt.  No!  The only thing I get is "Disk Read Error".  Nothing else.  So I backup to an external drive.  I thought everything that was important was on the disk.  I guess not.  There isn't anything I can't do without, but there are a few things I wish I had backed up.  Live and learn.

The Way Development Should Be

Now this is the way to get to the hearts and minds of developers.  Gaming, food and management bashing all in one.  I was going through Visual Studio Magazine when I came across an add for this site.  It is a cross between Halo and Dilbert.

Too Much Information

I was listening to .NET Rocks last week when Dan Appleman and Richard Campbell decided to start talking about the early days in computers. I decided to have a little fun and send the show an email with what I remember of the early days of computing. SURPRISE! They read it during the show. Of course it sounds funnier with Richard reading it than when I wrote it ......

So What Is .NET Again?

As I have mentioned before I am a consultant. Add to that the fact that I have been doing software development professionally for about twelve years and that means that I am moving into higher level work. Unfortunately that means less time that I am getting my hands dirty in the code. This is a painful transition, especially for a code junkie like me. So what is the prescription to ease my discomfort. I think it is time to bury myself in some serious code learning. I figure I have a number of books ......

Who Knew Astronomy Hurt More Than Business Rules

I just finished listening to this week's Astronomy Cast. In it Dr. Pamela Gay explains how asking what the universe is expanding into is a nonsense question. Now I have had some business rules over the years that were essentially this: "if it is the third Tuesday and there is a full moon in the Libra and you roll a 15 on a 20 sided die then ...". Those seem like mild Excedrin days compared to trying to understand how the universe can be three dimensional and flat at the same time. Then there is the ......

Are Heavy Metal Bands Like Software Developers

This one is for Andrew who essentially threw the gauntlet down (whether he knew it or not) for me to write this post. So are members of heavy metal bands like software developers? I am going to say yes, and here are the reasons: They are both creative (or at least we like to think we are) Both can have serious attitudes They don't like the way the previous generation did things (big band and COBOL) Like to put together complicated combinations from the basic parts of their art Ok, it might be a little ......

Entering The Inner Sanctum

As a consultant you can get into some interesting situations. I have been on projects before where I am the only person, but that has always been for small companies. My current project is for a large company doing work for one of their career development/process improvement groups. Yesterday I had to make a presentation to the entire group. I have to say that it felt like walking into the secret chambers of the Free Masons. Here I am seeing part of the company that no other outsider does. Of course ......

How Are Martial Arts Like Software Development

Around the end of high school I studied Tae Kwon Do for a short period of time. Now my oldest son is taking Goju-Shorei at the local park district which has gotten me re-interested in the subject. Aside from causing pain in my muscles which demonstrates that I'm not a teenager any more it has had another affect. It got me thinking about its similarities between martial arts and software development.

Some Notes About Mentoring

As most of us continue on our career paths we eventually end up in a position of mentoring. To be asked to take on this responsibility says that you are trusted and considered knowledgeable. There are a few things you will want to remember as you take on this role. First, allow the person you are mentoring to learn as much on their own as possible. They cannot learn to stand on their own if you are constantly spoon feeding them answers to every problem that comes up. Instead answer a question with ......

Now that is cold!

This isn't as cold as it got around here, but considering it is the coldest it has stayed in a decade I needed evidence.  To add insult to injury it is snowing today.  Boy is the commute going to be fun.

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait Before Posting

A post by Tim Hibbard where he talked about how few of his posts actually got published got me thinking about my approach to posting. Often I find that I am posting because something is irritating me. In itself that is not a bad thing. The responsible thing to do would be to come up with a solution to the problem, which is where I am often falling down. Instead of writing the first thing that comes into my head, hold onto the idea and let it develop into something more complete. I think this is a ......

Nothing Like The Architecture Of The Universe

Ok. This isn't really architecture, but could you imagine the thrill of creating something as amazing as a comet? Comet 2006 P1 (McNaught) has been visible low in the evening sky the last few nights. It has been so bright that it is visible with the naked eye. One of the members of the astronomy club I belong to posted the following pictures. The Awe of Nature! http://www.dougsuniverse.ne... http://www.dougsuniverse.ne... ......

Rocky On Polymorphic Podcast

Craig has scored again. While he may have had some technical difficulties on this episode the content was right on. He put a number of tough questions to Rocky including what his toughest project situation was and his approach to object modeling. I found it interesting the way he mixes use cases with CRC cards. It goes to show that we should not be too rigid with the way we approach designing solutions. You do not have to follow a methodology to every minute step. Take what works for the particular ......

Book Review: Professional Team Foundation Server

I picked up this book in order to fill an immediate need. I am working on setting up and customizing TFS and this covers about 80% of what I wanted to know. In its pages are covered the installation of all major components, third party tools that are available and customization to fit the way your shop works. I am especially thankful for the section on modifying the process template. I think this would be a good read for most team leads working on the VSTS 2005 platform ......

VS Guy's Evil Brother

The consultant who will remain nameless (cough, cough, Nyman) is at it again.  VS Guys has shown his true colors.  He is now Doctor Defect!

Working With Virtual PC And Virtual Server

I have been working on setting up demos of VSTS and TFS on a VPC and Virtual Server. Along the way I have come across a number of snags. Some I have managed to work around. Some I have no answers for. First let me say that I didn't originally install VPC, Virtual Server or their operating systems. My normal machine didn't have enough horses to run these applications so I had our company's admin setup a new machine and install the basics for me. There seemed to be network problems which may be contributing ......

My Hero

I got a Visual Studio Guy last year for listening to some MSDN webcasts.  One of the consultants that I work with likes to put villainous captions on him.  Check it out.

Interesting Facts From Podcast

In the latest ARCast Ron Jacobs talks with Scott Guthrie. As if that wasn't cool enough Ron asked him what he was most proud of. In a long list of things Scott happened to mention something that relates to one of my earlier posts. It seems that Disney's FastPass is run on machines using the .NET Compact Framework. Now that isn't a Hello World demo ......

Evaluating Cost vs. Savings

Ok, so this isn't that far from another post I made recently. I am merely continuing to think about different aspects of the same problem. During the last couple of months the client that I have been working at has been trying to see where they can cut scope to maintain their timeline. One thing that I realized while listening to a podcast the other day is that they are not taking into account the cost saving that would be gained by moving the release date and delivering the code. On the podcast ......

Using Tasks to Manage Time

One of my biggest demons is losing time to activities that are not one of my main priorities. I also have the problem of trying to remember all of the items that are assigned to me. Now what was I working on? Oh yes, a blog post. :) Lately I am trying to use Outlook tasks to manage my time and priorities, at least at work. I believe that it was Scott Hanselman that talked about Tiddly Wiki and the Getting Things Done version. Personally I have not been able to get it to work. I got frustrated and ......

Humor You May Not Be Able To Handle

First let me say that my sense of humor is twisted. You may not agree with me on this one. Carl Franklin and crew who bring you .NET Rocks, a mostly serious podcast about all things .NET, have added a new outlet for their warped sense of humor. Now they already had Mondays, which keeps me in laughing until I cry on my drive to and from work. I now know why that show has been more irregular than usual in being produced. Mark Miller now has his own show called Millahseconds. It is a skit style story ......

Ahsan Is Blogging

An associate of mine at Daugherty has started to blog.  It will be interesting to see what topics he decides to cover.  I know that lately his interests have been around message queues.  Good luck Ahsan.