# Thursday, 03 January 2008

SIP - Simple Iterative Partitions

Roger Sessions writes about an interesting concept called SIP (Simple Iterative Partitions) in this month's ObjectWatch newsletter. He says CIO's will fail their 2008 objectives because they are unable to focus on the underlying problem that IT is facing these days, which according to him is: complexity.

I've seen quite a few project fail by having too large a scope and thus becoming way too complex, leading to project failure. So reducing complexity will lead to a higher project succes rate and thus helps you reach your goals.

The example Roger uses in his newsletter is a little flawed though. Roger assumes any system of 7 (or 14) dice can be split in 7 partitions which do not influence eachother. Reality will be that the succes or failure of any of the 7 partitions will influence the succes of the others. And unlike dice there is no black/white success with IT projects. Succesful projects typically achieve somewhere between 70 to a 100% of their original goals. 1% of a missed goal in one of the 7 partitions may lead to 100% failure in another (extreme case).

I'll be doing some more reading on the SIP proposition though. More on SIP here.

 

 



Services like cingular wireless have contributed a lot to the promotion of personal web hosting. Not that web site hosting was not happening before, but never had internet advertising been this sort of a giant. Now from laymen to professional webmasters, all know about seo, about sem strategies like ppc advertising and the list can go on. The internet marketing arena is expanding everyday.

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# Tuesday, 01 January 2008

MVP - Most Valuable Professional 2008

Hurray! What a great way to start the new year. I got an email this morning informing me I've been awarded the MVP award for the fifth year running.

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2008 Microsoft MVP Award! The MVP Award is our way of saying thank you for promoting the spirit of community and enhancing people’s lives and the industry’s success every day. Your extraordinary efforts in Visual Developer - Visual C# technical communities during the past year are greatly appreciated.

Thanks to Microsoft, and in particular Rafael Munoz, for the award. Excellent!

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# Saturday, 22 December 2007

Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server MSSCCI Provider

The TFS MSSCCI Provider enables integrated use of Team Foundation Version Control with products that do not support Team Explorer integration. This will allow you to connect to TFS2008 from Visual Studio 2003. This is very useful if you still have .NET 1.1 projects around that need maintenance using VS2003, but you want to use a single source control solution.

Download here.

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# Friday, 21 December 2007

Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server Power Tools

VS2008 hasn't even been fully launched yet and already the add-ons are becoming available through the VSTS 2008 Power Tools. These power tools are very handy and also offer some bugfixes so you don't have to wait for a service release.

New in this release of the power tools:

  • Find in Source Control tool is an addition to the Team Explorer menu that provides the ability to locate files and folders in source control by the item’s status or with a wildcard expression.
  • Open a selected folder in Windows Explorer straight from Team Explorer. This feature allows you to jump straight to the mapped folder location from within Source Control Explorer.
  • Quick Label feature that allows labels to be easily applied to a given selection of files and folders in the Source Control Explorer.
  • Build Notification tool that runs in the Windows task bar notification area monitoring the status of the build definitions you have specified. It can be configured to show notifications when builds are queued, started, or completed for multiple build definitions spanning multiple Team Foundation Servers.
  • Additional TFPT.EXE commands for configuring Team Explorer connection settings (tweakui) and for  destroying Work Items and Work Items Type Definitions (destroyWI, destroyWITD).
  • Updates to the TFS Best Practices Analyzer for use with a Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server deployment.
  • The Process Template Editor is updated for use with Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server. It also has several improvements, including: the ability to launch standalone w/o a Visual Studio installation, performance improvements, improved discoverability and bug fixes.
  • Bug fixes and removal of Power Tools that are now included within Team Foundation Server: 
    • Annotate and Treedif are now included in Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Explorer; however, Annotate remains is still available in the command-line tool (TFPT.EXE).
    • TestToolsTask is included in Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server as part of Team Foundation Build.

 

 



With certifications like 70-620 and 70-291 on ones credit, one can easily go for 646-171. In fact, even 642-825 is not difficult for such people. However, exams like 640-863 and 350-001 require much more preparation time and effort, than that required for a basic exam like 1z0-042.

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# Wednesday, 19 December 2007

The Making Of… the NFL Video of the Day

My article on the AOL Developer Network about how I created the NFL Video of the Day gadget for Windows Vista went live last week.

Download the gadget here.

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# Thursday, 06 December 2007

PopFly - BLaugh Carrousel

I just created my first PopFly mashup.

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# Tuesday, 04 December 2007

It's all about the tools

Last month Russ Fustino did a presentation in Portland, ME where he showed a little tool to grab areas of the screen. I looked on his blog, but could not find a link to this particular tool, but a little Googling did the trick.

Screen Grab Pro is a very nice (FREE) tool from Traction Software that allows you to easily grab a region on the screen and save it as a file, or paste it in a Word document.

Update: Windows Vista also offers a build in tool called 'Snipping Tool'. On some machines this tool does not get installed by default, read more on the Snipping Tool here (thanks Marcel!).

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DRM / region encoding in online videos

Online video services like YouTube and AOL Video may appear to be a global phenomenon, but when you try and view some of the higher quality videos you'll find that the ad-riddled Flash wrappers around the movies contain DRM which implements region encoding. Today I emailed Amazon support because I purchased a couple of episodes of Shark while I was at the airport in the States, waiting for my flight to Amsterdam. All was well, and I downloaded 2 out of 5 episodes, the last three were queued since I had to get on the plane. After reaching the Netherlands I discovered that Amazon Unbox refused to let me download the remaining three episodes since my IP-address is showing that I'm no longer within the US. When is the video industry going to discover that region encoding is a bad idea?!?!

 

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# Monday, 03 December 2007

Materialized Views

During our usergroup meeting last week the topic of 'materialized views' in Oracle came up. I wasn't familiar with the term, but John looked it up for me (thanks John!).
Materialized Views in Oracle seem to differ in implementation, but accomplish much the same as Index Views in SQL Server.

More on Materialized Views:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialized_view

More on Indexed Views:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/sql/2005/impprfiv.mspx

 

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# Sunday, 02 December 2007

.NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1

With all the excitement about .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 being release you might almost miss the release of .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1.

It can be downloaded here (x86) and here (x64).

Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 provides cumulative roll-up updates for customer reported issues found after the release of Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. In addition, this release provides security improvements, and prerequisite feature support for .NET Framework 3.0 Service Pack 1, and .NET Framework 3.5.

 

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Amazon Unbox

Amazon Unbox is an online video service, allowing you to download videos to your laptop. As a frequent traveller I've started using this service recently and am extremely pleased with the quality of the video, the ease of use and availability of titles. I like to watch series (currently Shark season 2) and this is a great way for me to keep up with what I like to watch, even if I'm on the road. Episodes seem to appear on Unbox within a week, often one day, of airing on TV.

Wikipedia says:

Amazon Unbox is an Internet video on demand service offered by Amazon.com which according to their website is available to "U.S. customers located in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia". The service became available on September 7, 2006 and offers television shows and films for rental and purchase from eight major television and film studios.[1] Rental pricing for feature length films range from $0.99 to $3.99, while television shows can be purchased for $1.99. Additional discounts are given for full season purchases. Downloaded films includes two versions of videos requested, a full resolution video file and a lower resolution copy for portable devices.

 

 



Maybe 70-291 is comparatively easier than 70-296, still, merely studying for 156-215 or 350-001 is not just enough to go for the latter certifications. Just in the way preparation material for 642-552 differs from that of 642-176 and cannot be used to go for a 350-030, same is the scenario in the previous case.

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Amazon Kindle

This thing is amazing. Last night I was at a party where one of the people had one of these and the clarity on the screen is great and very comfortable to read. I want one!

With the build in phone service, called WhisperNet, which I'm told runs on the Sprint network, you can download books without going to a store, needing a hotspot or network connection. Now Sprint does not have coverage throughout the States, if you're unlucky and live somewhere without service (like in Lincoln, ME) then you can download books from Amazon and copy them to your Kindle using a USB connection.

Wikipedia says:

Amazon Kindle is an electronic book (e-book) service launched in the United States by Amazon.com in November 2007. It uses an electronic paper display, reads the proprietary Kindle (AZW) format, and downloads content over Amazon Whispernet, which uses the Sprint EVDO network. This means that unlike previously existing e-book readers, the Kindle can be used without the need for a computer. Whispernet is accessible through Kindle without any fee. [1] The Kindle sold out in five and a half hours,[2] although Amazon has not stated how many units were available in the launch offering.

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# Friday, 30 November 2007

Omnext at Gartner IT Expo 2007

This month Omnext presented their solutions for controlled outsourced development at the Gartner IT Expo 2007 in Cannes.

"The dynamics of today’s world demand a quicker and better reaction from organizations to internal and external developments.
This can be taken care of with, among other things, “Agile” system development.

Furthermore, outsourcing and offshoring have now become a permanent part of IT.
All of this needs to come off in accordance with the diverse regulations in the field of governance, compliance, and control. This relates to, amongst others, Sarbanes Oxley, SAS70, and ISO20000.

These trends are, primarily, in the domain of EDP auditing."

The solutions include products like Source2VALUE to quantify your (existing) software, Source2UML to document existing software and Source2WIKI to create a WIKI based documentation environment for your application. These solutions are all cross platform and work on a multitude of languages like C#, T-SQL, VB.NET, Java, Delphi, Cobol and Powerbuilder.

Omnext teamed with Gartner to produce an excellent whitepaper on governance.

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# Wednesday, 28 November 2007
# Friday, 23 November 2007

ASP.NET 2.0: OnClientClick

When building a webapplication, have you ever wanted to display an alert asking a user whether he really, really wanted to delete some data?

In ASP.NET 2.0 this is made easy by the OnClientClick property on the button control.

Just enter the following JavaScript in the property and the user will have to confirm the action. If the user cancels, then the button will not perform a postback and the serverside event never even fires.

if (!confirm('Are you sure you want to delete this customer?')) return;

[11/27/2007] Update:

The code above will work if the button you're adding the OnClientClick to has UseSubmitBehavior="false" if not, then you should use:

if (!confirm('Are you sure you want to delete this customer?')) return false;

 

 



Being techno-savvy is good. For once, keeping up with innovations like wireless camera and making use of facilities like wireless routers is good and does pay off. However, that should not result in missing out on important practical issues like having a proper computer backup solution. While looking for a web hosting service, the feature that matters the most is the facility of online backup. People usually concentrate on other things like ip phones etc. However, unless the domain name registration is done with, this ignorance can be made up for.

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# Monday, 19 November 2007

Typed DataSets and changing databases

The last couple of weeks I've been working on migrating an ASP.NET application from using a Visual FoxPro database to using SQL Server 2005. My application has it's logic in library DLL and with some layering uses Typed DataSets to connect to the database.

Typical code within the data access layer looks like this:

internal ViewDataSet.RequestViewDataTable GetViewByPrimaryUser( string user )
{
    using ( ViewDataSetTableAdapters.RequestViewTableAdapter _adapter 
            
= new ViewDataSetTableAdapters.RequestViewTableAdapter() )
    {
        ViewDataSet.RequestViewDataTable table;
        table = _adapter.GetByPrimaryUser( user.Trim() );
        return table;
    }
}

The method 'GetByPrimaryUser' is defined on the TableAdapter and using the GUI designer in Visual Studio I manage my typed datasets. All SQL is stored within the Typed DataSets. There is very limited use of stored procedures.

Migrating the .NET code from using a Visual FoxPro database to using SQL Server 2005 has involved the following:

  • Change the connection string property on every datatable to use the SQL Server connection string instead of the FoxPro connection string.
  • Opening every single query and changing the SQL parameters from question marks '?' to named parameters like '@user'.
  • Rechecking the mapping of the columns in the datatable, sometimes these would get messed up. Especially in cases where non-database columns where added to the datatable.
  • Rechecking column expressions.
  • Some areas of the code accessed the OleDbDataAdapter and OleDbConnection within the typed dataset, this had to be replaced with SqlDataAdapter and SqlConnection.
  • FoxPro does not support the .NET light weight transactions, so code to custom manage the transaction could be deleted and a simple 'using( TransactionScope tx = new TransactionScope() )' could be implemented.
  • There where several areas where 'adapter.Update(row)' did not work with FoxPro, so the Insert/Update/Delete had to be called manually in the data access layer. With SQL Server there are no problems and this 'fix-it' code could be removed.

After following these steps some of the datatables would generate unexplicable validation errors. Not wanting to waste too much time I just re-created those typed tables and re-added the queries on those tables.

 



Since the advent of cheap web hosting, we have had more development in the field of SEM. Thanks to features like internet phone, managing internet network marketing is a lot more feasible now. Marketing strategies like cpc, ppi and pay per click can be managed with much more comfort now. Usually regular advertising agencies miss out on this since they concentrate more on building links through email marketing.

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Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite available on MSDN Subscriber Downloads

Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite has just become available on MSDN Subscriber Downloads.

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# Thursday, 15 November 2007

RONUA pictures

Tudor posted a couple of pictures from my visit to Cluj, Romania on his website.

Update: Sorin Dolha also posted some photos from the presentations:


Windows Live Spaces

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# Tuesday, 13 November 2007

VSTS: Teamprise

If you're looking at using Team Foudation Server, but your organization uses more than just Visual Studio, then perhaps Teamprise is a useful tool for you.

"Teamprise is a suite of client applications for accessing Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server from outside of the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Teamprise enables software development teams to use the source control, work item tracking, documents, and reporting features of Team Foundation Server from within the Eclipse IDE, and from other operating systems, including Linux and Mac OS X."

 

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