Saturday, September 30, 2006


NWNUG'ers: I'll probably publish the NWNUG Introduces... Delegates screencast and article to the user group web site later this week. I'm still thinking about what format I want the followups to these presentations to be. Definitely an article format instead of just the PowerPoint slide deck, but still debating on the whole screencast thing (bandwidth and all).

If you attend the group, but missed the last meeting on 9/26, then what I'm referring to is a new Intro-level mini-presentation (30 minutes or less) that we're going to try to have at the start of each meeting. The artifacts from this presentation will then be made available on the website for future reference.

My new favorite Delegate trick (courtesy of Dustin, who raves about it just about every time that we get together):


Console.WriteLine qualifies as an Action delegate! The result is that you can dump out an entire collection to the console with one line of code.

What is Your "Home Office"?

I think that most people who actually know me also know that I have two young twins who run around my relatively small house making all sorts of noise (and creating an equal amount of chaos, which I've come to accept). I don't have the space to dedicate an entire room as a soundproof home office, so when I <airQuotes> Work From Home </airQuotes>, it really means that I'm at a Panera Bread somewhere drinking the same cup of coffee that I purchased hours before. (Sidenote: Don't get me wrong--I loves their Turkey Artichoke panini and soups as well, so they've gotten plenty of my money for what little Wi-Fi I actually use).

Up to about 4 years ago, I had an actual office only 7 miles from my house. And then it moved to 50 miles away, and most recently to 80 miles away. Heading into the office on a weekend in order to get a little project work done is no longer feasible.

I'm wondering what other possibilities there are out there for a place to actually work. It would have to have exposed electrical outlets (so that I can keep my laptop charged), free Wi-Fi Internet access, and allow me to talk on my cellphone without getting "shushed". There should also be free parking, and restrooms nearby. ;-)

The public libraries around here qualify for almost everything except for the "talking on the cellphone" part. There are other restaurants besides Panera (i.e., Starbucks and even McDonalds), but Wi-Fi is typically not free.

What I really need (and this is one of those business ventures that I'll never have the time or money to pursue) is an office complex where I can rent an actual office by the day, week, or month if I need to. It would be targeted for all of us remote workers, and priced to be much more affordable than leasing a small office space. The building would provide the internet connectivity and even offer a phone extension that you can use. Oh, and like any real office, it should also have a watercooler and coffee maker for free coffee ("a penny saved is just a penny").

I know that there is something similar to this in Southfield, MI (for example), but I think it's more for providing a facade that you have an office rather than just giving a remote employee of some company a place to sit for a day. Besides, Southfield is as far away from my house as my current office, so that doesn't help my present situation.

So, anyways, with a lack of alternatives, it looks like I'll be heading to Panera in Perrysburg either this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon to get some things done. Can I get anyone a panini while I'm there?

UPDATE: As I sit here in Panera, I realize why I keep coming back here instead of just anyplace with wifi: Delicious soup, some light jazz playing on the speakers, and interesting people all around ("interesting" in both the good and bad sense). For an observer type like me, it's just a neat place to hang out and get some things done.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Browsing this Blog

Blogger's navigation kind of sucks. I experimented with a tag cloud (in sidebar), but the 3rd party provider of this service isn't as good as I had hoped.

The best way for someone to browse this blog is to use the monthly archives (also in the right-hand sidebar). That will give you all posts for a month on a single page.

I'll probably move the blog later this year and finally use dasBlog on a hosted server. Then I'll have a little more control over how content is displayed to the user (specifically surrounding navigation options).

Until then, enjoy catching up on my thoughts, plskthx! ;-)

UPDATE: I think I realized why I received a few complaints about it hard being able to navigate. In my template, I only had the Archive list showing for the main page and archive pages. So, if someone landed on a specific post, the monthly archive list would not be displayed. Whoops! Problem fixed. Dig away!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Unnecessary Error

Time to complain about an annoying feature in an otherwise awesome product: SQL Server Management Studio.

I opened a table today to do some editing of bit field data.  This is your basic Boolean (True/False) column in a database table.  SQL Server itself represents Boolean (bit) data as 0 and 1.

But, SSMS displays "True" and "False" for the field values.  Furthermore, while editing a bit field, it only accepts the words "true" and "false".

So, look at the error that pops up when I try to change a "True" value to false by entering "0" (which, I'll reiterate for clarity, is what SQL Server ITSELF requires for "false"):


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Me on an Episode of The Simpsons

I was recently an extra on the set for an upcoming episode of The Simpsons.  It was so much fun watching the filming process.  Homer is totally like his character in real life, and Lisa is quite the Diva! 

I had one of the grips snap a picture before they kicked us off of the set:


See for yourself!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Windows Live Local Feature

I noticed today that there are now some drawing tools on the Windows Live Local scratchpad that allow you to draw polygons and lines right onto your map!  Cool!

Here's a map that I marked up.  Path #1 shows what my "commute" looks like if and when I go to my office (note that by policy, this is not supposed to be mileage that I can expense since it is considered a commute).  #2 demonstrates that even after a polygon is added to a map, you can still edit vertices if you need to.


These are groovy features, but one thing that I didn't like was that while drawing the line, there was no way to pan the map.  I'm not sure how that problem would be solved since panning normally involves mouse-down dragging, but it is definitely a limitation.  (I zoomed out to solve the issue, but this results in a lack of accuracy in placing the points).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Internet Explorer: RTL Address Bar

I love the "CTRL-ENTER" shortcut in Internet Explorer. 

That is, if you want to go to a www dot com website, like for instance, just type Microsoft in the address bar, and then press CTRL and ENTER at the same time.  The "Microsoft" will be wrapped with "http://www." and ".com".

Well, every now and then, I would mistype the CTRL-ENTER part, and the contents of the address bar would shift to be right-aligned (for Right-to-Left reading).  I could never figure out what keys I pressed, because it would always happen so fast.

This morning, I finally figured it out.  CTRL-Right Shift (the one right under the ENTER key) will shift to RTL reading order, and CTRL-Left Shift will return to LTR reading order.  Note that there's also a right-click context menu on the address bar combo box that allows you to do the same thing. 

Now I don't have to assume that my laptop is possessed by mischievous demons.

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XML Notepad 2006

My first experience with XML was in 1998, and at that time, there was an invaluable tool (so I thought) from Microsoft called XML Notepad that allowed Morts to visualize and edit the XML's data in a non-angle bracket sort of way.

The novelty of XML Notepad quickly wore off once the limitations were realized, and I found myself other tools, like XMLWriter and even Notepad, for subsequent XML work. 

Just today, I came across a blog post announcing that a new version of XML Notepad was released by Microsoft.  Neat!

I downloaded and installed the program, and then started it up.  My first impression was that this is still a Mort tool, just with more functionality.  It has a tree view of the XML structure, lots of pretty colors, and supports transformation using arbitrary XSLT files.  And, the Find functionality is loaded with advanced features, like Regular Expressions and XPath.

But, what I found missing was a true source view integrated right into the program (right now, when you View Source, it launches Notepad).  If they could have added a XML view that offered the text editing capabilities found in Visual Studio (including highlighting and IntelliSense), then this would be a lightweight yet fully capable tool that I would find myself using regularly.  Until then, I'm not sure what role it will fill in my life.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Can't Wait for Groove

I'm a huge fan of FolderShare.  It's a great way to automatically share a document library with a group of people, and still have those files available locally when you're offline.

I have yet to install and use Groove (will be part of the next release of Microsoft Office), but it promises the same FolderShare-type functionality for file sharing, but also adds onto that the normal collaboration features that you would use SharePoint for.  That is, you will have local copies of discussions, meetings, business forms, and more.  When you're back online, everything syncs up so that you get new content, and your new content is pushed to everybody else.

I'm working on a collaborative project right now, and it's a hassle having some things in FolderShare, some things in a SharePoint site, and most discussions in email.  I really see Microsoft Office Groove 2007 as being the solution to this headache starting next year.

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Got 6 minutes and 3 seconds with nothing to do?  Why waste your employer's bandwidth and time visiting Hamster Dance when you could instead give that crazy rat bastard named Mark Miller a listen-to on his new podcast, Millahseconds.

In his own words:


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Friday, September 01, 2006

When Marketing Plays with Version Numbers

What confusion could possibly arise out of allowing a marketing department establish the framework version number?

The invention of a "vNext" versioning scheme kind of tells me that nobody really knows for sure what's going on with framework version numbers or product release cycles inside of MS.  I mean, ADO.NET 3.0 was supposed to be part of the version 3 .NET Framework (along with LINQ), which is why it had the "3.0" after it.  But, now it seems that there will be a whole set of APIs that will have to skip the 3.0 version number in order to catch up with the framework version when (if) marketing ever decides what the next version number should be.

All of this started as an effort to minimize confusion that they thought would arise from having WinFX be a separate library from the .NET Framework.  Keep it up, guys!  You certainly minimized global confusion with that move.

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