Wednesday, 25 February 2009


I’ve used Bugzilla, TFS and OnTime.

BugTracker.NET looks interesting, and it integrates with Subversion.

ScrewTurn Wiki

Documenting a software application is often something that is put off until the last minute, and sometimes forgotten/avoided altogether. Traditionally you’d probably produce one or more Word documents to describe the system, architecture, class diagrams and other bits and pieces.

More recently I’ve seen how useful a more collaborative tool like a Wiki can be in allowing all the participants in a project to easily add and update documentation. I don’t think this is an isolated trend – quite a lot of free and commercial software now provide a wiki as part of their support offering or documentation.

To that end we’ve been making do with the Wiki feature of SharePoint 2007. It’s better than nothing, but that’s about all you can say about it.

I think Atlassian Confluence is about the best wiki software around, but we wanted something cheap/free and because it would have to run on existing infrastructure, so it needs to be relatively lightweight.

WikiMatrix is a useful site to compare wiki features and requirements. There’s a nice wizard that lets you narrow down your options.

ScrewTurn Wiki ended up on the top of the list. It doesn’t (yet) have WYSIWYG editing, but uses ASP.NET, can use SQL Server to store content and can leverage Active Directory for authentication. The plugin list is not endless, but there are a few that we’ve found useful.

So far we’ve found it does the job quite nicely, except that the Admin pages are quite slow to load (fortunately you don’t use them very much)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The famous Dr Tom Tilley

I was lucky enough to be in a car on the way to Stockwell for a site visit today when both Fiona and Jane rang me to remind me that the one and only Tom Tilley was to be interviewed on ABC Radio 891 Mornings with Mat and Dave.

See photos and listen to the interview on the Mornings Blog and learn what other uses PVC pipe has besides plumbing.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Adelaide Uni using GMail

I read this morning that the University of Adelaide will be moving their 16,000 students to GMail with one substantial benefit being their mailbox quotas will increase from 250Mb to 7Gb (not to mention the huge savings from not having to host, store and manage these in-house anymore).

This seems a pretty smart move to me – plus you get some really nice calendar integration. You could have a separate calendar for every course the student is enrolled in, and then use the overlay feature of Google Calendar to have them all displayed together.

I remember asking a similar question at an IT workshop at UniSA a few years ago along the lines of “If GMail gives me 2Gb of quota, why am I stuck with a only 30Mb?”. If I recall correctly the answer given at the time was similar to that given by Adelaide regarding its staff accounts, but they’ve obviously been able to work through the legal and technical hurdles for their students at least..

I see that things are slightly better at UniSA now than when I left – regular staff will now get 200Mb, though that’s still 1/5 of what their Adelaide colleagues enjoy. Ouch!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Clever video U@50

You know how sometimes friends or colleagues sometimes forward emails with silly things, like painted cats or funny office videos?

Well Liz forwarded this to me the other day and I finally got around to watching it, and yes it is very clever.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Of course you know, this means…

I received an email from a “Gary” a few days ago. Unfortunately my reply didn’t seem to reach him due to problems with his email server. Looking at his email address, I’d guess Gary works for the US Army. Hence my alarm when I saw the following in GMail!


Trying to be more alert than alarmed, I’m relieved to report that “THIS IS A WAR..” is actually “THIS IS A WARNING” :-)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

PowerShell for Wix Components

The following snippet is useful for generating a list of components with unique Guids. Run it from the directory that contains the components:


$files = Get-ChildItem

$g = [System.Guid]

foreach ($a in $files) { Write-Output ("<Component Id='{0}' Guid='{1}'>`n`t<File Source='`$(var.)\{0}' KeyPath='yes'/>`n</Component>" -f $a.Name, $g::NewGuid() ) }

Monday, 16 February 2009

Power Monkey Explorer Solar Charger

Jane recently bought one of these Power Monkey gadgets. Its a solar-powered charger that you can use to recharge or power various devices.

As well as charging via solar power, you can also recharge via USB or mains power.

It comes with a plethora of connectors to fit most mobile phones, PDAs, iPods and digital cameras.

Not super-cheap (AUD170), but very handy, especially if you need to recharge your phone and you’re away from mains power for some period.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Passed 70-564

An email appeared in my inbox the other day congratulating me on passing Pro: Designing and Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. The detailed results came in the mail today, indicating I’d scored 747 (700 was the pass mark).

This means I’ve now completed the requirements for Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): ASP.NET Developer 3.5 certification, effectively upgrading the MCPD I got for .NET 2.0 last year.

What does this mean?

Well not a real lot really. We’ve had a few interesting discussions at work on the value of certifications. To be honest, while it is nice to add them to the resume, I don’t think they would make much difference as to whether I got a job or not – certainly I think experience is much more important in that respect.

So why bother then? A few reasons come to mind..

  • They’re free (well they are if you manage to get vouchers or take beta exams as I’ve managed to do for every exam so far)
  • You do get a nice feeling when you find out you’ve passed.
  • You get nice certificates in the post that impress family and friends.
  • It can be a useful gauge of how well you know a particular topic, and highlight weaker areas. Sometimes you might even learn useful new things along the way, or clarify something you weren’t sure about.

Finally, I do seem to get the occasional email asking how I passed my exams (and whether I could tell the person what the questions were).

Apart from a couple of exams where I have studied a bit, for the most part I just rely on my actual real-world experience, and when that fails, try to look at the answers logically and pick the one that looks the most likely. That seems to have worked pretty well for me so far.

And no I won’t tell you what the questions are, so don’t bother asking!