Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Media Browser for Vista Media Center

I came across this useful Media Center plugin recently. As well as providing an alternate interface to browse media files it also includes an RSS reader which I've successfully configured to watch some interesting video podcasts:

  • dnrTV - .NET Rocks TV
  • 10-4 – New features of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0
  • TED – Talks from the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design conferences
  • Scrap Time – A Scrapbooking video podcast for Narelle

It is free, and is being actively developed on Google Code.

Podcasts I'm listening to

For a long time now I've been listening to podcasts – first on on the iPAQ rw6828, then a HTC TyTN II, and more recently my iPod Shuffle.

My original subscriptions were:

At the suggestion of Ben and Nigel I added:

And I've also added:

  • Radio TFS – Team Foundation Server
  • SQL Down Under – Greg Low's interviews with SQL experts
  • SQL Snapshots (coming soon) – Also from Greg Low, I found out about this via Rob after mentioning to him the idea of a podcast for a "Talking Books" version of the SQL Books Online.

The best way I've found so far to get the podcasts onto the Shuffle is to use WinAmp and the ml_ipod plugin. WinAmp does come with an built-in iPod plugin, but I've found ml_ipod provides superior support, including synchronising podcasts – something iTunes won't do for a Shuffle at all.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Ouch again

I'm a sorry and sore case again. My back gave out a few minutes into the first half of a game of Basketball on Saturday. Despite initial cries of "foul" from my teammates I quickly realised that the only reason I'd fallen to the floor in pain was an all too familiar but dreaded feeling in my lower back. One I'd hoped I'd never have to endure again.
It's so annoying as I'd been trying really hard to keep up the stretching and strengthening exercises given to me since the last incident. I realise this also doesn't just impact me - it messed up the rest of the weekend for my whole family, which is extremely frustrating.
Maybe it's an indicator that I need to think about other forms of exercise, and my body isn't as young and flexible as it once might have been? Or maybe the timing is appropriate for me to make the transition from player to supportive parent. We'll see.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Tracing the Sync Framework

Using the Sync Framework (aka Sync Services for ADO.NET) can feel a bit like a black box. You implement some classes, override some methods, call Synchronize() and it all just magically happens..

Except when it doesn't. Sometime strange things can happen, and it would be nice to know a bit more about what Sync is doing under the hood. Unfortunately this is one product that Microsoft haven't release source code for, so you can't step into it with your debugger.

That was where I thought the story ended until I stumbled upon this topic on MSDN – How to trace the Synchronization Process.

So add some stuff to your app.config file and you should get a little more information about what is really going on.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Congratulations LobsterPot Solutions

I see that Adelaide's own SQL Server-specialist consulting company – LobsterPot Solutions – are now a Microsoft Certified Partner (Data Management Solutions, Business Intelligence).

Well done Rob!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Registered for Microsoft Tech-Ed 2009

The life of a contract programmer can be a lonely one. Well I guess it would be if you never spoke to anyone and live on a island all by yourself, but I didn't mean it quite like that. One of the things about being a "regular" employee of a company is that most places have some kind of professional development programme. Our old team at UniSA was no different, and we were always encouraged to attend conferences and training opportunities that would enhance our skills and benefit both us and the institution.

But now it's been over 12 months since I left the the safe and familiar confines of the Flexible Learning Centre building at the old Underdale campus. I spent a short time at DECS and the remainder has been at ABB Grain Ltd. A side-effect of that was I wasn't able to attend Tech-Ed last year, though not for lack of trying!

This year I was thinking I'd miss out again, but after mentioning the group discount and free netbook with my wife, she encouraged me not to dismiss going altogether. I ran through the figures including likely travel and accommodation costs, and while it isn't cheap we can manage it. At least the cost can be claimed on tax which is better than nothing.

So to cut a long story short(er), I've now registered and will be heading off to the Gold Coast in about 6 weeks time. I am also very appreciative of my wife, as I'm aware it will be a lot of work managing the kids while I'm away. She did say if I go again next year, she wants to come too (Not to the conference, but just for the holiday!) Sounds good to me :-)