Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Internode Usage meter for Windows Phone 7

Screen grab of Internode Usage appMy first application for Windows Phone 7 has now been published to the marketplace!

It's a free usage meter for Internode's broadband customers. Want to check how your much quota you have left on your ADSL plan? This app will tell you.

The first version is pretty simple. It displays two sections. The first (shown above) displays your total quota, amount used so far, and the time the data was retrieved. The second section displays details for your account (see below).

To install it on your Windows Phone 7 device, go to http://social.zune.net/redirect?type=phoneApp&id=c9ebe665-de0d-e011-9264-00237de2db9e (Opens in Zune)


Overview

ScreenGrab-WelcomeWelcome screen

When you first run the app, a welcome screen is displayed and you are prompted to go to the settings page to enter your username and password. (In version 1.0, there's a bug where the big 'Settings' button doesn't do anything – you'll have to click on the settings icon Settings icon instead. This will be fixed in the next update)


ScreenGrab-Settings

Settings

Enter your Internode username (just the bit before the @ works for me)and password.

Click on the 'Save' icon to store these credentials.


ScreenGrab-DetailsDetails

Your account details, including full username, monthly quota, plan name and plan speed.

Coming next

Features I'm thinking of adding for the next update:

  • Usage history – graphs of last 12 months and detailed graph of last 30 days
  • Improved icons (hopefully the Internode logo if permission can be obtained)

I'm also keen to hear of any other suggestions.

Acknowledgements

This application uses the Internode API, however for the canonical source for your usage, please always refer to My Internode.

In many ways, the app is inspired by Angus Johnson's Internode Monthly Usage Meter (MUM). I've been a happy MUM user for as long as I've had Internode ADSL.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas 2010

It's been a big Christmas season in the Gardiner family this year. Last week we dressed up as New Testament-era characters in Aberfoyle Uniting's re-creation of Bethlehem in "The Road to Christmas". Thursday evening Narelle and I joined some friends for carol singing at a local hospital, then Christmas Eve we attended church as a family. It was a good service, and included this thought-provoking modern-day take on what Mary and Joseph went through:
On Christmas day we were hosting immediate family at our place for lunch, and were then joined by some extra friends for tea. Narelle had a thought a few weeks back that to cater for this many people, a second fridge would be useful. After checking out some second-hand stores, I ended up bidding (and winning) one on eBay.
It has been a great fridge. It fitted all we needed to fit in it, and saved all those minutes of "angst" when trying to fit the leftovers in it after lunch and tea.
I must say that Narelle did an amazing job – the meat and vegies were perfectly cooked...and the pudding was out of this world.
(Narelle added the above two paragraphs while I was playing Kinect) But I agree, the fridge was a great idea.
The day started at not an unreasonable time. We'd been to Church the previous evening, so things weren't so rushed in the morning.
The XBox 360 + Kinect has proved a big success. Our family present this year, and all the family has been having a go - even our youngest (though sometimes to the frustration of other players!) – she can play some of the games, though some of the finer controls are too tricky for her yet.
We've had a lot of fun playing:
  • Kinect Adventures – a great intro to Kinect and physical fun
  • Kinectimals – very imaginative game
  • Dance Central – funky dancing
  • Kinect Joy Ride – fun car driving – 2 players at a time
(Kinectimals and Kinect Joy Ride were presents, the other two titles came with the bundle).
So far I'm totally impressed. The only thing I could wish for would be some family-friendly titles to be published that can have more than two players at one time (I've heard Kinect can track up to 6 people, though I think you'd need lots of space for that).

Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street One of my other favourite presents had me up far later than I should have been Christmas night. I was only thinking the other day when we were watching "A Muppet Christmas Carol" that one of the best things to ever come out of the USA is Jim Henson's Muppets. That thought was reinforced by me getting a copy of Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street. A fascinating read so far.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

VS2008 crashes when opening Data Flow Task

I recently encountered a problem opening an existing SQL Server Integration Services project in Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS aka Visual Studio 2008). When ever I tried to view the Data Flow task for an integration package, Visual Studio would crash. These are the details recorded in the event log:

Faulting application name: devenv.exe, version: 9.0.30729.1, time stamp: 0x488f2b50
Faulting module name: msdds.dll, version: 10.0.30319.1, time stamp: 0x4ba1fee8
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x000117f8
Faulting process id: 0x2678
Faulting application start time: 0x01cb9c2181b22022
Faulting application path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\microsoft shared\MSDesigners8\msdds.dll
Report Id: cba37908-0814-11e0-9fdb-70f1a10159b9

One curious thing I noticed was that the version of the msdds.dll file above is 10.* not 9.*. The file properties also indicated that this was part of Visual Studio 2010.

Not being certain whether the issue was something SQL or VS related, I decided in the absence of more specific information, the most effective approach was most likely to uninstall all the installations of Visual Studio and SQL development components (I didn't uninstall the SQL instances).

Uninstalling Visual Studio 2010 and 2008, then re-installing BIDS from the SQL 2008 R2 setup replaced the msdds.dll with the original 2008 version.

I was then able to open the SSIS project without any crashing!

Re-installing VS 2010 and the dll was updated back to 10.*, but this time BIDS continues to work properly.

One thing that may be relevant is that for a short time I did have SQL Server codenamed 'Denali' installed, so it is possible that something left behind from that might have been the culprit.

This is also a good way to confirm that the LED for your hard disk works properly (and to dream about getting an SSD!)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Extra copper

Wallplate with two network jacks and F-type connectorI had one regret when we did our house extension a few years ago. I'd neglected to install network points next to the TV antenna outlet that I'd put in our family room (what was I thinking!). This meant that the Media Centre has been operating on wireless for the last few months since we relocated it from another room. Not ideal, even though it's very close to the access point, and I also suspect the wireless drivers are responsible for the Media Centre machine constantly waking up from sleep-mode even though nothing was scheduled to record.

Replacing a skirting board provided an opportunity to hide some cables and remedy the situation. I was initially just going to put one cable in, but then figured that if I'm going to put in one, I might as well put in two. Plus, there's that special family Christmas present that might appreciate a network connection pretty soon (It rhymes with "Textbox Elect", and we're exercising great restraint in not opening the box until December 25th! We ended up getting the 250GB bundle from Harvey Norman – though don't let them try and sell you a more expensive bundle with a ripoff $50 HDMI cable)

I'd pulled the cables up into the ceiling in the family room a few weeks ago (along with replacing the skirting board), but only yesterday got time to finish the job and run them into our storeroom (where the modem and switches are).

I managed to pull one of the existing cables back up into the ceiling, tie the new cables onto it, then pull them all back down through the wall cavity into the storeroom (if that hadn't worked, I'd have had to resort to drilling a hole in the ceiling cornice and running some conduit down the wall).

I'd bought a new wallplate and fittings from Jaycar, so I connected those up and hooked in the existing F-type connector. I did discover that the wallplate was probably intended to be mounted vertically (as the network points would only mount sideways), but I can live with that. It's all hidden behind a sidetable/cabinet anyway.

I then plugged the cables into my 1GBit switch and tested them out in the Media Center. Even though the cable and fittings are only CAT 5e, so far I've managed to the existing cables to run at 1Gbit. Not this time, both were only connecting at 100Mb Sad smile. I didn't have a lot of spare cable to play with at the wallplate end, but I wondered if I had untwisted the copper pairs too much when I'd hooked them up to the wallplate jacks. I re-did one, taking extra care to keep the pairs twisted until right up to where the wires got punched in. Bingo, 1Gbit! I tried the same with the second, but unfortunately it was still at 100Mbit. Oh well – one out of two isn't too bad.

Now just to wait patiently for two more weeks until we can play with our XBox 360 and the Kinect controller. Should be a great way to work off Christmas lunch!

Friday, 10 December 2010

My first Windows Phone 7

Photo of Samsung Omnia 7 handsetOn Sunday, I dropped by the TeleChoice shop at Marion, and purchased a shiny new Samsung Omnia 7 phone.

I've been reading up on Windows Phone 7 handsets since before their release, so felt reasonably well informed as far as what features were present and what was still coming. I ended up choosing the Omnia 7 because a lot of positive comments about the clarity of the Super-AMOLED display, and also that it was compatible Vodafone's network (my current provider and whose $20/month cap appeals to my budget).

On returning home, I inserted my SIM card and battery, plugged in the charger and turned it on. Starting up was simple and problem-free. I entered in my Windows Live ID, Google GMail, and Facebook details and a short while later, my contacts (aka People Hub) was populated with lots of familiar names. It also connected to my home wireless network without issue.

I've sadly been missing out on listening to podcasts since my trip to TechEd (and losing my old phone's bizarre non-standard earphones), so I was pleased to be able to finally resume my regular habit. I've previously made use of the Spokenword feed aggregator, but one downside to using this is that all the podcast files get lumped into what Zune thinks is one single podcast. So I just entered each podcast RSS feed individually. A pity Spokenword doesn't seem to allow me to export my feed collection, but it wasn't too tricky to re-enter them.

Screenshot of Zune software showing podcasts collection

So far so good. I'll post an update in a few weeks including how I'm coping on just 100MB/month!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Right in the solar plexus

Not the usual start to the day today..

First one of the kids woke up at 1.30am complaining that they couldn't sleep (they had actually been asleep but logical arguments don't seem very successful at that hour of the morning!).

Then later on, around 5am I think, another child woke up complaining it was too dark. I turned on a bedside light and they seemed happy enough with that to be able to go back to sleep again.

Not so much for me.. I tossed and turned for a while, then decided to get up myself. After breakfast I went to have a shower, only to discover that the hot water wasn't. My initial theory was that the batteries had gone flat in the instantaneous gas hot water heater, but we didn't have any spare 'D' cells to replace them. I rushed down to the shops just in time for opening (7am), bought some batteries. Back home, new batteries in, but no joy.

Next step, ring some plumbers. Got on to one, who suggested isolating the heater to double-check whether it was actually trying to start or not. I checked that and it wasn't, so the batteries were probably not to blame. He then said I was best off ringing Bosch to arrange a service call.

Bosch water heaters are serviced by in Adelaide by SA Hot Water, but they don't open until 8.30am, so while I waited I proceeded to boil the kettle multiple times so that I could have a bath in reasonably warm water. This reminded me that I am relatively tall and our bath is relatively short. I won't provide any pictures (you can breathe a sigh of relief!) but basically with a bit of wriggling about I can either get my legs wet, or my top half, but not both at the same time.

I rang back SA Hot Water at 8.30am, got through to their service people and turns out they've got a guy in the area who could come over right away – hooray!

He arrived not long after, and after giving some advice along the lines that our heater is probably on the way out (just over 8 years old) and is also a bit undersized for our house, managed to fix the problem.

So now my wallet is a bit lighter, but I'm also thinking that we should start investigating a replacement unit, with the idea that it would be compatible with a solar hot water system (something the current unit wasn't).

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

It's all happening!

First Windows Phone 7 was release last month.. (still haven't got one but am warming to the Samsung Omnia 7)

Then the first CTP of SQL Server 'Denali' was released last week..

And tomorrow (18th) Microsoft's Kinect for XBox 360 is released in Australia.

Don't tell the kids, but I'm thinking this might be the Gardiner family Christmas present this year!

Prices I've seen so far:

  • Big W 4G Bundle (1 games) $398, 250G Bundle (1 game) $528
  • EB Games 4G Bundle $461 (1 game), 250G Bundle (1 game) $549
  • Dick Smith 4G Bundle (2 games) $448, 250G Bundle (2 games) $548
  • JB HiFi 4G Bundle (1 game) $389, 250G Bundle (3 games) $549

Update 18th Nov, 9pm

Discovered good forum discussion on Economical Gamer site, which highlights Harvey Norman 4G Bundle (2 games) $468

Saturday, 13 November 2010

SQL Server 'Denali' highlights

On Wednesday at the two Adelaide sessions of the PDC Roadshow I gave the world's fastest overview of interesting things coming in the next version of SQL Server – codenamed 'Denali'.

I'd even whipped up some PowerPoint slides, but due to time constraints didn't get to share them with everyone, so I've summarised the main points here:

Main highlights

Areas unchanged in CTP1

  • Analysis Services
  • Data Quality Services
  • Reporting Services
  • Replication
  • Service Broker

SQL Server Engine

  • SMSS uses VS2010 shell
  • Transact-SQL debugging and IntelliSense
  • Transact-SQL Snippets
  • Contained databases
  • SEQUENCE objects
  • Circular arc segment (spatial)
  • User-defined server roles

SQL Server Integration Services

  • “Biggest change since 2005”
  • New deployment model
  • Object Impact and Data Lineage Analysis
    • Dependency Designer
  • Merge and Merge Join memory improvements
  • Designer enhancements
  • Edit disconnected components
  • Data correction component

'Atlanta'

  • Runs on your SQL Server system Uploading information to cloud service
    • Configuration
    • Performance, etc
  • Browse using a dashboard
  • Give access to Microsoft Support

'Crescent'

  • Web-based reporting experience that offers rich visualization to let you project the story about your data to end users and other business users

Microsoft Certified Masters

  • Just sit the exams (don't have to do all the training)
  • No testing centres in Australia yet

If you're interested in finding out about these features (and more), Roger Noble and Rob Farley will be talking all about 'Denali' at this month's Adelaide SQL User Group (Tuesday 23rd November).

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Microsoft SQL Server code-named 'Denali' - CTP1

Wednesday morning I'll be giving a quick summary of all the new announcements from the 2010 PASS Summit in Seattle (courtesy of LobsterPot's on-the-spot reporters Rob and Roger) to the Adelaide leg of the PDC10 Roadshow.

In preparation for that, I did a quick search for any Denali titbits, and discovered the CTP is now publicly available. I'm downloading as we speak/type. Annoyingly, the Release Notes link is broken at the moment. Hopefully that gets fixed soon.

Download links

My top predictions for new features (seeing as I haven't got it installed yet to find out)

  • Failover cluster support for Windows Phone 7
  • Query optimiser support for X-Box 360 Kinect

Ha.. though actually I can see some possible use of Kinect with reporting and data mining in the future.. That would be cool.

Maybe they'd have to call that "Minority Report-ing Services" Smile

Monday, 1 November 2010

Take your partner by the hand..

If LobsterPot Solutions had a theme song, one pretty obvious choice would be Rock Lobster by The B52s.

It looks like we now have another option!

First Microsoft Partner with Gold Competency in Australia - Well done Rob, Ben, Roger, Ashley (and me!).

Also a big welcome to Ashley, our most recent Lobster to jump in the pot Smile

Friday, 22 October 2010

Select your Windows Phone 7 handset with Silverlight PivotViewer

Windows Phone 7 devices are now available in Australia. I dropped into a Telstra shop yesterday and spent a few minutes playing with their demo model. At some stage I'm hoping I'll be able to actually purchase one of these things for myself! (A definite step up from my super-basic C3050, who's primary reason for purchase was that it could at least play podcasts*).

Of course, the main reason I'd like a Windows Phone 7 is to play Nigel's Word Puzzle game, but there's also the whole "smartphone" thing of email/calendar/podcasts etc. If they can fix the "just show only the default calendar for a single email source" limitation (so that I can retrieve all our Google calendars for our family), then I reckon I'd consider getting Narelle one too, so that I could finally solve my calendar problem.

Anyway, so how to choose from the "vast array" (slight exaggeration!) of new handsets entering the market?

Why not try out a new Pivot Collection I've created that lets you sort and filter by your requirements – just go to http://pivot.lobsterpot.com.au/WP7/ and have fun!

image

Thanks to Rob for kindly hosting this on the LobsterPot Solutions site.

* – And I'm not even doing that right now as I've lost the earphones, and it has a silly non-standard plug so I haven't replaced them yet. Not that I'm saying the loss of earphones alone is justification for getting a new phone!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Writing a Media Center Application in Visual Studio 2010

Rocky River, Kangaroo IslandMy ISP (Internode) provides a number of unmetered streaming radio stations for its customers. A while back I'd followed some instructions on how to set up shortcuts in Media Center to link to some of these stations. This worked pretty well, until the ISP reorganised their server and all of the shortcuts broke. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a simple Media Center application that could grab the current radio list from the published radio stream RSS feed, list those stations in Media Center and allow selecting a station and getting Media Center to start playing it.

  1. Download and install the Windows 7 Media Center SDK. This install some samples, the SDK help file and some templates (but only for Visual Studio 2008).
  2. Go to Charlie Owen's blog and download his Addendum.zip. Amongst other things, this contains both project and item templates suitable for Visual Studio 2010. Follow the instructions to copy the templates into your Visual Studio templates folder.
  3. Download and install the latest WiX 3.5 build (WiX 3.5 includes support for 2010)

Now you can start Visual Studio and you'll see a new project template in the C# language section. There's a few more things I needed to update to get everything working properly:

  • Search for "Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A" and replace it with "Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A" (eg. devinstall.cmd)
  • Search for "Windows Installer XML v3\bin" and replace it with "Windows Installer XML v3.5\bin" (eg. build.cmd)

Then it's just a matter of getting up to speed with the intricacies of Media Center application writing!

The source code for the application (InternodeRadioMCE) is published on Google Code. It is very rough at the moment. As I get more familiar with the Media Center programming model I hope to improve it a bit!

And the photo? It's of Rocky River (courtesy of our recent holiday to Kangaroo Island) – and the closest thing I could think of to a stream (as in streaming radio!)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Rebuilding the home PC on a budget (part 2)

So there I was, looking down the barrel of having to basically rebuild my home PC. It's been more than a month since the box stopped working, and after further research I came up with the following revised shopping list:

Component Model
CPU AM3 x4 640
RAM Kingston 4GB Kit(2Gx2) DDR3 1333
Motherboard GA-870A-UD3
CPU Fan Noctua NH-U9B-SE2
That motherboard recently gained an 'Editor's Choice' award from XBit Laboratories, which is nice.

However, Duncan commented on my previous post that maybe the hardware wasn't at fault. It was a good suggestion that I should really try and isolate what the cause of this problem is before just "throwing new hardware" at it (as he put it!).

So I scrounged around and found a spare old hard disk that I was able to plug in to the system and successfully installed a clean version of Windows 7. So far so good, but then I noticed something odd – Windows insisted that I just had a basic VGA adapter. Nevertheless I then installed the most recent NVidia driver (96.85) and rebooted. Eureka! It booted successfully.

Buoyed by this success, I then swapped back to the original boot disk and booted into "Safe Mode with Networking", located the display driver in the Device Manager and uninstalled the existing driver. I then rebooted Windows.

Rebooting worked ok, and I was now in VGA mode again. I then repeated the process of installing the NVidia driver and rebooted again... And it worked!

So we're now back working again, and I can leave my shopping list for another day Smile

Friday, 8 October 2010

Is it worth going naked?

Following on from yesterday's post I thought I'd run through the numbers to see what savings are possible with a change to a 'naked' Internode ADSL service and porting our home phone number to VoIP.

Current monthly expenses
Service Description Cost
Broadband Internode Easy-Broadband-Classic (50GB)* 47.45
Telephone HomeLine® Budget# 26.95
Total   74.40

* – 'grandfathered' plan no longer available to new customers. Price includes 5% discount.

# – HomeLine Budget plan activated before newer conditions were introduced which disallow non-BigPond ADSL providers, and also includes $6 to enable Caller Number Display.

There seems to be two possibilities – the "Easy" plan (which also counts uploads but tend to have larger overall quotas) or the "Extreme" (which don't count uploads). I've applied the 5% discount to the broadband plans.

Easy Naked monthly expenses
Service Description Cost
Broadband Internode Easy Naked Pure Broadband S :: 150 Gigabytes 56.95
Telephone Internode NodePhone2-Starter 5.00
Total   61.95

 

NakedExtreme monthly expenses
Service Description Cost
Broadband Internode NakedExtreme ADSL2+ Pure Broadband 60 Gigabytes 66.46
Telephone Internode NodePhone2-Starter 5.00
Total   71.46

So unless I've overlooked something, it looks like there's an opportunity to save up to $12/month.

One thing to be careful of – there does appear to be a risk if you choose the "Easy Naked" plan. Turns out that you could end up on either an Agile OR Optus DSLAM, and if you're not on an Agile DSLAM then I believe that NodePhone isn't an option. I'm waiting for clarification of this in the Whirlpool forums.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Internode introduced phone number porting

Good news for some Internode customers – this week they've finally launched phone number porting, so that if you want to choose one of the "Naked" ADSL products, you can keep your phone number and have it linked to a VoIP service, whilst no longer having to pay separate line rental.

This is great, except for those of us already on an Agile DSLAM. Turns out that Telstra aren't being very cooperative in allowing people to move from LSS to ULLS (which is the position I believe I'm in).

The other problem I'd need to solve would be how to mix the NodePhone service that the phone number would be linked to with PennyTel – the VoIP provider I currently use. For our particular call usage pattern PennyTel has been a good choice. I'll do some further analysis but I suspect NodePhone's standard call rate of 18c per call won't work out as cheap as PennyTel's 1.6c/min (timed plan) or 8c per call (untimed plan). 

Update 10am

One option that may be worth considering is ordering a new naked ADSL service on an existing spare copper pair, and then using the Simple Phone Number Port service to transfer the phone number to NodePhone VoIP and cancel the old phone line and ADSL services. The downside is some additional costs up front, but the hope would be over time you'd come out ahead.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Kangaroo Island Holiday

Our family has just returned from 4 very pleasant days holidaying on Kangaroo Island.

This is my fourth trip to KI. My first was as a Scout hiking from Cape Borda down the west coast. We also had a family holiday to KI (which I remember for the rest of the family being very seasick and me being very bored in Penneshaw waiting for them to recover!). The third (and most recent) trip was with a group drawn from various Adelaide Uniting Church congregations who went over to the island to participate in a church youth service. If I recall correctly that last trip was just after I first met Narelle so it's been a few years.

We caught the 9am ferry from Cape Jervis. It was a little choppy but no one was seasick. We were staying at Vivonne Bay (Australia's best beach according to some) in a really nice holiday rental property. Vivonne Bay may not have the facilities of Kingscote, but it is conveniently located on the island so that most attractions are within an easy drive.

Day 2 saw a trip to Flinders Chase National Park where we saw Cape De Coudic lighthouse and Admirals Arch (with lots of seals), Remarkable Rocks, and squeezed in an exhilarating 4km walk from Snake Lagoon (didn't see any snakes) down to the Rocky River mouth.

Day 3 we headed up to Stokes Bay on the north coast of the island. The beach where you park is deceptively disappointing (just lots of rocks) but if you follow the signs through the rock tunnel you make your way to a lovely sandy beach just around the corner. Speaking of sand, we then headed off to the Little Sahara sand dunes for a shot of sandboarding. Lots of fun, but exhausting having to climb back up the hill each time!

Day 4 we checked out some of the local honey at Clifford's Honey Farm, including yummy honey icecreams. Then over to Kingscote to check out some of the historical sites at Reeves Point (the location of South Australia's first European settlement in 1836). Plenty of time to catch the 4.30pm ferry back to Cape Jervis again and then the drive back home.

I can remember a few years back when I'd been seemingly working non-stop for an extended period and all I wanted to do was sit on a beach for an hour and listen to the waves. While that was effective, I think it is far better to take a pre-emptive break from the daily routine. Our trip to KI was just that (also because there's only Telstra 3G coverage on the island I left the laptop at home so 4 days of no computer too!)

One odd thing – I never actually saw a live Kangaroo this trip – just dead ones that had come off second best against road traffic.

There's also more sealed roads now than I remember from previous trips. You can get all the way to the south-west coast without leaving the asphalt, but there's still plenty of corrugated dirt roads (the short track to Little Sahara was probably the bumpiest).

Friday, 24 September 2010

IPv6 is coming.. soon.. sometime.. almost there?

One of the talks I did manage to see at TechEd this year was the one about how they managed the network infrastructure for the conference. Part of the presentation when into a bit of detail about how they went about providing IPv6 connectivity including arranging the backhaul from the convention centre back to the Internet.

I wasn't surprised when they mentioned they used Internode as part of the solution, as I've seen the Internode guys talking on Whirlpool about IPv6 for a while now.

The things I remember coming away from the presentation were that:

  • The need for IPv6 is growing as IPv4 address space dries up
  • There's not much existing hardware or infrastructure that supports it
  • It isn't easy to get working
  • Security (Firewalls) becomes a bigger issue when you aren't using NAT anymore

The hardware is certainly an issue, so it's good to see that the manufacturers are starting to release entry-level devices that support IPv6. Internode announced today that they're now selling the NetComm NB6Plus4 which supports IPv4 and IPv6 in "dual-stack mode". Billion also have their 7800NL router which operates similarly.

I didn't knowingly use the IPv6 network at TechEd but the comments from those who did were that it was also surprising how few websites were available – even Microsoft Update didn't work.

A lot of problems still to be solved - interesting times ahead!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Conditional text in Excel when a range has a value

Unusually busy on the Excel helpdesk today – Jane's follow-up question was how to do the same thing with a range of cells. eg.

image

My initial suggestion was to use COUNTIF(range, criteria) where the criteria is "*", but it turns out there's a better answer – COUNTA(range) which counts the number of cells in the range with are non-empty. So the formula becomes:

=IF(COUNTA(B3:C3), "Y", "N")

If you wanted to do the inverse and only return "Y" if all values in the range are blank, then COUNTBLANK(range) will do the job. Also check out KB 274537 for details on some scenarios when COUNTBLANK doesn't work so well.

Conditional text in Excel when a cell has a value

This might seem trivial to us 'developer' types, but it was today's "Jane's Excel question".

You have one or more cells in a spread sheet. You want to display some text "Y" or "N" depending on whether the cell has anything in it. eg.

image

One solution is to use this formula:

=IF(LEN(B3)>0, "Y", "N")

This checks the length of the text in the cell. An empty cell will have a length of zero. Anything greater than zero means the cell has something in it.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Supporting IE6, 7, 8 (and maybe 9) on the same machine

It's nice to live on the cutting edge – using the latest version of everything, especially web browsers. But sometimes you may have to support users running older versions, and it is a lot easier to support a user if you can be using the same software that they have in front of them.

The problem is that you can normally only have one version of IE installed in Windows.

IT Tester screengrabRoger showed me IE Tester which looks quite impressive. It works by hosting separate version-specific instances of the IE rendering engine. Probably a good option if you're a web developer.

Expression Web SuperPreview screengrabIf you have access to Microsoft's Expression Web, then Expression Web SuperPreview offers similar functionality.
Another option is to utilise the free virtual machines provided by Microsoft. These are complete standalone copies of Windows XP and Vista with versions of IE6, 7 and 8. To run these, you need either Virtual PC 2007, Windows Virtual PC (Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate only) or Hyper-V.

Virtual PC 2007 with desktop shortcut screengrabIf you're using Virtual PC 2007, one nice thing you can do is add a desktop shortcut to the VMs so they can be launched easily:

  1. Create a new shortcut on the desktop
  2. Point it at "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Virtual PC\Virtual PC.exe"
  3. Give it a useful name – eg. "IE6 on XPSP3"
  4. Edit the shortcut target and append
    -pc "VM Name" –launch
  5. Replace "VM Name" with the exact name of the appropriate virtual machine (Include the double-quotes if the name has spaces in it)
  6. Change the shortcut icon to point to one from "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe"

Ryan Adams has posted a comprehensive list of all the available command-line options.

One thing to note – the VMs do have an expiry date. Updated VMs are usually made available before then though.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Error CS1061 upgrading to ASP.NET MVC3 Preview 1

I just encountered a problem upgrading a client's website from ASP.NET MVC2 to the preview of MVC3:

Compiler Error Message: CS1061: 'object' does not contain a definition for 'StartDate' and no extension method 'StartDate' accepting a first argument of type 'object' could be found (are you missing a using directive or an assembly reference?)

This error happens at runtime when I go to view a particular View in the browser. The view's Model property was not being typed as my custom type and instead was reverting to the default type of System.Object.

Turns out it's a known bug that is caused by the fact that the particular view's .aspx page also has a <% Import %> directive after the <% Page %> directive.

The workaround (until the next preview is released) is to swap the two lines around, so that the <% Page %> is the last directive in the file. eg.

<%@ Import Namespace="Client.Models" %>
<%@ Page Language="C#" MasterPageFile="~/Views/Shared/Site.Master" Inherits="System.Web.Mvc.ViewPage<Client.Models.CustomViewModel>" %>
 

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Book ordering from Borders

I was looking for a book on learning about Excel pivot tables to give as a gift recently (makes a change from chocolates or a gift voucher – I know!) I found Pivot Table Data Crunching For Microsoft Office Excel 2007 on Amazon for $AU37.14 (25.93 + 11.21P&P).

Figuring it would be quicker to get it from a real bookshop, I dropped into the Adelaide Borders bookshop, but they didn't have it on the shelf
Sad smile
I then tried the Borders website - their online price for the same book is just $AU35.95, and they also happen to have an online price guarantee that they'll beat Amazon's standard price + shipping (not required in this case).

It would have been interesting to compare Borders online price to in-store price to see if they were the same. In any case, I ordered from them so we'll see how quickly they deliver.

This all does make me wonder with the advent of Kindle eBook readers and downloadable movies what the future is for traditional book shops and video rental stores. Not particularly bright I suspect.

Update 3pm

BenMc suggested I have a look at The Book Depository. They have the same book for $AU25.33 with free shipping. Might try them next time!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Rebuilding the home PC on a budget

I purchased an Antec TruePower 550 power supply today, but unfortunately that didn't solve the BSOD issue, so it looks like I'll be rebuilding the computer completely. As I've already got a decent server for more serious computing tasks, my aim is to do this as economically as I can. I've come up with the following list:

CPU AMD Athlon II x4 635
RAM 4Gb DDR3
Motherboard ASUS M4A78LT-M LE

I'll need to add a video card, as my two existing monitors only have VGA input (eg. the motherboard's DVI-D won't be suitable).

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Rockin' the Lobster

I thought it was high time I wrote about how much I'm enjoying being part of LobsterPot Solutions. Since joining Rob and Ben about 6 months ago, I've had the opportunity to work with a range of clients on an interesting selection of problems utilising technologies such as:

  • SQL Server
  • SQL Analysis Services
  • SQL Data Mining
  • SQL Server Integration Services
  • SQL Reporting Services
  • Pivot Viewer
  • ASP.NET MVC
  • JQuery
  • WPF
  • Silverlight
  • PowerShell
  • .NET 4.0

Not bad!

I think it's fair to say SQL Server and Business Intelligence (BI) are LobsterPot's bread and butter (or should that be seafood bisque?!), but I also really appreciate the variety of tasks I've worked on. To complete the 3 course meal (following the food theme!), the company continues to hire talented staff. Roger (Mr SharePoint) Noble joined us in May and I'm sure he won't be the last as demand for BI expertise increases.

Another thing that I like is LobsterPot's commitment to staff professional development – from in-house training and conference attendance to user group participation.

Now I'm looking forward to seeing what the next 6 months bring!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

BSOD Stop 0x00000116 in nvlddmkm.sys

Upon returning from TechEd, I went to power up my trusty old workstation (an aging Intel D865PERL-based machine), however it didn't start up at all. After double-checking that it was actually plugged in properly I suspected that the power supply may be the culprit.

I'd had a similar problem with the kid's PC a while back. I'd bought a new replacement SHAW PSU and it worked for a time, but had subsequently started freezing for no reason, so it had been put aside.

I took the new PSU out of that PC and dropped it into my workstation. Turning on the power got an immediate response – fans whirring and all the right sounds coming from the machine. Everything looked good until the after the "Starting Windows" screen disappeared. After a long pause I was greeted by nasty BSOD:

STOP 0x00000116 (0x876c5008, 0x90835640, 0x00000000, 0x00000002)

nvlddmkm.sys

I could boot the system in Safe mode, but as soon as I allowed it to reboot normally it would BSOD again. Windows 7 Action Center tries to be helpful and suggest I go to the NVidia website to download a new driver that fixes the problem. A nice idea except that the GeForce FX-based graphics card that this machine uses was last supported by driver version 96.85 from 17th October 2006 (which I was already using).

Researching this error I came across this thread. I tried the suggestion of adding the TdrLevel DWORD value to the registry but unfortunately the BSOD remained.

So the problem is somehow related to the graphics driver. Quite bizarre as I've never had problems like this before. The only thing that changed was the PSU. This made me suspect that maybe the new PSU was also problematic. That might well explain why the kid's PC also froze for no reason too.

So what to do? Buy another (better quality?) PSU in the hope that it will resolve the BSOD, or go the full hog and upgrade this circa 2003 system with something a little more modern.

Monday, 30 August 2010

TechEd 'Celebrity' Head

  • I enjoyed hanging out at various times with Narelle, Rob Farley, Ben McNamara, Darren Gosbell, Grant Paisley, Geoff Orr and Glyn Llewellyn
  • Worked and chatted with Bill Chesnut, George Doubinski and the other Technical Learning Guides
  • Saw Carl Franklin, Richard Campbell
  • Said hello to Michael Kordahi and Richard Banks
  • Bumped into Dave Glover, Andrew Coates, Adam Cogan
  • Was kindly assisted by Mitch Denny, Anthony Borton
  • Chatted online to Roger Noble
  • Caught up with Geoff and Glyn again at the airport on our way home

I know I've missed someone... I'll update this page when my memory recovers Smile

Friday, 27 August 2010

TechEd Friday

Back helping out in the Hands on Labs again this morning. A long shift from 8.15am – 1pm.

Somehow I missed getting to DEV424 – "High performance, highly scalable applications on the .NET Framework", but instead I went to VOC208 – "Tech•Ed backstage 2010!". It was interesting to hear the hurdles that were leapt to roll out the networking infrastructure (particularly wireless access and IPv6) at the conference this year.

At lunchtime I managed to see Carl and Richard and their "64-bit question" swag giveaway. Nice to see the guys in person, and put faces to the voices from the podcasts.

Regarding IPv6... Apparently it wasn't particularly easy to roll out, and there's not much on the Internet yet that works with it (eg. not even Windows Update), but on the other hand, they reckon IPv4 addresses are almost all exhausted, so the need for IPv6 to become more widely available is growing.

Good to see Rob made the highlight reel at the closing session! The "locknote" was presented by Miha Kralj. It was another use of fast-paced PowerPoint slides, but again done very effectively. Very thought-provoking.

TechEd Thursday

First thing Thursday I was assisting in the Instructor-led Lab "Microsoft Visual Studio 2010: Office Programmability". That went well. I ended up having to explain extension methods to a few of the attendees who hadn't come across them yet. A good reminder that not everyone's been using all the features of .NET 3.5.

After that I attended the following sessions:

  • DEV354 - Shake, Rattle and Roll with Windows Phone 7 (Nick Randolph)
  • DEV426 - The Art and Engineering of Supple Enterprise Applications (Nicholas Blumhardt)
  • DAT216 - BI for the Microsoft Masses - Top 10 Challenges (Sanjay Soni)

Nick's talk was good. Windows Phone 7 looks very nice. It was interesting to hear some of the restrictions and limits that need to be take into account to develop for Phone 7.

Nicholas just happens to be the author of AutoFac and also was a member of the MEF team at Microsoft, so he spoke with some experience about inversion of control. I felt it was a little disjointed, and seemed to jump from IoC101 to more advanced concepts a bit too quickly. Even so, I did like Nicholas's relaxed presentation style. The room was packed too, showing there is demand for 400-level dev talks.

The BI talk wasn't what I was expecting. It was actually about how Microsoft deployed a BI portal internally.

After the sessions it was time for the two labs that I was instructing/introducing:

  • Introduction to Managed Extensibility Framework
  • Introduction to Test Case Management in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 with Microsoft Test and Lab Manager (MSDN Lab)

They both went well and I really enjoyed running them. I should say special thanks to Mitch Denny and Anthony Borton who gave me some great resources and assistance preparing for the Test Manager talk.

Whilst the general hands-on labs are good, I liked the Instructor-led Labs the most as all the people in the room were there doing the same thing.

A quick visit back to the hotel room allowed Narelle and I to Skype the kids and grandparents. That was fantastic.

Then back to the convention centre for the "House Party". I was a bit apprehensive as previous conferences when they've tried to do their own social night haven't been that impressive (previous years at the Gold Coast, Movie World or Dreamworld have been the popular choice). But credit to the organisers, I think they managed to pull off a good evening. There were lots of spaces with different activities – food, full-size fussball, lazer skirmish in the underground carpark, comedians and entertainment in the main arena.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

TechEd Wednesday

Morning tea - fruit and donutsWednesday started off early – that would be the sun rising at some unearthly hour. So much for sleeping in without the kids being around!

I caught these sessions:

  • DAT101 - Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Donald Farmer)
  • DAT306 - Scalability Standouts - the biggest in the world, and how they did it (Nicholas Dritsas)
  • WEB202 - Ten Things You Need to Know to Succeed with Natural User Interface (August de los Reyes)

I was hoping to see "ARC301 - Philosophy of Software Quality" but the room was packed to overflowing. Disappointing as Joel Pobar is always worth hearing.

Donald's use of early 1900's business process manual extracts and images just goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same. I knew that there use to be people who's job title was "computer", but didn't realise they had pivot tables (or close enough) back then.

Nicholas described some impressive stats for how some customers are using SQL Server and the kind of loads and performance that are possible.

Before August's presentationAugust picked up from where yesterday's keynote left off. Some really interesting ideas and concepts. I'll be hanging out to watch that one again when they publish it up at http://www.msteched.com/2010/Australia


Hands on LabsFrom 3.30 – 7pm I had my first shift helping out in the hands on labs. That went well, though your feet do get tired after standing up for all that time!

Some lego to play with!

So that's how they build software components!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Our Pivot in TechEd 2010 Keynote (TechEd Tuesday)

Getting there

Tuesday morning started with a mad scramble to get the kids ready for school and then saying a quick farewell before rushing off to the airport (don't worry, we didn't leave them to fend for themselves!)

An uneventful flight to Gold Coast airport, and then a friendly taxi driver took us to our hotel room. We're staying in an apartment in the Phoenician Resort in Broadbeach, a 5 minute walk from the convention centre. The apartments are managed by Broadbeach Holiday Rentals – they're in the same complex as the Mantra but are separate. (I booked through World Tourism Travel.)

Narelle is very pleased with the room, and there's lots of space for her to do her scrapbooking (one of her main priorities on her well-deserved holiday while I'm conferencing!)

Getting started

Registration was straightforward, though I discovered that as a TLG (Technical Learning Guide), I didn't get a delegate bag (or so I thought).

Next was an orientation meeting for TLGs, where I got my TLG shirts, and discovered that yes we will get bags later in the week. Pity it will be too small to fit my laptop in.

Straight after that it was time for the opening keynote. In a first for TechEd Australia, the keynote was held on the Tuesday afternoon (apparently to leave more time for sessions on Wednesday).

Michael Kordahi did a nice job as "MC". If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine I was listening to the Frankly Speaking podcast Smile

August de los Reyes' keynote talk on natural user interface (and what might be next) was quite interesting, and I really enjoyed the fast-paced way he used PowerPoint to enhance his presentation.

But without doubt, the highlight for me was seeing our Pivot being demonstrated by Michael K near the end.

I was so proud to see our work being showcased to the whole of TechEd, that I may have been the person who "yeehaa'd" Smile 

The evening finished with dinner in the expo area. Once again I'm reminded how good a job the catering guys do here.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Options for getting to CodeCampOz 2010

I'm impressed that Mitch got virtually all of the sessions and speakers organised for CodeCampOz 2010 by July and this year the event isn't until November (20-21st)!

There's some good topics being covered on the agenda, but how would I go about getting there now that the "FLC pool" car we had access to at the Uni (back in the old days!) is no longer an option and what would it cost?

Car hire

Getting to Wagga Wagga from Adelaide is a good day's drive, and something I'd really only undertake if there were others to share the trip/driving with. But assuming that was sorted, and you were hiring from the Friday to the Monday (eg. driving there on the Friday, driving back home on the Monday), Hertz list options including a Toyota Corolla Hatch for $158 or a Toyota Camry for $207. Don't forget to allow for petrol, and of course the cost of 2 days that you won't be working.

Flying

Wagga has a regional airport, but it is only serviced by flights from Sydney and Melbourne. Ideally you'd fly in on the Friday afternoon, and head home on the Sunday night.

WebJet lists a few options. I've listed the cheapest I could find here:

Date

Flight

Time

Route

Cost

Total Cost

19/11

QF736

12:15pm-4:40pm

(ADL-SYD-WGA)

$286

$286
 

JQ775

3:20pm-5:05pm

(ADL-MEL)

$99

 
 

ZL3286

6:35pm-7:40pm

(MEL-WGA)

$139

$238

21/11

QF223

5:00pm-10:20pm

(WGA-SYD-ADL)

$286

$286
 

ZL3281

4:50pm-6:00pm

(WGA-MEL)

$139

 
 

TT8039

9:00pm-9:50pm

(MEL-ADL)

$74

$213

So choosing the Melbourne options would cost $451, via Sydney is $572. But you'd still need transport once you got to Wagga – so either hire a car once you get there, or get a taxi from the airport and hope someone can give you a lift out to the campus.

Accommodation

Don't forget you have to stay somewhere. Last time I stayed at the Central Point Motel – nothing fancy but it did the job. Wotif lists them at $98/night.

Lunch is normally provided (in the form of Pizza), but allow for breakfast and dinner expenses.

Non-financial costs

And all this assumes that my family is willing to let me take off for another weekend not that long after spending a week away at TechEd on the Gold Coast!

Even attending Adelaide's own CodeCampSA had a similar expense as far as my family is concerned. That ended up being a two full days that I'm not around to share the load, do family stuff and spend time with my wife and kids. While I love to learn new things and pursue professional development opportunities, when it comes to the crunch family should be the more important of the two – so anything that takes away from time with the family had better be worth it.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Another famous person.. Ian Reid

I was doing some housecleaning in Google Reader and noticed an old RSS feed for Ian Reid (my old boss at UniSA). In checking to see if Ian had an updated blog, I discovered that:

  1. No obvious new blog
  2. but Ian has a new homepage
  3. and Ian is on Wikipedia (cool!)
  4. and he's been on Wikipedia since 2005
  5. which strangely I don't think I knew

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Google App account migration

I received an email from Google a few weeks ago informing me that soon the @gardiner.net.au accounts hosted in Google Apps will be able to access virtually all of the suite of regular Google Applications (eg. Blogger, Reader etc). About time!

"Google Apps" is the name of Google's hosted app service for a specific domain – not to be confused with Google Applications which you can access with just a regular Google account.

Up until now, Google Apps users were limited to a small subset (Mail, Calendar, Docs, Chat and Sites). This also meant if you wanted to access non-App applictions, you had to have a separate Google account, though it could have the same name as your Google app account.

This change is a good thing in that now the one account will be used to log in to both the App services as well as the other applications.

If you have a Google account with the same name as your Google Apps account, the non-Apps account will be renamed so that it is now unique. Any services/applications that were attached to the non-App account will remain with with that account.

So while all the services that I used to access with my old Google account are still there, they are now attached to the renamed account instead.

One thing that is helpful in the interim is Google have recently added the ability to switch between multiple accounts (Windows Live IDs have had this for some time), however I'd prefer to have all my services under the same account. Unfortunately there is no automated migration path to transition application settings between accounts.

The only solution is to manually move settings over. eg. For Reader, export my feeds to an OPML file then import them (which is fine for feeds but doesn't migrate your "shared items" nor the "people you follow"). For other services like Blogger, Google Groups and Google Code, you need to re-register with the new account.

All this is a pain for me, but the other tricky part is that I'm not the only person using my domain. Google does tell me that there are other family members who are in a similar situation but for privacy reasons they won't tell me exactly who or what those users are. I'll have to wait for them to contact me so I can help them out. At least my domain just has a few users – this is going to be a much larger job for enterprise customers!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

CodeCampSA 2010 Day 2

So did Sunday live up to Saturday's standard? I think it did pretty well.

Today's highlight was probably Lama's talk on the .NET Micro Framework. If I were developing embedded systems then this does sound a very attractive option (especially compared to the tools and languages that I understand a lot of embedded development takes place in).

An excellent weekend. It would be great to get more people to attend as I think they've missed out on a great professional development opportunity.

Your next opportunity to quench your CodeCamp thirst will be on November 21-22nd at (the slightly delayed) CodeCampOz in Wagga Wagga.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

CodeCampSA 2010 Day 1

Today was day one of CodeCampSA 2010. It's been really enjoyable and I think the talks I saw today are probably some of the best I've seen in Adelaide.

It's been quite a community atmosphere, with some good discussion and interaction between speakers and audience. What has pleased me the most is the technical depth that the talks have taken. This is a 'developer' conference after all, so it is great to have some meaty presentations that give you something to chew on Smile

My personal highlights are probably the talks by James Chapman-Smith (Lambdas, Monads, LINQ & the Reactive Extensions) and Omar Besiso (Entity Framework 4.0: A Guide on using POCO Self Tracking Entities). James in particular has inspired me to take a closer look at Func<>, Action<> and how LINQ can be used in more places than you would think.

Even my own talk seemed to go well, which is pleasing (having to restart my SQL instance not withstanding!)

My only quibbles lie not with the event, but the facilities. I can't believe in the year 2010 that UniSA can't get an electrician in to fit more power outlets in their lecture theatres - 4 outlets for the entire theatre is ridiculous. The data projector in our room was also pretty disappointing – very washed out and hard to read (even from the front row, and yes we did try to adjust it without success). I feel sorry for the students who have to put up with this all the time.

But I'm not going to let that diminish my enthusiasm. Now I just have to wait to see what the speakers on Sunday's agenda can produce!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Going to Tech-Ed as a Technical Learning Guide

Girl Guide BiscuitsI received news yesterday that I've been selected to be a Technical Learning Guide (TLG) for the Hands-on-Labs and Instructor-Led Labs at TechEd Australia 2010 Conference on the Gold Coast in late August (I was eligible for this because I'm now an MCT).

Rob suggested that I apply, and I'm glad I took his advice! As a TLG I will be asked to do one or more of the following activities:

  • assist attendees with the self-paced hands-on-labs.
  • assist attendees while they performing an instructor-led lab.
  • present an instructor-led lab.

I'm really looking forward to this, and just in case you didn't make the connection about the picture – they're Girl Guide biscuits Smile

Friday, 9 July 2010

Upgraded TFS 2010 from RC to RTM

For some reason I'd overlooked the fact that the instance of Team Foundation Server I was running on my Hyper-V server was still the release candidate instead of the RTM version.
Upgrading turns out to be relatively painless. I followed Johan's suggestions.
To backup the data-tier I fired up sqlcmd and ran the following:
BACKUP DATABASE Tfs_Configuration TO DISK = 'Tfs_Configuration.bak'

GO

BACKUP DATABASE Tfs_DefaultCollection TO DISK = 'Tfs_DefaultCollection.bak'

GO
I uninstalled just the TFS component, then ran setup.exe off of the RTM and after allowing the setup to proceed, chose the 'upgrade' option. It's nice to see that they ask you to confirm that you have done a backup before the upgrade can continue.
Coincidentally, like Johan I also had a problem with a TFS workspace being in use – though I believe this was because I changed the TFS Build process to run as a user account (previously it was using SYSTEM). I used a variation on the same command he used (different possibly because my servers are just in a workgroup rather than a domain).
tf workspace /delete "1_1_TFS;NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM" /login:tfsserver\username,password
Note that the TF.EXE command comes with the TFS client bits – I ran it from the machine I run Visual Studio 2010 on as my TFS server just has the server stuff.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Interactive TV in Windows Media Center

I happened to be switching between channels the other night and went to enable subtitles for a particular program (a feature of MCE in Windows 7 that I've grown to really appreciate).

I was surprised to see an extra menu appearing - "Interactive TV". Wow, I wonder what it does? Nothing apparently but it is intruiging. I'm not sure if this is something new in MCE, or a new feature for the television transmission in my area.


A reply to my query on the Australian Media Centre forums suggests this is a new feature that some channels are now transmitting.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Passed 70-515, 70-516 and 70-519

Back in April I participated in three 'beta' exams for Microsoft:
  • 70-515 TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Web Applications Development
  • 70-516 TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Accessing Data with ADO.NET
  • 70-519 Pro: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0
Being 'beta' means that you get to do the exams for free (as they are using you to find any mistakes etc), but if you pass then it counts as passing the real exam.
These exams have just been publicly released, and I just found out I passed all three! As a result I can now add the following certifications to my list:
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist
  • .NET Framework 4, Web Applications
  • .NET Framework 4, Data Access with ADO.NET
Microsoft Certified Professional Developer
  • Web Developer 4
Updated: Turns out I was incorrect, you do also need to complete 70-513 before you qualify for the MCPD Web Developer 4. This has now been clarified in the prerequisites for the certification.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

CodeCampSA 2010

Adelaide's own CodeCampSA is on July 24-25th this year, and all you have to do is follow these easy steps:

  1. Visit the CodeCampSA website for all the details
  2. Register to say that you're coming (it's free, but helps with catering and arranging access to the wireless LAN etc)
  3. Keep up to date with the latest news by subscribing to the CodeCampSA feed.

Once again, we're privileged to have speakers from both Adelaide and interstate – including LobsterPot Solutions' very own Rob Farley and some fellow named David Gardiner Smile

If you've got any free time over that weekend and you're interested in learning new things about .NET, software development, SQL Server, SharePoint and other related things, I'd strongly recommend you try and get down to UniSA's City West Campus. I know I'm planning to be there for the whole weekend!

Finally, it's probably not too late to contact Peter Griffith if you've got the urge to present on a topic.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Dell Studio XPS 1645 System BIOS A10

I see that Dell have released an updated BIOS version A10.

Good to see that my experience trying to upgrade to A9 hasn't been in vain – some of the fixes sound like they specifically address the problem I (and presumably others) had. eg.

  1. Prevent potential risk of BIOS crash during WIN-FLASH
    1. Disable USB device during WIN-FLASH.
    2. It will skip to flash un-used ME block during WIN-FLASH

I'm not going to be in any rush to install this update however – I've learned my lesson on messing with things that are essential for my work!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Passed 70-452

Today I passed the exam 70-452 - "Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008" with a score of 752.

This means I now am a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Business Intelligence Developer 2008, and also will contribute toward LobsterPot Solutions attaining 'Advanced Competency' status as a Microsoft Partner in Business Intelligence.