Tech-Ed 2008 Registration

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Chuck mentions that the Australian Tech-Ed 2008 conference site is now live. Not sure if it's a firewall issue, but I tried clicking on the 'Register Now' link, and it doesn't work.

The only time I've missed attending in previous years was when family commitments coincided (eg. birth of children). That's also why I decided I wouldn't travel to Wagga for this year's CodeCampOz - the timing was too close to the due date for G3, and I didn't want to risk being stuck in regional NSW should my wife suddenly go into labour!

The other big difference is that previously I had the support of my work paying for registration, travel and accommodation.

So if I did attend this year I'd have to cover the costs all by myself. $AU1,749 just for early-bird registration sounds like a lot of money, especially when it's your own!

One thing at a time though. G3 is due next week, so by mid-June I might have a clearer idea of whether popping off to Sydney in early September is a good idea (or not!)

Converting minutes from midnight

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Jane asked me how to convert "minutes from midnight" into hours and minutes in Excel.

Turns out the TIME() function can do this for you.

Say you have 585 minutes. Use it like this:

=TIME(0, 585, 0)

Then format the cell for time, eg. "h:mm", and you get

"9:45 AM"

Just what the doctor ordered!

Before you ask, no I'm not an Excel expert, but I am pretty good at knowing where to find the answer most of the time.

Hotmail rejecting forwarded email

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

I've been using ZoneEdit to manage the DNS for our domain with reasonable success. About the only problem I've had is every few months, I'd discover that email sent to my wife's Hotmail account (via her address) is rejected with a message like the following:

<[email protected]> (expanded from [email protected]): 
host[] said:
550 SC-001 Mail rejected by Windows Live Hotmail for policy reasons.
Reasons for rejection may be related to content with spam-like characteristics or IP/domain reputation problems. If you are not an email/network admin please contact your E-mail/Internet Service Provider for help. Email/network admins, please visit for email delivery information and support (in reply to MAIL FROM command)

To their credit, the Live Hotmail guys are pretty quick off the mark to resolve this once you submit a request via their support page.

I think the problem is that because ZoneEdit hosts so many domains, some of those turn out to be used (or hijacked) by spammers, and so inevitably their IP ranges end up on spam black lists. ZoneEdit don't have any SPF records for their mail servers either which probably doesn't help.

So tonight I bit the bullet, and signed up with Google Apps to manage the mail for our domain. I'm hoping that pointing my MX records to Google will mean that things all look legitimate when Hotmail goes to verify that the domains match up with the SPF record.

Signing up was pretty straight forward. After verifying that I control the DNS records, I added accounts for all the people who have email addresses, then logged in and configured their email to forward to their preferred address. There's even a 'test' email address so you can try things out before you update all the MX record information.

We'll see if this turns out to be a good idea or not.

Book prices

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

I recently ordered MCPD Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-547): Designing and Developing Web-Based Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework from Amazon and it cost me about $AU 60 (including postage).

MS Press have just launched their Australian web site, and the same book is listed as $AU 120. Dave Glover mentions that user group members can get a 50% discount, but only for this month. So for this month at least they are comparable.

It isn't just MS Press though. I've seen other Australian booksellers listing this same title at equally uncompetitive prices. About the only reason you'd buy local is if you didn't want to wait a couple of weeks for Amazon's standard delivery to arrive.

Certainly, the Australian dollar is very high at the moment, so that helps with the exchange rate, but I still don't get why there's such a huge price difference.

Ready, Steady, Code

Monday, 5 May 2008

Once or twice while I was on leave recently, I happened to have the TV on during the daytime. One of the programs that was on was Ready, Steady, Cook (originally a BBC show apparently).

The basic format of the show is as follows:

So what I was thinking was whether you could adapt this format to a user group setting?

Have two teams (ideally with two data projectors so the audience can see what they're doing), and give each of them 3-4 random technologies and they have to come up with an application that uses all of them in a fixed time period.

At the conclusion the audience can vote on which they think is the best.

You might need a little more time, and the audience could get involved shouting out suggestions if they get stuck.