• Dual monitoring again

    Hooray! It’s a bit like Christmas at the moment. Not only did I win a $AU19,000 MSDN subscription at CodeCampSA on the weekend (feel free to add your comments as to whether I should keep it or give it away to a suitable cause), but finally my second monitor arrived this morning at ABB. I’ve been waiting 5 weeks for this, and there were times when I wondered if it would ever happen.

    The new monitor is a HP L1950, which is the same screen size as my existing HP L1906, but most importantly has DVI input, and also a slightly narrower bezel.

    My current machine is one of these dinky HP dc7800p ultra-slim desktops. To be honest, they’re probably fine for your average Microsoft Office user, but they are quite a bit under-specced for developing.

    This is something that we’ve raised, and hopefully will be addressed soon either by extra RAM and a second hard drive, or (fingers crossed) some replacement boxes that are more in the “power workstation” class. I think this is critical, as we have a tight deadline and don’t want to waste time watching the hard disk LED glow brightly for 30 seconds at a time (freezing Windows) until it’s ready again.

    After all, it’s not like I’m asking for three screens or anything!

  • Some mistakes and a nice surprise

    My talk today at CodeCampSA was on SQL 2008 change tracking and how that works with the new Microsoft Sync Framework. It went ok up until I put the VM into full-screen mode, which promptly stopped the display on the projector. Arrgh! A quick fumble around and running the ATI video utility got things working again. Doubly embarrassing as I’d just made a comment about the whole “demo gods” thing so that drew a few smart comments!

    Then, my “prepared earlier” demo failed to work. I suspect it’s because just an hour before my talk, I decided to add an extra table to my test database. That probably wasn’t a very wise thing to do.

    I then asked Timothy (fellow developer from ABB and Sync Framework whiz) to join me out the front and demonstrate how to create custom client and server providers. I realise now that I should have given him much more time, as he did a great job, but with time against us we couldn’t finish it properly. I really should have given him more chance to prepare rather than throwing him in the deep end with only 10 minutes to go.

    Even with all that, I still stand by my dismissal of “demo gods” comments that so many presenters like to make. But I’m happy to admit that I’m not perfect rather than blame someone (or something) else.

    So I was feeling a bit disappointed with how that went, but things were about to change for the better.

    As I mentioned, Paul ran a clever quiz competition to give away a Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite with MSDN Premium.

    Guess who won?

    Yep, yours truly!!! Wow, and they don’t sell these for peanuts either!

    So now I have a dilemma - I realise this is a very valuable resource, probably not something I’d ever get to buy myself. But is it something that I’m going to be able to make good use of? I’m not sure.. maybe there are some other organisations that this could benefit much more.

    I’ll think about it before I decide what to do. But a warning, don’t bother contacting me asking me to give it to you! The answer to those requests will be “Sorry, No”.

    I could give it to my Mum, to say thanks for lending me her laptop to use today, but I have a feeling she might not know what to do with it :-)

    Of course I may still decide to keep it. Otherwise I’ll be deciding what to do with it soon (making sure what ever happens complies with Microsoft’s licensing/conditions).

  • CodeCampSA 2008 – Day 1

    Presentation notes

    Jeremy Huppatz

    Spoke about the divide between dbas and developers, and how VS Database Professional has many new features that try to bridge that gap. It does seem that many of these features are similar to existing offerings from Red Gate though. Not sure if they’ve all been licensed, or if it’s direct competition from MS.

    Darren Neimke

    Microsoft’s “Live”. Things I hadn’t seen before included Live Mesh, tafiti (a fancy search engine interface). To roll your own application that leverages the Live platform, you’ll need to set up an App ID. I am wondering what services does Live offer that differentiates it from its competitors? Or is it just playing catchup/keeping even with other offerings. Darren also mentioned even dentists could use Live – which made me wonder how you could go to the Dentist online!

    Alan Boldock

    A witty and engaging presentation on some of the features of WPF. Alan recently presented at AdNUG, and I’m now sorry I missed it. One tip Alan gave was the use of RentACoder, not just for coding, but for graphic design work. He did say that the specs needed to be very precise though.

    Simon Holman

    An overview of DotNetNuke. Showed how easy it is to install, and how you can simply extend it by writing your own modules (based on ASP.NET User Controls (ASCX files).

    Peter Cornish

    Back again this year with another interesting talk on analysing web traffic. He’s a big fan of Google Analytics. If you were trying to sell stuff through your website, he’s the kind of person you’d want to hire to make sure you were targeting your market. There’s a new feature in Analytics called “Industry Benchmarking” – worth investigating.

    Paul Turner

    Overview of SharePoint 2007. The relative ease in which it supports i18n was impressive – I hadn’t seen that before.

    Me and Timothy

    SQL 2008 Change tracking and Sync Framework. (See next post)

    Jason Stangroome and Jim Burger

    TFS and SubVersion shoot-out. Interesting to see the strengths and weaknesses of both products. Relevant as I was using TFS and were now using SVN at ABB.

    Nigel Spencer

    SQL 2008 Change tracking and Sync Framework. By coincidence Nigel and I ended up covering very similar ground, but to his credit he used WPF, didn’t mess up the display, and did it all in under 10 minutes (which means he can enter it in the Demo Comp)

    Jason Schluter

    Unit testing Silverlight. I’ve never used Silverlight, but I liked how the technology is heading to be able to write tests for this sort of code.

    Paul Stovell

    Ran a quiz using a WPF app hooked up to his mobile phone to allow everyone to enter via SMSing from their mobile phones. (More in next post)

    Tea at Marcellina’s

    About 10 people headed over to Marcellina’s for a banquet dinner. Some interesting conversations and a good chance to catch up with everyone over a yummy tea.

    Other thoughts…

    • Wireless worked well, though not sure if all the Vista people got in first time. I’m glad I printed out the instructions before I came.
    • Seemed to be about 30 people today. I’m wondering what we could do to get more people to come along.

    • Is a weekend the best?
    • Would a weekday event get more people who are willing to give up work rather than their weekend/family time?
    • Maybe in the middle of school holidays isn’t good for some people too.

    • Nice catering job by the scouts.
    • Most sessions ran on time which is good.
    • Great to see RJ, and bumped into Courtney too.