Miscellaneous

Site theme updated

A day or so ago someone (thanks Blair!) pointed out that this site wasn’t being too friendly to mobile visitors – in fact, it was displaying a 404 to every mobile visitor. Ouch. This happened before and I fixed it, however I didn’t fix it in a completely sustainable way. However “fixing it” again still meant that the site was still serving up the same 6+ year old design to all visitors, and it really wasn’t a pleasant experience on mobile devices. So I’ve just taken the time to do a very quick skin update to something...

Delegating access to a single Amazon S3 bucket

I’ve just been playing around delegating access to some Amazon S3 resources using IAM and Cloudberry explorer, and found a small but useful tip for anyone doing the same thing – don’t forget to give the user account access to s3:ListAllMyBuckets, or your testing isn’t going to go very far. I’m using Cloudberry Explorer Pro, and couldn’t see an easy way to do this using the Policy Designer (not saying it isn’t there – just that I got bored looking), so I simply edited the policy script, added the ListsAllMyBuckets action and set the resource to be arn:aws:s3:::* – the final...

Where does technical debt come from

Over the past year I’ve been dealing with some technical debt across a couple of different ASP.NET applications that we recently inherited. As part of that work I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about technical debt, how to deal with it, and how to avoid it. Describing the subject of technical debt as interesting might be overstating things a little however it is a subject which is relevant to most developers at some point in their career. So when I read this article (Lotus Notes - a Double Edged Sword) it struck me as a great example of...

Looking back on the past couple of years as a freelancer

It's coming up to the 2 year mark since I resigned from my full time job and went into freelancing / owning my own businesses. After many years of working as an employee, a contractor and doing small bits of freelancing on the side I probably thought that switching to freelancing would be a bit easier than it ended up being, which is part of why I wanted to write a little about my experiences. There's plenty of material out there offering freelancers helpful tips or things to avoid - this post is similar to many of those, but it's...

“Veolia Transport apologises...”

There’s nothing like getting a text alert from the Auckland train service which reads “Attn Passengers. Major delays on Network. Please find alternative transport” on a Friday afternoon to make me glad to be working at home a lot right now (and especially today). Tags: NZ

Remove trailing characters (and a small rant)

Often when coding I’ll search for a snippet of code to avoid reinventing the wheel. Code re-use is good, right? From now on, whenever a search like that ends up sending me over to experts-exchange.com (which is a signup, members only site that shows the question text for all to see but masks the answers to entice people to sign up) I’m going to make an effort to write up a free version of  the answer here. I really dislike that site, because all hits from there are a complete waste of time for a non member....

How to recognise a good programmer

A lot of these are common sense, nonetheless How to recognise a good programmer is worth a read if you’re someone involved in the hiring process. The author uses the subtitle "How do you recognise good programmers if you’re a business guy", but it’s relevant to technical people too. If you take one thing and one thing only away from the article, then it should be reinforcement of the value of passion in anyone who works with computers.

SQL Profiler templates

Way back when I was using the 2000 version of SQL Profiler I would always apply a filter to restrict my profiling by database id. On busy servers it’s simply the only way to fly. When I moved to using the SQL 2005 version of profiler I was quite shocked to find this option wasn’t visible. I did a bit of searching, but found nothing, and was in a hurry to get my profiling done - so I gave up. Whenever I’m using profiler there’s usually a...

New Technical Preview of Live Writer available

Grab it here. The UI looks a bit more polished in a few places, and they’ve added some improved support for those who publish images and video frequently including support for LightBox and other image previewing effects (like Slimbox, Smoothbox, and others). The inline previewing looks incredibly useful. Here’s hoping it works on my 64 bit XP box at home.

jsvi

jsvi is a JavaScript version of VI. Looks scarily useful. Tags: JavaScript , VI

PlayTech Home Server Reviewed

PlayTech Windows Home Server Reviewed in New Zealand PCWorld by Tentacle Software's own Sam Wood. Helping New Zealand rank well at number 2 on the global WHS World Cup standings are a wide range of home servers from local system builders. One of these systems, the PlayTech Home Server which is a AMD Athlon X2 4600+ processor based system, is reviewed in the May issue of New Zealand ‘s PC World. The review is authored by Sam Wood, a member of the WGS community and author of the great WHS Disk Management...

What to expect from Windows XP SP3

Not much, apparently. Tags: Microsoft,Windows

Yahoo - Simple text editor

I've used FCKEditor and CuteEditor - and in most cases they were more complex than what I needed at the time. Simple Editor from Yahoo looks just right for online applications which only need basic formatting (which lets face it, is most of them).

Sync Google Calendar with Outlook

Google's suite of applications just keeps getting better - Google Calendar can now be synced with Microsoft Outlook. This is something I'd love to use - however the installer wont run on 64bit Windows XP. Please be informed that Windows XP 64-bit Edition isn’t compatible with Google Calendar Sync at this time. The team here is definitely aware of the strong desire to use this feature and we're keeping track of all reports and requests as we work to improve Google Calendar Sync. Well, add me to the list of people...

Large icons for a clear desktop. Or not.

This tip from Projectionist says " Make desktop icons as large as possible": If you configure your desktop icons to be as large as possible (128×128) you’ll be incentivized to keep desktop clutter to a minimum and only keep the most essential files around at any given time. A good tip! Although I think I'm doing pretty well as it stands with my default 32x32 icons:

On technology startups

A nice summary of the tech startup process. A must view for anyone wanting to knock the wind out of their sails without even casting off. (I really don't know where the sailing metaphors came from)

Good news bad news with Vista

The good news is that Vista SP1 is now publicly available, and that installing it (after uninstalling the SP1 beta) has removed the "Evaluation version" displayed on my desktop. I realise there were other ways to remove it, but I wasn't really interested. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. The bad news is that the process of uninstalling the beta and installing the full version took almost an hour and a half. That's a lot of painful downtime for an update which I really only applied out of perverse interest.. * Disclaimer - I only run Vista on...

A quick development link round up

I've had a few links sitting around for a few days which I've wanted to write a little bit about. Douchebaggery from Jeff Atwood @ Coding Horror is a great read for anyone who's completely over religious OS wars. The Microsoft Practices and Standards Team have recently released a new version of the Web Client Software factory. I really need to find some time to download and test this, as I'm very curious to see how it compares to the upcoming MVC Framework. This post on JD from Mindset's blog talks...

The Dramatic Password Reveal

I found "The Dramatic Password Reveal" to be an interesting read. It's interesting to read the post and gauge your own personal reaction, followed by whether you change your mind after stopping and thinking about it a little bit. As the owner of 2 Das Keyboards I can tell you that there are many times when revealing my password for a quick double check before entering would be useful. Occasionally for online accounts I'll find myself typing my password into Notepad and then pasting it into the form to prevent me from locking my own account out. ...

Silk Companion Icons

Silk Companion is a set of icons designed to compliment the FamFam Silk set. Both are useful additions to the box of tricks of any web developer.

Another one for the "It doesn't just work on 64bit" club

Windows Media Player 11 joins the ranks of applications which have no support for 64bit Windows XP. I'm not really losing a lot of sleep over this one, however I did want to try out my Xbox 360 as a media center now that it supports a few more encoding formats - unfortunately it can't be done without Windows Media Player 11.

A few quick links

Joel on Software's Strategy Letter VI - On Lotus Symphony, AJAX, and history repeating itself. The post is a couple of months old now, but I missed it when it was first posted. Worth a read. What's Ailing ASP.NET Web Forms - Rick Strahl on the historical strengths and weaknesses of ASP.NET webforms (prompted by the impending release of Microsoft's ASP.NET MVC framework). Using Visual Studio 2008 with VSS (Visual SourceSafe) - basically "grab the patch", or migrate to some decent source control (yeah I added the second one in). Facebook Beacon Privacy Issues Worse Than Previously...

My Live Writer plan is foiled

After I discovered that the 1.0 release of Live Writer did NOT support Windows XP 64 bit, I figured I'd just stick with the beta and the hacked installer which someone had thoughtfully provided. However today I was informed via dialog box that my plan has a fatal flaw: If anyone out there has seen a version of the 1.0 installer which has been hacked to work with Windows XP 64 bit (NOT VISTA 64 BIT - THE STANDARD INSTALLER WORKS FINE FOR VISTA!) then please drop me a line. Tags: Windows Live Writer

XP SP3 > Vista SP1

Windows XP SP3 boasts speed boost, testers claim - the headline is a little misleading, as they're talking about noticing a speed boost when running MS Office under XP, but it's still good to know that SP3 delivers some sort of improvement. I concur with their assessment that Vista SP1 doesn't noticeably speed anything up - not even the insanely long file copy times. It was pretty disappointing, given Vista feels like there's plenty of places where it could be optimized. It's pretty weird thinking that XP is 6 years old. Moving away from naming an OS or product after a year...

The Two Types of Programmer

Judging by the comments, Jeff Atwood's latest post titled "The Two Types of Programmer" has an interesting effect on people. It seems that it either drives people to justify why they're happy to be in the 80%, or argue why they're actually in the 20% despite not meeting certain criteria. Either way it's entertaining reading.

Another motherboard down

Yesterday morning at around 6.30am my (second) P5N32-E SLI motherboard died. After 2 weeks of running without any issues, it had rebooted itself and reported a "BIOS Checksum Error" - at this point it tries to launch the ASUS EZ-Flash utility, and when that fails due to the user sleeping in another room it emits an insanely high pitched screeching noise. Nice feature. The problem sounded similar to this, except in my case playing about with RAM didn't fix it. Neither did booting from the support DVD and re-flashing the ROM BIOS. I was experiencing some randomness, mainly...

You down with MVC? Yeah you know me!

Ok, it's a pretty crappy pun, but someone had to use it. A couple of MVC/MVP related links: MVC demo sourcecode MVC or MVP Pattern – Whats the difference?

Windows Live Writer: Out of Beta

From the Writer Zone blog: Thank you to everyone who tried out the beta releases of Writer over the last year and gave us feedback. Over 1.5 million of you downloaded our last beta release, and your input helped make Writer the product it is today.  Our goal from the start has been to help make blogging more powerful, intuitive, and fun for everyone. Today, we’re proud to announce that Windows Live Writer 2008 is now available! As promised, it now works properly on 64bit systems: We have heard from many of you about the pain...

More on Live Writer 64bit

A bit of a follow up for anyone who's interested in running Live Writer on 64 bit Windows, and didn't read the comments to my previous post. Charles' explanation as to why the current install doesn't work with 64 bit makes a lot more sense: We're sorry about the fact that Writer stopped supporting 64 bit Windows. You're right that this is just temporary. Our installer had a little hiccup but it will be resolved in our next release. Once again, our apologies! So all you 64bit people can look forward to being back and writing with Live Writer...

Hardware is FUN!

Reinstalling a system at a hardware and software level is a pretty interesting rite of passage. I'm taking baseline measurements for temperature levels and fan speeds and all that good stuff. Finding out that a quad core technically has 5 different places you can read temperatures from is kind of interesting. Interesting in the way which doesn't actually help me at all in any way shape or form. Through the course of a few BIOS updates, and utility installations I've had some varying temperatures, combined with some worrying amounts of noise. Fortunately, I realised pretty quickly that by default my insanely...

Not posted using Live Writer!

First off, this post is not bought to you via Windows Live Writer! Why? Well.. Running a 64bit OS is an interesting experience. A lot of people will make casual comments along the lines of "pretty much everything should run fine". If you hear this phrase in casual social conversation, then chances are that: You are a huge fucking geek You are talking to someone who has never run a 64bit OS Most 32bit apps are compatiable with a 64bit OS. However there are some things you take for granted, and sometimes compatiability can be an...

It wasn't Cortana

As is often the way, writing the previous post put me in the mood to have another shot at fixing the problem. One of the things missing from the previous post was me mentioning I'd temporarily switched the Xbox 360 over to a fixed IP address. The Xbox live network recommendations require a couple of ports to be forwarded, which means the router needs to know where they go to! I'd put the MAC Address for the 360 into my DHCP server but simply hadn't got around to switching the config on the Xbox over from manual to automatic. I...

Weird Xbox live connectivity issue

I'm having a weird connectivity issue with Xbox live, as the post title implies! I recently updated my router (Cisco 857) so that it adheres to the Xbox live list for open ports. The aim being for maximum connectivity as far as XBL is concerned. All fine, groovy etc. However recently it's failing to automatically connect to XBL. After it fails to connect, it prompts me to test my connection. If I test the connection, everything checks out fine across the board. The weird part is that after I've tested the connection, I can sign in to XBL without any issues...

Call me pedantic..

..but the first thing I thought when I saw this was whether or not the apostrophe is valid in the context "AB'S". Tags: Rugby

IE7 now available to non valid Windows users

In an interesting move, Internet Explorer 7 is now available to users not running a genuine copy of Windows. Previously IE7 required the Windows Genuine Advantage validation process be completed before download. This could easily be a strategy tactic in the ongoing browser wars. Having a single (larger) number for one browser is going to look a lot healthier than having 2 smaller numbers. It could also be something that Microsoft are doing for the general good of the Internet community, which is certainly the tone that the blog post tries to convey - however you can make your...

Facebook and Microsoft

This is obviously a topic which is being done to death at the moment, however I was thinking a bit about what Microsoft might want to do with Facebook in terms of it's technology architecture if they buy into / buy out / (pick your term) Facebook. Facebook is currently written in PHP. I haven't read anything at all about what else they're using, but lets assume the web server is Apache or something similar, and the backend database is MySQL (google seems to suggest that's the case - if so then it's a pretty impressive endorsement for MySQL). So...

Calcium CA60

One of the most commonly used applications on any mobile phone is the calculator. From the dawn of mobile phones, people have been using the calculator on their phone to split bills, tabs, or to do sums under the table so they can appear slick at mathematics. However, despite their popularity, pretty much all of the actual Calculator applications themselves have been pretty awkward and cumbersome to use. Calcium S60  (from mtvoid, the makers of Control Freak) changes all that. It's so simple and easy to use that it leaves you wondering why someone didn't do something like...

Dell 3007fpw

I've been looking at the Dell 3007fpw. Well, technically speaking I was looking at 2, but that's another story. There are a few screenshots out and about which make the mouth water: That's a 24" Dell on the right, with the 30" next to it. Damn. 2560*1600 isn't exactly the worlds most practical resolution if you don't have a high powered rig, especially for gaming - but the 3007fpw solves this by having a "2nd native mode" of 1280*800 allowing you to run demanding games in a slightly more sane mode. It's a nice touch, and it sounds...

New feed link

It seems I accidentally left the URL for the RSS feed pointing to a test URL. Anyone who got in there early and updated might be using the wrong address (which will work, for now, but I'll eventually move it). The correct link is: http://rosshawkins.net/Rss.aspx Also for those of you who clicked on the home page after a failed google search, check the "Popular Content" bar to the side - as if you came here looking for my info on subjects such as Troubleshooting WebResource.axd, or the infamous Ajax "Sys.Debug is null or not an object" error, and got a 404...

A quick random tech tip..

If you're anything like me, and you're using your FreeBSD box to run samba as well as a squid cache.. actually, I don't think there's any sort of an intro which is going to make this tech tip sound like it's at home. I was trying to use Robocopy with /MIR in order to sync up some files between a samba share and my main box. My first copy worked fine and all files/directories were copied over as expected. However, the second copy also attempted to copy everything again. My google search was interesting - a lot of...

Not just a software geek..

Most of the time on this site I write about coding, or moan about trains, but there's more to me than that - sometimes I like to play with hardware too! That's not entirely true. No one likes to play with hardware, but they do generally like the results as long as all goes well. This week promises to be a bit of a hardware/networking week. I've just ripped out my twin SLI'ed 7800 GTs to replace them with a single Asus GeForce 8800 GTS, 320MB, DDR3, PCIe-16, TV out, DVI, HDTV, SLI ready etc. It's...

Writing about being too busy to write

The last couple of months have been pretty busy, and the updates to this site have suffered as a result of that. When I'm not working I'm in the middle of migrating all of my personal data (including this site) off Domino. I've got most of the work done towards migrating over to SubText, but I'm having trouble finalising a site design. The fact that I'm pretty average when it comes to designing layouts is a bit of a hindrance. I'm finding SubText pretty nice to work with from a skinning perspective - however I'm pretty easily sold...

Subtle Lock in - liberating my data from Notes Databases Part 2!

The final part of my data migration involved migrating the site's comments, and placing them against the correct entries in the newly populated SQL Subtext database. I used the same techniques as previously to get the bulk of the SQL script created, with one minor addition. Can you spot it? utcDateTime := @Text(@Year(@Created)) + "-" + @Right("0" + @Text(@Month(@Created)); 2) + "-" + @Right("0" + @Text(@Day(@Created)); 2) + " " + @Right("0" + @Text(@Hour(@Created)); 2) + ":" + @Right("0" + @Text(@Minute(@Created)); 2) + ":00.000"; NewEntryID := "set @newentryid = (select top 1 ID from...

SQL Server 2005 support ends next Tuesday

As a headline, it sounds pretty serious, but it's only support for Service Pack 0 (RTM) that's finishing on the 10th. The only people who should be concerned are people who have some specific reason for not being able to move to either SP1 or SP2. For 2000 shops, support for SQL2000 SP3a also ends on the 10th. Tags: SQL

JavaScript cross browser compatiability tip #98439483

If you're dynamically resizing anything in your browser using JavaScript, and you'd like it to work in more than one browser, then you need to remember to set the unit type of your object as well as the value. The following code works in IE, but not in Firefox: myDiv.style.width = height1 + height2; This however, works in both browsers: myDiv.style.width = height1 + height2 + 'px'; As for Safari? Right now your guess is as good as mine. If I get a spare few minutes I'll throw together a...

ReSharper 3.0, Vista, or aliens?

Seeing as I mentioned the ReSharper 3.0 release, I thought I should also mention that I've reverted my main work box (which is running Vista) back to ReSharper 2.5.2. I was having some weird issues around shortcuts not quite sticking, as well as some functionality simply not working (the compilation checking seemed either disabled or incredibly lagged, ctrl-p for parameter info was only working intermittently, and the automatic insertion of using statements wasn't firing either). It was a weird few hours working without full ReSharper functionality - it scared me thinking about how much I missed it. Unfortunately I...

Morning Frost

Frost by itself isn't anything too amazing or interesting. However, when it's in Auckland, and when you can scoop it into a pile and almost make a snowball out of it, then you can say "It's cold today" and feel somewhat justified. Tags: NZ, NZ Trains

Analyzing the favorable winds

I threw the leg times for an end to end trip (specifically, the first train of the morning) on the Western line in both directions into a quick Excel spreadsheet, and can now reveal the following useless statistics: There are 18 stations and therefore 17 legs along the western line. The most common leg time is 3 minutes. There are 9 eastbound legs which take 3 minutes, and 12 westbound. There are 7 legs in which the durations for the eastbound and westbound legs differ. Of the 7...

Follow the favorable winds

I was looking through the new timetable for the Western line and thought I'd noticed a screw up in the train times. The trip duration eastbound looked like it took longer than it used to. That was until I checked the old timetable, and realised that apparently it takes less time to travel from Britomart to Waitakere as it does to travel from Waitakere to Britomart. I'd never noticed this before! The eastbound trip end to end (non express) is listed at taking exactly an hour, whereas the return trip is listed as taking 57 minutes...

Apple enters the Windows Browser Wars

As the browser wars heat up signs throughout the web show that the pro Firefox crew are becoming less subtle with each passing day. As far as Apple are concerned it's a pretty good time to get their latest offering out into the Windows world. The somewhat evangelical momentum behind Firefox has definately helped to educate people into realising that there are plenty of Windows based browser alternatives. I spent a bit of time playing with Safari on Windows Vista today. Visually it's very Mac like - thats to be expected. Ive never been an iTunes user, but...

SQL Server Web Report Viewer Issues on Longhorn/IIS7

It seems I've come across yet another AXD related issue. This time with the SQL Server Web Report Viewer Control which was being served up via IIS7 on a Longhorn server. As soon as the page loaded I was getting JavaScript errors of 'RSClientController is undefined'. The report had been working fine on development boxes, so I was pretty sure it was either related to the deployment or IIS. In checking the source of the page I found the following entry: <script src="/Reserved.ReportViewerWebControl.axd? OpType=Resource&amp;Version=8.0.50727.817&amp;Name=Scripts.ReportViewer.js" type="text/javascript"></script> Which of course didn't exist when I pasted the URL into...

From the 'why oh why' department..

Sort of following on the theme of Visual Studio customisations, here's one which I don't use: VIEmu is a piece of commercial software which provides full VI/VIM editing inside Visual Studio. There are also versions for Word & Outlook, and SQL Server 2005 Management Studio - each priced at $69.95. Ouch, however there are also a couple of package deals which mitigate the pricing somewhat. For the 3 people out there who happen to code in Visual Studio and love VI, then this is for you! On a related note, I tried to adopt gVim (a...

My Visual Studio Customisations

Every developer has their own list of customisations and tweaks which they apply to their IDE to give it that personal touch. This is my personal list of settings and customisations for Visual Studio 2005. I'm partly writing this down as a reference guide for myself lest I forget - reinstalling Visual Studio is something I try to do as little as possible, and so having a reference list is useful for those moments after a reinstall where you know something doesn't quite feel right in the IDE, but can't remember exactly which setting you've missed! I realise...

Hardware troubleshooting techniques, Volume 1

PROBLEM: Noisy fan on my FreeBSD box SOLUTION: Disconnect noisy fan It's amazing how much quieter my FreeBSD/Squid cache box is with it's 120mm fan disconnected. I should know in about 24 hours as to whether my quick estimations on it's heat output and cooling requirements were accurate, but for now the acoustic improvements are worth the risk! Tags: FreeBSD

Back on the train

I'm back to taking the train after driving for a couple of months. It looks like the reliability issues have gotten a bit better since their alltime February/March lows, however there are still delays and they're still (apparently) being caused by signal failures. It looks like most of the major earthworks have been completed along the western line, and so from here on in things should be getting better. One thing which has surprised me a lot over the past few days commute is that the trains seem noticably busier. I'd actually expected their use to maybe...

RegEx Performance Options

It's obviously not new, but the January 2006 edition of MSDN Magazine has some useful performance tips, particularly in the area of Regular Expressions. File this under the category of 'things I talk about here so I can refer to them myself later'. A few quick quote snippets: In the Regular Expression (Regex) space, there is the option to specify that a regular expression is compiled through use of the RegexOptions.Compiled setting. This switch hints at an underlying aspect of regular expressions in .NET: they have three modes. Interpreted Regexes have the...

WebResource.axd followup

Back in October 2006 I wrote an article which covers troubleshooting problems related to WebResource.axd. A few months down the track, and the article has had a lot of hits, a few comments, and a few external links - I can only conclude that a lot of you out there have had major problems with WebResource.axd! I wrote the article as a result of problems when deploying the project I was working on at the time, and it seems that I was 'lucky' enough to need to make changes or to verify the configuration for a lot...

..and now, a break from all things technology

Sunset at Bethells beach, Waitakere, Auckland, New Zealand. Tags: NZ

The start of the Super 14 Rugby Season is upon us!

Seeing as I started a category for Rugby, so it would be negligent of me not to comment briefly on the first Super 14 matches last night. First, it's exactly as we thought it would be to have teams minus their 'rested' All Blacks. NPC rugby is always a bit weird when you have teams missing touring players, and it's weirder still when they return - some manage to integrate back in well, others don't. Previously it was nice that Super rugby was immune to this. Those players will of course be back playing soon enough, but it...

SQL Server: Singular vs Plural Table Names

I've only been working with SQL Server for a couple of years, and although I've been exposed to a lot of different parts of it, there are still some things I've not been forced to spend a lot of time thinking about. One of those things is naming conventions for SQL Objects. I recently did a large piece of work which involved creating a few new tables in an existing database. Without thinking about it too much, I picked plural names for these tables, and thought nothing of it until a colleague pointed out that typically SQL tables...

Das Keyboard 2

I'm still undecided about the Das Keyboard 2. Visually, it's much nicer than the original. It's a lot less retro, and they got rid of the display text over the LED buttons. It always seemed stupid that someone who had a blank keyboard would need to know which LED was for numlock etc. However, it's a hell of a lot louder (much to the concern of my workmates) and the weighting of the keys doesn't seem to be as noticeable. It feels like it's a lot smoother to type on though, which is a good thing. Either...