Friday, December 16, 2005

Google Maps blogs

Here are 2 blogs that just cover cool google maps hacks.

these are both examples of of a blog done right. No cost, set up blog w/ blogspot, and adsense for revenue. cool google maps got a link on digg for publicity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


digg is knocking slashdot off the totem pole. It's similar to slashdot except that there are no editors, the stories are choosen democratically by the users.

Process Explorer

Process Explorer is a freeware that is task manager on steroids..

Saturday, July 16, 2005

First Impressions of Ruby on Rails

Lately I have heard a lot of buzz about ruby on rails. It is used by basecamp, the project management system that I like, and I have heard it mentioned by Martin Fowler and on slashdot.

First there is the ruby language. According to the Ruby Users Guide, it is "an interpreted scripting language for quick and easy object-oriented programming." "Rails" is the web framework portion.

After watching this intro video I can see that scaffolding is a piece that genreates quite a lot of web code for you. It appears that it breaks things into the MVC pattern.

google maps

Here are links to several cool google map hacks

Monday, July 11, 2005

Project management

I recently was turned onto a cool online project management program called basecamp. My only reservation is that the data is hosted by another company and you have no control over it(I don't see an easy way to export your data either), but it's very well written and works far better than excel.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

FireFox and Internet Explorer

There are differences in IE and FF that can cause problems.
I had a style on a table cell that set the width to 95% and I had a width attribute on the cell for 10%. 10% was what I wanted and IE rendered it with 10%, but FF rendered it at 95%. The issue comes down to the fact that FF implements the CSS spec, whereas IE does not.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Rich Text Editor for

I was recently tasked with finding an editor for web pages that would allow formatting, much like the editor in blogger.

I looked at the FCK Editor, but was unable to figure out the installation. In the end I used Free Text Box.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Cool use of google maps

I am a big fan of google maps, because you can drag the map, change back forth between map and satelite views, and see yellow highlights for the primary roads. Chicago crime page is slick example of using google maps. It shows you where all the crimes have taken place in the city.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Longhorn summary

Projected Release Date: late 2006
Projected Beta 1: July 2005
Replaces: Windows XP Professional, and Home (Not 2003 Server)
System Requirements: 512 Meg of RAM, modern pentium 4 (or amd equivalent), Direct X 9.0 graphics card

Gui Features:

  • Aero interface - transparent windows, a built-in buddy list, and a dockable
    task pane.
  • Avalon - new gui api/features avalon may be backported to xp.
    desktop composter - get rid of whiting out screens
    high definition support - ability to enlarge legacy apps.

File system/search features
winfs cut from release, there is still new file metadata
search web sites you have visited (already available in google desktop search)
Visualize Documents - see first page of documents, etc. similar to thumbnail view for images in xp.
More file meta data - editable file properties @ bottom of screen in windows explorer
virtual folders w/ dynamic views based on criteria like metadata (similar to features (smart play lists) found in itunes.)
New Save File Dialog to allow for meta-data

Security Features:
LUA (Least-Privilege User Account)
run as standard user(non-admin)/prompt for admin features
already a feature in osx and linux

secure start up. sort of like tripwire? prevents bypassing os with boot disk

No Execute (NX) security technology in newer AMD and Intel processors.
prevents buffer overruns by distinguishing data from executable instructions

Misc Features
Metro - new default format for print spool. (attempting to replace pdf format)
"My Documents" changed to Documents
mobility - (easier to switch to different ip setups?)
hotpatch without rebooting
black box recorder - similar to dr watson
improved boot performance.
run text box on start menu

Dropped/Delayed/Scaled Back Features
WinFS - Sql Server database will form basis of new file system.

Palladium/Next Generation Secure Computing Base(NGSCB)/Trustworthy Computing
optional feature, must be supported by processor (Intel/AMD).
contains drm features.

Developer perspective:
WinFX (pronounced "Win Effects") - replace win32 api.
winfx is a managed .net library

Xaml - XAML is Longhorn's default language for user interface programming.
xml based UI language.
(eXtensible Application Markup Language, and pronounced "Zammel")
XAML is designed to integrate directly with WinFX.

Text Box in avalon/winfx/xaml

New web service api will replace asmx, .net remoting, etc.

This information is largely taken from Bill Gates Keynote from WinHEC 2005

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Team System

In addition to Visual Studio 2005, MS will be rolling out a new suite of products called Team System. It includes Team Foundation server and three SKU versions of Visual Studio, namely Architect, Developer and Tester. Although there is a stand alone Visual Source 2005, Team Foundation Server includes a completely new Source Control sytem as well as integrated project and task management, process managment (eg. msf agile) and project reporting.

Team Server source control will address several of the long standing issues associated with VSS.
TSSC has parallel development, so you don't have to exclusively check out files.
TSSC has remote development so you can easily connect over web and don't have to be on the lan.
TSSC uses SQL Server under the covers so it's less likely to be corrupted and it supports atomic checkins.

Team Server is about $3,000. It integrates tightly into Visual Studio 2005 with a new "Team Explorer" window. Team Server can also integrate with MS Project, and Excel. In addition some features and reports can be accessed through a web based interface that is using sharepoint under the covers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Adding a Search to your Site

Sharepoint, besides providing a portal framework, includes a search service for web sites. It can crawl, index, and provide web service to service search requests. SharePoint has advantages over using using Sql Server because it can search content not in the database (like word, and excel documents) and it has built in relevancy ranking system.

A much less expensive alternative to share point is easy search. It is only $250 and it even has google suggest features.

Of course there is always google search service and Google Search Appliance.

Bill Gates

This morning we saw Bill Gate's keynote at the MEDC, where he launched Windows Mobile 5.0, the embedded operating system that runs on pdas, smartphones, etc. This is the MS's attempt to make gains against products like the blackberry and the ipod.

here is the story on slashdot

Scoop on Whidbey and refactoring

According to Bill Gates Visual Studio 2005 is coming out this summer, according to the Prashant Sridharan, the Senior Product Manager for Visual Studio, it will be the end of the year.

At any rate here is the low down on refactoring changes. VB will have refactoring features from a developers express plugin that is free w/ VS 2005, however the C# stuff will only have 5 refactoring options that the MS C# team wrote. Developer Express also has a C# plug in that has refactoring. It's $250, and there is no demo. It looks like it has lots of features, but they are missing support for pulling in using statements. However there is a user plug in that does this... Now that I have more ram I have got to get resharper or this developer express plugin.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Security Session

How to keep secrets in

suggestions are to keep passwords in one way hash using the primary key of user record as the salt.

use symmetric keys to store info like connection strings and credit card numbers. the dpapi is used to help store/hide keys, but if the machine crashes you will not be able to retrieve data. so you could use dpapi for data that you can recreate (like connection strings), but not for data that you can't recreate (like credit cards).

hiding the key for symmetric encryption is ultimately a network security issue. you can keep it in the registry, in a file, in the code (probably not the best place :), etc. where ever you put it be sure that only user has access, and that it is out of the web root. on a web farm it will be easier to deploy it in a file.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

VS Live

This week I will be blogging from VS Live in Las Vegas.
Changes for 2.0:

ViewState will be split into control state, and another state. This will mitigate the problem with cutting off viewstate to reduce it's size, but then breaking the functionality of the control.

There is a new feature called CrossPagePost Backs that allow forms to submit to other pages than itself. It also contains a mechanism to access the previous page in a type safe manner.

DataGrid will not being moving forward, and is being superceded by a new control called GridView.

AutoScroll on PostBacks

Master Pages is a new mechanism for building templates for web pages.

Themes is a new feature that seems to add little beyond what you can already do with css.
Sql Cache invalidation will allow data to be cached until it is notified that it has been modified.

C# 2.0
Generics will allow type safe collections.

Visual Studio Productivity Features:
There will be limited refactoring support built in to Whidbey. Currently there are five refactorings for C# including extract method.

Inserting of code snippets or templates is now supported. the shortcut is ? space.

There is a new web basesd ui that will change web.config file.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

bug me not

Bug me not is a cool web site where you can get a user/password to avoid the hassle of free online registrations. There is also a firefox plugin.

Friday, April 01, 2005

To get rid of spyware, run these programs in this order:
adaware, spybot, microsoft anti-spyware, and hijack this.

FireFox plugin

firefox needs a way to change it's properties without starting it. When I use my work laptop at home it tries to connect to the proxy server at work. In IE you can right click the IE icon to get to the properties to change it.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Removing VSS Integration out Visual Studio

After searching for quite some time I found how to remove VSS integration from VS in the google cache. I only did steps 1, 2, and 4 and it worked for me.

1. Clear the read-only attribute from all files

2. Delete all source safe files (*.scc, *.vspcc, and *.vssscc)

3. Edit each solution file (*.sln) and remove the section starting with

GlobalSection(SourceSafeControl) =3D preSolution
and ending with

4. Edit each project file (*.csproj or *.vbproj) and remove the four
lines that begin with "Scc"

5. Edit each setup project file (*.vdproj) and remove each line that
begins with "Scc"

(Full credit to: David Neal at

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Why I Love FireFox

Firefox, the open source web browser, is a sweet little browser with lots of small improvements over IE. I have listed a few reasons I use it over IE. Not to mention the fact that it is important for there to be a competing browser that will prevent Microsoft (or anyone else) from controlling the standards on the web server side.

1) It's the same. FireFox keeps many of the things the same as IE, including numerous keyboard shortcuts, like (ctrl + enter), (alt + d). It also has a feature to import your bookmarks from IE.

2) Security Firefox is currently less susceptible to spyware and adware. This is because it doesn't support active x, and because many malicious programs are written to exploit holes in IE due to it's popularity. Many users will be able to run Firefox faster than IE if they have lots of spyware and adware loading with IE. Firefox is recomended by several security authorities.

3) Tabbed browsing is a cool feature not supported by IE. It's main benefit is that you easily load lots of pages with out waiting on any of them or loosing focus on the page you choose it from. For instance after a search you can right click on several results and choose open in another tab. You can then see which ones have loaded by looking at the tabs before you choose to go to them. In IE you can launch new windows and use alt+tab, but this is easier to manage and the main page doesn't loose focus.

4) Progressive search The find dialog doesn't block the page (it is at the bottom) and it highlights the first found term as you type it in. At first, I was in the habit of hitting enter when I finish, but in FireFox that takes you to the second result as you are already progressed to the first result.

5) quick searches this feature allows you to search different sites without having to wait and navigate to them, and it's easy to add engines or change the default.

6) New shortcuts Some shortcuts are for functinality that doesn't exist in IE, but other things are would be nice to have in IE.
ctrl k - quick searches
ctrl t - new tab
ctrl shift enter - complete .org address
shift enter - complete .net address

7) Open in tabs bookmark folder feature. If you check the same few web pages every morning, add them all to a folder, and then start off by clicking "open in tabs" link at the bottom of the menu.

8) rss live links. When you go to a page with an rss feed you can subscribe to it (by clicking icon in bottom right corner) and then be able from you bookmark to see headlines without loading the page.

9) 3rd Party support. Numerous plugins like Java, Adobe Acrobat, and Flash are supported. Also yahoo, google and other toolbars are supported. This is not really an improvement over IE so much as it is on par
Yahoo toolbar recently began supporting FireFox directly.
Google toolbar is not officially supported, but there is an open source project.
The project doesn't support pagerank but there is a plug-in but of course there are privacy issues.

10) Pop-up blocker. There are other pop-up blockers. Service Pack 2 adds a popup blocker to IE. google toolbar has popup blocking. This is an area with room for improvement, since none of the popup blockers seem to be 100% effective. Firefox can also get rid of pop-ups with the extension adblock.

11) Download manager. IE (on windows) has no download manager.
One cool feature is that the download manager starts downloading before you choose save location.

12) fav icons work in the bookmarks. IE has a long standing bug that prevents fav icons from working.

13) superior password manager. FF password manager allows you to view and remove password individually. IE only allows you to delete them all. (roboform is even better than FF password manager)

14) Search in web history So if you are trying to find an article you read yesterday on smoking you can search through your history. However, it only searches in the title of the page.

15) lots of free extension. extensions are small programs that any programmer can write to enhance the functionality of firefox. One of my favorites is adblock, which can remove ads from your favorite pages, and help block pop ups that get through.

The main problems of using Firefox are not surprisingly related to Microsoft.

1) FireFox doesn't start streaming many file extnsions include .wmv and .mpg movies when you start them. Instead, it prompts you to download.
One solution is to use IE View, an extension that launchs IE. Another solution is to use the extension launchy extension. (launchy also does other cool stuff like letting you choose what application to view source in)

2) Firefox doesn't support active x. This is one thing that makes it more secure but can, in some cases, be a drawback. For instance, using Outlook web access sux on firefox.

3) Microsoft and dot net enviroment. By default Visual Studio uses IE, but it can be changed to launch FireFox.

4) Going to some .asmx web service pages in IE gives documentation, but it doesn't work in fire fox.

5) Microsoft updates of course uses IE. This is not a big deal since I hope at least this site is secure.

There is also a blog post, How Can I Trust FireFox, about security issues in FF posted on an msdn blog. I agree with some of these concerns, but I still think FF rocks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

object moved to here error on pages

I am having a sporadic problem with a page that does a Response.Redirect giving the error message "Object moved to here". Adding Response.BufferOutput = true; before the call to Response.Redirect() seems to have fixed it, but it's hard to tell since it isn't consistant.

Monday, February 21, 2005

disabling buttons in javascript with

Here is how to call Javascript that will disable a button after it is clicked to prevent double submission. The problem is that if you just disable it in javascript it messes up the postback.

LoginButton.Attributes.Add("onClick", "disableButtons();" +

Monday, January 31, 2005

Web Testing Tools

I am searching for automated testing tools for a c# web project. I am looking for something cheap (i.e. forget about Rational, Mercury TestDirector, Segue Silk). Right now I'm using roboform, although it is a password/form tool for web users it has helped to quickly get through series of pages with required fields.
I am evaluating an IE plug in that runs macros.

Extensive list of web tools

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Visual Studio Refactoring Tools

I am using MS Visual Studio, and I desperately miss the refactoring and productivity tools in Java IDEs. Whidbey, the next VS release, will include some of these features but may not be released till the fall. Here are the tools I'm considering buying/using:

a vs plugin from idea, the people that raised the bar for java developement. (update: I tried resharper and had to uninstall it due to poor performance and increased memory consumption)


free w/ source code

Also someone told me to check out SharpDevelop, a free alternative to MS VS