Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Been a while since my last post and February has been slow in general as far as the blog is concerned….just too much work to do. I'm trying to finish up a very large project and running into a few snags here and there which are taking that extra time and just putting in the extra hours to get it done. Here are a few links that I need to go back to once I get a free moment or two.

  • Reflector 5.0 – This is a no brainer….just go out and download this. I grabbed it the day it was released and as always a great tool with some nice new additions. Scott has a nice write-up on some new features so I won't repeat that here, just go get it.
  • ViewState Helper – This looks like a promising tool to check out. Haven't played with it as yet, but reading up on it, it looks very useful.
  • I'm no CSS guru so I definitely have not used these…but here is a list of CSS Properties you Probably Never Use.
  • I've been on a Pattern kick lately. Here are a few articles I need to read sooner than later.
  • One thing in regards to patterns….I've got to watch, because as I read and learn more, I tend to look at my current project and see where I can fit this pattern in there and that one in over here. That is not always the most productive path to go down as you're meeting deadlines. I've got to focus on finishing the project (which the architecture is already set) and come back to some of these things as we do revisions in the future. I have a fairly large project which design will start on in another month or so which I can look forward to implementing some patterns in the design of that project if they fit.

Be on the lookout for a new post or two on things I've learned from a previously employer. Some topics coming up are taking a look at my first day on the job (or how not to treat your new employee), how we were tasked with the impossible task of translating a huge system originally in DOS to a windows application in 3 months with ever changing requirements yet a firm due date, and how to kill a giant (otherwise known as reinventing the wheel).

Wednesday, 21 February 2007 23:16:10 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) | Comments [0] | .NET | Midnight Snack#
Monday, 12 February 2007

We're going to get blasted with a major snow storm tomorrow….they're calling for at least a foot by tomorrow evening…I know that pales in comparison to some areas this winter, but this will be our major snow storm this season for our part of Ohio. Went to the grocery today and have plenty of worked lined up to work from home.....just need to get to the dentist first thing in the morning tomorrow. Well been awhile so got some links piling up, won't bore you with all of them tonight, but will spread over a few days.

Monday, 12 February 2007 22:53:39 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) | Comments [0] | Midnight Snack#
Wednesday, 07 February 2007

Just some quick links tonight.

  • AJAX Hover Panel Control – I've read many of Rick's blog for some time, always interesting. I'm going to play with this panel control as the samples look very slick and I happen to be working on a project where something like this would fit nicely.
  • As some of you may know, I have a book review blog that I maintain with a few friends of mine (thanks Todd and Dave). Well anyways, you'll see that we all read a lot. Here are some articles on improving your reading speed and comprehension. Now most of this is better for non-fiction. When I read fiction, I'm reading for pleasure and like to savor the words on the page. But if I'm reading non-fiction for knowledge then better comprehension at a nice speed would be very useful. Anyway, lots of good tips here.
  • One of the tips I read about reading comprehension suggests creating a mind-map soon after finishing your book. Here is a free alternative for mind mapping software that looks interesting. I have yet to install and play with it, but I will.
Wednesday, 07 February 2007 22:49:35 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) | Comments [0] | Midnight Snack#
Monday, 05 February 2007

How reliant have we become on Intellisense? It seems for some, very much so. I admit, I'm an Intellisense junkie. I may even suggest that if it wasn't for Intellisense, .NET may not enjoy the popularity that it does today. Intellisense allows one to peruse the object model seeing what is available, forge into new areas, and discover new things that you can do straight from the framework. In fact, I may be so bold as to suggest that Intellisense could be one of the most important Visual Studio features.

But with this importance and ease of use, comes great danger. The danger is that we may rely on it too much. We may become so reliant on it that we forget the basics of the language. As an example, a former co-worker of mine (in fact he was my manager in title, but not much more) once argued with me over whether VB6 actually had a LEFT function. See we came from a FoxPro shop doing a lot of FoxPro for DOS development back in the day. We moved on to VB3 and soon after to VB4 and VB5. Finally when VB6 came out, we had a fairly robust system to develop in. While my coworker and I rarely worked on the same projects, he would often come to me for advice, for while he was a far better FoxPro developer than I, I had the upper edge when it came to VB.

Well anyway, one day in idle conversation the topic of VB code came up and how we did things differently in VB compared to FoxPro. The conversation went something like this:

Coworker: I wonder why VB doesn't have a LEFT function like we had in FoxPro.
Me: <silent confusion at what he is saying>
Coworker: In fact, it's really strange that we have the RIGHT method, but no LEFT. This VB is crap, nothing like the greatness we had in FoxPro. <Ok so I exaggerated a bit there, but not by much>
Me: How do you figure? I've been using the LEFT for years now with no problems.
Coworker: You couldn't have….it's not there.
Me: How have you been doing your LEFTs?
Coworker: Well I use the MID function with a starting position of 1. <At this point he shows me some code that he is doing this in>
Me: Well sure that will work, but why not use the LEFT …. I swear to you it is there. I've got production code running with it right now!
Coworker: Impossible.
Me: No really, let me show you. <Here I fire up VB6, whip up a quick sample program and prove once for all that the LEFT truly does work>


It's at this point that I realize what is problem truly is. In VB6 (not sure if it applied to VB5 as well) there was a bug in IntelliSense. It did not have the LEFT function defined in IntelliSense. So when one typed "LEFT(" no tooltip came up with the parameters. Since nothing came up, he assumed it didn't exist, so he never even tried to use it. (OK, for you purists, I realize that the tooltip popup may not technically be considered IntelliSense, but hey, I'm trying to prove a point and it works well enough for that)

He had become so reliant on the help that IntelliSense provided that he had forgotten in some sense how to problem solve. I'm not trying to single him out as I think we've all fallen prey to the allure of IntelliSense and in some ways it has become addictive. Use it as the tool that it is, just be careful, that tool doesn't replace your better judgment and common sense.

Monday, 05 February 2007 23:29:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) | Comments [1] | Lessons Learned#
Thursday, 01 February 2007

Boy I'm glad this week is almost over…ready for a quiet weekend of relaxation. Oh wait….got a lot going on this weekend too, never mind.

  • Whoops!! This doesn't affect me, but I could imagine it would suck pretty badly if it did.
  • I've never been a big user of Outlook's notes. Oh sure, I keep an occasional bit of information, but I usually tend to forget it's there and it languishes there for all time. Well here's a novel idea for using the notes to help you learn any subject. Repetition does well for me. I do well to read things over and over and it will stick with me.
  • I'm sure everyone can use a bit of tune-up from time to time on their financial health. I'm notorious for reading about new techniques or ideas , but never really implementing. Perhaps this guide to fix your finances in 31 days will be useful and something easy to implement. We shall see.
  • Another HanselMinutes on one of my favorite subjects, PowerShell. Haven't had a chance to really sit down and listen yet, but I'm sure it will be a good one.
  • While we're on the subject of PowerShell, here's an interesting article on creating providers for PowerShell. An interesting read.
Thursday, 01 February 2007 21:34:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) | Comments [0] | Midnight Snack | Powershell#
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