# Sunday, November 14, 2004

Reading Rory's account of his first real trip to Las Vegas was very enjoyable. It brings back many fond memories of the town.

He mentions several times the scale of The Strip. It's amazing. As I commented to him, it's like the Grand Canyon: you just can't understand until you see it up close and in person. The hotels are huge, but since they all are, you don't realize it. You start walking down the strip and see your destination up ahead - “no big deal,” you think, “it's not that far.” Then, an half-hour later, it's still up ahead.

Rory gives some good advice for visitors to Vegas: “The trick... is to not take the city at all seriously.” You can then enjoy it for what it is and not be too freaked out.

Sunday, November 14, 2004 10:03:21 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, November 13, 2004

I am about to admit something that might get me kicked out of the Nerd Dinners: I don't really play a whole lot of computer games. I catch the daily crossword... enjoyed Bejeweled alot... I even own several old classics like Unreal, Total Annihilation, and others of that time.

But I just don't play a lot!

Well, with all of the talk about Halo 2 this week, I felt compelled to pull out the copy of Halo (PC) that I purchased a year or more ago and give it a whirl. That was around two in the afternoon.

Fortunately, I got to sleep by six the next morning. Oops!

Am I blocking? Is there some secret part of me that knows I'd be an addict if I let myself start so I just don't play to avoid that inevitability? Who knows. I did enjoy it, though.

Don't misunderstand - I'm not particularly good at it or anything. I had the game on 'super easy' or whatever just to get a feel for things and still managed to die some horrible and spectacular deaths. I've got a long way to go before I could be competitive with folks out there. But, I can feel the itch to play even now. I've resisted for now; I've got too much other stuff to entertain me, but I just know that over the holidays, I will be compelled to scratch the itch again.

Maybe there is an Xbox in our future yet...

Saturday, November 13, 2004 1:56:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [6]
# Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Only the previous day I was pestering Bliz as to when the next Nerd Dinner would be and sure enough, I wasn't alone. Per the Nerd Dinner blog, the next one is just a week away:

What: Portland Nerd Dinner
When: Wednesday, November 17, 2004, starting around 6:30 PM.
Where: Washington Square Mall food court
Why: Because I can take a hint

Be there and be square.

Should be a blast. I'm also hoping that Greg Hughes will show up with more pictures of his trip on the USS John C. Stennis! What a thrill and honor to have that opportunity! Anyone have a projector that we could use :-)?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 4:28:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Monday, November 8, 2004

I've had this installed for some time, but haven't used it enough. I tend to be very particular about the formatting of code on my site and CopySourceAsHtml written by Colin Coller makes it easy!

Just highlight the code in Visual Studio, choose “Copy as HTML...” from the right-click menu, and paste into the blog entry.

You'll get options for line numbering, word wrap, etc. You can also add additional CSS rules that will be applied to the whole copy, a line, or a block. Just look at these results:

    1 using System;

    2 using System.Xml.Serialization;


    4 namespace CardCatalog {

    5     [XmlRootAttribute( "catalog", Namespace="", IsNullable=false )]

    6     public class Catalog {

    7         private Book[] items;


    9         [XmlElementAttribute( "book" )]

   10         public Book[] Items {

   11             get { return this.items; }

   12             set { this.items = value; }

   13         }

   14     }


   16     public class Book ...

   67 }

Monday, November 8, 2004 3:35:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

Once again, Scott Hanselman has come through for me. For our latest project in Patrick's Web Service class, we are building an application with a DataGrid. It always makes me crazy when using this control that there isn't an automatic “Size Columns Correctly” check box.

Fortunately, I recalled that Scott had found that same frustration and had found the solution. Using a little bit of the Reflection namespace, he grabs the private method that is used when double-clicking on the column borders and fires it off “by hand” for each column.

It's cool and is placed here for posterity.

     1: private void MyDataGridControl_DataSourceChanged( object sender,
     2:                                                   System.EventArgs e )
     3: {
     4:     try
     5:     {
     6:         Type       t = this.myDataGridControl.GetType();
     7:         MethodInfo m = t.GetMethod( "ColAutoResize",
     8:                                     BindingFlags.NonPublic
     9:                                     | BindingFlags.Instance );
    11:         for( int i = this.myDataGridControl.FirstVisibleColumn;
    12:                 ( i < this.myDataGridControl.VisibleColumnCount );
    13:                 i++ )
    14:         {
    15:             m.Invoke( this.myDataGridControl, new object[] {i} );
    16:         }
    17:     }
    18:     catch( Exception ex )
    19:     {
    20:         System.Diagnostics.Trace.Write( "Failed Resizing Columns: "
    21:                                         + ex.ToString() );
    22:     }
    23: }
Monday, November 8, 2004 2:09:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, November 1, 2004

He's mentioned it in his blog several times, but now he's helping you buy it too... Scott Hanselman has an e-coupon for MaxiVista! It's a really good deal for a great product.

I guess I might as well have a fourth monitor running part time, eh? :-)

Monday, November 1, 2004 4:07:01 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

Well, for the first time in years, we didn't do anything around the house for Halloween. Traditionally, Jesann has decorated the garage and/or the house for the holiday and we've stayed home awaiting the trick-or-treaters. This year, we took a break from that and got dressed up.

Jesann, of course, made some wonderful outfits for us. We had this “'fro” wig and she developed from there. at first, it was simply going to be a “pimp-ing” outfit, but when I decided that I wanted to dress up for work, Jesann decided to create a different look for the daytime.

This outfit became the early '70's version. Note the wonderfully full bell-bottoms at the bottom of the legs. You'll also see that the colorful parts of the shirt and pants actually match.

It was a very popular look. I got more compliments than I could have imagined. I'm sure some of the positive feedback was simply because of the memories I invoked in people. In fact, one lady even said that I looked like someone she had dated thirty years ago :-).

This stuff is definitely going to stay in the closet for future use.

Then, for the evening out, I got to put on the pimping outfit. I got the gold, the polyester, the 'fro, and the hat. Oh, and don't miss the gold tooth, too.

Jesann went with the elegant vamp outfit. She picked up some of those cool contacts this past summer when she went a visiting her friend down in Las Vegas. Between those and the sharpened tooth caps, she was looking really good.

After leaving the house we went to visit a few friends to show off our “wears” and then headed over to Nonna's for pizza and a drink.

Just have to throw in a close up picture of Jesann's eyes and teeth. This shot really shows them off.

You might also barely make out the fact that she has some fiber optics incorporated into the wigs - this just added to the effect.

After spending some quality time at our Ristoranté Italiano, we headed downtown to find a little bit of nightlife. There wasn't much on a Sunday night, but we finally stopped at the local Rock Bottom Brewery for a couple of games of pool.

I was reminded how bad at pool I am, but Jesann made some really good impressions on people with her outfit. Others were asking to take her picture! Of course, she obliged :-).

Monday, November 1, 2004 10:20:49 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [4]
# Saturday, October 23, 2004

Jesann and I spent the last couple of days at the beautiful Dolce Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington. She went to relax and enjoy the amenities; I went to attend the conference often referred to as SellsCon.

I really can't do justice to all of the content that was provided for the two days... at least no more than has already been done. Chris Sells has compiled an amazingly complete list of blogs about his conference. There are around forty separate persons listed as SellsCon bloggers. Wow! There are three bloggers that stand out to me:

Particularly remarkable, though, was the article by Esther Schindler on Ziff-Davis' DevSource site. It really captured the feeling of the conference well.

As you read through these blogs, you might see the point made about the first day being somewhat 'dark' or 'gloomy'. I suppose that I could understand that view, but I don't really share it. The one thing that I took away from this conference is that we've reached a new level of abstraction and with the new possibilities come a whole new set of problems.

As Rebecca Dias pointed out during the panel discussion, there are problems that need to be resolved, but there are people out in the world solving real problems with XML related technologies today; problems that seemed rather intractable just a few short years ago.

To that end, there were several demonstrations of that fact in the conference:

  • Patrick Cauldwell and Scott Hanselman: Bringing Strongly Typed Business Objects to Legacy Financial Systems with XML Schema. This presentation focused on how Corillian has improved their banking systems through the use of XML. I've seen Scott and Patrick present several times and had both as instructors at OIT so I always know that I will enjoy what they have to say. Commentary here, here, here, and here.
  • Whitney Kemmey: Using XML for Navy Missile Systems. Wow! This was a great presentation! This was the surprise of the conference. Here's the only person in attendance wearing a suit; He even has a rather “Department of Defense” somber look about him. Boy, was I wrong. His presentation was very funny (Internationalization is not really a problem for the Navy) and very relevant. Read more here, here, here, and here.
  • Jeff Barr: Amazon Web Services - A Year in Review. I'll rank this as the most inspiring presentation of the lot. By the end of it, you find yourself saying, “Yeah, I could hook into the Amazon Web Services and start making money tomorrow!” It was like going to one of those MLM deals where they convince you that with just this small investment, you could be making thousands of dollars monthly without any work. Except, this really can work! (Oh, and I finally realized that this is the same guy that runs Syndic8! Duh!) Find more detail here, here, here, and here.
  • Blair Schneider McKay: Using XML to Take the Headaches Out of EDI Processing. I think Blair's presentation showed the greatest possibility of pain relief. I'd never really seen what goes on inside EDI and I pray I never do again. The value of moving to a more verbose platform was very evident. Also read here, here, here, and here.

If you want to see the lighter side of XML, you need to visit Doug Purdy's blog and specifically view his picture of Don Box. Also, Jay Kimble's Nuclear Missile Sub is worth a gander. Of course, no blogged event is complete without the wonderful and entertaining commentary by our hero, Rory Blyth. Especially enjoyable (because I'm in one of the pix :-)) is his summary blog entry, XML Hangover.

To Chris, Rebecca, et al: Thanks for putting on a wonderful conference right here in our backyard.

To the numerous presenters: Kudos and thanks for crafting such interesting bits for us to consume.

To my fellow attendees and bloggers: It was wonderful to meet all of you and I look forward to seeing you all at future tech events wherever they may occur!

Saturday, October 23, 2004 9:09:28 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A wonderful Portland Nerd Dinner last evening. Several new faces - some on their way to the XML DevCon, others just visiting from afar, and yet more attending for the first time.

Jesann went with me to this one... it was a great chance for her to get some shopping done at the mall. I've been trying to get her to come see all of these nerds for several months now :-).

We even got a picture of IBM (Ed Brill), Microsoft (Robert Scoble), and Sun (Tim Bray) together. Détente!

It's such a pleasure to meet up with such a wide variety of people. I suppose it emphasizes the value of the Nerd Dinners. They are a place where people with a technical bent can get together and chat for a while.

Make sure to watch for your local Nerd Dinner at NerdDinner.com.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 9:07:29 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Saturday, October 16, 2004

Jesann and I are fans of the original Thunderbirds series and also of South Park. We expected that we might enjoy Team America: World Police; Done by the creators of South Park using marionettes like the old Thunderbirds.

Boy were we wrong....

We loved the movie. Now, before you get in the car and run down to the local theater to see it, you need to know that this movie almost got an NC-17 rating. Yes, that's right: a movie with 'puppets' almost completely disallowed viewing by children under seventeen years of age. There's good reason for that, but if you are not easily offended (or like to be offended), this is one funny movie.

In fact, this is the first movie we've seen in a theater that Jesann might be willing to see again while it's still in theaters! That's amazing!

Rory enjoys a lengthy rant about how good the movie was and Scott talks about how he “...wiped tears from my face twice...” and “...almost cramped up laughing,” during the viewing of this movie. He also has a great picture of the Nerd version of the World Police (Jesann and I were already inside watching “The Twenty”).

“America! F*** Yeah!”

[Update: Just had to go see the movie again... still loved it! And I am fully sold on picking up the soundtrack of this movie, too.]

Saturday, October 16, 2004 4:17:31 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, October 9, 2004

Microsoft has brought you C#, VB.NET (B#?), C++, and J#. Others provide Python, Perl, Pascal, COBOL, and many others.

But now, for the Programmer's Programmer, download Asm80386 to create your very own assembler code that can be compiled to IL. This is hilarious! As stated on the site:

"Very Usefull", you might think! "Just the sort of thing you have been looking for", I hear you say! Thanks, I do my best to support my kindred spirits.

via Kent Sharkey's Blog

Saturday, October 9, 2004 10:49:02 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]

I don't spend a lot of time chatting about politics... I have a lot of friends from both sides of the aisle and would rather discuss issues one by one rather than argue over candidates.

That said, I do have strong preferences and am willing to show my support by such means as putting up candidate signs on my own property.

Well, this morning, we looked out in the yard and realized that someone had come on to our property and stolen our signs. As my wife pointed out, instead of getting their own signs to support their chosen candidate or simply VOTING to make their voice heard, they decided to engage in a crime to prevent us from expressing our opinion.

This is sad. I really thought our neighborhood was better than that.

Saturday, October 9, 2004 4:07:51 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [1]

Okay, you've finally got that GMail account from your best friend. Problem is, you now have all of this storage space and hardly anything to fill it with.

Well, your problems (?) are over! GMail Drive is now available as a shell extension that allows you to copy files directly to your GMail acount from within Windows Explorer. It simply adds a new 'drive' under My Computer that you can drag and drop to.

Pretty cool idea!

via Paul Thurrott's Internet Nexus

Saturday, October 9, 2004 2:46:44 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, October 7, 2004

One year ago today, I set up dasBlog on my personal website and started entering the occasional tidbit of life. I started the concept a couple months previous on Blogger, tried a few personal blogging systems, then finally settled on dasBlog. I've been happy since.

As I look back, the first entry was school related. It was at the beggining of my Senior Project. I probably should have made more notes to myself regarding the trials and tribulations I encountered through that project, but I kept spending my time doing the project instead of writing about it. It went well, I am pleased with the results, and will pull it out and add more to it one day soon.

I enjoy having the outlet this blog provides. I don't expect that there will be any overwhelming number of people visiting here, but it is satisfying to commit thoughts and anecdotes to a more permentant space.

I see the next year expanding the technical content in this space. I know enough now (so I think) to come up with some useful tidbits now and then and will start cataloging those items here. Further, I'm increasing my involvement with the development community by, among other things, taking on the roll of Outreach Coordinator with PADNUG, our local .NET User Group. I'm very excited about this as I'm already such a big fan of the group.

Here's to many more years of blogging and enjoyment. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 7, 2004 10:59:20 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [4]
# Friday, October 1, 2004

I've been wanting to repave my computers for a while. My laptop has been building up cruft for over a year, the desktop could use a good cleaning, and it's time to build a new server for the household, too.

For the desktop and laptop, I wanted to install SP2 immediately. I have seen a few articles on slipstreaming the update into the original XP install, so I had to give it a try.

First, I tried out Paul Thurrott's article, but was unsuccessful. Now, it probably wasn't the article's fault; I am using my MSDN DVD to install and didn't have a handle on what to label the resulting CD. That's why I turned to Fred Langa's InformationWeek article.

The additional details found in that article were all I needed to get it done. I have now reformatted and installed Windows XP SP2 cleanly on the drive. After I've finished reinstalling applications on the laptop, it will be time to build up a new server with Win2003! Or, maybe SBS?

Friday, October 1, 2004 11:33:12 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, September 18, 2004

Jim Blizzard must be a very proud father. NerdDinner.com has already garned 14 16 18 20 24 ? nerd dinner sites and it will just continue to grow.

If you are part of a nerd dinner, know someone that is, or are thinking of having one, go visit the site and let the rest of the planet know!

Saturday, September 18, 2004 12:43:50 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, September 17, 2004

Here is my 4¢ on the rate information (zipped version) gathered at the August PADNUG meeting:

  • First, by no means was this a scientifically based survey – neither by methodology nor by sample.
  • As was pointed out by Ken, there was no differentiation between contractors and employees. Several of the respondents provided their hourly wage and some included their benefits as part of that number.
  • Also called out was the impression that VB rates were higher than C#. Well, when you see the actual data, you will find that there was only one person that indicated C# as their tool and I believe that person was an employee. There were eight people that wrote “.NET,” four people indicating “ASP.NET,” and nine that fell into the “other” category. Many of those persons are likely using C# and would have changed the balance substantially.
  • The “years of experience” written on the cards was interpreted differently by the audience. Some put their total programming experience, some, their experience with a given tool. Further, ten people did not provide the information. To provide more accurate data, we would need to better define that category.

If there is enough interest in PADNUG, we may want to formalize this survey and retake it with a larger group. Please feel free to let me know your interest level and we can go from there.

Friday, September 17, 2004 11:40:49 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]

I really enjoy reading The Daily WTF. This week, we've been having a discussion on the local UG (PADNUG) discussion list about hourly rates that consultants could/should charge.

By sheer coincidence, The Daily WTF posted an example of code provided by a $250/hour consultant. I conisder it an opportunity to learn what it takes to make it to the big leagues.

Friday, September 17, 2004 1:05:27 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [2]