Thoughts from a .Net developer
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Getting up early on weekends. I am on the fence as to whether it is better to sleep in on weekends (because those are the only days you have a chance to do so) and getting up early (because I have soo much to do and I have the whole day to do it).

This morning I am trying to figure out how to run MapPoint.Net web services on a Windows CE machine. I have a solution running as an application which gives directions and a map with the route outlined, but I need that sort of application running as a smart device application. This is today's chanllenge...
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Found this MSDN TV video Process and Thread Identity in ASP.NET. It is a little over 12 minutes long and give a good overview of the options of setting up the identity that an ASP.Net process runs under. It also outlines some of the differences between IIS 5 and IIS 6 when running ASP.Net.

Another good resource of this information is ASP.Net Identity Matrix
Added functionality to my interior blog today. One of the thing I added was an RSS feed to the comments. Which brings up something that I wish had -> comments AND RSS feeds. Actually they probably do have them, but not for these free sites.

Going to try and get at least half my grading done today.
Friday, November 21, 2003
As you may have noticed, I haven't been blogging to much on this blog lately. I have now been keeping an interior blog for about a month. I think I have made a little over 100 entries, to which I have recieved about a half dozen comments.... The interior blog is so much easier to keep up, plus I can add links to files and images that I can't upload to this blog.
So what does this mean? I'm not sure. Right now I will try and attemp to keep both, but I am still on the fence as to whether to keep just an exterior or just an internal blog...
Does everyone feel they must be moving forward in their career? For some reason I do. Constant And Never-ending Improvment or CANI (Tony Robbins). Questions I often ask myself:
Last year I started something I am going to try and keep going forward, which is a week off in January dedicated to focusing on these sort of questions. I call it my "Think and Motivate Week". I have read that Bill Gates does something similar (he calls his "Think Week").

One of the things that often comes up is that I need to work on improving my presentation/public speaking skills. Greg, Matt and I have been talking about doing something (via Developers Club) that goes along these lines:
  1. Get a group of people who are interested in improving their presentation skills
  2. Ask IT Management for topics to research (you know the kind of research that would add value, that no one has the time to do)
  3. Determine who wants to present what
  4. Use Presenting to Win as a guide for creating our "stories"
  5. Present to IT Management some time in Jan or Feb.
Anyone interested in doing something like that?
Ever use nested ISNULL statements like:

ISNULL(at.QBonus, at.Commissions)))
<> ISNULL(e.YTDCommissions,
ISNULL(at.CommQBonus, at.Commissions)

You might look into the T-Sql COALESCE function. It makes
the code shorter and easier to follow:

COALESCE(at.AdjustedCommissions, e.YTDCommissions, at.QBonus, at.Commissions)
<> COALESCE(e.YTDCommissions,at.QBonus,at.Commissions)

Sunday, November 09, 2003
Sunday morning. I got to do most of my blog reading this weekend without going to Internet Explorer (directly). I downloaded RSS Bandit this last weekend and got it set up with all my usually favorites. They have certainly put a lot of work into RSS Bandit since the last time I downloaded it.

I have been asked to post a listing of my favorite blogs, but I am still thinking about what they are. I currently have a listing of something like 40 blogs that I check every now and then. Of those, there are something like 5 - 10 that I am up to date on. So right now the top 5 that I go to are all something to do with Microsoft:

  1. Don Box
  2. The Scobleizer
  3. Chris Anderson
  4. Rarely updated but worth it when it is - Chris Brumme
  5. MSDN

I woke up this morning knowing today is going to busy. I have company coming over today and thinking I also need to grade projects, complete some work and work out today. For any of you who know me (in my private life - ie not between 9-5 mon-fri), I don't like to "have" things to do, but do things as I choose to do them. So anyways, when I realized (remembered) that Platt gave the students until this Monday to do Homework 6, I was relieved that there was one less thing I have to do today.

I am on a mailing list for and I often check craigslist. I have noticed more job postings showing up more frequently. A lot of these new job postings also have .net experience as a requirement. I am not quite sure if 2 years experience with .Net is realistic though. I have been playing with .Net for a little over 2 years, but I find it hard to believe there are people out there with 2 years of work experience. We have only been using it in-house for something like 6 months now.

There seems to still be a lot of Java and J2EE jobs out there. The funny thing is, from a few people I know who have Java and J2EE experience AND .Net experience --> they are not looking for another Java job, they would rather get a .Net job. Maybe it is the newness of the technology, maybe it is that you can do more faster, either way .Net is catching on with seasoned Java developers and IT enterprises. Seems like a win-win to me...

Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Working with colors in ASP.Net

In the new .Net world of everything being objects, somethings have gotten harder. When you find a situation when you think something is harder than it should be, usually there is a utility class somewhere in the framework that takes care of exactly what you need.

For instance, I was working on a datepicker object that needs to have specific colors by default. So I wrote some code like the following:

private TableStyle _calendarStyle;

public DatePicker()
    _calendarStyle = new TableStyle();
    _calendarStyle.BorderColor = "#999999";

The code above does not work. This is due to BorderColor being a type of color, not a string. I did a quick google on it and came up with a lot of example that walk me through creating a color by taking apart the red, green and blue parts of the color. For instance check out Sandro Todesco's article.

I found a lot of these articles telling me that there was not a class to do what I needed...but I found one!

The class is called System.Drawing.ColorTranslator. Which has a method called FromHtml(). So if I change the above code to the following:

private TableStyle _calendarStyle;

public DatePicker()
    _calendarStyle = new TableStyle();
    _calendarStyle.BorderColor = ColorTranslator.FromHtml("#999999");

It works!
Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Just came across a common situation in web applications where you have a drop down list (SELECT) that contains a list of items on a web page, where I needed to make sure an item was selected to match a record coming out of a database. Say I have a list of departments and I am showing an employee's information on the screen. Populating the list is no problem, but how do I get the correct item selected from the dropdown?

The answer SelectedValue. Just set the SelectedValue property to the value of the item you want selected and that is it!NO LOOPING, NO BOOLEAN CHECKS

Just another example of how .net makes things easier.
Multi Threading
Last night Dave's class was on Threading. This got me thinking about multi tasking in real life...or more specific as a developer working on multiple projects. The following are like multi threading:

Need to appear to work on multiple tasks at the same time
Usually don't get the chance to fully complete a task before an interrupt occurs
Need to save state when an interrupt occurs
Need to re-load state when time slice is given to a task
More threads does not mean more gets completed, actually means less work gets done after a certain point

So the question is, how can I be most efficient at saving state and loading state when an interrupt happens? Some people keep notes, some people just have the mental capacity to remember (I don't), some people don't do anything specific to save state.
Saturday, November 01, 2003
By the way, I think I forgot to mention. I got my MCAD Certification (for .Net) a couple of weeks ago! Now I have to complete two more to get my MCSD. Need to take the Architecture (more like project management) and then SQL Server and I will be done with exams for awhile.
So much to do, so little time. Time for me to logoff and grade some homework. This week's homework should take awhile to grade. Good thing half my students are late this week (4 out of 8) - there goes their free pass to having 1 late! I am hoping to get at least 2 done today, leaving tomorrow to be an easier day.

I also am going to help create the compact framework homework, so I really need to get up to speed on it (since I haven't done thing one with it yet).

By the way work on Thursday was super productive. Now I need about 4 more of those days and I should be ahead. ;)
Reading the blogs this morning and ran across Scott Watermasysk's Blog who links to
Sara William's Blog who points us to the master list of PDC presentations at: MSDN

The "Building Managable Apps" lectures sound interesting, I will have to download them. Also the Tips and Tricks for Building Managed Components sounds good.....there are SO MANY that look good. I am going to have to great train reading this next week. Very good link!.

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