Wednesday, April 8, 2009


quick recommendation.

check out SackOverflow, Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood's collaboration to provide a useable alternative to sites like experts exchange.

Its one of the main reasons I don't post here as often as I would like, someone always seems to have confronted and solved the problems that I encounter.

That said I am starting an interesting new ASP.NET project at the moment and am looking at implementing continuous integration for it so I may have something to post soon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

'Forms' read as 'Surveys'.

So I had to create a survey for something today (trying to find
out what people want to do for our clubs week away).

I used PollDaddy since I'd heard they were the go-to place for polls on the internet. I like it, the interface is pretty intuitive. As I was clicking around using it I thought funny how google haven't done anything like this yet. surely it'd be a doddle, I mean they do spreadsheets online for gods sake.

A quick google (I fear the word search is going to die out from lack of use) and I discovered that google docs snuck in a new feature while I wasn't looking (either that or they are monitoring my brain activity), Forms. Forms are, as you may have guessed from the title of this post,Surveys by another name. Simply go to create a new document in google docs and you will have the option in addition to the existing
spreadsheets/presentations etc.

Its pretty close to PollDaddys basic model in terms of functionality but lacking some
of the more interesting features like branching and modifying the appearance.
Still, It does allow embedding as follows:

by the way if the above appears to you in spanish (and you don't speak spanish) apologies the locale on my google account appears to be jumping around from time to time.

It looks like an early beta ( particularily the results page), which may be why
it's been quietly introduced, I will expect it to transform into a strong competitor to goDaddy in a fairly short timescale though ( it already beats goDaddy on the number of questions for a free service , PollDaddy only allows ten.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Recommendation: Camstudio

For those who didn't spot it I made the video in my last post using Camstudio.

Camstudio is one of those rare 'It just works' applications. It has nice simple interface ( the red button starts you recording!) a host of practical features , full screen or region capture, and as demonstrated you can have the region follow your mouse around the screen.

In the spirit of a picture being worth a thousand words I've used it to capture the setup of new developer workstations and configuration of applications. The configuration of developer workstations is a big one, the enviroment and projects we work on are complex and there are a lot of steps involved. Particularily when six to eight months down the line a new developer joins and no-one has had to set up a workstation from scratch since the first week of the project.

And best of all it's free.

Friday, June 6, 2008

GMail Labs and links

Google have just released Labs for Gmail. A set of optional functionality for it's web mail system. And there is some nice new functionality here : view mail in fixed width font, new signature functionality and custom shortcuts. There are also changes to the appearance of chat and the mail folders to save screen real estate.

The one that caught my eye was the Quick Links functionality. This is a new panel below chat containing links. When I saw it first I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I thought it was going to show a list of the links that I have received in my mail. "Brilliant" I thought, "now I've got a shortcut to those links blocked by our ,somewhat draconian, firewall in work" (games sites and such!). This was functionality I had never thought of before but now needed

As it turns out I was mistaken (or somewhat so anyways). It lets you bookmark any gmail url in one click. This could be used to bookmark an email as per my initial thoughts.

Anyhow still thinking about my inbound links I started playing around with the idea and came up with the following tip.

If you search for "http:// or www" you will get results for any email containing a link, you can then bookmark the search and add it to your new "Quick Links" panel for easy access.

You can also bookmark any advanced search you use ( such as checking for attachments)
which makes it one less click.

Oh, and there's also a version of Snake in amongst the toys of labs. So far I can't beat 150.

p.s. To enable the labs features you need to go to Settings -> Labs in your Gmail Account.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

SQL Server Stored Procedure Compare.

Simple one that can save a lot of trouble.

Heres the scenario:

Your application is making heavy use of stored procedures, and your database is hosted on multiple SQL servers say live & development at the simplest. Your latest batch of changes are ready and you're compiled a list of the Stored procedure updates you require along the way... but you're just not entirely sure you've captured all the changes.

The solution:
Export your SQL procedures from both servers and compare them. To do so make sure the Summary panel is showing ( usually is when you sign on)

click through to the database you are interested in, then open Programmability\Stored Procedures. you should see a list of your stored procedures
(if not check you have view permissions for them) . You can then select them all. Right click and choose "SCRIPT stored procedure as..">"CREATE to"> "> "file" from the context menu. Then simply choose an appropriate file.

Once you've done the above for both databases you can simply file compare using one of the many excellent tools out there( I use Beyond Compare myself).

And while you have them in this format you might as well put them into source control. Maybe even make it part of your build script to install them. but thats another days work

This is based on SQL Server 2007, using the SQL Server Management studio .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mobile Calendar

A nice simple on today.

A neat little function of Google Calendar that I only noticed was available here (in Ireland ) recently is the Mobile notifications. Been using for the last couple of
weeks and its really made it invaluable, particularily when I don't get to check my
Gmail for a prolonged period of time , which does happen occasionally!

This is a doddle to set up. Go to Calendar Settings (top left corner of your Google
Calendar page) and click the Mobile Setup tab.

Once you enter your phone number and provider (chosen by country) ,you'll be
text (texted?) a verification code. Input it in the space provided, then just
select what you want notifications for. But choose wisely , if you have a busy calendar
you might not want notification of every single new event, acceptance,cancellation and reply!

p.s. just discovered scriptomatic a tool for creating WMI scripts, which comes with a bunch of examples to build on, amongst its tools are the ability to remotely update a windows registry, yipes!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Version Control Tip

Heres a problem I came across recently. The Unit tests for my current project are certified working on my desktop. But the build machine runs the test scripts and runs into a bunch of failures. Looking into it its become clear I haven't tagged something with the 'build' tag so the ant scripts aren't checking it out.

Now arguably we shouldn't need a build tag ("why would you check in code that you didn't want to build?") but to use one of my favorite pieces of office-speak 'we are where we are'.

So how do I track down the rogue untagged files? Do I try to recall which files I changed between builds? Sounds like a bit too time consuming and error prone for my liking.

Lest allow cvs do the work instead (in my case tortoise cvs my weapon of choice when dealing with CVS, its windows integrated so I don't have to switch contexts).

1. Simply Checkout a copy of your projects HEAD (or branch) into a sandbox ( or just the relevant package in your code if your codebase is to sprawling as to make checking everything out non-trivial).

2. Then Update your sandbox specifying the build tag.

3. As your cvs client performs the updates you will see a list of files which are being changed. these files will be the ones whose tags are not set to the latest on the HEAD/branch (i.e the ones you're looking for.

p.s. As you can see from the screenshot above, Tortoise has an option to simulate the update, so you can do it from within your workspace without fear of making any changes. I believe command line has the same option but a quick google isn't revealing it to me.