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Finds of the Week – December 23, 2008

.NET, C#, Programming

Software and Tools

  • DAEMON Tools is one of the best CD/DVD emulator. Use it to mount those CD/DVD images you download from MSDN. Cost: $0.

And Now, Something Different

Researchers found that young chimpanzees have an extraordinary ability to remember numerals that is superior to that of human adults. Skeptical? Just take a look at the video.

Finds of the Week – December 15, 2007

Here are this week’s finds:

.NET, C#, Programming

Software and Tools

And Now, Something Different

Here’s a Christmas tree made out of Heineken beer bottles. I took this picture last December at the Imperial Hotel in Hue, Vietnam, while vacationing there. Click on the picture for a larger version.

hue-imperial-heineken-christmas-tree

Finds of the Week – December 8, 2007

It’s been a busy week. Here are my finds for this week:

.NET, Programming

  • PackageThis is a new CodePlex tool from the MSDN team that allows you to package your own MSDN Library content. Useful to get the latest MSDN content to use locally (fast).
  • Joe Shirey, a board member of the Microsoft Certified Architects program, has written a nice series about the Microsoft Certified Architects program.
  • Alik Levin advised that we should avoid populating passwords in memory, because it’s relatively easy to reveal. A walkthrough of how to use WinDbg to obtain passwords in memory is provided.
  • The Programmer Dress Code by Justin Etheredge is a fun read on what about programming that makes programmers generally dress like a slob. Pictures of famous programmers included.
  • GavinBenda (gavinbenda.com.au) posted a comprehensive guide to web charts and graphs.
  • Unit testing; how far do you push the envelope? (odecee blogs) is a interesting read on the issue of how much unit test code is enough.
  • SQL Server 2008 will have IntelliSense, by Ciz. I have not worked with SQL Server in a while but when I get back to it, this should help make it more fun.
  • Dan Wahlin wrote about the new C# 3.0 feature Automatic Properties. Dan also wrote a nice article on Visual Studio magazine on how to create rich web apps with AJAX.
  • Jeff Putz gave his impressions on Visual Studio 2008 after a couple of weeks of use.
  • One of the most annoying application behavior is stealing current focus. Jeff Atwood (Coding Horror) wrote on why stealing focus is never acceptable.
  • What’s Ailing ASP.NET Web Forms, by Rick Strahl, is a good article about some of the major problems/issues with ASP.NET web forms. Good read.

Software and Tools

  • XPathMania, by Don Demsak is a nice Visual Studio add-in to check XPath statements against the current XML document. Matches are listed in the XPathMania tool window as well as highlighted in the actual XML document. Double click on a match to move to it.

    xpathmania1

  • Picasa (from Google) is my current photo album/manager tool. It’s fast and fun to use. With Picasa Web Albums, it’s a very nice combination.

    google-picasa-1

And Now, Something Different

  • For Richmonders, if you feel like driving around one night in December to look at all the nice Christmas lighting sites in town, check out InRich.com’s Richmond’s Tacky Christmas Lights map. I have done a company sponsored Richmond Christmas lights bus tour in the past and I found it to be entertaining. With the InRich.com map, you can do your own personal tour.

    richmond-tacky-christmas-lights

  • Here’s my apprentice programmer Dat Do at 14 months old. I try to teach him C# but his code doesn’t quite compile yet. Maybe I should start him on QBASIC instead?

    dat-do-14-months

Light-weight System.Transactions in ODP.NET

Starting in ODP.NET version 10.2.0.3.3, support for light-weight transactions has been added. Here’s an excerpt from readme.txt:

This feature enables applications to use local transactions with System.Transactions where previous versions of ODP.NET supported only distributed transactions with System.Transactions. If the PromotableTransaction registry does not exist, the default value of “promotable” is used. If “promotable” is specified, first and subsequent connections opened in the same TransactionScope will enlist in the same distributed transaction. If “local” is specified, the first connection opened in the TransactionScope will use a local transaction. If any subsequent connections are opened within the same TransactionScope, an exception will be thrown. If there are connections opened already in the TransactionScope and an OracleConnection with “Promotable Transaction=local” is attempted to be opened within the same TransactionScope, an exception will also be thrown.

This is great for those of us who use ODP.NET with System.Transactions, especially if you use global temporary tables. I found out the hard way that global temporary tables are not supported with distributed transactions.

Version 10.2.0.3.3 is not yet available for download via Oracle.com. You have to request it through Metalink. Search for patch number 5916667. I have not tested this patch yet but I will soon.

Finds of the Week – Nov 28, 2007

I took a break from blogging last week for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Here are the Finds for this week.

.NET

  • Just in case you have not heard, Visual Studio 2008 has been released (ScottGu). I installed the released version earlier this week and everything looks good so far. The first thing I noticed was the very quick load time compared to 2005.
  • Silverlight 1.1 is now 2.0. By Tim Sneath.
  • Dan Fernandez listed the top 15 things to love about Visual Studio 2008 Express.
  • Service Pack 1 for .NET Framework 2.0 is available. By Guy Barrette.
  • Aaronontheweb shared 5 Hot ASP.NET Tips and Tricks for the week of 11/20/2007. By Aaronontheweb.
  • bloggingdeveloper wrote a nice article on how to compress ViewState.

Software and Tools

  • Odiogo can make your blog talk. By Mads Kristensen.
  • I have been a long-time user of MSN Money Porfolio and stock charts but lately I really liked the stuff Yahoo! has been adding to their Finance section. Their new Flash-based stock chart is the best in its class. My favorite feature is the ability to drag left/right to go back/forward in time. Also their quotes are now streaming (AJAX)… meaning anywhere you see a price quote, it will be automatically refreshed. Real time quotes are available for as an optional service as well.

    Yahoo! Finance Stock Chart

  • To track disk space usage, my tool of choice is Windirstats. Windirstats is Open Source.

    Windirstats

Tech, Windows Mobile, Gadgets

  • Google has just released the beta version of My Location, a service that allows GPS like functionality with Google Maps on your mobile device without a GPS. It doesn’t work for me on my Samsung i760 though. I always get this error message: “Your current location is temporarily unavailable”.

    Google Maps My Location

    Looks like many others are getting the same error as well.

And Now, Something Different

Be careful where you put your cellphone.

Finds of the Week – Nov 16, 2007

.NET

Software and Tools

Tech and Gadgets

  • Dish Network enables ethernet ports on ViP622 HD DVRs. The main feature that the broadband connection brings is video on demand. The ethernet connection also allows the box to call home via the Internet instead of using the phone line.

Miscellaneous

  • View popular “sightings” on Google Maps, Windows Live Maps, and Yahoo Maps at Virtual Globetrotting

And Now, Something Different

I cut a kiwi fruit in halves the other day and this was what I saw:

Kiki Fruit Heart

Finds of the Week – Nov 2, 2007

Here are the finds for this week.

.NET

  • Mike Duncan wrote a nice article on 3 hot uses for HttpContext.Current.Items “They” won’t tell you about. Wish I had thought about this 6 months ago when I was trying to implement a "static" variable that only lasts for the duration of the page request.
  • Too busy with real work to read up on the soon to be released Visual Studio 2008 (by end of November)? Daniel Moth has put together a summary the top 10 things to know about VS 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 here.
  • For Oracle developers, check out Gojko Adzic’s article on the new function result caching feature in Oracle 11.
  • Java and .NET to drive double-digit wage growth. Yes double-digit wage growth! That should happen more often. By  Gavin Clarke via regdeveloper.co.uk.
  • Doug Stewart wrote another comprehensive article on new features of Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5.
  • There’s something slow, in your program flow. Who you’re gonna call? Profilers of course :-). M has put together a detailed article of how to use the ANTS profiler. Also check out Improving .NET Application Performance and Scalability by J.D. Meier, Srinath Vasireddy, Ashish Babbar, and Alex Mackman.
  • Marquee de Sells has several interesting points on the consequences of working for Microsoft remotely.

Software and Tools

Vector Magic is the probably best bitmap tracing tool currently available. Check out the amazing samples. Free!

Resharper is a great productivity and code analysis add-in for Visual Studio. It’s the only add-in I currently use. My top 5 favorite Resharper features are:

  • On the fly error/warning checking (squiggly lines). See problems with your code as you type them.

    Resharper On-the-fly Error Checking

  • Refactor (Rename, Extract Method, Introduce Field, etc. )
  • Goto Type/File/File Member. Fastest way to navigate. Every class, file, or method is only a few keystrokes away.

    Resharper Navigation

  • Find Usages. Find what is using a class/method/property. Great for finding code dependencies. Indispensable for learning a new application you are not familiar with.

    Resharper Find Usages

  • Reformat Code.
  • Enhanced Intellisense.

Windows Live Writer is a windows editor for blog posts. Your drafts are saved locally. Works with WordPress. I like it. This post was written using Windows Live Writer.

Gadgets

Miscellaneous

  • At my work it was announced that we will be switching to "Outlook" from Lotus Notes. We are currently on Notes 6 and it’s the most atrocious of a program I have had the pleasure of using on a daily basis. Some of the most basic features like Search does not even work. Argg! I had to create my own Notes index by periodically exporting all messages to text files so that Windows Search will index them. I can’t wait to get back to Outlook/Exchange.
  • Have you wondered why Windows Explorer doesn’t show the size of a folder? Here are the reasons (Raymond Chen via blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing).

And Now, Something Different

I’ve always been skeptical whenever I hear people say or write that we only use 10% of our brain. Well, it looks like there is no scientific evidence to suggest that. Read more here.

Finds of the Week – Oct 31, 2007

Here are my finds for this week:

.NET

Tools

  • I hope my hard drive doesn't crash in the next few days… because my initial Mozy backup is still running… about 3 weeks after I started it. At this rate it should be done in a few more days.

    Mozy Backup

  • Oracle SQL Developer is a very nice and full-featured Oracle query and browsing tool. Best of all: it's free.

    Oracle SQL Developer

Windows Mobile / Pocket PC

  • I wrote before about how Verizon Wireless may cut you off if you use up too much bandwidth per month. Good news: Verizon Wireless has just settled a N.Y. probe (news.com) into that practice.
  • I've been checking my Gmail account everyday every since the IMAP announcement on Oct 24. Today, it finally showed up!

    Gmail IMAP

  • Capture Screen Utility from Fann Software is a free screen capture program for Pocket PC and Windows Mobile devices. It's free, and it works.

    Fann Software Screen Capture Utility for Windows Mobile/Pocket PC

Miscellaneous

  • If you are anoyed about that pesky Windows Language Bar that keeps coming back after you tell it to go away, you are not alone. Here's how to get rid of it for good (How-To Geek Blogs).

My Article on Dotnetslackers.com: Bulk Operations Using Oracle Data Provider for .NET (ODP.NET)

My first article for Dotnetslackers.com is up. Here’s an excerpt:

In a typical multi-tier application, one of the biggest performance bottlenecks is the overhead of making round-trips to the database. Minimizing these round-trips is often the first area you should look at during performance tuning. Fortunately, the Oracle Data Provider for .NET (ODP.NET) makes it fairly easy to do this by providing several built-in methods to write and read data in bulk.

You can view the article here.

Finds of the Week – 10/24/2007

.NET

  • Improve ODP.NET Performance (Mark A Williams, via Oracle Magazine) shows how Connection Pooling, Controlling Fetch Size, and Statement Caching can be used to maximize performance with the Oracle Data Provider for .NET.
  • Did you know that you can profile a selected Unit Test in Visual Studio Team System? Read more at Profiling a Unit Test (Noah Coad, via blogs.msdn.com).

Tools

  • Sysinternals (now part of Microsoft) has released a new version (v11.02) of their extremely useful Process Explorer utility. This is one of my must-have utility on any new system.
  • Process Explorer

  • FileZilla is an open source FTP utility for Windows. It's free and has all the features I use. What more can one ask for?
  • Filezilla

  • I signed up for Mozy two weeks ago. The price is right: $4.95 per month for peace of mind. However, it’s been 2 weeks and the initial backup is still only 50% complete!! I have a Verizon FIOS connection with 2000 Kbps upload speed and about 37GB of data to backup. I’ll post an update on how restores work whenever this thing finishes.
  • Mozy

Windows Mobile / Pocket PC

  • Google has just announced free IMAP for Gmail! Unfortunately, it's not available on my Gmail account yet. I am hoping that the IMAP with Windows Mobile Outlook is better than Gmail mobile (via Pocket IE or Opera Mobile).

Blogs

  • Scott Hanselman's Computer Zen is one of my favorite .NET related blogs. I don't know how he does it, but Scott often writes several detailed posts a day. Don't forget to check out his Tools List post.

Miscellaneous

  • Did you know that the best Wikipedia content is often from anonymous "good samaritans"? "Anonymous contributors with a single edit had the highest quality of any group." Read more here.

And Now, Something Different

Alexa.com's current list of 100 Top Sites in the United States (sorted by traffic) has a couple of interesting entries. In addition to the familiar Yahoo!, Google, and Myspace, there are two Vietnamese related sites: VnExpress at number 70, and Vietfun, at number 80. Besides these two sites, there are no other non-English or minority-centered web sites on the list that I could tell.

Possible explanations:

  • Alexa rankings are way off base.
  • Vietnamese Americans are using the net much more than any other minority groups (unlikely). If this is true, there is an untapped market here.

Anyone else has an explanation?

alexa-rankings-usa-1

alexa-rankings-usa-1

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