Monday, November 24, 2008


Ramp Up: SharePoint For Developers

Ramp Up is a free, online, community-based learning intiative from Microsoft that provides materials for building your skills with Microsoft developer tools and technologies. The easy-to-access and easy-to-follow Ramp Up ‘routes’ are authored by subject-matter experts from the technical community, and include a variety of learning resources including whitepapers, codecasts, and v-labs. When you finish a route, you get rewarded with discounts on certification exams and e-learning (25% discount on certification and 50% off on e-learning).

In addition to the new route for SharePoint, Ramp Up also offers training for developers switching to C# (Aspiring Developers, Java Developers), and developers who want to update their skills to the latest version of Visual Studio 2008.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Norris'esque Bruce Schneier facts

These are great! Bruce Schneier facts ala Chuck Norris style. My favorite is:

Bruce Schneier knows Alice and Bob's shared secret.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


RssBandit: Burn(ed) After Installing

It's interesting how users' opinion of your software can change dramatically depending on their installation experience. Take me for example. A few weeks ago I opened RssBandit (my feed aggregator) and it helpfully informed me there was a new version available, so what the heck I thought, and installed it. It installed prompty but also had the side effect of promptly eradicating my feed list (which by coincidence I had only recently rebuilt after stupidly losing a disk drive). OK, it's free software, and I did click "Yes", and to the author's credit, the bug has been fixed pretty quickly, but the experience has left me ill-disposed towards it (what happen's if I upgrade again, will I lose my feeds again?) Time to give Outlook 2007's RSS feed reader a go...

Which RSS feed reader do you use?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The DBA Script Thumb: Top 5 queries

I was just thinking it's probably time I organised the SQL Server scripts I use often onto a thumb drive, when a SimpleTalk article arrived in my inbox. It's an absolute gem showcasing 5 very useful scripts for DBAs. All I have to do now, is organise the rest!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Book Review: Head First Statistics

I find writing reviews of the Head First series of books difficult. Not because they are badly written, or because they do not cover the subject matter well. It is simply that they are so good. So let me set the tone by saying: I challenge anyone to find a better book for learning basic probability and statistics!

Head First Statistics was written by a mathematician for non-mathematicians. The author and editors have obviously put in a great deal of effort to create something out of the ordinary. This book is clearly a labour of love, as it is a low effort and fun way to learn probability and statistics!

I studied Mathematics at university, and statistics was something I had little contact with until a first year introduction to the subject. This clear and simple book will take you painlessly from having absolutely no knowledge of probability and statistics, to a level commensurate with university entrance. It stops short of deriving the central limit theorem from first principles, but it will make you aware of what it is and show you how it can be applied. I gained a clear understanding of concepts I had merely glossed over at university over 20 years ago.

This is an interesting and engaging book, written in the Head First series’ hallmark style (tells you how, but also shows you why). Even if you have absolutely no knowledge of statistics, it will not be a barrier to gaining an in-depth understanding of basic statistics from this book. I really enjoyed reading this book. Highly Recommended.

I did find a few spelling mistakes, and another reviewer on Amazon pointed out that there were a few mistakes in the exercises (I must confess I didn’t work through every single one!).

Disclosure: a copy of this book was supplied by O’Reilly. I did not let that influence this review.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


CodeRush Xpress for Visual Studio: Free

I'm a big fan of ReSharper (despite the fact that I still haven't mastered all of the commands and shortcuts) and the features it brings to code editing in Visual Studio 2005 and 2008. When you see people like Jean Paul Boodhoo using it to the full, it's sheer wizardary! So I hope the people at JetBrains won't brand me a traitor(!) when I mention that CodeRush Xpress for Visual Studio 2008 is now freely available.

But, be careful if you have CodeRush or ReFactor! already installed:
  • Does not support Visual Studio Express Editions.
  • Cannot be installed side-by-side with other CodeRush or Refactor! editions.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Reminder: Perth .NET User Group Meeting Tues 4th Nov, 5:30pm: F# with Nick Hodge

TOPIC: F# > functional with Nick Hodge
DATE: Tuesday, November 4th, 5:30pm
VENUE: Excom, Ground Floor, 23 Barrack Street, Perth
COST: Free. All welcome

Join us at the Perth .NET Community of Practice, Tuesday November 4th to hear Nick Hodge present a session on F# and the rise and rise of the new .NET functional and dynamic languages, where and when to use them, and why F# is NOT the new C#!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


String.Split(): Skip Empty Entries

At the risk of publicising that I'm the last person to know this(!), I recently discovered that String.Split() has an overload that takes a parameter
StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries that does exactly what it says, like this:

char[] separator = new char[] { ',' };
string[] result;
string toSplit = "Rick,Dave,,Nick,,,Roger,";
result = toSplit.Split(separator,
foreach (string s in result)
    Console.WriteLine("[{0}]", s);

This is also very useful for splitting text where extra whitespace should be ignored:

string woods = "The woods are  lovely, dark and deep.." +
               "But I  have promises to keep, " +
               "And miles to  go before  I sleep,, " +
               "And   miles to go before I sleep.";
char[] whitespace = { ' ', ',', ';', ':', '.', '!', '?' };
string[] words = woods.Split(whitespace,
foreach (string s in words)
    Console.WriteLine("[{0}]", s);


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