Wednesday, April 30, 2008


MIT Open Courseware

I blogged about this free resource last year. If you haven't given it a look yet, it's really worthwhile. I don't hold too many political views, but free access to higher education for all and not just those that can afford it, is certainly one of them. MIT OpenCourseware is helping make that a reality.


Solutions for Common T-SQL Problems

Volunteer moderators and contributors who support the Microsoft MSDN SQL Server Forums have started a Wiki with Solutions for Common T-SQL Problems over at the MSDN Code Gallery. Could turn out to be a great resource.


El Caminito del Rey: Spare Undies Required

I saw this video clip of the now closed El Caminito del Rey walkway in the El Chorro gorge in Spain over at Roy Osherove's blog and just had to link to it!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Right to Reply: CSharpZealot

I do not like to use my blog as a soapbox to vent my frustrations or to blog personal trivia, nor do I do it often, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to indulge me with the right to reply to something that occurred very recently, because the person involved has told me that he has blocked my emails.

I recently sent Brian Madsen, in his role as organiser and self-confessed Chief Zealot of, an email asking him not to on-post the announcements I send out for the Perth .NET user group to CSharpZealots ‘Perth Events’ feed. He immediately dashed off a blog post (, in which he misstates what I had written. I have given him the opportunity to amend his post, but he has declined. So, I would like to try and set the record straight.

Here is the original email I sent to Brian, in full and unaltered:


Can you please stop on-posting the Perth .NET Community of Practice user group announcements that I send out, to CSharpZealot ‘Perth events’.

While I can appreciate your enthusiasm for C#, as you know the Perth .NET Community of Practice user group caters for both C# and VB.NET developers (and other CLR supported languages), i.e we are NOT C# zealots. The notion of C# zealotism is neither helpful nor representative, and could deter some people from attending meetings.


I’m not going to take his blog post apart line by line, but if you read it he talks about misrepresentation. Brian, unrepresentative does not mean misrepresented. He also implies that I asked him personally not to blog about events. This is also untrue. He gave me his permission (as copyright owner) to publish his subsequent emails to me, but I do not feel that would be productive or in anyone's best interests to do so.

Brian seems to have taken this as some sort of personal attack, which it is not. I have made my opinion on language fanaticism clear to Brian and others on several occasions. When he set up CSharpZealot I made it clear to him that I thought such a site to be counterproductive and unrepresentative of the wider community (despite my own preference for coding in C#) and I believe that has been borne out, judging by the low number of posts to the site’s forums.

Perhaps I have underestimated people, who are mature enough to realise that the User Group does cater to C# and VB.NET and any other .NET languages (we would be particularly interested in a presentation on a non-mainstream .NET language by the way!)

So what was the reason I sent the original email above? Since I took on the role as coordinator of the Perth .NET user group, I have tried to raise awareness of what it has to offer both to members and employers. I have had conversations with a handful of people in recent months where their impression of the user group was that it was not that useful to encourage staff to attend because it was to some extent “propeller heads” and “language fanatics”, and did not offer much value, which is simply not true. I am doing my best to help change that impression: It's a great time to belong to a Usergroup. I have learnt many things at user group presentations that have helped me in my day to day work, and hope to learn many more.

I would like to apologise to Brian; I’m sorry the request caused you so much angst. But I stick by my belief that encouraging the idea that one .NET language is 'better' than another is not particularly useful. It’s horses for courses. C++0X anyone?!?


Interview with Donald Knuth

If you have any sort of interest in algorithms you'll be familiar with Donald Knuth's work. InformIT have published a recent interview with him here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


What to do when the SA account password is lost in SQL Server 2005 and you can not find anyone in the sysadmin role

I hasten to add that this has not happened to me (so far), but I wanted to record for future reference. Raul Garcia's blog post Disaster Recovery: What to do when the SA account password is lost in SQL Server 2005 lists a step by step procedure for disaster recovery in such a situation.(Note: Raul's blog has moved to the SQL Server Security blog).


Occasionally Connected Systems with SQL Server CE and SQL Server Express: Greg Low

Join us at the Perth .NET Community of Practice, May 8th to hear Dr Greg Low talk about occasionally connected systems using SQL Server Compact and Express editions. These two editions of SQL Server are of great interest to developers. In this session Greg will cover the appropriate uses of each edition and describe the benefits and limitations of each in some detail. He will focus on building and deploying applications with each edition.

TOPIC: Occasionally Connected Systems with Greg Low
DATE: Thursday May 8th, 5:30pm
VENUE: Excom, Level 2, 23 Barrack Street, Perth
COST: Free. All welcome.

Please Note: this session is a week later than our usual first Thursday of the month slot.

Greg Low is an internationally recognised consultant, developer and trainer. He has been working in development since 1978, holds a PhD in Computer Science and a host of Microsoft certifications. Greg is the country lead for Solid Quality, a SQL Server MVP and one of only three Microsoft MSDN Regional Directors for Australia. Greg also hosts the SQL Down Under podcast (, organises the SQL Down Under Code Camp and co-organises CodeCampOz.

Greg will also be presenting at the SQL Server user group on Weds, 7th May at Change Corporation's offices on one of my current favourite topics: dynamic management views and custom reports.

I'm organising going out for dinner after Thursday's talk. If you would like to come along, please RSVP to me by email, otherwise I can not guarantee you a place.


SQL 2005 Database Snapshots

I've recently been investigating the applicability of SQL Server Database Snapshots (Enterprise Edition-only) for reporting scenarios and came across this excellent Simple-Talk article describing pros and cons: A DBA's view on SQL 2005 Database Snapshots.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Alistair Cockburn in Perth

If you're in the city this Wednesday evening (23rd April), Alistair Cockburn has agreed to an informal meeting at the pub. So if you're interested in meeting him, pop along to the Moon & Sixpence, 5:30pm.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Is the iPhone as good as the hype would have you believe?

Nope. It’s actually better! I can honestly say, hand on heart, the iPhone is the coolest, sexiest bit of technology I have owned. The design is amazing, ease of use is phenomenal, it is very intuitive across many applications. In short, it’s a design classic. To quote that lynchpin of style, “It’s Groovy, Baby!”.

The Nokia classic model that I’ve had for several years (it’s another design classic, in my opinion) was starting to look a bit battered and outdated, though it still works fine. I’ve been thinking about getting a replacement since last year, and kept putting it off because none of the models I looked at were that compelling; each seemed to be missing something, that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. A while back I was considering a HTC Dual but got put off by the display model which seemed to be falling apart after only a short time on display in the shop.

Recently, I had pretty much decided I would like an iPhone but found myself wavering. Rick Strahl’s post Justifying an iPhone, tipped the balance and I took the plunge. The iPhone is not officially released yet here in Australia (apparently, a 3G model is due to be released towards the end of 2008), but that does not mean you can’t use one right now. Despite the fact that Apple seem to favour the ‘lock in business model’ (and I definitely echo Rick’s negative feelings about this shortcoming), I predict these will sell like hot cakes when they are released here.

Rick’s follow up post, Custom iPhone Ringtone Installation, mentions how you can unlock your iPhone using Ziphone and use your existing SIM card and provider.

I know it's a cliche, but I can't imagine Microsoft ever designing something so sexy. I only wish they would! Really I do. Whatever happened to the “Microsoft: Change the world or go home” mantra (late 2006), or the ‘user experience’ push (early 2007)? User Experience does not mean rounded corners and ‘aeroglass’ fades! I mean come on, fess up: was Vista really such a technological leap forward?
Remember this?
Frank Arrigo has a post over at his blog, Did someone mention Win2K??, where he admits surprise that more than 50% of his readers are still running XP. There’s probably a good reason for that, Frank! [On the subject of Vista, what maniacs dreamt up that awful bloody Vista retail box? The one that required extra sticky-tape additions to give clues how to open it!]

Don’t get me wrong. Microsoft has significantly changed the software development landscape (among other things), and will continue to do so. I just feel they are not achieving their full potential.

Since I’ve taken the Apple plunge, I think I might buy a MacBook Air next (although I really would like that Intel Quad core)!! I feel sorry for those Microsofties, who secretly want to buy an iPhone! ;)

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Perth .NET User Group: April Meeting

April’s .NET user group meeting, ‘Delivering on the Promise of SOA’ with Bill Poole, was another success with a great turnout (49 people).

After a quick introduction, Dave Gardner gave an overview of the library that we have put together, which now contains around 90 books. It's free for members use, and includes some great learning resources.

As you can see, it was standing room only. [The empty chair was Stephen Liedig’s who took these photos!]

Bill did a great job of covering a huge amount of material in the one hour session; I walked away with several ideas to consider and think over; I particularly liked his section on anti-patterns. If you were not able to make this session, Bill has kindly posted his slide deck here. We will hopefully get Bill back for another session to cover more of this important topic.

Thank you to Bill for presenting this session and thanks to everyone who attended, and to everyone who helped make the evening a success.


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