MSDN Event: Visual Studio "Whidbey" 2005

We got to preview Whidbey, which is slated for release in 2005. We went over some of the cool new features. For one thing, it loads faster than VS.NET 2003. Some highlights:

1) IDE Interface: The design is little nicer, and when you move a “docked” box, it is translucent and there are some options that come up for docking, which looks nice. It also doesn’t load every toolbar by default, so that is why it loads faster. They want to streamline development for a developers own needs.

2) Form Layout: Some cool things with the form layout, like auto-rulers that line up buttons, labels, textboxes etc. This will make it easier and faster to design a good looking form.

3) “My” Object: VB.NET will introduce the My object. This is pretty much a shortcut for useful namespaces that already exist, like event log, computer information, network functions. This will be nice, because unless you know or stumble upon a namespace, you end up writing custom code to do something that could be done in one line. An example is “pinging” an computer. To do this, you usually have to have a separate assembly or class with like hundreds of lines of code. With the My object you can ping a computer in one line of code!

4) Code Snippets: Many common coding snippets are set up so you can insert them into your program and change a few minor things to get it to work, for example, reading a text file, or writing to a database.

5) Refactoring: This is the process of procedurealizing code. The example they gave was taking over someone else’s program, and you discover it is all one big function. Refactoring allows you make procedures easily and it takes care of the details for you. I don’t see using this that much, but when it does get used, it would be a HUGE timesaver.

6) Line Revision Marks: This looks cool because it shows on the sidebar colors for different states of code revision. Like things that have been saved are green, and things that have been changed are yellow, so you can see what you have changed exactly before you save it.
7) Edit and Continue: In Visual Basic 6.0, you could put in a line break, and then when the program hit that point it would pause, and you could edit some code, and start the execution again from the same spot. In VB.NET 2002, 2003, they took this feature out. Developers must have complained and they added it back in. This is a huge timesaver, especially if it takes 20 minutes to get to a certain point in the execution of a program. Currently you have to wait 20 minutes, make one change, and then re-run the program for 20 minutes to see if it worked.

Visual Studio “Whidbey”


MSDN Event : Application Code Blocks

Application Code Blocks are little “parts” of programs that Microsoft has created that you can install, and then include the assemblies in your program. The code has been tested and was created with best practices in mind.

We went over:
1) Configuration Management Block : Allows you to set up app.config files easily and encrypt and sign them. This is really cool so you can have settings in a file for your program and keep them secure, while not having tons of code to manage

2) Application Updater Block : Have you ever ran an application that popped up with a box that said there was a new version and that you could click yes to update it? This code block makes this about 100 times easier. You can include the code block, and set up a manifest on a web server, and your program will auto update!

Microsoft Application Code Blocks


MSDN Event : SQL Server Reporting Services

SQL Server Reporting Services is sort of an add on to Microsoft SQL Server. It allows you to develop reports within Visual Studio (or any other editor that can create report definition language files (RDL))
and then the reporting services talk to IIS with web services to publish reports. You can also set up subscriptions to reports, etc.

At first glance it looks like a panacea for anyone who has ever had to write reports. It allows you to go through some wizards, and create some very complex reports, and then publish them in html, xls, xml, pdf, text, etc. This is all great, but where it starts to break down is with the security.

If your organization is set up in a perfect world (which I am sure it isn’t) then reporting services will probably work for you. The main way to set up security is with NT authentication, and that just doesn’t work for some organizations. Also, parameters are passed through the querystring, so they are easily manipulated, so you can’t force a report to be ran the exact way you want to.

Overall, reporting services is pretty cool, but I just don’t think I would use it in what I do. If I was making an application for one organization where every user had the same level of rights/viewabilty, then I think it would work well.

I also saw a presentation on reporting servers at the SQL Users Group in the Twin Cities a few months back where they went into more detail then the MSDN event, and I still came to the same conclusion. I just don’t think it would work for me, but It is still a cool product, that will (hopefully) squash Crystal Reports 😉

Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services


MSDN Event

Today, I attending an MSDN event in town. We went over four topics:

1) SQL Server Reporting Services

2) Application Code Blocks

3) Visual Studio “Whidbey” 2005

4) SQL Server “Yukon” 2005

I gained some good knowledge from this event, and in the next four posts, I will go in depth on each topic.


Winamp Turns Five

Wow, just surfing around, and I see that Winamp 5 is out. It has been our for a couple months, but damn, I remember when it was like winamp 1.2, winamp .08 beta. It sure has come a long way, it used to be the bomb, when all there was to play mp3 was “winplay” (and wow did it suck). I converted to Microsoft’s Windows Media Player a couple years ago, because I like the library management better, and the auto id3 tag updates, etc. I think I was in a phase where I was trying to get as much as I could on my PC without installing any 3rd party appz.

Anyway, winamp turned 5, which is cool, it is still a stellar app, just not totally what I am looking for. Actually, I installed WMP 10 Beta the other day, and I think it is really cool, more integration with Napster (even though I don’t use it that much).

After a little more investigation, Winamp skipped from version 3 to 5, and the also are charging 15 bux for the “pro” version, that allows you to burn cd’s, etc.

For now, I think I will stick with WMP 😉


Windows Media Player


Floppy Drives

WTF is with new computers not having floppy drives? What a pain in the a$$ to try to get something of a floppy disk. I have some old files on two floppies, that I would like to get to, but I have two laptops in my apt, and neither have a floppy drive. I mean, once I can get to the data, I will burn it on CD, but I mean, come on! Maybe I should invent a little device that you put a floppy in and it puts it on memory disk or CD for you, so you don’t need a computer, and then you don’t need a floppy drive in your computer either.


Expensive Haircut, But Worth It

Well, I got my haircut today, but it was the most expensive (non-dye) haircut I have ever had. I went to Concrete Image. Even though it was expensive (25$), it was good haircut and they did extra things that you don’t get at cost cutters. I will most definitely go back again, and if you need a haircut, you should check it out. Walk in’s welcome (which is what I did)

Concrete Image

Product Reviews

Online Eye

Have you ever wanted to monitor your network speed? A co-worker of mine stumbled up Online Eye. I installed it, and it is pretty cool Send and Recv traffic graphs, and if you dig it, has all network tools (ping, trace, whois, etc).

Use this tool if you want to measure your bandwidth!!

Online Eye


Rebirth of Internet Explorer?

The buzz is that the IE development team is coming out of retirement. On Channel9 for MSDN developers, there is a thread started for ideas, etc, from a development and user point of view.

It is about time IE is back in idea mode, there are tons of things that could get added.

IE Feedback Fest


Archbishop Williams Set for 'Simpsons' Role

Yahoo news is reporting that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury might be performing on “The Simpsons”. The Simpsons have always had big name stars on their show, including Tony Blair and Mick Jaggar. Williams gave an interview where he praised the Simpsons for being on the mark for how society is. The Simpsons are probably the most religious family on TV, so Williams starring in a show wouldn’t be that out of line. Even though Homer might drink beer and get on his kids’ for being screw ups, he still drags himself to church, even when he’d rather be watching football.

Pretty much every normal American is a fan of the Simpsons, because the Simpsons act like Americans do. One non-fan, President George W. Bush said: “We need a nation closer to ‘The Waltons’ than ‘The Simpsons.”‘ Maybe that is why our country is so screwed up right now. Even though the Homer Simpson is religious, he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve and use it to push his agenda, like Bush does. I’m sure Ma and Pa Walton would love what Bush is doing, I’m sure they were devout Christians. But you see, Lisa Simpson is a Buddhist, and Homer doesn’t mind, he is open to all religions, and if President Bush saw that, maybe he too would understand how the world works, instead of going to war for no reason.

Anyways, the Simpsons are always doing new and crazy things, and this is something new and cool. I can’t wait to see the episode.

Yahoo News Article

The Simpsons