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

Product Reviews

Astound Vs. Charter

So I finally broke down and bought my first “Video on Demand” movie last night from Astound cable. It was so cool, I would have to say it was like I was watching the DVD. I ordered a pizza, and I could just pause the movie to go pay the delivery guy.

Astound also has DVR capabilities, like TiVo. I don’t think the software on for the DVR part is as complicated as TiVo, but it works. You can search by actor or anything, just channel, date, title. I have run into a few glitches, but a hard reset of the box gets things running again.

As far as internet, I don’t know, I have heard from many people who have Astound that their internet goes down a lot. The only time mine has stopped working, I first got an email from Astound telling me when and why, at least 3 days in advance.

Charter on the other hand, the internet was down pretty much 3 times a week, and my cable modem needed replacing. When I called to get a new one, they said “Come pick one up”. I said “Come bring me one, I didn’t break it, It is just defective”. I heard when you bring a defective cable modem back to Charter they just put it back in the rotation without even fixing it, so six months down the road some schmuck will get a bad cable modem. How nice is that?

As for the cable, Charter didn’t have DVR or VOD. When I called to cancel, that is why I told them I was canceling. The guy (from some call center eight states away) was like “But we might have that in the next year, please stay!!”. Sorry, get with the times please. And once I think about it, Astound’s digital cable navigation system is like light years ahead of Charter’s.

I am also pretty sure Astound customer service is local, which is cool too.

Charter should focus more on local than big picture. They will end up falling into the same pit as many companies before them. Astound can deliver the same services, plus more, and deliver them better. Before I switched I was a devout Charter guy, now I would have to say Astound all the way. Oh, and BTW – It is cheaper!!

Astound Broadband

Charter Communications