Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to being a Geek!

Learning Problems
I've been getting into programming stuff in C# and ASP.NET over the last few days, so you're in for a sprinkling of geeky advice for the next few weeks, as I work through the insanities of working with MS development.

Firstly, I'm using the 2008 Express versions of both. I bought a small book "Build a Program Bow!" by Patrice Pelland of MS that has SP1 versions of all the express systems (VB, C#, C++, Web Developer) and also a=one of SQL Server. I already have a developer copy of 2005 installed, so I didn't need to install that. The rest went in fine, and the C# part works fine - better than the full version of VS 2005,

Using ASPX hasn't turned out so easy, however. I ran into a lot of permissions problems, because I'd never used the IIS on the PC, despite it being almost four years since it was installed on my laptop! Eventually, by the expedient of making all folders open for everything, it started working. Then, of course, something else cropped up! The error message was this:
BC2017: could not find library 'C:\WINDOWS\assembly\GAC_32\System.EnterpriseServices\\System.EnterpriseServices.dll'
After a lot of searching I figured out that this file was sitting in C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727, so I copied it over. Fine. Then I got exactly the same message for System.EnterpriseSeervices.Wrapper.dll. Same procedure to fix. All went well. However, after I'd rebooted it all went away and I had to copy the stuff over again! Drat!! Now I have a batch file!

Chrome Problems
Here's another interesting tidbit. I wrote a really simple piece of ASPX (below). It shows two buttons on a browser page and, depending on which one you click, changes the caption on the button. It all works fine on IE 7 (like you'd expect anything else!) on my local IIS server. However, Google's Chrome apears to have some problems with this: one button works fine but the other doesn't always do so well. Try it out and tell me if it's just my copy of Chrome!

[script runat="server"]
Sub submit(Source As Object, e As EventArgs)
if button1.Text="You clicked me!" then
button1.Text="Click me!"
button1.Text="You clicked me!"
end if
End Sub
Sub submit2(Source As Object, e As EventArgs)
if button2.Text="Boo!" then
button2.Text="Click me!"
end if
End Sub
[form runat="server"]
[asp:Button id="button1" Text="Click me!" runat="server" OnClick="submit" /]
[asp:Button id="button2" Text="Click me!" runat="server" OnClick="submit2" /]

Blogger Change
Have you noticed that Blogger has added a new editor? It has a nice control bar for selecting things like fonts, etc., but, right now, it doesn't appear to allow you to paste anything in! That makes life a little difficult!

That's all for now ...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yarn, Tech, and a Blog

A couple of weeks back we were in Harrison, near White Plains, NY, helping a friend with her computers. On the way home the AG asked that we stop at a yarn store called KnittingNation in Nyack, NY. As always, we got a friendly reception and, as always, permission for me to take pictures.

Nyack is a nice town - really easy to get to (over the Tappan Zee bridge from NYC and the first right off the main road) - and a lot of neat shops and restaurants. To get to KnittingNation go down the main street until you get to Broadway, and take a left. It's on the left, opposite a tea shop rejoicing in the name of The Runcible Spoon, which may well be closed by the time you get back from seeing all that KnittingNation has to offer.

There's a big selection of yarn, books, tools, and accessories to browse through, and the owner (whom we met) is really friendly and knowledgeable.

The other customers that we met we friendly too, and there's a comfortable couch to sit on at the front - always a good sign.

So, in sum, going to KnittingNation looks like a good move. They have a long yarn list and they do courses and instruction for learners.

After we'd spent waay longer than we expected to at the LYS, we noticed a small Greek take-away on the way out of town. Two Greeks and a Gyro looks like a kind of Greek Burger king. However, once you get inside and meet the staff, and see the food, you'll realise that this is really a proper Greek restaurant with all the proper Greek attitudes to food and hospitality, just dressed up in early-21st century Americana!
Then you get your order and settle down to eat. WOW! You realise that you didn't really order all the things you wanted to order to try! You'll just have to back again. And again! And you probably will - it's that good.

In April last year Microsoft bought a company called Danger (a somewhat reckless name, one would think!). This company specialises on creating "premium software" for mobile devices (smartphones to you and I) to provide a "rich consumer experience", whatever that might mean. MS bought it just four months after it registered its first IPO. Obviously the guys at Redmond $aw $omething they liked the potential of.

Anyhow, T-Mobile got the software loaded up on their SideKick phones, which seemed like a cool idea. Then, as MS bought Danger, it suddenly became MS' responsibility to maintain all the back-end stuff that had been run by Danger. For example, all the messages, addresses, contacts, photos, etc. that are kept for use on a Sidekick device are stored on the servers so that the device in your hand doesn't have to be huge.

Fine - it all works great. Until it doesn't. In early October all the info vanished. MS have, reportedly, managed to get a lot of the data back (although how old it is is another question). You'll have noticed a few cynical remarks in the last link of MS' experience with the needs for backups; well, it appears that someone in MS might have placed a little too much confidence in the success of the immediate future.

The exec involved has a long career in MS' divisions handling Mac products and Entertainments products, which is fine, and I'm sure that she's a very good manager, but this looks like a really bad case of forgetting that a belt and braces strategy is usually safer then just winging it. In fact, if things actually happened as people are saying, then it would appear firstly that all caution was dropped, and then the department involved appears to be trying to cast the shadow of the problem on the other, non-MS, parties. Of course, being Sun and Oracle, they can be viewed as competitors .....

So, this can be viewed as a good example of the operations of Murphy's Law. It can also be looked on as an example of people trying to distract attention from their own shortcomings by casting aspersions on others. Oh yes. T-Mobile is giving its users a month's free use and $100 in compensation. For being their valuable customers. The trouble is that the users have probably lost far more in value than that. I wonder how many will be jumping ship real soon now!