I've seen many blog posts by people where they completely flame the customer support provided by a company like Dell, HP, Sony, Best Buy, etc. Well, I had a very good customer service experience today so I though, to be fair, I should share the other side of the story.
One of my LCD's at home (a 21" Samsung SyncMaster) started displaying some very thin (1 to 2 pixels wide) lines (about 7 or 8 of them) that ran vertically across my screen (from the very bottom to the very top). I paid pretty good money for this LCD so I wasn't about to just let this problem remain. So I called up Samsung's customer support and after providing a little personal information the Samsung rep gave me some troubleshooting steps to take in order to ensure it wasn't the DVI cable or the video card which, it wasn't. After that, things couldn't have been easier.
Since my LCD was still under warranty (3 years, parts & labor) Samsung is going to send me a replacement LCD, and they're paying for the shipping on the defective one I'll be sending back to them. 7 to 14 business days and I'll be back on a brand new LCD. Thanks Samsung!
I attended a one-day course by Edward Tufte in San Francisco today where he discussed his ideas about information display. It was very thought-provoking and he is an excellent speaker. As an added bonus, all attendees got to take home his 3 books, which I plan on digging into soon, they look really interesting. If you ever get the chance to attend his courses, I would highly recommend them. All I can really say is that he's changed the way I look at statistical data and data presentation in general. Definitely worth the time and effort it took to attend. Has anyone else been to a Tufte course? His PowerPoint discussion was just brilliant.
You could be working for none other than the original "angryCoder" himself - if you're interested contact Jon Goodyear through his blog at http://aspsoft.blogs.com .
One thing I failed to mention in my last post was that once DevCampus is ready for testing, I'm going to have a 3-week Beta period before I officially put it out on the net. I know that an "invitation-only" Beta probably smacks of Google-elitism but, the truth is, I'm just one person and can only handle beta testing feedback from a certain number of testers.
If you think you'd be interested in participating in the Beta, watch this blog in the coming weeks for instructions on how to get invited.
November has been quite a busy month for me and it looks like things are only going to get busier until the end of January.
For being something I only get to work on in my spare time, DevCampus is coming along pretty well. The last time I posted about my progress, I had just finished up building the admin tools that will let me manage the site through a web interface. Since then I've actually had to add a few more admin tools and have also finished about a dozen pages that will be publicly visible, including Login, Registration (and e-mail validation), Password resetting, and a spiffy contact form. The biggest pages to tackle are going to be the home page and the article (a.k.a "Lesson) page. I also want the site to have a severe case of RSS support so it's going to take a bit of time to get that all running as well. Anybody know of a component (dll library?) out there that generates RSS XML if you feed it some data? That would be a big time saver. If one doesn't exist (I'd be surprised) I'll probably open the source to the one I build.
In addition to DevCampus, I've started doing some technical writing for Telligent Systems to create some end-user documentation/guides for their awesome Community Server product that many blog (and other) sites out there run on. I'm excited to be doing this and hope my work will really be a benefit to those that run Community Server. If you visit Telligent's Community Server forums with any regularity you'll probably start seeing my name (or alias, I guess) pop up in there pretty often.
UPDATE: Based on comments I've added a few more images if anyone wants to use them - thanks for the feedback!
I was talking with Alex Papadimoulis on IM tonight and we somehow got on the topic of how (...hmmm...I know this is a sensitive subject so I'll try to be nice here) certain MVP's sometimes give out less than "great" answers on various newsgroups and forums. Now, I know at least a dozen MVP's personally so this is in no way an attack on them - just some attempt at humor. Please, nobody take themselves too seriously with this one.
Anyway - I told him that because of my efforts on the microsoft.public.msn.leetspeak group and through my efforts to bring 13375p34k to the masses, Microsoft recognized me by awarding me with the "LOL" MVP for MSN Messenger designation. All that time spent ROFLing, WTFing, A/S/Ling and OMGHI2Uing has finally paid off. Since I had IconWorkshop and Photoshop fired up at the moment I decided to make myself a little logo real quick. So, there you have it:
I'm going to leave this up my blog links under "flair" (Office Space reference). For all the other non-MVP's - feel free to steal it and use it on your blog, too. For Alex, he was awarded MVP for MS Paintbrush - so I made him a logo too:
If you'd like me to make you an MVP Logo for your blog (instead of using one of these) let me know and I'll see what I can do!
When you add a MenuStrip control to your form - the Windows Forms Designer automatically sets it as the menu for the MainMenuStrip property of your form. However, when you add a ContextMenuStrip control to your form, it does not set it as the context menu in the ContextMenuStrip property automatically. You have to go set it manually yourself. I wonder what the reason is for this - anybody know?
Also - it's really difficult to change the order (vertically) of MenuStrip controls at design-time on a form when you have more than one. Anybody know the easy way to do it?
UPDATE: I've added versions that do not include the icons for each resolution based on feedback. Enjoy.
I'm the type of guy that isn't artistically challenged but, I'm not exactly Michaelangelo, either. So, I spent about 45 minutes tonight making a Visual Studio 2005 Desktop wallpaper since I was getting tired of my old one. I figured I would make different resolution versions of it for anyone else that might want to sport Visual Studio 2005 on their desktop at work. So, follow the links and grab it if you want; below is a small sample of it - I went for the brushed metal look. I'm also thinking of doing a "Vista" Version (glossy Mac OS X look) later.
1600 x 1200 1600x1200 no icons
1280 x 960 1280x960 no icons
1024 x 768 1024x768 no icons
Underneath the text are little images that represent VB, C#, VC++, VJ#, ASP.NET, VSTO, VSTS for Architects, VSTS for Developers, and VSTS for Testers - the product "suite" - if you will.
On Monday morning at about 5:30 AM I hopped in my car to drive into San Francisco for the Microsoft Launch event at the Moscone center. To my surprise, I actually got there in an hour. (The toll plaza area can keep you for half an hour by itself sometimes...). So I took a little morning nap in my car until 7:30 until I met up with a friend for breakfast at Mel's Drive In. While we sat by the window having breakfast, we noticed several taxi's circling the block ever couple of minutes that had "Visual Studio 2005", "SQL Server 2005", "Biztalk 2006" and "November 7th" covering them - an interesting marketing approach.
Around 8:15 AM I arrived at the "Moscone Center West" and took the escalator up to the 2nd floor where registration was at. A fairly long line had already formed but I made it through in about 15 minutes. A "welcome bag" of goodies accompanied registration, along with the usual attendee badge flare. For Ballmers' keynote, I think it was just dumb luck that I got to sit up in the "VIP" area - my friend had a "VIP" badge, so when our badges were checked when approaching the VIP seating area, he got through and since my badge was turned backwards (not purposefully, just by chance...I didn't even know the "VIP" designation was on the badges...) I got in by association and got to sit about 5 rows back from the stage.
The room ended up pretty packed.
A few minutes past 9 AM and they unveiled the "mystery" band - Cheap Trick:
Then Ballmer came out:
Ballmer's keynote went on for about an hour and a half - a few different people came up for demos (as usual) and then afterwards we were free to attend the sessions of our choice. I mostly attended the developer track sessions before lunch and dropped by a few different cabanas periodically to try and hear if anything interesting was being discussed. Before and during lunch I went into the Hands-On Labs room where about 100 computers were set up so anyone could come sit down and try out the products themselves. I mostly used it as an opportunity to play solitaire and minesweeper while I ate my lunch, and to play around a little in Windows Forms 2.0. Microsoft provided about 10 people in the Hands-On Labs room that went around and helped people that had questions - it seemed like that room got packed early and stayed packed for the rest of the day.
In the vendor booth area they had the OC Chopper Bike on display:
Later in the day I also stopped by one of the Coding4Fun booths where Eddy Recio and George Tsiokos of ASPSoft were showing off The Finalizer (.NET Battle-Bot) :
After lunch I went to the "Data Platform Track" room (across the hall from the Hands-On Labs room) to hear about SQL Server 2005 features. I heard Dave Campbell talk about some of the interesting new features related to Scalability and Security. Then later on, Euan Garden held a session that focused on the new SQL Server Management Studio - that looks to be aggregating the functionality previously offered by Enterprise Manager, Analysis Services Manager, and Query Analyzer - all in one nice multi-threaded tool. They even demo'd some cool features related to Dynamic Management Views and how they make use of Reporting Services in Management Studio to display reports about the server - basically putting an understandable view on the usually cryptic data provided by the DBCC commands. What made Euan's session even more fun was the attire he made the presenters wear during their time on stage - I have no idea where Euan came up with this - you'll have to ask him:
After the SQL Management Studio demo - things started winding down as everyone went to pick up their free software and some snacks as we waited for the night of fun to start at 6:30 PM. Finally we were let upstairs to the 3rd floor where the AC/DC cover band "AC/DShe" was rocking out:
Their lead singer ("Bonny Scott" a.k.a Amy Ward) really got into it and had guys handing her beers and singing into the mic when she would point it towards the crowd:
After AC/DShe finished their set, Mikey from Orange County Choppers came on stage to let everyone know Paul Sr. was bringing the bike up - at which time you could hear the chopper engine from the other end of the floor. Something else funny - he kept on saying "F*** Oracle!" and got a lot of the people in the crowd chanting it with him:
After that, there was lots of great food and beverages for everyone. Prize drawings (65 inch HDTV's stuff like that) and celebritiy look-a-like picture taking and picture taking with the guys from Orange County Choppers:
Lots of gaming too - both at the XBox kiosk's
and on some big-screens:
There was also a big game room open for anyone that preferred old fasioned games like pool, air hockey, or foosball:
I got to chat a little with Carl Franklin and his co-host Richard Campbell after they interviewed Eddy for a little while. After catching a couple of songs by Cheap Trick (who played later that night) I decided to call it a night and drove home.
All in all, it was a really good time - lots of cheap stuff on sale at the "Microsoft Store" they had setup by the vendor booths, lots of free software, good deals at the book store they had there, and good food and lots of good, smart people to chat with. There wasn't much talk of anything Ajax, Google, Web 2.0, etc. by anybody - just a lot of focus on the software being released and how it's going to make our lives a little easier - which is always a good thing. I hope this post encourages other people to attend the Launch event closest to them - it might not be as big of a show as the launch here was - but it's worth the time, especially if you're new to the 2005 products or even if you just want to mingle and network with other people in the industry. If anyone wants to know more or has questions feel free to contact me via the contact form.
We'll be meeting at Mel's Drive In at 7:30am for breakfast before the big man Ballmer's keynote at 9am. If anyone wants to meet us there, feel free. I'll be the chubby guy with the shaved head and goatee wearing my "I know Raymond Lewallen" shirt.
See you all there.
P.S. Is anyone else going to be attending the night festivities? AC/DShee, the "mystery band w/ 40 gold and platinum albums", the XBox gaming, Orange County Choppers, etc.? Hit me up if you want to meet together to do something or just to say hi. Sounds like it's gonna be fun.
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