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February 2005 - Posts

"ASP.NET 1.1 Insider Solutions" is a work of art...
...and I haven't even read the damn thing yet.  I got my Amazon order this morning to my office, and marveled at the book's design.  I've played with the samples from www.daveandal.com before, but I never expected the title to be of such high production quality.  The pages a thin version of the glossy paper that's more common to Flash and PhotoShop books, and it sits well.

Plus, the book has contributions by a friend of mine, Mr. XML himself, Dan Wahlin, so it's a sure-fire winner.

I'll have a review posted in a couple of days, but this is a trophy book.  Shoot, I'll probably need to order another just to keep in mint condition.
Posted: Feb 24 2005, 02:50 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Creating a blog-like chronological list to track user posts by month
One of the cool things everyone likes about blogs is that they let you navigate through a user's submissions chronologically, usually by month.  Most, like .TEXT, even show how many posts a user's made for that month.
It's a cool little feature people really adhere to, making using them easy and fun.

Here's a T-SQL stored procedure I wrote that provides returns a recordset that you can easily use in your apps to pull this type of user experience. I use it in the "Familiar Faces" community photo gallery app I built and use on my site.  It basically uses some of SQL Server's date-specific system functions to display field data of type SMALLDATETIME.

When bound to a list control (in this case a DataList), it renders the following:

CREATE PROCEDURE GetPersonalGalleryArchive
    @UserID INT
SELECT DATENAME(mm,DateOfPost) + ' ' + DATENAME(yy,DateOfPost) AS [MonthYear],COUNT(BlogPostID) AS [MonthlyPosts],CONVERT(SMALLDATETIME,CONVERT(VARCHAR(4),MONTH(DateOfPost)) +
'/1/' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(6),YEAR(DateOfPost))) AS [LinkDate]
FROM BlogPosts
WHERE UserID = @UserID

Just FYI....it uses the following database table schema:

-- this table is used by the SPROC
UserID        INT     NOT NULL, -- links to a membership table

You could also easily bind the recordset to a vertical-reading DataList or Repeater, for the blog effect that we're so used to.  :)

Have fun!
Posted: Feb 23 2005, 06:40 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Benefits of mixing MIME types in podcast feeds

Something theoretical/academic crossed my mind this evening - what the (dis)advantage(s) would be as a content provider for mixing one's podcasted multimedia content in the same RSS feed.  Specifically, how wise would it be to have one's multimedia and textual content integrated into a single XML-based pull channel? 


I've seen many hybrid feeds that contain text-only articles, as well as <ENCLOSURE> tags containing URIs to MP3s for audio content.  But then again, I've also noted several well-known, well-established content providers make the effort to distinctly segregate their feeds by MIME types, keeping audio and text available, but completely separate.


In my own case, I've been supporting for the past six months an XML feed that's served up textual version of my station's news stories, and I'll soon be adding MP3 audio of various content we generate.  In that light, you could consider this a "migration" project of sorts.  It certainly wouldn't be too painful developmentally to add-in to our current RSS feed the audio content I'm going to introduce, being just another DataTable in to iterate through in a DataSet.  It would be nice and clean, and perform beautifully.


What I'm wondering is how practical it would be not only for aggregators already subscribing to my stuff, but also to smaller apps like personal web pages, and then also for the podcast applications that will subscribe to my stuff in the future.  At this point, I'm admittedly unjustifiably assuming that the majority of podcast apps, being audio channels in their nature, will ignore <ITEM> nodes in an RSS feed without <ENCLOSURE>.  I'm also going to assume that any encountered audio will get an icon or download link of some sort in the major aggregators.


Alas, I think my previous conclusion that "it depends" would be the best advice, considering the context, scale, scope and target audience of an application, so time to start playing.

My picks for the Sprite dunk competition
Well, I miffed the 3-point shooting competition, but I'm rooting for Josh Smith and Chris Andersen.  Both can seriously rise.  Seeing Amare Stoudamire bring all 3 events home to Phoeniz would be nice, though.
Posted: Feb 20 2005, 01:09 PM by guam-aspdev | with 1 comment(s)
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The best software modeling/project management tool you've never heard of: PowerPoint
I've found some of the simplest tools to often be the most obvious (can you say Occam's Razor???)

As an example, if I can avoid using super high-end tools in my software development for UML modeling and/or Gannt chart for project management, I use PowerPoint.  It's something I've already got no matter what PC I'm on, and minus the automatic code generation, does the same thing - sight summaries of the work I'm to do.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy other niche tools, but sometimes less really is more.
My picks for 3-point Shooting Competition finals
I'm not a betting man, but if I were, my money would be on Kyle Korver and Ray Allen in the finals. 
Posted: Feb 20 2005, 12:30 PM by guam-aspdev | with 4 comment(s)
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NBA embraces Metallica for All-Star Weekend
One of the things I'm really enjoying about NBA All-Star Weekend is that the good people in Denver apparently really love metal music.  I'm writing this literally seconds after the 3-point shooting competition is starting, for which the booming low-end of Metallica's classic dirge "For Whom the Bell Tolls" resonated throughout the Pepsi Center during the player introductions.  Also, during last night's Rookie Challenge, the event coordinators announced both the Rookie and Sophomore teams to the infinetly-looped main riff from "Enter Sandman".

Posted: Feb 20 2005, 12:26 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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TourneyLogic bracket control is a godsend

I've had the sample Tourney Bracket Control from TourneyLogic for a few weeks now, and I just got around to playing with the API directly in preparation for an online contest my station is doing for the upcoming NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.

Because of budgetary constraints (my own), I decided not to buy their automatic Tourney Poll Manager, which is also really sweet, and build a back-end myself for the database structure and reporting front-end stuff.

It was created in ASP.NET 1.1, and despite some lengthy development time (I have yet to setup even small tourneys fairly quickly), it's amazing.  I'm also scheduled to have Joel Ross and Brian Anderson on my radio show in the next couple of weeks to talk about college hoops and life in Michigan.

Even if you're not into sports or plan to do those types of apps, download the free samples and give it a whirl.  It's very impressive.

Working on custom progress bar control for mobile ASP.NET apps

I'm spending a good part of this President's Day weekend setting up my station's new podcast feeds.  It basically features comedy clips from our radio DJs, audio newscasts, and selected excerpts from the sportstalk radio show I host.  Seeing how positively so many people responded to the launch of our RSS newsfeeds, I'm excited about this new venture.  I personally know a ton of people locally that got iPods for Christmas.

Since the length of the clips will vary (e.g., the funny bits are likely 90 seconds, at most, while newscasts can get as long as 30 minutes, and my sports banter can go on and on).  So, to accomodate my site's audienced who access us through our mobile site through Guamcell Communications, I'm going to expose those MP3s to them via WAP that are smaller than 2MB, as the throughput is roughly 113Kb/sec.  No bad, but I can't have an entire show available in this fashion.

But I digress....my big thing now is writing a custom control to display a progress bar while MP3s are downloaded to mobile phones, much like the one Dave Sussman and Alex Homer created for their book "ASP.NET 1.1 Insider Solutions" (which I'm currently waiting for from Amazon, BTW).  The only problem is that most such controls for desktop web apps rely heavily on client-side JavaScript, which most phones don't support.


Posted: Feb 19 2005, 10:23 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Do APA citation standards account for non-printable new media?

I'm waxing idiotic tonight, so just bear with me…


Further to a post I put up about citing one's own blog posts in academic work, I recall the APA writing/citation standards just barely embracing e-mail correspondence.  How about, for sake of argument, if something noteworthy were revealed to me in a chatroom?  Or over SMS?  Or in a P2P instant messaging app?


I mean, if the APA is tolerant enough to accept verbal, non-documented conversations as a citable medium, shouldn't those that are tangible, but questionably reproducible, worth a nod?

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