Lance's Whiteboard

Random scribbling about C#, Javascript, Web Development, Architecture, and anything else that pops into my mind.


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Blogs I Read

August 2005 - Posts

SqlRS2000: Answers to common questions

This is just a collection of links to newsgroup posts that answer commonly asked questions:

Font Color problems when exporting to Excel:

Setting parameter default value to Yesterday's date:

How to Count NULL values:

Using Running Totals:

Conditional Background Color hilighting:

Conditional Sort on Table Columns:


Google Desktop Search 2 kicks butt!

Google just released a new version of their Google Desktop Search software.  It has tons of configuration options and a new "sidebar" to help you keep information ready at your fingertips.  As a developer, I also like the extensibility which now includes many 3rd-party file parsers and sidebar add-ins.  If you are interested in writing your own plugins, there are even a couple .NET Wrappers available.

There are numerous other improvements I havent mentioned, but you can read about here.

It seems like Google is always one step ahead of Microsoft in this arena. I don't care because its the end-users who benefit from such competition.

Score 1 for Google!

Fiddler 1.0 - Web performance analysis & optimization

I first discovered Fiddler over a year ago after trying several other HTTP trace/proxy tools like YATT for tuning ASP.NET 1.0 applications. Although many of the other tools worked well, they often had extra dependencies or more complex UI's.  None of them quite matched the ease-of-use of Fiddler - especially with its IE integration.  Much has already been said about this tool on various blogs, so I won't repeat the typical praise and standard explanations. 

However, I just got around to downloading v1.0 and saw a link to an excellent article named "HTTP Performance Tuning with Fiddler".   This is one of the better explanations I have seen to give you a background on various web-tuning topics including a quick rundown on how the HTTP headers play a role in caching.    This is a must-read for any serious ASP.NET developer!

Note: If you are new to Fiddler, make sure to checkout this MSDN article to get started.

VisualStudio 2005 Tutorials

Bob has recently has updated his site, LearnVisualStudio.NET, with over 50 new video tutorials on VisualStudio.NET 2005.    Here is a quick sampling of some of the topics:

  • ASP.NET 2.0
  • Configuring, Building and Deploying a Web site
  • Securing your Web site with Membership and Login Controls
  • Databinding to User Interface Controls
  • Working with Stylesheets and Master Pages
  • Working with XML and SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Data
  • Version Control in Visual Studio Team System: Shelving
  • Version Control in Visual Studio Team System: Diffing
  • Version Control in Visual Studio Team System: Workspaces
  • Version Control in Visual Studio Team System: Changesets
  • Version Control in Visual Studio Team System: Check-in/Check-out
  • Creating Custom Reports in VSTS
  • Navigating the VSTS Project Portal
  • The MSF Agile Process Template
  • Configuring Team Foundation Notifications
  • Automating Nightly Builds w/ Team Build
  • Using the System Designer to Create Composable Systems
  • Visualizing code using the Visual Studio 2005 Class Designer
  • Refactoring Classes using the VS2005 Class Designer
  • Generating and Running a Unit Test
  • Static Analysis of Managed Code
  • Code Coverage

The great thing about these videos is that you don't have to spend time installing the latest beta's in order to start learning how to use the new tools.   Also, note that he now has an RSS feed for new release notification.


VS2005: Uh, wow! Late change fixes System.Nullable type confusion....

David sent me this gem recently and it frankly surprised me a bit to see (what I consider to be) such a high-impact change to C# and the CLR so late in the game.

On the other hand, I think the solution is quite elegant and makes nullablility behave exactly as you would expect.  I think the whole issue with losing nullability for boxed types was a brain-dead obvious problem, but after it surviving this late in the development schedule I had assumed it was a dead issue.

Note: If I recall correctly, the new C# behavior is how the possibly-null-values syntax behaved with the C-Omega (Cω) language from MS Research.

Regardless, its nice to see Microsoft's responsiveness to the developer community and eagerness to choose to make it Right instead of just making it work.   This, in my opinion, is what seperates the .NET world from the Java world.   Both are quality tools, but its the individual design decisions in areas like delegates, generics, and other mainstream feature improvements that give the .NET Framework the advantage.

FW: Visual Studio 2005 previous beta removal tool

Just discovered this tool by Aaron Stebner while continuing to fight install problems with Visual Studio.NET 2005 Beta2:

Visual Studio 2005 previous beta removal tool

This fixed about 50 problems I was seeing!  *crossing fingers for no more problems*

VS2005: Beta2 install fails during Sql Server 2005 Express install

Beware if you are installing Visual Studio 2005 Beta2 on a PC with an existing SQL Server 2000 installation, because it will cause the setup to throw an error, eventhough it continues to successfully finish the setup.

The default component selection in Visual Studio.NET 2005 Beta2 includes Sql Server 20005 Express Edition and related tools which does not play well with previous installs of Sql Server.   As a result, it leaves your PC in a partially installed state that you must manually correct.

You will notice this the first time you try to connect to a SQL Server instance and receive the following error:

"Data source name not found and no default driver specified."

The obvious part is that you have to uninstall all of the newly added Sql Server 2005 related tools, including the "Sql Native Client".   This corrects most problems, but if you open Sql Enterprise Manager or similar tools, you may receive an error saying it cannot initialize SQL DMO. 

All you need to do is re-register the COM+ dll named SQLDMO.DLL and this will be fixed.

C:\regsvr32 sqldmo.dll

This isnt rocket science, but I ran into this again today and had to scratch my head for a while to remember how to fix this.  Hopefully this will save me (and maybe others) time in the future.

See also:;EN-US;248241 (re: sqldmo.dll issues)

Excellent article on COM+ Callable Wrappers (CCW) in .NET

A couple years ago I spent time developing BizTalk 2002 AIC components with C#/.NET Framework v1.1 and learned tons about COM+ interop.   I always planned to go blog about the basics and various tips and tricks for composing your COM interfaces, but after stumbling across this article, I'll happily point people to it on Peter van Ooijen's blog instead.

Obviously there is much more to learn than this, but its a nice simple primer for people new to COM+ development.  Now all I need to do is find a blog post on controling COM+ transactions, Object Pooling, and other higher-end topics so I don't have to blog them either.

Video eLearning via LearnVisualStudio.NET

Over the past couple years, my friend Bob Tabor has put together an impressive collection of .NET tutorial Videos to help noobie .NET coders and experts alike learn how to develop with VisualStudio.NET via his awesome site LearnVisualStudio.NET.

Recently, he developed the Video series "Absolute Beginner's Video Series to Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions" for Microsoft, which was posted several weeks ago on MSDN.

After talking to some DBA's at my company, I realized that this stuff also can be helpful for SQL Server 2000 DBA's who are trying to get quickly up to speed on C# and VB.NET for developing UDF's, UDT's, and other new components avilable in Sql Server 2005.  If interested, you can check-out the list of video titles here, and signup for a membership here.


Posted: Aug 11 2005, 12:30 AM by CodeSniper | with no comments
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PDC05: My Pre-con session selections

I'm still researching my main PDC session picks, but here are my tenative pre-con selections...

Sunday 09/11/05 - "Windows Internals"
         Presented by: Mark Russinovich, David Solomon        

Monday 09/12/05 - "Framework Design Guidelines: The Art of Building a Reusable Class Library"
         Presented by: Brad Abrams & Krzysztof Cwalina         

As for my picks, anyone who knows me can't be shocked by the Monday session.  I have probably sent 50 emails this year with links to various articles on Brad's and Krys' blogs.  

On the other hand, the Windows Internals session selection was a surprise even to me.  Its really David's fault.  He spoke highly of previous incarnations of this class and convinced me that my knowledge of the Windows kernal and other internals really sucks.   He is right of course - eventhough I have used many of the sysinternals tools, I probably grok less than 10% of what they are trying to tell me.   Hopefully this session will help get me started in the right direction.  

P.S.  I wonder if anyone realized that the first pre-cons were on 9/11...hmmm

Posted: Aug 10 2005, 11:55 PM by CodeSniper | with no comments
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