September 2004 - Posts

OLAP Cubes
29 September 04 03:36 PM | MikeD

Whenever my boss can use a pivot table in Excel, he does a little happy dance. Well, sometimes its more like watching a horny chihuahua, but I won't go any further - you probably have an indelible picture in your mind already.

Recently, I've been putting together some OLAP cubes that extract data from Webtime and from Quickbooks. Neither has been terribly pleasant to grok their data.

WebTime, to its credit, offers a Visio diagram of their schema and a big data dictionary describing it, to all their paid customers. Plus, I sent them a query that I was working on, and in a couple days, one of their developers had responded with some help.

Quickbooks is just downright nasty. Unless I'm missing something here, they don't export very well, certainly not with any consistency, and not even in CSV files that can be easily processed. I had to write a translation app that read their supposedly CSV-formatted export file line by line and brought it into SQL for me. Hey, Intuit, ever heard of XML?

Anyway, now Joel can slice and dice his data in numerous ways, thanks to the wonder of OLAP cubes and Excel pivot tables.

.NET Compact Framework
29 September 04 03:26 PM | MikeD

Last night's presentation by Dan Sellers at the Winnipeg .NET User Group meeting on Compact Device development reminded me that I hadn't blogged about the OpenNETCF.Org library of open source stuff for compact device development.

Besides being a valuable website itself, the OpenNETCF.Org library of framework code fills in the gaps in the .NET Compact Framework quite nicely. Things like more XML and serialization support, cryptography, and some custom controls for accessing the features of a PocketPC, such as the voice recorder or capturing the special buttons. It even has WSE 2.0 support. Plus it integrates into Visual Studio.NET 2003 and includes context Help.

I wouldn't do CF development without it. At least on the current platform.

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Testing Centres
28 September 04 11:14 AM | MikeD

I'm taking some Microsoft Exams this week.

<rant>

I'm going to a different testing centre than my usual, and I'm finding the experience slightly annoying. Perhaps its just me, but when I get to a centre to write a test, I want the pre-testing process to be minimal - let me sign the papers and sit me down. Then when I am done, get me out of there in short order. No fuss, no bother, and NO WAITING!

Don't talk to me about the test before or after, no comments about the weather or anything off-topic, just let me stay focussed, in "the zone", especially before the exam starts.

Don't gush over my test results (can anyone tell me where it says that 999 is the same as 701?).

Don't chat me up to see if I might be a prospective instructor at your training centre.

Do be ready with the exam on the testing computer.

Do be ready to pick up my printout and stamp it and let me get back to being billable as soon as possible. I don't want to have to look around the training centre for the testing administrator.

</rant>

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Winnipeg .NET User Group event tonight
28 September 04 10:58 AM | MikeD

Dan Sellers from Microsoft will be in town tonight for a session on Compact Framework Development. Should be interesting.

5:30 pm at the Investors Group building downtown. See more details at www.dotnetwired.com

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