Plip's Weblog

Phil Winstanley - British .NET chap based in Lancashire. Enjoys tea and tech. Working for Microsoft.

May 2006 - Posts

An Englishman wakes up in Belgium

Well, day two begins, last night after writing my last post I realised what the "missing item" for this trip abroad is - toothpaste.

So at 06:30 I went for a walk around the local area to try and find a pharmacy (which I found), but no where in antwerp opens until 9am apparently (which is jut great seeing as I'm in the office at 08:30.

On my Travels I walked through the Mainly Othodox Jewsish area of the city and past a Russian Orthodox church - beautiful building and some very interesting architecture, I've uploaded the pictures to Flickr.

Anyway, I must dash, I have to go and floss my teeth with cotton from my socks as my colleague will be here shortly to pick me up. I'll leave you with this image which greated me earlier this morning (with captions, rollover the image).

Posted: May 29 2006, 07:03 AM by Plip | with no comments
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An Englishman in Belgium

I’m in Antwerp, which apparently means “Throw Hand” in Dutch and I was shown a very nice statue/fountain outside the Town hall of Antwerp which has a chap (I believe) on top, that is throwing a Giants Hand into the river.

At the time of writing this message I’m sitting in my very nice room in the Plaza Hotel which is centrally situated, a rather nice hotel, the staff are wonderfully helpful and really try hard to speak English to the silly tourists and business travellers like myself.

This evening a colleague from work took me out and on a very short tour of Antwerp. We drove through the city where I was shown many sights and buildings. Antwerp is a very pleasant city, it feels very European (that is a very British thing I think so no one else might get the mental image).  

We went for a drink at a Bar/restaurant on the river front where we sat out in the open air sipping an incredibly strong Belgian beer the name of which now escapes me, it began with ‘D’ I believe.

This Desk is far too high to type on …. Hang on while I move the laptop to my lap where it clearly belongs…


Ahhh much better. Now I can feel my fingers again and the edge of the desk isn’t cutting off my circulation.

Anyway, on with the Antwerp evening one description. Jan and I had a beer as said then we strolled through the city up towards the Cathedral which has a very intricate and impressive spire which surpasses most of the Cathedrals in the UK in my opinion. It should have had two very intricate spires, but apparently they ran out of money and were left with one beautiful spire and one which would not look out of place on a 1980’s catholic church in the north of England.

A little deeper into the city from the river we walked past the old Victorian sewers which is (apparently) a tourist attraction, Jan tells me you get waders and walk under the city through the sewer network, unfortunately it’s closed for a few weeks, otherwise I’d have been down like a shot, nothing like a bit of chest high rubber and the smell of raw sewage to get a guy going.

Alas the sewer pipe dream had to come to an end (sorry for the pun, I could not resist), we carried on up further into the city and up to the Town hall which has so many flags of the world attached to it that it could well be the United Nations building in New York!

(this chair isn’t very comfortable either, time to move to the bed)

((Christ, how soft is the bed? I nearly just got eaten by a mattress!!))

So, where was I, ah yes, the Town hall. As I mentioned earlier outside the town hall there is a fantastic Statue of the Roman whom cut off the hand of a Giant who used to live in the castle (did I mention there’s a Bond Villain castle here?) that would make all the sailors pay taxes to bring their ships into Port. Kind of a mythical VAT I suppose, if only they knew about VAT back in Roman times.

Just outside of the town hall we went to a restaurant which looked incredibly pleasant, it is probably worth noting that I don’t speak any Flemish or Dutch at this point (which I plan to change over the following days). Jan reliably informed me that portions of the Menu were in English – ‘Great!’ I though as I turned to the Page Jan had pointed out. The English consisted of the following words: -

·         Eels

·         Meat

·         Fish

·         Crunchy Vegetables

Lovely, I’ll have the “Eel meat with fish and Crunchy vegetables” then ;-) In the end I settled for a Beef stew in a very rich onion gravy which was exquisite. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

Once I’d finished eating I needed to visit the men’s room, so I got up and wandered towards the back of the Restaurant towards my waiter who had his back to me. Without me even saying a word the Waiter just said in his best English accent “The gents is downstairs sir, on the left.” – that is what I call service!

Alas the evening had to come to an end (work in the morning don’t you know!), Jan very kindly drove me back to the hotel. I’m sitting in my room right now (well lying on the bed) using the WiFi which Windows XP reliably informs me is 11mb and the signal strength is “very low”, although it’s only €20 for the week, so I can’t complain that much, the receptionist suggest if I have issues to just go and sit in the Lobby with my laptop, I’m not sure she’d appreciate me doing so in my dressing gown and fluffy rabbit slippers though.

I have taken some pictures of the room (but not of Antwerp I’m afraid, I forgot my Camera this evening) which I’ll try and upload to my Flickr account.

There’s one really odd thing about the room, it’s very large (the bed is *massive*) but you need to be an amputee to use the toilet… there is literally no leg room, you have to sit on the toilet sideways, very odd...

You can check out more pictures in the Set which I'll keep updated throughout the week called Antwerp May 2006.

Tune in tomorrow for day two of “An Englishman in Belgium”.

Using Windows Workflow Foundation to make Games?

My local Microsoft Developer Evangelist, Mike Taulty, has *way* too much spare time on his hands at the moment it appears, and he's been trawling through his old .NET samples and converting them into WinX applications.

Here's a really cool Windows Workflow Testris implimentation.

I suppose Workflow is ideal for logic trees which is all games ever are, I know from my time working with Acclaim (I didn't write them games but the Intranets and so on - they've gone bust now - nothing to do with my dodgey SQL though, oh no.) that the programming seemed very simple when you were just building on top of the already built graphics and game engines, Workflow is a really natural progression in a visual format.

I wonder how many people will use XNA and Workflow together (can it even be done?).

Posted: May 27 2006, 10:36 AM by Plip | with no comments
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My bank is buying me Antivirus software!

Barlcays, the bank I've used for over a decade have decided to protect their customers interests in a very serious way, they're giving everyone who uses their online service free antvirus software - how cool is that???

Never be late for a lecture again.

I never went to university, but if I was going, this is how I'd want to get my lectures, via a PodCast!

Posted: May 26 2006, 11:41 PM by Plip | with no comments
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Web 2.0? Here's a letter from our Lawyers.

Be careful what you call your conferences, it appears the usage of the term "Web 2.0" is owned by (or rather they think it's owned by) O'Reilly.

A conference in Cork (Ireland) have been asked not to use the term.


Posted: May 26 2006, 11:36 PM by Plip | with 1 comment(s)
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TechEd 2006 Sessions broadcast live!

So you might not get a hideous bag or have to brave the endless queues for the loo, but at least you can watch the sessions wearing your underwear.

Posted: May 26 2006, 11:32 PM by Plip | with 1 comment(s)
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Google and Dell get Married
Where's the ASP.NET Tab in IIS? It's Missing! I've installed .NET 2.0 ...

I've been watching a thread on an e-mail list which gave me a little insight into a problem I wasn't even aware of.

Apparently on Windows Server 2003 64 Bit Editions and Windows Server 2003 R2 the ASP.NET Tab in IIS doesn't appear, no fix, that's it, it's gone!

"The ASP.NET tab does not appear on x64-based editions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2. This tab also does not appear if only one version of ASP.NET is allowed in the web service extensions." 

What?! :-)

Edit: It appears this post is all LIES !!!! Apparently the MS Documentation is wrong (shock horror).

Edit: Apparently there is some registry hacking which can resolve this too: -


If you find following register keys, would you please delete them and

re-register the framework ?  









The CLR team made changes to the version number which messes with the the setup scripts removal. 



Freelance work is hard

I've been a freelance developer for under a week now - and it's really hard!

Working from home changes the whole daily routeen, previously it was easy: -

  1. Wake Up
  2. Wash & Dress
  3. Go To Work
  4. Eat Lunch
  5. Go Home
  6. Eat Dinner
  7. Sleep

Now it's been changed to: -

  1. Wake Up
  2. Work
  3. Work
  4. Work
  5. Remember you're supposed to eat
  6. Eat
  7. Work
  8. Work
  9. Work
  10. Sleep

If it were not for the Vista Side Bar I'd not even know what the Weather was outside!

I'll tell you what else has been difficult, saying no.

Saying no to people when they want work doing, managing the expectations fo clients, telling people they have a slot of a few days to fit in with me, it all becomes much more complicated and messy. It's seriously not what I'm used to doing.

Worth it though :-)

Posted: May 25 2006, 03:37 PM by Plip | with 3 comment(s)
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