Plip's Weblog

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

September 2006 - Posts

What's so wrong with a Pie Barm?

I grew up in a town in the north of England and I gre up eating Pie Barms.

I'm being repeatedly told that they're wrong and evil. I don't see it - they are great.

Tell me now, that after seeing this you don't want a bite?



Posted: Sep 27 2006, 02:21 PM by Plip | with 30 comment(s)
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Microsoft Documentation - Where is the sample code?

I've recently been working heavily with Reporting Services, but there have been one task I've been putting off as I've done it once before (two years ago) and it scared the crap out of me. Creating a Custom Security extension to work with SQL Server Reporting Services 2005 so that I can use forms authentication from ASP.NET (and the SQL Server Membership Provider).

It should be relatively straight forward, Microsoft have written a tutorial which takes you through it step by step: - 

There's something wrong with this though, the sample code isn't online, it's available only via the local install of SQL Server Reporting Services. I don't appear to have these files ("The SQL Server samples are not installed automatically during setup. For instructions about how to install the samples, see Installing Samples.").

So Microsoft, to you I say: -



For now the gazebo must go and reinstall bits of his SQL Server just to get the sample code from his offline DVD onto his offline hard disk for an Article you've published online. Nice one*.

* That's sarcasm.

UPDATE: I believe I've found a cheat way to get them, the samples have been updated and the updates have been published! (SqlServerSamples.msi)

After installing the files are here: -

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Samples\Reporting Services\Extension Samples\FormsAuthentication Sample\cs\FormsAuthentication\

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper 2nd December 2006

Just wanted to send out a mail to people letting them know about the next DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper event.

It’s being held in Reading on Saturday the 2nd December at the Microsoft Campus (in the UK).

The event is looking for speakers right now, and I’d encourage you all to submit proposals if you fancy getting into speaking (it’s so easy even I can do it!).

To check the agenda view this link: -

To submit a session proposal, click this link: -

The event promises to be a fantastic day and I’d really encourage anyone who’s interested in Technology in the UK to get involved.

Posted: Sep 16 2006, 10:16 AM by Plip | with 1 comment(s)
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Microformats in .NET

I recently came across Microformats and wanted to create a set of .NET controls which will output Microformat controls.

So this afternoon I made a start and created a hCard and XFN control.

I've applied for a Codeplex workspace called nMicroformats and will upload the code as soon as possible. For now here's a preview: -

Street="91 Billinge Road"
Country="United Kingdom"
Phone="+44 (0) 7753 747 991"

This produces the following markup: -

<span id="PhilshCard"><div class="vcard">
<img style="float:left; margin-right:4px" src="" alt="photo" class="photo"/>
<a class="url fn n" href="">
<span class="given-name">Phil</span>
<span class="family-name">Winstanley</span>
<a class="email" href=""></a>
<div class="adr">
<div class="street-address">91 Billinge Road</div>
<span class="locality">Wigan</span>
<span class="region">Lancashire</span>
<span class="country-name">United Kingdom</span>
<div class="tel">+44 (0) 7753 747 991</div>
<a class="url" href="aim:goim?screenname=plipster">AIM</a>
<a class="url" href="ymsgr:sendIM?screenname=plipster">YIM</a>

Which in turn looks like this: -

Using the Firefox Tails plugin, the markup is picked up and looks like this: -

d.Construct 2006

"The best conference I've attended in the past few years."

On the 8th September 2006 the second d.Construct conference was held in Brighton, England. The conference is described as: -

"An affordable, one-day conference aimed at those building the latest generation of web-based applications. The event discusses how new technology is transforming the web from a document delivery system into an application platform."

England isn't known for it's sunny weather, so when I arrived in Brighton on Thursday to blazing sunshine, clear blue skies and a deep azure blue sea I knew I was in for a good couple of days.

Deligates in the pub the night before

Dave Verwer introduced me to the event a few months back because he had heard great things about the first time the event had been held - on his recommendation I registered and started planning my journey.

The event is focused at the Non-Microsoft community, with the vast majority of attendees being PHP, Java and Ruby developers as well as a whole host of non developers in the form of designers, technology officers and those whom have to work on the leading edge of Internet technologies.

As this was the first Non-Microsoft event of this nature I've ever been to I was not sure what to expect. The communities around PHP, Java and Ruby tend to be very Anti-Microsoft so I anticipated some "Microsoft Bashing" at the event from both the speakers and the attendees, I was however pleasantly surprised to discover this was not the case.

Traveling with me to Brighton was Dave Sussman, famed author and international man of mystery. As many of you will know Dave wrote the books which launched ASP and ASP.NET, he's played a pivotal role in the Microsoft Web platforms and helped millions of people learn the platforms with his writing along side Alex Homer. Dave is a Microsoft Man.

On the 7th September a "Night out" had been arranged in a Brighton pub/bar where approximately 50 conference attendees met up. This was a nice thing for the conference organizers to set up and help facilitate, it allowed the attendees to chat and relax and work out what everyone else wanted out of the event. Whilst on the Night out I discovered I was not the only Microsoft based person there, there were other .NET guys around and they had similar aims as my own, to learn what the industry as a whole is doing and see what they can take from that and apply to their own applications.

The morning of the conference was upon us, Dave Verwer, Dave Sussman and I headed up from our Hotel on the sea front to the Corn Exchange which is where the conference was being held, on arriving the doors were still closed and quite a few people were milling around outside, whilst we waited Dan Morris a friend who runs a group here in Manchester which connects geeks with other geeks and also works for the BBC joined us in waiting for the doors to be flung open; thankfully, we didn't wait too long.

On entering the Corn Exchange I was burdened with the obligatory bag of conference swag and my delegate badge. At this point I think it's important to share the contents of the bag, as with all conferences, if all the sessions are bad, at least you've gotten some free stuff to cheer you up. So inside the bag we found a Bottle of Water (very nice touch), BBC Backstage T-Shirt, a copy of .net magazine (Not Microsoft .NET but design and general non Microsoft technologies), creative commons bits (stickers, badges, DVD etc), a pen, a lighter (lord knows why) and a trial edition of Macromedia Studio 8. The only other thing I'd have liked to have had in the bag was a small notepad for use in the sessions (not everyone had laptops or PDA's). (Some of us* had our laptops but forgot to bring the power cable with them because some of us are stupid).

Deligate Badge

One of the most ingenious pieces of conference materials I've ever received at a conference was my delegate badge, it was a plastic wallet on a very nice nylon neck chord, inside the wallet was the full agenda for the day and a thank you message to all those whom had helped put the conference together. I found this agenda around my neck to be invaluable and plan to reuse this concept for any conferences I'm involved in over the coming years where possible.

I've had similar badges at TechEd but they are oversized and a pain to wear. The d.Construct badge was spot on with weight and content.

After rummaging through the deligate bags and exploring the badge we went in search of refreshments and other goodies in the expo area. There were only three stands which was interesting, and none of the big names were there. A JavaScript debugging company had one stand, madgex had another and friendsofed had the other stand (book stall full of Web 2.0 and Javascript books).

As well as the stands there was also a very long table (100 feet perhaps in length) with power sockets all along the top, this was for conference deligate's to plug their laptops in - great idea. Oh did I mention the venue also had free WiFi for all deligate's?

Basically the event was focused on helping the deligate's get the most out of the day. The Podcast which has been running for many weeks encouraged people to video and take photographs of what they want during the day, the organizers wanted people to be comfortable and they achieved this, no, they excelled at this. Even before the first session had begun it was clear to me that the day was going to be good. I was getting very excited and could not wait for the sessions to begin.

With only a single track for the entire day, choosing which sessions to attend was relatively straightforward (all of them!).

10:00 - 10:45 Jeff Barr - Amazon - Web Services: Fueling Innovation and Entrepreneurship

11:15 - 12:00 Paul Hammond & Simon Willison - Yahoo! - Web Services for fun and Profit 

12:00 - 12:45 - Jeremy Keith - The Joy of API

14:00 - 14:45 - Aral Balkan - Mash my Flex up

14:45 - 15:30 - Derek Featherstone - Accessible Web Applications in a Post Web 1.0 World

16:00 - 16:45 - Thomas Vander Wal - Understanding Folksonomy (Tagging the Works)

16:45 - 17:30 - Jeffery Veen - Google - Designing the Complete User Experience

18:30 - Late - After Event Party

I don't want to drill into each session as I think what you'd get out of them depends on where you are and what you're doing with web technologies. Audio recordings of each session should appear online soon. What I will say though is that I enjoyed five of the seven and would gladly sit through them again, the two which didn't mean much to mean; they just didn't captivate me in the same way as the others.

Sitting in the conference room and turning around scared me half to death, I was surrounded by dozens of glowing apples. This really shows the loyalty of the crowd and speakers, I think all but one of the speakers also presented with Mac notebooks.

You would be mistaken for thinking this was a deeply technical conference because of the agenda, however you could not be further from the truth. The conference was an ideas conference, one where you come away thinking about what's been said as opposed to implementing it.

The sessions were not aimed at teaching the delegates technologies but rather philosophies of web design and web technologies (how Web 2.0 do I sound ... I'm making myself feel slightly nauseous here). As the conference had a very different intention from others I've attended I believe that I actually took more away from d.Construct than I have taken from any other conference ever.

I can't sing the praises enough of the event, as a Microsoft technologist I fully expected to feel isolated and excluded from the sessions and breaks, this just wasn't the case, I came away with so much, met new people, got to explore new areas and experienced a great day. I will be at next years event. It was fantastic. I hope you will also be there.

If you feel like a browse I've uploaded all my d.Construct 2006 images to my Flickr account.

* Yes it was me. I am the stupid one.

A guide to getting people to read your blog

Are your readership numbers a little sparse? Graham explores Blog Search engine Optimisation here.

Graham's post really made me smile.

Posted: Sep 04 2006, 09:04 AM by Plip | with 6 comment(s)
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