Archives / 2008 / September
  • National Do Not Call List for Canada, well... not really

    Today they launch the National Do Not Call list in Canada, a bill that was passed 3 years ago but it's taken this long to build the service (guess they don't practice Agile in their software delivery process). From the looks of the service you might be jumping for joy thinking all those annoying calls at dinner time will stop. Think again.

    I went to register my number with the National Do Not Call list but I’m pretty skeptical that it’s of any value. There are a whack of exclusions:

    • Any registered charities can call you
    • Anyone you’ve done business with in the past 18 months
    • Anyone you’ve made an inquiry to in the past 6 months
    • Political parties
    • Public surveys
    • Newspapers for the purpose of subscriptions

    Hmmm. Doesn't leave much left does it? 

    In addition, apparently it costs money for the telemarketers to subscribe to the list. It’s not clear that if they don’t subscribe to the list they can/cannot call you. All it says in the rules are that “Telemarketers and Clients of Telemarketers must subscribe to the National DNCL and pay any applicable application fees”. 

    I suppose it will reduce the number of “cold call” telemarketers that will call you, but I’m suspicious that it’ll really reduce much. Looking at the exclusion list, basically there’s very few organizations that will fit into the non-exclusion list and are open to interrupt your dinner time (or quality Halo 3 time).

    For the most part, I get called by my own bank and credit card companies (offering me extra insurance or whatever the flavor of the day is). According to the rules since I do business with them, unless I tell them to put me on their internal DNC list, they’ll still continue to call me with their offers I can’t be bothered with. That’s if they even have an internal DNC list and there’s no legislation that requires them to. 

    Some people are welcoming the list, I just have doubts that it'll do much good. I agree that it's a good thing but there are too many restrictions, rules, and loopholes to make it really value-add to the consumer. True, you get off those cold-call lists from unknown telemarketers but in my experience I get more calls from business that I work with (banks, etc.) than unknown telemarketers and they're excluded (as is newspaper/magazine subscription calls which I get a lot of those too).

    BTW, I tried to register my number but it took me to a page that simply said:

    The service is not available. Please try again later.

    I guess they didn’t figure anyone would actually use it or maybe the webserver just fell over and nobody cares.


  • Terrarium, Terrarium, Terrarium

    I'm presenting a talk around Terrarium development at the Edmonton .NET User Group on September 25th. The talk is focused on upgrading a legacy app (1.1) to 2.0 (and beyond to 3.5 eventually), building and running your own Terrarium (complete with man-eating critters), and the future roadmap.

    Here's the session abstract:

    Terrarium was created by members of the .NET Framework team in the .NET Framework 1.0 timeframe and was used initially as an internal test application. In Terrarium, you can create herbivores, carnivores, or plants and then introduce them into a peer-to-peer, networked ecosystem where they complete for survival. Terrarium demonstrates some of the features of the .NET Framework, including Windows Forms integration with DirectX; XML Web services; support for peer-to-peer networking; support for multiple programming languages; the capability to update smart client, or Windows-based, applications via a remote Web server; and the evidence-based and code access security infrastructure. This session is to explore the newly open sourced tool and talk about aspects and challenges around porting the 1.1 code to 2.0, introducing new framework features, updating the architecture. As well, we’ll look at building new creatures to introduce to your terrarium; how the entire eco-system works from a developers perspective, and the future roadmap where the Terrarium community is going.

    I'll also be presenting the same session to the Calgary .NET User Group, we're just finalizing a date. See you there!

    Update: The Calgary .NET User Group presentation is confirmed for October 1st. Details can be found here on their site. The talk will be titled "The interaction of feeding and mating in the software development control of a Terrarium".

  • TechDays 08 - Mini Me version of TechEd, now with Canadian Content!

    Great news for Canadians! No, we haven't discovered a new source of unlimited clean-burning fuel and Stephen Harper is still our Prime Minister (for now).


    Microsoft Canada has put together an awesome road show and it's coming soon. This is very much a mini-TechEd style conference but with a few twists. First off, it's Canadian based and will be hitting the major cities over the next couple of months. Second, some of the content is delivered by local freaks (such as myself) rather than the same old canned presentations by MSFT speakers. Don't get me wrong, the Canadian Developer support team (John Bristowe, Jean-Luc David, et. al.) are great but hey everyone has seen and heard them over and over again (and frankly Bristowes drag-n-drop sessions make me want to hurl). Now we can grab some premium air time and talk from the hip.

    Unlike the previous road show launches and sessions, this is a paid event. Wait, stick around. Okay, I understand and hear ya. Why buy the milk when I can get the cow for free? Here's some factoids to make your want to rush out and buy your Donald Belcham Secret Decoder Ring (and optional Justice Gray Hair Tonic Revitalizer). Rather than a single day, the event is spread out over 2 days (you can choose to attend a single day or both, your choice). In addition, there are over 30 technical sessions all on new technology (nothing old and crappy here, well maybe some old-ish stuff but not crappy) including Windows and Web development, Virtualization, and Infrastructure. There are also "birds-of-a-feather" type sessions and some after party geek fests going on. All in all, a pretty slick way to kill off two days in cold, cold winter (and that means you Winnipeg!).

    The two day conference is happening in the larger cities (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver) with the one day conference happening in the less fortunate ones (Winnipeg, Halifax and Ottawa). The early bird price (before October 15) for one day is $124.99 or $249.99 for both days. After October 15th the price goes up to double at $249.99 and $499.99 respectively (so obviously if money is a concern I suggest you get in before October 15th). Space *is* limited to 5000 people so don't wait to sit out on this one.

    Swag? Did I mention the swag? Any conference worth it's salt needs swag and this one is no exception. Each attendee gets the following goodies:

    • 6-month TechNet Plus Subscription
    • Visual Studio 2008 Professional (full package)
    • Expression Web (full package)
    • Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite (eval)
    • Expression Studio (eval)
    • Virtualization Resource Kit
    • 30% off certification voucher (applicable to all MS Certification exams)
    • TechEd 2008 DVD Set (just like being there, except without the drinking)
    • $100 discount coupon for DevTeach/SQLTeach

    More? Oh yeah, I mentioned the presentations. I'm planning on presenting a whack of talks on WPF covering (Databinding, WinForms integration, CompositeWPF, LOB apps, etc.) so that should be fun. This is tentative as I haven't got the final word yet to take the stage (and after reading this blog post I may not be allowed to show up), but whatever happens I promise a) lots of code, no fluff b) flying monkeys c) Terrarium, Terrarium, Terrarium d) no concealed lizards or logging chains of any kind e) comic book cross-overs and f) did I mention the code? Beat those promise Mr. Harper!

    The TechDays website will be online soon with more details and registration info. You can find that here. You can also check out D'Arcys twisted take on this here, and Miguel's more calmer preview here.

    See you there!

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  • Setting the Publish Status to Include for 3rd Party Files with XBAP deployments

    I was trying to deploy a new WPF app via XBAP today and we were experiencing an odd deployment error.

    When we deployed and launched the app we were getting this error:

    Startup URI: http://localhost/XbapNHibernateDeploymentSpike/XbapNHibernateDeploymentSpike.xbap
    Application Identity: http://localhost/XbapNHibernateDeploymentSpike/XbapNHibernateDeploymentSpike.xbap#XbapNHibernateDeploymentSpike.xbap, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=8c4ee06d2506bc6f, processorArchitecture=msil/XbapNHibernateDeploymentSpike.exe, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=8c4ee06d2506bc6f, processorArchitecture=msil, type=win32

    System.Runtime.Serialization.SerializationException: Unable to find assembly 'NHibernate, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=aa95f207798dfdb4'.

    This was odd because I knew that NHibernate.dll was being distributed with the app. I confirmed. There it was in the manifest file and in the deployment directory. Checking the Application Files settings inside of Visual Studio (this was just a test deployment, please don't deploy apps from inside Visual Studio) it was there and included:

    The generated manifest file showed it was included as well:

        <dependentAssembly dependencyType="install" allowDelayedBinding="true" codebase="NHibernate.dll" size="1638400">
          <assemblyIdentity name="NHibernate" version="" publicKeyToken="AA95F207798DFDB4" language="neutral" processorArchitecture="msil" />
              <dsig:Transform Algorithm="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:HashTransforms.Identity" />
            <dsig:DigestMethod Algorithm="" />

    This didn’t make any sense. It was in the manifest, in the published directory, and everything looked like it should work. Google wasn’t much help here as I was in uncharted territory so I just starting poking around.

    Finally I came to the problem and a solution. The hibernate.cfg.xml file was being included as a data file and spec’d out in the manifest like this:

    <file name="hibernate.cfg.xml" size="604" writeableType="applicationData">
            <dsig:Transform Algorithm="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:HashTransforms.Identity" />
          <dsig:DigestMethod Algorithm="" />

    Changing it from “Data File” to “Include” solved the problem.

    In the working version of the manifest file, the NHibernate config file is spec’d out as this:

    <file name="hibernate.cfg.xml" size="604">
            <dsig:Transform Algorithm="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:HashTransforms.Identity" />
          <dsig:DigestMethod Algorithm="" />

    Note the difference in the file declaration. The non-working one includes an attribute: writeableType="applicationData"

    This is pretty obscure and maybe I’m just a simple guy, but telling me that you can’t find NHibernate.dll when you were really looking for a different isn’t very intuitive. Yes, I checked the stack trace, thinking that maybe the config file wasn’t there and it was an NHibernate exception being thrown or gobbled up, no such luck. The error was being reported out of PresentationHost.exe long before NHibernate was even being called.

    Don’t ask me why changing the Publish Status from Data File to Include fixes the issue, I just work here.

    Update: Sure enough, after you publish something on the internet along comes the information you were looking for. Buried somewhere on the web I found this tidbit:

    If you set the 'Publish Status' of the xml data file to "Data File", this file will reside in the Data directory in the end user's Local Settings folder after installation. If you set the 'Publish Status' of the xml data file to "Include", the file will be output to the Application directory.

    For xbap applications, the "Application directory" is the IE cache but when the Publish Status was set to "Data File" rather than "Include" it was going to nowhere land.

  • Goodbye Patrick

    The SharePoint world is one less today.

    It's with sad news that I have to say but Patrick Tisseghem, a SharePoint MVP that I've known for years, suddenly passed away on Wednesday September 3. He died due to heart failure in Gothenburg, Sweden.

    I only met Patrick once at the first Summit I attended but he was an awesome and always interesting character. He was a talented guy and was always telling us about his beer trips throughout Europe while he was delivering SharePoint training.

    He was a wonderful teacher, diligent author, and great guy to hang out with and talk to. He will be sorely missed.

    Patrick is survived by his wife and two daughters. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.