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Martin Spedding's Blog [Site] [XML]
Description: Adventures in a disconnected world
Last Update: 14:44:59 05/26/2006

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First Fetched: 00:17:42 01/31/2004
Last Updated: 14:44:59 05/26/2006


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Confused..Office xml format, Metro and XAML?
Last few days before I start my new job and I think I am getting a little confused. So I have an office document and I can save it as XML. If I print it, in the future, it will be converted into "Metro" format. In addition there is "XAML" which is a another way of serialising objects so why couldn't "XAML" have been used.. Why do I need so many different XML formats ? If I send a document to a user on a different platform it seems that "Metro" would be the correct format to send it in as it is meant to be format that is readable on other platforms.So if I am in office in the future what format will I save the document, at the moment it looks like a confusing set of options. Also as Wallace B. McClure points out in this posting http://weblogs.asp.net/wallym/archive/2005/04/27/404731.aspx it is vital that "Metro" is also implemented on legacy platforms otherwise there will be an almighty mess.I am sure that this will become clearer soon but at the moment it does seem confusing and a ...
08:42:00 April 27, 2005, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Swallowing the red pill
It is a long time since I have blogged and part of that is because I have been acting in a play but also because I decided to change jobs. Well now a lot of things have been resolved and I will be joining Microsoft Switzerland as an Account Technology Specialist at the start of May 2005. Knowing that I was joining the company has led to me think twice before I put "finger to keyboard", that sounds weird compared to putting pen to paper, but hopefully I will be blogging more again in the future.It is funny normally when you tell people you are joining a company they ask what does the company do. No one does that with Microsoft, everyone has an opinion. Some people think I have joined the dark side and other people are fascinated to know a little bit more about what life is like within Microsoft. As they say about a film or play, the worst film or play is one that proves no reaction be it good or bad. Joining Microsoft certainly provokes a reaction.
11:20:00 April 18, 2005, Monday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
My criteria when employing a developer
I had interview today, so reading Scott's set of .Net questions was rather topical. I was thinking, if I was recruiting a developer, what weight would I give to the number of questions they could answer from the list compared to their knowledge or experience in other areas ? In other words what weight would I give to their in depth technical knowledge with one specifc technology and what weight would I give to a broader set of skills.I think if I was recruiting a consultant/contractor for a short term contract and a defined work package then the number of questions they could answer correctly would be important. In that case I am looking for a worker bee and I want to be certain they have skills for the job from day 1.However, for a permanent employee I would place a much lower weighting on the number of answers given. The reason is that I am much interested in a person who knows where to look for the answers, knows their limitations outside their specialist area but knows to ask ...
21:52:00 February 23, 2005, Wednesday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
It is not what you know but the people you know
For the first time in my career I am having to look for a new job because of a change in the strategy of the company where I work means that my skills are no longer required. It is a scary situation as the IT market is still a difficult one.One of things that you soon realise is how important your friends can be and how they provide you with information about jobs you would not otherwise hear about. So often people working in IT forget how important an active social life can be. I act in the amateur theatre which is great as it takes me away from the computer screen, proves I can work in a team with people from different backgrounds and temperaments. It also provides a strong social network and many leads for possible jobs.I think in IT we often forget that while technology skills are important in the end the soft skills can be the deciding factor. Even if you are safe in a job always continue building that social network and of course, though, in some ways it obvious, make sure ...
17:04:00 February 2, 2005, Wednesday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Looking back to 2004 and wondering about the future
I really need to post a lot more. I have got it the habit of reading more than writing. 2004 was a strange year. It was a year where many people in IT serious started wondering whether they had a career that would take them through to retirement or even through the next few years. In terms of software development it was a time where projects where increasingly developed in lower cost countries and where business analysis and project managment skills became more and more important than being able to develop software. IT is becoming a service, so stuff like ITIL becomes more and more important. I suppose I entered computing because it was a creative process where at the end of a project you had created something new. Now more and more the work is in managing IT services, managing servers, running helpdesks and managing third parties. For me it becomes less and less a creative process and more and more a job of managing widgits. A victim of our success ? People now take a lot in IT ...
09:16:00 December 29, 2004, Wednesday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
A dose of reality
I have been a very prolific blogger recently as I have been very busy working on a project. We all want to work on glamourous projects but this was one of those bread butter jobs which really wants to work on but it pays the bills. A big company who has an application that that they distribute to each of the sites, then each of the sites enters their data for that quarter and then submits the results to headquarters. All the collected data is then imported into the main database. Guess what the whole application is written in Microsoft Access and the original application dates back to 1995. Naturally, after that period of time the initial design is looking shaky and there are lot of hacks in the code. We were about 3rd set of developers working on that code base. So what did I learn, rather than patching on a old application you need to bite the bullet and rewrite the application. Sadly, that is not an easy sell to the customer, so you end up plastering over the cracks and hoping ...
14:01:00 November 13, 2004, Saturday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Globalization and outsourcing...how you know the world is getting smaller
Where I work, we manage the outsourced IT services of a global company. Last Friday, I was helping out on the helpdesk and we received an email from a site in Brazil who could not print production orders on a printer located in Brazil. I took the call and openned a call to HP who manage their SAP servers. I had to talk to their call centre in Bratislava, Slowakia so that they oould detmine the cause of their problems in their data centre in Swizerland. I then rang Brazil to tell them that I had openned a call with HP, to be told they were all at lunch for the next hour. This was 17:00 on Friday afternoon in Switzerland. It got to 18:00 and so I told the HP call centre to talk directly to Brazil.Not bad, I am in Switzerland, the problem is in Brazil, the Call centre in Slowakia and the computers are located in Swizerland.Also I had to talk to Equant about a problem in Italy and spoke to their call centre in Cairo.It is a weird worldMartin
07:43:00 October 24, 2004, Sunday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Do we learn from history? Or when you started in the industry influences the solutions ...
(Do we learn from history? Or when you started in the industry influences the solutions you propose)
I have been thinking about writing about this subject for a while. However, the posting by Jason Sales prompted me to actually write a blog entry. When I started in computing there were no PCs, just mini computers and mainframes. The UI was mostly a green screen on a dumb terminal. As all the processing was actually being done on the main computer, you got very used to checking how many concurrent users were logged in to the system. Eventually, the PCs came along and it was possible to build form based applications, some application processed data that was stored locally or on a mapped drive and some clients accessed data stored in a central database. However, now you no longer had to worry about how many users were logged in to the system as all the processing power was local. This meant you got used to providing the best interface for the user, all the power was local so you did not have to worry about other users. I got very used to building forms based applications and the ...
05:26:00 July 21, 2004, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
How many versions of Visual Studio do I have to maintain ?
The most expensive part of any project is maintaince. You think everything is working well and suddenly you get a phone call and you need to resolve a bug in the application. The trouble is the application was written with an earlier version of the .net framework, for example v1.0 but you using Visual Studio 2005. This means you can open the project but if you compile it using Visual Studio you can only compile against the latest version of the framework which in this case is version 2.0. Which means the small change in the code might end up meaning you also have to distribute the v2 framework. The same problem exists with Visual Studio 2003 which can only compile applications to run on top v1.1 of the .Net framework. However, in a regulated enviroment such as the pharmaceutical industry a change of the underlying platform i.e from the v1 framework to the v2 framework could result in you having to revalidate and retest the complete application. Of course using the SDK you can use ...
12:19:00 July 19, 2004, Monday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Embedding Gecko(Mozilla rendering engine) in a .Net application
Over the weekend I had some spare time, so I thought I wonder if you can use the Mozilla rendering engine(Gecko) within a .Net application as easily as you can IE ? This could be important in areas where people have concerns about using IE. It turns out it is as simple as a download, add COM component to the toolbar and if required adding a reference to the project. Even the intereface has been modelled on the IE model to make it simple to use. It is of cause unmanaged code but it works.Visit Adam Lock's website http://www.iol.ie/~locka/mozilla/mozilla.htm and download the Mozilla 1.71 Active X Control Installer.Once you have downloaded run it and will install the files you need and register the control. Now all you have to do is add the control to the toolbar in Visual Studio, using the add/remove Items| COM Components. It is listed as the Mozilla Browser class.You can now drag the control on to a form as you would any other control. You can use the navigate method on the control ...
12:06:00 July 19, 2004, Monday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Sourcegear Vault does not work after installing Visual Studio Express betas ( with ...
(Sourcegear Vault does not work after installing Visual Studio Express betas ( with solution))
I am using the excellent Sourcegear Vault product for version control and I was surprised that it would not work after I installed the Visual Studio Express beta products. The database seemed to be ok but I would get an error message if I tried to connect the Valut client or admin applications. It was strange as everything looked ok but it just would not function. The problem turned out to be very simple, which you install the vs express betas they change the framework version for all you existing ASP.NET applications. Of course Vault has a web services interface and now that Framework version for that ASP.NET application is incorrectly set to v2 rather than v1.1. The solution is simple open up the Internet Services Manager and change the ASP.Net version for "VaultService" and "VaultShadowFolder". This can be done by right clicking on the web application in the tree view, selecting properties and the ASP.NET tab. VS team place maintain the ASP.NET version information for all ...
03:45:00 July 8, 2004, Thursday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Don't write off rich client apps, or why a J2EE application was rewritten
Recently I had discussion with a friend about a project he was working on. He said he was converting a J2EE application to a .Net application. Naturally my first question was why ?? I was glad to hear that someone was doing commercial .Net development but I was curious what the ROI would possibly be. If you have already written an application and it works why rewrite it ?The answer was interesting. The reason they had gone with J2EE was that they thought they wanted to have a thin client and no client install.However, the users wanted integration with Office and the whole user experience just did not work with them having to go into one application, saving a document and then starting the web application. He said that .Net provided the office integration and a faster development time.I said why not wrap the existing application and add a new rich client frontend ? He said the problem was the application was poorly written and slow. So instead of trying to put a new face on the ...
16:26:00 June 28, 2004, Monday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
A question of trust
I was speaking with one of my collegues today about XP SP2 and he noticed the security centre and said that he expected that eventually MS will come out with their own anti virus software. He then said,: "Even though I am an MSCE, I would not trust MS and I would still install 3rd party anti virus software." I thought this was an interesting point of view because when you think about it the anti virus software companies have a vested interest that there are lots of viruses, as the more virues there are the more software they sell. On the other hand MS suffers an image problem when ever a virus causes problems. So Microsoft has a vested interest to ensure that the number of virius problems is minimal and the anti viruses companies have an interest that there are more viruses. On that basis why trust MS anti virus software less than software from a 3rd party ? <img src ="http://weblogs.asp.net/mspedding/aggbug/164591.aspx" width = "1" height = "1" />
06:19:00 June 24, 2004, Thursday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
How many months are there in a year ?
Silly question, but interesting if you are writing a program and you want to return the months based on the culture of the user.Instead of having to hand code all the month names all you have to do is write the following piece of code:string[] _monthNames = System.Globalization.DateTimeFormatInfo.CurrentInfo.MonthNames;so question is what is the length of _monthNames ?You would expect 12 as there are normally 12 months in the year, but you would be wrong it is 13 !!_monthNames[12] returns a blank string.This is great if you are simply using _monthNames as a look for the names of the month but a bit of pain if you use it as the data source of a combo box.I assume there must be cultures out there which have 13 months but why isn't the return string array dimensioned based on the current culture ?
13:55:00 June 10, 2004, Thursday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Do people understand Indigo ??
Why is Indigo such a hard sell to a lot of people ? If you go to a set of presentations on Longhorn, people want to see the stuff about Avalon and Winfs but Indigo seems to a bit too theoretical for people and they are not sure why they would need it. Of course if you look at the very small proportion of the developer community who visit the PDC then they will soak it all up and say great that is what I need. Try and talk about it to a more general audience and you will get a bemused look. I went to a presentation yesterday by a well known speaker who presented SOA and talked a little bit about Indigo. There were about 60 people in the audience, all of whom were architects for major companies in Switzerland. One reaction I heard was: isn't that stuff already in the framework ? Another comment was if this stuff already works why do I need something new. Ok, it might not be a clean unified model but I don't see why I need it. People know there is plumbing in their houses but very ...
15:59:00 June 2, 2004, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
An amazing set of rss feeds syndicating video clips
I started to subscribe to a few of the reuters rss feeds(http://www.reuters.com/newsrss.jhtml) and I noticed that some of them pointed to www.feedroom.com. I had never heard of this site so I decided to investigate. It turns out that feedroom has a large number of rss feeds (http://www.feedroom.com/rssmain.jsp) Each of these feeds contain links to video feeds. See something you like in the feed and click on it and the video plays.
01:55:00 May 25, 2004, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Why can't there be a simple patch which enables the XP firewall for all connections ??
Now that XP SP2 has been pushed back. Why can't there be a simple patch which enables the XP firewall for all connections ?? Make sure all the media knows that the patch is there and get people protected. That should help all the home users who seem to vunerable to all the viruses. Just a thought, as I amazed that worms like this are still able to cause so much havoc over 3 weeks after the patch has been released. Just for clarity, I always run winupdate, and keep my system up to date. The firewall issue I am talking about is merely, that it is ridiculous that XP has a tool to stop a lot these attacks but by default is not enabled. I installed Suse 9 under VMWARE, check for updates resulted in 55mb of downloads !!
15:01:00 May 4, 2004, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Visual Studio does not lead you in the direction of layering your code
 If you are a good developer you know that you should layer your application, however, Visual Studio uses the "old Visual Basic" approach to rich client development. In other words, you create a windows form application. What does Visual Studio do, it creates a main function in the form you create first. Already that means the form is doing more than presentation. Potentially people will also write application initialisation code in this function. Ok I add a button to the form and click on it and the idea opens up the associated event routines. So far I could be writing all my business logic etc within the form. Of course no one would do this ??? Well, how many prototypes that become production systems are written this way, it is seductive to less skilled developers.Wouldn't it better if the tools tried to lead people to develop applications using a layed approach. It would certainly help with migration later on to Avalon.
02:25:00 April 13, 2004, Tuesday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
How Microsoft Is Clipping Longhorn - (business week article)
I just saw this business week article being discused on slashdot and thought it illustrates that difficult decisions are starting to made around Longhorn. In other words what features are going to be in the product and which ones will be left out. This is good news as means it will possible to start looking again at the PDC stuff and deciding which bits are worth learning. The trouble about the article is that really does not tell you which bits are being dropped just some vague comments about WinFS. <br/><br/>Happy holidays to everyone, it is great to not have to work again till Tuesday.<br/><br/> Update: Thanks Drew, it looks like I made the mistake of reading the Business Week article and assuming it was reporting news. It seems like another piece of FUD
10:53:00 April 9, 2004, Friday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
The enableVisualStyles problem was the cause of my application crashing on Windows XP ...
(The enableVisualStyles problem was the cause of my application crashing on Windows XP - MS please fix it this in a service pack)
I finally found out what my problem was with my code that ran ok on 2000 but throws an exception on Windows XP. I have this piece of code Application.EnableVisualStyles(); Application.Run(new mainForm()); Using the enablevisualstyles method XP visual styles are applied to your winforms when the application is running on Windows XP. Unfortunately there seems to be some bugs with enablevisualstyles. I got bitten by one of those bugs. My wizard control is displayed using ShowDialog() and this throws an exception on XP but none on Windows 2000. In order to solve the problem you must use the following code: Application.EnableVisualStyles(); Application.DoEvents(); Application.Run(new mainForm()); There seems to be some other bugs with enablevisualstyles and from Code Project Jeff I wish had remembered your blog entry last year about this problem. It would be so nice if this problem could be fixed in a service pack as it is a real pain.
03:48:00 April 5, 2004, Monday (PDT) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Different CLR Exception behaviour on Windows 2000 and XP
I have been developing a .Net rich client application in C# for internal company use. My machine is running Windows 2000 and I am using Visual Studio 2003 for development I decided to use wizard control from Tim Dawson . I have created a form and placed the wizard control on the form. From the application I open the form containing the wizard using ShowDialog() and then close the form using this.close(). This works perfectly well on Windows 2000, but when I install the application on Windows XP, a CLR unexpected exception error occurs when you I try to close the wizard control form and I have to close the application. I changed the code to use this.dispose() but I still get the problem, again it works perfectly on Windows 2000 and fails with the same unexpected exception error on Windows XP. I know the joke with Java is that it is a "Write Once test everywhere" solution. After this experience I am beginning to wonder if this is also true of .Net. I would expect there to be ...
02:55:00 April 2, 2004, Friday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Lack of wireless security + problems with Visual Studio and Zone Alarm
The weather is improving so I decided to sit on the balcony and use my laptop. I have a wireless connection at home so I thought no problem I will just connect to my network. It would not stop a determined hacker but I am using 128bit WEP and limiting connections to a defined set of MAC addresses. I also run a personal firewall on the laptop. Anyway the one network I could not see was my own but I could see quite a few others. So my wireless card found a network was allocated an IP address and now I was using someone else's bandwidth. They had no security configured at all !!! I also decided that I would install Zone Alarm, which can lead to some problems debugging with Visual Studio if you are not careful. The problem is that if IIS is running when you install Zonealarm you will find that after restarting the computer that you cannot debug an application running in Visual Studio, the IDE will simply freeze. Also you will not be able to use the MMC to manage IIS. What you have to ...
01:18:00 March 30, 2004, Tuesday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
The down side of abstraction
I normally put the telephone numbers of my friends in my mobile phone. So when I want to call one them I simply choose the person from the list and the phone rings the number. This is great until the battery on your phone dies or you forget to take your phone with you and you realise that you are so used to selecting "John" from the the dropdown list that you cannot remember John's number. So what has this got to do with computing ? Well I find I often have the same problem at work.I am sure I can't be alone. I have written a Data Abstraction layer which means I don't have to manually code all the ADO.NET stuff. This is a great example of re usable code. Just like storing the telephone number under my friends name until of course you work on a project where you can't use your "helper" classes and need to use all the ADO.NET stuff and you have forgotten it. A simple example but I could give many more. The same thing happens when you have to move between .Net development and classic ...
15:45:00 March 19, 2004, Friday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
All these product delays are making it harder to sell .Net to businesses
First of all I just wanted to express my sympathy to all the victims of the appalling bombings in Madrid, there is no excuse whatever your political, religious or other beliefs for wantom murder of innocent people whose only crime was to be travelling to work. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Secondly, I posted a comment to Frans Bourma's excellent piece(http://weblogs.asp.net/fbouma/archive/2004/03/11/87836.aspx) on why the delays to Yukon should not delay the delivery of Whidbey. I would much rather that Microsoft released Whidbey this year. I thought the only technical connection between Yukon and Whidbey was the new System.Data.sqlServer namespace. I would suggest they leave this out until Yukon is ready and ship the rest. There are a number of ASP.NET 2 features that are really useful and there is no point in developing them yourselves if Whidbey is just round the corner. As the ...
06:34:00 March 11, 2004, Thursday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Why can't I choose the Windows language when I setup a computer ????
I am English, but I live in Switzerland. My old computer was getting a bit long in the tooth and so I decided to buy a new one. Of course in Switzerland here are four official lanaguages : German, French, Italian and Reto romanisch. English though widely spoken as a second language is not an official language. I saw some good offers and decided to purchase a new machine. Of course the machine came with Windows XP pre installed. It was the german version of Windows XP ! My german is fairly good but I prefer to use the english version of software. Which means now I have to install the english version of XP. That means either partitioning the drive or wiping the drive as I know from experience never try and install the english version of Windows over a German version. It is just not worth the pain. This is such a nuissance as if I was installing Linux, I would be asked at the start which language I wanted and given a large list to choose from. Why or why doesn't Windows do this ? When ...
15:45:00 February 22, 2004, Sunday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Longhorn Preview - presentations online
At present a number of well known speakers, amongst them Clemens Vasters and David Chappell are presenting the "Longhorn Developer Preview" in different cities around europe. You can download all the sites from http://www.codezone.info/en/tours.aspx
03:33:00 February 2, 2004, Monday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
David Chappell has a blog
David Chappell, one the top speakers on the circuit, has a blog. But sadly it is missing two main features of a blog - an rss feed and comments. (http://www.davidchappell.com/blog/) As anyone who has heard David speak or has read his Opiniari newsletter. his blog will definitely be worth reading.
11:08:00 January 13, 2004, Tuesday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
How on earth can regex expression return a match which throws the exception "Input ...
(How on earth can regex expression return a match which throws the exception "Input string was not in a correct format" ?)
First of all happy new year to everyone where ever you live. I have not blogged for a while has I have been very busy and also suffering from a viral infection. I decided to complete a personal project I have been working on : creating an rss feed from my yahoo email. Everything was going wonderfully well until I tried to extract the data I need from the html page received from yahoo when you view you Yahoo inbox. Even though I am no expect in Regular Expressions I decided to have a go. I was using the appropriate .Net framework classes and looping through the collection of matches. The problem was that sometimes an exception would be thrown : "Input string was not in a correct format" . I patiently searched using Google to find the explanation of how a regex expression passing text contained in a string could be in the wrong format. Maybe someone can explain this exception as to me it defeated my ability to use regular expressions. Is it a bug or am I just being stupid. I spent ...
07:55:00 January 2, 2004, Friday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
Interesting article on Dev - Longhorn and Mozilla: Birds of a Feather
I noticed this interesting article on the DevX web site comparing Longhorn and Mozilla.: Longhorn and Mozilla: Birds of a Feather Windows Longhorn is a demonstrably powerful and ambitious concept, but the architectural principles are hardly new. From 10,000 feet, Mozilla's architecture looks remarkably similar. by Nigel McFarlane It is well worth a read. Check out my new blog : http://www.mjs-solutions.com/mjsthoughts
05:56:00 December 5, 2003, Friday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog
A new blog...not a new start but a continuation
For many months I have been writing a blog on dotNetWeblogs (http://weblogs.asp.net/mspedding) solely about .Net related subjects. However, like Julia and Don I felt it was time to start a new blog which would allow me the freedom to talk about many other subjects that I also find interesting. You can find my new blog at http://www.mjs-solutions.com/MJSTHOUGHTS and the rss feed is http://www.mjs-solutions.com/mjsthoughts/SyndicationService.asmx/GetRss I hope people who have read my blog in the past will read the new blog and continue to write interesting comments. Thanks to Scott for creating such a great tool in .Text and a "virtual community" on weblogs.asp.net. And thanks to my friend Clemens for building on the Blogx to create dasBlog the blogging engine behind my new weblog. Naturally, I will continue to cross post .Net posts to http://weblogs.asp.net/mspedding
02:46:00 December 5, 2003, Friday (PST) Source: Martin Spedding's Blog