Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

Play Your Part in Swaggily Fortunes at Next Weeks Launch Event

March 11, 2008 11:07 by Andrew Westgarth

Next week is the UK Launch event for Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 in Birmingham and as part of the many, many community activities going on the NxtGenUG Boyz, will be running more rounds of their legendary gameshow - Swaggily Fortunes and they've sent a mail asking for some help from all of you out there - even if you can't attend the actual event!

Wednesday March 19th 2008 is of course the UK 2008 Launch Event.  As part of the event, those NxtGenUG Boyz http://www.nxtgenug.net are running one of their gameshows, which will take place about 6.00pm during the evening drinks and nibbles.  "Swaggily" Fortunes is a take on the well known TV Quiz show in which teams of contestants are asked, for example, "We asked 100 Developers ... To Name a .NET Language".  Those teams that guess correctly what the answers were get to win some fantastic "swag" -- after a few rounds of mayhem!

You can help be part of this 'great' occasion by going to http://www.nxtgenug.net/2008launch/swagfortunes.aspx and answering 8 short questions.  Your answers will go towards making up the choices which the teams have to guess.  The NxtGenUG lads have run this several times in the past always to great reviews, and it makes for a fun, relaxed way to wind down from the days sessions.

No Pain No Gain?

March 11, 2008 11:03 by Andrew Westgarth

Well I went for my second BUPA Great North Run training session on Saturday morning, dodging the wind and the rain.  I started off on the same route as last weekend but had to cut it short as I experienced a lot of discomfort in my right ankle, so shortened my run and only completed 2.65 miles - http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-kingdom/sunderland/643691580 - still within a reasonable 25 minutes though. 

I played football last night and this morning my right ankle's still feeling a little sore.  I'm not playing till Thursday this week so will see how it holds up, probably going to invest in an ankle support though.  Will see how things are before pushing myself too far - don't want a serious injury so early into my training.

Designer vs Developer - Duelling Banjos!

March 6, 2008 18:13 by Andrew Westgarth

Designer vs Developer - It's time to kiss and make up

Just been reading  Web Harmony - where designers and developers kiss and make up on James Senior's Blog and have to say it made me laugh - I've not been in quite a bad situation myself but it is quite realistic :-).  Check out the video with accompanying Duelling Banjos at http://www.web-harmony.co.uk/ .  In my current environment I am awaiting an announcement (hoping, fingers crossed) that Expression Web 2 will integrate with Team Foundation Server as the functionality is sadly missing in Expression Web 1.0.  Fingers crossed....

Categories: Microsoft
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First Ever Developer Day Ireland - Registration Now Open!

March 4, 2008 10:17 by Andrew Westgarth

Developer Developer Developer! Community Events LogoYes, it's true, as has been muted on a number of blogs recently, on Saturday May 3rd 2008 the Developer Day Crew will be heading over  to Galway to take the DDD Concept/Event/Cracking Day full of Developer Content to the Emerald Isle!  Once again this will be a free event and the line up of speakers and content is looking very, very impressive - http://www.dddireland.com/agenda-1.htm; plus as an added bonus there will be a full track covering WCF, delivered by Dominick Baier, Christian Weyer, Daniel Fisher and Michael Willers!

Registration is now open for what is shaping up to be a great event so I advise any Irish Developer to take a look at the agenda and get yourself there, after all it's on a Saturday, it's free and it's by The Community FOR the Community! - http://www.dddireland.com

Developer Day Scotland - Session Voting Now Open

March 4, 2008 09:58 by Andrew Westgarth

It's getting closer and I'm probably a little late in posting about this but hoping I catch the eye of a number of developers in the North of England.  Developer Day Scotland is being held in Glasgow on Saturday 10th May and the session voting is now open.  If you are considering attending DDS this is a great way to have a chance to influence the content of the day - so get voting now! - Developer Day Scotland!

Developer Day Scotland - By The Community for The Community - 10th May 2008 in Glasgow

Book Review: Professional IIS 7 And ASP.NET Integrated Programming

March 3, 2008 23:38 by Andrew Westgarth

Professional IIS 7 and ASP.NET Integrated Programming by Dr. Shahram Khosravi - Book Cover

I managed to get hold of this book a few months ago, about the time I flew out to Tech Ed in Barcelona.  Unfortunately it's taken me till now to write up my impressions and views on this book.  Initially I was a little apprehensive about reading this book due to two particular reasons: firstly I don't generally get along with Wrox Press books and in the past have found them difficult to read compared to other titles from other publishing houses; secondly this book is a considerable size - totaling 670 pages!!  I was however eager to read it, as I am any new titles that appear on the subject of IIS 7.  This one had particularly grabbed my attention due to it's initial indications of specific relevance of how to exploit the power of IIS 7 in ASP.NET Applications and Programming.

In essence I would say that this book is a must have on the bookshelf of any serious ASP.NET developer who is looking to exploit and use the full power of IIS 7 in their applications.  As opposed to a previous title I reviewed - Book Review: IIS7 Implementation and Administration - this book is most definitely aimed at the Developer.  There are only 12 chapters in this title however they are very detailed chapters and really go into great detail.  Topics covered include using the integrated configuration system (<system.webserver>), how to extend the configuration system, extending the management interface, extending the request pipeline and it even has a great chapter on the integration of WCF in IIS 7 - something which I've been looking for good sources of information on.

What is great about this book is how in each element Dr. Khosravi has gone into immense detail and broke down each part of the object model and configuration model, explaining the effects of each option and the affect that can have on your application and the web server itself.  This is a feature which I and I would imagine many others will turn to over and over again as new requirements appear in my/their projects.  Although initially the content of this book can be daunting to a beginner in time they will grow in knowledge along side this book, and it is a title which can be constantly revisited and digested at the reader's own pace, this is a must for any IIS/ASP.NET Developer's bookshelf.

In response to my initial two concerns about this title, I've been convinced.  I enjoyed reading this book and possibly my reading style and ability has improved/changed since I last read a Wrox title, but I didn't have a lot of problems reading this book, although the content can be quite heavy going as it is so detailed, which I've already identified as a strength.  The size of the book is also of no problem and indeed is vindicated in the quality of the content.

Book Details:

Title: Professional IIS 7 and ASP.NET Integrated Programming

Author: Dr. Shahram Khosravi

Publisher: Wrox

Link to purchase on Computer Manuals : http://www.compman.co.uk/scripts/browse.asp?ref=852426

Blog Now Running on IIS7! - Thanks Discount ASP.Net

March 3, 2008 10:03 by Andrew Westgarth

Good Morning All,  I am very pleased to announce that I have now migrated my package with Discount ASP.Net to a Windows Server 2008 and IIS7 Hosting Platform.  This blog is now running in integrated mode as will all of my future deployments.   I'm very pleased with the service I've received from Discount ASP.Net.  I put in the request for migration about 21:30 (GMT) last night and by the time I awoke this morning I had a mail telling me everything had been migrated.  A couple of tweaks with configuration later and here we are my Blog running on IIS7 - Cool!!

For more information on Windows 2008 and IIS7 Hosting see the Discount ASP.Net Website for more details.

Categories: IIS
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You're Gonna Eat Lightning and Crap Thunder!!

March 2, 2008 21:59 by Andrew Westgarth

rocky3 Yes the rumours are true!  I, Andrew Westgarth, will be running the BUPA Great North Run on Sunday October 5th 2008.  This is one of the biggest half marathons in the world and I am very pleased to be able to take part.  It may come as a surprise to many of you that I have decided to do something like this.  I would imagine anyone who's met me or seen pictures of me would not attribute sports with my physique.  On the contrary I play football 2-3 times a week (well sometimes I attempt to play ;-)) and I like to get to the gym.  My goal over the past few years has been to increase mass and put on more muscle, something I started to achieve last year by gaining a stone, but due to illness at the turn of the year I've lost it again so it's back to the drawing board :-(.  I read many articles about losing weight and how tough it can be, but I read very little about trying to put a bit of weight on and how very hard that is.  I thought about setting up another blog for my training record but I think I'll blog about it here instead, saves having to update multiple sites and prevents one having little content.

I recently emailed Mike Ormond at Microsoft about his experiences last year whilst training for and running the London Marathon.  Mike kindly obliged with some great tips which I will use along with others that I've read and gained from  other sources.  The opportunity to run the Great North Run represents a great personal challenge and an opportunity for me to raise funds to help out people less fortunate than myself.  I will publish full details of the charity(ies) I'm raising money for when I get my documents from the Great Run Committee.gnr_logo

Today I started the first part of my training.  My plan is to play football on Monday Nights, Wednesday (possibly) and Thursday nights; Gym Circuits on Monday Morning, Wednesday Morning and Friday Morning, have a run (gradually increasing miles) on a Saturday and resting on a Sunday :-).  I'll see how this goes and how it fits with my plan to bulk up - but those are my initial thoughts.  So this morning I got up, had breakfast (well I must improve on that in future!) and about an hour later went out and completed a 3.35 mile run, completing the distance in about 30 minutes and it was at a very sedate pace :-).  I was quite pleased with myself, although some of the music I left on my iPod were very motivating (Vince Di Cola's War; Training Montage; and Bill Conti's Gonna Fly Now) unfortunately Eagles and Carpenters ballads whilst I love the music, didn't exactly inspire me to keep the pace!  Any suggestions for suitable training music would be very much welcome.  All in all a successful first start - but I'd love some tips for a proper warm down routine, I ended off by doing sit-ups, press-ups and back extensions but I'm sure I should be doing something more suitable.  More training updates next week! :-).

MSDN and TechNet Roadshow Dates Announced

February 26, 2008 10:31 by Andrew Westgarth

The dates and venues for the MSDN and TechNet Roadshows for 2008 have been announced.  So register soon to avoid disappointment.

MSDN Roadshow Dates and Venues

TechNet Roadshow Dates and Venues

I'm registered and will be attending the Newcastle MSDN Roadshow so I hope to see some of you there!

I'm A Recovering Alcoholic!

February 24, 2008 23:31 by Andrew Westgarth

THINK! Drink Driving - Drinking buddyThere, that got your attention now didn't it?  Then the advice I was given a few weeks ago worked!  I am a virtual tee totaller and have always been amazed at how many people respond with complete shock and amazement when I tell them that I don't DRINK!!  I mentioned this to someone in conversation a couple of weeks ago and they said I should respond by saying I'm a recovering alcoholic!  This seems to be quite an extreme measure to take in order to explain why I have made a personal choice.  For the record I am not, nor have I ever been an alcoholic!  I have made a decision not to drink.  I am not a complete tee-totaller as I very, very occasionally will have an alcoholic drink.  My reasons for not drinking are that I usual drive a lot of places, plus I am in the position where I can take it, I am able to have a good time without it.  Plus a lot more of my friends like to have a drink when we're out so I'd rather be the driver in the group.

I don't often write about topics such as this on my blog, as I try an keep it technically based, until I can set up an additional personal blog for my personal thoughts - although should I add my thoughts to this blog - what do you think?  However I was reading a piece in todays Sunday Times by India Knight - Put Shame Back Into Boozing which stirred up a lot of my opinions on the subject.  In todays society it would appear that it is perfectly acceptable, and now considered the norm for a night out on the town to have to result in an individual getting absolutely bladdered, not able to remember what happened during the night, in order to have a good time.  Alarmingly this appears to be the opinion of many age groups, not just those younger than me (I'm 27) but also those older!!  I am not against people having a good time and enjoying a drink.  I am not preaching about the demons of drink all I am saying is that I agree with the article's sentiments and believe that no longer should it be accepted that binge drinking is a norm.  We should look to the examples on the continent, for example Spain, whereby 24 hour drinking is normal but moderated.  I worry that complacency and acceptance of extremes is setting a bad example for our youth, this coupled with the glorification of what I consider to THINK! Drink Driving - Smart substitutionbe bad social examples in the media such as the antics of music stars such as Pete Docherty and more recently Amy Winehouse are having a detrimental affect. 

One other gripe I have is the exhorbitant cost of soft drinks in pubs!  Why does it cost more for a pint of coke etc than for a pint of lager!  Yes this can be the case!  I believe the mark up on soft drinks is massive and that publicans and owners make massive profits on the often vile and incorrectly mixed soft drinks, personally I stick to fruit based drinks.  I can go to a local supermarket and buy a 2 litre bottle of soft drink for anything from 40p to £1.50 yet I can expect to pay £1.50 for half a pint of soft drink in many pubs and clubs!  Some towns and pubs have a scheme for drivers to get their first drink at a bar for free on production of car keys, but not many and even when it is present it's not well publicised.  How about a fair deal for those who chose to drive for their group or who chose not to drink.

My friends accept that I don't drink and I wish I lived in a society whereby others accepted it and didn't react in amazement when I explain my position.  I have very good nights out with friends, I will dance and ride bucking broncos etc and generally have a good time out with friends without a drink and I get to laugh at what they get up to when they're half cut! :-).  Remember myself and other people who choose not to drink can be great to have along in any party as they make sure you get home safe and stop the temptation to potentially drink drive.



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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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