Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

INETA Europe - European Silverlight Challenge Competition!!

December 4, 2007 01:00 by Andrew Westgarth

Hot on the heels of Scott's announcement on the future roadmap for Silverlight.   The UK Community are pleased to announce INETA Europe's First Silverlight Challenge Competition.  The details of which are as follows:


INETA Europe, is running an European Silverlight Competition.  The competition is open now and runs until January 2th 2008.

How to enter?  Easy.  Create a .Net Component or Application using Silverlight and release it through an Open Source license (MS-PL) so INETA User Groups, Communities, Developers and Designers can use it on their own sites.

Each participating country will select a winner and then an European Silverlight Challenge winner will be drawn among the winners of the participating countries.

Entries will be awarded marks in the following four areas: Originality, Software Technique, Design and Utilisation.

Take part and take on the challenge and you could win amazing prizes with a market value close  to €150,000

For more information on the UK Competition go to and for more information on the whole competition go to

For banners and other images go to:

Prize details -

Tech Ed Developers 2007 Day 0 - Back in Barcelona

November 4, 2007 14:45 by Andrew Westgarth

Klm Plane from Newcastle to SchipholToday I traveled to Barcelona for Microsoft Tech Ed Developers!  This is my second trip to Tech Ed and I am equally excited about this opportunity and looking forward to playing a part in the UK Community element of Tech Ed.  Tim and I are representing VBUG and it's members at Tech Ed and we are both looking forward to meeting and chatting with many UK developers and making new friends and contacts over the course of the next week.  I flew from Newcastle to  Barcelona with KLM via Schiphol and the flights weren't as bad as I'd feared as I have in the past suffered greatly with pain in my ears on landing but so far it's not been to bad.  Also we managed to see a cracking sunset as we flew over Holland on our way to Barcelona.  I hope to provide a series of Blog Posts from Tech Ed during the course of the week.  If you're out at Tech Ed, Tim and I will be spending a lot of our spare time in the Community Lounge within the Exhibition Hall so come and say Hi.

Sunset over Holland From PlaneSunset over Holland From Plane

HOWTO: Enable Scaling on NVidia Quadro NVS 120M

October 29, 2007 11:06 by Andrew Westgarth

At the recent VBUG conference I had an issue with my video adapter in my laptop.  I arrived after sitting in traffic getting from one side of Reading to the other to get to TVP, and got through registration and went into Chicago 1 to prepare for the opening and keynote of the VBUG Conference.  I plugged my laptop into the equipment so I could present the opening section of the conference.  But found that although the display via the projection equipment was fine, the display on my laptop had resized my screen down to just a small 1024x768 resolution screen in the middle of my laptop screen :-(.  I was more than a little concerned by this as I was presenting again in Chicago 1 over the course of the two day conference, and back in June I had presented in Chicago 2 with no problems.  I spent a little while trying to get it to expand the display to the full width and height of my screen to no avail, and so decided to look at it later.

Later on during the day I found out what the problem was to do with an update to the nVidia driver (which I installed in July) settings changing a default setting relating to the way in which the display extended.  I managed to fix this minor issue and thought I'd post details for anyone else who has a similar setup to avoid the ensuing panic and frustration which built up as I tried to figure out what was wrong.

I have a Dell Latitude D820 and the graphics device in this setup is the nVidia Quadro NVS 120M 256MB. To get your display to expand to the full available screen no matter which resolution you are running under do the following:

Go to the nVidia Control Panel (This can be accessed via the context menu on the desktop or via Control Panel)


Select the Display option and then on the following screen:


Next Select Change the panel scaling


Next select "Use NVIDIA Scaling" to force the display to scale out to use the full screen available.

I hope this is useful to owners of this laptop graphics card, let me know if you've suffered this pain too.

Updated Blog - New Engine and New Hoster

October 22, 2007 06:13 by Andrew Westgarth


I've finally moved to a new Blogging Engine, I've been taking a look at the various options available for a while now, and have finally taken the plunge and I'm trying BlogEngine.Net.  I had looked at Subtext and DasBlog but I've been trying BlogEngine.Net for a couple of months while I tested functionality and decided that I would give this one a try and so far I have been impressed.  BlogEngine.Net is a CodePlex Project and is regularly updated and the team behind it have a very impressive roadmap and vision for the engine.  No sooner had they released the recent v1.2 build than they are already looking at v1.3.  My only gripe so far has been with the Blog Import tool, but I managed to find a way round it by importing my blog into the v1.1 release then upgrading to v1.2 and then published the blog.  I'll give a full run down of features in a future post.

My reason for moving to an engine was that I didn't have time to constantly tweak and develop my self created blog and even at some points the time it was taking to prepare a post and actually publish the post was prohibitive.  By using an engine which is being worked on by the community the work is shared and a lot of the functionality which I wanted to develop is already here.  Also I can now use, and am currently with this post, Windows Live Writer to prepare posts and post directly from any PC, I'm also going to be taking a look at blogging direct from Microsoft Office Word 2007.  Hopefully with a better engine behind my blog I'll be able to blog a lot more frequently, so expect to see lots of new content.

I have also moved to a new hosting package with Discount ASP.Net.  Discount ASP.Net are a well known Award Winning Web Hosting provider and are always ahead of the game in providing functionality for ASP.Net developers to take advantage of.  For example Discount ASP.Net are currently offering a free Beta Account with ASP.Net 3.5 and IIS7 Hosting together, showing there commitment to innovation and industry leading services.  I've not been happy with the lack of speed with which 1and1 move as regards to providing there customers with new features, especially with the high end shared hosting package like I was on, such as AJAX and SQL Server 2005 Support (both still not provided), plus with the costs and pricing plan that Discount ASP.Net employ I will also be making a significant cost saving.  My experience so far with set up and facilities provided my Discount ASP.Net has been excellent and I would fully recommend their services.

Discount ASP.Net Hosting Packages

IMPORTANT - Please Update Feed Syndication Settings

October 8, 2007 16:42 by Andrew Westgarth
Recently I have been looking into moving my Blog over to a new engine and have been looking at a few different ones. I am close to moving my blog over to not just a new engine but also a new hosting package. Therefore I have set up a new feedburner account for syndication with my blog feed. If you have subscribed to my blog please update your subscription to point to  I will continue to maintain the original blog feed for a couple of weeks but will be turning it off at the end of October 2007.

HydraTight Recruiting

September 28, 2007 00:52 by Andrew Westgarth

I was approached by a North East company at the recent VBUG & SUGUK meeting, to ask to publish information about a vacancy they are looking to fill. Having recruited and been a recruit in the North East I know how difficult it is to get the right people into your organisation, so I said I'd post the details of the vacancy here - Hydratight Developer Job Spec.  If this is a position you are interested in, please pursue it!

Calling all Non .Net Programmers

August 15, 2007 11:14 by Andrew Westgarth

Did you know that the .Net framework is free?  This is something which is less well known I guess as many assume there is a cost involved.  I've been reading this great post from Ian Moulster on this very subject and he highlights a site within MSDN that Microsoft have developed to highlight how non .Net Programmers can get into .Net Programming, download the framework and free tools for developing with .Net such as Visual Web Developer, Visual C# Express and Visual Basic Express and even SQL Server Express.

The new site can be found at and gives some steps into learning .Net whichever background you come from i.e. Java and JSP, PHP or ColdFusion. 

This site might event be of use to current .Net Developers who are still getting to grips with the .Net Framework.

Blog Engine

August 13, 2007 01:47 by Andrew Westgarth

The reason why I've not been very active in my blogging recently is the time it takes currently to post an entry.  Currently it is very time consuming for me to post a new entry due to the model behind my Blog.  I built the blog based on an article by Bipin Joshi in ASP.Net Pro Magazine last year.  My plan was to develop the blog and add multiple items to it and make it easier for me to post on.

I have been looking at multiple engines to use and came across a project on CodePlex which appears to be very good.  I am likely to implement this after some testing and customisation.  Does anyone else out there use this?  What are your opinions of it?  Are there any other engine's you recommend?

Squadron Scramble!!! Bandits Heading 120 Make Angels 20!

July 20, 2007 01:22 by Andrew Westgarth

I got in tonight and had an email from Richard Costall, telling  me the latest NxtGenUG Podcast - Number 37 - The One the Makes Your Ears Bleed! - was available for download.

This is a completely different type of podcast from a user group - it has no technical content.  The recording was made at the recent Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford.  This is an amazing event for all Air Enthusiasts and features historic and world leading aircraft with everything from Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster (My Favourite!) to the latest Typhoon (Eurofighter)!

In the Podcast Dave and rich talk to the organisers, ground crew (erks), Air Cadets, hear about the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (A Charity set up to get an Avro Vulcan flying again!) and Dave commentates on an F-18 Display.  The sound effects are amazing!  Go and listen to it now it really perked me up and I've now dug out from the video collection (yes I still have some!) the Battle of Britain!!

On the subject of Airshows, next Saturday and Sunday (28th & 29th July 2007) sees the return of the Sunderland Airshow - The largest free Airshow in Europe.  This is something I look forward to every year and can't wait once again to attend both days - hopefully with the use of my new Camera I'll be able to post some excellent photos to my flickr account.

Tally Ho!

VBUG - Ruby On Rails with Dave Verwer

July 17, 2007 01:43 by Andrew Westgarth

Last Wednesday we had an excellent session in Newcastle presented by Dave Verwer and hosted kindly by Northern Rock. The subject was Ruby On Rails and I really enjoyed the session and the feedback from the attendees indicate that they felt the same. This was a very informative and interesting session. I knew very little about Ruby or Rails and have now learned enough to get going - time permitting. The main thing I took away from the concept is that the structure makes it very simple to do things write, i.e. basic structures for Unit Tests etc are created so there's no excuse really for not implementing them.

To get the slides and to find out more about Dave visit his site -

I have some pictures of the event and will upload them to Flickr and put up a link soon.


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