Andrew's Blog

Random Thoughts of an ASP.Net Code Monkey

New Year – New Challenge #1 – Project 365

January 1, 2009 23:58 by Andrew Westgarth

In my last post, which wasn’t intended to be my last of 2008, I mentioned that I was looking for new challenges.  Well one of those got underway in December when I changed jobs and started working for Hydratight in their Software Engineering Team.  However the next challenge which I have embarked upon started today.  I have taken my first steps into completing Project365 on Flickr!

What is Project365?

Essentially Project365 is about having one photo for every day in a year.  There are different groups and ways of achieving this on sites such as Flickr, you can choose what you want you pictures to depict.  As this is my first attempt I am taking a photo of what’s happened in my day or selecting a photo which depicts what I’ve been up to.  My first photo, taken and uploaded today was a reflection of issues I’ve been having while installing Adobe CS4 Web Premium today onto a fresh HDD.

My First Picture of Project 365

Dark Shadow Over Day 1

I hope that this, the first of many, will become a great way of seeing what happens in my life in 2009.  I also hope to see my photography skills get better and better as I learn more about setting up photographs and learning more about the capabilities of my camera.  I am starting off with my Fuji FinePix S5600 but will soon be stepping into the world of DSLR’s with a Nikon D40!

Keep up to date with my Flickr Stream and maybe even add me as a contact if you wish and see how my year pans out.

BUPA Great North Run – Done – Next Challenge Please!

October 14, 2008 22:47 by Andrew Westgarth

gnr_logo I’m very late posting this but I want to say a big thank you to all of those who have supported me and sponsored me in my efforts to complete the BUPA Great North Run and raise some money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind.

On Sunday 5th October, on a beautiful sunny morning, where conditions were perfect!  The atmosphere on the Metro into Newcastle and at the start line was great.  The BUPA Great North Run was a wonderful experience and I really enjoyed the whole day.  I managed to complete my first ever half marathon in 2:15:10.  I’ve now got a time to beat and watch this space to see if I enter next year, I’m still mulling it over, I will do the GNR again but… :).  I’ve managed to raise over £500 so far and money is still coming in – keep an eye on the JustGiving counter on my blog for latest information.  I know the money will go to a great cause!

guide dogs blue logo Big thanks to the people at the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity for looking after their runners so well after the Great North Run!!!

As you’ll remember from my previous BUPA Great North Run postings, this started off as a challenge and has left me enjoying running and the level of fitness I’ve achieved and will maintain.  Now I’m looking for new challenges and experiences!  Next up maybe snowboarding, western riding, who knows – suggestions on a comment please!!!

VBUG Newcastle: Introducing OpenXML with Craig Murphy – Wednesday 29th October 2008

October 14, 2008 22:36 by Andrew Westgarth

I’m very pleased to be able to welcome Craig Murphy to VBUG Newcastle on Wednesday 29th October to give us his introduction to OpenXML.  Craig has this to say about the topic:

With the release of Office 2007, Microsoft moved their document formats over to XML-based formats. This text-based format has many advantages, including, but not limited to readability, good compression and ease of reconstruction.

However, as developers [responsible for report creation], OpenXML has significant benefits for us. We now have a consistent object model across all Office applications. More importantly, we no longer have to understand the intricacies of the Component Object Model (COM) in order to create an Excel spreadsheet (for example) from our applications. This in itself should be reason enough to consider looking at OpenXML!

Looking at costs, OpenXML can bring savings. Server-side creation of Word, Excel, etc. documents can be performed without an Office license being purchased - these files are little more than text-based files. Similarly, if you are using a brand-name reporting engine, the cost of its license could be saved by using Excel or Word as your reporting medium.

Over the course of 60-75 minutes Craig will introduce OpenXML and will demonstrate how he is incorporating it into one of his line-of-business applications. Code examples will be written using C#.

For more information and to register for this free event please visit the event page on

Developer Developer Day 7 – Agenda Live!!

October 14, 2008 22:21 by Andrew Westgarth

DDDLogo Yes folks, all the votes have been counted and verified and the Developer Day Team have now published the Agenda for the 7th Developer Developer Day on Saturday November 22nd 2008 at Microsoft’s Reading Campus.  There is a great deal of variety and what is most exciting is that there are a number of new speakers taking the plunge, including VBUG’s very own Phil Pursglove!  It looks to be yet another cracking day! best of luck to all new speakers!!

For latest registration information keep an eye on the Developer Day Website and if you’re on Twitter, follow @DeveloperDay for latest information

11th VBUG Conference 4th and 5th November 2008 – Book Now!!

October 14, 2008 22:15 by Andrew Westgarth


I have been heavily involved with the Agenda for this year’s VBUG Conference and am pleased to say that we have been able to set up a great selection of topics and a plethora of excellent speakers including the Keynote by Roy Osherove, sessions from Ken Getz, Jeffrey McManus, Oliver Sturm, Tony Whitter and many, many more excellent speakers.

Session Highlights include

  • Tips and Tricks for Successful Software Teams
  • ASP.Net 4.0
  • Silverlight for Mobile
  • Distributed Caching for ASP.Net Applications
  • Create Managed Code for Office 2008 in VS 2008

We have a wide range of sessions with a good mix of introductory sessions such as Introductions to Windows Workflow accompanied by highly technical sessions such as Create Custom Workflow Activities.  Hopefully we have achieved a great balance of topics and there is something in the agenda to interest everyone.  For full details see the Conference brochure and for latest information see the conference pages on

Categories: VBUG | Events
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VBUG Online Meetings Return: Tuesday 21st October – CSLA.Net Introduction with Andrew Hallmark

October 14, 2008 22:02 by Andrew Westgarth

At VBUG we are pleased to announce the resumption of our Online Meetings, and we resume with CSLA.NET Introduction by Andrew Hallmark next Tuesday, 21st October 2008, from 19:30 – 20:30.  I know a few people in my own region have asked for this topic to be covered but unfortunately it’s not been possible, but now you can see the presentation online from wherever you are :).  Be sure to sign up for this free event – for more information and to register for the event be sure to visit the event page – VBUG Online: CSLA.NET Introduction with Andrew Hallmark

Categories: VBUG | Events
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Flash Chance to Win an Xbox 360 Elite

October 14, 2008 21:57 by Andrew Westgarth

180x150_MSDN_Flash_Signup_v2_150908 If you don’t already subscribe to the MSDN Flash newsletter, first of why not?? and secondly sign up now to have the chance to win an XBOX 360 Elite.  Microsoft are running this competition until 28th November 2008 for all who sign up to the MSDN Flash Newsletter which is crammed with useful information, articles and event listings every fortnight

Sign Up Now for the MSDN Flash Newsletter

Categories: Microsoft
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New Blog Design and Updated Content

September 10, 2008 11:54 by Andrew Westgarth

This morning I have put live the new design for my blog.  For ages I have been unhappy with the look and feel of my blog, but as I know my limits :), I was struggling to come up with something to replace the default choice of theme.  I am pleased to announce now and start using, a great new design, courtesy of my colleague Peter Mitchell at Canford.  I am NOT a designer I am a DEVELOPER and therefore I know what I can and can't achieve.  I can often picture what I'd like to see but to create is a whole different ball game.  Thankfully Peter had the know how and has done a magnificent job!.  I thank him greatly for his time and efforts, and now all we need to do is get him blogging too!  I've been itching to use the new theme but had to wait for final fixing and testing.

At the same time of releasing the new design, you've probably noticed a lot of new content appearing, lets just say I have started to free up a lot more time for my blog and I'm really enjoying getting the information out there!  But wait that's not where the new content ends - I've also been working on the following:

  • I've implemented the great Social Bookmarking Extension by Danny Douglas - this adds links to add posts to many of the social bookmarking services quickly and easily.
  • I've updated the About Me page (or rather About Monkey now) with some updated information and a little more detail, including the interview recorded by Gary Short with me.
  • I've reviewed a lot of my posts and updated links and removed long hyperlinks and replaced them with more meaningful titles for the underlying link

I hope you like the new design as much as I do and would love to hear your comments!

Handling Webpage Display Issues in Internet Explorer 8.0 using IIS

September 9, 2008 22:32 by Andrew Westgarth

I have been using Internet Explorer 8.0 since the release of Beta 1.  IE 8 requires more standards compliance in the code of web pages for them to display correctly.  Today I was catching up on my RSS Feeds and came across this very useful article - Configuring IIS to work around webpage display issues in Internet Explorer 8.0 and this article discusses the use of adding a HTTP Response Header which then informs IE to run in IE Compatibility mode, therefore rendering the page as it would render in Internet Explorer 7.

The article gives complete details of how to set this up on IIS6 and 7 (integrated and classic mode) and it is very straight forward.  I have implemented it on our live webserver but not on our development server - so we can fix the issues rather than relying on compatibility mode.  Also the default is to set this for your entire server, i.e. any sites, applications and pages served.  However by adding this remove tag into the root web.config of a site you can remove the use of the HTTP Response Header from that particular site and the site will run in true mode (remember to place the httpProtocol element within the system.webServer element in your configuration):

remove name="X-UA-Compatible"/>

I must stress I definitely see this as a temporary workaround and only as a backup plan to buy you a little time to sort out the rendering issues!  I would always advocate coding your XHTML and CSS to correct standards!!  Standards Compliance has many added benefits including search engine optimisation and accessibility benefits for users of your sites!!

Categories: ASP.Net | IIS
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More Great Software for Free to Students From Microsoft

September 9, 2008 20:19 by Andrew Westgarth

In follow up to my previous post, Students!!! - Get MS Office Ultimate 2007 for 39 Quid! An Absolute Steal!!, I was reminded this morning about Dreamspark which is a great offer for Students to get hold of some excellent development and design software.  On offer for free to students who match the eligibility requirements are:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Expression Studio
  • XNA Games Studio 2.0
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition - shortly to be updated to Windows Server 2008 (which includes IIS 7 ;))

This is an excellent offer and one which represents a massive saving for students wanting to develop on the Microsoft Platform.  For more information visit the Dreamspark Section on Channel 8.

Categories: Microsoft
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