Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another Great PowerShell Book

Hristo Deshev, one of the many smart folks at telerik, blogs that he’s writing a book on PowerShell. Hristo wrote a couple articles for Windows Developer Power Tools and his writing was clear, concise, and spot on.

Hristo’s PowerShell book is being published by Apress and should be out around January, 2008. I can’t wait to read it!

MSI Error #2869

Getting errors when trying to install an MSI package on your system?  If you’re receiving errors like "The installer has encountered an unexpected error installing this package. This may indicate a problem with this package. The error code is 2869" then try these two tricks:

1) Ensure no other instances of devenv.exe are running.  That means use the Task Manager and kill any procs which might be running in hidden corners.  Make sure to tick the box “Show processes from all users.”

2) Try running msiexec /i <YourMsiPackage> from a command line prompt as the admin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Great New VSTS Book

I just got a copy of Visual Studio Team System: Better Sofware Development for Agile Teams in the mail and I have to say it’s got me almost as excited as when my copies of Hellboy showed up. 

A quick browse through the table of contents, foreword, and initial chapters gives me the impression that this book’s done right.  The topics in the TOC hit all the usual suspects (pairing, embrace change, automatic builds and continuous integration), plus a wide range of important issues off the regular “Here’s how you do XP” beaten path: setting up spike folders in your project, working well with source control, and a passle of other goodies.

I’m also VERY happy to see FIT covered in a book (other than Cunningham’s book on FIT, that is.)

I’ll report in more detail on this very soon, but right now it’s looking like a great book.

Looking for A Cool Working Place? Come to the Quick Solutions Open House!

Quick Solutions, Inc., the cool place I work at, is having an open house on June 13th from 5pm to 8pm. We’re opening our doors to potential candidates who are interested in chatting with Quick about opportunities. You’ll get fed and have the chance to talk with consultants and recruiters in order to find out more about Quick, our benefits, the business model, and the environment. We’re looking for .NET developers/architects/engineers, Java geeks, Program Management and Quality Assurance folks. Interested? Drop me a note via the contact link on the sidebar.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Serious Geeksville Keyboard

Carl Franklin and Jean-Paul Boodhoo are both talking about the very cool-looking Data Hand keyboard system.

This keyboard seems to be a huge jump forward in the ability to drive your computer aound while being able to minimize the risk of repetative stress injury.  I like the lap adapter for it — I’m having problems at work where I’m using an ergonomic keyboard that’s resting too high on a table top.

I’d love to jump in and give one a try; however, the tarrif’s pretty steep: $675.

As a psuedo-side note, a good keyboard is only part of an ergonomically sound workplace.  You need a good chair (I dropped the big $$ for Aeron chairs), good monitors (note the plural), and a keyboard tray which lets you get your keyboard at the perfect height.  I’ve got one from Humanscale at home and it’s a joy: rock solid and extremely adjustable.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Why Didn't Phil Haack Tell Me Steve McConnell Has a Blog!?

Oh, he did.  And oh, he does.

If you haven’t read McConnell’s Code Complete then do yourself a favor and go get a copy right friggin’ now!  The book is life-altering, and I’m not kidding.  CC, 2nd ed. was a watershed book that (combined with my experiences at SD West and hooking up with a few key people) got me to change the path of my career and life.

Orcas/LINQ Dev Care Materials

The materials from my presentation today at the DevCare event in Columbus are located here on my site.

The zip’s got a text file with the links I mentioned in the presentation, but I’ll post ‘em here

DNRTV -- Barry Gervin on LINQ

Dustin Campbell blog w/Lambdas, other techie stuff

Bill Wagner (minor diety of all things C#)

Additionally, here’s a link to the Orcas Demo session from MIX07.

Everything You Wanted to Know About & nbsp ; Entities

There’s actually a FAQ on working with the “& nbsp ;” entity and why it can be a PITA to deal with.  The first item goes into seriously gory, deep details.  Useful and interesting

Update: Duh.  My trickery to try and get the nbsp through didn’t work.  Fixed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cygwin, Vista, and UAC

Cygwin rocks.  Cygwin under Vista with UAC enabled?  Less so.

It’s back to admin accounts in Vista not really being admins, but there’s a hack workaround for it.  Read about it here.

You may have concerns about enabling the Administrator account (which is disabled after Vista’s set up), but it’s a tradeoff, IMO.  Having access to this Administrator account means I can do basic stuff like chown operations, so that’s a plus for me.  Besides, I only switch to that account when I really need it.

HTML Tidy Goodness

I’ve used HTML Tidy for a looooong time and have always loved its power. 

Need to clean out the crap older versions of MS Word tosses in when you save a document as HTML?  Tidy to the rescue.  Need to check HTML syntax, correctness, or proper authoring practices?  Tidy’s your tool.  Want to just get a human-readable, nicely indented file from SGML/HTML/XML input?  Tidy’s just the thing.

Tidy’s long had the ability to convert HTML, even files which aren’t well-formed, into XML.  That’s a pretty sweet feature, and newer versions of Tidy will even spit out lovely XHTML.

Tidy’s got billions of handy config options, like getting all those stinky elements properly indented or wrapping text automatically at a specific column.

I just grabbed the latest Win32 version this morning as part of some work I’m doing converting badly structured HTML into XML as part of a migration to DocBook format. 

In a very, very weird karmic wheel of life experience I’m once again working on a technical manual viewer — awfully similar to the Air Force Common Viewer I worked on nearly a decade ago. But I digress.  (Which is a frequent occurance around here, but I digress further yet.)

To the point: Grab Tidy if you’re ever in need of checking or manipulating XML or HTML files.  It’s a sweet little tool.  It’s awfully simple to use, but I see there are even GUI front ends for it if you feel the need.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Upcoming Speaking Gigs

I’ve got a couple short-notice talks I’ll be delivering this week.

Thursday, 24 May, I’ll be presenting my Open Source Test Tools talk at the Central Ohio .NET Developers Group starting at 6pm.

Friday, 25 May I’ll be talking on Visual Studio Orcas and LINQ at the Columbus DevCares event.  This one will be fun: I’m just jumping into both Orcas and LINQ right now and am loving what I’m seeing so far.  (Thanks to great folks like Bill Wagner and Dustin Campbell who’ve been putting up terrific articles on LINQ!)

Nice Utility to Clean and Zip Source Folders

Jeff Atwood ran with a neat utility that Scott Hanselman pointed out that someone else wrote that was inspired by someone other than that someone else. 

Confused?  Then forget that first sentance and go grab Atwood’s Clean and Zip Source utility.  Install it and you’ll get a nice, new item on the context menu which will troll through a subdirectory structure, remove all the bin and obj dirs as well as source control files and binding info.

Very handy, very shiny.  My only complaint is that I can’t configure it to ignore the files ReSharper tosses in my project tree, but that’s a minor nit.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Book Review: Principles of Beatiful Web Design

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design, by Jason Beaird. Published by SitePoint. ISBN 0-9758419-6-3. 170 pages (full color).

This is perhaps one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, mostly because it’s targeted specifically to folks like myself: those who are technically sound but graphically impaired.  My solid skills behind a camera translate not at all to good site design and layout, so I was really excited to look through this book when I first heard about it.

Beaird has written a very concise, gloriously illustrated work that does a tremendous job of covering everything from layout/composition to textures and color.   Throughout the book Beaird uses real-world examples of sites that illustrate the particular point he’s working on.  Sitepoint’s willingness to spring for full-color printing helps nail down Beaird’s content.

The book clearly discusses layout fundamentals like balance, grid theory, and symetry/asymetry.  The chapter on color hits color psychology (“Feeling a bit blue today?”), palatte selection, and the value of using color wheels to pick complementary and contrasting colors.

The rest of the book is every bit as golden, hitting texture, typography, and imagery.  There are a number of terrific resources for fonts, colors, and images with a mix between free and commercial resources.

This isn’t a book to find out the details of how blocks flow and clear in CSS, nor is it a book to learn about the latest and greatest in AJAX/Javascript.  What this book does cover, and covers well, are the higher-level, vital concepts you need to grok before you start wiring up AJAX controls and laying out <div> elements.

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design isn’t just for lame design folks like myself.  I imagine even accomplished web designers could learn a thing or two from it.  It’s that good.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Contact Link Fixed

The XDI contact link on my right sidebar (“=JimHolmes”) was busted.  Now it’s fixed.  Feel free to drop me a note if you’re looking for questions/answers, info on the .NET community in Ohio/Michigan, rose gardening, or some of the recipes I occasionally post here.

(Ask work-at-home parent questions at your own risk…)

Back from West Michigan DODN

Chris Woodruff did a helluva great job organizing the West Michigan Day of .NET.

There were a lot of great sessions, including a terrific one on Rhino.Mocks by Chris Brandsma.  I breeze through Rhino in my Open Source Test Tools gig, but Chris really got into the depths of Rhino and showed some tricky stuff like mocking events.  I’m going to steal a few bits of his concepts to refactor my own coverage of Rhino in future gigs.

I gave my OS Test Tools talk and also Real World SharePoint where I talk a bit about some of the hard knocks I’ve been through with a couple MOSS projects.  (Actually, it’s hard knocks learned from a bit of my work and lot of Rus’s work when I used to be at NuSoft…)

Materials from the event will be posted up shortly at its site.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fixing the Dual Monitor Bouncing Monitor Thing in Vista

I’ve been pretty satisfied with my Vista experience so far, but running dual monitors on a laptop is a complete hassle.  Vista helpfully turns off the external monitor feed every time you disconnect your laptop from a docking station, pull the external cable off, or change displays using a KVM switch.  The last one is particularly egregious for me since I have a four-way KVM at my home office.

Thankfully Arnulfo found the trick: Disable the Transient Multimon Manager task.

Go read his post on how to fix the problem.

Two things to keep in mind: 1) the configuration will stay live when you disconnect, so you may have to move apps around.  Alt-Space -> M -> Arrows will do that trick.  B) TMM was in the MobilePC task folder on my laptop, not the Windows one.

Now Playing:  Guster — Lost and Gone Forever.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

New SharePoint Users Group in Cincinnati

If you’re interested in MOSS/WSS and you’re in the Cincinnati region then you ought to show up for the first meeting of the Cincinnati SharePoint Users Group.

MAX Training is hosting the event which is on 14 May at 6pm.

MOSS is a huge, tough product.  Groups like this will be a vital part of being a successful MOSSer.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Contact Info

It looks like is having some issues, which sucks because it's a great service to help cut spam. Ergo, please go ahead and contact me directly if you're interested in my post on job opportunities at Quick Solutions. You can reach me at Jim AT IterativeRose THEDOTTHINGY com. I hope XDI isn't going the way of the dodo. I've certainly been happy with their service!

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