Monday, January 28, 2008

C# 3.0 Jam in Ann Arbor -- April, 2008

The right fine folks at SRT Solutions are putting on a terrific educational event: C# 3.0 Jam.

This is a great chance to learn in a unique environment — and learn from Bill Wagner and other great minds.  The price is insanely cheap for four days of intense, cutting edge training.  You will NOT get a chance for similar training at any normal training provider.

Check it out if you’ve any training dollars available!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Upcoming ArcReady Events in Ohio

ArcReady is a great series of FREE seminars from Microsoft, hosted at various MS offices around the area.  This quarter's topic is on service lifecycle management and looks to be an interesting set of sessions.

As with all these events, part of the benefit is from hearing contrarian views from attendees who have been out in the real world.  Networking with "Been there, done that" folks is always helpful for me.

Did I mention they're FREE???

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Debugging Fitnesse Tests

Fitnesse is a great tool for end-to-end acceptance tests used to confirm a feature or story you're working on.  It's not a perfect tool, but then what is?

Fitnesse Fixtures, the goo between test tables and your system under test, can be a bit convoluted and often require some debugging.  (Maybe test driven test development would solve this.  Then I could write tests to test the tests I'm writing.  But then who would test those test tests?  I digress.)

Debugging fixtures takes just a couple steps to set up.

On your Fitnesse fixture project's property sheet, set up debugging as shown below.

The external program needs to point to TestRunner.exe in your .NET Fit distro.  The command line args point to the host (localhost), port (8081), and the page your tests are located on (TkoTestSuite).  Note that parameter is not the assembly or fixture name!  You just need the page name relative from the Fitnesse root.

Make sure that your FitServer process is running.  Set your fixture project as the startup project, set a breakpoint in your code, hit F5, and you're off.  Normally Studio would whine and complain that you can't start a class library project, but you're firing off the TestRunner.exe program in debug mode so everything's shiny.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

CodeMash Podcasts Are Posting!

Chris Woodruff has done a great job of starting to roll out the CodeMash podcasts.  Three interviews are already posted to the Podcast page on the CodeMash site, and session recordings will be posted soon.

Brian Sherwin teamed up with Chris to get all the sessions at CodeMash recorded.  They did a great job of getting a lot of work done!

Check out the interviews and keep tuned for more content to head up there!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Speaking in Southfield (Detroit) Wednesday, 1/16/2008

I'll be speaking at the Great Lakes .NET Users Group tomorrow (Wednesday, 1/16/2008) at 6:30pm.  I'll be doing my Open Source Test Tools talk, one of my favorites because it covers so many goodies like MbUnit, Watir, Fitnesse, Rhino.Mocks, and a passle of other widgets.

I'm looking forward to speaking to the group up there!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

CodeMash Summary (Coherent One)

CodeMash 2008 has come and gone and it was a terrific event.  Way more better than last year, and last year kicked butt!

We had a terrific lineup of speakers this year, and all three keynoters knocked it out of the park.  Neal Ford's talk on the evolution of software as an engineering discipline was the perfect kickoff to the conference.  Scott Hanselman's talk was a winner for several reasons: his opening schtick ("My life from DNA to this afternoon") was hysterically funny and absolutely perfect as a re-energizer for a group of folks who had spent the morning in sessions and then followed up with lunch.  No snoozing allowed. Brian Goetz's talk was very well-delivered and thought provoking.  Concurrency is an awfully difficult thing, and Brian did great job of planting a number of critical seeds in attendee's brains.

As always, the Kalahari Resort was a blast.  I didn't get to the water park (again); maybe next year if my family manages to come.

Many highlights were had, and only a tiny number of insignificant lowlights.  The hard work that the organizers did to put this on is stunning.  One of the greatest things for me personally was when Sara Ford said she didn't realize the conference was run by volunteers.  Another highlight was seeing Scott Hanselman spend a huge amount of time playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band and just hanging out with folks.

Brian Prince, Jason Gilmore, Jason Follas, Jeff Blankenburg, Josh Holmes, Dianne Marsh, John Hopkins, Brian Sherwin, and Chris Woodruff -- y'all did amazing work putting this together.  Many, MANY thanks!   Special thanks, too, to all my Quick Solutions homies who did extra lifting for the event: Matt Casto, AlexiG, Arnulfo, and all you other guys who I'm too tired to write out and link to.  Thanks for making my workplace and CodeMash something very special.

Perhaps one of the best highlights of the conference: finding my vest with my keys in the pocket in a corner of the conference venue this morning.  Now I can go home to my family!

Again, many thanks to all the folks who made CodeMash 2008 such a great success.  Organizers, sponsors, and most of all the passionate, tuned-in attendees who showed up and made it a great event.

Update:  Fixed spelling errors in keynoter names.  Maybe this wasn't such a coherent post after all...  (Thanks to Jason Gilmore who fell back to his old role as an editor and slapped me around about the errors!)

CodeMash Gets Media Coverage!

The Toledo Blade sent a reporter over to CodeMash to do a story on CodeMash!  The story's bent is on the job market, developers seeking jobs, and recruiters chasing them.  The reporter really didn't cover the conference's main purpose, which is too bad, but hey, every story needs a focus so that's OK.

Yours truly got mentioned in the interview.  Most of the mention was around my age and clothing, but that's OK.  At least he didn't say my ass looked big in my shorts.

Friday, January 11, 2008

CodeMash 2008 Wrap Up

Great CodeMash 2008 was.  Ford keynote.  Hansleman Rock Band addict.  Cool tech geeks and geekettes.  New friends many made I did.  Good gabbing I did.

Jim exhausted is.

Now Jim sleep.

First, thanks all helped, sponsored, and attended.  No CodeMash without you.

Jim more later write when brain recharged is.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

How Much Do I Love Lotus Notes?

This much.


A screen shot from one of the many, many times I've had to use Process Explorer to kill the POS crapware.

I am SOOOOOO looking forward to the day when we're able to put a stake in the heart of Lotus Notes and move to Outlook.  Outlook's got its own set of warts, but nothing like Lotus Notes which has completely failed to make any improvements since I used it in the mid-90s.

Crapware.  Total crapware.

[Editor's Note: We've gotten Jim back into his usual comfy white jacket with nice sleeves that tie behind him.  He's also happily blurbling in the corner again now that he's had his meds.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled enjoyment of  FrazzledDad.]

Book Review: Simply JavaScript

Simply JavaScript by Kevin Yank and and Cameron Adams, ISBN 0980285801, published by SitePoint.

I've been exposed to very little JavaScript, so I was very happy to get a review copy of this sent to me.  First off, I'm a big fan of SitePoint's books, and secondly I was looking forward to a book which would hopefully give me some good ground-up fundamentals.  I'm not completely through the book yet, but I'm very impressed with it so far.

The book starts out with some good software design tenets by emphasizing the need to keep content, style, and behavior separated out, then moves into some very basic steps for programming in JavaScript.  The programming intro chapter starts out completely for beginners by laying out what variables are, what conditions and loops are, etc.  Later chapters hit the DOM, JavaScript libraries, events, debugging, Ajax, and a few other topics.

The authors do a very good job of laying out their topics, and I enjoyed their clear, enjoyable writing style.  I think they do a pretty good job of discussing good development, and they're all over things like browser compatibility issues and other "Gotcha!" type issues.  They've got a nice set of sidebars for tricks and tips as well as things to look out for.

I also like that it's another SitePoint book with loads of color throughout.  I'm not sure how SitePoint does it, but their continuing journey with all the color books is absolutely great to behold.

On the downside, I'm not a fan of some of the example code I saw, which in several cases was more convoluted than good design would dictate (multiple nested for loops, return statements from other method calls being used as return values themselves, etc.).  I also would have liked to see some discussion of testing via tools like Selenium or JsUnit.

That said, overall I like the book a lot.  They talk standards, they talk cool tools like FireBug, they make some headway with good decisions about separation of code, content, and style.

I'm almost done with the book and have been very happy with its content.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

CodeMash is Nearly Here -- And Why You Should Care

CodeMash is just a few days away!  If you're not considering coming then let me throw out a few points to perhaps help sway your mind:

  1. Cost.  CodeMash is ridiculously cheap, even with the Early Bird window expired: $175.  Other conferences charge thousands.   Hotel rooms are $88 per night, but you'll need to move exceedingly fast since the room block is filling up!
  2. Content.  The schedule of sessions is on par with any national-level conference, and the mix of disciplines is unlike anything else you can find.  No other conference, regional or national, brings together folks from Java, Ruby, .NET, PHP, etc. under one roof to share experiences.
  3. Networking.  Making new contacts is one of the greatest benefits at any conference.  CodeMash will give you the opportunity to reach out to a wide range of folks you wouldn't normally be able to hook up with.
  4. Cool Factor.  It's at a freakin' indoor water park!

Training budgets are always a huge PITA, and it's sometimes tough to convince management of the value of conferences.  If you're in the latter category then offer up to management some of these points:

  1. Time to Market.  New ideas on how to solve problems will help you deliver solutions more quickly.
  2. Quality to Market.  Exposure to different testing approaches and tools will help you increase the quality of code you're developing.
  3. Innovative Products and Solutions.  See the blurbage for the first point.  You'll be exposed to any number of new things at CodeMash.
  4. Skills Development.  Management needs to recognize good developers for the extremely scarce resource they are.  Care and feeding of good developers should be a priority.   CodeMash will help motivate you and get you fired up in all kinds of new ways.  (If you're in a place that doesn't treat you well, then contact me via the link on the sidebar and I'll help you get in touch with folks at a place that does value its devs -- Quick is sending nearly 30 of its technical staff.)

"But my work is for internal projects, not things we release to market!" you say.  Fine.  Those internal projects still have customers -- the company staff who are using them.  Just flip the blurbage to point to your internal folks.  You should be thinking of them as real customers anyway, because that's what they really are.

CodeMash is an extremely unique opportunity for you to attend a world-class conference at an extremely cheap price.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

CodeMash Contest!

Jeff Blankenburg is running a great contest for blogging about CodeMash.  Post something on your blog about CodeMash, then make a comment on Jeff’s blog about it.

The swag bag he’s offering up as a prize is full of great stuff!

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