XMLPitstop Blogs and Photoshttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/default.aspx?GroupID=3XMLPitstop Bloggersen-USCommunityServer 1.1 (Build: PodCast - Give it a listenhttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/03/02/139.aspxThu, 02 Mar 2006 16:19:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:139admin0<P>If you are not familiar with the <A href="http://aspnetpodcast.com/cs11/default.aspx">ASP.Net PodCast </A>, I strongly recommend that you check it out immediately.  ASPNet PodCasts cover information that is very relevant to .NET developers at all levels.  If you see the <A href="http://aspnetpodcast.com/CS11/blogs/">list of PodCast descriptions</A> you will get a feel for the types of topics that are covered. As you will see, these PodCasts cover some very technical topics, but it is also nice to see that there is alot of emphasis on the developer community.   A nice balance, IMHO.   In fact, the most recent PodCast <A href="http://aspnetpodcast.com/CS11/blogs/asp.net_podcast/archive/2006/03/01/80.aspx">(#38)</A> covered some of the recent events in the South Florida area and made a mention of how Joe Healy and Russ Fustino have been shaping up the South Florida development community.  There was even a great section on my own website, <A href="http://www.community-credit.com">Community Credit,</A> which really made my day. What's more, Wally McClure (of ASPNET PodCast fame) contributed some T-Shirts to my ongoing monthly competition.  Thanks Wally!!!  Picture below....</P> <P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/GetWallyd_large.jpg" border=0></P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=139" width="1" height="1">CodeCamp Orlando comes with a Community Credit Surprisehttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/03/02/138.aspxThu, 02 Mar 2006 15:16:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:138admin0<P>Orlando Code Camp is right around the corner.  March 25th, in fact, which is just over three weeks away.  The excitement is building and it is sure to be an event that you won't want to miss!   I will be there, as well,  giving a couple of sessions if you should want to meet up and talk shop.   If you have never been to a CodeCamp, it is an All Day Developer Geekfest.  The speakers at Code Camps are primarily local talent, and the ones that present are those developers that have really established themselves as authorities in their fields.  Many are authors, MVPs, User Group leaders and, in general, Geeks that really love technology and love to share it even more.  As much as I would love to name a few speakers that really stand out from the crowd, essentially all of the speakers are top notch and seasoned presenters.  Take a look at the <A href="http://orlando.devcamps.com/devcamps/MCO/Speakers.aspx">list of presenters</A> to see what I mean. </P> <P>If you happen to contribute to the development community and log your contributions in <A href="http://www.communiyt-credit.com">Community Credit </A>this month, you can participate in a raffle for a Hewlett Packard GPS Bluetooth Receiver.  To be eligiable for the raffle, simply log 10,000 points in community credit.  This can be done pretty easily if you answer questions on discussion boards, write an article or example, blog alot, attend user group meetings and any other type of contributions that we all make.  <A href="http://www.community-credit.com/CommunityCreditInfo.aspx">Here is a full list </A>of the contributions and their points values. This raffle is being made possible by the generous contributions of Joe Healy.  Thanks Joe.  </P> <P>In short, a raffle, great speakers, great topics, lots of schwag to be had by all.  How could you not go?</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=138" width="1" height="1">You can win your very own USB Sushi Drivehttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/03/02/137.aspxThu, 02 Mar 2006 14:57:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:137admin0<P>The March Community Credit prizes have just been posted.  Some pretty wacky ones made it to this month's mix.  You gotta love the grand prize. It is a  USB Sushi Drive.  Yep, you heard right, it is a USB drive that looks just like a piece of sushi.  The grand prize winner can take his or her pick of the piece of Sushi of their choice</P> <P>.<IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/usb-sushi-drive_large.jpg" border=0></P> <P>Among some of the other prizes that are my favorites are:</P> <P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/retrophone_handset_large.jpg" border=0></P> <P><STRONG>A Retro Cell Phone Handset</STRONG></P> <P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/iDog_Large.jpg" border=0></P> <P><STRONG>An iDog</STRONG> </P> <P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/USBAquarium_Large.jpg" border=0></P> <P>and USB Mini Aquarium</P> <P> </P> <P>There are a bunch of other prizes that are also very interesting and offbase.  How do you win these prizes?  It is simple, you log your contributions to the develoopment community.  These might be blogs of yours, discussions that you have been involved in, examples, articles, you name it.  There are alot of categories.  There are also alot of prizes this month so many geeks will win.</P> <P> </P> <P> </P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=137" width="1" height="1">Dwight Schrute Bobblehead Petition - The full story.http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/02/22/136.aspxWed, 22 Feb 2006 09:14:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:136admin0<P>Have you ever come up with a really offbeat idea?  I get them all of the time, but unlike others who have the sense to keep their ideas to themselves, I tend to bring them to reality.  Not surprisingly, it doesn't always work in my best interest.  Well, my latest idea was to create a "<A href="http://www.community-credit.com/bobblehead.aspx">Dwight Schrute Bobblhead Petition</A>".  Now, before I continue, let me offer some background so that you can fully appreciate this in case you have never seen the show.  Dwight Schrute is a character on my favorite TV Show, The Office. My 2nd favorite show is "My Name is Earl" and that is about my extent of TV watching.   If you have not seen "The Office", it is kind of a cross between Office Space and Dilbert.  It is shot in the format of a documentary, and is filled with brilliantly offbeat characters, alot of awkward silences and always makes me laugh out loud several times in each episode.  Dwight Schrute is one of the funniest characters on the show and is somewhat of an uptight, office gestapo type.  He is often the butt of practical jokes, including putting his desk items in Jello, putting his desk items and wallet in the vending machine (he had to buy them back).   Overall, it is just a hilarious show, with characters that anybody working in an office can really appreciate and relate to.</P> <P>The Dwight Bobblehead was a Valentines Day gift to him from his equally uptight girlfriend on the "Valentines Day Episode" .  They are actually involved in a secret office romance.  As soon as I saw it, I thought that it would be great to have a Dwight Schrute Bobblehead to add to my own collection of completely useless, but really geeky collectibles (commonly referred to as junk).  The next day I started searching around and, alas, no BobbleHead existed .  There were, however,  tons of postings asking, "How do I get a Dwight Bobblehead?".  Well, at least I was not alone.  I just assumed that by showing it on the show, it was NBC's way of subtly promoting some new merchandise.  Well, I guess I was wrong because it just doesn't exist. So, the idea came to me.....  I created a "<A href="http://www.community-credit.com/bobblehead.aspx">Dwight Schrute Bobblehead Petition</A>" and added a couple of posts on some fan sites to give it some exposure.  </P> <P>Well, the reaction at first was average, I guess, with about 25 or 50 signatures on each of the first few days.  Then, it happened.  Other sites started linking to it and I started getting tons of signatures.  Probably the biggest one is  <A href="http://www.gorillamask.net/">GorillaMask.net</A> .  At first, I thought that it was somebody spamming my petition.  I was getting about 2 or 3 signatures per minute for hour after hour.  Easily over 800 signatures were added in just one day, just from <A href="http://www.gorillamask.net/">GorillaMask.net</A> alone.   I checked my web stats and saw that the visitors were mostly unique and not just one person with more free time than me.  In the end, I took a rather low tech solution to find the source of the signatures.  I simply added a textbox asking "How did you find out about this petition?".   People told me the sites they found it on. Then after doing other searching, there were others.  <A href="http://www.lifeintheoffice.com/">LifeInTheOffice</A> was another site that alot of folks used to find the petition.  No surpise, it is a really professionally built fan site with great content.  Thanks for the love, <A href="http://www.lifeintheoffice.com/">LITO</A>!!!  Today, the total signatures is over 1300 and probably almost 20 links across the web to the petition.</P> <P>All, in all, it turned out to be a complete blast!!!  Just a lot of fun, especially reading people's comments.  Below, I would like to share some of the funniest comments that people have left. More to come...</P> <UL> <LI>Everyone has a Dwight in their office, so why not produce a miniature one we can all slap around without being fired???? <LI>Oh behalf of all collar-blind people, I'd really like a bobblehead to be available for purchase. <LI>I wish I could drive out to NBC studios to get one, but I just vomited all over my firebird. <LI>I would run to go get a Dwight bobblehead but I burned my foot on the George Forman this morning! <LI>WOW. I had thought the exact same thing, but never thought there were other out there like me!! <LI>I NEED a Dwight Bobblehead!! NEED!! <LI>If the David Silverlight bobblehead is not available, then I'd settle for Dwight Schrute bobblehead. <LI>good god man, this must happen <LI>QUESTION - will there be a special edition karate Dwight? <LI>Dwight is NOT an Assistant Manager, he is an Assistant to the Manager!!! ME!!!  He does not deserve a doll, I DO! (this one apparently submitted by Michael Scott) <LI>it is imperative to make this available in order to ensure the continued promulgation of the DS Fan Club on the Federal Level.  In this age of smaller government and continued cuts to vital programs, the DS Bobblehead has the unique potential of leading federal workers to new heights enabling them to enhance the federal structure sufficiently to enact major reductions to the federal deficit, relieve the burden on Americans suffering the results of natural disasters and reduce the tax burden.  This must be done!! <LI>I love The Office, and searched for the bobblehead right when the show was over...</LI></UL> <P> </P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=136" width="1" height="1">Microsoft ACE Awardhttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/02/22/135.aspxWed, 22 Feb 2006 09:08:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:135admin0I just received a Microsoft ACE Award in the mail the other day.  It is always nice to receive recognition, especially in the form of a 3 dimensional glass cube.  Okay, I am not quite sure exactly what it is made of.... crystal?  glass?  <A href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transparent_aluminum">Transparent Aluminum</A>?  Welll, regardless of what it is made of, I looks great on my desk right next to my talking fish statue.<img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=135" width="1" height="1">Best CodeCamp Ever!!!http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/02/06/134.aspxMon, 06 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:134admin0<P>I just returned from the Ft. Lauderdale Code Camp and IMHO it was the best Code Camp that I have had to honor to present at.  The term "Best", of course, is such a subjective term so let me explain further.  For starters, the location of the event was Devry University, and it lent itself to a really great venue for multiple tracks because it is filled with classrooms setup for doing technical presentations.  With over 600 people signed up (not sure of the exact figure that attended, but it was definitely a high majority of that amount) this kind of facility is key.  It had a good open area for lunch filled with tables organized to allowed people to connect.   I presented quite a few sessions myself, 5 in all,  and they all went very well.  Many of my sessions spawned some really good conversations from the audience.  I got quite a bit of nice feedback from them. Most importantly, thanks to my cat-like reflexes I was able to dodge all of the tomatoes and oranges.</P> <P>What really made this event the "Best CodeCamp Ever" had nothing to do with the venue, success of the tracks, SWAG or even the technical content of the event.  It gained this title by the level of interaction between the attendees.  I have never seen anything like it.  People really connected  in this event and seemed more like a big group of friends meeting up than a bunch of developers attending a techie event.  I have long believed that events like these have the opportunity or providing a good networking environment.  Why is this important?   When you are looking to hire or for help with a project, you usually go to friends or people you know first before hitting the resume pile.  When people get a chance to chat and intermingle at events like these, they become closer as a technical community,many friendships are born and people get subconciously put on that "friends list".  Not every technical event succeeds at this secondary goal of community building, but this CodeCamp really nailed it!</P> <P>In the closing ceremony, Joe Healy and Russ Fustino were part of an awards ceremony where they were recognized for their contributions to the development community.  As anybody in South Florida knows, one of the reasons that there is such a strong development community in South Florida is due to the support by folks like Russ and Joe who help to make events like these happen.  They were the first two inductees in the <A href="http://www.community-credit.com">Community Credit </A>Hall of Fame and presented with an award recognizing their contributions. Kudos to them!  Other ardent supporters of our development community that were also recognized at the CodeCamp as well as at the previous .NET Pub Club were Shervin Shakibi, Dave Noderer, Joe Homnick, Maureen Homnick, Alex Funkhouser and Pierre Donyegro.  It is really great to be part of such a strong tech community.</P> <P> </P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=134" width="1" height="1">Got Code? Come out to the South Florida CodeCamphttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/01/26/133.aspxThu, 26 Jan 2006 12:16:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:133admin0<P>If you are in the South Florida area on February 4th, be sure not to miss the <A href="">South Florida Code Camp</A>.  The beautiful thing about CodeCamp is that you get to hear about the latest technology from the local talent in the area.  That's right, straight from the developers who are using the technology day in and day out.  The true benefit from hearing the perspective of somebody who is using it, is that you get to learn the real Do's and Dont's, the "gotchas" as well as seeing implementations of the latest and greatest technologies.  There is really no better perspective than one offered from somebody using a product first hand.  I will be giving 3 sessions:</P> <P><FONT color=#ff0000>Session 1:</FONT>  <A href="">XML Rocks in SQL Server 2005: </A>  If you are a .NET Developer or DBA, you will definitely not want to miss this session.  In this session, I will cover the new XML-Related features in SQL Server 2005.  As you may know, SQL Server 2005 has just been officially released and some of the most exciting features behind it demonstrate true XML integration and querying capabilities built directly into the engine. Although XML functionality existed in the past, you will find significant enhancements in the level of XML Integration that SQL Server 2005 offers. David will be covering numerous examples of queries that demonstrate the new features like: </P> <DIV>a) The integration of  XQuery for both filtering you XML data.  Yes, you can truly query XML data now. </DIV> <DIV>b) Showing how XQuery can be used to update, insert and delete existing XML Data.</DIV> <DIV>c) New SQL Server objects like the Schema and Namespace objects and collections.</DIV> <DIV>d) The new data type: XML.  Yes, now you can store XML in a way that SQL Server actually respects it as an xml object.  In the past, your only option was to store your XML as one big blob of text.</DIV> <DIV>e) XML Indexing and creation nested XML Structures</DIV> <DIV>f) The Content and Document keywords and how they are used to store XML Documents and/or XML Fragments.</DIV> <DIV>g) and so much more, with a heavy emphasis on walking through the queries and their results.</DIV> <DIV> </DIV> <DIV>If you take anything away from this session, you will see that SQL Server 2005 shows very much of a matured support for XML.</DIV> <P><FONT color=#ff0000>Session 2:</FONT> <A href="">I.T. Interviewing Workshop:</A> Want to Ace your next I.T. job interview? Learn why only 20% of the interview depends on the technical content of your answers. Your non-verbal communication and body language can make all the difference in your interview outcome. Participate in interview role playing with your peers and I.T. interview experts, Alex Funkhouser and David Silverlight. </P> <P><FONT color=#ff0000>Session 3:</FONT> <A href="">For Love or Money: Your IT Career</A>: Must Love and Money be mutually exclusive in your I.T. career?<BR>- Contracting at the cutting edge of technology is exciting and produces great rates. But what happens when the contract ends and the mortgage payments must continue?<BR>- Maintaining a steady job with a direct deposit salary is comforting. But do you ever feel technologically “stuck” at your job when so many other I.T. professionals are learning and using the latest, most marketable technologies? <BR>In this seminar session, you will learn multiple I.T. career strategies for maximizing both the Love and the Money of your multidimensional I.T. career. <BR></P> <P><STRONG>Here are some important CodeCamp links:</STRONG></P> <P><STRONG>South Florida .NET Code Camp website</STRONG>: <A href=""></A></P> <P><STRONG>Joe Healy's </STRONG><A href="http://www.devfish.net/default.aspx"><STRONG>Devfish </STRONG></A><STRONG>site:</STRONG> It includes information about this codecamp and other upcoming Code Camps.</P> <P><STRONG>Russ's Toolshed:</STRONG>  Russ will be holding a <A href="http://www.russtoolshed.net/">.NET Pub Club </A>right after the event. This post Code Camp is not to be missed.  You can have an opportunity to chat with your fellow developers, event speakers, Joe Healy, Russ and more  I have been to many Pub Club events and they are a blast (and a good networking opportunity to boot).</P> <P><STRONG>Community Credit: </STRONG>If you attend the event, you will gain 5,000 <A href="http://www.community-credit.com/"><STRONG>Community Credit</STRONG></A>  points for attending this special event.  Just log them on the <A href="http://www.community-credit.com/SubmitPoints.aspx">points submission page</A></P> <P> </P> <P> </P><STRONG></STRONG><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=133" width="1" height="1">We give stupid prizes to smart peoplehttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2006/01/11/132.aspxWed, 11 Jan 2006 05:39:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:132admin0<P>Woo Hoo!!!  I just published a new website, <A href="http://ww.community-credit.com/">http://ww.Community-Credit.com</A> , which rewards those who contribute to the development community.   The website mantra, "We give stupid prizes to smart people", says it all.  The prizes this month are: </P> <OL> <LI>A 512 MB Mimobot USB Drive <LI>An optical liquid duck or fish mouse <LI>USB Mini Lava Lamp <LI>One of the coolest Geek T-Shirts ever. <LI>A Device to turn off any TV in the room that you are in (just for the purpose of annoying others) <LI>A Red Swingline Stapler (TPS Reports not included).  You can see all of the prizes <A href="http://www.community-credit.com/CommunityCreditPrizePage.aspx">here</A></LI></OL> <P>    If you are a developer who contributes alot of discussion posts, examples, articles, blogs and other bits to the development community, you can earn points by logging each contribution on our <A href="http://www.community-credit.com/SubmitPoints.aspx">points page.</A></P> <P>   If you have a website, user group or any other type of development community and would like to access the Community Credit web services so that your members automatically gain points, please send me an email at <A href="mailto:HeadGeek@XMLPitstop.com">HeadGeek@XMLPitstop.com</A> and I will tell you more about this.</P> <P><FONT color=#ff0000 size=5>The prizes for our January 2006 contest are displayed below:</FONT></P> <P><SPAN class=PageHeader id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl0_Label611><STRONG><FONT size=4>Grand Prize: Mimobots 512MB USB Flash Drives</FONT></STRONG></SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageSubTitle id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl0_Label1>Please Welcome Our Data Overlords</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageText id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl0_Label15></P> <P>We, Mimobots, have traveled a long time across multiple parallel systems to reach earth. we come from our beloved planet blõôh located in galaxy 4210 where we have been living harmoniously since the time of no age. We are peaceful and joyful creatures essentially made of electronic silicon providing us with an extraordinary ability in memory. Humans can adopt and use flashported Mimobot clones to save and carry their personal electronic data as with any USB flash drive. Yet, these Mimobot clones simultaneously retransmit their memory to RALF computer on planet blõôh who will directly regurgitate the upload into the digitized brain of an ill mimobot. eventually our friend in treatment will receive a full transfusion of concentrated fresh memory and will be freed from their mental confines to live their insouciant life again! </P> <P>Please take part in this incomparable adventure of human/mimobot symbiosis. Four different races of Mimobots are available... But please hurry. A limited edition of each race has landed on earth for your storage pleasure. </P> <P></SPAN><BR> </P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/mimo_bot.jpg" border=0><BR> <P><BR><FONT size=4><STRONG><SPAN class=PageHeader id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl1_Label611>1st Prize: USB Optical Liquid Duck or Fish Mouse</SPAN><BR></STRONG></FONT><SPAN class=PageSubTitle id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl1_Label1>A little fish or duck for your mouse</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageText id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl1_Label15>Need some company for those dull days and long nights at the office? The USB Optical Liquid Mouse provides a little companion you can keep close at hand. This optical mouse (with scroll wheel) comes with your choice of a floating fish or duck built right into the mouse. Watch these little guys bobble around in the water as you mouse your way through some heavy duty spreadsheets or just tilt the mouse back and forth and watch them surf the waves. Guess it depends on what kind of day you're having.</SPAN><BR></P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/liquidmouse.jpg" border=0><BR> <P><FONT size=4><SPAN class=PageHeader id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl2_Label611><STRONG>2nd Prize: USB Mini Lava Lamp</STRONG></SPAN><BR></FONT><SPAN class=PageSubTitle id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl2_Label1>Happy times!</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageText id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl2_Label15>Whether it's a late-night coding marathon or just your typical afternoon staring at spreadsheets, the USB Mini Lava Lamp will help you relax. Just plug it into your USB port for power and this little desktop ambiance generator will do the rest. Filled with clear "lava" and a bunch of glitter flakes, this light creates something resembling a disco ball effect on your desk and walls. </P> <P>The USB Mini Lava Lamp is an authentic Original Lava Brand® product and comes with a single replaceable lightbulb. It stands about 6" tall and connects using a coiled USB cable that stretches to about 4 feet.</P> <P></SPAN><BR> </P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/mini_lava_light-off.jpg" border=0><BR> <P><BR><SPAN class=PageHeader id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl3_Label611><STRONG><FONT size=4>3rd Prize: Geek Love Poem T-Shirt</FONT></STRONG></SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageSubTitle id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl3_Label1>The Bard's got nuthin on us.</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageText id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl3_Label15></P> <P>The eloquence of a few lines of verse can be a powerful thing. Poetry can cause you to pause and think about life. It can incite feelings of rage. A good poem can even bring you to tears. We're not sure where this one lies in the spectrum of emotional reactions, but we're thinking somewhere between a chuckle and a look of heartfelt confusion. This shirt, designed by ThinkGeek Love Labs® makes an especially good gift to one you love or love to confuse, depending on their knowledge of hex and Internet lore. <BR><BR>For those of you who are not familiar with "All Your Base" Internet Lore, it is a video that pokes fun at some of the incorrect translation of english in the old videogames back in the day.  It actually became a hit song on the radio for a short time.  You can check it out <A href="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/allyourbase.swf">here</A></P> <P></SPAN><BR> </P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/geek_love_poem.jpg" border=0><BR> <P><STRONG><FONT size=4><SPAN class=PageHeader id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl4_Label611>4th Prize: TV-B-Gone</SPAN><BR></FONT></STRONG><SPAN class=PageSubTitle id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl4_Label1>Safe. Fun. Twisted.</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageText id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl4_Label15></P> <P>According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 250 million television sets in the U.S. and we can guess that the majority of them are turned on a lot of the time. All in all, this is not bad (heck, we enjoy a good movie as much as anyone else) but there are some occasions when you just need to do everyone a favor and turn the TV off. A certain portion of television content is just plain questionable and about as healthy as second-hand smoke. <P>Enter the TV-B-Gone, a small television remote that hangs on your keychain and turns off virtually any television with the press of button. "Now, what would be the purpose of such a device?" you may be asking yourself. Well, without revealing too much of our devious nature we can think of a few things. Imagine sports bars or annoying talking head shows that appear on monitors at the airport. Add to that your own creativity and we're pretty sure you'll come up with some ideas. All you need to do is press the button and keep pointing it at the TV until it turns off (which may take up to 69 seconds). The next 69 seconds will be spent quietly, or not so quietly, enjoying the perplexed expressions of the TV automatons. <P>The TV-B-Gone also has these great features.<BR><BR> <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=5 align=center> <TR> <TD> <UL> <LI>Turns off virtually any television <LI>Perfect for carrying on your keyring <LI>May take up to 69 seconds for the television to turn off (90% of televisions should turn off within 17 seconds) <LI>Range: 20 to 50 feet (7 to 17 m), depending on the make and model of the TV <LI>Contains 209 turn-off codes <LI>Regular Version works on TVs in US, Canada, Mexico, many Asian countries (European version also available!) <LI>Lithium batteries included (last about 3 months to one year depending on usage) <LI>Dimensions: 1.92" x 2.27" x .675" <LI>Weight: 26 grams with batteries <LI>European version is recommended for Australia </LI></UL></TD></TR></TABLE></P> <P></SPAN><BR> </P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/tv_b_gone.jpg" border=0><BR> <P><SPAN class=PageHeader id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl5_Label611><STRONG><FONT size=4>5th Prize: The Red Swingline Stapler</FONT></STRONG></SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageSubTitle id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl5_Label1>Have You Seen My Stapler?</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=PageText id=_ctl0_ContentPlaceHolder1_CtrlPrizes1_repContests__ctl0_repPrizes__ctl5_Label15></P> <P>People sometimes form very strong bonds to inanimate objects. This is especially the case when you come into daily contact with, say, a red Swingline stapler. The ultimate utilitarian desktop accessory. Its vibrant red color stands out amongst the grays and beiges that consume <B>office space</B>. The sleek, smooth retro lines. The sheer weight. The precise, solid movement. The mechanics. The thick, dense sound as paper is conjoined... </P> <P>One thing is certain - you will never covet an office supply as much you will your red Swingline stapler. </P> <P>Oh, and by the way, if you've got a smug *** in your office named Lumberg, don't ever let him take away your red Swingline. It could be bad for the business... </P> <P>Durable metal construction with a retro style. 20 Sheet capacity. Jam resistant. Uses S.F. 4 Premium Staples (not included). 7 inches x 2.5 inches. TPS Reports not included. </P> <P><BR></SPAN><BR></P><IMG src="http://www.community-credit.com/images/prizes/my-stapler.jpg" border=0><BR><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=132" width="1" height="1">SQL Server 2005 adds support for Null Values in the "For XML" clausehttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/12/14/131.aspxTue, 13 Dec 2005 23:40:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:131admin0<P>For those of you who have been using the "For XML" clause in SQL Server 2000, you will be happy to know that support for Null Values has been added to it in SQL Server 2005.  This may not seem like a big deal on the surface, though, but it really is.  In the past, if you have worked with tables that contained Null values, you will know that elements are ommitted in the results if the value is Null.  This can cause difficulties when you are expecting a consistent set of XML elements to be returned as part of your results.  Without it, you will have had to go through extra work for those missing fields.  You could not simply check the value of it.  Instead, you would have to check if the element even exists first.  This can be very time consuming and can add checks to your code that can really clutter it up and make it hard to read through.  In the past, you would have had to solve the problem by either making sure that your tables did not contain any Null values or adding the Coalesce function all throughout your stored procedures to ensure that any Null values were returned as empty strings.  </P> <P>Now, with SQL Server 2005, these additional checks have become a thing of the past thanks to a new XSINILL directive that you can add to your "For XML" clause.  The XSINIL will cause Null values to be returned as empty elements.  Although this feature is only one of the minor enhancements to SQL Server, it is among my favorites.  To demonstrate how this directive can be used, let's start with a SQL Statement below.  One that uses the AdventureWorks database included in SQL Server 2005. If we take a examine the Query below, we will see that it returns the ProductID, Name and Color from the Product table.  Simple stuff.</P> <P> </P> <P><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT face=Arial size=1>SELECT</FONT></FONT><FONT face=Arial size=1> ProductID<FONT color=#808080>,</FONT> <FONT color=#0000ff>Name</FONT><FONT color=#808080>,</FONT> Color</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=1><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT face=Arial>FROM</FONT></FONT><FONT face=Arial> Production<FONT color=#808080>.</FONT>Product Product</FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=1><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT face=Arial>FOR</FONT></FONT><FONT face=Arial> <FONT color=#0000ff>XML</FONT> <FONT color=#0000ff>AUTO</FONT><FONT color=#808080>,</FONT> <FONT color=#0000ff>ELEMENTS</FONT> <FONT color=#0000ff>XSINIL<FONT size=+0></P> <P></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT>The results of this query will retun a number of Product elements.  However, in cases where the value is Null, such as the one shown below, an empty element is returned.  In this example, you can see that the Color element has a Null value in the database and is returned as an empty element</P><FONT color=#0000ff size=5> <P><FONT size=2><</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Product</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff> </FONT><FONT color=#ff0000>xmlns:xsi</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>=</FONT>"<FONT color=#0000ff>http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance</FONT>"</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2>   <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>ProductID</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>></FONT>1<FONT color=#0000ff></</FONT><FONT color=#800000>ProductID</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>   <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Name</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>></FONT>Adjustable Race<FONT color=#0000ff></</FONT><FONT color=#800000>Name</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2>   <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Color</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff> </FONT><FONT color=#ff0000>xsi:nil</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>=</FONT>"<FONT color=#0000ff>true</FONT>"</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2> /></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2></</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#800000 size=2>Product</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></FONT></P> <P>If we were using SQL Server 2000, the element would be ommitted as shown below.  In fact, that was really our only option.  As you may imagine, having to code for conditions where elements exist only part of the time can require some additional and painful checks to your coding.  I am happy to see that there is now a way to handle it.</P><FONT color=#000000 size=2><FONT color=#0000ff> <P><FONT color=#0000ff size=5></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2><</FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Product</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff> </FONT><FONT color=#ff0000>xmlns:xsi</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>=</FONT>"<FONT color=#0000ff>http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance</FONT>"</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2>   <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>ProductID</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>></FONT>1<FONT color=#0000ff></</FONT><FONT color=#800000>ProductID</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>   <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Name</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>></FONT>Adjustable Race<FONT color=#0000ff></</FONT><FONT color=#800000>Name</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff> <P><FONT size=2></</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#800000 size=2>Product</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></FONT></P></FONT></FONT> <P>This last example below demonstrates the results of a query where the color field has a value and you have all 3 child elements of the Product element.  As you can see, all elements are accountable.</P><FONT color=#000000 size=2><FONT color=#0000ff> <P></FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2><</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Product</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff> </FONT><FONT color=#ff0000>xmlns:xsi</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>=</FONT>"<FONT color=#0000ff>http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance</FONT>"</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2>     <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>ProductID</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>></FONT>317<FONT color=#0000ff></</FONT><FONT color=#800000>ProductID</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2>     <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Name</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>></FONT>LL Crankarm<FONT color=#0000ff></</FONT><FONT color=#800000>Name</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2>     <</FONT></FONT><FONT size=2><FONT color=#800000>Color</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff>></FONT>Black<FONT color=#0000ff></</FONT><FONT color=#800000>Color</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=2></</FONT></FONT><FONT color=#800000 size=2>Product</FONT><FONT color=#0000ff><FONT size=2>></FONT></P></FONT> <P>All in all,  this new feature allows us to ensure that we have consistent set of XML elements returned when we use the "For XML" clause and to avoid those ragged XML elements that we had to work around in the previous version.  In my world, it is a very welcome enhancement that will make my life as a developer just a little bit easier.</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=131" width="1" height="1">The Best "Out-Of-Office" E-Mail Auto-Reply:http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/12/14/130.aspxTue, 13 Dec 2005 23:21:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:130admin2<P><FONT face=Arial>I came across this one and laughed out loud a few times.....</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial color=#0000ff>"The Best Out-Of-Office" E-Mail Auto-Reply:</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>1: I am currently out at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Be prepared for my mood. </FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>2: You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>3: Sorry to have missed you but I am at the doctors having my brain removed so that I may be promoted to management </FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>4: I will be unable to delete all the unread, worthless emails you send me until I return from vacation on 4/18. Please be patient and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>5: Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first ten words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message. </FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>6: The e-mail server is unable to verify your server connection and is unable to deliver this message. Please restart your computer and try sending again. (The beauty of this is that when you return, you can see how many in-duh-viduals did this over and over). </FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>7: Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system.  You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>8: Hi. I'm thinking about what you've just sent me. Please wait by your PC for my response. </FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>9: Hi! I'm busy negotiating the salary for my new job. Don't bother to leave me any messages.</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>10: I've run away to join a different circus.</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>AND, FINALLY, THIS ONE TAKES THE CAKE</FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial>11: I will be out of the office for the next 2 weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as 'Loretta' instead of 'Steve' </FONT></P> <P><FONT face=Arial></FONT> </P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=130" width="1" height="1">Willy Wonka has nothing over XMLPitstop.comhttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/12/11/129.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 23:21:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:129admin0<P>Much the same way that  <A href="http://vision-nary.com/content/oompa.html">Willy Wonka's</A>  Chocolate factory was dark for a while and suddenly came to life, XMLPitstop took  a bit of a break and has now come back to life with a number of new features, some fixes and alot of new plans for the upcoming year.    Some of the changes include old features that stopped working as they should as well as numerous new enhancements to boot.   The short list would be the following:</P> <P>a) <A href="http://www.xmlpitstop.com/Examples/ShowExamples.aspx?ResourceType=Example">Featured Examples (improved)</A> This section is now much improved.  If you add an example, you will see the new changes.</P> <P>b) <A href="http://www.xmlpitstop.com/Examples/ShowExamples.aspx?ResourceType=Article">Featured Articles</A> - This section was really a need that was just filled</P> <P>c) <A href="http://www.xmlpitstop.com/Examples/ShowExamples.aspx?ResourceType=Presentation">Presentations</A> - Many folks ask to be able to download presentations that I have given.  I am happy to have this new section.  </P> <P>d) <a href="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/">Blogs </A>- My Blog section is back.  In fact, I guess that you wouldn't be able read this entry. [:D] I even came up with a name that I like.  "David Silverlight's XML and .NET GrokSpot".  Any feedback on the name is appreciated.</P> <P>e) <a href="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/photos/">Pictures </A>- My world trip pictures are not back.  I have not re-enterred all of them as of yet, but I do have a bunch of my pics from Amsterdam as well as from Ireland </P> <P>f) <A href="http://www.xmlpitstop.com/Reblogger/Default.aspx">ReBlogger </A>- I have implemented the reblogger Blog Aggregator which is truly a phenominal tool.  I give it a big thumbs up!!!</P> <P>Last but not least, we have a new member to the XMLPitstop.com team.   His name is Duray Akar and without his help none of this would be possible.  Nice Job Duray!</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=129" width="1" height="1">Top Notch Launch Event of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Biztalk 2005http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/12/10/128.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 17:43:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:128admin0<P>I just came from the Launch event of Visual Studio 2005 in Orlando, Florida. It was a real treat for me on many levels.  For starters, this was the first time I ever helped to man an "Ask the Experts" booth.  It gave me a unique opportunity to chat with .NET developers at all levels.  The depth of knowledge in that booth was awe-inspiring.  Regardless of the question, there was more than one person who had intimate knowledge of the subject matter.  The variety of questions ranged from developers who were complete newbies to those who had been using VS2005 from early beta.  I also had an opportunity to chat with some of the real heavy-hitters in our industry such as the legendary Kirk Evans.  The <A href="http://www.angrycoder.com/">angry coder</A>, Johnathon Goodyear, was also presenting and was on hand in the booth as well.  He has what is perhaps my <A href="http://www.angrycoder.com/">favorite website </A>of all time.   I remember meeting him a long time back literally 15 minutes after I bought his book.  When I met him, I had no idea who he was and when he said that he was Johnathon Goodyear, I though he was actually joking around and maybe even an imposter.  After checking his driver's license and finding out that it was actually him, I told him that I just bought his book and his response was, "So, you're the one".</P> <P>The keynote presentation was truly a site to behold.  Although I have been using the tools for some time, I couldn't help but get caught up in the excitement of what the realease of these three products has really achieved.  It is truly raising the bar for any other development tools and platforms.  From my experience, whenever I start singing the praises of Microsoft's development tools to developers who work in other languages, they always respond with.  "Yeah, we have been able to do that for years".  It doesn't matter what feature I am talking about either.   I won't name any languages specifically, but let's just say that the one I am thinking of rhymes with guava.  This latest release, however, really brings the suite of tools together and the interoperability between the three toolsets will enable us to produce applications beyond anything that we have seen to date.  You could not help but to have chills after leaving.</P> <P>Following the event, I attended the Geek Laager party sponsored by the folks at the <A href="http://www.onetug.org/">Orlando .Net Users Group</A>.  To top off a day of chatting with developers, including some who actually helped to develop the tools that I love, I had a chance to chat with them over a couple of beers.  We talked shop, of course, but also had a chance to cover areas of our lives that did not involve technology (believe it or not).    I had a good time chatting with the GeekGurl who sadly lost her <A href="http://spaces.msn.com/members/geekgurldev/">GeekGurl</A> licence place.  If you happen to have a GeekGrl license plate on the back of your car, drop me an <A href="mailto:HeadGeek@XMLPitstop.com">email</A>. I also drank a beer or two (maybe more) with <A href="http://www.soapitstop.com">Tom Fuller</A>, who showed us that Biztalk was nothing to be afraid of and gave a presentation that many developers were raving about as well as a few more beers with  <A href="http://www.devfish.net/">Joe Healy </A>who actually came up with the name "Geek Laager" party.   Overall, it was one of the best events that I have been to in a very long time.</P> <P> </P> <P> </P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=128" width="1" height="1">Setting the value of Password Fields in ASP.NET 2.0 (a tip and rant rolled up into 1)http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/08/11/20.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 09:06:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:20admin0<P><FONT size=+0>     I just learned a great tip for setting the value of a password field in asp.net.  For those of you who have ever attempted to work with a TextBox where the TextMode is set to password, I feel your pain.  For some reason, you can't set the text value the way that you normally would by setting the Text Property.  I have spent time searching far and wide and every single post that I have come across says the same two things.</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0>a) You can't set the text property of a Password Type field for security reasons. </FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0>b) Okay, you can set the text property, but you have to do it in the form of setting an attribute of the text box.   The typical format is:</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0>     txtPassword.Attributes.Add(<FONT size=+0>"value"</FONT>, PasswordString)</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0>Now, let me address these two points seperately.  First, ummmm well thanks for protecting me.  The last time I had protection like this, the "protectors" wore business suits and dark glasses and helped protect the whole neighborhood.  But I digress... My question is, Do you have to protect me on every single postback?????  I can understand that I might have to set the attribute on the Page_Load event, but is it really protecting me by having the user retype it every single time?  In my scenario, the next field is a drop-down box.  When the user clicks on the drop down to select a value, the password they just typed is cleared out.  All of this protection having a negative affect on the usability of my form.  I keep telling the user that they are doing something wrong, but they are starting to suspect it is really the fault of the my app.</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0>Regarding the second point, yes you can store it away and set the attribute property of the textbox, but the place to store it is quite unclear to me.  It would have to be some place that occurs before each PostBack.  I tried using the Page_Unload event, but it is too late to keep it in the ViewState.  I considered using a session variable, but that is just wrong..  A hidden field?  Well, the user can go into view source and see it as clear text.</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0>So, it took me only about 10 minutes to build the whole form and then an additional 27 zillion hours to find out how to keep the value of the Password field.  Fortunately, one of my colleages in a nearby cubicle and a wiser programmer than I (Jeff Kwak) offered this simple and elegant solution. Here goes....</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0><FONT size=+0><FONT size=+0>Protected Sub</FONT> txtPassword_PreRender(<FONT size=+0>ByVal</FONT> sender <FONT size=+0>As Object, ByVal e As</FONT> System.EventArgs) <FONT size=+0>Handles</FONT> txtPassword.PreRender</FONT></FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0>     txtPassword.Attributes(<FONT size=+0>"value"</FONT>) = txtPassword.Text</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0><FONT size=+0><FONT size=+0>End <FONT size=+0>Sub</P></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT> <P><FONT size=+0>It works beautifully!  Thanks Jeff.</FONT></P> <P><FONT size=+0></FONT> </P> <P><FONT size=+0></FONT> </P> <P><FONT size=+0></FONT> </P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=20" width="1" height="1">DotNet Pub Club - What a Beautiful Concepthttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/08/06/19.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 09:01:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:19admin0<P>I recently attended a .NET Pub Club event in South Florida and have been reflecting on what a beautiful concept this is.  For those of you who are not familiar with the PubClub concept, let me paint a bit of a picture for you.  The DotNet Pub Club is a meeting place where .NET developers can socialize, drink, eat, play pool and hang out. This is really important because it is hard to bring up topics like "asp.net 2.0" or "Web Services" in a bar without getting taken out back and beaten senseless by the regulars.   PubClub meetings occur at locations across the country, always following a .NET Tech event, and create an environment where developers can unwind, chat and enjoy themselves.  In my case, I actually skipped the Techie-Event and arrived for the PubClub portion only, for the purpose of doing some hardcore .NET networking in a beer-friendly environment.  This recent pub club event met at Little Hoolies Bar and Grill, a fine establishment that included food, drink and pool.  It was a really good time as they always are!  Here are some of the highlights that stick in my mind:</P> <P>a) I met the person who actually wrote Dig Dug, one of my all-time favorite games,  for the Atari 2600.  His name is Mike Faulkner and he has a very interesting work history, including Bell Labs and Disney.  His site is <A href="http://www.skydancerstudios.com/">http://www.SkyDancerStudios.com</A>.  We had a very interesting chat about old school games (Donkey Kong, Pac Man, etc).  Those were the best!!!  I actually own a full-size stand up video game machine that I bought on eBay some time back that has MAME installed on it, allowing me to play every old school game every written.  See Picture at Bottom.</P> <P>b) I met with some folks who are looking for an expert to hold a training class on .NET for their companies.  They may be sending me an RFP.</P> <P>c) I met with other developers who are holding a workshop on being an Expert Witness as well as somebody from Microsoft who has served as an Expert Witness in a few cases.  I am currently involved in a court case where I am serving as an Expert Witness for the first time. I have never done it before and you would be amazed at what is involved in this role that you can't learn in too many places.  Fortunately, the Pub Club offered 3 people who have all had direct experience and really enlightened me.</P> <P>d) I saw a very cool pool trick, from somebody at Microsoft nonetheless, that involved 3 pool cues, 2 balls and 3 cushions.  It was a variation of a trick-shot that I have seen in the past, but a MUCH COOLER variation that is sure to win me a few drinks in a pool hall sometime in my future.</P> <P>e) The remainder of my highlights revolved around networking with other .NET Geeks.  </P> <P>As always,  Russ Fustino was on hand to make sure that everybody was having a good time, the way that only Russ can do.  Russ, the MSDN Developepr Community Champion, is the brainchild behind the .NET Pub Club.  He is the guy you will see in the Hawaiian Shirts keeping the partying moving forward.  When you meet him, you will easily see that he is perfect for this role.  Be sure to check out <A href="http://blogs.msdn.com/rfustino/">Russ's Toolshed</A>.  His bio just cracks me up. </P> <P> </P> <P>An ole school gamers dream come true!!  Thanks to eBay and MAME...</P> <P> </P><IMG src="/images/my_game_cabinet.jpg"><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=19" width="1" height="1">No squirrels were harmed in the making of this cartoon.http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/06/05/18.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 07:29:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:18admin0<P>I have had the fortune to work with some twisted technical folks in the past.  They definitely make the work day go by by so much faster with an offbeat take on reality.  I am currently working on a project with a friend of mine, Joshua Newman, who fits that category.  In addition to his technical skills, he is one of the folks that should have his own cartoon series.  In the meanwhile, I guess he will entertain us with his temporary cartoons that are drawn on the bulletin board in marker.  I was fortunate enough, though, to have him create an image of one of his cartoons which I will share with you here.  This one is a bit twisted, so I will let you think about it a bit before scrolling down to see my explanation of it.</P> <P><IMG src="http://www.xmlpitstop.com/images/WhatIGotThisYear.gif"></P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P>Hint 1:  Hmmmm.... A squirrel and a round spiked ball.....what could it mean?</P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P>Hint 2: When somebody gives you a present, what is one of the first things you do to guess what it is......You shake it.</P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P> </P> <P>Hint 3:  Okay, no more hints....If you haven't picked up on the twisted, warped, politically incorred humor in this cartoon, then you probably would end up calling the <A href="http://www.aspca.org/">ASPCA </A>anyway.</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=18" width="1" height="1">TableLess CSS Designhttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/02/24/17.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 07:28:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:17admin0<P>Every now and then I discover that I really don't understand some technologies as well as I think I do.   I had recently been contacted by Dan Williams via email regarding some suggestions that he had about improving my websites.  He had suggested a concept that I had heard about, "TableLess Design", but never really saw in action.  The concept really goes against what many of us have done for years, using Tables for the layout of our web pages.  Recently, I presented a session on creating websites that conform to the Section 508 and Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines for users with disabilities.  You would be surprised at how many of the guidelines recommended using TableLess Design rather than using tables to format documents.   That peaked my interest, but I just did not understand how to actually do this.  A common layout might be one table with 3 rows and 2 columns, in which we place the header, footer, left panel and main content sections.  After chatting with Dan for some time, he disappeared  and then returned about 30 minutes later with a rough prototype of TableLess design for a page that I needed tables to layout.  He accomplished the exact same effect with nothing more that just CSS.  I must say that I was really amazed at how he did it.  Look Ma, no tables!  The only downside to this approach is that it doesn't play well with really old browsers ( <NS6, <IE5.5).  To demonstrate how it would look in an older browser, he showed me a version with the CSS removed and, although it didn't look as great as before, it was still readable.  Depending on what you are building, you can make the decision.  If you are developing an Intranet Application, this seems like a no-brainer to me.</P> <P>Now that I have a new approach to creating web page layout, I can hardly wait to implement it.  Dan has volunteered for a position in my <A href="http://www.nonprofitways.com/Admin/ProjectMaintenance/ProjectOverview.aspx?ProjectID=1">NonProfitWays </A> project and will be replacing the crappy CSS implementation that yours truly has implemented and will be replacing it with a CSS file that is designed for a TableLess layout.  He will be sending me some other links that demonstrate TableLess design over the next day or two, but for now the one site that I would like to share is <A href="http://www.csszengarden.com/">CSS Zen Garden</A> This site demonstrates some of the most beautiful layouts I have seen and all of them are implemented via CSS only.  Essentially, the exact same page is displayed using different layouts implemented via CSS.  The HTML never changes. Sweet!!!</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=17" width="1" height="1">The Click of Deathhttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/02/23/16.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 07:27:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:16admin0<P>If I can vent for a bit.... The other week my hard drive crashed.  There were no survivors.  It just started making a clicking sound.  Apparently the clicking sound was the hard drive's way of saying goodbye.  I think that it was morse code for "Your data is gone forever, Muahahahaha".  Now....perhaps I did not do my backups as religiously as maybe I should have, but I had a backup of probably 90% of everything that I need.  This still left me with about 10% of "stuff" that would be nice to retrieve from what has now become a paperweight.   Losing the hard drive was not actually the worst part.  Believe it or not, the worst part of this situation would fall into the following two scenarios:</P> <P>a) When speaking with data recovery companies, they know that they have you just where they want you.  I called  a few companies to find out how much they charge and it turns out that they all charge a small fortune because they can confidently assume that you need their services and will pay handsomely for it.  Every single company seems to charge the same amount.....an arm and a leg.   I only need a little data back, so I can't justify paying the $1000 -$3000 that they charge to move a few platters from one drive to a new drive.  Most of the conversations ended in name calling and they just love to throw out their ace in the hole.... "Now you know the importance of good backup" and you can really sense that they have a big smile on their face when they say that.  grrrrr.</P> <P>b) When telling a few folks about my crashed hard drive, they are quick to offer the following advice: "You should have done a backup".  There is that little voice in my head that just wanted to shout out "Thank you for the really obvious advice, that had never occurred to me!!!!".  Nonetheless, I couldn't really do it.  The repercussions just wouldn't be worth it, especially since one of the people offering this advice was my girlfriend.</P> <P>Things are finally back, though, and I am productive once again, but a bit mentally scarred from the whole event.</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=16" width="1" height="1">Can I CAPTCHA your attention please?http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/02/23/21.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 09:08:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:21admin0<P>I recently had to handle an issue on my website raised by a Comment Spammer.  There must be a special place in Hell for these particular individuals.  If you are not familiar with the term, it describes those who post unwanted advertisements to message boards and virtually any place that allows user input.  Now, I hate spam as much as the next guy when it comes in email format, but my email filter usually gets the most of it and it is kept rather private to just myself.  Comment Spam clutters up public areas where I want my users to be able to see valid posts and not advertisements for unwanted products.  So, that being said, I had to take matters into my own hands.</P> <P>Looking on the bright side of things, I learned a number of interesting things and that always makes even the most trying process worthwhile.  For starters, I learned that the name of the mechanism was called a CAPTCHA.  This was actually as a result of a few questions out to friends of mine that read "What do you call those things that display a secret code that you have to type in to verify that you can see it?".  Not the most specific question, but after bothering a few friends with my question, Amir Lieberman came through with the answer. </P> <P>A couple of interesting notes about CAPTCHAs.  First of all, it is not just a catchy name, it is actually an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart.  In short, it is a test that most humans can pass, but most computer programs can't.  Interestingly enough, breaking a CAPTCHA is actually quite an area of interest in Artificial Intelligence.  There are quite a number of algorithms that are being studied and developed to allow a computer to read the text that is embedded within an image.  The approach is similar to object recognition software that is used to identify a face within in image recorded by a camera.  I guess it is just a matter of time before this type of safeguard will be broken by spammers.  Be sure to check out the site <A href="http://www.captcha.net/">http://www.captcha.net</A>.  It has some interesting links to papers and resources on the topic.</P> <P>After learning a bit about CAPTCHAs, the next step was for me to implement one.   If you know me, you will know that I have no desire to reinvent the wheel.  I went hunting for a good example of implementing a CAPTCHA in .NET and I found an example that was written back in 2003 by Adnan Masood.  A very impressive testimonial to this example is that even though it is 2 years old, it did the trick perfectly.  It was very clear and easy to implement, even considering the date that it was originally posted.  In minutes, literally, I had it implemented on my site.   Mission Accomplished!!!!   or so I thought.....</P> <P>Just as I was patting myself on my back, I get my first spam.  As it turns out, Amir has a rather twisted sense of humor so he went to the page that I implemented it on, typed in the confirmation code and manually sent me a spam.  Having known him for many years, I actually realized it immediately and thought that it was pretty hilarious.  Only Amir could think of something like that.  I chatted him about it and he fessed up.  An hour later, though, the same spams were coming through.  I was shocked!!!  How could it be?  That was impossible.  I mean, I just invested my time and energy protecting that page so that a person would actually have to manually type in the code.  THEY HAD TO!!!  THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY!!!!.  I was wondering if the spammers technology was really so sophisticated that it could break through this check.  Then the answer finally occurred to me.  I implemented my check via validation controls in .NET.  If the user had turned off client-side scripting, they could easily get around it.  I turned off scripting to test my theory and sure enough it was proven.  The solution was simple, I needed to add an addition call to the validations on the server-side.  So far, so good.  I guess that my site is safe, at least for the time being. :)</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=21" width="1" height="1">MSDN Code Camp: An outstanding eventhttp://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/02/23/15.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 07:26:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:15admin0<P>I just recently presented two sessions at the recent MSDN Code Camp and found it to be one of the best events I have attended to date.   For starters, to give a  bit of credit to one of the primary organizers of the event, Morgan Baker did an incredible job of organizing the event and making sure that all went so smoothly.  Kudos to her!!!  There were a number of sessions presented by local talent and their sessions really reflected their expertise.  As a consultant who is involved in local user groups, it made me proud to see many of my peers follow through so effectively.</P> <P>Of all of the sessions, the one that I must say that I really enjoyed the most was the VB vs. C# debate.  In one corner we had J. Ambrose Little representing the C# side and in the other corner we had Stan Schultes taking the VB side.  This debate reminded me of numerous debates that I have had with colleages on the same topic.  The primary difference, I must confess, is that Ambrose and Stan argued their points much more elequently than I ever have.  Not only were they eloquent in arguing their sides, but you can see their backgrounds shine through as they each drove home their positions.   What really added to the event were the jabs that each took at each other and how they got the audience involved.  At one point during the event, Stan received the "DVD stuffed in mouth"  penalty.  I think that this type of event had a potential to be quite boring, but with these personalities on board and with the Angry Coder on hand to moderate the event, it was a blast.  Overall, it was a great combination of information, tons of insults flying on both ends and an agreement that we should really learn both languages and that the difference betweeen language syntax is not really all that important overall.  </P> <P>From my own personal C# vs VB experience, I come from a VB background and have a definite preference to VB.  For the last 8 months, though, I have been involved in a C# project and have been coding in C# pretty heavily.  At first, I really had issues with the C# IDE and some of the nice features that VB offered that I missed, having to switch to C#.  Today, though, I am pretty comfortable with it and can be productive in both.  At times, I even find myself automatically thinking in the C# syntax rather than VB.  Yikes!!!  I think that the preference of language choice has to do with what happens to be your first language.  Since my background involves numerous years working with VB, I will always be more comfortable with VB no matter how long I am working with C#.  I am sure that if I came from a Java or C++ background, the reverse would be true.  This is similar to a spoken language.  Even if you spend many years speaking a second language and get to the point of being able to speak conversationally in it, you will always feel more natural in your native language.</P> <P>Perhaps the part of the day that added to the event more than anything was the after event .Net Pub Club.  This Pub Club meeting was the largest of all time.  Woo Hoo!!!  For those of you who have never been to a .NET pub club event, YOU MUST GO.  If you think about it... socializing and .NET.  What a wonderful combination.  The .NET pub club offeres us developers an opportunity to chat and network in a relaxed environment.  Having a beer in hand can really make the difference.   Russ Fustino, .NET Pub Club founder and for which no Pub Club event would be complete without, was on hand to really add to the event and chat with fellow .NET geeks.  I have been to a number of PubClub meetings and always enjoy them.  They are a good opportunity to really get to chat with fellow .NET geeks.  Big thumbs up to Russ for making this happen.</P> <P> </P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=15" width="1" height="1">Abandon Ship!!!!!http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/blogs/daves_xml_and_dotnet_grokspot/archive/2005/02/23/14.aspxSat, 10 Dec 2005 07:01:00 GMTc64c3611-2d99-4988-8e44-e713b77e97c5:14admin0<P>     One of my co-workers has described me as having an "abandon ship" mentality.  She refers to my tendency to drop an approach that I use, regardless of how much time that I have invested into it.  One example of this was "Data Islands", a technology which I used to develop a number of pretty large-scale applications.  I had built up a pretty decent "data island" skillset and with a bit of dhtml, I could use the combination to build some pretty large scale solutions.  As soon as I started to use .Net, however, I never touched them again.  Was the time wasted?  It don't think that it matters.  The point is that even if I had wasted a number of years of experience and a very useful tool, that is not a justification to continue working with the technology.  Time is better spent learning more productive techniques and tools.  I have even found myself on many occassions trying a certain coding approach only to "abandon ship" in lieu of a completely different approach.  Even it meant wasting hours or even days of time in the abandoned approach.  </P> <P>     Having said that, I just spent some time fighting with community server.  Community Server won.  It was a knockout in the 3rd round.    Don't get me wrong, I am really extremely impressed with CS.  It is hard not to be impressed with it!  Unfortunately, I ran into a problem with it that stumped me.  Although I could have spent time trying to troubleshoot it, I decided to just reinstall it.  The reinstall is so effortless that it took me only minutes to get it set back up.  I am happy to be back up and running.  Sure, I will need to reenter a few things and re-configure it, but it is well worth the time invested (or reinvested).  Well done CS team!!!  Keep up the great work.....</P><img src="http://xmlpitstop.com/cs/aggbug.aspx?PostID=14" width="1" height="1">