.NET Programmer Thoughts

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Visual Blogger 2004

I thought I would try Visual Blogger 2004. It is still in BETA so I can't really complain about it. It give you a MS Word interface for entering a blog. And a simple way to publish to multiple blogs at one time. My last entry was done with Visual Blogger but I had to go back in and edit it to make it look right. I'm supposed to be able to insert code snippets so I guess I will see how that goes in the future.

Update: I had to go in a edit this one too. When I viewed my blog it wasn't showing the link as an actual link. Also the formatting was messed up. I will be sending some feedback to the developers.

Houston Beginning C# SIG

I asked Jay Sawyer yesterday if he knew if the Houston DotNet User's Group would be starting a C# SIG. He sent my message to Ben Levy, the HDNUG President, he said the following:

I think a HDNUG C# SIG would be great. The HAL-PC one has been going for quite some time and they are going to be discussing
advanced topics.

All we need is someone to start one up. HDNUG will support the SIG as much as it can.

Hey .. how about .. you. You can be the leader of the C# sig. I know J is laughing about now, because he could see this coming. Seriously though, I am sure many members would be interested in this.

I responded by saying that I have no C# experience. Jay came back and said that I would know what a beginner needs to get rolling with C#. As a SIG leader, I really only need organization and leadership skills.

So I said yes. It can't hurt anything. I'm not working right now so my time isn't an issue.

I'm not much for standing in front of a group and talking so I guess I will be learning C# and learning how to stand in front of a group without making a fool of myself.

So if you're in Houston and are looking for a place to learn C#, keep an out out for the new HDNUG Beginning C# SIG.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Technical Interview

I had my technical interview with Software Architects yesterday. I don't think it went very well. I'm so used to being an expert in my field and to sit there and struggle with technical questions was just plain frustrating.

I guess I need to quit futzing with the architecture on the Invoice It! application and start coding the business objects. There is no way I'm going to get it perfect the first time so I just might as well take what I have and just dive in.

Do you note a bit of frustration in my words??????

Friday, July 23, 2004

Lots of stuff...

Whooo hoooo! I've started the design on Invoice It!. Invoice It! is software that I wrote in FoxPro to run my brother's air conditioning business (Middleton Air Conditioning).

I've done the problem statement and the use case diagram. I'm using Visio Architect to do the diagrams. I'm finding it very confusing. I'm seeing a UML book in my future.

Speaking of books, I received a newsletter from APRESS that said if a person reviews a book for them then that person will receive three books of their choice (Apress books) for free. Since I had finished Beginning C# Objects, I sent them the review. With in minutes I received an email recommending books and to let them know which three books I wanted! VERY COOL.

Here are the books I picked out:

Beginning ASP.NET 1.1 E-Commerce, by Cristian Darie and Karli Watson

Expert C# Business Objects, by Rockford Lhotka

Expert Service-Oriented Architecture In C#: Using the Web Services Enhancements 2.0, by Jeffery Hasan

Lastly, my computer has been completely reinstalled. I set lots of restore points! I also installed Virtual PC 2004. I've loaded up an XP environment and have loaded Whidbey onto it. It seems to be running! I definitely need to get more memory if I'm going to be running Virtual PC!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Beginning C# Objects

This is an outstanding book on C# objects!

The book is broken into three parts. Part One gives you the ABC’s of objects. Part Two discusses object modeling. Part Three translates a UML “Blueprint” into C# code.

Part One is by far the best section in the book. I can honestly say I understand basic C# syntax and how objects are applied in C#. It flows very smoothly and makes learning C# very easy.

Part Two is a good introduction to UML. If you want to get into architecture, this is a good start but you will definitely more.

Part Three takes the “blueprint” that was built in Part Two and builds the application. The first chapter of Part Three is over 100 pages of a more advanced looked at C#. Chapter 15 goes into file persistence. It was nicely laid out but I wish they had used a database instead of ASCII files. Chapter 16 ties the GUI to the business object. Personally, I think this chapter should have had a little more meat.

This book definitely gets 5 stars and if anyone ever tells me they don’t understand OOP or C#, I will tell them to read this book.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Computer Problems

Well I decided to run an update on the XP installation today. My DVD wouldn't read the disk. Also my wireless isn't working. So I put the DVD in my desktop and ran the installation over the network.

So did it work. No! My wireless still isn't working. And my DVD will write but it won't verify.

I've backed up all important information to my desktop and will reformat and reinstall XP Professional.

I should have never installed XP SP2 RC1!!!!!!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Visual Studio 2005 Beta

I downloaded it yesterday (yes, it took all day).  I've tried installing it twice and I get the following error (after about 30 minutes):
Error 1935. An error occurred during the installation of assembly 'Microsoft.VC80.MFCLOC,processorArchitecture="x86", publicKeyToken="1fc8b3b9a1e18e3b", version="",type="win32"'.  Please refer to Help and Support for more information.  HRESULT: 0x80070091.

I went out to the VS 2005 site and looked at some posts and it looks like it might be happening because I have XP SP2 RC1 installed.  What a pain.  Guess I will uninstall SP2.  It did say that it would be fixed when SP2 is offically released.  But it didn't say when that would be.

Interview today...

I think I had a great interview.  But it doesn't matter what I think, it's what they think!
I can actually see myself working there.  I'm probably jinxing myself but I don't care.  I want this job.  It's a perfect fit! 

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Where have I been?

I've really gotten caught up in the latest book I'm reading!  "Beginning C# Objects"  I've learned so much!!!  I'm about half way through it now. 
But, Friday morning I went out to mow the yard and my lawn mower decided it wasn't going to propel itself again.  I've spent enough money trying to get it fixed so I called my sister and they will let me use theirs.  They received a riding lawn mower from my Mom when she went into assisted living a few months ago.  So they aren't using it. 
So I went to San Marcos, TX Friday afternoon and came back late on Saturday...with the mower!
Lynn Evans, a former supervisor and mentor,  asked me to review a proposal he's presenting this week.  So I spent some time reviewing his documents. 
I have another interview tomorrow morning.  It's with Software Architects.  I really like what I see on their website.  They really seem to want their employee's to be happy. 
I better get "studied" up on SARK...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

THE Job Interview

I really should kick myself for being such an honest person! I just couldn't stand it anymore. I finally said, "It really looks like you want someone with more experience. I only have three months of C#". I probably could have kept my mouth shut and just let them hire me. They kept talking about escalating issues to me. Jeez, I'm barely getting by on the basics!

I guess I've been burned by hiring someone who "talked" good but when they started to work they didn't know what they were doing. I just couldn't do it!!!!

They did say that there would be another position in a couple of months that won't need to have as much experience. That could have been a line but at least I feel like I did the right thing.

I was just reading an artile by Eric Sink on the Hazards Of Hiring. One thing he talks about is "Look for Self-Awareness". Is this person capable of learning? Is this person moving forward? I feel that while I was at Traver/ADP, I had definitely stagnated. But I'm on the band-wagon now! I can't seem to get enough information now! I love c# too!

I really hope I can get a job with a company that promotes learning.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Job Interview Tomorrow

I've got a job interview tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Another book...

I've started another book. Beginning C# Objects


I love NUnit! I don't understand why there isn't more information on NUnit. It's great! I could have kept me from getting into SO much trouble! There is a Microsoft Webcast coming up this month on it. WATCH IT! Here is a good article.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Extreme Programming Adventures in C#

Well, I'm up to Chapter 6. I like the text but the code is not accurate! The code in Chapter 5 seems to have been pulled at a later date. There is also a method that disappears and then reappears in another chapter.

The idea for the book is excellent! Here's a guy that doesn't know C# or .NET and is trying to provide an application for a customer (which in this case happens to be himself). So we are basically learning as he learns.

In doing all this he shows us his extreme programming methods. I'm not sure I agree with all the refactoring he's doing. Sure it needs to be done but just THINK a little before you write. He does state that since this is his first C# program that it is much worse than it would normally be. We also learn about NUnit and the testing framework.

I've learned how to use NUnit two ways now. One way is to update the debug configuration on the project and when you hit "F5" it runs the NUnit GUI. The other way is to do a build (CTRL+SHIFT+B) and then open NUnit (it could already be open) and your test methods will show up. VERY SWEET!

In my last job they had me so rushed that I never did full regression testing. This would have been great for that. So many problems could have been caught so easily!

The other nice feature of using NUnit that is pointed out in the book is that when experimenting, use NUnit. Then all your experimenting is saved and you can always go back to it. I can remember doing all sorts of stuff in FoxPro's command window and then wonder later how I got where I did. NUnit would have been great.

I went out to the author's website to see if there was an update for the code in the book. There was an article that touched on what I was looking for. Apparently there was Amazon reviewer that had difficulty building the application from the final files provided. Jeffries states that "his expectation was for people to follow along in the building of the code, not for them to build the application from the existing source". He hadn't even intended to provide the source files until Microsoft asked him to. So apparently the code provided doesn't work AND if you follow along in the book (from my experience), that code doesn't work either.

I like the format of the book and the topic. I wish someone had actually tried to go through the code before it was published. Basically do some BUnit Testing (Book Unit)!

I've placed a review on Amazon and I've submitted a review to the Houston .NET users group. If you get a book from the raffle they like you to review it.

Friday, July 09, 2004

HDNUG meeting

I attended my second Houston Dot Net Users Group meeting last night. I didn't enjoy the first meeting much because the topic was way over my head. But this meeting was great!

The Tips & Tricks part was on the DataGrid. There were computer issues so we didn't get to "see" much.

The Borland guy didn't show up so they asked one of the Microsoft guys to do a presentation. It was on testing using NUnit. Now I finally understand what Lynn used to refer to as "TestIt" methods! This is definitely the way to program.

I had bought $10 worth of raffle tickets and they actually pulled one of my numbers! I had already decided which one I wanted. But my number was pulled about 1/2 way through so I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get it. When I got up there I saw a guy holding two books and one of them was the one I wanted. I looked to see what else was left and my second choice was scooped up before I could grab it. I asked the guy if he had decided and he said no. I told him I REALLY wanted the Extreme Programming book. The funny thing was that he was hold a VB Reference book and a C# book (mine). Fortunately he gave up MINE!

The book is Extreme Programming Adventures in C# by Ron Jeffries. I'll comment on it when I'm done. So far, it's exactly what I've been looking for.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Data Features in "Whidbey"

I'm impressed! MS finally got it right! Check out Robert Green's video!

MCSD thoughts

Well, I passed! So now I'm officially an MCSD.

So what does this certification give me? Probably not much. It hasn't helped so far in getting a job. I have access to some sites on MSDN that non-certified folks don't have. I can use special logos and buy stuff from MS that have my certification on it. Does that make it worth it? Not really. But at least I can say I did something with my time while I was unemployed.

It did give me a good base understanding of .NET and SQL Server. But I don't consider myself an expert at programming in .NET. I know the theory behind .NET and what its potentional is.

If I was in a hiring position, would having a certification mean more to me? Yes. But only if they have some work experience to back up the certification.

Monday, July 05, 2004

70-299 - SQL Server 2000 Database Design & Implementation

I think I'm finally starting to understand SQL Server. I've read the Microsoft book and been through he braindumps test twice. I've only found one thing that wasn't covered in the book. "CROSS JOIN". Fortunately, the braindumps provided an explanation.

I was having a lot of trouble trying to determine when to use a stored procedure or a function. The best I seem to be able to come up with is that a stored procedure is always preferable. But if it has to be used in a SELECT list then you HAVE to use a scalar UDF.

I also think I understand why SQL DBA's would laugh when I said I used FoxPro. SQL is very extensive. T-SQL is just plain confusing! No wonder they have to pay DBA's so much. There will be a great feature but once to read into it, you find out that you can only use it if it meets 10 or 12 qualifications! Why even put the feature in there! I am referring to "cursors".

I'm scheduled to take the exam tomorrow at 10am. If I pass I will be an MCSD! Then I have my interview with DataJuice at 1pm. They are looking for an MCSD so I BETTER PASS!!!!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Update on SmartCertify Certification Study

Well I finished all the course work for 70-299. I took all the unit tests. I didn't get a 100% on the first try on each unit test but I did eventually get there. I took the prep test and it took me 6 tries to get over 70%! There was material on the prep test that wasn't covered in the course work! So I thought I would check the Trandrumper test and see how I would do. After 20 questions I gave up! I had to just plain guess at over half the questions!

So I emailed and then talked with customer service. At first they thought it was something wrong with my computer. WHAT! I can't pass a test because something is wrong with my computer? Then they said that I finished it way too fast so there was no way I went through all the material. Right! I have done nothing but study for this test. I carefully went through each unit and took the unit test like I was supposed to. I'm not working so ALL my time was devoted to this. Then he says that they work hard to make sure the test material is covered in the course work. HA! I told them I wanted my money back!

But I had signed a contract. Just great. I'm eventually told that if I read the contract it says that if I fail two "official" tests within 120 days I can get my money back. So here is how it works. I have to go take a test. Fail. Wait 5 days (although Microsoft makes you wait 7 days) and fail the test again. I will send them the confirmation of my failures and they will let me out of the contract. So I have to pay the $125 to VUE, twice. Then I can get my $2000 back. What the heck is wrong with THAT picture! I said, "why can't I just give you the $250 and you let me out of the contract?" That just wouldn't do. What a bunch of idiots!

So I decided that I would take the MS Word Core test for $80. I did the course work and failed my first exam today! And that wasn't an easy task! It's hard to screw up previewing a document in MS Word!

So I'm back to studying the 70-229 book. There is definitely material in the book that wasn't online with SmartCertify.

I have a job interview on Tuesday afternoon. They want an MCSD so I signed up to take the 70-229 test on Tuesday morning. By the time I get to the interview I should be an MCSD!

DON'T USE SMARTCERTIFY!!! (unless it's free!...still read the book if you want to pass!)

Thursday, July 01, 2004

What is Visual C# Express?????

If you're a true die hard developer you wont' be using Express. See Luke's Blog.

It's just a scaled down version of C# in VS .NET 2005. If you are just doing Windows development and can't afford the full VS .NET 2005 package then start with Express.

But if you need SQL Server or Web Development tools, then you just need to bite the bullet and get the full version.

There sure has been a whole lot of hype over this and it isn't that big of a deal.

SQL Server Express is a big deal but that's about it.