Agile At a Distance…

August 29, 2006

Since we don’t follow agile methodologies here at work (yet!) and we’re not really distributed, I’ve not had a chance to use CardMeeting but I’ve VERY interested to see what others have to say about it. Yeah, I know it’s not as much “fun” as REAL cards that you can do a little dance over, shred, bite, spit on, make into little hats…uh, digressing…anyway check out the sandbox and give your scroll-wheel a little spin – definitely cool. Drop me a card… (pw:alwaysbecoding).

via James Webster]


Dallas Code Camp…

June 26, 2006

It was a busy weekend as I spent all of Saturday at the Dallas Code Camp. If you're not familiar with the code camp concept (see sidebar), it's basically one day, free (as in beer) band camp for geeks. There were 26 presentations split into 4 sessions – it was a big opportunity to find folks with knowledge in areas that you're lacking and pick their brains.

Not all the presentations were great but they were certainly informative and/or useful on some level. I managed to catch up with Karthik, a friend I met thru regular DDNUG meetings. I also met Tim Rayburn – he did a bit on BizTalk that was an excellent introduction for a novice like me and he even took the time to talk with me afterwards to help me understand the limitations and needs of a BizTalk project. Come to find out he's also a dev for the NUnit project so he and I had quite a bit to talk about. I really hope to keep in touch with him moving forward as he's a knowledgeable and friendly guy.

The whole experience was great and really made me realize what a wealth of knowledge our community has to offer. I managed to not only walk away with additional knowledge but several ideas for presentations that I'm going to attempt to develop over the next few months. Who knows, maybe next time I'll be lucky enough to give a talk. 🙂 

Krugle Opens Up…

June 20, 2006

After a number of rounds of betas, which I was fortunate enough to be a part of, Krugle has officially opened it's doors. If you're not using it now for your code searches, you should. FireFox plug-in for Krugle searching is on it's way – honest!

DDNUG: Scott Hanselman…

May 12, 2006

I've been attending Dallas .NET User Group (DDNUG) since the beginning of the year. It's been great to be around folks with similar (mostly) interests/goals plus it's pizza and giveaways. 🙂 (The "luck of the Irish" seems to be favoring me as I've come home with a book, software (VS2005 Pro w/SQL 2005 standard), or a gift card pretty much every meeting. Can't beat that!) In general, the presentations have been good, with few exceptions, and usually quite timely – thank you Chris Menegay. However, last night's talk was a absolute stand-out.

I've been keeping up with Scott Hanselman via his blog for quite some time now. He's a great writer and has a real passion for what he does. On top of which, he's always got the latest/greatest in tools and isn't afraid to tell you what he REALLY thinks about something. Since he began his podcasts, Hanselminutes, I've been able to "see" a little more of his personality and am glad to report that he's every bit as cool and fun(ny) as he appears. Unfortunately, he had to catch a plane RIGHT after the meeting so I was unable to chat with him but, hopefully, they'll have him back at some point in the future.


April 19, 2006

If you're a developer and you've ever used Google to find some code (uh…who hasn't), GO SIGN UP FOR KRUGLE RIGHT NOW!! I signed up about 2 months ago and just finally got in on the beta. It's amazing. You can watch the demo (800×600) to get an idea of what you're waiting for.

The interface is great; it's an Ajax app and beta so there are still some issues (*ahem* BACK BUTTON) but impressive and intuitive nonetheless. It supports a variety of languages from Objective-C and LISP to TCL and sh. There's something in there for everyone.

If you sign up, please leave a note and let me know what you think.

*** UPDATE:  It appears that the beta is closed at this point. Be sure to sign up so that you'll know when it officially rolls out. ***

Now I’m a Rushie…

March 28, 2006

I've always taken some sort of perverse pleasure in doing things the hard way and learning for myself. When I first started working with HTML, I used Notepad – not that wholesome goodness Notepad2; plain old, suck ass Notepad. While I was involved with NaviPress in its infancy (I'd link to it but NaviSoft was gobbled up by AOL in 1995 and is WAY gone), one of the first WYSIWYG HTML editors, I felt that writing in Notepad made be smarter tougher better. Ah…the days of stupid youth.

Fast forward to today. I now understand that benefits of productivity tools and attempt to invest at least a few hours each week in either finding them or developing them myself. Even though I like doing things the hard way, I'm a big "Intelli-crack" addict. With the .NET Framework ever expanding, I can't possibly know all the classes and methods that I need so I rely on Intellisense to inform me of my options. It's like pair programming with someone who "knows what they're doing" and I also no longer see these tools as a crutch to help me hobble but rather as a turbo charger on my "350 small block V8" that is my coding skill…but I digress…

A while back I found two candidates, Resharper and CodeRush (with Refactor! Pro), I wanted to explore for us to use here at work. Being the "try before you buy" person I am, I attempted to download each of them. Unfortunately, CodeRush was in one of it's "blackout periods" so I was unable to test it so Resharper won by default. Sidenote: I didn't realize that the CodeRush installs weren't going to work until AFTER I'd spent the time to install them – this just added to the frustration and made it that much easier to kick it to the curb. While I realize that a little reading on my part (the expiry date was noted on the site near the download link) would have clued me in to this fact, Mark, if you're reading this I'd recommend changing up the installer to check the date BEFORE installing so as to warn the users.

So I've been using Resharper for a while now and I like the fact that it did a few things really well and stayed out of my way for the most part. The "Live Templates" and "Surrounds" were very cool and a big help. Auto-completions such as closing braces, adding both parentheses and even adding semi-colons to the end of the lines were also big boosts in that it reduced the amount of typing that I had to do. Being an OCD type, the code formatting feature was AWESOME. Once I defined how I wanted it to handle whitespace, carriage returns, braces, etc. it would format my code (even the entire solution if I desired) for me. Ah…all neat and tidy. Although it was a hassle to share these settings across devs (something that's supposed to be fixed with version 2.0), it was nice to standardize these and kept from distracting me when reading code. The refactoring stuff was ok. I found the "Find Usages" to be invaluable when refactoring over a large number of files and/or projects. All of that was nice but the number one thing that I LOVED about Resharper was the dynamic compilation. The ability to provide "real time" syntax checking, declaration checking, using statement cleanup in a very graphical way via the red/yellow/green sidebar. This allowed you to see the state of your code and the location of any errors or warnings at a glance. Sadly, its downfall has been the fact that it doesn't have a VS2005 version. Well, they HAVE one but it's in beta, which acts more like an alpha than anything else. So after fighting with it for a few days via re-installs, IDE crashes, and a general lack of usability, I decided to re-evaluate my use of Resharper. Plus, since there was supposed to be built-in support for some of these features, I figured I could limp along without it. Turns out that was roughly the equivalent of trying to program using only my thumbs.

I read Scott Hanselman's blog on a daily basis, have kept up with him for some time now, and deeply respect his abilities and opinions so I figured I'd give CodeRush another shot. He's been a "Rushie" for some time now and enjoys telling folks about it. So I've been using it for a few weeks now and while it's complex, the power lies in that complexity. I'm not very far up on the learning curve yet (did I mention the steep learning curve) and I'm seriously missing a few of my Resharper features (dynamic compilation and code formatting especially) but I've found some serious gains in productivity already. Due to the depth of the product, I know that I'm not using half of the things that would save me time on a daily basis but there aren't really all that many tutorials and those that exist don't really help you learn what keystroke does what. So for now, I'm going to continue fumbling my way thru and figuring out as I go what I need and what's what. I'll post again once I've got a firmer grasp on everything.

(Whew that was a long post – sorry about that!) 🙂

Visual Studio 2005 Commercials…

March 27, 2006

(Sorry couldn’t think of a witty name for this post – guess you’ll just have to deal with “informative” instead of “humorous”.)

I just found this link to some great little ads (UPDATE: ads are gone – here’s all that remains) for the new Visual Studio 2005. You may or may not get some of the jokes depending on your level of geekiness. 🙂

I’ve actually had Team System installed for some time now on our development network and am really impressed. While the upgrades to the developement environment (IDE) are significant, the most important portion has been the integration of the collaboration and project tools. Being able to generate, report, and track work items (bugs/features/etc) without leaving the IDE is great and really cuts down on the amount of time needed for the project management details (once you get over the learning curve). Plus, all the project related reports are available without the need for an “update meeting” to constantly reasure “The Bobs” that you’re actually doing something. 🙂