Monthly Archives: May 2006

GhostDoc 1.9.3 Released

Roland Weigelt released an updated version of his product called GhostDoc.  If you haven't used this product it is a Visual Studio 2005 add-in which makes quick work of a meanial task in VS, documenting method headers.

I have been using GhostDoc since the VS 2003 release (1.3) and have been happy with the simple ability to take care of an important task for me.  

Check it out, it's well worth the effort. 

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Red-Gate Software Releases SQL Prompt

Red-Gate Software recently acquired a product called SQL Prompt. SQL Prompt gives the SQL developer intellisense in SQL Query Analyzer and SQL Management Studio, which all Visual Studio developers are spoiled with.

I have been using the version from the previous developer for some time now and really got used to using it. It gives nice intellisense menus every where Microsoft did not. It baffles me why Microsoft has done such a great job with Visual Studio Intellisense but left it out in MS SQL Server 2005.

Red Gate just announced the first release of SQL Prompt is available since they acquired it and they are making it FREE. Yes, free until September 1, 2006. It's a full version and will not cease to run after September 1.

Since I started using SQL Prompt several months ago, I have really gotten used to using it and it is so much like Intellisense in Visual Studio. I am hoping Red-Gate continues to improve this product as it really fills a gap in being an efficient SQL developer.

I am a big fan of Red-Gate Software, since relying on their SQL Data Compare and SQL  Compare products.   

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How-To Configure Session State in a Windows Web Farm.

I recently had the opportunity to configure our new web servers running Microsoft Windows 2003 Server and IIS 6.0. These servers are to be used in our development and production environments and will use Microsoft's Network Load Balancing to handle server load. This configuration allows an administrator to take an individual server off line for maintenance or add an additional server without interrupting service to our clients.

We are running ASP.NET 2.0 and one of the features we are taking advantage of is running a State Server in a seperate machine. In order for a web farm to manange session state between web requests a few things need to be done in order for the user to have the same session between these requests.

The problem lies in the fact that in a web farm the user is not guaranteed to come back to the same server between requests and session must be maintained.

The detail which I find poorly documented is a machineKey needs to be added to each member of the web farm needing to share session. These keys MUST be the same on all servers in the web farm. As you can see below the key is a very large hex number, but don't worry you won't have to make it up. The section below is put in the machine.config on each server this will take care of the problem.

This key could just as well been put into the web.config but I chose the machine.config file so when we add applications to our web farm I won't have to mantain multiple web.config files with this information in it.

<machineKey validationKey='8ED2CDBA742675EB1EDB2C650245CD179998786C2F74D2EF56BE488519BAE
55B26717CF76A5348DC83D34F3E3F079DECAD2075FF278BD927C06F784923F59DD1' decryptionKey='B134B1E055D415013E31DECBF84B80492E8A8F1623F7332E' validation='SHA1'/>

A great online utility to generate the key for you and give you the section for the .config file is available here.

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Software Development Podcast List

I spend a fair amount of time in my day.  I work in an organzation that has many office workers and warehouse as well.  In fact, my office is next to the warehouse and you can probably guess that it is not as quiet as it could be.  It's difficult to concentrate sometimes with all of this "white noise" around me. 

I therefore turn to podcasts to get rid of the useless noise and add some good content to my day.  I find listening to podcasts gives me better concentration and I can also learn a thing or two.

Anyway, I wanted to put a list together of the podcasts I listen to on a frequent basis.  I also watch some shows as well.  I know these aren't really categorized as podcasts but they cover the same topics.

  • The MicroISV Show – not really directly software development related but a show about software developers making it out on their own.
  • .NET Rocks – the first show I started listening to put on by Carl Franklin.  As of this writing they were up to show #173.  They include all types of guests including Don Box, Chris Sells, Scott Hanselman, Ted Neward and others.  This one is probably my favorite.
  • ARCast with Ron Jacobs – Ron is from Microsoft and has talks manly about software architecture and best practices.  He has had some great guests on there including Martin Fowler, Jeffrey Richter and Ivar Jacobson.
  • Audible Ajax – You probably guessed it.  This podcast is all about Ajax, those using it and different companies supporting it.
  • Hanselminutes – a podcast put on by Scott Hanselman where Scott talks about being a more efficient and well-informed developer.  Topics include code generation, debugging and testing.
  • Polymorphic Podcast – hosted by Craig Shoemaker.  This is also one of my favorites as Craig's style and voice is very soothing to a stressed developer.  Topics include Ajax, ADO.NET, disassembling DLL's among others.
  • ASP.NET Podcast – produced by Wally McClure.  I am up and down on this podcast.  It has great topics and Wally interviews some interesting people but Wally tends to talk too much about his personal life and not about technology.  There is good stuff in here but they podcasts can be cut in half with the useful content.
  • Ruby on Rails Podcast – focuses on developers who use Ruby and Ruby on Rails in particular to create applications.  I am not aware of another Ruby on Rails podcast as of yet.
  • The Web 2.0 Show – talks about how people are creating companies using Web 2.0 technology and being successful at it.
  • DNR TV – a video version of Carl Franklins .NET Rocks Show. This one shows a video of a developer giving detailed lessons on various topics.

I don't spend my days listening to these shows but listen when I can.  I have found something useful in all of them.

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Staying Organized with MasterList Professional

I manage a small team of developers on what seems to be a never-ending project.  The project seems never end because of the shear size of it and the number of developers dedicated to it.

We do not have a dedication Project Manager who does nothing but manage all day.  I am the closest one to being a Project Manager.  I have kept my sanity using a piece of software from Safari Software called MasterList Professional.  Master List Professional is not a full-blown project management solution but more of a task list manager.  I could be using Microsoft Project but I think I would rather stick a pin in my eye than have to use that useless piece of software.  Sure, people use it but when I have tried to use it in the past I spent more time managing MS Project than I did actually managing my role on the project.

masterlist.jpg

MasterList has proved to be invaluable.  The software fits my style like a glove, letting me:

  • Create Projects
  • Create Task Lists
  • Create Appointments/Meetings 
  • Create Check Lists

All while letting me set priorities on everything.  It makes getting organized very easy and easy stay that way.  I have had problems in the past with not getting organized with software but staying that way.

I am NOT affiliated with Safari Software but thought there maybe some developers out there trying to keep things straight and having a hard time of it.

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Guy Kawasaki’s The Top Ten Lies of Engineers

Guy Kawasaki is a well-known entrepreneur and writer in high-tech.  He recently wrote about The Top Ten Lies of Engineers.  I had to step back and think about how many of these applied to me or any of the teams I have been a part of.  I certainly have been guilty of some of these.  Are you?
It is an interesting read just to give yourself perspective on how others perceive us and since most of what he says is true, how we can steer clear of them.