Getting Started

Since this is the first entry in my first weblog, I feel the need to describe what readers (or potential subscribers) can expect.  First, my background is an interesting combination of technical and marketing.  I have spent most of the last twenty years working in the technology field, covering everything from DOS to UNIX to Windows and now .NET. In my current incarnation, I have been developing both Web and Windows applications using the .NET Framework.  However along with my technical side comes some communication skills.  At least, I like to think they've come along.

I have been writing for technical publications and speaking at anyplace that would have me for most of the last decade.  This experience allowed me to find what I call my 'voice'.  As anyone who has both read and heard me will attest, the two styles are not that different.  In other words, I write like I talk.  And I talk in a stream of consciousness. So be ready for topics that can go all over the map.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, let me describe what the blog will contain.  In the course of my work, I get a chance to work with Web Services in the real world.  While much of the theory and standards are interesting, the sometimes get in the way of actually making Web Services do what we need them to do.  This blog is dedicated to discussing Web Services where the petal meets the metal.  I'll be discussion the quirks of creating Web Services and getting them to interoperate with other non-Microsoft environments.  I'll look at how to go about creating an infrastructure that supports Web Services at the enterprise level.  This includes both security and instrumentation.  I think that this mandate (the one that I'm giving myself, that is) should allow for a wide range of commentary.  And I'll try to keep the posts as regular as my work allows.

Tips and Tricks Birds of a Feather @ PDC

Tonight at 8pm we hosted a “Birds of a Feather” session. These are meant to be round table discussions for people with common interests. This one was a little large to be an effective round table. But it turned out good.

We took our projector to setup, because we thought we might have to show a few to get the group warmed up. As it turned out there were between 100 and 200 people at the session. So we showed a few tips each, all the while prompting the floor to submit some.

And they did! It was great, the session attendees got right into it. With that big a crowd is was a challenge to stay organized. Barry Gervin did a great job of facilitating.

People always think their tip will be silly and everyone will know it, but the truth is we can all learn from each other. Every time someone gave a tip someone else in the audience gave the “oh good one” response.

I thought I would share a couple of my favorites here on the Blog.

  1. To select a vertical block of text you can alt-drag. I knew word had this feature but I didn't know VS did. The last editor I used with this was K-edit back in my C programming days.
  2. Ctrl-Pgup or Ctrl-Pgdn to flip between editor views. (i.e. Design/Html or DataSet/XML)

There were plenty more. I'll add some more in as the week goes on.

Tomorrow the sessions start. I'm really looking forward to a lot of them. I want to be well rested and ready, so I'll say good night now.


We are now at the conference centre. We registered and got our free gifts. Yet another laptop nap sac, a t-shirt and a coupon that is good for a bunch of CD's we can't get until tomorrow. Now we'll have to put the coupon in the room safe so all the other attendees don't try steeling it from us before we can redeem it tomorrow. :)

We got a copy of Office 2003, which is very nice.

The wireless access is excellent in the conference hall. I'm on it now. You can see how good it is eh?P>

Tonight We are hosting a Birds of a Feather (BOF) Session at 8:00 in room 402AB entitled VS.NET Secret Tips & Tricks
I may attend this BOF session  Web Services Orchestration: More Than Just Getting the Weather and Checking Your Stocks at 7:00 pm

I'll let you know how they turn out.>

PDC in L.A. is smokin'

Yesterday was a long day between 6 hours of flight time, and several other hours of miscellaneous travel between home, airports, terminals, and hotels. The descent into L.A. was interesting. We were warned about the smell of smoke since there some brush fires in our path. We saw a couple of them from the air and I was completely surprised at the amount of smoke obscuring the ground....and then bam - we flew into a huge smoke cloud and the smell of smoke didn't surprise me as much as the light blocking effects. It's wierd when somebody turns off the sun. As we were getting off the plane some pilots from our plane were talking in the ramp....“Holy Crap, that was like flying into a thunderstorm“. Don't they have a pilot's lounge for this kind of thing?

After a fine dinner at Gladstone's in Mailbu with DennisLee , DaveLloyd and about 25 pigeon's that could swallow my youngest daughter whole, we retired back to the hotel to do some pre-Bof collection of content for our Visual Studio.NET Tips and Tricks session. I learned lots of neat tricks from both of them. I also had some good things to share. This was sort of a mini bof between 3 people. I can already see that I'll have to really play the moderator role. Tips were flying back and forth so quick - we also need a scribe tonight.

One of the tips which was more of a PDC tip than anything, is that on of use who will remain nameless - isn't familiar with the fully enriched PDC Calendar - which is only available if you log on . “Log on?” He asked. Yes, you first go to and then in the toolbar - click Login and use your passport account that you registered with. You see a few new menu items available afterwards like “My Calendar”. Don't even think of using the “Sessions” menu item to browse the list of topics - it's way too pedestrian. The My Calendar is printable. I thought it was also downloadable to PocketPC and Outlook but I can't seem to do that anymore. Anyone else ever see that? Am I missing something? Also check out the “Session Evaluations“  a nice way to do online evals.

I need breakfast...badly.

Time Change

I left home at 4:45 am so I would have time to pick up Barry Gervin and get to the airport for our 7:20 flight. I stopped for coffee knowing it would be the last time for a week that I would enjoy the sweet aroma and flavour of a Tim Horton's large black 2 sugars. I was hungry so I pick up a couple of blueberry muffins for breakfast.

Our flight left on time, and the first leg was quick. Between Toronto and Cleveland we got coffee and a blueberry muffin. It was OK.

Between Cleveland and LA we had in flight entertainment. The movie Legally Blonde II and episodes of the TV shows Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Wings.

Next thing you know they start serving breakfast. I sat eagerly awaiting some eggs and of course one of the standard breakfast meats. The flight attendant pulled her cart up to our aisle and set down a lovely healthy breakfast. Cereal, milk a banana and a blueberry muffin. It's a good thing I really like blue berry muffins.

That was a long day. I was in bed by 9 pm and them up at 6 which of course I thought was 7. Now I am going to get that breakfast I have been waiting for, then off the convention centre to register for PDC 2003.

Visual Studio .NET Tips and Tricks @ PDC

I'm hosting a birds of a feather Sunday night from 8-9pm at the Microsoft PDC. The topic is Visual Studio .NET Tips and Tricks. Hope to see you there - and grab a beer or three afterwards.

Room: Room 402AB

MS Professional Developers Conference... we come.

Myself and fellow ObjectSharpies DennisLee and DaveLloyd are heading out Saturday morning for the PDC in L.A. Stay tuned for our perspectives on Whidbey (essentially .NET 2.0), Yukon (SQL Server 2004?), and Longhorn (Windows 2005?). Key pieces of technology I'll be researching are Indigo (new web services framework) and Avalon (new windows forms framework).

I'm also looking forward to seeing MSBuild and trying to understand how it will compare, compete or compliment NAnt. I still don't see anything about the next version of Visual Source Safe - what's up with that?

If you are in town, look me up and I'll buy you a beer.

.NET Power Session: Debugging and Tracing .NET Applications - Oct 16, 2003 - Toronto - -9

Please click the link on the right to view the presentation.

New to object orientation? Need a review? Want to see how OO is implemented by the Common Type System? Get all the answers in this session. .Net and all of it's languages take full advantage of the OO paradigm. This session introduces the CTS and shows how it supports OO within your applications.


  • Intro to the CTS
    • value types vs. reference types
  • Object Orientation in C# and VB.Net
    • inheritance
    • encapsulation
    • polymorphism
  • Hiding
  • Overloading
  • Modifiers
    • abstract
    • new
    • virtual
    • override
  • Interfaces

Troubleshooting today's complex applications can quickly consume a project's budget. Visual Studio.NET contains powerful tools to make developers more productive when debugging and tracing applications and components. This intensive half day seminar at ObjectSharp allowed the capacity crowd an opportunity to hear about the exciting debugging and tracing capabilities of Visual Studio.NET 2003.

Dennis Lee and Jay Sreedharan of ObjectSharp demonstrated their favourite debugging techniques to conquer the most persistent bugs. Topics covered:

  • Debugging a stored procedure
  • Performing conditional debugging
  • Remotely debugging a web application from a client machine
  • Stepping through a windows service and a serviced component
  • Debugging a web application at dev time or tracing through it after deployment
  • Setting break points and stepping through a windows application

CTT .Net User's Group: Take Advantage of Custom Attributes - Sep 24, 2003 - Toronto - -8

Although it might seem that everything that a developer could want to do can be accomplished within the bounds of a class hierarchy, the reality is (of course) something different. There are instances where the functionality that needs to be applied to a group of classes actually cuts across the hierarchy. One of the more common instances of this need is the ability for an object to be serialized into a stream of characters. It would be nice to be able to implement serialization once and be able to apply it to all classes without needed to embed it in every base class.

In the .NET world, this functionality is accomplished through the use of attributes. In this presentation, we looked not only at the mechanics behind defining your own set of attributes, but also at the impact that they can have on the design of the class hierarchy and some of the uses to which they can be put.

This presentation included:

  1. Introduction to Attributes
    • Why are they useful
    • Aspect-Oriented Programming
    • How Attributes Impact Your Class Design

  2. Creating a Custom Attribute
    • Building a Custom Attribute
    • Using a Custom Attribute

  3. Putting Attributes to Use
    • Logging method calls
    • How NUnit uses attributes to implement its functionality

Download the slides and demos using the icons on the right.

MSDN:Microsoft .NET™ Architecture Forum Series - Jun 3, 2003 - Toronto - -6

In the June session, Barry Gervin discussed the deployment of an architectural vision through the use of Enterprise Templates in Visual Studio .NET. The prescriptive guidance you provide your developers through an Enterprise Template not only increases the chances of them implementing your vision accurately but also improves their productivity. The second presentation covers issues and strategies for migration of a classic ASP/COM application to ASP.NET. The final presentation covered techniques for migrating PowerBuilder Applications to .NET.

Slides and sample code are now available. Please click the links on the right to view the presentation, whitepaper and download the sample code.