Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

A Small Rant About MS Office

Sometimes Office really pisses me off. The inconsistencies between the products is tremendously annoying.

The one that has been bother me lately relates to using Office products in a multi-monitor setup. All of the Office products present themselves as being “mult-window” applications (as opposed to MDI applications). So when you open two Word documents, you get two entries in your task bar. Cool.

But here’s where I get pissed off.

In Word, you can actually open two word documents in two different windows. You can put one on one monitor and one on your second monitor.

But you know what?

You can’t do that with any of the other office products. They are actually still MDI applications masquerading as multi-window applications. So you can’t put one Excel sheet on one monitor and another on the other monitor. You can’t put one PowerPoint deck on one monitor and other deck on the other monitor.

That is CRAP!

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XPathReader Released

For a while now there has been a community groundswell of people asking for a sactioned implementation of XPathReader. Both DonXML and Mark Fussell have posted about it. (And asked for a petition to get it implemented.)

Well, I just saw this come through my MSDN Downloads feed, so I’m guessing their petition idea worked.

XPath Reader

The XPathReader provides the ability to filter and process large XML documents in an efficient manner using an XPath-aware XmlReader. With the XPathReader, one can sequentially process a large document and extract an identified sub-tree matched by an XPath expression

Download it here.

Geek Notes 2004-05-06

This morning the landscapers started working in our yard. This looks like it will be another terrible drought year, but I would rather have a sprinkler system in a drought than not have one. At least this way, when the city says “15 minutes per zone twice a week,” I can actually ensure that I’m getting the right amount of water on my lawn. (We are taking pictures of the before, during and after… I’ll post them later.)

  • Service-Oriented Architecture: Considerations for Agile Systems -
  • FastObject.NET - Versant Software has released FastObject.NET class persistence framework capable to store your objects into a native object oriented database. Using metadata tags you can add persistent attributes to make object persistent capable. [via TheServerSide.net]
  • Property or Backing Store from Inside a Class - Eric Gunnerson raises the every popular argument of whether a class should talk through its own public interface or if it should be allowed to take advantage of access to internal details. My opinion? It depends… :)
  • OO in One Sentence - The Pragmatic Programmers have written a quick little article about what a good OO program should and shoudn’t do.
  • Custom Caching in ASP.NET - Darrell Norton shares his notes from the Devscovery session.
  • Comment Rot - This is a common argument that I seem to have all the time. Comments should explain WHY you did something, not WHAT it does. If you need a WHAT comment, then the code isn’t clear enough.

New Blog Rating System

Today I added a rating system a la the one at MSDN so you can rate my posts. Should be interesting to see if I get any meaningful data out of it.

The original idea came from Scott Mitchell’s article on 4GuysFromRolla. I started with his code and tweaked it. Along the way I learned a bit more about how .TEXT is held together.

Assuming I don’t get crushed by “ratings spam”, I’ll probably add a list on the side at some point that shows the highest rated posts. We’ll see.

UPDATE: I guess I should have kept reading. Scott already wrote an article that shows the stored proc and the user control to show the top 5 rated articles. I’ll add that later.

UPDATE (2): I have pulled the rating system for now. I didn’t test it thoroughly enough and Darrel Norton was kind enough to point out an error. I’ll try to fix it tonight and turn it back on.

GeekNoise.Net

So at my wife’s prompting I went and bought geeknoise.net and set it to redirect to this site. I can’t seem to get .TEXT to support mutliple URLs which is a bummer, so a redirect will have to do.

Geek Notes 2004-05-05

Went to the Colorado Avalanche game last night to see them get eliminated from the playoffs. Only twice in the history of the NHL has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that they didn’t make it, but it was still very disappointing to see them play so badly.

  • The Hole - A don’t really understand why this guy did this, but I guess being bored had something to do with it. [via AaronX]
  • ADAM Technical Reference - Darrell Norton posts a summary of the primary differences between a directory system (like ADAM) and a relational database.
  • Literate Programming in .NET - I don’t really understand this but it looks interesting. It sounds like the comments are the code, but I’m not sure.
  • Deconstructing Remoting - Don Box attempts to give a new but final answer to the “What about Remoting in the future?” question.
  • API Usability Study - Brad Abrams posts an article from Dr Dobbs about Measuring API Usability. I told him to send it to the SharePoint teams… :)

Tablet PC Tour for Developers (Denver)

From The .Net Guy:

Denver is the first stop on the Tablet PC Tour for Developers. It’s a free thing designed to get people motivated to do tablet application development. Registration is suggested to show interest in the show.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004 at 2:00 P.M.

Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th St
Denver, Colorado 80202

If I wasn’t swamped with work, I might go. The tablet fascinates me as what seems like the logical evolution of the laptop, and man do I hate lugging my 7 pound laptop around!

Windshield Wipers

Deep down inside, what I really love to do is solve problems. Being a software developer is just one way that I get to do that. There are a number of others including carpentry, household repairs and construction, my motorcycles, and sometimes a little car repair.

A week or so ago, we had a pretty good spring snowstorm. Nice heavy, wet snow. My wife had my car that afternoon and to get the snow off the windshield, she turned on the wipers….

And something went, “crunch crunch crunch” and the wipers stopped halfway up.

So yesterday I finally got under the hood to figure out what was going on. I popped the hood and then turned on the wipers. They came up about a third of the way and started the crunching/grinding noise. If I grabbed them and pulled them up a couple of inches they finished the cycle, went back to the bottom and then started back up again. And then they stopped a third of the way up again.

So at least it was a consistent bug. That helps.

The next thing I decided to do was to figure out where the grinding was coming from. I turned them back on and climbed under the hood. At the back, behind the engine, bolted to the firewall was what looked like a motor and a small gearbox. The sound was unquestionably coming from the gearbox.

I’ve never done anything with wipers before on a car, so I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. The motor seemed to be bolted on with 4 bolts, so I decided to take them off. Now I had the motor disconnected and I could see that its shaft was connected to some kind of linkage, but there was no way I was going to get a spanner in there.

So I pinged a friend of mine who grew up working in a garage (he is now one of the best young coders I know). He suggested that I look for an access panel at the top because there should be a way to get in there.

So I went back outside and tried to find the access panel. There was a plastic cover/grating thing that goes across the front of the car just below the windshield. If there is an access panel, I thought, it had to be under there. I pried that off and sure enough there was a panel there. Popped that open and I was able to get a socket wrench in there and get the nut off the shaft.

But I couldn’t get the motor disconnected from the linkage. My dad taught me when I was a kid, “If you have to apply enough force that you think you might break it, then you are probably doing it wrong.” So I stopped. It was jammed on there somehow and I wasn’t sure how to get it off. So I sprayed some WD-40 on it, hoping it would penetrate and loosen the connection, and then I called it a night.

This afternoon I went back under the hood. This time I didn’t have to apply as much pressure and it popped right off. Sweet!

Just to be sure, I plugged it back into the electrical system and fired up the wipers. Sure enough the grinding was coming out of the gearbox in my hand. Just for the hell of it, I brought it into the house and opened it up… gear teeth everywhere. The main gear was stripped for about a third of its circumference.

It being Sunday, I was very concerned about being able to find a replacement. After a few calls, it turned out the a Napa in Northglenn had one. So I ran up, got it, drove home and put it in.

It is amazing how when you don’t know how something works, it taked you hours longer that it should because you aren’t sure what to do and in what order. When I was trying to get the motor disconnected from the linkage, I didn’t know there was an access panel.&nbsp_place_holder;But when it came time to put it all back together, it took half the time ‘cause I knew where it all went.

When I was done I had to do a few adjustments to get the wipers in the right place, but that was easy. It was done. For less than half what the dealer or a mechanic would have charged me. And it was a BLAST to do.