Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Well, it is almost 4am Wednesday morning and I just├é got home from the ROTK opener. Man, what a great movie. The war sequences, and there were a lot of them, were absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. All in all,├é an excellent conclusion to an excellent trilogy.

I haven’t quite decided how I feel about the ending though. I don’t want to post any spoilers for anyone, so I won’t say much more right now.

Visual Studio .NET Web Control for Business Intelligence

Last week I attended the Business Intelligence Loadfest put on by Carl Dubler and Michael Acosta at the local MS distict office. Unfortunately, that was a blizzard day, so I did’t stay till the end, but I did get most of the content.

One of the really cool things I saw was a .NET Web Control for OLAP. Basically a pivot table in plain ASP.NET. No Office requirement. No browser requirement (although I haven’t tested it in Mozilla yet).

Once you’ve got the control connected to an OLAP catalog properly, you see this:

How sweet is that?

Then you drag and drop your columns and data fields into the pivot table and click Update. Here is what you get:

Now that is nice. It even supports drill through and other great stuff.

How much? Believe it or not, it is freely downloadable from Microsoft. Now you have no excuse to not do OLAP with your ASP.NET clients.

One other thing that I saw that you should look at is the new BI Portal 2.0, a WSS based environment for viewing and storing OLAP views and charts. This one does require that Office be installed, so it isn’t a perfect fit for everyone. I can’t seem to find a link for this, so it may not be published yet. I’ll let you know if I find it.

Geek Notes 2003-12-15

Another day, another blizzard. Not too much snow so far, in terms of quantity, but it is blowing and sticking which makes driving a nightmare. My morning meeting was rescheduled, which is not surprising, and we may end up rescheduling the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners meeting too… I’ll post soon as I’ve decided.

  • Rotor V2 - It is official. We can expect another rev of Rotor that is based on the Whidbey source. Good stuff. I’m glad MS isn’t ignoring this important project.
  • SMTP Authentication using System.Web.Mail - This Code Project article shows some cool techniques you can use to make the built-in mail system do things you didn’t think were possible.
  • Sound in VPC w/ Windows Server 2K3 - Brad Wilson shows you how to do it… sort of.
  • Geek Tattoos - Wow. Some very cool tats in here… Quake, Mac, Barcodes, Binary, Hexadecimal…
  • RSS 2.0 Framework - Jerry Maguire posted his RSS framework for producing or consuming RSS feeds in C#. An alternative framework is RSS.NET.
  • Relax NG Now a Full ISO Standard - Wow. I hadn’t heard that this was even coming. RNG is an alternative XML schema language that many feel is superior to XSD because of its simplicity.

Geek Notes 2003-12-14

Spent most of yesterday playing around with ObjectSpaces in Whidbey. A colleague and I are considering a book on it, so we need to get our hands around it very quickly. So far so good…

Whew. That’s what I get for skipping yesterday!

For those of you interested in the Motorola MPx-200 SmartPhone, there are rumours that Motorola will have an upgrade from SmartPhone 2002 to SmartPhone 2003 (which is .NET enabled). Sounds like Feb/March ‘04. I can’t wait.

Geek Notes 2003-12-11

After 3 days out of the office doing training, it took me most of the morning to catch up. I found a number of interesting MSDN content today. It is funny how that stuff goes in waves…

  • Server-side Paging with SQL Server - Using ADO or ADO.NET to do your paging works for small datasets, but it just too slow for real amounts of data. While you’re waiting for Yukon (which will just do this), here is a way of doing your paging on the server. (Requires login to read, but you can get the code without one.)
  • EXSLT Meets XPath - Dare Obasanjo’s EXSLT library made the news a few weeks back, but now there is an article on MSDN all about it.
  • Host an Interactive Visio Surface in .NET - Wow. This is nice. Ever wanted a Visio-like surface in your WinForms app?
  • Role-Based Security w/ Authorization Manager - Keith Brown’s new article on MSDN about using the Windows Server 2003 Authorization Manager to simplify the adminstration and development of role based applications
  • AES in .NET - This article explains what AES is and provides a .NET implementation. I wonder how this is different than System.Security.Cryptography.Rijndael…

Geek Notes 2003-12-10

I spent another day in Matt Fangman’s BizTalk class today. Apparently a reader or two are either on the BizTalk team or know someone on the BizTalk team, because during the session Matt looked over at me and said, “Dude! A guy on the product team just sent me a link to your blog posting!”

Matt’s session was excellent. BTS2K4 is a significant release and has really got me thinking about SOAs. It seems like you could use a cluster of BizTalk to make adding a web service layer to an existing system a breeze. I’m not 100% sure yet, but it certainly seems like a possibility. Anyone care to comment?

  • SmoothWall 2.0 - This Linux firewall distribution has just released version 2.0. The screenshots look very nice. I recently went from a Linux-based firewall to a SonicWall but maybe I should go back. [via Slashdot]
  • Object Spaces Mapper - If you saw the Object Spaces demo at PDC, you saw this tool. Also up recently is the code and slides from that presentation. [via Invaluable Minutia]
  • WS-I Implementation Demo - A number of vendors and platforms are represented here. If you though WS-I was just specifications, you were wrong. Just for fun, compare the sizes of the .NET implementations with the Java ones. [via Christian Weyer’s Weblog]
  • Shadowfax Pre-Alpha Release - Shadowfax, the SOA reference architecture from the PAG team, has just released M0.1 Pre-Alpha code for review. Interesting timing given my thoughts above…

Geek Notes 2003-12-09

After spending yesterday afternoon in BI training at the local MS Office, I’m spending all day today and tomorrow in BizTalk 2004 training. Matt Fangman, our local MS BizTalk expert, is cramming a four day hands on lab into two days. Whew! I still found time to find a few tidbits…


I just noticed that Scott Hanselman used the word “Reflectoring” in this post about XmlSerializer and caching.

That is the first time I noticed the word being used. I dig it. Was Scott the first to coin the term?

Geek Notes 2003-12-08

Denver got hit by a nice little snowstorm today and for a while I was afraid I would get stuck at the Denver MS offices. After a long slow drive home, however, all was well.

Whew! That’s enough for today.

ShadowFax Is Available for Download

Christian Weyer writes a nice long post about ShadowFax. If you are involved in Web Services and Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs), you should:

  1. Read Christian’t post
  2. Download ShadowFax
  3. Start coding!

In case you don’t know, ShadowFax is a reference implementation SOA for .NET produced by the Patterns and Practices team.

I’m on step 3. I’ll let you know what I find.