Of Developers and Dress Codes

From a posting by one of the folks I follow on Twitter (a former Microsoft co-worker), I saw this Business Insider story on HP apparently banning t-shirts (and other casual clothing) for certain teams within the company. The story asserts that “employees are furious.” The stated reasoning, which seems sensible enough to me, is that the company does not wish to risk customers being “put off” (BI’s words) by employees who are poorly or casually dressed.sneakers-1420706-500x375

Furious?

Of course, much of the fury is almost certainly overblown by the original story in an attempt to generate traffic, so probably best to take it with a grain of salt for a slow news day.

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The New Shiny: Is Visual Studio Code for You?

A day doesn’t go by lately without some new shiny toy being released for software developers to play with. A big challenge is deciding whether the new hotness is something you need to invest time in learning and using, or if it’s OK to let this particular popularity train pass you by. The recent release of the lightweight Visual Studio Code editor is no exception.

Visual Studio CodeIn this post, I’m going to help you make that decision, by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of this new tool. I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone for whom the full Visual Studio environment (Visual Studio 2013 Community, and sometimes Ultimate, depending on the project) is my day-to-day development tool of choice, so take that into account as you read.

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Migrating from Orchard CMS to WordPress using Windows Live Writer

OrchardLogo_200x200For the last 4 years or so, I’ve been hosting my blog/site using Orchard CMS. Orchard has been a pretty good platform. It offers a great deal of customization and extensibility points, and for .NET developers it can be a nice place to start for building an application. Unfortunately, whether because of my own customizations or some other reason, I ended up stuck on an older version of Orchard, and despite many hours of trying, could not get the site updated to a newer version. So I decided to move the site to the WordPress platform. Continue reading Migrating from Orchard CMS to WordPress using Windows Live Writer

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RSS Feed Updated

Just a quick heads-up for folks who have subscribed to my blog’s feed via my old Feedburner URL…I recently moved my blog to a new hosting platform, and in the process I have decided to discontinue the use of Feedburner for my feed. If you wish to continue receiving updates via RSS, please change your feed reader subscription to point to http://devhammer.net/feed/. Apologies for any inconvenience.

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Sometimes it’s the Simple Things

Hi, my name is Andrew, and I have a problem. I sometimes overthink things…just a bit. If you share that tendency you may, like me, instinctively greet any issue you run into as an opportunity for deep analysis and troubleshooting, which may not always be the place to start.

Overthinking in Action

A case in point. I’ve been working on a project that uses Crystal Reports (yes, plenty of people still use that) in an ASP.NET Web Forms app to generate reports for a non-profit. I was tasked with creating several new reports, which was a pretty straightforward task, and seemed to be going smoothly, when I went to test the PDF version of a given report and the report viewer simply returned a bunch of gobbledygook text in the browser.

Given that I had been making modifications to the code, I assumed that I must have changed something and broken the PDF reporting, though given the changes I’d made (which didn’t have anything to do with report rendering) I couldn’t imagine what. So I dutifully pored over the report rendering code, making sure it was sending the right MIME type, stepped through in the debugger, etc. Given that the application saved the PDFs to a temp directory before rendering, I also tried copying them over to another machine and opening them, and verified that the PDFs themselves were perfectly fine. Which left me feeling something like this:
noidea_5

In all, I probably spent at least a half hour or so trying to chase down the problem, only to realize that the answer was quite simple. The VM in which I was working had no PDF reader installed, so naturally, there was nothing to render the PDF in the browser, or allow me to save it.

Once I installed Adobe Reader (which gets ever harder to do without installing a bunch of unwanted crapware, but that’s a topic for another post), the reports rendered fine. Problem solved.

Conclusion

I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes, and in particular the oft-repeated quote:

“…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

In the case of troubleshooting code, I’d go even further. Sometimes you need to eliminate the improbable and start with the simple things. Check those things first, and then once you’ve eliminated the simple, move on to more complex and time-consuming troubleshooting steps.

Also, don’t assume that just because you’ve touched something in a project, anything that isn’t working is your fault. This is particularly true of code someone else originally wrote. Such code may have multiple issues that are known to the users and the original developer, but which may not have been shared with you.

Have you ever encountered an issue that turned out to be much simpler than you initially assumed? Share your story in the comments below!

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The End of An Era – INETA Shutting Down

[Update – I will likely continue to update this post periodically to include names and facts that I, in my imperfect memory, did not originally include, as they are brought to my attention or I find them through other posts. Please drop me a note if you know someone who deserves credit here that I missed. Thanks!]

I received an email this morning announcing that INETA, after more than a decade of supporting .NET user groups, sponsoring speakers for those groups, and more, will be ceasing operations at the end of 2015.

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INETA was started back in the early 2000s, at the outset of the .NET developer community, as an organization to foster community-led user groups, and help them grow. It was also instrumental in the career growth of many folks in the community, myself included. The founding board members of INETA were Bill Evjen, Keith Pleas, Dave Noderer, Keith Franklin and Brian Loesgen. [Thanks to Julie Lerman for helping refresh my memory on the history of INETA’s founding]

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Microsoft Maniacs – Zero To Web – Slides and Code

Last night, I had the opportunity to present to the Microsoft Maniacs meetup in Sterling, VA. I want to thank everyone who attended, and share my slides and code. The slides are embedded above, and also included in the Github repo for my presentation, which is linked below.

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Slides and Code for NoVA Code Camp – Building Services with Web API

My thanks to everyone who attended my session at NoVA Code Camp 2015, “Building Services with ASP.NET Web API”. Below you’ll find my slides, as well as a link to the Github repository containing my demo code. Please note that the demo code contains many non-standard naming practices, so I would advise against using it as an example of how to name folders/classes in your Web API.

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Slides From NoVA Mini Maker Faire – Meet Gadgeteer

http://1drv.ms/1xrVEjE

This weekend, I had the privilege of participating in my very first maker faire, the NoVA Mini Maker Faire, which was held in Reston, VA.

I signed up for a booth which I called “Meet Gadgeteer: Reusable Modular Electronics” which was intended to highlight the advantages of the .NET Micro Framework and .NET Gadgeteer as a means of creating electronic prototypes and IoT devices. I created a rolling slide deck for the event, which I’ve embedded above. You can also download a copy using the link above.

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