Sunday, November 16, 2008

My programmer personality type is :: PHTC

I came across this programmer personality test http://www.doolwind.com/index.php?page=11 , and below is the results, what about you ?

You're a Planner.
You may be slow, but you'll usually find the best solution. If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right.
You like coding at a High level.
The world is made up of objects and components, you should create your programs in the same way.
You work best in a Team.
A good group is better than the sum of it's parts. The only thing better than a genius programmer is a cohesive group of genius programmers.
You are a Conservative programmer.
The less code you write, the less chance there is of it containing a bug. You write short and to the point code that gets the job done efficiently.

Monday, July 07, 2008

"Would you please submit a ticket so we can turn on the Virtual machine for you" said the System Engineer

Every body loves virtual machines, aren't you ?

I use virtual machines for development and testing, and they really save time and resources; specially when difference disks are used.

My company has a hosting environment with lost and lost (and may be lost ) of them than I know, and they guys behind those are really doing a good job keeping up with requests to create/modify/host them on Virtual Server(s).

A common thing happens, and it happens often than enough, my VMs goes off, may be the guys need to conserve some resources or spare some RAM for other VMs on the same physical servers.

Anyway, a conversation like this is repeated frequently:

Me : Hi, my VM is not working

System Engineer : Would you please submit a ticket so we can turn on the Virtual machine for you

Me : Can't it be automatically restarted

System Engineer : Oh yes, please mention this in the ticket as well

Me : Okay, thanks

System Engineer : Welcome, waiting for the ticket :)

 

I do add the ticket, and they do turn it on and set it to auto restart, but after a week every thing goes again.

So, why I am posting this, not to make you feel sad for me, but because I found something that is interesting for this issue; PowerShell.

Yes, PowerShell can be used to turn-on/off VMs on Virtual Server, but I am not yet sure if this can be done remotely, since I will need to turn-on my VM from my PC not from the server that I don't have permission on.

Goggling around, it seems feasible, a post by Ben Armstrong ; author of Professional Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 is about using COM to script Virtual Server , another post {Scripting Virtual Server with PowerShell} by Ben Pearce.

I will try to convince the guys to look at this, and may be someday I will not need to submit a ticket any more.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Finding distinct nodes via XPath/XSLT 1.0

While XSLT 2.0 has the distinct-values function to get the unique items in a node list, XSLT 1.0 has no equivalent function.

But lots of posts out there is pointing how to use XPath 1.0 to get the same result. The one that was most useful and straight forward for me to apply was the post of Rajendra S Rawat on his blog

Monday, June 30, 2008

Redefine the temp folders

When you install a software, most of the installers will try to extract some files in a temporary folder on the hard drive. The default temporary folder can be accessed by the environment variable TMP or TEMP.

By default, those folders will point to the following folder on your Windows drive (X):\Document and Settings\UserName\Temp , the path may vary according to Windows version.

Sometimes, a huge software installation like Windows Service Packs or Visual Studio Service Packs, will need to extract a (very) large file in the temp folder, and if no enough (here I mean great) free space no installation can take place.

Anyway, keep long story short :) ... to allow your temp folders to go into a new drive, you need to redefine the path associated with the Environment variables:

Go to My Computer , right click Manage, select the Advanced table, click on Environment Variables button, then select the TEMP and TMP variables and point to a new folder , and enjoy large installations on limited free space drives :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

PowerShell Seminar @ ITWorx [CuttingEdge-Club]

I will present a seminar at ITWorx CuttingEdge club about PowerShell.

The seminar's presentation :

Monday, June 09, 2008

How to get the Physical Memory size of a remote computer

Using 2 lines of PowerShell to get the Physical memory of a remote computer :

$mem = Get-WmiObject win32_computersystem -computername server-vm-0001

$mem.totalphysicalmemory / 1Gb

This is just an example, and other system information can be retrieved through using the WMI objects, the above script can be easily extended to get the Physical memory (or anything) for all the machines in a whole network.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Which Robot kit is suitable for you ?

It seems that robots is no longer a luxury gadget, starting from robo-bugs that one can build from capacitors and resistors found on any old electronic device or radio, to DIY robots and ready to rock robots, the span is very wide.

I found this video from IEEE robotics blogger Mikell Taylor very helpful, she reviews the latest robot kits available in the market.

http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/video?id=361

Monday, April 28, 2008

Batch Processing Word Documents using PowerShell

A friend of mine was organizing a public event, the event has a website and they were asking for registration through a registration webpage or filling a word document and send it by email.

My friend got hundreds of documents on his email, and hence came the problem of processing those documents.

Let us see how we can automate processing those documents using PowerShell.

Firstly, we need to de-attach all the documents from the emails, and save them into a folder. Although this is an interesting thing to accomplish using PowerShell, but my friend had this already done for me using Attachment Extractor <Okay … he was using ThunderBird and this post is not intended for arguing that I will prefer Outlook>

Now, we have all the documents in one folder; or many folders. (We can simply gather them from the whole drive using only 2 lines of PowerShell)

Secondly, let us process all those documents and get all the data out of them into a CSV file ready for Excel, or importing into a database.

1. Getting the folder path and open Word in Hidden mode

$docPath = $args[0]

$all_docs = Get-ChildItem $docPath -filter "*.docx"

$word = New-Object -comobject "Word.Application"

$word.Visible = $False

We are getting the documents folder as a parameter for our script, then we will get all the documents by calling Get-ChildItem and filter that to files with .docx extension, then we created an instance from Word and setting its Visibility to false so we are now working silently.

2. Open each document and list the ContentControls

foreach ( $doc in $all_docs)

{

Write-Host "Processing :" $doc.FullName

$doc = $word.Documents.Open($doc.FullName);

$controls = $doc.ContentControls.Count

Here we are using the foreach cmdlet to enumerate the documents we found in the folder, and then open each of them in Word using the Open method in the Documents collection.

My friend used the Content Controls to restrict users to edit certain fields in the document so he can process the document latter, and this is better than a plain word document to pull your hair trying to develop a parser for it.

Word object model provides a ContentControls collection, which will be holding all the content controls and their properties.

We put a reference to all the content controls in a variable so we can use it afterwards.

3. Create a collection of custom objects holding our data

$item = New-Object System.Object

foreach ( $control in $doc.ContentControls )

{

$item | Add-Member -type NoteProperty -name $control.Title -value $control.Range.Text

}

$all_items += $item

Here we are using the New-Object cmdlet to create a custom object, and using the Add-Member cmdlet to create properties on the fly.

Each property name is the ContentControl’s Title, and the property value equals to the text inside this control. After that we add the new object to a collection

4. Save the collection to a CSV file

$all_items | Export-CSV "Data.CSV"

The PowerShell guys had done a great job here, if we just pipe our collection to the Export-CSV cmdlet, we now has a reflection based enumeration of our objects dumped to the CSV file with an automatic header.

Finally, you got served my friend.

The whole script and sample document can be downloaded here:

To run the script, call it and pass the folder path:

>> ./Process-Documents.ps1 "path-to-the-documents"

It is reminding me with DOS days : Beep Beep Beep Beep


I was playing around with PowerShell and I tried to dump the content of a text file, but used a word document instead (by mistake), surprisingly; my machine started to Beep like the old DOS days.

Try it yourself, open PowerShell and Type:

Get-Content "path to a word document"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to backup all your documents with 2 lines of PowerShell script

I (and I think all of us) have documents scattered every where in data drive.

Today I wanted to get all the word documents on my D: drive and put them on a shared folder for archiving.

Since I was playing with PowerShell recently, I thought it will be nice to write a script that do that, and the following is what I have written:

$files = Get-ChildItem -recurse -filter "*.doc*"
$files | foreach {copy $_.fullname -Destination E:\Docs}

I saved those 2 lines into a file [backup-docs.ps1] and opened PowerShell and navigate to my drive and called this script,and in seconds I found all my documents in the E:\Docs folder ; Thanks to PowerShell


Monday, April 14, 2008

Un-maintainable Code

Paul Stovell (MVP from Australia) had a nice post on his blog; it seems like a fictional dialogue between 2 developers one of them is a new member ask questions to his elder colleague, this dialogue whill light the pulp on how some decisions we take during development, will lead to confusions and hard times to maintain the source code.

Enjoy: http://www.paulstovell.com/blog/the-inline-sql-application-six-months-later

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Auto-wiring an MVC Triad using Unity

I think this post's title is a little bit cryptic, but if you did understood my intentions; you are possibly an IoC geek and may be you know what I am trying to say here.

So, let me explain the phrase from right to left:

Unity: The Unity Application Block (Unity) is a lightweight, extensible dependency injection container with support for constructor, property, and method call injection; it will be part of Entrprise Library version 4.0 and it has its own space on codeplex (www.codeplex.com/unity )

MVC : The famous Model-View-Controller design pattern used in the presentation layer since its invention in the 70s.

Wiring: The MVC pattern requires 3 classes to exist and coordinate together, the Controller class will need an instance of the Model and View, and the View will need a reference to the Model so it can handle the display of the Model.

In the normal life of any MVC based application, we will need some code like this:

Model m = new Model();

View v = new View();

Controller c = new Controller ( m , v);

c.Start();

By this; I mean wiring the classes together so they will be able to communicate.

Auto-Wiring: Is the mechanism of automatically wiring the classes together without the need to write the above code again and again.

One of the auto-wiring techniques is to use the Dependency Injection pattern, and instead of building my own implementation of it, I am using the Unit Application Block.

Unity is able to discover the dependency of the classes based on their constructors, so in the above example; Unity will discover that Controller will need a Model and a View instance so the Controller can be instantiated, and also the same for the View.

Using Unity, all what is needed is to call the Resolve method in the UnityContainer and it will instantiate all the dependencies for us (namely the Model and the View), and will instantiate the controller and pass it the created instances auto-magically.

UnityContainer container = new UnityContainer();

Controller c = container.Resolve<Controller>();

c.Start();


I have made a sample application, you can check to see the above code into action. You will need VS2008,no need to download or setup Unity, since its assemblies are included.



Agree, Disagree? I like to hear your comments.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

powercfg -H ON

Today I run out of space on my C: drive, so I used the Desk Clean up wizard to free some desk space for me, it asked me to clean many things and I blindly checked them all.

Then when I tried to Hibernate the computer, I didn't find the Hibernate option.

Thanks Google, I found a Microsoft KB Article (The Hibernate option is not available in Windows Vista http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929658)

The article says "This issue occurs if one of the following conditions is true: 1) The Disk Cleanup Utility and has been used to delete the Hibernation File Cleaner. " and there are some other conditions ... but what I did to clean my disk space prevented me from Hibernation !!!!

Hmmm, Is it my fault any way ... I shouldn't check all the items in the wizard :(

Oh, I forgot to tell you how to get Hibernate again ... on the command prompt type:

powercfg -H ON

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hacking my kids games

Sometimes you feel that the geek inside you is about to explode , this happened to me when I went to buy a new toy to my daughter from the toy store and seen the RC Cars.

I found cheap remote controlled cars for less than 100 LE ( < 15$ )

The toy cars are remotely controlled using Radio frequency, they are called RC Cars for (Radio Controlled Cars)

Once I seen the remote control, I though immediately if it is possible to connect that remote to my PC and control the car using my keyboard !!! why do that ... I don't know but read the article from the beginning again and you will understand.

So, I did a quick search and I found other geeks thinking in the same line, this post (http://www.hackaday.com/2005/02/01/control-an-r-c-car-from-your-pc/) is what I was looking for and this (http://www.engr.uvic.ca/~sbowman/more-moreBetterCircuitDiagram.gif) is the circuit used to connect the remote to the computer parallel port.

As soon as I do that , will let you all know :)

Extreme XML

lots of interesting articles about XML, XPath , XSLT for .net developers:

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc294436.aspx

Check them out

Monday, March 03, 2008

Microsoft Robotics Studio Links


 

MSDN Robotics Forums

http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/default.aspx?ForumGroupID=383&SiteID=1


 

Microsoft Robotics Downloads

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/robotics/aa731520.aspx

Introductory Courseware for Microsoft Robotics Studio

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=F294C8E7-6617-4DD8-8354-7E97F3167E1A&displaylang=en


 

Channel 9 Videos

Robots and BizTalk Services

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=386824

Microsoft Robotics Studio and Lego Mindstorms NXT

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=325661

Microsoft Robotics Tour:

Part 1:CCR, VPL, Simulation - http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=303072

Part 2:CCR, VPL, Simulation - http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=303135

Singapore Sumo-Robot How-To

#1: Getting the Robotics Bits

http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=309026

#2: Understanding Your Robot's Inputs and Outputs

http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=309686

#3: Building Your First Robot

http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=309685

#4: Understanding Your Robot's Code Methods

http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=309688


 


 


 

CCR Programming - Jeffrey Richter and George Chrysanthakopoulos

http://channel9.msdn.com/showpost.aspx?postid=219308

Microsoft Robotics Studio

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=206574


 

    

Walter Stiers - Academic Relations Team (BeLux)

http://blogs.msdn.com/walterst/archive/tags/Robotics/default.aspx


 


 

Windows Embedded Academic Program (WEMAP)
The Windows Embedded Academic Program (WEMAP) helps provide a better understanding of the Windows CE and Windows XP Embedded operating systems to academia. As a participant in this program, you can learn how to educate the next generation of embedded developers on Windows Embedded technologies. You can participate in a variety of programs, including student competitions like the Windows Embedded Student ChallengE and discounted hardware programs, such as the Hardware Empowerment Program.


 

HowTo Videos: Robotics and .Net fundamentals

http://blogs.msdn.com/dawate/archive/2007/12/14/robotics-and-net-fundamentals-series.aspx

http://channel8.msdn.com/Posts/HowTo-Videos-Robotics-and-Net-fundamentals/

Monday, February 11, 2008

Return an exit code from a C# Windows Application

To exit an Windows Forms Application, we have the option to use Application.Exit() or the System.Environment.Exit().

The difference is discussed here (http://geekswithblogs.net/mtreadwell/archive/2004/06/06/6123.aspx) and the suggestion was made to use System.Environment.Exit() for console applications since it can accept an exit code which will be returned to the Operating System.

But for Windows applications, what should we do ?

I have tried to modify the Main function definition so it will have a return value, a lesson learned from C/C++ old days, then add a property to my main form to indicate if my application would report a success or failure report

And so, my Main function will look like this :

 

        [STAThread]
       
static int Main(string[] arguments)
        {

            Application.EnableVisualStyles()
;
           
Application.SetCompatibleTextRenderingDefault(false);

           
MainForm mainForm = new MainForm();
            Application.Run(mainForm)
;

           
//return exit code
            // 0  : no problem
            // -1 : error occured

           
int exitCode = mainForm.Succeeded == true ? 0 : -1;
            return
exitCode;
           

       
}

 

This approach can be extended to report different exit codes for different scenarios (think about MSBuild or NAnt exit codes).

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Guidelines for Test-Driven Development

 

Jeffrey Palermo has an interesting article on MSDN about TDD in .net development, discussing the process of Red-Green-Refactor, benefits of TDD and what characterizes a good unit test

Microsoft Sync Framework

According to Microsoft definition; the Sync Framework is "a comprehensive synchronization platform enabling collaboration and offline for applications, services and devices with support for any data type, any data store, any transfer protocol, and network topology."

What does it mean for us developers?

Hmmm, I am trying to think about an example here. Take Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Groove as an example; both are collaboration platforms, can work offline and online, and support many protocols.

Look at the technical options that we have now if we need to build something like this:

  • Database Replication
  • Offline Application Block
  • WCF with Queued Messages

I don't know of any other option, but each of the above options has different approach and has issues and limitations as well.

The Sync framework is coming to put a uniform way of building applications like Outlook without pain, the framework is now addressing Data, files and feeds synchronization in addition to having the ability to role your own providers; think about synchronizing an Oracle database with an Outlook folder or a SharePoint list.

The concept is discussed in Introduction to the Microsoft Sync Framework Runtime , while the motivations, goals and approach is briefly discussed by Moe Khosravy the Lead Program Manager on his article Next Generation Synchronization Framework or watch him talk about it on Channel8 http://channel8.msdn.com/Posts/Sync-your-Facebook-with-your-phone-Whats-the-Sync-Framework/

There is also a number of Screen casts http://blogs.msdn.com/sync/archive/2008/01/14/microsoft-sync-framework-sync-services-for-ado-net-video-webcasts.aspx

So, what are you waiting for, go ahead and download the SDK (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=C88BA2D1-CEF3-4149-B301-9B056E7FB1E6&displaylang=en) and start playing.

Interested on the subject, or have played with it … let me know by commenting on this post

Friday, February 08, 2008

[Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0] MSDN Webcast series

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 01 of 15): Smart Clients and N-tier Design (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 02 of 15): Design Patterns for GUI Applications (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 03 of 15): Creating Dynamic and Configurable Applications (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 04 of 15): Architecting a Secure Desktop Application (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 05 of 15): Designing the Business Tier (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 06 of 15): Designing the Data Access Tier (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 07 of 15): Best Practices for Developing N-Tier Applications (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 08 of 15): Turning Tiers into Components (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 09 of 15): Build, Build, Build, Test, Test, Test (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 10 of 15): Multithreading for Performance and Responsiveness (Level 300) (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 11 of 15): Designing Distributed Applications Around Remote Access (Level 300) (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 12 of 15): Designing Distributed Applications Around Web Services (Level 300) (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 13 of 15): Securing a Distributed Application (Level 300) (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 14 of 15): ClickOnce Deployment (Level 300) (Level 300)

MSDN Webcast: Architecting Desktop Applications with 2.0 (Part 15 of 15): Learning from Agile Development (Level 300) (Level 300)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to get the month name according to the current windows local

I used the DateTimeFormatInfo class to get the month name as a string by calling this method GetMonthName(int) , then I found that it retrun the English representation of the month even in non english regional settings (Windows locale).

The culture aware class is the CultureInfo, which can be accessed from the Current thread, so simply call:

System.Threading.Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentCulture.DateTimeFormat.GetMonthName(monthNumber);

to get a culture specific month name.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blogs/Casts I read and recommend

ARCast.TV - Exotic Locations, Global Perspective and Architectural Insight… It’s ARCast.TV with Ron Jacobs

RSS Feed :http://channel9.msdn.com/rss.aspx?ShowID=26

 

Scott Hanselman - Scott Hanselman's Thoughts on .NET, WebServices, and Life , also listen to his PodCast (www.hanselminutes.com)

RSS Feed : http://feeds.feedburner.com/ScottHanselman

 

MSDN Nuggets - not the stuff we eat ... its MSDN Nuggets

RSS Feed :  http://www.microsoft.com/uk/msdn/nuggets/rss.aspx?t=all

 

 Daniel Moth a Microsoft geek and a former MVP (lots of Screen Casts)

RSS Feed : http://feeds.feedburner.com/DanielMoth

VS2005 Gotcha : DataTable with Seed = 0 will kill you