Blog ala Vidar

SQL, AppFrame and other cool technologies

Tag Archives: Social Networking

Who are YOU?

After reading Adam Machanic’s blog post with the title “Who Are You?” I though I’d do the same. So, who are you? I know many of my readers are Omega employees, but I don’t know who’s actually reading my blog. If you don’t mind, please leave a comment about yourself. Doesn’t matter if you’re an Omega employee or not. I’d like to know more about you, so please tell me a bit about yourself. This can include your name, company, where you live, what you do, your URL(s), twitter name or anything else you’d like to share. Please also let me know what you’d like to read (more) about at my blog.

If you want to know more about me, you can take a look at my about-page. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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Apprentice

A couple of months back I signed up on a Norwegian forum to be a teacher for people who wanted to start learning programming. Last week I got my first “apprentice” which got me to start thinking about what a great idea this actually is. Why isn’t there some site out there where you can find someone to help you start programming? Or maybe get better at something you already know.

I’ve got a lot of spare time, but what we’re talking about here is a couple of mails and/or MSN-chats a week. Everyone got time for that! I’m don’t know everything about SQL Server, but I’m sure I could teach most of you a couple of things. I’ve also got experience with .NET, PHP, MySQL and many other things, but that’s a bit rusty, so I’d love to get better at least with .NET. Having someone you can just shoot questions to would be awesome. I know, there are a lot of Q&A  sites out there. I’ve started being active on StackOverflow and ServerFault.com lately, and before I’ve been on MSDN forums.

So, what I’ve been thinking of lately is, what about making a site to connect teachers and students? Maybe integrate it with StackOverflow using their API to do the Q&A-part, but have somewhat of a social site where you can find interesting articles (or videos?) about your favorite subjects, and connect with someone who’s willing to answer a couple of questions a week, to get you started with programming (or maybe a new topic like LINQ, WCF or similar).

Would you be interested in participating on such a site?
As a “teacher” you’d get a profile, adding all your feeds (blogs, youtube videos or similar), where people can vote on your feed-items, and the top articles would show on the front page (maybe just links to the original blog-post, not to “steal” any content). You’d also get to help the community, and of course kill as much time as you wanted by rating articles and being contacted by “students”.
As a “student” you’d browse through teacher’s profiles, articles and of course get in contact with someone willing to help you on your way with either starting programming, a new language or just a new feature.
As a “developer” you’d get to help me build this site

So, bottom line. You got any thoughts about this? Would you use the site? Contact me either you’ve got ideas, comments or you want to participate!

Nordnes.Me

A couple of weeks ago I looked in the mirror. What did I see? I saw a guy that used most of his spare time on Xbox games. So, what did I do? Well, I had to find something else to do. What else? Build a new server! Yeah yeah, I could go outside having some fresh air etc., but fresh air also comes through the windows, at least if you open them. ANYHOW! I bought two domains; nordnes.me and nrdn.es and though I’d have some fun. A while back I bought a Quad Core AMD CPU for my HDPC, but I bought a new Intel CPU for that, so the AMD processor with the main board was just lying around without being used. I bought 8 GB RAM for it, and 2 x 2TB disks. I’ve also got a Microsoft TechNet subscription, which allows me to download almost any Microsoft product for free to use in a testing environment. What’s more testing environment than my home network? 😉

Now, everything is up and running and here are the specs.

Physical server
vs – Hyper-V Server

Virtual servers, all running with 1GB RAM (2-4 while setting them up):
vsAD – Active Directory, DNS and similar
vsHS – Home Server 2003 (not running. Will probably be deleted soon)
vsLINUX – Debian. Not running, but installed in case I need to test some Linux-stuff
vsMAIL – Exchange Server 2010 (hosting vidar@nordnes.me)
vsSQL – SQL Server, running 5 instances (2005, 2008, 2008R2, Express etc)
vsVAIL – Home Server VAIL
vsWEB – Web server, hosting Nordnes.me and nrdn.es

Home Server

I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff in the process of installing and configuring everything. Today I finished moving over to the new home server (VAIL) which based on Windows Server 2008 R2. It’s awesome! One of the new features is that you can stream your videos via web (using Silverlight). Oh, while I’m talking about home server. If you’ve got more than one computer at home (or at the office), you might want to think about buying one. It makes sharing videos, music, backing up your computers and making sure all computers have updated antivirus etc. a whole lot easier. But wait till VAIL is released! VAIL will only run on x64 bit, while the old version only runs on x86.

One thing worth mentioning: DO NOT add your Home Server to AD. You will be able to do it, but it causes so many problems. The reason I wanted to do it was to use the same username and password as on all my other machines (both physical and virtual). Also, joining machines to the home server should be done on a wired network, not on wireless. When joined, you can put them back on wireless without any problems, but I haven’t been able to join any of my computers while on wireless. Have no clue why though, since my wireless router is set up as an AP (Access Point).

Active Directory

The main reason I installed AD is that I wanted to use the same username and password on all computers, but also to play around with group policies. Also, Exchange is pretty meaningless, if not impossible, without AD.

Web

This is the server I’ve played most with. I installed SharePoint, played with Office Web Apps and most recently Nordnes.me and nrdn.es. The last one (nrdn.es) is my own test-project for bit.ly/tinyurl.com-like sites. If you’re interested I can send you the project for this one, but there’s no rocket science here. I’ve also built Nordnes.me using Master pages in ASP.NET. This is actually my first site ever in ASP.NET!

Nordnes.me is just a place where I’ve gathered all my public feeds (blog, twitter etc) into one stream. I’m using a windows service to poll all the feeds every 15 minutes or something and then using LINQ to XML (which btw is AWESOME!) with ASP.NET to display them.

Exchange

Since Omega just moved over to Exchange, I felt I had to get some more knowledge about this. It would be interesting anyways since 99% of our customers use it, so I would probably eventually “have to” build something that communicated with Exchange. Before starting the installation I was convinced that this was just another “next next next next finish” project, and I was right. At least to get it up and running. To get it to send and receive mail took a couple of hours though. I am still not able to connect to Exchange outside my network although testexchangeconnectivity.com says everything is working as it should be. Since it’s working locally it’s very hard for me to test outside my network, so I might have to pick someone up from Microsoft and get them home to see my server-collection 😀

SQL

All SQL geeks with self-respect should have at least 5 instances running at home. I’m only using 2008 R2 at the moment, where I’ve got mainly two databases. One for the tiny URLs (nrdn.es) and one for polling twitter. The reason I’m polling twitter is to gather very much data, so I can start playing with SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services). There are two arguments for polling twitter for this; it’s public and there’s A LOT of data being generated (by people) every second.

Outlook tips and tricks

Now that it’s official that Omega’s running Exchange I can share a couple of tips and tricks I’ve found useful. First, let’s start with how to integrate with TeamDocuments. There’s a TeamDoc called “Outlook-plug-in”. If you don’t got access to it, just let me know and I’ll add you. Under Build, you’ll find a 2007 version, which also works on 2010. Install it and then open Outlook. You’ll notice you’ve got a couple of new icons in the “Add-Ins” tab. Press Config, and choose what settings you want. Here you can select calendars to sync, if to enable TeamDoc inside Outlook and to sync contacts. After clicking “OK”, just click on the connect button and it will start to synchronize!

Twitter
There’s a plug-in called TwInbox that you can use to get tweets inside Outlook. It’s pretty easy to set up, but be aware; if you’re following many people (like I do), it can get really naggy, so I’ve unchecked “Home” in preferences, so I only get mentions, directs etc. If I got spare time I only just go to twitter.com 🙂

LinkedIn
There’s also a plug-in for LinkedIn. This is not like TwInbox where you get the messages as mails or similar, but it integrates nicely in contacts and in for example mails showing the profile-pictures of those you’re connected to etc.

RSS Feeds
At the moment I’m subscribing to 218 RSS feeds. I thought it would be a great idea to get them inside Outlook, but found it to be not as good as Google Reader. The main problem was that although I marked a feed as read, it came with the same items over and over again. Pretty annoying. So, therefore I removed all subscriptions (don’t worry, I exported an OPML file from Google Reader) and right clicked the “RSS Feeds” folder, Properties, Home Page and there I put http://www.google.com/reader/ as the address. Now I can at least get Google Reader inside Outlook 🙂

News from Ølen about stuff that matters

You might have noticed there was just a holiday. Something about Jesus eating some bad chicken, so everyone thought he died, but then he woke up a couple of days later feeling much better. Anyways, because of this bad chicken, I’ve been VERY busy the last week, playing Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox. Ai can has vacation 2!

AppFrame as a product!
Since I started in Omega I’ve been fighting for releasing AppFrame as a framework for developers outside Omega. Now that’s almost a reality. We’re soon going to offer AppFrame as a product, along side PIMS and our other products. There haven’t been any final decision on pricing and stuff, but I can guarantee it will be affordable. This means that all developers out there that want to use AppFrame as their Framework to make applications can soon start doing this! They MIGHT even get the source code! After releasing CR3 I’m now confident that this is an AWESOME product. If you’ve met me, you know I’m not a sales person. I always say what I mean, and I can say with my full heart that AppFrame is without a doubt a VERY good product to develop applications for customers! Contact me if you want a presentation (from a developer, or a sales person. Your choice!). I’ll probably post a blog about the details when there’s been a decision on price etc.

NNUG and MTUG Haugesund
I’m the chapter of NNUG (Norwegian .NET User Group) Haugesund. We had a meeting at Rica Maritim Hotel in Haugesund March 22nd. The speaker was Einar Ingebrigtsen, and he talked about creating games with managed code. That means, using Silverlight, XNA, DirectX and similar. We had a new record of attendees: 27! That’s really high, at least if you compare us to Bergen which is a MUCH bigger city, but they’ve got about an average of about 20 people every meeting.

Since I’m both interested in programming and hosting-related stuff, I thought it would be cool to start a user group that could concentrate about the IT Pro’s out there, just like NNUG is concentrating on MSDN-people. Timing perfect, as always, I read on twitter that a guy called Jan Egil Ring was about to start MTUG (Microsoft Technology User Group). I’ve offered myself as the contact person in Haugesund, and I’m now working on gathering people so we can get a committee to manage this group. I’ll keep all of you updated when we’ll start having meetings etc.

VB.NET 10
Except playing Xbox, what have I been doing lately? I’ve played a lot with Visual Studio 2010 RC. A hot tip for those of you thinking you’ll play with Silverlight 4 in the RC. Don’t even think about it. It doesn’t work. I didn’t know this, so after 6-7 hours of swearing, kicking, screaming etc. Erik (coworker and friend) told me that’s not possible. Well, thanks! After that I started playing with WPF, since it’s basically the same except that Silverlight is a wossy-version of WPF /me hides under the table, waiting for the Silverlight-folks to start screaming. I’ve already managed to create a simple twitter client, trying out LINQ to XML, LINQ to Entities and a couple of new minor changes to VB. The fact that you now can create a Property on a class with ONE line of code is awesome. And, yes, before you C#-fanatics say “we’ve had this for ages”, you now got optional parameters, which VB have had for about 1000 years. We now also got something that’s got a fancy name. “Implicit Line Continuation”, which basically means that you don’t have to end all lines with _ if you want to continue this line on the next. This was very annoying in for example LINQ, where you’ve got something like:

Dim v = From a In AppDomain.CurrentDomain.GetAssemblies _
		Where a.ToString.Length > 0
		Select a.ToString()

Here is a great example. On the first line you need to specify the _ at the end, if not you’re not “allowed” to continue, but you don’t need it on the Where-line. Pretty confusing. Well, now you don’t need it at all.

One other thing that I find really nice is the improved IntelliSense. Now you can start typing “To”, and you’ll get:

CompareTo, CopyTo, ToString etc

Before, you only got ToString, since that’s the only thing starting with To. You can also search for AD, and get AppDomain, since .NET uses Pascal Casing.

Blogs

We’ve been working a bit on the blogs site. Or, to be honest, I’ve been making tasks and Stian has been doing them. The new (some of them are old, but you might not have noticed them before) features are: Tags. This works the same ways as Categories, except that you can tag an article with more than one Tag. We’ve then got Tag Clouds, to show which Tags are the most mentioned, and which are rarer.

If you’re using TeamDocuments, you will be auto-logged in which gives you the possibility of rating all posts, and commenting on them! You can even comment as an anonym user.

Johnny said today that he’ll start blogging more. Peter also had this statement a couple of weeks ago. Guess it’s just like X-files, “Du tror det ikke før du får se det!” (something like You won’t believe it before you see it!). But I would be very happy to see some posts from them too!

Build 5

The technology department released Build 5 of AppFrame a couple of weeks ago. Peter was our “speaker” at our last cake-meeting where he went through most of the changes done in this build. I’m really excited to start upgrading our clients to this release!

Issue Tracker

To report bugs (yes, we as everyone else, including Microsoft!, produce bugs), the technology department released a new “issue tracker”. This makes it SOOO much easier for me, since I now don’t have to read 10-15 TeamDocs every day to check if the bugs I’ve reported have been fixed. Most of the things I’m reporting is even getting fixed within a couple of hours (sometimes days), depending on the severity of the bug/suggestion. I’m strongly recommending you all to report everything you find, so we’ll get an even better product! Just today I’ve reported two things; resizing issues with the calendar in chrome and the distribution lists not working. They haven’t been fixed yet, but the distribution lists-thing is “in process”.

 

If you’ve got any suggestions on what you want me to blog about, or you’ve got comments, please send them to me! And remember to rate the posts! Good or bad. I won’t bite… Changed my mind. I will bite 🙂

Wiki

I have set up a wiki for AppFrame developers. You can find it here. NB! This might not be available for some users (outside the Omega network), but will hopefully be available Monday morning. The reason this is set up is to gather all our resources, including all TeamDocuments like “Snippet Library”, “Technical problems for technical geeks” and similar. It is NOT set up to replace www.appframe.com, and this will still be our portal for developers. The difference will be that AppFrame.com will be “professional” articles, while wiki will be copy/paste code, small tips & tricks etc.

In the main page you’ll see two main headlines; Development and Setup & Maintenance. Under Development you’ll find the most important categories. Click for example “AppFrameR3” and you’ll be referred to the category which shows all articles in this category.

So, how do you start using wiki? First you of course need to register. After that’s done, you can click any “edit” you want. We’re using mediawiki (the same engine as Wikipedia.org) which means that there are some tags that are special here. You can use most HTML tags, but also a couple of mediawiki special tags. For a list of all, go to this site. To add an article to a category, just add the following:
[[Category:YourCategory]]

Also, you can edit existing articles to see which tags are used. The longest article so far is a copy of my AppFrame Security blog post.

The most used formatting tags are:

‘’italic’’
’’’bold’’’
’’’’’bold & italic’’’’’

=Heading, level 1=
==Heading, level 2==

* Bullet list one
* Bullet list two
** Bullet list three, child of two

# Numbered list one
## Numbered list two, child of one

<source lang=”tsql”>
SELECT *
    FROM Table
</source>

[[Main Page]]
[[Main Page|Link to Main Page]]
#REDIRECT [[Main Page]]
[[:Category:YourCategory|Link to YourCategory]]
[http://www.appframe.com AppFrame.com]
[mailto:vidar@omega.no email me]
[[Image:Database.png]]

Google Wave – Preview

Yesterday I got a Google Wave invite. I’ve played with it for a couple of hours to try to understand the concept. I’ve heard a lot of a podcast called TWIG (This Week In Google) where they’ve been talking about wave. They’ve said that you shouldn’t think of wave as a MSN or mail “killer”, and I tend to agree. Where I see the big potential is when you want to collaborate on a document or similar. In Omega we got TeamDocuments. This MIGHT be a TeamDoc killer, but I’m not convinced yet. You’ve probably already seen the video where they presented Google Wave for developers. I’ve tried out some of the functionality, but for now I think it’s way to slow. I’m using chrome version 4, but they still got some tuning to do in my opinion. Anyhow, let’s focus on the cool stuff! On the left side (see the screenshot) you’ve got Inbox etc and your contacts on the bottom. I know a couple of guys which has an account, so the first thing I tried was having a live conversation with one of them (Tormod Haugen). I found it very cool that you see what the other person is typing before he presses enter. This saves a lot of time, at least compared to MSN where you’re seeing the “….. is writing” for several minutes, and then the thing he/she were writing was “ok”. Pretty annoying.

In the picture you’ll see my search “with:public lang:no”. In wave you can share a wave with everyone, or with just the people you choose. Public of course means everyone, and guess what… “lang:no” means Norwegian 🙂 The wave I’ve clicked on is called “Calling out to all Norwegian wavers"!”, it was last updated 1:25 pm, and has one unread message (or Blip as it’s called) of 34. In this wave there’s a vote if Google Wave seems promising. I’ve voted “Maybe”. As every other good bug testers, I’m going to start reporting bugs from now. I’m a Microsoft fan-boy, but I’m also a Google fan-boy, so why not help them out the same way I’ve been helping Microsoft? By reporting LOTS of bugs 😛

Conclusion: Although this seems promising, there’s still a long way to go. I’ll keep testing it, checking out all the bots you can add and other stuff. Maybe I’ll even write a bot myself? 🙂

NB! I don’t have any invitations, sorry. If I get any, I already have a list of about 20 people who’s interested 😛

Social Networks

A couple of weeks ago I removed my accounts at facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of getting mail with invites for stupid things that I don’t care about. The only social network I’m now a member of is twitter. This is different. For starters, there’s almost no “kiddies” there. Most of you probably know what twitter is but for you that don’t, read here. At first I didn’t want a twitter account, because I don’t care what everyone is doing all the time. But, I found out that this is not the primary usage. At least not for IT-guys. It’s very good to for example share interesting links.

At twitter, there are a couple of things you should know. When using a hash tag (#), you’re referring to a topic which is searchable, so when a user search for “windows7”, all your tweets with #windows7 in it will show. You can also click on these hash tags and see other people’s tweets about this topic. When referring to a user you use the @. For example my user is known as @vidarnordnes, so if you want to write something to me, you’ll write: “@vidarnordnes: Good morning”, and if I want to ReTweet, I write: “RT @johnnyvik: Good morning”. These are all public messages, but you can also send direct messages which only can be read by the recipient.

So, who’s worth following? You can go here to find the persons I’m following. Here’s a list of (in)active Omega twitters:

And here’s a list of my favorites:

 

BTW! Please rate blog post. If you think this blog post was stupid, set it to 1. If you loved it set it to 5. That way we know what topics to keep posting blogs about 🙂

Google features

Google is the “one and only” when it comes to search, but Google also offer a lot of other features! Jon Kristian wrote about Google Wave which is going to be released this year. In addition to this they got for example iGoogle which is a very good and customizable start page. Here’s a screenshot of my iGoogle, were I’ve got news, twitter, search, tasks etc.

In addition, there’s Gmail, Picasa (where you can upload your pictures), Docs (word on web), Talk (MSN wannabe), Calendar, Sites, Maps, Translate and many more! The one that I’ve fell in love with is Reader. This is an RSS reader where you can have one place to read about everything that you care about (at least when it comes to computer-stuff). I also use it to get notified when there’s a new episode of one of the 20 series (yes, I know.. it’s a lot) I’m watching. All this with ONE login, and it’s even auto login! Sweet! Oh, did I forget the best browser on the market? Google Chrome

Btw, did you know that Google offers a lot of features also in the search field? Here’s a couple of examples you could try out:
weather Houston
5+1
100 EUR in USD
1 meter in inches
~cabin Vågslid
define:SQL
SQL site:blogs.appframe.com

The first one will of course show the weather in Houston. The second is calculating for you. Google can do complex calculations too. Conversions are a great feature when talking to for example Americans which always uses foot, inches, Fahrenheit etc. ~cabin means it will also search for synonyms like cottage. define is used for acronyms, and the last one you only search one site