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December 2004 Entries
Web design that is, interesting

Many years ago I attended a Young Enterprise conference in Glasgow and met a chap who went to another school in the town I am from, Glenrothes. Jon Bains then went on to form a New Media company called Lateral.

I drop in by their company website from time to time, and after a few visits showing a landing page with promises of a redesign, they have changed their site with new content, and new navigation.

The new navigation is still sinking in to my brain, I therefore classify it as "Interesting" for the time being.

posted @ Wednesday, December 22, 2004 7:46 AM | Feedback (3)
How to give a good technical presentation

I just watched an excellent video of Don Box talking about a few of the ground rules that he applies to presentations. He does give a good presentation himself, I saw a few at the PDC and he applies the tips he talks about. Runs for about 23 minutes, but worth it!

I hope one or two are familiar to you if you have had any training in presentation skills, but I like the technical spin on this.

I've been quite impressed by the recent material I've found on channel9, but this is real world useful stuff rather than just interesting background information like the SQL Server team videos. You can see the post that the video comes from at http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=31792.

posted @ Friday, December 10, 2004 8:35 AM | Feedback (2)
Another one, 70-315 passed this time

Just passed 70-315 Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, the first of my c# exams towards my MCSD. Woohoo!

Amazed myself at a half decent pass mark too - they are still sticking back to giving pass marks and section scores and I was more than a hundred over the pass mark (just ;)).

The Que book and the transcenders were helpful, though I felt that the mix of questions was quite different to that of the transcenders in the exam that I took. And as I expected, the exam doesn't test coding per se, rather the framework elements related to web development. So there was a good amount related to the handling of web forms and the new data handling bits that they head up as ADO.NET.

Now for a brief breather of an evening, then preparations for the windows app exam, 70-316.

Only two c# exams to get, and I'll be an MCSD .NET to go with my MCSD for Visual Studio 6.0!

posted @ Thursday, December 9, 2004 11:20 AM | Feedback (2)
Long Way Round

Sky One showed the last episode of this six part series last week, which I have been watching on Monday nights when it is shown here in the UK on satellite television.

For those of you who don't know the background to the show, it was the account of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman going round the world on BMW Motorcycles. The series went from the setup of the idea, picking bikes to getting the trip together and travelling across Europe, former Soviet Block countries and bordering countries, up and over to Alaska and then on to New York.

When I first heard that it was happening I checked out the airing schedule and found out that neither of the channels that they advertised it on were available on my Freeview / TopUp TV terrestrial digital television so I waited a little then got arranged to pay my money to the relevant part of the Murdoch empire and got digital satellite television. It was a couple of weeks before I realised that they were repeating it during the week on Sky Travel, which I got on my terrestrial package, but also that the Bravo listed on the longwayround website was in fact the American channel.

Being a bit new to this stuff I didn't realise the global marketing going on behind the show and that of course it would be shown in the US too. I have subsequently realised that a number of channels have US and UK versions that are subtly different. Ignoring the big obvious ones, the likes of the Sci-Fi channel have equivalents which are slightly different, as does Discovery. In a fun crossover, they visited the stars of another favourite show of mine on Discovery, American Chopper's Orange County Choppers.

Long way round was really interesting, but of course Ewan fell into the easy trap of comparing scenery everywhere to Scotland as he went along. It is an irony of the country that I have lived in all my life that we neglect to visit our own country as much as our fellow Europeans. I have only travelled to the area once in my life, but the far North West of Scotland with its sea lochs is simply stunning, and the far north from Durness to John O Groats is as far removed from Edinburgh and central Scotland to feel like another country.

I have ordered the DVD for the show from Amazon and it should be on its way now, I bought the book to the series but it really needs the pictures to get the full impact of what was happening to Ewan and Charley as they rode their GS bikes across a continent. For instance, some of the food dishes peculiar to the countries have to be seen to be believed. The book and show go really well together, the book expanding on the video diaries that the guys took, and the video diaries just showing how tired they were at most stages of their trip.

I can understand why it was edited down to six shows, which is probably pretty long for this kind of show, but there must be so much that they had to cut in order to fit a trip of weeks into about four and a half hours of programme. It ended really quickly with the last show, which tracked them crossing Canada and the US in one show. I guess the mileages they were covering each day on the bikes (500-600 miles) meant that the time went quickly.

In the end it was another opportunity to study people, yes it had bikes in it which was the hook that got me interested, but it was the two main characters, the cameraman that rode another similar bike with them (Claudio) and the other people that they met that were the cornerstone of the story. The trip looked fascinating, but not for me, I could never go that long from the people that are important to my life - my wife and kids. Quite fancy a BMW bike though, an old R1100RS, in black would suit me fine. Similar engine to Ewan and Charley's, but with more of a sports touring bias. For shortish trips from the house and commuting to work. Nice. And I could grow my beard back again.

posted @ Monday, December 6, 2004 2:54 PM | Feedback (0)
Not something you can write Mom about

I have just been watching the channel 9 tour of the SQL Server team, and Soner Terek used the phrase “Not something you can write Mom about” when speaking about the engine of Microsoft SQL Server.

Sums up some major parts of my career so far, it can be quite challenging explaining to people what it is I do.

posted @ Monday, December 6, 2004 2:42 PM | Feedback (0)
Alistair does .NET part 2

Now finished the book I have been working through, so I have covered all of the material relating to 70-315. Of course, that is not all of it so I am now working on practice exams to show up my weak areas.

And it is going pretty well too. I am beginning to get ready to book the exam, but it looks like all of the places have gone from the local test centres in December which is a disappointment.

As for the material, I am itching to get to know the other areas. I have three exams to sit to get MCSD.NET, this exam included. In terms of the learning experience I am really interested to see what the material says in the Web Services and Server Components exam. I will most likely do the windows exam before that, though, as the material shares more with 70-315.

posted @ Monday, December 6, 2004 8:28 AM | Feedback (0)