Experiences and Experiments in Programming

 Sunday, April 30, 2006
I finally got to posting my presentations from the Huntsville Code Camp.  Sorry it took me so long.  They are on my projects page.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 9:28:16 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
After one of my presentations at the Huntsville Code Camp about CSS and ASP.NET, I was asked about using the same techniques in DNN and other frameworks.  So I decided to take the example from the presentation and create it in a DNN skin.  So I have posted a DNN skin called Desert Trip on my projects page.  It might serve as a good example or a good starting point for a more detailed skin.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 9:27:16 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
On a brighter note, this weekend was the Softech Celebrity Shootout.  The company I work for, Softech Development, was the title sponsor for the Softech Celebrity Shootout benefitting The Joe Cribbs Youth Foundation. We have signed up for the title sponsorship for the next 2 years.  We had a great time!  I got to play golf Saturday with Hines Ward.  I got to meet a lot of the celebrities and got quite a number of signatures.  It all took place at Ross Bridge Resort...very relaxing!  My wife and my room overlooked a waterfall near the pool.  Most of the time we were in our room, we had our balcony door open to hear the sound of the water.  I think I could definately do that on a regular basis.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 9:25:16 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Well it has been a little bit since my last post.  We had a family medical problem arise that kept my focus with my family.  I am not going to go to the Atlanta Code Camp because I need to stay closer to home.  But I think things will eventually level out.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 8:47:42 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Sunday, April 23, 2006
Yesterday we bid a fond farewell to the second Alabama Code Camp. It was a wonderful success. The speaker line-up was top-notch, the attendance was high, the presentations were informative, and the fellowship was great! A number of people asked if I would post my slides and examples so I will post them shortly.

Wally McClure did a podcast with some of the Alabama code camp coordinators and user group leaders. Actually, this was the first podcast that I have been involved with. It was a great time! Wally also posted some pictures from the Code Camp.

My three presentations seemed to go well. A number of attendees said they enjoyed the presentations and walked away having learned something new and useful. Ultimately that is what really matters...if someone can walk away from one of your presentations having learned something new or having been entertained.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 9:44:18 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Friday, April 21, 2006
Well the trip up today was rainy but we got here in Huntsville for the Code Camp about 6PM.  We got settled in and then headed down to a local club called The Station.  A handful of speakers and Code Camp coordinators got together tonight.  It was a lot of fun.  David Silverlight brought some T-shirts with Community Credit and DevFish logos.  It was a nice night to just chat about "stuff".

We are back in the room now and working on finalizing presentations for tomorrow.  We have had 2 slots for speakers open up.  I have been trying to see if I might have time to throw another presentation together.  Maybe I am crazy...of course that is not new news!

Friday, April 21, 2006 10:51:20 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, April 20, 2006
Well I will be dog gone!  See, all I needed was a little patience.  Last week I mentioned the Google Calendar and that it would be great if they released an API.  I guess I should be careful what I ask for.  Google has released their Calendar API.  It was announced last night on the Google Updates Blog.  And they already have a C# client library available!

Now I have one more thing I want to play around with that I really don't have time to play around with.  When someone opens up a shop to sell extra hours in the day, I am going to be their best customer!

Thursday, April 20, 2006 11:55:22 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Friday, April 14, 2006
Some people say that the next World War will be fought with conventional weaponry.  I say the next World War will be fought with innovative technology and the battle front will be located in the trenches of our computers!  Yesterday I mentioned Google Calendar.  Well today I was pointed to the Longhornblogs.com.  It appears that Microsoft is fighting fire with fire and releasing their own online  calendaring offering.

The "browser wars" were just a pain in our neck!  It was unproductive, and I think it actually made me dumber trying to keep up with all the varying browser issues!  But what is going on now with Google and Microsoft is quite another matter.  I think Google and Microsoft are going to continue to push each other to constantly be more innovative.  They are going to have to look at using the current and future technologies to stay ahead and forge into ever newer territories.  We are actually going to benefit from this battle!

It has truely been a volley up to this point.  Just look at a few examples: Google Desktop Search vs. Windows Desktop Search, Google Earth vs. Virtual Earth, Google Toolbar vs. MSN Toolbar.  The list goes on and I am sure anyone reading this is familiar with most of them.  I can't wait to see both companies continue to push innovation in the areas of the web experience!  So I don't know about any of you but I am getting my bag of popcorn and my foam finger and getting ready for a battle for the future!

Friday, April 14, 2006 9:04:48 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
The Atlas team has released an Atlas Control Toolkit which contains some control extenders to do some pretty nifty things with little or no code. The control toolkit includes the following controls and extenders:
  • CascadingDropDown: Easily link drop downs, complete with asynchronous population and no postbacks!
  • CollaspiblePanel:  This extender allows panels on your page to collapse and expand with no code.
  • ConfirmButton: This extender adds a confirm dialog to any Button, LinkButton, or ImageButton control.
  • DragPanel: Makes any panel into an object that you can drag around the page.
  • HoverMenu: Allows UI to pop up next to a control when the user hovers over it. 
  • PopupControl: This extender turns any panel into a popup. 
  • ReorderList: This control is a full-featured data-bound control that allows its elements to be reordered on the client via drag and drop.
  • TextBoxWatermark:  This extender adds "watermark" prompt text to TextBoxes on the page.
  • ToggleButton:  This extender turns an ASP.NET CheckBox into an image checkbox. 
You get the source code, documentation, and more.  There are also some tools to help build your own controls that can utilize the power of Atlas.  The toolkit also has:
  • Helper Classes:  This library of helper classes eliminates many of the steps needed to create "Atlas" controls or extenders so you can quickly produce the code that will make your website shine.
  • Project and Item Templates:  With just a few clicks of the mouse, you'll be writing your first "Atlas" component.  The toolkit contains Visual Studio 2005 Templates for Visual Basic and Visual C# users to create their own controls and extenders.
Although this is an early release and may not completely cover every possibility, it is a new toy to play with and learn more about using Atlas!

Friday, April 14, 2006 8:23:27 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, April 13, 2006
Jeff just posted some information about Google Calendar so I went and took a look. I like it!  Unlike Jeff, I typically use Thunderbird.

One of the things I fight with is centralizing my information and access to it. My time is spent between  client locations, remote locations, home, and the office. Granted, I use a laptop so I can carry some stuff around with me, but even on my laptop I have multiple profiles. I have tried a lot of things: portable applications that you carry on thumb drives, online file storage, sites like BackPack.  Some I like, some I don't.  The problem is that I have not found that silver bullet.  Maybe it is not out there.  But as many of us developers as there are, that I would like to think have the same problem and feel the same way, you would think one or more of us would have forged that silver bullet by now.  I am watching Live.com to see if through its extensibility and gadgets, it might get close.

Back to Google Calendar...what would be cool is if they release a developer interface.  I think it would be really nice to be able to integrate your own web site or application with their calendar.  I could see some really cool Atlas apps and Live.com plugins that would behave similarly to Outlook Web Access without using Outlook.  In the mean time, another new online toy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006 11:04:50 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I am a little late with this.  The registration for the Alabama Code Camp is now open.  Registration actually opened up on 04/10 but the broadcast email did not go out till today.

You can Register Here

Here are some quick stats:
  • 200 attendee slots open
  • 123 miles from Nashville
  • 100 books for giveaways
  • 95 miles from Birmingham
  • 28 unique sessions
  • 37 speakers
  • 7 MVPs sharing knowledge
  • 8 book authors presenting
  • 4 Microsoft presenters
Go to the Alabama Code Camp site to learn more!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 2:09:52 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
While it was definately not one of my best presentations, last night's presentation went well.  We wound up creating a DVD library.  Often times you wonder if presentations really matter and if anyone actually gets anything out of them.  Well today I was presently surprised.  One of the folks at the meeting last night contacted me to let me know they used some things covered in the presentation last night. Jeremy got a call from a client today asking for a quick turn-around on a task.  He was able to use what the presentation covered last night to get the client what they needed.  Awesome!  It is nice to hear that something you do is helpful and is actually used.  Thanks Jeremy for the call!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 2:02:46 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Last night I was working on my presentation for BUG.NET tonight and had a cool idea.

One of my many hobbies is magic.  I am a professional magician and proud member of IBM. UF Grant, a well known magician, published an entire magic act called "The Challenge Magic Act". The premise is that the magician enters the audience and promises to do an effect with any item handed to him.

Well I am going to do something similar tonight. I am going with no slides and no prepared code. I am going to ask the attendees to come up with some simple application ideas. One of them will be chosen and I will start from scratch and build a data-aware application using ASP.NET and ATLAS. I am going to try to complete the entire application in less than 15 minutes.

Now granted, the application will be a real simple one, but I am hoping to demonstrate the ease with which Visual Studio 2005, SQL Express 2005, and ATLAS can be used to quickly create a rich UI web application.  On top of that, hopefully it will be a lot of fun!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 9:41:01 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Monday, April 10, 2006
A new web site has been created by Shawn Weekly for professionals in the Birmingham Alabama area.  It is called Bhamdeveloper.com. Currently, he is offering a weblog, an email address, and the ability to share your resume to those from the area who register on the site.  Check it out!

Monday, April 10, 2006 9:38:59 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I am going to be giving a presentation at the Birmingham .NET User Group tomorrow on ATLAS. I am going to cover both the client focused and server focused capability as well as demonstrate some examples of the UI coolness provided in the client libraries.  I am going to also mention the Mash It Up contest!

Monday, April 10, 2006 9:19:57 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Saturday, April 08, 2006
A few days ago, I found a site which I thought I would pass on.  Community Credit was created by David Silverlight and Alex Januschewsky.  They are both Microsoft MVPs.  The site is dedicated to recognizing and awarding people who are active in the technology community based on their contributions. They give away prizes to those who have been most active each month.

But beyond the prizes, "community credit simply highlights your contributions and is one way of seperating yourself from the crowd and showing that you are a serious professional".

If you are really serious about contributing to the technical community, visit Community Credit.
Friday, April 07, 2006 11:09:59 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, April 06, 2006
I am a member of Internet Professionals Society of Alabama (IPSA). Today's meeting is on Digital Imaging and it is obviously a hot topic since attendance has been limited. Although I was late getting my RSVP in, someone had to cancel so I am going to be able to go. Digital Imaging, while not code, is a huge part of web design that facilitates the web experience! I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006 8:50:19 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I have submitted my presentations for the Huntsville .NET Code Camp on April 22. I have finalized presentations on CSS2, and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

One of my presentations is on CSS2 and ASP.NET. I will discuss how to effectively design a web page to use CSS (specifically the CSS2 spec). The best way to achieve separation of content and presentation. The talk will actually be beneficial regardless of server technology. The same basic premise could be applied to a static page.

The first of my WPF talks will focus on getting started with XAML and integrating with the server. The presentation would stand well on its own, but I will also use it as a springboard for my second WPF presentation which is a little more advanced.

The second WPF presentation will be more advanced. I am still not sure how far I will go with this one. My thought is to create a video jukebox using the carousel concept from Microsoft's North Face demo. We shall see!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 1:10:15 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Who Am I - Todd Miranda
MVP Visual Developer - ASP/ASP.NET
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