Friday, April 1, 2011

I need your input on a new project

I could use your input. Please take a minute to fill out this anonymous, four question survey.

Are you in debt? Maybe you could use the new Debt Snuggie (click the image).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Host a Site on a Server With a Dynamic IP

The objective: To host a Java-based application from a server located in my office. Sounds easy doesn't it?

The problem is, if you do not have a static IP address it can be tricky. There are a number of sites that will do for you what I will outline, but there is just something about doing it yourself and having control over the entire process. That being said, if you do not have external hosting with database access, one of these services may be your only option. Another thing I should mention before we begin...

This post has been moved to my new blog at

Monday, December 27, 2010

Try/Catch Survey Results

I was about to write another blog post when I realized that I never posted the results of the survey. Thanks to all who participated.

Question: When is it appropriate to use a Try/Catch (or equivalent) code block?

Answers (responses/percentage):
1. never use them -- 0/0%
2. wrap code that has had a problem -- 1/3.7%
3. wrap code that makes external function calls -- 19/70.4%
4. wrap code that I'm unsure of -- 4/14.8%
5. wrap almost all code in a try/catch -- 1/3.7%
6. other (please specify) -- 2/7.4%

I use try/catch around code that - quite reasonably and outwith the control of my software - might fail. I usually rethrow an exception anyhow, but an exception type & message specific to my application.

For example a user-managed XML file might become invalid due to being malformed or not passing validation. I would not let the XML parser's own exception to bubble up, I'd catch it and raise my own "you have borked you XML file" exception.

I do *not* use try catch to hide or ignore errors (or set "failed" status flags: bleah), I use them to tune them to my requirement or the situation at hand.

I normally put try/catches around webservice calls such as facebook, in case the response takes to long, otherwise on heavily hit sections of a website where there is a greater chance of a sql deadlock error

Friday, October 15, 2010

The use of Try/Catch code

Another developer and myself have been discussing the appropriate use of Try/Catch when coding. So that I don't bias anyone, I'm going to hold off discussing my views on the subject for now. However, I am interested in other's guidelines for using a Try/Catch block so please take a moment and head over to my one-question survey at . I'll be posting the results and writing about how I use them in a future post.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

iPad stand for $3

My iPad arrived on Friday. I didn't order any accessories since I really didn't know what I would need or want. In the past, I have been a little purchase-crazy when buying a new laptop, PC or gadget. I purposed that this time would be different.

On Saturday I took a little road trip and, of course, took my iPad with me. Right away it was clear I needed a case. A quick stop by the Mac Store and I had a Hard Candy Hard Sleeve case. Since I already have a bluetooth keyboard that works perfectly with the iPad, I needed a stand. While at the Mac store, I looked at Apple's $30 dock and can only say, “What were they thinking?” With its tiny 2.5in. wide base it appears unstable and the inch high back seems like it could stress the dock connector. I decided that I could do better, at least for my needs. A short quest led me to a small plate holder at Office Depot for $2.99. The dock cable can stay connected in both landscape and portrait positions. The only thing that could make it better is if it were hinged and folded flat so it could be easily carried.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Podcasts Worth Listening To

I was recently asked what podcasts I listen to. I like to know what others listen to. So I thought I'd blog about my favorites.

Blog – Stack Overflow: For a weekly dose of ASP .Net information, check out this podcast by Joel Spolsky (Joel on Software) and Jeff Atwood (Coding Horror). It covers a wide variety of topics of interest to developers and designers. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/23/2009.

Boagworld Web Design Advice: If you are a designer, developer or a web site owner, you probably already know about this podcast. However for the one or two that may not, I highly recommend this weekly show by Paul Boag and Marcus Lillington, both of the UK based web design and development company Headscape. Paul and Marcus provide tons of useful information in an entertaining way. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/11/2009.

CFConversations: Brian Meloche hosts a ColdFusion podcast. He tons of interviews and round-table discussions. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 11/19/09.

The Flex Show: Flex developers will find plenty of topics of interest in Jeff Houser and John Wilker's bi-weekly audio podcast and their screencasts. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/23/2009.

Hanselminutes: Author, blogger and Microsoft employee Scott Hanselman provides a lot of good content in his weekly podcast. Although mostly about ASP .Net, Scott also covers topics that will be of interest to developers in general. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/11/2009.

Mars Hill Church: Speaking and preaching pastor Mark Driscoll is always thought-provoking. Mars Hill Church takes the Great Commission serious and gives feet to their faith. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/23/2009.

.Net Rocks: This is one of the longest running podcasts I'm aware of. Focused on the .Net framework, Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell are always entertaining and informative in their weekly podcast. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/23/2009.

Polymorphic Podcast: Author, developer and Microsoft ASP .Net MVP Craig Shoemaker provides a good variety of information on OO development and software architecture in his podcast. Although there doesn't seem to be a regular schedule, it is worth a listen. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/1/2009.

Pragmatic Podcast: As a part of the Pragmatic Bookshelf it compliments the book series nicely. It's publishing scheduler is sporadic, but there is a large selection of podcasts already online online. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 7/1/09.

SitePoint Podcast: SitePoint introduced the podcast to their list of developer and designer resources on November 10, 2008. Starting out with a bi-weekly schedule, it is now published weekly. Host Kevin Yank, a long term SitePoint author, offers a wide range of topics. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/20/2009.

Software Engineering Radio: Covering a wide range of software topic, this podcast is clearly for the developer. Their topics are covered with a focus of being a resource instead of a current events type show. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/14/2009.

WebDev Radio: Entrepreneur, developer, writer and teacher Michael Kimsal covers a range of topics that will interest developers using a variety of languages. As of this post, the podcast was last updated on 12/17/2009.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Working From Home: 7 weeks in

It has been seven weeks that I have been working from home. I have been able to focus on my project which has caused a big jump in productivity. But, the last few weeks have not been without a few surprises.

I was concerned that the inevitable distractions of home would be a problem. I was surprised that they simply do not exist. This has been a pleasant surprise. I think the bottom line is that I really love what I do and, if given a choice, would not do anything else.

I sort of miss having co-workers. I have always felt that I could move to the middle of nowhere and, so long as I had broadband, I would be fine. I miss the cheerleaders, those co-workers that are always upbeat and you feel better after talking to them.

Overall, it has been a very positive experience and I would recommend it to anyone that has the opportunity. Make sure to pay attention to Dan Wilson's advice though, "Make sure to invest in having a proper environment. You'll need a comfortable and useful desk, positioned in the best, most distraction free part of the house."