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24 October 2011

Fancy a trip to space? Or better yet Hull?

The boys and girls over at Redgate have announced two very exciting competitions. The first is to send a DBA into space. The second, and possibly the most exciting, is to send a Developer to Hull.

So, what are you waiting for? Get nominating and get voting....

09 September 2011

Comments now working again!

It has been a while since I last updated the site, largely due to having switched from being a Developer to beaing a DBA, but have found a little bit of time to take another look and managed to spot a bug.

Due to an interesting "feature" of Entity Framework the entity model builds itself based on the version of SQL Server that is built against which can lead to it trying to use incompatible data types, which is what happened in this case.

The bug is fixed and EF4 is now being forced to use the right SQL version, so you should now be able to submit comments without it erroring. Enjoy.

26 May 2011

Site Update: Move to MVC3 and Razor

First update for a while, but I have finally found time to migrate from MVC2 to MVC3 and the new Razor view engine.

There is nothing really new to see, but all of the views for the site have now been re-written to use the new Razor view engine. The code for the views themselves is certainly cleaner, and should be easier to maintain in the future.

23 March 2011

New Article: ASP.Net - Working with the Repeater control

The Repeater control is a powerful ASP.Net server control for displaying data in a highly flexible and customisable way. In this article we will introduce the control itself, how to bind it to a data source and how we can customise its appearance based on the data being displayed.

Read the full article here

24 February 2011

Now Open for Feedback

I have now added a comments facility for blog posts, so feel free to say hi, criticise, make suggestions or whatever. At some point I will probably change it again so I can approve comments before they appear; but for now it is open to all.

I have also made a couple of tweaks to the pingback handler so all should be good in that department too. Hopefully I will find time in the next week or so to put together another article. As ever, stay tuned!

15 February 2011

A new site for .Net Developers

A friend of mine, Dave Rowland, has just launched his new site for .Net Developers. It's a place to hang out, make friends, and discuss all things relating to .Net

Check it out here

13 February 2011

New Article: Fundamentals - Reading from a database - Part 1

Reading from a database is one of the most common requirements of an application, but also one of the concepts a lot of people have a hard time getting to grips with. In part 1 of this article we will build a sample program to demonstrate how to connect to a database, execute a SQL query against it and then read the results.

Read the full article here

13 February 2011

Blog Engine Version 1 Launch!

Version 1 of my blog engine has now been added to the site. This means I can now publish articles with all the benefits of codes snippet and syntax highlighting. I have also added a pinback handler should anybody wish to link to any articles on the site.

There are more features I want to add to the engine including extending the meta-tagging system and the ability to parse articles and automatically send out pingback notifications, as well as enabling a comments section. New articles may be quite irregular to start with as there are still things I need to do to the site itself but I will try and add new ones when I can.

For now though it is at least up and running, and I will be uploading my first article very shortly!

07 February 2011

Blog Engine

Today, at last, I have started work on a new blog engine for the site which will allow me to add articles to the site. I'll also be adding the ability to categorise posts (although that might not make an appearence in the first version), and my own custom pingback handler. The addition of a proper blog will, of course, mean that I have to come up with a topic for my first article. I know there are plenty of off-the-shelf packages to do all this stuff, but where's the fun in that!

One other feature to be added will be a custom tagging feature. This will make it easier to mark up articles and also allow me to exclude parts of this news section from the RSS feed.

I should be ready to start rolling out some of the new code by the end of the week. Stay tuned...

05 January 2011

New Year, New Plans

First let me start by saying a big fat Happy New Year to everyone! I was greeted by a couple of emails from Experts Exchange this morning informing me that I achieved two "4th Quarter Hot Shot" awards and a "7th Annual Expert Awards - Top Expert" award, which was a nice start to the year (and another t-shirt for the collection).

It has been a busy few weeks, hence no real updates to the playground. I'll be getting a couple of projects out of the way over the next couple of weeks, so should find a bit of time to make a few tweaks here and there. As ever, watch this space!!

28 November 2010

Another day, another demo

Finally got around to adding another HTML5 feature demo. This time it's GeoLocation. Head on over to the Demo page to check it out.

You will need to allow your browser to share location information to be able to view the demo, but don't worry your location isn't being logged!

24 November 2010

Standards, standards, standards...

This site is now officially validated for HTML5 (Experimental) and CSS 2.1. The shiny new CSS validation icon now adorns the bottom right of the site. Unfortunately there is no icon for HTML5 yet, but if you want to verify the results you can check the link here.

But, what does that all mean? Well, in a nutshell, it means that the markup and styling that make the site look the way it does all conform to the W3C guidelines. That's a good thing because it means the site should look pretty much the same across all browsers that conform to the same standard.

22 November 2010

First HTML5 Demo now available

The first, in what will hopefully be a series, of my experiments with the HTML5 Canvas is now available. It's a very simple "Bouncing Ball" demo utilizing the Canvas APIs' built-in drawing functions. Apologies to any Internet Explorer users, you won't be able to play for now, unless you have the IE9 beta installed. For everybody else, head on over to the Demos page to check it out.

18 November 2010

RSS, EF4 and HTML5 Oh My!

Following on from laying the groundwork for HTML5, I have now made some changes to start implementing some of the new HTML5 elements. The home page now takes advantage of the new article, header, nav and footer elements. I will probably add the time element as well but need to check how it behaves with the various browsers first.

Next up I have added an RSS Feed to the site, which can be accessed from the link in the top right, or here. The is also a new entry on the menu for HTML5. This links to a page that will shortly play host to a few Canvas based HTML5 samples that I am playing around with. This link will eventually become a more general "Demos" category.

The final big change is moving the news items from being purely static to being database driven. I've created the inital Entity Framework 4 (EF4) model that will become the basis for the rest of the site. At the moment the controllers talk directly to the entity model, but before I go much further I will slide a repository in between the two. This will give another layer of abstraction between the two and will make it easier for me to switch out the data store in the future.

Moving everything to the database and creating the entity model also makes it a lot easier to create the RSS Feed, since they both feed from the same data.

Phew! That covers everything that has happened over the last couple of days. Check back soon to have a play with the Canvas demos!

16 November 2010

Version 5 - HTML5 that is!

So, today I was feeling a little bit adventurous so I thought "why not lay the groundwork for HTML5?", so I did!

That's right, this site now supports HTML5, hooray! There's nothing much to show at the moment, but over the next few days i'll be making some changes to the site to implement some of the newer elements from the HTML5 toolkit which will provide a bit of future proofing and make things a little easier for people viewing on a mobile device.

HTML5 is mainly supported by Google Chrome, Operan, FireFox, Safari, and a fair few mobile browsers at the moment, with Internet Explorer promising support for most features with the release of Internet Explorer 9.
For now though here is a summary of the features that the browser you are currently using supports:

Your browser support the Canvas element.
Your browser support the Video element.
Your browser support GeoLocation.
Your browser support Local Storage.

08 November 2010

A few small tweaks - and hello to Dave

Just got a couple of projects out of the way so have found time to make a few minor tweaks. First of all i've moved the Contact Me page into its own controller which makes the Url a bit cleaner. I've also tweaked the styles on the menu bar as an overlap was preventing the "Follow Me" images from behaving properly in Google Chrome and Firefox.

Also a big hello to Dave Rowland who, inspired by me actually getting round to creating my own site, has now gotten round to doing something with his. You can check it out here.

30 October 2010

Contact form added

I have now added a "Contact Me" form to the site so people can get in touch with me directly. It's basic but functional and will no doubt be re-styled at some point in the future along with a few more tweaks to the overall site layout in general. The form is available here or from the menu at the top of the screen.

18 October 2010

Facelift Version 1.0

So I finally got around to making a few initial changes to the sites appearence. It's nothing special at the moment, just an initial lick of paint to move away from the standard MVC template. As the amount of content grows, and I add more sections, the layout will take on a bit more shape and become a bit more interactive.

I have also added links for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn up there in the top right. I'll be adding a 'contact me' form sometime in the next week or so but until then you can email me at via the Contact Me page with any comments or suggestions.

10 October 2010

Database and Email changes

After a short delay, the transfer of my mail servers from my host to my Google Apps domain is now complete and all the links on the site have been updated.

The sites database is now also online (after a few more teething troubles with the host), so all of the Log In and Registration stuff should now be working too.

06 October 2010

First Changes

Right then, first infrastructure changes are now underway. The first thing was to move all the sites email from the hosting company to my shiny new Google Apps domain; mainly to centralise all of the email and documentation for the site (and partly to keep Bob happy!). The necessary changes to the MX records are currently propogating around the globe and i'll be updating the email links when that's done.

Next on the list is to get the sites database up and running. Once that's done people will be able to register on the site by following the little "Log On" link in the top right corner. Ok, admittedly there isn't a great deal to register for at the moment, but it's there if anybody feels the urge; and you never know, I may add a mailing list and customisable elements at some point!

05 October 2010

Launch Day!

OK, here we are. After 11 years working in IT, I finally decided to occupy a little corner of the internet. It may not be much to look at at the moment, but hopefully that will change over the coming weeks and months. The site isn't intended to be a finished article by any means, it's a work in progress, a play area for experimenting.

The site as it is now is a stripped to the metal MVC application from which to build. I plan for the site to evolve over time into something prettier, more functional, and more interactive; or it may just evolve into something else entirely... only time will tell.

In the sort term I will be adding some background administrative stuff to make it a little easier for me to update things. Plus a few links to other places you can contact me, and maybe even a few initial tweaks to the layout. I will also be adding a proper contact form; but for now if you want to contact me with comments, suggestions, ideas, or just to say hello then you can get in touch via the Contact Me page.