Next Scottish Developers event – Wed October 3rd – Astoria and XBAPS

I am pleased to announce the next Edinburgh-based Scottish Developers event.

Microsoft Codename “Astoria”
The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies has brought new opportunities and caused us to solve old problems in new ways. AJAX and SilverLight applications need read/write access to data and business objects without performing full page refreshes and without dumbing down the data so much we are just left with primitives. Microsoft’s answer to this problem is Microsoft Codename “Astoria”. In short “Astoria” is a data access layer for client-size technologies such as AJAX and SilverLight. This session shows how it works, how you can write “Astoria” data servers and how you can customize “Astoria” to your applications requirements.

Using ClickOnce and XBAPs To Deploy Windows Forms and WPF Applications
ClickOnce provides the ease of web form deployment for Windows Forms applications. The same technology is used in XAML Browser Applications (XBAPs) which are Windows Presentation Foundation applications that are hosted in a browser. This session introduces the ClickOnce technology and demonstrates its use in many scenarios including: zero touch deployment, one touch deployment, reversion to previous versions, uninstallation. We also cover deploying WPF applications through the browser (known as XBAPs) and illustrate the similarities and differences between XBAPs, MSI-deployed WPF applications and Windows Forms applications deployed using ClickOnce. This session represents an opportunity to understand how to get the ease of web deployment together with richness of Windows Forms or WPF.

More info can be found here.

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DDD – help us choose the location of other DDD events

Your help is required!

After the success of DDD in Reading, a lot of folks have asked us to organise a similar event “north of Reading”.

To that end we’d like to ask you to vote and tell us where you would like to see a DDD-style event held.

We’ve received a few hints from the feedback you so graciously provide, but we’d like to use the voting mechanism on the web-site to capture your thoughts.

Please spare a moment to vote here:

I should say that we’re not planning to stop the Reading event, merely to run a similar event elsewhere – DDD in Reading will continue! In fact, between you and me, the next DDD, DDD6, is likely to be towards the end of November…but keep it quiet, don’t tell anybody else!

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Hitachi 1TB drive – additional security to prevent theft

Over here, Ken writes about the recently released Hitachi 1TB drive.

We spotted one of these drives in our local PC World last week.

Interestingly, all the drives up to and including the 750GB unit where just sitting in brown boxes. Contrast this with the additional security that was installed for the 1TB drive:

Evidently the 1TB drive, which won’t format to give you 1000GB, must be a desirable item for the light-fingered fraternity!

It is a fairly tempting purchase, but at about £225 (at the time of writing), I’ll probably settle for a couple of 500GB units for a third of the price. Besides, one wouldn’t be enough, I could use two 1TB drives! Of course, with large hard drives becoming so commonplace, we must think about backup strategies – it’s all very well having 1000GB attached to your PC, what do you do when it goes belly up?

My simple advice: any backup that works is better than no backup. A simple backup regime would involve using an external USB drive and a program like Cobian backup. External USB drives are cheap enough these days, getting 500GB for under £70 is achievable. Just think of your photographs and all those iTunes bits that you’ve downloaded…backup is important.

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More hassle at airports


Last year, 2006, when I was traveling back from Dussledorf, my flight was “rearranged” on my behalf by the airline.  This meant that I had to spend a few hours hanging around the airport.  After you’ve browsed pretty much every shop available, including those that you would never think of even going into, never mind browse, you have to concede and find a seat.  This is what I did at Dussledorf airport (back in 2006).  I found a seat near a plug, opened the laptop out and started typing.  I found myself sat in front of some over-zealous credit card touts who were going out of their way to try and rope in punters.  And this being Germany, the touts were leggy blondes…


Over a year later, I find myself hanging about Edinburgh airport, for today I have chosen not to fly on the red-eye (first flight of the day at 0600ish).  Instead I chose to fly on the second flight of the day, heading to London on the day when there is a Tube strike, smashing.  Anyway, I digress. 

My arrival at Edinburgh airport took the usual route: park in the multi-story car park then enter the airport on foot.  Entering the airport is fine, however getting upstairs to security/departures and onward to airside is a problem.  The escalator is the primary and most obvious route to departures – it’s protected by a couple of credit card touts, usually ladies. 

Avoiding eye contact is the key, then pretending to be deaf as it can be difficult to ignore “excuse me sir”.  Having props, like a passport and a slip of paper in hand (this could easily be your pre-printed boarding pass) whilst hurriedly looking towards check-in, then sharply running towards the escalators is another trick that works. 

However, I have a trick that is guaranteed to get you past the inconvenience of the credit card touts.  Upon entering Edinburgh airport from the multi-story car park, instead of turning to the right to head up the stairs and into their trap, turn to the left.  Here you will be greeted with access to lost property and a lesser-known set of stairs that takes you upstairs without any hassle at all.

This is all very well and good, and you would think that once you are airside, you are free from touts and their fishing lines. Sadly, the touts have got wise and have also installed themselves airside.  Slap bang in the middle of the primary shopping area of the departure lounge.   Instead of leggy blonds, we are presented with middle-aged balding blokes with glasses.  it just doesn’t work for me.  Of course, once they’ve made that first step towards you, closely followed by “excuse me sir, do you live in the UK?” (to which the answer that seems to work is “no”), eye contact inevitably follows. 

Why should they be here at all?  For most people, being at an airport is a stressful enough time, without them believing that they have to sign up for a[nother, unwanted] credit card as part of the “airport experience”.  Business is business, but when business become invasive, it becomes annoying and puts people off.  Whilst I still use the bank that was rather over-zealous in Germany last year, I can’t see myself using the bank that employed Rowan Atkinson for its advertising campaign.  Over-zealous and invasive marketing  techniques are analogous to shooting yourself in the foot.

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Diary entry: Underground – no, overland – how was your day with no Tube trains?

Mine was great, thanks for asking.  Despite taking a slightly different route to our London office, a route which would normally have seen me use the underground for a few stops, I had a really good day yesterday (Tuesday).

My normal route would entail an 0400 start from close to Edinburgh to catch the 0615 easyJet to Luton.  From there, I would take the free shuttle bus to Luton Airport Parkway, where I would catch a Thameslink train to London Kings Cross.  At Kings Cross, I would then walk the remainder of the journey to Southampton Row, just south of Russell Square.  The return trip would see me perform the reverse for the 2055 return flight to Edinburgh – it’s a long day, made worse by overcrowding on the Thameslink.  But, since train companies don’t understand overcrowding and safety, it’s not worth further discussion.  Normally it’s a fairly cheap route too, which is an attraction.

Today, I decided to take the second flight of the day to Gatwick.  And I chose British Airways.  So, there was a little bit more cost involved – but, since I couldn’t get a cheap easyJet flight I figured the same trip by BA was worth it.  It meant that I didn’t get out of bed at 0400 (I could check-in online, for free) and I got a breakfast included, which, coupled with the later start, makes a huge difference.  Even with a 50-minute walk involved, I still arrived at the office more refreshed than I normally would.

I enjoyed a lovely walk from Victoria to Southampton Row, taking in some sights on the way:

Buckingham Palace

Admiralty Arch

Nelson’s Column

Big Ben

St.James Park

[Note to boss: I spent only 5 minutes “off track” taking these]

I did pass Downing Street, but was so disappointed with it, I didn’t grab a photograph.  Was I disappointed with Downing Street itself or this government, I leave that to you, dear reader, to decide.

Clearing the security at Gatwick airport was painless.  I am pleased to see that they’ve move the “shoe scanning” process to post-security – speeds things up a lot – good move, well done BAA, or whomever.   Some klotz chose to leave his/her Blackberry in one of those small black trays they make you use; they’ll miss their e-mail addiction real soon and will return to collect it, you can be sure of that.  “Hey, I haven’t received an e-mail beep/ping in 5 minutes, where’ my crackberry?” 

And here I am, at Gatwick airport, it’s 2015, I have a pint, I’m blogging (using Windows Live Writer, was else would I use?), waiting for my gate to be announced on the overhead screen.  I’m sat down, not milling about like the clowns in my earlier post.  I’ll get fed on the flight home, which is also good, although I might give in to temptation and have a “chippie”, we’ll see. 

Uh oh, that’s the pint finished, what now?  Save this post and head for the gate I guess?  No, it’s not announced yet.  Please wait.  No not you, me, I’m waiting.  I’m relaxing.  Enjoying the music, wondering when my gate will be announced.  Lordy, that Geordie in front of me in getting on my wick.  He reminds me so much of my three years in Newcastle, it’s uncanny, man.

Gate  55. Hurrah.  More later. 

<time passes />

So, we’re airborne, the flight is very empty, but despite that I’m sat with two traveling elderly companions.  We are free to move to other seats (after take off), however I can’t be bothered – using this Dell D810 in an aircraft is an exercise, so I probably won’t write much.  Humbug, no tomato juice.  Black tea for me.  Nice salmon and chicken sandwich affair for food;  chippie still very much on the cards,  Note to self: get a smaller laptop for travel, large screen format isn’t really conducive to writing.

All in all, a good day, a lot was accomplished, including a couple of blog posts that I wouldn’t normally have written.  With more Tube strikes planned for next week, expect to read about my travels to Mix07 (also via Gatwick, but using easyJet)

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