USB TV dongle – recommendation

We held our first corporate hospitality event yesterday…it was tied in with the Scotland vs Italy rugby match, but let’s not go there.

Anyway, we used a Freecom USB TV dongle, a laptop and a projector to display the rugby (England vs Ireland). There seemed to be a lot of interest in what I was using to actually receive the TV signal, so I figured it was worth making this post. An Internet connection was not required, nor was the need to be connected to a corporate network. You just need a regular laptop or PC.

This is the product in question, we paid £24.99 for it:

Subject to your region and a good signal, it’ll pick up the Digital Freeview channels, including the radio stations. It’s pretty cool in that it can project a TV picture via the laptop’s VGA port whilst leaving the laptop’s original screen free for you to use – great if you have a second monitor and just want the TV on in the background while you work.

We get some 82 channels using the out-of-the-box aerial unit – of course, your mileage may vary. Ignore the odd negative review over at Amazon, this unit works and it works well – if you live in poor signal area, you can’t expect wonders.

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Edinburgh – Windows Vista Security Features for Developers – Martin Parry – 06/03/2007

Event Overview
Windows Vista provides the most secure and reliable operating system ever that will have a positive impact on developers. Come along and see how Windows CardSpace provides federated identity management. We will also show you how to build applications that take advantage of User Access Account Control and best practices for building least-privilege applications. If you are interested in developing on Windows Vista then this session is essential for you.

06 March 2007 18:30 – 21:20
Welcome Time: 18:00

Microsoft Edinburgh
127 George Street
Edinburgh EH2 4JN
United Kingdom

Sign-up and an agenda can be found here:

There’s a similar event in Glasgow on 03 April 2007, more details can be found here.

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Glasgow – Security in Windows Vista – Stephen Lamb – 03/04/2007

Event Overview
In this session, we will discuss many of the innovative design philosophies and development strategies involved in making Windows Vista the most secure Windows operating system to date. One way that this security has been achieved is through service hardening. This means that most services run with low privilege to minimize resource access. Vista introduces several user-level security features within the Windows interface as well as additional enhancements to Internet Explorer including anti-spyware and anti-phishing capabilities. The Windows Firewall has also undergone significant improvements, including enhanced UI functionality, inbound and outbound filtering, filtering by application, and full support for IPv6. We’ll also talk about some of the other security enhancements available in Windows Vista, such as BitLocker, data protection, and improved smartcard support.

03 April 2007 09:45 – 12:30
Welcome Time: 09:00

Strathclyde University
Collins Building
22 Richmond Street Glasgow G1 1XQ
United Kingdom

Sign-up and further information can be found here:

A similar event is being held in Edinburgh on the 06 March 2007 in the evening, more details here.

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BCS Edinburgh: Transportation Planning and Modelling Software – 21/02/2007

BCS Edinburgh: Transportation Planning and Modelling Software

Wednesday 21st February 2007, 6:30 pm

Speaker: Pete Sykes, SIAS Limited

Venue: The Royal Scots Club Hepburn Suite, 30 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE.

This talk is free of charge and no reservation is required. Non members are most welcome. Refreshments available from 6:10 pm.

Transport planning and modelling software has been undergoing a quiet revolution over the last few years. The underlying methodology has moved from the analogy of a smooth river of metal flowing down the road to simulation of individual vehicles in a road network all interacting with each other as they try to get to their destination. Micro-simulation software can now model these interactions in large areas with thousands of vehicles.
Hardware in the loop simulation can also be used to bring in the effect of Urban Traffic Control systems software.

The modeller’s goal is to build and calibrate a model of the current road network and the activity on it. Then this is used to test proposed changes such as urban traffic management schemes or the addition of new traffic through industrial or domestic developments. The model can also be used to evaluate efforts to try to extract more capacity from the road network through active management and Intelligent Transport Systems.

This talk will cover what does micro-simulation do, how does it do it, what is it used for and how do you get answers out if it.

About the Speaker
Pete Sykes was the first programmer on an early version of S-Paramics in 1986. Since then he worked on large networked virtual reality training systems and network monitoring and management before returning to SIAS in 1998 to once again take over development of S-Paramics. He is now Micro-simulation Marketing and Development Director.

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BCS Edinburgh: Agile Washes Whiter – 28/02/2007

Agile Washes Whiter
Wednesday 28th February 2007, 6:30 pm
Speaker: Brian Swan, Exoftware
Venue: The Royal Scots Club Hepburn Suite, 30 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh

“Agile” is quickly becoming the hot buzz-phrase in many organisations but Agile is simply an umbrella term for a number of specific development methods including; eXtreme Programming (XP), SCRUM, Feature Driven Development, DSDM and Crystal. What does it mean to “Be Agile”?

This talk will compare a number of the Agile methods and identify some common strategies and pitfalls when adopting an Agile method.

Booking required – please register here:

More details:

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[Humour] – street party in Dalgety Bay, Fife, Scotland

My mother-in-law pointed this one out to me, it appears on page 11 of in February 2007 issue of The Diary, a local publication from the Dalgety Bay and Hillend Community Council.


Apart from the glaringly obvious spelling mistake (sorry, no prize is available if you’re the first to spot it!), “absolute” instead of “absolutely” and the interesting use of capitalisation, I found this very amusing! Very very amusing! Actually, I’m surprised that the spelling mistake isn’t on this list.

It gets better. It would appear the same “advert” appears in The Dunfermline Press (print edition), which probably means somebody has actually paid to have it published! [Update: It turns out that it wasn’t an advert, but a news article written by a reporter]

Let’s give it a couple of weeks before we check the property prices in Inchview Gardens! (via here)

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NxtGenUG – Fest07 – 23/05/2007

I am pleased to see that the chaps over at the NxtGenUG are having their first developer festival.

It’s early days, but the speaker line-up promises to be super (you should expect nothing less of the chaps at NxtGenUG!) The session abstracts are taking shape too!

Here’s what the chaps have to say:

The NxtGenUG boys are pleased to announce their very first One-Day Event. We’re not calling it a conference, as we want it to be more than that! We want it to be a day to remember, and another annual highlight for the UK Developer Community.

It’s called NxtGenUG Fest 07 and the initial details are at The event will take place at Microsoft UK Headquarters at Thames Valley Park (TVP) on Wednesday 23rd May 2007 and starts at 0900. Food will be provided and we want everybody to go home with a decent amount of quality ‘swag’.

The day has a theme: “Into the future …”. We start the day looking at current technologies such as Vista, then we move into the ‘Orcas’ time-frame, then to 12 months hence or so, probably taking a look at dynamic languages and then really moving out into ‘who knows’ with a session from Microsoft Research. There will be a keynote, with an appearance from UK DPE manager Kevin McDaniel and words from the NxtGenUG crew and finally the day will finish with a new ‘Game Show’ style session courtesy of NxtGenUG featuring an awful lot of ‘swag’!

We’re absolutely chuffed to bits to announce that the ‘headline’ speaker is top TechEd speaker Rafal Lukawiecki and we will also be joined by Daniel Moth and Mike Taulty (perhaps) of the UK DPE and also by Lorna Brown from Microsoft Research. We have one more speaker to announce too, which we hope to do next week.

At lunchtime there will be ‘Grok’ talks presented by NxtGenUG members, on a variety of subjects to be announced.

This event is FREE to all fully paid-up NxtGenUG members and a mere £54.99 for non-members until 1 March 2007, check out the URL for more details. Numbers are strictly limited (we know … everybody says that … but we really mean it this time – 230 tops!) so register early is our advice!

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Scottish Developers – Web Security Conference Day for Windows Developers – 12/04/2007

Scottish Developers are pleased to announce a full-day security-oriented event to be held in Edinburgh on the 12th of April 2007

You’ve taken the courses, you’ve scoured the Internet, you’ve attended many presentations, but alas, you still have many unanswered questions about website security.

Scottish Developers have secured the support of two consultants from Charteris plc, a respected IT and Managemant Consultancy and Microsoft Gold Partner. Barry Dorrans and Chris Seary are security specialists who regularly speak on subjects relating to the securing of web applications.

Come along on the 12th April for a full day of presentations and demonstrations surrounding the real world implications of the most common .NET web techologies: learn about the best practices, issues, gotchas, etc.

Bring along your questions and problems to gain assistance in finding solutions.

08:45 Registration
09:00 Hacking websites for fun and profit
10:30 Break
11:00 Securing applications and communications in ASP.NET
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Code Access Security – in-depth explanation and design pattern for web applications
15:00 Break
15:15 Securing Web Services with WS-*
16:45 Break
17:00 Managing Identity using Windows Cardspace
18:30 Close

– These are rough timings. Some session may end earlier or run later. We aim to shape the day around people’s need, not a time schedule!

Hacking websites for fun and profit
Presented by Barry Dorrans

How safe are your web sites?
Do you know what cross site scripting is?
SQL injection attacks?
Search engine leaks?

Learn how to check your sites for nasties by seeing how it’s done against badly written code and what you can do to secure your sites.

Securing applications and communications in ASP.NET
Presented by Barry Dorrans

This session aims to provide you with recipes to secure your application architecture, be they internet, extranet or intranet exposed. Covering authentication and authorisation strategies, identity management, securing communications, secrets, viewstate and more the session will discuss common best practices for secure architecture of ASP.NET applications.

Code Access Security – in-depth explanation and design pattern for web applications
Presented by Chris Seary

Chris has implemented CAS in several secure enterprise scale web applications. This talk will explain how CAS works, and also give details of a design pattern for implementing CAS in web applications.

We start by showing a web site being hacked, and then alter the application to stop the hacker while preserving the full functionality of the web site. We also look at OneClick and how it uses Partial Trust.

Securing Web Services with WS-*
Presented by Chris Seary

Why use WS-Security – surely IPSEc and SSL will secure our site?
Actually, WS-* specifications provide functionality that network protocols do not.

We look at what WS-Security can add to web service security, and go through a good deal of sample code (which will be available to download).

This presentation covers both WSE and WCF. We also look into WS-Federation, and how it is to authenticate users from different domains.

Managing Identity using Windows Cardspace
Presented by Barry Dorrans

Windows CardSpace is a framework developed by Microsoft which securely stores digital identities of a person, and provides a unified interface for choosing the identity for a particular transaction, such as logging in to a website.

This talk will cover the identity metasystem, how CardSpace works and how you can use within it ASP.NET.

Barry Dorrans has spent 15 years cutting code, starting with mainframes, through DOS, Visual C and MFC before finally ending up on the .NET platform. His experience has ranged from banking systems to Europe’s largest streaming network. He now mentors developers through .NET migrations and Expert Witness services with Charteris plc (

Chris Seary has been awarded the Most Valued Professional (MVP) award by Microsoft for his contributions to the field of application security. He has been securing large scale applications for several years, including the Australian Taxation Office’s mid-range systems, which make up the world’s largest .Net application. He regularly speaks on security, and has had articles published in journals and on MSDN.

Thursday 12th April 2007, 9:00am – 6:30pm.

Registration begins at 8:45am.

Microsoft Edinburgh,
127 George Street,

Approximately one hour will be set for lunch and a place can be pre-booked at a local restaurant.

Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements.

Lunch is NOT included in the price for this event.

Please send an email to indicating you’d like to register. We’ll then complete the registration and book you a place.

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