Category Archives: Community

NRW06 – Going Home…

Returning to the UK was not as trouble-free as the journey to Dusseldorf. The situation I am about to describe was exacerbated by the fact I had enjoyed a lot of beer – we drank small beers until 0400, which meant we had only a few hours of sleep before breakfast finished! Fortunately, hunger was not a issue as we found ourselves in a McDonalds at 0100. Like Tenerife, there’s at least one thing on the McDonald’s menu that we don’t’ get here in the UK…I had a bacon jalapeno big mac thing – it was wicked, the jalapenos really set it apart from the tastelessness of big macs in the UK.

I travelled by British Airways so I enjoyed the benefits on on-line check-in, 24 hours before departure. I was able to choose my seats and print my boarding passes at home. Luckily, the Dusseldorf IBIS hotel that I was staying in offered free Internet access. So, after the conference and after copious quantities of beer, I made sense of the German keyboard and printed some board passes for my return journey. That was at around about 0105 on Friday 28th. At 0242, British Airways “eService” sent me a text message advising me that flight from Dusseldorf to London Heathrow had been cancelled. British Airways were pretty good and got me booked on a later flight to Heathrow and managed to change my “unchangeable” ticket such that British Midland would take me from Heathrow to Edinburgh. Anyway, I suppose it was good of them to send me a text message, albeit I did not receive it until 1100.

Killing time at Dusseldorf Airport
So, I had five hours to kill in Dusseldorf Airport. I could have jumped on a train back to Dusseldorf and taken some time over a few of the sites, however the weather was looking threatening (visions of angry clouds waving fists at us springs to mind). I chose to stay in the airport, there are plenty of shops, it wasn’t too hard to kill a couple of hours window shopping. Some of the remaining time was spent just people watching and typing up the text of a few blog entries. Which reminds me, I must get myself an offline blogging tool such as BlogJet or w.Bloggar (as recommended by Scott Hanselman over here.) Of course, I also had my generic MP3 player loaded with tunes – the DJ, Andy Kafouros, at the after-show party last night played Juanes, which happens to be on my playlist. As it happens, I’m also listening to Summer Holiday Hits which contains a great selection of late 80’s and early 90’s tunes that take me back to Malta: tunes like Culture Beat’s Mr Vain, Laura Branigan’s Self Control, Balitimore’s Tarzan Boy (yes, for real, that was a super summer tune) and the epic Life is Life by Opus.

Baggage on another airplane
My baggage did not follow me home. It decided to get on the British Midland flight that left Heathrow after mine. No major problem, I can live without a bag of laundry! The bag was couriered to me on Saturday…annoyingly one of the compartments had been opened and the contents had vanished. Whilst the item that is missing is of little monetary value, it would be nice to get it back – it was the lanyard for my first international conference.

Slide deck and simple product backlog, don’t forget the movie!
Code/Demonstrations, including my crib notes.
TDD and Code Coverage – the slide deck.

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NRW06 – Conference Day

Today saw me deliver two sessions at The Community Conference NRW06 in Dusseldorf. Originally, I was only delivering one session: Test-Driven Development (and Code Coverage). Knowing that speakers occasionally have to cancel or pull out, I offered a second session to cover this eventuality – that session was a re-run of my Managing Iterative Development Using Scrum presentation. The Scrum session enjoyed full attendance – my room was full. The TDD session also enjoyed a large turnout – it was in the keynote speech “halle” so there were some empty seats. I didn’t perform a head count, but I reckon I had 35-40 attendees in both sessions. Not a bad result, although I say so myself. I must have done something right, praise for both sessions from Vinzenz can be found here! Vinzenz danke.

Apart from meeting Dan again (Dan has spoken at DDD community events in the past), I was able to catch up with is stage partner Michael Willers. But where was Christian Weyer? Christian promised me an Indigo t-shirt when he came to Scotland in July 2005…did he cancel his appearance because I was on the same agenda? Had I come to Dusseldorf to “get him”? Had the image of a mad kilt wearing Scotsman put fear in to the heart of Christian?

Speakers were given these rather cool polo shirts to wear:


I particularly liked what was printed on the back of the polo shirts:


Oliver Sturm and Stephan Oetzel

A roadie waits to be let it…yes, he is wearing a Metallica t-shirt!

Weather was good – we sat outside

Caption contest for the gentleman with the black t-shirt in the middle?
— “The invisible beer bottle?”


Crowd scenes – room 4 was packed

Stephan writes about NRW06 over here whilst announcing the existence of NRW06 – The Movie!

I will post the slides and code in the next blog entry in a few hours time – the demonstrations have a crib sheet, so you should be able to replicate them.

One thing this event confirmed for me, if you want to learn a language, live the language, immerse yourself in the country that speaks the language.

Community Rocks!

NRW07 promises to be a good one!

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On the way to NRW06

On Thursday 27th July, I delivered two sessions at The Community Conference NRW06 in Dusseldorf. The travel started today!

This was my first visit to Germany, I was lucky enough to have a trouble-free journey to Dusseldorf: Edinburgh to London Heathrow then on to Dusseldorf. There was a little excitement on the runway at Edinburgh Airport. We taxied out to the runway and stopped at right-angles to the runway itself – if we looked left and right we could see the entire length of the runway. The captain announced a brief delay and hinted that we should look out to the left of the aircraft…where we saw a couple of military jets bobbing their way through the skies. The captain went on to tell us that they were “low on fuel”.

Arrival in Dusseldorf was remarkably similar to my previous ventures to mainland Europe, most notably Vienna and Amsterdam. The efficiency of the German railway system was obvious from the moment I set foot on the platform. Vandalism of trains in Europe seems to be kept to a minimum, perhaps this is because the Europeans keep their trains moving as much as possible, a trick that we should pay credence to here in UK. And what about the prices? I paid 2€ each way for a 10 minute train ride from Dusseldorf airport to Dusseldorf HBF. How much did I pay to get from Inverkeithing to Edinburgh Airport? £4.50, each way…nearly a tenner.


I enjoyed dinner and drinks with Dan (aka Lennybacon). We drank “alt” beer, brewed locally. No pints were available, instead, beer was delivered in small glasses. An attentive barman ensured our thirsts were quenched, as soon as our glasses were nearly empty, he brought over two more small glasses. A nice trick, the beer was always cold – think about the latter (bottom) half of a pint, it’s starting to warm up. And small glasses mean we actually drank less – “just one more pint” often brings with it an excess of liquid!

Dusseldorf sits on the river Rhine. I was fortunate enough to be given a very brief tour of the Altstadt (Old town including the river front) by the NRW06 conference host, Lenny Bacon. They’ve done a super job making the river front a social hub. There’s even a fake beach, with sand! In the distance we could the cranes dismantling what was one of Europe’s largest roller-coasters. This was a shame as I do like roller-coasters and would have been “up for it”.

Anyway, we had a reasonably early night – as mentioned earlier in this post, Dan had informed me that I was now presenting two session! Sleep was in order!

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TDD, Code Coverage, .net debugging, tracing and instrumentation

The £10 early bird period for this Scottish Developers event runs until the 15th of July – from that date, the cost rises to £25.

There are still a handful of places available, if you’d like to see two Microsoft MVPs talk’n’code about TDD, Code Coverage, .net debugging, tracing and instrumentation and save £15 at the same time, book now!

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of JetBrains’ dotTrace code profiler, be there!

And one lucky person will take home a copy of ReSharper!

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NxtGenUG podcast 3

NxtGenUG podcast no.3 is now available.

Show #3 – The one with added security Saturday, July 01, 2006
Episode 3 – Dave turns up late, Rich reveals his secret Halo 2 gaming style, gets his knuckles rapped over security and Dave mentions his trip to Office DevCon. Featuring Steve Lamb on Security and TechnoTotty solves another problem.

Featuring: Steve Lamb on security

Dave and Rich chat with Steve Lamb, ITPro evangelist at Microsoft and self-confessed security geek. Dave may be shot and Rich gets a security rap on the knuckles. [Transcript]

Steve Lamb is an IT Pro Evangelist for Microsoft,UK, specialising in Security Technologies. For the Past 11yrs, he has worked solely as a security professional and during this time architected and implemented technical solutions for many FTSE 100 companies throughout Europe the Middle East and Africa. In addition Steve has worked with the military and governments of various countries.

Steve is well known on in the security community for the entertaining way he approaches a serious subject and most importantly, the impact he has in enabling people to do more with less risk. Security is not just about technology and can be far more complex however, Steve’s specialty is translating “Rocket Science” (deep technical) into Common Sense advice. His favourite topics are combating Malware, embracing PKI and Cryptography in general, Secure wireless networking and strategies for user awareness and dealing with social engineering.

Outside work Steve is a keen Freestyle Windsurfer, Teaches White Water Kayaking and occasionally gets to rip on a Snowboard – more often he wipes out!

NRW06 – Developer Community Conference

I am pleased to announce that not only will I be attending NRW06 on the 27th of July 2006, but I’ll also be speaking!

I’ll be talking about test-driven development and code coverage – pretty much the same session that I am delivering to Scottish Developers a week later.

Here’s an outline of what I’ll be covering:

Code Coverage in .NET

Testing code can be a laborious process that is repetitive in its nature. Empirical evidence confirms that most repetitive processes enjoy a lot of success, or coverage, during early iterations, but later iterations suffer from lower coverage as the tedium sets in. For that reason, we sought to automate the repetitive testing process, i.e. we wrote some code that could replace the repetitive process. The development community achieved this by the adoption of a testing framework that embraced Test-Driven Development (TDD) and testing tools such as NUnit.

The ethos behind TDD and NUnit is “write once, use often”, i.e. once a test has been written it can be used many times. Naturally, by embodying “tests” in code and by using a tool to run those tests, we find the repetitive nature of testing disappears and the process of testing actually beings to provide confidence boosts.

However, whilst adoption of TDD and NUnit provides major advances in the reduction of repetitive testing tasks, they do not help us ensure that the tests actually cover as much of the code-base as is possible/required. It is possible to write a collection of tests that only exercise 25% of the code-base, yet because the tests are successful (i.e. they pass), the developer’s confidence is so high, s/he fails to spot that there is still a lot of test code still to be written.

Code coverage, is not a new technique, the likes of Boris Bezier discussed it in 1990 and Tom McCabe wrote about it as far back as 1976. Today, we can use graphical tools to determine how much of our code is exercised, or covered during an execution cycle. Such tools help us identify which areas of our code have not been tested and can help us direct our effort. However, they do rely on some manual effort that is repetitive, i.e. a user/developer must walk through the application. Luckily, if we are practicing TDD, we have a set of automated tests that we can tap into thus alleviate this repetition.

Over the course of 90 minutes Craig will demonstrate four .net tools, NUnit, NCover, NCoverExplorer and TestDriven.Net. All of these tools are free (or very cheap for commercial use) and work with .net 1.1 and 2.0. A variety of IDEs are supported, include Visual Studio 2003 and Visual Studio 2005. He will explain the basics of TDD and code coverage and why they are both important skills and processes to include in your development/build process. Examples will be written in C# and Visual Studio 2005.

And I intend to wear a Metallica t-shirt at the after show party 🙂 Why? Well, attend NRW06 and catch up with conference organiser, Daniel Fisher (aka DDD2 and DDD3 speaker lennybacon) and you’ll see why!

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Office 2007 beta – on the PCW cover

If you’re unable to download the Office 2007 beta, you’ll be pleased to know that PCW are shipping it on their cover DVD – August 2006 edition. Seems like a reasonably cheap method for getting your hands on this popular beta.

I have just received mine in the post, I’m told I get it before it hits the shops but since that’s rarely the case, it should be on the shelves now.

Visual C# Express Edition

I’ve been looking at Visual C# Express Edition, which according to this blog posting is now free forever. Specifically, I’ve been looking at the functionality differences between the Express Editions and the fully-fledged Visual Studio Professional et al.

However, before I start to blog about the differences, I thought it prudent to let you know the benefits of registering these free editions. When I registered my copy of Visual C# Express Edition, I was offered access to a portal that gave me the chance to download this little lot of goodies:

IconBuffet Studio Edition Icon Suite
A collection of over 100 professional, royalty-free stock icons from The IconBuffet Studio Suite collection contains core icons from several of IconBuffet’s most popular hand-crafted stock icon collections. As part of this promotion, you are free to use these icons in your desktop and web application development.

Microsoft Visual C# 2005 Express Edition – Build a Program Now! Document Microsoft® Visual C#™ 2005 Express Edition: Build a Program Now!
This fun and highly visual guide walks you through a complete programming project—a desktop weather-reporting application—from start to finish. You’ll learn how to put the lightweight, easy-to-use tools in Visual C# Express to work right away—creating, compiling, testing, and delivering your first ready-to-use program. You’ll get expert tips, coaching, and visual examples at each step of the way, along with pointers to additional learning resources.

Graphics Server .NET – Utility – Graphics Server .NET
Experience Interactive Chart Design with Graphics Server .NET. Learn how fast and easy it is to design a chart and integrate it with your Visual Studio 2005 application with our new Interactive Designer. Professional looking results, fast development and reasonable prices for both Win and Web Forms.

/n software IPWorks! ADO.NET Data Provider – Utility /n software IP*Works! ADO.NET Data Provider
Free single machine license of IP*Works! ADO.NET Data Provider. With IP*Works! you can use SQL queries and data objects built on the .NET Framework to easily access data for Internet development. Implements a standard Microsoft .NET Data Provider for accessing Email (POP, IMAP, SMTP), News (NNTP), and RSS.

WebPlanner 2005 – Utility – ComponentScience WebPlanner 2005
The scheduling component for ASP.NET 2.0. WebPlanner 2005 for ASP.NET 2.0 is a fully functional scheduling component for day, week, month and timeline rendering. WebPlanner provides drag and drop features and is compatible with Internet Explorer, FireFox, Mozilla and Opera. It also includes a MonthPlanner control as an extra bonus.

Corbis Images – Utility
An assortment of 250 royalty-free images from Corbis for inclusion in your web sites and applications.

There’s a good chance that more goodies will be made available, so it’s worth registering and worth periodically checking to see if any new stuff as been made available!

AJAX – Scottish Developers and the BCS joint meeting

Gary Short will be delivering an AJAX session in Dundee next month.

I you do plan to come along, please register via Scottish Developers (it’s free and only takes a minute):
AJAX – BCS Tayside Joint Seminar

Start : Thursday 4 May 2006, 19:00
End : Thursday 4 May 2006, 21:00

Dundee University,
Department of Applied Computing,
The Queen Mother Building

Location Map
Note: The Department of Applied Computing has moved buildings. It is Building 61 on the UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE campus map.

AJAX itself is not a language but a set of technologies used to enhance user experience on the Internet by allowing further information to be gathered from the server, asynchronously, without the page having to be reloaded.

In this demonstration we will examine the history and evolution of AJAX, before taking a look at some popular web sites that make use of AJAX. The demonstration will end with a code example of how to use AJAX to enhance the user experience, and a question and answer session.

Amazon, Google and Flickr are a few of the companies implementing AJAX in their websites, with many others following suit.

The excitement around AJAX ensure this is a must attend session for anyone involved in web design and development.

Gary Short is a Microsoft Certified Applications Developer, currently employed in the role of software architect at Computa Limited. He has 16 years industry experience in both desktop and web enabled application development. Previously, he has worked for a number of blue chip companies including Amex, IMS Health and Scottish & Southern Energy. He is currently interested in SCRUM, TDD and other Agile methods.