Shawn Wildermuth

Author, Teacher, and Filmmaker
.NET Foundation Board Member

The Blog

My Rants and Raves about technology, programming, everything else...


I Couldn't believe this...

Url: http://www.priorityclubpromotion.com/hi/towels/

When I was growing up we always had a couple of Holiday Inn towels hanging about. I never felt guilty until now. Follow the link...trust me!

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Practical Experience

I have been spending a lot of time writing about technology lately. After a phone conversation with Tim Ewald, it got me thinking. During the first half of writing the book, I was working full-time writing ATL/C++ apps mostly and trying to get up to speed with ADO.NET at night. While my girlfriend minds, I don't really.

While in this phase of the project, I learned a lot about the technology and the class signatures, but it was very hard to grasp the big picture of the real problems that people will/are facing.

Soon after I got a full-time position developing a large scale .NET application. This really helped me appreciate the nature of the techology. I started to get really excited about how ADO.NET would help people solve these problems. Later on I started doing a tour of .NET User Groups to talk about ADO.NET and this was enlightening as well. People were asking me real-world questions that I did not always have great answers for. In the end, both of these experiences definitely helped me write a better book IMHO.

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Things About Typed DataSet Generation I Never Noticed...

I have been thinking a lot about how Typed DataSets are generated and was spelunking through the code again when it got me thinking. The Typed DataSet generator doesn't really generate the code based on the .xsd, but on the DataSet. It simply loads the .xsd into a DataSet then interrogates the DataSet directly for everything (tables, columns, relationships, constraints). So if the Typed DataSet Designer cannot handle something (like relationships *without* constraints, see below), but the DataSet schema allows it...simply create the DataSet and save the .xsd file to see what it produces! This gets around some fundamental problems with the designer. It does require you start looking and understanding .xsd, but it is a useful skill to have anyway...right?

So my first relevation was how to add unconstrained relationships (no foreign key constraint, simply a way to navigate the data). Since the designer does not allow this, I looked at the .xsd and found that the DataSet handles this with a schema annotation:


<xs:schema>
  <xs:annotation>
    <xs:appinfo>
      <msdata:Relationship name="ta2t" 
        msdata:parent="titleauthor" 
        msdata:child="titles" 
        msdata:parentkey="title_id"
        msdata:childkey="title_id" />
    </xs:appinfo>
  </xs:annotation>
</xs:schema>

The five pieces of data in the msdata:Relationship element are the four pieces of data required when setting up a relationship. Pretty simple huh!

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Three Tier ASP.NET Apps

I hear from a lot of readers that they are creating 3-tier ASP.NET apps and I always wonder if they know where the middle tier is.

In my opinion, the web server is the middle tier and client tier is the browser. Creating another set of machines to host the data layer isn't really necessary and, in fact, hosting the data layer on the web server is easier to scale. We know how to scale out web servers. Inventing a new set of machines forces you to figure out how to scale them out and it does not increase your scalability by scaling out both the web server and a fourth tier.

If you disagree, please e-mail me and let me know what you think.

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How could I have missed it?

I hope I am not the only one who missed the magic of CTRL-SHIFT-V. I have bungled about with copy-paste in the editor so many times...I accidently hit CTRL-C instead of CTRL-V and copy an empty line instead of pasting my code...Arg! Now I know to just hit CTRL-SHIFT-V and pick my lost copy from the clipboard ring.

Now its got me wondering what else I have missed. If you have a favorite hidden treasure, could you e-mail at shawn@wildermuth.com and I will post them in an upcoming rant.

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VSIP Anyone? Free VSIP Anyone?

Url: http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/partners/

After complaining to MS guys for over a year, it seems that they've finally opened up their Visual Studio Integration Program (VSIP). For those of use that have wanted to dig in deeper into VS.NET and fix some of the annoyances, this is great news.

It looks like they've tiered the support (here). With the new Affiliate level support, it allows us shareware/free developers to join the program and get newsgroup level support for free. Thank you Microsoft. This is definitely the right direction.

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Ink Blots as Passwords?

Url: http://research.microsoft.com/displayArticle.as...

I ran into this article about using Ink Blots to make passwords on Microsoft Research's site and it got me thinking about security and privacy. I think the only bastion of true privacy these days is in the mind. Social Security #'s, mothers maiden names, pet names...its all just demographic data that is in the wide open. So for the common user, trying to remember a strong password (numbers, letters and punctuation) is just too hard.

Maybe Biometrics are the answer. Fingerprints can't be faked...or can they be? Maybe not by the casual user, but they can be faked. Anyone who got arrested for a petty infraction has their fingerprints in the 'system'.

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Quake 2 in Managed Code?

Url: http://www.codeproject.com/managedcpp/Quake2.asp

When I saw the recently announcement on MSDN about Quake II in Managed C++ I got very excited. A port to Managed DirectX? Nope...

As the white paper on the project attests, the real magic of the project is an integration of Managed and Unmanaged code. By mixing the Unmanaged Quake II C/C++ code with new Managed code that provides a heads up display, Vertigo Software has proved how well Managed C++ can integrate Managed and Unmanaged code.

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Of IDE's, Sun and Borland

As a primarily .NET Guy, it has been fun watching from sidelines what Sun is trying to do for Java...

I've wrote a bit of Java here and there, but I could never find an IDE that was worth a dime. Sun seems to finally trying to address Java's biggest weakness, development tools. Sure, hardcore Java heads will tell me that I am a lesser man for not doing everything with the command-line. This thinking is even permeating .NET lately talks.

Sun has had a ten year head start on .NET. I wish they would have gotten religion about tools before. This is one thing I give MS a lot of credit for. As much as I bitch and moan about the IDE's of the last five years, they really have made me more productive. And that's what it is really about in the long run.

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Enjoying Code

Url: http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=9834

After seeing the story about Justin Frankel and his departure of Nullsoft, it got me thinking about code as self-expression.

I just spent the last week completing two projects. First, I re-architected http://wildermuth.com and I recreated TypedDataSetGenerator so that I could extend it. I learned a couple things about how much I like to write code.

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