November 2004 Blog Posts

Kim Gräsman has a cool URL snipping tool for IE: Urlograph. It shortens URL's from Amazon, Google, and MSDN so that you can paste them without the unnecessary goo that gets added in there. Not sure how I managed without it. [via Scott Hanselman]

So it turns out that the power adapter that has been on pretty much 24x7 under my desk for the last couple of years is susceptible to overheating and is the subject of a recall by Dell. Obviously, it isn't plugged in any more although I would have thought that period was a pretty good soak test. Perhaps it just brings it closer to the point where it does overheat.

In any event, the recall affects Dell laptop adapters (also used with some port replicators) with either "P/N 9364U", "P/N 7832D", or "P/N 4983D" printed on the back.

If you have one of these adapters, you can check to see if the one you have is affected at http://www.delladapterprogram.com/ (I have two, one was affected and one wasn't).

This is definitely one of the easiest to use tools to turn source code into syntax colored HTML. It's a Visual Studio plug-in. The HTML it generates uses CSS, and is pretty lightweight (in fact, it looks more or less exactly like I would write it, if I were doing to make a tool like this). [ Brad Wilson]

(Updated link to page about new version 1.2.1).

Richard Blewett posts about MSN Music being available in the UK. I've been using the UK service for the last few weeks and I'm reasonably impressed. There seem to be a few gremlins left to work out but overall the service is good.

I'm particularly enamoured with the micropayment system for streaming music. You can listen to a track streamed online for just a penny. Since I listen to a lot of music through my PC and it's unlikely that I'll want to listen to the same thing seventy-odd times, it doesn't make sense to pay to download tracks so I just listen online. I've played loads of stuff I haven't heard for ages and also found a few CD's that I will probably buy now for the car (I still like to have something tangible for my money) that I'd never otherwise have tried.

I work for a team that is part of Microsoft Services in the UK. We provide consultancy and support to customers specifically related to application development covering the whole of the project life cycle. Our customers are generally a mix of ISVs (building applications to sell) and large enterprise organisations (typically developing internal line-of-business applications and sometimes public facing web sites).

We normally sell annual contracts to our customers providing them with a given number of hours to be called off as they are needed during the contract lifetime. Customers can buy different contract levels depending on their needs and they are usually 150, 300, 600, or 1200 hours over the course of the year. Some contracts also come with a number support incidents similar to those that you get with an MSDN subscription.

Each ADC (the job title for the people on the team is Application Development Consultant, which is a bit of a mouthful so we just say ADC) will deliver 1200 customer hours in a 12 month period. This may be for a single customer with a 1200 hour contract or it could be with as many as 8 different customers with small contracts. Usually it is somewhere in between. The rest of the time is spent on ad hoc requests, internal issues, and technical development so that we can continue to support leading edge products where necessary.

Microsoft typically interacts with customers through partners so one of the goals of Microsoft Services is to provide support beyond what a partner would be able to do. This means that a large number of our customers are evaluating and working with beta software and early bits through early adopter programmes and similar schemes.

One of the reasons we've been so busy lately is that there is a huge demand in the UK for this type of service. For this reason we are looking for more consultants to join the team. If the description above sounds appealing, take a look at the job posting here.

I've written before about my expectations for the divergence of VB.NET and C# given their different target audiences. Paul Vick takes a view from a slightly different angle about the benefits to Microsoft of having the different language teams.

Now it could be argued that if there was only one true language then the people from the different teams could still (and would have to) innovate all into this common language. First, given their disparate goals, this seems a little unlikely to work. Second, while I have my own preferences for the language I use, I like that our platform is broad enough to support people with different views and backgrounds without forcing them to conform to any single standard.

Mike Taulty has a good selection of book recommendations for a .NET developer to have by their side.

I've recommended a good many of these myself and from the list Essential ASP.NET and Essential XML Quick Reference would be top of my shopping list.

Suzanne Cook posts about making an unmanaged DLL part of a managed assembly so that it can be deployed and versioned in the same fashion as other managed assemblies. This technique works well for DLLs that you need to P/Invoke into using DllImport.

Things have been especially busy on my team over the last few weeks contributing to my lack of reading and hence lack of posting. Now that I've got the unread items count in Outlook down from several thousand to several hundred I can hopefully find time for the odd post (probably until it gets so busy again).