Thursday, August 16, 2007

CodePlex and SQLAnalyzer.NET

CodePlex is Microsoft's open source project hosting web site. At workplace we have lots of tools and applications to manage our software projects. But when it comes to our personal (hobby or serious) projects that we undertake after work hours, it is really hard to keep track of all the aspects of the project, if it is little too bigger. For the open source enthusiasts, CodePlex provides the solution by giving a completely free source code hosting platform with integrated tools for configuration management, release management, issue tracker, discussion forum, licensing and collaboration.

I immediately liked the wiki based interface that was simple yet cool and powerful. Making a higher and better version of my earlier tool SQLAnalyzer was there in my To Do List since long back. So I started a new project in CodePlex and named it as SQLAnalyzer.NET.

The tiny tool called CodePlex Client provides access to the CodePlex Team Foundation Server (where the source code will be stored) using an edit-merge-commit style of source control access. This tool was so easy to use and the ability to checkout and check-in source codes remotely through Internet was faster than one could imagine.

My ideas for SQLAnalyzer.NET is posted on the CodePlex page and I plan to keep it updated. Here is the initial technical details of the plan:

- Consists of a Client Host Application and pluggable functional modules
- Host is coded in VB.NET with .NET 2.0 ( A future version can use WPF if required)
- Host application provides framework for connecting to database server and getting the objects and their details
- Functional modules (Plug-ins) can be developed in any .NET language
- Plug-ins will refer Host Application libraries and will provide independent functionalities

I am also looking forward to having more developers involved in this project. If you are interested you can register in CodePlex and post a message in the forum of SQLAnalyzer.NET.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Windows Live SkyDrive

Remember those old days when there were lots of online companies offering free storage space on internet? During 2000, I had uploaded lots of my files into one such net drive, only to find later that they became a paid service. Even though I liked the convenience of online storage compared to the problematic floppy drives (USB Drives were not common those days), I wasn't ready to pay for that.

Then came the storage capacity boom in email services and I stored all my important files as attachments in GMail, Yahoo Mail and Hot Mail. It worked fine, but was not very convenient to locate and download files. USB drives still helped but there were many situations where I needed to access one of my files when I wasn't carrying my USB drive.

Now I heard about the new service from Microsoft branded under the Live group. It was initially called as Live Folders. I signed up for the beta and after waiting for few weeks, they opened it up on 2007-August-01. I liked it immediately as it had a simple interface. Besides the 500 MB storage option which we can use to store any kind of files on net organized under folders, it also provided options to share these files to a defined group or public. That was an excellent way to pass on those huge files, when you don’t have access to the FTP server.

This week, Microsoft renamed this service to SkyDrive to indicate that all our files are there in the clouds of the internet. They have also refined the user interface and added support for drag and drop and the thumbnail preview option for image files. Let us wait and see how Google is going to beat this now? Will that GDrive from Google with infinite storage become a reality soon?


A sample shared file:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

At Microsoft With Miguel Castro

Attended one more .NET User Group meeting from here at Dallas. This one was from Dallas Dot Net User Group which meets regularly at Microsoft Office in Las Colinas, which is very near to my place.

The speaker was Miguel Castro of SteelBlue Solutions and he did a wonderful presentation about Extensibility Design & Patterns to a full pack of audience of more than 100!

He talked about designing applications for extensibility to avoid breaking the code when the customer demands more features to existing applications. He demonstrated a lot of code samples to showcase Strategy Design Pattern based Providers concept, Plug-Ins and Modules.

Apart from the interesting session, the User Group coordinators also conducted a lucky draw and some real lucky ones won stuff like T-Shirts, .NET Books, etc while I had to be satisfied with pizzas and some copies of ASP.NET Pro and CoDe magazines.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Stylish Stylus

During my short vacation to India, I proudly showcased my Olympus E500 Digital SLR camera to all my friends and family members. As expected, everyone was awestruck. But my younger brother claimed my older camera, the Mju 400 which was so dear to me for years. He was right... why do I need this little camera when I have a bigger one.

The bigger one was good for major shootouts. But if I go for a small party or a casual outing, this bigger one was too clumsy and embarrassing to take out from its even bigger bag. Moreover, my wife wanted a gift on our wedding anniversary. As those wise people say, whenever you buy gifts to your own family, make sure you buy something useful for yourself. So I decided to buy another small point and shoot camera.

The buying process starts from deciding on the brand. The experience with my E500 had only increased my love for Olympus. So I didn't even consider other brands. Now need to decide on the model as Olympus had a lot of options. The Stylus (Mju) series seemed to be a better option as they were slim, stylish and weather proof. The different versions of that added more confusions but after reading lots of reviews and user comments from various sites, decided on the 760. The optical zoom was less (3x compared to 5x of some other models), but everything else looked great including the price.

I preferred buying it from Amazon, as they had better deals and free shipping with no taxes. Selected the pink color (Remember... its for my wife!) and got it for $199.94. I placed the order today and I am not waiting for it to arrive to write about it... I trust both Amazon and Olympus and I am sure things will go great.