Sunday, December 19, 2004

NDoc looking better

Just came across this: Popular .NET code documentation generator, NDoc 1.3 has been released. It spots an overhauled HTML Help 2 documenter, new code commenting tags, additional attributes support, custom tags, enhanced UI, better performance, and improved output consistency with MSDN topics.

With the new preliminary tag, now we can have the following default message appearing in the docs:

[This is preliminary documentation and subject to change.]

...much like those appearing in the beta MSDN docs of VS 2005. Too bad though, support for .NET framework 2.0 is lacking.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Free .NET reporting tool

I was browsing around for free .NET components and stumbled upon this reporting tool. The tool is called StimulReports.Net and comes with a free edition. The product includes a report designer with royalty-free managed runtime engine. It supports ADO.NET data sources and the it uses an XML-based report format. The free edition comprises 10 components and has limited reporting capabilities -- probably just good enough for simple Windows Forms reporting requirements. (Update: The free edition is no more available.)

Saturday, December 11, 2004

A wet afternoon at Tower 2

Spent the afternoon at the MIND meeting. The main talk of the day was about Paladin, a homegrown .NET object persistence framework, presented by Microsoft MVP and the author herself, Serena Yeoh.

Paladin offers O/R mapping, enterprise services transactional support, forward engineering, stored proc support, and the codegen wizard looks pretty sophisticated. Here's a goody: It's free!

Broaching on the subject of object persistence frameworks, it's too bad that Microsoft's ObjectSpaces is still not ready for prime time. It won't be ready till the release of WinFS. The bad news is that WinFS won't even make it into the initial release of Longhorn. :-( Not surprisingly, we're seeing a trend of such third-party/homegrown frameworks cropping up to fill the void. Some are free and some not.

Prior to watching Paladin in action today, WilsonORMapper by Paul Wilson is one such framework that I've keenly looked at so far -- primarily because the APIs resemble those of ObjectSpaces. It offers support for a wide range of databases and uses simple XML-file-based mapping configuration (instead of custom attributes).

Friday, December 10, 2004

When it is time to don the presenter's hat, ...

One video clip interests me during my regular visit to Channel 9. Don Box, well known (or notorious) for his highly-rated presentations reveals his presentation secrets. It's quite obvious he's not a big fan of Powerpoint. ;-) Anyway, here are some of his pointers for an attention-grabbing techie presentation:

  • Focus on the goal of giving a talk e.g. changing the thought-process of the listener.
  • Do something that gets and holds the listeners' attention. Whether you give a talk from a bathtub or have a flamenco band to harmonize with you, find a style that works for you.
  • Less is more. Use the minimum amount of code to convey an idea e.g. Use Hello World type examples. More people will have a chance of relating to it. Likewise, speaking less gives more too as listening is a taxing task.
  • Don't confuse concepts and facts. Facts shouldn't show up in a talk. In a talk, facts blur the truth. Feed concepts to your audience.
  • Use legible font. On Windows, use at least 14-point font.
  • Default highlighting in Visual Studio is not suitable for presentation. Change highlighting color to something contrasting on projection.
  • Take advantage of modulation. Modulation controls attention. Modulate the speed of talk. To emphasize a point, speak slower. Also, modulate pitch and intensity. e.g. for contrast, switch to speaking quietly.
  • If things go wrong, like failed demos, use the situation as some pedagogical device and use it to your advantage.
  • Don't cramp till 4am in the morning preparing for a talk. Better be restful and alert for a talk.
  • Powerpoint is a means to an end, not an end to itself. Meaning: Powerpoint is an aid, not the talk.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Can Thunderbird fly?

Having been an Outlook Express (OE) user for years, I'm tempted to look into alternatives. Although I have big brother Outlook installed on my PC, I've not made the switch because I rather have something simple, lightweight, and snappy to use. (I only use Outlook for synchronizing certain info stored on my PDA.)

Hence, I decided to take a look at Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0 e-mail client today. Installation was a breeze. I did an import of my OE inbox (though only partially) and it worked as it should. One of the things I long for in OE is the 3-column layout as found in Outlook 2003. Thunderbird offers such a layout but it's not exactly the same. Outlook 2003 offers a better view of the message list pane in 3-column mode.

Images in some HTML messages are not loaded. This is a good privacy measure and there's an option to turn on the images. Thunderbird is a tad bit slower at loading individual messages compared to OE. This is probably due to Thunderbird having to do more work in the background to provide a more secure environment. Thunderbird features an adaptive junk mail filter which I haven't had the chance to thoroughly test out yet. Application loading is also slower than OE. There's also color-coding of message headers for different message categories (like in Outlook). Oh yes, Thunderbird offers Print Preview which OE doesn't. There's also an integrated RSS reader and newsgroup reader -- pretty cool.

Well, my impressions are good for a version 1 product. Though it didn't really fly, it definitely felt more secure. Best of all, it's free! On whether I'm making a switch from OE, I think I'll have to play with Thunderbird a little more. We'll see. ;-)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Back to blogging!

It's been a while since I last blogged (November 2003 to be exact). I intend to retrace some of the past interesting events and blog them here by backdating the posts. Why return to blogging? I don't know. Maybe blogging is becoming a cultural thing.

"Blog was the most common word visitors to Merriam Webster's online site sought a definition for throughout 2004."
Even Microsoft has entered the blogging arena through MSN Spaces ( Here's my blog space at MSN Spaces: I think I still like it here at Blogger -- the large fonts seem easier on the eyes. Maybe age is catching up :-P

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Wings Musicafe

Nite out at KL's newest music cafe

I was at the opening party of my friend's new cafe, namely Wings Musicafe at Times Walk KL (behind Berjaya Times Square). The outlet occupies two floors and features live unplugged performance -- playing mainly Chinese repertoire.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Anti-RSI keyboard rocks!

A keyboard is a keyboard is a keyboard. Well, not so. I got myself a sleek black A4 Tech keyboard (Model KBS-720). It's reasonably priced too. The maker of the keyboard claims that the "A-shape" key layout prevents Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) from the wrists and arms. Center "A-type" keys matches the way the fingers naturally move and provides maximum comfort while typing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The bugs are "gone"

Was monitoring blog headlines and found this: ASP.NET daddy, Scott Guthrie has announced in a blog post that ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Web Developer has hit ZBB (Zero Bug Bounce i.e. in Microsoft land, no bugs older than 48 hours in a given milestone). Next would be the big security push and then, the final Beta 2 push. Okay, let's see how long that takes. ;-)

On a related note, there are product design changes between Beta 1 and Beta 2. Guess I will not be toying with ASP.NET 2.0 seriously till Beta 2 is out.

Monday, November 08, 2004

ADSL modem blues

After a frustrating week without Streamyx broadband access, two Telekom technicians came by to troubleshoot the problem. After 20 minutes fiddling with my ailing modem, they replaced it with a brand new one. Voila! Back to civilization!

The following is what I've learnt over the years when dealing with Streamyx access issues:

Before calling the TMNet support line (1-300-88-9515), make sure you have done the following:
  • Bypass the router when testing the connection
  • Reset (off-pause-and-on) the modem a few times
  • Replace the network cable connecting the computer and the ADSL modem
  • Delete the old dialer and reinstall the dialer

If all the above fail, call support. Let support know of the general nature of the issue, error message/code, OS type, modem model, indicator status on modem and get a report number from the service rep. Remember, no report number, no action. After 3 working days and no resolution, call them up again to press them to escalate the issue. If you are subscribed to the "with modem" package, make sure the technicians are aware of that when they first contact you. This is so that they'll get a replacement modem ready when they come visit you.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Applying for MyKad

After much procastination, I finally applied for MyKad (the new Malaysian national registration identification card) at the JPN office at Maju Junction Mall. I thought the whole affair was going to be painful but surprisingly it was over in 2 hours -- mostly waiting time. Applying was simple in that only the current IC is required. There was no forms to fill though there was the change-address form which wasn't applicable to me anyway.

The food-court at Maju Junction Mall is equipped with screens displaying queue numbers and therefore there was no need to wait in front of the JPN counters. So, that was nice. The officer told me that the card will be ready for collection in one month's time. The application status can be checked at JPN's web site.

Friday, October 08, 2004

VB.NET World Tour 2004

Watched Jay Roxe and Matt Gertz in action at the VB.NET World Tour 2004 in KL.

Friday, September 17, 2004

When CEOs let their hair down

It's the last day of Tech.Ed 2004 Malaysia. Sessions only lasted half a day. The other half was gala time. Microsoft Malaysia MD showed off his skills at the saxaphone. There was also an entertaining gig by a group of CEOs of IT companies. Even guest of honor, MDC CEO Datuk Dr Arif Nun couldn't resist showcasing his lighter side by singing the hit reggae number, Don't Worry, Be Happy -- a nice end to a gruelling 4 days of information overload. ;-)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Review: Murach's ASP.NET Programming with VB.NET

Here's a snippet of my review of the above book at

"Weighing in at slightly over 700 pages, Murach's ASP.NET Web Programming with VB.NET by Doug Lowe and Anne Prince claims to get readers off to a fast
start to ASP.NET. Now let's see how the book attempts to accomplish that.

The book is divided into four sections spanning 20 chapters. The first section of the book covers the basics of web programming, datasets, cookies, and testing and debugging ASP.NET applications...."

Read the complete review here...

Murach's ASP.NET Programming with VB.NET

Thursday, July 22, 2004

One year wiser

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me... :-)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bill Gates in town

What? Bill Gates in town? Yes, the rumors turned out to be true. He's here in Malaysia in conjunction with Microsoft Innovation Day. I've registered for the event some time back, thinking that it's just going to be another TechNet/MSDN briefing. There wasn't a slightest hint that the big guy was coming. I would have regretted had I not registered.

After a one-hour-plus drive to Putrajaya Convention Centre, I finally made it to the entrance. Nope, it's not like you go straight into the hall. There were security procedures that all attendees had to go through, much like at the airport.

Okay, the moment has arrived. Bill Gates delivered a speech on Microsoft's vision for Seamless Computing. Ahh...missed his trademark sweater. He was in formal attire. Heh.

This rare event made me reminisce on the time when I saw Jim Barksdale in person back in 1996. Barksdale is a celebrated alumnus of my university and was then the CEO of Netscape Communications. He gave a talk to the students of the Computer and Information Science department of his alma mater. I was one of the grad students. :-) Little did I know back then that Bill (the man that I saw today) will be sidelining Barksdale's company, forcing it to be victimized in a merger 3 years later. How ironic!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Thanks Peter Blum

Got an e-mail from Peter Blum, a prolific .NET controls author thanking me for highlighting his Date controls. And if you're reading this Peter, thanks for the nice words. :-)

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Mobile DevCon 2004

Attended Microsoft Mobile DevCon 2004 at Sunway Convention Centre. The conference made its debut in Malaysia today, attracting many developers hungry to take advantage of the growing mobile computing sector.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Datagrid Girl's blog entry

Marcie Robillard a.k.a. Datagrid Girl has a blog entry about She has also highlighted her favorite section of the site. Thanks Marcie!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Guide to ASP.NET Web Hosting

Here's my "for dummies" article on ASP.NET web hosting. Although this guide suggests content specific to ASP.NET hosting, many of the elements in this guide can be applied to non-ASP.NET hosting scenarios as well.

Guide to ASP.NET Web Hosting