Software Development Articles

Web Design Ledger (WDL)

If you need ideas on the visual design of your current project, then this is the site to visit. There’s new content every day, with articles mostly listing the best tools, libraries, freebies, tips and other designers’ examples.

What’s good about WDL is that it does not force you to read long articles, offering quick access to the content that you want. So be sure to spend five minutes each day on this website, and you could find the pearl that will turn your design from good to great.

Smashing Magazine

I used to like the old Smashing site more, as it provided more tutorials and less talk about designers’ existentialism. However it’s still a great source today, and it’s where all the hip web designers go and meet.

If you want to stay on the forefront of web design, then you need this site.

MSDN Magazine

Not strictly for web developers only, this website contains a lot of information about all things Microsoft and beyond. Especially if you are a developer for sites hosted on Windows servers, MSDN magazine is an essential read.

Inside a monthly issue, the MSDN site has a number of articles with something for everyone. From showing how to use the languages (C#, VB, ASP.NET, C++, and other lesser known ones), to tutorials, to lessons on how the languages work under the bonnet, to interacting with other languages, to a fun project each month, and also getting to know what Microsoft is planning to add to your favourite language in the near future.

If you are coding with Microsoft technologies, this is your essential stop every morning during coffee.

Jon Galloway’s blog

Jon Galloway’s blog may be a bit too technically detailed for some, but for me it is a goldmine of information. Jon knows a thing or two about ASP.Net MVC and I have found the code in these pages (as well as in his MVC book) invaluable whilst I was working on my projects.

Free Computer Books, Programming eBooks and IT Books

This website is the mother lode of free ebooks, and it is totally legit. The website authors have done the job of looking for free books for you. These free books can be previews of upcoming books (where you have the possibility to try and provide corrections), full versions of books which the authors have gently agreed to make available for free under some offer, or books that have been release under the GNU or similar license.

With a new ebook almost every day(not counting some occasional updates with over 100 books), you have plenty of information to sink your teeth into.

Think Quarterly

Think Quarterly is an online magazine from Google about the future of the Internet.

What? I thought you already clicked the link and went away to Think’s website, but now I see you’re still not convinced. Well, in Google’s own words, this magazine does not even try to teach you what has already been done, but provides bleeding edge information about how the next round of technological innovations will be shaped. If that is not important to help you make your website ready for the next step, I don’t know what is.

Note & Point

Unlike WDL, Note & Point requires you to dedicate some time to read its contents. Having said that, you do have time to consume the content between posts. The name says it all (once you know that Note refers to keynote presentations, and Point refers to Powerpoint), here you will find a bunch of presentations.

The problem with this kind of content is that sometimes a presentation without a presenter does not make sense at all as you do not get the explanation behind the slide. However, there are always snippets of new information that you haven’t heard of yet, or how to approach something in a different way that you usually do.

Freepik

Freepik is a search engine for free images that you can use on your website (and banners, presentations, magazines and advertising) without requiring any sort of permission for most of them. The images can either be bitmaps, vectors or photoshop files, so you have some choice. And you cannot beat free (as in beer).

I have seen a lot of ASP.Net examples that show you the markup required to display a page with a password and a confirm password text boxes, together with the validation controls.

The majority of the examples however only show you how to make a password mandatory and how to check that the two passwords inside the text boxes are the same. While this is all fine and works, I also want to show you how you can configure the validation controls to make the password entry optional.

The code below can be used when you want to make the password optional, so there is no RequiredFieldValidator in it. However if the user types some text in any one of the password fields, I now want to make both of the text boxes to be the same, and so now they both become mandatory. This is achieved by using two CompareValidator controls, one for each TextBox.

<asp:TextBox ID="txtAccountPassword" runat="server" TextMode="Password"> </asp:TextBox>

<asp:CompareValidator ID="cmpvldPassword" runat="server" ControlToCompare="txtAccountPasswordConfirm" ControlToValidate="txtAccountPassword" Display="Dynamic" ValidationGroup="update" ForeColor="Red" ErrorMessage="*"></asp:CompareValidator>

<asp:TextBox ID="txtAccountPasswordConfirm" runat="server" TextMode="Password"></asp:TextBox>

<asp:CompareValidator ID="cmpvldPasswordConfirm" runat="server" ControlToCompare="txtAccountPassword" ControlToValidate="txtAccountPasswordConfirm" Display="Dynamic" ValidationGroup="update" ForeColor="Red" ErrorMessage="*"></asp:CompareValidator>

One example where I have used this is when I built an application where I wanted users to configure automated tasks by using their domain accounts. The users had the option to associate tasks to run under a particular account, but it was not necessary to enter a password for an account that was already stored in the database. The password and confirm password fields were only mandatory when a new user was being entered or the password needed to be changed.

I want to tell you that I have a program in my toolbox that I generally use to get information about the running services from a remote computer via WMI. It is written in ASP.Net/C#.

But that’s not what this is all about.

All of a sudden it broke down and did not work anymore. Result: Today I have been staring at this line of text just below for about two whole hours, trying to understand why it was generating an Invalid Query exception.

QueryString = "Select * from Win32_NTLogEvent WHERE LogFile='Application' AND SourceName='Outlook' AND TimeGenerated > '31/05/2012 05:15:52'"

It looks tame enough, but it does not work. The problem was that WMI expects the dates to be in the reversed US of A format. I always knew this was the case for SQL Server, but alas I did not make the connection with WMI. If you pass the date in a different format it will not work, so you will need to change its format before passing the request to the server. This code snippet shows you one way how it can be done.

This declaration goes at the top:

using System.Management;

and this here is the fixed code:

ManagementScope scope = new ManagementScope("\\\\" + address + "\\root\\cimv2");
scope.Connect();

ObjectQuery wql = new ObjectQuery(@"Select * from Win32_NTLogEvent WHERE LogFile='Application' AND SourceName='Outlook' AND TimeGenerated > '" + DateTime.Now.AddHours(-threshold1).ToString("MM/dd/yyyy HH:mm") + "'");

ManagementObjectSearcher searcher = new ManagementObjectSearcher(scope, wql);

ManagementObjectCollection results = searcher.Get();

foreach (ManagementObject result in results)
{
    // do something interesting
}

In the above code, address and threshold1 are two variables that respectively hold the name of the computer that you want to check and the time range from which you want to get the events.

Incidentally, only now do I remember that I have changed the regional settings on my computer from US to UK a couple of days ago.

I was reading a Wikipedia article recently, which inspired me into preparing something that is a bit different than usual for this month.

Something different as in here is a short game named Highnoon, which is an HTML/Javascript/JQuery rewrite of a 1970 game of the same name. I tried to stay close to the original game as possible, and meant to keep all the original’s interactions intact.

The original Highnoon, was text-based and written in BASIC by Chris Gaylo. In the game the player takes turns with the AI to enter their strategy in order to win the game. My version is still text based, but you can select the options with a mouse-click (or a tap of your finger, depends on the type of device that you are using) instead of typing in the number related to your choice as in the original Highnoon. So, if you were expecting a 3D remake you will not find it here. However you can also download the source code to see an example of how basic logic is done in Javascript. Now get playing Highnoon!

Wild West image by nitch-stock, and is made available through the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

I am just now applying the finishing touches to version 1 of the software that will be used by the country's police department that will show caller information whenever an emergency call on the 112 service comes in. Requested by the EU, by means of this software the call centre agent will be able to see the caller's details (such as location) and handle the call as required. System testing is going to start soon. Meanwhile, here is a snippet from the program's documentation:

“The implementation of the 112 Emergency Services software is divided into two sections, namely the administration program and the agent program. The administration program is meant to be installed on the server, and is used to configure the server’s configuration. Eventually it will also be used to generate the required call logging reports. The agent client program is to be installed on all agent computers. The main function of the client program is to display the name and address of the caller that has dialled into the 112 emergency services. This program also has the secondary functions of call handling (answer/transfer/release) and call tagging (for reporting purposes)” Photo: The Times of Malta