109 posts categorized under “Productivity”

  • How to Easily Format Tables in Markdown

    How to Easily Format Tables in Markdown

    Date Published: 01 July 2020

    I'm a big fan of Markdown. It provides a simple way to richly format text without the complexity or security issues that would come from using HTML. Support for Markdown is ubiquitous within the software development industry, with native support everywhere from GitHub to StackOverflow. I've written everything from short documentation articles to several entire ebooks for Microsoft using Markdown…


  • How to Rip DVDs with Handbrake and AnyDVD

    How to Rip DVDs with Handbrake and AnyDVD

    Date Published: 23 June 2020

    I'm a big fan of Plex and have a lifetime subscription. If you're not familiar with it, it basically lets you have your own Netflix hosted on a computer in your house that you can watch from anywhere. If you've ever wanted to watch a movie or show that you already own, without having to deal with the discs, and it's not on one of your various streaming services, you understand the value. Also, if…


  • Integrate GitHub and Discord with Webhooks

    Integrate GitHub and Discord with Webhooks

    Date Published: 30 April 2020

    It's worked quite well and is completely free for our needs. You can easily add bots and notifications from other systems, including your own ASP.NET web applications, using web hooks. One of the easier ways to configure notifications from things you care about as a developer to your Discord server is with GitHub web hooks. There's a great write-up on how to do this here, which I'm basically…


  • Adapter Design Pattern

    Adapter Design Pattern

    Date Published: 01 April 2020

    A couple of months ago I published a new, revised course called C# Design Patterns: Adapter on Pluralsight. It's one of my favorite patterns and its predecessor, the Design Patterns Library, remains one of the most popular courses of all time on Pluralsight. It's almost 16 hours long but I encourage you to get through it as an achievement if you can. Look for a revised learning path through the…


  • Streaming Checklist

    Streaming Checklist

    Date Published: 27 March 2020

    I'm a fan of checklists – they're an intermediate step before automating a process to ensure it's done correctly and consistently. You'll find a number of different checklists on this site. This one is about streaming, specifically for my twitch.tv/ardalis account. I've been meaning to blog about this forever, but it's just been sitting in my OneNote for the longest time while other things have…


  • GitHub Draft Pull Requests

    GitHub Draft Pull Requests

    Date Published: 25 March 2020

    A feature introduced last month by the GitHub team is called draft pull requests. When you create a Draft Pull Request, it cannot be merged until it is marked as ready for review. This is useful because often pull requests are used as conversations, often prior to the work being ready to merge. Common approaches to this in the past have included such classic approaches as: Adding “WIP” for “Work…


  • Priorities of Work on a Board

    Priorities of Work on a Board

    Date Published: 04 March 2020

    This is obvious once you think about it but I’ve found many people haven’t thought about it so I’m going to lay it out here real quick. A lot of teams use some kind of task or kanban board today to track the status of work. This is typically part of some kind of agile or Scrum or kanban process. If you want to learn more about kanban, check out my short course on the fundamentals of kanban…


  • Git Autocorrect

    Git Autocorrect

    Date Published: 12 February 2020

    I don’t know how I didn’t know about this before now, but apparently you can turn on autocorrect for your git command line, and it will accept (after a short delay in which you can cancel) commands that are close to but not exactly correct. Example: You probably meant: And it will go ahead and do that for you. Setting it up You can set this up in your git config, either globally or per repo. I don…


  • Year in Review Post Checklist

    Year in Review Post Checklist

    Date Published: 06 January 2020

    You have a blog. It’s early January. You need something to post. Why not post a [Current Year – 1] in Review post? Something like this 2017 in Review or 2018 Year in Review or any of these developer year in review posts? Great idea! But what should you include? You don’t want to forget anything important. That’s why I’m creating this software developer blog year in review article checklist. Now…


  • Be Humble and Kind

    Be Humble and Kind

    Date Published: 28 October 2019

    This originally went out just to my Weekly Dev Tips mailing list, but I got a lot of positive comments and requests to share it, so I’m publishing it here. Sign up for Weekly Dev Tipsto get a new tip in your inbox each Wednesday. I’m not a big fan of country music (my wife is, however) but Tim McGraw’s Humble and Kind has it right. Don’t let success get to your head. You don’t know everything – be…


  • How to Delete hiberfil.sys and Recover Disk Space on Windows

    How to Delete hiberfil.sys and Recover Disk Space on Windows

    Date Published: 21 August 2019

    Desktop computers rarely need to hibernate, so you can probably safely remove the hiberfil.sys file and save yourself a few GB of space. To do so, just open up a new command prompt as an administrator: Click on the Start button Type ‘cmd’ (don’t hit enter) Right click on the Command Prompt that comes up and choose Run As Administrator. Once you have an administrator command prompt up, just run…


  • Create Alias to Set Window Title in PowerShell

    Create Alias to Set Window Title in PowerShell

    Date Published: 30 May 2019

    I’ve written previously about how to set the window title in PowerShell. Unfortunately, it’s a little complicated. Recently on twitter, though, Greg MacLellan showed me how to create an alias so you can just type to set the window title. This involves editing your PowerShell profile, which you may not even have, so here are the steps to take to make this happen. First, determine if you have a…


  • Speaking and Presenting Last Minutes Checklist

    Speaking and Presenting Last Minutes Checklist

    Date Published: 29 May 2019

    You have a presentation to give. You’ve been asked to speak to a group of your peers. You’re giving a conference session. The previous presenter just finished – you’re up as the next speaker. You have fifteen minutes. What do you need to do? This isn’t the checklist for what to do after you’ve just found out you have a presentation to give, or you were just accepted to speak at a conference. There…


  • Finding a Career Horse to Ride

    Finding a Career Horse to Ride

    Date Published: 22 May 2019

    About 20 years ago I read the book, Horse Sense, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. The authors posit, “The key to success if finding a horse to ride.” In the authors typically direct and simple style, filled with real world stories and anecdotal evidence, they categorize the many different “horses” one might find to ride toward success. I’ve gifted this book to many people over the years because the…


  • How to Add Files to a GitHub Repo You Don’t Own

    How to Add Files to a GitHub Repo You Don’t Own

    Date Published: 03 May 2019

    There are a bunch of GitHub (and other git host) repositories that aren’t really for software projects, but rather are for documentation or other resources. For example, the ASP.NET Core docs, or various awesome lists, or the slides and materials from conferences like Stir Trek. Frequently, even as a non-developer, you may want to contribute to such repositories, maybe even just as simply as to…


  • Using Pablo to Create Title Images

    Using Pablo to Create Title Images

    Date Published: 02 May 2019

    I recently was introduced to Pablo by Buffer. Ok, not really that recently - I started this post months ago but never finished it. Oops. ? Pablo is a great, simple service that I've looked for in the past but never found. Basically, it provides a super-easy way to take some stock photography, apply a simple contract or blur filter to it, and add some text on top. It's free. It's easy. I've used it…


  • Ultimate Developer Rig 2019

    Ultimate Developer Rig 2019

    Date Published: 30 April 2019

    I recently upgraded my desktop developer machine. My goal was to support more docker-based application development including ones that run multiple microservices at the same time, like the eShopOnContainers sample that I assist with (see also my own eShopOnWeb sample and eBook). My friend Bill Henning (of Actipro Software fame) came up with the initial parts list for his machine back in November…


  • 5 Solid Ways to Come Up with Good Blog Post Topic

    5 Solid Ways to Come Up with Good Blog Post Topic

    Date Published: 10 April 2019

    A couple of days ago Mike J. wrote me the following (shared with permission): Hi Steve, A while back you wrote about things to do to help further your career, and blogging was one of them. My question is how do you create posts without just sounding like you're plagiarizing or rehashing what's been said 100 times over? What makes a good blog? You and Julie Lerman are two of my favorites. Mike J…


  • The More You Know The More You Realize You Don't Know

    The More You Know The More You Realize You Don't Know

    Date Published: 20 February 2019

    Aristotle famously wrote, "The more you know, the more you realize you don't know." In the image above, you can see the effect this has on confidence as one's experience grows. Initially, your confidence is low since you know you're inexperienced. However, after a short while, you start to "get it", and you get into a comfort zone. Depending on how demanding your environment is, you might stay…


  • Keeping a Work Journal

    Date Published: 23 January 2019

    Not long ago I saw a tweet from Brian Hogan describing a tool he uses for journaling while at work. I've kept notes in a variety of formats throughout my career but have never really kept a journal per se, so I thought I'd give it a try. He recommended trying jrnl.sh, a simple command line tool, so I did. Here's a quick overview and getting started guide. Getting jrnl.sh Head over to the…


  • 2018 Year in Review

    2018 Year in Review

    Date Published: 17 January 2019

    Now that 2018's been over for a few weeks, I've had a chance to compile some data from a variety of sources that I thought some people might find interesting, including future me. This post will include details on the traffic for my blog as well as other properties, how things are going with my podcast, where things are headed with devBetter, and a few other random bits. This Blog In 2018, I…


  • Bulk Delete Old and Big GMail Email

    Bulk Delete Old and Big GMail Email

    Date Published: 04 January 2019

    My GMail is complaining it's running out of space. I remember the days when GMail would show an ever-increasing counter of how much more space I had in my inbox, but apparently those days are over. I rarely delete anything in GMail, because I've been trained to just archive things with the click of a keystroke ('e' by default once you enable keyboard shortcuts). Thus, I have a lot of email in my…


  • Add Pins and Create Custom Google Maps

    Add Pins and Create Custom Google Maps

    Date Published: 15 November 2018

    I really like Google Maps. I've been a fan since it first came out. Being able to zoom into almost any location on Earth is amazing. And yet, somehow I only recently learned how to create my own maps with my own pins that I can save and share and collaborate with others on. You may want to do something similar, so here's how. First, go to Google Maps. Next, click on the menu icon (hamburger,…


  • Moving from WPEngine to SiteGround

    Moving from WPEngine to SiteGround

    Date Published: 09 November 2018

    I started hosting my Wordpress-powered blog on WPEngine several years ago. They weren't the cheapest option, but I'd had some bad experiences with super-cheap hosts and they offered service and features that I was happy with. I recommended them to many people and was generally satisfied. Unfortunately, they shifted their pricing plans over the years, and my blog's traffic (happily) grew, such that…


  • A Retrospective Retro

    A Retrospective Retro

    Date Published: 18 October 2018

    At a client today I facilitated a retrospective for the dev team. I've done a few of these in the past, both for agile software teams and also After Action Reviews (AARs) in the US Army. For AARs, the usual format is to discuss what was supposed to happen, what really happened, what went well, and what didn't go well. Then, identify any changes or controls that should be added to improve for next…


  • WeeklyDevTips Podcast Checklist

    WeeklyDevTips Podcast Checklist

    Date Published: 15 April 2018

    I've been doing a podcast for a little over six months now, called Weekly Dev Tips. The episodes are just 5-10 minutes long and don't have a lot of extra fluff - they're just straight and to the point, describing a particular tip that some developers will find helpful. The idea is that you can binge on back episodes (ideally start at the beginning) and get a ton of actionable tips in the time you…


  • How to Get Involved with the Microsoft Developer Community

    How to Get Involved with the Microsoft Developer Community

    Date Published: 10 January 2018

    The other day, someone wrote me to ask: To cut to the chase, I was wondering if, given your experience, you had any recommendations or advice for landing an internship with Microsoft. I work a lot with .NET and Azure through my web development business and I am extremely interested in all things Microsoft. This particular question related to an internship, but I've often seen similar questions…


  • 2017 In Review

    2017 In Review

    Date Published: 02 January 2018

    Now that 2017 is behind us, I thought I'd share some stats and other details about my blog (and podcast and other such things) for those who may be interested. 2017 was a pretty solid year for me as a blogger, and I wrote 66 articles, averaging about 5.5 per month. Apparently I write a lot in the middle month of each quarter (Feb, May, Aug, Nov) for no reason I can fathom: Blog Posts By Month 201…


  • Simple Flowcharts and State Diagrams with WebGraphViz

    Simple Flowcharts and State Diagrams with WebGraphViz

    Date Published: 20 December 2017

    I've used the GraphViz tool locally to quickly produce graphs and state diagrams from text input. Recently, I learned about WebGraphViz, which lets you do the same thing from a browser. For instance, if you want to teach someone how to use a flow chart, you could send them to this classic XKCD comic, or you could generate your own similar flowchart by copying and pasting the following into…


  • Easy Money in 2017

    Easy Money in 2017

    Date Published: 27 November 2017

    dollars and money I've written a while back about what a good idea it is for companies to incentivize both parties with their referral programs. A couple of recent companies who are following this strategy are Coinbase and Square Cash. Coinbase lets you purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and will give you $10 when you buy at least $100 of Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency like Ethereum…


  • Weekly Dev Tips Podcast

    Weekly Dev Tips Podcast

    Date Published: 15 September 2017

    I started a weekly newsletter last year that's been going for over 70 weeks now sending a short, practical developer tip each week. You can subscribe to it here if you haven't already. Tips go out every Wednesday at 10am Eastern Time. In August 2017, I launched a podcast with a similar structure. Weekly Dev Tips just published its 5th episode, and each episode so far is under 10 minutes long. They…


  • Working Through Roadblocks - A Guide for New Programmers

    Working Through Roadblocks - A Guide for New Programmers

    Date Published: 06 September 2017

    This is advice that I have given to many novice developers, and that I would like to have been able to give to myself when I just getting started (though some of the advice refers to resources that didn't exist then - alas). If you find it useful, please consider sharing it with someone you know who might also benefit from it. Roadblocks As a programmer or software developer, from time to time it…


  • Set cmd or PowerShell Window Title

    Set cmd or PowerShell Window Title

    Date Published: 07 June 2017

    As CLI tools become more and more popular, it's not unusual that I find I have more than one command, bash, or PowerShell window open. Often, each window is serving a specific purpose. While I really like that I can integrate a command shell right into Visual Studio Code, when I'm not doing that it's nice to be able to give each one's window a name that makes sense. Setting Window Title of Windows…


  • Life Hack - Listen Faster

    Life Hack - Listen Faster

    Date Published: 24 May 2017

    I've been doing some traveling lately, which is when I tend to have time to catch up on listening to podcasts. I'm a fan of DotNetRocks, Hanselminutes, and Radiolab, among others. Unfortunately (or to be honest, fortunately), my daily commute with kids usually consists of only 10-15 minutes, and isn't amenable to podcast listening. But when traveling I often have hours at a time to listen and…


  • Are You a Profit Center or a Cost Center?

    Are You a Profit Center or a Cost Center?

    Date Published: 26 April 2017

    I recently was on a panel at the Hudson Ohio coworking space Tech Hub Hudson organized by the Akron Women in Technology group. There were four other panelists (I was a last minute addition) and the topic of the evening centered around advice for junior developers. There was a lot of great experience shared both by the panel and by audience members, and I'll probably draw on some of it again in…


  • Share What You Learn (even if you're not an expert)

    Share What You Learn (even if you're not an expert)

    Date Published: 12 April 2017

    A lot of people, myself included, suffer from imposter syndrome. That feeling that you're really not good enough to be doing whatever it is you're doing. Maybe it's writing a blog. Maybe it's public speaking. Maybe it's just answering a question in front of a group, team, or class. Imposter syndrome is a real thing, and it's incredibly common, so first off, realize that most people feel that way…


  • Windows Mac Native Google Mail Client

    Windows Mac Native Google Mail Client

    Date Published: 02 February 2017

    I'm involved in quite a few businesses and ventures at any given time, and most of them have an email account associated with them. My preferred email client is Google/GMail/Google Apps/G suite, mainly because it's fast, ubiquitous, and (mostly) free (google apps was free for a very long time, and now has pretty reasonable per-user pricing similar to O365). Checking a bunch of different accounts…


  • Open Command or Powershell Window From Explorer

    Date Published: 07 December 2016

    Command line tools are becoming increasingly popular, so this tip may save you some time. On Windows, there are several ways to open up a command window. My typical method is to just hit the Start key and type 'cmd' and then enter. This will open a window in my user folder, which is exactly where I want to be precisely 0% of the time. From there, it's usually just a few dozen command to change…


  • Be a Thankful Developer

    Be a Thankful Developer

    Date Published: 23 November 2016

    It doesn’t cost much to acknowledge those who have helped you, and it can be very rewarding. Regardless of where you are in your career as a software developer (or most other careers, but this is mainly directed at developers), show appreciation for those who make your job easier or who help you improve. This might be a peer or mentor who takes the time to guide you, it could be your boss or your…


  • 4 Tips to Integrate TeamCity and GitHub

    4 Tips to Integrate TeamCity and GitHub

    Date Published: 06 November 2016

    TeamCity Logo I've been a fan of JetBrains TeamCity for many years now. It's a great continuous integration / build server product, with an extremely responsive web-based user interface that's great to work with. What's more, the basic version supports up to 20 projects for FREE, which is tough to beat. However, like peanut butter and chocolate, TeamCity gets even better when combined with GitHub…


  • How to Change Drawing Scale in Visio Professional

    How to Change Drawing Scale in Visio Professional

    Date Published: 14 July 2016

    This is much harder than it should be to find, especially when most of the help online is wrong and refers to previous versions. For instance, there is no Page Setup menu under the File menu in recent versions of Visio. I have Visio Professional 2016 - if you're not sure, go to Start -> Add or Remove Programs and look for your version there. If you're creating an office layout, for example, and…


  • Speaker Alert

    Speaker Alert

    Date Published: 26 April 2016

    I've wanted a decent speaker timer to use during my conference presentations for a while, now. Some of the fancier slide advancers have a timer functionality, but I'm pretty happy with the one I have and I was looking for something I could glance at on the table/podium rather than a tiny display in my hand. I have an iPhone, and a quick search through the app store (like, 5 minutes before my talk…


  • Developer User Group Tips

    Developer User Group Tips

    Date Published: 17 April 2015

    I've been a participant in a number of software developer user groups for many years, and an organizer of the Hudson Software Craftsmanship group since 2009. A few years ago, I was a member of the INETA Speaker Bureau, and would travel to a number of user groups around the country (and occasionally, the world - including Moscow in 2006). Recently I participated in a discussion about things to…


  • Anthropomorphism Raised to Organizationalism

    Anthropomorphism Raised to Organizationalism

    Date Published: 21 August 2014

    Recently on twitter, Michael Feathers raised some interesting points about how the media tends to naturally group individuals together, especially “on the Internet”: As he notes, we already have a word for treating inanimate objects as if they were alive, sentient, humans:anthropomorphism: Obviously when we do this, we’re telling a small lie. Non-sentient objects do not have feelings or intentions…


  • Free Stock Photos for Presentations

    Free Stock Photos for Presentations

    Date Published: 10 July 2014

    6812132167_e26473b22c_mIf you’ve graduated from basic death-by-bullet-point presentations to something that will keep your audience interested, you’ve probably encountered the problem of “where can I find the perfect image to underscore my point,” preferably without having to pay an arm and a leg for it. I recommend books like Presentation Zen to learn more about how to amp up your presentations…


  • Incent All Parties Involved

    Incent All Parties Involved

    Date Published: 04 March 2014

    Incentives and offers are a mainstay of modern business sales and marketing. People feel better about making a purchasing decision if they think they are getting a deal, and frequently people need some kind of a push to get them to buy now, even when they’ve otherwise made up their mind that they’re ready to buy, soon. In most cases, incentives are given to just one person, the potential customer…


  • Walking While Working

    Walking While Working

    Date Published: 12 February 2014

    DSC_0031 - Cropped Staying in shape as a programmer can be difficult, but recent studies have shown that even if youre among those in our profession who do work out regularly, sitting for long periods of time at work is detrimental to your health. To be a bit more dramatic about it, sitting is killing you (see Phil Haacks blog post on this from last year). So, how can we combat this risk while…


  • Final Verdict on Haswell Ultrabook

    Date Published: 21 October 2013

    I’ve had a pre-release Intel Ultrabook with the new Haswell processor in it for about two months now, so it’s time for one last review of the device. You can read my previous reviews: First Impressions of the Intel Haswell Ultrabook Intel Haswell Ultrabook Preview Unit Experience Overview This device has met or exceeded my expectations for performance, power use, and overall fit and finish. The…


  • 3 Reasons Why DropBox is Your Friend

    3 Reasons Why DropBox is Your Friend

    Date Published: 10 October 2013

    I’ve been a huge fan of DropBox since its early days. In fact, I’ve been using similar tools, like FolderShare (until Microsoft killed it), for many years, but DropBox is by far the best one I’ve ever used. I work from 3 different machines on a regular basis (work desktop, home desktop, laptop for meetings/travel), and DropBox ensures that every one of them always has all the files I need to be…


  • Intel Haswell Ultrabook Preview Unit Experience

    Intel Haswell Ultrabook Preview Unit Experience

    Date Published: 04 September 2013

    I've been using my Intel Haswell Ultrabook for about a month now, so it's time to follow up on my first impressions review. Overview Last month I was happy to receive an Intel Haswell Ultrabook Software Developer Preview device, for review purposes. This unit is actually the 3rd Ultrabook I've used, and certainly it is the best of the three. The first one, an Asus Zen I got in early 201…


  • First Impressions of the Intel Haswell Ultrabook

    First Impressions of the Intel Haswell Ultrabook

    Date Published: 10 August 2013

    I was on vacation last week, and spent most of Monday driving home. When I got there, I found that a nice present had arrived: a new Intel 4th generation Haswell Ultrabook for me to review. If you haven’t heard about the latest generation of Intel processors, The Verge covered them in June. All of this adds up to what could be the most significant update for laptop processors in years… With faster…


  • How Do I Shutdown Windows 8

    How Do I Shutdown Windows 8

    Date Published: 12 June 2013

    With the new Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft has made it harder than ever to figure out how to actually shut down your computer. I think this is due to a major emphasis on the tablet form factor, which one will typically not shut down, or will shut down via a hardware button. In any event, many desktop and laptop users with Windows 8 installed must figure out how to actually shut down the…


  • Speed Up YouTube Videos

    Speed Up YouTube Videos

    Date Published: 22 March 2013

    If you’ve ever wanted to speed up a YouTube video, like you can do with Pluralsight training videos, here’s a quick tip to show you how to do so. Today, I was watching the KendoUI 2013Q1 Release Keynote on YouTube, because I wasn’t able to catch it live. It’s a little over an hour long, and I’ve become rather spoiled lately by Pluralsight’s video player, which lets you adjust the speed to whatever…


  • When Should You Arrive for an Interview

    When Should You Arrive for an Interview

    Date Published: 20 March 2013

    We’ve been doing a lot of interviewing as we grow our team in Hudson, Ohio for Telerik Services. We have a fairly small office in a suburban environment, where you can basically park right outside the building and walk right in – no elevators, reception area, parking decks, or other hassles you might find in a more urban location. As a result, we’ve learned that if we schedule an interview, we…


  • Limit SQL Server Memory Use on Dev Machine

    Limit SQL Server Memory Use on Dev Machine

    Date Published: 06 November 2012

    If you’re a developer running SQL Server locally, you may sometimes need to limit how much memory the database is consuming. Under normal conditions, SQL Server likes to use as much memory as it can get, since keeping results in memory improves the database’s performance. In typical production scenarios, this is the ideal behavior, but on a dev machine you probably want your RAM for other things…


  • The Ivy Bridge Ultrabook Continued

    Date Published: 19 October 2012

    I’ve now had the new Intel Ivy Bridge Ultrabook machine for about six weeks, and have been carrying it as my primary machine for much of that time. You can read about my initial impressions of the Ultrabook here. The short version, for those who don’t like to click on links, is that this is a pre-release hardware clamshell Ultrabook with a touch screen and a slew of sensors that you can code…


  • Unboxing and First Impressions of New Intel Ultrabook

    Unboxing and First Impressions of New Intel Ultrabook

    Date Published: 19 September 2012

    I recently received a preview-hardware next generation Ivy Bridge Ultrabook from Intel, optimized for and pre-installed with Windows 8. I suspect we’ll be seeing these available in stores and via online outlets soon. I’m a fan of the Ultrabook brand and concept – thin, sleek, and light, with powerful hardware capable of running developer tools. I’ve already happily switched away from much heavier…


  • How To Disable ReSharper in Visual Studio

    How To Disable ReSharper in Visual Studio

    Date Published: 31 July 2012

    Something I’ve had to do from time to time is disable a plug-in in Visual Studio, either permanently or temporarily, such as ReSharper. Just now was one of those times, and as in the past I had to hunt through a variety of Visual Studio menus in order to find it. Personally, I think Visual Studio has some work to do on how many kinds of plug-ins, add-ons, and extensions it supports, which I hope I…


  • Gas Pump UI Failure

    Gas Pump UI Failure

    Date Published: 07 July 2012

    Take a look at this picture (click to enlarge): IMG_3346 What do you notice about the octane stickers? If this were a software application and you were implementing some kind of behavior/click tracking, where are most of the clicks taking place? Since this is basically a touch interface, you can see that the largest “buttons” are the octane stickers. Above them are small headings, but to the user…


  • Asus Zen Ultrabook Revisited

    Asus Zen Ultrabook Revisited

    Date Published: 27 March 2012

    A couple of months ago I got an Asus Zen ultrabook, which I posted about when I first got it, and a month or so later. Now that I’ve had it a while, I thought I’d post one more time with how it’s continued to work for me. I’m still very happy with its look, feel, and speed. It’s very responsive both while up and running and when waking up or shutting down. One thing I wish it came with is an HDMI…


  • Kanban Book Review

    Date Published: 16 March 2012

    While researching material for my Kanban Fundamentals video training course on Pluralsight, I read Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business, by David J. Anderson. I’ve previously reviewed a couple of other related books, including Personal Kanban and Scrumban, if you’re interested in learning more about this topic. I would recommend Personal Kanban as the most…


  • Reviewing Scrumban the Book

    Reviewing Scrumban the Book

    Date Published: 24 February 2012

    imageI’ve been reading a bunch of kanban and lean books recently as I work on my Pluralsight course on Introducing Kanban. The most recent one I’ve finished is Scrumban, Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development, by Corey Ladas (I’m doing the reviews in LIFO order). I made a bunch of notes while reading this book, and it has a great deal of useful information. I read David Anderson’s…


  • Asus Zen Ultrabook One Month Later

    Asus Zen Ultrabook One Month Later

    Date Published: 23 February 2012

    I wrote a few weeks ago about my new Asus Zen Ultrabook computer. I’ve been using it as my primary laptop computer since then, and thought I’d write up a follow-up on how it’s been. Overall, I’m quite pleased with it. The performance is great, the battery life is quite good, and the instant on/off experience makes it almost as quick and easy to use as my phone or iPad. In fact, I’ve just spent the…


  • Excel Cumulative Flow Diagram

    Excel Cumulative Flow Diagram

    Date Published: 12 February 2012

    imageI’m working on a Kanban Fundamentals course that should go live soon on Pluralsight. One of the topics I’m touching on is Cumulative Flow Diagrams, and how these can be used to analyze flow of a process. Some electronic kanban tools like AgileZen have some built-in support for CFD-style reports, but for instructional purposes it’s nice to be able to create one on-the-fly with whatever data…


  • Team Workspace Reflections

    Team Workspace Reflections

    Date Published: 08 February 2012

    imageWe’ve been fans of team rooms and collaborative work environments at NimblePros for some time. In building out our new building, we took care to create several large open spaces to be used as team rooms, with plenty of room in the middle for workstations (configured for pair programming) and lots of open wall space around the outside for whiteboards and information radiators. You can see one…


  • Laptop Rebuild - Essential Apps

    Laptop Rebuild - Essential Apps

    Date Published: 02 February 2012

    When we last saw our hero, he had fallen victim to an evil plot to disable his computer’s ability to boot up. After great efforts at recovery, eventually he was forced to concede defeat to Vista and reinstall everything from scratch. Let’s return now to see what’s in store in the next chapter of our story, already in progress… So, day 2 after my issue with Vista and I’m now at least able to use my…


  • Outlook Send Mail Infinite Loop - Message in Outbox

    Outlook Send Mail Infinite Loop - Message in Outbox

    Date Published: 02 February 2012

    Last week I encountered a problem with Outlook that I’m happy to report I’ve just solved. I found a bunch of things on the Interwebs that looked like they might be useful, but none of the fixes there did the trick for me (of the ones I tried – some fixes were more extreme than I wanted to attempt). Here are some resources that may help you if my fix does not: Outlook Send-Mail Infinite Loop…


  • XBox 360 - Home Media Center

    Date Published: 02 February 2012

    Recently I picked up an HP MediaSmart EX470 Windows Home Server to help consolidate my files at home and to provide a simple backup solution. It’s been great and it’s an extremely economical way to get backups. You can hook it up with Amazon S3 using JungleDisk and get simple offsite backup of the files (but not the backups) easily and cheaply as well, and JungleDisk is just one of many plugins…


  • Updating Blog to Orchard and Switching Domains

    Updating Blog to Orchard and Switching Domains

    Date Published: 26 January 2012

    image So, yesterday I posted a review of the new Asus Ultrabook and, as has become rather predictable lately, the virtual web server hosting my Graffiti-powered blog started having 100% CPU for quite a while after the post went live. Now, I don’t get *that* much traffic, but apparently something with my configuration of Graffiti, the server, and the traffic that I do get is enough for it to bring…


  • Asus Zen Ultrabook First Impressions

    Date Published: 25 January 2012

    Last week a received a new Asus UX31E Zenbook Ultrabook laptop computer, which I’ve been putting through the paces.  I’d like to write up my thoughts on the unboxing and my initial impression of the machine, and I’ll write more in a few weeks once I’ve had some more time to use it.  Overall, I really like it so far.  It’s thin, light, shiny, and feels solidly put together.  It’s also extremely…


  • View HTML Source of Email in GMail and Google Apps

    View HTML Source of Email in GMail and Google Apps

    Date Published: 10 November 2011

    If you’re working on creating a pleasant-looking HTML email template for your site’s newsletter, you’ll want to test it out on the major email clients, including Outlook and GMail.  For instance, if you get The Code Project’s Insider Daily News in your GMail inbox, it will look something like this: image Now, if you view the source for this page, you’ll get something that’s less than useful.  The…


  • Using If This Then That to Automate Your Life

    Date Published: 24 October 2011

    I’ve just started getting into If This Then That (ifttt.com) and have set up a simple task that will update my Steve Smith Facebook Page whenever I post something here to my blog.  Getting this set up was extremely simple to do, and so far although I’ve only been using it for about an hour I’m quite impressed and enamored with ifttt.com.  Here’s how easy it is to set up something like this:…


  • Display Plus Sign in Excel if Value is Positive

    Display Plus Sign in Excel if Value is Positive

    Date Published: 20 July 2011

    Sometimes in Excel you may want to actually display a + character (or plus sign) in front of the cell value if the value is positive.  For instance, if you’re showing the change in a value, like this (note these are made up values): excel_1 In this case, you can imagine that the Change columns are relative to the previous month’s report, so this gives an at-a-glance idea of the trend.  However…


  • Drawing Directed Graphs with GraphViz

    Drawing Directed Graphs with GraphViz

    Date Published: 15 July 2011

    I’ve been wanting to draw some simple circle-and-arrow directed graphs for a while, because of a few problem domains I’m working in.  One example pertains to articles and related educational content, which I’d like to represent as a series of modules linked by arrows that represent prerequisites.  You can see a wonderful example of such a diagram on the Khan Academy’s site in their Exercise…


  • How to Find Conference and User Group Presenters

    Date Published: 13 July 2011

    5451873949_d43dbb8c2dIf you’re a user group leader or event organizer and are looking for quality presenters for your event, here are some resources that should help get you started.  This is not meant to be an all-inclusive or exhaustive list, of course, and to that end I fully expect that there will be great resources left as an exercise for you, the reader, to add via the comments.  Thanks for…


  • Single Payee Credit Cards for Recurring Payments

    Date Published: 24 June 2011

    4596638035_c616ea6a83_zHave you ever set up a recurring payment with a vendor using a credit card?  I have.  It’s very convenient, both for the consumer and the vendor, because neither one needs to be bothered with invoicing and paying bills on a regular basis.  Everything’s great, as long as the consumer really does still want the product or service offered by the vendor, and as long as the…


  • Seth Godin The Dip

    Seth Godin The Dip

    Date Published: 20 June 2011

    imageI picked up The Dip by Seth Godin a while back and thought I’d post my thoughts on it.  It’s a quick read, at only 80 pages or so.  I’m generally a fan of Seth’s books, and I enjoyed this one.  His style is entertaining to read, and the book was worth the < $10 it cost on Amazon.  The key takeaway from this book is that when you hit the hard part of any activity you’re pursuing, you determine…


  • Using Google Realtime Search to track Trends

    Date Published: 14 June 2011

    You can use Google’s Realtime search feature to track trending topics on social media networks like Twitter.  To find it, just do a search as usual, then click on the More icon on the left to open up the Realtime option (or just go to http://google.com/realtime). image image The default view will show you the most recent items for the given term(s).  You’ll also see a timeline showing the…


  • Introducing Pair Programming at Cinci Day Of Agile

    Introducing Pair Programming at Cinci Day Of Agile

    Date Published: 30 March 2011

    Last weekend I presented at the Cincinnati Day of Agile event on Introducing Pair Programming (see on slideshare).  The event was nearly sold out with about 240 people in attendance, a mix of devs and PMs.  The content and (other) speakers I thought were great – Phil and his team did a great job.  I took a few pictures during the event, which you can see below: Phil and Joel Semeniuk DSC_001…


  • How to Record a Screencast with Expression Encoder 4

    Date Published: 16 February 2011

    I’m a huge fan of TechSmith Camtasia and use it for pretty much all of my screencasts.  However, I’m currently recording some presentations for the Code Project Agile Virtual Tech Summit that’s taking place next week, and the preferred capture program for the platform is Expression Encoder 4.  So, I figured while I’m learning how to do it, I might as well share how it works and how I find it…


  • Live Essentials Evilness

    Date Published: 31 January 2011

    Hey, Microsoft, please stop trying to reset my home page and change my search preferences when I install the one tool from Live Essentials that I find useful, Live Writer (which is awesome, by the way).  I’m pretty sure my browser already has a preferences section wherein I can set my home page, and likewise my search engine of choice, and your presumption that by installing another tool that is…


  • Where is Outlook 2010 Export

    Date Published: 31 January 2011

    In an example of extremely intuitive user experience, the latest version of Outlook has moved things around in the interests of ribbonizing everything.  This would be fine if in fact the trendy new ribbon UI was organized in a fashion that was, well, based on logic.  Sadly, at least in the case of Exporting data, this is not the case.  In previous versions of Outlook, one could navigate to File…


  • Sharp XV-Z9000U Projector Wont Power Up - Solution

    Date Published: 21 January 2011

    I have a fairly old projector that recently required a new bulb.  It’s a Sharp XV-Z9000U model, which has bulbs that last for something like 2000 hours, and the projector has a timer in it that starts warning you when you’re approaching this number.  Ultimately, when you’ve ignored the warnings long enough (because the existing bulb keeps on working fine), the projector starts to shut itself down…


  • Get the Batch Files Path in a Batch File

    Date Published: 07 December 2010

    I’m a huge fan of build automation, and all of my dev projects include scripts to build, test, deploy, run etc.  Sometimes these use PowerShell and quite often they use MSBuild (or occasionally NAnt) but batch files remain a very simple and powerful way to take care of automation business.  Today I’m trying to wrap up my use of NServiceBus on a project that’s going live with some CQRS goodness…


  • The Message Is The Message Received

    The Message Is The Message Received

    Date Published: 27 October 2010

    I recall early on in my military career, in an ROTC class, learning about communication.  Communication is very important in the military, and at least as important in civilian life.  Especially today, when there are so many ways to communicate, and so many ways to communicate poorly. In a recent twitter conversation, I was reminded of one of the lessons from this class, which was summed up as…


  • Startup Business Checklist 2010

    Date Published: 18 August 2010

    checklist Below is my current checklist for startup businesses in 2010.  This is meant to be relatively industry-agnostic and focuses primarily on online components of the business (meaning, it may not apply to businesses which avoid the Internet for whatever reason).  I’ve included numerous links to more information and references.  Checklists are a great way to ensure you don’t forget important…


  • Screencast and Podcast Recording Gear

    Screencast and Podcast Recording Gear

    Date Published: 14 August 2010

    I’m working on some screencasts and have had some gear recommended to me that I’m ordering now.  I’ll post back later with an update on how I like these, but if anybody else is interested in what I’ve been told is the best stuff to get, here you go. Microphone rode-podcasterThe microphone of choice is the Rode Podcaster, pictured at right.  It has a built-in pop filter, so no need to pick up one…


  • Shared Folders in VirtualBox on Windows 7

    Shared Folders in VirtualBox on Windows 7

    Date Published: 04 May 2010

    In my adventures with VirtualBox, my latest victory was in figuring out how to share folders between my host OS (Windows 7) and my virtual OS (Windows Server 2008). I'm familiar with VirtualPC and other such products, which allow you to share local folders with the VM. When you do, they just show up in Windows Explorer and all is good. However, after configuring shared folders in VirtualBox like…


  • PowerShell Control over Nikon D3000 Camera

    PowerShell Control over Nikon D3000 Camera

    Date Published: 24 April 2010

    My wife got me a Nikon D3000 camera for Christmas last year, and I'm loving it but still trying to wrap my head around some of its features. For instance, when you plug it into a computer via USB, it doesn't show up as a drive like most cameras I've used to, but rather it shows up as Computer D3000. After a bit of research, I've learned that this is because it implements the MTP/PTP protocol, and…


  • Inbound Marketing and Small Business Trends

    Inbound Marketing and Small Business Trends

    Date Published: 03 February 2010

    I recently read Dharmesh’s and Brian Halligan’s Inbound Marketing book, which has a lot of good tips for startup companies to follow in order to maximize their online reach and popularity. Many of the tips are pretty obvious: start a blog, get people linking to you, build a following on twitter. But there are some that are pretty easy to overlook, and at the end of the book is a very good appendix…


  • Goals for 2010

    Goals for 2010

    Date Published: 16 January 2010

    I recently wrote about how I did with my 2009 goals, now it’s time to set a few for this year. Let’s start with two that didn’t go so well for me last year: 1. Get In Shape. By the end of 2010 I will be under 200 pounds. I will have achieved my Brown Belt in karate. I will have biked 100 miles. (I have a Wii Fit Plus now, so I’m sure I’ll also get better at many of the games on the system).…


  • Unlock All Doors When Parking Honda Ridgeline

    Unlock All Doors When Parking Honda Ridgeline

    Date Published: 04 January 2010

    I’ve had a Honda Ridgeline for a little over a year now and one of the absolute most annoying things about this vehicle is that when you drive, it locks all the doors, but when you stop, it only unlocks the driver’s door. Now, this is independent of the child safety locks that are switch-activated for the back doors. This is just a pure annoyance that makes me want to strangle some engineer…


  • Hide Windows Language Updates in Windows 7

    Hide Windows Language Updates in Windows 7

    Date Published: 29 December 2009

    Setting up a new machine and going through the Windows Update Dance as I install the various updates that are available now (Windows 7 has been out for almost 3 months now and you know). And of course once I’ve installed the required updates, it’s always nice to see what’s in the Optional list. However, I’d like when I’m done installing everything I intend to install for Microsoft Update (note…


  • Where is the Fix button in Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 7?

    Where is the Fix button in Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 7?

    Date Published: 18 December 2009

    I love Windows 7. I'm using it now on my new primary laptop computer, and going through pictures getting ready for the holidays. And of course, a few of them need cropped, or red eye fixed, etc. Simple things that Vista included in the Windows Photo Viewer that was one of the things I loved about Vista vs. XP (yes, there were things improved in Vista over XP). But wait, where'd the “Fix” option go…


  • Ad Landing Pages and Customer Conversations

    Ad Landing Pages and Customer Conversations

    Date Published: 04 August 2009

    One of Lake Quincy Media’s clients recently wrote to me in response to my previous post about the Principle of Least Surprise and its relationship to online advertising. Their question revolved around whether it was appropriate in their case to use their company’s home page as the landing page for their advertisements, something they were doing across the board. I suggested to them that, in my…


  • Silverlight 3 on XBox 360

    Silverlight 3 on XBox 360

    Date Published: 23 June 2009

    devmavens scottgu Scott Guthrie earlier today twittered about a sneak peek shown today of Silverlight 3 running on an XBox 360. I've been waiting a long time for this and I really hope that the XBox platform will be able to take advantage of some of the opportunities that Silverlight has to offer. I'd really like to see the XBox opened up into a more flexible app server, as well as having access…


  • Upgrading HP MediaSmart ex470 to 2GB of RAM

    Upgrading HP MediaSmart ex470 to 2GB of RAM

    Date Published: 07 June 2009

    After the horrible experience of trying to restore some files from my Windows Home Server while it was continuously thrashing due to insufficient memory, I picked up a 2GB stick of RAM (which arrived a couple of days ago) and am in the process of doing the upgrade with the help of this step-by-step guide which was the first result in my Bing Search. So far it’s smooth sailing, though as you can…


  • Vista Disconnect From Network Share or UNC Path

    Vista Disconnect From Network Share or UNC Path

    Date Published: 27 May 2009

    Occasionally I'll try to connect to a UNC share or network device and I'll forget my proper username and password for the device (NAS, router, another box, etc.). In the case of one of my NAS drives at home, it will let me guess three times what my credentials are, and then it will just connect me as whatever my last guess was, but at that point I'm basically attached as guest. Once that happens…


  • Goals for 2009

    Goals for 2009

    Date Published: 25 January 2009

    Wow, I’m really getting a late start on this post. I’d meant to come up with some goals for the year back at the start of the month, and here it is nearly February and I’m just now getting to it. So before the kids start screaming or some other emergency distracts me, here’s some quick things I’d like to achieve (personally, not business) by the end of 2009: Get In Shape (obligatory)– I’m hovering…


  • Zune Feature Requests

    Zune Feature Requests

    Date Published: 04 January 2009

    I've been the proud owner of a black Zune 30 for a couple of years now. I think it's great and I really don't foresee a need to get a Zune 80 since I've never come close to using the 30GB of space available, even when I've put a dozen or so movies on the thing. The upgrades in software have been nice, though I do miss the quick list feature that used to be there on the device. Of course I noticed…


  • Travel Gadget – Power Splitter

    Travel Gadget – Power Splitter

    Date Published: 22 July 2008

    power splitter Something I always keep in my laptop bag is a Liberator power splitter. All this does is split one power outlet into two, with a little bit of extension cord thrown in for added convenience. You can find a wide variety of such things here. Always Enough Power For You So, what’s the big deal about having one of these? Well, you could throw a whole power strip in your bag, but that’s…


  • Blog Roll

    Blog Roll

    Date Published: 13 July 2008

    I want to update my blog reading habits and make sure there aren’t really great bloggers out there of whom I’m unaware (I’m sure there are plenty). If you’d like to help out, please email me with your top 3 bloggers whom you actually read on a regular basis. Please *leave out* the really big and obvious names like ScottGu,Jeff Atwood,ScottHa, and Phil Haack. I’m already subscribed :). You’re also…


  • Word 2007 Search Commands

    Word 2007 Search Commands

    Date Published: 13 July 2008

    I recently complained on Twitter that the UI in Office 2007 (and specifically Word in this case) makes it incredibly difficult to find many of the things that I knew how to find in Word 2003/2000/XP/97/Every. Other. Version. This is understandably frustrating and I don't really see the Ribbon UI as a quantum leap forward in UI design. I do think it's nice, in many ways, and does make it easier to…


  • Going Solo Birds of a Feather Follow Up

    Going Solo Birds of a Feather Follow Up

    Date Published: 10 June 2008

    Last week I co-hosted a birds-of-a-feather session with Julia Lerman on Going Solo. Julie and I did a similar BOF session a couple of years ago at another TechEd and both times we’ve gotten a pretty good crowd. In an effort to continue the conversation and help people learn about the challenges of running your own business (be it consulting, ISV, or whatever), we are pointing anyone interested at…


  • Reason Number 10,001 Why I Am Glad To Be Self Employed

    Reason Number 10,001 Why I Am Glad To Be Self Employed

    Date Published: 14 February 2005

    This article, When Blogging Gets Risky, talks about some of the negative effects blogging can have on employees when their employers read everything they say on their blogs. It also makes a good point that companies should have blogging policies, and talks about some success stories for companies who have embraced blogging (Sun, Google), though notably absent is Microsoft despite their hundreds of…


  • InfoPath / XDocs

    Date Published: 26 July 2003

    I'm learning more about InfoPath (formerly XDocs), and it seems like it'll be a really cool addition to the Office toolset.  Has anybody had much of an opportunity to play with this using the beta?  What did you think?


  • Outlook 2003 Beta

    Date Published: 23 July 2003

    Thought I'd blog about my experience thus far with the beta.  As I wrote in an earlier entry, I upgraded to Outlook 2003 Beta some weeks ago.  The results have been largely positive, but I do have a few complaints.  Here's the rundown: Best Features: Junk Mail Support - It has yet to mis-classify a message as spam, and it has reduced my spam that I actually have to deal with by about 90 to 95% I'd…


  • Trying out w.bloggar 3.01

    Date Published: 18 June 2003

    I just installed w.bloggar 3.01 and the WMPAmplog Plug-In. Let's see how it works... I used Daniel Bright's setup instructions to get set up in about 20 seconds. If you're reading this, everything must have worked. Ah, something for the wmpamplog FAQ - it doesn't work until you exit and restart Winamp. Pretty easy one to troubleshoot, though. Also looks like I'll have to set up my own CSS file to…


  • Outlook 2003 Beta 2 (was Outlook Express)

    Date Published: 12 June 2003

    I'm finally upgrading from OE to Outlook on the advice of Brian Tinkler of the Wisconsin .NET User Group (among many others over the past few years).  The main reason that I stuck with/chose OE over Outlook was that Outlook97 didn't have an easy way to select which FROM address to use for emails, and I was frequently switching between several POP3 accounts from several organizations.  OE had a…


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