Thursday, January 13, 2005

Last Post, farewell

I'm not completely stopping to blog, but from now on I want to go under my real name, and not under disguise anymore, as I did until now.
Therefore I'm quitting this blog. I hope you had a good time reading these ramblings, my two dear readers. Had a good time around here, but it's time to move on. Actually my opinion about blogging under alias has hanged considerably: at the moment I don't see the point in *not* writing under your own name.... sorry
Goodbye and thanks again for your interest

Monday, January 03, 2005

JavaScript SyntaxHighlighter

Just found a great Syntax Hightlighter. It consists basically of a JavaScript file, while you can easily copy and paste your code in a <TEXTAREA>. Works for VB(.NET), SQL


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sikko2Go's newDiscoveries

  • Server Side Guy
    Chris Justus' Blog about bug tracking, web services etc. Bumped into it via popular, referring to an article about how the newest feature originating from Google
    Google Suggest works. Definetely worth a read!

  • Make Acrobat Reader 6 Load Faster
    I'm always looking for ways to make my digital life easier, and this especially was one of the annoyances I had. I'm doing all my homebased surfing on a 128MB Pentium-III/600 laptop. It works OK as long as you're not starting apps for the first time. the Reader takes about 50 seconds to completely 'boot' and display a document

On Speaking Terms

On of the things making it difficult for me as having no CS background, is the words people tend to use every now and then ...what on earth is a property accessor (fifth paragraph) anyway?

[disclaimer: please note the aforementioned blogs is a very good one. It's even in my subscription list. I only referred to it having a slightly geeky style, showing more knowledge on the subject, and / or more having a slightly :) more substantial audience than my own little blog]

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Prductivity is linearly related to concentration

Read a very interesting post over at the Coding Horror blog, called This is your Anti-Productivity Pod

It's a wonderful explanation of what I see the main problem at my work: productivity loss due to an enourmous amount of distraction during the day. I'm working in what we in the Netherlands call an office garden, a huge open room in which about a dozen people work, make telephone calls, talk about their children and last holidays, about politics, about ... well, work-related stuff also. Besides, there's no real hallway, that's on one side of the open room, so lot's of people are passing by. Apart from that, in my function I try to combine being a programmer and sysadmin at the same time. So there's a low bar for people to access me with all kinds of questions. Of course, that's what I chose for when accepting this job, so I shouldn't wine.

However, I try to cope by trying to judge whether questions asked orally can also handled by email: in that case I ask people that the next time they fire up Outlook for these kind of things. Also, I power down my mail client every now and then. Another thing is: I try to be in the office around as early as possible, giving me about an hour of quietness before most of my coworkers arrive.

What I do recognize is the much bespoken rule of 15-minutes-till-flow-arrives. In my case it's maybe in the order of ten minutes, but even then it's very irritating to be disturbed just every quarter of an hour. O, and what also helps is just opening up a window every now and then: the airco is just not capable of preventing headaches cropping up in the course of the day. Well, a whole bunch of them, all by itself small things, but combined they help me tremendously in coping with the everyday noise factor here at the office

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Loads of freeware, yummie

Check out, a list with lots of freeware programs. I'm really fond of freeware, as long as it's also free of bugs. Already seen my favorite text editor EditPad and 'brain'program KeyNote. The last one is a 'tabbed notes' program, an excellent way to store all kinds of information in an easy way.

Via The Daily Grind and Joel's Virtual Desktop

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Addicted to Del.icio.US

Discovered yesterday what is. Of all the things it is, the most obvious to me right now is: addictive! What a great, being a bit geeky text based interface, way of exploring the internet. It's just so simple and intuitive... don't hesitate and just give give it a try
Just wanted to let you know...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I've made The Switch

At my home machine, today, I finally decided to remove myself from the Administrator list. Actually, I was convinced by reading about it in a computer magazine. Thought: well, when mainsteam magazines are starting to write about running as non-admin, I'm actually a bit due as a developer. It feels so good, now that most (all?) recent worms and virii are only able to wreck havoc on my personal profile, instead of destroying the complete machine. So far, the only trouble I've seen is that I'm not able to change system time :) O, and the other thing, a bit more problematic, is that runas only yields errors after trying to run it (and entering the admin password, in case you wondered):
"RUNAS ERROR" Unable to run - explorer.exe 5: "Access is denied"
Well, got some Googling to do for now...

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


This is a stupid test to see whether Google will pick up this word, which can not be found in it's dictionary so far. So, dressfullness is the word. I'm just curious whether people are actually searching for this word. Chances would be very good I estimate, that someone will click when they see this one and only link.

Fresh Inspiration: logging-/debugging tool

Reading "How to be a Programmer" by Robert L. Read, I felt inspired by the part on debugging. Thought to myself: well, my not using real debugging tools lead almost always to Debug.Print debugging. How often do I find myself putting Response.Writes on ASP pages and Debug.Print in VB code. Or... even MsgBox come into play sometimes. Wouldn't it be nice to have an abstract class which I can call, and which handles the debugging/logging for me. So far I set up something simple which just writes some info to a logfile. For me, it's easy working like that, because I can have an Editpad window with automatic refreshing open on the log. So far I can thing of the following features:

  • choose debugging (immediate/debug window) or logging (file) mode
  • loghandling: overwrite existing file, append new info, or use multiple files based on datetime
  • handle verbosity, logging level: low, medium, all?

What do you think: is this the mother-of-super-dullest helper apps, or can it really be interesting? So far, I tend to the former, negative side, as for the usefulness to the community this can be. I am the last to say there are no logging applications so far. But being it the mother-of... it can still be a good learning experience for me. And something to keep me up at night, if both my son, and his soon-to-arrive brother or sister aren't already doing that :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

"Open Office" at the Public Prosecutor

These days, here in the Netherlands, we have our own little security scandal. Let me introduce you to the story: a public prosecutor by the name of Joost Tonino in Amsterdam saw his PC affected by a virus. He couldn't get it to boot anymore, and thought he might just as well throw it away . An effective means of getting rid of a machine is, of course, to put it bluntly on the street as sewage to be taken away. And that's exactly what he did. You can read more on the story e.g. elsewhere, but there's lot's of English language stories on the subject, so you don't need to master the Dutch language in order to understand the story. It all started with a cabdriver who took the machine home, was able to get access to the unprotected hard drive, and read all of Tonino's personal and confidential stuff. There was an abundance of info related to recent criminal lawsuits in our country. Couple days later, the story continues as some cracker hacked the personal mailbox of the man, which email address was already shown in a Dutch crime fighters' TV show. The password was supposedly communicated (I haven't seen the program myself) but was subsequently already changed. I can imagine how much of a trigger this can be to some, to give it a try... Why at least something so trivial as this personal email account, free to acquire, was not immediately taken out of use is beyond me. This morning the latest news is that the Tonino has resigned from his function.

Well, my point is not to discuss how stupid it is to put your machine on the street just like that. Nor do I want to talk about or the to put highly sensitive information on an exposed free mailbox by one person. I think the background is much more interesting. Supposedly people in these positions, who handle information about matters of life and death, are able to do things like this. This was an accident, but it would be quite naive to think that it doesn't happen on a larger scale. Also the Public Prosecutor's Office (Openbaar Ministerie) won't be the only government organization affected. Maybe this happens on a much larger scale than I can even think of. It gives me the shivers imagining all the information flowing around the unprotected. Now, it is said that the Justice Department should take preventive measure, but of course that's nothing more than an automatic reaction. This is 2004, we have the opportunities to prevent these things already for years. Let me enlighten you:

The first they thing should have done - not now, but in the not so recent past- is to have a security audit team investigate information flows in the complete organization. It will show quite soon that there's a lot of information that maybe shouldn't cross the internet at all. This is something that should be discussed with all employees involved. They should be communicated clearly the dangers of letting sensitive information flow outside the organization. In my point of view, it all starts with having everybody involved understand thoroughly what's going on. Once it's common knowledge that information os an important asset worthy of protection, you can talk about the specific course of action. In this case an obvious point would be to have no work related information go to personal external mailboxes. There are ways to enforce this, such as monitoring the internet usage, or scanning where documents are sent to. Furthermore a more rigid way of working should in no way inconvenience the employee's way of access to vital information. Think VPN's or other ways to log in to the network securely (man, it is even imaginable to have dedicated lines from the employee's private home to the court. It probably is not feasible for everyone, but for people in positions like the prosecutor is in, it should be given at least some thought. Btw, I heard on the radio the Dutch Parliament connects this way to their network, on machines which are not used on the internet; you have a closed circuit this way, which is of course much more safe. As an aside: even in the NSA there have been computers intended only for internal use been compromised by viruses because they were connected to the internet. So how much of this info is true, I wouldn't know).

But, we were talking VPN's: one should be careful about client-side trouble, so a remote machine must be protected adequately. There are ways to enforce this. It's more or less trivial these days to have secure access to the work environment. If we, with our very small company can handle this, why can't the government? They have some of the smartest hackers around at the Forensic Service, they have a Secret Service who knows how to break in to mailboxes if they want to; so they also know how to be secure, one would think. The correct way to handle this is not to require the Justice Dept to take appropriate steps to prevent this in the future. No, one should on a much higher entry point think about all places in the government where sensitive information is handled. How are we going to secure all these information streams in appropriate ways? How are we going to learn employees how to work securely. Not in all cases it can be prevented I think, that information will cross the internet. In that case, use SSL, VPN's, personal email certificates or other measures. These encryption tactics are certainly not the whole picture, but can be a good enhancement. Awareness and appropriate employee tools are just as important. You can tell everybody on a monthly basis how dangerous it is to zip your stuff and mail them home, but if there's no suitable solution to access information from home, this *will* happen in the end.

Of course, no meaure can create a 100% secure organisation, where never, ever any sensitive information will get in the open. In the end there's always people involved. Someone somewhere can be bribed, someone bears a grudge, or whatever. No hardware, electronic tripwire, encryption software or what have you will prevent someone to put something on a diskette, print information out and take it home, etc.etc. You get the point. Information is always a trade-off, as Security Guru Bruce Schneier uses to say. These days, budgets are tight, and never can we be completely save, but surely we can do something valuable with our money. Just as in medicine it is just not possible to always treat everybody with the most expensive / most effective drugs, we also have to take care where to put our money.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Just to tell you I'm still here...

Just read a nice article by Mike Gunderloy of Coder to Developer fame, Query Analyzer Tips and Tricks. Although I'm working in the Q.A. almost every day, there's still some things I didn't know about. Point is, as soon as you find a way how to do something, you stop looking for quicker shortcuts (assuming doing it your way is 'fast enough'). Therefore it's good to never stop reading, and learn something in the process...
[aside]Btw, when I stopped blogging more than two months ago, I was curious whether I would quickly feel the need to continue writing. As it turns out, this hasn't really been the case. Only sometimes, when new security troubles loomed onthe horizon, e.g. de recent ASP.NET Canonicalization issue, I thought 'man I should blog this'. But then, dozens of bloggers just did nothing other than just reporting this, and referring to the aforementioned site. So, what could have been my contribution other than repeating what's already been said?
Maybe it's unfortunate, this lack of blog urge; maybe I'm just not much of a writer. Well, I guess you'll be hearing something of me in the near future, only I don't know how near. In the meantime, can you please please let me know you are also still there, beloved reader???

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Why shoulnd't I just stop blogging?

I feel exactly like decafbad wondering why he would be recycling all the news the rest of the world is talking about. Well, at least he has 889 subscribers using Bloglines (and I guess a lot more in reality) as of today, which is much.. really much more than I have :) This means there's probably more than a thousand people who care about what he says. That could be some stimulant maybe? Well, as for me, I'm actually very surprised that you're even reading this, as chances are very very little that you would. Anyways, the point of this post: there is just so much happening outside which I just want to know about. And then, having read all stuff, I'm just tired, having no idea what's interesting anough to blog about. Is there really anything that you user want me to talk about. Then please please let me know, because me is out of ideas and on the brink of quitting

I'm not a social animal. or am I?

[back from 3 weeks of lovely analog holidays, hence the lack of recent posts ]

I never felt attracted to social software like IRC (chat) and more recently Friendster, Orkut and its ilk. I'd rather speak to an analog person than with someone while bashing on my keyboard. Besides, this new flood of social thingies seems to overwhelm you with loads of friends, friends-of-a-friend, and friends-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. This way, George W. Bush is probably even a friend of mine :( Furthermore, I rather read than type / comminucate in the digital world. And dial-up connection rules out a lot of possibilities to explore.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Posting from Tech Ed

Just a little info here from Tech Ed 2004. I already set up a post yesterday. Unfortunately, that one was saved into the Drafts of Outlook 2003 on one of the 400 or so Dell around here, which are free to use. Thought saving in Drafts was safe, but unfortunately the post disappeared the next time I logged on again. I’m not one of the *many* fortunate owners of an own laptop with wireless connection here, so have to wait in line sometimes because it’s only during session time not all machines are taken permanently. And the wireless is used massively.
I won’t really blog about the technical details, new announcements which are made here. Feels a little bit useless because I’ve already seen a lot of people talk about the new version of the Studio Suite (the Express line), and some other interesting stuff. Just go to Tech Ed Bloggers If you want to read more.
Monday at the keynote we heard already 2500 of the 6000+ users used it so far. And back then Tech Ed had just officially started (well, apart from Mondays Pre-Conference Seminars of course).
The atmosphere is really a bit geeky around here. Everywhere people are phoning, PDA’sing, just sitting around with notebook on their laps etc. Really funny to see. On the other hand you can easily feel a bit lost in the crowd. There’s just so many people, you can find yourself sitting in sessions with maybe 1000-2000 visitors. There’s only on colleague around here that I know, but he of course has a bit of his own schedule so we only see each other about twice a day.
Furthermore what can I say: the food is really good, a healthy warm lunch, muffins in the morning, snacks in the afternoon to pick up literally at dozens of places. All kinds of free drinks of course; and hey, there’s also a Health Bar, with several kinds of salads to enjoy.

Monday, June 21, 2004

.Stories of a .NET Newbie (5)

Today there was another of these learning moments. I have this Public Class where I store all my global business related code. Now what I did was defining my first Public Function CheckCredentials(ByVal username As String, ByVal hPassword As String) which, AFAIK, can easily be called by:

CheckCredentials (txtUsername.Value, hPassword)

However, running the code produced another runtime error

Exception Details: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

I took me awhile to find the origin of the error. This was mostly due to the fact that I thought the function was called with the right parameters. After some testing I realized the function needed to be shared, e.g. make it Public Shared Function

Somehow, one hopes that troubleshooting with in the end become easier, after one has done his fair share of it. But it turns out every time that there's always a new error to be learned from

Friday, June 18, 2004

UPDATE: .Stories of a .NET Newbie (4)

1) Starting today I'm using Charles Carroll's Utility Belt ASP.NET library. It's been long since I've seen something so easily incorporated into a development project. And the way .NET handles libraries is just cool. Of course you could just as easily add you own classes, dll's and what not in VS6, but now it just seems so much easier.

2) Cast is giving me the creeps. In ASP doing something like Response.Write varname was a very easy way to put some Session variable or whatever to an asp page. But now, you put a label on the right spot on you page, and then you add to the code-behind:

lblUser.Text = Session("username")

At least, that's what I thought. lblUser.Text Is obviously a string, just like the Session variable. Nope. System.InvalidCastException: Cast from type 'HtmlInputText' to type 'String' is not valid

.NET *really* is an adventurous travel for me...

UPDATE: I'm feeling such a 'n00b' because after just a little reading about sessions I realised you can just as easy bind Objects to a Session. And that was exactly what I did with the following code :)
Session.Add("username", txtUsername)
txtUsername.Value would have been a lot better...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

TechEd Europe 2004 is coming to town

Rumours all around the globe, now that the Web Application of the TechEd Europe 2004 has gone live yesterday. Inside the app you'll get a temporary email account on Outlook Web Access 2003 (which is looking *very* slick, b.t.w.). Also, there's the possibility to make a complete schedule of the conference, as the complete program is now finilsed and accesible. I must say, I neede almost 2 hours to read through all 300+ programs and make a desicion on which one to visit.
Sometimes I really want to be at 3 places simultaneously...

.Stories of a .NET Newbie (3)

1) From the MSDN Help:

"Applications that implement role-based security grant rights based on the role associated with a principal object"

Well, it sounds less hard than it is actually; at least to me. This Principal thing is a completely new concept to me. I know Users and the use of adding them to Roles of course, but first I totally couldn't grasp why one would use something on top of the User/Role scheme. Well, something to dig into some more the coming days.

2) Man, has Data handling become a simple matter. I'm communicating with my SQL Server now without having written any line of code, right from within my web pages! I always used something like the following to make a custom connection:

Set rst = New ADODB.Recordset
Rst.LockType = adLockOptimistic
Rst.CursorType = adOpenKeyset
Rst.Open "SELECT * FROM MyTable WHERE user = " & verifiedString & "'"
Do Until Rst.EOF
Set Rst = Nothing

But now... I opened up the Server Explorer, use the GUI to add a new connection to the SQL Server in the IDE. After entering the password the whole wealth of SQL Server unfolds itself right into the IDE. I can even make table changes on the fly if I want. But, what you're basically doing to enable paging is the putting a Table or Stored Procedure to your form. This automatically adds a SqlConnection1 and SqlDataAdapter1 to the so-called component tray area. No with basically some right-clicking here and there you set up the database connection; set a couple of details like the numbers of rows on your page, the kind of record selectors, and you're done. No more debugging unnecessary, repeating code with lots of typos, or hidden errors which only show up at runtime etc, etc.

For the first time in years coding has become *real* fun again

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Sikko2Go LINKS

(all via Robert Hurlbut's .Net Blog )

Things I want to check out for myself the next week

About the Team software: I saw so many postings about it, that I just want to see for myself just what it is and how it works, not to use it in my own environment