Category Archives: Technology

Dashlane Easter Egg – Konami Code reveals Conway’s Game of Life

I’ve been a Dashlane user for a while now, having found out about it through a friend and respected colleague who started working for them in the Paris office.

What you may not know is that Dashlane have invited a number of people to be on their “Board of Users” and to give feedback on new product developments. A few days ago one of the QA Engineers set us all a challenge – to find a hidden “cheat code” in the PC version of the application.

Well, I found it! (and I think I was the first)

It turns out that if you open the application, then go to the Help > About screen you’ll initially see this:

about-before

Now comes the fun part, you need to type the Konami Code:

↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → A

As soon as you finish that, you’ll see this screen and the Easter Egg will have been activated:

about-after

Initially I though, hmm, interesting, is it some kind of icon editor? You can start drawing on the grid, like this:

about-start

But as soon as you click the Dashlane logo then the grid turns into Conway’s Game of Life:

about-running

The guys at Dashlane have been kind enough to offer to send me some goodies but the main prize is this signed Dashlane drawing from the team at Dashlane in Paris:

Dashlane Konami Code Scan

Thanks all!

The New Efficiency: The UK Technical Launch of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange Server 2010

Tuesday was the UK Technical Launch of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange Server 2010 at Wembley Stadium. The weather was pretty grim but it was good to finally walk down Olympic Way for the first time and see the arch coming into view.

Olympic Way

Although the event was aimed at “IT Pros” rather than developers I figured this event would be a good way of finding out what’s new and what I, as a developer, might be able to work with in the near future. There was also the bonus of a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate for turning up which helped make the peak travelcard and the day off work a bit less painful.

Below are some of the highlights from my perspective as a developer:

XBox 360s
For some reason the Wembley conference centre is full of those XBox 360 stands. I played a bit of Need for Speed: Shift and then some Halo 3: ODST while waiting for the first session. Not a bad way to start the day.

Twittering and texting
I was impressed that Microsoft had thought to suggest a Twitter hashtag (#MSWembley) to use so that everyone could keep track of tweets related to the event. They were also monitoring it for feedback and as a way of asking questions which was a nice idea. There was also a text number that you could use for questions. Unfortunately all the sessions seemed to overrun so there wasn’t any time for questions in the sessions I went to.

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
Although it’s been out a while, the R2 release seems to be much improved. I was impressed with the live migration of a virtual machine from one server to another with only a very short pause, very impressive stuff to see. I’m not sure if it’s a new feature or not but it was also useful finding out about P2V (Physical to Virtual) migration. I’m fairly sure VMWare came first with most of this stuff but that doesn’t come with my TechNet subscription!

Virtualisation
Although I use virtual machines a lot for testing and development I’d not thought about some of the many other business uses for virtualisation. One of the most interesting ones was for the police – for security they have to have seperate systems for accessing certain information databases. In the past this would be done by having physically seperate machines on seperate networks. Now they can just have a dumb terminal which remote desktops into banks of virtual machines, all running Windows 7 of course!

Exchange Server 2010
There are some nice new features with this release. While you’re composing a message you get a warning if someone on the recipient list is out of office, before you send it – a nice potential timesaver. You can create your own customisable alerts too e.g. a warning if you’re sending a mail externally or if it contains certain keywords. The web interface now has threaded conversation support, and works in Firefox just as well as in IE. And finally the beginning of the end of PST files which I know can be a nightmare.

Me at Wembley

Training and events I’ve been to

For the last few years I’ve been trying to keep a list of all work-related training and events I’ve been to. I recently updated this and thought it might be interesting to post it here.

Events are shown in chronological order, newest first.

Vista Squad: Scott Guthrie – ASP.NET MVC Special Event
Friday 3rd July 2009, 13:00 – 16:00
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

London DotNet User Group: Silverlight 3
Thursday 2nd July 2009, 18:30 – 21:00
MRM London, 76-80 Southwark Street, London
Speaker: Scott Guthrie

UK SQL Server User Group: Understanding ADO.NET Data Services, Windows 7 features in-depth
Wednesday 13th May 2009, 17:30 – 21:00
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading
Speakers: Mike Taulty, James O’Neill, Viral Tarpara

WebDD 2009
Saturday 18th April 2009, 09:30 – 17:00
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper (DDD7)
Saturday 22nd November 2008, 09:00 – 17:30
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

FoWA 2008 – Expo & Diggnation Live
Friday 10th October 2008, 19:30 – 00:00
ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, London

Vista Squad: “First Blood Part II” (How to be a Geek 2.0)
Wednesday 17th September 2008, 18:00 – 21:15
Speakers: Viral Tarpara
Microsoft, Victoria, London

SQLBits Cubed (III)
Saturday 13th September 2008
University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield

Heroes Happen Here
Wednesday 19th March 2008, 09:30 – 19:00
The ICC, Birmingham
Microsoft UK Launch: Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008, Windows Server 2008

Microsoft’s Web Platform. IIS7 and ASP.NET 3.5
Tuesday 8th January 2008, 18:30 – 21:20
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading
IIS7, Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, LINQ, ASP.NET 3.5

MSDN: What’s new in Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Fx 3.5 for the Web Developer
Tuesday 2nd October 2007, 18:30 – 21:20
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

Microsoft MIX:UK 07
Tuesday 11th – Wednesday 12th September 2007, 09:30 – 17:30
Congress Centre, London

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper (DDD5)
Saturday 30th June 2007, 09:30 – 17:00
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

IET Berkshire: The Sony PlayStation 3
Wednesday 21st March 2007, 19:00 – 21:00
Palmer Building, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AH

DeverloperDeveloperDeveloper (DDD4)
Saturday 2nd December 2006, 09:30 – 17:00
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

BCS Berkshire: The ‘Open versus Closed’ Debate
Tuesday 14th November 2006, 19:30 – 21:30
John Nike Theatre, Agriculture Building, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AH

The Web: Designing and Developing Compelling Sites and Applications
Tuesday 19th September 2006, 18:30 – 21:15
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading Atlas, ASP.NET, IIS7, Expression Web Beta 1, WPF/E

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper (DDD3)
Saturday 3rd June 2006, 09:30 – 16:40
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

MSDN Technical Briefing: SQL Server 2005 for SQL Server 2000 Developers (Level 200)
Wednesday 26th October 2005, 09:30 – 16:30
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper (DDD2)
Saturday 22nd October 2005, 09:30 – 17:30
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

Programming a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Database (M2073)
Monday 5th – Friday 9th September 2005
Interquad, Thames Tower, Reading

Microsoft TechEd Europe 2005
Monday 4th – Friday 8th July 2005
RAI, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Pre-Conference Seminar: The Zen of ASP.NET 2.0

IEE: Opening Windows into Microsoft
Monday 27th June 2005, 18:30 – 21:00
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading
Exploiting service oriented plumbing (Olive Presland)
Windows embedded: Desktop to device (Dave Baker)

Programming with Microsoft ADO.NET (2389B)
Wednesday 22nd – Friday 24th June 2005
Interquad, Middlesex St Centre, London

An Introduction To C# and The .NET Framework
Tuesday 14th – Wednesday 15th June 2005
The University of Reading
Speaker: Philip Stears

Programming the Microsoft .NET Framework with C# (M2349)
Monday 9th – Friday 13th May 2005
Interquad, Tabernacle Street, London

Project Management
Thursday 14th – Friday 15th April 2005
Centre for Staff Training and Development, The University of Reading
Speaker: Alan Rousseau, Steve Walker & Associates Ltd

Thames Valley User Group .NET – Second Meeting
Tuesday 7th December 2004
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading
Speaker: Eamon O’Tuathail, Clipcode

Assertive Communication Skills
Thursday 28th October 2004
Centre for Staff Training and Development, The University of Reading
Speaker: Vicki Evans, Vision Training and Development

TCS Module 3
Monday 11th – Thursday 14th October 2004
Quality Inn, Warwick
Speakers: Dawn Husemann, Paul Ford (Insight People Development)

TCS Module 4 (Strategic Business Review – Globalisation)
Monday 4th – Thursday 7th October 2004
Quality Hotel, Chesford Bridge, Kenilworth, Warwick CV8 2LN
Speakers: Paul Taylor and Andrew Savage, Pi Management

ZDNet UK IT Priorities Conference
Tuesday 28th September 2004, 09:00 – 17:00
The Park Lane Hotel, London

An Introduction to SharePoint Portal Server 2003
Thursday 1st July 2004, 09:00 – 17:00
Deverill, The Holiday Inn, Swindon

Thames Valley User Group .NET – Inaugural Meeting
Monday 21st June 2004
Microsoft, Thames Valley Park, Reading

Microsoft Research Academic Days in Dublin
Wednesday 13th – Friday 16th April 2004
Leading academics, faculty, and PhD students from the United Kingdom and Ireland. An opportunity to learn about different aspects of Microsoft .NET and future technologies and to meet other Academics and people from Microsoft Research.

BCS: Applying XML in the medical field
Wednesday 25th February 2004, 19:30
Gordon Lecture Theatre, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, Reading
Speaker: John Chelsom

TCS Module 2
Sunday 4th – Friday 9th January 2004
Limpley Stoke Hotel, Bath, Avon
Speakers: Insight People Development

TCS Module 1
Sunday 7th – Thursday 11th December 2003
Limpley Stoke Hotel, Bath, Avon
Speakers: Insight People Development

BCS: Linux
Wednesday 19th November 2003
Gordon Lecture Theatre, Whiteknights, The University of Reading, Reading
Speaker: Roger Whittaker, SuSE

Filter for WinMerge

A lot of web development tools like Dreamweaver and FrontPage like to create annoying files and folders throughout a build. I’m sure they’re useful to somebody, but they just get in the way when you’re doing a comparison of two builds.

I thought I’d share a basic filter I’ve made for WinMerge, which makes it ignore any junk files created by Dreamweaver, FrontPage and Windows.

Folders ignored:

  • _vti_cnf
  • _notes

Files ignored:

  • Thumbs.db
  • _vti_cnf
  • dwsync.xml

I’ll probably add more files to this list as I discover them, but for now please feel free to download the filter. If you have any suggestions, please add a comment to this post.

ASP.NET debugging in Firefox – resources not loading

For a while I’ve had trouble with Firefox when using a local IIS 5 install to test/debug an ASP.NET application. Some of the images and other resources weren’t loading, almost as if a limit had been hit. It would also show a login dialog box.

The solution is to go to about:config in Firefox and make sure that network.http.keep-alive is set to true.

The reason I’d set it to false in the past was so I could test a load balanced cluster.

Update: I’ve since found that the fix above doesn’t always work.

Something else which almost fixes this problem is to disable HTTP keep-alives via the site properties in IIS. Unfortunately this has the side effect of stopping debugging working in Visual Studio 2003.

Globalisation/Globalization and Charity IT Resources

While tidying my bookmarks today, I found a load of sites I’d used for my MSc. I thought I might as well post them here before I delete them as it took me a while to collect them all and they may be useful for somebody somewhere.

You might also like to find out more about my Msc Dissertation.