Monday, September 10, 2007
Scott Adams hits the nail on the head:

Scott's Dilbert Blog is recommended daily reading...

posted on Monday, September 10, 2007 8:43:19 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

Okay, so I'm a sucker for these internet quizes: says I'm a Highly Dorky Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

The fun facts displayed after you take the test were amusing (and no, I wasn't one of the 28.3%):

Quick Fun Facts:

96616 unique people have taken this test.

Based on these unique user's answers...

44.8% of test takers are gals,
53.1% are guys,
...the rest (2.1%) are confused.

17.1% of test takers get aroused by "iPhone," while
40.6% get utterly ill.

34.6% of all test takers would choose the Internet over sex, and
28.3% of married test takers prefer the Internet over sex.

Only 3.6% of test takers own a Jar Jar Binks t-shirt, though
56.0% of them don't own a lightsaber (priorities == messed up).

posted on Monday, September 10, 2007 8:37:58 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Saturday, September 08, 2007

Want to transfer your cheezburger skillz to the command prompt? Navigate your files using lolshell.

Download lolshell.ps1 [Requires PowerShell 1.0]

To give you a taste of the awesome powers of lolshell, here's a transcript. My favourite function is WTF.

1> . ./lolshell.ps1

 (. .)
  =w= (\
 / ^ \//
(|| ||)
,""_""_ .




LOL. I CAN SEEZ U HRE: C:\Users\kirk\Videos


    Directory: Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\FileSystem::C:\Users\kirk\Vi

Mode           LastWriteTime       Length Name                       
----           -------------       ------ ----                       
-a---  28/02/2007 12:40 a.m.     14882401 Vista_0001.wmv             
-a---  28/02/2007 11:10 p.m.     14816631 Vista_0002.wmv             

6> IM WATCHN YR Vista_0001.wmv
                                [Video opens in Media Player]

LOL. I CAN SEEZ U HRE: C:\Users\kirk\Videos


LOL. I CAN SEEZ U HRE: C:\Users\kirk


LOL. HAPND JUST lolshell :)
Cannot find drive. A drive with name 'Z' does not exist.



    Sends output to a printer.
...                             [More help prints here]


lolshell.ps1 (3.5 KB)
posted on Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:05:13 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Well this was interesting - Microsoft have embraced Mono's Moonlight as their official Linux version of Silverlight. From Scott's blog post:

Over the last few months we've been working to enable Silverlight support on Linux, and today we are announcing a formal partnership with Novell to provide a great Silverlight implementation for Linux.  Microsoft will be delivering Silverlight Media Codecs for Linux, and Novell will be building a 100% compatible Silverlight runtime implementation called "Moonlight".
I think it's interesting for several reasons -- Microsoft partnering with Novell to release an open-source version of Silverlight, when the Windows / Mac one is closed; and that they are planning to make Moonlight "100% compatible".

100% compatability is a pretty strong statement. I know that the Mono project has been aiming for that for a while, but has had to work around bugs or inconsistencies in the CLR to achieve it. I wonder how Microsoft is helping Novell achieve that?

Miguel has some details on who was involved from within Microsoft, and how the test suite will be shared between the two companies.

posted on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 10:21:16 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Monday, August 27, 2007
Well, I thought that my PowerShell talk went okay -- although it didn't rank in the top 10 presentations at TechEd (congratulations Jeremy and Andrew!).

The slides for my talk are available on the downloads site:

My presentation was in the SkyCity theatre, a 700 seat venue used for concerts and films. I have to admit that the venue was the most intimidating part of giving my third talk at TechEd -- but I think I survived it intact :)

Some additional links for your browsing pleasure:

If you have any questions about my talk, or about PowerShell, feel free to fire them this way -- either through this blog or via my email address (it's not that hard to find it on the interweb, so I won't list it again here :)

posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 10:03:21 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [2]
It's grassroots conference time in Wellington, with barcamp 2007 e-government on Sat 15 Sept, and Kiwicon on the Sat 17 and Sun 18 November.

Kiwicon is a security conference, and it sounds like it will be for the technically minded folks in the security community -- sessions on hacking, wifi insecurity, forensics and more. Sounds interesting!

barcamp is an un-conference about e-government / Government 2.0. Sessions are scheduled and time-slotted on the day. It looks like there's going to be some interesting stuff discussed - identity, privacy, community, accessibility and more.

Sounds like a few scheduled weekends away from the family...


posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 9:41:46 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Monday, August 13, 2007
The day started at 8am with room preparations, sessions at 9:30, and it was all over by 5pm. Just 7 hours for 10 sessions, so it really was a whirlwind tour of .NET devt topics.

We plan to post some of the slides and materials up on the site over the next week or so. Here is the list of presenters and their topics:

9:40am Chris Auld: Silverlight at MIX and Intergen (30min)

Chris introduced some of the features of Silverlight 1.0 and 1.1, and showed a few sample programs that have been built. One of them from Intergen was an Amazon search client.

10:10am Tom Hollander:  Patterns and Practices (60min)

Tom showed some of the cool features that come out of the P&P team, and built a WCF app using factories and showed how to wrap and hide exceptions so that sensible exceptions pass across the boundary. He also showed a community project he's involved in to throw sensible exceptions based upon SQL error codes (part of Enterprise Library Contrib).

I was interested to see some of the things in Enterprise Library that I didn't know about, and I enjoyed this session.

11:10am Ivan Towlson: WPF databinding (45min)

Ivan got down to the nitty-gritty in WPF and showed how to databind against data objects and have changes in the model show up in the UI and vice-versa. He then drilled into a few different scenarios such as formatting and templating, and showed how to do those a few different ways in WPF.

We didn't have enough time for his talk, so I think we may have missed out on a cool demo at the end :(

12:00pm Ivan Porto Carrero: Javascript best practices (30min)

This talk could've gone on a lot longer, so Ivan covered some of the common points about writing performant Javascript, and showed some speed comparisons of different browsers across different tasks.

12:45pm-ish OpenXML and Lunchtime panel

Sean McBreen talked briefly about OpenXML and some of the standardisation efforts that are going on right now. Then Chris Auld and Adam Cogan entertained us over lunch with a little skit on how Adam does doesn't do business. Very entertaining! Some good ideas on how to interact with clients and be prepared for meetings.

1:45pm Kirk Jackson: C# 3.0 new features (30min)

I went through some of the C# 3.0 features, and talked about when you'd use them (mostly, if using LINQ), and at the end I showed a few slides of the upcoming XML support in VB9, which is cool if not scary!

2:15pm Adam Cogan: TFS and VSTS - what is coming (60min)

Adam showed us some of the new features that are coming into Team Foundation / System in the upcoming release. Interesting thing was that out of the audience, only a handful are using these products.

3:15pm Dave Dustin: SQL 2008 new features (10min)

Dave put up a list and talked through some of the new features in SQL2008 -- if you want to hear more about them, go along to the next SQL user group in your area (Auckland, Wellington).

Dave didn't have a very good afternoon with his powerpoint deck, but I thought he did well fielding questions from the floor.

3:30pm Andrew Peters and Jeremy Boyd: Opinionated domain modeling (30min)

Andrew and Jeremy talked about what it means to be an opinionated toolset, how domain modeling has evolved over the past few years, and what is currently state of the art. They then showed Lightspeed, their product, in action, and Jeremy built up a functioning online store quite quickly using Lightspeed to persist the data.

I'm biased, because I'm friends with these guys, but I continue to be impressed with their product and what they've put together. It really seems to be lean, fast, and does what you need.

4:00pm Tony Goodhew: Insights into the development of Orcas (50min)

Tony talked without a slide deck about the development process that they use when developing Visual Studio 2008 right from the inception of the project prior to the release of 2005. His talk was humorous, and I think showed some insight into how to effectively run a software development project of that magnitude.

I was particularly interested in how they measure stability of code, and how they conduct the exit and entry reviews at the end of each milestone.

Summary of the day

There were a lot of people at Code Camp. I think at the peak we had over 170 people in the room, though during the day people came and went.

Everything was a bit pressed for time - 10 sessions in 7 hours was a lot. The format was different to the previous Code Camps that we have spread over 2 days. I am soliciting feedback on whether people prefer the compressed format or a more sedate Code Camp -- please email me on

Thanks for everyone who attended, to our wonderful presenters who gave their time to entertain and educate us, and to our sponsors (Microsoft, Intergen, Fronde and the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional program) who helped make the day possible.

posted on Monday, August 13, 2007 10:30:09 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Saturday, August 11, 2007
Well, Code Camp is ready to go.... It has been a fair amount of work to prepare for it, although I've tried to keep things pretty lean and just focus on the essentials. Thanks PeterB for organising the website RSVP system and the Camp Fire dinner tomorrow night.

The schedule for tomorrow is now pretty locked-in. Mahesh Prakriya wasn't able to make it, but a couple of the Mindscape guys have stepped up to present.

Should be a fun day. See you tomorrow, and hopefully at the dinner afterwards!

posted on Saturday, August 11, 2007 8:23:32 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [1]
 Thursday, August 02, 2007
We had a good night at the Wellington .NET users group meeting last night -- Zac Smith from Provoke presented on "Developing with Windows Sharepoint Services", and we had the meeting here at Xero HQ for the first time.

Zac's presentation was interesting. I think Sharepoint has a much better .NET development story than it did four years ago when I last looked at it -- not surprisingly, I guess! Zac showed how to add new features to sharepoint menus, how to add items into the admin screens, how to programmatically access the Sharepoint store, and how to create custom web parts.

Rod from Xero gave a little intro at the beginning... this was the first time we've had such a big crowd in the Xero training room:



posted on Thursday, August 02, 2007 3:10:04 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Saturday, July 28, 2007
From the slightly bizarre files:


...over 50 redheads rode the subway together and protested a Manhattan Wendy’s for their “racist logo.”

It sounds like they had fun... I like the idea of riding a train and suddenly realising that everyone else on board has red hair.

posted on Saturday, July 28, 2007 9:42:05 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Sunday, July 22, 2007
Microsoft just hired two developers I respect:
Here's hoping we can look forward to both of them coming to the next New Zealand TechEd (and Code Camp).

I'm always impressed by the super-clever people that Microsoft hire. Congratulations, Microsoft!

posted on Sunday, July 22, 2007 8:28:23 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Wednesday, July 18, 2007 has got it good!

Andy Oram posted to the O'Reilly Radar about his recent research on mailing lists, and linked to his article "How to Help Mailing Lists Help Readers".

In his article, Andy followed threads on some mailing lists (Linux, Perl, Ruby), and uncovered some patterns of behaviour (summarised below):
  • Many questions aren't satisfactorily answered (46%)
  • Helpers give up after a few attempts
  • Beginner users have fundamental gaps in knowledge, and need direction to other documentation sources
Now despite recent unrest about the effectiveness of the dotnet mailing list (at, in particular the performance of the mail sender, I've always been convinced of the relevance of the answers given on the list, and impressed by the tone of the replies. We've got a nice little community going, and people offer quite in-depth help wherever they can.

I'm always impressed when people go out of their way to solve a problem, such as installing a piece of software to help diagnose someones problem (Ivan Towlson, I think that was you :) ), or reliably pitching in to solve a problem (PeterB and "shane ~" are among the regular "helpers").

So I collected some statistics following a similar process to Andy's:
  • 15 recent threads from the NZ dotnet mailing list where a specific question was asked
  • I measured similar statistics on the effectiveness and time to resolution, although for some of the threads where the orginal poster didn't reply with thanks, I defined "resolution" subjectively as whether I thought a satisfactory answer had been given
  • A count of the number of messages in each thread, the number of helpful / on topic messages, off-topic, irrelevant and unhelpful messages

  • 80% of questions received a satisfactory reply!
  • There were no off-topic, irrelevant or unhelpful messages!
  • Median time to resolution was 20 minutes!
  • Longest time to resolution was 2hrs 34mins.
  • Best response times are early-mid morning, and mid-afternoon. Slower responses over lunch time.
I expected to see the dotnet list coming out well, but when you compare these numbers to the ones Andy collected, and even if you factor in some differences due to sampling / processing technique, the differences are staggering:

Table 1 (modified). Resolution times for questions on mailing lists

Minimum Median Maximum
NZ .NET list 8 mins 20 mins 2 hours, 34 mins
Perl 2 hours 8 hours 1 day, 21 hours
Rails 0.5 hours 16 hours 7 days, 10 hours
Both operating systems 0.1 hours 10.5 hours 2 days, 10 hours
Both languages 0.5 hours 13.5 hours 7 days, 10 hours
All lists 0.1 hours 11.5 hours 7 days, 10 hours

Some of the things that I believe make the dotnet list so successful:

  • The list is an extension of the user groups, and many people know each other in person
  • Everyone is in the same timezone and industry, which means the responses are fast, and usually at the same time of day that you need help
  • Off-topic conversation is kept to a seperate off-topic mailing list
  • The list subscribers have a wide spread of knowledge and experience, with some members having very deep .NET knowledge
  • Timaru is discussed monthly :)
The list server that runs the mailing lists (dotnet, sqlserver, dotnet-offtopic and others) has been tirelessly maintained by Lukas Svoboda over the past 5 or 6 years, and the not inconsiderable costs of sending out many thousands of emails a day has been sponsored by him, Microsoft, Irongate, Orbiz, Intergen and others over the years. Thanks!
posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:10:01 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Monday, July 16, 2007
It's very exciting to start advertising the NZ.NET Dev Code Camp, which will be happening in Auckland next month -- Sunday 12 August. We're running it the day before TechEd, and using one of the larger TechEd conference rooms.

Registration, and further details can be found at, and more details will be added there as we confirm them.

Tell all your friends!


posted on Monday, July 16, 2007 11:06:07 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [1]
 Friday, July 13, 2007
Darryl has just posted that the NZ TechEd schedule has been updated and is available on Comnet.

I'm excited to be presenting on Windows PowerShell again -- last year was a blast, and there's new things to talk about this year.

One of the first things I do is look at the competition. It's always good to know what you're scheduled up against. At 10:45 on the Tuesday morning, I'm up against these sessions:

ARC308 - Software Factories

CON311 - Building Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation Enabled Windows Communication Foundation Services in .NET Framework 3.5
Speaker(s): Matthew Winkler

DAT309 - Implementing Scale-Out Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2005
Speaker(s): Don Vilen

DEV318 - Strategies for Moving Your Microsoft Visual Basic 6 Investments to .NET
Speaker(s): Paul Yuknewicz

OFC301 - Capacity and Performance Planning for Microsoft SharePoint Products and Techologies 2007
Speaker(s): Mike Fitzmaurice

UNC302 - Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 Security In-Depth
Speaker(s): Steve Riley

WEB317 - Enhancing ASP.Net AJAX applications with Silverlight
Speaker(s): Nikhil Kothari

Come and hear about PowerShell, you know you want to!

posted on Friday, July 13, 2007 9:26:42 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [1]
 Thursday, July 12, 2007

So true: "It's so easy to write, but not always easy to read". Perl 5 in a nutshell

I've spent many happy hours spent writing perl code :)

"Help, help, I'm trapped in a nutshell! Somebody get me out of this bloody great nutshell!"

posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 10:32:33 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
Simone writes that he's leaving NZ soon. Simone has been a welcome addition to the Wellington geek community and has contributed to presentations and conversations at the .NET user group and the Wellington geek lunches.

Come back soon Simone, we'll miss you!

posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:48:30 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [2]
 Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Test message

posted on Wednesday, July 04, 2007 3:05:22 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Monday, July 02, 2007
Ayende briefly outlines the 7 approaches for interception in .NET, techniques which are used for Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP), Dependency Injection, and other methods of ensuring that the thing you write ain't the thing that runs.

This topic is dear to my heart (a little too dear!). My University research went into different interception techniques in depth, and I surveyed the different techniques and implemented a few prototypes. My main implementation was a mixture of runtime and compile-time weaving, as they gave most flexibility in the interception points that can be attached to. Other approaches typically work by subclassing, limiting you to interception of virtual member methods only.

The .NET runtime allows a few interesting points of interception, particularly if you are interested in playing around with the Profiling and Debugging API's. Things have gotten a little better now that people have written managed wrappers, but back then, those API's made my head hurt.

One day I plan to go back into that part of my writeup and pull some text into this blog. I'd also like to fully implement my injection system, especially now that the library support has improved (Cecil is superior to R.A.I.L.) and the runtime supports lightweight code-generation.

posted on Monday, July 02, 2007 9:25:45 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Friday, June 29, 2007
37Signals posted a list of their favourite childrens books when growing up.

I read a lot as a kid, and my earliest book memories are of the Munch Bunch and Mr Men. Hargreave's Mr Men seems to have lasted better than the Munch Bunch, and I often see Little Miss characters on t-shirts around town.

It was a lot of fun to read the circa-1980 books with my children when they were younger. A favourite character of mine and the kids is Billy Blackberry:


He's always getting up to mischief. Writing this, I'm wondering if this book is the reason why blackberry jam is my favourite -- although upon analysis, why I'd want to eat my favourite first book character disturbs me.

Kalani and Kalista both absolutely love the Spotty Can't Sleep book that I used to read to them when they were small:

One of my favourite parts of being a parent is story time in the evenings. You can't beat a good kids book!
posted on Friday, June 29, 2007 11:23:30 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [1]
 Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sometimes your website is dead. Really dead. Designing a user experience can be hard, because there may be no way to gracefully recover.

Google Mail today:

Okay, so I tried again straight away (30 seconds is waaay too long to wait!):

I like the second message. It reassures me that my data is secure, and lets me know that I won't be able to use the site until it's fixed.

TelstraClear's error message from a while ago made me chuckle enough to save it to disk:


Thanks for the offer, but I'm finding it hard to enjoy the rest of the site when I'm in a popup window that has an error. I love the page title too: "Error (TelstraClear - Together, A better way)". Talk about empowerment! I don't think we did that error together.

posted on Thursday, June 28, 2007 9:05:20 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
I'm looking forward to presenting with Philip Cox (Trade Me) at next weeks .NET User Group meeting in Wellington.

The session "C# vs VB.NET - continuing the epic battle" is not really going to be an us-versus-them thing, but rather a presentation of some of the newer language features side-by-side.

The Wellington group is a pretty C#-focussed bunch, so it will be good for the VB.NET members to get some respect -- some of the new VB9 features are pretty compelling.

If you want to come along, check out the session details on the Wellington group site, and RSVP to me soon.

posted on Thursday, June 28, 2007 10:38:32 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Monday, June 25, 2007
I'm enjoying Acceptable TV, the user-contribution, voting, not-reality but borrowing some concepts TV programme for the attention-deficit generation. Each 'episode' is 2.5 minutes.


The exec producer is Jack Black, and the basic premise is that "some stuff is better than other stuff". It's a good blend of modern TV techniques (i.e. low production values, and voting off survivor island), and web 2.0 content generation / sharing concepts.

Some of my favourites are:
Not necessarily politically correct, but what is these days?

posted on Monday, June 25, 2007 9:09:41 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

Dare has a good writeup of the keynote from the Seattle Conference on Scalability. It sounds like a pretty interesting conference, with presentations from Google, Amazon, Verisign and more.

The Google talk covered the three big, gutsy parts of Google's architecture: GFS, BigTable and MapReduce. By building their systems from scratch, Google is able to scale to the phenomenal size it is now.

Technologies like these are how Google can handle millions of different search phrases -- amazingly, one in four queries to their search engine have never been seen before.

Google hires smart people and lets them work in small teams of 3 to 5 people. They can get away with teams being that small because they have the benefit of an infrastructure that takes care of all the hard problems so devs can focus on building interesting, innovative apps.

posted on Monday, June 25, 2007 8:33:12 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Thursday, June 21, 2007

Last year at TechEd I was talking about the drive providers that ship with PowerShell, such as the ENV: drive that let's you view environment variables and the HKLM: and HKCU: drives that let you navigate the registry.

I said it would be cool if you could CD into your database server, and DIR the rows of a table. Here's how you can:

Demo SQL Provider Code

JD Trask has also put together a drive provider for mounting and navigating Zip archives:

How to Write a PowerShell drive provider

JD's example comes with some decent documentation explaining the four core classes that comprise the provider, showing how to install the provider and giving some ideas on how to extend the provider for extra credit.

It rather reminds me of a tcsh extension I used to use to cd into tar.gz's back in the day :)

posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 10:26:11 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

Miguel de Icaza has written a progress report on their Mono port of Silverlight, called Moonlight.

It's a pretty impressive account of what they have accomplished in the first 21 days of developing Moonlight. It's interesting to see what a team with deep knowledge of a domain can produce in an intense session of hacking.

It will be especially interesting to see what core Silverlight features the Mono team can develop by the time Silverlight 1.1 releases, so we can target our Silverlight applications to the common denominator.

Also, I wonder which will release first: Silverlight 1.1 or Moonlight 1.1?

posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:51:46 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Reading Dare Obasanjo's blog, I saw reference to this email (jpg) that is linked from Analyzing the Facebook Platform, three weeks in:

"Do you know anybody that may have excess servers we could borrow for the next 5-7 days while we buy new servers of our own?"
Ali Partovi from Ilike, a day after launching on Facebook

Scale problems like this are good to have -- you have lots of customers after all. But, it must be hard to see all your hardware melting as quickly as you add it!

posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 9:04:19 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [1]