Dreaming in code.


I was up late last night reading about delegates and events in vb.net and spent the wee hours of the morning actually dreaming in code. Not dreaming about coding (which I do more often than I care to admit), but actually dreaming the code. It was clear and vivid and when I woke up I actually thought I had mastered delegates!

OK … so now it’s a couple hours into the new day and I can see that my dreams were a little on the wonky side, but it was still a cool experience! At least I think I did come to understand the concepts of call backs, delegates and events. Now all I have to do is master the implementation and I’m golden.

p.s. Check out www.dreamincode.net. It’s a great resource for tips and code snips. My favorite part is the downloadable reference cards here … http://www.dreamincode.net/forums/showtopic17947.htm


November 11, 2007 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment

Data Warehouse:


My current job has me working with data warehousing a lot more than I have up to this point. There’s some really cool stuff going on in this area. I’ve been tearing through a couple good books on the ‘Kimball’ method and this week I’ve viewed several hours of webcast from Microsoft.

There seam to be two competing philosophies around data warehousing. I’ve been reading and practicing the ‘Kimball’ method, named after Ralph Kimball. It’s interesting stuff. It’s not at all like the transactional systems I’ve been supporting up to this point. In a nutshell, you do a lot of the work of summarizing the data during the data load. When it’s time to make reports you just pull the summarized data you pre-calculated, or you aggregate new summaries for whatever you need. For example, you load all your data into tables, but then load other tables with aggregate values (like total sales per day). Later you can pull the daily totals, or you can sum the daily totals over a month, much faster than if you had to calculate the totals for all the detail records. Now that’s cool.

November 8, 2007 at 10:35 pm Leave a comment

.net study group online now!


Well … I did it! I sent out the invitation emails to the ‘lifers’ that showed an interest in forming an online .net study group on www.learnvisualstudio.net. I got a good response and I’m hoping maybe word of mouth will bring in a couple more. I’m excited to make a start at this, I’ve been thinking about doing it forever. If you are here from the study group … cool!

November 7, 2007 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

Reading List



This weeks reading list is a good one. Actually … I’ve been working on these three for a while now. Where to start?

Mastering Regular Expressions is a fantastic book. I read 5 or 10 pages in the morning and work through some variations of the examples during the day. At night I try to read another 5 or 10 pages. It’s taking a while, but it seams to stick better when I work it in small sessions. Regex does some amazing things. I wish I had known about it 5 years ago.

Mastering Data Warehouse Aggregates is just plain cool. I’ve been working with databases for about 10 years now, but I’ve focused mainly on production (transactional) databases. Now I’m working in more of a data warehouse environment and I’m learning that a lot of the rules are different. I’ve sort of blindly worked my way towards some of the methods described in this book on a project or two, but I had no idea that there was a ‘right way’ to handle the ‘unique’ problems you run into in data warehouse environments. It’s not as much of a cookbook as a lot of what I read. It’s more of a ‘this is why this is a smart approach and these are some of the things you can do to make it work’ type book. Very thought provoking stuff.

Coding Techniques for Microsoft Visual Basic.Net is a fun read. It was written against a pre-release beta of Visual Basic.net (I think) so some of it is starting to show its age, but so far every example I’ve tried has worked just fine for me. I like this book for its style. John Connell does a great job of describing the why BEFORE he gets into the how. I really like that. He takes his time and he chose some really interesting challenges to write code samples for. It’s a lot easier reading the code when you’re interested in the problem it’s designed to solve. It’s like solving a puzzle. I’ve read most of this book at night when I’ve been away from a computer so I haven’t played with the code in this one as much as I’d like. My plan is to finish reading it all the way through and then go back and work through some of the chapters again when I can mess around with the code a little.

Ok … so that’s what I’m working on at the moment. I hope to have a more detailed write up of each of these books online as I finish them.

October 25, 2007 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment



I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. I realized a while back that in order to grow at work and continue to enjoy my work I needed to take my .net skills to the next level. With that in mind I’ve been putting in a lot of hours reading and practicing new skills. I have a sort of list of skills I’ve been working on the last 6 or 8 months.

Basically it breaks down like this …

Core skills:

  • vb.net
    • winforms
    • ado.net
  • sql
    • t-sql and query optimization
    • ssis
    • reporting services
  • regex

Alternate skills:

  • Ruby
  • Java
  • Web
    • html
    • css
    • ado.net

Man … jumping around on the list above for the last 6 months has completely kicked my ass. Tonight I sat down and looked at this list and what I’ve been doing and realized I’ve been just way to much all over the place on my study choices. Java one night, Ruby the next. vb.net, ado.net, regex … all in one day. What the hell was I thinking??? From here on out I’m going to try to focus on the 3 core skills and only visit the alternate skills if I need them for specific projects or when I feel like I’m getting on top of a core skill.

My primary goal is to study vb.net (mostly winforms and oop) 75% of the time. the other 25% I plan on looking at SQL or regex to give myself a break from reading .net code. I’ve found that breaking out to look at something different once or twice a week helps me focus the other nights when I’m reading vb.

Another thing that is working well for me is ordering books from Amazon. Every payday (every two weeks) I order at least one (used) book from my wish list. Every week I take 20 or 30 minutes to browse around and try to add one or two books to my list. This week I ordered two books. I’ll talk more about the books I’ve ordered or plan to order in another post.

October 25, 2007 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

Some tips from the Wonky Traveler:

Delta pilots

How to survive a business trip.

  1. Passing through security at DFW airport with an expired drivers license is not fun. They have no sense of humor. None.
  2. If you notice the pilot is practicing his ‘flying around in circles’ maneuver for more than 45 minutes don’t worry, you’ve already missed your connecting flight. Your screwed.
  3. There is no fun way to kill 6 hours in an airport without getting drunk or arrested. I did neither.
  4. If the Asian kid next to you falls asleep on your shoulder it’s OK. At least it’s better than the homeless guy with the crazy eyes that sat there gulping Starbucks and chewing his nails through the ENTIRE flight from Dallas to Chicago.
  5. If the pilot says they want to ‘reboot’ the airplane by completely powering it off, waiting 5 minutes and then restarting everything, your screwed.
  6. If you land in the middle of a ‘severe thunderstorm’ you’re better off just getting soaked on the way to the rental car than trying to sit it out. At this point it’s clear that someone has it in for you. Accept it and move on.

June 5, 2007 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

Semantic xHtml

A picture of Molly from Molly.com

In a recent post I spoke of my need to ‘prime the pump’. Well … it’s primed! I’ve been neck deep in world of xHtml and css for the last week and I’m loving it. I still haven’t gotten to the ‘I Rock’ threshold, but I feel I’m well past the ‘I suck’ stage. Today I heard Molly on a BoagWorld podcast (Podcast 65 I think) and I decided to check her site out. It’s really nice. I found lot’s of great content, but the first thing that caught my eye was this essay about semantic xHtml. I’ve heard talk of semantic coding, but to this point I haven’t had the time or the background to really grok it. Molly’s writing really made it clear to me why this subject has been so popular lately. As I understand it , semantic xHTML is the idea that xHtml markup should be used to represent content and not presentation. One of the examples I’ve seen a lot is not using the <p> element to generate space. That’s really the job of css. This is so basic and core to what I’ve been learning about (thanks to Head First Html, xHtml and css ) that I thought it was just the way everyone does it. I guess that’s one advantage of being a newcomer. I didn’t have to suffer through the bad old days when the only way to get the job done was to hack around the intent Html.

I’ll be traveling with work next week and I’m thinking of trying to do some sort of full blown web page to test out some of this book learnin’ I’ve been getting lately. I’m thinking of making a page with a table of links to some of the developer user groups I think are interesting in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I’m hoping to spiff it up a bit with my new css skills.

June 1, 2007 at 8:43 pm Leave a comment

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