Benefits of using .NET Source code – Why you should enable Visual Studio Reference Source access!

November 14, 2008

If you are a developer and wondering what this means or if you still haven’t enabled source access, then this is for you!

You should be knowing that as part Open Source initiative you have get access to .Net Source code (yes! that’s right & this is more than an year old news.)

Also there are articles from gurus like ScottGu and Shawn Burke on how to enable this and get the source code to your system so that you can play with it.

I don’t want to talk about that here. But I know many (a lot) of my peers (and maybe you too) have not done this till now. Let me just list down what all one stands to learn and benefit by getting the .NET source code. If you think “Nah, I’m just new to development and the source code may go overboard for me!” then you should read this..

A little intro how this whole thing works. You have two options to get the source code,

  1. Configuring Visual Studio Reference Source access so that you get the source code on demand from Microsoft reference source server while working
  2. Use this mass downloader tool (also available at CodePlex) to get the complete (almost all) .NET source code for offline access :)

Finally, the benefits…

1. Debug the .NET Framework source code

You always wanted to know how a control as complex and robust as the GridView is implemented in all its respects. Now you can! Set a breakpoint in your application, load the symbols, and step into the framework and experience the code firsthand along with .net runtime.

2. Build better applications

With the understanding of the underlying code and it’s execution, will enable you to develop modules with more sense that will translate into better applications

3. Do it with style and get to understand best practices

Reading (or debugging) through the .net framework will reveal to you a host of best practices and not-to-dos when developing an application. This will enhance and perfect one’s development skills and practices.

4. Know the reason behind all those backward compatibility features, deprecations and weird method signatures

When I said .Net source code it is the exact (more or less) lines of code written by real people – i.e. you get to see the inline comments and method headers, etc with all the reasons behind the existence (or not that of) a particular method or a line of code.

5. For students: learn through example

Always in engineering studies as a student you get to see mostly theoretical way of very common and crucial modules like memory allocation, garbage collection and other components of compilers and runtime engines. Now, you get to experience it first hand with real code!

I guess this should be really good enough to get things started for you. If all this didn’t convince you still or you feel something very important that I left out, comment back.

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Finally, DreamSpark comes to India! Get All Major Microsoft Software for FREE!

November 3, 2008

The one thing students want during their life at college would be free software so that they can try, test and develop their skills. Making use of this Microsoft opened up a program called DreamSpark to enable students to get access FREE licensed versions of all major development tools.

Till sometime back India was not listed in the official DreamSpark website (www.dreamspark.com). Recently India got it’s own website at www.dreamsparkindia.com. :)

Now, all students can rejoice!

What all you get?

As part of this program, students in all the colleges/ universities across India stand to get FREE licensed versions of the following tools – yes, FREE – No Charge!

  1. Visual Studio 2005 Pro
  2. Visual Studio 2008 Pro
  3. SQL Server 2005 Standard
  4. Windows Server 2003 Standard
  5. Expression Studio :)
  6. XNA Games Studio & XNA Creators Club Online

It works this way…:

  1. Students show their college/ university Id card and get verified
  2. Walk away with DVD collection of all the cool tools
    Yes It’s that simple! :P

So, If you are a student, simple go to http://www.dreamsparkindia.com/dreamspark/GetDreamTools.aspx to find out nearest dealers where you can get things done.

Doing it online (in India):

There is also online mode of obtaining software via DreamSpark.com, but requires ISIC (International Student Identity Card) :(

Don’t miss to watch Bill Gates’ Speech on 5th November at 2.00 pm (IST) :)

I noticed the parent DreamSpark.com site also lists SQL Server 2008, WIndows Server 2008, Expression studio 2 whereas these are absent in DreamSparkIndia.com. That means, you’ll have to only download these software by directly going to DreamSpark.com and verifying your student status as mentioned above.

Why not include Windows Vista (say Home Premium) in India when Windows Server is included already? – this will provide a huge boost to the Vista’s image among students once they get their hands on it. I’m guessing this will most probably be packages that were made available in rest of world previously. hmm.

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How should a ‘Killer’ RSS News/Feed Reader be like…

October 15, 2008

Recently there was a mail floating around in one of the groups in my office. It was about how does one manage to tackle the information overload. I thought I could add something I do and I want in my ‘perfect’ or to say ‘Killer’ RSS Feed reader for me.

1. Be Online, Simple UX, Shared feeds of own & friends, Favorite feeds, Search … :

Here, in simple terms, I’m just mentioning the features of Google Reader (I know you guessed it correctly!) – it’s simple, less cluttered – best of all it’s online which enables me to access the feeds anytime anywhere. I also like the ‘Shared Feeds’ with which I’m able to share the feeds I find is interesting with all my friends; Of course other features like one-click favorite of items, search are also very good – above all, it’s free as well . But I hate it when it bloats my browser’s memory foot print. I feel online feed readers have clear advantage in this category, at least for me.

There are few new feed readers coming up on the ‘cloud’ (simply as hosted applications). But it’ll take some time for a new one to replace Google Reader for me. I also like if instead of ‘only web’ if the feed reader on both ‘desktop+web’ is better (something like mesh).

I guess most readers will choose Google Reader as their favorite, but still I got to ask here: Do you use any other feed reader apart from Google Reader (be it desktop or on the cloud). Netvibes, PageFlakes, Newsgator or just your iGoogle

2. A good RSS Ranking/ Rating system on top of it:

I like AideRss and the Firefox plug-in for Google Reader that is available. When I’m in a hurry, I really just go ahead and read only the top feeds which AideRss shows me as the ‘Best’.

But I do realize ranking the feeds at ‘real time’ is quite complex and always challenging and it works best for feeds that are at least little older. There is lot of opportunities to improvise in this front. Looking at the milestones of AideRss, I’m hoping for better ranking of the feeds.

Do you use any other feed ranking systems that you feel is good?

Update 10/17: Melanie from AideRSS has commented about the improvement made to AideRss.

3. When I read news, I like the way Newspapers do it….

I came across GreatNews RSS reader quite sometime back – the one thing I like the best about it is it’s Full page reading style which makes me to ‘read all feeds in a glimpse’ – Like a newspaper. Like it right? (I know it is a desktop reader – I keep switching between GReader & GreateNews once in a while. :) )

Among other features in GreatNews, I like labeling, channel statistics, new items highlight, search – which are very basic but are important too.

The River of News Approach: There is a another better way of displaying news in a reader ‘River of News’ (by Dave Winer) – which improves ‘the reading experience’ (I felt is GreatNews also tries to achieve the same in another approach). But the some of the sample implementations of River of News didn’t satisfy (or impress) me – displaying the feeds as a huge list (river) of links with small description doesn’t make my reading better & definitely doesn’t give a news paper like feel.

I’m not saying the approach is flawed. Also even GreatNews sports the ‘Folder-by-Folder’ view only which again is painful to read one by one.

My preferred way of reading, call it ‘My News’: I’d like it better this way: All my top news(feeds) on page1, my tech news on page 2, personal feeds on page 3, sports on page 4, astronomy on 5, … – all listing ‘top ranked’ news items in neatly laid out way. This is just logical grouping of my feeds in different categories’. GreatNews has a very good start here. All it needs is a good ranking system being integrated to it.

I’d have the ‘River of News’ as my Second best liked way of reading feeds (and third method being the folder-by-folder view :P ) This way, once the ‘My News’ is reading is done, I switch to ‘the River view’ and then later to the remaining news if I really have time to spend on.

4. An IM bot – to just keep me updated at troubled times…

I don’t like to keep my feed reader always open, but I do have my Instant Messenger sign-in all time. So, an IM bot for all my top feeds will try to fulfill my hunger for the information & free me from the ‘information overload’ at least when I’m into serious office work.

There are lots of RSS IM Bots presently available, I use iNezha (Anothr) bot to stream my top ranked (feeds that AideRss categorizes as ‘Best’) to my IM.

On a final note,

  1. I didn’t mention about the mobile version of all this because given the popularity and potential opportunities available in mobile apps, it is just trivial that all the above features should be available in the mobile version of the ‘killer’ feed reader. :)
  2. There are separate breed of blog aggregators: fine example being Techmeme – These are public feed aggregators but might directly influence one’s reading habits. I know people who wake up to read Techmeme .
  3. and, this post contains references to different tools and methods how I presently manage my feeds. But every other tool/ technology is still in growing stage, so you might find it limiting – whenever you think your favourite tool is lacking something, do note it down somewhere to add it here as comment.
  4. I’m not really sure if I’ll be creating such a reader immediately. Need to think about it.
  5. Here we explored how to manage feeds. There are whole different and huge source of information:
    1. Email subscriptions – via Groups of Y!, MSN, G
    2. Social network participation
    3. Bookmarks & Sharing (delicious), etc – I guess each would deserve it’s own blog post!

What do you think about this? Don’t forget to Comment/ Criticize/ Share this!

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Welcoming my buddy duke42 to blogging…

September 6, 2008

I happy to see my friend start blogging. So I thought I’ll give a small introduction to him. Ramalingam K – He likes duke42 as his online identity and a one of best friends I got in my life.

Though I came across this personality in college, I only knew him better after the college times. I happen to share my first days in corporate career with him as roommate. A person with passion towards technology, enormous creativity and a true caring nature – all bound us into very close firends. He knows what he has to do. He has better plans and he always reaches star aiming for the moon! An optimist and loyal friend. Hope blogging takes his personality and creativity to the yet another higher level.

Welcome buddy! Wish you very good time blogging!! :)


IE 8 beta 2 – methods of “window.external” object throws exception

August 28, 2008

 

Update 15 Dec, 2008: This issue disappeared in IE8 partner build (‘Pre-RC1′) 8.0.6001.18343

In continuation to the post about IE 8 beta 1 issue, I figured that I still have the problem in my system even after upgrading to IE 8 beta 2. Only this time, I was able to generalize the problem very much.

Here’s what I found:

The problem is that window.external object (in JavaScript) doesn’t seem to have the correct reference to one of browser object (or at least that’s what I think so). Hence all methods of this object throws me an runtime script error.

Because of this, following actions fail in IE 8 beta 2 for me

  1. Opening New tab – the previous post
    Though this doesn’t happen every time, but when it happens the code breaks at
    window.external.BuildNewTabPage(); 
  2. Adding Service (Search provider, accelerators, etc) from http://www.ieaddons.com/en/searchproviders/
    breaks at
    window.external.AddSearchProvider();

    or

    window.external.addService(); 
  3. The very first time, I open IE 8 beta 2 or the once after I 'reset' settings and open the browser again, in the 'Customize Search providers' & 'Customize Accelerators' page.
  4. Especially in the 'Add Search Provider' page, in the section 'Create Your Own', when I add a custom search, it throws me an error "Unable to add search provider. The Create Your Own tool requires Internet Explorer. [32811]". See screenshot 3 below.

My UserAgent

I thought probably my UserAgent string is corrupt, but here it is… and I don’t see any problem with this.

“Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; InfoPath.1; 
.NET CLR 2.0.50727; FDM; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)”

Screenshots:

(1) IE 8 beta 2 - Strange error 1  This screenshot is taken in the IE Gallery web site with error pop up from the site & the ‘About Dialog’. This is just a consequence the the problem I mentioned above, that window.external is not having correct reference. See code in below screenshot to understand.

(2) IE8b2_error_debug_new2  This screenshot shows the exception details & the point were the exception is thrown in the IE Gallery website. The error number is “-2147319765”. A quick search on the web lead to nowhere.

(3) IE8b2_error_custom_search This happens in the ‘Add Search Provider’ –> Create Your Own search provider section. It’s strange that it says that I need IE to run this. smile_sad

Seeking help at the IE Forum

I’m (again) going to post the problem in IE forum and this time I hope to see a different answer. The solution given to my previous post didn’t work at all.

Update: The issue is posted in IE Forum here.

Does anybody experience same issue in your system? Comment back…

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Blogged.com says this blog is ‘Good’!

August 28, 2008

Hi Readers,

I’m glad to share one sweet moment with you all. Recently I submitted my blog to be reviewed by blogged.com, one of popular blog listing sites and the editors of the site has reviewed and rated my blog as ‘Good’; to be precise 6.8 out of 10. :)

Thanks to you all for visiting the blog every now and then. I’m in a pursuit of making this better and then take it to among the best! :)

Keep reading! Keep coming back!! Leave comments & share the knowledge!!!

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Few things to complain about IE8 beta 2, but …

August 28, 2008

I installed Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 today and was curious to experience all it’s new features.

IE 8 Beta

IE 8 Beta

There are lots of post in the IE blog about various features & facts of IE 8 beta 2 & IE 8 in general. So I thought I just highlight what I feel those here…

I like the enhanced auto complete feature in IE, which I feel is similar to the ‘awesome bar‘ in FireFox 3. (I bumped on this blog post which calls FF address bar as ‘junk’, see if you ever felt like that). I have no idea why the ‘Activities‘ in beta 1 became, ‘Accelerators‘ in beta 2. I guess it’s something to do with marketing and I’m not sure if it has to do anything with Ubiquity of FireFox. In principle, these two are looking different: Ubiquity promises to increase user experience with [existing] mashups, where Accelerators are like plug-ins to IE (here‘s how you can create one). But how these are extended in the future will really determine their fate, in their current form

(At time of this writing, one of  IE 8 features link still talks about ‘Activities’ only. Here’s the updated page in another location (not sure why two pages!). Hope the names are not changed again, which will definitely bound to create confusion among users. )

I still need to check the In Private browsing on how it is going to change the way I’m going to peep into the Internet. ‘Search Suggestions‘ – simply great improvement. WebSlices are good but they need to be popularized (read ‘be used by all major websites’) first to have very good use across every user of the web. Smart Screen filter is an improvement over the beta 1′s website blocker, but kinda reminds me of FF3.

Overall, it’s thumbs up for IE 8 beta 2. Only using it for a prolonged period will tell me whether it had gotten any better for me ;). I still have one thing to complain about IE 8 beta about, at least only in my office PC. (strange that things work fine in my laptop. Anyhow, I need to know how to the fix the issue.)

There are other blogs that talk about FireFox & Internet Explorer fight over these features, but I leave it to you to decide which is better. My opinion is that both browsers are getting better everyday.

If you have tried IE 8 beta 2, comment here… Share what you felt good & bad!

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