Making F1 Do Something Useful in Visual Studio

Have you ever wished that hitting the F1 key in Visual Studio actually returned good search results in a quick manner?  Personally I think the F1 key returns decent results, but there certainly are a lot out there who don’t.  I mostly work in .Net so I’m in the camp of users that F1 works well for. The think I really don’t like though is the 30 seconds or so it takes to launch the help window.  Once you’re there navigation is pretty painful. For the last several years I’ve all but abandoned F1 and just search Google with “msdn”Read More

When Do You Blog?

I’m fairly busy with a load of tasks at work, but often I use a fun technology or enhance my learning when I can’t find a solution on Google and I think these would make good blog posts. The problem is finding the time to actually write them. Writing a blog post (at least for me) is often more than just typing for a few minutes. It involves code samples, occasional screen shots, previewing and making corrections and then finally posting. For a somewhat in-depth post this can take an hour or several. I have a running set of potentialRead More

Testing Browser Compatibility Made Easier with Microsoft VHDs

When you are a website developer, hardly ever do you get to mandate what browsers your users will use.  At my last employment we built a lot of Intranet web applications for our users, who all used the same version of IE that was managed automatically on their work computers via Active Directory.  That was nice. At my current position the websites I create are used by a variety of school districts and the public.  While the majority of users are browsing my sites with IE7 and IE8 there are a few Chrome, FireFox, Safari and, yes, IE6 users.  Read More

Alternating Ordered List Item Styles

We have Policies and Procedures document that we are making available on our website.  This document in its entirety easily spans several hundred pages and has a pretty lengthy table of contents.  To help make this easy to navigate and easier to consume we are posting several of the larger topics as individual documents and making them available from a linked table of contents that is created as a web page. The requirement is that the table of contents uses different numbering styles at each indentation.  So, for instance, the outline below: Topic A    Sub-topic A.1    Sub-topic A.2Read More

Business Intelligence vs. Political Correctness in Education

I work for the Val Verde Unified School District and the Riverside County SELPA.  If you don’t know what either of these are don’t worry, just know that we deal with A LOT of student and teacher related data. That being said, the question that always comes up is, “How we can serve our students better?”  Many people have different ways of interpreting this, whether it is based on grades, overall improvement, discipline, where students head after they graduate, etc. One area of my particular interest that is starting to seep into the education world is Business Intelligence (BI), orRead More

When Bad UI Sticks Around – JavaScript Alert Boxes

We recently migrated from one online IEP vendor to another.  This is a program for collecting and managing Special Ed information, but it is an enterprise app and worthy of critique and comment.  They do a great job, but there are some small UI issues I wish could be fixed. For instance, when you enter data onto a form and try to leave the form without saving they do a nice job of alerting you that you are about to lose the valuable data you just entered.  However, there is a catch: Ouch, did you read that correctly?  “Hit CANCELRead More

Hacking your vendor’s product; sometimes good, sometimes not

We have a particular web product that we use for all of our clients.  It is a pretty incredible system and has several hundred clients.  We are one of their largest ones so, between our implementation, and their normal customer needs its understandable why they cannot accomodate every one of our requests right away. That being said, there was one slight “feature” that went slightly against one of our policies.  So, what to do?  Well, I put on my curiously tipped white hat and go to work.  One of the cool features of the system is they allow us, theRead More

Windows 7 Phone, on it’s way!

We had a great time at the Inland Empire launch of the new Windows 7 Phone.  I got to present on developing for the phone along with Dustin Davis and Oscar Azmitia.  James Johnson and the Inland Empire .Net Users Group hosted the event at DeVry University.  Fun was had by all. I recorded the sessions so I will have them up soon for all to see how we did. Take care and happy developing!

Why we switched from WebEx to Adobe Connect

We had been using WebEx at my work to allow us to hold online meetings.  We are very small scale and only use it once or twice a month, but when we do it really comes in handy.  Once a month or so we have a user group meeting with our 22 districts across Riverside County.  If all our attendees came in person some of them would be driving over 4 hours roundtrip for a 2 hour meeting.  Not fun nor economically and environmentally friendly.  Online meeting software was definitely a requirement here. WebEx was what I was used toRead More

Praise for Meeting One – Adobe Connect vendor

In today’s Internet world where everything is automatic and at the tip of my finger the need (and room) for personal service quickly disappears.  As a fast paced individual myself I actually lean more towards automated solutions.  Often I can find an answer, directions, a phone number, a solution on a development or IT problem, etc in a matter of seconds on the Internet rather than asking someone.  It’s because of this, and having to deal with pushy vendors in various past, that have made me largely anti-salesman.  If I can purchase something online with a credit card number andRead More