What's in Al's Shed?

* 19th June 2008
All good things, they say, must come to an end. That includes my MSDN blog, which is being "deallocated" by the masters of the MSDN universe any day now. If you're interested in the posts it contained, I've grabbed PDFs for each year: These contain the posts in reverse date order, with a contents list at the top. However, some of the hyperlinks they contain may not work now.

Thanks for your support!
* 21st May 2008
It's official - scientific proof is now available to show that creating the documentation for a complex software product is actually three times harder than writing the code. Maybe it's because I'm newly unemployed that I found time to discover this amazing fact. Want to know more? See the technical description buried within the dark and often unfathomable depths of my most recent ramblings...
* 16th March 2008
It's becoming obvious that reading newspapers when you get past middle-age is bad for you. With a good pair of glasses and a 500 watt bulb, I can generally make out the text on the page, but I still end up re-reading bits because I just can't believe that I read them right the first time. But its the rise in blood pressure, and having my wife beat me over the head when I keep doing the Victor Meldrew (One Foot In The Grave) "I don't believe it!" thing, that is most harmful to my health I reckon...
* 2nd March 2008
So, the time has finally come for this rambling, itinerant, and semi-competent author-stroke-developer-stroke-trainer to cast aside his independence, sell his soul to the devil, and throw his lot in with the people who have provided him with the platforms and tools that supported him for the past too-many-years-to-remember. Yep, I've just accepted a full time position with the patterns & practices division of Microsoft.
* 27th December 2007
Another fiendish mystery.... After losing my memory (the RAM kind) last month, I discover that my airmiles have disappeared this month. There I was thinking I might get a seat near the front this time, but it turns out I can't event book a seat at all. I can see I'll be spending ten hours sitting on a box in the hold, or maybe even two weeks in the departure lounge. Why? Well, just read on...
* 19th November 2007
A couple of months ago, I promised that I would file a report on our new Acer iDea 510 Media Center. So here's the good news - it's superb! Of course, I ended up rambling on about other stuff as well, such as how caching can come back to bite you, and how - even today - some Web sites seem to disapprove of people using Internet Explorer. If you feel the urge, you can read more...
* 13th October 2007
OK, so the title of this months item may seem a bit dodgy, but I can guarantee that the rest contains the usual content of half-cocked observations, wild assumptions, off-topic ramblings, and other drivel. And, of course, pointless unrecognizable photos. There's even one of some buses. Why? Well, we were off on another trip to foreign places - but this time without a single conference in sight.
* 21st September 2007
In motoring terminology and railway circles, an upgrade is basically a hill. And a severe upgrade is usually a steep hill that takes some climbing - especially for the old steam engines that required a "banker" at the back to give them a push. OK, so I'm getting old and I get puffed easily, but thankfully managed the most recent developer-oriented code upgrade with amazingly little effort. Though I did need a bit of a push (metaphorically speaking) from a couple of blogs about Enterprise Library. And, as you'd expect, gaining trust proved to be the tough part - especially Medium Trust. But I fear the most severe upgrade on the horizon is the seemingly ever-recurring Media Center issues...
* 16th August 2007
It sometimes seems like my life consists of backing up computers. But I was amazed to discover that the latest version of TrueImage can cope with the weird types of machines I always seem to end up buying. Just a shame the machine wasn't as good as the backup software - even if I did have a few choice words to say about Acronis and their "trial versions". One day I'll be rich enough to employ someone to do all this stuff, and I can spend my days with a desktop Zen Garden, or playing Mah Jong on Vista.
* 8th August 2007
At last I'm joining the ranks of the digital have's, even though I'm renown for being a technophobe when it comes to hardware. OK, so I may end up becoming a lot more familiar with tractors and general farming practices, but at least I can still collapse in an armchair after a long day documenting some complicated and half-built software (and watch some simple and half-baked TV programs). I could perhaps even squeeze in the joke about whether someone who used to like farm machinery is an extractor fan - or maybe not. Tempted to read about my digital adventure this month...?
* 5th June 2007
Usually, my rambling and "somewhere-near-monthly" diary entries tend to focus on just one topic at a time. These topics may be exceptionally varied (for instance, from DNS and VPNs one month to Planet Rock radio and visits to computer stores to buy light bulbs the next), but in general I do try to confine myself to a single theme each month, and wander aimlessly off only into semi-related areas. This month, however, I've broken with tradition to the extent that I actually need to provide a Table of Contents.
* 29th April 2007
How do you avoid DIY and decorating jobs when you've suddenly discovered you don't have any work for the next week? Mow the lawns? Polish the car? Watch the snooker on TV? Or decide to rip the network to bits and (unwillingly) have to learn more than you ever wanted to know about Active Directory and the File Replication Service? You can no doubt guess what I did ... and, if it seems even remotely interesting, read about what happened. At least my faithful old lady has survived, and not been consigned to the the server farm in the sky...
* 3rd April 2007
Maybe I have found my true goal in life ... and even escaped a large fine at the same time. And without encountering rotten fruit along the way. Or perhaps the effects of temporarily escaping from the cattle-class airline cabin have induced some stranger-than-usual view of reality. Mind you, I find that visits to Florida can have that kind of outcome without any additional input. But we did have a good time at the ASP.NET Connections Conference, even if they seem to have built the hotel in a different state from the car park...
* 6th February 2007
I reckon I've discovered a major problem with Sat-Nav devices. They don't work very well when someone has completely reconfigured the one-way system since the maps were created. In fact, I think I wore mine out in Birmingham last week. I'm sure I heard the poor lady inside it swearing when I refused to turn left for the umpteenth time. And she still sounds distinctly hoarse from shouting at me. And all because I was trying to get to talk to people about how they need to make their Web sites more accessible to disabled visitors...
* 7th January 2007
An outrageous assumption of capability means that I'm now having to learn more than I really wanted to know about design patterns. However, the good news is that you can help. Assuming, of course, that you can steel yourself to plough (plow) through the dense undergrowth that increasingly typifies my diary entries. And you also get to hear more about my experiences with the Soundbridge Internet Radio. So go on, be "Web 2.0" and read more inside...
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