December 2004 Archives

Suggestive Google

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In case you haven't seen this yet, take a look at Google Suggest. I hadn't seen it until one of my colleagues pointed me to it this morning - very cool autocomplete feature.

One of the things I love about Google is taking a look at the source of their web pages. You gotta love a company that thinks so much about performance that the html and javascript are heavily optimised to be as fast as possible to download. Also helps obfuscate the code somewhat ;-).

Black Hole Projects

Good post on Paul Vick's blog about the characteristics of Black Hole projects at M$. This got me thinking about some traits I recognise:-

  • The goal of the system cannot be summed up in a sentance
  • They involve more people than you can fit on a bus
  • They must have completely unrealistic deadlines.

  • Alternatively, they have deadlines more than 9 months away.

Visio Templates for UML 2.0


Recently discovered these excellent UML 2.0 Stencils and Templates for Visio by Pavel Hruby.

While I am still waiting for my ideal UML drawing tool, I keep coming back to Visio. It is much better than Rose and better performing than Poseidon (you also don't get that daft fish dude in the background as you do with Poseidon exports).

With IBM's UML 2.0 article and the book UML 2 For Dummies, I can express what I want to without getting to bogged down in implmentation detail too early, yet I can give that level of detail when I need to. My only problem is when I turn up on customer sites having been sold as an Architect and I have a copy of UML 2 For Dummies under my arm. At least I am setting expectations early...

The Home Computer of 2004?


Got forwarded this today, apparently from a 1954 Popular Mechanics magazine.

" a 'home computer' could look like in the year 2004. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use."

I thought that the image looked a bit suspicious, the paper was a bit funny at the bottom of the teletype. One quick search on google later and an interesting story emerges...

Generating Excel Files in C#


I have been investigating several ways of generating files suitable for use in Excel from a C# application.

As with most problems, there is more than one way to crack a nut. Various examples on the web show how to generate formatted sheets in Excel, either by controlling Excel from a C# application or by transforming XML data. The XML transformation has the disadvantage that is limits your clients to the most recent versions of Excel, whereas dire manipulation of Excel requires that you have it installed on the server. You also have to be very careful not to leave instances of Excel running in the background, eventually grinding your server to a halt.

This article provides a demonstration of a very simple method to generate a file that will load into Excel. It is a bit of a hack that I used from a java platform a few years ago, but it works if all you need is a simple data export (with less than 65536 rows). All you do is set the response stream to the mime type "application/" and then pass a tab delimted set of data with new lines at the end of each row.


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