Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dundas is reborm as MSchart

Well well, the purchase of Dundas by Microsoft has given us developers some new free tools for the asp.net framework.

And they look really good, oh did I mention they are free......



Monday, November 24, 2008

moving a database from sql 2005 to sql2000.....

This I would have thought would have been a fairly easy task, as the DB in question used to be hosted on a SQL2000 server and was detached, then attached to the SQL2005 development server to be adjusted etc etc. I even left the compatibility set to 80.

The only structural changes were via the aspnet provider script + the odd new table/stored proc etc

However when I came to move the DB back to the live server all hell broke loose. Well I might be exaggarating a bit there, but it felt like it.

To cut a long story short I followed these steps to get it all to work;

1- Script Database as .... Create to ...
2- Run the installProviders.sql for aspnet
3- Task ... Generate scripts ... (then manually edit this to remove any of references already created by the installProviders.sql above, also had to manually remove a number of the unusual SQL2005 extra bits)
4- Add required sql users
5- I used Redgate SQL Compare (trial edition) to move the actual data across (the SQL 2005 export tool failed)
6- crossed fingers and it seems to have worked...

It seems annoying that even if you set the compat to SQL2000t hat its still won't work, but I know now. ha ha.

As soon as possible I think the live server will get an upgrade....

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Startup Zone

This is a great site from Microsoft for all new businesses to look at.

If you are an IT service provider like us, you can add you profile for others to find you, or if you are after some IT services there are loads of company profiles to look through.

Best of all if you are a IT type person and use microsoft products you can get tthem free if you register!!!


Saturday, November 01, 2008

New Google Analytics Feature: Event Tracking

This little dittybelow from the big 'G' will mean loads more data for SEO'ers and developers to work with, currently any action within an AJAX upadate panel for example is not seen by Google analytics.
Now it seems that is about to change, well at least for some sites they have selected in the pilot, keep an eye out as the launch of this to every other account may not be advertised and the functionality may just 'appear', so to make sure you can access this as soon its available it moght be worth updating your sites to use the new urchin javascript!


Greetings from Google Analytics,

We are happy to let you know that a new feature called Event Tracking is now available in the following Google Analytics profiles: www.visalogic.net. Please note that you are receiving this email update since you are an 'Admin' for the profiles listed above.
When you log in to these profiles, you will see a new set of reports called "Event Tracking" under the Content section. As posted on our blog, this is a limited release currently available only to select profiles.

Event Tracking allows you to track interactions with Web 2.0 style content such as Flash, AJAX, Adobe Air, Silverlight, social networking apps, etc. It essentially allows you to track interactions beyond just pageviews.

To use Event Tracking, you will need to upgrade your site to use the new ga.js javascript. Detailed instructions on how to set up Event Tracking on your site are available on our newly launched CodeSite. To find your ga.js code snippet, edit the settings for your profile and click the "Check Status" link on the upper right corner of the page.


The Google Analytics Team

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ciao to microsoft

I spoke to a guy from ciao.com yesterday at the e-commerce expo in London (uk) and he mentioned that Microsoft had just bought www.ciao.com?

Apparently the wheels had only just started moving so he had no idea of what the merger/acquisition would mean for us in the real world, but they had been informed MS would be looking after the data center side of things and investing into the infrastructure, interesting for MS to go into paid user based reviews?

This will be interesting as they will now know (before anyone else does I suppose) what the average person thinks about just about every product around, nice info to have if you are looking to launch your own.....?????

Monday, October 27, 2008

even the big boys can have problems

Looks like www.microsoft.co.uk is being updated and someone forgot to flick one of the switches.

The link redirects to http://www.microsoft.com/en/gb/ and not http://www.microsoft.com/en/gb/default.aspx

oh dear...


cms woes

Question from Ray Stewart ICPA FCCA MICB CB.Dip PM.Dip on UK Businesslabs

I have been watching with interest how my two main websites have been performing in google. My little blog, with it's page rank of 0/10 continually pops up very high in searches and has decent traffic to it but the main site with it's (much larger!) page rank of 1/10 doesn't feature much in searches but is still getting a fair bit of traffic.

I don't really like the joomla look of the main site but it is simple to update and refresh. Is that important to google & co?

My question really is, would I be better converting the main site into a wordpress one like the blog? would it help it perform better in google & co?

Would I be better to combine the two somehow to economize on effort?

I have always thought the way my wordpress blog and the joomla site name the pages when written was helpful to the search engines. Is this true? or would I be better using just numbers for posts like lots of blogs seem to instead?

Is this the kind of stuff an SEO expert helps with - never having known one, or asked one, until now? I have just relied on reading bits and pieces on things like this and not got very far

and my response,


my 2 pence (as a CMS developer/seo guy), one thing that I have noticed with google (and other SE's) is that although the CMS you use doesn't have much affect there are things that it does that can do.

- Speed of rendering, the page has to be delivered to the spider quickly, remember web spiders dont 'see' the images so ignore them (thats a usability issue), but some CMS, build their pages slowly, or the databse they connect to is slow etc etc. I have used this before and found it good to help tune my CMS's in the past http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/

- Page Errors, this can really harm your site. Every CMS should display some kind of user message if an error occurs, but what if the error only happens when a spider hits the page? I would advise using google webmaster tools and Yahoo site explorer with your site, at tleast this way you can see any errors that the spiders are showing up.

- Fancy controls/Ajax etc, My CMS uses very little ajax to display content, and there are no fancy javascripted menus/controls anywehere to be seen, its all plain old HTML, rememebr the spiders on read text, so how it looks is irrelevant, the best looking site can get 0 search results. Ajax and javascript can is used incorrectly actually hide your content (if used well it can help your content too) from the spiders

- HTML structure, this is the biggest problem with any web page (not just CMS based ones), the page must follow the basic HTML structure. So Meta tags, CSS and javascript in the HEAD area (except google analytics move them to the bottom of the page), content in the BODY area, Header tags in the correct order on the page, H1 at the top, then H2 etc etc, use P tags for each section of relevant content, use UL/LI for lists, etc etc.
A spider will index the structured content faster if its in the right place.

Lots of info, I am sure some will disagree, however these are all things I have had to look into over the last 2 years of developing OCRE and the best bit is every site that uses it has been indexed by google pretty quickly and all have relatively good search results.

hope that helps

Friday, October 24, 2008

ah the joy of cross browser CSS...

I have always disliked the fact that every (well most) internet browser renders my CSS differently, its not platform specific either IE6 renders some CSS tags differently to IE7.

Now dont get me wrong IE7 is better than IE6 for consistency, and it does a lot of things the same as Firefox, but someone really needs to work out an industry standard.

Anyway my latest problem was caused by a padding issue that only affected IE7, the fix was easy, but as all searches on the interent, it takes a few ties to actually find the real answer.

I found it here - IE7 css padding problem?

And it works, although it wont validate I dont care, as long as it looks the same on every browser and is accessible!


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

asp.net Code snippet mangement for multiple development machines

I run 2-3 development machines and normally save my snippets on the toolbox 'General' tab, but as I move around the differrent PCs (not on same logins etc) I use its tough to get these code bits in a manageable state and up to date on every machine.

So I have started using Mark Manella Code snippet add in on all of my machines, this is an amazing extra for VS2008.

As the code snippets are all stored in the same relative folder, I can just update this folder on each machine.

For this I use syncToy 2.0 its a cool syncing app, very easy to use, and will sync folders across the network/pc.

Now there are probably other ways to do all of this, like running bat file to copy the snippets on login etc etc, but I like to know when the files are being updated.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

server 2008 64 bit - install 1st go

Well so far so good, my first server 2008 install has gone without a hitch.
Platform install was aroun 30mins, server roles 15mins, Active directory including all the AD prep stuff on the current DC took about 20 mins.

Now installing Exchange 2007 (+ SP2 for Exchange 2003 on my old mail server first), so far its taken 45 mins and looks like it will be another 15mins or so.

Its been awhile since I have installed a mail server and had no time for a dozen cups of coffee, fingers crossed when I move the mailboxes over (with the inbuilt 'move mailboxes' tool it'll all go as well...

importing Excel to SQL2005

Such an annopyingly easy fix, just not too well documented.

I had 200 rows in an excel 2007 (this will work for most excel versions) worksheet I needed to insert into a sql table I was building.
You used to be able to use DTS in SQl 2000, but there doesn't seem to be any easy way to bring in this type of data.

First stop: http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=1381738&SiteID=1 with no luck, just odd SQL errors and I had no time to find the solution unitl...

This is where I found an answer that I could work with: http://www.mssqltips.com/tip.asp?tip=1430

Now this wont suit everybody as it wont work 100% of the time with tables that already have a Primary Key, I had to delete all other table columns except the title column I was after. Once the data is pasted in, I re-added the columns back in again.

I was lucky I had only just started using this table....its always annoying to have a linked tabel used in and around the database that you then have to go and wipe/re-fill with new rows.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I might be a bit late to hop on the seasick steve bandwagon, but I like rock music and this guy just plays it like it is.
Wicked blues/rock music, foot stomping stuff


He is playing the Albert Hall tonight in London!

Monday, September 29, 2008

thanks to Sara Ford

I would like to say thanks to Sara Ford, I have just found her blog (thanks to Alex from devevening.co.uk for telling me about it).

Sara is a microsoft employee who knows way more about the visual studio IDE than most of us developers.....well probably all of us. Her blog has some great tips and tricks about getting the IDE to work for you, some are obvious (I only foun out about the forward/back navigation within documents last week....) others are hidden but all are good to know.

thanks again,

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Search Engine Presentation: Devevening.co.uk - .net User Group

If anyone is after the slides from my recent 'Search Engines?' presentation for Devevening.co.uk they are available from the devevening archive .

Thanks to everyone who attended.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

OCRE vs a new project

The new OCRE platform has been placed on hold as I have been asked to build a social networking/educational/cool web platform for a web startup, I cant mention anything just yet as until its launched its all very hush hush.
Needless to say its a very cool idea and although its a simple UI, the job of coding is a big one.

More details will be addedas soon as I can.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New metallica album

I dont normally post about new albums and advise people to buy them, but as a metallica fan since high school, well what else could I do.

Death Magnetic is out on the 12th September 2008, you can pre-order the Standard Edition or the Box Magnetic Death In A Coffin Edition from amazon now.

This is going to be the biggest album release so far this year (well at least until ACDC release their one in October!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Surrey .Net user group

I found a link to a local user group and thought I would have a look.

I ended up going the other night to the Devevening group's 2nd meeting and was dropped straight into LINQ and SQL business intelligence presentations (slides and code).
The night was really good, there were around a dozen or so developers, some freelance, some 9-5ers, a really good mix of age and skill levels too.

If anyone is interested in coming along (details for evenings) drop me a mail or contact Alex mackey via his blog or you can register directly.
There are also social gatherings at a local pub on alternate months too!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

dynamic CSS - its a start

Thanks to Christophe @ (http://cfouquet.blogspot.com/2006/06/making-dynamic-css-content-with-aspnet.html) for making my afternoon a little more productive. His blog post about injecting variables into CSS is simplicity at its best.

I had to add one addition to the sample to get it to work on the CSS page (css.aspx) I changed :

<%@ Page Language="VB" %>


<%@ Page Language="VB" ContentType="text/css" %>

the full source code for my VB version is here:

--> css.aspx
<%@ Page Language="VB" ContentType="text/css" %>
* { padding:0; margin:0;}
body { font-size:62.5%; background-color:rgb(255,255,255); font-family:verdana,arial,sans-serif;}
h1{ color:red;}
H1 { background-color:<%= ColourManager.Color %> ; }

--> default.aspx
<%@ Page Language="VB" AutoEventWireup="false" CodeFile="Default.aspx.vb" Inherits="dynamicCSS_Default" %>

< script runat="server">
Protected Sub Bt1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
ColourManager.Color = IIf((ColourManager.Color = "red"), "blue", "red")
End Sub

< html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
< head runat="server">
< title>Untitled Page
< link href="css.aspx" type="text/css" rel="Stylesheet">
< /head>
< body>
< form id="form1" runat="server">
< div id="header">
< /div>
< h1 class="tit">hello world
< asp:button runat="server" id="Bt1" onclick="Bt1_Click" text="Change Color">
< asp:hyperlink text="See CSS" runat="server" id="ToCSS" navigateurl="css.aspx">
< /form>
< /body>
< /html>

-->colourchanger (in app_code folder)

Imports Microsoft.VisualBasic

Public Class ColourManager
Public Shared Property Color() As String
If HttpContext.Current.Session("H1COLOR") = Nothing Then
Return "red"
End If
Return DirectCast(HttpContext.Current.Session("H1COLOR"), String)
End Get
Set(ByVal value As String)
HttpContext.Current.Session("H1COLOR") = value
End Set
End Property
End Class

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I have never been a fan but now - Identity 'at risk' on Facebook

ANyone who has asked me about facebook has probably heard me say at some stage or other that I am not a big fan of Facebook/myspace etc, I dont know but I like to 'meet' people, not get poked by them and throwing sheep at a mate?

Anyway, it seems the BBC have found a hole in the facebook security, this article is well worth reading if you are a big facebooker (is that a word) as you will be the type of person who adds application to your page without thinking about your personal information....

Advice: only put up the information you wouldn't mind a complete stranger knowing about you.

* Identity 'at risk' on Facebook **
Personal details of Facebook users could potentially be stolen by malicious hackers, BBC's Click discovers.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/click_online/7375772.stm >

** BBC Daily E-mail **
Choose the news and sport headlines you want - when you want them, all in one daily e-mail <>

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Many changes afoot

Its been awhile since I sat down to write about whats going on at chillfire, well in short 'heaps' of work has taken place.

Ocre 3.1 development has slowed (see below) a little as we have launched 7 new sites using ocre 2.1 (see the top of the portfolio list on the left. They are a mixture of new builds, skinned static sites which now have a CMS and 2 are sites that have been moved from a php opensource CMS to the ocre cms platform.

Its been a long few months, but the all new ocre-cart will be going live shortly on www.nelsonshomeopathy.com its fully integrated with HSBC's e-payment gateway and it looks like there will be approx 1500+ products being uploaded into the cart in the near future.

Ocre-cart will be ported to ProTx for the new ski-link site which is on the drawing board for development, we are looking at releasing this for Gavin and the team during the summer ready for the 08-09 ski season.

The flagship project at visalogic running Ocre 3.0, we recently added support for google web optimiser so they can test adsense campaigns/content etc.
I think the whole marketing management system will be split from out as a standalone system as its extremely powerful and is slowing eclipsing the CMS itself as a strong contender for a fully blown product of its own.

If you are interested in any of the products of have feedback/ideas on any of the chillfire suite please feel free to contact us via chillfire.co.uk.

the chillfire team

microsoft.co.uk - live to code?

I check the microsoft site regularily, but this morning i went to http://microsoft.co.uk and something big had changed....

This may be a DNS problem, but the live to code thing is part of channel9/Josh holmes' world.
Its an interesting move by microsoft, or maybe bill is playing a joke on them as he leaves?

any ideas?