8 Dec 2010

Jobs Feed for NI Developers

Sorry for the break in blogging recently, I’ve been busy!! 

I have finally gotten around to publishing an RSS feed delivering details of all current job vacancies for developers in Northern Ireland.  This initial draft includes permanent job vacancies from the following sites:

In future, I hope to add the following sources:

  • Job feeds based on the careers pages of the major local IT and software companies, taken from here and other sources.

I also would like to add the following functionality:

  • Detect and remove duplicate entries.
  • Record details of the vacancies in a publically accessible database to allow people to generate custom reporting on key skills, the number and frequency of vacancies in particular companies, etc.
  • Add a temporary jobs feed.

The idea for this feed came from a personal RSS feed I have put together a few years ago.  This initial draft is using Yahoo Pipes to aggregate the various feeds together, and Feed43 for monitoring pages that do not have RSS feeds enabled.  In my personal feed, I use Page2RSS in my personal feed, but unfortunately it generates spurious RSS items if a site uses a revolving image background.

If you have any suggestions for the feed (companies to add, additional functionality), please let me know.  The Jobs feeds can be found here, or via the menu option above.  The list of job sites/companies I’m tracking via the feed can be seen here.

14 Sept 2010

Face Off - Code Syntax Highlighters Battle to the Death!

Or maybe not.  A while back, I blogged about the code syntax highlighter I was using and the various issues I had with it.  Over the past two months, I have tried several other code syntax highlighters, and thought I would summarize my experiences with them now.

Code Syntax Highlighter Looks OK in Blog? Looks OK in RSS feed? Client -side Processing? Modify after posting? Blog Post
Insert Code – a Windows Live Write plugin.

Send Outlook Email Via Powershell

BlogTrot Code Window – An online tool to generate HTML for your code snippet. Sending Gmail via PowerShell
NeatHighlighter - Similar to BlogTrot.

Send Outlook Email Via Powershell – since updated to use BlogTrot.

Google Code Prettify – A JavaScript library. PowerShell and Arrays
Source Code Formatter – Another Windows Live Write plugin. Fevered Coding

The overall winner is the Google Code Prettify library.  It is the easiest highlighter to use and allows you to quickly modify the display of your code snippets after posting by updating the relevant CSS file.  As it makes use of JavaScript processing on the client-side to produce the highlighting effect, the code is simple plaintext in the RSS feed, but still of an acceptable appearance:

I’ll be using the Google Code Prettify library to highlight all code snippets going forward.

The BlogTrot Code Window rendered the code on screen the best of all the highlighters tried, and the options to print and view as plaintext were also useful. The rendering in the RSS feed was poor, however, and the HTML produced could not be easily modified after posting.

It is worth noting that Scott Hanselman has recently blogged about using Syntax Highlighters again.  The one option he considers that I haven’t yet tried is hosting my code somewhere like GitHub, or Snipplr.  If you have tried one of these repositories to store and display your code snippets on a blog, please add a comment below!

12 Sept 2010

PowerShell and Arrays

I came across a strange feature of PowerShell recently.  When dealing with an array that held a single item, I was very surprised to see that the count of items was over 1000.  To illustrate the problem, consider the code below:

$files = Get-ChildItem C:\Temp
# Single file present in target folder

Write-Host "Total number of files: $files.Length"
# $files.Length returns value in 1000s
for ($i = 0; $i -lt $files.Length; $i++)
	$file = $files[$i].Name
	Write-Host "Processing $file"

When the code was run for the case when there was single file in the target directory, the count came back in the 1000s. The script then raised an exception for each of the 1000s of times it attempted to reference files[i], when no such array index existed.

It took some digging to realise that what was actually happening was that when PowerShell returns a collection with one or zero items in the collection, it unpacks the array and returns the item (or $null), and not an array.  So in the instance above, by calling $files.Length, the script was returning the length of the file object in bytes, and not the size of the array. 

To correct this behaviour, simply wrap the call generating the array with @(), as shown below:

$files = @(Get-ChildItem C:\Temp)

This will have no effect if the call returns an array with more than one item (i.e. you will not have an array wrapped in an array). See this StackTack answer from Keith Hill for a more detailed response:

Also, just to note that the code for this post was highlighted using the Google Code Prettify JavaScript library.

26 Aug 2010

Another Day, Another StackTack Issue

I came across a couple of problems with the StackTack jQuery plug-in today.  I tried to use it with a more advanced Blogger template, but it would require a significant effort to rework the StackTack style sheet.  As I just don’t have the necessary time to update the style sheet at the moment, I reverted to basic blue styled Blogger template.  I then also noticed that StackTack was not displaying the question in IE8, and that there was a script error:

I looked at the relevant section of the (minimized) StackTack plug-in code and found that it was breaking on this IF statement:

if(e.indexOf(classTokens[0].toLowerCase())>-1){ ... }

Where e is a variable consisting of  an array of strings.  A quick Google took me to a StackOverflow question that indicated that Internet Explorer (including version 8) does not support the method indexOf onarrays.

The answer also indicated that adding a reference to the Prototype JavaScript library could resolve the issue. So I modified the includes statements in the header to be as follows:

   1:  <script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/prototype/' type='text/javascript'/>
   2:  <script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.4.2/jquery.min.js' type='text/javascript'/>
   3:  <script src='http://app.stacktack.com/jquery.stacktack.min.js' type='text/javascript'/>

This allowed the plug-in to correctly work in IE8.  I created a new issue against the plug-in on BitBucket.  You can view screenshots of my blog on browsershots.org – a great tool for web developers.

23 Aug 2010

Send Outlook Email Via PowerShell

Just to complete the topic of sending emails via PowerShell, [Lies, I still have to blog about the Send-MailMessage cmdlet.] I thought I would include a quick look at sending emails from Outlook via PowerShell.  Again, this script could be replaced by using the PowerShell cmdlet, Send-MailMessage

The script below is based on a script submitted to TechNet by Kent Finkle:

   1:  param 
   2:  (        
   3:      [string]$email = $(read-host "Enter a recipient email"),
   4:      [string]$subject = $(read-host "Enter the subject header"), 
   5:      [string]$body = $(read-host "Enter the email text (optional)")
   6:  )   
   8:  # Functions
  10:  function Send-Email
  11:  (
  12:      [string]$recipientEmail = $(Throw "At least one recipient email is required!"), 
  13:      [string]$subject = $(Throw "An email subject header is required!"), 
  14:      [string]$body
  15:  )
  16:  {
  17:      $outlook = New-Object -comObject  Outlook.Application 
  18:      $mail = $outlook.CreateItem(0) 
  19:      $mail.Recipients.Add($recipientEmail) 
  20:      $mail.Subject = $subject 
  21:      $mail.Body = $body   # For HTML encoded emails 
  22:      # $mail.HTMLBody = "<HTML><HEAD>Text<B>BOLD</B>  <span style='color:#E36C0A'>Color Text</span></HEAD></HTML>"   
  23:      # To send an attachment 
  24:      # $mail.Attachments.Add("C:\Temp\Test.txt")    
  25:      $mail.Send() 
  26:      Write-Host "Email sent!"
  27:  }   
  29:  # Main Script Body
  31:  Write-Host "Starting Send-MailViaOutlook Script."   
  32:  # Send email using Outlook
  33:  Send-Email -recipientEmail $email -subject $subject -body $body     
  34:  Write-Host "Closing Send-MailViaOutlook Script."   
  36:  # End of Script Body

Download the script from here.  If you have any comments, I would appreciate all feedback.  Thanks.

Also, just to note that the code for this post was highlighted (badly!) using the Neat Highlighter website. Unfortunately, the code snippet produced by the Neat Highlighter website was so poor that I couldn’t use it, and I have updated this post to use a snippet generated by the Insert Code for Windows Live Writer plugin. I also tried to use the Code Formatter Plugin, as recommended by Scott Hanselman, but it constantly froze Windows Live Writer. Also, I discovered how to use the <strike> HTML tag!

New Look for Blog

You will have noticed a new look to the blog.  I’ve finally got around to updating the template to make use of two column layout.  The old site looked very cluttered and did not present code snippets very well. I have updated past posts containing code snippets and images to make use of the increased width of the content column. This template is a default Google Designer template. 

Let me know what you think. 

17 Aug 2010


I came across StackTack over the weekend, a great jQuery plugin used to display questions and answers from StackOverflow and the other sites in the Stack trilogy.  It is intended for bloggers and writers who want to post Stack questions in their blogs or articles and have them kept up to date.

I immediately updated my last article on sending GMail via PowerShell to make use of the plugin, but noticed that there was an issue filtering the answers to display a single question that is not the accepted answer.  I have raised an issue against the project on BitBucket; we will wait and see what the response is. 

Regardless of this minor bug, StackApp is a great way to link to the amazing content on the StackOverflow site.  I’m certainly going to keep an eye on the other StackApps that are being built.

16 Aug 2010

Sending Gmail via PowerShell

[Update: I have updated this blog to display the StackOverflow question using the new StackTack jQuery plugin.]

In a previous post, I looked at reducing the number of mouse clicks and key strokes required to send an email and other common tasks using Launchy.  The solution involved using Outlook, as this was for my work PC.  I started thinking about doing the same on my home laptop, where I don’t have Outlook installed.  I remembered a blog article from Scott Hansleman on using the command line email tool Blat, and thought I could do something similar using a PowerShell script send email via Gmail.

Just to note, the script below is only valid for PowerShell V1; in PowerShell V2, there is a cmdlet available to do this, Send-MailMessage. I’ll look at this using this cmdlet in my next blog post.

A quick search of StackOverflow found the following:

My script is based on the answer submitted by user Christian:

Using the script above, and the previously mentioned way of calling PowerShell scripts from Launchy, I can quickly generate emails with a minimal number of keystrokes.

Download the script from here.  If you have any comments, I would appreciate all feedback.  Thanks.

Also, just to note that the code for this post was highlighted using the BlogTrog website.

3 Aug 2010

The Weekly Links…

…are no more!! I have recently started using the social bookmarking site Delicious to manage all of my links.  You can see all of my shared bookmarks at http://delicious.com/andyparkhill. Some of you may have already seen my various tweets tagged #bookmark – these are automatically generated by Delicious.  There is also integration with my blog’s RSS feed, with a daily roundup of all links that I have added being posted.  And just to be sure, I’ve added a Links page to display my Delicious tag cloud!

All of my bookmarks in future will be shared via this service.  I will also be going back and adding links from the various weekly links posts.  This is part of a change in direction for the blog. I don’t want to just aggregate other’s people posts, I want to start generating my own unique content. At the minute, I’ve plenty of ideas to work on, and I’m working on freeing up more time to implement them. 

21 Jul 2010

Code Reviews

Earlier this week, I had a code review.  It was only my third code review in over 5 years of working as a software developer.  I had to repeatedly nag to before it actually happened.  It says something for the state of software development, and the lip service paid to developing quality software solutions, that is by no means uncommon for developers in Northern Ireland.  Note, in the past 5 years, I have worked for 3 local companies, one an international IT Services company, all of whom pride themselves on delivering quality code.   In my last job, I was never given a code review.  Never.

My view on code reviews, and the less formal pair programming, is that it is a fundamental learning activity for people who make their living cutting code. And I’m not alone in that view.  How can you improve if you don’t know what you are doing wrong?  Code reviews are also the best way to ensure the quality of the code that you write.  Nothing focuses the mind on writing quality code more than the knowledge that you will be held accountable for the code you check in. 

If code reviews aren’t happening regularly, the code quality goes out the window.  And if your company isn’t doing code reviews formally, you need to start doing them informally. My biggest regret from my last job is that I didn’t arrange informal code reviews. 

Fevered Coding

I am suffering a nasty chest infection, and it has been tough getting to bed over the last few days.  As a result, I have been staying up late, coding on a few random scripts. 

The result of last night’s fevered coding was a PowerShell script to return the ratings for various TV shows on IMDB.  This is my first attempt at the script, and it makes use of the IMDB web service provided by Dean Clatworthy.

The script consists of two main parts.  The first is a call to the web service, and returning the details for the specified TV show, using an instance of the .NET WebClient.

  1: function Get-ShowDetails
  2: (
  3:   [string]$showName = $(Throw "TV show name is required!")
  4: )
  5: {  
  6:   $webClient = new-object System.Net.WebClient
  7:   $webClient.Headers.Add("user-agent", "PowerShell Script")
  8:   $queryString = $showName.Trim().Replace(" ", "+")
  9:   $query = [string]::Format("{0}={1}", $queryUrl, $queryString)   
 10:   $showDetails = $webClient.DownloadString($query)
 11:   return $showDetails
 12: }

The second part of the script extracts the rating details for the show from the plain text returned by the web service, using a regular expression:

  1: function Extract-RatingDetails
  2: (
  3:   [string]$showName = $(Throw "TV show name is required!"),
  4:   [string]$showDetails = $(Throw "TV show details are required!")
  5: )
  6: {  
  7:   $regexPattern = '"rating":"([a-z\\\/\.0-9]+)","votes":([0-9\"]+)'
  8:   $regexMatcher = [regex] "$regexPattern"
  9:   $matches = $regexMatcher.Matches($showDetails)
 10:   $showInfo = $null  
 12:   foreach ($match in $matches)
 13:   {
 14:     if ($match.Success)
 15:     {
 16:       # To return all of the matched expression, use $match.Groups[0].Value
 17:       $rating = $match.Groups[1].Value
 19:       if($rating -eq "n\/a" )
 20:       {
 21:         $rating = 0;
 22:       }
 24:       $votes = $match.Groups[2].Value.Replace('"', '')      
 25:       $showInfo = New-Object PSObject
 26:       $showInfo | Add-Member NoteProperty "ShowTitle" $showName
 27:       $showInfo | Add-Member NoteProperty "Rating" $rating
 28:       $showInfo | Add-Member NoteProperty "Votes" $votes      
 29:       break;
 30:     }
 31:   }
 33:   return $showInfo
 34: }

This isn’t a finished script, though it does work.  There is a limit to the number of calls that can be made to the web service (30 per hour), which means that I will have to revisit the script and instead of calling the web service, scrape the details of each TV series from the IMDB website. 

Download the current script from here.  If you have any comments, I would appreciate all feedback.  Thanks.

Also, just to note that the code for this post was highlighted using the Source Code Formatter for Windows Live Writer.

Code Syntax Highlighter for Code Snippets

After my last blog post (and the first to contain a decent code snippet!), I wasn’t too happy with the way that the code snippet was rendered in the RSS feed:

I am currently using the Insert Code for Windows Live Writer plug-in, which has a decent rating and reasonable reviews.  I decided to check out the other possible code syntax highlighters.

As always, Scott Hanselman has already posted on this topic, and he came out in favour of Syntax Highlighter, a JavaScript library.  It looks great (see here), but there are a number of other options. These include:

  1. BlogTrot Code Window – An online tool to generate HTML for your code snippet.
  2. NeatHighlighter - Similar to BlogTrot.
  3. Google Code Prettify – A JavaScript library that does a similar job to the Syntax Highlighter.  There is a Code Prettify for Windows Live Writer plugin that can be used to automatically surround your code snippets with <pre> tags for use with the Prettify library.  Unfortunately, Google does not host the Prettify library, which would have been a major plus for me
  4. Source Code Formatter – Another code syntax highlighter for Live Writer, similar to the plug-in I am already using.

I have a number of code based posts that will appear over the next few weeks, so I will try out each of the above methods in a separate post, and post again on this topic to give you some feedback and my preferred method of displaying code snippets.  If you have any other methods of code highlighting that you would like me to consider, please get in touch.

19 Jul 2010

Use a Visual Studio Macro to Insert Copyright Headers into Source Files

In work today, I needed to add a copyright header to a large number of C# classes.  Instead of simply pasting the header across the 20+ files, I took a look at the various tooling options.

The Code Header Designer looked like a possible option. However, I wanted something lightweight and easily configurable, so I settled on using a VS macro to insert the headers.  A quick Google revealed a number of example macros already written to do exactly what I required.  This is my version of James Welch’s code:


I then followed the instructions in this article to add a context menu entry to call the macro by right-clicking the target file.  This resulted in the following header comment being inserted in each file:

   1:  // <copyright file="Sample.cs" company="My Company Name">
   2:  // Copyright (c) 19/07/2010 23:01:05 All Right Reserved
   3:  // </copyright>
   4:  // <author>Andy Parkhill</author>
   5:  // <date>19/07/2010 23:01:05 </date>
   6:  // <summary>Class representing a Sample entity</summary>

It is worth noting that by taking 20 minutes to research the possible options, I was able to find modify an existing macro that is significantly faster than copying and pasting boilerplate text across the various files, and that can be modified for other uses.

If I had to do this on a new project, I would instead create a custom class template specifically for the project with required header and class structure.

18 Jul 2010

Cycle Courier Service in Belfast

Came across this cycle courier service, Cycle Send It, which has started up in Belfast.  Very cool.  Courtesy of someone on Twitter… Dawn maybe?

9 Jul 2010

The Weekly Links 10

This is the 10th post in an ongoing series of weekly roundups of links useful to developers.


  • WebSharper – A web development framework based on F#.  Yes, a functional programming language.  Absolutely insane. The standard version is a free download.
  • WebMatrix – Scott Guthrie announces the release of a new light-weight web development platform from Microsoft.
  • Scripting Toolkit ISO – SAPIEN Technologies has released a free “Scripting Toolkit” CD that contains copies of all of their free tools, trial versions of their paid applications, samples of ebooks and training videos.
  • Knockout – A UI Library for JavaScript.
  • Microsoft Download Centre – Get email notifications of all the recent releases from Microsoft.  Link courtesy of Simon.



You can now check out developer events in Northern Ireland using my calendar.

It is obviously the summer, as there are NO local events in the coming week.

8 Jul 2010

Sons of Anarchy… In Belfast?

I recently started watching Sons of Anarchy, an American TV series, after my brother sang its praises for the past few months.  I think it is also currently showing on terrestrial TV here in the UK as well. 

Unbelievably, they will be filming in Belfast for the third season of the show, and are looking to cast lookalikes for the leading characters in the series.   Check out the full story here.  If you haven’t been following the show, the bikers finance themselves with some gunrunning on the side, and have links to an IRA offshoot, blah, blah.  It says something for the quality of the show that despite a tenuous grasp of the realities in Norn Iron, and some very dodgy Irish accents (ah, begorrah!), I still enjoy watching the SOA.

Thanks to Paddy for the heads up!

5 Jul 2010


My younger brother John graduated today from the University of Ulster, at the Magee campus.  It felt very strange to be at the graduation ceremony with my folks; the last graduation I was at was my own, back in 2005.  Actually, the  two ceremonies were separated by exactly 5 years; it feels considerably longer.

The ceremony was graced with the presence of James Nesbitt, the UUC’s new Chancellor, who had the right mix of gravitas and humour.  An honorary doctorate was awarded to Colin Bateman, a local crime fiction author.  I’ve never been a fan of his books, but his acceptance speech was quite humorous.  There was a lovely moment when a degree was awarded to the parents of a student who sadly passed away before graduating, and the entire assembly rose to give them a standing ovation.  I actually really enjoyed being there, and I’m very glad my brother invited me.

Today’s ceremony in Derry was in direct contrast to my own graduation at QUB.  The ceremony there came across as very smug, and was incredibly tedious.  Some nobody from industry I had had never heard off before, and have never heard of since, was awarded an honorary degree, and he preceded to bore us to death in his acceptance speech (think Father Ted acceptance’s speech on winning the Golden Cleric…).  People who graduate from QUB have the nasty habit of looking down on anyone who went to to UU; after speaking to some of my brother’s friends today, and hearing about some of the work going on at the UU, I can’t see why.

Automation, and Gaining Time for Fun Stuff…


In a recent post, I foolishly promised to get up at 5am every morning to work on personal projects and to write more blog posts.  Dear reader, do you really need to ask how many times over the last two weeks I have welcomed daybreak by typing away on my laptop?  Yeah, that's right, not once.

This won’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me- I’m just not an early riser.  However, I am still committed to spending more time on my personal projects.  So over the past week, I have tried to use Launchy, the open-source program launcher, as much as possible to automate the routines actions that I repeat daily, and that just eat up mouse clicks and keystrokes.

One common action that I do often in work is to use Outlook to setup calendar appointments (shared with my Google Calendar using the Google Calendar Sync), and to send myself email reminders. 

I took a look at the Outlook shortcuts to automatically create a new email message, and added the command below in the Runner plugin (see previous post for details of adding commands)

Name Program Arguments
Email C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\OUTLOOK.EXE /c ipm.note

I then wanted to extend this to create new email messages to be sent to specific email addresses, i.e. my own webmail account.   To do this, you simply change the arguments to be ‘/c ipm.note /m <insert email address>’.

Similarly, the argument to create a new appointment is ‘/c ipm.appointment’.

So, by simply typing ‘Email-Reminder’ into the Launchy window, I can create a new mail message to send to myself.

Expect a number of other posts in the near future around scripting and productivity.

2 Jul 2010

The Weekly Links 9

This is the 9th post in an ongoing series of weekly roundups of links useful to developers.


  • SteakyBeak – Is an advanced logging module for web apps that will log each request to your web server and also provide a easy interface to view these requests. Base on the ever useful NLog logging framework.
  • PowerGUI Visual Studio – Quest have released a version of the PowerGUI IDE for PowerShell that integrates into Visual Studio.  Other options to develop and execute PowerShell scripts in VS include the VS Command Shell, and PowerConsole.
  • TOAD Extension for Visual Studio – Again from Quest, a extension to manage Oracle databases within VS in the same way as SQL Server databases.
  • Enterprise Localization Toolkit – An oldie but a goodie.  A colleague in work (Thanks, Mike!) came across this framework from Microsoft for resource string management via a database.
  • Posterous – the easiest way to blog.  Create a beautiful looking blog with the minimal effort.  I’m seriously considering switching to use it… Watch this space.



You can now check out developer events in Northern Ireland using my calendar.

There are no developer events in the coming week.

1 Jul 2010

Goodbye Last.fm, Hello Jango

No doubt I coming late to this party, but a colleague shared Jango, the advertising-supported Internet radio website.  I immediately feel in love with it.   A nice clean website, easy to navigate, and a great selection of artists and tunes.  I’ve just finished uninstalling the Last.fm dektop client; it is history.  If I need some tunes now, I just have to click on the Jango bookmark.  Which I have just done, and I’m now enjoying some Stone Temple Pilots.

25 Jun 2010

The Weekly Links 8

This is the 8th post in an ongoing series of weekly roundups of links useful to developers.  This post is effectively a roundup of links from the past months – apologies for the delay in posting!


  • ApiChange Is Released! – APIChange is a command line tool that allows you to execute queries on against your compiled .NET code base. The main use of the tool is to determine the impact of each API change, such identifying all users of a specific type.  A useful alternative to the commercial NDepends offering.
  • Chirpy – A Visual Studio 2010 Add-In for handling JavaScript, CSS, and DotLess files. 
  • The Best Visual Studio 2010 Productivity Power Tools, Power Commands and Extensions – Scott Hanselman catalogues his favourite VS2010 extensions.
  • OutlookSpy – A tool to allow developers to explore the Outlook object model.
  • Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Power Tools – A set of templates and extensions that provides additional functionality to SharePoint developers.
  • FxCop 10.0 – An insane jump in version number for the Microsoft static code analysis tool.
  • Soluto – LifeHacker has an article on this Windows freeware tool that tracks all the applications in your system boot process, and tells you exactly which ones are slowing you down.



A few more random links:


You can now check out developer events in Northern Ireland using my calendar.

There are no events in the coming week.

17 Jun 2010

Normal Service Resumes

Folks, apologies for the dearth of posts over the last few weeks.  It has been a very busy couple of weeks, both in work and personally.  I have been involved in a challenging project in work, that has required some additional hours. That, on top of my daily commute, meant there has been very little free time to spend blogging.


On the plus side, it has meant that I have had to take look at what I want to do with the blog, and I can see that changes are required.  For a start, I will be blogging more often in the future.  That is not a wish, but is a promise.  I will be taking a leaf from Jason Bell’s book, and will be getting up early to specifically spend time on the blog and personal projects.  There will be more posts on my personal projects,and a lot more code samples

There will still be a weekly roundup of links, but I’m dropping (for now) the jobs summary.  There will also be more time on spent reviewing developer tools.  I’m also considering a series of articles on SharePoint 2010.

In terms of personal projects, I’ll be able to post an announcement this week on my first major project. 

9 Jun 2010

Absolutely Lost…

I was late comer to the Lost TV series.  In fact, it wasn’t until some time in September 2007 that I actually watched my first episode.  It was while I was working in Dublin, and staying at a hotel in Dublin.  It was a miserable night, and I only watched it while waiting for Battlestar Galactica to come on. As this particular episode (The Brig) was a climatic one in Season 3, I hadn’t a clue what was going on.  But I was impressed enough to go back and watch Season 1. 


From the first 5 minutes of the pilot episode, I was hooked.  Over 6 seasons, we have been treated to the most compelling TV.  And now it is all over.  I thought the last episode was bit long, and could have benefited from some editing. But I still cried at a beautiful and elegant end sequence.  And now I’m absolutely lost for some stimulating TV to watch.  Glee and Sons of Anarchy are decent– but Lost they’re not.

31 May 2010

Helen Bamber

I normally have a lie-in on a Saturday morning. It is a highlight in my week, with no work or church to force me to get up early. This weekend, I awoke at 09:30 (early!), and lay in bed listening to Radio 4.  What a slacker I am.

As I lay there, I heard one of the most moving and inspiring stories that I have ever came across.  It was the story of Helen Bamber, a psychotherapist who worked with survivors in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  She was later involved at the start of Amnesty International, becoming chairwoman of the first UK group.  She later set up the charity Medical Foundation for Care of Victims of Torture in 1985 to provide long-term care to those who have suffered torture. She has since setup the Helen Bamber Foundation to offer support to people who had suffered human rights violations.

This is a woman who in her 80s who is still determined to make a difference, who continues to fight injustice and human rights abuse.  I think she is an incredibly inspiring figure.  She may not be a household name – but she should be.

To listen to the segment in the Saturday Live show on Helen Bamber, it starts at 08:05, and ends at 15:18 minutes.

27 May 2010

The Weekly Links 7

This is the 7th post in an ongoing series of weekly roundups of links useful to developers.




You can now check out developer events in Northern Ireland using my calendar.

Events in the coming week include: