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:


26 May 2010

Debugging SharePoint in Windows Server 2008 – IISAPP Is Missing!

I’m currently working on a solution that is built in top of SharePoint 2007.  My development VM is built with Windows Server 2008, to mimic the production environment. 

Whilst debugging an issue the other day, I went  to call the iisapp.vbs script on the command line to identify the correct w3wp.exe process to attach Visual Studio to. (See this article for more details on debugging SharePoint solutions.)

I was surprised to see the following error message:

A quick Google established that in IIS 7 the iisapp.vbs is replaced by the following command:

%windir%\system32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe list wp

Some of you may be thinking “If you’re working in SharePoint 2010 with VS2010, you don’t need this, Visual Studio will automatically attach the debugger to the worker process for you!".

Think again. On a SharePoint 2010 training course, I got to try out the automated debugging offered by VS2010, and it is sloooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.... As in, hit F5, go get yourself a coffee, and still have time to dunk a few digestives before the debugger responds.  And this was a Hyper-V VM with 6GB RAM dedicated to it.  So, even in VS2010, you are still going to want to attach the debugger manually.

21 May 2010

The Weekly Links 6

This is the 6th post in an ongoing series of weekly roundups of links useful to developers.


  • Identity Finder – An article on LifeHacker.com describes this very useful tool. 
  • .NET Framework cleanup and setup verification tools - Aaron Stebner announces the release of new versions of these tools for .NET 4.0.  I didn’t even know that these tools existed within the .NET framework!
  • OpenWrap – Robert Pickering describes on his blog the OpenWrap project, an open source package management system for .NET projects.
  • RAMMap v1.0 – The SysInternals guys have released a new tool to  help you analyze your use of RAM memory.



You can now check out developer events in Northern Ireland using my calendar.  I have further work planned for the calendar, and the format of these posts. 

Events in the coming week include:


15 May 2010

C# 4.0 Whats New


Just to point out, I forgot to give a shout out for Alan Bradley’s NW-MTUG talk this Monday.   The talk will be on the new features in C# 4.0, and will be held in Magee College, Derry from 18:30.  For further details, click here.

Note, there will be prizes given away on the night.  At the last NW-MTUG talk, I picked up a ReSharper license, and was brutally assaulted when a bag of sweets was thrown at me. You have been warned!

14 May 2010

Weekly Links Changes


Just to let you know that I intend to change the format of the weekly links posts.  The increasing size of the weekly roundup means that it is getting unwieldy.  it is also taking a substantial time to edit and publish each Thursday evening, so I am looking at breaking up various sections into discrete posts.  This move will tie in with a new project I’ve been planning – keep your eye on the projects page for further details!

The Weekly Links 5

This is the 5th post in an ongoing series of weekly roundups of links useful to developers.


  • Style Cop – Version 4.4 of the code style checker (and it is now open source!) is available for download.
  • Solution Converter – a much needed tool to convert between the various Visual Studio solution formats (2005, 2008, and 2010).
  • PowerShell Community Extensions – V2.0 of this useful extensions library is released.


SharePoint Information


  • No new events, just a reminder about Barcamp Belfast – the postponed Barcamp is now rescheduled for 22nd May.


  • Seagate (via NIJobFinder.co.uk) – Software Engineer with both Java and .NET experience, based in their Derry plant.
  • Relay - .NET developers and Junior Developers required for their Belfast office.
  • Gem – Technical Support Agents and Web Application Developer (via NIJobFinder.co.uk)  are required for the Belfast company.
  • Fujitsu – A number of software developer roles are currently being advertised for my previous employer.  Roles are in both the Belfast and Derry offices.
  • Randox Laboratories (via NIJobFinder.co.uk) – Software Engineer required for the Crumlin plant.
  • Openwave – Software and Quality Engineers in the Belfast office.
  • Parity – My current company is continuing to recruit for their Centre of Excellence in Belfast.

13 May 2010

Calling PowerShell from Launchy

I have recently started using Launchy, a Windows keyword launcher. One problem I had with Launchy was configuring it to call my assorted PowerShell scripts.  An initial search of the web led me to this blog post, which in turn led me here.  So… call my PowerShell scripts from a batch file that I call from Launchy?  No, I don’t think so.
So, I searched again, and came across this screencast by PowerShell guru Hal Rottenberg, who showed how to configure Launchy to run your scripts. 

In Launchy, select the options, and in the Plugins tab, select the Runner (a custom command tool) options.  To create a new command, click on the ‘+’ button. Set the new command’s name  as “posh”, and then set the program by double clicking the field.  A folder browse button will appear.  Browse to the PowerShell directory (%windir%\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0) and clicking on the program executable, powershell.exe.  You then need to type in the command arguments as follows:
"-nologo -noexit -noprofile -command $$"
To run your scripts from Launchy, hit the Launchy keyboard shortcut (ALT + SPACE by default), and type “posh”. Then hit the tab key, and type in the name of the script that you wish to run.  In this way, you can call your PowerShell scripts.

11 May 2010

City of Culture 2013


Just a quick blog post to say I’m supporting Derry’s bid to be the UK City of Culture in 2013.  If you want to get involved, register your support at  http://www.cityofculture2013.com and check out this handy article.

9 May 2010

Changes to RDP in WS2008

A quick post to point out that from Windows Server 2008 onwards, the useful /console switch has been deprecated, and the /admin switch is now used instead.  For details, check out this support article from Microsoft.

7 May 2010

The Weekly Links 4

This is the 4th post in an ongoing series of weekly roundups of links useful to developers.  As I was working in London last week, this is a bumper post incorporating two weeks worth of links. 



SharePoint Related



  • Barclay Communications – iPhone developer and web developer required for the Belfast office.
  • CyberSource – A number of roles (QA and Software Engineers) at various levels are being advertised for this growing company, based in Belfast.
  • 8over8 – This Derry based company is continuing to advertise for .Net developers.
  • Latens – Software Engineers required for the Belfast office.
  • ASG – Software and QA Engineers required for their Belfast office.
  • Kainos – Graduate Developers required for the Belfast software company.
  • Singularity – Various roles being advertised with the Derry based company.
  • Learning Pool – The Derry based company are seeking PHP developers (intermediate and advanced) and technical support agents.

5 May 2010

Mint Really Is Mint!

Just a quick blog post to sing the praises of Mint, a user-friendly Linux operating system.  I have been promising my brother that I would rebuild an old laptop for him for several months.  After finally completing the physical rebuild at the weekend, I faced a dilemma as to what OS to install.  The only Windows options open to me were Windows XP (9 years old), or Windows Server 2008 (fine as developer workstation, not great for a non-techie end user).  I did look at buying an upgrade to Windows 7, but I couldn’t justify the £80 price tag for this 7 year old laptop. 

So I thought I would try out a Linux OS for the first time.  After using this excellent online wizard to select a Linux OS, I plumped to install Ubuntu.  Unfortunately, Ubuntu wasn’t configured to deal with the wide screen on the laptop, and after booting, it would only display a blank screen.  I did search for a fix, but despite spending some time on the command line, I wasn’t able to update the display configuration. 

After this, I remembered reading that Mint was a variant of Ubuntu specifically designed for first time Linux users, and decide to give it to go.  After an insanely short time (approximately 15 minutes), Mint had smoothly installed itself, and was ready for use.  I am already very impressed with the options to install and automatically update applications using the software manager, and the overall performance of the OS.  Remember, this is a 7 year old laptop, with only 500MB RAM – I dread to think what the performance would have been like if I had installed Windows.  So, my brother has his laptop, and I am left a Linux convert!