Thursday, 16 October 2008

Visual Studio 2008 Colour Schemes

In the past year, the trend to modify your Visual Studio colour theme has gained momentum. Yes it's a trendy bandwagon, but it's not without merit. After using Oren Ellenbogen's Dark Scheme (via Scott Hanselman) for a while, I now find the default Visual Studio colours a trifle harsh.

The key is having a very dark, rather than black background. I have also adopted this for my desktop backgound using 56,56,56 rgb.

Here is Oren Ellenbogen's theme updated for Visual Studio 2008 transformed using Tomas Restrepo's xlst.

To save you the trouble of the transform, you can download my version of the Visual Studio 2008 theme here. It includes a couple of minor tweaks for ReSharper.

Here's to not all looking like Mr Magoo by the time we're 45.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Comments Anti-Pattern

Code comments. They are good right? Well yes. However you can fall into the trap of thinking if commenting is good, more comments are better. Comments all 'round. Comments for everyone! The Milkybar comments are on me.

This is the common anti-pattern:
/// <summary>
/// Tests if an order can be prepared for printing.
/// </summary>
public void PrepareOrder()
If you multiply that by every public method and or test it can make the class files look a bit jumbled.

So why not refactor by renaming the method and lose the comment?
public void OrderCanBePreparedForPrinting()
or even
public void Order_Can_Be_Prepared_For_Printing()
I find this far easier on the eye.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Ja! Mein Das Keyboard ist sehr gut!

I took delivery of my Das Keyboard Ultimate on Saturday. Since then I've been in clicky-clacky-blank-key heaven.

I have to say that I'm smitten. As has been noted elsewhere, Das Keyboard is very similar to an old IBM Model M. I remember a coworker being very pleased with himself for rescuing a model M from a skip outside our office. I can now see why.

Is it worth €99 + P&P? If you type for a living, yes it probably is. Amortised over its expected lifetime it's potentially the least expensive computer thing money can buy.

What's good:
  1. Lovely responsive typing action.
  2. Nerd points. Your fellow geeks will be in awe.
  3. Your typing will probably improve as you'll be forced to touch-type.

What's bad:

  1. Passwords. We all try and make them as complex as possible right? Right? Well if you do, it can be a nightmare. I plugged in my old fingerprint reader to assist with that.
  2. The noise. I'm toying with getting another one of these for work, but I don't want to be an office hate figure.
  3. Upfront cost. The current exchange rate means buying stuff from Germany is more expensive than it was. €99 + P&P equated to £90 on my credit card statement.

It was a joy typing this post. I think I'll type some more.

The slow purple fox pole-vaulted over the resting dog.


ReMix UK 08

Microsoft ReMix 08 was held last week in my dear beloved Brighton. This was my first time at ReMix. In the main, I very much enjoyed it. The weather was nice, I knew plenty of people there and it was good to hear Scott Guthrie talk about ASP.NET MVC, .NET in general and Silverlight.

What was right:
  1. Brighton. Brighton is a splendid place to have a conference. It was held at the famous Brighton Centre, which is a tired old 60s bit of architecture, but is about 5 minutes walk from my flat which makes up for it.
  2. ScottGu. Great to hear about this stuff from the man himself.
  3. The other presenters. There were some really interesting talks.

What was wrong:

  1. Session were pitched a little low. Everything was fairly introductory. I would like to have seen a more in-depth discussion on MVC for instance.
  2. Catering. It was rubbish. Tea and coffee were only served twice a day for 10 minutes. It was like visiting a parsimonious relative. The food was crushingly mediocre. C'mon Microsoft. You have the cash plus the tickets were about £300! I couldn't see anyone getting away with such a poor showing in the US. England is no longer the country with the crap food. Have you learned nothing from Gordon, Jamie, Delia et al?
  3. 'Sneak Peaks'. There was nothing announced. Nothing. Bar a quite a nice table that takes pictures of things, there was nothing of any value. We all felt a bit cheated. If we wanted to watch adverts, we could've stayed at home and watched E4.

I will go back. Definitely. But if I was marking ReMix at school, it would be "6.5/10. ReMix has the potential to do well if it only concentrated a bit more on the details."

Also a special mention for Mike Hadlow who had Suteki Shop displayed by Scott Gu in his keynote as an example of a local MVC project. Go Mike!

Friday, 12 September 2008


I'm a huge fan of ReSharper from JetBrains. I've been using it for over three years now and I think I'd be lost without it. Take away my ReSharper and I might as well have notepad.

I think my top five most used features are:

  1. Ctrl+left mouse click. This takes you to the thing you clicked on's definition.
  2. Ctrl+E+C. Code cleanup. I have a custom rule that is called 'Everything but 'var'.
  3. The NUnit integration. If you use NUnit in Visual Studio, you need ReSharper.
  4. Find Usages
  5. Ctrl+R+R. For renaming.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. It's just probably what I use most day in, day out. Just go buy it. I promise that the first time you use a foreach snippet after defining something that's IEnumerable you will be smitten.

Friday, 14 March 2008

VI emulation in Visual Studio

Every once in a while something comes along that makes you glee. Vi emulation in Visual Studio (and Word/Outlook/SQL MS) is just one of those things. I'm going to be trying this out today and I'm fairly sure I will parting with the $79 to get a full license for VS.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Let them eat cake! (but you may have to pay the Man)

Glenn Jones (with whom I'm currently working at Madgex) has a nice post about how the taxman is graciously letting the company off the burden of paying tax on a couple of cakes that a purchased each Friday.

It makes you wonder if anything safe from Mr Grey and his PF2345 (Cake) form. The same issue cropped up with Friday Pizzas at
Micromuse. Because someone in accounts was worried about the tax implications, they were stopped. A few weeks later it was realised that Friday lunchtime was the only time some of the developers, testers and support guys met face to face. It had an unbelievably bad effect on the communication within the company.

If anything like this is left up to the accountants they want to can it immediately. The trouble is that it's difficult to quantify the benefits of gestures such as cake or pizzas.

Also at 'muse there was the case of the Mont Blanc pens. Pens given as presents to commemorate 5 years service - which in this industry is a lifetime. The trouble was that the pens were showing up in people's wage slips. Yes, someone in finance really did think that it would be the done thing to charge the tax on those pens to the recipient.

Naturally on principle some 5 year veterans told the bean counters to stick their pens where their solar powered calculators didn’t work.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2008. The golden age of novelty glasses continues.