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Russ Nemhauser

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This is What I'm Talking About

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 23:44:00 GMT

The Gu himself, Scott Guthrie of Microsoft, wrote a blog entry yesterday about some power productivity features that people can get with a new VS 2010 update. It only took me a few seconds to find two classic examples that clearly illustrate one of the things that frustrates me about Windows: There is no consistency.

Take, for example, the following screen shot that Scott includes in his post:


Don't those "On / Off" switches look cool?? There's just one problem. No where else in any of Windows do options have this interface for turning things on or off. People are used to checkboxes. There was nothing wrong with checkboxes. Everyone was used to them. So while this may LOOK cooler to some people, it's different behavior. It copies the switches iOS now. But one reason they were made like that for iOS was because people weren't going to be using mice - they would be using their finger, which is less precise.

Next, take a look at another screen shot he included:


If you look at the little triangles, you will see that they point down when the node is expanded and they point to the right when the node is closed. But if you look back at the first screen shot, those triangles point to the lower right when the node is expanded, and appear all in black (there is no discoloration in the other window's arrows). Furthermore, the arrows on the second screen shot are filled in gray. The ones in the first screen shot are gray outlines. Also, they're different sizes.

I'm not commenting on the particular features that Scott is writing about, I'm commenting on how there is so little attention paid to details like consistency. Call me nit-picky, go ahead. I deserve it.

Installing Win7 From a USB Drive

Wed, 14 Oct 2009 18:10:00 GMT

Friend and all around nice guy Steve Smith wrote this blog entry about how to install Windows 7 from a USB key. Quite a few steps, but I've done this before so I know it works. I began thinking what the Apple story would look like and smiled: 1. Download OS X and save it to your USB drive. 2. Reboot. :) Seriously, though, I had to track down lots of steps when I did it a few months ago so Steve's entry will be helpful to many.

Hosting - There *Is* a Difference!

Wed, 12 Aug 2009 20:10:00 GMT

Several weeks ago I did a WordPress installation on a friend's server so they could update their site themselves. They use GoDaddy for hosting because it was cheap. You get what you pay for. I can't stress this lesson strongly enough. Ever since I completed the installation, I noticed dreadful performance on anything that needed a database call. I complained to GoDaddy on three occasions but nothing was really done except to say that in a shared hosting environment "sometimes" the performance slows down. I had hosted my blog on WordPress for a couple of years now but I just signed up for Crucial Web Host and moved my blog to my new shared hosting account last night. Lightning by comparison. The WordPress pages load so fast it's like static HTML, even the ones that hit the database (MySQL 5). Crucial Web Host is $25 per month. Some might balk at that number. After all, GoDaddy is something like $5 per month. But as I said earlier - you get what you pay for. Crucial uses cPanel, phpMyAdmin, and other very common tools. GoDaddy uses a bunch of different things that aren't really intuitive and sometimes give me problems. One thing is for sure - I certainly don't miss seeing GoDaddy's advertisements as I do what I need to do on my domains or hosting account.

SEHException in MSTEST

Tue, 10 Mar 2009 21:52:00 GMT

Anybody ever had MSTEST freeze after the test run and then, when you close the DOS prompt you see a message very briefly about an SEHException? This happens on the same two test projects every time, yet my other test projects don't cause this. Any insight would be appreciated.

Vista Default User Profile

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 20:10:00 GMT

I created a user and customized tons of settings, then copied that user to the Default user from the System control panel. However, some of my settings didn't take. For example, my start menu items and colors are all there, but I hid the Sidebar - only it still shows up when I create a new account and log in! Also, all those icons in the systray that I hid appear for the new user as well. The default home page in the IE7 ( and the default search provider (Google) didn't work for the new user based on my new profile either - they went back to and Live Search. I want EVERYTHING that I did to be used for EVERY new user created on the box - not just a few of my customizations. Can anyone offer any assistance? FYI, the machine is not on a domain.

Thoughts on Mix, Ballmer, and the iPhone SDK

Mon, 10 Mar 2008 23:04:00 GMT

I am a software developer and architect (currently using Microsoft technologies) so of course I was interested to watch the sessions from the MIX conference that just happened last week in Las Vegas. Incidentally, I visited the on-demand web site for MIX using my default browser (Safari on Mac) and of course the page wouldn't load. Go figure - a web page written by Microsoft that doesn't work in Safari, a standards-compliant browser. But I digress. Ray Ozzie is just not a good public speaker. He didn't seem excited at all (and he sure didn't get ME excited with his subject matter). His talk sounded like he was reading a newspaper article, not engaging the audience. In addition, his slides had whole movies playing with demos while he was speaking. This is confusing because your mind wants to see what's going on in the movie. So you can hear Ray speaking but your mind isn't listening to him because it's trying to figure out what it is seeing in the movie. FINALLY Scott Guthrie came on. I have always really liked Scott, ever since the first session I saw him give. In my opinion, Scott is simply the best bet Microsoft has and has had for a couple of years now, regardless of product group or division. Unfortunately he wasn't on too long before he introduced the IE8 guy, but I know he'll be back, and I hope he's the one giving the demos later! I like the Developer Tools that the guy demo'd for IE8. Those will be useful. Web Slices is an interesting concept, and obviously born from the Web Clip functionality introduced in Safari about a year ago now. But unfortunately the implementation of Web Slices is very sub-par. At this point (and I could very well be premature and/or incorrect on this point), there appears to be no operating system integration at all, like Apple gave us in Leopard. In other words, if you want to see updated Web Slices, you have to open IE8 and then click on each and every one that you have to view it. I also have to admit that I'm not sure, as a developer, I would want to add extra code to my pages or my site if I want to support Web Slices. The code would be IE8 only, and I think we all know what writing IE-only code has gotten us in the past when we wanted to support more than just IE. One of the first things Scott did with regard to Silverlight was to show a movie montage of some of the live usage of Silverlight on the Internet. I have to say that I only found 2 or 3 of those particular examples compelling. Most of the other ones you'd never know were Silverlight at all. Could have just been embedded videos or animated images. I would be curious to see a REAL demo real of Silverlight in use today. And, note to Microsoft: We get that it can play videos. I thought it was really funny when the Cirque de Soleil employee came on the stage and was holding that big tablet PC with the web cam strapped on to it. So 2001. There were a few demos of Silerlight on mobile devices, and I have to say that after watching this video the other day, I was not excited at all. The Silverlight mobile applications looked jumpy during animations; slow to respond, and honestly, a little outdated already. I don't think this is a limitation of Silverlight. I believe it's a limitation of the hardware capabilities of the devices they showed – some of which are quite new. All in all I'd say that Silverlight is good for the web, but (contrary to what Rocky Lhotka said in his recent blog post) Silverlight is not the future of the web. It will be a part of it, but that will be about it. Only time will tell if I'm right. Next, I watched the keynote where Steve Ballmer was interviewed by Guy Kawasaki. I thought it was great, for the most part. Steve Ballmer used to be my favorite speaker to watch. After I watched Steve talk about something I'd want to go right out and buy it or try it or develop on it or install it. This all changed for me over the past two years when I realized that Steve Ballmer is [...]

Code Analysis or Check-In Policy for Warnings

Tue, 08 Jan 2008 22:50:00 GMT

I've been doing a bunch of Google searches today trying to figure out how I might be able to raise a violation if somebody tries to do a check-in when there are more than 100 warnings in the solution. Because (as far as I know, anyway) the only object available to you in a check-in policy is the PendingCheckin, I'm finding it difficult to implement this. Does anyone know how I can approach this? I'm aware that Visual Studio will raise a violation when the number of warnings reaches a certain number, but this number is way too high for us. I thought of doing it as a Code Analysis policy, but several questions came up with that approach as well. First, in order to write a custom code analysis policy, I have to use th FxCop SDK 1.35, don't I? There isn't a "CheckInPolicy" abstract base class that I can just subclass, is there?

Visual Studio 2008: November of THIS Year?

Tue, 06 Nov 2007 06:41:00 GMT

It was formally announced by Microsoft today that Visual Studio 2008 will be released at the end of this month. The only thing I'm going to say at this point is that it seems WAY too soon to me. I'll make blog posts after the release and we'll see if my gut feeling was right or wrong (and I have absolutely no problem being wrong).

More Content

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 05:40:00 GMT

Given that I'm blogging much more on my new blog, I thought I'd write a "reminder" post on here to make sure that those who want to read my non-dev entries can.

Multiple Sitemap Index Files in Robots.txt

Fri, 21 Sep 2007 23:00:00 GMT

I have been searching around using Google but I can't find an answer to this question.

A robots.txt file can contain the following line:


but is it possible to specify MULTIPLE sitemap index files in the robots.txt and have the search engines recognize that and crawl ALL of the sitemaps referenced in each sitemap index file? For example, will this work:


Thanks in advance to anyone who can help. 

Internet Explorer's Reign of Mediocrity

Sat, 08 Sep 2007 03:42:00 GMT

I saw this on today and I have to admit that I am one of the (apparently THOUSANDS) of people who are tired of having to tweak their standards-based code just so that IE 6 and 7 (MIcrosoft's browsers which do NOT adhere to web standards) can display their web pages the way the developer or designer originally intended. With IE's reduced market share due to the success of Firefox, Safari, and Opera, combined with Microsoft's several-year development cycle to release IE 7 - a browser that doesn't even bring IE up to date with the competition - I think people are really just starting to say, "You know what? Screw you." What do YOU think? Please comment! Opinions are welcome.

Windows Forced Restarts

Mon, 13 Aug 2007 06:44:00 GMT

Recently I came in to work to find that my computer had restarted some time during the night. I thought there was a power outage, but that wasn't the case. Apparently an automatic update was installed, which forced a restart of the computer.

How can Microsoft allow this? How can they simply restart the computer no matter what the user might have open or what long-running jobs happen to be executing? There was no warning whatsoever.

If you ask me, this kind of crap is absolutely unacceptable. I asked around and others agree - they said they've lost work because Microsoft forced their computer to reboot. My opinion is that Microsoft needs to release a hotfix that prevents this from happening. I don't mind restarting Windows (when I have to use Windows), but it should happen when it's convenient for ME, not for Microsoft.

There are people who will tell me that there are frequent security updates to Windows that, if not activated by restarting, put the whole network at risk. Well that's fine. Just disable the network and don't let me reconnect to it until I've restarted. But shutting down the whole computer? Come on. Is this still the 90's and no one told me?

MySpace & Me

Thu, 09 Aug 2007 04:31:00 GMT

I'm very excited to announce that Monday I joined MySpace as a Software Architect. This is a site that has 200,000,000 members and something like four billion page views a week. I can't back this up with paperwork, but I'm fairly sure this is one of (if not THE) most visited site on the entire internet. They don't have hundreds of servers, they have thousands. I'm very much looking forward to learning a lot here and offering whatever I can to the team. MySpace uses ASP.NET and SQL Server - quite the interesting case study for these technologies. We use Team Foundation Server for source code control. Each contributor uses Visual Studio 2005, and many projects follow an agile methodology called Scrum. Anyone who is a member and has ideas for new features or functionality is welcome to email me at rnemhauser ( is the domain). PLEASE do not email me with errors or problems. Tom, the first friend any new member has, receives these messages and they ARE read. I'm interested in new, out-of-the-box ideas, no matter how crazy. Check out my MySpace profile at

Backups in Today's World

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 01:30:00 GMT

Like many people in today's world I have an absolutely enormous amount of data stored on my various hard drives. Aside from my 320 GB+ of iTunes music and video, there's a significant number of photographs and well over 150 gigs of captured and rendered video. There's also the code for almost every software development project I've ever worked on. The databases for my current projects will also exist and some are so large that a local backup would be far more beneficial that trying to FTP 5 gigs of data down. All this stuff needs to be backed up, but of course DVDs are out (even the dual layer ones) because they store less than 10 gigs each. Even with two dual layer DVD burners in my Mac Pro I'd have to sit here for who knows how long putting in almost 50 blank discs every month. I'm very curious. What are most people with hundreds of gigs of stuff using to back up their data? Is tape backup still around these days? Would a 750 GB or 1 TB drive in an external FireWire 800 enclosure be my best bet? Any advice would be appreciated.

Disconnecting WM5 Device From Exchange Server

Fri, 25 May 2007 22:52:00 GMT

My Windows Mobile 5 phone currently is set to synchronize with Exchange Server. When I set it up, I had to agree to a corporate security policy that put an automatic key lock on my phone every time it wasn't used for 15 minutes. I guess they think they have secrets to keep. I have to enter my password to unlock the phone. Now I want to get that email off my phone but I can't figure out how to do this. I can't key this automatic key lock off my own phone. I have nothing selected in the Exchange Server settings - not contacts, tasks, email, etc. I've even changed the URL to the email server, but nothing seems to work. Can anyone help me out on this?

Xeon Price Cuts: Should I Wait?

Thu, 24 May 2007 02:14:00 GMT

According to the following article, Intel is scheduled to reduce prices on its Xeon processors on July 22nd. I was going to buy a Mac Pro in mid July to replace the PowerMac G5 that I just sold, but do you think I should wait a month or so and see if Apple will cut prices on their Mac Pros? Does anyone have an idea of how long it takes Apple to react to price cuts?

My New Blog

Fri, 27 Apr 2007 18:25:00 GMT

Over the past year or so my blog posts have spanned subjects much more diverse than just Microsoft technologies and developing in a Microsoft world. To that end, I have created a more general-purpose blog that I hope my current subscribers will check out.

This is obviously still a great place for my posts about Microsoft technologies, so please be sure to keep this feed too!

My New Blackjack

Thu, 18 Jan 2007 05:54:00 GMT

I recently purchased the Samsung Blackjack when the joystick on my Cingular 2125 phone died and I'm pretty happy with it. The screen is pretty nice, as is the QWERTY keyboard. The numbers (i.e. dialing a phone number) take a little getting used to. It's extremely hard to dial by touch. But all in all the phone is much zippier (read: faster) than the 2125 and due to the fact that it's much thinner than the 2125 the Blackjack actually feels smaller in my pocket.I know what you're thinking - why didn't I wait until the iPhone came out? Well, that doesn't get released for six months, and I was a little disappointed about three things in particular: 1) only 8 gigs. Very low for a guy who travels all the time and wants lots of TV shows and movies to watch. If it maybe had 16 or 24 gigs I could get by without the 80 gigs that the video iPod currently has, but 8 is just too little.  2) No 3G (yet). Why this wasn't put in I have no idea. 3) No developer support. I was really anxious for this particular ability. Don't misunderstand - I love what Apple has done and I do absolutely want one. I'm just going to wait for the next model since they're so expensive.  Any-hoo, back to my Blackjack. Something very cool that I stumbled upon was David Ciccone's narrative, which taught me how easy it was to use my Blackjack as a high-speed internet connection (3G) for my MacBook Pro when there's no WiFi around (or I'm in a place that only offers pay-as-you-go WiFi).One thing I did notice, however, is that there doesn't appear to be any way to save an email attachment to the phone's file system. I emailed myself a JPG file to use as a background, and all I could do was view the image - I couldn't save it. I had to use my Mac to "beam" the image to my phone using Bluetooth. I'm trying to discover if I just can't figure out how to save an email attachment or if there really is no way to do it that's built in to WM5. If the later is true, doesn't that seem like an enormous oversight?Also, I can't seem to find an easy way to get to the Bluetooth setting so I can turn it on and off without having to click Start -> Up -> Settings -> Connections -> Bluetooth -> Bluetooth -> Turn Bluetooth On? I'd love to assign it to a speed dial or a soft key, but I can't figure out how to do it. Does anyone know of a way to (correct me if I'm using the wrong term here) unlock the phone so I can remove a bunch of the Cingular crap that's on there? Most pressing is my desire to remove their startup and shutdown "splash" screens. You see, Cingular has decided (for reasons beyond my comprehension) to add sound to these now. So if you're in a movie theater or it's late at night and you want to shut off your phone, you have no choice but to listen to their sound effect. In addition, I KNOW that I have Cingular. There's no need to advertise it to me each and every time I turn on or off the phone for no apparent reason. I pay the bill every month. So these animated startup and shutdown screens are annoying to me.There's also this app on the Connections menu called "Wireless Manager", but when I go in there all I can do is turn the bluetooth or phone wireless on or off. Why would this app exist if I can do that from the Connections menu directly? Is it an app just to have another app?[...]

Shaking Things Up: Scrum, Agile, and TDD

Wed, 17 Jan 2007 16:49:00 GMT

In mid September I started working as a vendor for Microsoft. The majority of my time involves coding. Prior to September I had only a vague idea of what scrum and test-driven development were. Scrum aside, I just couldn't understand why anyone would want to spend time writing all these tests and THEN code their application. My philosophy was, "Let me get some code together that needs to be tested. THEN I'll write the tests." Of course, as you've probably already guessed, the tests were seldom written. I've learned a great deal since that September day, and I continue to do so. The entire project I'm on follows agile methodologies, uses scrum, and is coded by way of test-driven development. It was a shock to my system. Not all software development at Microsoft is handled this way, incidentally. I consider myself one of the lucky ones to be exposed to it.I come from the "old school" way of thinking. That is, project managers and business analysts would spend months and months (if not years) writing up specifications and project plans. More frequently than not, no development was done until the business owners signed off on these specifications. In addition, because very little (if anything) functional was put in front of the stake-holders during this entire time, the specifications were frequently revised and edited many times, to the point where they were often vaguely identifiable from their originals. This is the type of management approach that caused the project at my last employer to fail. The client demanded that full specifications be completed as one of the requisites of my employer getting paid. The development team would start to implement as much as we could due to pending deadlines - only to find obvious holes or errors in the logic once we put usable features in front of the people in the middle of writing the specs. We were literally developing to a moving target. One of the systems, a workflow API, was redesigned four times because the requirements kept changing as we delivered what was documented. So we were faced with pending deadlines to deliver functional specifications for several modules as well as pending deadlines for development - in parallel. You do the math. Because the director had staffed up so much to get all these specifications done (for a while there were 15 people on the PM team), and because it took almost a year, the money ran out.  Now, with that in mind, imagine a methodology whereby you could put useful functionality in the hands of the stake-holders on a regular basis (perhaps monthly) right from the start. Each month you deliver functionality, and you get instant feedback on that delivered functionality so you can make it better the next month while you're continuing to build the system. By stake-holders, I mean the actual client - the people you're building the system for, not the project managers or business analysts caught in the middle who are trying to gather requirements. This doesn't solve the problem of some clients requiring large functional specification documents, but it does offer at least one potential change to the way they're written: the functional specification can be written AFTER the majority of functionality has been developed and delivered. This is a huge step toward an accurate specification and it also drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to write the document. In addition, every month the development team is getting direct input to keep the application's business usefulness on track. Gr[...]

Google "Month Long Vacation Spots" for a Laugh

Tue, 14 Nov 2006 02:54:00 GMT

I like to plan (and even dream) ahead, so I've been thinking about the second quarter of next year my current contract will probably come to a close. I haven't had a real vacation in a couple of years (longer by then), so I thought about going to a place (or places) well-suited for long stays.

Tonight I Googled "month long vacation spots" and got a nice laugh when something interesting showed up right on the first page of results:

"George W. Bush: The War President is Missing in Action (External ...
He begins a month-long vacation on his Texas ranch today, and by the time ... has spent 42 percent of his first eight months as president at vacation spots. .

Actually, this was the third entry on the first page about our President's overly-long hiatuses. I thought this was a fitting result particularly given the recent election and the fact that his approval rating is quickly approaching the lowest presidential approval rating on record.