This week I've got the "luxury" of working from home. After my last 1-2 week stint of this back in March, I've decided to tackle things a little differently.

Firstly, I'm not breaking my routine! I've been going to the gym every morning for the past 7 weeks. It's really helped me feel better about myself. Last time I was working from home, I decided to give the gym a break for a little. What happened next was that I stopped going all together for about 3 months. So, breaking my routine is not going to happen this week.

Secondly, have a five minute break every hour. This is something that really got lost for me last time. I ended up sitting in my chair for 6 hours straight every day, not having anything to eat and relying on a bottle of water to keep me going. This is very bad behaviour and will really affect me now that I'm not changing my gym routine. Taking a quick walk around the house for five minutes every hour and ensuring I get some food into me every 2 hours is goal I will be actively pursuing.

Lastly, switch off the computer at 6PM every night, even if it doesn't stay off all night. This essentially reboots my brain. :)

So, what will I be doing this week...? Today I'm doing some more PD around the ASP.NET MVC. Hopefully I'll get some time to hit Silverlight 2, but at this stage it's not looking likely. Tomorrow I'll be doing some work on developing our new Professional .NET Course.

I'll try to keep active on my blog and I'll be twittering away as much as possible.

I'm famous: http://blogs.technet.com/itproaustralia/archive/2008/03/06/technet-vodcast-of-the-sydney-heroes-happen-2008-event.aspx

Watch out for the good looking guy at the end... :-p

I had a great time the other day at the launch event. It was great getting a chance to check out the new improvements in VS, SQL and Windows 2008. And I had a blast catching up with the DPE guys. The free copy of Vista and Windows Server will definitely not go to waste.

BTW, thanks for putting me on the spot Deeps... ;-)

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I managed to download and install IE8 today, after hearing it was available from the Microsoft web site.

The overall setup experience was quite painless, and it managed to keep all my settings from IE7.

The first page that loads after installing introduces the new features of IE8 - i.e. Activities, WebSlices and IE7 Emulation.

Activities

Activities give users ready access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit, and developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. It’s as simple as selecting text to get started with an Activity.

First up, I installed the Windows Live Translator activity and browsed to a site. Highlighting some text gave me a context menu that had the translator activity in it:

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I thought this was quite a nice little feature... :)

 

WebSlices

Developers can mark parts of webpages as "WebSlices" and enable users to monitor information they rely on as they move about the web. With a click in the Favorites bar, users see rich "WebSlice" visuals and developers establish a valuable, persistent end-user connection.

So next I thought I'd try the Facebook WebSlice. I logged into facebook and installed the slice from the toolbar:

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This put a new button in my favourites toolbar. But unfortunately, it didn't work too well...

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I also noticed that facebook wanted me to upgrade to IE6 or any other browser...

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So I thought I'd try...

IE7 Emulation

Hitting the IE7 Emulation button on the toolbar actually annoyed me a little:

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Couldn't this just emulate the tab...?

Anyway, I opened another IE window, emulated it and voila! The facebook warning disappeared. That's the extent of my testing this feature for today... :)

Other Niceties

The Developer Tools is built-in for some testing fun. I'm really looking forward to using it for sifting through page responses and comparing some of the IE7 and IE8 responses.

The "Are you sure you want to close all tabs" message that appears when you try to close IE with multiple tabs open has morphed to give you the option of just closing the current tab. I always thought a cancel button in these cases is silly because the big red cross in the top right and the Escape button are just as good.

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The Address Bar changes how you look at the address of the current page by only making the domain name text black and the rest gray. I'm not sure whether this is for security or just usability, but I like it.

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Comments

It's definitely RAM hungry. Only 5 tabs open and already 110MB in use...

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It hasn't crashed in the last hour so that's good. :) I'm planning on just using it like IE7 and seeing how I go. I'll definitely keep posting about any oddities and niceties I come across.

Scott Hanselman posted about some cool Visual Studio themes so I thought I'd put mine out there.

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As you can see, it's the simple white-on-black. It uses blue class names, purple strings, orange key words, and yellow highlighting. One of the things that some miss is the snippet fields. I've ensure that the fields are white on green and the dependant fields are green highlights.

I've been using this theme for quite a while now and am really enjoying it. It's a variation of something Paul Stovell gave me a while back.

It's available for download here. Give it a go and let me know what you think...

I was considering getting a KVM the other day, but stumbled across an open source application named Synergy.

It's a pretty nifty little app that lets you share a keyboard and mouse across two or more machines. This means that I can have my laptop sitting next to my desktop monitor and use the keyboard and mouse hooked up to my desktop to control the laptop.

The setup experience is the only hitch to this application. It's not totally user friendly, but it's not that hard to figure out.

Firstly, chose which machine will be the server and run the application on it. Choose the option "Share this computer's mouse and keyboard (server)" and click Configure.

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Then, setup a screen for the server and the client machines by clicking the + button under the Screens list. This will give you a screen where you can type the names of the machines and modify the behaviour of the switch. It's probably best to leave the behaviour as standard at first and modify this later if required.

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Now you should have (at least) two machine names in the screens list, it's time to setup the switching behaviour. Under the Links list, there are a couple of text boxes and drop downs. The easiest way to tackle these is to picture where your laptop screen is in relation to your desktop screen. My laptop is on the left of my desktop so I just selected "left" from the first drop down, then my desktop name, then my laptop name and pressed the + button. This means that when my mouse pointer goes over to the left edge of the desktop screen it will become my laptop's pointer.

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I also need to setup the behaviour for how to go back to the desktop screen, so I just selected the opposite of what I had before.

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Now I press OK to close the configuration screen and press start to start the server. If you haven't set it up properly you will get a crazy error message, so just close Synergy and start again. If you're running Vista (and/or a good firewall) you should be prompted that Synergy is trying to do something funny, so just let it. If you're running a firewall and you're not prompted, go to the firewall settings and make sure that Synergy is allowed to communicate.

Lastly, I need to connect my laptop to the server. I did this by opening Synergy on my laptop, which is a client machine, choosing the "Use another computer's shared keyboard and mouse (client)", and entering the name of my desktop (server) PC.

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Now when I press start (and cross my fingers) the client connects to the server and I can freely use my two computers with the same keyboard and mouse while Synergy runs with an icon in the system tray.

That's it! It's simple was you get through the slightly cryptic UI, and it really works quite well.

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It seems to be a growing trend to decentralise your online services nowadays. In particular, everyone is moving away from these self-hosted environments and moving towards popular services such as Flickr and Wordpress, and Live Spaces.

I've only recently set up my own web site. When I started out, I decided using a content management system would be the easiest way to go. I then evaluated a few options and went with Community Server. However, I'm not really happy with CS (at least this version...) as a single user blog and web site platform. As an environment for communities it seems an excellent option, but it's just not for me.

One of the major reasons for this is photo management. It's just too complicated. And, it's not very user friendly for people who want to view them.

So, in an effort to move away from trusting CS with all my online content, I made the decision to use Flickr. I've had an account with them for a long while now, but when I realised that you can purchase a pro account with unlimited storage and bandwidth for under $50/yr I pulled out the credit card.

It wasn't until after I made my purchase I realised that Windows Live Photo Gallery has the option to publish photos directly to Flickr. Woot!

Publish on Flickr

You can find some of my precious memories at www.flickr.com/ducas. Over the next few weeks/months I'll be moving lots of my photos over.

Although, with Microsoft's recent bid to purchase Yahoo! it will be interesting to see what happens to this excellent service.

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I received this email from Boost Juice Bars today. Unfortunately, they're cutting off the 10% discount for Vibe members. Very sad news...

 

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Dear Very Important Boost Enthusiasts,

Over the last few years we have been fortunate enough to give our VIBE club members a 10% discount on our range of juices and smoothies.

Unfortunately due to the drought in Australia, the cost of making you the freshest juices and smoothies has gone up substantially, especially in the last 12 months; so much so that we have had to make a tough decision... either put our prices up, or keep them at the existing price and remove the 10% discount for VIBE members. We have chosen to remove the 10% VIBE discount, effective 1st February 2008. You can, however, still enjoy the benefits of the Boost loyalty stamp card (buy 10 and get the 11th free)

Our VIBE club remains with great monthly specials and exclusive offers to members, such as the VIBE Challenge and your free Birthday Boost. Should the drought break and the cost of our ingredients come back down, we will review the 10% discount again.

Thanks again for your loyalty to Boost, and for any feedback you would like to make regarding this please feel free to email me at [email removed].

Janine Allis

Founder

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For those of you who've heard/read my name and wondered about its origins, Wikipedia has a little entry on it - Doukas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Here are a couple of extracts...

"Doukas or Ducas is the name of a Byzantine family allegedly descended from a cousin of the Roman Emperor Constantine I who had migrated to Constantinople in the 4th century. The family or families using this surname supplied several rulers to the Byzantine Empire...

Doukas or Ducas (fl. 15th century), Byzantine historian, flourished under Constantine XI Dragases, the last emperor of the East, about 1450...

After the fall of Constantinople, he was employed in various diplomatic missions by Dorino and Domenico Gattilusio, princes of Lesbos, where he had taken refuge. He was successful in securing a semi-independence for Lesbos until 1462, when it was taken and annexed to the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Dynasty...

The history of Doukas [...] is the most valuable source for the closing years of the Byzabtine empire. The account of the Fall of Constantinople is of special importance. Doukas was a strong supporter of the union of the Greek and Latin churches, and is very bitter against those who rejected even the idea of appealing to the West for assistance against the Ottomans."

Lesbos is a Greek island in the northeastern Aegean. My father was born in its capital Mytilene and I was named after his father Doukas Frazeskos.

Even in Greece, however, Ducas is still very uncommon as a first name. In fact, I had many heated arguments with Greek taxi drivers who insisted that I was telling them my surname when they were asking for my first.

As a recent purchaser of a set of bluetooth headphones, I frequently run into the situation of loading a media file before realising that the wrong default audio device is selected. As a result, I've had to shut down IE or WMP in order to change the default audio device before I can hear the audio from my chosen media.

Thinking this was just an issue with Vista, I put it to the back of my mind and tried to keep a mental note. Today I checked my blog subscriptions and found that (once again) Larry Osterman has done a great job of describing why this happens.

Larry's short answer: "It's the responsibility of the application to deal with handling errors.  The audio stack bubbles out the error to the application and lets it figure out how to deal with the problem."

What I love about Larry's blog is that he always gets into the nitty-gritty. In this blog post, he goes into how applications access Vista's audio functionality and what developers can do to make their applications handle this situation.

My question for today is, if any application can handle this situation, then why doesn't WMP 11...?

Larry Osterman's WebLog : What happens when audio rendering fails?

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Pure gold! Thanks Paul.

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The Zune is starting to look like a version 2 product.

Check out the video here...

Zune 2 bits and pieces, plus an in-depth interface video - Engadget

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Thanks Andrew Matthews for pointing me to this one. I also knew I was a nerd, but not this bad...

NerdTests.com says I'm a Kinda Dorky Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

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This is nuts. I've never been able to watch someone play tetris for 6 minutes straight until today.

I found this on Larry Osterman's blog. I was impressed in the first 10 seconds, but thought it started to trail a bit after 2 minutes. But once it hit 3 minutes the speed kicked up to "You gotta be friggin' nuts!"

At about 5 minutes the credits start rolling and all the blocks become invisible, but this guy keeps going.

Utterly Insane.

Advanced Tetris Gameplay:

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D'oh! This would have been fun...

RestartManager in VS 2008

Oh well, there's always version 2. :)

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