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Brainbench C# Fundamentals Technical Editor

What a week... I finally finished my gig as Brainbench technical editor (they called it an exam "cleaner") for the C# Fundamentals exam. Apparently they were extremely impressed with my work. Where others write a small comment line, I would write a page or so about the question and the answers citing the ECMA standard and anally explaining the improper wording of something.

I'm also rather kicking myself for turning down another gig they offered me. After I finished with this gig, I was offered the gig to write the VB.NET 2005 exam. My initial justification to myself for rejecting it was for the same reason I wouldn't write an Internet Explorer exam: it's no different than devil worship. Now I wish I took that gig, because even though the vbc.exe compiler packs a TON of useless garbage (you ever look at that stuff? A ton of odd Microsoft.VisualBasic references) in the assemblies, it's still IL! .NET is .NET! In any case, I did tell my rep there that I want to be on the list for any C# 2.0, CLR, or .NET 2.0 framework exams! We'll see!

LLBLGen Overview (Special Edition) Video

A friend of mine told me someone tasked him with creating an O/R mapping tool. My first reaction was...well, of course, your company likes to reinvent the wheel, loves useless legacy technology, and is very anti-productivity. He said that nothing is easy to use and everything has useless error messages. So I of course reminded him of the great gift to humanity known as LLBLGen, which is very easy to use and is very clearly designed. I've mentioned LLBLGen to him before, but this time was a real marketing opportunity. (Actually, I'm very annoying about promoting .NET 2.0, Firefox, Gmail, and LLBLGen -- absolute life savers).

Anyways... I told him I would create a quick overview video of LLBLGen as a marketing pitch to his company. Well, the "quick video" turned out to be almost a half hour long. Err, yeah... So, I've decided to share this video with the rest of the world. It's actually not like my usual videos, so I'm marking this version as "Special Edition". I'll probably release the "final" version in the future.

Below is the link to the LLBLGen Overview (Special Edition) video.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Solution Design or any Solution Design/LLBLGen product. The above video is in no way endorsed by Solution design and is unofficial in every sense of the word.

March 2006 WCF Resources

Heres just an update on the popular resources on WCF on the web.

Some links worth looking at...

Here's a list of the video Mike has up at the MSDN Nuggets website (link above).

  • "Hello World"
  • Type Serialization
  • DataContract Serialization
  • Typed and Untyped Messages
  • Bindings
  • Message Encoding
  • Message Patterns
  • Sessions
  • Instancing
  • Concurrency
  • Exceptions
  • Transactions
  • HTTPS Transport Security
  • Message Security
  • Authorisation
  • Auditing

Shared Source Common Language Infrastructure 2.0

I've been waiting for this one! The public version of the .NET 2.0 source code has been released! Otherwise known as the SSCLI 2.0 (Shared Source Common Language Infrastructure 2.0), this is basically the .NET 2.0 framework source code (among other things). With Reflector you can view the framework code, but this is the original code before any compilation thus leaving the developer comments in tact. It's also a bit cleaner here.

Not only that, but you get a load of unmanaged code. I'm talking about real hardcore CLR stuff. It also includes the C# compiler source code as well as the code for ILASM, ILDASM, and a bunch of other utilities. It's going to be really awesome seeing how generics and anonymous delegates are implemented.

My favorite piece that came with SSCLI 1.X is still here: there C# code for the JScript compiler (yes, the JScript compiler is written in C#). I actually used the original source code for the basis for a brain bender quiz in my .NET class. I highly, highly recommend the use of this SSCLI for your educational endeavors. Either to help you learn more, or to help others out.

Here's the link to download the SSCLI 2.0:

Video 4 (FWD) - "Using the Web Developer Toolbar"

One of the most powerful and appreciated extensions for Firefox is the Web Developer toolbar. This is the extension that helped convert me from an independent IEvangelist to a Firefox promoter and standards advocate. This tool puts the keys to client-side web development into the hands of the developer.

With a quick click of the mouse, the developer can now see all elements of a certain type, can disable or enable various portions of development ( i.e. JavaScript), or can view otherwise hidden form information. It's such a powerful tool that you'll never be able to do client-side web development again without it.

I do apologize for being so slow in the posting of these videos. There will be a few more in the future. These videos are from September 2005 and are for Firefox 1.0.x, but are still appropriate for Firefox 1.5.x (and Firefox 2.0)

3D RSS XAML Demonstration

Here's a short application I wrote for a demo recently. This is a rather simple RSS application, but I created it in 3D in XAML using the February CTP of WinFX. Also, the code is self-sufficient. That is, you can use the below XAML declaration in XAMLPad.

The first thing to notice about this application is that the data is real. That is, the actually RSS information you are seeing on the screen is from a live RSS feed; this demonstrates XAML's XML data-binding capabilities. The next thing to notice is that the entire thing is on an angle. That's because this is all rendered in 3D. So, this also demonstrates using XAML in 3D. You should also notice the background. This is actually just a JPG on my website. There is no C#/VB.NET anywhere... it's all XAML. This demonstrates the power to skin objects. Finally, you should notice that the rendering has different font styles and sizes. This demonstrates how you can style controls... yes, controls. There's nothing fancy here. There isn't really a "3D TextBlock" or anything. A TextBlock is a TextBlock. I just so happen to be using it in 3D.

So, there are many things this demo demonstrates. I actually recorded a short video lesson on 3D XAML programming and I will be releasing it very soon. In the future I may have an entire series on 3D XAML programming.

<Page
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml">
<Viewport3D>
    <Viewport3D.Resources>
      <XmlDataProvider x:Key="xmlData" Source="http://fxfeeds.mozilla.com/rss20.xml">
      </XmlDataProvider>
      <Style x:Key="rssTitle" TargetType="{x:Type TextBlock}">
        <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="24"/>
        <Setter Property="TextBlock.Foreground">
          <Setter.Value>
            <LinearGradientBrush StartPoint="0,0" EndPoint="0,1">
              <LinearGradientBrush.GradientStops>
                <GradientStop Color="Blue" Offset="0"/>
                <GradientStop Color="Green" Offset="1"/>
              </LinearGradientBrush.GradientStops>
            </LinearGradientBrush>
          </Setter.Value>
        </Setter>
      </Style>
      <Style x:Key="rssText" TargetType="{x:Type TextBlock}">
        <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="12"/>
        <Setter Property="Foreground" Value="Gray"/>
      </Style>
    </Viewport3D.Resources>
    <Viewport3D.Camera>
      <PerspectiveCamera
        Position="2.5,2.5,5"
        LookDirection="-.5,-.5,-1"
        FieldOfView="45"
        UpDirection="1,0,0"
        >
      </PerspectiveCamera>
    </Viewport3D.Camera>
    <ModelVisual3D>
      <ModelVisual3D.Content>
        <Model3DGroup>
          <AmbientLight Color="White"></AmbientLight>
          <GeometryModel3D>
            <GeometryModel3D.Geometry>
              <MeshGeometry3D
                Positions="-1, -1, 0  1, -1, 0  -1, 1, 0  1, 1, 0"
                TriangleIndices="2 0 1 3 2 1"
                TextureCoordinates="1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0"
                Normals="0,0,1 0,0,1 0,0,1 0,0,1">
              </MeshGeometry3D>
            </GeometryModel3D.Geometry>
            <GeometryModel3D.Material>
              <DiffuseMaterial>
                <DiffuseMaterial.Brush>
                  <VisualBrush>
                    <VisualBrush.Visual >
                      <StackPanel>
                        <ListBox ItemsSource="{Binding Source={StaticResource xmlData}, XPath=rss/channel/item}">
                          <ListBox.Background>
                            <ImageBrush ImageSource="http://davidbetz.net/kansas/xamlimage.jpg"></ImageBrush>
                          </ListBox.Background>
                          <ListBox.ItemTemplate>
                            <DataTemplate>
                              <StackPanel>
                                <TextBlock Text="{Binding XPath=title}" Style="{StaticResource rssTitle}"></TextBlock>
                                <TextBlock Text="{Binding XPath=description}" Style="{StaticResource rssText}"></TextBlock>
                              </StackPanel>
                            </DataTemplate>
                          </ListBox.ItemTemplate>
                        </ListBox>
                      </StackPanel>
                    </VisualBrush.Visual>
                  </VisualBrush>
                </DiffuseMaterial.Brush>
              </DiffuseMaterial>
            </GeometryModel3D.Material>
          </GeometryModel3D>
        </Model3DGroup>
      </ModelVisual3D.Content>
    </ModelVisual3D>
  </Viewport3D>
</Page>

C# Fundamentals Exam Released!

Awesome! The Brainbench C# Fundamentals exam just went public! Why do I care? Well, because I was the technical editor for the exam! I'm rather excited because this was my first publicly shown work as a technical editor of anything.

I think exam takers will find the exam to be fair. It's not too terribly advanced, but it's not a beginners exam either. It should really test if you know what you're talking about. One thing that I will remind everyone of is that C# is a standardized language, not "some Microsoft language". So, this exam tests your knowledge of the official C# (ECMA-334) language, not your slang usages of it. Also, sadly, this exam is on the older C# 1.0, not 2.0, which is my favorite language.

Currently the exam is available for free at brainbench.com. The full link is below. Enjoy!

Breaking the Silence

Well, good news and bad news. I was offered the gig to write the new Brainbench C# 2.0 exam. I've been wanting that for a while, so obviously I took it. Of course three days later I get an offer from an editor for me to write a chapter or two for a soon to be released Ajax book. Ha! The bad news is that they had the exact same time frame (1 to 2 months). That, plus my intensive physical training and skydiving pursuits I found absolutely no time on my (Google) calendar to write a chapter! This is a major lesson in timing for me.

I'm really excited about the C# 2.0 exam though. If you know anything about how I write samples and questions you'll know that I'm BEYOND uptight about strictness to best practices and the official framework design guidelines (thank you Krzysztof Cwalina and Brad Abrams). So, my questions will obviously follow those VERY legalistically.

...and NO I won't have threading questions or web questions on the exam. This is NOT a framework exam! I hate it when test writers put that stuff on those exams. Strictly web people will miss every threading question and strictly Windows people will miss every web question. So, it will be fair... but, no, not easy!

By the way, I know I haven't posted any research in a VERY long time on either of my blogs (this one and my Ajax blog), but I've been rather swamped with non-technical activities for the past few months. I still have many more videos just sitting here that I need to post, but I just need to find the right time.

Exam Update

Well, I'm a month into the ACTUAL writing of the C# 2.0 exam and I'm finding it just as fun as I thought it would be. This exam is more advanced than most people are probably going to want it to be, but I just can't imagine WHY someone would want to take a sissy exam. That doesn't help anyone. On the other end of things, anyone who knows Richter's CLR via C# book by heart should do great on this exam.

The only previews I can give at this time are that this exam is really more of a C#/CLR 2.0 exam as I have a sections for reflection and AppDomain management. I also have sections for more controversial things like COM Interop and unsafe code (not too bad-- I'm not about to ask pointer arithmetic questions!). The other thing I can say is that this complements the 70-* certification exams in that this covers the more technical dimension of the CLR, C#, and the framework. It's more like computer science exams than the certification exams. That is, they are more algorithmic than scenario-based.

As I progress, I'm also setting aside questions for a possible CLR 2.0 exam (for my own exam; probably not Brainbench). I figure this exam could cover things like fusion, assembly loading mechanics, CLR internal memory management, identification of core DLLs ( i.e. mscorwks.dll) and other fun topics. I would really like to see "IT" people think MUCH more like CS people; internals and mechanics are VERY good things to know.

JavaScript Graphics Development Updated

For all those interested in learning some introductory concepts some lesser known features of JavaScript, I just updated my e-chapter on JavaScript Graphics Development. This an introduction to using JavaScript and Ajax concepts to do manual graphics development. It also touches briefly on concepts involving interactive graphics and widget creation.

Anyhow, here's the link: