Friday, March 20, 2009

Time for a change

Well, I am now in the closing hours of my last day of work at my current job. It's been a challenging role and I have learnt a huge amount about the finance industry.

Looking forward to the future fills me with a huge amount of excitement mixed with a little bit of nervousness. It's not every day you give up a well paying job, pack up your life and move country. I have no doubt that the next year will be full of challenges, but I am really looking forward to it all. I can't wait to build my business into New Zealands best shopping comparison site.

But first, before anything else, I think it's time for a holiday!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Be careful where you get your information

The internet is rife with misinformation.

As a developer you tend to depend heavily on searching for examples of how to solve a particular problem such as code snippets, and patterns and practices. There is very little ground breaking work and it is almost certain that someone has been there, done that, and blogged the solution to your problem already.

Problems arise when you choose the wrong source to trust. For example, today I was trying to figure out how to get ASP.NET not to render a name attribute for the form element as we are starting to target XHTML 1.1 compliance for BeforeYouBuy. A quick google came up with this.

Certainly the answer that is proposed is "a solution", but it's certainly not "the solution". A slight modification to my search turned up this how to on the msdn site.

It's really down to knowing where to look.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

BeforeYouBuy is online!

After a long time and a huge amount of hard work BeforeYouBuy is finally live! I'm very proud of what we've achieved and excited about what the future holds.

We've got an almost endless list of enhancements and improvements already, but the site is pretty usable and functional already.

It's been a great journey, learned a lot of new tricks, tackled a fair bit of new technology and hit more than our fair share of challenges. Now that we're finally online expect to see a few more posts. We're always interested in any feedback you might have too!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

MySql "Nested transactions are not supported" exception

If you are getting an unexpected "Nested transactions are not supported" exception from your MySql database then you may have hit this bug.

I firstly suspected Spring.NET, then the MySql ADO.NET driver. We scratched our heads for a couple of days on this one before I found that bug report.

To make a long story short, simply commenting out the query_cache_size option in the my.ini file solved it. What effect this will have on performance I haven't determined yet.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

World continues to go mad but at least retains a sense of humor

A friend pointed this out to me the other day.

At first glance you'd either be inclined to shake your head at the depressing state of childrens toys today, or more likely dismiss it out of hand.

Instead head over to Amazon and check out the tags and reviews people have added to this product.

Absolutely priceless.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

A:Hover and IE - a trap for young players

If you're having trouble getting your a:hover effect to work in IE you might want to make sure you have an href attribute on the anchor element. The hover effect won't work in IE unless it does.

I had something like the following:

<a onclick="somejavascriptfunction()">Anchor text</a>

Changing to this solved the issue:

<a onclick="somejavascriptfunction()" href='#'>Anchor text</a>

It's a bit embarrassing and I should know better. I hope this post helps other people avoid wasting time like I did.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Amazons DRM free MP3s

A couple of nights ago I finally found some time to check out Amazon's new MP3 service and so far I'm pretty impressed.


My interest in the Amazon MP3 service was piqued when I discovered all their tracks are DRM free (unlike some other crippled offerings). The songs are encoded at 256 kbps which is a pretty respectable bit rate.

Linux support!

I got even more excited when I went to the getting started page and in the "Buy and Download" section they mention they have a Linux version of their Amazon MP3 Downloader application. And they haven't gone for some budget "one size fits all" Linux solution, but they have binaries for most of the major distros.

It's really encouraging to see this sort of first class support for Linux by companies like Amazon.

What if I'm running 64 bit linux?

If like me you are running the amd64 build of your distro you will need to convince Amazons MP3 Downloader to run against 32 bit libraries. If you use Ubuntu then I suggest the excellent getlibs tool for installing your 32 bit dependencies. After you've downloaded the Ubuntu deb file, install it using:
sudo dpkg -i --force-all amazon*.deb

Then install the 32 bit dependencies with getlibs:
getlibs /usr/bin/amazonmp3

It's dangerously easy to use

Amazon certainly seem to have a great range of music on offer. To test things out I purchased by Kruder & Dorfmeister using 1-click. The 3 track EP cost me £2.37, you can get full albums for around £6-7 (or $9-11 US). The Amazon MP3 Downloader is a simple but effective app downloading Shakatakadoodub to my machine in a matter of seconds. From there it was a simple job to import into Banshee. One mouse click was all it took to purchase and download a DRM free EP!

I'm a happy camper

Overall I'm really impressed with this offering and can't understand why it hasn't had more press. It amazes me that people stick with crippled solutions like the iTunes store when you have a DRM free alternative like this available. I know where I'll be buy my music from now...

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