The blogs of Black Marble staff

A New Version of Live Writer is out

For any of you out there currently using Live Writer, check out the New Version. If you aren't using Live Writer for blogging , I would recommend you at least look at it.

Some of the nice features

Direct Add a Plugin ( there are some great code formatting ones )

Inline spell checking ( a must for me )

it supports Sharepoint

Snazzy new look and feel ( it now has one )

Plugin's work on the fly after installation ( just playing with the insert from visual studio :) )

Did I mention it supports Sharepoint?



update - Rik excitedly informed me yesterday that there is a new version of live writer ( the one mentioned above ) was out , neither Richard or I had the heart to tell him to pay more attention to our combined blogs :)

Correct cleaning method for Corsair Flash Voyager USB Stick

I can confirm that putting a Corsair Flash Voyager USB Stick in 40C Mixed Cotton wash is not the best way to clean it of old data. A traditional format remains the best solution for dirty data.

However, it does show these rubberized USB sticks are tough, two hours in a washing mean seems to have done no harm. Also the new orange colored moels are fast enough for Vista TurboFlash usage.

New Office

Black Marble has moved to bigger offices, don't worry we are in the same building so we are easy to find. The building management company has refurbished the conference center for us. The new offices are three times bigger than the old ones and wait for it , we are nearly full again :)

Rik , Richard and Andy had a fun packed day of server moving and other nice adminy type things in preparation of Rik spending more of my money on more servers ( I think he eats them or something , we always need a new one ).

I must say that the move would have been hard if it hadn't been been for the help of Owen and Ivan , thanks guys. I have to be nice as they are finishing the office kitchen on Monday :)


Updating firmware on SPV M3100 (HTC TyTN)

Still no Windows Mobile 6 update for my Orange SPV M3100, but they did release an update to WM5 recently.

Installing said update turned out to be slightly trickier than I expected. I don't know if anybody else has experienced the same problem, but a word to the wise - don't try the update on Windows Vista!

The first part works OK - it connects to the device and interrogates it, but when it actually tries to connect and download the new firmware it fails.

Luckily, I still have a PC at home running XP (Media Centre Edition, as it happens), so I installed Active Sync 4.5 and rant he update successfully on that.

I'm surprised though - Vista's nearly six months old now and there must be others with the same phone who don't have the recourse to an old PC (!) to run the update.

Great session on TDD

Went to a great session last night at the Yorkshire Extreme Programming Club, a intro to Test Driven Development using just Excel. The presentation was given by Clarke Ching, you can find out more about him and this presentation on his blog

I just had not occurred to me that Excel is a great way to show TDD principles to people who are not developers, such as project managers and business analysts. It is interesting how using TDD, refactoring and pair programming (well the whole room actually) anyone can see how to get a complex business requirement to elegant code in nice easy steps.

I think the key new fact for me was not to write too many test too soon, I know in the past I have tended to write many tests then tried to code. I can now see that doing a few tests, a bit of code, then repeat is a far better model, you don't get daunted by the number of failing test, and you don't write test for codes you realise you will never need.

Security Mini Tour

I have finished a mini 3 day tour of York , Hull and Manchester Universities with Ed Gibson Microsoft's Chief Security Advisor (CSA) for the UK. I was the opening act for Ed and provided the context for his talk, hopefully we will be revising the event in the Autumn for other universities as well as a Secure coding event for the universities that we have already visited. The reaction from the audiences was great and I think that in most case people got a lot more than the bargained for and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

I would like to thank York , Hull and Manchester all for having us and making us very welcome.


Murder most not here

I have just watched an episode of "Lewis" with Caitlin and she was getting quite concerned that a murder hadn't occurred within the first few minutes and I started to speculate on the formula for occurrence of deaths in detective dramas. Having had some thought, the area around Midsummer seems to have a shocking body count followed by Morse, with Lewis topping up the Oxford and Thames valley body count. Although for awhile we did have a problem in the Leeds area with frost but that seems to have cleared up now.

I do like living in the north



Just got my reminder for NxtGen's FEST07 conference which is at Microsoft TVP on the 23rd of May.

Unfortunately, due to a busy diary, I cannot make it to the event, but the speaker line up does look good. If you have never seen  Rafal Lukawiecki speak, who has topped the polls at TechEd for the last 7 years, this is your chance.

To quote Dave McMahon, one of the NxtGen organizers:

"If you are a member of NxtGenUG its a free event. If you're not a member its a measly £59.99 for a day of information, fun, food and of course 'swag'.  It's not a Microsoft funded event, and the guys have to cover some costs of speakers and incidentals.  To register just go the NxtGenUG site"

As with all NxtGen events, well worth it if you have the time.