But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

Black Marble at the Abbey Dash in Leeds

We got a good turn out of Black Marble staff at this years Age UK Abbey Dash 10K in Leeds. We were amongst over 8000 runners who turned out for a cool and foggy Yorkshire Sunday morning run.


We had a handicap race amongst ourselves, using a wisdom of crowds poll to estimate everyone target time. This was won by Steve Spencer our Development Director. He beat his target by 20 minutes. I am not sure whether this says more about his fitness or our staff’s opinion of him!


Congratulations to all who took part, I am sure plenty of good causes benefited from the efforts of everyone who ran

Tempted by the new Kindle?

I am back on the should I buy a Kindle train of thought. Todays announcements are certainly interesting, I am not talking so much about the new Kindle Fire, but the new entry level version and the Touch. For me the tempting feature is still the E-Ink and battery life.

The point is I have got used to reading on my phone, a Kindle might be easier on the eye, but it is more kit to carry, and I just don’t think I want to carry any more things.

Why can’t I see my custom work item types in Team Explorer?

If you are editing a TFS process template you have the choice editing XML files or using the Process Template Editor within the TFS 2010 PowerTools. Unfortunately neither is fool proof. You can make errors than means the revised template does not fully work.

The worst of these errors will be picked up when upload the process template to a Team project Collection as during this process the XML is validated.

However, this will not find everything. Today after uploading a new process template I found I could not see two of my revised work item type in the list when I tried to create a new work item.

The best way I found to work out the problem was to try to import the .WIT file (from your local copy of the process template) again using either the Visual Studio –> Tools –> Process Editor –> Work item Types –> Import from File, or the command line tool WITIMPORT

In my case I then got the far more useful error

Error importing work item type definition:

TF237094: Field name 'Priority' is used by the field 'Microsoft.VSTS.Common.Priority', so it cannot be used by the field 'MyNewProcess.Priority'.

This gave me much more information to fix my problem

Bradford the centre of all scientific advance (at least this week)

Over the weekend I took my son to the excellent ‘Bang goes the Theory’ Live road show which is part of the Festival of Science in Bradford. If a similar event is near you I recommend you go along, fun for all the family even if science is not really your thing. The whole event makes the subject very accessible to all.


Even if I had not known this was on I might have guessed something as afoot in Bradford as virtually every Radio 4 news program has had a short article on some new scientific advance from Bradford University. Today a lie detector using facial analysis and a new cancer treatment to name just the ones I remember. Now I went to Bradford and I know it is world leader in biomedical science, but I do wonder if they have been saving press released to get the biggest bang. Or is it the BBC and other media outlets are in Bradford at the festival so it is easy to get Bradford stories?

It is great to see more positive news articles on science and technology, but the danger is it is just a headline. We need to look behind the headlines to be better informed. Events like this road show a great step to get people interested to find out more, and always to keep ‘asking why is that……’

The community - a route to free training

I presented last night at the West Yorkshire BCS and received a number of comments that it was great to see free training being available. This for me is one of the most important areas of our community, and an area we are very lucky with. There are plenty of opportunities to access knowledge…..

Of late we have seen that the big vendor conferences (such as Microsoft’s TechEd, PDC and MIX) and the platform independent developer conferences (such as NDC) streaming their sessions live for free and also have their sessions available for free download within a few days. Microsoft’ Channel 9 is also an excellent resource of conference sessions and specially made material on a vast range of subjects from language design to scheduling of the buses on Microsoft campus. Or if you prefer to listen to something whist your drive why not try the .Net Rocks podcast. There are plenty more specialist resources out there on the web.

At the national level in the UK we also have vendor events such as Microsoft UK Techdays, and company run events like my company’s Black Marbles free events.

Outside company structures we have community events like DDD (general .NET interest) and SQLBits (SQL specific). These are free community run conferences where the members of the community submit session ideas, these are voted for by the community and a free Saturday conference is run using usually the  20 most popular sessions. Again, increasing some of these sessions are videoed and made available on the web.

At the even more local level there are always usergroup. In Leeds we have the BCS, Agile Yorkshire, Leeds SQL Usergroup, GeekUp and more I am sure I have not heard of. This pattern is reflected across the OK, it is just a matter of searching to see what is near you.

So there is no excuse for not trying to keep up to date, whether you want to learn via the web or in person. Why not have a look?

Lenovo W520 – one week on

I have had my Lenovo W520 a week now and must say I am very happy with it. I am still hitting the wrong keys a good deal of the time, the only problem being the Fn and Ctrl keys are reversed in position from my old Acer, it is a good job Fn-V and Fn-C does nothing dangerous!.

The keyboard is very nice to type on, a far more solid feel than any previous laptop I have had.

The performance is great, but you would expect it to be good with an Core i7 and 16Gb.

But the most impressive thing has been the battery life, a good five hours even running a TFS instance on Windows 7 and having VS2010 and Office open as I do most days. I had not expected that, the battery extender bits seems to do the job very well.

So all in all very happy, seems an excellent desktop replacement, I just need to find the time to get a lab management demo rig onto it to check it out in really bit load.

My first serious problem with my WP7 device

My WP7 LG-E900 decided to do a factory reset last night. It locked while playing the XBox Live GEODefense game on a particular busy level I had just lost (so lots of graphic processing). The phone paused for a while then restarted and ran the first use wizard, in German. This is because it is one of the PDC units that seem, given the packaging, to have been sourced from Vodafone German.

This is the first failure I have had on the phone, not a real pain as once the phone was back running in English it was quick to setup and sync, but 15 minutes I would rather have not spent.

[Update 17 Jun 20011] What I had fogotten to setup

  1. I had to set the APN for mobile data (just the name 'internet' with no UID or PWD for Vodafone UK, but I had forgotten that too and of course could not chekc them on the internet). When I first got this phone I am sure mobile data just worked. Anyway I only found it was not working when stuck in a huge traffic jam and I could not use the maps on my phone to get an alternative route. At home data had worked as I had setup WiFi
  2. Pair my bluetooth headset, again only found this out when tried to make a call from the huge traffic jam to say I would be late. Turns out it is hard to pair a headset in a traffic jam full of bluetooth devices.
  3. And I keep finding I am missing application and I can't remember what they are called......

The slow slide to a paperless life

I posted in the past about my though processes on getting a Kindle, they boiled down to to

  1. Why do the books cost virtually as much as paper edition when the author gets no more royalties and the production/distribution costs as far lower?
  2. I don’t want an extra device to carry about

Well I have been using the WP7 Kindle Client to read free classics and actually buying current novels. When I finished my first purchased novel, it was virtually automatic to go and buy another. No going to the bookshop or waiting for Amazon to deliver.

The reading experience, even on my LG phone was fine. I actually found I was reading more, as my phone is always with me (the novel would have been a bit bulky at 800+ pages).

So I think I am a convert to the format, but I did not really doubt that. It is now whether to get a Kindle itself to make the experience even better. Maybe as the read a home device, but keeping my phone for the quick read at the railway station.

Professional Foundation Server 2010

Over the holiday I have been reading Professional Foundation Server 2010 by Ed Blankenship, Martin Woodward, Grant Holiday and Brian Keller, yes I know how to have time off and have fun!

So who is this book for? It is a comprehensive guide to TFS 2010, the components and their usage, but this does not mean the book is only for teams new to TFS or people planning to take certification exams. Spread throughout there are useful little titbits of information where you find yourself going ‘I never know that’ or ‘arr.. that explains so much


So I would suggest it is well worth a look for anyone who is working, or planning to work, with TFS.

It is even available as Kindle edition, how times change, used to be only novels for the Kindle!

Kindle on the Phone 7

I asked the question a while ago if I should buy a Kindle? I still think that new books are too expensive, but as there are loads of out of copyright books available for the platform so I did not hesitate to download the Windows Phone 7 Kindle app today. You never know when you need something to read and what could be better to dip into than a bit of Sherlock Holmes?


Ok the experience on a phone is never going to be a good as on the Kindle hardware, but first impressions are good. It is nice and clear to read, much like the experience on the older Microsoft Reader on my old Windows Mobile 6.x, but with far easier navigation.

I am sure it will help we pass time when waiting at airports, train stations etc.