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Nick Harrison Blog<Nick>.Next() March 2013 Entries
Can Trim Packages Help Us Make Sense of OS Editions?
I was thinking about some of the confusion that springs up from time to time over how Microsoft names the editions of it Operating Systems. We can all agree that Windows RT is a particularly bad name. Unfortunately despite their best efforts, none of their names have been overwhelmingly successful. There is always confusion over which version has which features and which version would be best for which user. I was thinking about how cars solve this problem. They use trim levels. Commonly this may ......

Posted On Thursday, March 21, 2013 1:52 PM

4 Simple CSS Tricks to Make Web Input Fields Look Better
Most web sites will have an input form somewhere even if it is nothing more than a contact form. Any web application will have lots of input forms. Regardless of why you have the input form or what it is prompting form, we should strive to have them look as nice as possible to keep the user visually engaged. So here are a few CSS tricks we can use to make an input more visually engaging, less intimidating, and hopefully a little easier to use. Let’s start with a simple unassuming input form for entering ......

Posted On Tuesday, March 19, 2013 2:07 PM

The Art and Science of Blogging
Many of us with technical blogs started a blog as just a place to jot down stuff we figured out so that we could easily find it later. But if you have ever been thrilled to check the stats on your blog and see that 1,000 people have read one of your entries or been excited to see your blog mentioned on twitter, or had a boost of confidence when someone in an interview mentioned reading your blog, you will want that feeling again. Regardless of why you blog, you quickly learn that blogging effectively ......

Posted On Thursday, March 14, 2013 9:23 AM

Reviewing Knockout.js Succinctly
Over the weekend I sat down with another book in the Succinctly series. I have wanted to learn more about Knockout.js for a while now. I approached this book knowing very little about Knockout.js, but I do know a fair amount about JavaScript, jQuery, etc. Turns out I am their target audience. If you need a book that will introduce and explain JavaScript. This is not the book for you. If you need a book that will explain how AJAX works. This is not the book for you. If you need a book that will explain ......

Posted On Monday, March 11, 2013 8:29 AM

A Simple Grammar for Excel Views in MVC
In a recent blog, I wrote about Building A Custom View Engine to Create Excel Files in MVC. In this blog, I skipped over the grammar that we might use in the View definition. I have had a few people email me to fill in this gap. If you haven’t already read this blog, I encourage you to do so before continuing. Most of the content here will assume that you are already familiar with what we have already covered. In this previous blog, we defined a new View Engine that could be used to build and send ......

Posted On Tuesday, March 5, 2013 4:17 PM

Programming Is Not for Everybody? Everyone needs to be Encouraged!
I just read this blog Programming Is Not for Everybody. I have to admit to being taken aback by the premise. I believe that in their heart of hearts everyone wishes that they could program computers. No it is not always a glamorous profession. It is often boring and tedious. It is almost always difficult to explain what you do. There are days when you wonder why do you put yourself through it all. But if you ever experience a “Holy Crap It worked” moment, you are hooked. Many programmers are more ......

Posted On Monday, March 4, 2013 3:48 PM

Dynamic Sorting with LINQ
If you use LINQ to retrieve data and display this data in a grid, you may have come across the problem of allowing the user to control how the data is sorted. Users always want to be able to sort data on their own. GridView makes it easy to wire up an event handler or trigger an action to handle the sorting. The problem is that such sorting is not necessarily so straightforward with LINQ. A common approach is to hard code a giant if statement listing out the possibilities: 1: public IQueryable<FileImport> ......

Posted On Monday, March 4, 2013 1:01 PM

Jedi Mind Meld
I try to keep politics out of my technical blog, but I figured that as long as I keep the focus, narrowly defined, I guess we should be OK. We need to be careful reading too much into this slip of the tongue. I think the president as proving repeatedly that he is a fan of both franchises. I pretty sure that this is a humorous slip of the tongue and nothing more. If the tech community wants to get up and arms over the President, we have other issues worthy of out attention. Cyber weapons, privacy, ......

Posted On Monday, March 4, 2013 12:11 PM

Exporting XML Comments to Your Application
Recently I blogged about adding SQL Doc Documentation to you Application. This makes it easy to keep your documentation visible and more likely current. I wanted to do the same thing with my code documentation. I wanted to leverage the work taken to add XML comments and add even more visibility. There are already tools readily available to convert these XML comments to MSDN looking documentation or help files, and these comments get incorporated into intellisense as you are writing code. I did not ......

Posted On Friday, March 1, 2013 12:07 PM

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