2008 Retrospective

personal comments edit

Well, Christmas is over, it’s the New Year, and it’s time once again to look back and see what went on for me in the last 365 days or so.

January 2008

I started January by updating my multi-user iTunes instructions to account for Vista and adding some similar multi-user instructions for Picasa. This setup is still working well for me today, in fact. We signed up for Verizon FiOS to save a little money and get a better Internet connection. Not sure if we’re actually saving that much, but the Internet connection is pretty cool. Now, if only they’d increase their HD on-demand offerings. Finally, I ended the month with Xbox problems, which is not uncommon for me.

February 2008

Lots of interesting developments happened with Typemock Isolator in February, particularly the addition of debugger integration, which is awesome. In the spirit of that, I blogged about how to get Isolator, NCover, and NUnit all playing nicely in MSBuild as well as a template for doing some quick Typemock Isolator testing. I fixed an issue with Sandcastle Help File Builder having multiple versions of the same dependency by creating a plugin.

March 2008

March saw me working a lot with Windows Workflow Foundation. I created a small series of articles called “Two Minute WF” to give a high-level overview of some of the things I found. We went to see the Cirque du Soleil show, “Corteo,’ which is fantastic and you absolutely must see it. We also had to get some birds pulled out of our eaves because they were nesting.

April 2008

We started the month by hitting the Shrine Circus, which I hadn’t been to since I was a kid. I posted a quick start for learning to use Typemock Isolator and played around with an Isolator-based product called “Ivonna” for testing ASP.NET pages. I also spoke at Innotech Oregon about Unit Testing with Typemock, which was a great experience - my first conference speaking gig. I started getting into Twitter enough to care to optimize my Twhirl experience. I figured out how to use the Composite Web Application Block without the whole Web Client Software Factory. Our printer went out, so I started looking at new ones but really didn’t find anything. Finally, we saw Jonathan Coulton in concert (and have tickets to see him again this month).

May 2008

May began with me spending a week in Liberty City. I love a good week of GTA, these being so fun, relaxing, and, frankly, cheap that most other vacations can’t beat it. That said, I used the Xbox until it pretty much killed the DVD drive, so I had to send it in and get my fifth Xbox 360. I was named a Typemock Expert (which is similar to the Microsoft MVP program, but for Typemock) - a real honor. At the end of May, we lost our kitty Jack to epinephrine reversal, which is extremely rare in cats. We still miss him.

June 2008

In June I finally stepped into the now and stopped carrying a separate cell phone and PDA, opting for the BlackBerry Curve. I still really like it, though I still have weird issues sometimes with the desktop synchronization software - something I never had a problem with when I was using a Windows Mobile PDA. I really started feelilng some slowdown issues on my work computer so I did a little research on the performance impact of full-disk encryption. I’m all for security, but I still think we need to have some faster hardware to compensate for the software overhead we’re required to keep. I showed you how to build a dynamic dependency list for an FxCop project using MSBuild. Finally, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was announced, and has turned out to be a web phenomenon. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to take the time to go watch. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

July 2008

In July I figured out how to fix the odd sign-in delay to Xbox Live that I was seeing - reboot the router. This is a trick that I still use… in fact, I had to do it last night. We saw Wall-E, which is my favorite Pixar movie so far. I’ve seen it a couple of times since and have it on Blu-ray. Love it. We did the Independence Day fireworks shoot in Walla Walla, WA, which was, as always, hard work but lots of fun at the same time. Plus, it’s always good to see my friend Greg and the rest of the fireworks gang. Once a year is just not enough. That said, I think we’ll be doing something a little closer to home this year if we can - Washington shows don’t count toward my pyro license renewal, and driving that far is really hard. (I’m not a big “car trip” person.) We got two new kittens, Kai and Stanley, and they have turned out to be real wild men. I moved my CR_SortLines and CR_JoinLines plugins into the DXCore Community Plugins project. I also released CR_Documentor 2.0 which included not only a Sandcastle preview style but also was my first release with CR_Documentor as open source. Since then, I’ve released a few bug fix builds and made the internal rendering engine much stronger, all with help from the community. (I’m always looking for contributors, so come on by and help if you can!) Finally, I turned 32. I don’t feel 32, but, well, I guess that’s just how it is.

August 2008

I started the month with a little epiphany about thinking in the abstract. I tried upgrading my blog to Subtext 2.0 and failed due to some permissions issues (which I believe have since been rectified… but I’m a little scared to try again since the previous attempt brought my site down for a couple of days). While I was working with it, though, I slimmed down my database, which had grown a lot and was bumping up against my alllocated size limit. Some things happened in my little circles of the tech world - Typemock Isolator announced an open source license and .NET Reflector got transferred to Red Gate. I picked up a Windows Home Server (which I still love) and I completed Grand Theft Auto 4 100%. Finally, I went on a team building field trip with the folks in my group and we had a blast. I have to say, the group I’m in is a fantastic team and I’m really proud to be with them. Great manager who really cares for the group, great team who comes together and really takes care of business. Best of the best.

September 2008

In September, besides my car getting hit, the big happening of note was that I finally solved my media server problem

  • all of my DVDs are now stored on a central server in VIDEO_TS format (so they’re not just the movies - they’re also disk backups) and can be played from a home theater PC in the living room. This was a lot of research and effort, but it turned out really well and has been really super cool to use. I can finally access my movies in the same way I can access every CD I have through my iPod and iTunes. (I have since found little issues that I’ve either solved or am working on solving, like some minor stuff with Vista not sleeping properly and the fact that my TV runs at 1366 x 768 but the HTPC outputs at 1280 x 768.)

October 2008

We started out by having some barkdust blown into our flower beds, something long overdue. We then spent a week in Disneyland and Legoland, which was simply amazing and tiring and fun all at the same time - a great vacation. I put a stick through my original Rock Band drums (and later ordered the Ion Drum Rocker kit, which has been so cool - I posted a comparison of the Ion drums vs. original Rock Band vs. Guitar Hero World Tour and the Ion drums are by far the superior choice). Oh, and we had 237 trick-or-treaters this year, a record. On a technical note, I posted some FxCop rule recommendations based on what works for me.

November 2008

After having participated in 2007 in the “Give One, Get One” program for the XO “One Laptop Per Child” program, I hadn’t done much with my XO laptop so I got the gumption up to get Ubuntu running on it. I showed you how to find tracks missing artwork in iTunes, and I also showed you how to read WCF configuration from an alternate location.

December 2008

Slightly late to the game, I realilzed what it takes to force ASP.NET 3.5 on IIS6. I posted a database maintenance page for Subtext to make trimming down the database size a little easier. (Remember the work I did in August?) I started running into a few problems with companies that think “Release Early, Release Often” also naturally implies that the external customer can take every upgrade that comes along without any cost. I had a little fun with the Amazon Universal Wish List button. I got my first 100% on drums in Rock Band. I talked a bit about storing configuration settings behind a WCF service. The year ended with a severe case of cabin fever after having been snowed in for several days.

Christmas was actually sort of spread out because of the snow (we’re still seeing presents we ordered for people trickling in via mail and UPS) and we weren’t able to get together with people because everyone was trapped, so the whole holiday felt a little weird. We still had a lot of fun and were able to see folks over the course of the following week, and everything was cleared up by New Years, when we went to a fun non-party party at our friends Jason and Tracy’s place.

As for the upcoming year, I suppose I have a few resolutions. I would like to try to blog more. Both more technical and more personal stuff, since I have a mixed audience (though I realize that sort of means “jack of all trades, master of none”). I’d like to get together more often with our friends - Angela and K, Jason and Tracy, Jason and Liz - and see some of the folks I don’t see nearly often enough a bit more often. I’d like to get better on the Rock Band drums, which sounds sort of dumb, but I didn’t go to band in high school so this is sort of my chance to learn to play an instrument, albeit a “fake instrument,” and see if it might be worth investing in getting the real electronic drum brain for my Ion kit. I’d like to take more time to do some of the hobbies I’ve let go - I used to draw, I used to do more art projects, I used to read more… it’d be nice to get back to some of that.

Anyway, 2008 was pretty good. 2009 looks to be interesting not only on a personal level, but on a global one - Obama’s been elected, the economy’s in the crapper, and we’re generally on the cusp of some major change. It’ll be an interesting time to see how it plays out. It makes me wonder if folks during the 60’s felt this same sort of feeling in the air of things changing and major events happening.