I’ve been working on a few projects lately that have a very time-sensitive aspect to them. That time-sensitivity is accompanied by an overly-short planning cycle, so things are being handled in a more “reactive” manner than I like. I’m a “proactive” person, I like a good plan (though it doesn’t have to be a 500 page doorstop, a plan is a good thing).

Every time one of these “reactive” projects gets going, these included, I always re-discover the importance of keeping a cool head. Rather than lighting your hair on fire to run around with the rest of the folks, stop for a second. Step back, assess the situation, and take your time in solving the problem. Don’t waste time, but take enough time to consider all of the angles of the problem in the context of your proposed solution.

When executing on a solution, work fast, but don’t work quick. The difference is important - fast work will get you done while respecting the time-sensitivity; quick work will find you cutting corners and making errors that you wouldn’t normally make.

That’s the crux of this one - take enough time so you’re not making those stupid mistakes that you wouldn’t otherwise make in a less time-critical project. We all know what happens when you do make those mistakes, right? In software, the solution will get sent back from QA (or doc, or - worse - the customer) as insufficient, incomplete, or incorrect. That’s bad news that will actually put you further behind schedule than had you not cut those corners, not made those mistakes.

One of the positive side effects of keeping a cool head in solving the problem is that it’ll reduce some of the stress you might be prone to due to things being “out of control,” which, in turn, will ease some of the interpersonal communication issues that inevitably arise in these situations.

I think it’s time for me to put the fire in my hair out, step back, take a breath, and solve some problems.

subtext, blog, aspnet comments edit

This is my first post on the upgraded blog using Subtext 2.1.0.5. After a failed upgrade, I ran through an upgrade on a full staging environment, got it working, and repeated the process in production… huh, I guess that’s sort of what you’re supposed to do, anyway, isn’t it?

I won’t lie; my heart was pounding near out of my chest while I was doing the upgrade, scared I’d have to call upon my web host to restore me from a backup (I don’t have admin access so I can’t do it myself).

Right-o. Anyway, it looks like I’m up and running, which rocks, and I like the new features. Only issue I’ve run into so far: The HTML editor in the admin interface doesn’t really work with Firefox. Specifically, when you try to add a hyperlink to something, the little “edit hyperlink” box pops up, but when you click “OK” the box doesn’t dismiss and the hyperlink gets made into some crazy JavaScript placeholder link. Solution: Post using IE.

If you see soemthing wrong with the site, leave me a comment or contact me (see the link in the navigation bar) so I can see about fixing it.

subtext, blog, aspnet comments edit

It’s been a long time in the making, but since the last time I tried to upgrade my blog to the latest Subtext failed so miserably, I wanted to build up a full staging environment and test the heck out of it before trying to do it in production. To that end, I got a Windows Server 2003 VM up and running, complete with my web host’s slightly-customized Medium trust configuration files and a copy of a recent database backup, and ran through the upgrade process.

Turns out it’s a good thing I did it in staging first. I discovered a few things that didn’t upgrade too smoothly so it’s good I caught them.

First, a couple of spots in the web controls changed from List<T> to Collection<T>, which isn’t a big deal but does cause a bit of a headache if you’ve got some custom stuff in App_Code that fails to compile because of that. Again, though, no big deal.

The showstopper ended up being this second problem: While the home page would load fine, going to any individual entry page would yield the Yellow Screen of Death with a FileIOPermission problem in Ssytem.Web.UI.ScriptManager:

Exception Details: System.Security.SecurityException: Request for the permission of type 'System.Security.Permissions.FileIOPermission, mscorlib, Version=2.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089' failed.

Stack Trace:

[SecurityException: Request for the permission of type 'System.Security.Permissions.FileIOPermission, mscorlib, Version=2.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089' failed.]
   System.Security.CodeAccessSecurityEngine.Check(Object demand, StackCrawlMark& stackMark, Boolean isPermSet) +0
   System.Security.CodeAccessPermission.Demand() +59
   System.Reflection.Assembly.VerifyCodeBaseDiscovery(String codeBase) +118
   System.Reflection.Assembly.get_CodeBase() +32
   System.Web.Handlers.ScriptResourceHandler.GetCodeBaseWithAssert(Assembly assembly) +31
   System.Web.Handlers.ScriptResourceHandler.GetLastWriteTime(Assembly assembly) +36
   System.Web.Handlers.ScriptResourceHandler.GetAssemblyInfoInternal(Assembly assembly) +58
   System.Web.Handlers.ScriptResourceHandler.GetAssemblyInfo(Assembly assembly) +59
   System.Web.Handlers.RuntimeScriptResourceHandler.System.Web.Handlers.IScriptResourceHandler.GetScriptResourceUrl(Assembly assembly, String resourceName, CultureInfo culture, Boolean zip, Boolean notifyScriptLoaded) +336
   System.Web.UI.ScriptManager.GetScriptResourceUrl(String resourceName, Assembly assembly) +114
   System.Web.UI.ScriptRegistrationManager.RegisterClientScriptResource(Control control, Type type, String resourceName) +115
   System.Web.UI.ScriptManager.RegisterClientScriptResource(Control control, Type type, String resourceName) +9

What the heck?

Turns out Subtext 2.1.0.5 ships with a copy of the ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 System.Web.Extensions assembly in its bin folder. On a system with .NET 3.5 SP1 installed, you don’t want the old one - you want the new one, particularly since it’s in the GAC and will run with Full trust.

To fix the issue, I deleted the local copy of System.Web.Extensions.dll from the bin folder and added the following bindingRedirect to the web.config file:

<configuration>
  <runtime>
    <assemblyBinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
      <dependentAssembly>
        <assemblyIdentity name="System.Web.Extensions" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" culture="neutral"/>
        <bindingRedirect oldVersion="1.0.61025.0" newVersion="3.5.0.0"/>
      </dependentAssembly>
    </assemblyBinding>
  </runtime>
</configuration>

Done and done. After that, everything seemed to work perfectly. There are a lot of new featues in Subtext 2.1.0.5 that I’m looking forward to taking advantage of, so now I’ve got to schedule some time to do the upgrade. Probably not this weekend - I really want to take it easy. But soon.

media, tv comments edit

Samsung
LN52A750We took some of our tax return and went to Best Buy and got a Samsung LN52A750 52” LCD TV. This was to replace the Sharp Aquos 37” TV we had. (The Sharp will go upstairs to our game room so we can have a more permanent Rock Band setup.) I was about to order from Amazon, but Best Buy/Magnolia met the Amazon price and having the ability to take the thing back to a local brick-and-mortar store if there’s any problem is a huge weight off my mind. I guess I’m old-fashioned that way.

All I have to say about this Samsung is… WOW. It’s seriously amazing. The clarity and colors on this thing are unbelievable compared to the Sharp. Without tweaking any of the settings, we plugged it in, turned it on, and started watching some of the shows we’d recorded on the DVR.

Watching The Unit, we seriously started wondering if they’d changed the film style or something since the last time we’d watched. The edges on things seemed crisper, the colors and contrast seemed better, and the motion seemed somehow different - smoother, perhaps, but just… sort of unquantifiably different. Clearer. It was almost like we were watching an IMAX documentary rather than a TV show.

When we started watching Heroes, though, we noticed the same thing - it just looks so much more crisp. That’s when we realized what a difference the TV was making. We didn’t even notice that in the store - that’s just something we saw when we got it home.

The other thing I was worried about was how the media center PC would hook up to it. With the Sharp, I had to run at a weird resolution that left letterboxing on the sides and I was afraid I was going to have to tweak some settings at a really low level to get full HD out of it. Not so! I connected it via HDMI and instantly got full 1920x1080p. No letterboxing, no problems, crystal clear. I seriously did a little dance when I saw that. I’m still smiling about it.

Anyway, I’ve admittedly only had it for a day, but Jenn and I are both floored by it. I can’t wait to try some serious gaming on this thing.