Azure Architect

Free ASP.NET 2.0 C# 2005 Training!

Yes, that's free as in beer. AppDev, a leader in video-based training and SQL Server Reader's Choice winner, was kind enough to provide a portion of their Exploring ASP.NET 2.0 Using Visual C# 2005 courseware available for free! I've personally the ASP.NET 2.0 using C# videos and I thought it was really great stuff. It even covered how to use everyone's favorite buzzword, AJAX (Asynchronous Java And XML), using the built-in support in ASP.NET 2.0. The training is taught by Microsoft MVPs Andy Baron, Mary Chipman and Ken Getz.

Highly recommended.

Download Now

[Via Dan Fernandez’s Blog]

How to become a Microsoft MVP

Robert McLaws writes about how you can become a Microsoft MVP. I’m half way through my MVP status and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. In fact later this month all of us Sri Lankan MVPs will be taking a trip over to Singapore for the MVP Summit and by the looks of the agenda, boy are we going to learn a lot.

Some of the other best things I like about being an MVP is that I get to chat with the product teams and even chat with some of the Microsoft Vice Presidents (I hear that a chat with Bill Gates is on the cards), I get an MSDN subscriptions which gives me early access to beta software, I get access to an actual person at Microsoft (my MVP Lead, Howard Lo). All of these help me and the other MVPs in bringing the .NET message to all the developers over here in Sri Lanka.

How to Become a Microsoft MVP:

Congratulations to all the new MVPs out there. Welcome to the team.

Every 3 months, a new round of MVPs are announced. So I thought I'd take a moment to write about the "Unofficial" Criteria for selecting an MVP. It is important to note that this is just my opinion, based on my experience dealing with the MVP Program... as well as a hefty helping of common sense.

  1. MVPs are Microsoft's "volunteer army". They support the community in numerous ways that Microsoft couldn't even begin to deal with. The best way to build a quality brand is to encourage customers to support other customers. It's cheaper too ;). If Microsoft can give you better access to product teams and free software to keep you happy, it doesn't cost them much. If they had to pay salary and benefits to every member of the community, their software would be nowhere near as successful.
  2. Microsoft MVPs are an important public face on the company. To that end, the company is obviously going to want some kind of control over what that face presents to the public. So they're pretty selective on who they award an MVP to.
  3. If you look at the MVPs out there, Microsoft's selection criteria typically mirror their criteria for selecting employees. Again, with good reason - these people will be granted a high level of interaction with the product teams. They don't want someone dealing with the people they pay who will be disruptive to productivity. This is why many prominent Microsoft MVPs eventually get hired into the company.
  4. </ol>

    So, if you want to become an MVP, here is my list of DOs and DON'Ts. They've worked well for me, although admittedly sometimes I don't follow my own rules.

    • DON'T be rude, vulgar, or disrespectful in your communication with other community members. Swearing, while OK during coding sessions and casual conversation, should NEVER be used in communication that will be read by many. It is uncouth and represents an extreme lack of control and judgement.
    • DON'T be in it just for a title. If you're looking to be the king of some imaginary social hierarchy, forget it. The MVP Program has been around a long time, and the Microsoft employees assigned to foster community and build the program will see right through you.
    • DON'T stop following these rules after you become an MVP. The honor is re-awarded yearly, and lots of people slack off and get dropped. As my daddy always said "I brought you into this world, I can take you out."
    • DON'T be a spoiled brat if you don't like a decision Microsoft made. The Visual Basic MVP petition fiasco is a prime example. Microsoft wants responsible adults as part of their program, even if they are young.
    • DON'T cause PR problems for Microsoft. It takes several good deeds to become an MVP, but one PR issue could send you packing. Taking them to task on an issue is one thing, but if Microsoft has to clean up a PR mess, you'll probably get taken out with the trash.
    • DON'T be elitist just because you've been in the industry for a while. You won't be around forever, and someone younger than you will eventually take your place. In this industry, you can be relevant one day, irrelevant the next.
    • </ul>
      • DO be courteous every time you deal with a fellow member of the community. Give them the respect they deserve as a person. (This works well in life, too.)
      • DO interact in the community in more than one way (weblogging in and of itself doesn't get you in, you should also be involved in the newsgroups or Forums or something)
      • DO take extra time to understand Microsoft's position on decisions, and speak respectfully on those issues.
      • DO have an opinion on things going on in the tech world. Take some time to establish yourself on an authority in a subject area, and then expand your reach into other areas.
      • DO be genuine in your desire to help others. Microsoft's corporate culture is aimed towards the betterment of society. If that's not the center of your personal culture, you'll never be seriously considered.
      • DO excercise good judgement as often as possible. Rule of Thumb: Anything that will be indexed by a search engine should be well thought out before posting. Think ahead about whether you want that opinion associated with your name a year from now.
      • DO think of new ways to fill in the gaps Microsoft leaves in the community. If you have a crazy idea... try it out. You never know when you'll be mentioned in the next executive keynote.
      • DO evaluate your communication skills constantly. The better you can relate Microsoft's message to others, the more Microsoft will interact with you.
      • DO be consistent with your community work. You can't help out 4 or 5 people a year and expect to be an MVP.
      • DO look out for your other community members, and encourage others (especially young people).
      • </ul>

        And, a note to anyone younger than 25 - stick with it. There isn't an age requirement, so I wouldn't be surprised if a 12 year old put there somewhere could smoke all these old guys ;).

        Hopefully, that heps some aspiring MVPs out there. We're always looking for new blood.

        UPDATE: I misunderstood Paschal's post, so I took out the reference to it.

        </blockquote>[Via Robert McLaws: FunWithCoding.NET]

Keele – OOP

This post is for those from Keele who attended the OOP class I took yesterday, here are the links I promised.

Hope you guys enjoyed the class as much as I did. I would really love to hear your feedback on the lesson, especially critical ones. If you have any feedback to give me feel free to click on the Comments link below and leave your comments. You can even leave anonymous comments, so what are you waiting for you’ve got nothing to lose.

Private universities and Sri Lankan bloggers

There’s been some really heavy discussions happening in the blogosphere about the whole Private University debate for Sri Lanka. Indi and Morquendi are the two main contributors, Kavinda linked to these guys earlier this week and by god, these guys are still going at it today. Read the latest post from Indi titled Private University FAQs. Ivap posts a summary of the debate between these guys.

Boy, I for one am excited to see our very own Sri Lankan’s actively blogging and slogging things out. There’s even a cool hosting a whole heap of Sri Lankan bloggers. Way to go guys!

Glass tombstones

I wonder if I’ll be able to get a tombstone like this when I die. (I need to add this to my TODO list!)
Mark Frauenfelder: Lundgren Monuments makes glass tombstones.

Radiant and incredibly tactile, Lundgren Monuments are designed for the individual who defies definition, and in the setting of a memorial park or cemetery they are glowing beacons that stand out amongst the traditional stone memorials.

Link (Thanks, Kirsten!)

Green-card regulations encourage offshoring

New rules make hiring foreign nationals more difficult than ever

By  Ephraim Schwartz

I recently spoke with Frida Glucoft, a leading immigration lawyer and a partner and chair of the immigration practice at law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. She tells me that changes made by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the past three months will limit many companies’ ability to hire and retain new IT employees. If you typically hire recent computer science grads who are not U.S. citizens, you should listen up.

As of December, filing fees for H-1B visas have gone up more than 1,000 percent, from $185 to $2,185 per applicant. But you might as well add on another $1,000 for what’s called “premium processing” of the visa application. Premium processing guarantees 15-day turnaround; otherwise, processing can take between four and six months, according to Glucoft.

If you think your company can afford to wait six months for some hotshot software engineer, consider this. Last year, as they do each year, 65,000 H-1B visas became available on Oct. 1. When the 65,000 are gone, employers have to wait another 12 months for new visas to become available. All of last year’s visas were spoken for by Oct. 3.

Here’s another interesting glitch. The Department of Labor announced a new program on Dec. 27, 2004, which went into effect March 27, 2005. Called PERM (Program Electronic Review Management), it is the first step in applying for lawful permanent residence status — also known as a “green card” — as part of the greater Permanent Labor Certification program.

Case law suggests that non-U.S. citizens who want green cards need about two years of work experience even if they have a bachelor’s degree. Work experience with an applicant’s first employer, however, is considered on-the-job training and does not count.

So, if you have an employee working for you on an H-1B visa who has just graduated from a U.S. university and you want to get that employee a green card, you can’t. Employees who want to stay in the country on a more permanent basis have to start filing a contractor's insurance claim dispute and have to change jobs; time served at their first employers counts only toward green-card status after they’ve taken a job with a second employer.

Finally, here’s another beaut. Also in December, Congress enacted and President Bush signed into law a bill allowing for 20,000 additional H-1B visas for those with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. This added 20,000 additional visas to the existing quota of 65,000.

The law was to take effect on March 7, 2005, Glucoft said; however, USCIS has issued a statement that it will not accept these cases until further notice, pending “publication in the Federal Register.” So, we have employers ready to hire workers, we have workers who may have given notice to their current employers, but now everything is on hold.

Policies such as these will certainly encourage offshoring. Why go through the expense — including not just the visa fees but also the legal fees needed to process the visas, the time it takes to get new employees trained and up and running, plus the uncertainty, delays, and lack of permanency of investments you may have made in hiring foreign workers — when you can just contract a company outside our borders and still get most of the benefits of having the best and the brightest working for you?

Microsoft Engineers

Jinath from Teamwork Technology threw out a challenge to BTA. So Jinath, here are our numbers…

What? How many? Whom?
Microsoft MVP 2 Prasanna, Merill
Microsoft Certified Trainer 1 Merill
Microsoft Certified Professional 2 Madura, Julius
Microsoft Certified Solution Developer 3 Shasheendra, Prasanna, Merill
Sun Certified Java Programmer 3 Shasheendra, Prasanna, Merill
Sun Certified Instructor 1 Merill



Another very nice tool is DebugView. This is a tool from Sysinternals that enables you to monitor all debug messages on your system. This allows you to have the following in your code:

<?xml:namespace prefix ="" o /> 

Debug.Write("This is written trough System.Diagnostics.Debug.Write.");

Trace.Write("This is written trough System.Diagnostics.Trace.Write.");


Debug.WriteIf(inDebug, "This is written because inDebug is true.");      

Having this in your code is very handy for debugging in an early stage, where you haven’t added a logging component, such as Enterprise Library, yet. Or in a scenario where you don’t want to attach the Visual Studio Debugger, or can’t attach it, but still want to view some debug information from your program.

It’s also possible to connect to a remote computer, and intercept these debug messages remotely


After having added code like this, the only thing that has to be done is open DebugView and run the program. DebugView would then intercept the messages and display them as following:


This tool is only 240 KB in size, and completely free, which is really amazing for such a powerful and useful tool.


IE Search Prefixes

I use Maxthon as my default browser and it has this cool feature for using keywords. For example to search google I just type g and the search word in the address bar and hit enter. What I never released though was that you could do the same thing using IE until I read this post by Jamie Buckly a Program Manager on MSN Search. I tried it and it works!
We're always looking for ways to give you search results faster.  The popular Desktop Search Shortcuts from MSN Desktop Search are good examples of this.  On a related note, Internet Explorer (5.0 and above) has a little known feature that lets you quickly search for something on any site: IE Search prefixes.

After the search prefixes are set up, you can type a single word identifier (prefix) and search query in the IE address bar to send the query to any website.  For example, the prefix "msn" can go to MSN Search and typing "msn chicken fried rice" in the IE address bar sends the query "chicken fried rice" to our web search.


05-03-29 extensions

This script installs the search prefixes below to your machine.  The "Alternate" column lists additional prefixes to launch the same query (e.g. "images corvette" and "image corvette" both do the same thing).

Prefix Alternate Query Target Example
define definition, dictionary MSN Search, web search with definition define alpaca
dencarta   MSN Search, Encarta search encarta history of china
images image MSN Search, image search images corvette
kb   Microsoft Knowledge Base kb microsoft word
ms site ms windows xp
movies movie MSN Movies movies the incredibles
msdn   Microsoft MSDN msdn cocreateguid
msn   MSN Search, web search msn chicken fried rice
music   MSN Music music peter gabriel
news   MSN Search, news search news iraq
shop shopping MSN Shopping shop digital camera
quote stockquote MSN Money, stock quote quote msft
syn thesaurus Encarta thesaurus syn vanguard
If you want to add prefixes for other websites, try the Microsoft Tweak UI utility for Windows XP.  There are also a few shareware tools compatible with older versions of Windows.  Enjoy!

Jamie Buckley
Program Manager, MSN Search

Installing Visual Studio .NET on a Domain Controller

As part of setting up the TDD environment for the next project that I’m going to be working on, I started by trying to setup CruiseControl.NET on my VSS server when I released that it didn’t have Visual Studio .NET.

But trying to install Visual Studio .NET over Terminal Services on a domain controller started throwing up a multitude of error messages and finally failed installing the FrontPage Web Extensions.

So what did I do? I figured it was something to do with Terminal Services, so instead I setup RealVNC (they’ve recently release Version 4) on the box and then ran the setup. Would you believe it, not a single error message.