Ten Reasons Why Blogging is Good For Your Career

Tim Bray from Sun Microsystems posts ten reasons why blogging is good for your career.

  1. You have to get noticed to get promoted.
  2. You have to get noticed to get hired.
  3. It really impresses people when you say “Oh, I’ve written about that, just google for XXX and I’m on the top page” or “Oh, just google my name.”
  4. No matter how great you are, your career depends on communicating. The way to get better at anything, including communication, is by practicing. Blogging is good practice.
  5. Bloggers are better-informed than non-bloggers. Knowing more is a career advantage.
  6. Knowing more also means you’re more likely to hear about interesting jobs coming open.
  7. Networking is good for your career. Blogging is a good way to meet people.
  8. If you’re an engineer, blogging puts you in intimate contact with a worse-is-better 80/20 success story. Understanding this mode of technology adoption can only help you.
  9. If you’re in marketing, you’ll need to understand how its rules are changing as a result of the current whirlwind, which nobody does, but bloggers are at least somewhat less baffled.
  10. It’s a lot harder to fire someone who has a public voice, because it will be noticed.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to one of the many free bloggining sites and start a blog as soon as you can. Where can I go your asking? Try Google’s blogger.com or MSN’s spaces.msn.com

UPDATE: For those of you who don’t know, Tim Bray is the father/co-inventor of XML.

Crisis and chaos

This is the editorial published by the Daily Mirror today.

Pala, one of my friends, was telling me about how the overhead for almost all donations went towards administration costs, but looking at it from their point of view, it is their money and they have every right to spend it whichever way they like. There are NGOs who are crooks and there will always be crooks, but do you make the ordinary man suffer for this?

Crisis and chaos over containers

About 250 containers loads with hundreds of millions of rupees worth of urgently needed relief items for tsunami victims have been lying at the Colombo port and airport for some six weeks -- stuck in a bureaucratic muddle.

The government, early last month, clamped taxes and various regulations on these items including thousands of tents which could have provided shelter to the poor tsunami victims but instead lay packed up in a container load of regulations and red tape compounded by indifference, lethargy and, worst of all, bribery and corruption down the line.

The government had acted on protests by the JVP and other groups which allege that some NGOs were misusing or abusing the facility of bringing in tsunami relief items free of duty. Some NGOs are alleged to have brought in laptop computers and video phones for their personal use at a time when even JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa is reported to be carrying a razzle dazzle mobile phone worth some 150,000 rupees. Anyway abuse is abuse, and extravagant privilege is extravagant privilege, whoever indulges in it. Some NGOs might have misused the duty free facility, but what happened over the past few weeks amounts to collective punishment of even the tsunami victims for the misdeeds of a few.

After protests here, some international groups and donor agencies even warned that they would send their aid to other countries like Indonesia if the relief sent to Sri Lanka was not cleared fast and sent to the tsunami victims who urgently needed them. Last week the government or the Finance Ministry in response to these protests issued a new circular regarding these container loads of tsunami aid -- but it seems the treatment is turning out to be worse than the disease.
According to the new procedure the groups to whom these containers of relief items have been sent would have to get a letter from the Government Agent of the area in which they hope to distribute aid. The letter from the Government Agent, saying he or she will monitor the distribution, has to be sent to the Director of Social Services, who in turn will communicate it to the Customs Department. The containers will then be sent by the Customs to the Social Services Director who will send it to the Government Agent and so on.

The lethargy and the mediocrity in the bureaucratic procedure in government departments are as notorious and the calibre of todays party politicians. Add to that the cancer of bribery and corruption that has crept into almost every cell and vein of government departments and there will be a situation where the containers, like today's government, would go here and there and might finally end up nowhere, if not in the hands of corrupt politicians, officials or businessmen. Some respected NGOs have expressed concern over the new procedure of handing over the containers to the Government Agents through the Social Services Director.

The NGOs say they have a responsibility to account to the donors for every item sent and to ensure they are given to the tsunami victims who need those items. They say that when the items go through bureaucratic agencies, there is no way of ensuring transparency or accountability. Therefore the NGOs say they will not clear the containers though the Finance Ministry at the same time has written to shipping companies and port authorities asking that the extra demurrage payments due to the delays in clearance be waived in view of the mitigating circumstances.

What has happened to the 250 containers is similar to the fate that has befallen billions of dollars in tsunami grants and aid from foreign governments and international agencies. Most of it appears to be still stuck in bureaucratic or political mud holes amidst the current party politics of conflict, confusion and contradictions. If Sri Lanka was not prepared for the catastrophe, it seems that Sri Lanka is equally unprepared for tsunami relief, rebuilding and rehabilitation. While a joint mechanism between the government and the LTTE is set up in the north and east, it seems Sri Lanka urgently needs an independent commission with wide powers to streamline the overall tsunami rebuilding operations.

What a pathetic country I’m living in.

March User Group Meeting on Enterprise Library

I had to work really hard preparing for last week’s session on the Enterprise Library.

Since this is a relatively new release, there is scarcely any information available online. The lack of online resource is more than made up for by the clear, well documented help that comes with the installation. The quickstarts are a godsend to get things up and running.

With each block your best bet is to do a quick read of that module on the help and then go through the quick starts, then get your hands dirty writing a small mock app of your own. You can download the presentation that I made from here.

Shandy, to answer your question about performance relating to the Logging block, Loren has blogged about an impromptu test he carried out comparing log4net against the Enterprise Library.

Update: Shandy posts a review of my last presentation.

Microsoft Offers Free Exam Retakes Worldwide

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Hey, all you people. This is the time to go bonkers taking Microsoft exams. Microsoft is giving a free “second-shot offer” to anyone who takes a Microsoft exam and fails between March 1 and May 31. Here’s some more info.

Last summer, Microsoft Corporation field tested a promotion that gave test takers a free retake on a failed exam. The offer was limited to the U.S. and was available on a select number of exams. On Monday, the company announced that it was reviving the offer again this time allowing retakes on all of its Microsoft Certified Professional exams and expanding the program worldwide.

The "Second-Shot Offer" allows anyone taking and failing an MCP exam from March 1 until May 31 to retake that exam. According to the offer posted on the MCP site, candidates can retake an exam only once, but the retake can be applied to as many exams as a candidate can take until the offer ends.

Registration is required for candidates who want to participate. Also, exam retakes must be taken at the same testing center. Retakes must be completed by June 30. This offer cannot be combined with other offers. Other restrictions apply.

For complete offer details, including restrictions, go here.


.NET User Group Meeting in Colombo today

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It’s another which brings along yet another user group meeting. This month I’ll be taking the stage after a long lapse of over six months to talk about the newly released application blocks in the Enterprise Library. From my point of view the Enterprise Library is a must know for any .NET developer worth his salt i.e. if you’re an enterprise developer though, but who isn’t these days ;).

Obviously I wouldn’t have enough time to cover all the blocks in a two hour session, so what I’m planning to do is to do an overview of all seven blocks but get into coding demos of only the Data Access, Exception Handling, Logging and Instrumentation and either Configuration or Cryptography application blocks. If you think I’ve left out a block that you’re terribly interested about, leave a comment and we’ll see if we can squeeze it in.

Here’s a teaser on what you will be learning today.

Enterprise Library is the next generation of the patterns & practices Application Blocks.  The Enterprise Library is designed to assist developers with common enterprise development challenges and it delivers the most widely used blocks in a single integrated package. The vision at Microsoft is to build a broad community of customers and partners using, sharing and extending their own Application Blocks that are consistent with and integrate into the patterns & practices Enterprise Library.

Data Access: Why not leverage existing knowledge when designing your next solution? Discover how you can implement the recommended data access architecture using Enterprise Library to quickly build a robust and secure data access layer which supports connectivity to Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and DB2.

Exception Handling: Exceptions happen...the question is what you will do to handle them.  Poorly written applications behave unpredictably when exceptions occur and often this bad behavior results in crashes or security holes.  You will learn how you can create exception policies that can be consistently and quickly applied in your application to insure predictability even when things go wrong.

Logging and Instrumentation: Properly instrumented applications are a dream to manage, they tell what is happening and when things are going wrong point you to the source of the problem quickly increasing your mean time to recovery resulting in increased system availability.  Learn how to use the Enterprise Library logging and instrumentation block to consistently and easily build an application that tells you where it hurts.

Crypto: So you have a secret...what are you going to do with that credit card number, connection string or password?  Stuff in a secret place and hope that no one ever finds it?  Of course not, you want to encrypt it.  But how?  With the Enterprise Library cryptography block you can quickly encrypt and decrypt these secrets allowing you to secure them and sleep better at night. Attend today’s presentation to find out how.

Configuration: Configuration data is a constant challenge for application development because the way in which your application handles configuration data dramatically impacts its manageability.  We will discuss the requirements for building a great configuration system and how you can leverage the configuration application block to meet these requirements.


Exciting annoucements for the MVP program

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Howard us teasing us about some exciting announcements for the MVP programs that will be announced this week. He’s keeping mum for now though… 

C’mon Howie spill it out.


Back in Sri Lanka

Dammika wanted to know where the hell I was. Things have been pretty hectic for me since I landed in Colombo last Tuesday morning.

Let me see… On Tuesday I went back to office for our weekly conference call, Wednesday I had to go to Mizra’s birthday party (Imara’s bro), Thursday back at work again, Friday work, badminton, Chalani’s wedding. Saturday went to Kandy to bring back my car. Sunday shifted houses, I now live at Thalawatugoda with the Sonnadara brothers. We also went out to MIT and had a cool swim to relax off the weekend!

I’ve been having a lot of fun with my new camera. This is a pic from Chalani’s wedding with Madura, Dishnika, Ashan and me at the top trying to place a horn on Dish

Madura, Dishnika, Ashan, Merill


This is the last leg of my long trip back to Colombo. It's really cool that the Changi Airport at Singapore has free internet access.

What have I been doing the past 48hrs of travelling, well I've been reading Code Complete by Steven McCowell. Unfortunately I made a mistake when I ordered the book and ended up with the original version rather than the recently released Code Complete 2 book.

The book is heavy on procedural programming but it's amazing that a lot of the concepts and practical advice is still applicable to the real world applications that we write today. Code Complete 2 is a book that should be on the desk of every developer, not only is it a good read, it's a good handbook to refer to.