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Custom docking toolbar for Windows 7, because, you know... Microsoft removed them.
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Written by WATYF on Friday, 23 September 2011 (8447 hits)
Category: .NET Programming

Well... it's been about 800 years since I last posted something on this blog. There was a blog post that has been sitting in my queue (mostly finished but not published) since December of 2009. I finally threw that up today just for kicks (not that there's anything useful in the article Tongue out). I don't exactly take the time to write much any more... I've closed down the recording studio, so I don't even have the "musical" side of things going any more to post about... and lately I just haven't run into any programming problems that are interesting enough to post a solution for. But Microsoft decided to really, really piss me off again, thus awakening me from my slumber, so I've decided to come out of retirement to offer this (possible) solution for all you poor souls out there who have noticed that...





With the advent of Windows 7, I no longer have an easy way to open all my apps... and what does a nerd do when his OS doesn't have a built in way to do something? That's right...

...he writes his own. Cool

If VistaDB was a woman... we'd be going through a messy divorce.
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Written by WATYF on Friday, 04 December 2009 (7232 hits)
Category: .NET Programming

Well... it's that time again. Something happened that was frustrating (or informative) enough for me to write about it on a website where no one will read about it. Been a while since the last one. Here's to hoping that I still remember all the buttons I gotta push to make this thing work....

So anyway... many moons ago, I was searching for an embedded database to function as the backend for TaskRunner. I went though much turmoil and gnashing of teeth. Around that time I wrote my infamous (whuh?) article titled Why do all embedded databases suck? Not long after that, I found a solution... VistaDB. They were having a "get the word out" promo that offered a free license for VistaDB to anyone who blogged about it. So I tried VistaDB... it solved my problems... I wrote the blog... I got it for free... I was ecstatic. So I wrote another article called If VistaDB was a woman... I'd marry it.

But oh how times have changed....

Round a DateTimePicker to 15 minute increments
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Written by WATYF on Friday, 23 January 2009 (15853 hits)
Category: .NET Programming

This should be a quick one. Here's the problem... I've got a DateTimePicker (actually, a very large amount of them) on a form, and I want to modify those DateTimePickers so that when a user highlights the "minute" portion and clicks up or down on the spinner, the minutes go up or down in 15 minute increments (instead of one minute increments). Now, the biggest challenge to this is that the separate controls of the DateTimePicker (up, down buttons, formatted textbox, etc) are not exposed in any way (thanks Microsoft!), so I have no way of figuring out if the user clicked up, or down, or entered the minute manually. Because of this, I can't (at least, I personally haven't figured out how to) create a "perfect" solution to this problem. So I settled for the next best thing... a solution that accounts for 90% of the time and that my users will be happy with...

Formatting databound textboxes...
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Written by WATYF on Thursday, 25 September 2008 (13277 hits)
Category: .NET Programming

Whenever I have trouble finding an example on the internet of how to do something in .NET, I usually throw the solution up here so that all of the other poor, unfortunate souls (like myself) have a little better chance of finding it in the future.

Today's solution is a quick one. It involves applying a format to a databound textbox. I recently delved into the wonderful would of Visual Studio Data Binding. I have always done all of my db calls manually in my code. But on this project, I was looking to basically replace an app that I wrote years ago in Access (which consisted of several forms bound to database tables), and the forms had a ridiculously large amount of fields on them (in the hundreds, all told)... so I didn't feel like coding all that myself.

As a result, I started learning how to use the "wizards" in VS.NET to add connections to a database. I created a Data Connection, a Data Source, a DataSet, dragged some controls on to my form (which created a BindingSource and TableAdapter)... and voila... my form is connected to a database.

But this simplicity is not without its problems....

The let-down of the millenium: Renewable Energy
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Written by WATYF on Monday, 07 July 2008 (9265 hits)
Category: Serious Crap

I'm not some tree-hugging hippie... far from it. It has always been in question, but considering some of the more recent data , I think that "anthropological climate change" is just as likely to be an over-blown bunch of crap as it is to be a real issue.

But that's also not to say that I'm a ignorant boob who thinks I should keep pumping gas into everything I own no matter how much it costs just because, "that's the American way!"

I'm all for renewable energy... for independence. Not just for "American independence" from "foreign oil", but for individual independence from anyone else, as well. And in both of those arenas, renewable energies have been the biggest let-down I have ever seen...

How to Hack a Mac in less time than it takes to cook a pop-tart (if you want it dark)...
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Written by WATYF on Friday, 28 March 2008 (10131 hits)
Category: Apple Bashing

Well, well, ladies and gentlemen... it's that time again. I realize that I have been shirking my Apple-Bashing responsibilities as of late, but this is one opportunity that I just could not pass up.

I appears that there was a big "hacker" convention the other day... the theme of this little get-together was, "If you can hack it, you can have it". Now, the average Mac fanboy would assume that millions of attendees walked away with free Windows PCs, but lo and behold... the MacBook Air was the FIRST machine to be hacked!!! Yes... that's right folks... not Windows... definitely not Linux... but instead, a Mac. And it only took two minutes to do it. Oh dear... this is so much fun I don't know where to start... how about I start by dispelling some of the feeble attempts that Mac fanboys are going to make to minimize this wondrous trouncing of an Apple product.

Adding a horizontal line to the top of an Excel Line Chart...
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Written by WATYF on Friday, 28 March 2008 (10602 hits)
Category: Nerdery

I've run into this problem before and always ended up falling back on crappy work-arounds, but it came up again the other day, so I figured I'd find a suitable solution once and for all. Here's the problem... I have a line chart in Excel... I want to display data going upwards and across the chart (like a typical line chart), but across the top of the chart, I want to display a horizontal line that shows a "target" (a single value in a single cell somewhere) that I'm trying to reach. There are several ways to approach this, but none of them I had found up to this point were elegant and/or sufficient for my needs...

Get a worker thread to report an exception back to the main or GUI thread that created it.
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Written by WATYF on Thursday, 20 December 2007 (179484 hits)
Category: .NET Programming

OK... here's the problem. I'm lazy. But aren't all programmers? I mean... if it wasn't for laziness, we wouldn't have jobs. The whole point of programming is to find something that people don't want to have to do, and write code that will do it for them so they can keep being lazy. Am I right? Tongue out

So when I run into an obstacle while programming, I like to find the simplest way to get around it. If the solutions that are already out there on the internet are cumbersome and complicated, then chances are, I'm not gonna use 'em. And that was the case when I ran into this little problem.

The thing is... most of my applications start new threads. Who wants to wait around staring at a frozen Windows form while something gets processed in the background? But at the same time, you can't just kick off a thread and hope that the user doesn't try to do something else while the thread is running. You have to control the work flow... keep the user in line. So you display some kind of "Please Wait..." dialog and use it to show them the progress of what's going on in the background. But what happens if something goes wrong in the background thread? You can handle the exception in that thread, but how will the main/GUI thread (the one that created the new thread) know that an exception occurred?

....I know how.

Top 5 Reasons why no self-respecting nerd would watch NBC's 'Chuck'...
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Written by WATYF on Tuesday, 25 September 2007 (14702 hits)
Category: Misc Mentations

I read a review on Wired yesterday about the new crop of TV shows that are centered towards nerds. In typical fashion, the critics gave the best review to the show that I found to be the worst (Chuck), and the worst review to the show that I actually thought was OK (Journeyman). But I had no way of knowing that without actually watching the shows first, so I went ahead and checked out NBC's new Monday night line-up last night. Before I get to trashing "Chuck", I'll start off with a little bit about Heroes and Journeyman. I am deeply saddened to say that I believe Heroes has officially jumped the shark (starting with last season's finale, which was largely a disappointment) and if they don't make a sharp left turn soon, it won't really be a show worth watching anymore. That's a shame, because Heroes was really something to look forward to last year, with its constantly looming plot devices (the Company, Linderman, and Sylar), and now it looks like it has been reduced to sub-plots involving Hiro trying to get a peasant girl to fall in love with an Englishman living in 17th century Japan (riveting, I know), and Claire getting teased by the "mean" kids at school (oh no... not the mean kids!). Tongue out

But I digress. After Heroes, I saw Journeyman, and found it to be a relatively enjoyable show. The characters seemed a little "forced" in the opening scenes, but I found that they eventually fell into something resembling "chemistry". Yes, the plot is somewhat contrived (it's kind of a Quantum Leap meets Day Break... and oddly enough, the same chick who starred in Day Break stars in Journeyman, so apparently, she is being typecast as "that chick in all the time travel shows"). I didn't really see it as a "nerd" show, though, and seeing how you have to suspend belief in order to watch a show about time travel, I didn't really find much in it worth nit-picking at.

But "Chuck", on the other hand...

Reading a file sequentially using multiple threads
User Rating: / 6
Written by WATYF on Friday, 21 September 2007 (35458 hits)
Category: .NET Programming

So I took a dive (head first, of course) into a new area of programming this week: The wonderful world of uber-large file processing. Now, I've worked with large files before... don't get me wrong... but I'm a database guy. Most of my file experience involves figuring out ways to get data into a database quickly and efficiently (and I've gotten fairly adept at it, if I do say so myself Tongue out). Recently, however, I needed to write some code to process a file, and as usual, my first assumption was that I would just load it into a db (using one of the bagillions of methods at my disposal), run a few SQL statements against the table, and be done with it. Then I found out that the file was almost 2GB. Surprised The problem with that is twofold: 1) Importing a 2GB file into a database would take a really freaking long time and then you'd still have to run queries on it to do your processing, which would take even longer. And 2) Putting the file in a db would have the net effect of doubling the file size on disk... because now it exists as the original file and as records in your db. And since most db's aren't super efficient at file storage, chances are that it'll take up more than 2GB in the db. So you're looking at turning your 2GB file into 4-6GB (if not more).

So anywhoo... once I realized that a database was not the way to go, I had to figure out how to process this huge monster in an efficient manner...

My taste in music is better than yours...
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Written by WATYF on Thursday, 09 August 2007 (8463 hits)
Category: Musical

EDITORIAL NOTE (for lazy people): If you don't like to read paragraphs (for fear of hurting your brain) then please skip straight to the uber-funny sketch at the end of this article. If, on the other hand, you can actually handle reading more than four sentences in a group without your mind wandering off to thoughts of what's on TV tonight, then you can start reading here.... and now, on to the article.

Human behavior is intriguing. One such behavior is how the average person approaches the topic of taste in music. We all have tastes. Tastes in food. Tastes in men/women. Tastes in movies. You name it. But for some reason, no taste seems to carry with it the fervent arrogance and xenophobia that a person's taste in music often does. If you meet someone, and you start discussing food, chances are that you won't even notice if they mention liking a food that you dislike. Most people just accept it as normal. "Oh... you like fish, eh... I'm not a big fan it it." But mention a band that they hate, and watch the wonder that is human self-conceit... "What? You like Blink 182?!? Dude. They're, like, the worst band on the planet. Seriously. What's wrong with you? You really need to get a new taste in music". As if acquiring a new taste in anything is even physically possible, and as if there is such a thing as a "better" or "worse" taste in music. Now, for many of you, cognitive dissonance is already kicking in and telling you that, somehow, your taste in music IS indeed "better" or "more refined", but it's not. I know... it's hard to accept that what your ears prefer means absolutely nothing to anyone but you, but it's true. I'm sorry to have crushed your entire worldview. Laughing

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