January in review – busy start to the year

BronwenWeeGo.jpgWe’ve had a busy and eventful start to 2008..and boy has it just flown by!

It kicked off really well when I was awarded a Microsoft MVP award. Already i’ve met quite a few other MVPs, had an introduction lunch and booked our tickets to the MVP summit.

It was closely followed by getting our passing results for the Virtual Earth exam that we both sat..and luckily both passed 🙂

We’ve been flying around the country doing presentations on SQL Spatial and Virtual Earth. This month we’ve done 5 presentations in 4 capital cities..Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart (x2).  We’ve had some great feedback, questions and met some great people. We also added another talk to the tour in February for the Gold Coast .Net Usergroup.

Our travelling prompted us to get wireless broadband..so far it’s been good..download speed is decent but finding the upload a bit slow.

I took the plunge and upgraded my JasJam to mobile 6.  I’m liking the interface a lot better..but finding it takes longer to us mobile messenger and find my contacts etc.

We’ve been working on a few exciting projects that we hope to be able to post more information about really soon…so stay tuned.

Girl Geek Dinner Sydney – First dinner ever…

BronwenWeeGo.jpgSome exciting news just in! The first Girl Geek Dinner Sydney is to be held on 21st February.  Sign up for the event on facebook or check out the website.

The first event is at Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Cockle Bay and starts at 6pm.  This dinner is an open mike night..so think up some topics and come along and share.

So if you’re a geek girl, or a geek boy who can convince a girl to attend with him, then come along and meet some other women in IT.

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Back from SQL Spatiial / Virtual Earth talks in Hobart

BronwenWeeGo.jpgYesterday we presented at both the newly formed SQL UG and the .Net Usergroup in Hobart.  Both had small crowds (in comparison to the 100 attendees we had in Melbourne) but both had people with lots of good questions.

It was an early start for us..up at 3:30am to catch our plane via sydney so we were a bit tired by the end of the day.

Big thanks for Jason Cook (SQL Server UG) and Rowan Miller (.Net UG) for inviting us to speak at their groups.

Rowan in particular is keen to grow the size of the group/meetings so if anyone has any tips and/or advice on the marketing/advertising and general participation angle of running a usergroup leave a comment here and we’ll pass them onto him.

 

What are Live Services? Watch the webcasts and find out

BronwenWeeGo.jpgSo you heard about Live Services and not sure what they are or want to hear a bit more about about the different services?

There’s a series of webcasts available that i first saw here.

  1. Session 1 – Windows Live Platform Technical Overview (200 Level) . Get a broad look at the Windows Live development platform and discover the various ways you can integrate Windows Live APIs and controls into your applications and deliver rich web content in exciting and innovative ways.
  2. Session 2 – Windows Live Platform Technical Drilldown, Part 1 (300 Level). Find out more about user authentication through Windows Live ID and how Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live and Microsoft Expression Encoder can help you create more exciting web content.
  3. Session 3 – Windows Live Platform Technical Drilldown, Part 2 (300 Level). Learn about the Storage and Sharing services from Windows Live to help you build more vibrant online communities. This session covers integration with Windows Live Contacts API, Windows Live Spaces APIs and the controls for user sharing.
  4. Session 4 – Windows Live Platform Technical Drilldown, Part 3 (300 Level). Find out how you can improve your website’s Communications and Connectivity services through integration with Windows Live Messenger and Presence APIs and Windows Live Alerts
  5. Session 5 – Windows Live Platform Technical Drilldown, Part 4 (300 Level). Discover how to deliver more interactive and engaging Find and Locate services through integration with Windows Live Search and Microsoft Virtual Earth.

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Tickets booked for the MVP Summit

BronwenWeeGo.jpgWell we’ve booked our flights and hotel for this year’s MVP summit in Seattle.  We’re heading up to Montreal first where John is doing a 1/2 day workshop on using Virtual Earth to provide Geographical access to Cultural Herritage at the Museums and the Web Conference. So i’ve got a few days to kill in the hotel by myself while John’s at the conference…so if anyone is around let me know or if you have any suggestions for things to do in early April that’d be much appreciated aswell.

Then we head down to Seattle for the MVP summit. We’e staying at the Sheraton. Really looking forward to this one…from everything I hear, it’s an awesome event.  We’ve got a few days spare after the summit to check out Seattle and surronds so again, if anyone’s around and would like to say hi or has some must see’s or suggestions for mid April activities would love to hear them.

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SQL Spatial with Virtual Earth roadshow on it’s way to Hobart

BronwenWeeGo.jpgNext Tuesday, 29th we’re off to Hobart to present 2 sessions on SQL Spatial with Virtual Earth.  We’re lucky to be the 2nd presentation at the newly formed Hobart SQL Server Usergroup during the day followed by the Hobart .Net at night.

Details for the session:

In this visually interactive talk we explore the new spatial data types, functions and indexes directly related to the real world using the interactive browser based Virtual Earth control. We focus on the new Geography data type providing an overview of the new functionality as directly applied to mapping. This includes the storage of points, polylines and polygons as well as real world tasks like effective rendering to the map, geofencing and proximity searches. We explore the power of union and buffering. Finally we examine the new index specifically built for fast spatial lookup.

The talk will inform, teach and demonstrate. You will understand what this new functionality is all about, what data types and functions are needed, how they operate and how to add an effective spatial index to your project.

Registration/Information on the sessions:

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New Article – Part 2 – Invoking server side code using AJAX

johnWeeGo.jpgIn part 2 of this series, Derek Chan shows how to integrate the Mappoint Web Service platform on a Virtual Earth map.

http://www.viawindowslive.com/Articles/VirtualEarth/InvokingserversidecodeusingAJAXPart2.aspx

DerekJan08Article.jpg

If you recall part 1 introduced the concepts of using a httphandler to communicate between server side code and Virtual Earth.

http://www.viawindowslive.com/Articles/VirtualEarth/InvokingserversidecodeusingAJAX.aspx

As usual the full source code is available for download. Great work Derek!

Product Review: Picopad and Booksling

BronwenWeeGo.jpgThe guys at EverydayInnovations sent me some samples of their products, the PicoPad and the Booksling, just before Xmas. Now that I’ve been able to use them for a few weeks it’s time to see what i thought.

PicoPad

picopad

What is it? – Postit notes with a tiny ballpoint pen inside a credit card sized cover.

What did I think of it? – While I have a pda phone and use it a lot. I found this really useful when you’re on your phone with someone and need to write down a phone number, address etc.  Or you’re with someone who needs do do the same.

What i liked about it – It’s the size of a credit card so fits in your wallet so you’ve always got a pen and paper.

What I’d change – I don’t know about anyone else, but I always find pens fail on my when i need them.  If the pen was changed to ge a pencil/solid graphite strip this would solve the pen not working when i need it most problem.

Booksling

booksling

What is it?- Elastic bookstrap, with a bookmark ribbone and space for 2 pens.

What did i think about it? – I’m always losing my pens, and hate trying to find what page I’m up to in my scribble pad, so being able to attach pens etc. was really useful.  It’s most useful for a5 sized notebooks.

What I’d change – I tend to use a4 notebooks.  The elastic is too strong/tight for this size and bends the book too much.  So either need a lighter elastic or another size.

Cloverfield and some dodgy KFC

BronwenWeeGo.jpgWent and checked out Cloverfield last night. While it didn’t blow me away as it seems to have done with everyone else..it was a bit different which is always good. While I don’t want to spoil the movie for you..I’d say it’s like Godzilla meets Blair Witch. They’ve done well to give you the background story and current happenings in a handycam video.

Our night did’t start well though…we got there a bit early to grab some food before the movie.  We shouda known something was up when we went to KFC and tried to order a Zinger burger. The guy on the front counter was off buying a drink and everyone out the back was ignoring us..finally..they were outta most things.  So we got a Fillet Burger only to discover the lettuce was black and the buns hard as rocks.

We tried to take it back…there was a “huddle” out the back, to be told “the manager says it’s fresh”.  When asking to speak to said manager, quickly asked if we wanted a refund…so i ask..was there even a manager on duty?  And yes, it’s almost our own fault for eating so badly…

Then I wanted a Froke..only to discover I could have 1/2 a froke 1/2 a coke..oh well.

After 2 in a row was waiting to get back to the car and discover our tyres slashed or something..but lucky it stoped at 2.

ImagePatch.com a Virtual Earth smashup for local Ortho-Imagery

johnWeeGo.jpgI spoke with Rony Ledany the Managing Director of Terra Pixel about their new product ImagePatch this week. As you may know the Virtual Earth API allows for custom tile layers to be added over the top of the stock road or aerial tiles built in. The difficulty is how you source the data, prepare and integrate into your system.

ImagePatch.jpg

I asked Rony a few quick questions:

John: So Rony, what is ImagePatch?

Rony: ImagePatch.com is a web based service that let viewers/customers view samples and order local (20-500 acre sites) ortho imagery in high resolution (3,6,& 12 Inch/Pixel). Many Viewers/ Users / Platform Integrators of Microsoft Virtual Earth can now have control over the resolution and decency of the aerials viewed. For example, Real Estate Developers can create an up to date internet base portfolio and monitor their construction progress. CAD/ GIS professionals who plug Microsoft Virtual Earth into their Autodesk and or ArcGIS software can now request Image Patch as a base layer for their local project .As advertising on Microsoft Virtual Earth becomes more popular what better way for Golf Courses, Resorts, and even home owners to promote their location in high resolution, and enhance the way people view them on Virtual Earth.

John: How easy is it to incorporate your service into a Virtual Earth application?

Rony: Very easy, as we deliver our patches in YUM format (Virtual Earth tile base ready package) you can just like you see our image samples on ImagePatch.com

John: Are we talking about better quality images, more recent image or coverage of areas not currently in Virtual Earth?

Rony: Microsoft Virtual Earth publish their imagery in many levels of resolution. Generally, high resolution in urban areas and less in rural locations. Image Patch can deliver much higher resolution, but focuses on specific location vs.. an entire region.

 John: Thanks for the quick chat Rony, if people are interested in this service how do they get in contact with you?

Rony: www.ImagePatch.com let you view patch samples, then over to the Order Page in just 4 easy steps:

1. Locate the area of interest

2.Define the area for acquisition

3. Chose Resolution

4. Submit an email request

We will then both get an email confirmation that include a KML with a polygon of the area of interest.

SQL Spatial with Virtual Earth comes to Melbourne 15 January

BronwenWeeGo.jpgThis week we arrive in Melbourne to present our 3rd in a series of 8 talks on SQL Spatial with Virtual Earth.  So far there’s just under 100 people registered so should be a great turn out.  If you’re interested and haven’t signed up all the details are below. 

SQL Spatial with Virtual Earth 

15 January – Melbourne – Register HERE

In this visually interactive talk we explore the new spatial data types, functions and indexes directly related to the real world using the interactive browser based Virtual Earth control. We focus on the new Geography data type providing an overview of the new functionality as directly applied to mapping. This includes the storage of points, polylines and polygons as well as real world tasks like effective rendering to the map, geofencing and proximity searches. We explore the power of union and buffering. Finally we examine the new index specifically built for fast spatial lookup.

The talk will inform, teach and demonstrate. You will understand what this new functionality is all about, what data types and functions are needed, how they operate and how to add an effective spatial index to your project.

Internet Connection Sharing with Adhoc networks – single serve only?

BronwenWeeGo.jpgNow that we have Wireless Broadband, and in our hotel room doing some work, reading emails etc. we’re not very patient at waiting our turn at the internet (well at least i’m not) so we set up Internet Connection Sharing in Vista using an adhoc network.  It took about a minute to set up and works really well … the first time you use it.

After connection to each others machines once, we’ve had enormous trouble connecting again…we only get local access which is useless when you want to surf 🙂  Seems to be some issue when you disconnect from the adhoc network that turns off internet connection sharing.

The way we’ve found to work around it for the moment is:

  • Delete previous adhoc networks
  • Disconnect from the internet
  • Disable Internet Connection Sharing on the usb wireless card
  • connect to the wireless internet network
  • Ensure you have internet access
  • Create a new adhoc network – enabling internet connection sharing

There’s gotta be an easier way to do this and we’ll blog it here if we find a better way to do this..but for now it lets us both use internet at once

Wireless Broadband – getting connected

BronwenWeeGo.jpgAfter having a few internet issues on the road the road and not wanting to pay $30 a day in the hotel to use internet over the last few days we hit the shops in search of wireless broadband.

In the end we went for the cheapest 5GB plan we could get, which ended up being a 3 plan, 5GB for $49.50 /month with a free usb modem.  Optus was a close 2nd  and would have won if we had another service with them.

We have phones, and internet with Telstra but their wireless broadband is too expensive..and nothing they will do about it..so too bad for them. Their justification is they have the best coverage..but if it’s like 3 times the price and you’re never or hardly ever in those locations it’s hard to justify..so i wonder if they’ll have a bit of a rethink with such good deals at 3, Optus and Vodaphone.

3’s coverage is pretty much just capital cities (except Hobart and Darwin) which suits us to 99% of the time and we can always use data on our JasJams if we’re somewhere else.

Been hammering it yesterday arvo and today and it’s been quite speedy..so hoping can juggle our home connections a bit..increase the plan on one, drop the other and use the mobile broadband as a backup and it’ll actually work out cheaper / month.

So we’ll see how it goes.

SQL Spatial and VE – 2 talks down…6 to go

BronwenWeeGo.jpgSo we’ve done the first 2 legs of our SQL UG tour.

Wednesday night we went to Canberra.  Thanks so much to Peter Ward for saving us with his mobile broadband.  Smallish crowd but some interesting questions and some really good feedback to help us improve the talk.

Thursday lunchtime we presented in Adelaide.  Again we had some really interesting questions from the audience and really looking forward to seeing the eval comments.  Thanks to Rob for inviting us and giving us a couple of tips.

For those that are interested I’ve put up a pdf version of our slides here.  When we get back home we’ll put together a better package for people to download as i’m sure you’ll find some of the sql scripts we used helpful also.

Thanks Canberra and Adelaide for having us…any feedback is always welcome.

First leg of SQL Spatial with VE Usergroup Tour starts this week.

BronwenWeeGo.jpgTime has flown by and we start the first leg of the SQL Spatial with Virtual Earth User Group tour this week. So for those in Canberra and Adelaide, watch out…we’re coming to town!

Looking forward to meeting a few virtual friends in person.  So if you’re around and want to catch up and say hello let us know.

Details and registration for the 2 events are:

SQL Spatial with Virtual Earth

In this visually interactive talk we explore the new spatial data types, functions and indexes directly related to the real world using the interactive browser based Virtual Earth control. We focus on the new Geography data type providing an overview of the new functionality as directly applied to mapping. This includes the storage of points, polylines and polygons as well as real world tasks like effective rendering to the map, geofencing and proximity searches. We explore the power of union and buffering. Finally we examine the new index specifically built for fast spatial lookup.

The talk will inform, teach and demonstrate. You will understand what this new functionality is all about, what data types and functions are needed, how they operate and how to add an effective spatial index to your project.

 

We passed our Virtual Eath Exam

BronwenWeeGo.jpgJohn and I sat the Virtual Earth Beta Exam 071-544 – TS: Microsoft Virtual Earth 6.0, Developing last year.  As it’s a beta exam you don’t find out if you passed for about 2 months.  This morning we checked the Prometric site and discovered we both passed .

Also, congrats to Derek Chan, who also sat and passed.  Anyone else got their results yet?  Let us know…

Using ADO.Net and Com Interop to read, modify and output from Excel

BronwenWeeGo.jpgToday I was asked to do what seemed like a fairly simple task:

Take an Excel 2003 file, add a couple of columns of data and save to a new Excel file programattically.

I haven’t done any coding Excel for AGES so this i what I did.  To read in the file and add the extra columm and data I did the following:

  • Used OleDBConnection to grab the data from the sheet into a dataset
  • Added some columns to the dataset
  • did some processing and set the data in the dataset

with the following code:


private void loadExcelData()
{
    string filename = "c:\temp\myexcelfile.xls";
    string connectionString =
        string.Format(
        "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source={0};
    Extended Properties=\"Excel 8.0;HDR=NO\"",
        filename);

    OleDbConnection connection = new OleDbConnection(connectionString);
    string command = "SELECT * from [Sheet1$]";
    OleDbDataAdapter da = new OleDbDataAdapter(command, connection);
    DataSet ds = new DataSet();
    da.Fill(ds);

    if (ds.Tables.Count > 0)
    {
        // add new columna and do some processing
        ds.Tables[0].Columns.Add("MyNewColumn", typeof (string));
        setNewColumnData(ds.Tables[0]);

        createNewWorkSheet(ds.Tables[0]);
    }
}

I couldn’t find an easy way to then save that dataset to a new Excel file using ADO. I tried writing an xls file as xml but that added headers. I needed to keep the file the same…just extra columns. So then I turned to interop.

  • Created a workbook
  • created a sheet
  • replaced the cells with the data in the dataset
  • Saved the sheet to the new file

with the following code:


using Microsoft.Office.Interop.Excel;
using Application=Microsoft.Office.Interop.Excel.Application;

private void createNewWorkSheet(DataTable email)
{
    Application excelApp = new Application();
    Workbook book;
    Worksheet sheet;
    string file = saveFileTextBox.Text;

    excelApp.Visible = false;
    excelApp.DisplayAlerts = false;

    excelApp.Workbooks.Add(XlWBATemplate.xlWBATWorksheet);

    book = excelApp.Workbooks[1];
    sheet = book.Worksheets[1] as Worksheet;
    if (sheet != null)
    {
        Range cells = sheet.Cells;

        dumpData(email, cells);

        book.Save();
        sheet.SaveAs(file, XlFileFormat.xlXMLSpreadsheet, null,
            null, null, null, null, null, null, null);
        book.Close(null, null, null);
    }
    excelApp.Quit();
}

private void dumpData(DataTable email, Range cells)
{
    DataRow dr;
    Object[] dataColumns;

    for (int row = 0; row < email.Rows.Count; row++)
    {
        dr = email.Rows[row];
        dataColumns = dr.ItemArray;

        for (int column = 0; column < dataColumns.Length; column++)
        {
            cells[row + 1, column + 1] = dataColumns[column].ToString();
            progressBar.PerformStep();
        }
    }
}

Not sure if this the best way to do it bust seemed to work.

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