A Blog by Scott Isaacs

Tag: Work Page 3 of 4

Remember When 56K Was Fast?

Back in the old days (12-13 years ago) my first modem clocked in at a whopping 14.4K.  Soon after I upgraded to a 56K modem and thought I was in heaven.  That’s four times as fast!

Flash forward to today at work when out DSL line was down for a couple hours, thanks to some mistake at CenturyTel.  Normally I would just work offline, but I had a few things I had to do online, so I plugged a long phone cord into the fax machine and used the modem built-in to my computer.

So.  Painful.

I had to send a couple e-mails, which wasn’t so bad, but I also had to download a 5MB file.  It took about 20 minutes.  After the line came back up I downloaded a 50MB file in only a couple minutes.

It just goes to show how spoiled we’ve (I’ve) become.  I’ve heard rumors that some people still use dialup.  Those must be the same people that whip themselves with ropes laced with shards of glass and stuff.

Things On My Desk

I’ve been in a little bit of a blogging slump.  Other than a link to a cartoon, I haven’t posted anything in a month and half.  As I mentioned previously, I’ve been spending a lot of brain power on work lately (hopefully that will be calming down in a month or two), and consequently haven’t really sat down to write anything.  I’ve opened WLW a dozen times to write something and started at a blank screen forever (or at least 15 seconds) before giving up and closing it.

Well, at the advice of another blogger, today I’ve decided to post a list.  I actually wasn’t going to post anything at all, but as I was looking around my desk I noticed that I had a few things on my desk that many other developers might not have.  I thought about it for about 3 seconds and realized, “Dude!” — remember, I’m originally from California — “This would make a totally awesome list post!”  Four more seconds later I decided that while the post might not be “totally awesome”, it would be fun for me at the least.

So anyway, here goes.

The Standards

francisco#1 — Francisco.  Francisco is my trusty Dell XPS M140 laptop that I got about 19 months ago — that makes him middle-aged in computer years.  A similarly equipped machine is now available from the same manufacturer for approximately 30% the cost I paid for Francisco, but our relationship is deeper than that.  It’s not all about money, you know.  And although he’s been feeling a little under the weather lately, and generally acting like someone suffering from some sort of bipolar disorder, we’ve been through a lot together, and have a strong bond.  Really.

So anyway, you may be wondering, “Is Scott using his personal computer for work?”  Yes, I am.  Let me know if you’re wondering anything else.

20inch#2 — The 20″ Dell display.  So I wanted to continue on for a moment with that thought you were having about me using my personal computer at work.  I work at a startup company, and as you may be aware, it’s not 1999 anymore and I’m not in the Bay Area.  As a result of the way the time-space continuum works, we are not funded with millions of dollars to spend on things like launch parties, massages, swanky lunches and high-end computers.  Well, at least not at the beginning.

I do have now (as of a month or two ago) a new Dell desktop somewhere in this office building.  It’s just waiting for me.  Every now and then I go out to the warehouse to make sure it’s still there, but I haven’t been able to take the time to set it up with all of the software I need to be productive.  So, in the meantime, I decided I might as well not let that 20″ monitor go to waste, so I plugged it in to Francisco.  So there you go.

pics#3 — Photos of my kid.  What proud father’s desk would be complete without photos of his most prized possession.  This is my daughter, Charlize.  We call her Charlie (named after my grandpa) and she’s the cutest baby ever.  The way that you can tell is that everyone that does not have little kids says, “She is the cutest baby ever”, and the people that do have kids say, “She is the cutest baby ever except for my kids.” 

The people in the second group are just liars.  But I forgive them because I’m sure they wouldn’t want it to get back to their kids that they thought my kid was cuter than theirs.

notepad#4 — A top secret drawing.  I can’t tell you what this is, or I’d have to… you know.  Actually I almost forgot what it was myself.  It’s a good thing I didn’t forget because it’s very, very important.

As you might have guessed, I’m not a good note taker.  The only things I write down are things I would probably remember anyway.  That and a lot of doodles.  I personally a fan of the spiral scribble and the sine wave.  Yes, the sine wave.  It’s the only thing I remember from my 11 years (actually about 5 years with a lot of breaks in between) and untold thousands spent on my degree in Applied Mathematics.  I used to wonder why they called it a B.S. degree.

postit#5 — My new patented “Memory Replacement”.  This might not be a “Standard” yet, but trust me: it will catch on like wildfire and will be popping up on desks across the globe.  To the uneducated and uninformed it looks like a simple pad of sticky notes and a pen.  Not so!  Recent research efforts have proven this handy little invention of mine to be an effective memory replacement for those of us who suffer from ultra-short-term memory loss (USTML).  USTML can be caused by a variety of factors, including fatigue.  Scientists don’t yet have a cure for USTML, but the Memory Replacement can help alleviate the side effects.  Be sure to consult your physician if side effects continue or if your Memory Replacement causes aches and cramping in your wrist.


fork1#6 — A plastic fork.  Not typically a “nonstandard” item, but I haven’t eaten anything with a fork at my desk at all in recent memory.  I think I can remember how it found its home on my desk, but it’s just weird.  I mean, think about it, who has a fork on their desk?  Just sitting there?

I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep it.  It’s not like I have any emotional attachment to it or anything.  I haven’t given it a name or showed it to any of my friends (aside from this blog post, that is).

fork2#7 — A cool projectile toy.  No, it’s not a fork, people; it’s a cool projectile toy.  I can’t read Chinese, but the package says it’s called phourque

As you can see from the concave shape of this toy, a simple tap of the fingers on the elevated portion will cause this toy to fly into the air.  With practice you can learn to launch this toy straight up and back down into place, or you can hit targets up to 3 meters away (I guess they use the metric system in Taiwan — that’s, like, 3 feet in American).  The manufacturer recommends against trying to hit human targets, but, seriously, where’s the fun in that?

livecam#8 — An empty Live Cam box.  What do you think I’m using to take these pictures with?  Telepathy?  A 5+ megapixel camera?  My cell phone?  Yeah right!  Those are for losers!  I use this fine piece of hardware that is currently set to take high quality photos at 240×180.  It is a very versatile camera and it can be used to take pictures of computers, forks, toys, other pictures and even people.  Try doing that with telepathy!

You may have noticed there is also a high-end power strip in the frame with the Live Cam.  My work gave me that as a gift.  I use that power strip to not only supply power to Francisco and the 20″ Dell monitor (see items 1 and 2 above), but also as a spacer between my desk and the wall. 

I’m thinking of a ridiculously sigh-and-eye-roll-inducing play on words about table layout and spacer gifts (GIFs), but I’ll keep it to myself.

quickcam#9 — A QuickCam.  What’s this?  Another camera?  Yes, but this one is still in it’s box.  I’m sure there are many differences between this camera and the Live Cam.  First, this one is called QuickCam instead of Live Cam.  2 – this one is still in the box. C) the QuickCam cost us about twice as much as the Live Cam and it is a round ball shape instead of a vertical-half-an-egg shape.

In reality, this one is there to make sure that the application I’m working on works just as well with this camera as it does with any other camera.  So far so good as long as I remember to install the camera drivers.

phone-water#10 — A cup of water and a cell phone in a cell phone recliner.  I actually like to drink water a lot, and fortunately for me at work we have a reverse osmosis system hooked up to the fridge, so it’s like unlimited, free, good water.  Woo hoo!

Next, as you can see, my cell phone has a nice comfy little recliner to relax in while I work my fingers to the bone.  Yeah, I want my phone to be comfortable and all, but I have to admit that sometimes I see its smug little look while it’s sitting there in its fancy schmancy little phone recliner and I just can’t take it anymore.  Stupid arrogant phone. 

I used to have the same problem with my iPod.  Everyone knows that Apple products are cocky and arrogant to begin with, but give them a cushy soft papasan, and they take it to a whole new level.  Let’s just say I can’t find that iPod papasan anymore.

tape-lights-photoeye#11 — Some tape, lights, sensors and wire.  Here is some work stuff:

  • Some lights taped to my desk so I can see when they turn on and off more easily
  • A couple of different sensors (one actually fell on the floor and didn’t make it into this photo)
  • A roll of ultra-high quality, blue, single-sided adhesive paper.
  • Some mounting brackets for certain types of sensors.
  • A DVD a co-worker lent me to watch in my spare time.

reader-wires#12 — An RFID reader.  More work stuff.  This thing is an RFID reader.  That means it reads RFID.  But not just any RFID, it reads passive, UHF, Class 1 Gen 2, EPCGlobal compliant RFID tags.  Yeah, but the impressive part is that yellow cord hanging out of the side of it.  That thing is awesome.  It makes it so much easier to switch between different types of sensors.  Previously, testing new sensors meant unwiring the current one and rewiring the new one, trying to remember which wire goes where.  Fortunately most sensors use the same color scheme for wire colors, however, it was still a pain.  Now we only use sensors that support this quick connect cable and life is easier.  It kind of makes me wonder why we didn’t try this sooner.


whiteboard#13 — My whiteboard.  OK, yeah, this isn’t really on my desk.  In fact, it’s behind me as I face my desk so it’s on a completely different side of the room.  I just decided to include it so that I could have a bonus section.  I always wanted to have a reason to have a bonus section in a list.

Anyone care to take a guess at what is represented by the drawing on the board?  Of course, I will be neither able to confirm nor to deny your guess as this is also top secret like the notepad above.  You’ll just have to think about it and wait until I’m a multi-gazillionaire before I can let the secret out.


So, there you have it.  I blogged.  It’s a list.

Maybe we can make this into one of those crazy blog meme things.  You know, kind of like chain-letters-for-blogs where people talk about things they’re going to do in the next 6 months to become a better developer, or post the results of some survey that tells them some revelationary fact about themselves in terms of cartoon characters, and then other people do the same thing, and so on.  What do you say?  What things do you have on your desk?

Or you could just read this and forget about it.  Your choice.

Disclaimer: I make words up.  I constantly add new words to my spell checker because it doesn’t like them.  Words like revelationary.  Sorry.

Seeking .NET Developer

I don’t often specifically mention my company when I blog, but we’re looking for a developer.  Short description: “VB 2005, SQL 2005, RFID”.  Slightly longer description here.  For even more info, please contact me directly — I get copied on messages sent to the e-mail alias on the job posting.  If you or someone you know is interested, please let me know.

How I Got VS 2005 To Leak Up To 1GB+ Of My RAM

I’ve been working on this same project at work for several months now, and today I started having some issues.  I went to “save all” and got a message that there was insufficient storage.  Since I have nearly 20GB free on my disk I knew that wasn’t exactly right.  I looked in Task Manager and, lo and behold, devenv.exe was using over 1GB or my RAM.  I have 2GB RAM on this machine so I didn’t notice any issues with other programs while this was happening.  It was just VS.

I’m hoping someone will have some thoughts on what I might try to fix this problem.  It’s very frustrating because I have to close VS regularly and re-launch it to release this memory.

So anyway, first, a little background. 

My System Setup

I have a Dell XPS laptop, 2.?? GHz Intel, 2GB RAM, 100GB HDD.  I have Windows XP Pro, SP2.  I am running VS 2005 with SP1 that came out a few months ago.  I recently (within the last week or so), removed all of the .NET 3.0 stuff I had (framework, VS extensions, etc.), as well as ASP.NET AJAX, and reinstalled them to make sure I had the latest bits of everything.

My System Snapshot

After starting the morning with a fresh semi-weekly reboot, I started working as normal.  Currently running on my system, besides VS 2005:

  • Outlook 2003
  • SQL Server 2000, 2005 Express, and SQL Server Mgmt Studio
  • iTunes
  • Windows Live Messenger
  • Cropper
  • My RSS reader
  • Various other tiny apps and things that just run with Windows XP

The Solution

The entire solution takes roughly 150MB on disk, including resources such as images and documents, and has 9 projects (all VB.NET):

  • A client EXE
  • A Windows service
  • Two other EXEs
  • Five shared libraries (DLLs)

I have a custom build configuration that is exactly the same as the standard “Debug” build configuration, except that it does not build the service (since it is usually running).  When I want to build the service, I stop the service, switch to Debug, build, switch back to custom build configuration.

This project is not under source control through VS, so I am doing manual backups on a regular basis.  I know this is wrong on so many levels, but when I started, there was no source control server.  I have since set one up, but haven’t added the project yet.  In the meantime, I am backing up to a time-stamped folder on the network.

The Problem

So far, except for the .NET 3.0 and AJAX un/re-install, this is no different than my environment has been for the last several months.  Yet today, I was having troubles.  After I noticed the trouble for a while, I decided to close down VS and start it up again, this time keeping track of what I did and the effects on memory usage.  I did some simple documenting of my step, and took some screenshots of Task Manager.  I recorded memory usage after each step, although I failed to take screen shots at each step, so I’ve just included a few of those for kicks.  So, here goes:


Step Taken Memory Usage of devenv.exe

VS loaded, no open solutions or files

Solution loaded, no open files
Solution open and 3 source files open 212MB
Build solution 231MB
Make a small change, build again
Change build configuration to debug (so I can build my service so that it refers to the correct version of my shared libraries) 299MB
Build solution 326MB
Change back to custom build configuration
Make another small change and build again 396MB
Do something that causes several errors.  I commented out a base class, causing all inherited classes to have errors.  This ended up with ~150 various errors.  This was just so I could see what would happen if there were errors.  I didn’t really perform this step in “real life”. 420MB
Try building again with these errors present
Immediately try building again, with no changes of any kind
Fix one error.  I uncommented the Class / End Class lines that I had commented a moment before, but left the class members commented. 647MB
Try building again 672MB
Fix half the remaining errors, by uncommenting half the commented members 702MB
Try building again 723MB
Fix remaining errors 756MB
Build again
Change build configuration back to Debug so I could build my service 786MB
Build again 826MB
Change back to custom build coninguration 850MB
Build again 891MB
Add “Dim a As String” to a class file and save
Build again 939MB
Remove “Dim a As String” from the previously mentioned class file 968MB
Build again
Close open files and solution, leaving VS still open

So, what’s the deal?  Is it related to the .NET 3.0 / AJAX stuff I mentioned above?  I know some of the steps I’ve mentioned are contrived, but they’re not at all unrealistic.  The process of adding a variable declaration, building, removing it, building again shouldn’t really take up 85MB of RAM that never gets released, right?

I did a quick Google search for Visual Studio 2005 memory leaks, but didn’t find anything helpful in the first page or so, so I stopped looking hoping that someone might have a suggestion.  If anyone has any ideas, please comment on this post or e-mail me directly.  If you don’t have my e-mail address, you can use the contact form on this site.  This isn’t stopping me from working, but it’s stopping me from working effectively.

I’m Looking for New Opportunities

Well, the time has come for me to start aggresively looking for new employment opportunities.  If anyone has any leads, please contact me.  My resume is posted on this site, and I will be updating it shortly.  In a nutshell, I’m a .NET developer, and am open to any ideas.

ASP.NET Web Application Project Problem/Question

OK, so I have an ASP.NET 2.0 Web Application Project (and here) — opposed to a Web Site Project — that I’m having an issue with.

If I manually add a DLL to the bin folder and navigate to a page that uses it, I get an error:

Could not load type ‘Other.Project.Name.ClassName’ from assembly ‘Other.Project.Name, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null’

However, if I add a reference to that same DLL in the web app project and navigate to the same page, it works.

What am I missing?  Does adding a reference do more than simply adding the DLL to the bin folder?  Obviously there’s a lot more detail than I’ve described here, but that seems to be the crux of it.

Weird Cookie Issue

At work, I’m working on a web app that allows both “users” and “admins” to login.  I’m using ASP.NET’s (1.1) built-in support for the “Remember Me” cookie.  Until now, I’ve been working pretty exclusively on functionality for one or the other (user or admin), so, to save time, I would log in and check the box.

Now, I find myself needing to switch between user screens and admin screens as I test my code.  So I figured I’d use Firefox to test admin changes and IE to test user changes.  That way I could still use the “Remember Me” functionality to save time.

Well, the weird thing is that IE and Firefox seem to be sharing cookies.  When I login as user in IE, I am a user in FF, and if I log out in FF, I am logged out in IE.

Has it always been this way?  Are they really sharing cookies?  Or am I missing something?

The Past Week

I haven’t said much over the last week, but not for lack of things to say!  It’s just that there were some things that I shouldn’t have really talked about much until now.

Well, if you know me personally, you may know that lots of people are going through some type of change in their professional life.  My friend Jeff (who has no web site) has recently resigned his position as my boss in order to pursue more interesting things.  Brian is starting a new job at Microsoft on MondayGerry now has a new “partner in crime” (another programmer reporting to him).  I know that there are a few other members of the WI .NET Users Group Executive Committee that are either looking, or have recently found new contracts.

Well, on Thursday (7/28), I officially became part of the group in transition.  After ~15 months on the job, I was laid off.  My company had been downsizing since I started.  Over the last year, the development team had shrunk from 9 people to 3, and now 2.  I knew I wouldn’t always have a job there, and for that matter I didn’t want to always work there, but I didn’t expect to be let go last week, though. 

I was disappointed, but not devastated.  In fact, I was actually pretty happy.  If I had waited it out and quit on my own, I wouldn’t have got any severence.

Fortunately, I had been thinking about change recently (Chad, I was wrong — the Life 2.0 post was after the lay off), so I had been seriously looking for another position since the week before.  In fact, I already had an interview scheduled for this week, and it had been scheduled for about a week.  I had already talked to a couple different recruiters, and all were promising that they had leads that matched my skills.

Well, all of the recruiters I talked to were good people, but one in particular was very helpful.  She was referred by a friend.  I had started talking to her the week before I was laid off, but then she was out of town the entire week.  She didn’t even know I was unemployed until this past Tuesday (8/2).

In that time (2 days), she has already found me a few really good leads.  In fact, she found me a 4 week contract (and possible hire) yesterday.  Normally I wouldn’t have wanted to quit a job for a 4 week contract, but given that I don’t already have a job, I figured that a 4 week contract is the perfect length.  Either the company and I will agree to extend my contract, or they will hire me, or, if we aren’t a good match, I can keep looking for a few more weeks.

Personally, I’m amazed at the turnaround time.  I was planning to have a couple weeks off

So, anyway, I have a new job starting Monday.

And I’ll have even more news to report sometime next week (probably Tuesday or Wednesday).

MSN’s Scott Isaacs and the Secret TechEd

Wow.  So a lot of stuff has happened since last night.

For starters, when I was checking my blogs this morning, I saw that Scott Isaacs from Microsoft (a different Scott Isaacs) has mentioned me in his blog.  I’m honored.  (I wonder what the odds of him being at Tech·Ed are?)  Apparently he does some of the same geeky things that I do: Googling yourself.  I would say “MSNing yourself” but it doesn’t have the same ring to it.  It’s funny that, while he outranks me in the Google results, I rank higher than him in the MSN results — and he works for MSN!  🙂

Anyway, thanks, Scott.  I appreciate the link!

So, back to Tech·Ed…

I was told that Gerry and I needed to find the “developer party” and make sure we went to it.  Ummm, OK.  We had a couple leads of who to ask, but no one seemed to know what we were talking about.  I ran into Jason Beres yesterday and was asking him about it and other things.  He didn’t have any idea either (so he said).  So, we had pretty much given up on that.

Later in the day, someone mentioned to us that there was some midwest region “something or other” happening that night and we should go.  We just needed to find the organizer to let him know.  Well, we couldn’t really find him either.  As it turns out, though, we happened to bump into him right before the bus left to take the group over there, and he told us to come along.

We ended up going to some Nascar thing at Universal City Walk.  They had a buffet, drinks and all of the arcade games were open and unlimited.  It was pretty sweet.

So anyway, as we’re in the bus on the way over there, I happened to notice that Rob Howard was on the bus.  So was James Avery.  As it turns out the event was actually a Central region event, not just the Midwest.

I thought that was pretty cool.  When we got to the Nascar place, we grabbed some food and ended up sitting at the same table as Rob Howard.  I know he’s just a person, but I thought it was nice to be able to hang out with him and the others.  I didn’t know until last night that Rob drives a Porsche and it costs him a few hundred bucks everytime he wants to change the oil.  Poor guy.

Well, after the food I started walking around and meeting some of the other people and I started to notice some of the other people that were there.  I saw Betsy Akoi, Angela Baxley (who works with Scott Guthrie at MS), Doug Seven (of dotnetjunkies), Jeff Julian, and others.  By this time I was realizing that this wasn’t just a midwest, or even a central region party.  This was a little bigger than that.

I also saw Jason Beres there.

Actually he saw me first.  He came up to me and, with a big smile on his face, said, “I see you made it.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t realize I was making it until I got here.”

Then he smiled again and said, “Oh, yeah, you made it.”

I wasn’t sure to be pissed that he didn’t just tell me when I asked him earlier, or if I should feel honored that I ended up there in the first place.

I decided to go with the honored feeling.

So after lots of food, soda, water, video games, talking with Betsy Akoi about GDN Workspaces, talking with Angela Baxley about Visual Web Developer and about the low number of females in technology, Rob Howard about his Porsche and the time the fire alarms went off at his apartment (he ran out of the building with a computers under each arm — a true geek), and a host of other user group leaders, we finally caught the last bus back.  We ended up getting to bed about 1 or 1:30.

But it was definitely worth it.

VMWare, Virtual PC and TechEd

So, I wanted to install VS 2005 Beta 2 so that I can play with it before (and at) Tech·Ed.  Well rather than install it rught my laptop (in case of any potential conflict or crash or whatever) I decided to install it in a virtual machine.  On my work laptop I installed VMWare Workstation and on my own laptop I installed Microsoft Virtual PC.

Both were incredibly slow.  I mean painful.  Granted each machine has only 512MB of RAM, but I can’t believe how slow it was.  S.  L.  O.  W.

Fortunately (in a sick sense), I had a problem with my work laptop and it will need to be re-imaged.  So I removed VMWare and installed Beta 2 right on the base OS. 

I got it all (VS, SQL, MSDN, Visio, VSS, etc.) installed just before I left the office today.  I’m hoping to get in a couple hours of “play time” before the sessions start.  If anyone else is using Beta 2 already, I’d appreciate any tips or warnings you might have.

Also, if you’re going to Tech·Ed, let me know.  I’m staying at Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa.

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