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 Thursday, 27 November 2008

As a follow-up on my post on Bizspark, Microsoft’s initiative to provide startups with free versions of their software, here is DreamSpark

Basically, DreamSpark is the same thing as Bizspark but aimed at students all over the world. DreamSpark is simple, it's all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and design tools at no charge. DreamSpark enables students to download and use Microsoft developer, designer, gaming tools, Windows Server 2008 and more. In order to access the softwares available on DreamSpark, students only need to verify their student status once every 12 months.

The full list of software that is available for free on DreamSpark’s site is:

  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition
  • Expression Studio 2 (includes Web, Blend, Media and Design)
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition
  • IT Academy Student Pass
  • Robotics Developers Studio 2008
  • SQL Server 2008 Express Edition
  • Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition
  • XNA Game Studio 2.0 (with 12-month Creators Club Student trial membership)
  • Virtual PC 2007

The Microsoft developer, designer and gaming tools available on DreamSpark are NOT 30-day trial versions; they’re the complete and full professional grade versions.

There is a little problem however. If you’re living in Canada like me (and probably in other places too), not every university is participating in this program.  Here is the list of the canadian’s universities that are participating as of today:

  • ISIC
  • McGill University
  • Queen’s University
  • Simon Fraser University
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Gelph
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Windsor
  • York University

So, if you’re canadian and not a student of one of these universities, you can’t benefit from this program right now.  However, i’m sure that Microsoft is working on integrating more universities into their program.

If you want to have your university added to this program, or if you are a administrator of a university that isn’t currently on Microsoft’s list, go to this page to get more information about enrolling.

Thursday, 27 November 2008 14:16:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
General | News
 Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Here is my list of some great file hosting sites that make uploading and sharing files really simple.

You are welcome to share if you know more free file hosting services which our readers/viewers may like.

MediaFire - Free File Hosting

MediaFire - Free File Hosting Made Simple

With the free account, you get unlimited :

  • Downloads
  • Uploads
  • Bandwidth
  • Storage

The only downside to this service is the 100Mb file size limit for the free account.  The file size limit for the pro account is 10Gb.

File Savr - Free File Hosting

File Savr

FileSavr.com makes file hosting easier with Web 2.0 technology and the use of Ajax and Flash. FileSavr has 10 GB upload size limit, currently the largest available on the internet. This allows users the flexibility to upload any large file of 10 GB or less.

File Factory - free and simple file hosting service

File Factory

FileFactory lets you host files up to 300MB for free. You don’t have to register and there is nothing to download. Your files can be downloaded an unlimited number of times! One thing I found very annoying and spammy about FileFactory was the number of ads they have on the page.

FileDen - Free file hosting and online storage

File Den

With File Den’s free file hosting and online storage service it’s easy to share files across the internet with friends, family, work associates or anyone else. They allow our users to direct link to their files also giving you the oppurtunity to embed your files into your webpages, myspace or other social networking profiles.

Fileqube - Free Online Storage

fileqube

Fileqube has an eye-pleasing design that shows its intentions well. When you upload a personal file it gives you a download link, a link to remove the file, and embed code to drop your file’s link on a website. The only downside is the 150MB file size, which is rather small with some of the other sites in comparison.

File Dropper - Free File Hosting for MP3, Videos, Documents

File dropper

FileDropper’s beauty is in its simplicity. It has one click file hosting where you simply click on the upload button and select your file. After the file is uploaded you are taken to the page where the file is hosted. If the file is an image, it shows the image directly on the page for easier sharing. Upload size is an impressive 5 GB.

Happy uploading!

 

Other posts:

8 easy tips to drive traffic from search engines to your site

Microsoft BizSpark - Free MS software for startups

Wednesday, 26 November 2008 16:27:40 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
General | Tools
 Thursday, 13 November 2008

My personal favourites taken from 101 Ways To Know Your Software Project Is Doomed.

  1. Developers use the excuse of “self documenting code” for no comments
  2. All of your requirements are written on a used cocktail napkin
  3. Progress is now measured by the number of fixed bugs and not completed features
  4. Your source code control system is a series of folders on a shared drive
  5. Your lead web developer defines AJAX as a cleaning product
  6. Developers are not responsible for any testing
  7. All code reviews are scheduled a week before product launch
  8. Every bug is prioritized as Critical
  9. Every feature is prioritized as Trivial
  10. The night shift at Starbucks knows you by name
  11. To reward you for all of your overtime your boss purchases a new coffee maker
  12. The lead web developer thinks the X in XHTML means ‘extreme’
  13. Ever team meeting starts with “Do you want the good news or the bad news…”

The sad part is how many of these actually ring true for real projects in real organizations.

Thursday, 13 November 2008 10:43:11 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Humor

 

Thursday, 13 November 2008 09:42:22 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Humor
 Wednesday, 12 November 2008

For my own reference, and yours, here's a complete overview of everything possible with a mailto link.

There are a couple of variables you can use in the queryString. As with any other URL, you use the ? to add the query parameters and the & to separate each parameter, which are in the form param=value

Here are the variables you can use in these mailto links:

mailto: to set the recipient, or recipients, separate with comma
cc to set the CC recipient(s)
bcc to set the BCC recipient(s)
subject to set the email subject, URL encode for longer sentences, so replace spaces with %20, etc.
body to set the body of the message, you can add entire sentences here, including line breaks. Line breaks should be converted to %0A.

Some mailto examples

Simple mailto link:

<a href="mailto:info@example.com">mail link</a>

mailto link with subject:

<a href="mailto:info@example.com?subject=email%20subject">mail link</a>

mailto link with multiple recipients:

<a href="mailto:info@example.com,email@example.com">mail link</a>

mailto link with a CC:

<a href="mailto:info@example.com?cc=email2@example.com">mail link</a>

mailto with message body already started:

<a href="mailto:info@example.com?body=these%20mailto%20links%20are%20cool">mail link</a>

mailto with 3 lines of message body:

<a href="mailto:info@example.com?body=these%20mailto%0Alinks%20are%0Acool">mail link</a>

mailto with 3 lines of message body and a BCC:

<a href="mailto:info@example.com?bcc=mail2@example.com&body=these%20mailto%0Alinks%20are%0Acool">mail link</a>

As you can see, you can add as many of these as you want and stack them on top of each other. On top of that, for the code to be valid HTML, you will have to replace every & with &amp;.

Happy mailing!

 

Other posts :

How To: Create an Outlook 2003 addin using VSTO SE and Visual Studio 2005

How to insert a file in an image column in SQL Server 2005

Tools for Web developers

Wednesday, 12 November 2008 13:45:47 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Code Snippet
 Wednesday, 05 November 2008

Microsoft is launching a new program focused on helping Startups get up and running. The program is called BizSpark and according to Microsoft, the biggest benefits are

  • Software. Receive fast and easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools, platform technologies, and production licenses of server products for immediate use in developing and bringing to market innovative and interoperable solutions. There is no upfront cost to enroll.
  • Support. Get connected to Network Partners around the world — incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters — that are equally involved and vested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship who will provide a wide range of support resources
  • Visibility. Achieve global visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners

Basically, you enroll and are given access to a almost all the nessecary server and development software you need. The server licenses are even prouduction grade, so you can deploy (from what I can tell) cheaply. You are getting a high end MSDN subscription and a lot more, all for free.

Wednesday, 05 November 2008 11:13:54 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
General | News
 Tuesday, 28 October 2008

There are some important differences between temporary tables:

create table #T (…)

And table variables:

declare @T table (…)

 

Temporary Tables

  • They are created using the “Create table” syntax, preceding the table name with a ’#’ for a local temp table and ‘##’ for a global temp table.
  • The allocated storage space within the TempDB database and entered into the TempDB system tables.
  • The table’s actual name is the name is was created with, a large number of underscores and a hash value, to prevent object name collisions if two connections create a temp table with the same name.
  • Can have a primary key, defaults, constraints and indexes (however the names of these are not hashed, possibly leading to duplicate object errors for constraints and defaults).
  • Can’t have triggers.
  • Foreign keys are permitted, but are not enforced.
  • Have column statistics kept on them. The algorithm for determining when to update is different to permanent tables.
  • Exist until they are dropped, or the connection closes.
  • Are visible in any child procedures called from the one where the table was created. Are not visible to parent procedures.

Table Variables

  • Created with a Declare statement, prefixing the table name with ‘@’, like all other variables.
  • Allocated storage space within the TempDB database and entered into the TempDB system tables.
  • The table variable’s name within TempDB starts with a #, followed by a hex string.
  • Can have a primary key and defaults. May not have constraints or indexes.
  • Can’t have triggers or foreign keys.
  • Do not have column statistics maintained on them.
  • Exist only while they are in scope, as any other variable, and are automatically dropped when they go out of scope.
  • Are not visible in any procedures other than the one they were created in.
  • Do not take part in transactions. Data modification done to a table variable within a transaction will remain if the transaction is rolled back.

Aside from those differences, which one will give the best performance you’ll ask me.  Well, like a lot of things in the SQL world, it depends.

I would say first that, when in doubt, you should try both solutions as the fastest solution is not always the most obvious one.

Also, be sure to note these important points:

  • Table variables are MUCH slower in SQL Server 2005 in comparaison to SQL Server 2000 (I don’t know for 2008).
  • Creating a primary key or a clustered index on a temporary table is useful only for large datasets (I would say above 50k records).  It as no significant impact on small sets of data.  In fact, it can lower your execution performance if you’re using stored procedures as clustered indexes creation forces the recompilation of the stored procedure, which can take more resources than the original query.
Other popular SQL Posts :

How to insert a file in an image column in SQL Server 2005

How to get the total number of rows in a database

How to remove leading zeros within an SQL Query

How to track the growth of your database
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:12:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
SQL
 Wednesday, 22 October 2008

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be difficult for the newcomers in this field but it’s certainly no voodoo magic.  In fact there are a lot of easy-to-implement tips to help drive traffic from search engines to your site.  Here are my favourites:

 

1. <title> tags:

This is maybe the most easy to implement.  <title> tags are used by all search engines to discover what your site is about.  Check your own site right now for that if your title reads “MyCompany”, then you can easily improve your results with search engines. You should rename your title tags to something looking like “MyCompany – Proviging Search Engine Optimization to small businesses”.  This more descriptive title will help search engine categorize better your website and this will give you a higher rank in searches.

 

2. <h1> tags:

Almost as important as <title> tags, <h1> tags are one of the primary source of context for search engines. You should have <h1> tags that are descriptive of your business. For example, if you have a software business but all your <h1> tags are used to display your political views, search engines will think something fishy is going on and you will get lower results.  Your h1 tags should not only be present, but also be descriptive of your business.

 

3. URL naming:

URLs are another source of information on the subject of a particular page.  If your urls contains only a GUID or a productID, your won’t get the benefits from this aspect of SEO.  URLs should be as descriptive as you can make them.  For example, this is a awful URL for SEO :

http://www.bestbuy.ca/catalog/proddetail.asp?sku_id=0926INGFS10110236

This is a much better URL for the same product

http://www.amazon.com/Guitar-Hero-III-Legends-Wireless-Bundle/dp/B000TG531G

 

4. Don’t be too hungry:

Don’t try to put irrelevant keywords on your site in the hope of getting better search results. This is called "Keyword stuffing" and “refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in search engine results”. Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site's ranking.

 

5. Links to your site:

Inbound links are also a big part of website ranking (the famous Google’s pagerank algorithm uses inbound links to rate websites).  The theory is that if a website is a reference in a particular domain, then lots of other websites will link to that particular website.

Beware of businesses that tells you that they will get you a higher pagerank by adding link to your website on sites that have a high pagerank.  That practice is called Link Farming and it may in fact LOWER your rank as this is considered bad practice.

 

6. Create value:

You need to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Before making any single decision, you should ask yourself the question: Is this going to be beneficial for my page's visitors?

Examples of content that generates links:

  • Free white papers related to your industry
  • Free code snippets / downloadable source code
  • Free solutions to existing problems your customers may have
  • Free tools

In fact, people loves free stuff, so providing them with some quality (and free) content will get you lots of quality links.

 

7. Avoid having an all flash/javascript sites:

Search engines can’t read javascript and/or flash code.  So, if your site contains only flash, it won’t be indexed by search engines.

 

8. Use descriptive alt text for images:

Search engines also can’t see your images.  So, for your images to appear high in image searches, you must give them descriptive alt text.

 

Other relevant posts:

What are your customers saying about you online?

Tools for Web developers

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 12:37:51 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Business | Marketing | SEO
 Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Tuesday, 21 October 2008 09:10:25 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Humor

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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.

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Stanislas Biron
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