What I’m Doing /now

This year I’ve decided to focus on a few things to become a better developer, and do things that make more of a difference in my life, my family’s life, others’ lives, and my career, but with less work.  There is no shortage of project ideas that I could explore, places to visit, meetups to attend, or emails to reply to, and that’s kind of the problem.  Recently, I ran across someone who had a /now page on their website.  It’s a movement started by Derek Sivers.  It’s similar to an /about page, but answers the question “What are you focusing on right now?”.  It’s the elevator pitch to what you would tell a friend that you hadn’t talked to in a year, which is really great to know, but that’s now why it’s great. It’s great because it forces you to put down into writing your priorities. It forces you to look at the short list of the things that matter to you, and it gives you really, really fast feedback if you’re “focusing” on way too many different things.  So, from now on, I’m going to keep a section of my site up to date on the /now page.

I’m always interested in ways to help automate my “0-60” introduction and help people better understand where I’m at, so that we can both help each other out better.  How do you keep acquaintances and random internet passer-bys up to date on where you currently are in life? Is there something better?

Check out my /now page to see what I’m up to…right now!

JavaScript is Crazy! Code This, Not That!

Below are the slides from my recent talk at TriJS titled “Code this, not that”, on JavaScript and replacements for some of the ways we solve problems in JavaScript, and alternatives that are better and less error prone. It’s also got a few interesting bits of knowledge that’ll definitely surprise you, like the truth table…let’s just say JS gets a little crazy.

Moving from iOS to Windows 10 Phone on the Lumia 950 XL

I’ve been using an iPhone with a Windows PC for about the last 4 years.  Before that it was an Android Phone and a MacBook Pro.  Admittedly, I’m an early adopter and generally like to play with new technology and see how it can improve my life.  I love Windows 10 and the beautiful balance it strikes between touch and desktop – and with Cortana, I truly feel like Windows 10 as an OS has made me more productive than ever before.  When Microsoft announced the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, it came right at the end of my Verizon contract, so I decided to make the jump.  So far, I’ve had the phone for about 2 full days, and this blog post series will cover my journey from iOS and the iPhone to Windows 10 Mobile, the pros and cons, what you’ll love and what you’ll miss. (more…)

Announcing Ember.JS and Broccoli.JS Task Runner Extension for Visual Studio

Visual Studio has an amazing task runner that lets you integrate run task-based command line tools into VS’s build system.  This means you can list commands and even set them to run with builds right inside Visual Studio without even touching the command line!  This is great for getting your team using these command line tools, while taking baby steps if your team isn’t comfortable with the command line yet.  The Broccoli Task Runner adds support for both Broccoli files as well as EmberCLI files, which means all your Ember.JS apps now have full support in Visual Studio!

You can download the tools in the Visual Studio Gallery or contribute to it (since it’s open source) on Github.

How To Set Up an EmberJS App Inside of an ASP.NET MVC App

I love Ember. It helps me build fantastic UIs, but security isn’t super straightforward and I suck at it. I love ASP.NET MVC. It help me build secure applications and solid APIs, but for some apps I need a great responsive UI with great interaction.

Together, these two technologies can be used together to create really amazing apps (and really quickly, too). So this guide is to show you how to set them up together. (more…)

Synchronize Node.JS Install Version with Visual Studio 2015

Visual Studio 2015 is out for download now (and free for individual use)!  It’s been so great to have integrated Grunt and Gulp support, and ES6+ features.  In addition, Visual Studio 2015’s installer has an option to install Node.JS as part of its regular install in order to support the Gulp and Grunt task runners that are built in.  However I ran into an issue today in which I updated Node.JS outside of Visual Studio, but since VS uses its own install that is separate from any outside installation, you can potentially run into a node_modules package dependency issue where one version of npm installs a package (which makes it rely on that version of Node/npm), and then you can’t run commands in the other version (they break).  Specifically, I had an issue with node-sass and windows bindings.  The solution was to point Visual Studio to the version of Node.JS that I had already set up externally to Visual Studio.  Here’s how to synchronize them: (more…)

NServiceBus: Could not enumerate all types

I’ve recently started using NServiceBus for the first time in a long time.  The initial setup was great, but once I started integrating it into a really large, complex, existing app, it took a bit of re-working.  One of the errors I ran into was a HUGE string of errors all centering around not being able to enumerate all types.  In this case, the root cause turned out to be NServiceBus scanning every single .dll of your app looking for handlers.  By default, it searches everything, and when that happens it can run into situations where it can break.  The out of the box, greenfield developer experience works great, but if you’re adding NServiceBus to an existing app, then you need to add the line below to fix the error.

Basically in an existing app where you’ve added NServiceBus code to handle/send messages, then you know exactly the assembly where it lives.  Again, by default, NServiceBus scans everything, so in NServiceBus 5.0 and above, when you create the actual Bus object, you need to specify in the configuration the assemblies you want to scan.  Generally, the code is going to be in right int he webapp/console app that you are adding it to, so in that case just add:

[syntax type=”html|php|js|css”]

var config = new BusConfiguration();

// config.AllYourOtherConfigurationGoesHere

config.AssembliesToScan(Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly());

var bus = Bus.Create(config);

[/syntax]

This tells NServiceBus to only scan the assembly that is currently in use (This will fix things 95% of the time, unless your comsumer/sender code is in a different project and pulled in).  Once this is configured, NServiceBus will not scan every single assembly in hopes of finding a handler somewhere, which helps a ton if you have really old assemblies that are fragile and busted.  🙂

Ghost Migrating to Wordpress

Ghost VS WordPress (and Why I Migrated Back to WordPress)

A few weeks ago I decided to hop on the Ghost train.  Ghost is a blogging engine, written in Node.js (JavaScript) and is only a little over a year old now, but has a huge backing for how young it is.  In general, there’s a ton of hype around new tools and frameworks in the development community, and this is no different.  I’ve had my blog on WordPress since the beginning, so I decided to run an experiment for a bit and get an objective answer as to which is better for me and document my experiences, so here we go.  Let’s compare Ghost VS WordPress! (more…)

Redirect WWW to Non-WWW using the Web.config

By now, most people know that websites’ SEO is dinged by Google when there is both a www and non-www url with the same content on both. Google (and Bing) treat them as two separate sites and they fight for pagerank as everyone else blows your two competing sites out of the water. I’ve had redirects set up on my WordPress blog for the past 4 years, which is pretty easy to do, but I recently moved my blog over to Ghost blogging engine and since it’s currently at version 0.5, it didn’t have this 301 redirect functionality built in, so I needed to roll my own. Since I was moving to Azure Websites, I needed to add a redirect to get this fixed in the web.config, so I thought I’d share it with you! 

Redirecting to non-www using the Web.config

You can always use IIS to explicity set up a redirect, but I find that these types of configurations are best done in the Web.config, since they are (1) more portable, (2) have the ability to be stored in source control, and (3) can be included in Web.config transformations if you want to get all fancy!

Here’s what you need to add to your Web.config:

<rewrite>
    <rules>
        <rule name="Redirect to non-www" stopProcessing="true">
            <match url="(.*)" negate="false"></match>
            <action type="Redirect" url="http://domain.com/{R:1}"></action>
            <conditions>
                <add input="{HTTP_HOST}" pattern="^domain\.com$" negate="true"></add>
            </conditions>
        </rule>
    </rules>
</rewrite>

 

Note: You’ll need to make sure that for redirecting a site like www.example.com to example.com, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve configured both of those domains to point to your website. If you never set up the www. site to point to your host, IIS and your Web.config will never be hit to do a redirection.

 

 

Collect Lost SEO

And that’s it! These redirects have huge effects on what I call “accidental” SEO. All over the internet you’ll find people in the habit of hand-linking to websites, and we’ve got a bad habit of just assuming www and non-www links are inter-changeable, when they’re not. Setting up these redirects will ensure you get credit for all (or many, many more) of the links to your site that are out there on the web.

Use CSS background:rbga to Darken Background Photos For Improved UX

If you’ve been to any new websites lately, you’ll know that parallax scrolling and large background images are incredibly popular right now. They’re great because they are able to help better tell stories, with big, gorgeous photos on the background and relevant text in the foreground overlaying those images as you scroll. In addition, responsive design means that the text overlaying these photos can move around. One of the challenges in this is that you’re likely to run into an issue where you have the text the same color as the image behind it. There are a couple of ways to deal with this, but let me show you my personal favorite.
There is a relatively newer CSS property that you can apply to a background where you can overlay it with a color and specify the opacity (seethrough-ness). Using this is a great way to darken the background just enough to make white text more readable and pop. Here’s an example of the before and after shot on my blog:
(more…)