Andrew's Blog

To Infinity and Beyond

Bee Hive 2016-08-26

Moving Beehives across the back yard.

Part 2 of moving.

After being stung twice last night, I didn’t want a repeat of that again. So tonight I put on my socks with the holes cut in them to act like glove extender protectors, and I wore another set of a thin bee hive suit we purchased for basic bee checks.

It was after dusk when I started out, I had planned it this way as the temperate drops dramatically around that time of night. I think it was about 10 degrees (Celcius) at the time that I performed this task.

At last, I think I have figured out how to light and keep the smoker going for the full length of time required.  For those of you having trouble, read my post on How to Light a Bee Hive Smoker.

This seemed to have done the thing, because even though there seemed to be a lot of bees around, I did not get stung!

No wonder I couldn’t get the top box off of the hive last night. the box below it was totally stuck so when I did pull off the top, almost all of the bottom frames came with it!  At least I could deal with it this time.

I taped up the entrance to the hive and wrapped the hive up so it would not come apart. Then I decided to just move it straight to its new location. Why not? This will mean that I only have to open the hive up sometime next week, probably Sunday.

 

Bee

Bee

Bee Hive 2016-08-20

Bee Hive Update August 2016

Every week I head out to check on our beehive. It is hard not to notice them in our small back yard as they are quite prominent.

However, I have been watching a lot of You Tube videos on how people deal with their hives, and I think that due to the location and accessibility of our hives, that I am probably freaking them out when I am in the garden.

In addition, there is an entire section of our garden my wife and I seem to be less likely to go to now we have the bees. This is because the bees are aimed straight at that plot of land, and it seems to be their ‘runway’.   As the hives are only accessible from the front, I have learnt from experience that they really do not like this, it really seems to agitate them.

And so it came to pass that I felt it was time to move the hives to better enable us to access the rear and sides of the hive. While also moving it slightly further away from the neighbors by about 10 meters. Mind you there are two fences between the bee hives and the neighbors.

So after preparing the land to allow for the bee hives to be moved, I suited up.

I am yet to master the smoker. I know that sounds strange coming from someone who is capable of lighting a fire, but I think that perhaps I am not well prepared at any point in time for creating a new smoker.  Some days it works well, today.  If you ask me, bees don’t like the smoke. if anything it agitates them like a crazy man running around with his arms waving above his head.  Yet all I do is smoke them.

With both hives smoked, I decided to move the smallest hive first. Makes sense to me. Do the smaller one, check my method and then move the bigger one. Given how dark it was and how cold it is, they sure don’t like being moved!  However, the small hive had been moved, bees were everywhere and .. OMG, one of the buggers was in my suit buzzing around my head! Not a good feeling, because they really shouldn’t bet getting  in.  I found out later I had not totally zipped up one of the sides to the helmet.  So like any good bee defending the colony, I got stung.

So, having been stung, I decided that dealing with the sting was more important than moving the bigger hive. So, after removing the sting, I went back to the hive which I just moved and placed a piece of wood over the entrance.  It is recommended that when moving a hive such a short distance as this, that I should prevent the bees from leaving for a few days. It is to do with stopping the bees from returning to the original location of the hive.   I plan on taking this off in a few days, by then I am sure they will be just itching to get out.

I shall leave that for tomorrow, and take some pics of the new location then too.

 

DateTime of DayCircumstance Surrounding Sting(s)Other Comments
2015-11-186:00 PMI had just finished 'pounding' in a post using the heavy crow bar. I think a bee caught a ride on my left leg. I was not stung until I walked past the front door to the Chicken Coop. The sting was more like a surprising annoyance. In fact ants leave a worse lasting impression. The sting was gone within 15 or 20 minutes.
2015-12-195:15 PMI was inspecting the right hand side Hive, and felt it sting me through my right leather glove!
2015-12-259:00 AMI had noticed that there were small ants crawling on the right hand side hive. So I put some boiling water and dish-washing liquid into a container, and gently cleaned off the ants. At least one of the bees decided I was in participation with the ants, so I got stung on the right forearm.
2016-01-107:30 PMWhile watering, one bee decided to become kamikaze on me. Making a bee line straight for my head, it was a one on one battle between me, the water hose and a bee. The bee won, and died a fast, painful death. My head is still sore.
2016-01-166:30 PMWatering, but this time i was wearing a simple bee suit. So of course it stung me on the left thigh.
2016-02-207:00 PMHaving just finished inspecting both hives, and adding a new box to one of the hives, I was walking away and one stung me on the instep of my left ankle. Approx 15 seconds later another one stung me on the out step of my ankle. I am convinced that this was a synchronized kamikaze attempt to ward me from the hive.
2016-03-037:00 PMI was inspecting the right hive. Fully suited up and wearing as much protection as possible. One bee stung me through my suit on the right lower forearm - somehow getting through the top part of my glove. Later on I found out that this bee managed to sting me twice (or perhaps it was two bees?).

Then, at my right ankle. What is it about ankles? I had three or four stings take me out. One in particular really hurt! I just remember thinking, Ill grin and bear it.

Over all, that is about six stings. More stings than I have ever had at once before.
So, I noticed my face start to swell up afterwards. I had never noticed this action before, so I thought it might be best to head off down to the ER and see if something should be done with it. Needless to say I got a shot of adrenaline and some antihistamine tablets. Four hours later, I was released and felt very tired for the next few days.

I have decided to leave the bees alone for a few weeks!
2016-03-087:00 PMI was watering the pot plants. It has never been an issue before, but a bee decided to attack me. I am no where near the bee hive, but still it seems I am on the agenda! This time it is the back of my left hand. Here is for hoping nothing further comes out of this sting.
2016-08-206:25 PM (after Sunset)I had decided to move both my hives so they are not as close to the neighbors. After discussing the new location and setting up the new location, I decided to wait until sunset, when the temperature would drop to about 13 degrees Fahrenheit. I had almost finished moving one of the hives when I noticed a buzzing sound slightly louder then usual only to find that the bugger had gotten into my suit and on my face! Bastard stung me about 1cm left of my left eye. While I have not finished moving both hives, I decided it was more important to get this sting out of my eye. So, one hive moved thus far.
2016-08-256:30 PM (after sunset)Not sure what I was thinking. I didn't wear the full suit. I could not find the protective sock coverings which I usually wear (long socks with five holes cut out of them that protect my wrists and arms).

One bee stung me through my leather gloves on the left wrist, and then moments later another bee stung me on the right wrist.

I was able to get them out quick enough. Though while the sting on my right dissipated quickly, the one on the left swelled for quite a few hours.
2016-08-289:15 AMI should have been wearing a hat!
I was pruning the Tamarillo tree (it is a cousin to the tomato plant) and a bee landed on my hair. Instead of flying off, it kept buzzing and must have gotten itself caught. The inevitable happened and I got stung on my head. Lucky my wife was around to get it out.

DateTime and DateTimeOffset

DateTime and DateTimeOffset

for more information, reference: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/bartd/2009/03/31/the-death-of-datetime/

As of SQL 2008 a new and improved DateTime datatype is available, called DateTimeOffset.

I suspect it will be difficult for many coders to move away from the DateTime datatype, however there are several benefits to using the DateTimeOffset datatype.

The DateTimeOffset stores the current time as well as the offset of that time from UTC time. This becomes useful when comparing DateTimes that occurred across time zones, or between Daylight Savings Times.

The DateTimeOffset requires upto 2 extra Bytes over the original DateTime DataType.

SELECT SYSDATETIMEOFFSET()

Identify what your SQL SErvers UTF offset currently is:

SELECT DATENAME (TZoffset, SYSDATETIMEOFFSET())

–Variable provided calculated.

DECLARE @N DATETIMEOFFSET;
SET @N = GETDATE();
SELECT TODATETIMEOFFSET (@N, DATENAME (TZoffset, SYSDATETIMEOFFSET()))

Do you work best in a Vacuum

When do you do your best work?

Do you do your best work on your own, late at night, early in the morning, during a team meeting, while brainstorming with others on whiteboard? In fact the ways in which we all ‘do our best work’ is so wide and varied, that I do not think I could cover all the options in this little write up.

For me personally, I personally feel that my best work is done in conjunction with at least one other person and I have seen on rare occasions that ‘as a team’ we have been able to come up with some amazing ideas, however these moments seem to be few and rare.  I personally find this a shame, as I like to be challenged. But I also like to know that there is someone else there who I can spring ideas off of, and vice versa, as necessary.

I can remember watching Medium a few years back. You have probably seen the show where Alison DuBois has this ‘ability’ .. while she may have this ability, you realize fairly quickly that it is her conscience and integrity that really creates a good character for the show. But for me, from the show I kind of preferred Joe Dubois (played by Jake Weber).  In Season 6, Joe gets a new job, but to his dismay he has to work with a very eccentric leader played by Joel Moore.  This eccentric leader is exceptionally smart, ultra talented. So much so that his entire team gets paid to sit around and pretend to work, because the eccentric leader believed that he could do better without being hindered by others. Joe, not being one to sit around on his laurels, takes some of his bosses’ work and finds areas for improvement. When Joe returns the next day he provides his solutions to the eccentric boss, and quotes (or at least I am paraphrasing):

No one does their best work in a vacuum.

For me, this is true. I try to do my best in each situation however, I know that when I work with others that the quality of the work seems to be much higher, than if I worked by myself.

VB Dot Net Threading implementing System.ComponentModel BackgroundWorker

This article explains the basics of Dot Net Threading, provides a simplistic diagram of how to implement a Background Worker into code, AND I provide VB .NET code that demonstrates one application with three Threads showing different ways to implement Background Worker Thread so as to update controls, objects and variable from a form. Hopefully I have done this in a constructive way so that you, the novice yet to learn about threading, or the ‘I am about to pull my hair out’ coder can take it and see how easy it is to implement a thread.  BE WARNED. There is absolutely no error coding in this application as the point was to show you Threading, not Error Control.  Perhaps I could make that another topic?

Threading. You are either a programmer who understand what it is, or you probably are not a programmer.

When I say the word ‘Multitasking’ most people have an understanding that computers can multitask, and females love to say they can multitask, and employees try to say they are great at their job because they multitask,  yet they would have no idea about CPU Time Slicing or what effort it takes to make YOUR program Thread Safe.

I am somewhat bemused when I tell people that I’ve been doing some programming and how I needed to do some threading, and their response implies that I have a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet open and am having difficulty with a formula.  Um. No.

How easy is threading?  On a scale of 1 : 10, I’d rate it about a 7. or an 8.  If you have a framework, it still takes care and consideration.  Compared with anything I do at work, Threading is FAR more complicated.

Enough crapping.. bollocking on!  Let’s do this.

  1. Pictures tell a thousand words, and here is my Play School Style Picture (oops, I meant to say the Parallel System Support Program).  
  2. And below I illustrate the classes in my application.  Note that I have three threads, depicted as Thread_A, Thread_B, Thread_C. Each Thread requires three classes.
    I personally like to name classes so that I can quickly and easily identify what they do.  If you prefer to use ambiguous names feel free to call them what you like.
    I use one class to store a ‘database table’ of types (clsTableStorage, which creates a Data Table consisting of four columns), and then there is the main form, which has the controls on it for testing.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to DO anything – this is currently working in Visual Studio 2010 with Dot Net 4.0Classes for Threading
  3. On first Load, I have Three lines of Controls (two labels, a Progress Bar, one label) Then two Command buttons followed by a Data Grid View. Your mission, should you accept it, is to press the Run button. OnLoad - Form Background Worker Thread
  4. After you pressed the run button, you probably saw all three lines of controls, display different things. Each Line represents a different thread.  They should run fairly fast as the thread is nothing more than looping a For Loop from 0 to 500, and updating the controls as it goes. In the case of the Data Grid View, I only update the grid every 50th Record.Completed - Form Background Worker Thread
  5. Ah, so what?! I hear you exclaim. Well., there are three different models being used to update these controls:
    1. The first Thread updates the Controls directly.  I pass the name of each and every control to the Thread, and it updates those controls.  If you have not had threading work before, this seems like a miracle cure… but if you have more than five controls to update, it is going to be a pain in the neck!   Still . it works.
    2. This thread passes in a Data Table in the form of a variable.  The thread only updates the Data Table.  The way that the controls get updated is that before calling the thread, I bind the controls to the Data Table as if it were a Data Source (which it is in fact). There are downsides to this method.  Downside 1. As  you will see when you run the code, the Progress Bar will not update during the thread. Downside 2: the Data Table can only store ONE RECORD for this to work.  If you can make it work with a Data Table that stores two or more, please let me know as I did try to include that as the next example.
    3. This thread uses a Data Table (obviously) but I pass in the Progress bar AND I prove to you that you can modify the form side variable (the Data Table) while the thread is in play.  After you have clicked ‘Run’ (and don’t wait for the code to end) Simply click ‘Force Record into Data Table’, and a dummy record will be ‘injected’ into the Data Table.  If you look at the code, you will see there are no tricks here. The Data Grid View is bound to the Data Table.  I think this is pretty cool!
  6. Go ahead and check out the code!  I suggest commenting out one section of thread while you identify how the other ones work… but you will find that they work the way I describe it in my Play School Style hand out.
  7. If your computer is not very powerful, you may need to extend the
    Form1 Constant;
    Const THREADSLEEPTIME As Integer =1,
    to
    Const THREADSLEEPTIME As Integer = 3

 

In case you missed it, the VB.NET code, and I really don’t know  how you did so, it is here.  and way over there (Look right).                                            ->

 

Since creating this post, I modified the Thread Example to include a fourth thread.  This fourth thread runs from within the for loop, presented below.  This is imitating a section (or sections) of code where the guts of the code can take a while to calculate. In my case I send it off to calculate a Fibonacci Number, and I am happy to report that doing so slowed down the application… slightly.

The

I also took the time to improve some small issues… but nothing major.

I also noticed, that at home on my 6 year old laptop, that the threads required a longer THREADSLEEPTIME than on my good  computer, which was actually a  surprise.  What was interesting was that as the night went on, the laptop became more responsive towards the program.

 

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Bee Hive 2015-12-19

I have no pictures today as normally I get someone else to take pictures while I perform the autopsy 🙂

Temperature during the inspection today was a balmy 39 Degrees, which is cooler than the 44 Degrees (Celsius) it reached earlier on today.

My left hand hive is finally taking off, so it is a good job I have some spare brood boxes in the shed. Next month I will be adding another brood box on top.

The Right had hive, which I added a second Brood box to late last month, is already looking really good.  Most of the frames have bee wax on them and there are some signs of frames with honey on them already. I am looking forward to being able to take a frame or two out at some time to collect my first bit of honey, but I am no where near ready for that yet.

DateTime of DayCircumstance Surrounding Sting(s)Other Comments
2015-11-186:00 PMI had just finished 'pounding' in a post using the heavy crow bar. I think a bee caught a ride on my left leg. I was not stung until I walked past the front door to the Chicken Coop. The sting was more like a surprising annoyance. In fact ants leave a worse lasting impression. The sting was gone within 15 or 20 minutes.
2015-12-195:15 PMI was inspecting the right hand side Hive, and felt it sting me through my right leather glove!
2015-12-259:00 AMI had noticed that there were small ants crawling on the right hand side hive. So I put some boiling water and dish-washing liquid into a container, and gently cleaned off the ants. At least one of the bees decided I was in participation with the ants, so I got stung on the right forearm.
2016-01-107:30 PMWhile watering, one bee decided to become kamikaze on me. Making a bee line straight for my head, it was a one on one battle between me, the water hose and a bee. The bee won, and died a fast, painful death. My head is still sore.
2016-01-166:30 PMWatering, but this time i was wearing a simple bee suit. So of course it stung me on the left thigh.
2016-02-207:00 PMHaving just finished inspecting both hives, and adding a new box to one of the hives, I was walking away and one stung me on the instep of my left ankle. Approx 15 seconds later another one stung me on the out step of my ankle. I am convinced that this was a synchronized kamikaze attempt to ward me from the hive.
2016-03-037:00 PMI was inspecting the right hive. Fully suited up and wearing as much protection as possible. One bee stung me through my suit on the right lower forearm - somehow getting through the top part of my glove. Later on I found out that this bee managed to sting me twice (or perhaps it was two bees?).

Then, at my right ankle. What is it about ankles? I had three or four stings take me out. One in particular really hurt! I just remember thinking, Ill grin and bear it.

Over all, that is about six stings. More stings than I have ever had at once before.
So, I noticed my face start to swell up afterwards. I had never noticed this action before, so I thought it might be best to head off down to the ER and see if something should be done with it. Needless to say I got a shot of adrenaline and some antihistamine tablets. Four hours later, I was released and felt very tired for the next few days.

I have decided to leave the bees alone for a few weeks!
2016-03-087:00 PMI was watering the pot plants. It has never been an issue before, but a bee decided to attack me. I am no where near the bee hive, but still it seems I am on the agenda! This time it is the back of my left hand. Here is for hoping nothing further comes out of this sting.
2016-08-206:25 PM (after Sunset)I had decided to move both my hives so they are not as close to the neighbors. After discussing the new location and setting up the new location, I decided to wait until sunset, when the temperature would drop to about 13 degrees Fahrenheit. I had almost finished moving one of the hives when I noticed a buzzing sound slightly louder then usual only to find that the bugger had gotten into my suit and on my face! Bastard stung me about 1cm left of my left eye. While I have not finished moving both hives, I decided it was more important to get this sting out of my eye. So, one hive moved thus far.
2016-08-256:30 PM (after sunset)Not sure what I was thinking. I didn't wear the full suit. I could not find the protective sock coverings which I usually wear (long socks with five holes cut out of them that protect my wrists and arms).

One bee stung me through my leather gloves on the left wrist, and then moments later another bee stung me on the right wrist.

I was able to get them out quick enough. Though while the sting on my right dissipated quickly, the one on the left swelled for quite a few hours.
2016-08-289:15 AMI should have been wearing a hat!
I was pruning the Tamarillo tree (it is a cousin to the tomato plant) and a bee landed on my hair. Instead of flying off, it kept buzzing and must have gotten itself caught. The inevitable happened and I got stung on my head. Lucky my wife was around to get it out.
DateTime of DayCircumstance Surrounding Sting(s)Other Comments
2015-11-306:350 AMApparently 2 bees went a little too close to her while she was picking lettuce in the garden. They got tangled up in her hair (she tried so hard not to react to them). One flew away but the other got disorientated and stung her on the back of the neck.What surprised me is how long she took to come to me and ask.. 'Do I have a bee sting in my neck?' A whole 5 minutes. Anyway, when I removed the sting, she had no swelling or any signs of a reaction to the sting whatsoever. PHEW!
2015-12-237:40 PMDuring general gardening, it seems a bee wanted to explore my wifes head. Having long hair, they seem to get tangled and possibly even confused, so in this case it decided to sting her. Now we are not sure if she was stung twice or once, but I could only find one sting lodged in her head.In future, I think we should just wear a hat when around the hives.

 

Record of Bee Stings

I have decided to try to keep a record of each time I get stung by a bee. It just seems like a logical thing to do, for someone like me who deals with ‘data’ on a daily basis.

DateTime of DayCircumstance Surrounding Sting(s)Other Comments
2015-11-186:00 PMI had just finished 'pounding' in a post using the heavy crow bar. I think a bee caught a ride on my left leg. I was not stung until I walked past the front door to the Chicken Coop. The sting was more like a surprising annoyance. In fact ants leave a worse lasting impression. The sting was gone within 15 or 20 minutes.
2015-12-195:15 PMI was inspecting the right hand side Hive, and felt it sting me through my right leather glove!
2015-12-259:00 AMI had noticed that there were small ants crawling on the right hand side hive. So I put some boiling water and dish-washing liquid into a container, and gently cleaned off the ants. At least one of the bees decided I was in participation with the ants, so I got stung on the right forearm.
2016-01-107:30 PMWhile watering, one bee decided to become kamikaze on me. Making a bee line straight for my head, it was a one on one battle between me, the water hose and a bee. The bee won, and died a fast, painful death. My head is still sore.
2016-01-166:30 PMWatering, but this time i was wearing a simple bee suit. So of course it stung me on the left thigh.
2016-02-207:00 PMHaving just finished inspecting both hives, and adding a new box to one of the hives, I was walking away and one stung me on the instep of my left ankle. Approx 15 seconds later another one stung me on the out step of my ankle. I am convinced that this was a synchronized kamikaze attempt to ward me from the hive.
2016-03-037:00 PMI was inspecting the right hive. Fully suited up and wearing as much protection as possible. One bee stung me through my suit on the right lower forearm - somehow getting through the top part of my glove. Later on I found out that this bee managed to sting me twice (or perhaps it was two bees?).

Then, at my right ankle. What is it about ankles? I had three or four stings take me out. One in particular really hurt! I just remember thinking, Ill grin and bear it.

Over all, that is about six stings. More stings than I have ever had at once before.
So, I noticed my face start to swell up afterwards. I had never noticed this action before, so I thought it might be best to head off down to the ER and see if something should be done with it. Needless to say I got a shot of adrenaline and some antihistamine tablets. Four hours later, I was released and felt very tired for the next few days.

I have decided to leave the bees alone for a few weeks!
2016-03-087:00 PMI was watering the pot plants. It has never been an issue before, but a bee decided to attack me. I am no where near the bee hive, but still it seems I am on the agenda! This time it is the back of my left hand. Here is for hoping nothing further comes out of this sting.
2016-08-206:25 PM (after Sunset)I had decided to move both my hives so they are not as close to the neighbors. After discussing the new location and setting up the new location, I decided to wait until sunset, when the temperature would drop to about 13 degrees Fahrenheit. I had almost finished moving one of the hives when I noticed a buzzing sound slightly louder then usual only to find that the bugger had gotten into my suit and on my face! Bastard stung me about 1cm left of my left eye. While I have not finished moving both hives, I decided it was more important to get this sting out of my eye. So, one hive moved thus far.
2016-08-256:30 PM (after sunset)Not sure what I was thinking. I didn't wear the full suit. I could not find the protective sock coverings which I usually wear (long socks with five holes cut out of them that protect my wrists and arms).

One bee stung me through my leather gloves on the left wrist, and then moments later another bee stung me on the right wrist.

I was able to get them out quick enough. Though while the sting on my right dissipated quickly, the one on the left swelled for quite a few hours.
2016-08-289:15 AMI should have been wearing a hat!
I was pruning the Tamarillo tree (it is a cousin to the tomato plant) and a bee landed on my hair. Instead of flying off, it kept buzzing and must have gotten itself caught. The inevitable happened and I got stung on my head. Lucky my wife was around to get it out.

 

Alas, it finally happened. My beautiful wife got her very first ever bee sting.  Allow me to reiterate.  My wife has gone her entire life without ever being stung by a bee.

DateTime of DayCircumstance Surrounding Sting(s)Other Comments
2015-11-306:350 AMApparently 2 bees went a little too close to her while she was picking lettuce in the garden. They got tangled up in her hair (she tried so hard not to react to them). One flew away but the other got disorientated and stung her on the back of the neck.What surprised me is how long she took to come to me and ask.. 'Do I have a bee sting in my neck?' A whole 5 minutes. Anyway, when I removed the sting, she had no swelling or any signs of a reaction to the sting whatsoever. PHEW!
2015-12-237:40 PMDuring general gardening, it seems a bee wanted to explore my wifes head. Having long hair, they seem to get tangled and possibly even confused, so in this case it decided to sting her. Now we are not sure if she was stung twice or once, but I could only find one sting lodged in her head.In future, I think we should just wear a hat when around the hives.

Bee Hide Shade Cloth

2015-11-18 Putting up the Bee Hive Shade Cloth

IT was suggested to me by a member of the Adelaide Bee Hive Society, highly suggested that I put shade cloth up above the bee hives. While I have a lovely Tamerillo tree above the hives, it is not really large enough to provide good enough shade during the summer 35 degree to 45 degree days. (Celsius)   So this evening I put up a shade cloth to provide that little bit of extra shade.

2015-11-18 Shade Cloth 3 2015-11-18 Shade Cloth 1
2015-11-18 Shade Cloth 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015-11-18 Shade Cloth Underneath

Ghost on / for / with WordPress

Note to self; Just the name makes me want to look it up.

https://www.ghostforbeginners.com/

 

How to grow a Nice Lawn

I am often asked how i make my lawn grow as nice as it is.  People often tell me how their lawn is full of weeds that it doesn’t look as green as mine does and that they just cant get it to grow.  However, that grass grows where they don’t want it and that it grows in those places as if it were a weed.  Even after a mow (pictured below) my lawn still looks nice enough to post.   I really should have shown it prior to the mowing, as it looked amazing then, too.  Tell you what, I’ll post a pic in a week or so to show you the difference!

Looks nice even after a good mow!

To get to this point, I sought the advice of a wise gardener, Mike McGrath (thanks Mike), and while Mike is in America, and I am in South Australia, Adelaide there are a few differences, but in my mind, not enough to detract from his advice.  (Mike’s specific advice on Lawn Care, which I suggest you read)  I took the plunge to follow Mike’s advice and vowed to follow it for one year.  This picture is after six months of advice, and I have to say that I am so far very impressed.

I am going to paraphrase Mike (hope that is OK with you, Mike) ‘s advice on how to grow lawn. To do this, I am going to ask questions, and provide the answer in LAY PERSONS TERMS. Meaning, those of you with degrees in this stuff will disagree with me on terminology and technicality.  The rest of you, who are a lay person like me, this information is good enough to get your to understand what you need to do to have Lush, Green, Lawn!  (This has been carefully formulated towards the Aussie Language)

How does lawn grow:

Question: What is it about lawn that makes it grow?
Answer: This one is easy. Lawn is green due to something known as Photosynthesis.

Question: Which part of the lawn is used to for Photosynthesis.
Answer: The Leaf, part.  (the top, green part)  Think  of it like the Solar Panels on the top of a house. The more there are the more energy is produced.

Question:  When you mow, what part are you cutting off?
Answer:  The Leaf, part.  (the top, green part) the part responsible for creating the energy which makes the lawn look green and lush.

Question: So, if you mow, are you helping the grass to grow, or hindering its growth?
Answer: Most likely Hindering.  Less Leaf means less surface area to produce energy.

Statement: Don’t cut off too much of the lawn.  Mike suggests 3 to 3.5 inches (7 to 9 cm) tall.
Response: My lawnmower doesn’t go up that high. So I just put it on the highest setting and off I go. I never go lower than the highest setting.

Fertiliser Questions…

Question:  If you were to purchase 10-10-10 Fertilizer (and I am NOT suggesting you purchase this stuff at all), do you know what those numbers refer to?
Answer: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium.

Question: Of the three, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, which one, two or three does your lawn require more of?
Answer: Nitrogen then Potassium.
Nitrogen is the largest of the three mineral elements used by grasses.
Potassium facilitates photosynthesis, water absorption and strengthens the plant.
To be clear, Phosphorus moves slowly through the soil and is not used (as much) by plants and as a negative can become a water pollutant.

Question: What is the cheapest and simplest way to get Nitrogen into the lawn?
Answer: The Leaf section of the Grass is full of rich, juicy Nitrogen. If when you cut the lawn, you mulch up that part of the lawn and reapply it to the lawn, you have all the Nitrogen the lawn requires to be fed for another cycle.

Question: What is the Cheapest and simplest way to get Potassium into the lawn?
Answer: I have no idea. At a guess I bet Mike does. I suggest you read Mike’s specific advice on Lawn Care

Question: Should I purchase fertiliser such as Weed’N’Feed to put on my lawn?
Answer: I no longer use ‘fertiliser’ or ‘Weed’n’Feed’ type fertilisers.  The recommendation is to use a ‘Corn Gluten Meal‘ however I have no idea where to purchase this stuff in Australia. So for the time being I am not using any fertiliser of any type.

Question: How to Cut and Mulch in one swift movement.
Answer: I personally own a Masport Mulching attachment.  As long as the blades on my lawnmower are sharp, this works like a charm.  The moment I see tearing on my lawn I know my blades need to be sharpened.  But if I take my time and have a Sharp set of blades, this tool is wonderful as I don’t actually see the cut lawn after the fact, it gets munched very finely  indeed!

On a side note, I have Chickens. Chicken manure is very high in Nitrogen.  So when I clean out the chicken shed, I dump the manure into some water, wait a bit and then pour the water over the lawn. It seems to be doing wonders for the lawn. The left over soaked product would have less Nitrogen in it, so that goes into a staged compost bin for use in a year or so.

Date Lawn was MowedNotes
2016-11-16Mowed at Full Height.
2015-12-13Mowed at Full Height. I think the blades need sharpening. Actually, I think the lawnmower is overdue for a service! Cleaned mower and prepared it for transporting in the car to the Service Place.

SQL Refactoring

This is all my opinion. I am entitled to them, its my blog. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.

SQL Coders are an interesting bunch!

Let me put this into perspective. There are people who code in programming languages, and there are people who code SQL.

Those who program in the languages could be broken down in to different categories, as varied as the stars in the sky.

Those who code in SQL, are also, as varied as the stars in the sky.  Are we clear on the categories?

OK, good. Now that I got that out-of-the-way, and that you know I am not picking on one group or another, lets move on!

Programming goes something like this

SQL is nowhere near as flexible as Dot Net programming. Further more, the ‘things’ you do in Dot Net, because it’s seen as the right thing to do, is more often than not frowned upon in SQL.  For instance. In Dot Net I can create a function, lets call it ‘Business Rule One’.  I can have it peer-reviewed, tested and past as a dedicated Business Rule, which from NOW ON, if you wish to implement ‘Business Rule One’ you are expected to implement the function I created, called ‘Business Rule One’. Not implementing my Business Rule Function, is frowned upon.  But it is no big deal, because if you implement a Method, then during your peer code review, someone will pick up that you created your own rule when a function already exists to perform that action.

I could go on. You, as a Dot Net Programmer, might look at my function..

STOP RIGHT THERE. Just because I created it, it is not ‘mine’ it belongs to the business.  The business ratified it as part of the code reviews, the testing phase , yada yada yada..

so you see the ‘Business Rule One’ and think to yourself ‘I could write this better’ AKA refactoring, and so you create a new function to  replace my function. But you dont just go and modify the live Business rule One. You create a new one and lodge it to the group for Peer Review, for feedback for testing for yada, yada, yada.

And you know what happens? One of two things. 1. It gets rejected, with suggestions for improvements and a darn good set of reasons it was rejected or 2: it gets approved and implemented. (How it is implemented is beyond this topic).

Even with the new and improved ‘Business Rule One’ the application keeps working – most likely better than before, and everyone keeps doing their job.

ENTER THE WORLD OF SQL

So, You create an SQL Procedure. This was copied from someone elses SQL Procedure, meaning it’s now duplicated, and that Procedure was duplicated from someone else. Your SQL Procedure is yours. No one else touches that or modifies it. It’s yours! Your procedure contains all the business rules that you need to get your job done for the business.  How others gets their job done is their business. They can use your procedure if they like, but it’s yours.

These five duplicated SQL Procedures have been copied across six SQL instances, and five different databases. Your formulas were ratified by you, but you have been in the group long enough to ratify all your own work. SQL Code never needs to change.  The business needs to realise that they work the way they do because of your amazing formulas. After all, business rules never change. if and when they do, you get paid to go through all your code and modify it accordingly. All 745 unique pieces of duplicated code.

Have someone else look at your work errors. Are you nuts there is nothing wrong with your work. only people who don’t know how to code look at other people’s code.

My ideas on SQL

SQL should be seen as very similar to Dot Net (and similar) coding techniques.

Business Rules belong to the business, and we should all adhere to them. If that means having appropriate Views based on the current business rules, then so be it.

Code duplication should be avoided where possible.  It may be a necessary evil, but do your best to minimise it and agree on a process to keep this duplication minimal.

Code review should occur as frequently as code is created.  No code should be deployed to ‘real world’ without a review. Code reviews are not designed to pick on spelling, but it is designed to improve the code and to reduce the number of errors prior to going live.  If this code is already live and you are improving it, then code review is all the more important.

Refactoring should be an ongoing process, not a Build Rome in a Day, process.  Refactoring occurs as you learn more about coding and as you learn about your databases and end-user requirements.

Finally

It isn’t hard to implement code review and appropriate business rules.   What is difficult is to get two humans (not even SQL Coders) to agree on the same thing. But if you can find someone who is interested in agreeing on a process, a methodology or an implementation method, then you have done very well indeed!

Plum Satsumi – A collage of pics

Yup. I have a plum Satsuma growing in my garden. It is on grown in a 2D fashion on the Chook shed.  To be honest, I am amazed it has done as well as it has.

The fruit trees I have grown on the Chook shed dont get full sun all day. They only get full sun for part of the day, and the rest of the day is filtered light as the light finds it’s way through the chook shed.

So, what I have been doing is taking a picutre of this plum tree for the year of 2015.  I started in April and have just stitched together these pics to make a short movie.  I just like to see how the plant changes from week to week.

I have tried doing this sort of illustration with other plants, but due to my photography skills I have not managed to have any outcomes worth posting.

 

 

Bee Hive 2015-11-15

 

After speaking to a few people, I was informed that the reason Bees might be creating wax on the ceiling, was that they were cold. The advice was to put lino into the top of the hive. I could not get Lino: I did try. I went to a Carpet place and asked if they had any off-cuts.  Nope. Not unless I wanted to purchase a $70 roll.

So I found some plastic mats which seemed to look like they may do the job. I cut them to size and below are the pics of those being implanted into the hives.

2015-11-15 Observation:

The hives are a little bit more detailed, as I tried to take pics of everything as I went.

2015-11-14 Right More Active

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left Hand Hive (closest to current Green House) :

This hive seems to have covered over 2 and a bit frames.   I removed one of the frames from this hive to put into the right hand hive.

2015-11-14 Left 2 Frames Close up2015-11-14 Left Lino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right Hand Hive (further from Green House):

Almost every frame here, but one (because it doesn’t have wax attached to it) is totally covered in bees.  I took the spare frame from the left, and placed it into the fight frame.

2015-11-14 Right 1 Frame Empty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Nothing new here. Putting all the tools and implements I needed onto a table first made working a whole lot easier!

2015-11-14 Preparation is Key

 

 

 

 

 

 

DateTime of DayCircumstance Surrounding Sting(s)Other Comments
2015-11-186:00 PMI had just finished 'pounding' in a post using the heavy crow bar. I think a bee caught a ride on my left leg. I was not stung until I walked past the front door to the Chicken Coop. The sting was more like a surprising annoyance. In fact ants leave a worse lasting impression. The sting was gone within 15 or 20 minutes.
2015-12-195:15 PMI was inspecting the right hand side Hive, and felt it sting me through my right leather glove!
2015-12-259:00 AMI had noticed that there were small ants crawling on the right hand side hive. So I put some boiling water and dish-washing liquid into a container, and gently cleaned off the ants. At least one of the bees decided I was in participation with the ants, so I got stung on the right forearm.
2016-01-107:30 PMWhile watering, one bee decided to become kamikaze on me. Making a bee line straight for my head, it was a one on one battle between me, the water hose and a bee. The bee won, and died a fast, painful death. My head is still sore.
2016-01-166:30 PMWatering, but this time i was wearing a simple bee suit. So of course it stung me on the left thigh.
2016-02-207:00 PMHaving just finished inspecting both hives, and adding a new box to one of the hives, I was walking away and one stung me on the instep of my left ankle. Approx 15 seconds later another one stung me on the out step of my ankle. I am convinced that this was a synchronized kamikaze attempt to ward me from the hive.
2016-03-037:00 PMI was inspecting the right hive. Fully suited up and wearing as much protection as possible. One bee stung me through my suit on the right lower forearm - somehow getting through the top part of my glove. Later on I found out that this bee managed to sting me twice (or perhaps it was two bees?).

Then, at my right ankle. What is it about ankles? I had three or four stings take me out. One in particular really hurt! I just remember thinking, Ill grin and bear it.

Over all, that is about six stings. More stings than I have ever had at once before.
So, I noticed my face start to swell up afterwards. I had never noticed this action before, so I thought it might be best to head off down to the ER and see if something should be done with it. Needless to say I got a shot of adrenaline and some antihistamine tablets. Four hours later, I was released and felt very tired for the next few days.

I have decided to leave the bees alone for a few weeks!
2016-03-087:00 PMI was watering the pot plants. It has never been an issue before, but a bee decided to attack me. I am no where near the bee hive, but still it seems I am on the agenda! This time it is the back of my left hand. Here is for hoping nothing further comes out of this sting.
2016-08-206:25 PM (after Sunset)I had decided to move both my hives so they are not as close to the neighbors. After discussing the new location and setting up the new location, I decided to wait until sunset, when the temperature would drop to about 13 degrees Fahrenheit. I had almost finished moving one of the hives when I noticed a buzzing sound slightly louder then usual only to find that the bugger had gotten into my suit and on my face! Bastard stung me about 1cm left of my left eye. While I have not finished moving both hives, I decided it was more important to get this sting out of my eye. So, one hive moved thus far.
2016-08-256:30 PM (after sunset)Not sure what I was thinking. I didn't wear the full suit. I could not find the protective sock coverings which I usually wear (long socks with five holes cut out of them that protect my wrists and arms).

One bee stung me through my leather gloves on the left wrist, and then moments later another bee stung me on the right wrist.

I was able to get them out quick enough. Though while the sting on my right dissipated quickly, the one on the left swelled for quite a few hours.
2016-08-289:15 AMI should have been wearing a hat!
I was pruning the Tamarillo tree (it is a cousin to the tomato plant) and a bee landed on my hair. Instead of flying off, it kept buzzing and must have gotten itself caught. The inevitable happened and I got stung on my head. Lucky my wife was around to get it out.
DateTime of DayCircumstance Surrounding Sting(s)Other Comments
2015-11-306:350 AMApparently 2 bees went a little too close to her while she was picking lettuce in the garden. They got tangled up in her hair (she tried so hard not to react to them). One flew away but the other got disorientated and stung her on the back of the neck.What surprised me is how long she took to come to me and ask.. 'Do I have a bee sting in my neck?' A whole 5 minutes. Anyway, when I removed the sting, she had no swelling or any signs of a reaction to the sting whatsoever. PHEW!
2015-12-237:40 PMDuring general gardening, it seems a bee wanted to explore my wifes head. Having long hair, they seem to get tangled and possibly even confused, so in this case it decided to sting her. Now we are not sure if she was stung twice or once, but I could only find one sting lodged in her head.In future, I think we should just wear a hat when around the hives.

Silicone Glue Brush

This post is regarding Water Based Glues only!

In the past, I used normal brushes to spread glue. To be honest, if the required hole is small enough, I still do.  But I found an item that means I  no longer have to replenish my brushes every so often.

I purchased this Silicone Glue Brush , which as you can see is quite a cheap product (compared to purchasing small brushes over and over). The great thing is that you don’t have to clean the wet glue off of it after you have used it. Simply wait for the glue to dry and then peel it off (if you so desire). If you WANT to clean it, you can, but I think that is just a waste of water.

Like the advert below states (posted November 2015) it is good at spreading the glue.  I also like the paddle part at the end to ‘swipe away’ residue if need be.

Silicone Glue Brush

Silicone Glue Brush

Bee Hive Ideas – Lessons Learnts

Each time I go to deal with my Hives, I am sure Ill go there, find something new, or make a new observation.  Sure, others have been there all before and can give me ideas.

I am sure someone could create a joke around ‘How many Apiarist it would take to change a light bulb’… But seeing I am joining the

Things for me to remember when Dealing with my Bee Hives

  1. Don’t put tools which you use IN the hive on top of another hive. While there are only trickles of honey on the tools it does tend to leave a very small residue which the ants pick up on very quickly. I was gone for about 10 mins after doing this, and the ants were ‘all over’ (that is, about 50 of em) the lid of the hive.  I have placed ant pellets around the hive, but I am not sure how I feel about this approach.
  2. If any of the Frames inside the hive are damaged (or if the Wax has melted off of the frame), remove the entire frame straight away for mending. In the future, i shall have a few spare frames available in case I need to swap them in.
  3. When it comes to the Smoker, there IS a way to use it. I noticed that when I smoked the hive, they became quite pissed off. I was sure the idea of the Smoker was to calm em all down.  What is going on?  Apparently, I am supposed to wait a few minuets after smoking them, and when I do smoke them, I only need to puff them a few times and wait.

Bee Hive 2015-11-11

As an Amateur Bee Keeper, AKA, an Apiarist, I have become responsible for several thousand bees in my backyard.  I have two hives, one is doing remarkably well and is a ‘Hive of Activity’.    The saying is true! When you stand around a Bee Hive that has a lot of bees, it is like standing besides a very busy Airplane Runway.

I have not been stung yet, but the Bees seem to be very placid. They leave me alone and I – ah hem – need to check on them at least once every 6 weeks.

As I need to keep a record, somehow, somewhere, of the observations I make of the Bee Hives, this is the way I think I’ll do it.

 

2015-11-11 Observation:

Left Hand Hive (closest to current Green House) :

At present consists of Brood Chamber.  This hive seems to have covered over 4 frames, but there are not many bees in this Bee Hive. I admit to being concerned, however as I have not ever done this before, I just need to leave it alone.

Right Hand Hive (further from Green House):

This hive seemed to be ‘full’ of bees.  In reality it probably is not.  The out most frames have no bees on them. One of the frames’ wax had become ‘unstuck’ so I removed the wax, but not the frame.  In hindsight (and in the future I shall do this) I should have removed the frame so I could re-melt the wax back onto it.

A further issue were that the bees were building their wax on the ceiling of the box. I could not remember what that meant, so at the Tuesday night Bee Keepers meeting I asked of this and the suggestion was that perhaps the bees were searching for warmth, so I need to place a piece of Lino at the top of the hive.  I have purchased the lino to put into the hive, but have yet to insert it into the hives.

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Don’t put tools which you use IN the hive on top of another hive. While there are only trickles of honey on the tools it does tend to leave a very small residue which the ants pick up on very quickly. I was gone for about 10 mins after doing this, and the ants were ‘all over’ (that is, about 50 of em) the lid of the hive.  I have placed ant pellets around the hive, but I am not sure how I feel about this approach.
  2. If any of the Frames inside the hive are damaged (or if the Wax has melted off of the frame), remove the entire frame straight away for mending. In the future, i shall have a few spare frames available in case I need to swap them in.
Checking the Bee Hive Lid

Checking the Bee Hive Lid

Close up view of the Lid

Close up view of the Lid

 

From this, wax on the lid, I gently brushed the bees back into the hive and pried the wax / honey into a clean container. From there I separated out the pieces into three small round containers to give to friends who I knew would like to try the honey.  Although, as you can see from the lower picture, there was more wax than honey in the containers.

Bedside Table

I have been creating this Bedside Table for quite about 9 months now (there just are not enough hours in a day after work).  I wanted to replace an ‘old wooden box’ which is in the guest spare room, and I think I have done a fairly good job. If I want to be picky, I could take the handles and modify the Handle color from soft light color to a harder redwood color.

So, here is the Before and After pics…
2015-10-19 Bedside Table Before2015-10-19 Bedside Table After

 

 


 

 

 

 

T-SQL Intersect Command

If you are like me, you like to find new ways of doing the same thing in different ways. Perhaps a new way is easier to read. Perhaps the query runs faster. Perhaps it will run slower? Unless you implement the ideas, try them out and perform an Execution Plan along with Timing the results, how would you ever know.

Personally another Indicator I use for coding is ‘Ease of Reading’. I don’t mean for kindergarten children.  If T-SQL were that simple we would not have jobs that pay as well as they are. T-SQL falls in the line of Adult Literacy.  For those of you who just chuckled at those two concatenated nouns, no, I am not referring to the other type of Adult Entertainment’.

 

Below is a highly simplistic form of a query I was creating.  But the point is, I wanted everyone who existed in the first table, but only if they also existed in the second table. So easy, even my Mum could write this.  7 lines of code (9 including Brackets).


SELECT DISTINCT [E].[clientno] &nbsp;--140,000 Records
FROM [dbo].[episode] AS [E]

WHERE [E].[ClientNo] IN
(
   SELECT DISTINCT [A].[clientno]  --3,100 Records
   FROM [dbo].[CHSP_RelevantEpisodes] AS [A]
)

However, as we all know, the WHERE IN is not a very efficient search. Sure it does the job, but is there a better way? Or even just another way?

Introducing: INTERSECT


SELECT DISTINCT [E].[clientno]--140,000 Records
FROM [dbo].[Episode] AS [E]

INTERSECT

SELECT DISTINCT [E].[ClientNo] --3,100 Records
FROM [dbo].[CHSP_RelevantEpisodes] AS [E]

5 lines of code, No Brackets Required.  In THIS format it is sure a lot easier to read, easier to Error Check and easier to perform Data Integrity Checks.

As far as the Execution Plan goes, the ratio WHERE IN : INTERSECT is 51%:49%, so in this case it is not a deal breaker.

HOWEVER, I am still to figure out what the go is if you need more columns from the first Table. I think I might start testing the Intersect method  over the next few weeks or so.

Network Bandwidth Tool

This is a tool that I wrote to fit a specific purpose: NW Tool – CLick Once  & source code: NW v11.7  (Screen Shots at bottom of post).

At work the IT department approached me saying that over the course of 1 Hour, my computer had transmitted over 1.5 GB of data.  Seeing I had only been running SQL Queries for that day, I knew EXACTLY what had caused it. What the IT department could not provide for me was a mechanism to identify the time periods of when  I was downloading the vast amount of information.  A tool like that could be invaluable, as it would allow me to have a quantifiable measure pertaining to SQL Queries, other than just ‘Seconds it took to run this query’.  So, instead of remaining ignorant, I created this tool.

As with all my other tools, here is a reference of other peoples work I used to make this tool possible:

Using a Generic Collection to allow SQL like searches within the .NET code

Creating Parallel Tasks in .NET 4.0 Part 1

Creating Parallel Tasks in .NET 4.0 Part 2

Cancelling a Parallel Loop

Convert Subnet mask into an IP Address Range although I modified this quite a bit to make it simpler.

Implement a System Tray Icon with your application

Numeric2Bytes Converter Function: which I really should reply and let them know I have improved their code from this function, which really is not efficient due to For Loop with an internal IF Statement:

Original Numeric2Bytes

to This Function, which utilities the fact that a mathematical formula creating a number that is near to what I am looking for is good enough when it has to be converted to an Integer.  As far as speed goes, it is a heck of a lot faster than the above For Loop approach (meaning my CPU can work on other important things, like more programming).

Updated Numeric2Bytes Variables

Updated Numeric2Bytes Function

When you load it, it identifies your network adapters and allows you to select one to monitor. For fun I added in a Chart to represent out going and incoming data.  Furthermore, the application will identify your current IP address and the network settings for you, just in case you have a desire to change your IP Address.

Most people know you can’t just go picking any IP address, and for that reason I have included a way to test the IP Availability on your network.  Click the ‘IP Availability’ tab, and then the ‘Check IP Availability’ command button.. this will ping all the possible IP Addresses within the range provided.  Anything Offline will show RED, anything online will show up as Green.  This section has been Threaded, and as such more than one pinging action will occur at a time.  IF you want to change IP Address, double-click an available IP Address.   Word of warning: Don’t try this on a computer you are remoting too. Ok.!

This is the source code: NW v11.7

This is the installation ‘Click Once’ application: NW Tool – CLick Once

http://www.drooten.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/NW-Tool-Interface.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IP Availability

IP Availability

Segmented Wood Formulas and Calculation Spreadsheet

Feel free to download and look the associated SegmentedWood V7 – still in Draft mode.  Feedback welcome!

I was recently watching a You Tube video on Vase Turning.  In the first 3 seconds of this video, right before the gentleman turns on his lathe, you can just make out an utterly bizarre wood concatenation of glued up wood squares (albeit very fancy wood squares) stacked one on top of each other.  Comparing the first 3 seconds to the last minuet or so, it is somewhat impossible to imagine that the two pieces of wood are related.

Me being me, I just had to figure out what the heck this was.  So with a little research found some references to ‘Segmented Wood’.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of information out there pertaining to this, but I wanted to know and understand the mathematics behind the segments.  So, I started a little Spreadsheet (promise, it is very small) which given a Diameter of two circles (ie the inside and outside diameter) this will let you see what you need to do in order to cut up and glue together just ONE of the wood segments.

In the Vase below, the Gentleman has 19 different segments (that is a whole lot of work) all glued together to create a phenomenal result!  I am not at the stage to even create a bowl yet from Segmented Wood… But maybe I can try it out in the near (far) future?

There is a whole lot of stuff missing from this spreadsheet, but perhaps it might help others with lengths and angles, etc for their wood working projects?

 

 

A day in the life of a philosopher

 

“In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself astray in a dark wood, where the straight road had been lost.”

I agree with Dante Alighieri: if you always see the road ahead of you, it’s not worth the trip.

 

VB Script

For many years I have helped different groups to utilise VBScript in a Windows Environment.

Why VBScript?  Mainly because from the year 2000 until current, it is a simple, usable code that can interact with computers, servers, Domain Controllers, Print Servers, DHCP Servers, Citrix Servers, SQL servers and Instances… the list goes on.  For some reason, the ‘ICT’ groups I have known are often lacking the highly valuable skill of coding any sort of programming language.  My initial reason for using VBScript really was that ‘anyone could then read, modify and utilise’ the code. Comes to be I was giving too much credit to too many people. There really is a skill in creating, writing, modifying code to do something useful. (who would have thought?)

So, here it is. A huge array of VBScript code which, over the years I have designed and created. Programming VBScript  Word of warning thought, some of this code may be proprietary, meaning I really cant give it to just anyone.  It is for this reason that this download is password protected.

So, what should you do with it? To be honest, you probably should NOT bother with it unless you are a coder. If you are one of those people who think ‘VBScript is a dead, programming language’ then it isn’t for you. If you are the type that think that ‘Windows PowerShell is amazingly powerful due to it’s Dot Net implementation’ but in truth you don’t really know what the Dot Net actually does that provides Windows PowerShell it’s power, then this heap of code isn’t for you either.  This will suit someone who is interested in some fairly useful VBScript code that can actually be helpful.

Some of this code relies on an SQL Server, as I really liked to be able to store data in a database somewhere on my network, and frankly, SQL Server handles packet transactions a little better than Microsoft Spreadsheets or their Access Database.  I learnt back years ago that Access only allows one ‘blind’ connection per instance, where as SQL almost doesn’t seem to care how many packets of ‘stuff’ you throw at it, it just takes everything you throw at it.

Some of the code could modify your Active Directory if you have the right access rights. Make sure you read all the code before you just run it! If you don’t understand the code, figure it out (or ask).  From here on in it is up to you to ensure this code is used for good.

If any of this code proves useful to you, feel free to let me know. Always happy to know it helped someone else in this big, wide universe.  Who knows, maybe I shall update this page to document each piece of code. But frankly, there is just way too much to bother.

Android Programming – The Big Nerd Ranch Guide

by Bill Phillips and Brian Hardy.

Thanks gentlemen.  I received a copy of this book for my 40th birthday.  I, am a Coder. I code in many different languages.  I have forgotten more languages than I know. And for years now, people have been telling me that I should create Android / iPhone / Windows applications.  I have not, simply because in a way I was not interested in programming for the Smart Phone. But alas, at last, a friend decided to take efforts into his own hand and give me a book.

Those who know me know one thing. Giving me books is a dangerous thing to do, because I have a tendency to read, study, note, document, learn and figure the thing out.

So, I don’t want to break copy write laws, this is NEVER my intent with these posts (so if you, the author or the publisher) believe anything I have done, does so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

So, page XX tells me to download a bundle -> click the download, which takes you to another page, then scroll down and ‘agree to the terms and conditions’ then don’t blink, as it is only a 900 MB zip file.

I remember once a few months back visiting this particular page, but for some reason did not really like the ‘training’ provided, because at some point they forgot they were leading ‘beginners’ through the process, and started to jump steps and taking knowledge for granted.  When this happens, frustration sets in, and it just isn’t worth my time to figure out their issues.

However, the book talks about ‘Eclipse’ which I have used in the past, but I get the feeling that ‘Android Development Studio’ is now the go to app for this.  I admit that I have become a ‘Visual Studio’ type user, so perhaps Visual Studio 2015 would be best for me?  Yet another However! I have tried to figure out the price of Visual Studio 2015, but it looks like you can only purchase it with MSDN, OR get a free ‘Community’ version. I’ll download the ‘Community’ version (as it is for home use) and see what I think.

My point here was to remind myself that in Android SDK Manager, I need to select Window | Android SDK Manager and then select each version required prior to ‘now’. (Include the SDK Platform, an emulator system image and the Google API’s).

 

 

On Being Round

I recently read an article by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, with the topic ‘On Being Round‘.  I liked the simplistic explanation used by Tyson to get across a the concept of how things form as a round object. To most people, things are naturally round, aren’t they? Clocks are round.  Circles are round. Even the Yogurt container I purchase at the shops are round. Surely making something ’round’ isn’t that difficult.

The ‘Round’ in Tyson’s paper is about Spherical Roundness, and how the laws of nature in most cases probably contradict the creation of a true sphere – unless of course if you are in ‘outer space’.

I enjoyed this read, and if you are of a technical / spacey kind of mind then perhaps you would too.

The Restaurant Inspector

The Restaurant Inspector

For Fernando Peire, the director of London’s world-famous Ivy, owning a restaurant is about more than just delivering good food.

Fernando Peire appears on the BBC TV Show ‘The Restaurant Inspector’ in which Peire gets invited to restaurants that are failing, by the restaurant owners, so that he may provide advice on how they can improve the restaurant and improve their business.

Something I like about Peire is that he seems to ask the right questions of the restaurant owners.  Although the way he phrases his questions and comments must occasionally come across as rude to the restaurant owners. As an outside observer I tend to agree with Peire’s comments, however for the restaurant owners it must be difficult to come to terms with the impending need for change after all these years.

Why do these owners invite Peire to help them if they are resistant to change?  Why invite someone, especially of Peire’s statute, to help improve a business and then fight them all the way about each and every suggestion they provide?

However, it then dawned on me, that if restaurant owners are like this, it is probably a general trait of a certain type of people in particular and it possibly explains why, as a new employee to many companies, with ‘different ideas’ and ‘alternative ways of doing things’, and ‘a new eye on an old problem’ that people, managers and teams are resistant to change, all for the same reason.

 

 

I personally think that with every question Peire asks, he seems to have one thing in mind: ‘What is best for the customer’.

Additionally because he understands that there are no magical formulas, he doesn’t live in the past.

Here are some of Peire’s quotes, which I think all business (and Government’s) should listen carefully to.

These are difficult times for any businesses, The challenge now is to be the best.

Even though business is dwindling too many businesses are blaming it on the economy, that’s too easy , that’s just a cop out. They need to look at what they are doing and change it.

I personally feel that Government is a business.  If it were’t, then government employees would never loose their job.

 

 

SQL References

Over the years I have sought information pertaining to SQL from a large variety of location (AKA humans who post their knowledge online).  The information may have been accurate at the time and is now either inaccurate due to changes implemented by Microsoft SQL, or still accurate due to our comprehension of the philosophy being shared. Either way, I am going to start placing those web sites / information here, so I can search my own knowledge base simpler in the years to come. Feel free to let me know if you have a reference you really like.

Jeff Atwood has a web page that demonstrates T SQL joins via VENN Diagrams.  If you are like me and can comprehend VENN Diagrams (and maybe you even use them when you imagine T SQL problems) then this could be a good place to image how ‘your’ SQL Joins are working.  I like this page so much, that I Copied / Pasted Jeff’s illustrations from Jeff’s Page as a PNG which can then print out on an A3 Page and stick on your cubicle wall.  I am amazed how often my colleges come to my cubicle just to take a look when they are trying to solve a difficult problem. Thanks Jeff!

T SQL Joins Explained

Left Join v’s Right Join: In my mind there is no difference between a Left Join and a Right Join.  Let me explain… When I cross the road (as in roads with cars, buses, trucks, motorbikes and other automobiles) I have to ‘look left’ for the traffic coming from my left AND THEN I have to ‘look right’ for the traffic coming from my right.  I don’t stand there thinking.. ‘now which way do I need to check for traffic again?’  I don’t stand there going over rules in my head that tell me I need to look Left for traffic coming from my left and that I need to look right for traffic coming from my right (do you?).  Even if it was a one way street, wouldn’t it still be prudent to ‘look both ways’?  Table joins are identical. If the table is ‘coming from the left’ it is a left join. If the table is coming from the right, it’s a right join.  This truly is not rocket science or brain surgery, and it has never been something that Microsoft SQL implemented to try and ‘trick you’.  Since I am the kind of person who loves Proof’s by Mathematical InductionPure Mathematics and Probability Problems (if you think I am kidding, ask my friends and coworkers) then concepts such as ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ are kind of … arbitrary in relation.

A gentleman named Adam Machanic has written an impressive SQL Stored Procedure that allows you to view locks on your SQL server in a very meaningful way.  To me, code like this are ‘the things Microsoft forgot to implement’.   NB: (C) 2007-2012, Adam Machanic

 

I am a Software Developer

English as a second language

Knowing where to start with any blog, for me, is always the hardest part. How does anyone put 20 years of knowledge, 20 years of influence from others, 20 years of personal interest into one blog? We are often told, we need to be succinct, and I personally find that when I am developing software, it is simple to be succinct, yet when I have to write English or explain a topic, things are not so simple.  I joke that English is my second language, because I seem to find coding easier and more enjoyable and over the years I seem to have become quite a competent coder. But coding is just a means to an end.

Current Programming Languages

Right now, in my current job our coding languages include (in order of most used to least used)

  • T SQL
  • VB Dot NET
  • HTML / XML / CSS
  • VBA (say for Macros to complete advanced actions within Excel, Outlook or (gasp) Access when requested).

Why do we (notice I said ‘we’ not ‘I’ at that point of the sentence?) use these languages at work and not ‘other more impressive languages’ I hear you ask.  Because I am a Team player who works with the inheritance provided by the Team that I join.  In this team those are the Languages of choice, they are the Languages the Team understands and if one individual is away from work, the others can still modify code as required. If I were working in ‘your’ company, and I was informed that the company uses Ada (a 35 year old program) and nothing else, then I too would use Ada (in the workplace) and nothing else.

However, over the period of my time I have also used – in no particular order (too many to list one dot point after the other, and I will probably miss a few here too): Pascal,  Fortran, MySQL, Visual Basic (V4 and V6), Java, JavaScript, VBScript, C++ Dot Net, C#, F#, FoxPro, DHTML, Perl, Windows Powershell and XML (including Schema, DTD’s, DSDL’s), SOAP, TCP/IP (specifically RFC 793).  Again, in every case it was based on what the Team at the time agreed on.

Source Control, Code Sharing / Repository, Collaboration Platform, Version Control, Cloud Backup

I have implemented many backup strategies over the years, most I should not tell you, as  you would probably gasp! Ranging from Microsoft SourceSafe (you did not hear this from me), Team Foundation Server, GitHub, DropBox, USB Stick, Tortoisesvn. Some of these I dislike (SafeSource, TortoiseSVN) and some I have come to like (Dropbox, GitHub, TFS). However each option has it’s own benefit depending on the situation, scenario and degree of security required.

Which Security is the Right Security?

I have been amazed at most of the companies I work for have implemented the same level of security over every document. For instance, do you really need Super Duper High Level Encryption and Access Rights to save today’s lunch menu? On the other hand, should the CEO’s documentation on the future of the company be stored on a low level no encryption USB stick.  Organisations could benefit from using different levels of encryption depending on the requirements of the associated documentation. How? It (should) cost less to implement less encryption / Access rights while proportionally it (should) cost more to implement higher encryption / Access rights.  All processes have an ongoing cost associated, it is a matter of how you can implement the processes correctly, not cheaply how cheaply can  you implement a process.

To IDE or NOT to IDE. This should never be a question.

To that end I have probably used more IDE’s than I care to remember: My current main IDE is Visual Studios (loosing count of the versions now days), Primal Script (even purchasing my own copy several times to use at work, because for some reason work thought notepad was an acceptable IDE), Eclipse, NotePad2/++, JBuilder, JCreator (I liked this one and purchased it back around 2006 for home use) and probably a myriad of others.  To be honest, whatever IDE was required to get the job done, I installed, tried, tested, learnt (anyone who says you don’t need to learn an IDE is NOT making good use of their IDE and they may as well use Notepad 2/++) and implemented.  In some cases implemented for a team environment.  Don’t get me wrong, Notepad2/++ are both GREAT tools now days, and I still use Notepad++ to edit SQL .Snippet files!  I am planning on writing a post in the near future on how to make use of the Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio inbuilt Code Snippets Manager, which is actually a very good way to improve the entire Teams coding speed / accuracy.

Software Development Methodologies

Additional I have utilized several different implementation methodologies, Iterative, Waterfall, SCRUM, Lean, Agile, Pair Programming. To be fair, I never felt it was about which methodology that was implemented, it was the understanding about what the project was at the beginning and identifying individual employees strength and weaknesses so as to utilize each employees area of strength to successfully implement the project. Warning bells always sound (for me internally) when someone (either on the team or the team manager) says ‘Lets include this great new feature into the project’. Moving the goalposts mid project directly violates fundamental principles of product development, yet for some reason the Project Management generally keep the expectations on the original deadlines and project costs.

There are ‘Groups’ and there are ‘Teams’

All Teams are comprised of a group of individuals, however not all groups work as if they are a Team. Do you notice that I always refer to Team as a proper noun? To me nothing compares to a good Team.  A group of individuals may be use the nomenclature ‘team’ but if they do not demonstrate the correct characteristics required to work as a Team, then they remain a group of individuals. If this doesn’t make sense to you, then I would presume you are not a Senior Developer, or that you have not yet had the pleasure of working with a Team.  I have personally worked with teams and with Teams. If I had a choice, I would always choose to work in a Team, as I have worked in ‘teams’  that, were… disparate (I truly have no basis for comparison).  Imagine, as a candidate for a job you attend a job interview and ask a question to the panel similar to: ‘Will the group I am going to be working with work as a Team?’. And to be honest, I would love to know ahead of time who the individuals are which I am going to be working for. But the true opinion of if groups of individuals work well as a Team will depend greatly on the colour of the glasses each member is wearing.

There are ‘Individuals’ and there are ‘People’ and then there are Weeds.

When I helped managed a fruit orchard in the Riverland back in the late ’90’s  both people management and weed/pest management was important requirement to be successful. Sometime those two seemed to overlap (I say this in jest).   It is true though that regardless of team structure, there is also the individuals you invariably end up working with.  Those that you get along with, those that you tolerate.  Those that want to learn new things [from you] and whom you take a keen interest in learning from them, and those who have no interest in learning anything new whatsoever.  Many people find it easier to hide themselves in the computer (code) and ignore those who are ignorant, because, lets be honest, this is the easiest way out. But a good Team can not afford to ignore others. A good Team understands the strengths and weaknesses of each and every individual within the team and they each play to their strengths. Every time you ignore someone, you miss an opportunity to develop a good working relationship.

Developing Software Solutions

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to code. But I do not write 20 lines of code just for the fun of it. If I can write one line of code (instead of 20) I will. On the other hand, if 3 lines of code makes the code more readable, I will write 3 lines instead of 1.  Code is a means to an end. For this reason I approve of Code Review within the team.  I highly recommend that no code should ever be ratified and / or used until code has been through code review AND that it has been ratified and approved by xxx [I write xxx as this could differ depending on your scenario, implementation, security issues etc]. (I deal with my ideas of Code Review further down).

Before writing a single line of code, I want to know WHAT the end product is going to be. I need to know how my snippet of code is going to play a positive role in the overall project.  If my section of code is not going to be used, then why write it? Furthermore, I personally aim to write code as if someone else on the team is going to  be implementing it, yet I admit that I have seen some ‘functions’ and ‘classes’ (ie grouping code into bite size explainable pieces) are often highly over engineered and have no business flexibility. To that end I have seen poorly written code  perform exactly what it needed to do without ‘error’ (or should I say, without apparent error!) for years on end, and I have seen well written code fail after just a ‘few weeks of use’ (I assume coders will understand that time isn’t really the object of the sentence here). In essence, I can’t really explain the reason for either, and those of you who say you can explain it, I will assume you are ‘young’ in terms of coding. If you have spent less than 15 years in coding, I will assume you are ‘young’.

Code Review

One of my favorite things is to sit back and watch someone else offer up opinions on how I can improve my code. I have strengths in coding, I have weaknesses in coding and I have a human brain that doesn’t always see the optimum solution.  Let me give you a very simple piece of Pseudocode, created by me, with the Code Review provided by a friend:  (NB: Code has been vastly simplified, as the demonstration here is not actual code, but the simplification).

Function Numeric2Bytes(ByVal b As Double)
   Dim i As Integer
   For i = UBound(bSize) To 0 Step -1
      If b >= (1024 ^ i) Then
         Numeric2Bytes = b / (1024 ^ i) 
         Exit For
      End If
   Next

   Return Numeric2Bytes
End Function

Comment by friend:

You do realise your FOR Loop is an over complication of an integer approximation on a logarithmic pattern divisible by three?

Anyone who had studied The Big O in algorithm complexity  & notation would have had the same response I did to my friends impeccable comment!

Oh – My – Gosh. I did not see that! How could I have missed it ?!?

7 Lines of code replace with just one, which is really more like (7 * x) lines of code replaced by one!  TI had overlooked the simplistic.

   Function Numeric2Bytes(ByVal b As Double)
      Return Int(Math.Log10(b)) / 3) 'Because near enough IS good enough.
   End Function

Here is the interesting part though.  To me, this is simple to understand. This is elegant. This is what a computer is designed to do and the computer CPU will perform this single line of code FAST.   Yet, to others (young coders) or to those who ‘don’t know how to code’, the single line of code is complicated and to them this line of code is far from the KISS principle.

Where to from here?

I have a long way to go.  I hope. I hope to keep learning. To change and adapt to the business requirements.  To learn simpler techniques that allow me to produce higher quality work with shorter turnaround times. To learn how to work with my Team in ways that make all of us produce higher quality work.

 

And we continue like this.

One Character at a time.

One Sentence at a time.

One  Function at a time.

One Day at a time.

And so forth.

 

See you at the end.

 

 

 

 

Psychic Weight

Psychic Weight

I first heard this term mentioned by Scott Hanselman in one of Scott’s Podcasts.  While this is a side comment, I started listening to Scott’s Podcasts around November in 2014 and have just now, June 2015 caught up to his last four (I am currently at 474 of 478) 🙂

Additionally, I have read Gregg Knauss entry on Psychic Weight also, both of which are worth a read, if for nothing more than to understand what they mean of Psychic Weight.

Psychic Weight, put basically, is the pressure we feel due to the additional requirements on you in your life, most likely due to the ‘improvements’ in technology.  For instance, we now have Email, Twitter, Facebook, Viba, Phones, SMS, Voicemail, TV Recorded (such as VIVO or NetFlex), iPhone, Samsung Phone, Windows Phone, (what have I missed) and the list can go on and on, and on.

The key for each individual is to be able to identify when you have too much of this Psychic Weight and removing it prior to it doing any damage (aka Stress).  Let’s face it, no one likes working with someone who stresses and shows outwards symptoms of this.  I confess to have being stressed several time in the workplace, and at one point I was ‘that guy’.

I remember back in the year of 1995 when I was sharing a large house with 4 other guys, one of the guys had a very ‘minimalistic’ view on life. By that I mean, he didn’t own much, he kept a simple outlook on life and on the tasks he needed to ‘perform’ during the day, yet he was (and still is) a highly intelligent individual.  From what I could tell, he had a very low Psychic Weight over his life, and I admired this.

Anaïs Nin: We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.

It occurs to me that Psychic Weight goes deeper than just technology. Each person is constantly being effected based on both internal and external factors: How do external factors, such as what others do or say, effect you on a personal level, and on how you perceive your actions may have an ongoing effect on others.  I personally would hope that people know that I have been sincere towards them in my past, however, that may, or may not be the view they take – or maybe that I tried too hard to help and just interfered with their lives.

Andrew Mathews: Mostly we help people by NOT HELPING too much.

So, in conclusion, I have found that when I keep my life simple, that things just seem to run smoother for me.  Or perhaps by remaining simpler, I keep the Psychic Weight down in my life.

 

Chook Manure Soup

Anyone that has read this blog know that I have cooks chooks. A friend from work also has chooks and he related how he deals with his chook poo on a frequent basis.  Personally, I do one of two things: Either throw it straight into the compost, or put it directly onto the veggie patch (carefully so as to not burn the plants). However his method was to put it into a container with water and let it soak for a fortnight (two weeks). So today I thought I’d do exactly that.

Chook pen prior to cleaning out.  After cleaning it out, I just put a heap of fresh dry straw down and the hens seem to do the rest.

2015-05-31 Chook Poo Soup in Pen

 

After placing all the straw and poo into the bucket, I just added water.
2015-05-31 Chook Poo Soup in Black Box with Water

This bucket is just wider than an old rake I have laying around, so I spent half a minute thrashing it up and down, I doubt I needed to do this, But it did give me an idea of how much this is going to smell in the not too distant future.

2015-05-31 Chook Poo Soup raked n smellyIll provide an update on this in a fortnights time when I go to apply it to the plants.

And two weeks later, I know you cant see much (and neither could I) however, the liquid was easy to spread using a bucket, and I guess (time will tell) that the plants will benefit from this.  Also, the straw at the bottom was actually ‘clean’, so I put that onto the garden too, albeit as compact as it now it.

2015-06-13 Chook Poo Soup

 

In conclusion, I think I will continue to use this method when I clean out the chooks pen from now on.

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