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Baby Elder

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-03-2008


Parents love to take pictures of their children.  My Mother and Father were no exception.  There is one baby picture that easily sums me up as a person and predicted future roles in my life.  I happened to come across that baby picture this morning while cleaning up some files.  I hadn’t ever paid that much attention to it but it speaks volumes to me now that I’m older.  Throughout my life I have been a performing artist, singer, speaker, and actor.  I think this picture really shows even at a young age I was already showing signs of my extraverted personality and destined to be on American Idol but was born 5 years too early.  If nothing else it is a cute picture.


The Growing .Net Community – Who You Should Add To Your RSS Reader

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-02-2008


I love seeing people I know step up and get involved with the community.  Especially those that I’ve tried to push over the edge of getting more involved (speaking, blogging, lunch-in-learns or whatever).  Community can be a lot of things to a lot of people but since this is a blog I wanted to highlight some folks that I think you should keep your eye on and add to your RSS readers.  Of course if you haven’t added this site to your RSS Reader you’ve missed out on some gems so get it added (end of self promotion).  Anyway, I’ve got enough people to now warrant mentioning them publicly.  These are people that have just joined the community, or stepped up their game, or someone that is finally finding their voice.  I think they are doing a great job and effort alone folks is +20 geek points.  I expect great things from them so this is an official “turning up of the pressure.”   Here we go in no particular order (really this is no order of personal preference so being first could be last).

Brian Sullivan

Brian and I go way back.  Actually farther back than I care to mention but I will anyway because it is a funny story.  About oh, 10 years ago and some change I was a Band Director at Cope Middle School in Bossier City, LA.  Yes for those that don’t know I have a Music degree.  That should fill in the gaps for those of you that know how hooked on Rock Band and Guitar Hero I am.  Anyway, Brian was a trumpet player in my top band at Cope Middle School.  Brian was one of those kids that always did the right thing, never cut up, paid attention, worked hard and one that you knew would make it in life because he came from a good family.  I left as Band Director at Cope in June of 1997 and moved to Michigan to pursue my career in IT. 

Fast forward 10 years and I was in Memphis, TN speaking at the Memphis Day of .Net last November where I was speaking on guidance around how to organize Visual Studio solutions.  My laptop totally bombed on me and it was to date the worst presentation I’ve given.  That’s beside the point.  A guy walked up afterwards and asked me a question which I promptly answered.  While he was speaking something was strange.  After I answered his question I said, “Don’t I know you, there is something familiar about you?”. He then said, “Do you have a brother that is a Band Director?”.  I said no but I was a Band Director.  He said “In Louisiana?”.  I replied, “Yep, Cope Middle School”.  Bam, it was Brian. Of course you saw that coming but wow, I didn’t ever think I’d run into a student from Cope in Memphis, TN. 

At any rate after the code camp Brian started a blog and he’s been keeping up with it.  He’s in a unique situation where they are migrating systems to .Net so he is running into some interesting problems.  Although Brian is starting out his blogging career help him out and add him to your RSS feed, he could use the encouragement and I know he’d appreciate it.  Brian, it was great to reconnect after all these years, keep it up!  Oh, and for the record I didn’t add you on here just because I’m on your blog roll but I do feel honored to be listed along side those names.


Blog For Brian:  http://www.sullivansoftdev.com/blog/ 

John Chapman

I can’t remember when I first heard about John.  I think it was from a co-worker.  John has joined in a lot of conversations and posts on this blog always adding top notch feedback.  I had the pleasure of finally meeting John at Codemash in January and we even formed a band with Jeff Blankenburg to take second place in the Rock Band give-a-way.  For those that are in the know, John is carrying card member of the Alt.Net crowd.  Recently he has embarked on a rather intriguing and very much needed series whereby he is building a Sudoku game from scratching using Behavior Driven Design and his favorite tools from the Alt.Net space like Castle. 

This is a very needed series to help document the thought process of how one embraces BDD and the alternative tools to .Net.  The reason this is needed is because in order for developers to really get it, they need an example, and not a coding example or an API but a sit down session with someone who is trying to mentor them and that is the approach John is taking.  As an educator at heart, I really like his approach.  This is important.  Currently John is up to the 5th, I mean 4th installment (he started at 0).  I don’t know how many he has in store for us but if he builds everything out from start to finish it will be a staple example for the community to follow for a long time.

Blog for John:  http://jaychapman.blogspot.com/ 

Dave Newman

Dave is an ex team member that was apart of our team at Quicken Loans.  Dave moved to New York to join his future fiance.  Love will make you do strange things, even leave the second best place to work for in America.  Dave is a wealth of Biztalk knowledge and just an all around solid engineer.  We had him dig deep into LINQ right before he left and he made LINQ do some really crazy mad cool stuff.  At any rate he’s labeled his blog fittingly enough ‘.Net Nomad’ since he has moved around a lot in the past few years. 

You never know what Dave will post about but he’s starting to find his voice on his blog and put out some good information.  Currently he’s infatuated with network packet sniffing and has been trying to build a managed packet sniffer application of sorts.  Hopefully Dave is getting involved with the community in the New York area.  Dave is also a good speaker and just needs to be pushed over the edge a bit more to get out there and speak at a few local events.  If you are in the NY area, make Dave come out and speak on something.  Sorry Dave, I had to do it.  Oh, I wouldn’t do my team mates justice if I didn’t mention Dave’s infatuation with his cat.  Don’t ask.

Blog for Dave:  http://geekswithblogs.net/dotnetnomad/Default.aspx

Michael Letterle

Speaking of Alt.Net earlier, Michael is another card carrying member of said group.  I met Michael last year at Codemash 2007 where I think he took at least 1,000 pictures.  Since then I’ve been watching Michael weave his way through the Internet and even followed along as he got a new job this past year.  If you want to know what Michael is doing just add him to your Twitter account where you will not miss a beat (literally we know what the boy has for breakfast and lunch, he’s a Twitter machine). 

As of recent Michael took on a mission to tackle IronRuby which is the implementation of Ruby in .Net.  Similar to John’s take on things Michael is walking his readers through his trial and tribulations from the start and is keeping up on what is happening in the IronRuby space.  It is good to see him sink his teeth into something and put his vast amount of tinkering and knowledge to good use.  Ok Michael, the pressure is on, turn it up!

Blog for Michael:  http://michaeldotnet.blogspot.com/ 

Who’s Next?

There are some of you that didn’t make the list I am sad to say because well, some of you don’t have a blog yet.  Namely:




It is time to take the plunge.  If you are out there and standing on the edge and haven’t taken the plunge to get involved with the community do it.  Don’t run but walk to the nearest free blog web site or better yet buy a domain and then host it for as little as $4.95 a month so you have complete control over your site. 

Also remember that blogging is only one thing you can do.  Find the nearest .Net User Group and start to get involved by first and foremost showing up to meetings and then finding local conferences and events to attend.  The more you do the more you get back.  It is just a fact of life.

Geek Dinner Pictures and Details

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 05-02-2008


image Monday was a packed day but lots of fun.  My day started off waking up at 5:30 AM to drive to Jackson, MS for the Visual Studio Seminar where Doug Turnure, Chad Brooks, and myself were speaking on the new Visual Studio 2008 platform.  Sunday was the Super Bowl and we had friends over who stayed with us until about 12:30 AM playing Rock Band.  If you do the math I was working on 5 hours of sleep.  Note to self, never schedule events after the Super Bowl.

Visual Studio in Jackson

We held the event at New Horizons in Jackson.  The staff there was super nice and very accommodating.  The really sad thing is once the event was announced the event filled up almost immediately and we had to place people on the waiting list. 

After the event Doug, Chad and I went to a local place to eat called Keifer’s (no relation).  Keifer’s is a great local place where you can get gyros, pitas, and these crazy shaped french fries which are basically a whole potato sliced into thin slices all the way through.  Doug and Chad both enjoyed it and knowing Doug he has booked marked the place in his never forgetting rolodex of places to eat.

Geek Dinner in Hattiesburg

image Later that evening the Geek Dinner was held in Hattiesburg at Chesterfield’s.  This is a great picture of open source initiatives coming together.  Pictured to the left is Sara Ford, Program Manager for Codeplex, Microsoft’s open source hosting service, and John Weathersby, Executive Director of the Open Source Software Institute.  I had to capture the moment because who would have believed that OSSI and Codeplex would come together in harmony in Hattiesburg of all places. 

Turn out was really good and honestly if one more person would have showed up, we’d had to sit people in another area.  I think everyone had a good time talking tech and learning from each other. Personally I really enjoyed it and hope we can do some other events in the area.  For those that are curious what the dish is called that I have a picture of listed above, it is called “The Swamp” served with sweet potato fries.  It is Chesterfield’s best sandwich (in my personal opinion).   The thing is massive and is three meals in one.  In the menu it is described as “piles” and “mounds”.  Truly a southern thing.  Several of us got it and it is delicious.

Thanks to everyone that came out I hope you enjoyed it and especially a big thank you to those who traveled a long distance including Sara, Sara’s Mom, Ryan, Keith, Joe, Doug, Chad and anyone else I missed.  Here are some of the pictures I took last night.

Geek Dinner Hattiesburg Feb 2008 008

Geek Dinner Hattiesburg Feb 2008 007

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Geek Dinner Hattiesburg Feb 2008 005

Geek Dinner Hattiesburg Feb 2008 004

Geek Dinner Hattiesburg Feb 2008 003

Geek Dinner Hattiesburg Feb 2008 002


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AT&T Blackjack II Windows Mobile Phone Review

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-01-2008


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A few weeks ago I acquired a Samsung Blackjack II cell phone.  I have been using the phone for several weeks straight and it is time to tell the story of the Blackjack II.  The Blackjack II replaces an aging 8525 Pocket PC phone as well as an aging Cingular 2125 Smart Phone.  Unlike a lot of other reviews from magazines that spit out feature after feature I hope to provide you with a different perspective as a technologist / geek who has used the phone for several weeks.  Let’s get started.

Software Bundle – A
The Blackjack II comes in two colors as shown in the picture to the left, black and wine.  Wanting a different color than black I opted for the wine color.  So far no regrets on the the color choice but it is funny how many people have mistaken this phone for a Blackberry because of the wine color.  The Blackjack II runs Windows Mobile 6 and comes pre-bundled with a nice software bundle.  It includes an AOL, Yahoo! and MSN messenger application, XM Radio, Notepad, Smart Converter, Stopwatch, PDF Viewer, MobiTV, RSS Reader, Smart Search (for searching email, files, documents, etc), Excel Mobile, Powerpoint Mobile and Word Mobile. 

I added a few standard applications I use as soon as I turned it on.  This list included my RSA token generator needed for work along with CodeWallet Pro 6, Google Maps, Facade, Telenav, and Tiny Twitter (recommended by a friend).  The one application I desperately needed was Internet Connection Sharing but it wasn’t included on the phone.

Fixing the Internet Connection Sharing Problem – F before, A after
The Blackjack II does not bundle Internet Connection Sharing which is apart of the standard Windows Mobile 6 application set.  For those of us on the go and traveling this is a must have program to connect our laptops to the Internet while sitting in the airport or other locations outside of the office.  Why it was left off I am not sure.  I was concerned at first about not having this because this was a deal breaker for me.  A few searches later and I had found out there was already a hack to provide the application.  To setup Internet Connection Sharing for the Blackjack II follow these steps (reprinted from the Howard forums).

1. Download the two files below:


2.  Transfer both of the files to the “My Documents” folder on the phone.  Do not copy to your storage card FYI.
3.  Install the secpolicies.cab file but using File Explorer located in the Applications folder.  Reboot.
4.  Install the BJ.WM6.ICS.Enable.cab file using File Explorer located in the Applications folder.  Reboot.
5.  Using File Explorer located in the Applications folder navigate to the “My Documents” folder and click on the Certs.cab file and reboot.

After following these simple steps “Internet Application Sharing” should now be visible within the Start Menu of the phone.  Connect the phone to a laptop or desktop computer using the provided USB cable, launch the application and press connect.  Your computer should now be online using the 3G or Edge services from the Blackjack II. 

New Jog Wheel – A-/B+
One of the new features of the Blackjack II is the jog wheel.  The wheel is located in the center of the phone and allows for easy navigation of menus, email, web browsing and much more.  Having had phones with a jog wheel on the side of the phone I have to say that having it on the front is the way to go.  It is natural and allows for easy one handed use.  There are times when the jog wheel feels sluggish though.  I am not sure if this is a programming sensitivity issue or hardware.  To clarify what I mean by sluggish there are times when I will move the wheel just a quarter turn and nothing happens, nothing moves.  It is like you have to move the wheel a lot farther than expected which leaves a sluggish impression sometimes.  I think this could be fixed with a possible registry hack although I haven’t found one yet. 

The only other complaint I have about the jog wheel is I haven’t yet found a hot key that I can press to scroll a page at a time or to select multiple emails for deletion.  When viewing web pages this is really important or when scrolling through 100 emails in the Inbox.  I remember the Blackberry 7290 I had years ago had this feature where a certain key could be pressed and if the jog wheel was moved it would scroll in pages or select multiple lines.  I miss it.

Keyboard / Navigation – A-
I’ve owned a lot of integrated keyboard phones over the years and I find the keyboard on the Blackjack II easier to type on than the previous Palm Treo versions I have owned but not as good as the Blackberry or the slide out keyboard on the 8525.  Of course the main reason for this is the keys are smaller on the Blackjack to save space.  Because the keyboard is smaller it makes the device more portable so this is a trade off.  For my purposes I like the smaller form factor so the rating gets bumped back up.  With this type of phone consumers want the device to function as a phone first and a messaging device second.  In this regard it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

One of the nice features of the keyboard is the built-in hot keys on the front to launch email or the camera.  On previous Windows Mobile devices I’ve owned I’ve always felt there were too many buttons on the sides.  The Blackjack II is very simple in the fact that it only has two buttons not located on the front of the device:  Power and Volume.  This makes the device more one hand friendly.  A big plus over phones like the 8525.

GPS – B+
image The Blackjack II has an integrated GPS SiRF III chip.  This means the phone is capable of being a real GPS not a simulated GPS using cell towers.  Available for $9.99 a month users can select to download and install Telenav on the Blackjack via a program provided out of the box.  I chose to enable this feature since I don’t have a portable GPS and I because of the fact I had removed the $10 fee for push to talk on my account I never used.  The only reason the GPS gets a B+ rating is due to the speed of locking onto satellites while moving.  I had a couple of instances whereby it took a long time to get a signal because I was moving.  As soon as I stopped it locked on.  Once Telenav is setup the Blackjack II speaks directions and offers a lot of the same functionality a regular GPS system offers like finding places nearby, gas prices, favorite locations, hot spots and more.  Telenav is truly a remarkable application and I have been impressed using it.   

As I mentioned earlier I installed Google Maps on the phone as well.  I mainly wanted to try Google Maps with the GPS built into the phone.  I selected the option to enable the GPS option in the menu and once the GPS locked on Google Maps was tracking me as I drove down the road.  While not anywhere near the features of Telenav Google Maps can provide basic GPS functionality.  I found myself launching Telenav much more often since it included spoken directions.  While driving it makes all the difference in the world to hear when you are supposed to turn rather than constantly looking down.  Not to mention being more dangerous.  If you decide to buy this phone and travel a lot, pay the $10 for Telenav, it is worth it.  If you just want to occasionally  do some GPS directions for fun you could probably stick with Google Maps.

Video Share – D
The phone supports a feature called Video Share.  This allows you to conduct one-way video calls.  At $9.99 for 60 minutes of use I don’t suspect many people are going to use this feature.  It is the first phone to support this option from AT&T but the cost is more than likely going to keep 99% of the population from using it.  The other problem is the phone on the other side must support it as well.  So unless you are a road warrior and your spouse has the same phone it isn’t even looking into.

Camera – B
The 2.0 mega pixel camera included with the Blackjack II is decent but will not break any land speed records.  The camera is very sensitive to movement.  I took several photos where I thought I was being extremely still.  But when viewing the picture it turned out to be very blurry.  This may be due to the lengthy shutter speed of the camera.  Once the button is pressed it takes several seconds for the picture to get taken which requires you to keep still longer.   The video capability of the camera will work well enough to post a video to YouTube if needed by the way.

Bluetooth Hands Free Driving – A+
While not a feature of the phone itself I use Bluetooth to get hands free driving all the time.   My Chrysler Aspen has a system called UConnect which supports Bluetooth hands free driving.  Once the phone is paired with UConnect and someone calls while driving a simple press of the UConnect button located on the review mirror answers the call.  People I have talked to say they can’t tell the difference either way and the nice thing is their voice comes across over the speakers.  If a CD is playing in the player when a call comes in the CD is paused automatically while the call occurs. 

There are times when driving with passengers that you don’t want them eaves dropping on the conversation (could be a client or a co-worker).  The Blackjack II has the option to enable an auto pop-up feature which I have found to be the extremely useful to avoid these situations.  Once it detects the hands free headset it pops a dialog to ask if you want to connect or not.  Previously with my 8525 and my 2125 if the truck was running, calls went through UConnect. 

Note:  Previous phones I have had did not pair very well with UConnect but the Blackjack II synced up quickly with no problem.

One Handed Usability – A+
The Blackjack II is extremely easy to use with one hand.  Of all the one handed keyboard devices I’ve used the Blackjack II takes the prize.  It is due to the small form factor and the jog wheel being on the front of the device.  Even with one hand it is easy to navigate calls, email and web surfing.  Once you get used to where applications are in the menus it becomes a quick series of keys to launch one.   The shortcut keys on the front to launch email, camera or turn the phone to silent make it easy to navigate with one hand.

Overall Rating- A-
As far as an overall rating I give the Blackjack II an A-.  I feel that I am well connected because of the 3G data support, built-in GPS, and direct push email.  It is great to be back to a form factor that I truly feel is the best of both worlds (8525 / 2125).  The full QWERTY keyboard makes it a snap to reply to text messages, emails, Twitter and surf the web.  It isn’t anywhere as bulky as the 8525 nor as cumbersome to operate as the 2125 (no keyboard).  For me the Blackjack II combines the best of both worlds and offers a geek like me a good balance of power but in a phone that I don’t feel like I’m carrying around a brick.  My wife’s cell phone plan is up for renewal in February, I am considering getting her one and enabling GPS on it with Telenav so when she travels she doesn’t have to worry about directions and getting lost.


Broken Dishes

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-01-2008


I’ve broken two dishes in the past several days. What is going on. Ebay here i come.