MS SQL Server Developer Edition is now free

SQL Server Logo

Exciting news! Starting today, SQL Server 2014 Developer Edition is now a free download for Visual Studio Dev Essentials members. We are making this change so that all developers can leverage the capabilities that SQL Server 2014 has to offer for their data solution, and this is another step in making SQL Server more accessible. SQL Server Developer Edition is for development and testing only, and not for production environments or for use with production data.

This is great news. Not that the Developer Edition was ever all the expensive or that Microsoft didn’t offer a free alternative with the SQL Express SKUs already. But in the past I have run into the limitations that Microsoft put on SQL Express Server during testing, which by the way it is worth mentioning that this is a fully functional version of SQL Server but its purpose (as noted above) is only for testing.

Having said that, as a Dev Op(ish) person, the other nice thing you get with the SQL Server Dev version is that it comes with some great management tools for working with a production server. Anyway you can find more at the SQL Server blog here.

Note to self: Build 2016 starts next week

Note to self:

MicroSoft Build LogoBuild 2016 live stream starts next week March 30 – April 1. The agenda isn’t up yet (as of this post) but that as well as other information about Build 2016 can be found here. For me, I am most excited to hear more about how Xamarin is going to be integrated into the Visual Studio environment. Xamarin is a tool that allows you to build cross-platform native applications using Visual Studio and C#.  Xamarin is one of those tools that I have always wanted to try but didn’t because of its cost. It may have been worth every penny but it was priced way above my budget so I never really gave it serious consideration.

 

Everything you need to know about Windows 10

Windows 10 has been with us for a number of months now, and this has given us plenty of time to unearth all manner of secrets about the operating system. Since launch we have experienced love, hate and everything in between, but we’ve also learned a great deal. We thought it would make sense to pull together all of this info into one place so you have it available in a handy repository. So what will you find here? Everything!

Beta News has compiled a list of Everything you need to know about Windows 10.

windows-10-logo

I have been working on my own list but this one has a few that I don’t have. At some point I will go through an update my list so this note may no longer be true as you read this.

GR DevDay 2016

Grand Rapids Development Day – March 12, 2016

GR DevDay is a one-day software development conference in Grand Rapids, MI. It is completely volunteer-run and organized by developers with other developers in mind. GR DevDay is proud to offer all this at a very low cost to professionals and students.

GR DevDay grew out of the rapid growth and popularity of the GR Day of .NET conference organized by the West Michigan .NET User Group. These historical ties remain strong, but the scope of topics will reflect the diverse nature of modern software development. A wide range of technology topics will be explored and developers of all backgrounds are welcome.

I am not sure yet if I am going to make this one but I have been to this event in the past and have always left with more knowledge then when I arrived. Tickets are $25 for professional and $10 for students. It takes place in Grand Rapids, MI on March 12, 2016.

The Schedule is here and the list of speakers here. Oh and the venue is at the Covenant Fine Arts Center, Calvin College.

Real World Windows 10 Development Book

Finally there is a book dedicated to Windows 10 Development.

Real World Windows 10 DevelopmentThe book is called “Real World Windows 10 Development“.  Apress is the publisher and as far as I know Apress is the first “big pub” company out with a book totally dedicated to Windows 10 development. Sam’s is promising an Unleashed Windows 10 book soon but as of this post it is still a pre-order status.

I have been waiting since the fall (of 2015) to get a book on Windows 10 app development because, although many of the techniques used for Windows 8.1 apps carries over to Windows 10 development, there are still enough differences that I didn’t want to dive too deep into the 8.1 world and then have to relearn all the nuanced or not so nuanced differences between the two.

This post is really not an attempt at a review because I am only one chapter in. I will try an come back and do that at a later date as I get closer to the end of the book. The reason for this post is to let those who have been waiting for something to get published know that there is something out there. Finally.

Currently there are only three reviews for this book on Amazon. The first two are 5 star, which one looks a little suspect (no other reviews by the customer but this one). The other did have a couple of other reviews but one of them was another book from the two authors of this book, which may or may not mean anything. The one negative reviewer also only ever reviewed one book (this one) and the criticism was a little vague so not sure what to make of it.

Spending $40 plus dollars and a book with so few reviews is not something I normally do but like I said I have been waiting a while for a book like this. So while I decided to take a chance on it and give the book I try I am not ready to recommend it (yet). I will try and come back to this post and update it with some of my thoughts as I go through it.

Update: I did run across another book on the subject called “Developing Windows 10 Applications with C#“. This one currently has only one review and doesn’t appear to be a “big pub” book. However looking though the sample it does look to be a very thorough.

 

Kalamazoo X Conference 2016

Kalamazoo X Conference Logo

 The Kalamazoo X Conference is a one-day, single track, conference focused on inspiring knowledge workers to have a fulfilling career. While there are many great technical conferences in the region, their focus tends toward new technologies and skills. The Kalamazoo X Conference intends to uniquely complement those conferences by enabling attendees to improve their core competencies.

Over the last 10 years or so I have been to many technical conferences. And I can say without any hesitation that the Kalamazoo X Conference is by far my favorite. I haven’t been able to attend every year it has been put on but when I have made it I have NEVER left disappointed.

As far as technical conferences go it is not really all that technical. The sessions are usually relatively short, faced paced and cover topics related to the so called “Soft skills”. The speakers are diverse as their presentation styles and content, which is a plus if you have ever attended a non big sponsor technical conference before.

I can highly recommend it and encourage you to go look over some of the past sessions, read the session descriptions and see if the idea of a Soft Skills conference appeals to you. There are also some videos posted on their Vimeo Channel to give you some idea of the content and flow.

The 2016 Kalamazoo X Conference will take place on April 30th at the Fetzer Center (WMU Campus). Tickets are $75  for non-students and $35 for students.

Free e-books from Syncfusion

Syncfusion has over 80 e-books free for the download. It does require that you give them your email address and contact information and they will contact you at least once (they did me anyway). However the trade off is worth it and the person who called me was very helpful and professional and not one bit pushy (as a salesman). The e-books are relatively short and to the point. The books are all roughly 100 pages long with not much fluff thrown in. The e-books are available in ePub, mobi and pdf, which I think covers all the major bases.

For an idea of what they offer I included the category list for all the books below.Syncfusion e-book category list

While you are there you should also make sure that you register to download a trial of their control suite or their community license version of their controls suite.  The Community License provides free access to all the Syncfusion products for individual developers and small businesses

For more information see the FAQ and other community license info here. I have downloaded the controls and haven’t used them in a project yet but plan to over the next several months.

Oh yeah. I should mention that the rules of eligibility for the Community license state that any individual developer or up to five users at companies with annual gross revenue below $1 million USD are eligible to use the controls in commercial applications. So it is pretty easy to figure out whether you qualify or not and I believe the idea is to make the on-road to their controls easy for people in learning mode or for start ups with little cash flow at the time of initial development.

 

DataTable Compute Method (C#)

Note to self: Going forward use DataTable Compute when summing data in a DataTable (C#)

I am a little embarrassed to admit the number of times, prior to today, that I have used a loop to get summary information from a DataTable. Needless to say, in retrospect, one time was too many times.

So today while looking for a better way to sum data from a very large amount of rows I ran across the DataTable Compute Method, which allows you to get aggregated data out of data tables efficiently. The following aggregate types are supported in expression:

  •  Sum (Sum)
  •  Avg (Average)
  •  Min (Minimum)
  •  Max (Maximum)
  •  Count (Count)
  •  StDev (Statistical standard deviation)
  •  Var (Statistical variance)

Example code and screen cap of the results shown below.


static void Main()
{
    DataTable dt = new DataTable();
    dt = GetPeopleTable();

    // Get total number of records in a dataset (no filter)
    object countRows = dt.Compute("Count(FirstName)", "");
    Console.WriteLine("Record Count = " + countRows);

    // Get total number of records where the birthdates after 1/1/2000 (filtered) 
    object birthsAfter2k = dt.Compute("Count(FirstName)", "BirthDate > '1/1/2011'");
    Console.WriteLine("# of birth dates > 1/1/2000: " + birthsAfter2k);

    // Get the earliest birth date in data table
    object earliestBirthDate = dt.Compute("Min(BirthDate)", "");
    Console.WriteLine("Earliest birth date = " + earliestBirthDate);

    // Get the latest birth date in data table
    object latestBirthDate = dt.Compute("Max(BirthDate)", "");
    Console.WriteLine("Latest birth date = " + latestBirthDate);

    // Get the number of records where last name = Ford  (filtered)
    object lastNameIsFord = dt.Compute("Count(LastName)", "LastName = 'Ford'");
    Console.WriteLine("# of names that equal Ford = " + lastNameIsFord);

    // Get the sum of an entire column in a data table
    object combinedAges = dt.Compute("Sum(Age)", "");
    Console.WriteLine("Combined Ages = " + combinedAges);

    Console.ReadLine();
}

private static DataTable GetPeopleTable()
{
    DataTable table = new DataTable();
    table.Columns.Add("FirstName", typeof(string));
    table.Columns.Add("LastName", typeof(string));
    table.Columns.Add("BirthDate", typeof(DateTime));
    table.Columns.Add("Age", typeof(int));

    table.Rows.Add("Joe", "Dirt", "12/1/1966", 49);
    table.Rows.Add("Bob", "Oldheart", "1/11/1970", 45);
    table.Rows.Add("Stan", "Ford", "3/3/1958", 57);
    table.Rows.Add("Dan", "Dunn", "8/7/1981", 34);
    table.Rows.Add("Sue", "Clay", "11/11/2011", 4);
    table.Rows.Add("Wendy", "Lisa", "7/5/2014", 1);
    return table;
}

And the results look like this

DataTable Compute Method Results

Lear more about the DataTable Compute method at MSDN.

Convert Windows 10 Home to Pro

Convert Windows 10 Home to ProBetanews posted the directions to convert from Windows 10 Home to Pro here. Keep in mind this isn’t a free upgrade. This is a guide to help you try Windows 10 Pro before you buy it. To buy (or activate) the pro version it will cost you around $100. You can view the Windows 10 version comparisons here.

For me the reasons to upgrade were Bit Locker, Remote Desktop Access and the Hyper V Client. Although I could probably do just fine without Bit Locker and Hyper V. I live in the Remote Desktop client and don’t think I could work productively without it.

By the way if you decide to stay with Pro you can buy directly from the Microsoft store, which Microsoft will gladly take you to through the Activation Page in settings. The one the thing to beware of is it is not clear to me (anyway) of what you do if you want to convert back to the Home version. I didn’t find a clarification on the subject but one commenter claimed that they had to restore their system to go back to Home. Just keep that in mind if you decide to take the Pro version for  a spin.