Alternity RPG NPC Tracker/Helper

by Andrew Barber 4. November 2012 13:21

A few months ago, I started back up playing pen-and-paper role-playing games with a small group of friends. One of my favorite games has been Alternity; a science-fiction game created by the former TSR back in 1998, and unfortunately discontinued in 2000 by WoTC. As the game master (GM), bookkeeping is a big thing, both during and between games. Of course, I'm a programmer, so, why not make a tool to help?


Two Things I Like, and What's Alike About Them

by Andrew Barber 23. March 2012 13:25

Bni and Stack Overflow - Two of my Favorite ThingsTwo of my favorite things in my life as a freelance software developer are BNI and Stack Overflow. They are both quite different things, yet some of the reasons I like them both are actually somewhat related.


BNI is the largest organization of its kind in the world. It's an organization that helps members use word-of-mouth to grow their business. It does this by being nothing but a referral-centered organization. Members meet, and do business by referral. They build relationships, and develop friendships, as a result of course. But BNI does not try to be a social organization. It focuses members' time and effort on helping each other grow their businesses.

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a question and answer site. There are hundreds of these out there. Thousands. Millions, probably. You'll see most of them referred to as "Q&A Forums". Stack Overflow is not a Q&A Forum. It is not a place where people can go and randomly ask for opinions, or try to get someone to help them with a project they have no idea how to complete. It is, instead, a structured site with definite, clear rules about how to ask questions, and what is expected of you before you ask them.

So, what do I like that are similarities between these two, quite different things?


Some Userful Facebook Timeline Features

by Andrew Barber 20. February 2012 14:31

I know not everyone likes the Facebook Timeline, but we don't have a choice. I thought I would mention a couple things that you might find interesting and useful. Specifically, I'll be covering the abilities to add items at any point in time, and browse among certain types of updates.


Start Programs Quickly on Windows 7

by Andrew Barber 16. February 2012 18:27

As a programmer, I'm always looking for good places to make something more efficient. Very often, that means looking at places where some action is repeated frequently. This post isn't meant to bore you with such details, though; I'm looking at something we all do on our computers: start programs.

I start programs a lot in the course of an average day. Of course, the standard way to do that is to open the Start Menu, browse to the program's icon, and click it. Seems easy enough, right? Sure, but Windows 7 gives you an easy way to make it faster and easier. And a way that does not require moving your hands from the standard typing position on your keyboard (much less moving all the way to the mouse!). Click on the photo to the right to see how easy it can be.




Create the Appropriate Kind of Facebook Profile

by Andrew Barber 11. November 2011 20:20

Many people may not realize it, but there are two primary kinds of Facebook profiles you can have; a personal profile, meant for an individual person and a Facebook page, meant for a business, organization, or public personality. Many times, I have seen personal profiles created which should have been created as a Facebook page.

This article will help show you why you shouldn't do that, and what to do if you already have.


LINQ to SQL: Getting String Field Maximum Lengths With a T4 Template

by Andrew Barber 26. October 2011 09:22

If you use LINQ to SQL (link) for data access in your applications, you may have noticed one thing 'missing': an easy way to automatically get the maximum field lengths for NVarChar and similar columns. This article describes a T4 template (link) I have created for doing just that. This template generates C# code, but it would be fairly simple to convert it to produce VB code, if you prefer.

First, if you would like to download the file, here it is: (1.33 kb) To get detailed info on its use and creation, read on!


Secure Certificates: Real-Life Problems

by Andrew Barber 8. September 2011 09:34

I just recently posted about Secure Certificates; specifically, noting why it is important to pay attention to your web browser's warnings about them. Two recent stories on cnet offer a chance to illustrate and expand on what I noted therein. First, about the pre-installed "trusted" certificate issuers (Certificate Authorities) and second, about how the address-aware nature of sites protects you, even if a site is hacked in some particular ways.




Why are Secure Site Certificate Warnings Important?

by Andrew Barber 6. September 2011 08:34

You may have visited a website, and seen a warning similar to the one to the right (click here for the Firefox version). What does it mean? Why is it important? Is it important?

First; yes, it is important. And it may mean you should avoid the site altogether. This article is intended to help by explaining some of the reasons you might get this warning.




Linq to SQL; Missing Related 'Child' Objects

by Andrew Barber 31. August 2011 01:32

Just a quick note about something that happens to me now and again when using Linq to SQL, and takes a moment to realize what's going on.

Say you are coding using Linq to SQL, in ASP.NET MVC, for example. You notice, either via intellisense or failed compilation, that a related, child object collection does not exist, even though it's in your database, the relation is set properly, and you have the entities created in the designer. So, what gives?

When this happens to me, I find that I've forgotten to designate the child table's primary key field as a primary key (and identity field) properly. Fix this, re-generate the entities, and problem solved!

Why Would Someone Hack Your Website

by Andrew Barber 17. June 2011 11:01

Many people say to themselves, "I don't need to worry too much about security for my website, because no one would ever want to hack it in the first place." In my opinion, this belief comes from a lack of knowledge of many of the reasons someone might hack a website; Maybe they see reports of big banking websites being targeted, and assume that no one would try to hack their website, because no financial information is ever posted on it.

This list should make it clear that any website at all is a potential target. If your website hasn't been targeted (yet), that's probably just a matter of luck; 'they' simply haven't found your site as of yet. This list is meant as an eye-opener to hopefully impress upon you that website security is important to consider for all websites - even yours!


The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent those of my partners, clients or contractors in any way.

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