Richard's blog

  • Origami business

    When I went to the first GeekUp event in Leeds I became very jealous of everyone's lovely business cards. I decided it was time to sort that out and make my own. I wanted mine to be a little bit different and hopefully be something that people would remember.

    I've loved origami since my trip to Japan in 2002 and thought this would be an excellent thing to use. I'd also tested the idea in a previous project and it had been very successful.

    Now the design is done, they're quite easy to mass produce. The hardest part of the design was drawing the diagrams and making the instructions clear. … more

  • The book every programmer should read

    Code Complete is a book that talks you through how to construct computer programs. It doesn't look at any specific language and the things covered apply equally to web applications and pacemaker software.

    It talks about the process and really makes you think about the way you do things and the best way to do things. Every chapter has really made me think and hopefully I'll be a better programmer for it. It's the sort of stuff I wasn't taught at university, but think I should have been.

    It's been like having a wise programmer share with me a wealth of experience and knowledge. It's made me … more

  • Kirkstall Festival

    Kirkstall Festival was fantastic this year, and we had good weather for possibly the first time this summer. I'd helped Pyramid of Arts' Youth Group make an armada of sea creatures for the parade. We joined various other groups and schools from Leeds marching through the streets of Kirkstall. Everyone’s work was fantastic, and we were particularly pleased to be given the best group prize for our underwater parade creatures.

    I'd gladly volunteered to play a giant drum in the parade. I like making a lot of noise, but I didn't realise how much pain a drum can cause repeatedly hitting your … more

  • Our sculpture on Google Earth

    I've made a 3D model of Pyramid of Arts' sculpture at Thwaite Mill. Pyramid of Arts is an arts charity bringing together artists with and without learning disabilities to work on large scale arts projects.

    I wanted to have an experiment with creating 3D models in Sketch-up and see if I could get it added to Google Earth. Google Earth is a program by Google that displays pictures of the whole world and 3D models of some of it.

    Pyramid made this sculpture about 3 years ago and had just finished it when I joined. It's Pyramid's first permanent work, so it would be really nice if it could … more

  • Richard's weather

    The weather in Leeds lately has been very random. Sunny one minute, torrential rain and thunder the next.

    To help others know what weather I'm experiencing, I've made a handy ASP.NET control that displays the weather in Leeds. It shows a picture of me experiencing that weather and can also tell you the weather in several other places I've been to.

    It can also change how the whole site looks based on the weather, but it doesn't do this at the moment. You can see this control on the right hand side of my blog's homepage. more

  • GeekUp Leeds

    Went to geekUp Leeds last night. Had a lot of fun and met some interesting people, although I've forgotten all their names.

    There were a lot more people than I expected. Who would have known there were so many geeks in Leeds. Guess we normally hide away.

    I wasn't able so stay long, so I didn't get to chat to most people. Hopefully I'll get a better chance at the next one. more

  • Automating ASP.NET building with NAnt

    In my drive to sort out my development processes there are a few things I want to do. Top of my list is proper automated testing and creating automatic documentation.

    Doing these steps every time I compile my site (or application) will add a lot more steps, so I thought it would be better to learn how to automate the build process first.

    I'd heard that NAnt was the tool I should be using, but I found it a little bit overwhelming.

    NAnt is a program that follows a list of instructions in an XML file called a build file. These instructions are used to do a series of tasks like the following: … more

  • Reviewing The Mythical Man Month

    In my first job out of university my assigned mentor Alex always had a copy of The Mythical Man Month on his desk. He urged me to read it and said that the world would be a better place if everyone in charge of projects had read it.

    That was almost six years ago, and I've just got round to it. I went through a period after uni where I'd had enough of reading text books. I've recently felt quite a strong urge to learn more, and this book seemed like a good place to start.

    The author Frederick Brooks talks from his experience of working for IBM in the 1960s. In some ways this book is timeless. … more

  • Sending a list into an SQL stored procedure using XML

    I wanted to pass a list of user IDs into a stored procedure. What I really wanted was to be able to pass an array, but you're not able to do that because it would be too easy. It took me quite a while to figure this out, but now I know how, it'll be easy next time.

    There's a nice set of functions that allow you to get values from an XML string and treat the set of values like a table. Just what I wanted from arrays really.

    Here is the XML string that I used:

    <users><user id="24" /><user id="27" /></users>

    And here is the relevant part of the stored procedure I made: … more

  • Control my source

    In my last job I worked with a team of about 50 other developers all working on the same project. A senior developer had set up a source control system that allowed us all to play together without overwriting each other's code.

    When I moved to my current, much smaller team there was no source control system. We didn't seem to need it, except the few small times a month when we did. None of these moments seemed big enough to warrant setting up a proper source control system. However, when you add them all up, we could have saved ourselves a lot of heart ache.

    I decided I wanted to fix this, … more