I just wanted to personally recommend a log view utility I’ve had the luck of finding recently, actually thanks to Ian again. Around October time, Ian contacted the logging.apache.org group asking :

“Does anyone know of an application that is capable of loading a log file that has been written to using the RollingFileAppender?”

He was answered by Ulrich Proeller, author of Log4View, saying that at the time his application didn’t support that but would process XML Formatted log files.

We’re currently using a ConversionPattern with a Rolling File Appender in Log4Net to custom-format the output of the logs. I did try swapping to the XML format briefly on my development machine, but the output logs really are only machine readable after that.

I recently got in touch with Ulrich as I spotted he’d added Pattern support to Log4View along with XML for file based logs. (For those who prefer network logging, there’s also excellent support for UDP and TCP appenders as well.)

Today, he’s sent me a preview beta copy of Log4View with the pattern changes made and I’m pleased to report it is performing very well. He informs me there’s a new version on the cards very soon which will include the changes he sent me today, alongside some other improvements which sound exciting.

For someone who has spent countless hours trawling through the vast amount of logs that our services can produce while we’re testing them, Log4View offers a very slick, well thought out way of exploring live or archive logs. Being able to specify the Log Level you want for each Logger it finds in the log files, supported by smart Filtering rules really allow you to find what you need quickly.

My thanks go to Ulrich for continuing to actively support his application and for the quick turn-around he’s done after I made suggestions.
If you use Log4Net, you should seriously consider both trialling and supporting Ulrich for his efforts in producing a very useful view on your logged data.

When clothing and gadgets shouldn’t mix

It’s long been said that soon we’ll all have interconnected clothing, maybe even internet-enabled clothing, so that we become able to charge, plug in and head towards becoming bionic?
Well Gizmodo has posted details of a jeans and keyboard combination which I have to agree with them, looks wrong in so many ways.
Have a look yourself and let me know if you think this is the future, or just plain wrong. You certainly wouldn’t want to spill hot coffee over this keyboard!

New look

As I’m finding myself actually using this blog a lot more than I have done in the past, I decided an updated look was needed. A bit of spring cleaning, so to speak.
For any of you using WordPress (and 2.5 represents a nice milestone release, job well done to everyone involved), there’s a great free theme which you’re now looking at.
Find the theme at http://cssace.com/free-wp-premium-theme-is-here/

Making a Mockery

Thanks to some example code by Ian I’ve completed my first Mockery. NMock allows you to instantiate mock objects based on interface declarations alone.
It’s already saved me a potential chicken and egg scenario where to get an instance of the normal object that’s inputting into the method I was testing I’d have had to include a project which relied on the one I was in the midst of building. Compilers tend to hate the chicken and egg question and usually go on strike.
So, NMock to the rescue and I must say it took no time at all to get up to speed with. Yes, it did require me to set all of the properties on the object that were being used, rather than relying on defaults created by Constructor methods. However, accurately controlling the data retrieved from the object is such a benefit. It will no doubt save the time spent where tests at the moment retrieve data from a database.

Is Barclays Internet Banking too secure?

Having spent around five months fighting with Orange over a messup their system made on my account, I’m already fed up of call centres. So when my PinSentry security device from Barclays gave up the ghost last night, I was straight on the phone to report it.
The PinSentry is a small keypad device with a slot in the top for your debit card. By entering your PIN number, it gives you an 8 digit code which you enter into the internet banking website along with the usual other credentials. This has replaced doing the mental gymnastics selecting random characters from your memorable word and the theory is that it makes the process of being secure simpler.
The trouble comes from two main flaws with the PinSentry:

  1. You remember to take the PinSentry device with you wherever you go in case you want to login to your Internet Banking.
  2. Your PinSentry device actually works and doesn’t die in a fit of apathy.

Continue reading Is Barclays Internet Banking too secure?

Adding SQL Server Management Studio to a development machine

A quick post in case any of you developers out there are having trouble adding the SQL Server Management Studio tool if you have Visual Studio 2005 with an installation of SQL Server Express Edition 2005.
The setup.exe will fail when it checks your current install, especially if you’ve been applying Windows Updates which may have upgraded your SQL Express Edition database to a later version than is on the SQL Server 2005 CD.
The trick when trying to add the tools is to run the setup.exe with the optional command-line parameter of SKUUPGRADE=1. So open a Command Line window, browse to your CD drive with the SQL Server 2005 disc in it and type:
setup.exe SKUUPGRADE=1
It won’t moan now when it comes to check either the existing edition installed on your machine, or that there may be hidden 2005 Tools already on your machine and not listed in Add/Remove Programs (which I’ve seen in other blog posts).
Hope this helps reduce lost hair from being pulled out!

NDA vs Blogs and Forums

While trying to learn something new, the Internet proves a valuable resource. A quick Google usually reveals enough blog entries with other people having similar problems that you can find what you’re after.
The trouble with the Beta SDK’s for the iPhone at the moment is that while they are in development themselves, all users of the SDK are bound by a Non Disclosure Agreement. Revealing the technical details for the SDK is not allowed and so open discussions on public forums aren’t authorised. Sure, it seems to be happening in small amounts, but nothing compared to normal internet traffic for something so new and current.
Continue reading NDA vs Blogs and Forums

Does iPhone mean business?

I’m in the process of using and understanding the new iPhone SDK from Apple. Consequently, I’m keeping my eyes keenly on new news stories about the iPhone. There are plenty of rumours surrounding the iPhone especially ahead of the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.
The main rumours regard a possible 3G version of the iPhone and more business style features like Microsoft Exchange support.
There’s no doubt that a device as flexible as the iPhone, based on Mac OS X could easily be a challenger to the Blackberry if its pitched correctly.

O2 is the UK’s sole network provider for the iPhone and says at the moment that iPhones aren’t available on business contracts at the present time.
Whilst the potential extra features on the iPhone will determine if its suitable for business users, O2 has not been appearing in a very positive light recently with a couple of stories features on The Register.
Continue reading Does iPhone mean business?