Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 481: Heaven On Earth


I have something to tell. I was dead for 3 days and since I had always been a good boy I went to Heaven. Where is it? Pietra Ligure, Italia.

A few things you do in Heaven: wake up at 12:30, drink cappuccino, eat ravioli, pasta with parmigiano cheese, tiramisu, swim in The Mediterranean, enjoy Italian riviera, Genova, San Remo, Sun ... and, well, not Italian football (Spain-Italy 4:2).

Many thanks to Daniele and his "La Familia" for their warm hospitality.

Photos ... and even more photos

Ciao. Ci vediamo dopo.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 456: Eurostar - train faster than airplane


Monday was a Bank Holiday here and I thought it was time for a new trip. This time I decided to try the high speed train - Eurostar - that
goes down The Channel. Starting from central London you can be in Paris or Bruxelles in about 2 hours. Amazing. Speed like 250/300 km/h is nothing for this train, I've read it has experimentally reached something like 550 km/h. Are we still talking about trains? The real train is very comfortable and spacious, with a nice snack bar inside, air conditioning and so on ... you can't feel the speed at all, your only task is to enjoy the scenery.

I forgot to tell you that I was going to Holland which is a further one hour away from Bruxelles. I've been in England for a few weeks and already started to miss some friends and football games in Delft. Agenda also included visiting an African restaurant in Utrecht and drinking coconut beer, and also driving a VW Beattle car built in 1968, but now registered in Italy and using a GPS navigational system "Tom Tom", version 2008 :-)

It was a great weekend, many thanks to Massi, Giulia, Francesca, Marta, Daniele, Marta's parents, Nikola, Marinela and my friends who I play football with. Have a look at Bas & Kas :-))

A few more photos here.

Tot zo.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Day 436: Mind The Gap


I'm starting a new project and job, this time in London. My first impression is that it's a very interesting and challenging city but quite crazy. What a surprise. I have the feeling time is running faster here (Einstein was right!). You must see central London Underground on Monday morning. Simply unbelievable. Nevertheless there is something for every taste in this megalopolis, from sports and cultural events to historical places, museums, typical pubs and restaurants, its potential is unlimited.

A thing you are reminded all the time while you travel here and there is to "mind the gap between the train and the platform". Sometimes they stop informing about the train schedule ... just to announce the very important thing to "mind the gap". May be they want to remind you the gap between all cultural, educational, and religious differences you can find in people from all over the World who land in this extraordinary city called London.

Some photos here.

Good night and mind the gap!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Day 411: Hola Barcelona!

... and one final weekend of holidays. This time it was Barcelona - the capital of Catalonia, Spain.

Again remarkable city, sun and tasty food. Thanks to Marta (Muchas Gracias!), our strict but fair guide, we could see it in 2-3 days walking for about 10 kilometers per day and meet most of her friends, mainly young people from Mallorka.

I really enjoyed the long green street for pedestrians called "Las Ramblas", the Columbus statue next to the sea shore, the view from "Gaudi" park and "The National Museum", typical Catalan dishes, fruit and see food market (poor crabs), all this narrow "Mediterranean" streets and small balconies with flowers, and of course the pleasant company of Nuria, Marta, Carlota, Roi and Dany (see photo).

Don't forget they don't (want to) speak Spanish(Castillian) in Barcelona but Catalan language. People are quite patriotic and proud in that region. We had a funny story when sat down in a restaurant and Roi and Carlota who live in North West Spain couldn't understand the menu :-0 This language happened to be quite different.

Another thrilling moment was taking a photo in front of the mythical "Camp Nou" stadium - the place where the great Bulgarian football star Hristo Stoichkov became Legend.

Maybe my photos will be able to tell you more about this trip ... I have to go back to work.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day 391: Paris, you are simply the best!


Few weeks ago I had the chance to go to Paris and I am simply dazzled by this city.

I could spend a weekend there - time sufficient enough only to point out the places you should visit when you come again for a longer period. Nevertheless, I managed to go on top of the Eiffel Tower, Arc the Triumph, walk down the "Champs Elysees" boulevard, have a look at the Louvre and Notre Dam Cathedral.

This is the first time I am really impressed by architecture, incredible structures. A friend of mine had to come and bring me back from the terrace of the Eiffel Tower, I could stay there for hours. Streets in Paris are so wide, I read the city was totally reconstructed around 1850 when, on his way back from London, Napoleon III said he wanted to see Paris as organized as the England capital. Then the government bought all the properties in the center, destroyed old medieval like buildings, laid down canalization, broadened streets and created laws saying houses must not be higher than a certain level. That's why Paris looks so beautiful today.

French language is like music but very difficult to write, quite different from Dutch for example :-)) where every second word contains 'g' produced with difficulties by your throat and nose. French food, bistros, wines, cheese ... I still remember that girl who after dinner said "Monsieur, what kind of cheese do you want ... blue, bri ..." and brought a plate full of all kind of cheese.

You can see photos from the trip here.

I definitely want to visit this city again in summer.

Au revoir! Viva la révolution!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 381: Some thoughts about MOSS, Workflows, InfoPath and WebServices

Hi. Lately I've been involved in a tricky project and would like to tell you the way I tackled it. While fighting with it I found lots of useful blogs ... so I thought now it's my turn to share some knowledge.

The main part of it consisted of a custom workflow that is attached to a SharePoint document library. When started the workflow creates several tasks that fire up InfoPath forms. InfoPath forms themselves query a web service to populate its drop down lists with data.

The first key moment was the use of Visual Studio 2008 and VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office). Now debugging the workflow is a breeze - right click your state machine or sequential workflow project, configure "SharePoint Debug Settings", place your breakpoints, click F5 and enjoy. That's all. VS 2008 will do everything for you, open a browser and navigate to the appropriate document library. No more manual IIS resets, GAC assembly deployment, detaching, attaching ...

Another interesting thing was where to deploy my web service. Knowing where most SharePoint web services are, I headed for the /_vti_bin folder of the moss web application, created a virtual directory to put the .asmx, web.config file and bin folder, configured the directory as application and pointed it to the the correct application pool. So far so good. Problems began when I started to receive this error message: "Unable to connect publishing custom string handler for output caching.". After googling for a while I read that the SharePoint page processing model may cause this because it overrides the way pages are parsed. I needed to modify the web service web.config, as described in this blog, to restore its standard handling. Ok, sounds pretty reasonably, except the fact that it doesn't work. I looked in disbelief for a few minutes when the idea to move the web service to another folder struck me - I put the web service files in the /_layouts folder and now everything was fine.

The next challenge was how to publish the InfoPath forms so that they could still find the web service when we move the application to test environment, for example the web service url in my dev environment looks like http://mossdev/_layouts/DemoWS/Service1.asmx but in the test environment it looks like http:// my.test.server/_layouts/DemoWS/Service1.asmx. I read the following MSDN article "InfoPath Support for Relative Paths to Web Services" but it was not appropriate for my case. It was time for Universal Data Connections. You can create Universal Data Connection File (.udcx) if you "convert" a data connection in InfoPath. What surprised me here was that though I wanted to centrally manage my connection, I had to upload it first to a data connection library, then download a copy and then upload it through Central Administration, InfoPath Forms Services section. The UDC file is a XML file that describes how to access a specific datasource. You can find the following tag inside the file: <udc:wsdlurl> http://mossdev/_layouts/DemoWS/Service1.asmx?wsdl</udc:wsdlurl>.
When you move to another environment you have to edit this file, for example replace the host header for the web service, and upload it again in central administration. The only thing your InfoPath form is interested in is to find the UDC file with certain name located under the IP section of CA. That's all. Very flexible solution!

"Houston, we have another problem!". One of the web methods needed an input parameter. How to supply this value at run time? I felt I could do this from the workflow ... When you define a data connection to a web method that needs parameter, InfoPath creates a Secondary Data Source and exposes this parameter as a field. You know that you can supply information to your form using that ItemMetadata.xml file and ows_field. Ok. I decided to create a rule "set team=ows_team" ("team" is the parameter) that applies everytime the form is loaded. The ows_team value I supply programmatically from the workflow when I create the task with a line like this: spWorkflowProperties.ExtendedProperties["ows_team"] = "team value"; One final problem: My web service was called before the parameter could be set from the workflow. To fix this you have to modify your data connection and uncheck the box "Automatically retrieve data when form is opened", place a control(for example a button) and create a rule saying "execute this data connection when button is clicked". Prima.

Tot zo.