Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book review: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

I will teach you to be rich is a book about the fundamental needed for a person to start a good financial foundation.  It breaks down all of the intimidating investment, credit card, retirement funds, and banking accounts into plain English.

The author proposes a plan to start a 3-4 weeks to start building a good financial foundation.  

The chapters start with explaining the basics such as explaining Credit Cards, opening retirement accounts (401k and roth IRA). Those are the best chapters in my opinion as I had a foggy understanding on what to do and how those financial concepts work. The idea of the early chapters is to not worry about the details of which credit card or account to chose. Instead, It is better to start and get the the tasks done.

The later chapters are about investing and they go in depth into what to do with money. It also talks about how to save money for events like weddings and other spending. I did not think that those advises are strong and I saw some complaints on Amazon about how some of the ideas are wrong or outdated (e.g. bank loans changing, buying a car method does not apply to all dealers).

Overall, I think this is a fun read for beginners. I have been wanting to learn more about investing and money handling. This book worked pretty well as a beginner guide. I would recommend it to anyone who is too intimidated by all of the noise out there.
Friday, May 24, 2013

Getting Started with Chrome Developer Tools

I found a great site called Code School (all free for the 5/24 - 5/27 weekend) with a very well made hand on tutorials for different Web technologies. The Google Chrome Developer Tools  course was free. It was so interesting and engaging that I finished the full course in one day.

Here is a list of features that are included in the Chrome Developer Tools. If you do not have the time to take the course, I highly suggest skimming the features and go back to learn them if you needed the tools.

  • Gives you the ability to Drag and drop HTML Lines, Edit the HTML,
  • Look up the CSS items  and where they are inheriting the elements.
  • Ability to change to cursor dependent events (elements like onhover, infocus ..etc) to edit the CSS

  • Look up all the files used to create the site (CSS, JS, images) and highlight any missing ones
  • Local storage shows any saved JSON calls (I have yet to test this with forms, but Get and Post data should be shown here)

  • Shows the calls (Get and Post) made to show all of the files and when they started (server is limited to a number of files it can call in time. So it is a great idea to combine and minify files.
  • To use: Press the black circle at the bottom and it would start recording then Refresh the page.
  • Options to disable cashed items under settings (small gear on the bottom right)

  • A text editor. Access all of your (js) files and ability to edit.
  • Right click and click on Local modifications for the option to save your files or revert.

  • Record Behaviors (animation, drawing) to see how long they are taking to draw.
  • Memory monitoring to check for any memory leaks

  • Monitor the speed of the JS to help with finding parts of the codes that are slowing the page
  • Monitor CSS to find how long the JS is taking to select the elements (e.g. #elementName vs .elementClass)
  • Take a Heap shot to find any memory leaks of elements not collected.

Consoles allow you to type any Javas Script functions you have in your page and it would return the result.
Select elements to find them in your html by using  $(".className") or element
Lots of goodies that could be found on the google API support.

Chrome Developer tool is a must learn if you are doing any web development. I have to admit that one feature that I miss from IE dev tool is being able to use the cursor to highlight and click on an element on the web page.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Zoom in to Show Your Presentation Details

Ever seen a presentation where the presenter zoomed in to a part of the screen to show some hard to read details?

I always thought that it was a windows feature but I finally found it. This cool trick could be done with a product from Microsoft called ZoomIt.  It is hard to show an example of it, but  this is what my full screen looks like before and after zooming in.

I wish I knew about this before I used ctl + and - on my presentation. Enjoy!
Thursday, May 9, 2013

How to Give Your First Technical Presentation

So I gave my first ever technical presentation at Carolina Code Camp 2013. I talked about a technology that makes my life easier and felt that other developers should know about.  I had a lot of fun doing it and received a positive reaction from the audience.

Before I start, I just want to break the misconception of being an expert to present. You don't. It is all about knowledge sharing and helping others. You can simply research a topic for a week and present the lessons to your audience.

It was a learning experience for me and a step that I knew that I should take one day. So I decided to focus on improving my presentation and public speaking skills.  These are some basic  tips I collected  that would help anyone trying to present for the first time:

1- Don't focus on being a great presenter. Focus on not sucking
Silly..but an average presentation where the message is delivered is your goal. You can not become a Steve Job by practicing for a weekend. It takes experience to give a great presentation.  Instead, look back at the bad presentations that you been to (speaker was not prepared, reading from the slides ...etc) and focus on NOT doing these mistakes.

2- Practice In voice
Practicing the presentation in voice helps with recognizing strong points for the slides. Each slide should have a reason for being up and you will need to tell the audience why you have it up there.
It also helps with creating an "auto pilot" feel where some  key points would be explained  at the right time giving you time to prepare for answers. And walk around the room to practice your body movement.

3- Find Your slides Balance
A slide with one word can be as powerful as one with multiple bullet  points. Your goal with the text is to get your crowed to stay at the same subject as you.  Do not read from the slides as human eyes can read faster than the speaker reading.

4- Live Code can go wrong. Just show us the code
If you are a new speaker, Try to lower the risk of failure of presentation tools. We know that you can code. So not coding in front of everyone and showing us the final result is enough. Just practice, add a lot of comments  and know the code does.

5- Everyone in the room wants you to succeed
Unlike the old school  and college days, No one is forced to come in. Everyone knows what it feels like to present and they know that it is tough. They will all help you because they want to hear what you got.

6- Draw your energy from the crowd
Your crowd will follow along and there will be some interested people sitting. Try to find one from each section of the room and it would look as if you are making eye contact with everyone. It would be more helpful if they are sitting in the back.

7- Tell them when they can ask questions
It is a great feeling when others ask questions. It wakes up the room to hear another voice talking.  After any big slide, make sure that you are asking for questions. Waiting to the end would cause the audience to forget to ask. Plus, It is easy to assume that the crowed knows some concept when they are not familiar with it. A simple question can clear a lot of confusion and put everyone at the same point with the speaker.

8- Show your personality
Be human. The audience would learn more from a presentation that they enjoyed. be yourself. Just talk to them the same way you talk to your friends.

9- Tell a story
You can always come up with a story. Do you have any reference stories about your client? How did you start using this technology? We want to relate the technology to our lives. An If statement is a cool concept, but an ability to make a decision is more interesting.

10- Replace the "um" with hand gestures.
Trust me .. Not a single um was given.

That is all I can think about now. I am still a bad presenter and will be for a while. And it is OK. Everyone got to start somewhere. I did not expect that good of a reaction out if my first  presentation.  I can't wait until I am up in front of everyone again.
You are all ready now (you were before reading this but probably didn't know it). Go ahead and present!

Some helpful resources I used:
- Scott Hanselman has a lot of good articles and videos. At the very least, I recommend listening to the podcast.
Good tips and very cool slide design. I recommend reading his take on how we use Powerpoint wrong.
Impress.js library helped me create a non-powerpoint presentation.
Sunday, May 5, 2013

Using Twitter Bootstrap 2.0 in ASP.NET MVC web applications

Bootstrap is a powerful front end framework that contain a collection of tools used to create great  sites and solve common  front end problems.
I stumbled upon bootstrap while looking for a way to improve the look of my web pages. I come from a native  development background and the front end of my application -while important- has not been my focus. I wanted to create cool looking, and yet, not time consuming UI for my applications. Twitter Bootstrap saved my day.

I tried to change the front end of my ASP.NET MVC web apps and Here is a quick way to use bootstrap in your ASP.NET application:

 1-Create a new blank ASP.NET MVC 4 project. 

2- Let Nuget handle it for you (OR you can manually add the bootstrap files to the correct directory. Not recommended). You should find the package installer under Tools (don't mix between it and the VS command line). The command is  :

Install-Package Twitter.Bootstrap.
Your Bootstrap files will be located in your content file

3-Add the libraries to your BundleConfig.cs file. This is not required but it is a good practice.  

4- Include your CSS and JS bundles in the _layout header. I ran the site before and after including the bootstrap file.

5- Change the contents of the file to fit your style. I used an example from bootstrap website to start. I added padding to the top of the body to allow for room for the navbar.

Code  is available (folder: Working Example) at

Helpful resources for super-hero-level of website building:
- Form builder using drag and drop.
- Free themes to use.
- Create a mock up of your bootstrap site.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Telerik grid to open a new web page

It took me a long time to find out how to go to a new page on telerik when clicking on a grid row. Here is a sample code in case an internet traveler stumbles upon it.

                    .DataKeys(keys => keys.Add(o => o.DialogueID))
                    .HtmlAttributes(new { style = "height: 100%; border: 0;" })
                    .Columns(columns =>
                        columns.Bound(o => o.DialogueID).Hidden();
                        columns.Bound(o => o.LoanID);
                    //.Sortable(sorting => sorting.OrderBy(sortOrder => sortOrder.Add(o => o.LoanID).Ascending())
                    .Sortable(config => config
                        .OrderBy(order => order
                            .Add(((string)ViewData["view"]) == "sortedByDate" ? "Category Type" : "LoanID")
                    .ClientEvents(events => events.OnRowSelect("onRowSelect"))


The green text is needed for this to work
And this javascript part is needed to go to another page. o.DialogueID was the key that I was using to take the user to as explained below.

<script type="text/javascript">
    function onRowSelect(e)
        var id = e.row.cells[0].innerHTML;
        location.href = "/Dialogue/Details/" + id;

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Blogging is to me

Blogging is a confusing internet medium. It has been overtaken by newer personal communication sites (twitter and facebook) and quick professional communication (linkedin and message boards). Yet, blogs are still a hub for information from the famous blogger and big news blogs. For the less famous, blogging is a diary-like to log personal ideas. I have seen bloggers talking about life experience and life events, personal opinions (religion, politics and all of the fun stuff). There is also the brand marketing that is disguised as blogging. It is a smart way to advertise a a site while offering the information.

So.. Why am I blogging?

I don't know. I started this as a part of a class requirement when I was a student and I enjoy some parts of it and dislike the other.

Like: I seem to enjoy going back and seeing my past self was thinking. It is a good way to solve problems and helping my confidence. It also brings events and skills back to memory.

Dislike: the stress. I don't know my Target audience and the fact that anyone can Google me and find my Blogger is terrifying  I am aware that I am a bad writer and my confidence is blocking me. The thought that someone would find my blog and find a spelling error is scary. The only way for me to improve is by writing and I feel as going back and over proof read my blog to be tiring. So I just give up and not publish my blogs. I have no readers now and I have more drafts than posts.

My new goal is to brain dump what I have. I want to build up my momentum and write. It will take a lot of practice to become a good writer and I will start now.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Uploading files to your website and saving them on a sharepoint folder (or any folder)

I ran into a requirement where I had to implement an email attachment like feature on my web page. The user should be able to upload and retrieve a the file. We chose Sharepoint to be the host for the files.

I never worked with Sharepoint before and I felt as using the ms libraries would be complicated. Thankfully, the whole process was easier than what I expected as it is all .NET. It boils down to moving a file from one folder to another folder in a directory in the server.

Bellow is a snippet if code that would accomplish the task (I will format it later. I wish the option was in blogger)

                    string location = WebConfigurationManager.AppSettings["IssueTrackingSharepointFolderLocation"];//Shared Documents";

                    // Some browsers send file names with full path. We only care about the file name.
                    var fileName = Path.GetFileName(file.FileName);

string[] combinedPath = new string[3];
            combinedPath[0] = location;

//handle the month if iti s less than 10 and add a 0 to it
            if (date.Month < 10)
            { combinedPath[1] = date.Year.ToString() + "0" + date.Month.ToString(); }
            { combinedPath[1] = date.Year.ToString() + date.Month.ToString(); }

            combinedPath[2] = entity.IssueAttachmentID.ToString() + "." + GetFileNameExtension(fileName);  //get the key with the extension

            string destinationPath = Path.Combine(combinedPath);

            string directoryPath = Path.Combine(combinedPath[0], combinedPath[1]);

Friday, January 25, 2013

Startup Weekend CLT

I decided to try a new thing on the weekend. I went to Startup Weekend. An event where anyone can pitch an idea and work on for the chance of winning funding and other perks and fun. The event took place in Packard Place in downtown Charlotte. I did not have any ambitions of starting my own business (yet!) but I wanted to get exposed to the process in case I want to. I also wanted to improve my programming skills. The weekend was quite an adventure that I learned a lot from so I am going to talk about what happened and follow up with what I learned.

Day one -  The Pitch:
Everyone with an idea were given a minute to pitch. I decided to go for it as I don't get a chance to practice my public speaking skills every day so I went for it. After an adrenaline rush that lasted for over 30 minutes, I pitched my idea and I did not know how to explain it and it got lost in the sea of pitches. It was really bad.

After voting for the top pitches, We had to join a team that we are interested in working with. It was tricky given that I had no interest in any of the ideas so I chose a team that needed a web developer and had other developers that I could learn from. We did not win and I really don't regret not choosing another team. I came to the event to sharpen my skills and I think I worked on a really challenging product.

Day 2: The head down coding phase:
Now that the plan is set, we divided our team to handle the development, marketing, bushiness planning and research. I decided to handle the web development given that we already had 3 developers in the team who handled the Android app and the back end of the server.. ... I was able to pull a quick web layout thanks to bootstrap and Google maps. I used Google charts for the first time and it was really easy to use.

Day 3: The catching up:
The last day. We did not code freeze and it felt as if we were moving the last pieces of a jinga game. I finished up my web development and we were really impressed by how fast we finished the product.

The presentation went better than what I expected. The marketing and project management guys were able to research the product and pulled a really nice presentation.

We did not win the contest ...  But I learned a lot and met amazing people.

Lessons learned:
  • I am not the only one with a "great" idea. Over half of the crowed came up to pitch and I actually liked a lot of the ideas that were not selected.
  • I should practice my pitch. I failed at communicating my idea to the public and this is what they thought it was (reminder: it was about creating a bucket list for friends)
  • I should be passionate about my pitch and I should show it.
  • Focus on solving problems
  • Prove a track record of what I done before to support my pitch.
  • Think about which team to join and what project I could add the most value to.
  • Bring in my business cards. I regret not marketing myself. Especially given the melting pot nature of talented people that I could network with.
  • Bring in more of my friends. Knowing people makes it easier to jump into conversations and meet others.
  • Take breaks and stay healthy. I think I might bring some board games to play with the team while taking breaks.
  • Know my technologies and have suggestions for common solutions (web hosting, layouts, social marketing).
  • Learn about technologies that are common among other start ups (Javascript, Ruby, mobile development, facebook Graph API). 
  • Read the rules... yeah.

Great quotes I heard (paraphrasing for some of them):
"Your customers will not move away from the bad process they are following because it works. You have to make your product a 100 times better before they will adopt it."  - Tim Cheadle

"The biggest mistake you could make in start up weekend is to actually work on implementing your product" 

List of skills and technologies I got exposed to:
Bootstrap: I used it before but I never created a full project with it. It is a great way to prototype websites. There are a lot of great templates and themes ready to use.
Google Charts: a great way to charts. We used it to plot a pie graph of the categories and a Bar graph for the spending. We ran into an API key issue but we fixed it.
Google Maps API: Used to show multiple transaction locations. 
Android Geolocation: I had to get the coordination to plot them on the map. Google resources were really helpful. 
prezi: A great presentation tool.
Sublime text 2: A great text editor (Thanks +Dimitrios Arethas)

Monday, January 21, 2013


 I have always enjoyed talk shows but I have no interest in the topics presented. NPR has multiple good shows but I find it hard to plan my day around the radio shows (I don't do that for TVs either!). I starting listening to gaming podcasts and it led me into a whole ocean of podcast about all different topics. I tried rooting my android phone and I ended up losing all of my podcast.

I am going to create a list here and share my favorite topics with all of you:

Random Information and facts:
How Stuff Works

Nostalgia-Nerd Culture:
Laser Time

This developer life
.Net Rocks
Thirsty Developer

Clark Howard
Dave Ramsey

Car Talk
This American Life

Giant bombcats
8-4 Play
games dammit
Player one podcast

Electronic music (stay away):
Tiesto's club life


TV shows:
The Talking Dead

Joe Rogan Experience
Ratchet & The Geek

Hardcore History with Dan Carlin

The Nerdist.