Friday, March 30, 2007

End of the Financial Year

It is the 30th of March. The end of the financial year. I had a few targets to meet, to ensure that the company meets the revenue targets set for the year.

We were following up on the projects that were planned to be closed for this year very closely. We were reminded of the targets every week and during the last few weeks, a few times during a week as well. I am not complaining about anything. I was happy to be reminded as that was helping me stay on course. For some strange reason, I never felt pressurized by the responsibility. I felt completely at ease.

I even volunteered to push one of the projects which was due to finish in April into March, in order to be able to invoice this year. And I am happy that I was able to meet the targets. My team also delivered. It was them who felt pressured and worked their butts out in order to deliver on time. Thank you guys! you stood tall and delivered!

Now that we achieved the financial targets for this year, from Tuesday on, I will have to start planning for the financial targets for 2007 now that we have secured more work and the securities project set to go live in the coming months. tags:

Friday, March 23, 2007

Google Calendar - yet another calendaring app??? tags: , ,

I am sure most of us who have used Google beyond the searching platform would have had a look at Google Calendar (GCal). I did too and then thought to myself, why would I want to enter my diary again into another application. I mean, not that my schedule was packed, I was already using my Outlook on my Laptop and I had my PDA sync' ed to it. But the main reason for non-adoption (I am trying out almost all of other Google services), was the the duplicity of data input.

I can across this article on WebWorkerDaily which talks about a program that can synchronize the GCal with the desktop. And it also talks about a few more hacks that you can do with your GCal to make it more usable and helpful.

Now, I should get my schedule on the calendar and start playing with it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Connecting to SQL Server Express from a Pocket PC application

I was recently trying to do a small sample application with SQL Express and Pocket PC's. Basically I wanted to try out a code to automatically synchronize with a database running on a network, when the application was cradled.

My solution was very simple. I used a dataset in the PPC application and updated to and from it to the database.

From my previous experience with PPC applications under .NETCF1, I remembered that PPC apps need the IP of the database in the connection string. Also, you have to set the SQL Server Express to accept TCP/IP connections as well as SQL Server Authentication. Instructions for all of that can be found on Daniel Chong's blog post. So I will not delve into that further here.

But the problem I faced was, no matter what I tried, I got an SqlException called "SQL Server does not exist or access denied." I searched the web high and dry and I still I was baffled. Then I tried trying out different combinations for the connection string and I realized that my emulator was not connecting to my PC at all. Delving in deeper, I realized I was running a wrong ActiveSync version. I was running version 3.8 and Visual Studio 2005 requires version 4.0 or higher. So I upgraded my ActiveSync version and enabled network connectivity on the emulator, everything worked great!

So a few pointers to remember when accessing SQL Express databases from Pocket PC (.NETCF2.0) projects:

  1. Ensure that SQL Express is set to accept remote connections. By default this is disabled.
  2. Ensure that your SQL Server is set to accept SQL Server Authentication as well.
  3. Fix the port for the SQL Express database.
  4. Create the connection string with the IP and the Port. eg: Data Source =,1433;Initial catalog=Pubs;User Id=****, Password=***;
  5. SQL Server Express installs with an instance name. Never give this instance name in your connection string. eg: Data Source=\SQLEXPRESS... This gave my application an error which could not be caught with exception handling within the managed code.

That's about it. Hope this helps someone out there. Any questions or clarifications, just ask.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sri Lankan classifieds web sites

One thing I like doing on Sunday is to go through the classifieds. Not because I am looking for something to buy. But because, I like to figure out the market value of things and at the same time to figure out what's in demand.

When it comes to the web, the classifieds web sites for Sri Lankans were not much. But since of late, a few sites have come up, some catering to specific market segments and some catering to the general market. I'll put down my take on those:

Cars: - This is not a classifieds site as such. It is dubbed to be the most popular motoring related web portal in Sri Lanka. They have a section where they list vehicles for sale, for a FEE though. - Maybe the older site,but seems to have lost its ground to the new entrant. Has a listing service with photos, which is a PAID service and a FREE service which are only text ads.

General: - I am not entirely sure, but I think they are trying to emulate ebay. Don't know what the conversion rates are, but frankly, I think the site can settle for a bit more visually pleasing design. - A FREE web site. Simple design and provides quite good account management features. - Another shopping site. In their case they have approached this more from a more online shopping mall concept. They seem to have gone for partnerships with businesses and providing a cyber outlet through their web site. - New kid on the block. A FREE classifieds site that allows you to upload PHOTOS as well. Quite a good feature when considering free ad postings. Doesn't specifically target the Sri Lankan market. But I am sure it is Sri Lankan web site. I think it is a good site if you are looking to promote your items internationally.

Property: Seems to be the most popular real estate website. And it is free. Comprehensive service and customized for the real estate market.

There are numerous property listing sites that are maintained by property brokerages. I am not listing them as they probably list only the properties they are selling for a fee.

I am sure there are plenty of other sites out there. I will post them as and when I come across them. In the mean time, if there is something I have missed, please post them as comments.