Project: John Balfanz Homes

by Aaron 04/07/08

New Website: www.JohnBalfanzHomes.com

John Balfanz Website Background
John Balfanz Homes wanted a complete remodel and fresh look for their new website.

Purpose
The new website showcases available spec homes, the bella-vista development, and custom designer homes.

Technical
This website uses the latest and greatest .net framework 3.5 and SQL Server 2005 back-end.  There is an admin section of the website that allows the client to update their listings of spec homes.  Smooth gallery is used to showcase housing pictures.

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Category: Portfolio | Web Sites

Project: Chamblin-Landes

by Aaron 02/09/08

New Website: www.chamblin-landes.com


Background Chamblin-Landes Website

Chamblin-Landes Construction of Paso Robles, California wanted a new website to highlight their varied projects.

Purpose

The new website showcases construction projects based on specific categories.

Technical

This website uses the latest and greatest .net framework 3.5 and SQL Server 2005 back-end.  There is an admin section of the website that allows the client to update their listings of spec homes.

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Category: Portfolio | Web Sites

Threading and System.Timers in asp.net

by Aaron 02/01/08

Warning this post is very techy and boring.  Do not read unless your a programmer.

Purpose

I wanted to create a scheduled task (in a separate thread) to run every couple of hours on an ecommerce site, and could not find a good solution.  After much googleing and piecing some things together I figured it out and it is really easy to do this (See code at bottom of post).  There are great articles on creating/using threads in asp.net, so I don't feel a need to cover it here (just make sure to handle all of your errors in a thread or it will fail w/o throwing an error in the main application which can be confusing).

Background

My day job includes building/maintaining the websites for Velowear.com.  Velowear.com uses a overblown order management system called Ecometry to maintain products and everything else to do with running a direct retail business.  The web interface to Ecometry,webcom.dll a com object, is a very archaic and non object oriented approach to getting at this data.  One of the main problems is that whenever our website needed to query data from Ecometry it has to do a round trip over a T1 connection between our web host and our facility, which isn't very efficient.  Plus when you want to merchandise your product a certain way (i.e. display what colors are available on category search) I realized that we needed some kind of product caching system.  Luckily I had pretty much created my own objects that represented our products as they fit our business, now the challenge was creating an updated list of these product objects.

The first step in this process was creating a separate thread that would query all of our products in Ecometry.  This process takes ~ 30 minutes when running on our web server and talking to our App server (at a different location).  The product objects have a timeout feature which allows them to refresh themself after a certain amount of time has passed or if their inventory level is low to make sure the data is always fresh.  The cache is first written out to a binary file on the web server and then loaded into memory, then if the web server restarts it can grab the cache file and keep responding to request w/o having to wait 30 minutes to finish querying data from Ecometry.

This caching has been working well for the past month and a half, but there was still an important component missing, what happens when you add new product, but they are not in the cache?  Well technically you can visit the product page and it will look for the product in the cache and then try to query Ecometry for the data, if the data is found, then it is added to the in memory cache.  The problem is when you want 25 new products to 'go live' this is not a great option. 

What is so cool about ASP.net is that I can schedule this cache refresh process to happen every 4 hours.  This in turn keeps my binary cache file almost in real time with our real product database, which is super cool. 

Below is the example code (in C#) for creating a scheduled event (place this code in your global.asax file):

void Application_Start(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
      //4 hour Timer
      System.Timers.Timer tm = new System.Timers.Timer(4 * 360 * 1000);
      tm.Elapsed += new System.Timers.ElapsedEventHandler(tm_Elapsed);
      tm.Start();
}

void tm_Elapsed(object sender, System.Timers.ElapsedEventArgs e)
{
       //THIS CODE WILL RUN EVERY FOUR HOURS
       //Code here to re-get cache file

}

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Project: California-West

by Aaron 12/15/07

Website Remodel: www.calwest.com


Background california-west website

Three and a half years ago I created a website for San Luis Obispo based California-West.com.  Their website is contains database driven property listings with advanced features such as searching, email updates, and info about the company.  I was recently asked to give the site a fresh look and add additional content to the site.  We decided to keep all of the core functionality including the powerful property listing features as they have worked as intended.

Purpose

To give a facelift and update content on the popular and sucessful California-West property management website.

Technical

This website is is done in PHP with a MySQL DB backend.  Most of the code is from an open source project called Open Realty, but it has been heavily modified by me to fit the specific needs of a property management company.

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Category: Portfolio

Review: Vista SP1 beta

by Aaron 10/20/07

I stumbled upon the fact the Vista SP1 beta was recently released and also the fact that there is a hack available the will allow the general public to install this beta.  I just wanted to pass my experience along because I found that the SP1 beta cleared up a couple of annoying issues that have really been bugging me since I started using vista 3 months ago.

My computer is a Dell Lattitue D630 with 2GB RAM, Nvidia grapics, 7200 RPM hard drive and core 2 duo 2.2ghz processor runnning Vista premium 32 bit.  With this configuration I thought I should have a pretty fast laptop, but my experience was slow boot/resume times and overall lagginess.  Below are a list of issues that have been noticably improved after installing SP1:

  1. Resume from sleep is much faster now it take less then 10 seconds to resume from sleep.  Previously this could take up to 2 minutes.
  2. More responsive UI, have not noticed any lagginess, I think this was related to some networking fixes in the service pack.
  3. Visual Studio 2005 runs better.  I have had nothing but problems with Visual Studio, some days it would work OK and other days it would be super slow to do code complete or syntax highlighting.  I think this may have been related to the networking fixes as well.

All in all I have not had any issues with the SP only improvements.  I'll be sure to update this post if I run into any SP related issues.

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Project: CustomPoolRenovation.com

by Aaron 09/03/07

New Website Published :  www.custompoolrenovation.com

Custom Pool Renovation Screen Shot Background

This project was for a SF bay area company, Cole Tile & Coping. A large part of their business is performing high end pool renovation services. This was an entirely new website and domain, but they are an established business and perform many pool renovation jobs.

Purpose

My client wanted to highlight their pool remodeling expertise and allow their prospective clients to get  a feel for what can be accomplished with a pool remodel.

Technical

The site is a very basic asp.net website that uses a couple of cool flash/javascript technologies.  Sifr allows you to use any font you want in a valid XHTML markup (uses flash and javascript to achieve).  We also use swfobject  to embed flash into html (this is the best way to embed flash, trust me).

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Review: ScrewTurn Wiki

by Aaron 08/02/07

Background

About 2 months ago I was looking for a wiki platform for my day job (www.voler.com).  I was looking for an ASP.net based WIKI, but was open to other platforms...  Luckily I ran across ScrewTurn and was super impressed.  It seems to be a very well organized project utilizing the latest ASP.net platform features, plus it was very easy to get setup and customize.

Originally I wasn't sure what we would use a WIKI for, but I knew I needed some sort of intranet/document repository for the various departments at Voler.  It turns out the ScrewTurn is perfect as an Intranet platform.

Below are the top things that I like about ScrewTurn:

  • No DB required, it stores all articles (and previous version) as text files
  • Extensible modular platform, making it easy for others to build onto it
  • Support for single signon using Active Directory (someone is developing an extension for this)
  • Simple easy to understand framework (this means it's easy to customize)

go to http://www.screwturn.eu/Wiki.ashx  for more info.

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New Web Site

by Aaron 08/02/07

This is my second website revision in 6 months.  I was not very happy with my previous website and I was really impressed with this web publishing platform (subtext).  My whole goal with this new site is to provide a brain dump my technical knowledge and learning so I can achieve the following goals:

  1. Document things I've learned, so I can use it later (after I've forgotten it)
  2. To share it with other IT Professionals
  3. To attract clients

Let me know what you think and what you would like to see.

 

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