Occasionally Relevant Insights from a Software Builder


Direct URL for a Store in XMPie uStore

You can login to an XMPie uStore using a direct URL. This is just for debugging purposes. Normally an outside user will use a friendly URL that the proxy server generates. The URL for accessing a store is:

The XX is the StoreID that you can find in the uStoreAdmin site under ID beside the Store Name. Your store’s web site goes under in the URL.


How To Download Visual Studio 2015 for Offline Install

I don’t mind online installers. They’re convenient but if your installing a multi-gigabyte application, you don’t want to reinstall it this way. Visual Studio 2015 is one of those apps.

This, in my humble opinion, is the best software developer tool out there. If it had PHP, Ruby, and FTP/SSH, I could uminstall Eclipse. (To clarify, there is PHP available for VS but it’s a commercial product and the free Eclipse version is just as good and free. Did I mention that it was free?)

There used to be an option on the Microsoft site to download a VS ISO, but it seems to be unavailable now. You can still download the installation files (not the ISO) by running the online installer with a command line option.

First, download the installer. Then open a cmd.exe prompt as administrator. Then run the installer as follows:

    vs_community_ENU /layout

You will then be prompted for a download path, then the long download will proceed.

This will download the core features of Visual Studio and you’ll still need to go online to download all of the features you might need.


Using an Apostrophe in a Variable in MSSQL

A user created an account in my web application which had an apostrophe in their e-mail address. It was similar to First_D’ I didn’t think that an apostrophe was a valid character for an e-mail so I didn’t have any code to prevent it from crashing the app when it tried to run. The original code was:

string sql = "SELECT * FROM Users WHERE Email = '" + email + "'";

You can prevent an error by escaping the apostrophe in the email variable, i.e. replacing a single apostrophe with a double one. This can be done in C# with the .Replace function:

string sql = "SELECT * FROM Users WHERE Email = '" + email.Replace ("'", "''") + "'";

The sql string can then be executed without crashing the application.


Setup Emergency Alerts !important

I’ve compiled a list of important emergency alerts that should be on your cell phone and Twitter accounts. These can be found on the EmergencyInfoBC web site, but I summarized the important data to use with your devices for receiving these alerts. Two of these are geared towards BC and Canada residents, but the other two are suitable for the rest of the people on this planet.

The mobile alerts are setup by texting the message (i.e. follow NWC_NTWC) to the number 21212. Don’t include the double quotes (“) in the text message. You should get a confirmation that you subscribed to the service.

BTW, the !important word in the subject title is not a mistake. Anyone who knows CSS would know what this means. 🙂


Tsunami Alerts

National Tsunami Warning Center
Twitter: @NWS_NTWC
Mobile: text “follow NWS_NTWC” to 21212


Earthquake Alerts

Natural Resources Canada
Twitter: @CANADAquakes
Mobile: text “follow CANADAquakes” to 21212

U.S. Geological Survey
Twitter: @USGSted
Mobile: text “follow USGSted” to 21212


Other Alerts

Twitter: @EmergencyInfoBC
Mobile: text “follow EmergencyInfoBC” to 21212


A Terse Guide to Big Numbers

When I started my adventure in computers in school in the 1980’s, we were using Apple II’s and Commodore Pets which had around 64K of memory. My first computer in 1984 had 128K memory and a 360K floppy disk drive, which seemed like quite a bit of storage for the tiny apps that were built back then. Over the years, memory and storage sizes have increased greatly. In the 1980’s at the University of  Alberta, a friend of mine showed me a 500 MB hard drive which was the size of a large garbage can. Today, my iPhone has a 32 GB of storage space and it fits in my pocket.

Disk/memory storage and computer speeds are increasing rapidly over the years. 1 TB hard drives are common today and soon we’ll be using multi petabyte drives. I should note that the following numbers are not referring to bytes (as my post may suggest), but to decimal numbers, so kilo is 10^3 and not 2^10. That could be another post …

BTW … when I say 10^3, this means 10*10*10 = 1000, 10^6 is 10*10*10*10*10*10 = 1 000 000, etc. That’s enough math lessons for today.

10^3    kilo
10^6    mega
10^9    giga
10^12    tera
10^15    peta
10^18    exa
10^21    zetta
10^24    yotta