MCS UK Solution Development Team

The blog of the UK Solutions Development Team of Microsoft Consulting Services.

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  • Blog Post: LINQ, collections and null reference exceptions

    This short post describes an idiosyncrasy of LINQ that, for someone with several years of C# experience I should probably have known about, but didn't. During development of an app the test team reported that a null reference exception was intermittently occurring. For a seasoned developer like myself...
  • Blog Post: Adding Trace to Azure Web Sites and Web Jobs

    Using standard .NET trace in Azure Web Sites and Web Jobs is an extremely simple affair, with trace output being directed to either table, blob or file storage without the need for any configuration file or code changes. This is great and a very welcome simplification compared to what you had with web...
  • Blog Post: Azure: Calling the Azure Management Rest API

    The Azure Management REST API exposes a series of endpoints that allow you to perform various operations against your Azure subscription. This is documented at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/ee460799.aspx . You can do many things with the REST API – the majority of Azure management...
  • Blog Post: Execution Time Based Heuristic Custom Task Scheduler

    If you follow the samples for Parallel Programming with the .Net Framework , you may have come across the ParallelExtensionsExtras and the Additional TaskSchedulers . Although these samples cover a broad set of requirements I recently came across another that could be satisfied with the creation of a...
  • Blog Post: Co-occurrence Approach to an Item Based Recommender

    For a while I thought I would tackle the problem of creating an item-based recommender. Firstly I will start with a local variant before moving onto a MapReduce version. The current version of the code can be found at: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/Co-occurrence-Approach-to-57027db7 The approach...
  • Blog Post: .Net Implementation of a Priority Queue (aka Heap)

    I thought I would take a break for a while from Hadoop and put together an F# .Net implementation of a Priority Queue; implemented using a heap data structure. Conceptually we can think of a heap as a balanced binary tree. The tree will have a root, and each node can have up to two children; a left and...
  • Blog Post: Generic based Framework for .Net Hadoop MapReduce Job Submission

    Over the past month I have been working on a framework to allow composition and submission of MapReduce jobs using .Net. I have put together two previous blog posts on this, so rather than put together a third on the latest change I thought I would create a final composite post. To understand why lets...
  • Blog Post: Framework for Composing and Submitting .Net Hadoop MapReduce Jobs

    An updated version of this post can be found at: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/carlnol/archive/2012/04/29/generic-based-framework-for-net-hadoop-mapreduce-job-submission.aspx If you have been following my blog you will see that I have been putting together samples for writing .Net Hadoop MapReduce jobs;...
  • Blog Post: Stream join aggregates using SQL Server Stream Insight

    Lately I have been working with StreamInsight and thought it was about time to share some of my observations and key points. This is loosely based upon a requirement to aggregate Financial risk vectors and deliver changes to clients in an event based manner. When working through this I was primarily...
  • Blog Post: Refactor boilerplate code with Actions and Funcs

    I have seen quite a few projects where the code starts with the best of intentions in terms of readability, but soon setup and boilerplate code creep in and it becomes hard to focus on where the setup and clean up ends and the functionality begins.  The other downside being repetition of this boilerplate...
  • Blog Post: Building and deploying an Outlook 2010 Add-in (part 2 of 2)

    In the first part of this series , we went through the steps to create a simple Outlook 2010 add-in, how to build a custom ribbon, and finally the backstage area. But what use is your add-in unless other people can use it too? In part 2, we will look at the steps to create a setup package so that you...
  • Blog Post: Debugging the .NET framework source code

    I am sure lots of us have been in the situation where, after hours of poring through compiled source code in Reflector whilst simultaneously trying to hold the values of hundreds of conspiratorial variables in our heads, we are left thinking that it would all be so much easier if we could just set a...
  • Blog Post: Building and deploying an Outlook 2010 Add-in (part 1 of 2)

    So, you’ve cracked open your shiny new Visual Studio 2010, and you would like to build and roll out an add-in for Outlook 2010 (we’re using Outlook here, but most of the principals apply to Word and Excel also)? In this post (part 1), I’ll take you through the steps required to build...
  • Blog Post: How does Azure identify a faulty role instance?

    The Azure platform in the form of the Fabric Controller (FC) provides monitoring for a health of a role instance. The table below summarises common problems, their detection mechanism and the action taken by the fabric controller: Problem How Detected Fabric Action Role crashes Guest FC agent monitors...
  • Blog Post: Using Reflection and Attributes for better Tracing and Logging data rendering

    In most projects there is always a requirement for tracing and/or writing debugging information along with writing out log information. When dealing with objects it is usually up to the developer to override the ToString() method to ensure meaningful information is presented. However this does not always...
  • Blog Post: Managed Extensibility Framework Overview

    This blog post is going to explain what MEF is, the benefits of using MEF and then a walk through on how to implement it, followed by a screen shot demo. What is MEF? The Managed Extensibility Framework, otherwise known as MEF, is essentially a “.NET Dating Service” . I call it a dating service because...
  • Blog Post: Dynamically Changing the Display Language in Silverlight

    On a recent Silverlight project we had a requirement to be able to dynamically change the language of the site without refreshing the page. This ruled out the normal way of doing localisation using Resource files and meant we had to find away of binding text strings to a ‘Dynamic Resource’.  Given...
  • Blog Post: Ruby on Rails on Windows Azure with SQL Azure

    I was recently talking to a customer about the possibility of moving a web site from Linux to Windows Azure . The hosting costs of the application are not excessive, and the customer is happy with the service received. Nevertheless they were very interested in exploring the hosting costs and potential...
  • Blog Post: Running Memcached in Windows Azure

    Memcached is a distributed cache used to help speeding up large scale web applications by taking pressure off the database. Memcached is used by many of the internet’s biggest sites. A distributed cache is one of the things that I’ve been hoping to see released for Windows Azure for quite a while...
  • Blog Post: Dynamic XML Reader with C# and .Net 4.0

    Along with the new features of .Net 4.0 (including the long awaited Tuple classes, BigInteger, extra Code Access Security stuff, and a brilliant new feature Code Contracts) is the dynamic keyword. This keyword is designed to allow better COM interoperability. Although it probably won’t make an appearance...
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