Andrew Connell

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All the latest Testimonials pages on this site.

Here you'll find my personal testimonials on products & services as well as those about me left by customers

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  • Published on

    Blog: I Jumped on the Evernote Bandwagon

    For years I’ve been keeping my notes in Microsoft’s OneNote app in Office. It’s worked just fine, sync’s across two machines (via SkyDrive) and as of the last few years I could even start accessing my notes via a web interface. It worked fine for me… I only had a few complaints, but it worked fine enough and I had a TON of data in it. Best part, it was essentially free being part of the Office suite.
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    Blog: Switching from Lenovo w520 to Apple MacBook Pro

    I’m going to leave the comments open on this post, but as with all comments on my blog, they are moderated. Just a fair warning: flamers & haters will not be approved. I’m all for a constructive conversation, but this is not a medium for noise. In December 2013 I made a significant change with my laptop and operating system choice. Part of this change was done under duress… so let me give you a little backstory on how I came to switch from being a Lenovo + Windows 8.
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    Blog: My Favorite SharePoint Development Utility: Postman (Chrome Extension)

    A few months back I switched over to using Chrome as my primary development browser of choice. There are two characteristics that make it stand out from all the others that I really like as a browser development platform: Login & sync of my settings, extensions & bookmarks - I created a development profile and use it on all my development environments (virtual machines mostly). Chrome Extensions - basically add-ins for Chrome.
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    Blog: Review: Monitoring your SharePoint Farms with SmartTrack by BinaryWave

    Recently my good friend Eric Shupps asked me to take a look at a new product his company, BinaryWave , had released. Their product, SmartTrack , aims to help SharePoint Farm administrators gain insight and awareness into their farm. I found it to be a very good concept and solution to a problem most farm administrators have. In your car, you have little lights that show up on your dashboard when something is not ideal.
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    Blog: Thoughts on the MacBook Air

    Recently I posted an entry about my thoughts on the Windows Surface RT that I have been using for over 8 months . Many took that as me complaining about the Surface so I posted another entry a few days later where I clarified it wasn’t so much about the Surface as it was that I’ve come to realize that a full size tablet is not a laptop replacement or laptop-lite solution for me .
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    Blog: Finding that Device Sweet Spot

    Desktops, laptops, ultra portables, tablets, mini tablets, phones… with so many choices out there it’s hard to find your device sweet spot. Over the years I’ve tried just about everything and I think I’m finally coming to the conclusion of what works best for me. The other day I wrote a blog post that gave the impression to many from what I saw on Twitter that I was dismissing the Surface RT.
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    Blog: Working Smarter, More Efficiently & Being More Productive

    A few months ago I tweeted a brief comment about investing some time in changing the way I was working and introducing a few new techniques to my work life. That tweet spun up a dialog with a handful of people and prompted a few to request I share some of the things I was doing. As such I decided to write up this post to share what changes I made that have been a boon in my productivity.
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    Blog: Moving my Phone from Office 365 to Skype

    As someone who works from home but spends a solid amount of time on the road, one thing I’ve wanted to have is a good business phone solution. I don’t like giving my cell phone out to every single vendor or being a contact point, rather I prefer to have a “office line.” For years I used Vonage as my phone, but that was like a regular phone… it was just VOIP.
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    Blog: After 8 Months, My Thoughts About the Surface RT

    It’s now been roughly 8 months since I got my 64GB Surface RT last October and I thought now would be a good time to provide some perspective after it’s had some serious usage. In recent days there’s been a lot of poor press on Windows RT and the RT devices including these stories on ZDNet: Mary Jo Foley - Microsoft’s $900M Surface RT Write-Down: How Did This Happen? Matt Baxter-Reynolds - Surface RT Sets the New Gold Standard in Hubris Agam Shah - Lenovo Drops Yoga 11 Hybrid with Windows RT from its Online Sales None of these spell good news for Windows RT.
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    Blog: My Thoughts: InfoPath 2013 & the Future of InfoPath

    “What’s your take on InfoPath 2013… do you recommend it?” Man I get this question a *ton*. Yesterday I got it again on Twitter and finally decided I needed a place to point people. If you want the jist of it, scroll to the bottom and see my summary. Looking Back at InfoPath History & Where We Are Today InfoPath is a forms solution for Microsoft Office & the SharePoint platform and has been so for many releases.
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    Blog: Microsoft SurfaceRT Review 3+ Months Later (Even After Using a SurfacePro)

    First some context… I preordered a SurfaceRT 64GB model when they were first available with the Touch keyboard. After getting it, my wife liked it so much we got one for her as well. We both also have a Bamboo capacitive stylus… something we both thought we’d use more than we actually do. These have tablets 100% replaced the 1st Generation iPads we both used (related news, the kids think they got brand new iPads this past Christmas).
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    Blog: A Tale of Atrocious Office 365 Customer Support

    I’m a big believer of customer testimonials and ratings in how it helps other customers make great decisions and also how it hopefully can help make a better service. A few weeks back I blogged about my experience migrating to Office 365 and how much it was going to save me on the monthly expenses . I’m still very happy with Office 365 & the service I’m receiving & would highly recommend it to others (in fact I’m migrating a company over tonight).
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    Blog: Product Review: Microsoft Surface RT

    Disclaimer: This is not a provided device from Microsoft. This is my device that I bought. I got an iPad (first gen) a few months after it came out and never upgraded to a more current one because I didn’t see much value-add from version to version that was worth the cost. For me it was only good as a content consumption device to read blogs or movies or play games.
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    Blog: Product Review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

    Disclamer: This is not a provided device from Amazon. This is my device that I bought. I feel like I have to say this with so many bloggers now being paid to do product reviews which, IMHO, is absurd. At any rate… Years ago I got a Kindle 2nd Edition, the second white one, and immediately fell in love with it. Aside from my phone, it was the one device that was always with me on every trip and anytime I had to wait (doctor appointment, car service, etc).
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    Blog: Amazon Kindle Fire - It just isn't for me

    It’s now been a few months since I got one of the first Amazon Kindle Fire’s (see previous review posts here & here ) and I’ve come to a conclusion: it just isn’t for me. I’ve switched back to my iPad (1st gen) for my tablet experience. Why? Two core reasons that I touched on in my last review: Performance: To put it simply, there’s a reason the entry-level iPad is $300 more than the Kindle Fire.
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    Blog: Amazon Kindle Fire - 2 Months Later

    When I saw the presser months ago with Jeff Bezos, someone I highly respect in this business and one of the few true visionaries, I jumped and did what I try not to do and make an impulse purchase on something that expensive. When I got it I loved it, gave it a few days and wrote a review I posted here . Now after two months, I wanted to post some more thoughts.
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    Blog: Kindle Fire - 4+ Days Later, a Quick Review

    This was easily one of the most impulsive purchases I’ve ever made… a $200 device preordered within hours of the press conference announcing it. Granted, it helped I had about a $150 credit with Amazon, so my Kindle Fire only set me back a little over $50. I’m secretly hoping this device will replace my 1st generation iPad & existing 2nd generation Kindle. Before I get started, I’m not sure anyone else can say that every device they’ve released uses the same type of common cable.
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    Blog: Microsoft has really nailed it with Windows Phone 7.5

    I’ve never looked back and wished “man I miss that” since I switched from my iPhone to a new Windows Phone 7 (WP7) when they came out in November 2007. As many know Microsoft recently released a big update to the phone dubbed “Mango”. I got the update before I headed out to a conference last week and wanted to share one small experience that blew me away with one of the capabilities in Mango.
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    Blog: New SharePoint Book: Developing SharePoint Applications Using Windows Azure

    I recently had the chance to preview a new book that will be published in just a few weeks. The book, Developing Microsoft SharePoint Applications Using Windows Azure , by Steve Fox , dives into the many possibilities how you can leverage Azure components from within SharePoint. Steve explores things like using the service bus, SQL Azure, Windows Azure, Access Control Service, claims and the Azure blob storage. As someone who’s spent a little time with Azure this is one heck of a resource.
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    Blog: WP7 - 7 Months Later

    The week after it became available on the AT&T network, my wife and I abandoned our iPhones (she had a 3GS, I had a 3G) and got the new Samsung Focus Windows Phone 7 devices. After seven months of use & two OS updates later, I thought it may help others to share some thoughts on the device from a consumer POV. Most of my views are shared with my wife who’s not a developer/techie like myself, but she is savy.
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    Blog: Critical Path Training Excited to Sponsor the SharePoint Pod Show

    Over the last few years I’ve been a big fan and participant in the SharePoint Pod Show . This is an effort put on by Rob Foster , Nick Swan and Brett Lonsdale where they interview some great people in the SharePoint community. What better way to show your support than to get behind them and be a sponsor! In their latest show Rob Foster interviewed me while we were both at Microsoft for the MVP Global Summit.
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    Blog: THE definitive resource for all things BCS in SharePoint 2010

    Having other books by Scot Hillier, I had high expectations for the book Professional Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2010 and it blew those away. I teach SharePoint 2010 development and have found that one of the more challenging subjects to find details on. This book covers every single aspect of Business Connectivity Services (BCS) in SharePoint 2010. It starts out with a good discussion explaining the need and how it addresses the common challenges we face.
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    Blog: Big props for Laurent's Silverlight 4 Unleashed book

    A week or so ago I picked up a new book on Silverlight development by one of the top thought leaders out there in the Silverlight space. Laurent Bugnion is one of the best Silverlight guys out there in my mind. What I like about his posts and presentations is that he makes everything seem simple… even the most complex stuff. He’s been tremendously helpful in advancing my Silverlight experience. He’s also the brains behind the very popular MVVM Light Toolkit .
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    Blog: I love my Windows Phone 7

    There’s really no other way to say it, I love my Windows Phone 7 (WP7) after a week of solid use. Is everything about it perfect? Absolutely not… there are still places that need to be, and I trust will be, improved upon. But as it stands now, it’s a dang impressive 1.0 for a brand new approach to the phone. First a little context… my comments are based on my experience using the Samsung Focus on AT&T after two weeks.
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    Blog: MVVM: Why I like it and how I learned it

    Over the past year I’ve spent a lot more time working with Silverlight and WPF (XAML) in building applications and samples for demos or for my own internal utilities. While cutting my teeth and climbing the learning curve, I saw lots of references to a pattern called MVVM or model-view model-morel. The idea behind MVVM is to make life easier in creating custom XAML based applications. Over the last few months I’ve had a few people ask me how I learned it and why I like MVVM.
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    Blog: A nice upgrade to my virtualization rig - look ma... no fans!

    In June of 2008 I built a custom rig with three things in mind: Super powerful and not requiring an upgrade for a few years Primarily a virtualization rig (hosting HyperV images) Stealthy quiet As a SharePoint developer, I live in virtual machines. After a nice quarter of revenue (note: this was back in Q2 of 2008 :)) and at my wits end of dealing with external USB drives, I finally gave in and said “screw it, you get a healthy budget… go build a rock solid virtualization rig.
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    Blog: Made the switch back... no longer a Mac guy, now a Lenovo guy

    Back in late 2007 I went way outside my comfort zone and bought an Apple MacBook Pro . I loved that machine… fantastic form factor, great screen, fast… you name it… it was a great laptop. I did have some issues with it unfortunately, like this nasty issue where the keyboard and trackpad would die, but thanks to some great support (and three tries), they replaced it with a brand new machine .
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    Blog: Get hip to Mesh... it rocks!

    I’m surprised how many people aren’t familiar or using Mesh yet. I’ve found Mesh to be one of the coolest and most useful things I’ve started using in a while. For me, Mesh does two things, and does them very well. First, it allows you to create a “shared” folder across multiple machines as well as a Web desktop. For instance, I created a folder called “SharePoint Utilities” where i keep the small apps and PowerShell scripts I use on all my SharePoint tools like SharePoint Manager 2007 , the Content Deployment Wizard , Reflector , SPDiposeCheck and other stuff.
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    Blog: Two thumbs up on the Amazon Kindle 2 after two weeks

    For my birthday two weeks ago, my wonderful wife got me the new Amazon Kindle 2 . After two weeks, I absolutely love it… more than I expected. I didn’t load it up with a ton of stuff… so far I’ve only bought a few things: subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal and USA Today , The Da Vinci Code (yes, I am the last one who hadn’t read it), my Pro MOSS 2007 WCM Development book (I just had to!
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    Blog: Creating a Custom and Quiet Virtualization Rig with Microsoft's Hyper-V

    Earlier this year I built a custom server with a few goals in mind: Very powerful & capable of running multiple machines for an extended time Must be quiet Fault tolerant Not requiring a hardware upgrade for a few years The specs for this box have made it something that’s turned into a great business expense as I’ve got so much use out of it. It’s a nice strong machine that runs VERY quiet:
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    Blog: A slick free drive imaging solution

    Last week I posted about doing a rebuild of my laptop so that I could run Leopard, Vista x64 and Windows Server 2008 x64 in a triple boot fashion, as well as run Vista virtually in Leopard via VMWare Fusion. I really like doing presentations & demos of SharePoint natively off the bare metal for performance reasons. However the challenge was having a reliable imaging solution. Thankfully I found something with the help of my friend Dan Holme : the Windows Installation Automation Toolkit .
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    Blog: New version of App Pool Manager out

    Last week Spence posted that he updated and released a new version of his awesome Application Pool Manager utility that I’ve raved about. In this release he completely rewrote it from the ground up, added a ton of feature and also set it up so it would work for both IIS v6 and IIS v7. Check it out! » Application Pool Recycle Utility for SharePoint Developers
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    Blog: Trying Twitter out again...

    OK Joel , I’ll give Twitter another shake. This time around, it is easier for me to use & consume thanks to better apps ( TweetDeck & Twitterific ). So I’m trying it again under @andrewconnell .
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    Blog: So what's on your SharePoint development machine?

    Occasionally I get a comment from someone who hit an old page on my blog called What’s on My PC… an oldie that others were doing at the time. In the last few weeks I’ve been hit by a higher than normal amount of these in part due to my Setting up your SharePoint development environment post at the end of August. After migrating my virtualization rig to Hyper-V last week , I build out a brand new clean SharePoint development machine.
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    Blog: Using VMWare Server 2.0 RC1

    Last month I blogged my saga of building a rig dedicated just for hosting virtual machines. So far I have been incredibly happy with the hardware. In the last week I’ve been going through the process of consolidating physical machines into virtual ones. Today I have a physical machine that acts as my (a) home AD domain controller, (b) SQL Server, (c) file share and (d) host for virtual machines. For all that stuff it works great, except it’s a bit limited in size (trying to put virtual machines & a file share on 250GB requires some tradeoffs) and it only has 4GB RAM so it can only host one or two VMs at a time.
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    Blog: Apple's iPhone 3G is pretty darn impressive

    When the first iPhone came out I dismissed it pretty quick because I was addicted to my AciveSync DirectPush on my Windows Mobile (WM) 6 device and because the ATT network it was tired to is just slow. All the while I switched my MP3 player over to an iPod Touch and fell in love with the UI & iTunes. Then, upon hearing Apple was adding support for 3G, a GPS receiver and ActiveSync support made me come back and check it out.
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    Blog: Customer Service: A Tale of Two Extremes

    Over the past week I have had two very different experiences with customer service at two companies. I’m a firm believer in letting the market regulate itself so hopefully these two stories will reflect the way they are intended to on the two companies. The Bad: Sprint / Nextel WirelessAfter the SharePoint Conference 2008 in Seattle I decided I needed a new phone. Having been a long-time Treo owner (both the 650 Palm flavor and most recently, 700wx Windows flavor), I have grown tired over the last few months having to frequently reboot my phone by removing and replacing the battery.
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    Blog: WHS: Don't you just love it when stuff just works as advertised?

    We’ve got your typical geek household: two Media Centers, a server which acts as a DC-file share-virtual machine host, another older tower used as the home PC, a laptop or two and my wife’s work laptop. She’s got an iPod, I’ve got my Zune. I’ve been paranoid about losing my data as I’ve had it happen twice over the last ten years. Even more so, since we ripped all our CD’s to MP3’s, buy most of our music online and more importantly, all the pictures and videos of our son… all that stuff lives on two machines for fault tolerance.
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    Blog: A few new releases for some of my favorite apps

    Windows Live Writer (Beta 2) is now available. The user interface is now more Vista-ish… a nice addition. But no ribbon? Sheesh… anyway, love this tiny little app to author posts for my blog (like this one!). By the way, why in the hell are betas getting so long and drawn out? Microsoft & Google are likely doing this to (1) get products in people’s hands faster and to (2) avoid any legal implications… “oh, it’s still a beta version so bugs are expected.
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    Blog: My Vista beef...

    So many folk have come out against Vista… but this won’t be another one of those posts. I love my Vista… love it like crazy. Still got a few things I have to iron out, but for the most part I’m very happy. However, there is one thing that’s driving me insane, one that’s annoying, and another that might be a REALLY big problem. Vista Annoyance - Fails to get IP from some DHCP Servers Which ones?
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    Blog: Pimping a few products I've started using

    XanaNews - NNTP readerReaders of this blog are all to familiar with my displeasure over any and all NNTP news readers out there on the market. Over the last two years, I’ve settled with Omea Reader. Finally I had enough and found I stayed away from newsgroups because I hated opening Omea. After asking around and having so many suggesting I try out XanaNews, I decided to finally give it a shot.
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    Blog: Shrink your virtual machines with Invirtus VM Optimizer!

    Every once in a while you come across a product that does exactly as it claims, and does is damn well. Right before my vacation, I got a trial copy of Invirtus VM Optimizer and give it a try. Before I share my experience, first let me explain what this product does. Previously I’ve written how you can tweak your virtual machines (VM) to run at their peak performance . I’ve also written how you can use differencing disks to your advantage .
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    Blog: Finally got VPN setup with the help of June and VPNCaseStudy

    Two months ago I expressed my public frustration with Linksys after I went through two of their BESFX41 routers and a terrible experience with their customer support. A few weeks back I finally got everything setup and configured with a Netgear device and a little help from June @ VPNCaseStudy.com . Because I think good customer service should be applauded (and poor service should be condemned), I wanted to post this testimonial but work got in the way.
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    Blog: A little more on DevExpress' VS.NET Productivity Offerings...

    After the JAXDUG meeting the other night, I was talking to a few people who said that while they see value in things like DevExpress’ CodeRush & Refactor! Pro, many developers won’t care about it because you have to pay for it and it’s hard to explain the value to your management. My first reaction to that is in the case of DevExpress, go buy their tools and try them for 60 days .
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    Blog: Changes to my virtualization/dev tools Tampa Code Camp talk this weekend...

    As I previously posted , I’m presenting two sessions at the Tampa Code Camp this weekend… one on WCM (mostly one long demo) and one called “ Don’t be a Tool, Be a Better Developer Through Tools & Virtualization! ” The virtualization/dev tools talk is a semi-repeat of a talk I did last night at the Jacksonville User Group which ran long and eventually got cut short as I mentioned in the recap post earlier today .
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    Blog: RECAP: JAXDUG July 12 Talk on Virtualization and Developer Tools

    First, thank you to everyone who attended my talk at the JAXDUG meeting last night . I was quite surprised at the turnout with a last minute change in venue (what’s up with that Merrill Lynch security? Damn.. that’s some tight stuff!). Second, I’d like to apologize for not getting to spend as much time on the development tools like I had planned. I noticed the virtualization part of the talk was longer than expected, but I decided to wrap up the virtualization best practices piece and then we’d just run late and those not interested in dev tools could leave.
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    Blog: Tampa Code Camp 2006

    The top notch Florida developer community is holding another Code Camp in Tampa on Saturday July 15th. While this event is free, there are a limited number of sessions that will be available. Last check, there were over 300 registered attendees with less than 50 spots available before it sold out… well, as sold out as a free event can be. While the event is being managed by others, I’ve got to give props to a kick-ass DE (Developer Evangelist) we’ve got in Florida: Joe Healy (aka: devfish)
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    Blog: Linksys technical support sucks... REALLY sucks

    Right before the SuperBowl, I made the switch to HDTV. I got my TV, DirecTV HD receiver, and a power line filter/surge protector from Best Buy. If you’re a member of their Rewards program, you get coupons based on the amount you spend. Well, spending a bundle for my setup, I got about $80 in Rewards coupons. Finally decided it was time to upgrade my broadband router at home & let Best Buy pay for it.
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    Blog: DevExpress' DXCore, CodeRush, Refactor!, and Mark Miller

    You’ve probably seen others rant & rave about two development productivity utilities offered by DevExpress : CodeRush & Refactor! I first got my paws on these two utilities in April of 2005… right away I was hooked. Since then, I’ve been meaning to post my $.02 on these two VS2003 add-ins but I kept putting it off again and again. DXCore Building add-ins for VS requires an in-depth knowledge of VSIP.
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    Blog: I think I've finally found a NNTP/RSS/ATOM reader I can be satisfied with: Omea Reader by JetBrains

    For the purposes of this post, when I say feed, I mean blogs or anything that syndicates their site via RSS, ATOM, RDF, or carrier pigeon. Readers of this blog will no doubt know that I have specific demands for a full-featured feed aggregator and newsgroup (NNTP) reader/poster. I’m also quite fickle in jumping between different applications . Before I go any further… I don’t want an online reader. My reader must be a thick client running on my PC… just my requirement.
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