### Scratch Programming

I have started doing more scratch programming, one off little bits of code that I use and throw away. I found that I am not coding as much at work as I need to be, or want to be for that matter. I am loosing my touch.

Like any thing else, if you don't use it you loose it.

When I create projects I like to follow a specific file structure. Nothing fancy, I use a solution folder with folders for lib, src and tests. So when I create my scratch solutions I want to create the same folder structure, but there is no easy way to do it with Visual Studio. I tried to create a project template, which would work if what I wanted was skeleton projects. But what I want are skeleton folders and the VS templates won't create those.

What I wound up doing was create an MSI using NSIS that would create the folder structure and copy core libraries that I like to use. So far it is working out pretty good and was surprisingly simple to create, not by hand of course but with HM NIS Edit, a free tool to create and edit NSIS scripts.
; Script generated by the HM NIS Edit Script Wizard.; HM NIS Edit Wizard helper defines!define PRODUCT_NAME "Scratch Template"!define PRODUCT_VERSION "1.0"!define PRODUCT_PUBLISHER "HomeNet"!define PRODUCT_WEB_SITE "http://blog.ddpruitt.net";!define PRODUCT_DIR_REGKEY "SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionApp PathsMbUnit.Cons.exe"; MUI 1.67 compatible ------!include "MUI.nsh"; MUI Settings!define MUI_ABORTWARNING!define MUI_ICON "${NSISDIR}\Contrib\Graphics\Icons\modern-install.ico"; Welcome page!insertmacro MUI_PAGE_WELCOME; License page;!insertmacro MUI_PAGE_LICENSE "............\path\to\licence\Your\SoftwareLicence.txt"; Components page!insertmacro MUI_PAGE_COMPONENTS; Directory page!insertmacro MUI_PAGE_DIRECTORY; Instfiles page!insertmacro MUI_PAGE_INSTFILES; Finish page!insertmacro MUI_PAGE_FINISH; Language files!insertmacro MUI_LANGUAGE "English"; MUI end ------Name "${PRODUCT_NAME} ${PRODUCT_VERSION}"OutFile "ScratchSetup.exe"InstallDir "$DOCUMENTSVisual Studio 2005ProjectsScratchNewSolution";InstallDirRegKey HKLM "${PRODUCT_DIR_REGKEY}" ""ShowInstDetails showSection "MainSection" SEC01SetOutPath "$INSTDIR"SetOverwrite ifnewerFile "GenericSolution.sln"CreateDirectory $INSTDIRlibCreateDirectory$INSTDIRsrcCreateDirectory $INSTDIRtestSectionEndSection "MbUnit" SEC02SetOutPath "$INSTDIR\lib\MbUnit"SetOverwrite tryFile "\lib\MbUnit\MbUnit.Framework.dll"...SectionEndSection "Log4Net" SEC03SetOutPath "$INSTDIR\lib\log4net"File "\lib\log4net\log4net.dll"SectionEndSection "Enterprise Library (June 2006)" SEC04SetOutPath "$INSTDIR\lib\EntLib.2006.01"File "\lib\EnterpriseLibrary.2006.01\EntLibConfig.exe"...SectionEnd;Section -Post;  WriteRegStr HKLM "${PRODUCT_DIR_REGKEY}" "" "$INSTDIR\lib\MbUnit\MbUnit.Cons.exe";SectionEnd; Section descriptions!insertmacro MUI_FUNCTION_DESCRIPTION_BEGIN!insertmacro MUI_DESCRIPTION_TEXT ${SEC01} ""!insertmacro MUI_DESCRIPTION_TEXT${SEC02} ""!insertmacro MUI_DESCRIPTION_TEXT ${SEC03} ""!insertmacro MUI_DESCRIPTION_TEXT${SEC04} ""!insertmacro MUI_FUNCTION_DESCRIPTION_END

Add the appropriate files to the Sections, compile and your ready.

### Json for jqGrid from ASP.Net MVC

jqGrid takes a specific format for its json (taken from jqGrid documentation): [js]{ total: "xxx",page: "yyy", records: "zzz", rows : [ {id:"1", cell:["cell11", "cell12", "cell13"]}, {id:"2", cell:["cell21", "cell22", "cell23"]}, ... ]}[/js] The tags mean the following: total - Total number of Pages. page - Current page Index. records - Total number of records in the rows group. rows - An array with the data plus an identifier. id - The unique row identifier, needs to be an int from what I have found. cell - An array of the data for the grid. The ASP.Net MVC framework has the JsonResult response type which we can use to populate the jqGrid. As an example I created a Person model and a method to return some data: [csharp] public class Person { public int ID { get; set; } public string Name { get; set; } public DateTime Birthday { get; set; } } public I

### Remote Controlled RoboTank

This is my version of the ever popular to build RoboTank. It uses an Arduino Mega 2560 with the AdaFruit motor shield and an XBee S1 to communicate to the DFRobot Gamepad. The sketch for the RoboTank makes use of the AFMotor.h to drive the motors and includes a serial parser to read and process the commands coming from the Gamepad. Robotank-Sketch.zip DFRobot Wireless Joystick

### Changing Typed DataSet Connection String

I was working on a WinForm app that connected to a MS Access database. Yeah, Access sucks but I didn't have a choice in the matter. The app itself is used to import a bunch of CSV files into the Access database. It is more of a utility program and it has going through several variations, from being a simple hand driven command line tool to being GUI driven. The command line version was all hand controlled. I had to go in and update configuration files to point to the CSV files and the MDB database. That got old fast so I decided to make a GUI version that would allow me to pick the MDB file and each of the CSV files to import. Picking and using the CSV files was easy, it was changing the connection string for the MDB that proved to be the hardest. I am using strongly typed datasets in VS2005. If you have ever worked with them you find out soon that the connection string gets saved with the project in the app.config file, even if it is a seperate DAL dll project. My guess is