Monthly Archives: September 2009

Nursing Diagnosis is NOT Software Engineering: Amazon’s crazy book categorization

I’ve actually noticed this for a few years, but there is something crazy going on with how Amazon.com categorizes its Computer Science/Software books.

One of my favourite ways to find new books is to use the “wisdom of the crowds” and browse through Amazon’s bestseller lists. If I find a book I like I always check the bestsellers in it’s categories in the hope that I can find some other gems.

The problem is I always end up getting frustrated because there is so much garbage in the lists: I would say at least 40% of the books are miscategorized.

Is this some sort of ruse by publishers to get their books featured in more places? If so its bloody annoying and doesn’t do anyone any favours.

Let me show you the bestsellers for the Software Engineering category:

Software Engineering Bestsellers List on Amazon.com

How can we fix it?

Instead of just whining about it I spent 30 minutes going through the top 20 and using the feedback form to contact Amazon about the problem. As you can imagine this got boring quickly.

Then I figured the easier way might be just to go through and tag all the books as miscategorized (spelt with a ‘z’ to make it easier for our American friends) and not software engineering.

One very handy tip is that you can tag Amazon books quickly just by pressing typing ‘TT’ on your keyboard. It bring up this window so you can instantly tag a product:

Fast Tagging on Amazon.com

The end result is something that looks like this:

Miscategoized  Tags on Amazon.com

If enough people (i.e. YOU dear reader) tag these products, it should be pretty straight forward just to email amazon and say:

Oi! Amazon!

Please find all your books tagged as miscategorized and fix them. In particular please remove all the books tagged not software engineering from the Software Engineering category.

Thanks!

So here’s the call to action: Visit the bestsellers for the Software Engineering category and tag at least the top ten books!

ReSharper 5: release date Q4/2009?

Update: The free-upgrade promotion for ReSharper 5 started on October 15th, so you are safe to commence buying licenses :)

I contacted JetBrains today because I am looking to buy a ReSharper 4.5 license but I’m hesitant to buy it if the release of version 5 just around the corner. I emailed sales and this is the response I got:

Hello Jack,
Yes, there will be a promotion period 1-2 months before ReSharper 5 will be released. A certain release date is not known yet, but it is said to be in Q4/2009.
If you have any additional questions, I am happy to help.
Best regards.

If things do go to plan and JetBrains hit Q4, that means we will hopefully see the “promotion period” (i.e. free upgrade) start at the latest in November 2009. I am hopeful it will be before that because I am not sure I can last much longer without my ReSharper fix! :) ReSharper Logo

One thing I remain curious about: Are JetBrains going to branch ReSharper into two versions: one each for pre/post VS2010? Because there is no way they are going to be able to back-port all the amazing features that are possible with WPF in VS2010. Makes me suspect that ReSharper 5 is still going to predominantly target VS2008 (with VS2010 compatibility), and ReSharper 6+ will be VS2010-only.

How to allow Style tag/element within your WordPress Blog for inline CSS

If you trust yourself enough to use the <style> tag within your self-hosted WordPress blog then here is how to get them to work:

  • Go to your WordPress installation and locate the wp-includes\kses.php file
  • Open the file in a text editor and locate the $allowedposttags variable
  • Paste the following snippet of code:
    ‘style’ => array(),
  • just after the line that says:
    $allowedposttags = array(

Your code should now look like the image below:

kses.php showing where to add style tag

That gets the backend of WordPress accepting the style tag. If you write a post now and post it using LiveWriter or the “HTML” editor in wp-admin it should get rendered out into your browser as desired.

The problem is, if you create or edit a post using the WYSIWIG “Visual” editor you will find that your style tag gets turned into a comment like so:

 Wordpress TinyMCE visual editor showing style tag converted to comments

That’s because the client side JavaScript responsible for the WYSIWYG editor is stripping out the style tag and turning it into a comment. In the default WordPress install the WYSIWYG component is called TinyMCE. Here are the instructions for hacking (that’s the spirit of php isn’t it? ;-)) TinyMCE to allow the element tag:

  • Open the wp-admin\includes\post.php file in a text editor
  • Locate code where the $initArray variable is defined. Hint: it begins like this:
    // TinyMCE init settings
    $initArray = array (
  • Now add the following line to the end of the array
    ‘extended_valid_elements’ => ‘style’
  • Don’t forget to add a comma to the end of the preceding line! (in this example thats the one ending in “$plugins”)

If all goes to plan the lower half of the $initArray declaration should look like this:

post.php after its been edited to allow element tag

After all that’s done don’t forget to force your browser to flush its cache i.e. by using Control + F5.

You should now be able to use the style element in your posts, allowing you to create inline CSS to your hearts content.

The same principle applies if you want to allow any other html tags in WordPress.

Direct Download Links for SQL Server 2008 Express

I find it a bit annoying that Microsoft are pushing the Web Platform installer so hard these days that they have removed all obvious direct download links for the various SQL Express packages on the “Express” site. Not everyone has the luxury of unmetered downloads – some of us want to archive these installers locally, and not use the Web Platform Installer every time.

To save you the bother, here is my reimagining of the table on the SQL Express downloads page:

Server 2008 Express

Management Tools

Runtime

Runtime with Management Tools

Runtime with Advanced Services

SQL Server Management Database Engine

-

Download Now Download Now Download Now
SQL Server Management Studio Express Download Now

-

Download Now Download Now
Full-Text Search

-

-

-

Download Now
Reporting Services

-

-

-

Download Now
Includes SP1 No Yes No No
Download Size 38.5 168 MB 82.5 MB 230.4 MB 546.5 MB
Cost FREE FREE FREE FREE
Install Direct download button for SQL 2008 Management Tools Direct download button for SQL 2008 Runtime Direct download button for SQL 2008 Runtime with Management Tools Direct download button for SQL 2008 Runtime with Advanced Services

I am a bit confused how they came up with 38.5 MB for the SQL Management Studio download… if you check the direct download link you will see its 168 MB. This seems to tally up more closely with the combined “runtime with management tools” download of 230.4 MB. If they have managed to fit SSMSE into 38.5 MB then I am curious why I can’t find the direct download link – Leave a comment if you know the story behind that.

I have one more comment about SQL Express, but it’s so important I’ve decided to write it as separate blog post in the hope it makes it easier for people/google to find. The post is about whether the various SQL Express downloads include Service Pack 1.