Archive for June, 2007

I.T. infrastructure for a growing charity

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

As Solent Youth Action‘s resident geek, I guess it’s inevitable that I get sucked in to anything I.T.-related.

Over the last few years, our I.T. resources have grown in an ad-hoc way – primarily driven by needing more PCs as we have grown our staff, and limited by how much money we have at the time!

In our last trustees meeting, we decided that we’ve grown to the point where we need to be more organised about our approach to I.T. Ideally, we want a roadmap which outlines not only our current I.T. needs, but identifies what we will need to meet where we see SYA growing in the future.

I wanted to bounce my ideas off friends, so thought rather than sending it round in an email it might be easier to put my ideas here, open it for comments and pass a link round.

So here goes… here are my first few ideas about what I think we need to do… please feel free to point out where I’ve said something stupid! 🙂


Programming with Microsoft Money

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

I’ve used Microsoft Money for years – ever since I started using MS Money 97 at Uni. I can’t imagine how I’d keep on top of finances without it.

The tricky bit is having to enter transactions into the software every time you buy something – something which lends itself perfectly to a mobile solution. Rather than waiting until you next get to your computer, enter the transaction immediately by jotting a quick note on your mobile.

I bought a copy of Spb Finance. It’s almost perfect…. except that the syncing between PDA and PC sucks*. I’ve tried everything to get it to work – including working with the support guys at Spb, collecting trace and log files for them and multiple re-installs in different configurations. No joy – syncing is still unreliable, has corrupted my Money file a few times, and even when it works it has a habit of chewing up all remaining CPU cycles on the computer, making my ThinkPad run scarily hot.

So I thought I’d have a go at writing something for myself.


Fun with estate agents

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

We’re moving to Basingstoke, so we’re now going through the joy that is house-hunting.

Since we started, it has kind of felt like my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with estate agents wanting something, but today has been a special kind of joy. 🙂

Estate agent 1 – Phoned to get feedback on what we thought of a house after a viewing. Sounds like a reasonable question, except that we haven’t been to see that house yet. (And she is the one who is going to be showing us round that house later this week.)


AutoComplete with a .NETCF ComboBox

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

.NET Compact Framework doesn’t support auto-complete in text entry controls. I didn’t realise that until I wanted it for a Form I was throwing together tonight, but there you go.

So, in the spirit of Hack Day (which I’m still gutted to have missed!) I had a quick stab at throwing together something myself.

Read on to see what I mean, and how I did it. (And to tell me a better way to do it!)


Charities Act 2006 implementation

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Yesterday, I went to a conference about the Charities Act 2006. Hosted by the Charity Commission and the Office of the Third Sector (is it just me or is that not a great name?), it was a chance to find out more about the implementation of the Act.

What was covered?

Speakers included senior staff from both the Charity Commission and Office of the Third Sector. They started by pitching the new Act as an long-overdue overhaul of the regulatory framework which govern charities. (Apparently, this act contains the first legal definition of a charity since the 1600s – which I didn’t know). A lot of emphasis was placed on the themes of modernising the system, streamlining processes and removing red-tape, as well as shaping the system so as to strengthen the public’s faith and trust in charities.


Getting ActiveSync to… sync!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

This window is the bane of my life.

It’s the ActiveSync-couldn’t-talk-to-my-PDA-for-some-reason view, and it’s probably displayed on my screen more that anything else.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of this quality bit of software, Microsoft ActiveSync is supposed to let you synchronise your Windows Mobile PDA with your PC. Except, it hardly ever works – most of the time you plug it in, it thinks about it for a few seconds before stopping and displaying the error window above.

So how do you get it to work?



Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

This is going to be an entirely self-indulgent (and probably very long) ramble – a chance for me to work out what I want to do next in my career, my life, that sorta thing.

It’s not really meant for anyone else – in fact, I’d frankly be amazed if anyone found it remotely interesting – but I hope that writing it might help me to get some thoughts clear. And as none of it is really secret I figure that this is as good a place as any.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here comes my unbroken stream of thoughts…