Lego Model: Robot01

Here’s the robot that I made the other day. Small and simple (and fragile) but I thought it covered the classic droid basics nicely.

Once you start to learn the UI for LDraw it’s not that bad. My only grip at this point is how to rotate the 3D around the center of the current view (3D Studio MAX style). The publishing tools might take a while to get use to, but here a shot plus the bit list.

Robot01Robot01 - BOM (bill of materials)

A New Blog Site

Well I’m going to try out MSN Spaces, and already I like it more the Blogspot. It has a Category option. God Bless you MSN Spaces. Now all I want to see is if I can back post my stuff from Blogspots.

….A little later:
Well I still can’t see how to adjust the date/time of posts, but I like how slick the layout options are.
Well I’m going to try out MSN Spaces, and already I’m liking it more the Blogspot. It has a Category option. God Bless you MSN Spaces. Now all I want to see is if I can back post my stuff from Blogspots.

[Edit] Adding link back to old blog to allow old posts to be read.

SSIS Experimenting

For the last week (or unofficially last two weeks) I’ve been using SQL Server Integration Services to build the import process for the daily data exchange we have with our customers. The system is used to aggregate a fragmented market place after deregulation. The cost saving coming from many companies using a single source to do the grunt work (so taking that line of thought further, what value was gained by deregulation, but I digress)

The way data is exchanged is via flat files that are fixed position or comma separated. After seeing demo’s of SSIS at TechEd and the likes, it seemed a great tool to manage the data import/export process here. This would leave the core system to focus on aggregation and job management. The other tool that could have great impact is the Workflow Foundation.

The first challenge to over come is that in the data exchange files, many relational tables are merged and layed out by the related rows after each other (with foreign key relationships implied by order). This required that I build a custom source component that could parse the rows and output the separated table, but also insert the correct foreign keys. Well I’ve got this step completed with a hardcode format, and it works a treat inside SSIS. With the hurdle passed we now know we can process the different types of files we exchange with our current business partners.

Now at this point, the business decision of encapsulating our current business processes in SSIS, so the resulting data can be push directly in the database. For our current product, that’s a lot of work, with little clear gain. The major gains I see are the higher level view you get in SSIS would allow better understanding of the import process. We would separate the import process from the core product, allowing independent release cycles. Load would be removed from the SQL database (via stored procedures) to a potential different location to allow better load management.

At this point I think the management team is putting the idea to rest.

Things I’d still like to do with the custom component is make it configurable at design time via a GUI, with either external configuration files, or stored in the meta data of the SSIS package (haven’t worked out how to do this one yet). I’d be keen to release the component, to give back to the community.

I found the online MSDN really helpful and the people at the Microsoft Technical Forum where great, especially Jamie Thomson and Simon Sabin. The resources at sqlis.com were also really great.

PubSub

While doing some searching for my sister’s email address, I found PubSub and did a search on my blog (as you do) and low and behold, someone linked to me. Thanks Darryl.

Updated Dec 2007: Oh gosh, PubSub is down, that’s not my blog any more (by twice) and that’s not Darryl’s main blog anymore. How time moves on!

Lego

I have been on the look out for a tool to capture some of the designs Jacob has been creating with his Lego for a while now. Today on Digg there was a link about Lego CAD software pointing to this tool set. I’ve downloaded it, and plan to setup it tonight. I’ll see how easy it is to use, then show Jacob. I think he’ll really like me been able to record his ideas.

While reading that site I saw a Google Add for Box4Block for storing Lego. My neighbour used to have a really cool four layered box that had variable sized holes (at the bottom of the upper layers) so the little bits drop to the bottom. I thought I’d see how this compared. It’s the same Product. The company has expanded its operations. Now they are manufacturing out of the USA, so they don’t have a New Zealand sales presence any more. Stink. The site could do with a face lift.