Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Integrated Windows Authentication Log Out

It turns out that it's sort of possible to log out from Integrated Windows Authentication:


A few problems though:
  1. It only works with IE
  2. It will log you out of all websites in IE
The latter tends to annoy users no end, but I don't really know why

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Ordered Parallel Processing in C#

In one of the projects I've been working on, we need process a bunch of files containing invoice data. Processing these can be time consuming, as the files can be quite large and although the usage given to this data seems to suggest that it can be done overnight, the business has insisted in processing the files during the online day, at 17:00.

The problem is that that the files tend to contain the invoice journey through the various states and for audit purposes we need to process them all.

So, for instance if the first record on a file is an on hold invoice, we want to process this, but we also want to process the same invoice showing as paid further down the file. We can't just process the paid event. Furthermore, we also want the invoice record to end with a status of paid, which is fairly reasonable.

The problem is that if we process the invoices in parallel, we have no guarantees that they will be processed in the right order, so a paid invoice record might end up with a state of issued, which is not great, so we just went for the quick and easy solution and thus processed the files serially.

I gave the matter a little bit more thought and came up with this:

private void UpdateInvoices(IEnumerable<IInvoice> invoices)
    var groupedInvoices = invoices.GroupBy(x => x.Status)
        .OrderBy(x => x.Key)
        .Select(y => y.Select(x => x));

    foreach (var invoiceGroup in groupedInvoices)
        Parallel.ForEach(invoiceGroup, po, (invoice) =>
What we do is, we group all the invoices by status and order them by status. We then process all of the invoices in a status group in parallel, so that all invoices with status issued, get processed first, and paid last, a few more get processed in between.

It is, of course, possible to have multiple parallel for each loops for each status, but I feel that this solution is more elegant and easier to maintain.

PLinq does have an AsOrdered method, but the UpdateInvoice method doesn't return anything, if it fails to update the database, it simple logs it and it's for the server boys and girls to worry about.

Furthermore, it simply doesn't quite work as I might have expected it to work.

The code from this sample has been modified to better simulate what we're trying to achieve:

var source = Enumerable.Range(9, 50);

var parallelQuery = source.AsParallel().AsOrdered()
    .Where(x => x % 3 == 0)
    .Select(x => { System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("{0} ", x); return x; });

// Use foreach to preserve order at execution time. 
foreach (var v in parallelQuery)

// Some operators expect an ordered source sequence. 
var source = Enumerable.Range(9, 30);

var parallelQuery = source.AsParallel().AsOrdered()
    .Where(x => x % 3 == 0)
    .Select(x => { System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("{0} ", x); return x; });

// Use foreach to preserve order at execution time. 
foreach (var v in parallelQuery)

// Some operators expect an ordered source sequence. 
var lowValues = parallelQuery.Take(10);

int counter = 0;
foreach (var v in lowValues)
    System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine("{0}-{1}", counter, v);
The call to Debug.WriteLine is the same as UpdateInvoice in the code above, in the sense that they are both void methods that cause side effects.

This is what the above prints:
9 15 18 12 30 33 36 21 24 27
9 15 18 12 30 21 36 27 24 33 
0-9 1-12 2-15 3-18 4-21 5-24 6-27 7-30 8-33 9-36 

As you can see the end result is ordered but the getting there isn't, and the getting there is what we're interested in, which is why we could not use PLinq.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Gas and Electricity Consumption in a 1920s mid-terrace house in the North of England.

Last week I was going through some old pen drives to see if there was actually anything worth keeping and I found a lot of old energy consumption measurements I took back at our old house, so I thought I would share them here.

The house was a small mid terrace house, with central heating and a gas cooker, built after the First World War. I started taking the measurements after I decided that leaving my gaming PC on 24/7 wasn't a great idea, I should've taken a few measurements with it on, but there you go. We only heated the house to a relatively low temperature, i.e. ~ 18° C

Unfortunately, I don't have measurements of outside temperature so I cannot correlate energy use to outside temperature, but the data was gathered to try to get a better understanding of how much gas and electricity we were using at the time.

Without further ado here are the charts:

It's hard to see electricity consumption in the above chart, so here it is:

Estimate costs below. I will not rant about the rather ludicrous way Gas and Electricity is priced in this country.

Electricity on its own again:

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Brain Dump 7 - Remove User from group in SharePoint

Clue is in the title

In essence below is a method that will remove a user from a group in SharePoint.

User can be of the form domain\user or user@domain

public bool RemoveUserFromSharePointGroup(string userName, string groupName)
 var principal = Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Utilities.Utility.ResolvePrincipal(context, context.Web, userName,
  Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Utilities.PrincipalType.User, Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Utilities.PrincipalSource.All,
  context.Web.SiteUsers, false);
 if (principal.Value != null)
  string login = principal.Value.LoginName;
  GroupCollection siteGroups = context.Web.SiteGroups;
  Group group = siteGroups.GetByName(groupName);
  var query = context.LoadQuery(group.Users.Where(usr => usr.LoginName == login).Include(u => u.LoginName));
  User user = query.SingleOrDefault();
  if (user != null)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Brain Dump 6 - Allow requests of any length in IIS

The same request from two different browsers to a custom WCF service.

First in Firefox:


This is approximately 2193 characters and thus bytes, assuming ascii encoding

An now in IE:

http://devbox.dev.com:8732/Mock.svc/Mock/GetPartNumber?data=N^99ac52cd-142b-4b84-8b8e-849e320ee8cc^GetPartNumber^<content><GetPartNumber><id>99ac52cd-142b-4b84-8b8e-849e320ee8cc</id><supplierDetails><supplierNameLine1>supplierNameLine1</supplierNameLine1><supplierNameLine2>supplierNameLine2</supplierNameLine2><supplierAddressLine1>supplierAddressLine1</supplierAddressLine1><supplierAddressLine2>supplierAddressLine2</supplierAddressLine2><supplierAddressLine3>supplierAddressLine3</supplierAddressLine3><supplierAddressLine4>supplierAddressLine4</supplierAddressLine4><supplierTownOrCity>supplierTownOrCity</supplierTownOrCity><supplierCounty>supplierCounty</supplierCounty><supplierCountry>supplierCountry</supplierCountry><supplierPostCode>supplierPostCode</supplierPostCode></supplierDetails><customerDetails><customerName>customerName</customerName><addressLine1>addressLine1</addressLine1><addressLine2>addressLine2</addressLine2><addressLine3>addressLine3</addressLine3><addressLine4>addressLine4</addressLine4><townOrCity>townOrCity</townOrCity><county>county</county><country>United Kingdom</country><postCode>postCode</postCode></customerDetails><vatNumber>GB12345</vatNumber><documentNumberPrefix>SIA</documentNumberPrefix><documentNumber>1</documentNumber><transactionNumber>1</transactionNumber><dateDocumentRaised>2014-09-19</dateDocumentRaised><descriptionOfItemSold>descriptionOfItemSold</descriptionOfItemSold><quantitySold>1</quantitySold><itemCostNet>80.00</itemCostNet><totalNetCostOfItems>80.00</totalNetCostOfItems><netTotal>80.00</netTotal><netDiscount>0.00</netDiscount><vatRate>25.00</vatRate><vatAmount>20.00</vatAmount><grossTotal>100.00</grossTotal><formatDocumentNumber>SIA000000001</formatDocumentNumber><genesesData><bookingReference>79bbec92-5bca-44d2-8e61-bde366a0379b</bookingReference></genesesData></GetPartNumber></content>

This is approximately 1863 characters and thus bytes, assuming ascii encoding

This means that the first request makes IIS choke and the second one works fine, as it's below the 2 KB limit

There is a relatively simple solution. Modify the web.config of the WCF service, where length is the number of bytes:

      <requestLimits maxQueryString="length"/>

Saturday, 17 January 2015

String vs string in C#

What's the difference between String and string in C#?

I don't recall why I started asking this question at interviews, I don't actually think it tells me anything other than whether the interviewee knows the difference between string and String and now I find that I can't stop myself from asking it.

I just want somebody to give me the right answer, one person, just one person would do.

Thus far, I've asked this question at eight interviews, yes, I know a pitifully small sample size, but still I would've expected to have found somebody who was aware of the difference or lack thereof. 

It's not like all interviewees have been fresh out of uni, in fact only one has been.

By far the most common answer (~90%) is :

String is class

For those of you wondering, what the difference is: There is none

What a bastard, right?

string is just an alias of System.String.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Regular Expression Find and Replace in Notepad++

So today I found myself editing a page from our internal Wiki and the formatting was completely and utterly up: Headings were all wrong, some at level 2, others at level 3 and quite a few other things were wrong as well.

I copied and pasted the page to Notepad++ and decided to use Find and Replace, but how could I use Regular Expressions to find and replace.

Simple, it turns out that all that's needed is to use capturing groups.

Input Text:
1. == Section 1 ==
2. == Section 2 ==
3. === Section 3 ===
4. == Section 4 ==
Desired Output Text:
1. === Section 1 ===
2. === Section 2 ===
3. === Section 3 ===
4. === Section 4 ===
So this is the regular expression I used:
Find Regular Expression Explanation:
Replace Regular Expression Explanation:

Add = to the end of each capturing group

Hope this helps

Monday, 15 December 2014

OrganizationServiceContext performance in MS Dynamic CRM 2013

The OrganizationServiceContext has a SaveChanges method that essentially does what it says on tin, namely the changes on the objects back to the database.

I've never used this method, preferring to use the regular Update method  on the IOrganizationService instead, but last week I had a moment of doubt, what if it is faster, what if it's multi-threaded, so I decided to run some tests to see whether there was any performance difference, spoiler alert: There wasn't
The tests consisted of the update of a three fields on the account entity for 2000 accounts and were run from an idle CRM server to minimize the influence of network traffic.

Results shown below are for the average of the three runs I did, except for the parallel version, using Parallel.ForEach, where it shows the single run I did.

OrganizationServiceContext IOrganizationService IOrganizationService (Parallel)
126.7 s 130.1 s 49.6 s

My fears were unfounded and the SaveChanges method, while slightly faster in these tests, does not seem to be appreciatively faster.

The difference is less than 3% and the slowest run using the OrganizationServiceContext was basically the same as the fastest with IOrganizationService : ~129 s

Saturday, 13 December 2014


Over the past three and half months my lovely girlfriend has been suffering from terrible eczema, so she's basically not been helping much with the household chores, which is why I've been looking at how long I've spend doing housework everyday.

I have been measured how long I spent doing work and what sort of work it was. The measurements almost certainly an underestimate as I've probably missed little tasks here and there, e.g. cleaning up a spill or any such ad hoc task.

I've broken down the tasks in three categories: Cooking, Cleaning and Miscellaneous.

The first two are self explanatory, although it's worth mentioning that when it comes to cooking I have only counted the preparation time, except for when the cooking time was so short that it would not really allow me to do anything else, in practice this only has significant a bearing in Sundays figures as we normally have pancakes, french toast or eggs Benedict for breakfast.

Miscellaneous is anything that is not cooking or cleaning, e.g. tidying up, putting the washing away, etc..

We live in a, small?, two bedroom apartment (about 60 m2) and have no children or pets, don't eat out much (twice a month since the data keeping started) and mostly cook from scratch, so without further ado, these are the figures:


As a percentage:

Friday, 21 November 2014

TIL - Solving Out of Memory exceptions in .NET

So yesterday I was playing about with a high memory VM in Azure and I wrote a little app to swallow the server's RAM whole.
Only thing is that it stopped running and didn't swallow the server's RAM whole.

So I changed the build to x64, but no dice.

After a bit of googling, it turn out that by default there is a limit that needs to be defeated, the 2 GB limit and it can be defeated by adding the following to the config file.
  <gcAllowVeryLargeObjects enabled="true" />