The amazing adventures of Doug Hughes

Archive for April, 2010

Backpack Contest – We Have Winners!

In an effort to raise awareness of Alagad’s general social media presence, we ran a backpack contest. We do not desire to create a mass of spam within the community, so this was a bit of a challenge. In the end it was fun, and it worked out ok. However, I can see many ways the process can be simplified for all who participate in future contests. We hope you’ll find the next contest far easier to enter, because we do like to give away cool stuff! And now….

Congratulations to the three winners of the Alagad Backpack Contest:

Wil Genovese
Check out Wil’s blog at

Ed Bartram
Visit Ed’s blog at

Steve Withington
Hop over to Steve’s blog at

Each of these fine people will receive a brand new, high quality Wenger SwissGear backpack.

Alagad would like to thank everyone for their participation, and we look forward to the possibility of a new & improved contest later this summer!

Don’t forget to follow Alagad:
Twitter: @alagadinc
Facebook Page

Alagad at cf.Objective() 2010 Ezra Parker

Ezra Parker has been developing with ColdFusion since 2000, starting with version 4. Ezra currently serves as the Associate Director for theModel-Glue framework and is the Co-Manager of theInland Empire ColdFusionUser Group.

If you attend Ezra’s cf.Objective() 2010 session at 11:30a on April 23, you will benefit from a wealth of knowledge pertaining to building RIAs with jQuery UI and jqGrid.

Building RIAs with jQuery and jqGrid

The description promises a very interesting session:

Ever since the introduction of jQuery and other JavaScript/Ajax libraries, you don’t need to know Flex in order to construct complex, fully-featured and user-friendly Rich Internet Applications. If you’re already familiar with jQuery and want to take your RIA development to the next level, this session will demonstrate the use of the jQuery user interface library widgetsand the jqGrid plugin to create an advanced single-page application with a consistent look and feel that can be easily re-skinned using an existing jQuery UI theme or by using ThemeRoller to craft a custom design.

Alagad was lucky to snag Ezra as a full time developer earlier this year. He thinks it was for his fine programming prowess, but in actuality it was the Shuffleboard skills he demonstrated at last year’sCFUnited.

Ezra at CFUnited 2009

What else does Ezra do when he’s not devoting his spare time to CFUGs and frameworks? Lots of things!

Ezra is an avid nature enthusiast. He and his lovely wife do a fair amount of birdwatching and nature themed photography.

He also loves various forms of SciFi and Fantasy entertainment. His favorite author is George R.R. Martin. Lately, Ezra has taken a liking to Joss Whedon’s sadly defunct Firefly TV series. (Anyone who knows me knows I was thrilled to learn we had a love of Firefly in common!) This year, he toted a couple of replicas of t-shirts worn by Jayne Cobb to the conference with him, and there are more where those came from…

Jayne Cobb Collection at Kaboodle

Jayne Quotes T-Shirt at Cafe Press

You can also see what Ezra is up to by following hispersonal blog.

A man of many talents and hobbies, Ezra is surely someone you will want to track down atcf.Objective() this year!

Derby and ORM and Case Sensitivity, Oh, My!

Yesterday afternoon, I was working on the code for my CFUnited presentation and I ran into some issues with Derby when trying to use ColdFusion 9 ORM. (Yes, I said CFunited. Yes, my presentation will be that awesome. Yes, it means I need to start coding for it now.) I have come to use Derby a lot, especially for presentations. It makes it easier to package up all my files, and I know that anyone running ColdFusion 8 or ColdFusion 9 can run the databases without issue.

I already had a Derby data base created with tables and columns, which I had created using Aqua Data Studio (a fantastic database tool – and free if you develop open source software). When I tried to hook ORM up to the tables, I kept getting errors that the tables did not exist, however, I noticed that in the error messages the table names were all shown as upper case.

I figured this was a case sensitivity issue, so I renamed the tables, tested again and *BAM*……more errors. This time, the errors referred to missing columns in the query. Realizing the case sensitivity issue most likely extended to the column names as well, I renamed all the columns in all the tables, tested again and *BAM*…it worked! (please keep in mind that these revelations did not come to me quickly, but I figured I would spare you the details)

This kind of threw me for a bit because I knew that I had used ORM with Derby databases before and it worked fine, without any issues. I then realized that, in those other instances, I had let ORM create the database tables and columns for me, rather than starting with the database first. I quickly took a look at those databases using the RDS Data View in ColdFusion Builder and saw that the table names and column names were all uppercase.

The issue, for me, was that when creating the tables and columns in Aqua Data Studio, it allowed me to use names with lower- or mixed-case. I am not sure if it a JDBC driver issue where the table names and columns are passed as uppercase, or if it is an issue with Derby, but this one sure got me…and it got me good. So, be careful if you are using Derby with ORM and are creating the tables yourself using a database management tool like Aqua Data Studio. Or, if possible, model your objects first, then let ORM handle creating/updating the database for you.

If you see any Alagadians at cf.Objective() 2010, don’t forget to ask what this TaskForce stuff is all about!

Alagad at cf.Objective() 2010 Chris Peterson

At this year’s cf.Objective(), you will find Chris Peterson regaling us with his vast knowledge of Cloud computing. Wikipedia defines Cloud computing as “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like a public utility.”

According to Chris, “Cloud computing offers us many configuration possibilities, and truly forces one to think of servers in a way that has nothing to do with available rack space, hardware budgets, or redundant T3 lines.”

Chris will go over the basics of configuring an Amazon EC2 server from account creation to server configuration. He will show us some of the tools he uses to manage EC2 instances, as well as some pitfalls you should be aware of before going live in the Cloud.

Running CF in the Cloud

Alagad brought Chris on board in February of 2009, and since that time Chris has proven to be a true asset. Chris sports an Advanced ColdFusion Developer certification among his many talents. He has authored 17 very informative entries on the Alagad Technical Team Blog.

In his spare time, Chris can be found turning wood on his lathe to craft fine handmade pens. He also plays a fair bit of Magic: The Gathering and loves to both host and attend LAN parties.

Join Chris at cf.Objective() 2010 on Saturday, April 24 from 10:15am to 11:15am. Ask anyone who attended Chris’ CFUnited 2009 sessions. You won’t be disappointed.

Chris Peterson's Pens

Don’t forget to follow us at @alagadinc

Win a FREE backpack!

Read more here.

Win A Free Backpack!

It’s that time of year… cf.Objective() is just around the corner! In conjunction with the attendance of Doug Hughes, Chris Peterson, Ezra Parker, and Randy Miller, we’re holding a contest! This year, Alagad is giving away three (3) rockin’ Wenger SwissGear backpacks. We know everyone can’t be there, so the contest is open to anyone, and the prize will be shipped. The winners will be announced on this blog, along with a link to their website, blog, or Twitter account of choice (unless it is X-rated or otherwise presents a conflict of interest.)

Anyone who knows Doug Hughes also knows he doesn’t suffer cheese when it comes to swag. These are beautiful, sturdy backpacks that can hold up to 17 in laptop goodness. I quite literally live out of mine. I once told Doug it was like providing his employees a corner office in a telecommuting world. I have a closet full of flimsy cast-aside bags that couldn’t take near the abuse. This one has served me for at least 1.5 years as an office and a carry-on. You wouldn’t know it by looking.

There is no laptop inside the backpack this time. Sorry! Stay tuned for next time. Never know!

Alagad SwissGear Backpack Giveaway

Here are some of its notable features:

  • Capable of holding a 17 Macbook Pro + a lot of equipment.
  • More pockets than you can shake a stick at. (Don’t know why you’d want to?)
  • Media Storage Pocket with earbud port.
  • Nifty little pocket for a USB stick.
  • Zippered main compartment.
  • Zippered front pocket with full organization panel.
  • Clip-on keychain.
  • Additional zippered front pocket for quick-access items.
  • Side water bottle pockets.
  • Built in carabiner clip.
  • Two side zippered pockets.
  • Back panel featuring Wenger’s airflow moisture wicking mesh.
  • Detachable cell phone pocket.

Backpack survives cat.

My backpack has survived continued and ferocious feline maraudery.

To Win:
Person with the most points wins. If there is a tie, everyone tied for first is put into a pool and winner is randomly selected. Alagad reserves the right to award this prize to a runner-up if we determine the winner has used abusive tactics. We’re trying to promote awareness, not abuse!

To Enter:
Perform any of the following actions, then send an email to using your same email address for each action. Label the action in the subject line. Sorry, but this extra step and other limitations are to be sure we can consolidate your points and control abuse. We promise not to sell nor share your email address to third parties nor innundate you with spam.

Five Ways To Enter
1. Follow – Follow @alagadinc on Twitter. (1 point per account with 10 followers or more. Creating new accounts for the sole purpose of scoring disqualifies.)
2. Retweet – Retweet a link to this blog post. (1 point per original tweet or RT, i.e. tweet is from contestant’s account and contains @alagadinc with valid link to this blog post.)
3. Facebook – Fan Alagad’s Facebook page. (1 point per account you own with 10 followers or more. Creating new accounts for the sole purpose of scoring disqualifies.)
4. Comment – Leave a comment on this blog post. (1 point – only one counts.)
5. cf.objective() – Approach an Alagadian at the 2010 cf.Objective() conference, ask about TaskForce, and provide your contest email address written or printed on a business card. 2 points.)

Don’t forget to follow up each action with an e-mail to, using your same email address each time.

All entries must be in by 11:59pm EST on April 27, 2010. Winners tallied on April 28 and announced on this blog, along with a link of their choosing. Winner will also be notified via the e-mail account used for the contest and will be asked for a shipping address at that time.

Here’s some of the mugs you’ll be looking for at cf.Objective() and GOOD LUCK! 🙂

Doug Hughes Randy Miller Chris Peterson

Alagad at cf.Objective() 2010 Doug Hughes

ANT can’t move a rubber tree plant, but it’s got high hopes! Alagad’s own Doug Hughes will be giving a presentation called Using ANT to Deploy ColdFusion Applications at this year’s cf.Objective() conference.

Doug is the founder of Alagad, Inc., a company whose focus is dedicated to helping organizations improve operational efficiency and performance. A frequent speaker at industry conferences and user groups, Doug also regularly contributes to several well-known open source projects. In addition, his articles have been featured in numerous technical publications. The most important things to know about Doug, though, are that he can ride a unicycle for a distance equivalent to of a roller hockey rink, and he can make absolutely anything flat stick to his forehead.

Ant is widely used in the Java world, but it is very much underutilized by ColdFusion developers. Ant can automate pretty much all of the tedious steps required to deploy your applications, and Doug is going to show you how! He will give an overview of Ant’s capabilities and limitations, and he will also demonstrate Ant4CF, an open source and extensible suite of powerful Ant tasks that implement all of the features of the ColdFusion admin API. Grab yourself a copy, and get to playing with it! You’ve got until Friday, April 23 at 1:45pm to get your ducks… errr, your Ants… in a row.

Doug will also be taking part in Bob Silverberg’s Pecha Kucha BOF. According to Bob’s Pecha Kucha blog article on the topic, Pecha Kucha is an innovative presentation format in which you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds, resulting in a presentation that is six minutes and forty seconds long. As you can imagine, that should be quite interesting.

If you would like to contact Doug regarding these or any other topics, feel free to use the Alagad Contact Form.

Alagad can also be found on Twitter @alagadinc and Facebook.

Look us up. The conversation is on!

Doug sporting a shuffleboard puck.

Doug speaking at CFUnited 2009.

Top: Doug proudly displays a shuffleboard puck stuck to his forehead.

Bottom: Doug speaking at CFUnited 2009.

Favorite Flex 4 Features

I’ve been working with the public beta of Flash Builder 4 (formally Flex Builder) for a few months now. The week before last Adobe posted the final release of the Flex 4 SDK and the final version of Flash Builder 4. I can say with confidence that you want to be working in this IDE over Flex Builder 3. Go learn more about Flex and Flash builder 4 here.

For all of the developers on the fence as to whether or not to upgrade to the latest Flash Builder IDE, there are significant single click code generation benefits that will save you time during your day to day development activities. Additionally, you have the option of letting Flash Builder 4 introspect the ColdFusion, PHP, Java or web service and create the AS3 service layer for your Flex based application.

I’m glossing over tons of good info but I’ll just give you my top three favorite Flash Builder 4 features:

  1. Generated event handlers.
  2. The new package explorer view.
  3. Generated getter and setter methods.

If you are like me and have a beta version of Flash Builder, please be sure to uninstall before you reinstall the latest greatest. So run on out and buy the new Flash Builder 4 IDE. And be sure to play with all of the new multitouch features in the latest Flex 4.0 SDK or be brave and grab a nightly build of the 4.1 SDK and hop skip over some of the release candidate bugs that were fixed after the lock down a few weeks ago (this one annoyed me).

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