The (Unofficial) ITWorx Technical Architecture Blog

Blackberry blood on the Tarmac

Posted by archworx on September 22, 2008

Last week I was taking my son to the doctor, and as I was lifting his car seat in place, I rested my phone in the crevice between the hood and the windshield. We then got in the car and the started driving away.

I completely forgot about the blackberry.

A few minutes later I notice the phone in its holster was slowly edging up the windshield – in what seemed like an eternity – and within a couple of seconds the berry had flown off the car. The trouble is I was on the ring road!

I parked my car and I spent the next TEN minutes pacing back and forth the highway’s four different lanes trying to find parts of it. I knew it would certainly not work, but I just wanted to see if I could recover the data card with some baby pictures of my son and my sim card.

I found the phone itself, then the holster, then I spotted the back cover doing umpteen somersaults in lane 3, its black cover faintly visible in the night, its reflections caught my attention as it was flying in mid air.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find the battery. My wife spotted it near where we were parked and then we re-assembled it.

Ten minutes later (it takes ages to boot) – we were thoroughly shocked when the thing actually worked! Parts of the phone had been hit by cars, trampled on, and blown away by the speed of the cars passing by.

It had a few scratches here and there, the back cover wouldn’t fit snugly any more and the holster’s magnet broke, so now it speed dials a random number sometimes as I place the phone inside it.

Now that’s resilient engineering.

Well done RIM.


Posted in mkaram, Rant | 6 Comments »

Interview Completeness

Posted by archworx on August 18, 2008

I often find myself in a situation where I am interviewing someone, and I am starting to be impressed, when all of a sudden, I decide to ask one more question, jut for the heck of it – and suddenly I realize that I have uncovered a major gap in this person’s profile. Which brings me to the question – what do you think makes the complete interview? Both in terms of categories and what those categories may include in terms of questions. Off the top of my head I can think of the following main categories:

* Technical Competence

* Depth of Experience

* Gauging Passion

* Compatibility Company Values

Let us know your thoughts, too.

Posted in Interview Question, mkaram, Rant | 4 Comments »

ITWorx Prayer Times Hot Fixes

Posted by archworx on February 25, 2008

Hi all,

There have been some complaints and questions about the prayer times gadget and I’m here to tell you that we are working on a new release Insha’a Allah that will include many bug fixes and new features.

But in the mean time I would like to tell you about some hacks that you can do

Remember : after any change please close the gadget and open it again for the changes to take affect

  • To fix the Athan sound

Open the folder %userprofile%/AppData/Local/MicrosoftWindows Sidebar/Gadgets/ITWorxPrayerTimes.gadget/sound and you will find Athan123.wav, just replace this file with any wave file you like but it will still be loud so try to put a wave file with low volume. (Don’t worry the volume will be fixed)

  • To fix the cities

Open the folder %userprofile%/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows Sidebar/Gadgets/ITWorxPrayerTimes.gadget and you will find data.xml, this is where we store all the cities, all you need is a text editor and you will be able to add any city you like

To add a city:

here is the format

<Country id=”” name=”” city=”” latitude=”” longitude=”” gmt=”” daylight=”” method=””/>

id: insert the next id in the list (not important what number you put)

name: insert the country name

latitude: your new cities latitude in the formate D M [N/S]

D is degrees, M is minutes and [N/S] means north or south

eg. Egypt, Cairo is “30 8 N”; 30 Degrees 8 minutes North; please remember to leave the spaces between them

longitude: your new cities longitude in the formate D M [E/W]

D is degrees, M is minutes and [E/W] means east or west

eg. Egypt, Cairo is “31 24 E”; 31 Degrees 24 minutes East; also please remember to leave the spaces between them

gmt: is simply you timezone, eg “0”, “2”,”-3″ or “-7”

daylight: is if daylight is enabled or not, eg “Y” or “N”

method: this is asr calculation method you use and its a number from 0-4

“0” means Egyptian General Authority of Survey

“1” means Islamic Society of North America

“2” means Umm Al-Qura University

“3” means University Of Islamic Sciences, Karachi

“4” means Muslim World League

I hope that this can help until the new version is released

Thank you

Posted in PrayerTimes, Vista, YShahin | 13 Comments »

Two new MVPs at ITWorx

Posted by archworx on January 2, 2008

This is just a small post to say how happy I am that ITWorx has 2 new MVPs:

1. Marwan Tarek (The great Sharepoint expert and MVP)

2. Myself (I am extremely happy about this)

This is just to extend thanks to all the people who gave us help and support at ITWorx and at Microsoft. You guys have been great to us, especially, Mohammmed Karam (our commander and cheif 🙂 ), Sherif El Touni (our best buddy from Microsoft), Mohamed Wahby (our great MVP lead), Ahmed Bahaa (my personal mentor) and last but not least, Mohamed Nar (our very cool Architect evangelist).

Also many thanks to my best buddy Mohamed  Meligy for his personal and professional help.

Thanks a million everybody, this has been a truly happy day, and looking forward to seeing many more MVPs from our beloved ITWorx. 

Posted in MSamy, Rant | 1 Comment »

Learn WPF

Posted by archworx on December 6, 2007

Microsoft has a free online course for WPF, I found it very useful.

take a look here

Posted in CuttingEdge, Nader | Leave a Comment »

First Cutting Edge Club Public Seminar

Posted by archworx on November 28, 2007

Last Saturday saw the Cutting Edge Club’s Technical Seminars go Public for the first time. This is interesting as it is contributing to a critical mass which I believe will herald a watershed period in the Egyptian IT industry. It is also relevant to this blog because in essence the club was the brain child of the Architecture Group. It is still headed by our very own Nader Ziada.

BTW – the event was extremely encouraging, and people’s reception was quite good. The speakers themselves were quite articulate and people seemed quite happy with the whole thing.

We’ll give you more details in due time, but this is just a quick announcement until then.

Posted in CuttingEdge, mkaram, Nader | 2 Comments »

2007 – Year in Review

Posted by archworx on November 26, 2007

Year In Review – & Plans for Future 

Hello again everyone. It’s been a long time since we published our last communiqué – and it is high time the Architecture Group (AG) touches base with insite readers.

Summary of Events

This year has witnessed a great deal of news and many events. Let me highlight the following for you very quickly:

  • We’ve started publishing a monthly newsletter that includes the most relevant announcements we believe are good to know for people in the company. We’ve published two so far, and hopefully will continue at a regular rhythm. We encourage you to check it out every month and see if it includes anything useful for you.

  • The AG has recently expanded to host members in an exciting new Service Offering that ITWorx has started working on this year – Business Intelligence! Our consultants were busy at the start of the year trying to get a business pipeline – and their efforts were luckily met with so much success that they are so swamped now they can hardly handle all the flooding through the gates!

  • The Configuration & Release Management Team have been experimenting with penetrating other accounts to expand beyond their stalwart account, UTC. On the other hand, growth in UTC projects working on vignette has meant that a lot work is still not getting the full treatment.

  • The TA Team has spawned off an enormous number of initiatives that are so numerous I am not even going to try to enumerate them. I’ll just highlight for example the IdeaQueue, which is an idea incubator for good ideas that we launched in our October Newsletter. “Totem”, one of the first Ideas executed in the IdeaQueue is an exciting Enterprise Service Bus implemented natively for ITWorx, keep your eyes open for this in the future as it is bound to spawn further exciting ideas (which we’re keeping under wraps for now). The CodeGen team has finally published “Koala”, which was their code name for The ITWorx Code Generator version 2.0; now it supports extensible classes and a new UI component on steroids. No Java support yet, and still much more exciting stuff we’re trying to include in 2008, which we’re re-factoring the code now in order to get ready for.

  • The CuttingEdge Club has now grown beyond the TA team and become a company-wide group. As of November, we’re also experimenting with growing beyond ITWorx and including members of our community at large. Thanks to your continuous support – just by attending the seminars and arriving on time, you encourage us to keep arranging more and more seminars!

  • AcademiaBridge is also growing up to become an organization wide initiative which includes more effort from more and more people, and is promising to conquer new ground in new universities with more students as it does so.

Listening to You: Surveying your opinions for the year ahead

After having done all that we wanted to touch base with the rest of the company to find out if what we were doing added any value to your work. So we conducted our feedback survey a couple of months ago. We never expected the amount of feedback we got, and in fact it was quite an honour to feel that so many people wanted to share their thoughts with us. Thank you so much for having taken the time, we feel very privileged for all the feedback you gave us.

The results are still published online for all to see, but a few themes prevailed that are going to define the way we plan our work for 2008. The main words we heard you say were along the lines of “Focus”, “Reuse”, and “Reach Out”. Many people thought we were doing so much stuff that it was spreading us too thin. Others thought they knew very little about us and wanted us to become more visible in the way we impact their day-to-day work. Many people stressed that while we finally have a growing reuse library in ITWorx, they want to see much more reuse happening in more places.

Focus on 2008

We want to take your advice and consequently will focus a great deal next year on our “Productivity & Efficiency” program, which includes, Code Generation and Service Engineering. Most people don’t know what Service Engineering is yet – it is basically the mother of all reuse possible. This is the umbrella project that includes Code Reuse, The Software License Tool Box (How many licenses of TOAD or Ants Profiler do we have?), Stencils Development (Such as the SharePoint-specific design and requirements stencils in use by eGov & Education), Custom-Tool Development (for example, the IMT and PortalInfoCenter in UTC), and Training Capabilities (CBT Summaries or Nuggets about market verticals, client information, platform & process specifics and so on).

One of our Targets is to encourage and catalyze reusable asset development by simply jumping on the bandwagon and helping teams to deliver such capabilities until they do so themselves. The problem is, reuse is something that should inherently come from the authors themselves, instead of someone who sweeps behind them every so often. But it’s a chicken and egg situation when authors are not encouraged to deliver assets when they have not yet seen the value of the library to which they are expected to contribute. So we want to jump-start this process by doing things like salvaging potential assets developed by other teams, until the library reaches a critical mass, then encouraging people to continue the momentum by showing them statistics that prove how great an impact their assets are making on the organization (these stats exist today already and prove that the library is expanding in a slow but positive direction, ask us about “Initiative Tracking” on for more info).

As for being more popular and “famous” around the company, we admit we have been keeping a low profile most of this last year, but that is because we had to build a lot of our internal team structure first before being able to make a loud noise. We are in a position now that will allow us to leverage some of our assets developed throughout this time to serve you in a better and more efficient manner. So we are going to do a great deal of work on our “Outreach” program, which includes this communiqué, our blog, our newsletter, illumination sparks, and two exciting new projects coming out next year!

From a BSC perspective, we are working to define “penetration targets” on all other fronts. These targets stipulate that we should cover new territory in ITWorx accounts with a certain quality of service throughout the year. This is in addition to continuously refining our tools and processes in order to make sure we can reach our goal… 

We Need You!

Our goal is to enhance the quality of our company’s deliverables in every way technically possible. We can’t do this without you. We’ll need your help, on more than one front – here are some ideas:

1.       Join in the fun with us! Stay tuned to our news and announcements – please read our blog, read our company wide newsletter or please, please join our illuminate mailing list, which we promise to reveal interesting details on every now and then.

2.       Commit to Excellence. Foster a passion for pragmatism with perfection. Encourage your team and your architects to come up with great solutions which deliver efficiently. Trust industry best-practices to lead you to results. If in doubt, have the courage to try once in a while. For example, don’t be afraid to normalize your database and see if impacts your overall project positively or negatively. Build better from the inside, even if no one is looking! J

3.       Obviously we’re still a relatively new team, and we’re bound to experience growing pains, so please bear with us. Don’t lose hope if we skip a beat once, and do come back again. But by all means give us your feedback so we know what to improve the next time around.

-mmk, ag.

Posted in Communiqué, mkaram | Leave a Comment »

ITWorx releases MS Office 2007 Prayer Times plugin

Posted by archworx on October 23, 2007

For all those who have been asking for the download for the Office 2007 add-in, good news, you can finally download it here:

Posted in mkaram, PrayerTimes, Vista | 27 Comments »

Resolution for (Exception from HRESULT: 0x800736B1)

Posted by archworx on October 17, 2007

I got this error when I tried to use a C++ DLL, compiled by Visual Studio 2005 SP1, in a web application (ASP.Net 2.0):

“This application has failed to start because the application configuration is incorrect. Reinstalling the application may fix this problem. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x800736B1)”

This happens due to a lot of reasons, you can check them at:

The reasons in my case were:

1- The target C++ DLL depends on 3 DLLs: msvcm80.dll, msvcp80.dll, and msvcr80.dll version 8.0.50727.762. This is because the SP1 is installed on the development machine, while the production machine has these files but version 8.0.50727.42, thus, I installed Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable Package (x86) on the production machine. You can get it from:

2- My bad! I forgot to change the DLL’s active configuration to release, so you always have to check that before you deploy your application.

Posted in .NET 2.0, Configuration Management, El-Geish | 31 Comments »

Regular Expressions evaluation

Posted by archworx on August 23, 2007

Here are a couple of great sites for testing and evaluating regular expressions, any one of those sites can save you a ton of time of you are working with complex regular expressions

Site 1
Site 2

Thanks to the developers of these sites 🙂

Posted in General, Nader | 9 Comments »