Rob Farley

Rob Rob Farley has been consulting in IT since completing a Computer Science degree with first class honours in 1997. Before moving to Adelaide, he worked in consultancies in Melbourne and London. He runs the development department in one of Australia's leading IT firms, as well as doing database application consultancy and training. He heads up the Adelaide SQL Server User Group, and holds several Microsoft certifications.

Rob has been involved with Microsoft technologies for most of his career, but has also done significant work with Oracle and Unix systems. His preferred database is SQL Server and his preferred language is C#. Recently he has been involved with Microsoft Learning in the US, creating and reviewing new content for the next generation of Microsoft exams.

Over the years, Rob's clients have included BP Oil, OneLink Transit, Accenture, Avanade, Australian Electorial Commission, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the Royal Borough of Kingston, Help The Aged, Unisys, Department of Treasury and Finance (Vic), National Mutual, the Bible Society and others.

Did you mean to come here? My blog is now at

26 March 2006

In Seattle!

Well, I've made it here. It was a long flight from Adelaide, via Sydney and San Francisco. I'm about to turn in now because I haven't slept for quite a while.

It's been good to meet Itzik and Lilach Ben-Gan - they're great. We'll need to get them out to Adelaide some time.

23 March 2006

Got my phone back :)

Thanks to Moneeta at Optus, I now have my phone back. My charger's at home though, so I can't charge it up to re-install it until I get home tonight. But it's very nice that I get to take it away with me. :)

22 March 2006

Keeping my teeth until Star Wars Day

With my trip to Seattle now confirmed, I've had to delay my wisdom teeth extraction until Star Wars Day, at Tooth Hurty.

21 March 2006

It's all arranged - mostly

My flights are booked. I'm leaving for Seattle on Saturday. Leaving Seattle late on Thursday night (well after the meeting) to come home via London, with plenty of time to get to the Arsenal game on April 1st. Now I just need to arrange tickets. I figure my podcast should help, plus the people I know.

All very exciting. God is definitely on my side in the way that this has been able to be arranged. And thanks to Microsoft for letting me be part of the beta exam process!

Very sad for the people who have missed out. You know who you are.

And I need to get my phone back before the weekend!!! Judy (from work) is looking into it for me. Come on Optus!

20 March 2006

Bitwise reversing

The geek in me is clearly alive and strong. I found this post on reversing a string using bitwise XOR quite appealing.

Although really, it's not that different to storing a character and swapping them over (plus swapping the characters that way would be more 'obvious', which I think is always a feature of good code). The thing that makes a recursive function slow here is that you're building a new string. This function (and one where you swap characters) simply changes the string in-place. Plus it does it from both ends at once.

Personally I'd rather have the variables named better (instead of 'i' and 'len', why not use firstHalfCharPos and secondHalfCharPos, or something tediously long but descriptive like that?), but I do admire the 'fun' of the bitwise XOR, and it's a good way of demonstrating the principle of XOR.

No word yet

Still haven't heard about the trip to Seattle. The email said we'd hear by the 20th. I figure that means tomorrow, because it'll be the 20th in Seattle by then. I tried phoning on Friday and Saturday to find out if the offer really was open to non-US residents, but I only got voice-mail and haven't heard back yet.

Glasses fixed

Well, in the end I fixed my glasses myself. I felt like I didn't have the right tools for the job, but I got it done, and I'm not sure why L&P couldn't do it. Anyway - I'm wearing my ordinary glasses again now, with both arms attached. :)

17 March 2006

A few SQL Rules

I just came across Jeff Smith's post (thanks to Darren). I like Jeff's advice. I'm pleased to say that I do all this - despite the odd bit of flak I might take over my use of derived tables. I think derived tables are great.

The very fact that Jeff has made a post like this tells me there are a bunch of people out there who don't do these things, and that makes me really sad. It really frustrates me when people do nasty nasty stuff with their queries, and I often feel like people approach writing a query like they would approach an API. But anyway, I like Jeff's rules.

Here's a thing I quite like these days...

'colname1' = whatever1,
'colname2' = whatever2,

as opposed to:

whatever1 colname1,
whatever2 colname2,

Giving my columns names this way (the first way) means that all my column names are lined up nicely, and even all the definitions are lined up nicely, assuming I hit tab before the equals sign. It means that when I come to glancing at the query, I can see exactly what the result columns are - and this really helps in my derived tables too!

And now for some name-dropping

Well, if the trip to Seattle goes ahead, then Robert Scoble will arrange a geek dinner! We exchanged a few emails today - he told me about a Daniel's Broiler in downtown Seattle, and stuff like that.

Unfortunately I won't be able to catch up with Ron Jacobs while I'm over there. I listen to his ARCast podcast regularly, but he'll be in the UK while I'm in Seattle. And even if I get to come home via London, I have more important people to catch up with than Ron there. Family, not just Arsenal players.

16 March 2006

Please don't let it be true

Chris Hewitt has just told me that he received a similar invite for a meeting to discuss one of the other beta exams, and that it said something about "US only". But this can't be true, because there were heaps of addresses in the rest of the 'to' list that were in .uk, .pl, .it, .hu, .ru, etc... It can't just be for Americans.


Arsenal game

Oh, I shouldn't do this... The idea (of course, it hasn't all been confirmed yet, but anyway...) of going to Seattle in just over a week's time has got me thinking. It might be just as easy (and just as cheap) to fly back home via London, taking a stopover there to break up the trip, see my grandparents, and perhaps drop in to Highbury to see Arsenal play Aston Villa.

I know the guy who runs the website, and of course I do a podcast about the club (although I'm off the air while Optus fix my phone), so really I should be able to get pressbox tickets, and interview a few players, etc...

I'm getting ahead of myself of course, but it's nice to dream. :)

What to do in Seattle...

So... I'm going to be in Seattle for a meeting March 28-30. I'm going to need suggestions on what to do. Obviously dropping in on Bill if he has the time... But what else? Surely people have a bunch of suggestions. I've never been there before. Presumably a trip up Space Needle, but how good could the view be? Comments & suggestions would be welcomed. :)

Invited to Redmond

I just got an email from the Assessment & Certification Exams team at Microsoft, inviting me to a three day meeting at Redmond. :) They referred to me as a 'high performing beta examinee' - and when they use phrasing like that, who could say no? (Besides, I've never been to Seattle before)

More on teeth

Well, in a fortnight I'm going to have 3 of my wisdom teeth out. I get to keep the top left one. I shouldn't be nervous, it's a routine thing... intravenous sedation... should be fine. But I'm sure I'll have more grey hair afterwards. *sigh*

15 March 2006

Still blind

I got a phone call last night to say that my glasses couldn't be repaired. I'm not giving in yet though.

Google Talk / GMail Chat

I saw a green dot next to Rowan's name in GMail today, and thought I'd try out the Chat/Talk feature. Works quite nicely, all within the browser, and working well in Firefox too.

The thing that I found was the most 'cute' was that when I put a smiley in, it turned it around and animated it - but not into some yellow thing like the MSN Msgr ones, but one that still looked like it had been typed. And if you did something like :-) or :^), it would leave the nose in there too, in the same way that it was typed. :)

14 March 2006

On teeth

My wife Roslyn has had bad teeth ever since our first child was born. My teeth have never been too bad, although I don't like them. I don't know many people that do like their own teeth, although it's not really a typical conversation piece - "Hi, I'm Rob... do you like your teeth?"

One of the big problems with my teeth is that my lower wisdom teeth grow sideways. I don't know why this is, but I've seen the pictures, and it's definitely true. They grow sideways, towards my other teeth. I discovered this a few years ago, but it was going to be all too complicated to get them removed, and they weren't giving me any grief, so it was all fine. Not the case any more. Now, it seems that on the right, my wisdom tooth has punctured the tooth next to it, and made a hole that the dentist couldn't reach if he tried.

So on Thursday, I have an appointment with an oral surgeon. I think that should be someone who just talks about surgery. I remember having oral exams in French class at high-school, and it certainly didn't involve a reclining chair, weird light and a bloke counting. Anyway - Thursday isn't the big day, it's just a consult.

Peter Ward in Adelaide last week

It was great to have Peter Ward come and speak to the SQL User Group last week. Peter spoke about SMO, and did a great job. I think a lot of people learned a lot of stuff, which is just what we want from these meetings.

You can listen, watch and read to the presentation using the following links:

Audio and screen (49MB)

Audio only (16MB):

Slides, code, etc (much smaller):

They were recorded with Camtasia, which although doesn't give the feedback-ability of LiveMeeting, seems to be very effective at making a nice recording.

We had just over 40 people come along, which is really good.

Next month, Geoff Orr, talking about backups!

Motorbike accident (not me, someone else)

Last Wednesday I witnessed a motorcycle accident. I was heading down Glen Osmond Rd (for those people who only kinda-know Adelaide, that's the road that goes south-east from the city towards the freeway), and just after I pulled away from the lights, a car just a little further up pulled out of a petrol station and hit a motorbike who had accelerated up to 60km/h a lot faster than any of the cars.

So I pulled over. The rider hadn't quite been knocked off his bike. He'd wobbled a lot and got his bike to the curb before basically falling off it to lie down on the footpath. The woman who was driving the car was sitting in her car eating an ice-cream (she was on her way home after working overnight). I went over to him to see how he was. No blood, but he didn't seem to be particularly well-off, so I called 000. Haven't had to do that before. I've called 999 before when we lived in the UK, but I think this was the first time I've had to call 000. Ambulance and Police on their way.

The ambulance arrived, checked the guy out, and he was basically fine. Big bruise coming up on his leg where the car had hit it. Still shocked, naturally. Waited for a while longer for the police to rock up. They couldn't really understand why they'd been called. Didn't breathalise either of them, didn't take any details, asked if the car and bike were driveable, and went on his way to deal with more important stuff I guess.

On Saturday I got a phone-call from the rider. He's fine. His leg was basically saved by the leathers he was wearing, but he still has a massive bruise. Plenty of damage to the bike. But essentially, he was okay. Turns out he's a student a Lutheran seminary. I think God was looking after him that day, because he's really lucky he didn't get knocked off his bike into oncoming traffic.

I got to my exam a little later than I hoped, and felt like I was distracted half the day. I bet I did better in my Wednesday afternoon exam than the morning one.

My busy week last week

It's nice when you have a public holiday at the end of a really busy week. Last week I did 5 beta exams (hopefully I passed at least two of them!), ran the SQL User Group on Thursday lunchtime, featured in the .Net User Group on Wednesday night (although I didn't go - they just talked about me), watched the Arsenal-ReaMadrid game on Thursday morning, had some big meetings on Tuesday (the only day I was at work all day), had Samuel (my 8yo) go on his first 'no parents' camp for a couple of nights, and got to be a witness in a motorcycle accident on Wednesday morning (just before I got to the exam place to sit one of my exams).

I guess it wasn't really all that busy - but all week it felt like I should be doing something else. Study mainly.

Still phoneless - but now blind and red too

This is driving me crazy. I'm still without my phone... and I have no idea how long it's going to be until it comes back. They gave me a different model as a loan (only an XDA II, not the IIs), but it's not the same. I miss the wireless connectivity, and the much better quality sound and so on.

And today I'm without my glasses too (beach accident, which just goes to prove that feet and specs don't mix). I'm sitting at work in my prescription sunglasses, while my frame gets fixed by the nice people down at L&P. A year or two ago I had a similar problem, and got some spare frames sent out from the US (fraction of the price), and then L&P fitted them to my lenses for free. I figure that when my prescription changes, I'll buy a new pair from them.

And I've found a really good use for my Microsoft XP shirt that Coatesy sent me several months ago. It's a really soft material, which means I can wear it today without feeling like I'm scratching my sunburn. I don't actually feel burnt, but I'm red enough to give the impression of it.

06 March 2006


Unbelievable. On Friday afternoon, my XDA IIs stopped responding to screen taps. It still worked, but obviously it was hard to do stuff. Today, I trustingly called support, and was advised that a hard-reset would fix it. I was suspicious, and questioned it, but in the end, succumbed and tried it. So now my phone doesn't work at all, because I can't set it up.

I've found an old phone, so that I can still take calls... but oh my goodness it's painful! I've been told I have to post it to Queensland, and that it'll be at least two weeks before I get it back again. I'm seriously unimpressed, and I know it's going to feel like I'm limping without it.

03 March 2006

A quick note

It's been a busy week, and next week will be even more so. The Security Interchange on Monday night was great. By all accounts the Security Seminar on Tuesday was also good, although I only made it to the end. It was great to catch up with Kleefy and Rocky in the evening though - good guys both.

I have a lot going around my head this week. Exams coming out of my ears, work keeping me busy, we just got a puppy (I always said I would never own a dog, but Roslyn always said we would), plus I have various big decisions that I need to make...