Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2012

CharityHack 2012

Last weekend was my fourth Charity Hackathon of the year, CharityHack 2012 . The CharityHack series started in 2009 and is sponsored by PayPal , JustGiving , MissionFish (aka PayPal Giving Fund) and PlayMob .Whereas some of the hackathons I've been to this year were actually organised by charities, CharityHack had more a feel of "people who work in the private sector doing a hack for charities". Not that there weren't charity people there, but the general make-up of the crowd was different. Nick Aldridge of MissionFish had some great slides about the UK Charity sector as a whole. This one shows the various types of entity that qualify for Charity status - The bubble saying 'General Charities' being the ones people normally associate with 'charity': (graphic originally from NCVO's UK Civil Society Almanac ) From the General Charities, Nick noted that large charities are actually very rare: Only 0.3% have over £10m income per year 15%


Microsoft Sql Server Reporting Services ( SSRS ) is mostly pretty good. The report designer is ok, the flexibility you get with web services and the ASP.NET ReportViewer component is pretty good. If you're already running Sql Server then SSRS pretty much comes for free. One aspect of SSRS that isn't too good however, is the default interface for running the reports. Officially known as 'Report Manager', but more commonly known as 'that thing you run reports with', it has a lot of shortcomings. It was designed in the pre-ajax days, so although it does the job, it can be pretty clunky. It particularly struggles with reports that have lots of parameters, or reports that have multi-picks with a large number of options. Given that SSRS is quite openly designed - most of the services are exposed through web services, and the ReportViewer component can be used to embed SSRS reports in applications - I would have thought there would be some good competitors to

Made In Lambeth

I've lived in Lambeth for 11 of the last 15 years, but I've never spent that much time thinking about Lambeth Council. I appreciated it when they started collecting cardboard for recycling. I was vaguely impressed when I could pay my council tax online rather than by post. I enjoyed Myatts Fields and Brockwell Park. And I was wary of the councillor pamphlets, which only ever seemed to arrive when they needed me to vote. I understood the benefits of local government, but the reality of trying to engage with it meant reading highly partisan election leaflets that highlighted the negatives and blamed the other parties for them. So, I was not particularly engaged. Still, I understood that local councils were potentially a force for good, so when Good For Nothing announced that they were doing an event with Lambeth Council I signed up. I'm glad I did; it was a great event, and very ... well ... engaging . Briefly, the idea behind the event was this: Lambeth Council are ai

Homeless Hack Day

Hackathons are all the rage at the moment, and are great events for lots of reasons . I'm aiming to go to hackathons that have charitable objectives, and hence I was excited to see that a bunch of organisations (the Goverment Digital Service , Go On UK , Westminster City Council , The Connection at St Martins , SHP and Homeless Link ) had worked together to organise a Homeless Hack Day on 16th June 2012. Its easy to imagine ways that modern technology can help charities and agencies that work with the homeless. To the uninitiated (i.e, me before the event) its less obvious how modern technology can help the homeless community directly. But during talks from SHP, Homeless Link and The Connection at St Martins we learned that homeless people have increasing opportunities to get online (hostels have internet stations that are among the busiest parts of the centres) and often have access to standard (ie. non-smart) phones. SHP and St Martins both had very successful projects invo

jQuery multiselect widgets

While working on CrissCross I've experimented with various different jQuery MultiSelect widgets. That is, web page controls that let users easily select multiple items from a list - here's a quick round up: Eric Hynds jQuery UI MultiSelect Widget Description ... Demos ... GitHub This one is rendered as a DropDown and I think overall its my favourite,  it has ThemeRoller support and there is an extra plugin that lets users do a search within the list. Here's what it looks like while 'dropped down': Quasipartikel jQuery UI Multiselect Description ... Blogpost ... GitHub This one renders as a 'two listbox' layout and also has ThemeRoller support. Looks like this: Odyniec selectList Description ... Demos ... GitHub This one has an ingenious design that makes it a lot more lightweight than the ones above. With large lists (> 500 items) and slow browsers (IE6,IE7,IE8) the multiselects above can take a long time to render, simply b

SSRS multi-value parameters with less fail

SSRS supports multi-value parameters, which is nice, but there are a few issues with them. This is how I deal with them. Two of the problems with SSRS multi-value parameters are: You have to jump through a few hoops to get them to work with stored procedures The (Select All) option, as shown above The reason the (Select All) option is a problem is that it is a really inelegant way of saying 'this parameter does not matter to me'. If you have a list with hundreds of values, passing all of them as a default option just seems wrong. Also, if your report shows the user which items they selected, printing the whole list when they choose (Select All) is excessive. So in this post I'm going to show my particular way of: Jumping through the hoops to get Multi-Value params in a stored procedure Adding a single '--All--' value that the report interprets as meaning all the options. Getting Multi-Value params to work with Stored Procedures This is