Brandon's Notepad

September 14, 2017

TFS / VSTS Customization


I started working heavily with Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) in the summer of 2016 and may be migrating to Visual Studio Team Servcies (VSTS) in the not-so-distant future. The need to customize TFS operations was almost immediately obvious, and the complexity of the customization only increases in proportion with the use of the tool. This page is a (growing) list of links that I’ve found useful.

Runtime Environment Variables

Environment variables are available for use during both build and release operations. These are my go-to references when I need to figure out how to get to runtime data.

Marketplace Extensions

The Visual Studio Marketplace offers many useful extensions for TFS & VSTS. Some implement or extend features such as dashboards, but the ones I’m most interested in (at least for now) are the build and release tasks. Like apps on a smart phone, these little gems eliminate the need for writing extensive scripts to compile code and deploy products. I’ve found it important to check the Marketplace often for new items as well as for updates to extensions already in use.




  • Hopefully, I won’t have to add any extensions in this section.

Custom Scripts & Extensions

If you can’t find what you need in the Marketplace, you can always write your own deployment scripts and extensions. These can be published or retained for internal use only, your choice. Here is a list of useful resources for beginners.




More to come…


June 5, 2015

Playing WAV Files In PERL

Filed under: Perl,Programming — Brandon @ 3:42 pm
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Home > My Lists > Programming Notes > PERL > Playing WAV Files In PERL

I don’t remember why exactly, but a few years ago I wrote a countdown timer that would sound a chime when it reached zero. I decided to keep the code that plays the sound for future reference. Note, this works using ActiveState PERL on Windows.

use Win32::Sound;

$wav = 'C:\path\to\file.wav';


January 30, 2012

Getting Google Maps

Filed under: How-To,Online Tools,Perl,Programming — Brandon @ 4:08 pm
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So, I’d like to have a current traffic map delivered to my e-mail at the precise moment I’m leaving work for the day. Call me lazy, but this is the sort of thing that can be automated pretty easily and I don’t want to go look it up, I want it delivered. Someday, I’ll get around to setting this up, but as they say, a journey begins with a single step. In this case, the step is to find a way a good to download Google Maps with a script. For now, that is the scope of this post.

Here’s some initial research to plow through:
Mapki: Google Map Parameters Best reference so far!
Google Static Maps API*
A PERL/Wget solution
A Python script
MapTileCacher in PERL
In Bash
Discussion on Google blocking tile downloads

* On 2/7/2012, I tried using the Google Static Maps API and received Error 400 (malformed or illegal request) when using the URL described therein. I have had more luck using Google Maps directly to frame the map, getting the (perma)link, and tweaking the parameters.

October 7, 2011


Filed under: Programming — Brandon @ 10:00 am
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Home > My Lists > Programming Notes > Semaphores

A semaphore is an abstract data type used to control access to a common resource in a parallel programming environment.

Javaworld Q&A article from 1999
Java Named Semaphores by Mark Nadelson, C/C++ Users Journal
Concurrent Programming Using Java by S. J. Hartley, Drexel University

March 1, 2010

The Mark Of The Web

Home > My Lists > Programming Notes > HTML & CSS > The Mark Of The Web

Starting with IE for XP SP2, web pages generated locally (e.g. in a temp directory) do not load properly in Internet Explorer if they include Active Content. This is a result of improved security surrounding the Local Machine Zone. Depending on your operating environment, it may not be possible or desirable to change IE’s security settings; moreover, such changes would have to be applied to all machines accessing local content. The “Mark of the Web” is a better solution.

Microsoft has implemented a new feature called the “Mark of the Web” (or MOTW for short). It is a specially-formated HTML comment that directs IE to open the page in the same security zone as the specified URL. Two valuable examples are:

<!-- saved from url=(0014)about:internet -->


<!-- saved from url=(0016)http://localhost -->

Under default security settings, IE is forced to open the page with the former code in the Internet Zone and a page with the latter code in the Local Intranet Zone. The number in parentheses is the number of characters in the URL.


July 30, 2009

HTML Special Characters

Filed under: HTML,Programming — Brandon @ 10:43 am
Tags: , , ,

Home > My Lists > Programming Notes > HTML & CSS > HTML Special Characters

I often need the HTML codes for special characters. I’d love to compile a definitive list of my own here, but until I have the time this reference will have to do.

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