Archive for May, 2008

.NET Forms Authentication and Blank UserData

I recently had to retrofit someone else’s .NET Forms Authentication code to use custom roles. In the past, I’ve had a lot of success using the UserData field of the FormsAuthenticationTicket to store a delimited string of roles, then using the AuthenticateRequest method of Global.asax to set the custom roles for the user.

However, it wasn’t working properly, and I went through a couple agonizing hours of pulling my hair out before I got to the cause of the problem. But first, a note about the clue: when I set the custom FormsAuthenticationTicket, I set the version attribute to “1”. However, when I inspected the returned ticket in AuthenticateRequest, the version was “2”. Funny? I thought so. The ticket was encrypted (of course), so I couldn’t really inspect the raw data, but the only other difference between what I was setting and what I was retrieving was the blank UserData field.

It turns out that the login routine called FormsAuthentication.RedirectFromLoginPage() – which effectively overwrote my nice custom ticket, and replaced it with Mr. Generic Ticket with no UserData, and thus no roles.

Moral: if you are setting a custom ticket, make sure you do a normal Response.Redirect(string) call, NOT FormsAuthentication.RedirectFromLoginPage(), or else you’ll overwrite your ticket.

NW Folklife Festival 2008

Yesterday the family and I went to the NW Folklife festival at the Seattle Center, to expose the kids to the hemp-and-patchouli Seattle subculture.  The sun was out, temperatures were high, and Seattleites started exposing skin in many various ways – there hasn’t been this much pasty-white skin exposed to the sun since the massive Reykjavik prison break in 1967.  Also, this being Folklife, there weren’t enough bras to properly outfit a volleyball team.  Good times.

Leaving aside my mild disappointment at not encountering a single hackeysack, we all had a great time.  The kids were goggle-eyed at many of the more, ahem, “eccentric” festival-goers, such as The Man With The Enormous Hat or The Man Waving Pastel-Colored Diaphanous Fabric In Circular Motions.  They really loved it when we went to Fun Forest and rode bumper cars, though.  They’re preparing for the post-fossil-fuel future, where we all drive underpowered electric cars.

They also enjoyed seeing the police horse poop on the grass.  I have to admit it was an amazing display.

Musically, there were a lot of what seemed like impromptu gatherings of musicians.  My wife and I came to the conclusion that they were all playing the same song at different speeds – sort of a Klezmer-meets-Mighty Mighty Bosstones clappable number.  Then there was the drum machine guy up by Seattle Fudge who, like a solo ocean-going sailor, had his rig of 15 musical instruments set up that he could control it with the slightest of movements.  The cacaphony was incredible.

The HempFest folks, knowing this was fertile recruiting territory, showed up about 2 PM with advertising flyers and signs.   Note to HempFest: The chances of your target audience remembering that they had a flyer, let alone actually get the flyer home to put up on their fridge, is about nil.

Best part for me?  Just hanging out with the family, watching the kids have a great time, and enjoying a little sun.  I’m really glad that we get to experience big events like this from time to time.

Garth Stein Has Hit the Lottery

From 2006-2007 I took a three-quarter literary fiction course through the UW extension program.  It was taught, and taught extremely well, by a writer named Scott Driscoll.

In the summer of 2007 I considered whether or not to continue on to the second-year program, and for a variety of reasons decided against it.  One of the reasons was that there was a lot of uncertainty about who would actually teach the course.  The original guy signed up to teach was a local Seattle writer named Garth Stein, who had published some stuff and gotten pretty good critical press.

However, as I was hemming and hawing, e-mailing Garth with some questions about the class, he went dark.  It turns out that right at that moment a big publisher picked up the rights to his book for major dollars.  Not sure how many zeros he got but it was a lot.  So, he opted to not teach the second year Lit Fic class in favor of lucrative book tours, etc. etc.

This morning I walk into a Starbucks in Bellevue and who do I see featured prominently on the shelf but Garth Stein?  Congratulations, Garth, you just hit the 2nd-best writer’s lottery on the planet (Oprah would be first).

TWiT 143 Review

This show should be called “Leo Laporte and Five Guys Whose Voices Are Not Fit For Radio”.  Aside from LL, you have never a more squeaky, gravelly collection of voices since the Munchkin scene in The Wizard of Oz.  Having said that, the content was actually pretty good.  I may make it a background track while I’m programming something particularly boring.

Catch it at

Thierry Henry to Seattle?

That’s what the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting this morning on the front page of the paper.  Curiously, the story is not online yet.

I’m not sure what to make of it since Henry is rumored to be in talks with both the L.A. Galaxy and Tottenham.  He may very well be staying at Barca as well.

My guess?  He’ll talk to everybody, but will end up in England if Guardiola doesn’t want to keep him (which would be crazy IMHO).

Twhirl Error Exposes Source

Got source?  OK, it’s just HTML, don’t get excited.  A packet sniffer could do worse.  In the realm of IP exposure, this doesn’t even count as a flesh wound.

High-Concept Pitches for Startups

Venture Hacks has a post up right now about so-called “High-Concept Pitches”, a device apparently originated and perfected in the movie business.  Think “Jaws in Space” = “Alien” and you’ve got the idea.

The author implies that it’s a good idea to develop a pitch you can write on the back of a business card (hopefully legibly).

So, let’s see: my startup is Crowdify, a tool for brand and reputation managers to discover new insights into consumers’ attitudes about their subjects and make better decisions about marketing and public relations strategy.  We do this through semantic analysis applied to consumer-generated correlations among and between brands and reference data.  Further, we utilize social-networking metaphors to keep interesting information flowing back and forth between branding people and the consuming public.

That’s a little wordy, especially for a business card, so let’s try a little high-concept pitch development.  Hmm…relations that people will understand.  “A for B”, where A is a known brand in my space, and B is the target audience…how about:

  • Facebook for Brands

I think I like it!  Not least of which is the rumor floating around today that Facebook is about to be acquired by Microsoft for something like 15 to 20 billion dollars.

Top 50 Cult Books

From the London Telegraph, via Scott Berkun by way of Jim Bullock, there’s a list of the “Top 50 Cult Books”.  They don’t offer a definition, but you get the gist of the type of book they’re looking for from the contents of the list.  I would say a cult novel is one that enraptures you and inspires discussion among you and your friends for some period of time; one which encourages re-reading; one which gives additional insight upon subsequent readings; one that goes against the accepted grain, i.e. contains some sort of unusual/anarchist/futurist thought; and one that stimulates a change in behavior.

Scott Berkun mentioned “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card as a notable miss; other books I can think of that might have made this list include:

  • Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  • The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
  • The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho
  • Molloy, Samuel Beckett
  • The Stand, Steven King
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
  • Ishmael, Daniel Quinn
  • Neuromancer, William Gibson
  • Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson


  • Getting Things Done, David Allen
  • The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt
  • The Executioner’s Song, Norman Mailer

What’s your favorite cult novel?

Blaine Cook on the Gillmor Gang

Former Twitter Chief Architect Blaine Cook was on the Gillmor Gang yesterday.  He must have pretty thick skin to agree to a conversation with Mike Arrington, who mercilessly knifed Blaine in the back as he was going out the door at Twitter last month.

The interview itself is nothing great – Blaine is very careful with his words – but there’s a few tidbits there.  If you’re a techie and afficionado of Twitter, you might consider checking it out.

I Won’t Be Attending Portland Startup Weekend

… and it kills me to have to write that headline.  PSW is Memorial day weekend – it starts a week from today – and based on my awesome experience at Seattle Startup Weekend in January, I’ve really been looking forward to taking the Amtrak down and meeting some fellow-travelers in the Rose City.

However, I have this super-important project that I want to launch no later than May 31st, and my own personal decision-tree is such that I’d rather launch Crowdify than get that super dose of inspiration that I know I would have gotten out of PSW.

I was also looking forward to meeting Ray Angel, the new CEO of Startup Weekend – Ray, we’ll have to meet another time.  And to all you Portlanders who are going next weekend: have tons of fun.  My advice is to commit yourself 100% in order to get the most of the experience.  There’s a lot you can take away from an event like SW.

I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor, and reading about your experiences!


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