Vernon Benele Mwamuka

Architecture (Latin architectura, after the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων – arkhitekton – from ἀρχι “chief” and τέκτων “builder, carpenter, mason”) is both the process and the product of planningdesigning, and constructing buildings and other physical structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilisations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements. WIKIPEDIA

The above definition is a Wikipedia definition and it encompasses some all facets of architecture. Architecture involves much more than just building habitable spaces, one should be able to look at architecture within a certain built environment and read its history. The first picture is Anwga City in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare in Africa, at first glance one would’ve thought that its a building somewhere in Europe or Asia.

In Zimbabwe there are many architects who have made it onto the world stage, the likes of Vernon Benele Mwamuka (the first black architect), still stands out as one of the foremost and most prominent architects Zimbabwe has ever produced. In his architectural portfolio, he has to his name the imposing ZB Life Towers, Construction House, Kopje Plaza, Old Mutual Centre, Four Ways Mall in Johannesburg and Joina City.

Vernon is cited third overall in Africa

Vernon is also cited in the top 100 Greatest Zimbabweans

Other most significant projects that brought him praise and respect include Africa University (Mutare)

National University of Science & Technology (Bulawayo)

Bulawayo International Airport (later finished by Studio Arts) and a chain of Post Offices strewn across Zimbabwe, all these completed commissions attest to Mwamuka’s creative identityHis works have left a very unique aesthetic impact on the immediate environment of the structures, revitalising the surrounding urban expanse as in the case of the Kopje Plaza (West of Harare). The Kopje Plaza completely changed the Skyline of the Kopje area, where a number of neglected buildings had become an eyesore, and a sign of urban decay.

Not only did the Plaza succeed as a retail and office centre, but it also helped to propel the Kopje area into its phenomenal re-development boom. This, in the years when there was a lot of construction activity.


No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back!

I worked with a brilliant team of developers on a project some time ago, with a typically geeky calendar that had sayings by notable computer scientists like Edsger W. Dijkstra that was the subject of discussion in our daily stand-ups from time to time.

I was aware of the proverb, but had never really considered it in a software development context. Sometimes one encounters projects large or small that are failing or have indeed failed, or difficulty in trying to solve a technical  or programming obstacle.

“No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back – Turkish Proverb”

Windows Ten Free Upgrade Offer

Windows 8 has come on in leaps and bounds since the 8.1 release, making Windows 8 significantly easier to use. When Windows 8 was released, word was everyone was going to ditch their PC and just use a tablet, so the User Interface (UI) in Windows 8 promoted touch based input. Microsoft appears to have corrected the issue in Windows 10.

Why No Windows 9?

It turns out that there is a lot of code out there that relies on some sloppy coding in the Windows 95-98 timeframe, where instead of checking for the whole year e.g. 95 in 1995 or 98 in 1998, the code checks for the first character StartsWith(“9”) instead of Equals(“1995”), you can find an article here that explains the issue.

Windows Ten

The first thing you will notice is that the start bar in the bottom left hand corner looks a little bit more familiar. They have completely done away with the Windows Modern UI Start Screen in Windows 8


Windows Ten Free Upgrade Offer

If you would like to move to Windows 10 for free, have a look at this post

Great news! We will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year!  And even better: once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge. Sign up with your email today, and we will send you more information about Windows 10 and the upgrade offer in the coming months.      


Link available here.

Gangnam Style music video ‘broke’ YouTube view limit

I read an article on the Gangnam Style music video on the BBC website earlier this week and felt it failed to explain any of the numbers mentioned in any meaningful way.

The article asks,

How do you say 9,223,372,036,854,775,808?

Nine quintillion, two hundred and twenty-three quadrillion, three hundred and seventy-two trillion, thirty-six billion, eight hundred and fifty-four million, seven hundred and seventy-five thousand, eight hundred and eight.

When one starts to learn programming, understanding data types is of fundamental importance, irrespective whether you are using Native Languages like C or C++, Managed Languages like Java or C#, Functional Languages like Haskell or F# or Dynamic Languages like JavaScript, PHP or Python. A variable essentially is what a computer uses to store items usually when it is running. Text (like the one you are reading right now in this article) is usually stored in a String variable, whole numbers tend to be stored in an Int variable (integer).

There is no magic!

I program in C# (pronounced “see sharp”) a lot nowadays and can instantly recognise 2,147,483,647 as Int32.MaxValue. It is this limit that the Gangnam style video reached. Programming wise, Youtube is written in a lot of C, so a quick Wikipedia search for C data types shows that all that’s really changed is that they’ve changed their long signed integer type (At least in the −2147483647, +2147483647 range thus at least 32 bits in size) to a long long signed integer type (At least in the −9223372036854775807, +9223372036854775807 range thus at least 64 bits in size. Specified since the C99 version of the standard). In C#, this is Int64.MaxValue.

The remote server returned an error: (407) Proxy Authentication

Periodically, I find myself writing an N-Tier, SaaS app written in Winforms or WPF for a Bank or Energy firm, that uses proxies.


In fact, as security becomes a better understood component, providing a standardised environment in the enterprise, the more companies typically use proxy servers.

Every once in a while I come across the dreaded message The remote server returned an error: (407) Proxy Authentication Required. 

There is an article here that explains the issue. Make sure you add this to your app.config between the configuration nodes.


<defaultProxy enabled=true useDefaultCredentials=true>

<proxy autoDetect=True usesystemdefault=True/>



<defaultProxy> Element (Network Settings)

enabled  Specifies whether a web proxy is used. The default value is true.

useDefaultCredentials  Specifies whether the default credentials for this host are used to access the web proxy. The default value is false.

 <proxy> Element (Network Settings)

autoDetect Specifies whether the proxy is automatically detected. The default value is unspecified.

usesystemdefault Specifies whether to use Internet Explorer proxy settings. If set to true, subsequent attributes will override Internet Explorer proxy settings. The default value is unspecified.

The calling thread must be STA, because many UI components require this

Whilst working on my current WPF application, I was at Sixes & Sevens trying to correct the following error;

Message: The calling thread must be STA, because many UI components require this

I ended up hacking my way out of this problem a week or so ago, hacks however, make me feel extremely dirty, and subscribing to the “leave code as you would like to find it” mantra meant one had to subsequently revisit it to “tidy-up”.  I have a strictly MVVM application that is complex and multithreaded, needing to update UI components from web service calls that typically are asynchronous. The issue here was that I was using code like this in my view model thinking I had access to the dispatcher.

Dispatcher.CurrentDispatcher.BeginInvoke((Action) (() =>

The mistake I made was in not getting a reference to the correct dispatcher.

To correct this issue, ensure you have a variable that gets a reference to the correct dispatcher when the view model is instantiated, you can then use this dispatcher in your view model, without having to pollute your code behind files.

private readonly Dispatcher dispatcher;
public DemoViewModel()
this.dispatcher = Dispatcher.CurrentDispatcher;

Cannot build Expression Blend Project using F5/Ctrl+Shift+B

Whenever I try build Expression Blend on a machine for the first time, I always encounter this error when I hit F5

The specified solution configuration "Debug|HPD" is invalid. Please specify a valid solution configuration using the Configuration and Platform properties (e.g. MSBuild.exe Solution.sln /p:Configuration=Debug /p:Platform="Any CPU") or leave those properties blank to use the default solution configuration.
Done building project "Name Of Your Project.sln" — FAILED.


It goes without saying that it is irritating that you cannot use the application from the word go. I have encountered this error on both 32 and 64 bit windows versions, and resolve the issue thus;

Go into the advanced system settings (I am using windows 7)


Select the advanced tab, and click the “Environment Variables” button


Delete the “Platform” variable


After restarting Expression blend, you should find that you can F5/Ctrl+Shift+B to build your solution.