Sunday 21 August 2016

2016 Japanese Travels - Day 5, Kashiwa and Yoshi

As usual, Kyle and I ventured out near lunchtime. While it’s generally not a good idea to waste the limited time available when in another country, I wasn’t particularly fond of waking up too early when on vacation (a morning person, I am not!). However, my morning routine did consist of enduring the sweltering heat for long enough to buy a can of coffee from the nearby vending machine. The milky (latte) version of Japanese canned coffee made for a nice morning kickstart. It’s worth noting that Kyle had already banned me from drinking black canned coffee – Kyle learned a few years ago that the black coffee did something to produce the worst breath known to man. It appeared that the stuff was notorious throughout all of Japan!
The plan for the afternoon was explore Kashiwa. Kashiwa had a large “Hobby Off” (similar to the “Book Off” bookshops) where I would be able to find new anime figures to add to my ever growing collection. I spotted a few figures I wanted to add to my collection, but knew my suitcase space was finite so priorities were needed. One of the figures was a Figma (poseable) of Asuna from Sword Art Online (before you ask, no, it's not going to be used to set up creepy situations with the Revoltech Woody figure... welll, probably not).

By a stroke of luck, Kyle spotted a Yugi figure from the Yu-Gi-Oh! “Dark Side of Dimensions” movie. I decided that I should get a Yugi figure as I already had a few “Dark Magician Girl” figures and didn’t want people to start thinking I had some kind of Dark Magician Girl fetish. Let’s just say that character has inspired some, shall we say, “interesting” fan art. I was going to include an example, but I’d rather not make this blog NSFW.
"Dark Side of Dimensions" figure of Yugi - hard to believe Yu-Gi-Oh has been around 20 years! (I'm getting old)
My plan for the evening was to meet with Yoshi in Shinjuku. The background, for those who are not aware is that Yoshi was a member of the Japanese study group (the Sakura Kai) in Leeds and was also a teaching assistant one year. Those who have followed the blogs of my previous trips will probably already know that I had planned to meet with Yoshi last year, however, I was unable to as a job interview came up at the last minute so he couldn’t make it to Tokyo. While it was disappointing that we didn’t get to meet, I was happy that Yoshi had been presented with a good opportunity.
Upon arriving in Shinjuku, I started to realize a slight problem with our plan. We chose Shinjuku because many different rail lines met there so it would be an easy station for both of us to reach. Unfortunately, this also made Shinjuku the one of the largest and most complex stations in the entire network (I sometimes like to joke that an elite exploration team from Lonely Planet disappeared during an expedition to map Shinjuku station).
I’d arrived at Shinjuku a little early (as a precaution) but did not know exactly where Yoshi would be. It was the kind of situation where having the rental phone/SIM proved invaluable. We had already exchanged numbers so I was easily able to let Yoshi know exactly which ticket gate I was waiting at. Despite the station being incredibly busy (believe me, UK rail has nothing on Japan!), we were aided by the fact that (as a blonde gaijin) I stuck out like a sore thumb.
After Yoshi successfully located me, we went out to a nearby restaurant. Prior to that day, when he suggested going out for food, he’d asked me what kind of food I wanted. I was keen to try new foods so Yoshi suggested oden. Although traditionally a winter dish, it was something that we could still enjoy in summer.
Long awaited reunion
Over the next few hours, we chatted about how things were going for each of us in the UK and Japan. Because I hadn’t heard much about what Yoshi as up to, it was great to find out how things were going for him. We did most of our chatting in English (as my Japanese was limited, so that would have made it difficult to discuss complex topics) but I did get a few opportunities to practice some of my Japanese.
After a few hours of good food, beer and interesting discussions, it was time to head home. We said our goodbyes at Shinjuku station and I planned my route back. Although expensive, I opted to return via Akihabara as the Tsukuba express was the most convenient way of getting back. Next to Akihabara stations, I could see there were plenty of promotions up for the new “Kizumonogatari” – the origin story for the Monogatari series. I’d been a fan of the Monogatari series for a while so Kizumonogatari was something I was quite excited about.
Kiss Shot Acerola Orion Heart Under Blade (do not ask about the name)
I also happened to notice a street performance from a singer who appeared to be promoting an album. It was good to see that independent musicians are still going in Japan and that AKB48 hadn’t completely taken over.

Thanks for reading. Tune in again for an evening of nomification and graphic design (not in that order though!)

Wednesday 17 August 2016

2016 Japanese Travels - Day 4, Matsudo and Shim Matsudo

Apologies reader, this update is a short one. After a busy few days, I ended up falling behind on my writing so the details aren’t as fresh in my mind.
The fourth day took us once again to the city of Matsudo, although we’d already been there, it was a large city so there was plenty more to see and do. Most of the day was spent wandering around the various shopping areas. Observing the various shops provided an unexpected form of entertainment; looking for some of the more unusual uses of English in shop names. The use of English in names can make shops stand out a little more (for example through unusual names or the use of typefaces which might not normally be encountered with kanji/hiragana/katakana names), it can also make names seem a little nonsensical.
For example, we stumbled across   “impact hair laboratory”, Kyle and I weren’t quite sure about how “impact” would apply to hair styling. We decided that we’d rather not find out first hand and quickly moved on.

Our investigations of the local shops soon lead us to a supermarket which formed part of a larger shopping centre. Since these places could usually be quite interesting, he had a look further inside.
As is commonplace for such shopping centres, this one had a rooftop terrace. One of the more unusual features was a rooftop Italian restaurant.
Under a "Seven&Holdings" sign - perfect place for a 7-11?
As was expected of the Japanese summer we were starting to get a little dehydrated (by “little dehydrated”, I mean “close to being mummified”) so it was time to stop for (iced) coffee and some lunch.
On the way back, for some reason, we decided to stop off at Shim Matsudo. We passed Shim Matsudo on the way each time and thought it might be worth exploring. In the past, we did the same thing exploring Kita Senju when we were on the way back from Asakusa and found a few interesting times. At Shim Matsudo we were in for a bit of a disappointment, the best description I could find was “sleeper town” (somewhere that’s populated primarily by commuters). We couldn’t see many shops or restaurants, the few shops we did see were mainly convenience stores and the restaurants looked like they were for what I call “nomification” (nomihoudai – after work food and drink).
There were a few unusual sights. The first was somewhere called “Club Jesus”, Kyle and I were at a loss as to what that establishment might have been. Perhaps it was a church’s attempt at rebranding? Who knows.

Another unusual sight was a sign for… something, that looked suspiciously like it had been “inspired” by bewitched.

This may have sounded like a less interesting day than other days, but on this trip I’ve been seeing less of the “touristy” side of Japan and seeing a bit more of the “everyday” Japan. So fat, it has provided an interesting glimpse in to what life in Japan is like (something that you don’t really get a picture of as a tourist).
The character design looks... familiar

Friday 12 August 2016

2016 Japanese Travels - Day 3, Akihaba and the remake of Alien

In the morning Kyle had a few errands to run which he expected would take most of the day. That provided me with the perfect opportunity to make a trip to Akihabara.
From the forecast, I could see it was going to be a particularly hot day. Never one to let little things like heatstroke, sunburn or dehydration get in the way of buying anime merchandise, I shrugged off the alarmingly high temperatures and started to make plans.

My first order of business before heading out was my daily source of caffeine. Simply put, getting a can of coffee from the nearby vending machine. In the kind of weather we were experiencing, a nice cool can of milky coffee was much more refreshing than the usual (hot) black coffee I would drink in the UK.

With my caffeine reserves replenished, I left the apartment to catch the train to Akihabara (two trains, to be precise). As I approached the station, I could feel the heat start to hit me. Between the heat and the brightness I was feeling glad that I’d remembered my hat and applied some sun block beforehand (those who know me will know that there’s a risk I’ll burst in to flames if left in direct sunlight).

As expected, there had been a few changes in Akihabara since I’d last been there. One of the new additions (near to the JR station and UDX building) was a small garden. It was quite refreshing to see something so peaceful and traditional looking in such a modern part of Tokyo.
I wandered around I started to notice a growing rumbling sound. I initially feared an earthquake was starting; however, it didn’t take long to realize it was my stomach. Clearly, it was time for lunch. There was a curry restaurant that Kyle and I had been to previously that Kyle suggested I go to. I had no idea where the restaurant was, all I remembered was that the restaurant had wooden walls and offered something called “homerun curry”. Despite not knowing the name of the restaurant or where it was, I successfully located it – Great navigational skills, eh? Who am I kidding, it was luck. While looking for a vending machine, I happened to stumble across it.

Homerun Curry

With lunch out of the way, it was time to get back to the main task of the day – adding more anime figures to the collection. The two I decided on were Black Hanekawa (from Bakemonogatari) and Sheryl Nome (from Macross Frontier).

With some figures and a few other assorted bits and pieces (I wasn’t buying Ecchi manga, honest!), it was time to head back. Kyle and I were starting to get hungry this point so we decided to go out for food, seeing as we were keen to avoid our stomachs setting off seismic sensors.
We noticed a sukiyaki restaurant that Kyle hadn’t been to before, it looked worth a try. The sukiyaki was quite similar to yakiniku but included a stew that was cooked at the table (on a small gas burner).

The meal was enjoyable, however, there was a little surprise in store. It turned out that we had made a slight miscalculation when ordering, the meal turned out to be a little more expensive than we were expecting. Oops.
After getting back to the apartment, our plan to spend the evening relaxing was interrupted by something scuttling across the floor - a rather large insect. Being from the UK, I wasn’t used to seeing large insects so found it a little unnerving. This reaction paled in comparison to Kyle, who appeared to be having a panic attack. The insect appeared to have gone under the sofa, given that I would he sleeping on a futon on the floor, I knew there was no way I’d get a decent night’s sleep while it was still in the apartment. Due to Kyle’s earlier reaction, responsibility for eradicating the aforementioned pest (the insect, not Kyle) fell to me.
Armed with a promotional fan from Mr Abe and with Kyle following close by, it soon became apparent that we were in a low budget remake of Alien.
Almost an hour was spent stalking the critter. Most of the time was spent in an eerie silence, punctuated only by the occasional shriek from Kyle and plastic bottle being thrown at some source of movement. Eventually we got lucky and I gave it a few blasts of the fly spray, with the bug dazed and confused I sprung in to action with the fan and brought it down on the insect. I’m sure Ripley and co. would have been proud!

The fact that a promotional fan from a dental clinic was the last thing the… whatever it was saw added a somewhat ludicrous quality to the events.
My nemesis! I can't work out if this was more like Alien or Terraformars

Wednesday 10 August 2016

2016 Japanese Travels - Day 2, Matsudo

I woke up bright and early at around 08:00. That being said, I’d woken up for around the third or fourth time. Jet lag does funny things to my sleep cycle, but one advantage is that it lets me wake up nice and early for a few days at least.
Our plan for the day was to meet Kyle’s friend from the previous day in Matsudo for coffee. Kyle and I aimed to arrive early so that we would have time to explore a little. Arriving at Matsudo, we soon found that we had a serious navigational hazard to contend with: Pokemon Go players! Some days, I’m tempted to write a game where you have to avoid Pokemon Go players running in to you. After staging a quick re-enactment of the asteroid belt scene from The Empire Strikes Back, we had a look around the food hall of a nearby department store (デパート).
While browsing, we found an opportunity to sample one of my current favourite snacks – taiyaki! The taiyaki were made on request, so freshness was guaranteed.
Fish shaped pancaky goodness!
As with other times I’d seen taiyaki, there were several different fillings available. The traditional filling is anko (sweetened bean paste), because Kyle didn’t like bean paste we ordered cream filling (makes ordering a little easier).
After a little wandering around, we were starting to feel hungry. In his infinite wisdom, Kyle’s suggestion was: “KFC”. Don’t worry; he hadn’t jumped the shark tank (well, at least I didn’t think so at the time). Japanese KFC is quite different to KFC found elsewhere. The batter is less greasy and it’s milder (less spicy) than found elsewhere.
It turned out that we had made a slight error when ordering, we somehow ended up ordering two sets for each of us (which explained why it seemed a little expensive). Still, it provided us with the opportunity to try the regular set and the super spicy set (not really spicy by western standards, but spicier than the regular version).
KFC, Japanese Style
Our next stop was the coffee shop, we had arrived a little early so located some suitable seats and bought a round of peach teas. Peach tea – what a marvellous drink! It was very refreshing and had a very subtle flavour; it tasted a little like tea but with a hint of peach. Certainly not an overpowering flavour. After fifteen minutes or so, it seemed we had made a possible miscalculation. Kyles friend was nowhere to be found and it was already our arranged time to meet, punctuality is important in Japan but we paid it no mind and decided to wait. Half an hour later, we began to suspect that something was wrong. With Kyle’s phone out of credit, we appeared to be running low on options. Fortunately however, I was on the ball and suggested using my phone to check. As it turned out, we weren’t supposed to meet at the coffee shop, we were supposed to meet at the train station. Oops, we’d accidentally left her waiting at the train station for over half an hour – the afternoon was not getting off to the best possible start. Once we were all together, we stopped short of a dogeza apology and enjoyed a few more peach teas.
Our next stop proved to be quite useful, we were doing some shopping and found a bookshop with a good language selection. Besides books for Japanese speakers who are learning other languages, there were also books for speakers of other languages to learn Japanese. Given my hit-and-miss Japanese, some additional resources would be pretty useful. In the end, I settled on a book of JLPT N4 grammar as I needed to brush up on some of the more complex verb forms.
As evening approached, Kyle and I had returned to Misato and needed to answer the important question: “Where do we go for dinner?” The answer to that question was simple: Steak!
A great thing about the steak restaurant in Misato was that (besides good steaks) there was an all you can eat salad bar. It’s worth noting that the salad bar also includes curry and rice. This afforded me the opportunity to satisfy my cravings for meat (perhaps the yakiniku brought out my carnivorous side?) and for Japanese curry.

After filling our stomachs, we were prepared for all that the next day would throw at us. Or so we thought…

Tuesday 9 August 2016

2016 Japanese Travels - Day 1, Welcome to Misato (with Yakiniku)

Despite resting on the flight, upon my arrival in Japan, I was my usual bleary eyed self. Fortunately, by this point I was pretty experienced with the immigration/customs process and the route to Kyle’s apartment so my zombie-like state didn’t cause any problems. Besides, my navigational skills are second to none (or was it none whatsoever?).
After arriving at Kyle’s, the first order of business was to have a sit down and relax followed by a quick catch up. Once I was rested and Kyle was brought up to speed on how completely screwed the UK is, next stop was Doutor to meet a friend and colleague of Kyle’s.
Dotour is a popular chain in Japan, serving fresh coffee and sandwiches. As to be expected in the height of the blisteringly hot Japanese summer, iced coffee (アイスコーヒー) was the drink of the day (the range of iced tea/coffee drinks was pretty impressive). My choice of sandwich was ham salad with Japanese mayo (a few years ago, it was a Dotour sandwich that opened my eyes to the wonders of Japanese mayo). It turned out Kyle’s friend was a fellow aficionado of coffee, but even she had difficulty believing the inhuman amount of coffee consumed during my average work day (computer programmer: device that converts coffee in to software). After chatting for a while, it was still early afternoon so we decided to go out to do a little shopping.
Our two main choices were LaLaPort nearby (walkable) or Koshigaya Lake Town. Those who have read my blog before will know that Lake Town exists in several dimensions to account for its huge size.
Our reasons for visiting Lake Town were two-fold. Firstly, it afforded us the opportunity to wander around in an environment protected from the almost solar conditions outside (air conditioned malls – a must in Japan!). After exploring some of the shops, we got to our second reason for visiting: Starbucks. It may sound like a strange reason, but there we wanted to visit our favourite Starbucks. The Starbucks in question was outside the mall and had a seating area next to a nice artificial stream.
It was also a good opportunity to introduce me to one of the new menu items for that year, Cantaloupe Frappuccino.
A warm day, better get indoors!
After some window shopping and unusual ice drinks, it was time to return to Kyle’s apartment. We had a rental futon that was due to be delivered (after trying one before, I couldn’t go back to the a sofa bed) and were waiting to rendezvous with Yamashita san. Our plan was to go out with Yamashita for Yakiniku. As you may already know, I’ve developed a serious liking for the Japanese adaptation of Korean Barbeque. We ordered a set that was primarily meat, with a little veg. The cheaper sets have much more veg (good if you worried about how much meat you're eating), but we were in a particularly carnivorous mood (Kyle was starting to worry that I'd been possessed by a Bakeneko) so went for the meaty selection.
Meat, glorious meat!
As side dishes, we were able to enjoy some spicy soup and kimchi. Let me tell you, that stuff was way more powerful than the kimchi available in the UK! Spicy, but nice.
The evening provided much meat, conversation and opportunities for me to test how much Japanese vocab I recognize.
As the evening drew to a close, it became increasingly clear that I was entering the realms of sleep deprivation so I settled in to cover the sleep deficit.

The first day isn’t normally a particularly busy one, given the need to unpack and the inevitable tiredness. Fortunately, we managed to get a lot done so it didn’t feel like a wasted day. No matter how much you feel like you want to, going to sleep until the evening is not a good idea. Before long, you’ll find you’ve turned nocturnal!

Sunday 7 August 2016

2016 Japanese Travels - Day 0, Of Lounges and Layovers

Hello reader, it’s that time again! (I already hear your groaning) It’s time for Dan’s Japan travel blog, also known as “the comedy of errors, with poor spelling and grammar).
Firstly, we have a little difference with this trip. Having saved up for longer than usual and with the price being lower than I was expecting, I was introduced to the wonders of “business class” travel. So be warned, as well as the usual travel writing, this blog now includes various “nyah, nyah! I’m travelling business class!” type coverage. The trip was booked with Finnair, an airline I’ve already used a few times and the most efficient I’ve encountered.
During past trips I aimed to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare, in case security takes longer than anticipated. As expected, there was something I forgot to factor in this time. I completely forgot that priority security was available at Manchester Airport (their “fast track” lane). Priority security turned out to be a great time saver and negated the need to queue for 20 or 30 minutes. Fortunately, my ticket also included an invitation to the Aspire Lounge or the Escape Lounge (as Finnair do not operate their own lounge at Manchester). It was a struggle to decide which lounge would be the better option, after much deliberation I opted for Aspire. Truth be told, the deciding factor was “runway views” listed in their available facilities (total aviation nerd!).
View from the lounge

With an unlimited supply of coffee available, it became abundantly clear that I would be boarding my flight fully caffeinated! (not to mention a full bladder)
Bacon sandwich and a cup of tea
The first leg of the business class trip was quite pleasant. Finnair use Embraer’s between Manchester and Helsinki. The business class seats are the same as the economy class, except that the legroom is improved. With priority boarding and complimentary food, the trip definitely got off to a good start. I was fond of the (Marimekko designed) glasses that the drinks were served in (by glasses, I mean glasses – not the plastic cups of economy class).
In accordance with my new policy on “trying to be less antisocial”, I got chatting to my seatmate. My seatmate was an older lady who was travelling to Finland to visit her son and daughter in law who had settled in Finland a number of years ago.
In flight catering, MAN-HEL
Arrival and transfer was as efficient as I’ve come to expect from Finnair and Helsinki Airport. After landing at one of the more remote areas of the airport, we were bussed to the terminal and were able to go straight to departures. This provided me with well over hour to sample the hospitality of Finnair’s lounge. They had free coffee, they had free beer – Dan was very happy!
Snacks in Helsinki
When getting ready to board, I noticed a slight change in aircraft, for this flight the A340 had been replaced by the A330. It seems Finnair only have 4 A340-300’s left in their fleet, with 19 A350’s on order it’s not hard to see why the old A340 is on the way out. When I boarded the flight to Tokyo, I entered “antisocial mode” again. I’d previously selected one of the seats that eliminate the “seat mate”, simply put; it’s an aisle seat and a window seat.

The fortress of solitude
Let me tell you, compared to economy, the seating arrangement is palatial! I’ve got:
·         Lots of legroom
·         A seat that turns in to a bed
·         Two massive “armrests”
The “armrests” would be better described as “tables” and with one on each side (2A, 4A etc. are the ones to choose for this!), I could easily leave my trusty laptop on the side (in fact, during dinner service, I did a little typing this way). While I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to fly on the new A350, my chosen seat appears to provide more space so it’s a trade-off I’m happy with.
We weren’t in the air all that long before it was time for dinner service. The flight attendants went around asking passengers for their menu choices, which were then brought over. It was different from what I was used to, having only flown economy class; I was used to selecting an option from the tray as it was going around. Business class felt more like being in a restaurant at 10,000ft.
Glass of champagne when boarding - I'm a fan of the Marimekko glasses
I’ve flown long haul with a few airlines: Lufthansa, ANA, Finnair, JAL and Virgin Atlantic. This has always been in economy class (I’m not made of money!). Finnair’s business class catering blows them all away! I think this may be, in part, due to the signature menu created by renowned Finnish chef Sasu Laukkonen.
Signature menu
Airline food has come a long way in the past 20 years. Thinking back, my lowest point for an airline meal was what I can only describe as an “inedible” lasagne courtesy of American Airlines (when I was a child and we were visiting some family in the states). It was probably merciful that the low air pressure was preventing my taste buds from working properly, eating that with a full sense of taste would probably have violated the Geneva Convention!  In the last few years I’ve found the standard of catering to be “ok” in economy class. Business class is a whole other ball game.
Firstly, we had table cloths (how civilized!). Secondly, the different courses came at different times (a starter, a main course and a desert). Thirdly, the quality of the food was much better than I’ve experienced before. My starter was smoked turkey with a wild mushroom salad (and side of salad). The main was a nice piece of char. For me, the starter was the highlight of the meal. I have to say, the experience was a definite first, I actually enjoyed an on board meal!
The rest of the slight was spent resting. I wasn’t really able to get much sleep but being able to lie down was much more comfortable so I felt much more rested at the end of it than with other flights.
I have to admit, I chose Finnair because they were cheap (well… cheaper than other business class options). They don’t have the glitz and glamour of airlines like Emirates but I had the money, I think I’d still pick Finnair. The cabin has a nice, relaxing, understated décor (none of the gaudy wood and gold you get with certain airlines), the seats are comfy and the service is good. I don’t think I need anything more than that.

In a way, flying business class was a bad thing – a very bad thing. I don’t think I can go back to economy after this!
Anyway, time to enjoy Japan!

Sunday 20 March 2016

Why I Really Don't Like DataSets

Starting my career as a C# developer in a small software house with very little experience of the C# language and the .NET framework (as an undergraduate, most of my experience was with Java and a few PHP projects on the side), I often needed to get things up and running in a hurry. None of us were familiar with the best practices for .NET so we generally opted for the quickest solution. When connecting applications to databases, we generally used DataSets.
At the time, they seemed like a good idea. We could automatically build our data access layer and they helped to hide some of what was going "under the hood". Even in my current job, we still have a legacy code that based around DataSets, mainly for providing data to UI controls. The advantages they provided over plain old ADO.NET were:

Quick to Set up
Particularly if you have a large database, DataSets provided a quick way of setting up access to our application database. Today there are better ORM frameworks available, such as Entity Framework (which has improves significantly since the initial versions).
We could point the DataSet the relevant stored procedures and, hey presto! You've got a good chunk of your data access layer in place.

Winforms/WebForms Binding
DataSets made it pretty easy to bind data to controls. This was useful where we needed ComboBoxes that were populated from the database (e.g. list of types/statuses) or for DataGridViews that displayed search results.

Ultimately, these justifications are laziness more than anything else. If you're not comfortable with alternative mechanisms/frameworks, it's too easy to stick with what you know.
Now, I try to remove DataSets where possible and here are a few reasons why:

Have you ever seen a DataSet with 50 or more TableAdapters? I have! Believe me, it wasn't a pretty sight. DataSets can become a real headache to manage when you have a large number of Table classes and TableAdapters.
If you want an example of how bad this can be, try mapping everything from the AdventureWorks2012 database in to a DataSet!
I've worked on DataSets that have this level of... clutter and they are not that easy to manage.
OMG! 70 TableAdapters? How is that even possible?
Storing The Connection
For a small application, this can make a lot of sense. An application scoped setting that any other datasets (or anything else pointing to that database, for that matter) can use.
The problem comes when you:

  1. Have multiple projects (in which case you have duplicated connections/connection strings)
  2. If you want to change connection based on things like build configuration
It's a problem you can't escape with auto-generated code, you're surrendering a certain degree of control

One of the biggest problems I've found with the Extensibility of DataSets (or, specifically, TableAdapters) is when you need to change the default timeout. In a connection string, you can set the connection timeout, but not the command timeout. This will default to 30 seconds. This poses something of a problem when you have complex searches taking place that may run for longer than this. Making changes to auto-generated files is not a good idea as your changes will be undone next time someone opens the designer and makes a change..
Changes to this file may cause incorrect behavior and will be lost if the code is regenerated.
Fortunately, partial classes can help. A solution I found a few years ago on Stack Overflow suggested the following:
By providing a property that will set the SelectCommandTimeout on all commands in the command collection, we can set the timeout to whatever we want. The only problem is that the same (boilerplate) code is required for every TableAdapter. Not happy with this duplication, I was able to clean it up slightly.
An extension method can apply the override to the command collection:

My biggest frustration is that TableAdapters only inherit from System.ComponentModel. My preferred solution would be to call an extension method on the tableadapter. If there were a common base class that that TableAdapter classes inherit from or a common interface they implement then it would probably be easier (although with the command collection not being exposed, I'd probably have to do something with reflection to find it)

These days I now avoid ORM Frameworks. In theory, they're great. In practice, they can cause headaches. My preferred solution is to use a wrapper (that we wrote ourselves) around ADO.NET to provide a things like mapping of results to classes that represent results (dealing with collections of objects rather than data tables).
It may take longer to write the classes, but it's all easier to maintain (besides, the code generation of ReSharper can speed up things like constructor or property generation)

Another advantage of using plain old ADO.NET is that passing interfaces (e.g. ICommand, IConnection etc instead of SqlCommand, SqlConnection) will make it a little easier to change database provider (e.g. going from Sql Server to Oracle)