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Showing posts from 2008

CodeCast - Late Night Show for DotNet Developers

Congrats to Markus and Ken on starting CodeCast podcast. Not sure how well it's going to be considered a "late night show" - I've only ever listened to it during the day but it is good to hear short tidbits from all. Ken spoke about CodeCast back at SWFox.

A treat from their Dec 10th episode - Pex - a tool to automatically create unit tests. From the MS research site: Pex (Program EXploration) is a white-box test generation tool. Given a hand-written parameterized unit test, Pex analyzes the code to determine relevant test inputs fully automatically. The result is a traditional unit test suite with high code coverage. In addition, Pex suggests to the programmer how to fix bugs.

Hmmm...this might be a useful VFPX project in conjunction with FoxUnit.

I especially love how they start and mix each episode with a little "I'm listening to CodeCast" - reminded me of the old FoxShow intros (before my HD died).

Usability: Learning New Environments

I realized how quiet I've been here and while I have a number of posts waiting in draft, I've been so busy it's been impossible to complete them. But I did want to post this after I dealt with it yesterday.

I've been on an ASP.Net contract now for about 3 months which is an experience all unto itself - non MVC, non standard ASP.Net app using the DevExpress components. Since this is someone else's application "framework" and I'm simply a hired hand to help finish it off, I find I'm using parts of Visual Studio that I've never really thought of and/or used that often.

I'm not referring to actual development pieces like Datasets or class designers but the more basic elements of any IDE. It drives me nuts when things don't use the same short-cut keys that I'm used to, and while we can always change them to suit our moods, that's not the way I usually like to go. We live in a Windows world and so are used to certain things: F1= Help,…

Hardware choices

I'm in a quandry (and not because I haven't posted in a while - I have a number of posts in draft form that need to come).

I'm looking at new machines but I'm unsure. Do I invest in a better server to handle better VMs and possibly Hyper-V and then simply RDP into it when needed or do I look at a laptop for more VPCs?

Ideally it would be both - but economics these days limit the potential. Server hasn't been upgraded for 4 years (Dell SC400) but neither really has the laptop (Dell5150)

Platform doesn't matter these days. Thoughts?

DevExpress Controls: Creating Characters Counters for Memo / Text boxes

I had to do this for a client so I thought I would share it. It uses the DevExpress ASPxGridView and Editor controls in an ASP.Net solution.
Here's some code to create a character counter for your text/memo boxes.  It's fairly common with regular javascript but it can be tricky with custom controls.
I used KeyUp because TextChanged only fires when you LEAVE the control.Also note the use of GetText() to get the content. I struggled (stupidly!) with this trying to use the javascript text property.  The ASPxEditor javascript controls have their own javascript methods. GetText and SetText. (if you want to get scared, look at the amount of javascript that is generated when using an ASPxGridView control on a form)
<dxe:ASPxMemo ID="txtInfo" runat="server" Width="100%" Height="76px">
                <ClientSideEvents KeyUp="function(s,e){
                var ele = s.GetText();
                lblInfo.SetText(ele.length + '/4000 char…

Super Useful Tips on Using DevExpress ASPxGridView

I've been using DevExpress's ASPxGridView on a fairly big ASP.Net project for the past few months. When I started using it, I was really frustrated. The documentation was written more like a class reference guide and the tutorials were fairly basic in nature.

The real MEAT of the controls didn't seem to be there - all this great potential but where?

The Community forums was a great place to look for details but as with many communities, it's hard to find all the answers. 

Hopefully, this post will help identify some of the areas where developers may be having some problems:

Fixing Edit Forms
1. Edit Form Column Layouts
The ASPxGridView lets you do direct "form" editing but when you first do it, the boxes usually go two per line. To resolve this, add
                              <SettingsEditing EditFormColumnCount="1" />
right under the grid definition.

2. Changing Edit Captions
You have a column that is titled Years but in the edit form, yo…

New Rule: Don't develop with Fingerprint Reader!

Who would have thought developers fingers could cause crashes?

I was working with my VS 2008 ASP.Net application and added some javascript to my default.aspx page when I started to get TypeLibBuilder crashes. WTF? Maybe it was my code --- maybe there was something going on in VS 2008 that I was missing. I shrugged and continued - because after all, when you get weird Windows crashes and you're working on a project, you do the obvious: restart your machine, pray to the Seattle gods and continue on your way.

Then I searched for it -

Big Problem Solved - No More TypeLibBuilder.exe Crashes!

Whoa! Killed DpAgent.exe in my Task Manager and no more errors.

Apparently my new MS Fingerprint Reader doesn't like JavaScript! Who knew?

FoxShow #59: Profiling and Refactoring

The latest episode of The FoxShow features one of my sessions from Southwest Fox 2008: Profiling and Refactoring, a discussion on how to refactor and how the VFPX Code Analyst can help.

This session was given twice : this was the second time around. It was a good discussion including a back and forth on the benefit of comments. I, of course, took the controversial position that all comments should be banned from code except when they explain WHY something was done.

FoxShow Extra: Morning discussion with Alan Stevens on Agility

One of the great things about Southwest Fox was the open discussions that were had almost every minute. Thankfully, some discussions and "discussers" let them be recorded.

Here's a discussion Alan Stevens and I had one morning about his sessions on Agility and Ignorance as well as XML handling - a little FoxShow extra. It's short (about 16 minutes) but fun.

Enjoy!

Looking for VFP work?

If you're in the market for working full-time for a vertical market (transportation industry) company with a product family written in VFP 9 with lots of add-on modules (http://www.mtihorizon.com), and a migration path to SQL Server, drop me a line at amacneill @ meltech.com.

Will: communicate with customers regarding support problems, develop new solutions based on client needs, enhance product in both VFP and web environments

Requirements: VFP 9 experience, enthusiasm, good OOP background, DBF/SQL
Nice to have: C#, web development, EDI experience, mobile communication, transportation industry

Location: anywhere but need to be available during the regular day (EDT) - we do lots of remote stuff (thank you SourceOffSite!)

If interested, drop me a line at amacneill @ meltech.com.

SWFox: Evil Mastermind Wins Again!

One of the great sponsor giveaways at Southwest Fox was a 5-user license of SourceGear's Fortress. I've used Vault and Fortress but still stick with Source OffSite as our main development is handled through SourceSafe. Both work great with VFP. But the best part was in the conference bag: Evil Mastermind 2nd Exciting Issue!

Best quotes:
"You're a sales guy...if anyone understands evil, it's a sales guy"

"I want...I want...I want....and I want 5000 t-shirts!"

"We've got lots of masterminds using our products...I'm sure at least some of them are a little bit evil...I guess"

Kudos to Eric and the SourceGear team for another fun issue and great job, Southwest Fox team (was that you, Rick?) at getting the great swag!

SourceGear | Fortress

SW Fox: Why NOT Show your own apps?

One of the sessions that I didn't get to attend last night was the "Show us your apps". I think that session would have been really interesting.

Many of the attendees I spoke to were fairly shy about their own FoxPro applications. They would talk about it (as it is their "baby" so to speak) but when asked about specific features that they should show, they seemed to shy away.

That's unfortunate - because I don't think I've ever seen a single FoxPro app (with the possible exception of some purely framework-based apps) that hasn't included a unique feature or hook.

That's one of the reasons I'm particularly excited about Cathy Pountney's session about customization vertical market apps.  Only problem is that it's on right when I've got to get ready to leave. I think I'll have to corner her separately for a quick interview.

But back to my point, one my client apps is an application that was ported from DOS and brought kicking an…

The FoxShow #58: the VFPX Meeting

At Southwest Fox last night , we had a VFPX Meeting (that was also screencast over uStream).

The meeting went on for just under 2 hours but a lot of great ideas were thrown about, including ways for others to get involved, without having to code (something that many seemed to like).

I recorded it all for the FoxShow and while the audio may be iffy at times, it's a great listen!

Enjoy!

The FoxShow

Tweets from Southwest Fox 2008

While you won't necessarily see every post from Southwest Fox until maybe a few days after the show, you can keep up with it on Twitter.

Here's the hash tag and the search link: #swfox - Twitter Search

A really great conference with lots of fun stuff going on around here and the first real conf day (aside from pre-cons) is just over. 

Prepping for sessions, I only got to see one session which was Alan Steven's Agility. I'm going to put my notes up in a blogpost but I actually took my notes using Mindjet's MindManager and thought it would be cool to take them and also post them here.

 (this is a sample of out of the box MindManager exports)

More to come...

VFPX Poll

I started a discussion on the FoxPro developers group on LinkedIn regarding VFPX. While VFPX had a huge number of people who signed up to receive notes about it, Foxpro developers I'm meeting aren't really aware of it. This was echoed by Rick Schummer when he asked about it at one of the conferences.

So I've created a little poll

Now, most people who read here will likely have heard about VFPX so feel free to post it around or send around to other FoxPro developers.

Ken Levy joins EPS

I would have put the automatic title link in the post here but the title of the page says "Untitled page" :( - you would also see this if you were subscribed to Markus on Twitter.

From the release:
"Ken Levy is joining EPS Software Corp. in the role of an Evangelist for several EPS brands. Ken is the founder of MashupX LLC, and through his new partnership with EPS, Ken will focus on EPS’ VFPConversion.com effort as well as CoDe Magazine (the leading independent magazine for .NET developers) and EPS’ custom software, mentoring, and consulting efforts around .NET and Microsoft server products. "

Evangelism? Ken? Somehow, those two often end up in the same sentence.

A great catch for EPS, certainly...

So where are all the FoxPro developers?

15 years ago, it was relatively easy to find developer communities - they existed pretty much in one place: CompuServe. Over the past 15 years however, they have spread out to wikis, newsgroups, independent sites (such as the UT or Foxite) as well as many who have gone into hiding. There are now tons of social networks out there and while some may dwell more on the social aspect, such as Facebook (which does have its own FoxPro group), others are more business related, such as LinkedIn.

When I first joined LinkedIn, I linked to a number of developer associates as either "past speaker at conferences" or other relationship concepts along those lines but since then LinkedIn made creating groups much easier. As soon as I created the FoxPro developers group, developers started to join.

The link is here:

LinkedIn: FoxPro Developers Group

What do you do with it? For starters, not much right off the bat. It's a pretty easy way to find other FoxPro developers you know and add them …

DevBlog: Why Vista is more stable than XP

I don't want to say much more to take away from Craig's great perspective here.

So some caveats:

1. I don't regularly run Vista - I want the right hardware to do so.
2. I don't like certain things about Vista - but then I don't like certain things about XP , or 98, or 95, or OS 10, or System 7 or ....you get the point.
3. Craig - this is what they should be doing instead of Mojave...yes, it's techy - but it explains it right. Kind of like the way Hybrid cars explain MPG better than Al Gore... or ...

I guess it's not quite so true tho...one ring to rule them all....

DevBlog: Why Vista is more stable than XP

Get The SmallestDotNet

Scott Hanselman just posted some interesting details on the size of the .Net framework and I was surprised to see that it's really not as big as it always seems, based on typical installers.

Everytime you go to a typical DotNet download site, you see this "approximately 200 MB" download. Scary stuff if you're aiming to create a nice small download. But as he notes, this is because instead of creating a "pick the download that matches your configuration", Microsoft has an installer that covers every possible scenario, which unfortunately, DOES require 200MB.

So he's created SmallestDotNet: On the Size of the .NET Framework  - it didn't work so well on mine (as shown here):

<a href="http://content.screencast.com/users/Akselsoft/folders/Jing/media/fe8e9221-d9cf-4bf8-ad36-271a3051f694/2008-08-24_0425.png"><img src="http://content.screencast.com/users/Akselsoft/folders/Jing/media/fe8e9221-d9cf-4bf8-ad36-271a3051f694/2008-08-24_0425.…

Demoing with Screencasts

After my post about screencasting (How to make Screencasting Made Easy AND Purposeful ), it was nice to see that Jason Calacanis also likes one key idea (based on his "how to demo your startup" email note.

His guideline: "the best products take less than five minutes to demo"

That post has lots of other great ideas for demos and they aren't just for startups - many established companies could benefit from this.

How to make Screencasting Made Easy AND Purposeful

Everyone loves a good screencast, right?

You want to highlight your product or showcase a feature, so you start up your favorite screen recorder and record away. Then comes the fun part...the editing. Before you know it, a 15 minute screencast has turned into 2 hours of editing hell.

My personal torture tool of choice is Camtasia - which does a lot of cool features such as automatic zooming and panning and noise removal. But recently, I've talked about Jing - yes, it's by the same company (Techsmith) - but primarily as a screen image capture utility.

But this post isn't so much about talking about a product as it is about how to make these things easier. Whenever a great session is given at a conference, it's often because the presenter has done one of three things:
a) practiced
b) practising regularly  (if they were English)
c) rubbed their lucky rabbit's foot on a horseshoe after seeing a rainbow

In Screencasting, the same is true (well, except the part about the rabbi…

Refactoring a Demo

I love refactoring code. Moreover, I think refactoring can also be used when looking at software demos.

I love looking at a piece of code that works (for the most part) but just doesn't feel right and taking it apart and putting it back together so that it makes more sense, not just for me but for the next person who comes along.

I find it funny that refactoring and unit testing come from the same core concepts (Agile) because if done correctly, code that was properly unit tested SHOULD result in code that is pretty well-written and refactor-proof. (I'm no expert on the philosophies behind this so please comment and rip this post to shreds)

So refactoring really comes into places where you've got unwieldy code (or worse, legacy code) that no one really can wrap their head around. By the time you've finished refactoring, you possibly COULD have some ways of unit testing it (if you were able to separate each logical piece out).

So how does this apply to demos?

Depending on w…

Awesome Pie Charts with FoxCharts in zero time

If you haven't been trying out the VFPX project FoxCharts , or you tried but were a little frightened by how to implement it, here's some code that I wrote up quickly to build a nice little pie chart.

I call it GenPie and it gets called with any table and it will summarize it for you.

DO GenPie with "issues","cstatus","1","","Count of Issues"
or

DO genpie WITH HOME()+"SAMPLES\DATA\ORDERS","to_country","order_amt","","Orders"

The code essentially creates a form, drops FoxCharts on it and then uses a built-in cursor to create the chart. You can also pass it a Filter (before the title) and the starting color (in RGB).

DO genpie WITH HOME()+"SAMPLES\DATA\ORDERS","to_country","order_amt","","Orders",RGB(255,150,255)

Here's a sample:


LPARAMETERS tcTable,tcDirField,tcSizeField,tcFilter,tcTitle,tnStartColor
PUBLIC ox
ox = CREATEOBJECT("fo…

Using Scour - Comparing Results

While many sites have compared the search results between Google, MSN and Yahoo, noting that generally they are all the same. I started using Scour recently which puts search results for all three into a single item (yes, it's a Point-based search which is interesting in and of itself but reminds me of most "point-based" systems - you'll never get enough points to make it of use without trying to game it). (you do get to "rate" each search response which may / may not have its own benefits - it's too early to tell).

Yes - the results of all three are generally the same BUT the relevance is interesting. Here's a sample (inspired from a tweet by Marina Martin):

The Pragmatic Programmer - Scour Search

Here are the results:


Notice anything?

1. While Amazon shows as the number one, MSN placed it as the number 1 result while Google/Yahoo placed it as number two. Just because I'm searching for a phrase that matches a book doesn't mean I want the book - …

Lack of Testing

From Ted Roche

Do you Scale?

Great post by Dare, Scalability: I Don't Think That Word Means What You Think It Does
following up on a post from Scott Loganbill at Google about their choice of "scalable" services.

Scalability is a funny question. Every application is designed to handle a certain type of architecture - it's usually one of those fundamental sales analysis questions "and how many orders do you typically process a day? How many people do you have working for you".

While scalability problems can be due to both technology and design, it's typically design that is the major culprit. (ok, yes, the guy that said he can run a 15,000 transaction a day system in Access - he likely chose the WRONG technology).

But everytime I think of scalability, I always think of 37 Signal's approach to scalability - in short, "Do you really need 12 servers now if you can run on two for a year?" - note read the comments from David Hansson "... Not worrying too much about scaling…

SQL Server 2008 to ship next week?

That's a juicy rumor. There's been a lot of posts about SQL 2008. It's the last of the next big dev things for 2008 from Microsoft based on the Heroes Happen Here and it's the one piece that I've been waiting for before doing any real production testing. 

SQL Server 2008 to ship next week? > > SQL Server Blog by Jason Massie

Looking forward to it - and if the rumor is true, Congrats SQL Team!

Crashing Fox

OK - so it says Firefox crash - but it's still a great photo. Thanks to Olaf for pointing to it!

Blogging the Prague DevCon

Twitter / OlafDoschke on Twitter, is doing an amazing job blogging the Prague Devcon conference.

He's doing it through Twitter at amazing speed which makes it very interactive.

He just finished doing Christof's Guineu session and Mike Feltman's Collection Classes.

I love it when people Live Blog conferences but never thought of using Twitter for it. I'm glad he did.

What's Going On? : Letting the users know

As many UX (user experience) people will point out, the good ol' WAIT WINDOW command, while useful for showing progress, isn't very visually pleasing.



Many developers skip the WAIT WINDOW and favor a progress bar but as Andy Kramek has pointed out on his blog, when you're scanning through a 20,000 record table, tracking the percentage complete can slow you down.

While it's nice to show the actual percentage, even Vista now just shows an animated therm that really doesn't show progress.

What alternatives are there?

MSGSVC has a useful therm approach - which can display an animated icon.But it uses a Timer and those can take up valuable resources.

I've recently taken to putting up a form with an animated GIF on it among other things. I used to use the animated AVI file approach that MS recommended years ago but the big problem there is that it's too hard to create a nice AVI or the tools just aren't there to do it. (My users are getting tired of seeing the f…

SW Fox 2008: Deadline Coming Up

Southwest Fox 2008 is coming up in mid-October (boy that seems far away) - but the early bird deadline is right around the corner.

This conference is definitely going to be interesting. It's the FIRST conference since Sedna and the real "take-over" of FoxPro by the community and while the community itself is widespread all over the world, there's going to be a lot of news coming out of this show, for sure (just as there usually is out of most conferences). I was talking to a friend who is speaking at the Prague conference and he's unveiling a new report framework that is very exciting (I have a FoxShow interview that I'm cleaning up so it can be posted shortly) and the Southwest Fox conference is going to have most (if not all) of the VFPX project managers present, showcasing what's new there.

The early bird rate is $620 and includes a free pre-conference.

I hope to see you there. The FoxShow will be podcasting from the show "floor" on a daily b…

Developers and Politics: A good idea?

I just learned that Kevin Ragsdale is running for Congress  he's running as an independent and as he notes on his campaign website, he's running for change in politics (a common theme in this US election) but more importantly as he notes, he has 9 trillion reasons to run (the National Debt). So good luck Kevin!


As he notes:
"When I'm approached to create a solution, I simply study the problem and apply logic and common sense...Maybe we could use a few more programmers in Washington, and a few less lawyers."

So that got me thinking. Are there generic pros and cons about developers running for congress?

Pros
1. As Kevin notes, logic is a key component of programming logic. While not necessarily that of everyone who writes a program (or a compiler), the key point is once you know the rules of the compiler, logic will prevail (for the most part). Does that apply to government or politics? It's supposed to, except that politicians always like to change the rules.

2. Pa…

Andy Kramek : Access and Assign methods can be useful!

At the risk of simply pointing to someone else's post and saying "yes, I do this and you should read this if you don't", Andy Kramek has a great post about Access and Assign methods can be useful!

I use Access/Assign methods probably not as much as I should and his post pulls out some examples that I hadn't thought of before:

a) to create form objects that don't already exist (as in THISFORM.oDataManager, etc). This means you don't simply do a THIS.AddObject() to a form but rather assign it to a property la THIS.oDataManager = CREATEOBJECT("datamanager")


b) Running code by using SetAll which does call the Assign method.

Using DNN Controls

Dave Bush has started a great series on using and developing DotNetNuke modules.

As he notes in the intro:
"What you read here will not necessarily be the DotNetNuke sanctioned way of creating a module.  But, it will be what really works.  It will tell you what you have to do when and why you need to do it and why you might want to skip it altogether."

Ah....the "hacker's guide" to DNN. His post on the Label control outlines a lot of the functionality that you might not immediately grok when starting with the DNN framework. Subscribing to the RSS is a lot easier than reading page after page as well. If you're using DotNetNuke, check it out.

DotNetNuke Modules - DNN Controls - Label

Wine Released - after 15 years

Ted Roche noted over on Twitter that Wine has been released. Wine as in the open source implementation of the Windows API for X, OpenGL and Unix.

This is interesting more in passing for Fox developers as Wine was one of the tools that allowed FoxPro applications to run under Linux (among other environments). It also brought the entire FoxPro EULA (and likely any other MS product) to the raging issue stage (most MS Dev EULAs state that Apps can only be distributed on the Windows platform).

In my interview with Christof, he had noted that his Guineu project allowed FoxPro code to run on Linux environments thanks to the Mono project, which is a DotNet client for those environments.  Wine is something different although if you look through the app list, you may get a poor feel for it as it would appear that the only apps people really wanted to run on those environments were games (with the exception of PhotoShop CS2, all on the Platinum, Silver and Gold lists were games).

Wine

The develope…

Need Video or Image Capture? Jing is very cool!

I know many developers use SnagIt for capturing images or even video for their applications. SnagIt is from TechSmith so I was surprised to hear about their new project, the free tool named Jing.

Jing appears as a glowing ball atop your screen as shown here:


Select the cross-hairs and then choose if you want to just capture an image or a video (with sound).

It then creates the file and you can instantly upload it to TechSmith's ScreenCast.com or FTP it over to your site as needed. Fast and easy screen capture and looks great to boot!

When you do a screen capture, what's really cool about it is that it stores the screen video as SWF (or Flash) , making it easy to embed directly into web pages or other locations (cross-platform).

The tag line as shown below is "Visual Conversation starts here" - and they're right. I was really surprised at how easy this was to use. But it competes with their own commercial Camtasia and SnagIt -(it does promote their Screencast.com)  so…

NetSuite Buys OpenAir For $26 million

TechCrunch just reported that NetSuite Buys OpenAir For $26 million

This is interesting from a few angles. I've used both and I continue to use OpenAir for my timesheets having started almost (jeez!) 8 years ago. They have always struck me as a great company. They have a very straight forward policy: new upgrades every month.

They might be small, they might be large (they just announced Crystal Report integration this past month) - but they always deliver a set of updates every month.

And the price point is right - while I don't know what their current offering goes for, they have been able to keep my company on the same month to month cost for the entire time, less than $300 a year.

I've always wondered how they were doing as an overall business since they didn't really fall into the whole Web 2.0 stream but still had a huge number of industry relationships.

NetSuite, on the other hand, I really can't say. For an expensive solution (close to 30K for a small company i…

Unpinning VFP 8...

Even though it's a relic from Windows XP and was substantially upgraded (or downgraded depending on your view) in Vista, the classic Start menu really does have some great features (while I don't agree with everything this article (18 things Vista &amp; XP need) from the UK PC Advisor notes - the fact that it was WRONG about some things too, the point about Mac's standarised menu ribbon is bang on)

"Pinning" is one of my favorites. While XP automatically puts regularly used applications on your start menu for easy access, you can easily add to this list yourself by right-clicking and choosing to "Pin to start menu". I do this regularly for tools I know I always use at least once a month (like West Wind Help Builder, ISTool and others ) - so I don't have to go scrounging through the program files menu. Even though I do use SlickRun for fast access to programs, I never got around to adding all of them on there.

But for the past few months, there…

What's in a name? ....er, everything and nothing

Craig Bailey blogged recently about a new product, Elcom, had introduced with a name of Elcom TrainingManager.Net. In his post, he briefly mentioned they were talking about renaming it and one of the responses was from a company named Igor that talked about the importance of naming.

By now, I think everyone has seen the Microsoft iPod parody where it shows what Microsoft marketing might have done with an iPod and certainly, while it was done as a joke, the reality is Microsoft's product naming conventions can be a bit tedious.

How many different versions of Vista are there? And they all start as Windows Vista. And don't get me started on Microsoft Visual Studio Team System for Database Designers (they did clean this up slightly in 2008) - it's almost as if marketing gets paid by the word when they come up with a product name.

Craig has done a nice job with his CLARITY posts that attempt to explain certain products and his post on Microsoft's online offerings (Live=Consu…

The End of the Web? Not Even Close.

Everyone's got their tin-foil hat on today, it seems.

Scoble posted this morning on twitter - http://twitter.com/Scobleizer/statuses/814823578

That if Microsoft buys Facebook and Yahoo search - the end of the web is coming.

There will be a lot shaking out from that but I wanted to reply specifically to this post on Herd Watching - Special Microsoft / Facebook Edition - The End of the Web?

where the statement is made "first off, Microsoft is just evil".

Really? I started to comment directly there but then figured it would be best as a separate post.

First off, MS buying Facebook/Yahoo search doesn't mean the end of the web. To me, Facebook and other "closed" platforms (as they are referred to) remind me a lot of CompuServer, AOL and even MSN in their infancy. The goal was to keep everyone inside their environment.

As the web grew, that changed. This is NOT about being locked into a platform and if it is, it's not going to be good for those involved.

But moreove…

Craig Kills off an entire generation

Craig posts his thoughts on The Death of Gen Y amid the upcoming poor economic times. It's a good read but be sure to get down to the bottom for his four key points of how to survive.

These aren't sure-fire ways to stay employed but they are good guidelines:

a) Work for a company that focuses on benefits rather than features (and I would suppose that if you were a consultant, YOU would focus on benefits rather than features - but don't consultants do that already?)

b) Work for a company that invests in R&D (or invest in your *own* R&D)

c) Work hard and smart

d) Be a solution provider

So how did he kill off an entire generation?  You'll have to read it to find out...

Say No to Feature Creep

Chris Saad has a great post over on his blog: Leadership includes saying no « Paying Attention

Not sure if he just went through a specific scenario to inspire the posting but it's a great read, especially for technical managers.

One of my clients had a problem: they have a list of over 397 enhancement requests to their product. Now, to be fair, some of those are fairly cosmetic and but at least 200 of them require some kind of review for someone to say "no - we are not doing this"

So why don't they? Because when they get in front of their customers, "no" is the hardest thing to say. And I'm a terrible accomplice but because if they ask "can it be done?" , the answer is "yes, it can". The real question should be "SHOULD it be done?"

When some people think about feature creep, they tend to think of it in relevance to a particular function - but in this post, think about feature creep being about the entire product line.

As a resul…

Dynamic Languages Strike Back

Garrett pointed over to this post Stevey's Blog Rants: Dynamic Languages Strike Back
which is really a transcript of a speech Steve Yegge gave at Stanford.

Very interesting read/video whichever you prefer.

When reading about half way through (I've marked to come back to but it's definitely a good read) , I immediately thought of the TIOBE index and how excited VFP developers (including myself) got when we had broken the top 20 - why?

because of this quote

"So that brings us full circle back to the point of this topic, which is: the languages we have today, sorted by popularity at this instant, are probably going to stay about that popular for the next ten years."

(and yes, technically while VFP is still at 20), there really isn't much change between the top 5 or 10 on the TIOBE index.

Which is simply a fun way of saying "people stick with what they know".

Tweet, tweet, twitter , twitter

Rick Strahl writes up his thoughts on Twitter - Twitter this, Twitter that... - Rick Strahl's Web Log

I've been on Twitter for a while as well (started for keeping up with Newsgator and BuzzOutLoud items) and completely agree with his quote:
"Since I'm a single developer shop and live in sort of a bubble on a far away island (or a small town on the mainland when I'm back there) Twitter is  providing a little more sense of being a part of greater community to me."

(albeit, I'm not on an island but then...we all can't be so lucky)

For those who aren't familiar with Twitter, it's a microblog (limited to 140 character posts) where you follow (and are followed) others.  Just as blogs have their "if I was a tree" posters, they also have some really insightful "twitterers".

People post just about anything on twitter so it can seem weird in some cases. I typically identify with those posts about "checking in lots of code" or t…

Finding movie information with IMDB.DLL

OK - I don't know how long he'll be able to continue calling it IMDB.DLL - but this DLL totally rocks.

Samir has created a very easy to use DLL that retrieves movie information directly from the IMDB database.

As easy as:
REGSVR32 IMDB.DLL
oIMDB = CREATEOBJECT("imdb.imdb")
oIMDB.Login('andrew@aksel.com','Password123')
? oimdb.Search("Smallville")
? oimdb.Search("The Fountainhead")
? oimdb._GetWriters() && Returns a string of values


My Story with IMDB (imdb.dll)


Now - do we have one like this for music?

Techdirt: Ideas Are Everywhere... So Why Do We Limit Them?

Dave Winer pointed to this article over on Twitter and it's a great read on the foibles of patent protection on ideas.

I hadn't heard of what Myhrvold was doing before but when I read it, I cringed at the thought and how those people were just screwed simply for discussing ideas.

Makes me glad that Da Vinci wasn't around to get all of his ideas patented - then where would we be?

Techdirt: Ideas Are Everywhere... So Why Do We Limit Them?


Too bad Gladwell didn't get it.   i

What companies plan their purchases strategically?

Craig Bailey posted this link on Twitter regarding Sun's lacklustre performance last quarter -
Jonathan Schwartz's Blog: Our Q3

Choice quotes:
"Why don't you just stop giving your software away?
Because we prioritize developer adoption. Let me give an example....the MySQL team had scored a design win - ahead of the proprietary competition. What should we have charged them beforehand? No matter what it was, they wouldn't have used the product - startups and developers don't pay for software...We didn't pay them, the MySQL team earned their adoption.""Why does Sun's CEO waste time writing that blog?
Because I believe in providing clarity surrounding our strategy and operations - not just once a year in the Annual Report. I believe clarity behind our direction is useful for our shareholders, customers, partners and employees."

It's a great post, full of honesty (as far as I can tell) about what's going on at Sun and it contrasts with t…

Quick VFP Developer Shortcut: Tables into clipboards

Developers create a lot of little "snippets" that help them in a lot of different scenarios. Some of them evolve into larger tools; others turn into hidden gems that get shared among a small select few.

(hmmm....SET TANGENT ON ....sounds like an interesting idea for a VFPX project - a snippet sharer - damn! don't they have that in VS? - I DIDN'T think of that when I was first writing this - why can't I think of something that VS DOESN'T have? - OK - SET TANGENT OFF - I do think we DO need an IntellisenseX manager that allows others to post useful Intellisense snippets)

However, here's something I had to quickly build today and others likely have other ways of doing this but....

Problem: I wanted to quickly take the content of a small query subset table and dump it into a document (text) for easily review. (no, not everyone deals with XML)

Update: YES -> you COULD do all the silly code I have down below here but Steve Black, guardian of all cool hidden thi…

Southwest Fox 2008 - Make Plans Now

So registration is now open for Southwest Fox 2008. I think it's always hard for a conference web site to do it justice. You can show either pictures of the speakers
, the facilities or the food - repeat the testimonials from previous years - but the question remains:

How best to sell 3-4 days of intense FoxPro developer community interaction?

For as much as I am a "let's blog everything so it's available everywhere" type of person, I definitely get the value of attending the conference - so I'm really happy that I'm able to be there this year (I plan on doing some fun stuff on the road with the FoxShow as well for the show)

I find Bud Wheeler's (of Visionpace) comment particularly fitting for this year: "You can't afford to miss this opportunity to learn what is new and exciting in VFP."

At the most recent Rock the Launch event in Ottawa, many were saying "what's new with a product that Microsoft isn't doing new stuff with?&…