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But should you use Google Translate for Your Software?

Doug wrote recently on using Google Translate to localize applications, giving step by step instructions on how to get translations automated from their online API.

Rick Strahl had also posted about this earlier in November with ways to do this without needing the API.

So we know it's possible - the question is : should you use it?

Automated translations have come a long way from years ago when you had to use either specialized CDs or babel fish.

Still, the big challenge with localizing internally is ensuring your translations are accurate for its audience. Like Doug, I live in Canada where most government software must support our two official languages: English and French. Sounds easy, right? After all, both languages have been around for centuries - translation must be pretty straight forward. Not so much.

Many moons ago, I worked for a company was delivering the same basic software to two separate government departments. The software needed translations for several terms, one …

Review: Version Control by Example

It isn't surprising that most FoxPro developers think of one primary tool when version/source control is mentioned: Visual SourceSafe. After all, this was the Microsoft tool that was heavily promoted when version control integration was first promoted in VFP. (I recall YAG and Flash introducing their Multi-User Project Manager for FoxPro which was my first introduction to how to let multiple developers work on the same project, absolutely needing some kind of version control)
But if you, like many other VFP developers, were geographically remote, you quickly discovered SourceGear's SourceOffSite, a SourceSafe client that made working remotely fast and easy. SourceGear's founder, Eric Sink, has written on version control for years and SourceGear moved from assisting SourceSafe to Vault, a SQL Server based alternative and additional tools, such as bug-tracking.
VFP's integration of source control isn't perfect - most of it due to its use of the DBF/FPT format for MNX,…

Steven Black Speaking at Southwest Fox 2011

Yet another great reason to go to Southwest Fox (coming next month) - Steve Black will be speaking.
As Doug says, Steve's sessions are always lively, thought-provoking and entertaining.
He's speaking on Techniques and Niche Marketing - two topics he certainly knows well.
Southwest still has about 70 openings left (25 of which are discounted) so be sure to book now if you plan on going.
Doug Hennig: Steven Black Speaking at Southwest Fox 2011

Glad we spent all that time on OLE DB

Microsoft Aligning with ODBC - SQL Server Team Blog - Site Home - TechNet Blogs:
As the SQL Team notes:"The next release of Microsoft SQL Server, Code Name “Denali,” will be the last release to support OLE DB. OLE DB will be supported for 7 years from launch, the life of SQL Server Code Name “Denali” support, to allow you a large window of opportunity for change before deprecation. We encourage you to adopt ODBC in any future version or new application development.
Making this move to ODBC also drives more clarity for our C/C++ programmers who can now focus their efforts on one API."
They forgot to mention "and make all of their efforts over the past few years wasted on supporting a technology that we would eventually kill"
Microsoft's promotion of OLE DB over ODBC is similar to their enthusiasm behind WPF and Silverlight.
WPF's Browser implementation reminds me of the old ActiveX Document technology - it looks like a Browser but it downloads a WPF core to the…

On Modern Day Games

You see them advertised and they almost seem like a desperate attempt by companies like Parker Bros and Hasbro to recreate an era gone by: that of the family game night and the board game.

In some ways, they have returned. Note the popularity of Games with Friends on iPhone - but many of the games espoused are games that SHOULD rightfully still be popular because they are unpredictable.
While everyone who has ever played Monopoly always has a favorite game piece and property, the way the game unfolds is almost always a game of chance. Like playing with a deck of cards, each game is unique.
Come forward (or back) to the 80s' and the introduction of Trivial Pursuit. While there are some diehards who would play TP using the board and the little pies, the game evolved into more of a "pull out a card and let's see what you know" type of game.
Moving further into the 90s, and you see more of these games. SongBurst (one of my favorites) tests your music ability based on song…

Fun in the SQL Transaction Log

I've written about the SQL Transaction log before and since some of my clients don't have some of the great logging tools, I often find myself going back to the

select * from ::fn_dblog(NULL,NULL)
Recently, at one client, I've come across a bizarre problem that defies easy analysis.
The VFP application uses cursor adapters to talk to the SQL Server and in one of the processes, updates one table while adding a record to two other tables. In certain circumstances, the two new records were being added but the update of the other table would not.
While I'm still tracking down what is actively going on, I wanted to note some of the interesting aspects of the SQL Log and pose some questions
A great post in SQLServerCentral broke down the various operation types but it wasn't clear on others:

LINQ to VFP

When asked about the state of Visual FoxPro, I often point developers to the VFPX site on CodePlex. After all, that's where the majority of VFP source code is and where many members of the VFP community place the most of funkalicious work they do (Jim Nelson continues to amaze with his PEM Editor, which should likely be renamed IDE/X, because he's now covering far more than just Projects, Events and Methods.)
But there are OTHER places to find great VFP Code.
Foxite continues to get posts with very cool samples and there are other codeplex sites as well.
But recently, I was looking for ways to work with VFP Data in .Net and came across:
LINQ to VFP

Yep! Tom Brothers has built an iQueryable toolkit for FoxPro. Started in 2009, the latest version was updated on January 9th, 2011. 

Multiple Class Implementations

I'm doing a variety of work in both C# and VB.Net these days (as well as VFP).

Every now and then, I come across helpful concepts in the languages that are likely obvious to most developers but may not be known by all of them. If I find something that is of particular interest, I'll put it under these types of posts.
Today, I had a class that implemented multiple interfaces. Both of these interfaces had a similar method: SetReadOnly. So you have two choices: 1. Create a new interface that this class can implement that has the SetReadOnly interface so I only have to implement the one
2. Create two methods that implement that particular method.
Most people are used to VB.Net's handling for Select Case statements where you can put multiple conditions on one line:
Select Case "A","B","C" End Select
What I wasn't aware of was that you can use it for Implements as well.
When you add the "Implements xxxx", VS automatically adds the various func…

Southwest Fox 2011 Giveaways

Nothing like good products for attendees. Doug reports that Southwest Fox will have draws for three copies of DBi Technologies Studio Controls for COM.
As someone who has covered the dbiTech controls for many years, this is an awesome product offering. The Appointment Scheduling alone is a great reason to have this in your toolbox but there's a lot more where that came from.
Doug Hennig: Southwest Fox 2011 News
I wonder what other goodies are in store for attendees.

UI Evolution vs Revolution (Part 1): Scroll Bars

(this post started as a comment so I might come back to it - or I might just start a series on UI changes)
I read Why Windows 8 Might Fail | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com ,typical Dvorak, whom I've been reading for , ouch, just about my entire life in computers. That seems strange to write. But every article I read on Lion and Windows 8 seems to talk about this strange trend of removing scrollbars. (Comment starts now):

The proof is scrollbars? Really?!?!?

How many of you actually use scrollbars? I'm not talking about moving up and down through a page, I'm talking about using the scrollbar as a tool instead of just a means of identifying where you are on a page.

If you're on a laptop, chances are you either a) use the keyboard or b) have gesture support which means you gesture "up" to move the page down.
If you're on a PC, I still say the above still counts. New users will be confused initially but they will get it. If you're on a Mac, you're used to mult…

Developer's Code

Lessons, advice, and unadulterated opinions on web development - The Developer's Code

Great document on a variety of lessons learned from development. My favorite (so far): #4 - The "Ivory Tower" Architect is a myth.

Even if it was written by a young whippersnapper (KA WAI CHEUNG) at the age of 32. Someone should have suggested putting a year in the copyright, though. It was first posted around March of this year.


Southwest Fox 2011 Speakers and Sessions Announced

Doug Hennig made a post of this but SW Fox looks like it will be really blast this year!

True to form, it's like a diving board for FoxPro developers to explore new software development techniques and technologies in all their glory.

VFP Techniques sessions include Class Design, subqueries, event-binding, Windows 7, cursor adapters, legacy code, multi-threading.

New Technologies: Thor, Lightswitch, Cloud Storage, GoogleFy, Mercurial , jQuery and Silverlight.

As many have posted before, Southwest Fox is a whole series of conferences in one: there's the "actual" conference, the pre-conference, the post-conference, the "practice run session" previews that you can see as speakers practice their talks and then the "networking" conference, where you can talk with other FoxPro developers about how they do what they do.

But also exciting are the Pre and post shows: MVC3, SmartPhone and FoxInCloud. The annual Web Connection conference is being held right before…

Why The New Guy Can’t Code - Really?!?!

Thank heavens Jon Evans posted Why The New Guy Can’t Code, an explanation for all software development shops to read before hiring someone. This article explains that the evils of all poor hirings are: a) Microsoft's fault b) old systems c) hungarian notation d) not female
It's not the fault of poor HR, a bad interview, or even the lack of the supervisor's ability to explain a problem - no, the above are the reasons that the new developer "can't seem to get up to speed", "shows basic ignorance", and produces work that "is so kludgey that it...must be rewritten"
OK, I'll agree with a few points: 1. The brain-teaser questions.
Sure, they're fun - HR loves them because they can remember them - but ultimately, they were designed to show how people think about problems and how people arrive at solutions. They aren't actually a bellweather, especially as most of them are posted online.
Can you imagine a MacGyver interview? "You're …

7 dirty consultant tricks (InfoWorld)

InfoWorld had a neat article a few days back called
7 dirty consultant tricks (and how to avoid them)

Those of us who are consultants should know that these are being done and should be pretty angry about it. Most of the practices listed here are the reasons why the right consultants (that would be us) don't get the jobs we bid on.

Those who run consulting firms should know about these and know that they are the best way to stay in business.

I wrote an response to this on my own web site more but thought I would share some of the immediate takeaways here:


1.  If you (as a client) aren't starting your project with a measurable result by a specific date, then you need to break your project INTO those results first. Otherwise, assemble an internal team and maybe ask for some guidance but keep the deliverables in mind at all times. If you don't, it becomes a money pit.

2. I often look at my work as a consultant as being similar to a good plumber: if you want me to fix a proble…

WP7/IE9 Developer Bootcamp - Ottawa

Something for the local Ottawa group...Microsoft Ottawa is doing a Developer Bootcamp on May 11th.
While some things don't sound that exciting ("Enhancing Pinned Sites with IE 9"), the HTML 5 session does look pretty cool. Despite Hachamovitch's recent statements of "native HTML5", IE9's improved support for web standards is a good thing all around.
I look forward to building web sites that every browser can support.
That said, look to the FoxShow next week for an interesting interview with the FoxInCloud guys.
WP7/IE9 Developer Bootcamp - Ottawa

Reality of Unit Testing (Humour)

If you haven't seen it, Dilbert for 3/24 sums up the way some unit testing zealots like to approach unit testing.


Dilbert comic strip for 03/24/2011 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive.

Southwest Fox 2011 Looking for Speakers

Doug Hennig: Southwest Fox 2011 Call For Speakers

Southwest Fox is gearing up for the 2011 conference season by issuing an open call to speakers.
Go to the Speakers page for details.
As with last year, they are looking for a wide variety of topics from core VFP, extending VFP, new technologies and becoming better developers. 
This year's SW Fox is October 26-29, 2011 SanTan Elegante Conference & Reception Center/Legado Hotel
Gilbert, AZ
Session proposals are due by March 28.

Note to Microsoft: Focus on Software, not tablets

iPad 2 was announced yesterday and the business and technology world (and mainstream media who bends over backwards for Steve Jobs) stopped and gazed at the double rainbow that is Apple.
Foley had an interesting question : Discussion on: Does Apple's iPad 2 further dent Microsoft's iPad compete plans? | ZDNet
I responded there but I thought I would take the opportunity to drill down a bit further.
First, Microsoft should stop trying to be a hardware maker. Their expertise is in software - so they should attempt to provide the BEST applications available in the App Store, even out-doing Apple. Microsoft's forays into hardware with the exception of the xBox have been fairly laughable - not many people recommend their webcams or mice without offering just as good alternatives.
Imagine what would happen if Microsoft actually GAVE businesses a reason to buy iPads or other tablets? Because Microsoft felt that their focus should be on the software - the BUSINESS software.
Where is t…

Visual FoxPro History at Microsoft

Ken Levy has an interesting post up on his MashupX site since early last month. Ken Levy's Blog _ MashupX Visual FoxPro Strategy at Microsoft

The post goes into some fascinating details as to the history of Visual FoxPro at Microsoft. Most of it is well-known or obvious (making VFP.Net would break backward compatibility - which is what MS did with VB.Net as well)
I guess more details can be shared now - when VFP 9 was released, "the amount of sales for all versions of VFP combined annually was less revenue than Microsoft sales of Visual Studio in only one day"
It would be interesting to know however if some of those companies who were out there working on a VFP-like language in .Net were "persuaded" to stop their efforts, as some have suggested in various forums.

Well worth the read. The FoxPro community is what keeps VFP alive (thanks to VFPX and other initiatives) - and there were some members of that community inside of Microsoft at one point.
As he notes at the …