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Showing posts from April, 2005

Church of the Customer: creating emotional connections

Jackie and Ben have a great blog with Church of the Customer but their PODCAST is even better.

In this podcast, they were talking about how to create emotional connections with your customers/products - something that most FoxPro developers get. And in it, they spoke about a scale that was used by Gallup that was broken into four areas: rational , emotional, pride and passion.

It's an interesting exercise, especially considering the last MS FoxPro survey.

Rational
1. Rate your satisfaction with Visual FoxPro on a scale of 1 to 10.

2. How likely are you to buy/use Visual FoxPro again?
A: Depends on what the need is.

3. How much would you recommend Visual FoxPro to a colleague?
A: Depends on what the need is.

Emotional
Confidence
1. Is FoxPro something you can always trust - Yes or No?

2. Does FoxPro always delivers on what it promises - Yes or No?

Integrity

1. Microsoft/FoxPro always treats me fairly -

2. If a problem arises, will my problem be resolved ? - Yes/No

Pride

1. Are yo…

Source Control and Other Imperatives for Developers

Craig picked up on my post about source control and it got me thinking. That "From coder to developer" sounds like an awesome session Craig - wish I would see it - maybe you should do a FoxCast

I recall several years ago a post that made its way around the Fox community that were practical questions to ask prospective employees about FoxPro. This had questions like "Why should I use PACK and what are the alternatives?" and "describe the order of a banded report writer" (does anyone have the link for that - it was priceless)

Today, the development world has changed sufficiently that all kinds of other questions should be on there as well. It's not even enough to be certified because that tests your ability to work with various aspects of FoxPro but also about team development.

1. What is the difference between sharing and branching?

2. What rules should you apply before checking in code?

3. What is Extreme Programming?

4. Why should you do a code review…

Isn't Source Control part of programming 101 yet?

Where is the bar for programmer expertise these days? I mean, I don't want to go on a rant like Caustic Phil but shouldn't you expect some basic knowledge?

I just had someone check in a piece of code into a project I'm working on and he hadn't updated his code in at least 2 weeks. Not only that but when he HAD checked it out, he marked it read-write so he could play around with it and then DIDN'T check to see if there were any changes.

Ted and Eric, you wrote the books on these things - am I being naive expecting experienced programmers today NOT to be aware of good SCM practices?

I sometimes get accused of being overly demanding - but in this case, am I expecting too much here?


Source Control HOWTO

Grid Highlight Results

- See how the color of each line changes based on the Type field. Click the link for the sample code from Eric Gomez.

"FoxPro has never let me down... "

In the latest FoxShow, I talked about how I had received an email from someone saying "too bad since MS is trying to get rid of FoxPro" and I reacted with a bit of a rant. I asked the client why they thought that (along with various examples of why and the response was curious. It suggested that the survey made it seem like they were fishing for reasons not to keep it.

Didn't make much sense to me - the VFP community has been full of petitions from day one so the idea that MS themselves were doing a survey to see how popular it really was seems to be at odds but I'm sure someone can make an argument about it.

Anyways, while searching for some other notes about getting rid of VFP, I came across this great series of posts on the O'Reilly Network. An older discussion starting from an article "What I hate about your programming language" in 2003 but continued with a final post in 2004, all pretty much positive but essentially making the point that Fox deve…

Propaganda Is from MixMeister!

Now that's cool - Propaganda is made by MixMeister, a music mixing software company.

I had tried out their product when looking for a good virtual DJ tool. You can tell in Propaganda. The trial version still shows things like "New Playlist" when it's supposed to be a Podcasting tool. Such a little change would make such a better first impression.

The other thing I really liked in MixCastLive was the ability to assign sounds to "buttons" so while I was recording my voice, I could easily add in a "whoosh" or something.

That's basically because there are two different ways of building podcasts: Live and recorded. Of course, someone may always edit them later on but the Live approach is so much more fun because you're recording right there and you don't have to make notes like "don't forget to put the whoosh here". Yes, you may need to edit the file later to remove the ahs and gotchas but overall it's much more "He…

Will You Be Last Developer Standing ?

You've got to like a developer game like this.

"Expand your knowledge, test your skills, gain a competitive edge - even have a little fun. At Microsoft, we're always looking for ways to provide developers like you with ongoing education and training.

If you answer all the questions in every module correctly or answer the highest percentage of questions right out of all contestants, you could be crowned the Last Developer Standing and receive $25,000 from Microsoft.

Oops - read more - you can only be the Last CANADIAN Developer Standing. I guess somethings are country-specific.

Last Developer Standing

Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 Available

While I agree that the Get Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 page is great, they should have had a link for MSDN subscribers right on the main page.

A whopping 2.5GB download. Definitely something to get the DVD writer ready for. Hmm....maybe I'll just wait for next month's shipment. nah - I want to play a bit.

But does it really need to be that big? Why can't MSDN provide the partial installs instead of just the ISO files? It may take away from the overall "experience" but it makes it easier to try critical downloads.

Case in point: I downloaded an 600MB ISO file for another product three times only to find out that the ISO image itself was corrupted. Thank goodness for high bandwidth but it still makes me question should I really bother with that huge whopping file instead of just ordering the DVD?

Office-Style Command Bars in Visual FoxPro

A while ago, I was complaining to someone at Microsoft about what they should do in VFP 10 - in fact, the same point is right on the Wiki list as well:

Office XP/2003 style menu effects

Well, as is usually the case with FoxPro developers, someone - in this case, Alex Grigorjev - has gone and done it themselves. The price is a bit high ($165 US) but not overwhelmingly so.

Check out the demo - it's very good and doesn't rely on third party ActiveX controls (or at least it doesn't seem to).

What's really cool is that you can switch the visual effect simply by changing a property from Office XP, Office 2000, Office 2003, Native XP, Office 2003 on WinXP or even Visual Studio 2005.

Very cool - great job!


Command Bars Library

Mac OS X Dashboard - Haven't I seen This Before?

I'll give Apple heavy kudos on this - they have managed to take something that other OS's have done and turn it into a very "cool" looking demo. The Dashboard is a "home to widgets", tools that let you perform common tasks and provide fast access to information.

Ummm....yes, Microsoft had something called the Digital Dashboard
but that was more about data.

Apple's demo of the Dashboard actually reminds me more of the "Active Desktop" (now, come on - be serious - how many of you still use the Active Desktop? - when I search for Active Desktop on the the MS web site, it takes me to a "The page you are looking for has been removed" but here's a link to a recent (well semi-recent) article. The description from Microsoft:

The Active Desktop interface lets you put "active content" from Web pages onto your desktop. For example, you could put a constantly updating stock ticker in a handy place on your desktop or make your fa…

Articles Reduxe: Using Drag and Drop In Visual FoxPro and SAPI

I just posted a few older articles online about Speech Integration and Using Drag/Drop in VFP.

I recently had to revisit the Drag/Drop article (originally written in 2001). I was implementing drag/drop but it also had to co-exist with a right-mouse click and a Double-click event that were pulling up Visual FoxPro forms.

The objects being used weren't ActiveX controls but regular FoxPro controls, but if you use the standard DragMode and Drag events in the VFP base classes, they conflict with the Double-click and right-click events.

The solution? Use the OLE Drag and Drop.

Now one thing that's not mentioned in this article is a property called CreateDragImage. That's a property Windows uses often with ListView controls to create that shaded image that appears under the cursor when it's being dragged. Sadly, that function doesn't work properly with Visual FoxPro so you have to build your own cursor or icon to make it look right.

This is one of those things where th…

Importing HHC files with West Wind HTML Help Builder

If you've never tried it, West-Wind Help Builder can be a life-saver. A great tool for creating both Technical and EndUser help files. On the technical side, it lets you import in class definitions and data dictionaries, making it easier to get a total scope of a project.

But what's been missing has been a way to move existing help projects (those built using the Microsoft HTML Help Workshop) into Help Builder.

Now , under the hood, WW's Help Builder uses the Visual FoxPro data file so if you're intrigued, you can type in USE myHelp.VBP and browse the project to get a good feeling behind all of the data.

So the HTML Workshop builds its table of contents with an HHC file which is a terrible HTML file that looks like this:








So I imported it into a VFP memvar and then populated the West-Wind Help Project's VBP file. Here's the full code. It's NOT polished but I noted it on the FoxShow podcast and wanted to ensure it was up here:

LPARAMETERS tcFile,tcProj

IF N…

Windows 2003 SP1 problems continue for others as well

Looks like I'm not the only one having problems with Service Pack 1 either....

Evan Erwee just commented that he is ALSO having problems "It killed SMS. No ASP is working"

Evan, I solved my problem the old fashioned way - I rolled back to a previous release. But the reports of the latest MS problems continue to grow. One of my client's email server was down for 5 days (update - I did not upgrade this client to SP1 - rather their own IT admin did) , and as I noted previously, Microsoft's own bCentral site had problems with emails.

Now granted, it's impossible to expect MS to be able to test EVERY possible permutation. BUT the solution here is for their Service packs to actually DETAIL what they did and let people know how to fix individual pieces of it.

In my case, for example, what the heck did it do to ASP.Net to break it in the first place? Why didn't it TELL me that it was going to Lock down my server (FWIW, Windows 2003 server tells you this as soon as y…

The result of Windows 2003 SP1

Well Ted, all I can say is I'm still running Windows 2003, but not SP1.

Many people have offered suggestions and I'm reading other ideas but I'm staying away from Windows 2003 Service Pack 1.

At least until I have nothing better to do with my weekend....

And to make matters worse, a bunch of my clients, who manage their own servers AND THOSE who have it hosted, experienced emails problems from Oct 31 - today. Coincidence? I'm not sure. While I wouldn't blame Microsoft, some of my customers are immediately blaming their lack of server software on the big guy.

Looking for a way out or...pointing the right finger...who knows....

Andrew MacNeill - AKSEL Solutions: Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger

Playing Music on SmartPhones and Pocket PCs

Rick posted about some proprietary plugs on his
AudioVox SmartPhone - same thing exists with the HP Pocket PCs - and yes, it IS very annoying.

However , like Rick, I find the MUSIC experience annoying as well.

My main gripe?

I can't assign button controls to cue podcasts properly. Yes, I can assign that the Left button moves me back a track and the right button moves me forward and the center does a play and a pause BUT what I really need (especially now that most of my stuff is done with Podcasts and BlogMatrix radio downloadings) - is a cue button. It's a real pain to have to pull out my stylus (while driving) or use my thumb to attempt to move the little "thumb" further along the sound track.

What's more? 64MB ROM simply isn't enough - after installing the latest patches, I don't have room for anything anymore - even with my 1GB SD card (which only holds music and podcasts).

If a blogger isn't a journalist, does the publication ban apply to them?

In Canada, there's a big uproar. We have this huge commission investigating goverment fraud. Now, the judge in charge put a publication ban on certain witnesses as there are some criminal charges pending here.

But apparently ONE US web site blew the lid wide open since the Canadian ban doesn't apply to them. The testimony is quite revealing - showing that the corruption wasn't just one or two people but the entire Liberal party (or at least its administrators).

My question though would simply be if bloggers aren't permitted to be given the same level of "protection" that journalists are, then why SHOULDN'T they be allowed to talk about it (albeit in hushed whispers and innuendo)?

(This is fairly tongue in cheek ) - if you report on something that is supposedly BANNED, then obviously that's wrong but how can judges today honestly expect publication bans to work? It didn't work in the US (Matt Drudge is an example of that) and it's not working i…

BlogMatrix - Sparks!

Wow! Can't believe this slipped in under the radar. Not only a blogging tool, but also a Podcast retriever, recorder and provides the ability to record from live radio feeds (at scheduled times).

It didn't at first look like it could handle WAV files but upon opening a WAV file as an import music, it immediately converted it into an MP3 file.

David Janes has certainly created an amazing tool here. AND he's Canadian to boot.

BlogMatrix - Sparks!

ListView - Sorting by Number or Date

A lot of people are faced with the challenge of sorting a ListView list by numeric value or date. If you do a search, you'll see all kinds of API re-writes and special functions to make it work.

Of course, DotNet has its own way of doing it which looks equally troubling.

The easiest workaround is simply to change your date format to be YMD but that isn't typically a good solution for US companies or applications that show the long date.

But there's an easier way. It was briefly noted here but I wanted to give VFP developers a very straightfoward example.

Short Answer: Create a new column on the list view with a width of zero. Populate the list with the DTOS or sortable version of the value and then instead of setting the SortKey to the displayed column - set it to the OTHER column instead.

This works like a charm.

Some code (if you will)

In the ColumnClick method of the ListView, put in
LPARAMETER columnheader
IF columnheader.Text = "Date"
THIS.SortKey = c…

Does MSN Search filter out blogspot blogs?

I was comparing search engines and did a search for the term "akselsoft" (which is typically my login as well as my blog location.

Using Google, the blog comes up as #1 (well, Google does own Blogger). But interestingly enough, it didn't show up at all on MSN Search but my PodCast (akselsoft.libsyn.com) did.

On MSN Search, it DID find sites that referred to the blog location (akselsoft.blogspot.com) but it never put the actual blogspot post in any of the search results.

Very strange indeed and it makes me wonder if I should move the main site to another location. It doesn't do it for weblogs (Ted Roche comes up immediately with his radio.weblogs.com/0117767) but it DOES look like it does it for bloglines as well.

MSN Search: akselsoft

FoxShow #3 Up

The FoxShow #3 is up. The quality once again isn't that great due to ongoing problems with my Dell and my microphone and my time's been very tight this week however..

A summary of some recent posts (including my tirade against Win2003 SP1) and a discussion on OLEDragDrop that I recently had to go through. I'm in the midst of making a fairly large post on it right up here. Should be up later today.