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Showing posts from December, 2005

Problems at Xdrive?

UPDATE: Effective 2/7/2006, I canceled my xDrive account after being told that my issue was still "hundreds, if not thousands" behind others in the support queue. If that isn't a reason why people should stay away from this company, I don't know what is.

Looks like I'm not the only one either with problems with xDrive.

I was looking for a reliable online backup facility. I agreed to pay them for the full year up front. Although my 5GB drive has approximately 1 GB free, one of my regular backups hasn't been successful since October.

I also received a nice little missive that said "we've moved to a large system upgrade intended to improve the overall performance. As a result, the service has been unreliable. We do not have an ETA as to when the site will be completely fixed."

Unreliable? I can't even back up or upload a file without an error.

I've been dealing with Henry Forrest who seems very interested in helping me but back on December 6th,…

Carbon footprint calculator

I've seen this ad on local TV but finally got to the site today.

Very interesting especially for those in the UK and US who are interested in how their lifestyle affects the environment.

They didn't have Canada so I had to settle for the US calculation but I'm about an 16. What was interesting was that if I travelled a bit more again, I shoot up to about a 20.

What's your carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint calculator

Top 10 Fox news stories of 2005

Craig does an excellent job of noting the top 10 Visual FoxPro stories of 2005.

Among his notes: the departure of Mike Stewart, John Koziol and Randy Brown from the FoxTeam, the shipping of VFP 9, the loss of Drew Speedie, and the reranking of VFP in the TIOBE list.

While he did note Whilfest 2006, he didn't mention Southwest Fox which is coming back in 2006 and will be sure to be a big hit and the SednaX site, which I'm sure will be showcasing an awful lot in the coming year.

The other thing that I think is still valuable to note, although not entirely VFP-related, is the elevation of Eric Rudder at Microsoft to focusing on the overall technical strategy for Microsoft. With that and Tod Neilson now running Borland, former Foxers seem to be everywhere, rather than nowhere.

Anyone have any Visual FoxPro predictions for 2006?

1. Ken Levy will sponsor the giving of Ultimate FoxEars headphones at Devcon 2006.

2. After a slow start, the SednaX site will start to show very cool tec…

Handling buffered data in Visual FoxPro

Andy Kramek has done another one of his "and now let me explain how this works" posts with a great 6 page discussion on the two data buffering functions (TableUpdate and TableRevert) in Visual FoxPro.

His original article on data buffering (which explains what is buffering and the like) may be found here

Combining this with the other learning resources that the other FoxBlogs are offering and there is no excuse for knowing everything about Visual FoxPro!

On Teachers, certification and tests

Jeez, I hate going from tangent to tangent but I was about to. On my last post about Tag Clouds, just as I started talking about the teachers cheating , I recalled a conversation I had this holiday season with a couple who are in the academic world and was amazed when they expressed outrage (yes, it was real outrage and incredulity) that a teacher had to pass a test to become a professor at a university, to gain a higher position. The conversion went so far as to even suggest that competitions for government positions was "beneath" someone who had gotten to a certain point and a certain age.

(ok - have you stopped laughing at this yet? Because it's true).

I used the opportunity to drop in the obligatory Doonesbury ID joke because it's based on the same premise - if things don't grow, learn or evolve, then yes, I agree - it only needs to be tested once but since things DO grow, learn, mutate or whatever, then YES, test early and test often, I say.

Small businesses…

Finding patterns...

So now that Rick has put up the FoxBlogs tag cloud, some may be asking "what's a tag cloud?"

Basically it's running the content analysis service from Yahoo (who knew they had one? Everytime Google talks about something, everyone's on it but Yahoo? Needs to do better job of marketing to developers- or maybe I should just listen better )


What does that do? Wow - no wonder no one likes to listen to developers ramble on...they talk and talk and talk but don't really say what it does... (this is because I just went through 5 minutes of links without a good "stand on its own" description.)

Essentially, it attempts to put things into context automatically. For example, when Ken Levy talkes about Headphones, , the entire set of threads are tagged with that term. Now how does it recognize that term? That's the trick.

From Yahoo's own Y!Q (context query), "Y!Q analyzes the context you provide and determines automagically the most important keywor…

Maybe France does get it after all..

After hearing about the strange laws being passed by France lately, this one really had me going.

So you can't have FREE software, but downloading " copyrighted files is legal as long as it is for private use only" - hmmm...maybe they don't get it after all. Then again, this was being reported from the Xinhua News Agency so who knows.

Craig Bailey's BBQ stage

While I have been known to barbeque in the middle of winter, Craig's post made me smile.

Because I woke up this morning and it really does look just like Christmas - there is white snow everywhere and soft snowflakes have just started to fall....

What a contrast to "The weather is warm, but not too humid, the days are long".

Becoming a GMailer....

Gmail is slowly but surely taking over my life where a Microsoft product once held a very key place. (yes, this message has a lot of links just so you can see that it's no longer one product but several that does what needs to happen)

I used to live in Outlook but after having worked with various Outlook and Desktop search tools, NewsGator Outlook and the like - my Outlook just freezes or crashes all the time - and that's AFTER reinstalling. gMail allows me to send emails and specify the outbound email (so it can come from my aksel address instead of my gmail).

The Search is, not surprisingly, great (who needs to organize messages anymore?) but the biggest change just happened this week when they turned on mobile gmail at http://m.gmail.com.

Where I used to rely on ActiveSync to ensure my PDA had all my inbox messages and the like, now I can get and respond to my email whereever I am (yes, I have a data plan with Rogers, my communications provider). Send email to others? Why no…

How ironic...

that Microsoft would name their foray into web 2.0 conferences Mix 06 when their most recent product features the most ridiculous DRM schemes around...

Oh sure, they like to get into the "mix" with CrossFader but come on!

Next thing you know their next Office or Development product will be dubbed "Open Sourcer" or "FavaBeans"...

Ya sure, I get that it's not aimed at the DRM community but rather developers but calling it Mix just sits wrong with me.

Cool logo though.

Not quite the end of COM....

I'm taking an online course about Developing Smart documents and one of the modules is on Developing DLL-based smart documents (with Visual Studio)

While obviously you have access to all of the core UI components (text boxes, lists, etc), one comment struck me:
If none of the built-in controls match your requirements, use an ActiveX one. Bear in mind that ActiveX controls written in .Net framework langauges are NOT (emphasis mine) directly supported and it is recommended that you use COM-based ActiveX controls.

Sigh - the more things change, the more they stay the same....

No Drag and Drop?

As much as I like talking about Drag and Drop, I'm not always sold on its usefulness. So I immediately found this little article (found via Yahoo) interesting:
Sesame Software: going against the flow | The Register

One thing that bugs me about reading news articles online - the real lame ones never put links to the COMPANY (because they want all the links themselves) so here's where you can find Sesame Software and their Relational Junction ETL Manager (uh, I'll just call it RJet!). a tool that lets you "Extract Transform and Load production data into your data warehouse. Integrate Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase, and DB2 databases. Leverage your existing SQL skills with native SQL scripting, or use our SQL builder technology." - oh yeah, did I mention? They have Visual FoxPro support coming soon.

What does it do? It links data together so you can copy your data from one or more tables into a target table. Sounds a bit like BizTalk functionality but it does kin…

'The Perfect Fit'

This story keeps on getting more press.
VARBusiness Nielsen and Borland - 'The Perfect Fit'

Interesting because back in 1999, it was Tod who "leads Microsoft's Developer Group as it transforms the Web from a static tool into a vast network of personal and programmable services."

If you read the background story, it really is fascinating. Back in 1999, here was the comment ""If you're building applications, I'd love to meet you, find out what you are trying to do, tell you about the products and technologies we have, and figure out a way for us to work together so you can build the best applications," Nielsen says "That's the key to success for developers and for ________." - <---- enter company name here.

What's cool is that Tod is still completely committed to doing it. What's interesting is where he's doing it - he's just raised my interest level in Borland which had dropped off a fair bit when Philippe K…

Why should I use FoxPro?

Andy and Craig have already pointed to this:TPCI - TIOBE Programming Community Index. What I like is this statement:

"The index can be used to check whether your programming skills are still up to date or to make a strategic decision about what programming language should be adopted when starting to build a new software system."

In other words, don't come to me with ignorant statements like "no one works in Visual FoxPro anymore" or "it's a dead language" - seems I heard that mentioned ten years ago when PowerBuilder was the tool of choice. Where is that now? Oh yeah, I think it's number 90 on the list. Even last year, Visual FoxPro was higher than that.

Sure the list is based on Google, MSN and Yahoo searches but hey - it's ALL about mindshare and the VFP community has plenty of it.

Ed Bott to Microsoft: Loosen Up

I love this post of Ed Bott's"
Scoble can talk about Office 12, but I can’t

As with all those great NDAs: "This information blackout applies to everyone except Microsoft employees, apparently."

He forgot - and CNet employees too as it turns out. (granted Cnet is a news site - but since when is journalism and blogging not the same? - oh right, as of January of this year!)

I'm with Ed. From the VFP perspective, it's nice that the Fox team has opened up a lot more. Some users in the "private" forums are wondering "where is everyone?" because they're all out talking abou FoxPro and what they're doing. That said, it would be nice if they joined Craig's latest goal": Today position 20, tomorrow the world!

Now Craig...about that SednaX discussion and the FoxShow interview....

Whil's back: Moving from Windows to Linux and now back to Fox....

Whil just announced the return of the Great Lakes Great Database Workshop 2006 with one track of 14 sessions covering every major aspect of Fox development.

Sounds like he's gotten 10 speakers all set and ready to go for for developers not looking for the faint of heart developer conferences - his original email said (updated):

"What can you, the developer who is committed to VFP as a long term development platform, do to optimize the next ten years of your life?

This is the question that GLGDW 2006 is going to answer.

This is not a marketing conference masquerading as a technical conference. This is not FoxPro for Dummies. There are no 'Intro to X' pre-cons or 'How to use feature Y' sessions here. This is an advanced workshop - for experts.

This is a workshop for thoughtful people with attention spans. This is an event about wisdom."

Sounds ambitious - but Whil usually pulls off a great conference and it's nice that it's focused directly on FoxPro and…

Who thinks too fast?

Richard comments on my original post about misinformation, really promoting planning:

"I usually spend two weeks (and sometimes even more) in the planning phase which includes the creation of the database structures and overall flow. "


I'm not sure I agree that "thinking fast" is necessarily a bad thing but I certainly agree that "thinking deeply" is required with it.

Consider watching Rick, Markus, Ken or Steve demonstrate a concept at a presentation - these guys think fast - yet they also think deeply at the same time.

Just as there are too many consultants and IT specialists who act too quickly, there are also far too many consultants and IT specialists who prefer to get paid for "thinking" instead of "doing".

The end result? Their project takes forever to get done and by the time it's done, they haven't really "thought" of what happens in the interim. Yet they get the reputation of being "great analyst…

Scaling VFP applications

So after my last post, I thought "hmmm---how does one ensure their application IS scalable?"

Here's a good definition.
Rick talks about it here but it's all about the web.

Kevin talks about it when discussing the Mere Mortals framework here but again all about the web.

The BlackBean site has a great repository of these and other articles.

But once again, most of the articles deal with web-based VFP applications. No surprise there, I suppose. The fundamentals are typically the same and if you really want a scalable application, why not deal with an environment where there may be a million users coming in from all areas instead of your standard applications.

What's great though - is the summary of Rick's To SQL or not to SQL. Using VFP data was recommended as a local data source for retrieving data.

"When we converted from local data to a SQL backend data access turned more between 2-3x slower for short requests and up to 5-10times slower for complex quer…

How misinformation feeds FoxPro myths

So, Mary-Jo Foley calls VFP the "Rodney Dangerfield" child of Microsoft's solution and we wonder why there are mixed messages.

Steve Black emailed me this post where the supposed "Head of information technology" at an Indian company had to upgrade because "the software was not scalable as it had been developed on FoxPro".

Excuse me? The older software was probably not scalable because this guy, or the person who worked there before him, who had originally commissioned the software likely wrote it not to scalable. Yes, it was written in FoxPro - but it could likely have been written in Visual Basic.Net or Delphi or anything.

Applications are not inherently "not scalable" because of the platform but more because of the design.

Near the end of the article , the comment "Compared to legacy systems, which needed to be changed every six or seven years, SAP solutions are expected to prove effective for 20 to 25 years and beyond." - - &q…

Yea! MindManager does OPML!!

My favorite Mind Mapping tool, MindManager, now directly supports OPML files with both Imporing and Exporting!

Looks like my show notes for the FoxShow are about to get completely OPML'ized!

It even includes support for the new Simple Sharing Extension for shared RSS!!

MindJet - thanks for listening!!

XFRX now exports to OpenOffice

What is a harbinger of things to come from more tools I'm sure, Eqeus just announced that the new version of XFRX, a very awesome reporting engine for FoxPro, now exports to OpenOffice.

So not only can you run your report (formatted) to Excel, Word and the rest of the world but now you can use your reports in the state of Massachusetts!

Great stuff, Martin!

Redmond | Column: FoxPro Not an Endangered Species

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's a direct link to the Mary Jo Foley column on FoxPro.
Send her an email with your thoughts.

There's not a lot of new news in the article - what's more interesting is that a journalist is covering it with the attitude of "maybe Microsoft sees that not everything is a DotNet world". Funny, because I think most FoxPro developers see Microsoft's attitude as being the opposite, despite the ongoing efforts but kudos to M-J for the article and the possible follow-ups it may generate.

Let's make no bones about Sedna though: it's about making FoxPro play nicer in the DotNet and Vista sandbox. You can easily tell a bunch of VB developers to recompile their COM component in VS and now it's a DotNet piece. You can't say that to FoxPro developers because there's no upgrade path so for those developers who believe that "COM is the answer" (a mantra by Microsoft prior to DotNet) and are now stuck in D…

Learning VFP 102: Scope

Craig Boyd just posted his Learning VFP 102 : All about Scope (not the mouthwash), he also discusses arrays.

Great stuff Craig!

One of the things I wish he had for this was a "take-away" or some kind of call-out that popped out on top to tell people what he was saying about important rules. Sure he gives out the source code but cheat sheets would be really helpful!

One note: great example for using DEBUGOUT.

So I'll start doing some on these take-aways. Although you may also want to refer to Andy Kramek's two part article as well.

Part I

His Guidelines
1. Stay away from public variables. Use screen properties instead for global objects or create a property on your form. Try and avoid them.
2. Also avoid private variables. (huh? - and he really didn't explain why.) Ah - he did mention on the side - send them as parameters instead.
3. Always remember to declare your variables. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. ( I just did a screen cast with Ed L…

Trumba Lets others see what's Coming Up

I used to live in Outlook for all of my scheduling but somewhere between Outlook crashing, hanging, syncing with my PDA and using gMail for more of my regular email, I've really started getting into Trumba's Online Calendar tool.

I can have both private and public calendars (or as many as I want). To protect privacy, I typically name the events fairly generically except as they relate to public endeavours such as podcasts, screencasts or public conferences.

When users are looking at my public calendar, they can click the calendar icon and it will add it automatically to their own calendars (iCalendar, HotMail Calendar, Outlook, email or whatever)

You can even allow others to update your calendar as well by sharing it. Or publish it as a Conference Schedule for easy access.

Another very cool feature is the ability to synchro with Outlook so that my Pocket PC can always be up to date.

Still - it's not perfect.

Some things I wish it could do:

a) allow others to request meetings wit…