Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

Blogroll Cosmology - Expansion Theory

In tradition cosmology, the idea was that if the universe has too little mass, the expansion will stop and it will start contracting again. If ev everything is perfectly balanced then it will stop at just the right size and neither grow nor shrink. And if the mass is larger than that, it will continue to grow forever, eventually approaching a point where the average density is zero.

I think something similar is at play in my blogroll. Maybe in yours too.

At the beginning, my blogroll actually went through expansion and contraction phases as I discovered new blogs and removed others. This was probably when it somewhere between 50 and 75 feeds.

But once I crossed over that boundary something interesting happened. I lost that “feel” you get for posts and people that you like. Instead it became more like reading USENET.

The problem is that I started adding new feeds everytime I found an interesting post. So, if The .NET Guy referenced a good post on Tommy Coder’s blog, I added Tommy to my feed. Now I get another 20 posts a week and I don’t even know who Tommy is!

Eventually there was so much information and so little time that I had to apply a very aggresive mental filter to the stream just to stay caught up. I started blowing aways whole weeks of material just to get my unread count back to somewhere under 200. And then I would try to read the material but the sheer volume of information kept me distracted and I would sometimes skip good posts just to “keep going”.

(Think of Dory from Finding Nemo: “Just keep reading, just keep reading, just keep reading, reading, reading.”)

And worse than that was that I lost the feel of the people I was reading. I started to get less good information from the system. I became more interested in throughput, how many messages could I handle, instead of quality.

So I decided to play God and create a new universe. This time I will control the mass. I will not let expansion take over!

I created a new blogroll folder and moved about 20 feeds into it. I outright deleted a dozen other feeds. And now I’m keeping a careful eye on the old feeds, looking for those that need to be moved into my new blogroll. In another week I’m going to delete all the old ones that haven’t made the cut. My hope is to have whittled it down to somewhere around 50 feeds.

We’ll see…

Geek Notes 2004-03-21

Sorry for the lack of Geek Notes lately. It has been hard with all of the other stuff going on in my life. I’m on a SharePoint Portal project with a local school district (more on that later) and in my spare time I’m finishing our basement so we will have another bedroom before the new baby comes in July. Whew!

OK. So I’ve finally decided to bail on dasBlog. I’ve asked this question a few times before, but no one has responded:

Has anyone migrated from dasBlog to .TEXT? Do you have any advice/tools to help?


DevDays Denver Is Over

Whew. That was fun. I think my talk on “Threats and Threat Modeling” went well. I had a few people come up to me and tell me that this was the best DevDays they’d been to, so that was a good sign.

The Whidbey demos were straight out of the PDC, so nothing much new there. The Smart Client track had a suprisingly full room. From what I’d heard about the other cities, most people were skipping that in favor of Web Security.

I hope anyone who attended had a good time. If you attended my session and have any questions or comments, please contact me or leave a comment on this post.


Ender's Game Movie Update

For those of you who love Orson Scott Card’s book Ender’s Game, you’ll be happy to hear that the plans for the movie have made an important jump forward:

Variety Magazine announced on 10 February that Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty, the writing team that created the X-Men 2 screenplay, have been hired by Warner Brothers to write the second draft of the Ender’s Game screenplay.

Harris and Dougherty have already been in contact with Orson Scott Card, the author of both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, both of which have been optioned by Warner Brothers as the basis for the Ender’s Game movie. Card wrote the first draft of the screenplay based on both books.

For more information, see the full article at frescopictures.com. Thanks to AaronX for sending me this link.

Denver Pragmatic Practitioners Meeting Monday Night

Monday, March 15, 2004 5:30 PM-8:00 PM


Location: (map)
Interlink Group Offices
2nd Floor Conference Room
98 Inverness Drive East, Suite 150
Englewood CO 80112


Topic: Security


Security is an important topic for software developers. In this connected world, it’s not practical to be ignorant of the security implications of your software architecture. Even such things as which tools you choose may dictate a need for specific security practices during the development phase.


Come out and chat with us about what it means to be a security conscious developer.


Refreshments will be provided.


We look forward to seeing you there.


(Join the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners Mailing List at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pragprog-denver/)

Back From North Carolina

We just got home from a wonderful vacation in the mountains of North Carolina. My father and his wife live in Asheville and we took our daughter Hadley out there to spend time with “Grammy and Bompie”. It was a blast. Hadley got to spend some quality time with her grandparents on my side and with some of her cousins as well. It was a lot of fun watching those three kids chase each other for the past four days.

Then came today.

The flight out on Wednesday was a breeze. Hadley is two, so we were a bit concerned, but it turned out well. No tantrums, no screaming… nothing bad at all.

So that is why we were caught so unprepared this afternoon. She started off this morning a bit crabby, but she is that age, so we didn’t think much of it. She was find on the drive to the airport. She was even fine in the airport. But as soon as we got on the plane, her head spun around like the girl in The Exorcist and we were stuck in that aluminum tube with her for 3 1/2 hours. And so were all the other passengers. (Actually she was only bad for 30 minutes at the beginning and an hour at the end… but that 1 1/2 hours felt like 3 1/2.)

We never thought we would be “those parents” with “that kid” but there we were. Back when I was a spectator I would wonder to myself, “Isn’t there something the parents can do to make that kid shut up?”

Today I learned the answer and it is a resounding “no”. When a two year old throws an hour long tantrum on an airplane there really isn’t anything you can do.

Needless to say we are reconsidering whether we want to do this again in another month or so… we’ll see.

Geek Notes 2004-03-05

Whew! I spent the week out at a client site doing an Architectural Design Review of a .NET framework that they’ve been developing for the past year or so. All-in-all I think they did a good job. They still have some work ahead of them (of course), but it is pretty well thought out.

  • Does Microsoft .NET measure up? - This InfoWorld Special Report tries to answer that question. John Udell gives it good grades (As and Bs). What do you think? [via Don Box]
  • The Smart Client Experience - Microsoft Regional Director and fellow Interlinker Joe Shirey starts blogging with this post about Smart Clients.
  • Security in Java and .NET - The .NET world and the Java world have completely different approaches to how security is implemented. Stefano Demiliani has posted a convenient set of links to four articles from onjava.com that cover configuration, cryptography, code access, and authentication & authorization.
  • Optimizing Thread Pooling - Here is a topic you don’t see everyday. And a solution technique that I’ve never seen before. Rico Mariani tells the store of how he used a Poisson Function to determine what the optimal size of his thread pool was. Very cool technique!
  • IEEE Plans to Standardize Agility - Brian Marick rants gently about why the IEEE shouldn’t be trying to lock agility into a mold.
  • Virtual Sex Change - Man oh man… this is hilarious. See George W Bush as a woman. See yourself! See your boss!

Geek Notes 2004-03-01

So after much hemming-and-hawing I finally decided to do some pruning on my RSS feed list. I just couldn’t keep up. And boy did it make a difference. For the first time in months, I actually got completely caught up in NewsGator. Wow. What a feeling.

Oh and I want to apologize for my last post where I incorrectly said that it has been eight years since the last leap year. As Darrell Norton pointed out in my comments, if the century is divisible by 400 then it is a leap year. So 1600 was, but 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years. And then 2000 was a leap year again. Oops. My bad.

  • Debug and Retail Builds on the .NET Framework - Brad Abrams is looking for some input regarding whether MS should release Debug builds of the framwork. I think I agree with him… the cons outweigh the pros.
  • FreeTextBox 2.0 - The best free Rich Text Box for .NET just went 2.0. New features include cross browser support (WOW!), localization, external javascript, and more. Sweet! [via Scott Waterwasysk]
  • Defending YAGNI - In Extreme Programming, we have a saying that goes “You Aren’t Gonna Need It” aka YAGNI. Many developers argue that it is wrong, that you really should build in all those things that you might need later. In this excellent post by Charles Miller, he defends why YAGNI is right. Please read this if you have a tendency to put things in “just in case”.
  • Ebay Auctions and You - In this excellent post Tim Russel explores the kind of due dilligence you should perform before making a purchase on eBay. Don’t assume everyone selling is reputable.
  • Microsoft Offline Application Block - I helped review the early documentation for this block and it is a pretty good design. I haven’t used it yet, but if you need to support an offline cached model for a Smart Client application, this is a good place to start.
  • WinZip 9.0 Released - Its about time! Finally a zip tool that handles really big files (like 5GB VPC files).