Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

Geek Notes 2004-02-29

Leap year is always interesting. It’s been eight years since the last one (an event which won’t happen for another hundred years). It always feel weird having to write Feb 29. Interesting.

Geek Notes 2004-02-26

I was in Sacramento CA yesterday giving a presentation about SharePoint when I picked up the current issue of Scientific American (March 2004). It had the Mars rovers on the cover and I’ve always loved that magazine. But in there, I saw this quote and it resonated with me:

“Engineering is always a series one failures to get to success. It takes iteration after iteration to get it right.” – Bryon Smith

I was excited to hear an electrical engineer talk about his craft the same way we software guys do. It seems that a number of people in the software field think that all engineering activities are like building bridges, but they aren’t. Sometimes, when you are engineering something new, something that has never been done before, you have to take a different approach.

  • DARPA Grand Challenge - In the article I got that quote from, I discovered the DARPA Grand Challenge. This is probably the coolest robotics challenge I’ve ever heard of. I’m not sure someone will actually be able to win it this year, but it is pretty damn impressive anyway.
  • Ref Counting Added to Rotor - If you read this blog much, you’ve probably heard me complain about the IDisposable interface. Well apparently, a few very smart people have solved the problem. The question is whether we will ever see it in official .NET or if it is just a research project for Rotor. I’m hoping for the former.
  • Imagine Cup - INETA needs volunteer to help out your local universities. I just signed up. [via Scott Watermasysk]
  • A First Look at Object Spaces - Dino Esposito has a new article about Whidbey’s new ORM technology. [via Ken Brubaker]
  • The Trouble With Sprit - I’ve been avidly following the Mars rovers and was crushed when Spirit went dark. But it appears they’ve got it back and here is an interesting write up about what really happened.
  • VB and C# Keywords - Every now and then I find myself coding in VB.NET and have to remember what the keywords are. Now I don’t have to remember anymore. This article lines them up… one for one. [via Joseph Cooney]

Geek Notes 2004-02-24

You know what drives me nuts? HOw people can’t seem to understand the difference between the forward slash (/) and the backslash (). AFAIK, this one is fully BillG’s fault. Back in the DOS days (and even in Win9x) those of us who had to provide tech support got into the habit of saying things like, “No not that one… the backslash key… over there.” And now, everyone calls the forward slash key backslash! It drives me nuts.

So I’m listening to the radio yesterday on my way home from work and an H&R Block ad comes on talking about their new online services. “For more information,” it says, “visit us online at hrblock.com backslash online”. The annoying thing is that this works, because the browser companies have gotten used to people who don’t know the difference.

Ugh!

  • Busy Being Born - A visual history of the development of the Lisa/Macintosh user interface. An interesting read with interesting screenshots. [via Sriram Krishnan]
  • InfoPath 2003 SP-1 Preview - Provides an early look at bug fixes and features for InfoPath that will be shipped ats part of Office 2003 SP-1. No word on the date yet.
  • InfoPath 2003 Toolkit for VS.NET - Sick of writing JavaScript to add code to your InfoPath forms? Now you can do it in .NET. About freaking time!
  • WSS Temporary File Explosion - Scott Pachelo has started feeding us excellent WSS and SPS info. I actually got burned by this one once, so if you are running WSS or SPS, read it.
  • Next Gen SmartPhones Unveiled - Dustin Smith shows us the next Motorola SmartPhone. I want one!

DevDays Is Coming!

Depending on where you live, DevDays 2004 should be happening pretty soon. Here in Denver it will be on March 18, but the opening session in New York was yesterday.

It is only $99 and I’ll tell you that the security information alone is worth it. Getting a preview copy of VS.NET codename “Whidbey” is even better. Throw in all the information and training and it is a bargain.

Google DOSed?

Is anyone else out there unable to get to Google? At first I just assumed it was my local network connection but I can get anywhere else I want to go. I’m not seeing any news on new.com or slashdot either. Very strange.

Geek Notes 2004-02-20

Ahh the weekend is almost here and I can try to get some work done on my basement remodel. We’ll have to see if my daughter will let me do that or if she will insist on watching Shrek a few dozen more times. :)

  • Dual-monitor Wallpapers - I love running my dual monitor setup at the office. It is amazing how much more productive you can be with that extra screen real estate. But what is hard is finding good wallpapers that stretch across. This site has a number of nice desktop images to use.
  • Oracle vs SQL Server (Again) - We’ve seen this kind of thing before, but now that Oracle has issues price cuts, has the landscape changed? Apparently not. [via Joe Shirey]
  • Saving Microsoft Streaming Media Files - Ever been sent a link to a streaming media file but wanted to save the file for later? This will help. Also of worthy note is their document describing the Microsoft Media Server (MMS) format. [via Jason Nadal]
  • Continuous Integration and Dynamic Systems&nbsp_place_holder;- Fellow Interlinker Kris Syverstad continues his posts about using CruiseControl.NET on a real project. If you are interested in using CC.NET, be sure to read his article Lessons Learned From Setting Up CruiseControl.NET.
  • Hobbit or Elf Name Generator - Bored yet? This web site will convert your real name into Hobbit or Elf. My hobbit name is Wilibald Loamsdown of Great Smials. My Elf name is Galradir Tur-anion. [via Chris Austin]
  • When Not to Use SOA - ZapThink has written a nice little piece helping people understand when they shouldn’t be considering SOA. Number on on the list is, of course, when you have a homogeneous IT environment. [via Christian Weyer]
  • C# FAQ - John Skeet, a C# MVP, has started an FAQ for the microsoft.public.dotnet.languages.csharp newsgroup. Should be pretty good.

What's Your Shame Band?

It has been a while since I saw a survey meme make the rounds, so since it is Friday, I’ll start one off…

What is your Shame Band?

A Shame Band is a musical artist that you like but are afraid to admit. It is always interesting to see what people’s shame band is.

Post it to your blog! Share your shame!

I’ll post mine later today…

Geek Noise Is 1 Year Old!

Today is the first anniversary of Geek Noise. I know that sometimes it has been good and other times it has been bad, but it has certainly been a fun year for me. Hopefully you, my 7 readers, have enjoyed it as well. :)

Back on February 20, 2003 I started using Radio as my weblog engine. I had done something like blogging for years, but it hadn’t been a “real” blog. I ended up using Radio for almost 6 months before finally getting frustrated enough with it to find something new. I had been looking at BlogX for a while, but hadn’t really been impressed. Then in June of 2003 Clemens started talking about his rewite to be called dasBlog. I downloded the first version in July of 2003 and made the switch on July 31.

At the end of October was the PDC and I blogged it hard. And I also got more traffic that week than ever before (or after). It was a hell of a lot of fun and I met some good friends there.

On November 7, 2003 I started penning the (almost) daily Geek Notes. I decided to emulate the style of a few other bloggers and produce one post of links a day instead of many small posts throughout the day. I still made other posts when the topic warranted it, but for “cool links” I would only be using Geek Notes. I think it has been a success. What do you think? On November 30 I introduced my Longhorn theme for dasBlog.

For most of 2004, I’ve been keeping up with the Geek Notes. There have been occasional outages, but in general I’ve stuck to the one-a-day format. As the year has progressed however, I’ve been finding myself more and more frustrated with dasBlogs lack of an articles feature.

Two days ago I finally got the Interlink Weblogs setup and found myself really impressed with .TEXT. It has articles, galleries, and all kinds of other features that I’ve missed. So don’t be too surprised if I switch again soon. Has anyone done a dasBlog to .TEXT switch? Any pointers or tools?

Thanks to all of you for reading me this past year and I hope you keep coming back this year.

Geek Notes 2004-02-19

As you can see from one of my earlier posts, I was at the Community and Technology Leaders Roundtable meeting yesterday. I’m always amazed how many of the .NET luminaries are here in Denver. The previous meeting of this group had been primarily a lecture, but this one was more interactive, and I really think it worked well. I volunteered to give a chat next time on test-driven development… we’ll see if they’re interested or not.

  • ASP.NET Resource Kit - It is back! A couple of weeks ago the links started making the rounds but for some reason it got pulled. Well now it is back and if you don’t mind downloading 131MB, it looks like it is pretty useful.
  • This is Broken! - Boy I love this site. Continually hilarious material. This sign from Barcelona is great. Why is it that Europeans don’t understand simple signage? [via This is Broken]
  • The History of IDisposable - I wasn’t on the DOTNET DM mailing list back in the day, so I don’t remember this post, but it sure was enlightening to find today. [via IUnknown]
  • .NET Architecture Center - I’m sure most of you have seen this by now (after all it is almost 4 days old), but it is one of those things that you really need to spend some time looking at.
  • CodeSmith 2.5 RC4 - My favorite code generation tool, CodeSmith, is about to release version 2.5 and RC4 was just made available.
  • Preliminary Whidbey Release Schedule - Chris Garty has posted a discussion he had with Scott Guthrie that explains the release timing for Whidbey. Beta 1 in June. Beta 2 sometime after that. :)
  • 26 Bad SQL Things - Doug Seven has collected a list of 26 things you shouldn’t be doing with SQL. And he is looking for you to vote on the worst 10.
  • The Windows User Experience Cookbook - MS is planning a new book called “The Windows User Experience Cookbook” for Longhorn that will provide a number of UI guidelines for applications. This link will take you to an except called “User Experience Recipe: Database Applications”. Looks interesting.

Wow. That’s enough for today. I’ve still got 412 unread blog posts to catch up on, but they’ll have to wait unti tomorrow.

February Meeting of the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners

Date: February 23, 2004 5:30 PM- 8:00PM

Location:Â

Interlink Group LLC
2nd Floor Conference Room
98 Inverness Drive East, Suite 150
Englewood CO 80112 [Map]

Topic: Continous Integration

Most people have heard of continuous integration, but most haven’t
actually used it in production. During this meeting we will talk about
the issues surrounding continuous integration.

  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the drawbacks?
  • Is it worth it?
  • What tools are available to help out?

We plan to demo a running CruiseControl.NET build server, so come on out
and see what we’re talking about.

Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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