Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

November Meeting of the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners - DATE CHANGED

Please note: The date has changed for the November Meeting!

November Meeting of the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners

Date: Monday November 24, 2003 5:30PM - 8:00PM

Location: Interlink Group Offices, 98 Inverness Drive East, Suite 150, Englewood CO 80112 [Map]

Topic: Source Control Systems - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Most people have had experience with a number of difference source control systems during their careers. Often these experiences have been good, but just as often they have been bad. Join the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners for a round-table discussion with your peers about what has worked and hasn’t worked.

If the door is locked when you get here, please call 303-542-7180 and someone will come let you in.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Geek Notes 2003-11-16

Sorry for the paucity of posts lately… once again my daughter gave me the flu. This one has been kicking my butt since early last week. Ugh!

I found a few interesting things today… not all tech-related, but interesting nonetheless.

  • The Bombardier Embrio - This vapor-ware must-have looks like a cross between a Segway Human Transporter and a crotch-rocket motorcycle. I still can’t believe I didn’t try a Segway at PDC this year. Dumb, dumb dumb…
  • Why Walmart Rules the World - 7.5% of all retail activity in the US! And everyone freaks out about Microsoft…
  • TheArtRocks.com - “100 of the world’s most celebrated artists chose their favorite musicians and created the greatest album covers that never were.” I love Vonnegut’s cover for Phish’s Hook, Line and Sinker.
  • Eros Ex Mathematica - Is it porn or mathematics? For some people it is both.
  • The Elegant Universe Now Online - The recent 3 part Nova special on string theory was an excellent layman’s foray into modern cosmology. PBS has now made the entire thing available online.

I’m off to bed early tonight. I’ve gotta kick this thing.

November Meeting of the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners

Date: Tuesday November 25, 2003 5:30PM - 8:00PM

Location: Interlink Group Offices, 98 Inverness Drive East, Suite 150, Englewood CO 80112 [Map]

Topic: Source Control Systems - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Most people have had experience with a number of difference source control systems during their careers. Often these experiences have been good, but just as often they have been bad. Join the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners for a round-table discussion with your peers about what has worked and hasn’t worked.

If the door is locked when you get here, please call 303-542-7180 and someone will come let you in.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Geek Notes 2003-11-13

I’m almost caught up on rebuilding my new laptop. You know how it goes, you get the basics done the first day but then it is another week of saying, “Oops… forgot to install Acrobat Reader!”

A bunch of interesting things out there today:

Enjoy!

Geek Notes 2003-11-12

So my laptop harddrive bit the dust yesterday afternoon. Boy am I getting sick and tired of rebuilding computers. This morning I was given a new Inspiron 8500 from our IT guys and this machine rocks! The big screen is a crazy thing to get used to but I think I like it. USB 2.0, 75 GB drive, 1GB RAM… oh yeah.

Here is some of the good stuff I found today:

Personal Computer History

ChrisAn continued this meme, and many others have chimed in with their personal computing history. Here is mine…

My father built his first computer in the garage when I was about 8 years old. I remember watching him use wirewrapping to tie all of the components together. I don’t remember what processor it was, but I do remember that it had 8 toggle switches on the front and one switch for enter. He would enter machine code into the thing one byte at a time…. ugh.

He spent some time trying to get a hexadecimal keypad to work on that thing but finally gave up and bought an Ohio Scientific Challenger 4P. I was completely blown away by this thing. We typed in simple programs and saved them to tape. It used a black and white television for the monitor. I was about 9 or 10 years old and hooked.

Our next computer was an Apple II+. This was the computer that I actually learned to program on. Started out using BASIC typing in programs from magazines and such. It is amazing how well you learn to debug when you are typing in crappy code and don’t have├é a debugger. You learn intuitive debugging which is that sixth sense that tells you where the bugs are. Come on… you know what I’m talking about.

Later on we had a Forth environment and UCSD Pascal for the Apple which allowed me to expand my programming horizons into a more modern age. Our next computer was a hybrid Apple-CP/M system that basically let you dual boot between the operating systems. I guess my dad wanted to play with CP/M but didn’t want to lose all his Apple stuff. As I recall, we didn’t use the CP/M part much.

After that we got an IBM PC. One of the actual IBMs. I don’t remember much about this computer except that we had a killer submarine game for it. That was followed by a 286 which was when I taught myself C. I was dabbling with Desqview and Windows 286 at the time and wanted to understand how to develop on these new “windowing” systems. :)

After that I was pretty much a Microsoft Windows boy. I’ve had basically every processor and Windows version that has shipped since that 286 computer. Along the way I taught myself C++, MFC, and all the other technologies that are in my toolbelt. I did get├é a Computer Science degree at some point, but that was just busy work between parties and frisbee golf.

Geek Notes 2003-11-11

Today is my anniversary. My wife and I have been happily married for three years now… going on twenty! :)

Because I lost my OPML and everything else, I got to start today with a clean slate. Here’s what I found:

And then my laptop died again (which is why this post is a day late). I’ll explain more in the next Geek Notes.

Geek Notes 2003-11-10

Sorry, not much today. As I mentioned last night, I rebuilt my laptop yesterday. This morning the new build was not behaving nicely (it was a new corp ghost image) so I spent the morning rebuilding it by hand.

Along the way I lost my current OPML for my aggregator (oops), so I had to revert back to the last copy I uploaded to the web server (at least a month out of date).

Here is the only thing that caught my eye today:

Most of the new features we’re seeing in Whidbey (e.g. generics, Object Spaces, improved XML, etc.) are fairly low lever building blocks. The MBF provides programming abstractions like Entities, Relationships and Cubes that are built upon these blocks to provide business app developers the tools they really need.

The developer geek in me loves the low level stuff, but I’m going to guess that the stuff I’ll use the most will be MBF and ObjectSpaces. Why isn’t there more information on it? One slide deck isn’t good enough…

Virtual Development

While at the PDC, I was hanging out with Harry Pierson (aka DevHawk) and a few others when Harry says, “Check this out.”

He pulls out his laptop and shows my that he has basically got nothing but Office 2004 and Virtual PC 2004 installed on his laptop. He does all of his development in VPC sessions. His host operating system remains pristine and unchanging. No strange development tools, drivers, or anything else that can screw things up.

I tossed this idea around in my head for a while and mentioned it to a few colleagues. Most were receptive although many were skeptical. One was interested enough to help me plan and setup a series of VPC systems for development inside of our company. We decided to create a base OS install of Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003. Then we would make copies of them and install a basic set of development tools (Office 2K3, VS.NET 2K3, etc.). Later when we want to create special builds for server tools (e.g. BizTalk, SharePoint Portal, etc.) we will just make copies of the development images and install from there. If we ever want to make builds with different development tools, we can just go back to the base image.

We got a 250 GB Firewire drive to hold all of the images. When a developer wants to use one of these images, they copy them off of the Firewire drive and onto their local machine. Then they create a differencing disk (a very cool new feature of VPC 2K4) that lets them install whatever they want without messing up the image they started with.

We got the base and development images ready by COB Friday and today I finally repaved my laptop. It has only a few tools other Office and VPC (mostly blogging and such). Now we get to see if this works. I’m very optimistic (granted, I do have 1GB RAM.)

I’ll keep you posted.