WinDevPowerTools Launches

Jim Holmes and James Avery's book "Windows Developer Power Tools" now has a companion website. WinDevPowerTools is a simple, yet interesting website. Once you register you can create your own toolbox letting you share with others those utilities you find useful. You can then browse via the tag cloud and "love" those tools you think worthy.

Right now it appears that only Jim and James can add tools (they're working on getting the ones from their book up). I think a tool submission page would really be useful. Letting users submit tools would add to the overhead of the site of course, and I'm not sure if the authors are willing or able to take the responsibility. Even though currently the only method of getting a tool added is to email James. So maybe it would actually free him up more. However, I think a user based submission method could really add to the usefulness of the site. There's a definite feeling of community trying to be built (after all one of the authors helped organize CodeMash), freeing up the tool submission process would really increase that. Maybe that's coming down the road.

The site opens up the possibility for some interesting statistical profiling. Adding the ability to add some user specific profile information (i.e. industry, location, etc) could lead to some interesting information beyond the current "Most Loved Tools". I'd be interested to see what tools were in how many toolboxes broken down by industry, location, or even age group. Right now you just submit desired nick, email, and desired password. Which may be a big plus to some people, but limits any of the interesting reporting that would be possible. Of course any demographic information should be totally optional.

One of the hallmarks of the developer community is the sharing of information, a site like this could definitely help with disseminating information on tools. I could see sites created for Mac and Linux very easily (maybe with companion books?), with a unified toolbox between the sites. Especially with the number of open source cross platform tools.

WDPT is a site just starting out, but with the possibility of being very useful to the Windows developer community, sort of a FreshMeat for the rest of us with a bit of social networking for spice. Be sure to check it out!

Microsoft Mea Culpa

Microsoft's Dan Fernandez has issued a statement apologizing for the company submitting a patent that appeared to copy BlueJ. They have promised to pull the patent submission and investigate what caused it to be filed in the first place. Microsoft has always had a bad image with patent applications, and this is just the latest in a series of bad PR moves. The most recent of which was the RSS Patent Controversy. Nail Kennedy at the time commented that there were some patent worthy inventions in that case, but that the patent as a whole was probably invalid. Nail's summary is also relevant to this latest episode, specifically where he mentions the importance of patents in the Microsoft culture:

"Microsoft employees receive an inscribed granite cube and a financial reward for each patent granted. The trophies are often displayed with pride for any visitor to quickly count. If you possibly invented something you're encouraged to submit a patent to reward yourself and the company."

It's obvious that Microsoft employees are being a little over-zealous on filing for patents.

I wonder if it's a managerial problem personally. How far fetched would it be to believe that employees in some groups have a "patent application goal" that they are to meet? Perhaps they're throwing stuff at the wall for their manager's sake, not really believing any of it will stick (i.e. get past legal).

Regardless, Microsoft has to re-examine it's patent application structure or the bad blood will continue. The developer community is wary of software patents to begin with. For every point Microsoft gains with the developer community for an open standard or some cool technology, it loses two points for every sinister looking patent application.

Kudos for Microsoft for doing the right thing in this case though! Remember, they're like "Blaster" from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, not evil, just big and dumb.

Categories/Tags FeedFlare

I went ahead and bit at one of the101 FeedFlare ideas on the FeedBurner site. I went ahead an wrote #25: Display categories/tags. See how to set up the flare here. Oh and if you don't use FeedBurner, I highly recommend it. Let me know what you all think!

Why It's Good To Be Married.

If I didn't have a wife, I'd probably have all the toys I want...I'd have an XBox 360, a Nintendo Wii, and a PS3. I'd also be living at my parent's house and very very lonely. Me and my wife have a good back and forth relationship. I'm the spender, she's the saver. I'm the little kid who never grew up, she's the little kid who had to grow up fast. In alot of ways we really do complete each other. Sometimes she has to work very hard to reign me in.

I've been itching to get a next generation game system since I purchased my HDTV earlier this year. The PS2 in 480p just does not cut it. Being a new father one as to be responsible. As my loving and caring wife is quick to remind me. This quickly eliminates the PS3 from contention as a possibility. Even I can't rationalize a purchase like that. So that leaves the XBox 360 and the Nintendo Wii as finalists. While the Wii is fun to play (my brother's own one), the XBox has something that no other console has: XBox Live.

XBox Live is simply the killer app for the XBox. My brother's (who live at home, are sometimes lonely, and have every video game system imaginable (they're also quite a bit younger)) have shown me this. All my other gamer friends who have XBoxen have shown me this. No other gaming system has an infrastructure that can come close to what Microsoft has put together.

The only debate has been if I should wait until the new revision comes out or if I should get it now. Well, as my wife was quick to point out, with a 3 month old "now" isn't going to happen. I've been told that I have to save the money up first and pay with cash for the system and accessories. With the date of the new revision ranging from "soon" to "June" to "Christmas", I've decided not wait on Microsoft and will purchase the XBox as soon as I have the money saved up.

I've already got a start. With the $100 gift certificate I won at CodeMash and a $20 rebate from SanDisk, I figure I only have about another $700 to go in order to get everything I want (including the HDDVD drive). Here's the breakdown:

Xbox System   399.99
Wireless Network Adapter 99.99
Xbox Live Gold 12 month 59.99
Gears of War Game 59.99
HDDVD Player 199.99
Total: 819.95
Less: 120.00
Remaining: 699.95

So I got a while to go, and the new XBox will probably be out by the time I get the money together (not to mention no one will be playing Gears of War by then). In order to help expedite this process I'm opening the floor for donations. If you feel like helping a guy out, feel free to click on the donation button on my blog and send me some cash (even if it's only a buck). This isn't any charitable cause, you won't be able to deduct this from your taxes, you won't get monthly letters from the child who you're providing an education to , you won't get any stickers to put on your car to help you get out of a ticket. In fact, if all you have is a buck to donate, go to them first please. But if you can help me out, you'll get the satisfaction of knowing you helped a fellow gamer out. If I get enough donations that it significantly helps me towards my purchase (more than $300) I'll let my readers choose my gamertag.

Regardless, I'm happy that I married the woman I did. She makes me a more responsible person, I'm actually waiting and saving up to buy something. I never would have done this before I met her, I'd have just thrown it on a credit card and let my balance go up some more. Honey, I love you. Even if it does drive the child in me crazy.

Please Help Support My Gaming Habit: Friends don't let friends play Sony.

Scoble Gone Wild

Robert Scoble did an interesting tour of Intel's new fab plant yesterday, he thought so much of this video that he is beside himself on the number of sites that didn't post it. Robert thought that this video was so important to be linked that he admits to comment spamming in an attempt to have major sites link to it!

I really don't understand what's going on here, increasing traffic to his site doesn't increase any revenue for him (his blog has no text ads on it), he's already a well known and influential blogger. Who cares of Engadget and Gizmodo isn't linking your stuff? Maybe it's because is a /direct/ competitor? Furthermore, I wouldn't consider Engadget nor Gizmodo to be a "blog" really. They're both too large and commercial oriented to have the feel of a personal blog.

Scoble does air a concern that the era of linking to each other is over. However, he does not provide any hard evidence for this assertion. I think it would be an interesting experiment to examine some of the bigger blogs in Technorati say, and see who they link to and how often.

I don't think the problem is a lack of linkage, I think the real problem is bloggers producing unique content. Most blogger's are more concerned with getting listed on digg, they regurgitate some other site's story with a little flair added in, and hope they can get on the front page. If you want the link, break the story or produce the content! And if you're so big that you're competing with other sites, don't be surprised if they don't link to you out of habit!

I'll just chalk up Robert's rant to us hitting the most depressing time of year. I still love you man! *blogger man-huggers*

The End Of An Era

Palm OS is dead, Long Live Garnet OS. Not. As Paul Thurrott noted, they'll be gone so quick we won't have time to care. We should have known that the end was near when the first Palm phone running Windows Mobile was released...though now I guess it's a Garnet Phone...or is it an Access Phone? How the mighty have fallen, I still miss my Palm IIIxe.

Sysinternals Suite Published

I found out that the Sysinternals Suite has been published by Mark Russinovich via MSDN Blogs, ironically there's no mention on his blog about this release. Anyway, Sysinternals stuff has always been good, but the Suite page doesn't list the contents of the download. It only contains this vague description:

This file contains the individual troubleshooting tools and help files. It does not contain non-troubleshooting tools like the BSOD Screen Saver or NotMyFault.

So in the interest of community involvement, for your reading pleasure, here are the contents of the Suite:

  1. accesschk: return access rights by user or group
  2. accessenum: shows you who has access to what
  3. adrestore: undelete active directory objects
  4. autologon: autologon utility
  5. autoruns: view system startup info in a gui
  6. autorunsc: command line version of the above
  7. bginfo: create backgrounds with system info
  8. cacheset: control the Cache Managers working set size
  9. clockres: find timer resolution
  10. contig: by file defragmenter
  11. ctrl2cap: makes the capslock a control key
  12. dbgview: display DbgPrint calls
  13. diskext: Display volume disk-mappings
  14. diskmnt: diskmonitor for NT
  15. diskmon: monitor disk access
  16. diskview: disk sector utility with GUI
  17. du: disk usage
  18. efsdump: encrypted file information
  19. filemon: monitor file access
  20. handle: show open file handles
  21. hex2dec: convert hex to decimal
  22. junction: Create NTFS symlinks
  23. ldmdump: dump the logical disk managers database
  24. listdlls: show loaded dlls
  25. livekd: realtime kernel debug
  26. loadord: display device load order
  27. logonsessions: lists active logins
  28. movefile: move inuse files on next reboot
  29. newsid: change a computer SID
  30. ntfsinfo: file system info
  31. pagedfrg: defrag page file and registry.
  32. pendmoves: show file moves scheduled for next reboot
  33. physmem: physical memory viewer
  34. pipelist: view current pipes
  35. portmon: Monitor port activity
  36. procexp: Process Explorer, monitor running proccess
  37. ProcFeatures: process information
  38. Procmon: monitor file system, registry, and processes
  39. psexec: execute processes remotely
  40. psfile: show remotely opened files
  41. psgetsid: display SID of computer or user
  42. psinfo: get system info
  43. pslist: process info
  44. pskill: kill processes
  45. psloggedon: whose logged on?
  46. psloglist: dump event logs
  47. pspasswd: change passwords
  48. psservice: control services
  49. psshutdown: shutdown/reboot a computer
  50. pssuspend: suspend a process
  51. regdelnull: deletes nondeletedable registry keys
  52. reghide: creates hidden registry keys
  53. regjump: go straight to a registry key
  54. regmon: monitor registry activity
  55. rootkitrevealer: scan for rootkits
  56. sdelete: DoD compliant secure delete
  57. shareenum: scan file shares for security holes
  58. sigcheck: File version and signature checker
  59. streams: view alternate NTFS streams
  60. strings: strings utility
  61. sync: flush data to disk
  62. tcpvcon: console version of tcpview
  63. tcpview: view open sockets
  64. volumeid: set labels on FAT or NTFS drives
  65. whois: whois service
  66. winobj: object manager viewer
  67. zoomit: zoom and draw on the screen

These are all great utilities, now that you know what's in it, grab the Suite from Microsoft!

Social Networking For NASCAR Fans.

I saw this post on Rex Dixon's site "Technically Speaking" on Infield Parking, the new social website for NASCAR fans. I've been a NASCAR fan for a few years now, so this intrigued me. One of the pluses that IP has going for it is that the President and Co-Founder is Little E himself Dale Earnhardt Jr. This fact will instantly give the site credibility to a large segment of the racing fan population (though admittedly there may be some who will forgo it just for this reason).

So I decided to sign up. When you first hit the site, the one thing that stands out is the slick design. It looks clean and professional. Registration was a breeze, but why do some sites insist on emailing you the password you set in clear text? I would recommend they use https for authentication and please don't email me the password I just set up 2 minutes ago in plain text. If you're going to show me what I typed twice in the email, why block it with asterisk when I type it in at the web site? The other thing you have to do is pick a favourite driver, some people have more then one or would rather not specify, so I don't know how that'll work. Then you can set up your "Infield Parking Space", the cool thing about that is the profile pages aren't random numbers, it's a nice intuitive URL naming structure. For instance my profile is here: Easy to remember and type.

The other strength of the site appears to be its forums. Forums are the way to build community and IP has a nice selection of them with a fairly active community. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out up to the February launch.

The NASCAR fan base (and drivers for that matter) are no longer restricted to the original south base that started the tradition. There's plenty of tech and gadgets in NASCAR for any geek to enjoy. If you haven't checked it out before, I suggest at least giving it a glance, it's much more then people just turning left.

Dare vs Mike: Live at Wikipedia!

It looks like Mike Arrington of TechCrunch has gotten a little up upset over Dare Obasanjo's experiment on Wikipedia editing. It seems Mike knows how to stir things up, the digg article on the situation is up over 300 diggs at this moment. Mike Arrington is saying that this Wikipedia page is "vandalized". Hardly, Dare simply posted a fact about some people's opinions of the site. Granted it was biased, but that was exactly what Dare was trying to point out.

The question of how to handle obviously biased articles on Wikipedia is a touchy one. You'll hear alot of talk about democracy and freedom of speech in this situation. The problem with democracy is that it's nothing but the rule of the mob. Even if everyone agrees on something, that doesn't automatically make it right. Had no one edited the TechCrunch article back to it's original state, or added in the opposing view point (as what was done) then no one could argue that democracy wasn't followed and freedom of speech wasn't respected.

Mike seems to feel that one sentence on Wikipedia espousing an opinion about someone's credibility with a couple of links to blogs that assert this, is "The Man Holding You Down". The problem with this thought is that you can then argue that anyone that doesn't agree with you or that questions you is simply trying to "silence your view point". This is a common tactic of people who have no argument. Such a knee jerk reaction does nothing more than strengthen your opponent's argument.

The ironic thing is that 1) Mike's original article on TechCrunch was hardly anti-Microsoft, and 2) Dare's purpose wasn't to attack Mike Arrington. Dare was simply trying to point out a flaw in the Wikipedia system, namely that it's a pure democracy where mob rules and not true neutrality.

The whole situation could be resolved by allowing people to edit Wikipedia articles that reference themselves or their companies as long as they do it in a transparent manner.

Is It Astroturfing Even When It Really Is Impartial?

Microsoft is embroiled in another "scandal", between this and the Ferrari Fiasco it's been a bad couple of months for ol' MS. It's really undeserved in my opinion.

Especially this latest Wikipedia thing, if you go back to the source that started all this hoopla (and was in fact linked on the Slashdot article), you can see that Rick Jelliffe was not paid to promote Microsoft's worldview. In fact, reading the opening paragraph to his article sounds like a nice bunch of reasons why it would have not been in Microsoft's interests to even contact him:

My first computer was a Mac Plus. Loved it. My second computer was an AT&T Unix PC running System V. Loved it long time. My third computer was a Sparc running Solaris or SunOS. Loved it. At work I run Linux, Open Office, Firefox, Eclipse, etc. No drama. For the last six years I have been running a little company making Java programs. Love Java. I do a little open source development, in particular with the Schematron program (quite like it!), but I have also contributed some code to the Flamingo/Substance project over at JavaDesktop, which provides novel looks and feels and more modern GUI components.

Doug Mahugh actually posted to the Slashdot thread with the contents of his email to Jelliffe where he states that all Microsoft was interested in was to get more informed and less-one sided discussion going on. If Microsoft is going to ask a professional to take some of their time to review something and elicit their unbiased input, isn't it only fair that the professional is compensated? If Microsoft was serious about not preapproving any of the changes and honestly wanted to simply open up a discussion they felt was being stymied, they should be applauded not condemned. Replying to the Slashdot thread took incredible courage and guts from Doug, and I applaud him for doing it. I don't see Microsoft as evil, I think the mob is more evil then Microsoft ever could be, and in this case the mob is blowing it out of proportion. Ironically they've done exactly what Microsoft and Doug had hoped:

Good to see the tone of the Open XML debate getting some broad attention and analysis. I'll leave it up to others to reach conclusions, but as always I have confidence that most people are reasonable, and will reach reasonable conclusions from the facts.

Let's turn the debate in a more general manner. What if other corporations sponsored editors to take an unbiased look at articles they felt were skewed? Would this be a problem? I don't think so, and here's why. If the sponsor thought the editor was unfair (or just didn't like what they posted) they could stop paying the editor. But if the editor was no longer being paid, then they have no incentive to edit, and the sponsor looses in that the biased slant can easily come back (in fact all it takes is a revert!). Honestly, if Microsoft paid me to review something or add my view (not theirs) to a discussion, because they thought the current dialogue was onesided, I would have no stronger desire to lean in their favor. Why would I? I'm not their employee, I'm doing them a favor by taking my time to check something out, and they're paying me for that time. Here's the kicker, it's not my full time job. And it wasn't Rick Jelliffe's either, he wasn't offered a position, he was offered compensation for a favor. Nothing more. Haven't you ever given someone a beer because they helped cut your grass?

We did it! CodeMash #1!

Thanks to Christopher Grant for pointing out that CodeMash moved from #2 on Technorati's search to #1:

CodeMash hits the #1 spot on Technorati's search!

Amazing! That kind of exposure can only be a good thing for this unique and wonderful conference.

CodeMash Number 2 Search on Technorati!

And has been all day:


Only "Colbert Oreilly" is higher. A Midwestern developer conference beating out iPhone says something, I think.

CodeMash: Day 2.5

Scott's keynote on LINQ was very cool. The concept of using specific keywords for data access (the what not the how) is one of those things that when you see it, you ask why noone's really done it before. I hope other languages and platforms really do pick it up and run with it.

After the keynote I headed to Lean Software Development presented by Mary Poppendieck, which was a great talk and very thought provoking. I look forward to reading some of the books she recommended and at least attempting to put some of the techniques described in practice.

Luckily Bill Wagner's talk, an Introduction to Functional Programming, was in the same room so I got to just hang out while they set up for that. Bill's talk was quite a compliment to Scott's keynote. Bill really showed the power of the LINQ syntax when used against objects and while implementing lambdas. Very cool stuff, I really need to move away from .NET 1.1 as soon as possible.

After that was Lunch, where we got to see Drew Robbin's first python program as they randomly selected the Blogging contest winner (twasn't me). I've seen a couple people complain about the lunches, but for me it was more then good enough. If people really wanted a full blown meal there were restaurants in the resort. And if box lunches keep the price down, then I say change nothing!

Anywho, after lunch it was off to Neal Ford's talk on The Productive Programmer. It was amusing to watch him drink coke out of a pepsi bottle, but the talk was very good. I was happy to see that I was already doing alot of the things he discussed (and can't imagine people NOT doing), but there were alot of utilities and subtle tricks he brought up that I will be sure to use. I look forward to the book!

Then it was on to the last session of the conference (for me), Jim Holmes' presentation on "Improving your testing with Open Source Testing Tools". Lot's of good stuff, and since I hadn't really been introduced to unit testing and what not before, this talk was very interesting. Fortunately I was able to trade in the book I received at the end of mash giveaway for a book on C# and NUnit. Which should be useful.

Speaking of the end of CodeMash meeting, I ended up coming in second place in Pillar's CodeOff challenge. I'm sure I'll put the gift card to full use. The object was to move a company of 100 employees from a building of four floors to a building of six floors while minimizing costs and keeping product teams together. My entry is here, if you're interested.

We also got to see Brian Prince and Josh Holmes shave their heads! That was exciting, even though we didn't quite get 500 blog posts in the time allotted, I think we did pretty good and Brian and Josh were awesome about it (I hope Brian's wife forgives him!).

I must say this was a very awesome experience and I would have never met the people I met or learned the things I learned anywhere else. Thank you for all the organizers for putting on such a great conference, and for just being cool people and to all the speakers I heard and had the honor of hanging out with (even though I'm just an annoying newb). I look very forward to CodeMash 2.0.08 and plan on being there!

CodeMash: Day 2.

Well, since I had to check out I'm now lugging my laptop around. So you'll get some live blogging from CodeMash today! Yesterday's dinner and after dinner was very cool. I got to meet the pyOraGeek herself, Catherine Devlin. We were both looking for the OpenSpace meeting on Social Networking but couldn't end up finding it (the location on the post-it looked like it read "laguorauer"), so I ended up at Joe Brinkman's OpenSpace on Open Source on .NET.

Joe's get together was very well attended with a couple dozen people talking about GPL and tools and all kinds of Open Source goodness. After that it was pretty much hanging around in the great hall mingling. There is an amazing amount of talent at this conference and it's been quite a humbling experience. I thought I had learned a lot, I've barely scratched the surface. One thing I have learned here is that I know nothing.

I had a chance last night to listen in while Neal Ford, Joe O'Brien, and two other gentlemen were talking Ruby, Java, and Macs. I must say the level of talent was awe inspiring, I am now convinced that at some point in my life I must own a Mac. The opportunity to listen to people that were knowledgeable and passionate about some technology that I haven't had a lot of exposure too was what I think CodeMash is all about. I had the pleasure of sitting in on that conversation until they turned the lights off in the hall around 11pm. We were the only group left there, and we took this as some sort of subtle hint.

After that I made my way to the bar, again, and not learning my lesson the other night I didn't get back to my room until 1:30am. So at 1:30am, buzzing from the booze, I decided to work on my entry for Pillar's CodeOff challenge. That kept my busy until 2:00am. I was able to get it done though, I did a little tweaking today at their booth and submitted my entry. Here's hoping something good comes from it.

Anyway, I'm eating breakfast at the moment, waiting on Scott Guthrie's keynote, and almost just choked to death on my minibagel. So I'm going to go and concentrate on eating before I kill myself.

CodeMash: Day 1.5

Today's been really interesting, a lot of good talks. I was out a bit late last night with some of the people from CodeMash, very cool group. I felt very inadequate being at the same table as some of those really smart guys and it was awesome of them to let me hang around. Luckily one of the guys there hadn't eaten dinner yet either, and since organizing a conference endows the organizers with amazing powers, I was able to get dinner after the kitchen closed. So after stumbling to my room around 1:30am, I didn't notice that the alarm clock was 12 hours off. Needless to say my alarm didn't go off at 6:30 am like I expected. So I work up around 8:00am and had to rush to get down in time for breakfast.

Glad I did, Neal Ford's keynote to kick off the day was awesome. Neal's a great speaker and has a knack of making just about anything interesting. I then made my way to the fist session of the day, "Building and Deploying Smart Clients with Visual Studio 2005", presented by Keith Elder. Very good stuff with a focus on Deployment, which is what I do. ClickOnce, and it's automatic updating, should be quite useful.

Partially on the basis of Neal's keynote, and partially because I've been curious for a while, the next session I decided to go to was "An Introduction to the Ruby language", by Joe O'Brien. Joe pretty much convinced me that Ruby is the next language I will use. The flexibility is amazing, and as Neal mentioned in his keynote, the ability to create DSL's is something that would help tremendously at my job where we do a lot of the same things over and over again and in ways where the base languages we use aren't very good at expressing what we're doing.

That brought us to Lunch, were we got to listen to Bruce Eckel's keynote on the world being dynamic. Which was a very good, and very entertaining keynote. Though at times it seemed like an advertisement for Burning Man, mostly because at times there seemed to be a number of slides from Burning Man thrown in with no apparent relation to the subject. Bruce mentioned he had just reordered the deck, so that may have something to do with it. At times though, the effect of the Burning Man picture with the topic at hand was quite profound.

After lunch I got to go to "Beyond TDD", presented by Ben Carey, all the Ruby guys were talking about test based development and talking down us compiler guys. Even though, as I told Joe, unit testing is just as important for compiled languages as interpreted. You can create a program that compiles that does nothing you expected. So anyway, Ben's presentation was fairly good, and definitely worth seeing. His slide deck was awesomely put together and quite professional looking.

I didn't get any pictures today because I wanted to really enjoy the sessions, I'll probably have some from the dinner and attendee party though. So keep an eye out!

I'm taking a break from the last session before dinner to write this post and to relax. After dinner they're having an Open Spaces meeting on Social Networking before the attendee party. I'm looking forward to that as I've just recently gotten involved in the social networking space. That's all for now really, I'll probably have another post up tonight (I don't plan on staying out quite as late, unless someone offers to buy.....). Talk at y'all later!

CodeMash: Day 0.

Just got back from the expert panel on languages, it was most enjoyable. I think they did a pretty good job. I would say Bruce Eckle and Neal Ford pretty much stole the show, but everyone was very informative and entertaining. One of the interesting things I heard was the rise of Domain Specific Languages, something that's been rattling around in the back of my head for work. The only real complaint so far is the wireless connection, it does to drop alot. For instance I've been fighting to upload pictures to flickr for almost a whole hour. Anyway, I've been taking pictures, here's the flickr link. Feel free to tag 'em up!

At CodeMash!

I'm here! I already had a chance to play the Nintendo Wii since I signed up to win one ;) I'll be the guy taking pictures and posting them to flickr.

Off To CodeMash!

Well I'm just about ready to leave for CodeMash, next time you see me (and some of you will see me) it'll be at the Kalahari. :)

Botch The Vote: Always Check Your Links!

Blake Ross pointed out that Rock The Vote is honoring the Good Dr. King by linking to a site which, under even a cursory examination, is obviously a hate site. This is a good lesson and reminder to always double check every thing you plan on posting before you blare it out on the net for all to see. Failing to do that may have cost one webmaster his job.

**UPDATE: 1/17/07@8:40am** Looks like they finally fixed their link. It now points to The King Center. Took them long enough. And one has to wonder...why didn't they just do that in the first place?

Jack and Ahmed Go To White Castle

24 this season so far as been as awesome as ever! And tonight's episode...well..I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but HOLY CRAP! But every time I see Ahmed, I think of Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.

In fairness, Kal Penn has done an amazing job, but I still half-expected Ahmed and Scott to light up a fat one...

Dirty Jobs At The Gates Of Dell: CES Keynote Analysis.

Todd Bishop has an interesting analysis of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell's keynotes up, using Tag Clouds and textual analysis. I think a glance at the tags is pretty revealing of the differences between Apple and Microsoft. The biggest tag in Job's cloud is "Phone" followed by "iphone" and "ipod". Clearly Steve's keynote was very focused on the ipodination of the consumer electronics market. Bill Gate's biggest tags are "great" and "devices" ("windows" and "vista" seem to come in third and fourth respectively).

I find it interesting that one of Bill's biggest tags is an adjective, whereas Steve's is a product. While Bill's keynote may have been less focused than Steve's, Apple's head salesman's highest ranking adjective (which is also great) is somewhere around fourth place. See, a lot of people think Bill's keynotes are boring compared to Steve's; and for the most part they're right. It's the same way that a cool cell phone commercial with the latest teeny popper hit is more exciting than the Discovery Channel. Steve Job's Keynote is nothing more than an advertisement for the ipod and the iphone. Bill Gate's Keynote is more about a vision, the way Microsoft would like the world to be. A lot of "Great Devices" powered by "Windows Vista". I think Bill has a far grander vision than Steve. Steve is just better at packaging his product.

As for Michael Dell... his biggest tags seemed to be gaming, home, online, great. So he's interested in "Great Home Gaming Online" it would seem. Honestly I haven't listened to Dell's keynote so I don't feel qualified to post any opinion, anyone out there that does?

***Edited: 1/15/07@10:30pm*** Figured since I made Scoble's Shared Items, I should make my post make sense. :)


Indeed... the job of the President, no matter his politics, is a hard and thankless one. In the interest of equal time:



I didn't always agree with him, but I respected him, and thank them all for their sacrafice.

Programming Promises

A few days after reading Ted Neward's post about checking your politics at the door and using the right tool for the job, I read this post from "Reed Me" over at Microsoft. Granted, Reed has a point. There's no one you've paid money to (unless, as he points out in his comment, you paid for support) that will update your Time Zone tables for you in order to accommodate the 2007 changes. However, the tone of his post irked me and I had to reply. I won't go into the details of our back and forth here (you can read our thread at his blog here), but it did make me think of what I think a good programmer should be. So here are my Programming Promises:

  • I promise to get the job done.
  • I promise to use whatever tools I need to, regardless of politics.
  • I promise to listen to the Closed Source and Open Source zealots equally, and then dismiss them.
  • I promise to support, as long as I am able, any closed source applications I may release.
  • I promise to release open source any applications I can not, or will not, support.
  • I promise to learn as many languages and libraries as possible, regardless of politics.
  • I promise to engage with as many other programmers as possible, both in person and online, in order to learn from them; regardless of politics.
  • I promise to not bash Microsoft nor GNU, nor others like them, everyone has a place in our industry.
  • I promise to use both Windows and Linux, both have their uses.
  • I promise to ask questions when I don't know the answer, and answer questions when I do.
  • I promise to learn from my mistakes, and to try to the first time.
  • I promise to listen to any idea, however crazy it may sound.

That's all I have for now, I'll share more as I think of them. What other Programming Promises are you willing to make?

CodeMash Gearing Up!

It's a week from today! And now they have a Google Group set up, already 50 people are members and the conversation is starting. We're Mashing up before the Mashing, ha! I'm looking so forward to this, and you think we could get an Adult Entertainment Expo next door at the last minute? Pretty Please? Anyway, get in the group and start meeting your fellow attendees ahead of time.

Someday, Apple WILL Win.

Why? Simple, because they can do something Microsoft can't or won't. Bring competitors together. Google AND Yahoo together on stage! Who would have thought it? With Microsoft screwing their partners, while Apple is brining competitors together, one has to wonder how long until Microsoft implodes. Apple is shrewd indeed. They talk like the iPhone is competing with cell phones, when what it's really competing with is Microsoft's UMPC initiative. What we have is not a phone, but an ultra portable computing platform. It just happens to make calls. So Apple beat Microsoft's Zune with the iPod and is now going to beat Microsoft's UMPC with the iPhone. The only way Microsoft will win is through sheer force of will (and dollars), which is not to be discounted in this case. Bill has to be fuming.

Blogger Issues?

While the question may be ironic on this blog (note the domain), it looks like Blogspot may be having some problems, there's a number of blogs I can't access today, inlcuding Indeed Google's very own blog Buzz seems to be down. Here's hoping I stay up long enough to send the word out...

Note: I couldn't use Live Writer to send this... and it took forever for the dashboard to come up....something's wrong..

The Lament Of Those Who Cannot Go.

Oh man am I tempted to call up Scoble and be all like "Hey man! I want in on the BlogHaus, can you send me some plane tickets? Oh and can I bunk with yas?" All the CES talk has me a bit bummed that I'm stuck here doing my normal, boring job stuff. Oh sure, I have CodeMash in a couple weeks, but it's in Sandusky not Vegas, and it doesn't have an adult convention next door. Poo. So a little piece of me dies every time Scoble picks someone else up in his limo. Looking through my feeds, it looks like there's a ton of bloggers there, alot that don't even necessarily cover consumer electronics regularly on thier blogs. I'm sure the face to face is wonderful, unfortunatly I can't afford in either time or money to go, hopefully there'll be something in the Midwest/East Coast some time soon. I'm looking forward to the Microsoft annoucements most of all, but every year is exiciting to see what toys I'll be buying in the next year or two. Well, while you are are out there enjoying the lights and booze, think of all the hundreds of thousands of bloggers that are stuck at home, wishing they could be out there having fun with y'all. At least CES is one of the most covered events on the web, with all the live coverage I'll at least feel like I'm almost there.

XBox361: Of Sales, HDMI, and Points.

With word on the next version of the XBox360 coming out "soon" with some nice upgrades (HDMI = yummy). I'm sure glad I didn't push to get my wife to let me buy one over the Christmas vacation. I'm definitely saving up now with the intention to buy one when it's available.

The real question many other people are doing the same? How many purchases is Microsoft going to loose this quarter while people hold off for the XBox361? Of course with 2 million XBoxes sold during the holiday season compared to only 750,000 for the PS3 [source], the climb is probably insurmountable. But still, it should be interesting to see if there's a dip in XBox sales over the next few months.

I also believe that the inclusion of an HDMI port strongly points to the possibility of a HD-DVD drive being built in. If that happens, and Microsoft is able to keep the price of the XBox around where it's been, HD-DVD will win the format war handedly. Of course this would probably piss off the early adopters, and purchasers of the external drive, more then the hard drive upgrade.

Another interesting bit of Xbox speculation occurred at Scobleizer today. Robert speculates on Microsoft leveraging the XBox platform outside of the gaming world and throughout it's Live family. I personally think it makes sense, though achievements may not be the best way. Imagine instead micro-payments of Microsoft Points (notice that they are Microsoft Points and not XBox Points...hmmm), maybe instead of an achievement it's half a point or some such. If the console manufacturers ever decide to allow person to person point transfers (which Microsoft says they eventually want to allow), it would be interesting to see if a third party point system could develop. What if you could earn XBox Points that you could convert to Wii Points or whatever the Playstation ends up with? Or convert it to cash? A gamer point market seems like it would be fun, profitable, and good for all three consoles.

Google Waves To Digg And Others

With yesterday's post from the googlereader blog detailing how they've added the new personal stats feature, a number of people have speculated on Google releasing the information in an aggregate form. As speculated earlier on this blog and others, Google may be in a position to compete in the social web with the likes of Digg. Of course this would require aggregate data on individual posts (which I'm sure they're gathering). Another site that Google could easily compete with would be Technorati, the stats that they're currently showing are for individual feeds, which usually correspond to an individual site. It would be trivial to provide a listing of most read and most shared feeds, those would be some interesting stats I think. Maybe call it Feedorati? Regardless, I'm expecting with 2007 to be the year of the Social Web that Google will be adding alot more social aspects to their services, and this is likely a step in that direction.

Useful Programming Skill #2

The ability to NOT overengineer a problem. One of my latest tasks was to take a spreadsheet and update a SQL database with data from that spreadsheet. A pilot had already been run, I was responsible for developing a deployable script. I asked the pilot team to send me the script they used. Turned out they took the spreadsheet, converted it to XML using a XML map, and copied and pasted that into the script. They then used OPENXML and proceeded to use a cursor to update each field one-by-one. Ostensibly, this was done for logging purposes. I replaced it with three update statements using OPENDATASOURCE direct to the spreadsheet with inner and left joins. Much more maintainable and likely more performat. Remember, just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD. And XML does not solve everything (sacrilege I know).

Can The Social Web Make A Difference?

Rex (I hope he doesn't mind me calling him Rex) pointed me to this site. The aim is to raise a million dollars in 30 days for kids with dyslexia and learning disabilities. A worthy cause, make sure you digg the article so we can get the word out. I think Rex brings up a bigger question as well, can the Social Web truly make a difference? Is it big enough, and well connected enough, to really have an impact in the lives of those who are not a part of it? I think the answer is yes myself. And if it's not currently, it's certainly heading in that direction. Unfortunately this is the first I had heard of 8wishes and their self-imposed deadline is in a week. So hurry up and get the word out!

Useful Programming Skill #1

Knowing when to quit and start over. Sometimes whatever design or architecture you're working on isn't the right one. The trick is knowing when to admit you were wrong, stop and start over. The sooner you realize you've gone down the wrong path, the better. I've just spent too much time trying to embed a number of controls into a ListView in an efficient manner. I went so far as to override WndProc and try to do the scrolling myself. Ah well, a left/right pane approach is probably better anyway.

2007 Is Here!

Happy New Year Everyone! May 2007 be happy and safe for you all. :)