Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Big Game

I have to admit to being torn by this game. If the Pats win, they go 16-0 and are the first undefeated regular season team since the 1972 Dolphins. If they lose, hey, no big deal for the playoffs.

I am a lifelong Dolphins fan. I attended several of the '72 games with my father and was in attendance for that final game versus the Colts that sealed the Perfect Season.

But I have seen the '07 Patriots in action. Offensively, they are a juggernaut. They don't even bother with an honest running game since they can pass at will. I've watched 5 Pats games this year and the only weakness I see is perhaps in the middle versus the play-action run or power run.

Can the Giants stop them? Sure. The Ravens and Eagles almost did. Dumb playcalling and sheer luck stopped those two teams from winning.

Will they? Lord knows. Manning is not terribly reliable but the Pats may rest their players. This may be a game for the ages.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

One of the downsides to this time of year is that I don't have the opportunity to personally wish all of my friends and associates good tidings for the season.

I am terrible at keeping track of phone numbers and addresses. Just terrible. I don't send out cards because I know for every address I have right there are a gazillion I have lost or overlooked and I don't want to be unfair to those folks.

I can't honestly think of anyone in my past 25 years that I would not shake hands with or give a hug to for the holiday season. I am sure that there are those who would not return the feeling...heh.

To all of you, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.

Next year, dammit, I will send cards and make calls. Help me out by emailing me at with your current contact information. I'd love to hear from you all.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Led Zeppelin

Anyone know why the fadeout music for almost all MNF fadeouts tonight were LZ song clips?

Monday, October 22, 2007


Initial reports on this SP were scary so I pounded the crap out of it last weekend. Honestly, I didn't run anything under Vista because I wanted to test the core stability of the bit and I had no Vista machine handy anyway.

My conclusion is that this service pack is fine to run with. The fixes the dev team made to issues far exceed my expectations insofar as some of these issues have been around for a long time.

Good job to the devs at MS!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Express Lines

A quandry:

I was in the Express Line (10 Items or Less) at the store yesterday. I had 12 items but 2 were from "buy one, get one free" offers, so technically, I was buying 10 items.

Was I OK or breaking the item limit? Hmmmmmm

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I Need to Report a Kidnapping

Somebody kidnapped the Miami Hurricanes football team and replaced them with imposters. That must be it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Modular PC

An idea I've been kicking around my head for at least 10 years is the modular PC. What's that?

Imagine a bricksized casing, slightly longer and thinner, with high-speed ports on all sides. Each brick would hold a part of the overall PC and would attach to other brings by stacking, being placed side-by-side, whatever - the ports would connect and link the components.

Individual bricks would hold the CPU, RAM, DVD, HD, and networking components. Other bricks could hold peripheral cards such as graphics and sound cards. Another could hold USB ports.

The brick housings themselves would be low-cost.

The big advantage of this architecture would be that you could swap out or add bricks as required over time to update your system. You might never need again to replace an entire computer.

Need another hard drive? Buy a hard drive brick and snap it onto the stack.

Now there may be a need for a bus controller brick but that's not a big deal I would think.

If upgrades were reduced to simple plug-ins then I would think the peripheral and upgrade market would explode as it would be cheaper and easier for the technically inept to pull off. The bricks would be plug-and-play.

What do you think?


Looks like someone's already done it to a degree, but not to the extent I was contemplating.

FoxPro Advisor is No More

Just spotted this on the Wiki:

Sign...yet FP another institution gone.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Testing 101

I peeked into the cube of our intern the other day and found him running a report where the font was too small to comfortably read. "Hey, good find", I told him. Where's the bug? I looked and the status was "Open".

"Why are you testing that?" I asked.
"I wanted to see if it worked", he replied.
"Is the bug open?"
"If you hit your hand with a hammer and haven't seen the doctor, is it still broken?", I said.
"Yes", in a small voice.

Testing truly is a structured and disciplined endeavor. We learn that everytime we let newbies loose.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why I was a No-Show at FoxForward

To put it simply, I'm on a very aggressive release schedule of a product for some law enforcement agencies. All vacation requests have been cancelled.

I had alerted management to FF months ago so, technically, I suppose I could have forced the issue but that would have been a bad signal to my workmates who are busting ass on this project. Also, my prepared topic was skirting client confidentiality since my firm had just rolled out a related product for acceptance testing.

I missed seeing Ed, Kevin, Garrett, and the rest, though.

Perhaps next year if Kevin is gracious enough to allow me to submit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Death of a Peripheral

Lately my old and trusty VIAO began to lock up during large file saves. When I say lock up, I mean total machine catatonia and nothing but a ten second finger on the power button works. And that just powers down.

So, I have a problem. First things first, go to the Event log. Nope, nothing there. Second: Run troubleshooting for suspect devices (like the controller) from Control Panel and see what it says. It says everything is A-OK.

Finally, run hardware diagnostics from BIOS on bootstrap. Nothing there either.

I strongly suspect that a peripheral, maybe controller, maybe graphics card, is eating it during one or more function calls. But I have no way on knowing because it appears that whatever mean piece of silicon is doing this doesn't have the common courtesy to exit gracefully from an error.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Moore's Law in Reverse

For those that don't know, Moore's Law is that the number of ICs on a given sized board (and, presumably computing power) will double at the same cost every 24 months. Considering Mr. Moore predicted this in 1965 I'd say he's been remarkably prescient.

I say this writing on a computer purchased in early 2002 with only minor RAM and hard disk upgrades since.

I bought my machine, a Sony VAIO, sometime in January 2002. It came with a 1.8 GHz P4 CPU, 128 MB of RAM, and Windows ME. The video card had 64 MB of RAM and it had 80 GB of hard disk space.

WinME was killed immediately in favor of XP. The hard disk developed a weird hiccup in early 2004 and I substituted a WD 160 GB drive for the main drive. Shortly thereafter I updated the RAM, RAMBUS and expensive, to 512 MB. Bought and installed a new video card in early 2005 with 256 MB video RAM. Total cost to upgrade about $500, mainly due to the expensive, and weird, RAM.

So now I sit with a fully capable machine with no real inclination to replace. And I see nothing, except for some nifty games, to compel me to upgrade in the next 12-24 months. When I do finally get a new machine this baby will probably be 7+ years old.

WTF? Is the technology now so mature that we can take our time to upgrade, secure in the knowledge that we won't be obsolete anytime soon? Seems that way. So, what does all the new 64-bit and dual core technology buy us? I'm not sure. I'm running Vista and VS 2005 without complaint.

This must be freaking out the marketing boys at Intel and AMD.

John's Law used to be replace your machine every 18 months or you're so far behind the tech curve you're in trouble. Hard to see an argument that it still applies.

Of course, my VFP friends know that VFP 9 happily percolates on any machine running Win2K (actually Win95 if you overlook some UI issues). Which translates to a base of a 60 Mhz Pentium and about 96 MB of RAM.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Future is Cloudy

Andrew MacNeill, a good guy, has been commenting on my World of Tomorrow posts. He brings up some legitimate points but I'm not sure he understands where I'm coming from. Or maybe he does. Andrew, if you see this, please comment?

The ambiguity may be my fault because with my recent promotion to QA Architect (new responsibilities) and my hectic homelife, I don't always flesh out my positions well. Being borderline crazy doesn't help either (heh).

I am fully aware of what's in CodePlex and I have availed myself of some of those cool tools. There are some great, great resources there and other sites that are free to use. Still, though, no framework or tool is going to completely insulate you from the .Net Framework and some of the (to a Fox guy) weirdnesses to be found there.

We need to take a step back here; most VFP developers of my age or older - the majority - came into the profession from others. There were (and are) no schools teaching Visual FoxPro in the US, although I have heard it's used in some Indian high schools. A lot of VFP developers became VFP developers because they had a burning need to solve a business issue and bootstrapped themselves into becoming developers.

This is probably why, it seems, the intersection of C++ and VFP developers is in my experience small. C++ developers started out wanting to be developers and it requires a good grasp of professional development skills to accomplish things in C++. They are further down the abstraction ladder from concept to end-user than VFP developers. They think differently.

Now, consider the planning that goes into a VFP line-of-business application as opposed to the same planning if one were to write a line-of-business app in C++. VFP does so many things for you that you can focus mainly on the functionality. With a C++ app, you have to spend a large percentage of your time thinking about housekeeping, memory management, database connectivity and boggles the average VFPers mind. And in my experience, it sometimes boggles the C++ developers mind as well.

I mean, nothing against Craig Boyd, but why in the hell does one want to mix XAML and VFP in the real world? Sure, it's a great intellectual exercise, but if XAML is where you want to go why involve VFP whatsoever? And why XAML? The builders are not there yet so there's a lot of hand-tooling...something VFPers generally detest.

Why not Adobe Flex and FlexBuilder? You have the simple object model and a great builder tool. Something VFPers like and can work with and, since it's RIA, a good foundation for the future.

On the opposite end of the equation, why not use FileMaker for Win apps? Simple, built-in DML...perfect for solving small or medium business issues.

My point here is that .Net architecture just doesn't work the way most VFP developers are comfortable with. There's too many moving parts. Simple issues become consumed by the sheer complexities of the platform. VS 2008 will solve some of these issues, ie LINQ, but not all of them.

.Net can do things that VFP developers have a very hard time with. But the opposite is certainly true as well. So why the push to move VFPers to the .Net platform unless it's a mainly marketing exercise?

Let me return to my last "WOT" post: RIA. Adobe Flex and MS Sharepoint and Sharepoint add-ons represent means to create rich-content business apps by making available a variety of canned widgets to simplify meeting business needs without complex coding. This is really all that a monolithic VFP developer looking to migrate his app to a future-oriented platform may ever need.

But there's also the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school. If your VFP app rocks, you're happy, your clients are happy, and you don't see difficulties ahead with Vista - ROCK ON! Sell those apps, keep the world happy, and don't embark on switching tools if you don't have to. Introducing risk out of fear and not need is a cargo cult-ish anti-pattern. Can you count the number of disasters you've seen because some bozo decided they had to use the newest and greatest for a project when they didn't have to and, subsequently, damaged or killed the project? I have seen my fill of those.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The World of Tomorrow, Part Five

So as I last left you I mentioned two current buzzwords making the rounds: RIA and SaaS.

Upfront, I am going to ignore a lot of the theory and CIO-gibberish both of these areas and focus on what's important to the VFP developer.

First off, RIA. In plainspeak, RIA is an attempt to make browser based apps look and feel like rich client apps. Those of you who have paid attention to the last few years of VFP soundbites (which I helped write) will note that rich client apps were a selling point of VFP.

RIA is, potentially, a great direction for VFP developers to go towards. The tools insulate the developer from the background mechanics and allow the developer to focus on the business process. I go back to a previous analogy - do we want to build bricks? Hell, no, we want to build houses.

I'm time curtailed up on RIA and think about it. More later.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oracle, Unchained

I was at a presentation recently where Oracle's chairman was quoted as a fount of knowledge in an emeging technology.

Ellison? Doesn't anyone remember that everything Oracle has ever touted outside of databases has been shit?

I dread the moment that Oracle might wish to move to Atlanta and merge with Computer Associates. The merger of those two would create a state of negative energy in the universe and flip us into the true vacuum state where the universe would restructure itself to the lower energy level and destroy us all.

But before that happened there would probably be time for workers to put the new sign of the merged company on the side of the headquarters building:

SUCK Incorporated.

The World of Tomorrow, Part Four

Funny enough, it was Visual FoxPro that was labelled difficult to learn and master. A Fawcette Technical Publications review of Visual FoxPro 6.0 in 1998 referred, tongue-in-cheek, to it's "simple, 5 year learning curve".

Yet, is it really that difficult? It can be, depending on what you need to do or on the standards expected by your client. For simple applications, though, it isn't very hard at all.

Contrast this with .Net. While the Designers are similar to the VFP Designers, the code behind the pretty pictures is daunting. Yes it's elegant and flexible, yes it's powerful but it's very difficult to do simple stuff that's not drag-and-drop from a toolbox.

Many of the VFP developers I have known really love the cool things you can do in VFP ... but usually don't have to. They'd much rather tweak their class and function libraries to do the grunt work and concentrate on the business task.

VFP developers, for the most part, freely give away their secrets and that overcomes a lot of the language difficulties. Those that charge for their wares do so because of their huge investment of time in their work and no one would expect less. VFP developers do not have to invent the brick to build their houses....unless they want to.

Not so in the .Net world. You may not want to invent the brick but few are going to give it to you. There sure are a lot of brick assemblies for sale, though. Good thing, because it would take you a long, long time to build that brick and you better have a good grasp of chemistry and engineering to do so.

In the last 18 months, I have led or managed small and medium sized development teams on monster .Net based projects, using ASP, C#, web forms, win forms, secure sockets, etc etc etc. The developers I work with are very talented folks. But I have had to really lower my expectations on the quantity of deliverables and the robustness of the initial builds. It is so, so easy to "blow up" Visual Studio apps because the amount of things the developers have to account for sometimes overwhelms them. A small behavioral tweak may cause 2 or 3 developers days to complete.

I can't even begin to describe how hard it is to get a robust, blind installer in place for these applications.

Upper management gets frustrated, understandably. They can't fathom at the gut level why it takes so long to deliver functionality that used to be delivered in a fraction of the time.

There are those in the VFP world who have transitioned to the .Net world and I say God bless 'em. If that's the tool that meets their needs, all power to them.

But I think the backlash "for the rest of us" is coming. Two acronyms: RIA and SaaS.

RIA (Rich Internet Applications) tools make it easy to put robust line-of-business applications up on the web quickly and with a minimum of fuss. SaaS stands for Software as a Service and is defined as centralizing data and code and selling business software subscriptions. There are several maturity levels of SaaS but, in the end, it deals with removing local, complex software and managing changes and customizations by scripting and configuration management.

Where does the VFP world fit in and what are the advantages for VFP developers looking for their next platform?

For that you have to wait for Part Five. Gotta go buy summer school clothes for my daughter.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The World of Tomorrow, Part Three

First off, I apologize for letting this drag on. I have been very busy with the 9-5 stuff.

In plain English: The fear amongst Fox-ers is not the language. An experienced FoxPro developer has no problems with VB or C# when it comes to the language. The fear is the .Net Framework itself.

And it's not just old Foxheads. I was involved in a discussion the other day with C# developers where nobody could figure out how to make a label transparent to it's container. Trivial stuff in the Fox world, but apparently in the Framework world it demands an intricate knowledge of dithering and other shit unless you want to hard-wire the color. Which runs counter to the OOP abstractions Fox-ers have been preaching and living by for 10+ years.

This is a big problem.

Alan Cooper once said, and I'm paraphrasing, that Microsoft gave you the periodic table and you had to make a broccoli. But this was in the early 90's when VB developers were just as removed from the intricacies of the OS and OS theory as the VFP folks are now.

Unless you have an in-depth appreciation of the way everything should work in the world of Windows or IE based net apps - which a lot of line-of-business Fox folks don't - you are screwed.

I think it also explains the massive drop-off of VB 6 hobbyists from the fold. Things that were simple are now inordinately complicated.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The World of Tomorrow Part Two

I wasn't really fair in my last post; I left too much information out of the equation. Here's the premise:

I am convinced that the Fox world's fearful and grudging adoption of .Net has nothing to do with coding. The "World of Tomorrow" referred to a scenario where 30's serials posited great leaps forward in technology and, implicitly, everyone's ability to understand and adapt that understanding. Billy builds his raygun.

Back to our real world. Billy builds his website and plops it on his Win2K3 web server. It fails. Why?

More in Part Three.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sedna and The World of Tomorrow!

A play on words, yes? Think about it, though, "World of Tomorrow" stuff from the early 20th century was all about extrapolating trends towards the future following an idealistic evolution of existing techs.

What really happened was so much different. Why?

Think about it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Welcome to Jiffy Tech

This is sort of a banner year for me. June marks my 30th anniversary writing code; September is my 25th anniversary of landing my first professional data-processing job.

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine over beers back in the mid-80's. He was trying to understand exactly what it was I did and why it paid so well. I thought for a moment and replied that we were the "priests in the temples in the Dark Ages". We were elite because we knew how to read in an illiterate world. But one day, as technology spread, we'd be the new auto mechanics.

That conversation has stuck in the back of my mind for years and I sometimes look at industry and career trends and hold them against that half-joking prediction.

Now why auto mechanics?

I see a correlation between the automotive industry and information technology.

As to cars, from the late 1800's to the introduction of the Ford Model-T, very few people knew automotive technology. Those that did were well-schooled in every aspect of the cars and were paid well for their arcane knowledge. Operating a car required a far more in-depth understanding of mechanics than today. Pioneers in automotives founded large companies to make cars more understandable, cheaper, and more accessible to the masses - the survivors are Ford, Diamler-Benz, General Motors, and others. Studebaker, Willys, and others were competitive for a time but are now long-gone.

Experienced, independent mechanics today are paid reasonably well but a minimum wage high school kid can do most regular service on a car. However, cars are much more complex mechanically under the hood so, paradoxically, mechanics have to be superior troubleshooters than decades ago, before electronics, ABS, fuel injection, et al.

Looking at personal computer-based IT, from the late 70's to the mid-90's we have a parallel. For about a 15 year period, few people grasped the big picture in how to craft a computer application. Those that were successful at it commanded large sums of money. People not in the industry were scared to death of them. The early experts put together companies to sell cheaper computers or more understandable operating systems or languages. The survivors are Microsoft, Apple, Sun, Compaq, and others. Gone, but important in industry history, are Digital Research (CPM), Commodore, Ashton-Tate, and others.

Experienced, independent developers on average are being contracted at hourly rates we would have laughed at 15 years ago. Contract rates for developing in day-to-day businesses seems to be in the $20 - 40 an hour. This is for doing essentially the same work as commanded $50 -150 an hour 20 years ago. Factoring in inflation and other costs, contract developers are being paid probably a fifth of what they were 20 years ago.

And, like the automotive industry, the product has become easier for the consumer but much more difficult to engineer and troubleshoot.

When a network application of mine puked under FoxPro for DOS, it was either because of my lousy coding, a FoxPro bug, or a network error. 95% of the time I knew within seconds which it was.

When the code in an ASP.NET application pukes, if it's not a coding error you are sometimes in for a long, long troubleshooting session. Is it browser settings? Permissions? Database connectivity? Security policy? Much more difficult to assess. And I get paid a hell of a lot less to figure it out.

On the other hand, my teenage son can easily install an operating system and if was hired to do so by a local computer shop I imagine he wouldn't be paid much more than minimum wage.

Maybe it wasn't a joke after all.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I'd Like To, But....

I got Markus's postcard in the mail this week. Very clever marketing, a personal message about how he could help with converting to .Net. Some people need that help.

There are a lot of folks not happy with aggressive abandonment of Visual FoxPro; folks who I will not name out of respect. But I will say that I am wholeheartedly one of them.

Don't get me wrong, the VS suite is ...err... sweet. Once you have a grip on the framework, .Net apps are almost as simple to clob together as our trusty old VFP apps.

But not quite.

Managed code applications are a real bear to deploy. The amount of times I have heard "it works on my machine" from a developer versus the supposed worry-free builds I have been given that bombed or required special handling has skyrocketed. Simply put, .Net apps don't deploy well in an "install and forget" environment.

VFP apps won't run devices; neither will they work best in a widely distributive environment. But they work great for desktop database apps and nothing, nothing in the .Net world comes close to meeting that.

Perhaps if MS had stuck with WinFS and put local data storage integral to the operating system with programking support I couldn't make these claims. But they didn't.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Eschatology of Visual FoxPro

So Alan made it official at the MVP Summit this week - no VFP 10 and no more Fox Team.

It shouldn't surprise anyone. I can't speak for YAG, Ken, Stew, or the others, but Randy and I have been pretty open about this for the last few years and those who have kept there eyes wide open since 2004 or so could see this coming.

In fact, the transition of the Fox Team to other endeavors started a few years back. Team meetings had begun to peter out even before I left in July 2005. As it were, we were under pretty stringent time and resource constraints just to get 9 out the door.

That was a small part of my decision to leave MS and I think it's what prompted Randy Brown's retirement.

Once VFP 9 was released, the Team went into a sort-of caretaker mode with Ken enlisting some community members to support Sedna.

It's each customers own decision how much or how little they continue to develop and support VFP applications. But there is a robust and experienced VFP community that will always be supportive and informative so this announcement shouldn't be a death sentence.

Rather, I agree with YAG that this will be a good thing in the medium to long term as the former Fox Team developers are tasked with taking great features and ideas from VFP and getting them into VS with the help of some very astute PMs. LINQ is a prime example.

And, anyone who keeps up with the online world knows how active Calvin Hsia and Aleksey Tsingauz have been in blogs and support forums, respectively. I don't see that changing.

My question is, will there continue to be support and naming of VFP MVPs? I hope so, especially as Sedna goes open source with the Sedna bits.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Return of Fox Forward

The FoxForward conference, which premiered last September, is returning for September of this year. I'd encourage all VFP aficionados to attend as some very interesting presentations are in store.

For more information, see this link

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Things You Find

An interview with me from March 1993:

John Koziol, president of Nexgen Computer Corporation, a computer programming group, sent his family away while he rode out Hurricane Andrew in his home in Cutler Ridge, Florida. He expected some winds and possible flooding from a storm surge. "I was 10 feet above sea level, and I have a two-story house," he says. "My logic was that my equipment was on the first floor, and I couldn't possibly waterproof things. I thought if I stayed, I could react as things developed. Boy, was I wrong."
Koziol got stranded upstairs, isolated from the equipment he had stayed to protect, when the hurricane whipped into his neighborhood. It came on so suddenly and so fiercely that the doors blew off their hinges and knocked him down twice. He survived by using a mattress to create a cave in a closet. Only afterward did he notice that the sheetrock on his bedroom walls had disintegrated into powder.
Koziol and three employees had worked from his and his father's homes before Hurricane Andrew. "We knew our bases of operation were gone [his father's house was also destroyed] and weren't going to be livable ever, or for quite some time. We had a little bit of cash saved up, so we decided either we had to fold the company or take our reserves and take our chances," says Koziol.
He moved the company into an office building. "The way we were set up, with the home offices and everything distributed, worked to our advantage," says Koziol. "We were probably back on our feet much, much faster than anyone else in that area--in less than a month. And our revenues and staff more than doubled within three months. I preferred the home office, but I knew that we would eventually evolve out of it. The hurricane jump-started that evolution."


Does anyone know of a running FoxBase application these days? I know there was one running a few years ago using FoxBase/UNIX but haven't heard anything more.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Death of ActiveDocument in VFP

The short version: We turned it off.

As I recall we were alerted to a security issue with ActiveDocument early on in the testing for VFP8 that couldn't be easily resolved. So development stubbed it out (meaning it did nothing) and we waited for the complaints.

None ever came.

Great technology

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Darwin Award Poems

Poems as odes to the Darwin Awards.... some are based on real, some could be.

Hey, look, my old pistol I'd lost three years back
(Crime was up when I got it, I feared an attack)
It looks pretty dirty - does it still work?
To set safety off requires a hard jerk.
Surely it's unloaded, as near as I figure;
so lemme look down the barrel and jiggle the trigger.


My engine sounds funny when the car's put in gear
When in Park or Neutral, there's nothing to hear.
C'mon Tommy, old buddy, let's see what's the deal -
you rev the engine; I'll check under the wheel.
OK, pal, see, this car's really cursed.
Try goosing the engine, then put it in first.


Sailing! Sailing!
Meandering through the sky!
Bought myself some weather balloons,
ya know I gotta try!


Updated: I guess there are more in me....

I know the wings will hold me, they're made of balsa wood.
My arms are strong, my aim is high - I've always known I could
The cliff is high and wind is strong and they say I can't fly.
I launch and hear close snapping sounds - uh oh, I'm gonna die.


Stole some jet packs from my air force base, they make the planes go fast.
I've been working on my Mustang I, you know they're build to last.
I weld these JATOs to the frame to make a mark that way
I'll set the record for Mustang speed on this very day
I light the flame, the car leaps forward; the controls are rather stiff
Aw shit the car has left the ground, aw shit here comes a cliff.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I had a dream last night that was unresolved when I woke up but was deeply philosophical in implications. This was one of those sorts of dreams where you are an observer but not a participant yet you know more than you should.

In the dream I was watching a near-future TV show where God and religion were being ridiculed in a "comedy roast" sort of way. The backdrop to the dream was that - somehow - God was scientically proven to exist as was the survival of the soul after death.

Important to note, though, that God was proven to be a presence yet take no active role in the Universe and that there was no ethical component to soul survival - Hitler is just as existing as Mother Theresa.

So, in effect, the structure of religious beliefs is proven yet the ethical underpinnings are removed. The "watchmaker" God.

How would society react to these proofs? I'm still trying to work out the implications. Ideas?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Some Things Never Change - Copperheads

I'm a student of history, especially Civil War history. While reading up on the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 I came across a reference to Copperhead, or Peace, Democrats. I looked at that group a bit more closely and I came across this definition...look at the very last part:

"...A majority of Peace Democrats supported war to save the Union, but a strong and active minority asserted that the Republicans had provoked the South into secession; that the Republicans were waging the war in order to establish their own domination, suppress civil and states rights, and impose "racial equality"; and that military means had failed and would never restore the Union..."



Apparently, I'm nowhere near the 1st to draw a comparison between the Democrats of the 1860's and now. Fred Barnes does an outstanding job of it here:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Why is VFP so slow when rendering graphics, anyway? I should know this but I've always focused on text stuff and have only recently played around with pics and stuff.

Also, is it possible to host a Flash app in a VFP form?

The Katrina Entanglement

I was reading today that the governor of Louisiana is upset that Bush did not mention Hurricane Katrina in his SOTU address. Boo hoo.

I am going to write something very politically incorrect: I don't want to hear about these whiny assholes who were hit by Katrina anymore. They have already received far more aid and entitlements than any other natural disaster victims in this country's history and - apparently - that's still not enough. Taken together with the fraud and victimology being practiced far and wide in that area, it's disturbing how much people don't take responsiblity for their own welfare.

People died, yes, and people lost everything they owned. It happens, especially when you live in a coastal area of the Gulf. It is sad but it doesn't entitle you to the kind of aid that's being dispensed like candy. What is also very shameful is that, since the freaking incompetent government bureaucracy is running the show, people are probably getting things they don't need while others do without.

I speak from a position of personal and family experience.

In 1992 my home was 95% destroyed and most of my belongings lost in Hurricane Andrew in South Florida. Andrew was a far more powerful storm than Katrina. When my brother and I drove through Louisiana in December of 2005 we were struck by how much less windstorm damage there was than with Andrew. Yes, I know the majority of the problem with Katrina was the levies breaking but the hurricane itself seemed moderate in scope.

But I had, gasp!, insurance to protect my home and belongings. And I also had a job. Even if I hadn't had insurance I would have eventually restored by standard of living. As it was, it was over a year of headache before we were anywhere near restored.

The amount of help I received from the government: ZERO. To be sure, low cost loans and grants were available but they paled in significance to what Katrina victims were and are offered. I didn't want to be a victim and I never even considered taking a government handout. My family and my wife and I's hard work were our help.

In 1926 my grandmother and her family were farmers in Miami when the Big One hit. Thousands of people were killed. My grandfather rebuilt with his own two hands and with the help of his neighbors. Nothing I went through can compare to the '26 storm.

So if you were a New Orleans welfare bum before Katrina and now are a "victim" who wants to be a welfare bum with more handouts now, to hell with you. If not, you're probably already back on your feet and embarrassed by the whining and crying of your mayor and governor.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I've been Tagged

OK, I see this is where you list 5 things no one knows about you and then "tag" 5 other people. I kind of already replied in Garretts blog but here goes again:

1. I have a 4th child somewhere in Toronto who is 27 whom I have never met and probably never will. I was a stupid teenager - 'nuff said.

2. I love West Side Story and get all emotional when Tony dies.

3. Briefly shook hands with Richard Nixon when he was on a quick trip to see a friend in the Keys in 1973.

4. Drove a 1974 Pinto for 3 years that had no floor! It had rotted out.

5. I actually relayed orders to nuclear bombers to launch and attack while in the USAF due to a computer glitch. 30 seconds later more or less the recall order came. Whoops.

Hmmm...what 5 folks could I tag. Well, there are several that have been absent from the VFP world (or at least my small corner of it) for a while and I'm not sure they'll even see this so here goes nothing:

Tom Cooper
Mike Stewart
Barry Lee
Jim Booth
Roi Ledford

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I recently downloaded a demo version of a game called "DefCon". How could you not be intrigued by a game that where the subtitle is "Everybody Dies"?

Before I go further, here's the link:

Anyhow, the premise is loosely based on the 1983 film "WarGames" insofar as it's a game of thermonuclear war. And the graphics look a lot the same.

But the game itself is simple but wonderful in the same way that chess has simple rules but complex strategy. A timer inexorably countsdown to DefCon 1 while you madly try to get your forces ready for both offense and defense.

Winning a Strangelovian....your megadeaths versus my megadeaths. Not for the faint of heart.

Concluding: It's a cool game that takes only minutes to play and has some great strategy elements as well as fulfilling the atavistic urge to crush, crumble, and destroy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

12 Months (Pretty Much) Med Free!

Today I celebrate, being unclear if that's the right word, 12 months of being pretty much clear of psychotropic medications. When my daily prescriptions expired in late '05, I chose not to renew them. Admittedly, there was a financial component to this but, primarily, I have a hard time accepting that I am disfunctional without them.

To those unfamiliar with my travails, in mid-2004 I suffered a severe panic attack although it was not seen as such at the time. After numerous tests, it was found that I have a somewhat serious bipolar disorder.

The results of no meds? Well.....not bad. I go through swings where I am a bastard and insufferable but my family and key co-workers know where it's coming from and know what to do and say. I get through it. Lately - since about Thanksgiving - I appear to be in a depressive cycle and it's gotten pretty severe at times. I am working through it.

No strong mania since July / August that I am aware of. The evil thing with mania, unlike depression, is that you're not innately aware of it so who knows? I don't feel like the smartest guy in the world and I'm not hyperproductive lately so I'm pretty sure the hypomania ain't there.

OTOH, I'll kick anyone's ass in trivia

It's been hard. I feel like a character in the classic "Harrison Bergeron" (look it up) where I have been saddled with something I can't openly fight. But drugs aren't the answer because they make me slower than I am normally and God knows I was penalized for that at Microsoft.

I'm gonna stay drug-free no matter what that entails. But I do worry about what happens if I bounce too far in one direction or other.