Monday, December 22, 2008

Burnin' For You

My stupid science project:

Sometimes I can be a doggone good engineer but I don't build well. Therefore, half of my projects end up as scattered notes in a drawer or very cool diagrams somewhere else.

I've been studying radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) for some time and think I've come up with a half-decent design for a heliothermal generator using focal mirrors and off-the-shelf thermocouples. Essentially, think a heat collector with thermocouples back-ended into a cool granite block for maximum temperature gradient.

My generator would look like a very shiny satellite dish about 18-20" in diameter focusing solar heat on a "hockey puck" containing the ends of about 50 thermocouples. The others ends are sheilded and pass into a granite block or other thermal-negative material to maximize electrical potential.

The math indicates I might produce about 380 Watts at 1vA under optimal conditions. Cool, huh?

I see more notes in more drawers in my future :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Live! (Almost) From the Atlanta MSDN Developer Conference

Sorry there was no "heads-up" on this one; I've only known that I would be attending for the last few weeks. Normally I'd have posted something that I'll be at event X on day Y but my work schedule and the craziness of this time of year precluded that.

The Atlanta (and other cities) MDC is meant to distill critical developer sessions from PDC into a one-day event. I talked with a 'Softie about the purpose and execution of the event (dude, sorry, didn't note the name) and it seems that MS was not entirely convinced this was not a good idea since, at $99 per registration with speakers and MVPs comped, it was going to cost the company money.

Well, IMHO, I got more bang from the buck at this one day event than I have from any other in quite some time. If you'll excuse the phrase, MS went balls-to-the-walls and showed off a lot of stuff coming down the road that was definitiely ooh-and-ahh.

In the keynote alone, superbly managed by Ron Jacobs, we got doses of Azure and cloud computing, "Geneva", new SQL Services, Live Services, Silverlight/VS 2010 stuff, and Windows 7.

Ron used an interesting analogy to being aware of future technologies - he said is what like playing Age of Empires online and managing your kingdom only to find it rushed by your competitior without warning. I thought at first he was a bit melodramatic and was heavu-handed with the point but then, later, settled into more concrete and less fearful uses of the analogy.

My main take-away from the keynote was the unbridled enthusiasm and hope for Windows 7. Yes, "hope" not "hype". Ron was very open about what Vista falldowns are overcome by Windows 7 and showed a bit of a cool demo using the new HP touchscreen PC (which further justified my upcoming purchase of that machine - In your face, Tray!!)

Yeah, I could post a kool-aid faux knowledgable lie about the other things he talked about and say how wonderful they were since he used the stock phrase "isn't that cool?" enough times but, honestly, I am not familiar enough with the technologies to pass judgement and I'm not one to gush on hype. I have grown very conservative over the years judging upfront how a new platform or technology will service me and my customers so no insult intended for Ron or my former employer.

A friend from the Fox world, Alan Stevens, presented on the future of managed languages and cool stuff like JQuery (damn, now I'm doing the cool thing). Alan did a great, great job. Allow me an aside for a moment, this conference had a room christened the "Community Courtyard" with whiteboards and seats to discuss things. Alan *openly* sought out people looking for more information and then ran informal seminars in that room using the whiteboards and a clear, consistant manner to answering questions and directing the discussion. A few of the other speakers added commentary but Alan captivated about a dozen folks with expert insight into a variety of web architectural scenarios. It's easy to find technology experts, people persons, and great teachers, but it's RARE to find all in one guy. If MS doesn't hire this guy or make him a permanent addition to their speaker list they're missing the boat.

I continued to attend sessions in the Tools and Languages track and, thankfully, my co-workers attended sessions in other tracks so Advanced Systems Design got a full knowledge spread from their attendees.

I'm still digesting and I'll undoubtedly post more in the coming days as it occurs to me. It's almost midnight and I'm really tired from the 5 hour drive. I didn't immediately learn a lot but I never do from 75 minutes of being dictated to. However, I did have my interest piqued a-plenty and saw many things to be on the lookout for in the future.

Hey, Microsoft! Great job by your regional folks and you should do this every year. Thanks!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Being There (Part Two)

I have to make this post to clarify a position since my Inbox indicates that my message was received as an indictment against VFP.

In a nutshell I said in my last post that I had disengaged from speaking about Fox or otherwise encouraging the Fox community because I thought it was akin to leading folks down a dead-in path.

What I DIDN'T say is that Visual FoxPro is a bad product or development platform. In fact it is my opinion that to this day and for some time to come Fox is a superior tool for delivering Windows-based line-of-business applications. It is also a superior tool for creating COTS applications involving heavy data.

VFP is the victim of indifferent marketing and secondary product placement. Not bad engineering. Good Fox apps will trump a lot of other apps in the Windows environment when written by good devs.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Being There

My current employer has invited me to attend a one-day DevCon in Atlanta later this month. I accepted the invitation not because I was all that keen on attending but because I really like these guys and if they want me there I'll go.

As is probably obvious to thoise who know me, I've totally backed off of the conference scene - with the possible exception of the March MVP Summit. I don't respond to Call To Speakers and I don't solicit invitations to speak or attend conferences.


Several reasons.

While I cherish my part in the Fox community I can't see myself speaking to that community anymore because I don't have a good feeling about the viability of being a Fox developer in the future. Yeah, I could stand there and give a rousing presentation on CursorAdaptors or MemberClasses; I mean, I really know that stuff. But it would feel wrong to me; I would feel like the 50's actor standing on stage talking about the motivations of his character in a lesser-known movie from that era.

I am busting butt to ramp up my .Net skills. That's what I now do for a living but it'll take time for me to get to the same level of skill that I have/had in Fox. Therefore, I don't feel comfortable presenting in that area as well.

Finally, as a former member of the Microsoft VS Data team, people may expect me to have knowledge and skills that I don't have since all of my time there was spent on VFP. I don't want to look like a doofus. I'm not ready to live up to the expectations others would have of me because I was at MS during the release of .Net.

It would be easy - very easy I imagine - to parley my past into numerous speaking and writing engagements centered around Fox. But whom would I be serving? If I go out and tell developers that Fox is great, Fox is cool, and look what can be done!, aren't I forestalling them from considering other languages and professional growth?

Maybe I'm being maudlin but I believe I have an obligation to the hundreds of friends and the thousands of people who know me by reputation. That obligation is to not push folks towards technologies that are dying. It's to hold up a lamp in the storm and help point a way through the storm knowing I'm not a navigator.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Common Table Expressions

Someone I work with turned me on to SQL Server 2005 Common Table Expressions (CTEs) a few months ago and I'm really starting to get into them.

CTEs are ways to create a derived set of data; sort of like a view but it doesn't persist in the database after being used. Here's a simple example:

WITH ProductSales (ProductID, ProductName, TotalSales)
SELECT product.ProductID,product.ProductName,
TotalSales = (SELECT SUM(Quantity)
FROM salesdetail
WHERE salesdetail.ProductID = product.ProductID)

FROM product

You then use SELECT * FROM ProductSales to get the results. Actually, you have to immediately query the results before doing any other non-CTE SQL.

I wonder if this is something we should have thought of for Visual FoxPro 9. Probably would have if Gene Goldhammer hadn't retired since he tended to think about new data features.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bits of Madness

I ran into an odd situation this week while coding a webform with Yes and No radiobuttons using the RadioButtonList control.

Traditionally, Yes and No are presented in a control with Yes being first. Therefore, in a .Net RadioButtonList control, the Index value for Yes is 0 (zero), while the Index value for No is 1. Being the old traditionalist that I am, I assigned 0 to the Value property for No and 1 to the Value for Yes.

This is an unbound control but is sourced to a Bit column in a SQL Server table. A Bit column is referenced in T-SQL as 0 for No and 1 for Yes, for example:

UPDATE mytable SET mybitfield = 0

This would set MyBitField to No.

When I grab this column into a Dataset in Visual Studio and want to convert it into an integer, I use the CInt function. CInt, though, converts a Yes to -1 and No to 0.

So now we have the following for my simple radiobuttons:

Yes No
Control.Index 0 1
Control.Value 1 0
MyBitField 1 0
CInt("mybitfield") -1 0

And this makes my head hurt

The simple solution is to assign Control.SelectedValue to Abs(CInt("mybitfield")) which will convert the -1 to 1 and leave the 0 values as is. But others might scratch their head while reviewing the code.

Another way to simplify this would be if I changed the control so that No came first, changing the control from Yes / No to No / Yes. That, however, goes against the way people think. I don't recall hearing anyone talk about a "No / Yes situation". I guess I could also reverse the assigned Values for the control so that No is 1 and Yes is 0 but that doesn't feel right either.

Sigh. Leave it to Microsoft to complicate something as simple as Boolean logic.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Been A While

I've been coding my ass off. Plus, my wife accepted a new position about 5 weeks ago and she's now working 60 hours a week making my "free" time an exercise into being a more complete Mr. Mom along with my 40-50 hour a week work.

Some of you all are going to hate me but I've backed off of the VFP to .Net bootcamp idea because, in all honesty, the more I delve into this the less I see for an open-minded, dedicated, and professional developer to overcome. I'm sorry but it's just not that freaking hard what with the extensive online support forums and a learned approach.

I still hope to make the next MVP Global Summit as a guest of the lovely and brilliant Ms. Pountney...that's looking good! I can't wait to see old friends and co-workers. When I left MS 3 years ago I was suffering a lot of personal issues and I didn't believe I was being treated fairly by HR but I rarely held it against my team members (with one exception who is no longer with the company). For me it'll be will be great to see them all.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


There's a new game out called "Spore" by Electronic Arts. It was designed by Wil Wright, the designer of SimCity. In Spore, the player evolved a species from a single-celled organism to a pan-galactic empire interacting on-line with other player empires.

I don't own Spore. I'm afraid to buy Spore. Given my previous addictions to SimCity, Civilization, and Masters of Orion I am deathly afraid of the addictive nature of Spore.

Spore: Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Monday, September 22, 2008

VFP to .Net Armageddon

I cobbled up an article for VFUG about how Fox folks could apply legacy skills to web development in VS.Net I have to admit, though, that I could only get into the grossest points of the topic since it's a "mile-wide" topic and no single article does it justice.

Frankly, I'm not qualified to write a series of articles on all the particulars because I'm still figuring out a lot of it for myself. I'm heartened by my findings that my legacy skills as a Fox coder since 1986 are translateable but it'll take me years to become an authoritative source on the subject matter in totality.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a disconnect between early adopters of .Net from the VFP ranks and the rank and file. I'm not sure why. It may be that the general feeling is that the early adopters have it all figured out and are talking down to the VFP base. I know that's not the intent and I'm not trying to flame anyone.

Do we need a VFP to .Net bootcamp? I think so. Not some marketing BS or a con that glosses over topics but an honest to goodness Marine Corps style bootcamp? Hands-on, bring your laptops, share, explore, learn???

Some feedback, folks? I'd love to organize such an event but your valuable comments will help sway my decision.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Freaking Checkboxes....

Why on earth do checkboxes not have both readonly and enabled properties and have the same behavior as other input controls with these properties? This is retarded and really hurts consistent UI design.

Useful .Net stuff

Web work in .Net .....

I was deliberating between using a skin and a CSS for a control. The problem was that I needed to modify the behavior of a control and skins are only used, supposedly, for display properties. On a lark, I defined the behavior I wanted in my CSS file:


text-align: right;


And then in the .skin file I added to the skin definition:


To my surprise, this worked! The control, in this case a TextBox, inherited both the display attributes of the skin and the alignment behavior of the stylesheet.

Another tip for web newbies: Avoid the MS Sans Serif and Arial fonts. They only display well at 10pt and above size. Try Tahoma font, which looks great at 9pt and will save you about 15% or so of screen space.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Upcoming VFUG Article

I agreed to write an article about .Net for VFP folks. Lately, I've been working with ASP.Net and web stuff exclusively but I see a lot of "hooks" that I think will register with the Fox faithful. There are a lot of parallels and I don't see where anyone has drawn those similarities together. I'll do my best!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good Buddies

I had a chance to chat with Randy Brown, formerly of the Fox Team, the other night. We had a great conversation. I am sometimes terrible about keeping up with people and haven't spoken with Randy for a few months.

He's getting married on the 9th of August and his fiance delivered a beautiful baby girl on June 6th. My family wishes his family all the best.

Here's a link to some baby pics on Flickr.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Technical Fixation

Ever noticed that when some coders learn a new technique they apply it like slathering butter on bread even where it makes no sense?

I'm re-engineering a web page where there is a parent-child relationship between two entities akin to a user and what rights they might have. The original coder used two listboxes to show assigned and available rights (good!) but then used checkboxes in each listbox row with a check all box in the header (the newly learned technique). To move rights around you check your butt off and then hit Save changes.

What the hell? I'm replacing it with the traditional mover lists construct while enabling multiple selections in each list. A lot fewer mouse clicks when moving shit around and conforms to a better understood standard, IMHO.

To paraphrase an old saying, if builders built buildings the way some web designers code web pages the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization.

I go back to what I keep preaching: Experienced Fox coders should run absolute rings around pure .Net weenies if they put up the intellectual investment to learn the syntax and idiosyncrasies of .Net. MS has had problems with migrating VB 6 coders to VB .Net and adoption of VB .Net has been slow. Wanna know why, IMHO? Because most VB coders couldn't architect their way out of a bird fountain. Experienced VFPers understand the interconnection between all aspects of the application and think long and hard about the architecture, meaning UI and classlibs, before writing a line of code.

You all could be rockstars. My sole regret is that it took this long for me to get this deeply involved with .Net not to see it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A New Neurophysical Theory

OK, this is complicated, bear with me.

I spent the day today watching the rebroadcast of Carl Sagan's Cosmos on the Science Channel. My wife, Teri, flitted in and out without a real interest in the show. After 18 years of marriage, I'm used to that - my sense of awe and wonder not being reflected back is common - she just doesn't care.

It sometimes bothers me. I know my wife is intelligent and I always took her lack of interest in science or history as an affront; a personal insult since - to me - a lack of interest was a vague reproof since she obviously had the brains to comprehend the material.

I know she loves me and wouldn't want to hurt my feelings, so there had to be another answer. Sagan inspired, I began to think about what was going on. I came to what I believe is an answer that has profound implications in a lot of areas.

What if she doesn't care about these topics because she's not genetically or intellectually predisposed to do so although entirely capable? Is it possible that there is an evolutionary governor in our brains that sets limits to the amount of interest we should show in certain topics?

I think it would be part of the survival mechanism. What good does it do for an individual to be too wrapped up in looking at the stars if a sabertoothed tiger is coming in for the kill?

Is there a mechanism in our brains that limits our interests in areas that have no direct bearing in our personal survival in the here and now? Is this why so many kids have a hard time learning abstract math like Algebra?

Are those of us who yearn for more information about the Universe and read history genetically inferior because we are diverting energies away from attention directly related to personal survival and the propogation of species?

Does evolution put soft barriers in our minds - "No, no you don't have to think about that" on certain subjects? Is that barrier elastic insofar as it can be stretched when an area of thought is linked to another area the brain thinks is important? I think so.

So many things make sense if my hypothesis is applied. I'm sure I'd word all of this better if I was a psychiatric clinician.

I wish I could explain it better.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What, This is Hard?

More time diving into the peculiarities of the .Net Framework...

I have to say that I am not finding this very hard at all. Granted, I can't do UI design using Divs and such in ADO to save my life (mental block - I expect things to be rendered where I goddamn put them) the coding is nothing that any other experienced VFP-er would take very much time to learn.

In fact, I'm coming to actually love the way this all holds together. Mind you, this project is stuck with 2.0 Framework and I'm sure that a lot of what I'm grinding through is better handled in 3.0 and 3.5.

Still, though, there are weirdnesses that I guess are better handled by experience. It's the same in VFP, I suppose, but I had years and years and professional incentive to master those oddities. I'm now exposed to the firehose.

Example: If you include a column in a GridView but don't actually show it, the value is blank. WTF??? I can't count the number of times I had a primary key stashed in a ListBox or Grid in VFP and made it's length zero just so I could grab the value from the selected row when needed. Nope, not in .Net unless you use a Template field (I think that's what it is called - kinda away from .Net at the moment).

I'm finding that I leave a lot of my control state code (what's visible, read only, etc.. based on selections and environment after a postback) in the Page_PreRender method. Is that good practice? for me.

I'm heading in the direction of either being a damn good .Net coder or a damn bad one. Haven't figured that out yet; it may be years before I do. I wish I could get out to a con and bang heads and compare notes with McNeish or Markus to get a better feel. For now I have to operate under the guideline that if it works, it must be good code.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Is It Really That Hard?

Another week with ADO.Net 2.0.

I'm finding that my experience in VFP apps is directly usable in my approach to the design and behavior of web forms. So, what doesn't seem obvious to co-workers insofar as look-and-feel and behavior is obvious to me. Then it's a matter of researching the framework and the .Net OOP model to see how to get it done. Folks I work with are much more familiar with .Net but it seems my approach is novel to them and, for the most part, admired.

I believe I'm pretty smart, but not exceptional in our community. I really think that if presented the right way, dyed-in-the-wool VFP developers would accept and thrive in the .Net environment. Oddly enough, it's the stuff that we take for granted and have the most experience with that drives traditional .Net developers nuts.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Confusion and Bad Docs

Continuing on my reincarnation as a developer.

It's getting old that, in .Net, event x will only work when property y is set a certain way. In most cases, the documentation makes no mention of these cavaets and you have to stumble around until you figure this out for yourself. At least in the VFP world we attempted to document exceptional behavior.

Someone needs to compile a list of all these weirdnesses and then convince Whil Hentzen to publish a book.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Back In The Saddle

I am now in the first week in my new position, for the first time in 10 years, as a pure software developer. I was dreading it but now find that I am really quite happy analyzing issues and proposing and architecting solutions. I never knew how much I deeply missed this aspect of IT.

I coded a fair amount at MS; writing tests and re-engineering our automation harness, Mace, to work with the departmental standard Maddog. But looking at a business process; stakeholder issues, and goals was something I hadn't done in a long time and ... darn it .... I still love it.

Yes, I still have to code .Net web stuff and T-SQL. Not worried; T-SQL is childs play and anything .Net is just a matter of syntax if you know how you want to proceed. Fortunately, I seem to have found an employer who appreciates the experience more than the language expertise.

Friday, May 09, 2008


I start a new job on Monday at somewhat better pay and benefits than my previous engagement.

The scary part is that it's ostensibly an ASP.Net developer position. Although I made it abundantly clear to the recruiter and manager that I was complete crap in ASP.Net they hired me anyway. Apparently, there's a trememdous amount of data munging involved with the project they have earmarked me for so perhaps my 25 years of xBase and SQL experience appeals to them.

Regardless of their reasonings, I am very happy to be gainfully employed again. I was tired of the job search - difficult in a small city such as this because of the limited number of senior level positions available.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Lately, gas prices in Tallahassee have been hovering around $3.65 a gallon; perhaps a few cents higher than the national average. It's making an impact on me, I can tell you, since simply taking the kids to school and picking them up again is an investment of about 40 miles of travel. 40 miles is about 2.1 gallons of gas in my old, trusty 1996 Volvo 850 (with 210,000 miles!) which gets roughly 18 miles to the gallon.

If you look at the national average commute distances (I think it's 27 miles one way) and gas mileage (I believe it's 25 MPG) it's apparent that your average worker is paying $2-3 more per day to go to work than last year. Ugh. And it isn't going to get any better; I would estimate seeing trends that the average price for a gallon of gas by Summer, 2009 will probably be about $4.50. Another $2 per day gone.

There are attempts to manufacture an outcry versus the oil companies but they only produce about an 8% net profit in a highly speculative market so there's no real objective cause to rally against them. Having a gas tax holiday is just plain stupid - it won't impact consumers that much and we need that revenue for infrastructure.

Europeans have paid $4 a gallon and more since the early 90's. Maybe the chickens have finally come home to roost and we, as Americans, just have to deal with it.

Maybe, just maybe, the current "crisis" will spure shale-oil conversion and other domestically friendly energy initiatives and alternatives that will once again make this all affordable.

Then again, that assumes intelligence and objectivity in Congress. Hahahaha.

The Unholy Trinity of Dates and Other Comments

This weekend comes my annual nightmare of having three important family days coming at or near the same day. My son's birthday, his 17th, is May 10th. My anniversary (my 18th) is May 11th, as is Mother's Day. I kind of wish that they were spread out a bit more because it's hard to give the kind of attention each event deserves.

My brother's birthday was May 9th but he passed away in 2005. He would have been 41 this year.

A few weeks later is my birthday, 48th, on the 26th. Not that I care about my birthday anymore.

I was reading Cathy's blog about an issue with report variables and multiple detail bands. A few issues apparently escaped our attention or were "Won't Fix-ed" during VFP9 testing as it was difficult to come up with automated tests for multiple detail bands and we were stretched really, really thin in personnel by that time. Sorry about that.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

What to Do When Your MSDN is Stolen

So, when I was terminated from my last position, I had the option of immediately retrieving my personal effects or of getting them later. I chose later to avoid turmoil. All of my effects were boxed up almost immediately and shipped to my home a few weeks later.

About 2 weeks ago I needed a SQL Server disk and went into the box that was shipped. My MSDN binder was not there.

I had a year-long MSDN subscription, courtesy of an MVP award to my friend Cathy Pountney, that expired last year but I had all of the critical disks - Vista, VS 2005, and Office 2007. I kept the binder and disks at work since I was constantly creating virtual machines for testing and the company's copies were not always available.

My first few inquiries to my former employer were not answered and, finally, they performed a search for the binder and could not locate it. Since they are a secure facility I don't have the option of looking myself.

I am left in a bit of a spot. I could report the missing disks to MS and as the regcodes are unique (I think, for the big stuff) perhaps they could invalidate them.

If I do this and the subscription disks were stolen, it'd be the right thing to do. If the disks were inadvertantly mixed in with the company's own subscriptions then it could cause them problems and I don't really want to do that.

What to do?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fox Team 2008

By pure happenstance, I've recenly had the pleasure to write or otherwise chat with a lot of the folks who worked on VFP 8 and 9. It occurred to me that there's no single source of information on everyone, if anyone cares, so here's what I know:

  • YAG (Y. Alan Griver). Still doing good communities architect work at MS and part-time involved with VFP issues and Sedna. Still happily attached to Ms. Beth Massi, another VFP superstar and now working with VB at MS.
  • Gene Goldhammer. Happily retired in Las Vegas. Honestly, haven't seen or heard from him since 2005 DevCon.
  • Ken Levy. Very involved with VSX so much so that he doesn't return emails from his pals (hey Ken!).
  • Randy Brown. Still (willfully) unemployed. Engaged with a child due in June and official marriage in August.
  • Calvin Hsia. Deeply involved with VB.Net and LINQ and still posting great code at
  • Aleksey Tsingauz. The database code master is also involved with LINQ at MS and impressing everyone, as usual.
  • Richard Stanton. Kicking butt still in the VS world for MS and doing some work for Sedna.
  • Mike Stewart. Working for a startup and loving every minute of it. Still residing in Redmond with his wife.
  • Chandra Srinivasan. Formerly a VFP tester, now a developer in the Windows division. He's now married (since July 2007).
  • Garrett Fitzgerald. Gainfully employed in Maine where he resides with his family.
  • Greg Reichert. Employed in Memphis, TN, since last year. Lost his wife earlier this year (so sad). One of the best and most intuitive VFP coders I have ever met.
  • David Anderson. Still going strong as a partner in Alden Anderson, LLC. A gifted database man.
  • Jay Jones. The buildmaster for VFP9, now working as the same with Visual Studio.

Boy, it's fun to remember old times!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Starvin Marvin

Yep, that's me! Still unemployed after two months. Perhaps I have been too picky about what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. I was in one interview track that lasted two months where my potential employer loved me but the client has a veto vote and ....ahem... exercised that vote.

As I said, maybe I'm being too picky. If I was willing to relocate, I'd have a job very shortly; I've turned down offers. But it doesn't seem fair to my kids to relocate as I've asked them to do so four times in the last seven years.

Things are tough for an old Fox hand. Oh well, I guess I'll have to soldier on.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I was fired on the 15th of Feb. It's something I saw coming as my previous manager left the company and the guy I was placed under never liked me. He essentially orchestrated an "epic fail" situation for me. This company is in utter chaos when it comes to process and organization and morale is in the toilet as well. In a way, I'm glad I was canned as I was looking to leave anyway. I'm on the fasttrack to a much more rewarding job.

My previous employer is date-driven. They don't allot for true testing cycles and they don't provide functional specifications. Shit is released to testing with major functionality not working. They are a leader in law enforcement technology by being first in the market for some tools but also having marketers who are good buddies with the customers. They have dreams of being a $100 MM company but, honestly, I don't know how that can happen with the idiots they have running the show.

Along with the idiots are a couple of rat-bastards. Folks who feel threatened when underlings show initiative so they go out of their way to screw them. Further dinks in morale.

I have the feeling that I will have the opportunity to dance on their graves in the next 12-18 months. I feel bad for the friends who are still there but....thems the breaks.

As I said, better opportunities are coming my way.....

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Other Big Game

I find it amusing that the TV pundits are almost all wrong on predicting the results of the primaries so far. They seem to be missing the point of the whole primary game. I recall discussing this with some of my co-workers at MS over lunch during the early part of the 2004 campaign when Howard Dean was the leader of the Democratic pack.

A few of my friends were convinced that Dean would go on to win the nomination. It was obvious if you understand the process that Dean would not - I predicted that Kerry would get the nomination and I was right.

Am I that politically astute? No. It's a simple study in psychology to understand how the process evolves.

Think about this: Who gets involved in the early part of the process? People at the fervent extremes of their ideologies. Moderates may have an interest but, I believe, unlikely to vote in primaries in as great percentages as the politically motivated.

Huckabee won the Iowa caucus. Will he win the nomination? Hell, no. The man is an uber-Christian preacher who attracts strong conservatives who are now the most active Republicans in the process. He didn't win New Hampshire and it's unlikely that he will win too many other primaries coming up. He's too polarizing. The GOP winner will be McCain, Giuliani, or Romney in that order of likelihood. As time progresses they will begin to moderate their messages as more moderates become involved in the process.

On the Democratic side it's a slightly different equation. There is a very strong Democratic Party political machine who greatly promotes the candidate with the best chances to win. Analysis may dictate that Obama is currently the exciting candidate and the change candidate but Clinton is the annoited one and the influence of the "machine" will gradually push her into the winning position as time progresses.

The behind-the-scenes deal that will occur, I believe, is that Obama will be urged to drop out at some point and become part of a Clinton/Obama ticket. For the Party as a whole that would be the "best of both worlds" - it would mix the candidate of change with the establishment and possibly ameliorate some of the high negatives associated with Clinton.