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?