Thursday, December 15, 2005


In the last week, I've started using the new and improved mail clients from both Microsoft and Yahoo. Needless to say, about freakin' time, y'all!

The Microsoft offering is part of the new Live-branded services which are pretty fantastic in my book. Definitely the elegant and outstanding interfaces I have to come to know and love from Microsoft. They screw up enough stuff, but they sure know how to do usability. As is typical, there are things you don't expect to like because they don't seem to make sense and then you finally realize that they actually work great and it's just what you never knew you always wanted!

Kudos on the simple, clean interface. The faq says it's deliberate while they figure out what it's ultimately going to look like. So double-kudos on the PM who finally grew a pair and realized there is a reason they call it Beta! You can release software early, and we will be very grateful and love you for it. It makes us happy. Now go tell the other groups that. More releases, more often. Even if you break stuff and it kindda sucks at first. Let people get the smokin' hot goodness in their greedy little hands and they'll create the buzz, give you great feedback and lay a publicity smack-down on all the nay-saying know-nothings who say you're too big to be nimble. At least that's what my friend told me.

Anyway. I dig it. Keep it coming.

The Yahoo! offering is equally clean but further along in the polish department. The new RSS Feeds feature is outstanding! Big high-fives for that one, whoever the rocket-scientist was that finally realized how blisteringly obvious of a good idea it was to add this feature. Microsoft blokes, pay attention! They scooped you on this one.

The integration with other Yahoo! services is still a work in progress. Sometimes you feel like you go through a time-warp where you are working in this great little application, just loving the experience and then you click a link and bam! back to the boring, old, vintage sections of the site.

Anyway. You had me at RSS feed. Just don't let up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Another Google-bit

The onward march of Google towards usefulness and necessity continues. A new beta service called Google Transit will let you plan your transit routes with precise. It is an excellent example of combining two information sources into one extremely useful resource. Currently, they are supporting the city of Portland but plan to expand to other cities soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

VS Launch Day

Today Microsoft held a Visual Studio Launch Event at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Being a Microsoft event, it was smoothly executed, albeit lackluster compared to the spectacle that is PDC and the main VS Launch Event hosted previously. But there were only minor things to humbug! about on this particular day.

Firstly, the keynote a speaker a GM from Microsoft turned out to be kind of a chauvinist. He made reference repeatedly to "the wives who got drug along just for the software" which was mildly offensive. And then again to when "your mom wants to make a database of recipes". For me personally, I don't care, but it was interesting to hear the comments from the women behind me who seemed to be a little peeved. They kept whispering, "He needs to stop saying that." and similar things. I agree, his comments made him look ignorant and narrow-minded. You would think if they were going to spend such effort on an event like this, Microsoft would ensure their speaker was charismatic and somewhat politic. Add these mildly offensive comments to an otherwise bland, dry, and grossly repetative presentation and you have an instant recipe for nap-time.

The second gripe was the caliber of speaking talent in the break-outs. Specifically the database guy who talked about scalability, security, and whatnot. I haven't heard a more monotonal and lifeless speaker since grade school. Add that to the fact that he completely skipped the demos on new T-SQL functions in favor of a very one-sided and lame SQL CLR demo. Why on earth would he be pushing this crap!? And if it was decided that for some reason we need to be force-fed this ignorant drivel at least get someone with a little energy who can speak some inflection. And it would help to provide a demo that isn't a comparison of a stupid way to solve a problem with a faster way to solve the same problem with equal stupidity! You could have gotten a room full of database engineers excited about using actual SQL features instead of essentially saying that what they've been doing for years is wrong and they should move to another language! I rarely get so disgusted with a speaker but this was truly horrendous.

Other than those two issues, the food was passable, the staff helpful and the facilities very good. It was a pretty good day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tidbits & Morsels

The list of tidbits that I wanted to take time to mention on my blog is getting longer so I needed to clean house a little bit.

First up is Openomy. These guys are offering 1GB of free space online. They don't appear to have much of a business model, just a keen sense of "do-it-right"-edness. That's a technical term.

The coolest fact about Openomy is that it appears to be running solely out of a desire to build something useful, learn some lessons, and potential help some people. This may not sound ordinary, but in the universe of online ventures, it can be anything but normal. I recommend you check them out. It's worth making note of their upbeat and positive attitudes and attention to detail. Now, if they'd just make the web services leap...

My next morsel is about Google Analytics. Analytics is a web analysis system that provides site publishers with traffic metrics and marketing data. As you can see, the output reports are really excellent and detailed.

This is based on technology originally developed by Urchin that Google acquired in March. The coolest thing is how smoothly Analytics integrates with the popular AdWords system. Even if you don’t use AdWords you can still use Analytics by adding a simple script to your site.

There are a few other juicy bits still to come, but I'll save them for next time.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Immature Diatribes

Once you have spent long enough in this industry you realize that even the most technically adept can succumb to zeolous bigotry. It's common knowledge I take that stance myself on occasion. Fortunately, this particular post is not about me. An author I have respect for Scott Bellware recently posted a quite considerable flame concerning the recently released Visual Studio toolset. More specifically, his core issue (I believe) was with the prescriptive guidance that was released along with the product.

It's not really relevant to my post that I whole-heartedly agree with Mr. Bellware on this particular subject. It's not relevant that his core issue is dead-on, and shares concerted agreement by most of the accomplished in the industry. What is of concern to me, and the reason for this post, is the lack of finesse and precision with which he made his arguments. To say it less than elegantly: he threw the baby out with the bath-water. Thereby reducing the effectiveness of his argument and his credibility as a balanced voice in the industry.

While I share his sentiments over Microsofts obviously ignorant ploy to co-opt the term Test Driven Development (TDD), his slander over the state of the tools and their general worthiness was distressing. What he fails to realize is that for many, the choice to switch completely towards TDD is at best an impossibility. So any tools and support that increase the visibility and perceived value of testing is in itself a Good Thing.

While a trouncing for the hopefully unintentional ignorance and blatant disregard community evidenced by the Microsoft post was certainly in order, it seems excessive to dismiss and deride their entire efforts. I certainly disagree with heavy-handedness in any form, but I harbor that resentment equally towards every voice. Regardless if the voice is from a behemoth the likes of Microsoft, or tech pundit a la Bellware.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Further and Further Downhill

An interesting tidbit was compiled by a tech site today (ARS Technica) that Microsoft is intentionally limiting the number of XBox 360 consoles that will be available. You can check out the article here. It just keeps on getting better and better...

Yet Another Architecture Journal

There is Yet Another Architecture Journal (YAAJ) that has been posting some interesting reads in the last year or so. It has something from pretty much every talking-head, blow-hard, or egomaniacal pundit on the architecture scene today. There are actually a few decent architects and writers represented too. For example the article on Service-Oriented, Distributed, High-Performance Computing actually serves as an excellent primer. While there is nothing new or even translationally creative, it is an excellent starting point which sets the terminology and foundational concept bar at an adequate level. There are several other interesting pieces if you surf around a little.

Oh, and Harry, and I'm still working on getting the reading list published.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Just read an interesting post from Steve Maine about Ray Kurzweil’s new book.

Steve always has some interesting insights which stimulate more thinking.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Secure Browsing

Recently my little sister had here internet shut-off for supposedly downloading illegal files.  Now to be clear, my little sister wouldn't do something like that (she wouldn't even know how).  But evidently the internet provider,Cox, decided she was doing something inappropriate and was therefore taking it out on her.  Stupid, ignorant, and totally uncool.

I travel a lot and in most of the hotels I have to share an internet connection with a couple hundred of my closest strangers.

These two situations are why I use a secure tunnel which secures my web-surfing and makes it more or less anonymous.  For my own choice I use a private SSH provider and the VanDyke Entunnel software package.  However there are several new alternatives on the market.

For the Google-lovers, there is the Google Secure Access (Beta) which can be found at  This primarily allows people living in San Franscisco to surf using a secure connection through googles servers.

For those who want to deal with a company for whom this is their sole business, you might try MySecureISP which you can find at  Similar service, but works anywhere, costs $6 a month.  If you require full-time secure internet access via a plethora of providers, they might be a good fit for you.

If you want to be on the bleeding edge and are really concerned about being anonymous and so forth, then you can jump on the JAP bandwagon from  This is really neat technology that is still a work in-progress.  However it offers high-degrees of secure browsing and a variety of experiences.  Plus you get to support education, further the privacy movement, blah, blah, blah.  Check it out.

Lastly, if Dave ever gets off his rear-end there will be another addition which you can all check out.  Feel free to post a comment to let him know you want him to stop slacking off and finish the thing already!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done

I saw this quote somewhere...
Women don't need pick-up lines, that's what they have cleavage for.
The poking and prodding just isn't going to cut it.  It would appear there is nothing much to be done. Alas, I continue as before to my fate.

I tried repeatedly to get the Windows Vista CTP to install on a virtual machine (vpc) today but to no avail.  I followed the excellent instructions found all around the net (like here), but still couldn't find gold.  It's probably for the best.

I did upgrade to the VS 2005 RC though.  We've been using VS2005 on a current project for several months now, but this is a much more stable release.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Most Ridiculous

Reading around the net today, I came across this new article recently posted on MSDN ( As one of the original members of MSDN I keep my eye on how they are doing from time to time. Let me just say that the schlock these guys are peddling these days is terrible.

#soapbox on

This article on Custom Entity Classes is the most ridiculous offering I've seen yet. Talk about promoting technology for technology sake. Custom Entity Classes have all the disadvantages of O/R mappers, none of the benefits of JIT mapping, spreads DA logic around instead of centralizing it, and is just plain WRONG. If you want a DAL that is purely schema reflective, use a dataset or dataview and save some code! You gain nothing by pushing schema further into the user base. There is already a perfectly good abstraction layer at the stored procedure level, why add a second or third level? This doesn't even make good common sense. Adding special operations to the DAL is completely contrary to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and almost every reliable design pattern ever.

In reality this is a good introduction to Custom Entity Classes which are just another form of O/R mapping that is worse that JIT mapping and only paves the way for the lazy to slide into the realm of custom business objects that tie data and operations together. Tying data and operations is the #1 most detrimental flaw in practice today. It inhibits interop, hinders maintainability, and increases complexity. Yet here we are, encouraging people to learn how to practice chaotic, undisciplined coding patterns. I'm thoroughly disgusted at this obvious sell-out.

Maybe if the author had read some of the references and actually built and maintained a few real applications he wouldn't be so quick to sell this drivel.
#soapbox off