Articles from February 2007

Open Source at Microsoft

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:45 PM :: 2915 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!
A recent post on Slashdot, Microsoft Plays Up Open Source Mobile-ready link, discusses Microsoft's recent paper discussing PostgreSQL on Windows Mobile-ready link. The post asks why Microsoft is promoting a competing product -- namely PostgreSQL vs. SQL Server. I can understand the confusion, but the message has been expressed fairly well by the Port 25 Mobile-ready link team. This seems to be a case of people confusing their perceptions of Microsoft with the reality of today's Microsoft. I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't have its moments, but it's not the same company it was 15 years ago. If you ask me, this isn't about databases, it's about opening up to the open source community and helping them solve a problem that isn't discussed much: open source software on Windows, all other products aside. Believe it or not, Microsoft can do that -- today's Microsoft does do that.

Show Us the Code

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:09 PM :: 1947 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

Arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics; even if you win, you're still retardedI figure most people that would end up reading this know about the Microsoft-Novell partnership Mobile-ready link and how countless Linux supporters are up in arms about it. First off, I have to say I don't think it's a big deal. I honestly don't see anything wrong with the deal. Both Microsoft and Novell have their reasons for going into the deal, of course, but I don't think anything's as bad as the Linux supporters would have you believe. Probably the most notable problem they have with it is Steve Ballmer's claim that Linux code infringes on Microsoft patents. Personally, I don't think Ballmer should've said this, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. I can't say one way or another, so I'm not going to get into that debate; but I definitely think it's possible. Apparently, things have become so bad that Linux supporters feel the need to campaign against Microsoft [once again]. Mobile-ready link is directed specifically at Steve Ballmer, as opposed to Microsoft in general, and pretty much demands that he prove his claims that Linux infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property (IP). I have to say that this is pretty ridiculous. I don't have a problem with the concept, but Microsoft won't respond -- not because there is no proof, but because of what I see as an unprofessional, fairly hostile attempt to scrutinize Microsoft in a very similar, if not the same, way Mobile-ready link has. The only difference is the Bad Vista campaign is more anti-competitive than anything. That's all besides the point. Free and open source software supporters have always been quick to point fingers but tend to fall short of proving their worth. I am an open source supporter when and where it makes sense, but the actions of the individuals involved is just sad. Two other reasons I don't see Microsoft responding to the letter is that it would essentially be sinking to the level of these mindless zealots and it's just not feasible. How many Linux distros are there? How much code does that really encompass? Microsoft would get next to nothing for scouring code for IP violations, so why would they even try? Sure, bragging rights might be nice, but all it would do is force the feable minded individuals who back these sorts of things to push the envelope even further into a never-ending bickering session between the two until someone decides to be an adult about it and just stops. As a matter of fact, by not responding, this is exactly what Microsoft is doing. This reminds me of an image I saw sometime back. It's definitely not politically correct, but it fits well here...

Application- vs. Database-Driven Design

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:26 PM :: 3039 Views :: Development, Architecture, Patterns & Practices :: Digg it!

With all the good and bad that goes with it, I focus a lot on the design of the applications and application components I work on. This, in part, stems from my appreciation for both the art and science of software development, which is a topic I've been meaning to post about for some time. Since I put a strong emphasis on architecture and design and I'm usually supporting other people's projects, I tend see a lot of different design approaches. Most of these approaches have been centered around the database, which I think is inappropriate for most systems. What I mean by this is that the developers start with a relational database structure and design their domain objects and business services around that. This is typically done by developers who either don't have a lot of design experience or have a strong background in database development. While I admit that every approach has its pros and cons and every project has its priorities, I typically try to focus developers on the application first, whether or not a data store already exists. I've seen bad data structures drive the application's design too many times. I actually discussed this with a coworker a few days ago and we both agreed that most applications should focus on the domain model and core business services during design rather than developing them from a pre-existing data model. Jeremy Miller Mobile-ready link talks about this in a recent post, Don't Let the Database Dictate your Object Model Mobile-ready link. I'm glad to see others professing this practice because I think it's very important and not enough people take it into consideration. All too often, database-driven application designs force unnecessary constraints on the system, limiting innovation, growth, and extensibility.

Citizenrē Brings Solar to Consumers

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:21 AM :: 1678 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
I'm definitely a big proponant of solar and have talked about it before (1 Mobile-ready link, 2 Mobile-ready link). Now, it looks like a new company, Citizenrē Mobile-ready link, is looking to capitalize on this solar vision. I think the fact that a company is trying to ease and encourage the migration from traditional power to solar power is very interesting; but I have to admit the controversial ideas Wired News brings up Mobile-ready link are key to whether or not it's successful. I don't know if I'd be willing to use the service or not, tho. I like the idea of having someone else do it for me since I don't know how, but I have a feeling it'd be a lot cheaper to do it myself. I looked into the process a couple of years ago, but would have to re-look at it again to figure out the most cost-effective method. Either way, I definitely like the fact that solar is being commercialized. I expect to see more companies popping up in the future.

Month of PHP Bugs

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:32 AM :: 1758 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!
In the spirit of the week/month of Oracle Mobile-ready link and Apple Mobile-ready link bugs, there's now a plan for a month of PHP bugs Mobile-ready link effort. I just find this interesting. As I mentioned before, I'd really like to see a similar effort for .NET, SQL Server, or any Microsoft product. Everyone claims Microsoft products to to be insecure, but the reason most of the "month of bugs" efforts come out is because development teams aren't managing their security issues. I don't think there have been many complaints about Microsoft not managing their security issues. Now, don't take this as me saying there are no bugs in Microsoft software -- every software has bugs. I'm merely saying I'd like to see if a month of bugs is even possible with the products Microsoft has run thru its Security Development Lifecycle process.

XM-Sirius Merger!?

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:48 AM :: 1775 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
A possible merger between XM Mobile-ready link and Sirius Mobile-ready link has come up in the past, but neither company acknowledged any such talks. Well, it looks like things have changed Mobile-ready link. I honestly hope this happens. I'm not too worried about the obvious monopoly, because I think more people are focused on MP3 devices rather than satellite radio. It's too bad, because I love it! Don't get me wrong, I did get a Zune because I liked the idea of having my music, but I'd much rather listen to satellite radio, which allows me to listen to music I've never heard of. I honestly hope the next Zune device comes with satellite radio. If this merger happens, that'll be more likely.

Replacing Notepad

By Michael Flanakin @ 3:56 AM :: 2778 Views :: Tools/Utilities :: Digg it!

I've been using Notepad2 Mobile-ready link as a Notepad replacement for some time now. I don't typically go for replacing the built-in Notepad executable, but I have done it a handful of times. Omar Shahine Mobile-ready link posted 2 methods to replace the Notepad executable Mobile-ready link, but neither really did the job for me, when working on Windows XP and Server 2003. Since I don't do this too much, I created a batch file that would copy the files as needed. I am interested in making an actual installer for Notepad2 that would do this as well as a couple other things I typically do (i.e. add shortcut to desktop, Quick Launch toolbar, and/or Send To menu). For the time-being, This isn't really worth my effort since I don't do it that many times and it just wouldn't be worth the time for me. Anyway, here's the process I used to replace Notepad...

  1. Show hidden OS files (in Windows Explorer, go to Tools > Options... > View, uncheck Files and Folders > Hide protected operating system files)
  2. Create a new text file called ReplaceNotepad.bat and copy/paste the following text to this file
    copy Notepad2.exe c:\Windows\notepad.exe
    copy Notepad2.exe c:\Windows\LastGood\notepad.exe
    copy Notepad2.exe c:\Windows\system32\notepad.exe
    copy Notepad2.exe c:\Windows\system32\dllcache\notepad.exe
  3. Uncheck the Hide protected operating system files option mentioned in step 1

This could definitely be easier, but I just don't know how much it's worth it. If anyone else would fine this helpful, I might consider creating the installer I mentioned. I definitely see it being a nice-to-have, but just don't know if the time would be well-spent. If I knew others would be able to take advantage of it, too, I'd be fine with that.

Is it Really Consulting that Needs to Change?

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:19 AM :: 1640 Views :: Development, Technology :: Digg it!

Eric Wise Mobile-ready link recently posted his complaints about consultants and consulting in general Mobile-ready link, which I found somewhat interesting. The key problems he points out are that consultants aren't true stakeholders, they can potentially abuse contractual politics, and unethical practices in general.

First off, I have to say that these are only issues when you're dealing with unethical people. I would hope these points wouldn't be an issue for any consultant or consulting firm worth the money. Then again, these are issues that typically come up because of individuals rather than businesses. By this, I mean that businesses don't typically make official (or unofficial) policies of doing any of these things.

The next point I have to make is that none of these are truly consulting issues. Not that they don't apply to consultants, they do; but they don't solely apply to consultants. These issues apply to a myriad of positions across the board -- some more than others, of course. Despite that, they are definitely applicable to consultants, so I'll talk more to that end -- I just wanted to make sure it was known that this isn't a consulting issue alone.

If you ask me, it sounds like Eric has fallen victim to unethical consultants and/or bad decision making in engaging with consultants. This probably happens quite a bit. I know I've always been very skeptical of consultants and I think everyone else should be, too; but it doesn't stop there. Unless you truly know the source of your information, you're better off verifying it against multiple sources. There's no right and wrong way to do development (or much of anything, for that matter); but there is always a better way. Anyway, on with my comments...

Rightfully so, Eric doesn't like the fact that consultants don't have a stake in the success of a project. I completely understand and sympathize with this issue; but I can't say I whole-heartedly recommend that it change much. There should be shared responsibility, but something you have to realize is that nobody has to listen to a consultant. A consultant's job is to say, "I recommend X because of Y and Z; otherwise, you'll have to deal with problems A, B, and C." Granted, it's not always this simple, but that's how I've approached my consulting ventures. My job isn't to make the decisions, but to ensure others make informed decisions. With that, there's no way a consultant can be held responsible for everything that happens on a project. Of course, this does depend on the purpose of the project and how it's setup. I do think there should be some accountability, tho, so don't think I'm against the idea. I'd be open to hear ideas to improve on this. The idea about providing incentives is nice, but I don't think it would really solve the real problem here. Also, I have to say this isn't always appropriate. I've been in a number of projects that change scope halfway in -- haven't we all? There's no right or wrong here, but if a consultant comes in to look at one problem and finds another, everything can change in a heartbeat. With this flexible nature of a consultant's life, I don't think there's any hard-fast rule that would work across the board.

Eric's second point is a very important one. All too often, contract terms aren't defined well or defined at all. This isn't the fault of the contractor/consultant, tho; this is the fault of the customer, who must define the purpose and scope of the project. With a background in government work, I could go on for hours about the seemingly immeasureable time and money wasted due to poor contract definition; but I won't. I think this is clearly the customer's responsibility. In the same breath, I will say ethics does come into play when contractors/consultants read into and possibly try to twist the contract logic to their own benefit. You'll see this from "contract politicians" a lot. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this from government contractors who're always trying to beat out the other guy. Taking their lack of ethics out of it, tho, this wouldn't be an issue of the contract terms and conditions were defined better. There will always be someone smarter than you, so there's no way to be 100%; but make sure you learn from your (and others') mistakes.

The "bait and switch" Eric refers to is, in one sense, an ethical issue; however, I don't think this is always the case. If I'm going into an organization to discuss what my people can do for them, I'd want to bring someone I felt very confident in to back me up. Assuming I make no promises to who would be actually working on the project, I see absolutely no problem with this. Plain and simple, there's no telling who will even be available at the time the contract is awarded and the project started. Eric's suggestion to review resumes and even conduct your own interviews is right on target, tho. I'd recommend this to anyone who has the technical know-how to accomplish the interview. The only problem is, when you hire a consultant, that's typically because you're in a situation you can't get yourself out of. If that's the case, the chances are you don't know what you need to ask to ensure the consultant knows what s/he needs to know to get the job done. You also have to take into account the fact that consultants don't always have 100% of the knowledge they need to get the job done. I remember going on a job recently that I was very excited about because I knew ahead of time that it'd be a challenge. I didn't know everything I needed to know, but I knew how/where to get that information. I worked very hard to educate myself on what I needed to know and was able to deliver on the promise. This isn't always the case, but I think it's very common.

Honestly, I think Eric has a jaded view, which is common. The reason most look into contract developers is because they truly are cheaper when you take benefits and training into account. You just have to make sure you're putting your money into a company that puts it back into the consultant's future. When going to a contracting or consulting firm, you're not just hiring another developer. You're putting your money into an investment for someone who should be more experienced and has continuous training planned and, ultimately, you're hiring the company. This means the person who actually joins your team better know what resources are available to him/her and how to access them; otherwise, you're limited to what's in his/her head. If any of these aren't there, you should ask some important questions. If two aren't there, you should look elsewhere. Of course, this is only part of the equation. As usual, there's no 100% solution to ensuring you get the most bang for your buck. This is where learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others comes into play.

Windows Vista Auto-Defrag

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:47 AM :: 1648 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
I learned of a very nice feature of Windows Vista today: the OS manages defragmentation on its own during down-time. I knew Vista maximized the availability of usage down-times, which would result in CPU utilization spikes when not expected, but I had no idea what was really happening behind the scenes. Apparently, this is one of those tasks. I'm very happy to see this because I am notorious for not defragmenting my drives... ever. I've always hated going thru the process. Now, armed with an incremental defrag in Vista, I don't ever have to worry about it! Happy days.

The Ultimate Developer Machine

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:48 AM :: 3884 Views :: .NET, Development :: Digg it!

As with the vast majority of projects I've worked on, developers working on my current project are using their dev tools directly on their machine, as opposed to developing within a virtual machine (VM) care of Virtual PC Mobile-ready link. I admit that I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Virtual PC; but, in the end, I'm typically glad I have things setup that way. Initial start-up time will sometimes be slow when compared to local development because I'll have to load up a saved VM, but when things go haywire or when it comes time for cleanup, I'm usually very thankful to have the VM in a single file that I can delete, if necessary. The ability to simply move that file around and delete it to start from scratch is very valuable to me. Honestly, whether you like VMs or not, what I'm working on now goes beyond that. I need to create a "standard" development environment we can pass on to new developers. With that, I plan on compiling a list of the most valuable development tools and utilities to add to the VM. Of course, I plan on starting with Scott Hanselman's Mobile-ready link Ultimate Developer and Power User Tools List Mobile-ready link as well as my personal favorites Mobile-ready link, which I'll be upgrading as I work thru this. If anyone has any special tools they like, I'd love to hear about them. Once I come up with the version 1.0 list of what will be included, I'll make sure to post it.

Funny Ads

By Michael Flanakin @ 12:59 PM :: 1886 Views :: Other :: Digg it!

There are some absolutely hillarious pictures on this weblog post Mobile-ready link. My favorites are the jewelry ads for innovation; the deoderant ad setup for offensiveness; the mousepad for pure, dorky genius; and the Volvo ad for perversion. Honestly, I love almost all of them. I'm not sure what marketing genius came up with these, but they did a great job! Check them all out, if you get a chance.

Windows Vista++ on the Books

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:54 AM :: 2916 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!
Looks like Microsoft has made it semi-official that the next release of Windows will be in 2009 Mobile-ready link. This is in-line with statements I've made before (1 Mobile-ready link, 2 Mobile-ready link, 3 Mobile-ready link). I'm sure a number of people will be expecting delays, but I don't expect to see much of a delay. There might be short delays, but I don't see that being any more than 6 months. While I don't know what the exact plans are, at this time, I think Microsoft has something to prove with this release and it'll do everything it can to get the promised feature-set out on time, if not early.

Wow... No, Not Vista

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:29 PM :: 2669 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Not to take away from the "Wow starts now" Vista campaign Mobile-ready link, I have to share a video Scott Hanselman Mobile-ready link pointed out Mobile-ready link. Typically, I hate posting what others have, but this is most definitely worth it. I was skeptical before watching it, thinking, "What could it really tell me I didn't know?" Honestly, that's not the point of it. Watching the video really breaks the last 10 years down -- at least it did for me. All you can do is think, "Wow, this experience really is a marvel." We tend to take advantage of what we have today and what we're moving towards. The future is bright and this video celebrates that. Thank you, Michael Wesch Mobile-ready link, for a superb tribute. Make sure you pay attention when you watch this one, it moves fairly quickly.

Thinking About Phones

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:46 AM :: 1822 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Year after year I look at what phones are available on the market and have to decide what I really want in a phone. There are small features I may like, but could live without, and there are others I'd kill for. After bouncing between one crappy interface after another, I've pretty much decided I want to stick with the Windows Mobile (WM) platform. I admit that I am mildly intrigued by the Apple iPhone Mobile-ready link, but there's no way I'd pay $5-600 for it. I don't really think the fact that it's Cingular only is going to have much affect on the marketability of the phone, but that's a different topic. The main difference I see between the iPhone and WM interfaces is that the iPhone comes with a typical phone look and feel, while WM comes with a PC-based look and feel. I'm not going to speculate on which I think is better, because I don't think it really matters all that much, in the end. Ultimately, it comes down to availability, in my mind. WM is available on more phones, so I have more options. Anyway, moving on...

Over time, we've seen multi-purpose phones become more and more mainstream. Cameras are almost standard, but the cameras just about always suck, so it's nothing I care too much about. I like the idea of having a camera phone, but it's a pure novelty 98% of the time -- at least for me. If camera phones would get up to 5+ megapixels, then I'd probably change my opinion. With that, an SD input is almost mandatory, to support storing the pictures. This is probably the only way I'd actually care about a camera phone. Also, the camera support would have to be drastically improved in WM to make it more camera-like.

Note: Sony Ericsson just released a new version of their Cybershot phone Mobile-ready link. I think this looks pretty nice and is getting closer to my 5 megapixel requirement, which is always nice.

The past year or two has seen music become more prevailant. While I love having music with me, I'm not big on carrying around MP3s. I do have a Zune, tho; but I have that more for listening/watching casts. Assuming I had a good interface for listening to casts, I wouldn't be opposed to using that on my phone. Assuming the specs for my ideal camera phone are there, all I'd ask for is an update to WM to better support audio and video files. Then again, let's face it, the real problem with any of these isn't necessarily the phone's form factor, but the user interface. Honestly, if you really want to sell me on a music phone, give me XM or Sirius. I'd much rather a streaming music service than a download service. Just my opinion.

Note: Sony Ericsson also released a decent-looking music phone Mobile-ready link. As with the Cybershot, I don't know anything about the phone; I just think it looks nice.

The next thing that comes to mind is whether or not to have a keyboard. I loved the idea having a keyboard when I first started looking at WM devices, but after using it, I think I had a better typing experience with a normal phone-based dialing pad. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of having a qwerty keyboard, but it seems faster to type on a 12-key number pad than a qwerty keyboard using two fingers. If I could get a full-sized keyboard or at least something I could type normally on, that'd be a different story; but I don't see that being built-in anytime soon. Who knows, I may be one of the only people who feel this way.

While I'm on the topic of keyboards, the fully touch screen concept used by the iPhone raises an obvious question. How usable is that going to be? Feedback has been mixed, but there's more negative than positive, when considering the overall typing experience. Personally, I don't think I'll like it, but that's because I like feeling when I've pushed the button. Without that affirmative "feedback," I think I'd have to type slower. I admit that I'm only speculating, but it'd take some longer-term usage to see how well it works. With that said, I do like the new concept phone design by Asus Mobile-ready link. I don't know anything about it, tho; I just think it looks nice.

Yet another input mechanism, which I think will be very important in future versions of WM, is voice recognition. In my opinion, keyboards and dialing pads won't be as important when you can speak to your phone. This would ease everything you'd want to do. Looking at the voice capabilities in Windows Vista should be a look into the relative future of WM. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect voice recognition to make typing obsolete, but I do see it replacing a large portion of typing. The only problem is going to be privacy. If you think people being on phones is annoying today, imagine if they'd have to talk to them to get them to work. I don't think I'd like that too much.

Looking at these and thinking about various concepts around phones, I almost wish I could come up with my own phone design. That would definitely be an interesting venture. I know I could say I'd do it, and I probably would start, but I doubt I'd get it finished. There are so many things that go into usability of a phone, it's not funny; especially a multi-purpose phone. Hmm...

Interesting New Tablet

By Michael Flanakin @ 12:10 PM :: 1747 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Ever since I got my tablet PC, a Toshiba M400 Mobile-ready link, I've been dreaming of what I'd like to see in the tablet of the future. Honestly, I can think of a thousand different features I'd like, but coming up with that ideal form-factor isn't so easy. Gizmodo recently had a post about Canova's new concept laptop Mobile-ready link. I'm tellin' ya, this thing looks fairly nice. It's a dual monitor touch screen laptop. The first thing I questioned was the lack of a keyboard, but one of the photos on the site shows a keyboard layout on one side, which would make it act like a normal laptop, minus the true "feel" of the keyboard. I don't' know what I think about it, but it's definitely an interesting concept. I'd love to play with one!

XSLT 2.0

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:04 AM :: 1828 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
I'm very excited about the new XSLT 2.0 recommendation and it's inclusion into .NET Mobile-ready link. I've done a lot of work with XSL and plan to continue to do so, so I've been looking for the capabilities that are in that recommendation. Specifically, I want the user-defined functions. Just having that alone could save me a ton of time. I typically only use XSL when I need some dynamic content -- based on XML, of course -- but it's not worth creating a .NET app from it. I used XSL when I created the HBL football reporting applciation... which reminds me about how I need to work on that, of course :-P

CSS Overflow

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:17 AM :: 1825 Views :: .NET, Development :: Digg it!

Due to limitations of the HTML dropdown list (<select> tag), I played around with the ASP.NET AJAX Mobile-ready link Control Toolkit's Mobile-ready link Dropdown Extender Mobile-ready link. I've used this before on a small app I did for a group of friends and it worked out very well, so I figured I'd see how it'd work in a more professional environment. All-in-all, the extender is very easy to implement. The great thing is, the sample style is great, so it's an automatic default. To meet our needs, there needed to be an icon displayed to the left of each item, so I added that with a style, which was very simple. The only visual problem we had was the list of list entries was very long, so we had to set an overflow on the dropdown portion. Easy, right? Well, yes and no.

First, to get the list to scroll, the following style was added: height:250px; overflow:auto;. This tells the control to scroll contents past 250 pixels. Unfortunately, this had a side-effect. The control scrolled vertically, as expected; however, it also scrolled horizontally. Since the list was dynamic and each item was set to not wrap (white-space:nowrap;), I couldn't set the control's width to a standard across the board. Now, before I say what I did to "resolve" the "problem," let me say that the horizontal scroll was for ~3 pixels. No text was being cropped. The problem I had was simply that it looked better without the horizontal scroll. So, to achieve the vertical-only scroll I wanted, I had to go for an IE-only solution, which I hated doing: overflow-x:hidden;. In conjunction with the previously set height and overflow, this allowed the control to scroll vertically, as intended, on IE, which is the "standard" for the system. Like I said, I hated doing that, but seeing as tho it was the only work-around I knew of and it still worked in non-IE browsers, I figured it was acceptable. Honestly, I think this should be part of the CSS standard. Note that I haven't tested this on Firefox or any other browser, yet.

VPN in Windows Vista

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:43 AM :: 1567 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
Ya know, I have absolutely no idea whether this is due to infrastructure changes or the new operating system -- I'm thinking the latter, since I haven't heard about any infrastructure changes -- but when I VPN into the corporate network, that connection is established a lot quicker in Windows Vista. I'm not talking about a couple seconds quicker, either. When I was on XP, VPN-ing into the network was a horribly slow process that took seemingly forever. Since I upgraded a few months ago, it seems to connect in somewhere between 10-20 seconds. Before it was at least a minute, if not two. Maybe I'm just crazy, tho. Has anyone else noticed this?

.NET Naming

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:18 AM :: 2848 Views :: .NET, Microsoft :: Digg it!

This post has been a long time coming. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The whole issue people have with WinFX being renamed to .NET 3.0 is absolutely ridiculous. Mark Treadwell Mobile-ready link made a comment Mobile-ready link that the .NET Framework should be the same version as the CLR. This is just ignorant. I'm sorry, but that's not how it works. They are completely different animals. I will say that keeping the versions inline would make it easier to understand, but it doesn't make sense when you take versioning practices into account. I don't mean to pick on Mark; his is just one of the many complaining about the change. If I would've been in control of the .NET 3.0 release, I'd have included other features besides WinFX, but I'm not. The fact that these additional features were the only thing added seems to be part of the confusion, as far as I can tell.

While I completely agree with the naming of the release, I don't necessarily agree with the tactics Microsoft used in getting it out. In my personal opinion, it seems as tho the release is based on timing. .NET 3.0 is part of Windows Vista, therefore, it needed to be completed by the time of the Vista RTM. If Vista wasn't a factor, I think we'd have seen it wrapped up with the next version of Visual Studio. And guess what! It would've been called .NET 3.0! Wow, imagine that. A major release of new functionality to the framework and they up the major version number? That's unimaginable.

Beyond .NET 3.0, there are a lot of references to .NET "3.5." I think people need to understand that "3.5" is not the version it will be released as. Instead, it's an identifier or a variable, if you will. The exact version number is not known at this point and Microsoft gave the release that monicker in an effort to discuss it. In my mind, I see this as Microsoft acknowledging that there might be an interim update. For instance, there may be changes wrapped up into a 3.1 release with the .NET "3.5" release with AJAX and LINQ being 3.2. Who knows what'll happen. I honestly doubt there will be an interim release, but I don't think Microsoft wanted to commit to that at the time it was originally used. We'll see. Either way, I think people are getting all bent out of shape for no reason. Microsoft has done a very good job at versioning its tools appropriately, if you ask me.

Group Shot

By Michael Flanakin @ 3:19 PM :: 2072 Views :: Technology, Research, Microsoft :: Digg it!
I was listening to Windows Weekly Mobile-ready link and Paul Thurrott Mobile-ready link mentioned that he was very interested in Group Shot Mobile-ready link, but claimed it was a Windows Ultimate Extra Mobile-ready link. As far as I know, it's not. Group Shot is a Microsoft Research project and is freely downloadable to all. It might be an Ultimate Extra in the future, but I kind of doubt it. Honestly, I just wanted to share the link in case others haven't seen it. Group Shot allows you to take good portions of multiple photos and combine them. The typical example is taking family/group photos where each photo has someone blinking, looking somewhere else, or whatever. Using Group Shot, you can take the good parts of each individual photo to create a new photo with everyone looking the right way. Check it out; it's definitely a nice tool.

HD-Capable, Wearable Camera

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:17 PM :: 1822 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

I've got another gadget Mobile-ready link for ya. Unfortunately, this one's still in the works and the details are somewhat fuzzy. Apparently, Fraunhofer Institute Mobile-ready link in Germany has developed a tiny, HD-capable camera Mobile-ready link. This interests me a lot because I've been looking for a wearable camera for football. Ok, I know that sounds weird, but I play football with a group of friends every weekend. Well, mostly during the NFL season, which is obviously wrapping up on Sunday. The guys have a website, make videos, and even come out with player cards each year. It's all fun stuff. To coincide with the Superbowl, we're having HBL Bowl 8 (I think it's #8) on Sunday. Fun stuff. Anyway, I want a camera to wear so I can record games from the players' perspective. The three things that are key to this are stabilization, quality, and size of the camera. Stabilization can be handled with software, but you need a high quality video to manage that the best way. Size is the obvious one because you don't want to wear a huge camera that would just be awkward.

Fraunhofer Institute's HD-capable, mini-camcorder

Technology at Your Door

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:15 AM :: 1786 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

I have a friend who replaced the main doorknob in his apartment with a fingerprint-based, PIN-secured doorknob. While I love the idea of this, I'm not sure if I'd do it or not. I do admit it seems a bit more feasible on an apartment door, rather than a house or townhouse door. I'm not sure why I feel that way, but I do. Either way, it's definitely an intersting idea. In the same spirit as this electronic doorknob, GE has a camcorder-enabled peep hole called IntelliCorder Mobile-ready link. I have to say I love the idea of this. The camera has a 4 ft motion detector to start recording to the built-in SD reader, so you can see anyone who comes to your door -- like that happens much these days, right? Well, maybe that's just me. The main thing I'd like to see on top of what it currently has is support for wifi. With wifi, we could see who's at your door from anywhere on the network or even broadcast that on the web. I'd also like to have the ability to store it on the network. SD is nice, but a more permanent solution would be to store it on a server.

GE IntelliCorder

Live Search Gaining on Google

By Michael Flanakin @ 3:24 PM :: 1584 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Ever since I made the Google-to-Live switch, I've noticed several features in Live that were better than Google. A while ago, I ran into two posts that reiterated my thoughts, which is always nice to see. First up is mobile maps. Apparently Gizmodo did a comparison of the two services Mobile-ready link and deemed Live Maps the winner. Next up is a post by Chris Sells, who talks about the map services of each vendor Mobile-ready link (as opposed to the mobile version). I have to add one more to this list: image search. Live Image Search is far superior to Google Image Search. I love the never-ending list of images without having to click thru pages and pages of results. As if that wasn't enough, I also love the scratchpad feature, which saves the images you're interested in so you can trim your result set to only what you care about. My image search experience is without a doubt better with Live Image Search. If you haven't tried it, give it a shot. I think you'll be delightfully surprised.

Microsoft Update and Windows Vista Forced Reboot Goodness (!?)

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:43 AM :: 1689 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

Microsoft Update does it again... I start my laptop this morning for the usual email/blog check before I head to the customer site and what do you know, the computer decides to just reboot. No question, no warning, just a reboot. Of course, I made the assumption this was due to an update. I guess the automatic update downloaded last night while I was on, but didn't install until this morning when I started the computer. Then again, I am just guessing. Not a big deal, we're used to these kinds of things, right? Well, maybe not...

When the computer started to come back up, it went thru the normal routine of starting up, configuring updates, and logging in; but this is where I was happily surprised. Instead of my normal login process that opened 2 or 3 programs, all of the programs I previously had open were re-opened. Not just that, they were opened in the same (or at least near the same) state they were when Windows rebooted. Of course, my initial aggravation with the reboot has now subsided and I'm just simply pleased and amazed at the fact that i can now continue with what I was doing and, more specifically, finish reading the email that was originally open and now re-opened for me. Of course, I haven't tested this theory -- and don't think I'd really want to -- with a lot of other apps, like IE with multiple tabs open, but I'm sure the results would be the same. My guess is the system now saves its state as if it were going to hibernate. No matter how it's done, thank you Microsoft! Great feature!!!