June 2003 - Posts
My thanks to the Capital Area
.NET User Group for their attentiveness and good questions at my talk this
past Tuesday. I would have posted this earlier, but I'm still having
problems with my DSL, and unfortunately, the T1 looks
like it's going to take longer than expected (not to mention the fact that my
local ILEC, Verizon, wants to charge me $600 in construction charges just to get
the line set up).
My apologies to those who have been looking to download the slides and source
from the talk from my web site. There's a copy of the ZIP
file up on the CapArea.net site that you can access until my site's back up.
Thanks for your patience.
And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, here's another reminder
that if you belong to or run a .NET user group, and you're looking for a expert
speakers, at no cost to you, you need to join INETA right
now! The INETA Speaker's Bureau has some of the best speakers in
the business, from Rocky Lhotka and Billy Hollis, to Keith Pleas and Chris
Kinsman, and many, many more. They are speakers you see at conferences such as
ASP.NET Connections, VSLive!, and Tech Ed. They are well-known authors, and they
are trainers and industry leaders. In short, they're just the folks you want to
hear about .NET from, particularly for FREE! So what are you waiting
for? Go start (or join) a .NET user group, and sign up with INETA. Do it
Just a reminder (and a test of Scott's BlogErt tool)
that I will be giving a talk on creating a custom ASP.NET login control at the
Capital Area .NET User Group on Tuesday night. Details can be found on my
web site, as well as on the Capital
Area .NET User Group site.
Also a reminder that if you want to get a speaker, giveaways, or other
goodies for your .NET-focused user group (or if you want to learn what it takes
to start your own user group), you should get in touch with the good folks at INETA, who are responsible for
arranging for my talk.
I've finally gotten so sick and tired of the reliability (or lack thereof) of DSL that I've just ordered a fractional T1 line from Speakeasy. DISCLAIMER: the previous link is a referral link...I don't have my line installed yet, so I can't speak to their line quality, but the pre-install service has been the best I've ever seen. If you want to see what Speakeasy has to offer without the referral, that's cool, too.
The downside of a fractional T1 is paying much more (to the tune of a couple hundred dollars a month) for the same bandwidth (384K). The upside is that there's practically no limit to the distance from the CO (unlike DSL, for which I'm at the very outside of the technically feasible range), and the local telco is contractually obligated to actively monitor the line, and respond to any outages within hours. Given that outages (or service problems) with DSL can last for days, in my experience, this should be a notable improvement. T1 also uses double the pairs, so it's likely that I'll be getting closer to my rated speed (though I've had pretty good luck with SDSL on that front).
I would also note that for anyone who, like me, really wants to host their ASP.NET applications on their own server, so they have complete control, a fractional T1 offers (theoretically) pretty good reliability at a reasonable cost. And if you start hosting applications for others, the cost can quickly pay for itself (and it's easy to upgrade to faster speeds should that become necessary).
Finally, one interesting twist with Speakeasy is that they provide the ability to share your broadband connection with neighbors for a fee, via WiFi, and Speakeasy takes care of all of the billing for you. It's an interesting program, in that it allows you to offset some of the costs of a more expensive connection, without having to deal with the payment issues (although you're responsible for tech support, etc.). I haven't decided yet whether I might try to take advantage of this, but according to them, it's unique in the industry that they not only allow this kind of sharing, they actually provide infrastructure for it (including email accounts, etc.).
After having gone through a complete DSL outage described here, my ISP was able to get the line back up in a couple of days. Unfortunately, since the line came back up (apparently my local telco had either cut or disconnected the line about a mile away from my house), it's been bouncing (dropping and reconnecting) erratically. This has been going on for days, and my ISP doesn't seem to have done a whole lot about it. Now the line is completely dead. So I called them up today, and got a nice person on the phone who asked me to disconnect and reconnect the line, and then to power-cycle the router (for only the bazillionth time), just like every other time I've called. Then they got Covad on the phone, and had me do yet another cycle of disconnect/reconnect/power-cycle.
After all that, the answer is that they'll send a Covad tech out to test the router, the inside wiring, and the NID (Network Interface Device - i.e. - the box on the back or side of your house where the phone lines come in). Now I guess I should be happy that an actual physical person will be working on the problem, but it strikes me as funny that in order to solve a problem that started with a break in the line more than a mile from my house, they're going to send someone to test stuff in my house! One kind of has to wonder who's training these people in troubleshooting.
Alas, by the time I post this, the problem will presumably be solved (if only temporarily [UPDATE - the line's back up, though not yet "fixed"]), since while I write this I have no Internet connectivity other than my cell phone (and thank goodness for that, at lesast I can still get my email. This kind of thing makes me wonder whether perhaps I should look into whether I can get a T1 (or a fractional T1) installed here. I've tried cable, but they don't allow servers, and the upload speed stinks. SDSL is pretty good in terms of speed, but the reliability has sometimes been considerably worse than cable (which is saying something). There's got to be a better way.
Seems to me that if services that rely on broadband are ever going to take off, the broadband industry is going to have to get much better. Based on more than two years' experience with cable and DSL, things seem to be getting worse, not better. OTOH, I could just be really peeved at the moment, and not seeing as clearly as I might.
With all due respect, I think that Robert is overreacting just a bit, on several fronts:
Ok so we can't write about:
I was told that we should only write about code. Well, in a further censorship of the blogging community here, Jesse and Julia think that we shouldn't be able to ask questions of the community in our blogs, or use the contact pages to ask people questions.
- Personal Stuff
- Observations About Life
FWIW, I don't think anyone's ever said that you can't write about any of the above topics, or that you shouldn't communicate with the community about technical stuff. What Scott (remember him, he's the guy who wrote the software that Robert, myself, and over a hundred others use to write our blogs) said is that these blogs should be focused on .NET. That's the whole point of having a community of blogs at http://weblogs.asp.net/. And he also said:
I am fully aware that there is more to life than code. I expect and hope people here will talk about some things that are not .NET, but you have to realize what the focus is here. It is .NET.
I believe the point that Julia and Jesse are attempting to make is that they see the contact form on their blogs as being there so that people can contact them about their blogs, not to open themselves up as a catch-all resource for .NET questions. I think this is a pretty reasonable approach to take
Robert goes on to say:
By blogginghere, you have a responsibility to your community members to help them out. This anti-social mentality will only turn away readers who may learn something from what we all have to say. If you can't handle that responsibility, don't blog. Go back to moderating the Forums and the Newsgroups and let us talk about our experiences.
I think Robert has it a little backwards here. By blogging here about .NET, one is presumably helping out the community. The only obligation, and the one that's set up by Scott himself, is that we blog mainly about .NET. And without denigrating Robert's standing in the community, I'm guessing that he doesn't get as much email as folks like Julia and others do. It's not a question of whether people want to help, or whether they "can't handle that responsibility", as Robert seems to assume. It's a simple matter of how much time someone has in a day.
I would also point out that contrary to Robert's assumption, writing a blog, or otherwise putting yourself out in the community should not be seen, IMO, as an open invitation for people to use you as an individual resource for their development questions. Now if someone emails me with a question about something I blogged about, I have no problem with that whatsoever. That makes perfect sense. But if someone sees that I've got a blog, and sees that I've got a contact link and uses that to ask me a development question unrelated to my blog, I may well direct that person to a public forum where they're more likely to get a good answer quickly, on this and future questions. Perhaps Robert sees this as an abdication of responsibility. I see it as ensuring that that person has a resource for questions that will always be available, and where others can benefit from the answer(s) their question receives.
It's good to keep learning, whether it's about ASP.NET, or about something as mundane (how quickly we become blasé) as blogging. Thanks to fellow .NET Weblogger Patrick Steele, I found out about the ability to use CSS to get a pseudo-WYSIWYG view of a new blog entry before submitting it. Very nice. Not perfect, but definitely better than the default, and better than the design view of the integrated posting tool Scott put together for the site (Sorry, Scott!).
Although the main RSS feed at http://weblogs.asp.net/ is getting close to overwhelming in volume, tidbits like this make it well worth following, assuming that you're using a good aggregator to manage the feeds.
Next week, on June 24th, I will be speaking at the Capital Area .NET User Group meeting in Vienna, VA. The topic will be "Building a Custom ASP.NET Login Control".
In this talk, I'll walk attendees through the process of creating a custom server control that provides login and registration for simple access control using forms authentication and an XML credentials file. Topics discussed will include postbacks, event handling, Forms Authentication, Authorization, and hashing credentials.
This event was arranged through INETA, the International .NET Association. If you'd like to have a top-notch .NET speaker at your .NET user group, you should join INETA! It's free, and in addition to arranging for speakers you'll get many more benefits as a member, including books and other goodies for meeting giveaways and much more!
seems to have been a little put out with a recent article
Puccini (no more need for first names here, I reserve that respect for people who can pee without getting any on themselves) opens with a salvo that I expect from some of the dullard banter I occasionally overhear between not-so-recently canned Java developers in the coffee shops around town: “Should developers with years invested in writing Windows-based code blindly commit to .Net? Definitely not, because .Net is inferior to Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) for Web application development.”
And then he gets really nasty. Now, I don't normally condone ad-hominem attacks on people who annoy us, but in this case, I might make an exception. The article Bellware discusses does seem to betray a boundless ignorance of .NET and Microsoft development in general. And Bellware's response is quite funny to boot.
Put more seriously, I do share Bellware's dismay that magazines like Computerworld publish such drivel. Yes, it's an opinion column, not "hard" journalism. But that doesn't mean that allowing someone to write a bunch of stuff that's simply not true is acceptable form for a publisher. To be fair, I don't read Computerworld regularly, so I can't say whether this is an anomaly, or a regular occurrence. But I hope for the sake of their readers that they provide a more balanced discussion of technology than this column suggests.
I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all the folks from the Triangle .NET User Group who showed up for my presentation on creating a custom Login server control last night. I had a great time, and the questions from the group were very good as well. I bumped into fellow MVP Cindy Weingarten, who I'd known of through MVP forums and such, but had not yet met, and met several other members of the group as well. Thank you all for making me feel so welcome! Also, thanks to INETA for arranging for me to speak at the UG meeting. If you run, or are a member of a .NET user group, and you aren't an INETA member, you should join now! They have tons of resources for user groups, including arranging for speakers such as myself to speak at your meetings. Best of all, INETA membership is free! And we all like free. ;-)
While we were in the Research Triangle area, one of the things I got to do with my wife and son was to visit the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science. In addition to regular exhibits, and an incredible butterfly house (we got to see the daily release of the butterflies that had emerged from their cocoons), they currently have a travelling show running called Springs, Sprockets, and Pulleys, by an artist named Steve Gerberich. Gerberich creates wonderful kinetic sculptures out of motors, pulleys, string, and...well...junk. It's great fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a chance to see the show. You can see some examples from the show on Gerberich's Web site (QuickTime required).
Clearly, I'm not paying enough attention. Luke commented on my last blog entry that:
Filtering has been a SharpReader feature since the first release
Well, color me slow. I guess I need to do a better job of keeping up with the features of my favorite aggregator.
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