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August 2005 - Posts

I suck at NFL fantasy drafting

Damn.  Just my luck - I had Atlanta's Peerless Price and Cincinnatti's Peter Warrick as my starting wideouts for my office fantasy league.  Stupid NFL 65-man roster last minute cuts. 

But whoever picks up either guy gets a quality receiver.  Warrick is due for a breakout season anytime with Pro Bowl implications (I personally hopes he stays in the AFC), and Price should return to his Buffalo form. 

Thank goodness our internal house rules allowed me to have third, the newest New Englander, David Terrell.  Like Warrick, he's got skills and can turn his career around with a fresh start (cases in point: Corey Dillon, Rodney Harrison).  He'll turn some heads after reuniting with his former Wolverine running mate Tom Brady.  I've also got Joey Harrington as my QB, so we'll see.

Posted: Aug 31 2005, 04:29 PM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Pandora - good as advertised (metaphorically speaking)

I just tried out the new Pandora service, which finally went live Monday and at long last came out of its invite-only shell.  The service hosts your own custom radio shows (up to 100, I think) and shares them with friends.  It's a really neat idea, bridging the portability of RSS-style apps with old skool (you know, circa 2001) Internet audio.

But the products redeeming feature is based on a concept I've long been a fan of.  What I think is absoulety-freakin'-amazing is the Music Genome Project.  As a database guy, I marvel at the relational concepts and metadata that must be pumping through that engine, and I appreciate the clever genetics analogy use to market it.

I approached my Pandora test this morning rather subjectively, thinking it would be an indie-rich collection of songs, in which case I'd rather not pay the $36 annual fee...I don't need to pay to "discover music I'll like".  So to quickly discount the service, I plugged in "Iron Maiden" to find related music.  Pleasantly to my surprise, it's chock-full of mainstream artists sharing traits with the lads from across the pond, recommending tunes from Dokken, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, and of course, other Maiden mainstays.

Marketing-wise, I liked the links that let you buy that song's CD from Amazon, or individual tracks from iTunes.  I wasn't crazy about the Flash interface, but it grew on me.

Really nice service.  Where's my credit card?

Posted: Aug 30 2005, 11:48 AM by guam-aspdev | with 4 comment(s)
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Digital Pontification: Podcast Show Notes - August 30, 2005

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Leave me a voicemail, send me a shoutout, or make comments about today's podcast: 1-206-600-4JAS (4527)

EPISODE #108 - a call at 2:30 in the morning wrecked any chance of sustained comfortable sleep, so I'm dragging ass this morning.  To combat my fatigue, I chug an entire King Car Lemon Tea on an empty stomach and boost my caffeine intake, and go off on rants about the lack of intellect displayed by my alma mater, great 80's music videos, the changing nature of podcasting, and how different a place the world's going to be once Microsoft fully gets behind podcasting.

Topics Discussed:

  • Awakened by a long-distance call and unable to get back to REM-land
  • Hear me chug an entire King Car Lemon Tea
  • Green Day's new video is amazing
  • Greatest music video ever: Dennis DeYoung's "Desert Moon"
  • I saw a Vonage infomercial in the wee hours of the AM
  • My alma mater is so dumb
  • Significant moments in podcast history
  • Projections on bandwidth and listenership when Microsoft finally comes out with Windows Media Player v.Next - like iTunes 4.9, but 10x worse
  • How I've changed as a podcast listener over the last few months

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Posted: Aug 30 2005, 11:16 AM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Let's not assume everyone knows how to develop in best-practices fashion

I've never been afraid to raise my hand and ask what others might see as a dumb question if it helps the community learn something (myself included).  I've always been altruistic like that.  That said, one thing that's been irking me is how would-be "experienced" or "top-notch" developers are quick to chastise the notion that programmers might not employ a best-practices approach in designing their systems. 

Such people are sound technically, but have a tendency to grossly overlook the critical human decision making element that's such a big part of winning programming.

Consider a question I often pose on about stymied performance due to ill-implemented Ajax elements in a web page, calling an Access database and firing server-side DB query on each instance of a client-side keypress event.  Supporting such rapid-fire functionality in high-volume environments would likely produce catastrophic results on an app.  So conceptually, it's not the way to go.  But it doesn't mean people still won't do it.

Many developers I've posed such a scenario to arrogantly jump on the criticism bandwagon, firing off responses like "You don't use Access for a web app...everybody knows that", or "Geez, just write a tiered caching layer...", assuming developers would have such moxie.  This I guess has the intention of force-feeding best practices programming down a developer's throat.  But it inadvertently sidesteps a major tenet: not everyone's as good or as knowledgeable as you.  Not all programmers know how to code things optimally, and I'd say the majority of samples I read today don't use what would be considered "proper" constructs to optimize performance, reusability and scalability. 

It's incorrect to assume a user of a system will interact with things the right way, hence the "program defensively" mantra.  We can - and should - take a similar stance with developers.  Put yourself in Microsoft's shoes: from a framework architectural standpoint, you can't assume that coders will write picture-perfect syntax 100% of the time, so being able to support alternative mechanisms, even if they deliver less-than-stellar results is key.  A core platform still has to work, lest it be seen as one only for elitist swine.  Everyone writing flawless code would be nice in a perfect world, but let's be realistic: it just won't happen, by matter of action, ommission, or lack of awareness.

So let's continually encourage and teach best practices, but also allow slack space for alternative routes.

Bravo, Rick Strahl: comments on Ajax's downsides

I've been asking lots of questions about the potentials of Ajax programming to hurt an app, probing various aspects of the potentials for Ajax-style development to impede on a web app's security, true asynchronous development model, scalability, mobile support, the perception of building faux "rich" clients, and other concerns, many of which admittedly stem from my general ignorance. 

Rick Strahl penned an outstanding piece for CODE Magazine objectively and honestly supporting (and in some cases discounting) many of the theories I've developed about the cons of Ajax, looking past the hype-driven pros.  Really good work, attacking the main points one really needs to know when considering an Ajax-enabled architecture.  A must read.


Digital Pontification: Podcast Show Notes - August 29, 2005

Download this podcast

Leave me a voicemail, send me a shoutout, or make comments about today's podcast: 1-206-600-4JAS (4527)

EPISODE #107 - I'm back!  After a brief hiatus taking care of business, I'm behind the mic and ranting and raving about whatever's important or poignant to me.  I yak about things of particular interest on a beautiful Monday island morning.

Topics Discussed:

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Posted: Aug 29 2005, 10:32 AM by guam-aspdev | with 1 comment(s)
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Aloha from Williamsport! Hawaii wins first LLWS championship

Even though my guys from Guam played an outstanding tournament, beating Russia, Canada and then Mexico, we ran into a tough team from Curacao who beat us 16-1 in the international semi-final (details).

We were cheering for our Pacific neighbors from Hawaii, who won it all today in dramatic fashion, hitting a walkoff HR in the bottom of the 7th.  They were a dominant team all tourney long, but Curacao took them to the limit.  Congrats to Ewa Beach!

Posted: Aug 29 2005, 10:22 AM by guam-aspdev | with no comments
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Google Earth screen grabs of Jimi Hendrix places in Seattle

I grabbed these pictures from a Google Earth scan of Seattle, recalling my trip in 2000 when I applied to work at Microsoft.  The recruiting trip ultimately proved unsuccesful, but the experience was unforgettable.  I've been playing guitar since I was 5 (I'm 31 at the time of this posting), and I'm a big Jimi Hendrix fan.

During the few days I had to hang with a high school buddy, he took me around and showed me the place on the NE corner of E. Pine Street and Broadway where there's a statue of Jimi (the actual statue is hidden beneath the tree shadow to the right of the pushpin).  If I recall corectly, the building on the left is a community college.

...and then on a rainy Sunday afternoon, a few friends came with me - all from Guam - making the trek to nearby Renton, to visit Jimi's grave at Greenwood Memorial Cemetery.  A homeless Vietnam veteran sitting by Jimi's headstone told us all about him, his life and his death...and then asked us for $5 to buy some crack.  I gave him a ten-spot and asked him to spend it on two days' food and a phone call to someone who could help him out. 

Standing there, above the final resting place of one of my axe-wielding heroes, I was truly moved.  I said a little silent prayer and told Jimi what he'd meant to me.  It was something as a guitar player I'd always wanted to do, and it was a really spiritual moment.

Anyone got any more shots of Seattle having to do with Jimi?  I'm thinking of checking our Graceland in Tennessee next.

Posted: Aug 28 2005, 10:39 PM by guam-aspdev | with 2 comment(s)
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Ajax polling/refreshing

Doing periodic polling in web apps without leaving/reloading a page via Ajax-style programming is something I'm quite excited about.  It'll be cool to have a web page auto-update by way of a VB-esque timer or JavaScript window.setInterval() or other related service when inventory runs out, or a document isn't being edited, or a user logs into the system, or something like that - without post backs, refreshes or redirects.

Michael Mahemoff has a great blog about this very topic, talking about such features in Ajaxian chat services and multiplayer gaming.

Skype for Windows Mobile/PocketPC

Running skype on my PDA phone is cool in a major way: http://www.skype.com/products/skype/pocketpc/

Now if only I could get a mobile audio editor like Audacity, I could do mobile VoIP interviews on the road!

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