Archives / 2004 / July
  • Non-amazing discovery about role management

    I was reading a little more about the role management in ASP.NET v2.0 when I realized that, duh, the reason it's not on by default is that it checks the logged in user roles for you and adds them to the user's Principal object. I was so blinded by the idea that I had a fun little HttpModule that did this for you (back in the “dark ages” of .NET v1.1) that I overlooked that.

  • Specialty Web publishing, on the rebound

    Anyone that published a small Web site than pulled a few hundred thousand visits a month circa 1999 knows that you could make an OK dollar producing such a site. It was a blast because if you did it, it was probably something you were really excited about, and it was a labor of love that proved to be a hobby with income.

  • When real life attacks!

    One thing I noticed about being self-employed (er, a bum, or something), is that I've had more time to blog. I feel like I've been doing it a lot more since I quit working for The Man.

  • Writing about Web services

    I finally finished my book chapter on Web services. Like the rest of the book, the goal is to get beginners up to mid-level code monkeys. I have to admit that I've not done a ton of work with Web services, though I've consumed those provided by Amazon and Google for little projects, and written a few in various jobs that send and receive fairly concise objects. I'm comfortable in my knowledge, but there are a lot of people that know far more than I do, especially with regards to the underlying XML SOAP structure.

  • Writing about server controls is no fun

    I finally finished writing my book chapter on custom and composite server controls tonight. I hated every minute of it because it's not an easy thing to write about in a way that is simple and lets the reader "get it" quickly.

  • Buggin' on the LoginView control

    I guess I'm just lucky, but I was surprised to find some bugs with the ASP.NET LoginView control and its use in VS 2005. I know it's only beta 1, but it surprised me.

  • The realization of misery

    Almost two months ago I quit my day job. I justified it (rightfully so) by knowing that I had to dedicate adequate time to writing my book. What sealed the idea is that I could at least get by with the little book advance and advertising revenue from my sites. I wouldn't be rich or able to live the J-Pizzie lifestyle, but I could at least pay the mortgage for a little while.

    The last two weeks in particular have led to a number of realizations, most of which have to do with the fact that three years in corporate hell sucked the soul right out of me, and made me a miserable person. The thing that's so fucked up about it is that I thought that for the most part I was pretty happy.

    When the bubble burst in early 2001, and Penton Media was going down the crapper, I split for Pfingsten Publishing. After only a few months and 9/11 related problems (not to mention a bunch of cheeseball big company personalities in a worthless start-up), they laid me off. I spent six months on the "government payroll" with my self-esteem in the crapper, unable to find a job. I was at least able to learn .NET during that time, which got me a job at an even more shitty payroll company. A year and a half later they laid me off too. Barely missing a beat, recruiters calling every day, I got in on a contract job with a gigantic insurance company, breaking the six-figure barrier. Four months later, it was May, 2004, and I made the break.

    Many things became very clear during those three years. The first was that money isn't the key to happiness, or a measure of self-worth. I doubled my salary in three years, and the more I made it seemed, the less interested I was in the work.

    The second thing is that, for better or worse, your self-esteem is tied to what you do. Prior to this time period, I worked for three years creating, programming and engineering an amazing government cable access operation, and I loved it. I would've stayed had it not been for the fact I'd never break $30,000 on the salary scale, and the people I worked for would have no part in making a raise happen. (Money isn't everything, but skilled professionals need to have some minimum standard.) Even at Penton, I believed in what we were doing at one point. Every job thereafter I didn't care. It wasn't interesting, and that made me feel worthless.

    The third thing is that the fire to do great things elevates your work ethic to a higher plane. I was doing great things in that government job, and worked insane hours to make it happen. The sheer act of creation is a natural high, and one I never got out of those three years. I would briefly have moments of satisfaction when I finished a revision for CoasterBuzz or something like that, but for the most part it was rare.

    Fourth is that balance is key in life. I've talked about it in online journals for three years, but in reality I was never practicing it. Finishing Masters of Doom, I realized that lack of balance is what put Carmack's and Romero's ventures on a perpetual downward spiral (if the timing is right, you can still make millions even if you screw up). If you keep at it too hard, you'll burn out and alienate everyone else. If you live carelessly, failure will kick your ass. Somewhere in the middle, you can succeed and be happy.

    Finally, the inability to take risks will keep you forever stuck in the same place. That's probably what was eating at me the most. In college I was idealistic and optimistic, heading into the worst business in the world, radio. I had a bright career ahead of me in an industry that killed more people's spirits than it elevated. The crappy jobs took those qualities away from me. Only now am I realizing that I missed out on three years because I wouldn't take any risks. Sure, I'm "poor" for the moment, but the long-term benefit of writing a book and taking time to "find myself" again will help me out.

    Fortunately my dear wife Stephanie didn't take off during those years. She had a lot of realizations herself with regards to career and education, so naturally things could've been really bad between us. As of today, I feel better about myself, my surroundings, my skills, my interests and my future than I have in years. There are a lot of things I still want to change about myself, but I finally feel that I can evolve with a little time. I'm not stuck anymore.

    Now I'm not just saying it anymore... it really is fun to be me again.

  • Does shareware still work?

    I need to make yet another Masters of Doom reference, this time to the idea of shareware. The original Doom and Commander Keen series made a ton of money by going the shareware route. Is this still possible today?

  • What happened to the 80s pizza joint?

    I was reading Masters of Doom today, which chronicles the lives of John Romero and John Carmack, two of the founders of id Software. In talking about their youth, Romero spent a lot of time going to pizza joints to play video games, because that's where the games were generally found.

    This made me stop and think, where did these places all go? I can think of three that used to be in the area around my house growing up in Cleveland. I always looked forward to going to these place because if I could convince my parents to spot me a quarter, I'd get to play Pac-Man, or even better, Ms. Pac-Man. How awesome was that?

    Now, it's rare to find a pizza place at all where you can go in, have a slice and play a few video games. Pizza is all about the big chains and delivery. Arcade games are harder to find outside of places like Dave & Busters. It's so odd that the era has come and gone.

    The weird irony is that you can buy the Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga combination cabinets now in small, medium and cocktail versions. In fact, some are targeted for home use, without the coin slots.

  • Bookstore visits just aren't the same

    Visiting my local Border's bookstore just isn't the same as it used to be. There was a time when I would anxiously head back to the computer section and browse the many .NET books, especially the Wrox Press books with the red covers. There was so much to learn!

  • Gmail anticipointment

    A friend finally hooked me up with a Gmail account. I guess the biggest reason I wanted an account was because it's not fun not being a part of the “in” crowd. So now that I've got one, well, not sure what I'm going to do with it.

  • Your blog Googled to death and the G4TechTV merger

    A while back I wrote about my disgust following the merger of G4 and TechTV. I'm convinced that the idiots at Comcast really had no idea how bad their programming really was in terms of production, air talent and scope. They bought TechTV because of its distribution, and ignored that fact that its programming was mostly top notch, so they killed good shows, fired a ton of people, and shut down the heart of the operation in San Francisco. Dumbasses.

  • Unit testing saved my life, and other thoughts about tools

    The text parsing in POP Forums has always been the bane of my existence in that product. Version after version, it's the thing I've hated most to try and make it work better. In a nutshell, it's supposed to translate “forum code” into HTML for post storage as well as reverse parse it or parse the sad excuse for HTML that comes out of IE's built-in HTML editing.

  • Application, Page and Control events in ASP.NET v2.0

    It appeared to me that they added a few things here and there to the Application, Page and Control lifecycle in ASP.NET v2.0. Curious, I whipped up some derived classes to output to a text file every time one of these events fired in the grand scheme of a request. I wired in the basic events then did overrides for everything that appeared to fire at some point. I think it's mostly complete, but the data binding events don't appear to fire unless you've got some data binding to do...

  • My birfday and other musings

    Yesterday was my 31st birthday. It was a lot less stressful than my last one, presumably because you only really freak out on the ones that happen every decade. I don't feel like I'm aging too quickly or anything, or that I'm missing opportunities. The only age-related thing I ever think about these days is children. I'd love to have one (preferably a girl), but I just don't want one now.

  • Writing an SMTP client

    The fun thing about my current voluntary break from “normal” work is that I can experiment with code for fun. I can't remember the last time I did that. Ever since I got the book “Professional .NET Network Programming” a year or two ago, I thought it would be fun to try and write a simple SMTP component. The spec is pretty straight forward, so why not?

  • TcpClient.Available... hooray!

    Every once in awhile when you're tooling about .NET v2, you come across something that you wish you had in the previous versions. Today, that's the TcpClient.Available property. It returns an int that cleverly enough tells you how many bytes are available to read from the network stream. It helps shave down a couple of lines required to read a stream.