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March 2005 - Posts

RHS on Hungarian notation
Whoops, I closed the window that had the other blog that referred to the one I'm referring to (got that?), but RHS has a good post on why Hungarian notation doesn't make sense in the modern world.

I have to admit that I used it, and it was a throw back to when I had to use VBscript in ASP.old pages. I made the mistake of having code samples out there using it today and I still get blasted for it, and justifiably so. Early last year I finally let it go because I was lazy, and because the contract I was on (auto insurance giant Progressive) adhered strictly to the standards set in various Microsoft docs.
Posted: Mar 31 2005, 02:48 PM by Jeff | with 4 comment(s)
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Frans gets it too, about communities
I think Frans more or less agrees with me in his post, although for slightly different reasons, that Microsoft sponsored communities are a mess of doomed kingdoms. I already said my peace about it.

The only thing I might slightly disagree with is that all Microsoft initiatives are doomed to fail and that the people in the trenches really drive the community. I don't totally think that's true. Like I said, eliminating duplication of effort would be a good start.

I thought GotDotNet was very cool when it started, and my login there is one of the earlierst. I racked up hundreds, perhaps thousands of posts. Then it stopped working because the site was (and still is) a poorly coded mess that doesn't work half of the time. Then I stopped going to the ASP.NET forums because they weren't working half of the time. I guess the reasons there were technical, and not community driven at all!
Posted: Mar 30 2005, 11:19 PM by Jeff | with 3 comment(s)
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Amazon's affiliate program can make you a buck or two. Who knew?
Naturally I have Amazon affiliate links all over creation for my book, partly to promote it and partly to make an extra $1.50 or so on every copy I sell. Truth be told, I've only sold a little more than a dozen copies in the last three weeks.

The shocker is that people still went on to buy all kinds of other weird stuff, and I'll get a nice check from Amazon for my trouble. The stuff I ended up selling was 80% things not my book. Classic CD's like String Quartet Tribute to Godsmack and a Barbie doll with light-up wings. Weird.
Posted: Mar 30 2005, 06:26 PM by Jeff | with 2 comment(s)
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Yet another little Microsoft kingdom
The latest Microsoft kingdom: CodeZone.

I don't get it. No one at Microsoft talks to each other about anything. I've mentioned more than once that Microsoft takes several directions at once, all in the name of entrepreneureal spirit, when the company could get it right and consolidate resources and build real live centers of activity that eliminate the duplication of effort.

For example, ASP.NET is my thing. I can get information about it on asp.net, GotDotNet, MSDN, Channel 9, this new site, and God knows where else. Isn't that a little ridiculous?

I've seen it posted many times over that getting anything posted to the "proper" Microsoft sites is a pain and takes forever, so these little projects have launched all over the place. That's great, but the resulting mass chaos of URL's is the polar opposite and just as bad. Surely there must be some kind of middle road?

Someone in Redmond needs to take charge and resolve this. Lots of little kingdoms do little more than water down the overall value of what the company could be doing in a consolidated fasion. No one should have to visit a half-dozen sites to figure out what's going on.
Posted: Mar 29 2005, 08:41 PM by Jeff | with 10 comment(s)
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Video and the Internet
Scoble has been talking about video on the Internet lately, which got me thinking a bit in a retrospective manner. Long before I became a code monkey and author, I was a broadcast monkey. I was one of those rare types that did it all, from air talent to engineering.

When I made the professional transition around 1999, broadcast video was really just starting to make a widespread conversion into the digital world, and even then that was only with regards to acquisition. Sony had its DVCAM and Panasonic had its DVCPRO (what I used in my facility), and consumer miniDV was catching on, if a bit on the expensive side. DV-based video editing more or less sucked, because the only thing any normal people could afford was Adobe's horrible Premier. To really get things done, you needed something from Avid or Media 100.

Today I use Avid's Xpress Pro HD, which is a fabulous product that shares the same interface as the stuff used right up to feature films. They're stubborn about hardware compatibility, but really no one can touch what they have. It's hard to believe a software-only solution is really this good. Ditto for Apple's Final Cut Pro, which I haven't done anything more than play with but it certainly seems really solid.

Figuring in the Internet has always been an interesting process. Video distributed over the Internet is still of marginal quality (in my broadcast eye), and because of all of the compression, you can't edit or remaster it without killing the quality. Anything under native DV isn't usable for further production.

Of the various formats out there, Windows Media is OK for talking heads, Real blows if for no other reason than the player is a bloated piece of crap, and QuickTime, in my experience, still gives you the best bang for the buck. You can do simple HTTP streaming with it, and the Sorenson codec is still at the top of the heap. There's a reason most movie trailers are released in this format. People pay me money to encode video, and I always get them the best quality in QT with Sorenson.

Broadband penetration sure has made things easier. You can do really nice stuff on the Internet at a resolution that can actually be seen as something more than a low-resolution slide show. Thank God that old modems are becoming more rare with each passing year. Access and bandwidth are probably still the biggest limitations to distribution of video, but I'm encouraged by lower pricing for the connections and computer hardware. We've still got a long way to go.
Posted: Mar 29 2005, 12:39 PM by Jeff | with 4 comment(s)
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In and out of work routines
That contract job I was excited to start has more or less stopped because the client is enduring several IT issues outside of the scope of the app I'm supposed to architect, so I've been at home for a week. Last week it wasn't a big deal, especially since I spent the weekend in Baltimore for volleyball, but they're still not pitching the "big picture" proposal until later this week. That's annoying.

My biggest beef is that I got all excited that I'd be able to really knock out my taxes without having to endure any huge financial hit because I'd have this extra work. The blow will certainly be cushioned, but I could still use the extra cash to support the J-Pizzie lifestyle.

My own business, the ad-supported and subscriber supported content stuff, is not doing particularly well because of really soft ad sales in the first quarter. I'm sure it's just a phase, but the timing stinks. It's totally offset by stuff I sold directly, but I was kind of hoping the direct sales would have been more of a bonus.

Since this is already a rambling post, I guess I'll throw in that I'm trying to use this week to be disciplined and get POP Forums v8 rolling along. Last week I moved all of the caching code out of business objects and into the data access layer. With SQL 2005 and the new cache dependency scheme, it seemed to make more sense having the caching there where it can play to the strengths (or weaknesses) of any built-in capabilities that the data store might have. I haven't had any time to play with SqlCacheDependency, so I don't even know if there's any advantage to using it over the scheme I've been using. That's a project for another day, way down the road.
Posted: Mar 28 2005, 11:12 AM by Jeff | with no comments
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Hooray! My rants were noticed by News.com
Check it out.

And here I thought no one was reading my drivel here. :)
Posted: Mar 23 2005, 11:18 PM by Jeff | with 3 comment(s)
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Microsoft marketing got it all wrong with VS 2005
I think that finally, years later, we can finally put the name-everything-.NET fiasco behind us. But our friends in the marketing division of Microsoft have managed to get it wrong again. I'm absolutely astounded how the product development teams can think up great things, be in touch with the world, and listen to customers, while the people down the hall can't get even a single clue.

There has been a lot of chatter about it, but I see two particular issues.

The first is that the entire Visual Studio product line has been fragmented to death. The differences between standard and pro are silly enough, but the Team System skus are even more ridiculous. Collaboration my ass. Whether it has been in a small team of two or in a giant corporation, I've always had to have all of the tools on my computer to get the job done. That includes requirement management, defect tracking software, testing software, quality tools, Visio, Office, the IDE itself, etc. The arrangment of the VS skus pretends that we all live in these discreet little spheres and never cross into other areas, especially the VSTS products. What a shame.

The other issue is the one about the server product for Team System. That one doesn't stick quite as close to home, but it's still certainly an issue. How it's tied to MSDN subscriptions is even more ridiculous, and the consultants get the short end of that stick. Seriously, what's the fear there? We've been getting the enterprise version of SQL Server for years. You don't think we're using that kind of thing in production, do you? Why would it be any different for this new server product? Good luck getting that into the enterprise when consultants can't even get their hands on it as part of their subscriptions.

Congratulations to the development teams bringing these products to us. We're glad that you've been listening. Now go kick down the doors of the marketing people and blast them for wasting your time.
Posted: Mar 23 2005, 09:55 PM by Jeff | with 9 comment(s)
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My book in the store
Another exciting moment in publishing... I found my book at the local Borders. Still crazy to see! (And you can buy it here. :))
Posted: Mar 23 2005, 08:25 PM by Jeff | with no comments
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Microsoft to developers: Here are the toys, now let the grown-ups play
About a year ago I was chatting with an MS evangelist that felt pretty confident about the future pricing of VS 2005 and the associated tools. To his credit, he was right in some respects. The standard and pro versions of Visual Studio are certainly more affordable than they used to be and address a certain market.

But what they really did is pushed off what we already had and made it less expensive, and decided to charge more for the really useful stuff that makes it worth the upgrade. Look at the feature matrix. Can you spot the problems? I don't know about you, but the idea that users of the standard or pro versions don't need unit testing is absurd. Look around, Microsoft... everyone is doing test-driven development these days. It's as essential as the debugger.

I guess the reason I'm so annoyed is that I, like a huge percentage of developers out there, have to wear many hats. I'm more often than not a one-off developer and/or architect working in a team on a contract basis with my own hardware and software. I need all of these tools so I can get away from the nightmare combination of NUnit, NAnt, VS, etc. So unless I can score an MVP nod for my projects or site (something not getting any easier by making posts like this, I'm sure), or for being the author of an ASP.NET book, I have to shell out more than two grand for an MSDN subscription to get what I really need. I refuse to believe that my situation can't be duplicated among thousands of other developers.

This is the kind of thing that makes for such great fodder among the open-sores zealots. For those on the fringe of choosing a platform, this is not exactly going to make Microsoft a slam-dunk for anyone.
Posted: Mar 22 2005, 01:18 PM by Jeff | with 17 comment(s)
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