I've posted a brief review of Dundas Chart 3.5 based on what I've used it for (no rocket science, but stuff that most of us probably could use for our apps, imho). You may read it here:
If you run any servers, even at home, you should probably read this and/or forward it on to anybody you know who manages servers. As anybody with a clue can attest, SPAM is quickly clogging up not just our individual inboxes, but also the networks that make the Internet work. Most of these messages are being sent by unsuspecting individuals' computers, not from the spammers' own machines. Do your part to stop spam by protecting your servers.
FTC - SPAM - Securing Your Email Servers
I'm learning more about InfoPath (formerly XDocs), and it seems like it'll be a really cool addition to the Office toolset. Has anybody had much of an opportunity to play with this using the beta? What did you think?
RSS = Real Simple Syndication, I learned recently. I've been wanting to implement something similar for events (of the calendar variety) for some time. There are several formats in use today to describe events, but none are as pervasive and as widely used as RSS is for blogging and articles.
I have an event calendar on my website. It's hard to keep it updated, though, since there is today no automated way to pull in events. For instance, Microsoft periodically posts new tech chats, conference calls, and webcasts on MSDN. Various training companies announce new class dates. Conferences announce their upcoming dates and locations. And user groups are often updating information about upcoming meetings. All of this information I would like to present on the calendar, so that ASP/ASP.NET developers could see everything in one place.
I've finally had it with the manual approach - my goal now is at the very least to talk MSDN and INETA into adopting a standard event framework so that we can share event information with one another. Ideally, I'd like to see have a reusable framework that many people will use to expose and consume event feeds. So far, I have a few interested individuals signed up and discussiing the shape this framework should take. If you're interested in participating and/or lurking, you can sign up for this list at AspAdvice.com, here.
Note - this is a rant I've had for a long time, not a response to anything new. You can learn more about Passport here and here. To get right to the chase, here's the part I think is ludicrous and detrimental to Passport ever getting any market share:
There are two fees for licensing .NET Passport: a periodic compliance testing fee of US$1,500 per URL and a yearly provisioning fee of US$10,000 per company. The provisioning fee is charged on a per-company basis and can be applied to multiple URLs. For example, if your company uses .NET Passport on three distinct URLs, you would pay one yearly fee plus the periodic compliance testing fee for each of the three URLs. This entitles your company to unlimited volume use of the .NET Passport service at those URLs.
This pricing model is absurd. Microsoft has been totally unsuccessful at getting businesses to adopt and use Passport for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its spotty security record and the fairly hefty amount of work required to implement the system. They've done a great job of getting end users signed up, but without some businesses using it outside of Microsoft, it's not terribly worthwhile.
I am in love with the idea of Passport. I hate the fact that every site I go to requires a different format of username and password. I'd love to be able to just click "sign in" and use a single-signon service like Passport to securely allow me access. I'd love to not have to type in my street address when I buy something if I've said it's ok to share the information. These are all good things from the end-user perspective.
As a website developer, I love the idea of Passport. I have a bunch of different sites with separate back end databases and user stores. I'd love to be able to use a Passport ID to uniquely identify users regardless of which site they're in, and to allow them to bounce between sites and/or applications within a site (e.g. the ASP.NET Forums which use a totally separate authentication scheme from what most sites have) without having to sign in more than once.
Here's the rub - nobody is going to pay $10k/year + $1500/URL for a login control. They're just not that hard to build yourself. If anybody wants one in .NET, I have a complete N-Tier implementation of user registration/login/logout as a sample application here (bottom of page, "NTier Sample App w/Unit Tests".
Large organizations like banks and such already have authentication systems in place at this point - they've had to build them by now, so it's not like Passport is saving them any work. The benefits are marginal and far outweighed by the security concerns that plague Passport. They're not going to jump on Passport for $12k/year, unless it's MS paying them $12k, not the other way around.
Small shops who are building new applications and sites would benefit from a packaged, ready-to-go authentication system. Passport would be a good fit here, but again, the price is totally insane. I'm talking about sites that pay less than $100/month for shared hosting, of which there are thousands. The developer resources for these organizations are usually stretched to the limit already, as are their budgets for IT. A cheap version of Passport would probably be welcomed and would provide MS with a lot of market share, but the current price scheme will never see that happen.
I've talked about this with many different Microsoft employees, none of whom are on the Passport team. Nobody I've spoken to thinks the current price scheme makes any sense. On the off chance somebody from that team sees this, I'd love to hear their side of things. Maybe I'm wrong and Passport is flying off the shelves and making MS millions, but I don't see it at any of the sites I go to unless MS owns them.
Thought I'd blog about my experience thus far with the beta. As I wrote in an earlier entry, I upgraded to Outlook 2003 Beta some weeks ago. The results have been largely positive, but I do have a few complaints. Here's the rundown:
- Junk Mail Support - It has yet to mis-classify a message as spam, and it has reduced my spam that I actually have to deal with by about 90 to 95% I'd say. I get about 500 spams per day as a result of several aliases being published on popular websites. With Outlook 2003, I get maybe 10-20 spams per day in my inbox.
- Flagging - I really like the mult-colored flags for TODO items. It would be cool if I could assign labels to the colors somewhere, so I know that red goes with ASPAlliance and blue goes with Family or whatever without me trying to remember that, though.
- Message Rules - Setting up rules by simply right-clicking on a message is a breeze. Very well done.
- Add to Address Book - why can't I right-click on a message and add the sender to my address book? I have to drag the message into Contacts, which is less intuitive. Also, why can't I right-click on an email in a message and add it to my contacts?
- Newsreader - Is there a way to use Outlook for NNTP? Not that I've found.
- Share Calendar - Why can't I share my calendar with another Outlook user without MS Exchange Server being involved? And no I'm not talking about just showing 'busy' times using the web.
- Recovery Time - Any time I shut down the computer unexpectedly, it takes a LONG time for Outlook to reload. Like half an hour. It says "The data file 'Personal Folders' was not closed properly. The file is being checked for problems." The next item exacerbates this issue.
- Weird Video Bug - Every now and then, like once every other day or so, Outlook will flake out with some weird video behavior that consumes all of my CPU. The video aspect of this behavior involves all text in Outlook -- it only displays the top half of the text. The only solution to this I have found is to power cycle; the system hangs too much to allow me to shut things down any other way. Naturally when this happens, I must then wait up to half an hour while Outlook checks my Personal Folders data file...
Ok, so that took me about 10 minutes or so to write. Outlook has been recovering my personal folders that entire time, and claims to still have 15 minutes to go. If nothing else, I guess I can say it is prompting me to blog more. I really like it compared to OE -- just the junk mail and rule features make it worth it. But the startup time and the recovery-from-improper-shutdown issues really suck; I hope they get fixed. Admittedly I have a LOT of email (several years' worth of listserv discussions), but I have archived the older items and OE managed to do it with minimal delay (seconds for the largest folders), so I don't see why Outlook should choke on it so badly (being the enterprise, $$$ product).
(not listening to anything cuz Outlook is chewing up all my CPU)