Archive for June, 2004

VFP and PUBLIC variables

Posted on June 30, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Using PUBLIC variables in VFP.

I know I should be writing stuff about VFP9 and in the coming days I will (for a great intro see Castro Shehata’s summary from the Sydney VFP User Group meeting earlier tonight) but this time I wanted to share a thought on PUBLIC variables.

We all know public variables are bad and should be avoided right?

Well that was what I was taught at uni. But recently I’ve reconsidered and now I use them freely when appropriate. Before you start dismissing me let me explain, and if you have a better, easier method please let me know.

In an application we are writing we create a COM object that holds table record fields (the object is actually a collection of field objects). The app throws container classes onto forms or onto a pageframe on the screen. The container classes have controls that use these COM object as controlsources.

So, what I needed was an easy way of linking the COM objects to the controls.
If it were on a form it’d be easy, just add a property to the form and then refer to that in the controlsource of each control eg:

ThisFormSet.oProperty = CREATEOBJECT('MyCOMObject.MyCOMClass')
Myclass.Control1.ControlSource = ThisFormSet.oProperty.oFields.myfield.Value

But these classes could be thrown onto anything, including other classes, pageframes, _SCREEN, etc, so you are not guarenteed of the FormSet being there.

So I just needed a way of referring to the COM object easily.
Now, initially I went down the path of a collection class that kept all my COM objects together, etc. But I still had the problem of having to keep a reference to the collection index or name. The logical place to put this would be on the container class.

Anyway I was pondering this with Scott at work, and he thinks for a second and suggests using a public variable. I’ll spare you all my protestations, because when it boiled down to it I couldn’t think of a good reason not to use them.
So now instead of storing a collection class reference on the class I instead store the name of the public variable.

The code will do something like this:

LOCAL cObjectName, cString
* create a unique public variable
cObjectName = 'oCOM' + ALLTRIM(SYS(2015))
cString = 'PUBLIC ' + cObjectName
&cString

* create the COM object
cString = cObjectName + [ = CREATEOBJECT('MyCOMObject.MyCOMClass') ]
&cString

oContainer.cVariableName = cObjectName

* set control sources
oContainer.oControl1.ControlSource = cObjectName + '.oFields.myfield1.Value'
oContainer.oControl2.ControlSource = cObjectName + '.oFields.myfield2.Value'

And on the destroy of the class you release the public variable eg:

cString = 'RELEASE ' + oContainer.cVariableName
&cString

Ofcourse we’ve written generic routines for all these things eg for linking the COM objects and the controls all we need to do is a call a method and pass it the name of the COM object and the container class and it does the rest. The release variable is in the base class destroy() etc.

So there’s a thought for public variables. I’m sure there are many solutions to this issue, but this one works really well and is simple to implement.

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VFP and PUBLIC variables

Posted on June 30, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Using PUBLIC variables in VFP.

I know I should be writing stuff about VFP9 and in the coming days I will (for a great intro see Castro Shehata’s summary from the Sydney VFP User Group meeting earlier tonight) but this time I wanted to share a thought on PUBLIC variables.

We all know public variables are bad and should be avoided right?

Well that was what I was taught at uni. But recently I’ve reconsidered and now I use them freely when appropriate. Before you start dismissing me let me explain, and if you have a better, easier method please let me know.

In an application we are writing we create a COM object that holds table record fields (the object is actually a collection of field objects). The app throws container classes onto forms or onto a pageframe on the screen. The container classes have controls that use these COM object as controlsources.

So, what I needed was an easy way of linking the COM objects to the controls.

If it were on a form it’d be easy, just add a property to the form and then refer to that in the controlsource of each control eg:

ThisFormSet.oProperty = CREATEOBJECT('MyCOMObject.MyCOMClass')

Myclass.Control1.ControlSource = ThisFormSet.oProperty.oFields.myfield.Value

But these classes could be thrown onto anything, including other classes, pageframes, _SCREEN, etc, so you are not guarenteed of the FormSet being there.

So I just needed a way of referring to the COM object easily.

Now, initially I went down the path of a collection class that kept all my COM objects together, etc. But I still had the problem of having to keep a reference to the collection index or name. The logical place to put this would be on the container class.

Anyway I was pondering this with Scott at work, and he thinks for a second and suggests using a public variable. I’ll spare you all my protestations, because when it boiled down to it I couldn’t think of a good reason not to use them.

So now instead of storing a collection class reference on the class I instead store the name of the public variable.

The code will do something like this:

LOCAL cObjectName, cString

* create a unique public variable

cObjectName = 'oCOM' + ALLTRIM(SYS(2015))

cString = 'PUBLIC ' + cObjectName

&cString

* create the COM object

cString = cObjectName + [ = CREATEOBJECT('MyCOMObject.MyCOMClass') ]

&cString

oContainer.cVariableName = cObjectName

* set control sources

oContainer.oControl1.ControlSource = cObjectName + '.oFields.myfield1.Value'

oContainer.oControl2.ControlSource = cObjectName + '.oFields.myfield2.Value'

And on the destroy of the class you release the public variable eg:

cString = 'RELEASE ' + oContainer.cVariableName

&cString

Ofcourse we’ve written generic routines for all these things eg for linking the COM objects and the controls all we need to do is a call a method and pass it the name of the COM object and the container class and it does the rest. The release variable is in the base class destroy() etc.

So there’s a thought for public variables. I’m sure there are many solutions to this issue, but this one works really well and is simple to implement.

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The sorry horn

Posted on June 28, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Why hasn’t this been invented yet?

My wife came up with this idea about 6 years ago, but I am amazed that it is still not mandatory on every car.

It’s the sorry horn.
You use it when you make a mistake driving (eg you accidently cut someone off, or scare a pedestrian you didn’t see who has right of way). You just give them a toot with your sorry horn. It has a nice reassuring ‘sorr-ree’ tone that perpetuates a sense of calm in what could otherwise be a road rage scenario.

If you wanted to take it further you could develop a range of horns for different occassions. One for complimenting people on their car, another for congratulating a wedding procession, etc.

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The sorry horn

Posted on June 28, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Why hasn’t this been invented yet?

My wife came up with this idea about 6 years ago, but I am amazed that it is still not mandatory on every car.

It’s the sorry horn.

You use it when you make a mistake driving (eg you accidently cut someone off, or scare a pedestrian you didn’t see who has right of way). You just give them a toot with your sorry horn. It has a nice reassuring ‘sorr-ree’ tone that perpetuates a sense of calm in what could otherwise be a road rage scenario.

If you wanted to take it further you could develop a range of horns for different occassions. One for complimenting people on their car, another for congratulating a wedding procession, etc.

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Bill Gates Breakfast

Posted on June 28, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

He’s a smart guy.

Bill is in Sydney this week for a few meetings with important people.
This morning he had a developer breakfast and spoke on his vision for the future. I was there (due in part to my role as President of the Sydney VFP User Group, but more probably because a good friend in Microsoft is looking after me) with approx 160 other people from around Australia and New Zealand.

As a presenter Bill is very impressive. I am trying to work on my presentation skills, so I am tuning in to the ‘techniques’ that good presenters employ.

Firstly, his passion – he loves his job, his company and the technology they are developing. Without passion even the slickest presentation won’t inspire anyone. I mean this guy is the richest man in the world (I think – he may have been surpassed recently) and yet he takes the trouble to front up to a 7am breakfast and speak to a (smallish) group of developers about his and Microsoft’s vision for technology. That’s commitment and passion in my mind. Yeah sure, he put in a fair amout of sales speak and talked up some of the initiatives MS has introduced, but overwhelmingly (in my mind atleast) here is a guy that of all could people could retire and leave the travelling part to some well paid lackeys. But no, Bill is passionate and does it himself. I admire that.

Second, he know what he is talking about. I’m a little tired of head honchos yabbering on about the latest technologies with very little comprehension of the nitty gritty (some big telco CEOs in Australia come to mind). Bill knows what he’s talking about. I wouldn’t expect him to know the intimate details of protocols, but at a reasonably detailsed level this guy is well informed. Again, impressive.

Third, and this is a trivial thing – he used PowerPoint well, there were probably only 8-10 slides for the hour and they simply reinforced main points. I won’t go on, you’ve heard all the complaining people do about over-PPing…

So what did he say?
Well, he talked briefly about the history of computing from the late 70s, through hardware, telcos and then software (ie GUI, app development). Then he moved onto some of the challenges we face as a result eg the interconnectedness of computing has opened the door to security breaches.
He talked about MS R+D (around $6.8B) and their focus on security and usability.
I like his idea of unifying the programs we use for all our different ‘maintenance’ tasks eg organising email, music, folders, files, data, addresses, tasks, notes. Why can’t we use a common interface he asked? Obvious really, and I’m looking forward to the unity in future.

He also dicussed the use of mobile computing – he sees this as a big thing moving forward. A few things stand in the way of major uptake including speech recognition and ink recognition. The handwriting recognition technology is getting close, but speech is still 4-6 years away. Interestingly in China, with their larger alphabet, Bill claims they can input quicker with speech recognition than by keyboard.

Mobile phones with exceptional speech recognitiion will be a big advantage in the future. Need to schedule a meeting? Just tell your phone about it.

Tablet PCs have been around for a year or so in their present incarnation. And the ink recognition is at a point where a user can use it satisfactorily to take notes, draw diagrams etc without fumbling and making mental notes to ‘fix it up later’.

Need I say it but there is a big focus on .Net technologies, which Bill tries to make sound as though it is just the logical implementation of XML. Being predominantly a Visual FoxPro programmer I sometimes feel a little left out, and wonder if I should be jumping on the .Net band wagon. If you’d asked me a year ago I would have said no, we use the best product for our customers. But these days our customers (who have no idea about what their technical requirements are mind you) are asking me if we have a .Net strategy. You can’t ingore that or you’ll be left behind.
At our company we do all our desktop stuff with VFP and all Web stuff with .Net, and COM/middle tier is in either depending on the project. But I’m wondering if that is enough to ‘appease’ our clients in the long term? I’m mindful that technology is always changing and if you stand still you won’t be around for long. More on that in future blogs.

So, back to Bill. The point is that Bill is .Net personified. He sees it as the future. Sure, we knew that from all the billions in marketing, but seeing him this morning made it all the clearer to me.

Back to mobile computing for a tick. .Net is the best platform for developing mobile and PDA apps with database access. Combining the .Net spend support from MS and the massive boom in mobile devices in the next few years the development direction is getting clearer for me.

And that covers atleast 5 minutes of Bill’s hour long chat with us. These were the main points for me. I’d be remiss to not mention that XML and Web services in particular were a key to the whole presentation, but I was convinced of that a year ago so I won’t say too much, except to reinforce that Web Services are not about replacing existing infrastructure. No they are really about connecting them. But you knew that didn’t you?

A thoroughly enjoyable and focussed breakfast. A great chance to hear the man (my first time), and a wonderful time to sit and think about the future (proactive) as opposed to always defending/responding (reactive) to clients.

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Bill Gates Breakfast

Posted on June 28, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

He’s a smart guy.

Bill is in Sydney this week for a few meetings with important people.

This morning he had a developer breakfast and spoke on his vision for the future. I was there (due in part to my role as President of the Sydney VFP User Group, but more probably because a good friend in Microsoft is looking after me) with approx 160 other people from around Australia and New Zealand.

As a presenter Bill is very impressive. I am trying to work on my presentation skills, so I am tuning in to the ‘techniques’ that good presenters employ.

Firstly, his passion – he loves his job, his company and the technology they are developing. Without passion even the slickest presentation won’t inspire anyone. I mean this guy is the richest man in the world (I think – he may have been surpassed recently) and yet he takes the trouble to front up to a 7am breakfast and speak to a (smallish) group of developers about his and Microsoft’s vision for technology. That’s commitment and passion in my mind. Yeah sure, he put in a fair amout of sales speak and talked up some of the initiatives MS has introduced, but overwhelmingly (in my mind atleast) here is a guy that of all could people could retire and leave the travelling part to some well paid lackeys. But no, Bill is passionate and does it himself. I admire that.

Second, he know what he is talking about. I’m a little tired of head honchos yabbering on about the latest technologies with very little comprehension of the nitty gritty (some big telco CEOs in Australia come to mind). Bill knows what he’s talking about. I wouldn’t expect him to know the intimate details of protocols, but at a reasonably detailsed level this guy is well informed. Again, impressive.

Third, and this is a trivial thing – he used PowerPoint well, there were probably only 8-10 slides for the hour and they simply reinforced main points. I won’t go on, you’ve heard all the complaining people do about over-PPing…

So what did he say?

Well, he talked briefly about the history of computing from the late 70s, through hardware, telcos and then software (ie GUI, app development). Then he moved onto some of the challenges we face as a result eg the interconnectedness of computing has opened the door to security breaches.

He talked about MS R+D (around $6.8B) and their focus on security and usability.

I like his idea of unifying the programs we use for all our different ‘maintenance’ tasks eg organising email, music, folders, files, data, addresses, tasks, notes. Why can’t we use a common interface he asked? Obvious really, and I’m looking forward to the unity in future.

He also dicussed the use of mobile computing – he sees this as a big thing moving forward. A few things stand in the way of major uptake including speech recognition and ink recognition. The handwriting recognition technology is getting close, but speech is still 4-6 years away. Interestingly in China, with their larger alphabet, Bill claims they can input quicker with speech recognition than by keyboard.

Mobile phones with exceptional speech recognitiion will be a big advantage in the future. Need to schedule a meeting? Just tell your phone about it.

Tablet PCs have been around for a year or so in their present incarnation. And the ink recognition is at a point where a user can use it satisfactorily to take notes, draw diagrams etc without fumbling and making mental notes to ‘fix it up later’.

Need I say it but there is a big focus on .Net technologies, which Bill tries to make sound as though it is just the logical implementation of XML. Being predominantly a Visual FoxPro programmer I sometimes feel a little left out, and wonder if I should be jumping on the .Net band wagon. If you’d asked me a year ago I would have said no, we use the best product for our customers. But these days our customers (who have no idea about what their technical requirements are mind you) are asking me if we have a .Net strategy. You can’t ingore that or you’ll be left behind.

At our company we do all our desktop stuff with VFP and all Web stuff with .Net, and COM/middle tier is in either depending on the project. But I’m wondering if that is enough to ‘appease’ our clients in the long term? I’m mindful that technology is always changing and if you stand still you won’t be around for long. More on that in future blogs.

So, back to Bill. The point is that Bill is .Net personified. He sees it as the future. Sure, we knew that from all the billions in marketing, but seeing him this morning made it all the clearer to me.

Back to mobile computing for a tick. .Net is the best platform for developing mobile and PDA apps with database access. Combining the .Net spend support from MS and the massive boom in mobile devices in the next few years the development direction is getting clearer for me.

And that covers atleast 5 minutes of Bill’s hour long chat with us. These were the main points for me. I’d be remiss to not mention that XML and Web services in particular were a key to the whole presentation, but I was convinced of that a year ago so I won’t say too much, except to reinforce that Web Services are not about replacing existing infrastructure. No they are really about connecting them. But you knew that didn’t you?

A thoroughly enjoyable and focussed breakfast. A great chance to hear the man (my first time), and a wonderful time to sit and think about the future (proactive) as opposed to always defending/responding (reactive) to clients.

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Libraries

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Keep this a secret.

I don’t know why more people don’t use libraries. They are the biggest rort around. You get really cool, useful stuff for free.

My wife put me onto this library thing about a year ago.
Basically you go to the shops and check out what is new in the book stores. It could be the latest Robert Ludlum, Brian Tracy, Robert Kiyosaki, whatever. Anything that catches your eye.

Then you log onto to your library web site and check if they have it. Most likely if it is new it will be on order, so you just click the ‘Place hold’ button and put in your card number. In the next few weeks the library will have it ready. They even send you a note in the mail to tell you to collect it. At our library they charge a whopping $1.50 for this service.

But it gets better – if they already have it ‘in stock’ you just go and pick it up for free. Unbelievable.

OK, there are some downsides – the main one is that on new releases you can’t just ‘have it now’, you usually have to wait. The second is that if it is an older title it may be in poor condition. And occasionally there may be some food crumbs in the book if it has been borrowed by a big slob before you.

But, hey you don’t have to borrow it.

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Stressful week

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Thankfullness after a stressful week.

I write this on a Sunday, following a stressful week of sorts.

About two weeks ago my dad found out he had a cancerous lump (I won’t go into details) that required immediate attention. They booked him in for surgery the following Monday (which was last Monday 21 June). At the same time my grandma went into hospital with chest pains.

So, on the day of dad’s surgery I sent an email to my home group (this is a group of friends from church – we meet together and study the bible every week or so) asking them to pray for his surgery. We’d leave it in God’s hands.

I visited my gran and she was looking a little out of it at first but then picked up – apparently she has these kinds of ‘episodes’ so she told me not to worry. I do worry a bit though. Thankfully she recovered and has now gone back to her unit. The hospital did a range of tests and ruled out anything major. In her own words she is ‘…just getting old’. Perhaps.

Dad came though the surgery magnificently. He recovered really quickly and was home on Thursday (4 days after the surgery and a day earlier than expected). They managed to do it key-hole style so there is no life style side effects. On Friday we got the good news that the lump was removed in full and it looks like that is the end of the matter. Dad is home and will be out picking avocados on the farm soon. My mum is quite relieved as well as you can imagine, she put on a very brave face through the whole thing. Sometimes these things come quite suddenly and are a good reminder of how fragile we are. I try to make a habit of giving them to God to sort out. I’m never sure how he’ll answer prayer, except that he definately will answer it, and with the best answer (although it isn’t always to my liking – just check out how Billy Graham is suffering, I trust God is doing it for a good reason).

Finishing the week was good – my wife finished her uni exams on Friday and I finished my final Microsoft MCSD exam on the same day – so we had a relaxing Friday night watching Tru Calling and Law & Order episodes we’d taped, with Chinese home delivery.

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Single Malt Scotch

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Becoming a Scotch connoisseur.

A few weeks back I borrowed a book from my brother in law on Single Malt Scotch (Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion) which is a fascinating read. I never thought a book about a drink would be so interesting. Anyway I have been so taken with the concept that I have decided to become a scotch drinker. And to make matters worse I am thinking of becoming one of those wankers that pontificate about the side of the valley that the water flowed down to give it its peaty flabour blah blah.

You know those wine drinkers that go on about the nuances of the grape etc and incite the wrath of everyone else at the table that just wants a good drop? Yeah, well maybe more of a caricature than a reality, but you get my point.

I thought I’d become a bit like that with Scotch. So, I bought my first bottle last night. I went for something mid range, a Glenfiddich 12 year old, which was on special. It only gets a 75 in MJ’s book as I don’t want to start at the top just yet. I will work my way up to the Lagavulins and The Macallans.

Interstingly there is a bit of a shortage on Lagavulin in Australia at the moment. Many of the bottle shops are out of stock and the few that do have it overpriced. I was browsing in a shop in Lane Cove the other day and a 12 year old was going for $115 (normal price would be around $90) – that’s supply and demand for you.

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Libraries

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Keep this a secret.

I don’t know why more people don’t use libraries. They are the biggest rort around. You get really cool, useful stuff for free.

My wife put me onto this library thing about a year ago.

Basically you go to the shops and check out what is new in the book stores. It could be the latest Robert Ludlum, Brian Tracy, Robert Kiyosaki, whatever. Anything that catches your eye.

Then you log onto to your library web site and check if they have it. Most likely if it is new it will be on order, so you just click the ‘Place hold’ button and put in your card number. In the next few weeks the library will have it ready. They even send you a note in the mail to tell you to collect it. At our library they charge a whopping $1.50 for this service.

But it gets better – if they already have it ‘in stock’ you just go and pick it up for free. Unbelievable.

OK, there are some downsides – the main one is that on new releases you can’t just ‘have it now’, you usually have to wait. The second is that if it is an older title it may be in poor condition. And occasionally there may be some food crumbs in the book if it has been borrowed by a big slob before you.

But, hey you don’t have to borrow it.

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Newest niece

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Meeting Jemma.

My wife’s sister and husband are visiting from the US with their new 2 month old (their first, and the first grandchild for some grandparents).

We had seen photos of this little bundle and she looked pretty cute, but we were a bit shocked at just how good looking this little baby is when we met her yesterday for the first time.

She’s one of those dream babies – hardly cries (well atleast not in the one hour we had with her!), is content in anyone’s arms and loves to see what is going on all around her.

I’ll check with proud parents, and if OK with them I’ll post a picture here soon.

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Visual FoxPro 9

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Using Visual FoxPro 9 beta.

I am a programmer and I have a job I love.
One of the development tools we use is Microsoft Visual FoxPro, which excels at writing database software.

I’ve been playing with the beta of the new version (v9 out in September) and I am really impressed. For a beta it is extremely stable. I ran a big system recompiled into 9 for a weekend and it didn’t fall over once. Always a good sign. Some of the new features are great – the new reporting engine, which I haven’t got too far with yet – looks awesome.

The company I work for is organising the OzFox 2004 conference later in the year for VFP developers and this new version will feature heavily.

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On energy, water and the environment

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Water and energy

Water

OK, so in Sydney at the moment we have water restrictions. This means we can’t water our gardens between certain hours, and we need to have water savinf sprinkler systems etc. All good stuff. Currently our dams are below 50% capacity which is very scary – we haven’t been this low for a long time.

Now my parents live on a farm up in Queensland, and they aren’t on town water – rather they need to collect rain water and/or use a bore to pump it from underground. They have a big tank for sotring the water and they use it for everything: watering the plants, showering, cooking and yes, drinking.

Why can’t we do the same in the city? Why don’t all new developments put in a catchment tank that collects everything from the roof drainage on apartments and houses. Next, any tap around the property used for watering gardens, washing cars etc is taken from this catchment tank.
Next we could have specific pipes to bathrooms for using this water in toilets.

[Addendum: I hadn’t read today’s Domain section in the Sydney Morning Herald when I originally wrote this blog, but it has a section on new developments with water measures in it – very interesting.]

I’d probably stop here, as I don’t really want to shower in the water that falls in Sydney (the pollution can be pretty bad). And I don’t want to cook with it either. Drinking, well, sometimes I don’t even want to drink our currently supplied tap water…

But atleast our gardens would be flourishing. Oh, and having the catchment tank would lessen ever so slightly the volume of water going into our already overworked drainage system.

I haven’t investigated costs, but given that just about every farmer does this it can’t be too bad. And over time I am sure it would pay for itself in savings. And, it would mean we could water our garden anytime we liked.

Solar power
On another matter – energy – I heard on the radio the other day that some councils are going to provide incentives to implement solar power options on buildings. Seems like a good idea to me. At a minimum I’m sure our building could power all our hot water heating from a few solar panels on the roof. I’ll need to investigate costs to make a proposal to our owner’s corporation.
One problem ofcourse is that those solar panels are so bloody ugly. I’m sure someone must have invented a solar collector into normal looking roof tiles. I was discussing this with my mate Tim yesterday. He suggested we should be able to have simple roof tiles that collect the solar power and have in built connections to easily transfer it down through the tiles to a central collector. I wonder what would happen if it was struck by lightning…

Surely something like this is available?
Why aren’t we doing more to save power? The benefits are obvious, save money on energy costs, less pollution and ofcourse less use of our natural resources.

Obviously the power companies wouldn’t like their market to be lessened. But perhaps they can investigate other uses for their infrastructure such as communications, etc.

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Why am I so lucky?

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I can’t understand why I am so lucky.

I have everything I could ever want. I have the best wife, a great job, fantastic family, I live in a great city, the weather is warm and I get to relax and read the paper with a good coffee on the weekend.

In my job I get to play with the latest technology and work with a bunch of really smart people.

I am very thankful.

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Stressful week

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Thankfullness after a stressful week.

I write this on a Sunday, following a stressful week of sorts.

About two weeks ago my dad found out he had a cancerous lump (I won’t go into details) that required immediate attention. They booked him in for surgery the following Monday (which was last Monday 21 June). At the same time my grandma went into hospital with chest pains.

So, on the day of dad’s surgery I sent an email to my home group (this is a group of friends from church – we meet together and study the bible every week or so) asking them to pray for his surgery. We’d leave it in God’s hands.

I visited my gran and she was looking a little out of it at first but then picked up – apparently she has these kinds of ‘episodes’ so she told me not to worry. I do worry a bit though. Thankfully she recovered and has now gone back to her unit. The hospital did a range of tests and ruled out anything major. In her own words she is ‘…just getting old’. Perhaps.

Dad came though the surgery magnificently. He recovered really quickly and was home on Thursday (4 days after the surgery and a day earlier than expected). They managed to do it key-hole style so there is no life style side effects. On Friday we got the good news that the lump was removed in full and it looks like that is the end of the matter. Dad is home and will be out picking avocados on the farm soon. My mum is quite relieved as well as you can imagine, she put on a very brave face through the whole thing. Sometimes these things come quite suddenly and are a good reminder of how fragile we are. I try to make a habit of giving them to God to sort out. I’m never sure how he’ll answer prayer, except that he definately will answer it, and with the best answer (although it isn’t always to my liking – just check out how Billy Graham is suffering, I trust God is doing it for a good reason).

Finishing the week was good – my wife finished her uni exams on Friday and I finished my final Microsoft MCSD exam on the same day – so we had a relaxing Friday night watching Tru Calling and Law & Order episodes we’d taped, with Chinese home delivery.

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Single Malt Scotch

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Becoming a Scotch connoisseur.

A few weeks back I borrowed a book from my brother in law on Single Malt Scotch (Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion) which is a fascinating read. I never thought a book about a drink would be so interesting. Anyway I have been so taken with the concept that I have decided to become a scotch drinker. And to make matters worse I am thinking of becoming one of those wankers that pontificate about the side of the valley that the water flowed down to give it its peaty flabour blah blah.

You know those wine drinkers that go on about the nuances of the grape etc and incite the wrath of everyone else at the table that just wants a good drop? Yeah, well maybe more of a caricature than a reality, but you get my point.

I thought I’d become a bit like that with Scotch. So, I bought my first bottle last night. I went for something mid range, a Glenfiddich 12 year old, which was on special. It only gets a 75 in MJ’s book as I don’t want to start at the top just yet. I will work my way up to the Lagavulins and The Macallans.

Interstingly there is a bit of a shortage on Lagavulin in Australia at the moment. Many of the bottle shops are out of stock and the few that do have it overpriced. I was browsing in a shop in Lane Cove the other day and a 12 year old was going for $115 (normal price would be around $90) – that’s supply and demand for you.

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Newest niece

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Meeting Jemma.

My wife’s sister and husband are visiting from the US with their new 2 month old (their first, and the first grandchild for some grandparents).

We had seen photos of this little bundle and she looked pretty cute, but we were a bit shocked at just how good looking this little baby is when we met her yesterday for the first time.

She’s one of those dream babies – hardly cries (well atleast not in the one hour we had with her!), is content in anyone’s arms and loves to see what is going on all around her.

I’ll check with proud parents, and if OK with them I’ll post a picture here soon.

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Visual FoxPro 9

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Using Visual FoxPro 9 beta.

I am a programmer and I have a job I love.

One of the development tools we use is Microsoft Visual FoxPro, which excels at writing database software.

I’ve been playing with the beta of the new version (v9 out in September) and I am really impressed. For a beta it is extremely stable. I ran a big system recompiled into 9 for a weekend and it didn’t fall over once. Always a good sign. Some of the new features are great – the new reporting engine, which I haven’t got too far with yet – looks awesome.

The company I work for is organising the OzFox 2004 conference later in the year for VFP developers and this new version will feature heavily.

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On energy, water and the environment

Posted on June 27, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Water and energy

Water

OK, so in Sydney at the moment we have water restrictions. This means we can’t water our gardens between certain hours, and we need to have water savinf sprinkler systems etc. All good stuff. Currently our dams are below 50% capacity which is very scary – we haven’t been this low for a long time.

Now my parents live on a farm up in Queensland, and they aren’t on town water – rather they need to collect rain water and/or use a bore to pump it from underground. They have a big tank for sotring the water and they use it for everything: watering the plants, showering, cooking and yes, drinking.

Why can’t we do the same in the city? Why don’t all new developments put in a catchment tank that collects everything from the roof drainage on apartments and houses. Next, any tap around the property used for watering gardens, washing cars etc is taken from this catchment tank.

Next we could have specific pipes to bathrooms for using this water in toilets.

[Addendum: I hadn’t read today’s Domain section in the Sydney Morning Herald when I originally wrote this blog, but it has a section on new developments with water measures in it – very interesting.]

I’d probably stop here, as I don’t really want to shower in the water that falls in Sydney (the pollution can be pretty bad). And I don’t want to cook with it either. Drinking, well, sometimes I don’t even want to drink our currently supplied tap water…

But atleast our gardens would be flourishing. Oh, and having the catchment tank would lessen ever so slightly the volume of water going into our already overworked drainage system.

I haven’t investigated costs, but given that just about every farmer does this it can’t be too bad. And over time I am sure it would pay for itself in savings. And, it would mean we could water our garden anytime we liked.

Solar power

On another matter – energy – I heard on the radio the other day that some councils are going to provide incentives to implement solar power options on buildings. Seems like a good idea to me. At a minimum I’m sure our building could power all our hot water heating from a few solar panels on the roof. I’ll need to investigate costs to make a proposal to our owner’s corporation.

One problem ofcourse is that those solar panels are so bloody ugly. I’m sure someone must have invented a solar collector into normal looking roof tiles. I was discussing this with my mate Tim yesterday. He suggested we should be able to have simple roof tiles that collect the solar power and have in built connections to easily transfer it down through the tiles to a central collector. I wonder what would happen if it was struck by lightning…

Surely something like this is available?

Why aren’t we doing more to save power? The benefits are obvious, save money on energy costs, less pollution and ofcourse less use of our natural resources.

Obviously the power companies wouldn’t like their market to be lessened. But perhaps they can investigate other uses for their infrastructure such as communications, etc.

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Why am I so lucky?

Posted on June 26, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I can’t understand why I am so lucky.

I have everything I could ever want. I have the best wife, a great job, fantastic family, I live in a great city, the weather is warm and I get to relax and read the paper with a good coffee on the weekend.

In my job I get to play with the latest technology and work with a bunch of really smart people.

I am very thankful.

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