Archive for January, 2005

Thoughts on GMail

Posted on January 31, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Why don’t I like web based email? Speed, or rather lack of it.
Why do I like GMail? Speed.

Forget the features, space, etc, the reason I will use GMail is because it is super fast. We all know that is why google succeeded, and that is why GMail (in my opinion) will blow away Hotmail in the next few years.

So here’s some things I’d like to see:
1. Corporate GMail accounts
I’d like to be able to setup all my company’s accounts on GMail, have central administrator privileges over them, easily add new users etc. Perhaps myname@mycompany.gmail.com format. All the priviliges I have as an Exchange administrator.
I think we’d see many companies moving from Outlook/Exchange based infrastructure to a totally web based approach.
I know we’ve got web based Outlook, but it is too slow.

2. Folder sharing
I’d like to be able to share my GMail folder with other GMail users, perhaps based on labels ie share label X with other people in my contacts list. Following on from my earlier point, perhaps these labels and privileges could be managed by an administrator.

3. Inbuilt readers for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, PDF
I’d like to be able to read my GMail from any computer (eg an internet cafe, friend’s linux machine, Mac) and not worry about having any Office apps etc installed. Rather GMail just converts an attachment to HTML automatically. (99% of my use of attachements is read only, I very rarely update them and send them back.)

Issues:
Security
The main issue with all this is security. We don’t want to have sensitive documents sitting on a google server somewhere do we? Me, I don’t really think it matters. I know a lot of people who already forward sensitive emails to their personal web based accounts, and there is no way a corporate IT department is ever going to stop it. I mean, we have to send sensitive documents to client’s Hotmail accounts all the time.
So, the issue is about formalising it. We would be formally saying that all our emails, sensitive or not are going to be on a google server. Not a problem for me.
And in fact, probably I’d be more secure with them housing the emails than some of the companies I’ve dealt with. Companies who have their email servers easily exposed to the internet with seriously outdated servers, way behind in security patches and the like. For them, moving to a google solution would be a step up.

Outlook’s other features
Outlook has so many great features, it would be impossible to replicate them on a GMail setting. Fair point. I’ve yet to see a web based calendaring function that is anywhere near as good as Outlook’s desktop one.
What about contacts though? It should be easy enough to set up contacts in GMail with the same ease of Outlook. Perhaps google will provide a nice little Outlook sync tool for uploading contacts. Tasks? No reason why they can’t be GMail based. Notes, same thing.

More space
GMail has a gig, but that is not really enough for a long term user. After all, most of us tend to have multi-gigabyte Outlook folders after a while. Hopefully GMail will provide upgrade options.

Backups
I can only assume GMail has good backup and redundancy procedures in place. Or if they don’t then perhaps an option to provide it as part of a corporate package.

So, returning to my point: speed.
None of these ideas are particularly new, it is just that even if they do exist on some web based email options (ie Outlook web access), no one considers them a viable option because they are much slower than using a desktop app. GMail is all about speed and finally gives us this as a real option.

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Returning a list of SQL Servers in VFP

Posted on January 31, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Here’s a handy bit of code for returning a list of available SQL Servers.
I grabbed it out of the VFP9 Data Sources task pane code.
It always works if I’m on a network, but I’ve had mixed results if working standalone.

#define SQL_HANDLE_ENV 1

#define SQL_HANDLE_DBC 2

#define SQL_ATTR_ODBC_VERSION 200

#define SQL_OV_ODBC3 3

#define SQL_SUCCESS 0

#define SQL_NEED_DATA 99

#define DEFAULT_RESULT_SIZE 2048

#define SQL_DRIVER_STR "DRIVER=SQL SERVER";

LOCAL hEnv

LOCAL hConn

LOCAL cInString

LOCAL cOutString

LOCAL nLenOutString

LOCAL ARRAY aServerList[1]

DECLARE SHORT SQLBrowseConnect IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER ConnectionHandle, ;

    STRING InConnectionString, ;

    INTEGER StringLength1, ;

    STRING @ OutConnectionString, ;

    INTEGER BufferLength, ;

    INTEGER @ StringLength2Ptr

DECLARE SHORT SQLAllocHandle IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER HandleType, ;

    INTEGER InputHandle, ;

    INTEGER @ OutputHandlePtr

DECLARE SHORT SQLFreeHandle IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER HandleType, ;

    INTEGER Handle

   

DECLARE SHORT SQLSetEnvAttr IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER EnvironmentHandle, ;

    INTEGER Attribute, ;

    INTEGER ValuePtr, ;

    INTEGER StringLength

hEnv = 0

hConn = 0

cInString = SQL_DRIVER_STR

cOutString = SPACE(DEFAULT_RESULT_SIZE)

nLenOutString = 0

LOCAL cServerList

cServerList = ”

TRY

    IF SQLAllocHandle(SQL_HANDLE_ENV, hEnv, @hEnv) == SQL_SUCCESS

        IF (SQLSetEnvAttr(hEnv,
SQL_ATTR_ODBC_VERSION, SQL_OV_ODBC3, 0)) == SQL_SUCCESS

            IF
SQLAllocHandle(SQL_HANDLE_DBC, hEnv, @hConn) == SQL_SUCCESS

               
IF (SQLBrowseConnect(hConn, @cInString, LEN(cInString), @cOutString,
DEFAULT_RESULT_SIZE, @nLenOutString)) == SQL_NEED_DATA

                   
nCnt = ALINES(aServerList, STREXTRACT(cOutString, ‘{‘, ‘}’), .T., ‘,’)

                   
FOR i = 1 TO nCnt

                       
cServerList = cServerList + ‘,’ + ALLTRIM(aServerList[i])

                   
ENDFOR

               
ENDIF

            ENDIF

        ENDIF

    ENDIF

CATCH TO oException

    * ignore error, just return an empty string of servers

FINALLY

    IF hConn <> 0

        SQLFreeHandle(SQL_HANDLE_DBC, hConn)

    ENDIF

    IF hEnv <> 0

        SQLFreeHandle(SQL_HANDLE_ENV, hConn)

    ENDIF

ENDTRY

?cServerList

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Customers complaining and the future of VFP

Posted on January 31, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m feeling sorry for this guy (Stephen) who sent an email to Microsoft with some criticism and copped a bagging in the blog comments. [Note to self: always specify ‘For your eyes only’ on any email I send from now on, or I could end up on a public blog]
http://blogs.msdn.com/frankarr/archive/2005/01/27/361392.aspx

But it raises the question of supporting customers. We are a software house and get our fair share of customer complaints/abuse/suggestions (some of them fair, some not).

And ofcourse the bigger company you are (ie Microsoft) the bigger target you are. Incidently, I have been really impressed by the great support Microsoft has given us. Both Frank and Andrew especially have been great, and this is well noted in my previous blogs.
So the issue is what is the right way to respond? And here the issue is really about context.
And the context in business is money. Pure and simple.
What about if they are right though? Well, the customer is always right. Cliche aside, it is true. I have very rarely heard a client complain about something they didn’t believe they were right about. I might have thought they were wrong, but that is not the point.

So, if a client has a complaint, you need to take that in line with financial ramifications.
Will this complaint affect our business? If it is a bad software bug or poor service then yes, it will affect business. If it is a missing feature, then it may or may not. If it is a client just venting, then it probably won’t. In this case an understanding ear will probably improve business though. Every time a customer complains, I see it it is an opportunity to make more money (but no I am not suggesting we give them more opportunities to complain…)

Lets take a recent customer complaint at Talman. We are going to stop supporting a DOS product we’ve had for nearly 20 years. It is costing us too much money to support. Our customers will have to upgrade to our Windows product (at a cost to them) and they don’t like it. Are we ‘penny pinching bastards who force our customers to upgrade to our more expensive newer product just for the sake of ripping them off’? I don’t think so. (Incidently our newer product has been around for over 7 years). We are a technology company, always advancing our technology so our clients can have the best, most productive systems money can buy in their sector. And to proceed with that we need to make money. And losing money on an old product is not helping anyone long term.

Now, I mention this example because one day Microsoft is going to pull the pin on VFP. It may be 5 years away, 10 whatever. Never-the -less it is going to happen. Just like they did to classic ASP, and they will do to .Net at some future date. And it will be a business decision, pure and simple. Will I be crying to see it go. No, because my team and I are software developers, always improving our skills. that’s the name of the game in software – always improve/upgrade/learn.

My boss pays me to ensure this company will still be around in another 30 years time. And that means making money. It also means using the best technology at the time. But most of all it means being able to adapt to the best technology of tomorrow. Hopefully (and probably) that is VFP for a long time. But if it’s something else (Microsoft or otherwise), no problem. We will learn it. As a customer of Microsoft, that’s how I see it. As a provider of software to our customers I think that’s how they should see it too.

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Missing my drums

Posted on January 31, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

It is now over a month since I have played my drums (courtesy of our holidaying). I’m getting itchy fingers and feet. I’ve now started doing that annoying tapping on everything that drummers do when they haven’t played for a while.
Can’t wait to get back in and play through my old Racer X albums. The thing about drumming is that you can always get your hand speed back up quickly. But feet, they are different. Well for me anyway. The double bass speed will be the most affected. I tend to lose that quickly. My double bass drumming uses both ankle and calf techniques, with the ankle speed being the one you lose the most. The calf muscle is generally maintained by things like walking and climbing stairs, but the ankle strength requires constant practice.

Ahhhh, feeling a little better, just went and checked out some videos of my hero Virgil:
http://www.virgildonati.com/media_videos.php
About 15 years ago (before he had relocated to the US) I was in a private masterclass with Virgil. I still have a photo of him and me at home. At the time I was so shy I couldn’t even pluck up the courage to ask for my photo to be taken with him. He noticed me standing awkwardly, holding a camera, came over and asked if I wanted a photo. I must have dribbled out some kind of affirmative response because he called over one of his crew, gave him the camera and asked him to take a shot of us. He wrapped his arm around my neck in a buddy hold and gave the thumbs up to the camera. Click.

[Note to self: next time you travel for extended times, atleast take a practice pad and sticks]

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Coffee

Posted on January 31, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Glad to be back in Zurich for the great coffee.
I am of the belief it is not physically possible to buy a bad coffee anywhere in Zurich.
The Francis Francis has had a workout this morning after our disappointing coffee experiences in Paris – it is very hit and miss there, mostly miss.

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Paris

Posted on January 31, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

We’ve just had a week in Paris.
Firstly, I couldn’t get the notebook to work with the hotel wireless network, so this is the longest I can remember when I haven’t had internet access. In a way this was a good thing, as Michele reminded me, for once I couldn’t check my emails before going to bed. This stressed me the first two days, but then I got used to it. Call me really sad, but it takes time to break the ‘habit’. Anyway, I write this on the way back to Zurich on the TGV. I have 5-6 hours before me in which to work. I don’t have any emails to reply to (that will come tonight!) so I have no excuse for not working… unless ofcourse I use the time to write a few blog entries. Blogger has a nice email posting facility, so I’m simply writing these posts as emails and will send them when I get back to Zurich.

So, Paris. It was OK. We saw some great places – Musee d’Orsay, The Louvre, The Pantheon, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, Notre Dame, etc. They were good. But this city is depressing. Man, the people have such a bad vibe. There is bad karma here. Everyone seems grumpy and abusive. Now, I know it is a bit of stereotype that the French are rude to foreigners. But I don’t buy it. We were in Colmar last weekend, and they were lovely. So polite and helpful. Here, they are fuckin’ rude. So I think it is a Paris thing. Not a French thing. It seems every five minutes there is a police car with sirens on zooming past. Do they have a lot of crime? Or are they arresting people for their rudeness? I hope so.
Having said that, if you visit Paris and are over in the Latin Quarter then check out two restaurants – Brasserie Balzar and Boullion Racine – the staff at both places were fantastic. The food was great. And, when we got on the train we were in seats facing backwards. Two very kind French men offerred to swap with us (I feel ill going backwards). So they are not all bad…

Now, for me the pick of it was seeing Foucault’s Pendulum in the Pantheon. Many years ago I read the book of the same name by Umberto Eco and was completely captivated. To visit the site of his writing was a bit of a thrill. I think I’ll read the book again. Speaking of books I saw the Tin Tin series in a book store and it brought back great childhood memories. I’ve decided to buy the series when I get home to Sydney. I’m hoping I’ll be able to track them down cheaply on EBay.

Here’s my tips for seeing Paris:
Day 1 – Get here after lunch. Stay in the Opera or Louvre quarter. We were in the Latin quarter which is also nice. Walk around that afternoon, do some shopping
Day 2, visit the Musee d’Orsay. Spend most of the day there.
Day 3, visit the Louvre, get there early and rush to see the Mona Lisa. It is a boring painting and totally underwhelming, but you have to see it and get it out of the way. You should rush to see it because it will get very crowded soon. Try to see as many of the Ialian paintings in that section (Denon level 1) as you can before it starts to get crowded. As an aside, I was surprised by the number of Japanese groups going around (and yes they ALL had cameras, videos and were using flashes). If we are but the sum of our experiences then they have the most proof of who they are by a long shot.
Then go up to level 2 and start with the French 15th and 16th Centruy paintings. Spend most of your day there and then work back down to level 1 late in the day. If you go on a Wed or Thur the museum is open until 9pm. Note, it is closed on Tuesdays.
Day 4, visit the Pantheon in the morning and Notre Dame in the afternoon. Head home that afternoon.
Although we visited the Eiffel Tower and Champ Elyssees I wouldn’t say it is a must do. You can do that on Day 5 if you stay that long. But I think 4 days is enough.

I can’t wait to get back to Zurich. I love that city. The weather is probably a bit colder, but the place has a great vibe. Everyone is so nice. And it is clean. I know people say that Paris is dirty. And they’re right.

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Thoughts on GMail

Posted on January 30, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Why don’t I like web based email? Speed, or rather lack of it.

Why do I like GMail? Speed.

Forget the features, space, etc, the reason I will use GMail is because it is super fast. We all know that is why google succeeded, and that is why GMail (in my opinion) will blow away Hotmail in the next few years.



So here’s some things I’d like to see:

1. Corporate GMail accounts

I’d like to be able to setup all my company’s accounts on GMail, have central administrator privileges over them, easily add new users etc. Perhaps myname@mycompany.gmail.com format. All the priviliges I have as an Exchange administrator.

I think we’d see many companies moving from Outlook/Exchange based infrastructure to a totally web based approach.

I know we’ve got web based Outlook, but it is too slow.



2. Folder sharing

I’d like to be able to share my GMail folder with other GMail users, perhaps based on labels ie share label X with other people in my contacts list. Following on from my earlier point, perhaps these labels and privileges could be managed by an administrator.



3. Inbuilt readers for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, PDF

I’d like to be able to read my GMail from any computer (eg an internet cafe, friend’s linux machine, Mac) and not worry about having any Office apps etc installed. Rather GMail just converts an attachment to HTML automatically. (99% of my use of attachements is read only, I very rarely update them and send them back.)



Issues:

Security

The main issue with all this is security. We don’t want to have sensitive documents sitting on a google server somewhere do we? Me, I don’t really think it matters. I know a lot of people who already forward sensitive emails to their personal web based accounts, and there is no way a corporate IT department is ever going to stop it. I mean, we have to send sensitive documents to client’s Hotmail accounts all the time.

So, the issue is about formalising it. We would be formally saying that all our emails, sensitive or not are going to be on a google server. Not a problem for me.

And in fact, probably I’d be more secure with them housing the emails than some of the companies I’ve dealt with. Companies who have their email servers easily exposed to the internet with seriously outdated servers, way behind in security patches and the like. For them, moving to a google solution would be a step up.



Outlook’s other features

Outlook has so many great features, it would be impossible to replicate them on a GMail setting. Fair point. I’ve yet to see a web based calendaring function that is anywhere near as good as Outlook’s desktop one.

What about contacts though? It should be easy enough to set up contacts in GMail with the same ease of Outlook. Perhaps google will provide a nice little Outlook sync tool for uploading contacts. Tasks? No reason why they can’t be GMail based. Notes, same thing.



More space

GMail has a gig, but that is not really enough for a long term user. After all, most of us tend to have multi-gigabyte Outlook folders after a while. Hopefully GMail will provide upgrade options.



Backups

I can only assume GMail has good backup and redundancy procedures in place. Or if they don’t then perhaps an option to provide it as part of a corporate package.



So, returning to my point: speed.

None of these ideas are particularly new, it is just that even if they do exist on some web based email options (ie Outlook web access), no one considers them a viable option because they are much slower than using a desktop app. GMail is all about speed and finally gives us this as a real option.

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Returning a list of SQL Servers in VFP

Posted on January 30, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Here’s a handy bit of code for returning a list of available SQL Servers.

I grabbed it out of the VFP9 Data Sources task pane code.

It always works if I’m on a network, but I’ve had mixed results if working standalone.



#define SQL_HANDLE_ENV 1

#define SQL_HANDLE_DBC 2

#define SQL_ATTR_ODBC_VERSION 200

#define SQL_OV_ODBC3 3

#define SQL_SUCCESS 0

#define SQL_NEED_DATA 99

#define DEFAULT_RESULT_SIZE 2048

#define SQL_DRIVER_STR "DRIVER=SQL SERVER";

LOCAL hEnv

LOCAL hConn

LOCAL cInString

LOCAL cOutString

LOCAL nLenOutString

LOCAL ARRAY aServerList[1]

DECLARE SHORT SQLBrowseConnect IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER ConnectionHandle, ;

    STRING InConnectionString, ;

    INTEGER StringLength1, ;

    STRING @ OutConnectionString, ;

    INTEGER BufferLength, ;

    INTEGER @ StringLength2Ptr

DECLARE SHORT SQLAllocHandle IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER HandleType, ;

    INTEGER InputHandle, ;

    INTEGER @ OutputHandlePtr

DECLARE SHORT SQLFreeHandle IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER HandleType, ;

    INTEGER Handle

   

DECLARE SHORT SQLSetEnvAttr IN odbc32 ;

    INTEGER EnvironmentHandle, ;

    INTEGER Attribute, ;

    INTEGER ValuePtr, ;

    INTEGER StringLength

hEnv = 0

hConn = 0

cInString = SQL_DRIVER_STR

cOutString = SPACE(DEFAULT_RESULT_SIZE)

nLenOutString = 0

LOCAL cServerList

cServerList = ”

TRY

    IF SQLAllocHandle(SQL_HANDLE_ENV, hEnv, @hEnv) == SQL_SUCCESS

        IF (SQLSetEnvAttr(hEnv,

SQL_ATTR_ODBC_VERSION, SQL_OV_ODBC3, 0)) == SQL_SUCCESS

            IF

SQLAllocHandle(SQL_HANDLE_DBC, hEnv, @hConn) == SQL_SUCCESS

               

IF (SQLBrowseConnect(hConn, @cInString, LEN(cInString), @cOutString,

DEFAULT_RESULT_SIZE, @nLenOutString)) == SQL_NEED_DATA

                   

nCnt = ALINES(aServerList, STREXTRACT(cOutString, ‘{‘, ‘}’), .T., ‘,’)

                   

FOR i = 1 TO nCnt

                       

cServerList = cServerList + ‘,’ + ALLTRIM(aServerList[i])

                   

ENDFOR

               

ENDIF

            ENDIF

        ENDIF

    ENDIF

CATCH TO oException

    * ignore error, just return an empty string of servers

FINALLY

    IF hConn <> 0

        SQLFreeHandle(SQL_HANDLE_DBC, hConn)

    ENDIF

    IF hEnv <> 0

        SQLFreeHandle(SQL_HANDLE_ENV, hConn)

    ENDIF

ENDTRY

?cServerList

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Customers complaining and the future of VFP

Posted on January 30, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m feeling sorry for this guy (Stephen) who sent an email to Microsoft with some criticism and copped a bagging in the blog comments. [Note to self: always specify ‘For your eyes only’ on any email I send from now on, or I could end up on a public blog]

http://blogs.msdn.com/frankarr/archive/2005/01/27/361392.aspx



But it raises the question of supporting customers. We are a software house and get our fair share of customer complaints/abuse/suggestions (some of them fair, some not).

And ofcourse the bigger company you are (ie Microsoft) the bigger target you are. Incidently, I have been really impressed by the great support Microsoft has given us. Both Frank and Andrew especially have been great, and this is well noted in my previous blogs.

So the issue is what is the right way to respond? And here the issue is really about context.

And the context in business is money. Pure and simple.

What about if they are right though? Well, the customer is always right. Cliche aside, it is true. I have very rarely heard a client complain about something they didn’t believe they were right about. I might have thought they were wrong, but that is not the point.

So, if a client has a complaint, you need to take that in line with financial ramifications.

Will this complaint affect our business? If it is a bad software bug or poor service then yes, it will affect business. If it is a missing feature, then it may or may not. If it is a client just venting, then it probably won’t. In this case an understanding ear will probably improve business though. Every time a customer complains, I see it it is an opportunity to make more money (but no I am not suggesting we give them more opportunities to complain…)

Lets take a recent customer complaint at Talman. We are going to stop supporting a DOS product we’ve had for nearly 20 years. It is costing us too much money to support. Our customers will have to upgrade to our Windows product (at a cost to them) and they don’t like it. Are we ‘penny pinching bastards who force our customers to upgrade to our more expensive newer product just for the sake of ripping them off’? I don’t think so. (Incidently our newer product has been around for over 7 years). We are a technology company, always advancing our technology so our clients can have the best, most productive systems money can buy in their sector. And to proceed with that we need to make money. And losing money on an old product is not helping anyone long term.

Now, I mention this example because one day Microsoft is going to pull the pin on VFP. It may be 5 years away, 10 whatever. Never-the -less it is going to happen. Just like they did to classic ASP, and they will do to .Net at some future date. And it will be a business decision, pure and simple. Will I be crying to see it go. No, because my team and I are software developers, always improving our skills. that’s the name of the game in software – always improve/upgrade/learn.

My boss pays me to ensure this company will still be around in another 30 years time. And that means making money. It also means using the best technology at the time. But most of all it means being able to adapt to the best technology of tomorrow. Hopefully (and probably) that is VFP for a long time. But if it’s something else (Microsoft or otherwise), no problem. We will learn it. As a customer of Microsoft, that’s how I see it. As a provider of software to our customers I think that’s how they should see it too.

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Missing my drums

Posted on January 30, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

It is now over a month since I have played my drums (courtesy of our holidaying). I’m getting itchy fingers and feet. I’ve now started doing that annoying tapping on everything that drummers do when they haven’t played for a while.

Can’t wait to get back in and play through my old Racer X albums. The thing about drumming is that you can always get your hand speed back up quickly. But feet, they are different. Well for me anyway. The double bass speed will be the most affected. I tend to lose that quickly. My double bass drumming uses both ankle and calf techniques, with the ankle speed being the one you lose the most. The calf muscle is generally maintained by things like walking and climbing stairs, but the ankle strength requires constant practice.

Ahhhh, feeling a little better, just went and checked out some videos of my hero Virgil:

http://www.virgildonati.com/media_videos.php

About 15 years ago (before he had relocated to the US) I was in a private masterclass with Virgil. I still have a photo of him and me at home. At the time I was so shy I couldn’t even pluck up the courage to ask for my photo to be taken with him. He noticed me standing awkwardly, holding a camera, came over and asked if I wanted a photo. I must have dribbled out some kind of affirmative response because he called over one of his crew, gave him the camera and asked him to take a shot of us. He wrapped his arm around my neck in a buddy hold and gave the thumbs up to the camera. Click.

[Note to self: next time you travel for extended times, atleast take a practice pad and sticks]

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Coffee

Posted on January 30, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Glad to be back in Zurich for the great coffee.

I am of the belief it is not physically possible to buy a bad coffee anywhere in Zurich.

The Francis Francis has had a workout this morning after our disappointing coffee experiences in Paris – it is very hit and miss there, mostly miss.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Paris

Posted on January 30, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

We’ve just had a week in Paris.

Firstly, I couldn’t get the notebook to work with the hotel wireless network, so this is the longest I can remember when I haven’t had internet access. In a way this was a good thing, as Michele reminded me, for once I couldn’t check my emails before going to bed. This stressed me the first two days, but then I got used to it. Call me really sad, but it takes time to break the ‘habit’. Anyway, I write this on the way back to Zurich on the TGV. I have 5-6 hours before me in which to work. I don’t have any emails to reply to (that will come tonight!) so I have no excuse for not working… unless ofcourse I use the time to write a few blog entries. Blogger has a nice email posting facility, so I’m simply writing these posts as emails and will send them when I get back to Zurich.

So, Paris. It was OK. We saw some great places – Musee d’Orsay, The Louvre, The Pantheon, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph, Notre Dame, etc. They were good. But this city is depressing. Man, the people have such a bad vibe. There is bad karma here. Everyone seems grumpy and abusive. Now, I know it is a bit of stereotype that the French are rude to foreigners. But I don’t buy it. We were in Colmar last weekend, and they were lovely. So polite and helpful. Here, they are fuckin’ rude. So I think it is a Paris thing. Not a French thing. It seems every five minutes there is a police car with sirens on zooming past. Do they have a lot of crime? Or are they arresting people for their rudeness? I hope so.

Having said that, if you visit Paris and are over in the Latin Quarter then check out two restaurants – Brasserie Balzar and Boullion Racine – the staff at both places were fantastic. The food was great. And, when we got on the train we were in seats facing backwards. Two very kind French men offerred to swap with us (I feel ill going backwards). So they are not all bad…

Now, for me the pick of it was seeing Foucault’s Pendulum in the Pantheon. Many years ago I read the book of the same name by Umberto Eco and was completely captivated. To visit the site of his writing was a bit of a thrill. I think I’ll read the book again. Speaking of books I saw the Tin Tin series in a book store and it brought back great childhood memories. I’ve decided to buy the series when I get home to Sydney. I’m hoping I’ll be able to track them down cheaply on EBay.

Here’s my tips for seeing Paris:

Day 1 – Get here after lunch. Stay in the Opera or Louvre quarter. We were in the Latin quarter which is also nice. Walk around that afternoon, do some shopping

Day 2, visit the Musee d’Orsay. Spend most of the day there.

Day 3, visit the Louvre, get there early and rush to see the Mona Lisa. It is a boring painting and totally underwhelming, but you have to see it and get it out of the way. You should rush to see it because it will get very crowded soon. Try to see as many of the Ialian paintings in that section (Denon level 1) as you can before it starts to get crowded. As an aside, I was surprised by the number of Japanese groups going around (and yes they ALL had cameras, videos and were using flashes). If we are but the sum of our experiences then they have the most proof of who they are by a long shot.

Then go up to level 2 and start with the French 15th and 16th Centruy paintings. Spend most of your day there and then work back down to level 1 late in the day. If you go on a Wed or Thur the museum is open until 9pm. Note, it is closed on Tuesdays.

Day 4, visit the Pantheon in the morning and Notre Dame in the afternoon. Head home that afternoon.

Although we visited the Eiffel Tower and Champ Elyssees I wouldn’t say it is a must do. You can do that on Day 5 if you stay that long. But I think 4 days is enough.

I can’t wait to get back to Zurich. I love that city. The weather is probably a bit colder, but the place has a great vibe. Everyone is so nice. And it is clean. I know people say that Paris is dirty. And they’re right.

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Media and OzFox

Posted on January 21, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Some of you will have seen the little article on Talman, OzFox and VFP in ComputerWorld. The link is: http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;594349567;fp;16;fpid;0

While ‘all press is good press’, it has been an eye opener for me. I wasn’t actually interviewed (although I’m quoted), and the slant is not how I would have portrayed OzFox (to me it’s more about community and the generous involvement of many parties, most notably the speakers) – I guess it serves me right for being on holidays in Switzerland <g>.
But it does raise the profile of OzFox and Visual FoxPro in Australia and that’s a good thing. Talman gets exposure aswell which is something I want to see more of.
For the record I was thrilled with how generous Microsoft and especially Andrew Coates were. My thank you note at the time still stands.

[Also, note that although the article mentions OzFox 2005 later this year, this hasn’t been confirmed yet. In fact I still haven’t finished a few things from OzFox 2004 such as compiling survey results and evaluations… things that will be important for preparing the next OzFox’s timing and content.]

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Media and OzFox

Posted on January 20, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Some of you will have seen the little article on Talman, OzFox and VFP in ComputerWorld. The link is: http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;594349567;fp;16;fpid;0



While ‘all press is good press’, it has been an eye opener for me. I wasn’t actually interviewed (although I’m quoted), and the slant is not how I would have portrayed OzFox (to me it’s more about community and the generous involvement of many parties, most notably the speakers) – I guess it serves me right for being on holidays in Switzerland <g>.

But it does raise the profile of OzFox and Visual FoxPro in Australia and that’s a good thing. Talman gets exposure aswell which is something I want to see more of.

For the record I was thrilled with how generous Microsoft and especially Andrew Coates were. My thank you note at the time still stands.

[Also, note that although the article mentions OzFox 2005 later this year, this hasn’t been confirmed yet. In fact I still haven’t finished a few things from OzFox 2004 such as compiling survey results and evaluations… things that will be important for preparing the next OzFox’s timing and content.]


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Add Mail to link in IE right click context menu

Posted on January 20, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Handy item to add ‘Mail to…’ on right click in Internet Explorer
 

Add Mail to link in IE right click context menu

Posted on January 19, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Handy item to add ‘Mail to…’ on right click in Internet Explorer
 

VFP9 CLEAR CLASSLIB

Posted on January 6, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Here’s welcome news. I was browsing through the new VFP9 features and this one caught my eye:

CLEAR CLASSLIB Updated
The CLEAR CLASSLIB command now automatically executes a CLEAR CLASS command on each class in the specified class library. Any errors that might occur during release of individual classes (e.g., class in use) are ignored.

Why is this good? Well in our systems we often have a main exe file that calls .app files. When we want to overwrite the app files (eg as part of an upgrade) we sometimes run into problems with class libraries being held in memory.
No problem you’d think, but we found out the hard way that each class had to be cleared before the class library was completely cleared. If not then the app was still locked. (I should explain that the app loads the class library on the Init() say).
So we had this elaborate procedure for cycling through classes, releasing them and then releasing the class library.
But all that is much easier now with VFP9.

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Nightwish

Posted on January 6, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Stumbled upon this band Nightwish while shopping at Media Markt. Great European Operatic Heavy Metal. Bought the CD without even listening to it. Have been listening to it ever since. They are actually from Finland, but big here ofcourse.
Looked up their site to check if they were touring around Switzerland and guess what, they’ll be in Australia in March – I’ll check em out when I get home!

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110494300799421768

Posted on January 6, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |


Zurich Sunset – taken from our balcony

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110491505328835690

Posted on January 5, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |


Zurich Sunrise – that’s the Swiss Alps in the background

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VFP9 CLEAR CLASSLIB

Posted on January 5, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Here’s welcome news. I was browsing through the new VFP9 features and this one caught my eye:



CLEAR CLASSLIB Updated

The CLEAR CLASSLIB command now automatically executes a CLEAR CLASS command on each class in the specified class library. Any errors that might occur during release of individual classes (e.g., class in use) are ignored.




Why is this good? Well in our systems we often have a main exe file that calls .app files. When we want to overwrite the app files (eg as part of an upgrade) we sometimes run into problems with class libraries being held in memory.

No problem you’d think, but we found out the hard way that each class had to be cleared before the class library was completely cleared. If not then the app was still locked. (I should explain that the app loads the class library on the Init() say).

So we had this elaborate procedure for cycling through classes, releasing them and then releasing the class library.

But all that is much easier now with VFP9.

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Nightwish

Posted on January 5, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Stumbled upon this band Nightwish while shopping at Media Markt. Great European Operatic Heavy Metal. Bought the CD without even listening to it. Have been listening to it ever since. They are actually from Finland, but big here ofcourse.

Looked up their site to check if they were touring around Switzerland and guess what, they’ll be in Australia in March – I’ll check em out when I get home!

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Posted on January 5, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |


Zurich Sunset – taken from our balcony

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Posted on January 5, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |


Zurich Sunrise – that’s the Swiss Alps in the background

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Diet dummy

Posted on January 4, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Not my usual type of blog entry, so here’s something I’ll blame on jetlag:

English magazines are a little scarce in Zurich, so we brought over a stack of them for Michele’s sister. One of them was Womans Days (see blog photo entry below). Anyway, I was glancing through this and couldn’t help noticing the headline article about Danni Minogue and her fab new body.
How has she achieved this? Well, before you say ‘Who gives a…’, have a look at what the clowns at the mag have done. They’ve taken a lame shot of her running down the beach with a friend and touched it up for the cover.

I’ve placed the page 8 photo onto the cover so you can compare them. Hmmm her friend has gone. The water is a lot different. Her thighs have magically shrunk, as have her hips. Even her arm pit has come in for treatment.

Now, we all know this happens all the time in magazines. What astounds me is that Womans Day can’t even be bothered trying to hide it. Or is this a regular thing? Perhaps I need to read more of these magazines…

So how did she achieve her fab new body? What exactly is ‘The diet that made her slim, sexy and happy at last’? You decide.

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110476451171066345

Posted on January 4, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |


Australian journalism at its finest – see the blog entry above for details – I’ve pasted a page 8 photo from the same magazine issue next to its cover – can you spot the touchups?

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Reflections on 2004

Posted on January 3, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Reflections

its been a big year, with work flat-out right up until the end. we had 4 new deals come in the last week of 2004 – this is very strange for us – usually the year gets quiet around mid decemberthe end effect was a very busy week, with christmas, then packing to head over to switzerland

i’m in zurich for 6 weeks, and have only now had time to reflect on the year

i have to say i’m not a fan of the whole christmas letter thing – you know, where you write out all of the events of the year and then send it to everyone on your christmas card list. the question is ‘why would they care what you’ve been up to?’ if they really cared, then chances are they would have kept up with you during the year. anyway, we get a few of those every year, but i never read them

so, why would i then go and blog about my year? well put simply, it is because this is for me to read again later. i don’t realistically think anyone out there could give a stuff about what i’ve done this year, so if you have stumbled upon this, then let me warn you – boring recounting of the year and self-analysis ahead…

dad had cancer
the big event that sticks in my mind was my dad being diagnosed with cancer around late june – it was very quick, took everyone by surprise and saw him in hospital within a week for immediate operating. the surgery went well, and they believe they got it all out – he was very lucky. i rushed up for a brief visit once he came out of hospital and it was good to just sit with him
michele and i are really lucky that both our parents are still alive. in fact i’ve had a charmed life – to date i don’t think i’ve lost anyone very close to me – so this event was a time to stop and reflect. dad and i discussed death, wills, future plans should anything happen (he wasn’t out of the woods at that time) and his basic attitudes to life. i really like my dad – i’m so thankful i’ve still got him

dimebag darrell
heavy metal lost a great on december 7. diamond darrell (yeah i know he preferred dimebag) was murdered at the start of a gig. this caused me much distress. pantera were a huge musical influence on me when i was at uni – back then i did a lot of heavy metal drumming, and vinnie paul was a machine – the power he and his brother put out was nothing short of revolutionary. all the speeches have been given for this great guy – i can’t pretend to add anything – i’m just sad

ozfox
this would definately be the highlight of the year for me
i met rick strahl in september at dev con. he is one of my all time developer heros. but having him speak at ozfox was the icing on the cake. he’s such a smart, cool guy. everything he does is great. all his talks were superb (you can tell i’m pretty impressed with this bloke…) and to top it off he gives us a great wrap on his blog.
doug hennig was there too – he truly is the presentation guru – so well prepared, such finesse in the execution of every presentation, so knowledgeable. and then ofcourse ken levy. who’s he i hear you ask? yeah, i hadn’t heard of him either … you can imagine how excited i was to have this line up for the conference. the problem is where do i go from here? how can i possibly top this in terms of speaker line up? there’s only one solution – get them all back next time…
and here’s the great thing about the fox community – they are so generous. realistically who am i? i’m a no-one in the community, and yet the greats agreed to travel down under (poor doug had over 40 hours travel time) to give us their time and expertise. we were very blessed. a great privilege for australian developers. i thank all 8 speakers whole heartedly – i was stunned by everyone’s support and generousity.

vfp9
released a few weeks back, this is a big thing for our company and the community. heaps of exciting features – this really is a cool product. but i’m not a vfp marketing resource (and i don’t have the time to be if i wanted) so i’ll leave the hypeing of it to others – just let me say that i am very impressed and pleased with the product, we already have our vfp9 upgrade of all clients planned for mid-february 2005 – this is the quickest upgrade we’ve planned, which says a lot about our confidence in the product

teched
i went to my first Microsoft TechEd in August – what a great conference – heaps of exciting presentations on the latest technology

devcon las vegas
my first vfp devcon – met many luminaries in the vfp community – very exciting
did i metion that i met rick strahl? you can see my earlier blogs for more details
las vegas was a blast – i saw the Cirque show ‘O’ – i was almost in tears (but i didn’t tell anyone at the time – guys aren’t allowed to shed a tear). why would i respond this way? hmmm interesting. i think it is because i’ve never seen such a show, with such amazing feats by people.
i think my body (brain) didn’t know how to respond, and the closest it could get was to come out in tears. i think i understand the expression ‘tears of joy’ now. perhaps that is why new parents cry when they first hold their new born baby.i won’t dwell on this, but in our sanitsied, information overloaded world, i find i am having fewer and fewer emotional moments these days.

jemma
what a joy it has been to meet and spend time with jemma – my wife’s sister’s daughter – that means she’s a niece. what a cutie
we are spending 6 weeks with her (part of the reason we’re in zurich) at the moment. i’m actually working for much of the time, but jemma is proving very hard to stay away from. jemma is 9 months old as i write this.

vfp user group
i’ve been looking after the Sydney VFP User group this year
a good bunch of people – it’s been great getting to know the community better
andrew coates helped me into the role and i thank him for his very generous support this year

tsunami
call it bad timimg, but i read michael crichton’s ‘state of fear’ on the plane trip over. that was two days after the tsunami hit indonesia and elsewhere. if you want to know how to deliberately create a tsunami, and a reason for why a group might do this, then read this book. it is chilling
anyway, i’m not gonna dwell on the disaster. i was way depressed looking at the devastation – it is everywhere on the tv here. but one thing has struck me, and that is the speed with which everyone got involved to send relief. now, don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing, but hey, there are millions dying in africa every year, but you don’t see many people giving two cents to that. why i wonder – well media exposure is a big thing ofcourse, i guess that’s why hardly anyone gave a thing to china when they lost 250,000 to an earthquake in 1976 – in fact did you know that china has lost over half a billion people to earthquakes in the last 70 years?
but perhaps it is more sinister. with africa it is ‘convenient’ to think we can’t do anything about it – you know, those country’s regimes won’t allow foreign aid in etc – but ofcourse we know deep down that is crap – if the western world really cared about improving those impoverished nations we’d work out a way – hey one country worked out a way to invade another country with no justification…
so i’m thinking the reason we are giving so ‘generously’ to indonesia, sri lanka, india, thailand etc is because we know we don’t have any excuse not to – our guilt compels us. don’t give me that good will to all men line – i know myself too well and i know the rest of the world too well – at the end of the day all we care about is ourself. perhaps you are different, but you’ll be the exception.
did you that more than half of australia’s foreign aid giving is with conditions? yep, it was part (section 3.1) of a government report titled ‘Advancing Australia’s Interests’ – we choose who to give to based on the benefit we will receive in return. http://www.liberal.org.au/documents/1998_election/foreign/foreign_affairs.html

faith
i’ve really struggled with my christian faith this past year. do i doubt my beliefs? no. my problem is one of priorities. just like if i neglected my marriage, or programming skills or karate training, it would soon lose relevance.
last year i worked really hard professionally, to the detriment of my church life. i stopped reading my bible and praying regularly and i’ve definately seen the negative impacts. simple things like i swear alot more now. i don’t think of others first. i’m more worried about what people think of me than what god thinks of me. my focus is skewed. i see this as a real step backwards. you’ve heard the expression garbage in, garbage out. i feel that i’ve filled my mind with a lot of non-important stuff lately. we only have 24 hours a day, time to be a little more vigilant in what i feed my mind

managing people
my role has changed substantially in the last two years
i’m the classic case of a technical person who is pretty capable, being promoted into a people managing role
do i like this change in focus (ie from code to people)? the truthful answer is yes. am i good at it? well, let’s just say i’m getting better. the reason our company is doing so well is because i have a great team in place. more and more i’m saying to my team – you do it, i’m just here to help sort out any problems – consider me the facilitator. i used to think i had to be the smart one with all the answers, but no, i just have to be the one who lets people do what they are good at (coming up with the smart answers)

distraction overload
i used to think being able to multi-task well was a useful skill. i’m starting to review that. in my job i get a lot of distractions and i think i am pretty good at handling them. but, i’m starting to question if i actually get anything done – at the end of day what have i actually done? well, i’ve handled countless distractions really well.
this year i’m going to try to get things done. you know like even just a single hour of productive work each day, every day, would be an improvement. let’s get rid of the distractions, and get some work done
at work we are trialling a quiet time every morning for the programmers. basically until lunch time each day we aim to have as few distractions as possible – no phone calls, emails, meetings, work colleagues interrupting us, blog readers, etc
am i naive? will this all fall down after a few days? we’ll see. i think the idea is good, perhaps the implementation will need some fine tuning…

xbox
i have much to thank andrew coates for, and providing the xbox room at ozfox was one. after the conference i got an xbox (as i said i have many things to thank andrew for) and have thoroughly enjoyed it. i’m almost through Halo (yes, just the first one) and loving it.i was initially guilty about ‘wasting time on games’ but managed to get over that. michele has been playing with me on some of the missions, which i really like. there is something really cool about seeing my wife shooting the hell out of those bad guys.

uni
my wife finished the year with straight HDs (again – this means she has got an HD in every single uni subject so far)
two years ago she wound up her company and went back to uni full time. after 15 years in finance and marketing she felt her soul was almost gone. she’s now studying psychology. and, she’s really cool about it – no beginner diagnosing of all my issues – yikes she’d have her work cut out for her there…

health
i’m thankful for another year of good health. it is now over two years since i have been sick from a flu or cold or disease etc. i put this down to healthy eating and healthy thinking – 2 years ago i made a decision not to get sick again. i believe healthy thinking is half the battle – how many people do you know that start to come down with something, decide they are going to get sick, and then whatdya know, they get sick… usually goes like ‘oh no i can feel the flu coming on, i must have picked it up from bob, he was out with it for 3 weeks, bugger, i can feel it at the back of my throat, yep, i’m definately coming down with something, yep, i can feel it in my nose now…’ and on it goes until they’ve had the 3 weeks out of action they were expecting. not me. as soon as i feel something coming on, i rest – i’ll even leave straight away from work if i know it is trying to take hold. no medicines, potions or anti-biotics, just rest and plenty of water. i’ll make sure i get 10 hours sleep that night and come into work late if need be. i haven’t had a sick day in over 2 years, and i think i’ve only needed to leave early twice. this is a big change from 3 years ago when it seemed i was getting sick all the time – i’d even say i was looking sickly most of the time. the big change came after speaking to my boss – he hasn’t had a sick day in over 7 years. he just said he decided not to get sick again. i agree and am thankful for the improvement i’ve experienced.
and when your thinking is about staying healthy, you naturally tend to eat better. your body almost sub-conciously navigates you towards better food for it to build up on.

resolutions
none from me. i’m just going to focus on my ‘real’ goals every day. put god first. put michele first. put family first. put others first. put everything else second.

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Diet dummy

Posted on January 3, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Not my usual type of blog entry, so here’s something I’ll blame on jetlag:



English magazines are a little scarce in Zurich, so we brought over a stack of them for Michele’s sister. One of them was Womans Days (see blog photo entry below). Anyway, I was glancing through this and couldn’t help noticing the headline article about Danni Minogue and her fab new body.

How has she achieved this? Well, before you say ‘Who gives a…’, have a look at what the clowns at the mag have done. They’ve taken a lame shot of her running down the beach with a friend and touched it up for the cover.



I’ve placed the page 8 photo onto the cover so you can compare them. Hmmm her friend has gone. The water is a lot different. Her thighs have magically shrunk, as have her hips. Even her arm pit has come in for treatment.

Now, we all know this happens all the time in magazines. What astounds me is that Womans Day can’t even be bothered trying to hide it. Or is this a regular thing? Perhaps I need to read more of these magazines…

So how did she achieve her fab new body? What exactly is ‘The diet that made her slim, sexy and happy at last’? You decide.


Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Posted on January 3, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |


Australian journalism at its finest – see the blog entry above for details – I’ve pasted a page 8 photo from the same magazine issue next to its cover – can you spot the touchups?

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Reflections on 2004

Posted on January 3, 2005. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Reflections



its been a big year, with work flat-out right up until the end. we had 4 new deals come in the last week of 2004 – this is very strange for us – usually the year gets quiet around mid decemberthe end effect was a very busy week, with christmas, then packing to head over to switzerland

i’m in zurich for 6 weeks, and have only now had time to reflect on the year

i have to say i’m not a fan of the whole christmas letter thing – you know, where you write out all of the events of the year and then send it to everyone on your christmas card list. the question is ‘why would they care what you’ve been up to?’ if they really cared, then chances are they would have kept up with you during the year. anyway, we get a few of those every year, but i never read them

so, why would i then go and blog about my year? well put simply, it is because this is for me to read again later. i don’t realistically think anyone out there could give a stuff about what i’ve done this year, so if you have stumbled upon this, then let me warn you – boring recounting of the year and self-analysis ahead…

dad had cancer

the big event that sticks in my mind was my dad being diagnosed with cancer around late june – it was very quick, took everyone by surprise and saw him in hospital within a week for immediate operating. the surgery went well, and they believe they got it all out – he was very lucky. i rushed up for a brief visit once he came out of hospital and it was good to just sit with him

michele and i are really lucky that both our parents are still alive. in fact i’ve had a charmed life – to date i don’t think i’ve lost anyone very close to me – so this event was a time to stop and reflect. dad and i discussed death, wills, future plans should anything happen (he wasn’t out of the woods at that time) and his basic attitudes to life. i really like my dad – i’m so thankful i’ve still got him

dimebag darrell

heavy metal lost a great on december 7. diamond darrell (yeah i know he preferred dimebag) was murdered at the start of a gig. this caused me much distress. pantera were a huge musical influence on me when i was at uni – back then i did a lot of heavy metal drumming, and vinnie paul was a machine – the power he and his brother put out was nothing short of revolutionary. all the speeches have been given for this great guy – i can’t pretend to add anything – i’m just sad

ozfox

this would definately be the highlight of the year for me

i met rick strahl in september at dev con. he is one of my all time developer heros. but having him speak at ozfox was the icing on the cake. he’s such a smart, cool guy. everything he does is great. all his talks were superb (you can tell i’m pretty impressed with this bloke…) and to top it off he gives us a great wrap on his blog.

doug hennig was there too – he truly is the presentation guru – so well prepared, such finesse in the execution of every presentation, so knowledgeable. and then ofcourse ken levy. who’s he i hear you ask? yeah, i hadn’t heard of him either … you can imagine how excited i was to have this line up for the conference. the problem is where do i go from here? how can i possibly top this in terms of speaker line up? there’s only one solution – get them all back next time…

and here’s the great thing about the fox community – they are so generous. realistically who am i? i’m a no-one in the community, and yet the greats agreed to travel down under (poor doug had over 40 hours travel time) to give us their time and expertise. we were very blessed. a great privilege for australian developers. i thank all 8 speakers whole heartedly – i was stunned by everyone’s support and generousity.

vfp9

released a few weeks back, this is a big thing for our company and the community. heaps of exciting features – this really is a cool product. but i’m not a vfp marketing resource (and i don’t have the time to be if i wanted) so i’ll leave the hypeing of it to others – just let me say that i am very impressed and pleased with the product, we already have our vfp9 upgrade of all clients planned for mid-february 2005 – this is the quickest upgrade we’ve planned, which says a lot about our confidence in the product

teched

i went to my first Microsoft TechEd in August – what a great conference – heaps of exciting presentations on the latest technology

devcon las vegas

my first vfp devcon – met many luminaries in the vfp community – very exciting

did i metion that i met rick strahl? you can see my earlier blogs for more details

las vegas was a blast – i saw the Cirque show ‘O’ – i was almost in tears (but i didn’t tell anyone at the time – guys aren’t allowed to shed a tear). why would i respond this way? hmmm interesting. i think it is because i’ve never seen such a show, with such amazing feats by people.

i think my body (brain) didn’t know how to respond, and the closest it could get was to come out in tears. i think i understand the expression ‘tears of joy’ now. perhaps that is why new parents cry when they first hold their new born baby.i won’t dwell on this, but in our sanitsied, information overloaded world, i find i am having fewer and fewer emotional moments these days.

jemma

what a joy it has been to meet and spend time with jemma – my wife’s sister’s daughter – that means she’s a niece. what a cutie

we are spending 6 weeks with her (part of the reason we’re in zurich) at the moment. i’m actually working for much of the time, but jemma is proving very hard to stay away from. jemma is 9 months old as i write this.

vfp user group

i’ve been looking after the Sydney VFP User group this year

a good bunch of people – it’s been great getting to know the community better

andrew coates helped me into the role and i thank him for his very generous support this year

tsunami

call it bad timimg, but i read michael crichton’s ‘state of fear’ on the plane trip over. that was two days after the tsunami hit indonesia and elsewhere. if you want to know how to deliberately create a tsunami, and a reason for why a group might do this, then read this book. it is chilling

anyway, i’m not gonna dwell on the disaster. i was way depressed looking at the devastation – it is everywhere on the tv here. but one thing has struck me, and that is the speed with which everyone got involved to send relief. now, don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing, but hey, there are millions dying in africa every year, but you don’t see many people giving two cents to that. why i wonder – well media exposure is a big thing ofcourse, i guess that’s why hardly anyone gave a thing to china when they lost 250,000 to an earthquake in 1976 – in fact did you know that china has lost over half a billion people to earthquakes in the last 70 years?

but perhaps it is more sinister. with africa it is ‘convenient’ to think we can’t do anything about it – you know, those country’s regimes won’t allow foreign aid in etc – but ofcourse we know deep down that is crap – if the western world really cared about improving those impoverished nations we’d work out a way – hey one country worked out a way to invade another country with no justification…

so i’m thinking the reason we are giving so ‘generously’ to indonesia, sri lanka, india, thailand etc is because we know we don’t have any excuse not to – our guilt compels us. don’t give me that good will to all men line – i know myself too well and i know the rest of the world too well – at the end of the day all we care about is ourself. perhaps you are different, but you’ll be the exception.

did you that more than half of australia’s foreign aid giving is with conditions? yep, it was part (section 3.1) of a government report titled ‘Advancing Australia’s Interests’ – we choose who to give to based on the benefit we will receive in return. http://www.liberal.org.au/documents/1998_election/foreign/foreign_affairs.html



faith

i’ve really struggled with my christian faith this past year. do i doubt my beliefs? no. my problem is one of priorities. just like if i neglected my marriage, or programming skills or karate training, it would soon lose relevance.

last year i worked really hard professionally, to the detriment of my church life. i stopped reading my bible and praying regularly and i’ve definately seen the negative impacts. simple things like i swear alot more now. i don’t think of others first. i’m more worried about what people think of me than what god thinks of me. my focus is skewed. i see this as a real step backwards. you’ve heard the expression garbage in, garbage out. i feel that i’ve filled my mind with a lot of non-important stuff lately. we only have 24 hours a day, time to be a little more vigilant in what i feed my mind



managing people

my role has changed substantially in the last two years

i’m the classic case of a technical person who is pretty capable, being promoted into a people managing role

do i like this change in focus (ie from code to people)? the truthful answer is yes. am i good at it? well, let’s just say i’m getting better. the reason our company is doing so well is because i have a great team in place. more and more i’m saying to my team – you do it, i’m just here to help sort out any problems – consider me the facilitator. i used to think i had to be the smart one with all the answers, but no, i just have to be the one who lets people do what they are good at (coming up with the smart answers)

distraction overload

i used to think being able to multi-task well was a useful skill. i’m starting to review that. in my job i get a lot of distractions and i think i am pretty good at handling them. but, i’m starting to question if i actually get anything done – at the end of day what have i actually done? well, i’ve handled countless distractions really well.

this year i’m going to try to get things done. you know like even just a single hour of productive work each day, every day, would be an improvement. let’s get rid of the distractions, and get some work done

at work we are trialling a quiet time every morning for the programmers. basically until lunch time each day we aim to have as few distractions as possible – no phone calls, emails, meetings, work colleagues interrupting us, blog readers, etc

am i naive? will this all fall down after a few days? we’ll see. i think the idea is good, perhaps the implementation will need some fine tuning…

xbox

i have much to thank andrew coates for, and providing the xbox room at ozfox was one. after the conference i got an xbox (as i said i have many things to thank andrew for) and have thoroughly enjoyed it. i’m almost through Halo (yes, just the first one) and loving it.i was initially guilty about ‘wasting time on games’ but managed to get over that. michele has been playing with me on some of the missions, which i really like. there is something really cool about seeing my wife shooting the hell out of those bad guys.

uni

my wife finished the year with straight HDs (again – this means she has got an HD in every single uni subject so far)

two years ago she wound up her company and went back to uni full time. after 15 years in finance and marketing she felt her soul was almost gone. she’s now studying psychology. and, she’s really cool about it – no beginner diagnosing of all my issues – yikes she’d have her work cut out for her there…

health

i’m thankful for another year of good health. it is now over two years since i have been sick from a flu or cold or disease etc. i put this down to healthy eating and healthy thinking – 2 years ago i made a decision not to get sick again. i believe healthy thinking is half the battle – how many people do you know that start to come down with something, decide they are going to get sick, and then whatdya know, they get sick… usually goes like ‘oh no i can feel the flu coming on, i must have picked it up from bob, he was out with it for 3 weeks, bugger, i can feel it at the back of my throat, yep, i’m definately coming down with something, yep, i can feel it in my nose now…’ and on it goes until they’ve had the 3 weeks out of action they were expecting. not me. as soon as i feel something coming on, i rest – i’ll even leave straight away from work if i know it is trying to take hold. no medicines, potions or anti-biotics, just rest and plenty of water. i’ll make sure i get 10 hours sleep that night and come into work late if need be. i haven’t had a sick day in over 2 years, and i think i’ve only needed to leave early twice. this is a big change from 3 years ago when it seemed i was getting sick all the time – i’d even say i was looking sickly most of the time. the big change came after speaking to my boss – he hasn’t had a sick day in over 7 years. he just said he decided not to get sick again. i agree and am thankful for the improvement i’ve experienced.

and when your thinking is about staying healthy, you naturally tend to eat better. your body almost sub-conciously navigates you towards better food for it to build up on.

resolutions

none from me. i’m just going to focus on my ‘real’ goals every day. put god first. put michele first. put family first. put others first. put everything else second.



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