Visual FoxPro

VFP: Visual FoxPro Sedna release – biggest launch ever!

Posted on February 5, 2008. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

TechCrunch went into meltdown with the news. CNN covered it live. And Super Tuesday has been rescheduled to cope with the disruption…

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Amazingly though, in what I can only imagine is an embarrassing oversight, there was no press release about it.

In possibly the tiniest launch announcement I’ve ever seen (you’ll need hours to read through this comprehensive overview – NOT), Microsoft has finally (on 25 Jan) released Sedna – the add-on to Visual FoxPro.

Better than nothing I guess πŸ™‚

Actually I’m pretty excited about having a play with this later tonight.

Craig Boyd has the details on Sedna being added to VFPx. He also reminds us about the DBi controls that can be downloaded.

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Rick Schummer has a discussion of whether SP2 is required (make sure you read the comments as well).

Download Sedna here.

 

Who’d have thought…?

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VFP: Did someone mention FoxPro?

Posted on October 18, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Apparently there was some news about a Visual FoxPro release this week. I searched but couldn’t find anything :-). Except this, this, this, this, this, this. (To be fair to myself I did mention it on my link blog here.)

Or perhaps I was getting it confused with this article about salesforce.com’s new Visual Force, which David Berland likened to an on-demand version of FoxPro. The article is actually a nice summary of Fox’s impact on the PC world – worth a read if you’ve got a spare minute.

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VFP: Sydney VFP special event 17 Oct 2007

Posted on September 30, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m excited that we have Nick Neklioudov in Sydney in mid-October, coming to give us a special Sydney Visual FoxPro User Group presentation.

Click here for Sydney VFP User Group Special Event details

Nick will be presenting a session on using Drag and Drop in Visual FoxPro forms. Drag and Drop is an important usability element of applications, but is often neglected, especially in already existing programs. One of the interesting parts about Nick’s session is that he will be showing how to implement Drag & Drop without changing a single line of code in the existing form controls.

If you are a VFP developer in Sydney, please help me spread the word – it is only a little over two weeks away.

Date: Wednesday 17 October 2007

Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Venue: Microsoft, North Ryde, Sydney

(1 Epping Road, North Ryde, Sydney NSW 2113 – view map)

About Nick Neklioudov

image Nick Neklioudov, M.Sc., CNA, works as Systems Analyst with CGI Group Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Programming in all versions of FoxPro/VFP since 1987, in VB.Net since 2003, not counting some other developer tools and environments. Nick received Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award three times.
Nick Neklioudov has over 20 years experience with computers and information technologies, especially in database-oriented programming, object-oriented programming and information systems development.

Click here for Sydney VFP User Group Special Event details

[Questions? Please contact Craig Bailey with any queries.]

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VFP: More meaningless press about FoxPro

Posted on September 18, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Here’s another example of how FoxPro gets misunderstood. Thankfully Tod McKenna sheds some light (in the Discuss page).

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VFP: Importing VFP data into SQL Server

Posted on August 15, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve written an article outlining How to use SQL Server 2005 Integration Services (SSIS) to import Visual FoxPro data into SQL Server.

The article is reasonably basic and covers:

  • Using SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio to create the package and manage errors
  • Using SQL Server Management Studio to create the Integration Service
  • Using SQL Agent job to schedule it
  • Gotchas (including UNC mapping, and the VFP OLE DB driver)
  • Brief overview of a real world implementation using SSIS
  • Brief discussion of SSIS versus VFP Upsizing Wizard

The article is 49 pages long, but don’t be alarmed, most of it is screen shots. It is available in Word or PDF format. I’ve included the Word format in case you want to edit the article, add your own comments, copy stuff out etc.

It is available here (and from my Articles page).

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VFP: Visual FoxPro posts of interest

Posted on August 11, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve been a little behind on my blog reading of late, so here’s a quick list of links I’ve enjoyed (many of which you no doubt read weeks ago πŸ™‚

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TECHED: Why Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO)?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Rounding out a solid day of excellent sessions was Australia’s favourite son Andrew Coates (OK, so I might have hyped that a little bit).

Office Business Applications (OBA) will be getting increasing focus from Microsoft in the coming year and it is no wonder why.
VSTO, now in its third version, allows developers to easily build functionality on top of the Office applications. With Visual Studio 2008 Pro we can be building rich, powerful apps right into Outlook, Word, Excel, etc. As a third version, it is a classic case of the product maturing, and offering significant value.

Why VSTO?
Answer: Because Office is no longer a suite of applications, rather it is a platform.

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TECHED: Why SharePoint?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

This session was my pick of the day. Perfectly presented by Jon Barrett and Ian Palangio, the content covered an immense amount of material, complemented by excellent demos.

SharePoint is of course a mammoth platform, so any session on it is only going to cover a small chunk. This sessions’s chunk was document management.

Covering Document management, Records management, policies and workflow (the whole Enterprise Content Management (ECM) thing really), this was a session where I think I finally ‘got’ it!

Why SharePoint for document management?

  • There is so much out of the box
  • It covers so much of the ECM requirements
  • It is massively scalable
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TECHED: Why Windows Server 2008 Web edition?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve decided to cover a lot of areas this year (not just Developer sessions). This includes Server and Security sessions.

This session blew me away. Eric Deily gave an excellent overview of the Web Server edition of Windows Server 2008.

IT Pros who’ve been following Server 2008 will be well aware of the details of course, but for me it was an eye opener.

Here’s why companies (especially Software Dev companies) should be getting their IT Manager to install a Windows 2008 Server for them to be working with ASAP:

  • IIS7 has been rebuilt from the ground up
  • Everything has been modularised, and by default only a minimum set of modules are installed
  • This means a small footprint, reduced attack surface and higer performance
  • All IIS settings can be configured via a config file (if permissions have been delegate to the config file – an Admin can still control this)
  • This means that sites can be effectively XCOPYed between servers

Summary: Why IIS7?
Answer: Security and performance

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TECHED: Why Web 2.0?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I missed the start of the blogger’s lunch, but managed to catch the panel answering the whole Web 2.0 question.

The panel: Phil Sim, Michael Platt, Darren Neimke, Jane O’Connell and Des Walsh were guided by Frank Arrigo.

Highlights included hearing them each give their view of what the hell Web 2.0 is. My favourite was Phil who summarised it along the lines of ‘it is a period in time when the technology, infrastructure, privacy concerns, thirst for interactivity and advertising have all come together’. As he went on to explain, some of the technology (eg AJAX) has been around for a while, but just needed the other factors to be there too. The whole social networking ‘thing’ would never have taken off if we still held the same concerns for privacy that we did 10 years ago.

I think he is right. Whilst we can point to styles of web site, and even the way we interact, there is definitely a mindset element that has made it take off.

These same success factors will also likely be problematic in the future, as IP, defamation and other legal implications catch up in the next 5 years.

The discussion was thought provoking, and perhaps even cautionary.

 

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TECHED: Why Visual Studio Team System 2008?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Always entertaining, and sometimes even informative :-), Adam Cogan walked us through Visual Studio’s history, and then looked at the future of the Team editions of the product.

Many of the benefits are already shipped (in part at least) via the recently released Power Tools for TFS. Team Foundation Server incorporates and builds on these.

A few warrant special mention, and effectively answer the question of WHY?

  • New policy pack features allow easy checking of file types, directory locations and other filtering
  • The revamped editor makes customization of process templates much easier

Adam is the only speaker I know who can run 30 minutes overtime and still have the room packed…

 

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TECHED: Why Visual Studio 2008?

Posted on August 8, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

In the first session of the day I stepped into Tony Goodhew’s overview of Visual Studio 2008 (previously Orcas).

The session covered VS2008 Pro (as opposed to the Team editions) and was a slick high level flight over the product.

Answering the question of WHY?, Tony gave three reasons:

  1. Tools for Office 2007 and Vista
  2. Improvements for Web developers
  3. Language enhancements (especially data handling eg LINQ)

The reasons are compelling, even if some are no more than catchup (eg the split view – touted as an improvement for Web devs – has been in FrontPage for years).

I won’t be giving a recap of sessions or what was covered, instead just summarizing what the most compelling answers to WHY? are for me.

Here’s why I think we should move to VS2008 asap:

  • You can target multiple versions (ie you just select whether you are targeting .Net 2.0, 3.0 or 3.5), so there is no downside, but plenty of upside
  • LINQ data handling is just about ready πŸ™‚
  • Support for Vista
  • Support for Office 2007 development (more on this in a later post)

Beta 2 has just been released.

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TECHED: Why SoftGrid?

Posted on August 7, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

At the TechEd Technology Showcase booth tonight I was blown away by a very cool technology called SoftGrid. Microsoft acquired this recently.

SoftGrid is a virtualisation technology allows applications (as opposed to operating systems) to be delivered to the desktop (ie they are never installed on the desktop – rather it is almost like they are ‘streamed’ to the desktop). They are delivered by a SoftGrid server.

Why SoftGrid? Because it allows multiple versions of products to be run side by side – the demo showed Excel 97 and Excel 2003 running side by side on the same desktop, and then three different Java applications (each requiring a different Java runtime) running side-by-side. Amazing.

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TECHED: Sun soaked and technology packed

Posted on August 7, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve made it to the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia) for TechEd 2007. Just back from the opening party where I caught up with a bunch of people.

My initial thoughts:

  • A great start to the event
  • The Technology Showcase is by far the best booth (I spent half the night there)
  • Having the Technology Showcase at the same location as the bull riding was unfortunate (because the bloke MCing the bull riding was way too loud 😦 )
  • There was stacks of high quality food
  • I met a heap of new people (by wandering up to tables and sitting with complete strangers and even jumping into taxis with other delegates -they’ve all been friendly πŸ™‚

[The full album of photos (in proper size) is available from my TechEd 2007 Web Album]

But, in summary, here’s the view from my hotel window:

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Here’s the bloke who made it all happen this year (Andrew is on the right)

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And here’s a shot of some bloke about to fall off a mechanical bull

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More to come…

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VIDEO: Monkey Boy iPod… I mean Zune

Posted on August 6, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Yep, pretty funny (but not for the person who made it apparently)

And less than 40,000 views even though it’s been up since February – what has the world come to?

(Via Fake Steve Jobs who was recently outed)

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OZFOX: Thinking about OzFox 2008

Posted on August 4, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m starting to think about the next OzFox conference, and I’d love your thoughts.

To help me organise the most appropriate conference for y’all, I’ve put up a very simple survey.

If you are a potential attendee, please take the OzFox 2008 survey – it only takes 60 seconds.

It’s anonymous (unless you optionally want to leave your email address), so you won’t be held to anything.

And please help spread the word…

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VLOG: WebbAlert

Posted on August 4, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Yes, I agree with TechCrunch that WebbAlert is pretty cool. Only two episodes so far, but well produced, fast paced, easily consumable (5 mins), interesting, and perhaps a even little quirky. I mean, who knew that there was a guy called Rupert Murdoch (I wonder where he’s from) trying to buy the WSJ?

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VFP: VFP5 for dessert

Posted on August 1, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Michele and I were out at dinner on Saturday night with Adam and Anastasia Cogan.

The food was good, the conversation was great, but then came dessert… Here’s what Adam had organized prior with the staff to deliver to me for dessert:

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It’s a copy of Visual FoxPro version 5.0, and it now sits up on the shelf above my desk. It’s still got the plastic wrapping on it! And weren’t those the days – the box weighs a ton: Developer’s guide, programmer’s guide, language reference – I can still hear the trees crying πŸ™‚

Adam tells me he fought a valiant bidding war on eBay to secure it.

And here’s me modeling the new acquisition:

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Ahhhh, the joys.

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MIS: MIS Magazine web site

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I like reading MIS magazine every month as it keeps me informed on what is happening in the corporate technology sector of Australia.

They’ve just recently made it available online, and I was staggered to see that you can get all the content from the current version for free (past versions require a subscription).

MIS Cover Image

This article may be of interest to people in the job market at present.

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SMB Focus: SMB IT Reseller conference

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Just thought I’d give this a plug because I like the concept behind it.

Wayne Small, a SBS MVP, who runs the Sydney SBS UG (that’s Small Business Server) is running a conference – SMB Focus – in late November (23 & 24) for small to medium business IT resellers.

Wayne, who I’ve been chatting with lately (he was kind enough to lend me his video camera so I could record a UG meeting) has been running his own business for a decade or so now and understands many of the pressures and stresses that are involved.

In particular this part of the conference caught my eye:

Another key area that many SMB IT resellers often overlook is the proper work/life balance. Many of us are working extended hours and don’t pay enough attention to the lifestyle, the fun and enjoyment of what we’re working so hard to achieve. We’ll be including a number of aspects of lifestyle training in this event to ensure we can get a good balance across the board.

I think this is a great initiative – how often do you hear developer/IT Pro/technology conferences discuss these aspects? But it is very important.

Early bird registration closes at the end of August.

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LIVE WRITER: Using Windows Live Writer again

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’ve used Windows Live Writer in the past, and it has been a little flaky. I’m happy to say that their latest beta (its been out for a few months now) is a lot better. Much faster, and is working well handling images (something I had trouble with in the past version).

Note: If installing on Vista you’ll most likely have to Run as Administrator to install. By this I mean you need to right click on the Installer and click ‘Run as Administrator’. This is a little weird because all my other applications have simply used a UAC popup to gain necessary permissions when installing.

If you don’t Run as Administrator, the installer will run, prompt via UAC, ask you to agree to T&Cs, ask if you want MSN as your search page, start installing but then hang.

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SBTUG: Report on last meeting – Online marketing and MOSS & BI

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

A great meeting with Fred Schebesta and Grant Paisley presenting up a storm last Wed 25 July 2007.

Fred powered through an excellent overview of internet marketing, search engine optimization and web site tracking. A big thank you to Fred for coming along, and big congratulations to him on his engagement a few days after the meeting – enjoy your holiday Fred.

Grant talked us though the new SharePoint BI tools, including PerformancePoint (slated for release this November). The power in these tools is amazing. Also shown were some of the plugins for Excel.

Check out these links for more details:

Blue Sky Thinking

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PERSONAL: Back, yet again… again

Posted on July 31, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice to say this is the third time (in about as many months) that I’ve had to completely reinstall my machine.

Everything is fine until one morning I will start my notebook and it just won’t boot. Our techies have looked at it, and it comes down to a corrupted boot sector thingy (whatever).

No tools are able to fix, dual boots can’t be enabled, even booting off CDs won’t work. I won’t go on with all the details, but after the first time (on XP) we replaced the drive, after the second time (on Vista Business) we made backups of everything, and now after the third time (again on Vista but this time Ultimate) we have now got a really slick reinstall process πŸ™‚ It ends up requiring a complete reformat of the drive. I’m assuming it will happen again… at some point.

Luckily I haven’t lost anything of value any of the times (at least I have a thorough backup strategy in place), but it is a hassle of course.

After all that, I’m just glad to be back up and running again. But perhaps it’s time to go notebook shopping…

Β 

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GOOGLE: Being sued by Australia

Posted on July 12, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

LOL!

(from TechCrunch, this little gem)

Good luck Australia (and specifically the ACCC).

Can you believe it? In a country where our internet coverage and performance is so woeful, we spend time and money chasing Google over their use of sponsored links. Hilarious, if it weren’t so tragic.

The comments in the posts are interesting – my favourite: Only the lawyers will win out of this one.

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AUTISM: In my Language

Posted on July 11, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Michele alerted me to this wonderful video that ‘explains’ how communicative autistic people really are.

It is more than us ‘normal’ people being arrogant. It is more than just being judgemental. It is really about missing out on understanding a whole other, beautiful side of humanity.

Prepare to be humbled.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=JnylM1hI2jc

Aside: I’m told that Second Life (the online game) has provided amazing communities and opportunities for those with autism.

[In case you are wondering about the non-communicative references in the video – it is because autistic people (and Aspberger’s and others) are scientifically described as being ‘non-communicative’. How ironic.]

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SBTUG: SEO, SEM, Internet Marketing, BI, MOSS 2007

Posted on July 11, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

This month (25 July) is going to be an awesome meeting at the Sydney Business & Technology User Group with two exciting sessions.

First off, I am very thrilled to have Fred Schebesta – internet marketing guru, and 2006 Australian Direct Marketer of the Year Award winner – presenting on SEO, SEM, internet marketing and branding and whole bunch of other goodness to do with promoting your web site. This is going to be an incredible session. Come along and be blown away by how much you don’t know (there’s more to internet marketing than having a few Google Adwords you know…).

And then, if that weren’t enough, we are lucky to have Grant Paisley – MOSS guru and SQL Server MVP – talking about Business Intelligence and how specifically Microsoft is enabling this via SharePoint. He then looks at Data mining with the new Excel 2007 add-in.

Not to be missed.

See you on Wed 25 July at 6:30pm!

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CAMERA: Michael Kordahi needs a new one

Posted on July 11, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Michael, I hope your new camera is under warranty, because there is something seriously wrong with the shots it is taking – although a few like this one of Andrew Coates are OK though πŸ™‚

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SPEECH: Bill Gates at Harvard

Posted on July 10, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I know this is getting a lot of links, but I really, really like it.

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/06.14/99-gates.html

One of the most inspiring speeches I’ve heard (read) in a long time.

Please read it.

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USER GROUPS: Sydney User Groups

Posted on July 5, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

[UPDATE 1] Here’s the list of ineta User Groups (which can be filtered for Australia)

[UPDATE 2] Here’s the Readify list of Australian User Groups

I’ve been looking for a simple list of all the Sydney user groups (Microsoft based ones that is) and have found it difficult to come by.

As a starting point I visited the Microsoft site (here) but found it non-user friendly and out of date. If anyone knows of a better list, please let me know.

Someone suggested we should start a Google Calendar of them all, but I am a little wary of starting that in case it gets forgotten about (and becomes yet another out of date list). But I’m open to it.

So, I’ve started my own list below. I’ve ordered them in date order. Some of the details are missing, I’ll fill these in as I ascertain them. Please drop me a comment here if any of the details are incorrect.

Sydney Windows Mobile User Group

When: 1st Tuesday of every month

Time: 6:30pm

Where: Microsoft North Ryde, 1 Epping Road, North Ryde

Web: http://swmug.org/cs/default.aspx

Contact:

Sydney SQL Server User Group

When: 1st Tuesday of every month

Time: 5:30pm

Where: Level 1, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney (Mechanics School of Arts)

Web: http://www.sqlserver.org.au/

Contact: Grant Paisley

Newcastle Coders Group

When: 1st Wednesday of each month

Time: 6pm

Where: 9 Denison Street Newcastle West 2302

Web: http://www.ncg.asn.au/

Contact:

Sydney Deep .Net User Group

When: 1st Thursday of every month

Time: 6pm

Where: AMP Capital Investors, Ground Floor, 50 Bridge Street, Sydney

Web: http://www.sdnug.org/

Contact: Nick Wienholt and Dan Green

Sydney SBS User Group

When: 2nd Tuesday of each month

Time: 6pm

Where: Microsoft North Ryde, 1 Epping Road North Ryde

Web: http://www.sbsgroups.com.au/Sydney/default.aspx

Contact: Wayne Small

Sydney Windows Infrastructure Group

When: 2nd Wednesday of every month

Time: 6pm

Where: Healy Room, Ground Floor, 50 Bridge Street, Sydney

Web: http://swiug.org.au/

Contact:

Wollongong .Net User Group

When: 2nd Wednesday of each month

Time: 6:30pm

Where: CSC Wollongong campus, Lot 1 Coniston Technology Park, Edney Lane Mt St Thomas NSW 2500

Web: 9 Denison Street
Newcastle West 2302 http://www.wdnug.org/

Contact: Kirk Barrett

Sydney SharePoint User Group

When: 3rd Tuesday of every month from 6pm

Time: 6pm

Where: Uniqueworld offices – Level 14, 24 Campbell Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Web: http://sps.uniqueworld.net/Sydney/default.aspx

Contact: Ivan Wilson

Sydney .Net User Group

When: 3rd Wednesday of every month

Time: 5:45pm

Where: Microsoft North Ryde, 1 Epping Road, North Ryde

Web: http://www.ssw.com.au/ssw/netug/

Contact: Adam Cogan

Sydney BizTalk User Group

When: Last Wednesday of every month

Time: 6:30pm

Where: various, but usually Microsoft North Ryde, 1 Epping Road, North Ryde

Web: http://sydbiz.org/default.aspx

Contact: Mick Badran

Sydney Business & Technology User Group

When: Last Wednesday of each month

Time: 6:30pm

Where: Microsoft North Ryde, 1 Epping Road North Ryde

Web: www.sbtug.com

Contact: Craig Bailey

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QUALITY: You are what you repeatedly code

Posted on June 29, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Just going through my backlog of blog posts and read this one from Paul Stovell (from over a month ago).

I totally agree with his main point that ‘we are what we repeatedly code’. It takes a while to build a habit. I wish more coders wised up to this. But more importantly I wish more software managers wised up to this.

When it comes to the cost involved, I’d suggest that the cost is a little higher than Paul makes out (and others have alluded to this in his comments), but the important point is that the cost is much smaller long term than not doing it (as Paul points out in his comment reply).

The problem in many places (not here of course πŸ™‚ is that whilst software managers often pay lip service to wanting proper ‘resume quality’ code, they often don’t really follow through with enough resources. Good developers are the ones who often push for better quality, but managers have to (or is that choose to?) compromise due to other constraints. Sometimes this is because software managers are victim to the old ‘all responsibility, no authority’ trap, but other times, the pressures of too much work, not enough time get in the way. What value is there in documenting a project that has been delivered and already paid for? And of course here is the problem – it should have been documented during the project… but because we didn’t document it last time, we weren’t in the habit of documenting, and because we weren’t in the habit we didn’t… etc the bad cycle becomes the habit.

It takes guts and determination to break the habit, not just from the developers, but from management as well.

And I guess it would help if clients saw the value and agreed to pay for it as well (but that’s another discussion).

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ACS: Speaking at ACS Wollongong next Wed 4 July 2007

Posted on June 29, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Next Wed I’m speaking at the South Coast Chapter of the Australian Computer Society, discussing ‘5 Mistakes Software Managers Make‘. This is based on my recent talk at SBTUG, but expanded a little taking into account the great feedback I got at the meeting.

Details here

Not sure if any of my readers are Wollongong based, but if so I’d love to see you there.

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SBTUG: Web 2.0 and Connected Systems presentations available

Posted on June 29, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Looks like Rahul‘s beaten me to it again… the presentations from Wednesday night’s sessions at SBTUG are up.

A quick report: Steven Ringo gave a very good overview of Web 2.0, where it is used, popular sites, how it can be used in business and where it is headed. Most useful.

Scott Scovell (and yes, Rahul, I agree, he is a guru) managed to cram a comprehensive overview of the entire Connected Systems space into 40 minutes – an incredible feat. In fact it was overwhelming.

The thing about Connected Systems is that it is so broad and all-encompassing, that it is hard to get a take on it. And that’s why Scott’s session was so valuable. The important point is that Microsoft (and others of course) are making a huge (ahem, gigantic, massive) investment in it. As Scott noted in his session, 10 years ago XML was just a fad that a few techies talked about and the majority dismissed (OK, maybe not quite but you get the point) and then it became the very lifeblood of just about everything we do today. [By the way I wonder if VFP will ever support XML? – that’s a joke folks]. An in a similar way, Connected Systems is not really understood by the masses. Of course, XML is a mechanism, whereas Connect Systems is a strategy, so it’s not really the same, but the point is that if you want to be at the forefront of technology in the next few years, you need to be understanding Connected Systems.

Scott’s session is here

Steve’s session is here

Upcoming meetings are listed here

Β 

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VFP: Talman is hiring

Posted on June 28, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

As Rahul has posted, Talman is looking for two more staff to build our VFP team:

  1. A Senior VFP Developer
  2. A Senior QA + Testing professional

There are details on the links about how to apply.

Please note: the roles are only open to Australian permanent residents at this stage.

What’s interesting about this is that we are growing our VFP team (ie they are not replacements for people leaving). We have an ever growing backlog of VFP work. What’s really strange is that our Web work is drying up (something that I thought would be overflowing at the moment) but our VFP work is going nuts. We are seriously considering ‘realigning’ (warning: management wank-speak in use) our business completely around VFP – there’s too much money to be made…

Anyone else having this ‘problem’ πŸ™‚ ?

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SBTUG: Web 2.0 and Connected systems this Wed 27 June 2007

Posted on June 25, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

This Wednesday at Sydney Business & Technology User Group (SBTUG) we have two excellent sessions lined up.

The first (Business) has Steven Ringo talking about all things Web 2.0, explaining the different offerings, but most importantly outlining how they can be useful to your business.

The second (Technology) is an overview of Connected Systems by Scott Scovell. This won’t be so much HOW to do stuff, but more focussed on answering the WHY questions. Why do need to know about Connected Systems, Why do they matter, Why are they so important etc. So, if you’ve been wondering about BizTalk, WCF, WF, CardSpace and where they all fit into the scheme of things, then this talk is just what you need.

More details available here:

www.sbtug.com

Don’t miss it:

Wed 27 June 2007 @ Microsoft HQ, North Ryde.

We’ll be starting with Pizza at 6:30pm and the first session will start at 6:45pm sharp.

I promise to be vigilant on the schedule for the evening – we’ll be finishing up around 8:30pm (I realise last time I didn’t control time that well πŸ™‚

Please sign up on the site to receive email reminders.

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Also, check out the sessions coming up later in the year:

http://www.sbtug.com/#Future_meetings

And a reminder that you can help shape the user group by filling out our quick (60 sec) survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=96143930384

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MANAGEMENT: Hiring and firing

Posted on June 14, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

You may have already seen this little gem:

http://www.simple-talk.com/opinion/opinion-pieces/fired-with-enthusiasm/

If not, then be dazzled by the genius of Kishor (not his real name).

Do you relate to the author’s comment towards the end?:

‘It was at that point that I realised I would never make it to the top rank of IT managers. Something else was necessary; a talent I didn’t possess. Kishor had it.’

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VFP: FoxPro blogs

Posted on June 14, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

As noted by others, there are a two new VFP bloggers, including:

Bo Durban

Craig Boyd (not sure about this guy – tread carefully J)

Btw does anyone know what Kevin Ragsdale’s new blog address is? The new FeedBurner link he provided last week doesn’t appear to be working…

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NETWORKING: Speed-Networking report

Posted on June 13, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

About two weeks ago I attended this event, a speed networking event for .Net companies. The idea is that the ‘community’ of .Net based companies get to know each other better for the purposes of partnering and network building.

I was a little hesitant but went any way (Talman does a lot of .Net stuff in addition to our VFP stuff). The reasons for my hesitancy were because I wasn’t quite clear what the objective was, but on reflection Dan’s note on Andrew’s blog was pretty accurate.

So here’s how it panned out:

Eddie Geller (CEO of Unique World MCed the event – let’s call him ‘MC Eddie’ from now one J) and started with a quick run-down of the NSW.Net cluster aims, noting there will be more events commencing in July – stay tuned by checking here every so often)

Next, two brief introductions from people explaining their businesses, and then onto the Speed-Networking itself. This was organised as two circles of people (one inside the other, the inside facing out, the outside facing in) and you were given 4 minutes to network with the person in front of you before a bell rang and the outside circle moved to the left (‘…it’s just a jump to the left…’).

Now before you cringe and think how strange that might be let me make a few comments. First, I thought it was really good. The issue with networking for me has always been about how phoney it seems – you know you wander up to someone at a function and pretend to be interested in them. Here though there is no need to pretend – everyone knows they have just 4 minutes to chat. So, and here’s the next good thing, you learn to get your ‘elevator speech’ pretty smooth. By the end (we had about 30 minutes or 7 changes) I was pretty good at summing up Talman in a minute and knowing what to ask my networking ‘target’ so I could understand their business as quickly as possible. These are good skills to work on. And, finally, yes I did make some good contacts. People I will probably work with, and others who I will want to work for us. Yikes! Could this networking thing actually have some benefit and not be just a superficial waste of time? Yes, it can and does. I said as much here a while back and am glad to be still saying the same thing.

Eddie has a good summary of networking advantages here.

The event finished with a stunning presentation on Silverlight by Michael Kordahi. Sadly his presentation was too short (he was limited due to all that bloody networking stuff going on earlier!)

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VFP: 3+ days to FoxPro ass kicking?

Posted on June 13, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Interesting tidbit from someone who needed to learn VFP in a hurry

http://n0tablog.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/how-i-learned-visual-foxpro-in-an-emergency/

Compare this to this

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PERSONAL: I’m back… again…

Posted on June 9, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Yes, just got my notebook back after a week without it. This is the second time in as many months that my machine has died. This time it died on Monday morning when I booted up at work, but I’m lucky enough to have it back late on Friday arvo (so I can spend all weekend re-installing all my stuff J).

It makes you realise how lost you can become without your machine. Sure, everything was all backed up (I haven’t lost anything – especially my VPCs that I’ve spent the last month building thank goodness), but if you haven’t got anything to restore your backup to then it can be a frustrating time. Fortunately there was spare machine in the office I could use for basic email and office functions – but you really miss not having your space.

I guess this is why most senior managers and presenters these days carry around two machines… just in case.

At times like this you really appreciate the different registration processes that software companies use. For example, at the ‘you little ripper’ end of the spectrum is FeedDemon. I just downloaded the latest version and it prompted me to enter my Newsgator name and password. It then did the rest – retrieved my subscription details, registration code, everything. A fantastic experience. Others have been a little frustrating, such as SnagIt. I bought this in the days of v7, and then paid for the upgrade to 8. But trying to install their latest version, and hunt back through emails for registration codes, which then turn out to be invalid since they are for 7, and you can’t find a code for the 8 upgrade, and on, and on, and on it goes – very painful. I haven’t been able to get SnagIt registered yet – and will most likely just buy it again to get around the issue – very frustrating.

In Microsoft’s favour I have been pleasantly surprised that activation of Office 2007 has been pain free. Even though this is the 3rd time this year I’ve installed it on this notebook (and more if you count my VPCs) there have been no activation issues (and thus no phone calls required to the activation hotline). I’m assuming that part of their activation process records the hardware specs, and somehow knows it is being installed on the same machine. I wonder what will happen when I get another machine (I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting a backup machine now).

Anyway, must dash, I have few thousand blog posts from the past week to get through.

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CLARITY: Anyone understand SOA?

Posted on June 3, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Here’s what’s frustrating me lately – there is no easy way of getting simple answers to anything. Nothing is simple anymore. Everything gets swamped in too much information.

Take Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) for example. I want a simple, agreed upon definition for this phrase. I usually explain it in terms of having different servers exposing web services etc. Incomplete and too simple I know, but something that people can relate to. But I’m after something more concrete. Anyway, I came across the following gem in an ad from a ‘master’ SOA company – here’s what they defined SOA as:

‘A paradigm for organising and utilising distributed capabilities that may be under the control of different ownership domains. It provides a uniform means to offer, discover, interact with and use capabilities to produce desired effects consistent with measurable preconditions and expectations.’

Any of this make sense to you? I guess if you already understand SOA then you can decode what that definition is all about.

So I popped over to Wikipedia to try to get some clarity. Here’s the link. And guess what – that waffle above (from the ad) is actually a definition attributed to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). Yikes! Good luck with the ‘Advancement’ part. And on it goes in the Wikipedia article. The more I read the more frustrated I got. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big Wikipedia fan, but I start to wonder why it is so hard to get to the essence of things. Imagine trying to explain SOA to your CEO in the terms above. Not likely.

[By way of contrast I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how clearly Wikipedia outlined the Windows Live concept – I actually felt I had a good grasp of it by the end, something Microsoft hasn’t been especially good at giving.]

Do you ever get the feeling there is too much theory/data/information and not enough reality/simplicity/clarity anymore?

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BLOG: Eric Sink

Posted on June 1, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Just thought I’d recommend Eric Sink’s blog and book. As I mentioned in an earlier post I thought everyone read his blog, but at UG the other night it turns out many were missing out on this little gem.

I’ve read the book, and yes, it is mostly just re-workings of his blog entries, but still worth buying for the ‘easy, offline experience’. Good reading for software managers and software company owners. Targeted at micro-ISV owners (or budding owners), but suitable for larger companies as well. (btw Eric is the guy who originally coined the term micro-ISV). Eric is CEO (or something) at SourceGear (not be confused with Google Gears πŸ™‚

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BOOK: How to run a user group

Posted on June 1, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

This is a promo post for Greg Low’s new book on running user groups. Greg is a Microsoft Regional Director down under and a SQL Server MVP. He’s also run (and still runs) some very successful (by which I mean extremely helpful to the community) user groups.

He’s written a few books, but the one I want to recommend is this one: Building Technical User Communities. Greg was kind enough to send me the complete book (as a draft) last week in the lead up to kicking off SBT UG. The book is packed with down to earth, common sense, well thought out, learned from experience, salient advice. I used great chunks of the book to guide the UG on Wednesday. It was invaluable and perfectly timed too!

I think Greg is pretty amazing, so I’m of course biased. Thus, could I please ask a few (thousand) people to buy copies and let me know if I’m wrong about this one?

You can pre-order it on Amazon today. (Also available from the Rational Press site but frankly I found their site woeful – where’s the Search function for goodness sake?)

[Greg also has a book on the SQL CLR, but I haven’t read it yet.]

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BizTech: Sydney Business & Technology User Group report

Posted on June 1, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m very pleased to report that our first meeting of the Sydney Business & Technology User Group went well.

There was a much bigger turnout than I had expected (we ran out of pizza early!). My thanks to the people who came just to support the group even though it may not directly relevant to them – it was very much appreciated.

Overall the night went well. My session was reasonably well received I think (I hope it was useful – the content is here and the PowerPoint is here). I’ll also be updating it a little over the next few days with some of the comments from attendees.

Adam Cogan’s session was very useful – he went through SQL Server Data Dude, plus compared some of the features to other tools on the market (RedGate, Apex, etc).

Some feedback from attendees:

  • There was a number of technical people there, who were probably not as interested in the business related stuff as the technical stuff
  • It went far too late (my fault for not keeping the program on track time wise – I’ll be more vigilant next meeting I promise!)
  • There was a lot of comment on communication skills and email management during the night (this was a topic of interest)
  • Not many people had heard of Eric Sink (I thought everyone read Eric Sink’s blog)

Special thanks to the following people who have encouraged and supported the idea: Frank Arrigo, Andrew Coates, Adam Cogan, Steven Ringo

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One downside: I had a cap full of business cards (many attendees were good enough to give me their card so I can keep in contact with them), but towards the end of the night ‘someone’ took most of them (they left 3 cards behind).

I mention this for three reasons:

1. I assume it was accidental (perhaps the person thought I’d already taken the cards and these were leftovers?) and to thus request they pop them in the cap next month (I’ll leave it up the back as usual).

2. To apologise to people who did leave their cards if they get unsolicited email from someone!

3. To apologise to those same people when they don’t get reminded of next month’s session because I don’t have their details.

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Next Month: Steven Ringo talking on the business side of Web 2.0 & 3.0, and Scott Scovell talking on the technology decisions related to Connected Systems (ie BizTalk, WCF, WF).

Stay tuned to the UG web site for more details (I’ll post full session descriptions next week).

Thanks again.

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BizTech: Announcing the Sydney Business & Technology User Group (SBT UG)

Posted on May 24, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’d like to announce the new Sydney Business & Technology User Group, commencing next Wednesday 30 May 2007.

For those who want to cut to the chase, go the web site here: www.sbtug.com

Who is it for?

The new group is designed for senior developers, team leaders, software managers and software company owners. As such the talks are geared for that audience, but everyone is of course welcome.

What level are the talks?

The talks are high level. This means they are NOT in depth technical talks delving into code (there are plenty of other user groups covering this well). The aim is to give managers clarity on the many different technologies (primarily focussed on Microsoft products) available and answer questions like: Is this technology or product relevant/helpful to my business? Where should I use it? When can I use it? How much will licensing/developing with it cost? And so forth. There will also be sessions on general business topics (eg sales, marketing, PR, IP, trademarks, insurances etc). See the site for a full list of the suggested topics coming up.

Where is it held?

The group will initially be held at Microsoft Headquarters at North Ryde, Sydney. See the web site for full details. This location may change based on feedback from attendees and potential attendees eg it may be more appropriate to meet in the Sydney CBD.

When is it on?

Initially we will be meeting on the last Wednesday of every month, starting at 6:30pm. Again, this may change based on attendee feedback.

How can I make a suggestion?

We have a quick survey (60 seconds) on the site, so please let me know what you would like to see at the UG.

How do I stay informed?

Please sign up on the site, and I will email you once a month (on average) with a reminder and details of upcoming sessions.

How much does it cost?

Free to attend – all I ask is that you hand me one of your business cards on arrival.

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VFP: Important announcement concerning the Sydney VFP User Group

Posted on May 24, 2007. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

This is a difficult one to announce, but I have to let everyone in the Fox community know that I’ve made a drastic change to the Sydney VFP User Group.

In this post I’ll outline the reasons why and the outcomes I am hoping for.

Firstly, I need to let people know that the Sydney VFP UG is effectively closing down.

In its place I am starting a new group which focuses (in a broad, general sense) on Business and Technology, designed primarily for software managers, team leaders and software company owners.

The new group is called: The Sydney Business & Technology User Group and it has a new web site here: www.sbtug.com

Secondly, I want to outline why this has come about, because it has not been an easy decision in many ways (although in some ways it has). The basic reason is due to poor user group attendance. With so many other avenues available for Visual FoxPro content, many developers were finding it difficult to make the trek over to the user group each month. These things tend to go in spirals, so with less people attending, there is less chance to network with people, and it gets harder to organise speakers, and then the cycle repeats. This meant that lately the effort put in by speakers and myself was hard to justify. I felt that my time and theirs could be much better spent serving the developer community in other ways.

Thirdly, let me explain why I picked the ‘new’ direction. Interestingly, in many ways the group had been heading down that path anyway. The talks had started to encompass business related sessions (Eg sales, marketing, perception) and the technology topics had opened up (Design Patterns, .Net, SQL Server, etc). So, in a way the new group is really just the culmination of changes that had been happening over the last 6-9 months. But for me personally, I tried to follow a path that is of interest to me (what’s the point of running a group you are not interested in?) So, for me, as CTO for a software company, I picked a direction that applies to me. I expect there are many others (including some of the senior managers at Talman) for who this will also apply. Time will tell if it is of enough interest to keep the group going. I am hoping so.

Fourthly, I need to be honest and say there will be very little in the way of VFP content at the new UG. When Sedna is released, there will definitely be a session on it, but other than that, not much. I feel it important to state this upfront rather than try to fumble through with some ‘it is just the same VFP group with a few other broader sessions added’ distracter.

Finally, I want to reassure people that this is not me abandoning VFP. It seems odd that I should have to say this, but one of the reasons that I held onto the group so long was because I was worried about the signal ending it would send to the community in general (in and outside VFP). But I realised recently this was silly. Although there will probably be a few people upset (and perhaps even one or two who throw a few stones – send your emails here btw talktothehand@notlistening.com) I am convinced this is the right decision. I expect many attendees of the new group to be Fox people, and in turn I hope that many of the new attendees get to hear about VFP from me and them – perhaps for the first time. And let me state that I still plan to continue with other VFP ventures like OzFox.

So, there you have it. A difficult decision, but an exciting one in my opinion. I hope you agree, or at least understand.

Thanks to those who have been very supportive (including almost all of the current UG members) as I’ve worked through this process.

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