# Monday, June 23, 2003

Wanted: A Dutch Tutor

 

I need to learn Dutch. I do a lot of business in the Netherlands. I also have too many friends in the Netherlands that constantly mock me in Dutch. Then they go Dutch on me in IM like so:

 

[09:18] Kim: nee daar zit je goed

[09:19] Kim: vierdaagse feesten is echt wel super als je met een leuke groep bent op donderdag, vrijdag of zaterdag en mooi weer hebt

[09:19] Kim: echt super sfeer

[09:19] Reminator (The): eens maar als import nijmegenaar wordt het niks

[09:19] Reminator (The): net als carnaval boven de rivieren

[09:20] PeakBagger: Stop with the Dutch.

[09:20] Reminator (The): ik snap heel goed dat het dolle pret kan zijn

[09:20] Kim: nou ja; juist bij de vierdaagsefeesten zijn er mensen uit het hele land en de rest van de wereld daar

[09:20] Hello American here who can’t speak Dutch

posted on Monday, June 23, 2003 10:26:21 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback

Bad Relationships

 

I have a lot of bad relationships in my life. Several come to mind immediately: American Airlines, Chase Manhattan bank, American Express and few ex-girlfriends and ex-clients. My relationship with my teammate Tom Halligan, while good for so many reasons (including the triathlons), is not good for my relationship with alcohol. No, no I won’t torture you with the details of my 3pm to midnight 9+ hour party like a rock star drinking binge that ended with me passing out on his sofa. (I hope that Scott Hanselman did not just read that.) Apparently at some point I exchanged cell phones numbers/email addresses with the waitress-when did this scene get so high-tech? At least we woke at some point on Sunday and rode 40K in the park (with a lot of stops for water bottle refill).

 

Anyway, I digress. The worst bad relationship in my life has to be my relationship with Microsoft Outlook, and particularly Outlook 2003 beta 2. This is like one of those abusive relationships that you know that you just have to cut the cord, but you’re just in too deep and you just can’t bring yourself to do it and you continue to live in pain. “You mean so much to me” you say. You have that feeling that there just is nobody out there that you will ever feel the same about. Sounding familiar? I love Outlook 2003 for so many reasons. Tops have to be the preview pane. The new UI is just oh so sexy. The junk filter works like a charm.

 

So why the love-hate? Well it is slow and crashes a few times a day. I mean, like about 5 times a day, easy. I have traced the source of some of my crashes to the using of Word as my email editor. But since Andrew Brust convinced me that my constant typos are unprofessional looking, I HAVE to use Word integration. I am addicted. See the love-hate?

 

So what do we do, not install betas? Stop, we are techies you know. But the beta is soooooo good. At the same time it is soooooo bad, so does that just cancel it out? Techies are just so hungry for betas, we will install just about any piece of crap Microsoft gives us. I know that when this is released to the real world, it will rock the house and my constant bug reports to Microsoft even helps that process. So I guess what I am saying is that we are all adults and made the decision to install the betas, so no complaining!

 

Now isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black…..

 

 

posted on Monday, June 23, 2003 9:55:34 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [7] Trackback
# Sunday, June 22, 2003

41 students, 14 teams, 12 countries, 4 continents, 1 judge

 

The first annual international academic coding competition or Imagine Cup will take place June 29-July 1th at Tech*Ed in Barcelona.  I am the judge and can’t wait to meet all of these bright young students and their killer Web Services. Good luck to all and stay tuned to this blog for more on the competition.

 

We are going to judge the students on:

  • Innovation and Creativity - 25%
  • Implementation of .NET and Web Services - 25%
  • Overall Presentation - 25%
  • Social Responsibility or Commercial Viability - 25%

 

In addition, something that will be important to me as a judge is how the teams worked together (I guess this falls in the “Overall Presentation” part.)

posted on Sunday, June 22, 2003 10:31:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback

Toss Me a Bone Honey....

 

I have been told by a friend that my use of this expression is getting kinda old. So I will have to give it up. (I am sure that I will pick up something new in Tunisia or Spain.) Before I do that, I am going to use it one last time.

 

So my company has a Pocket PC (SDE/CF) application that uses a local SQL Server CE on the device with Merge Replication back with an enterprise SQL Server Publication. I have lots of experience making this work, and it works well. I won’t bash the Microsoft SQL Server CE, .NET CF, SDE teams at all.

 

My problem is that at the office I have this all set up properly. We have a dedicated SQL Server production box and a dedicated IIS box. Life is good. Where things go bad is that I hired a developer who knows nothing about SQL Server CE, SDE, CF, etc, so I am setting up a local sandbox for him to play with while I am in Tunisia and Spain. My goal is to give him the TechEd lab demos created by Kevin Collins, myself and others over the years. Setting up merge replication with a backend SQL Server to a device is pretty easy. The steps are as follows:

 

  • Install the SQL Server CE Server Tools on a IIS and SQL Server Machine(s)
  • Install the SQL Server CE Developer Tools on a Developer Workstation
  • Install Active Sync 3.5 or higher on the Developer Workstation
  • Install Visual Studio 2003 (make sure the SDE option is checked in VB & C#) on the Developer Workstation
  • Create a New Publication of your database via Enterprise Manager-make sure that this publication is for “SQL Server CE” and is set up for merge replication
  • Run the SQL Server CE Server Tools to configure a Virtual Directory on IIS for the Pocket PC Client to talk to via code
    • You do have to make sure that the proper security is set up fro the IUSER_MachineName account, a great security white paper is here.
  • Create a new Smart Device Application in VS 2003
  • Programmatically create a database on the device and then sync it back to the backend publication like so:

            Dim ceRep As New SqlCeReplication

            With ceRep

                .Publisher = "KILIMANJARO"

                .PublisherDatabase = "BYA_Data"

                .PublisherLogin = "sa"

                .PublisherPassword = ""

                .Publication = "BYA_Data_CE"

                .Subscriber = "SQLCENETCFLab"

.SubscriberConnectionString = _                                             "Provider=Microsoft.SQLServer.OLEDB.CE.2.0;Data Source=\my  documents\mycooldatabase.sdf"

                .InternetUrl = "http://KILIMANJARO/SSCE_DLL/sscesa20.dll"

 

                'Bring down initial subscription

                .Synchronize()

End With

 

So I have done this a zillion times, install Visual Studio on the development machine along with the SQL Server CE development tools and I am off to the races. This part of course went smooth, except for the fact that I want to sandbox the machine and run everything off it all at once. So I have to make sure IIS 5.0 and SQL Server standard or enterprise is running. Simple you say, just install the SQL Server CE server tools as well on the same machine. The problem is that it took me about two hours to set this up (I have done this a hundred times in less than 15 minutes) because of SERVICE PACK HELL. Basically the server tools would not install since the IIS and SQL Server service packs were too current for the installer on my machine. I did not have to roll back the SPs (that is good!), but I had to dig around and find new installs from Microsoft.

 

So Microsoft, please TOSS ME A FRIGGIN’ BONE here. Get rid of all of the old install drops and just require SQL Server SP3 to install anything-or create a better error message! I am not asking for much. This is such great technology, I don’t want people to be discouraged from using it due to poor locations of downloads.

 

posted on Sunday, June 22, 2003 12:29:21 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Saturday, June 21, 2003

I finally did it!

 

I finally broke 20 minutes for the 10 km bike course at Central Park. The stats: 19:49 minutes, 6.4 miles (slightly more than 10K) at 19.1 mph average speed.

 

What was the secret? Well for starters, it was raining so the circuit was less crowded, meaning no psycho rollarbladers trying to kill me. (Don’t take offence rollarbladers, I am one of you weeknights.) Second was my built up frustration at Microsoft SQL Server Merge Replication-more on that tomorrow…

posted on Saturday, June 21, 2003 1:26:06 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [18] Trackback
# Friday, June 20, 2003

The Microsoft .NET Evagelism Team

All I can say is that they rock. Eileen Crain is one of my heros. Jas Sandhu and I had so much fun in Dallas, he better come to KL!

Listen to them on .NET Rocks, a weekly internet-radio show. (I was on a month or two ago)

posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 12:41:44 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [13] Trackback

Another RD comes to The Dark Side…

 

Welcome to Blogland Jon Box, Microsoft Regional Director (RD) for Memphis and all around great guy. Jon and I have spent a good amount of time together on campus earlier this year for RD meetings and last year for CF Labs. He tolerates me-so he is ok in my book. J Can’t wait to read his blog with all of his CF experience.

 

User Group Heaven…

 

Speaking of RDs, Ken Getz was in the house last night as the speaker for our .NET Users Group in New York. Besides Andrew and myself, we had Boston RD Patrick Hynds in attendance as well as two of the local Microsoft office DEs, Paul Groves and Jim Williams-so people got answers to their questions!

 

Ken is a true rock star, every time I think that I am getting good at this speaking thing, Ken comes and blows me away with something. Last night was truly fabulous, people came from as far away as Albany and Boston to see Ken last night.  At the high point, we have I’d guess well over 135 people standing room only in the Yankee room at Microsoft to hear Ken. Ken spoke on Inheritance in Windows Forms (and mocked me in his slides-story of my life) and really captivated the audience.

 

All in attendance got a free MS Press book courtesy of Microsoft. There was even spontaneous applause for Microsoft! Giving the books and other goodies away at the break reminded me of the Baghdad looting shots on TV, what is it with developers with 6 figure incomes swarming over each other in a mad frenzy to get a $4 tee-shirt for free?

Why are developers cheap bastards? I guess it is in our nature.

 

posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 8:14:20 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback
# Thursday, June 19, 2003

Don't go Changing to try and Please me..

Yesterday I spoke at CeBIT North America and did two sessions: "Patching the holes in the Change Management Process" and "Extreme XML-Interoperability in Action".

This got me to talking with attendees about my favorite topics on change management, EMBRACING CHANGE. Way too many developers fight it, hate it and die by it. I have seen whole applications die over fighting change. Let's face it: CHANGE IS PART OF DEVELOPMENT.

At Zagat we embarked on a new initiative to build the company a new electronic on-line editorial systems. The “old” way of doing things was 100% paper based. So this was a radical change for the business. The business had no clue what they wanted, nor was the changing competitive landscape clear. So change was going to be a part of this system in a major way. But time to market was very important since we were preparing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

I told my lead architect that when he was designing version 1.0 of the "CMS" or Content Management System, that I will not evaluate him by how cool Version 1.0 is or how 1.0 is accepted by the business. I will evaluate him by how fast 2.0 is built on top of 1.0's base architecture. Now that was a challenge. Designing a system for change in the first place! This affected the entire culture about change management. Change was embraced.

But how to control it you may ask? A typical project gets at least a 25% change in requirements during development. Also, a typical project tends to experience a 1%-2% growth in requirements per month-so the longer your project takes, the more change you will have to endure in the way of new requirements.

Now that being said, sometimes you have to be a hard nose on change requests. Shipping is a feature. So how do you strike the delicate balance? That is the million dollar question. (And on some projects the cost is higher.) The answer is all about BUY IN. Get the business aligned with the change culture. Set up a change control board with stakeholders from all over the business. Some of the methods of change control are:

•         Allow changes that help to produce the best possible product in the time available. Disallow all other changes, even if budget permits.

•         Allow all affected parties to assess the schedule, resource, and product impacts of the change.

•         All change requests, assessments and re-estimations must be public.

•         Get agreement from Business and Development Team on the New Delivery Schedule and Build Plan.

Now the last bullet is most important. After you decide on a major change and alter the schedule by a month, under no circumstances do you say “Ok the schedule slips back a month” No no no. Bad the word slip in reference to change, slips are when people miss a deadline. When you schedule a change, you are realigning your schedule based on new business reality. Do not perceive this a slip or late. It is a trade off or a compromise. Trust me, this one little thing, changing your attitude on change can change your life! (pun intended)

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

 

 

 

posted on Thursday, June 19, 2003 2:52:43 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Wednesday, June 18, 2003

New York, NY

"INETA Poster Boy-sort of"

Reuters Technology Director, Microsoft Regional Director for St. Louis and founder of INETA, Bill Evjen was in town last night. So fellow NYC RD, Andrew Brust and I went out on the town with Bill last night. We spent about 5 hours together drinking (there goes that reputation again) and talking about code, Microsoft, INTEA, the cost of developers in Bangkok, user groups, 80s music and eventually politics and women (Bill is married to a Finish national and he admitted that he lets her tell him who to vote for).

What was most amazing was that the huge Reuters electronic billboard in Times Square is #1 the world's largest electronic billboard (bigger than the second largest in the world across the street-the NASDAQ) and #2 runs on Microsoft Windows. Bill said that it has an XML feed to populate the data. This is so cool having such a large public sign run on Windows. I also know that the NASDAQ one runs on Windows as well, making Windows the cool electronic sign technology for Times Square.

 

posted on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 8:25:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Tuesday, June 17, 2003

New York, NY

"5 unique sessions, 2 Continents, 2 weeks, 1 Mediterranean Sea"

Completely hellish work schedule, but could this rock any more for triathlon training? Usually you go away on business for 2 weeks and don't train or complain that there are not places to train. Well I get to spend two weeks in walking distance from the Mediterranean Sea, in Tunis and Barcelona. I will be presenting at the North African Developers Conference next week from June 26-28 and then the week (July 1-July 4) after at TechED Europe.

In Tunis I will be presenting (with the help of an Arabic translator):

Using SQL Server CE & SDE to build enterprise solutions

Using Regular Expressions in Windows Forms & ASP.NET

Asp .Net DataGrid Drill Down

These are fun sessions, I can't wait to deliver them. In Spain at TechED, I will be presenting two sessions for other people, but topics I am very familiar with:

Migrating Your Mission Critical Access Applications to SQL Server™  (DAT231)

Developing Applications with SQL Server Desktop Edition (MSDE) (DAT307)

These are fun sessions too, and bring me back to my old Jet roots. Kevin Collins, my Mt. Everest and PM of SQL Server CE will be happy to know we are still pushing a white paper we worked on (Jet Performance) in like 1998 in this session!

posted on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 10:15:41 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [23] Trackback
# Monday, June 16, 2003

He can drink, but can he code?

There was a time where I was known for being able to write some kick ass code. When I was 23 years old I use to stay up all night coding and then write an article about it. I’d like to think that I am older and wiser. Now I am more concerned with my 10K splits in the 40K bike event. But it seems that my old age is catching up with me, because now I have more of a reputation for partying and drinking. First Eileen Crain put me in charge of the party at TechED in Dallas and now Scott Hanselman today called me his hero, not because I can code, but because I can drink (just click on his name and see what I am talking about). So I feel that I have to rebut a little, I mean come on cut me some slack, I HAVE written code that BillG has demoed!

First of all, my internal clock is screwed up. As you all know I am in training for some triathlons. I have been getting up way too early to run in the park to run with a new running partner. She has to be back home at 7am, yes 7am, so I get up at 5:20 to start running at 5:45 with her. (Kathleen please quit your job so we can run later in the day.) Why do I run with her? Well she is FAST but also very motivated and it is hard to find a partner willing to run in the rain and such (ok, ok she is pretty damn cute too.) But this presents a problem for me. I am not an early bird. But I am also a light sleeper so I can't go back to sleep. So I spent from 7am to about noon just coding my brains out (no email or IM); then burnt out and did nothing but eat, IM people and rollerblade in the park all day. (Also had a huge 9oz “Wyoming” juicy burger with my lead dev, Al Cadalzo (who paid!), for lunch at Jackson Hole,). But I digress, so let's review my Monday morning:

I started with a few thousand lines of TSQL code (like every Monday nowadays it seems) and automated my company's data push of some new data. Basically I have to grab some data, compare it to other data, generate mathematical factors and then apply those factors and transform the data for the transformation to the web. Because my pal Richard Campbell  is such a pain in the ass, I could not use a cursor. So basically I had to use some temp tables and local variables. I got something in the end that looks like this (after all the temp tables and such), the damn casting really stole about 15 minutes of my life that I can never get back:

Select @CBFactor = @CBTotal_Factor/@CBTotal_UnFactor
Select @HJFactor = @HotJobsTotal_Factor/@HotJobsTotal_UnFactor

--update MS13_detail
UPDATE RPT_RCMS13_Detail
SET RPT_RCMS13_Detail.CareerBuilder = [CareerBuilder]*@CBFactor,
RPT_RCMS13_Detail.HotJobs = [HotJobs]*@HJFactor
WHERE weekending_dt=@weekending_dt

--create MS14
Insert Into dbo.RPT_RCMS14_Detail

Select Weekending_ID, Weekending_DT, Location_ID, WebSubLocation_ID,Location_NM, WebSubLocation_NM, CAST(CAST(CareerBuilder AS real) / CAST(TotalAmt
AS real) AS decimal(6, 3)) * 100 as CareerBuilderPer,    
CAST(CAST(HotJobs AS real) / CAST(TotalAmt AS real) AS decimal(6, 3)) * 100 AS HotJobsPer, CAST(CAST(Monster AS real) / CAST(TotalAmt AS real) AS decimal(6, 3)) * 100 AS MonsterPer, CAST(CAST(LocalNewsPaper1  AS real) / CAST(TotalAmt AS real) AS decimal(6, 3)) * 100 AS LocalNewsPaperPer1, LP1_Name, CAST(CAST(LocalNewsPaper2
AS real) / CAST(TotalAmt AS real) AS decimal(6, 3)) * 100 AS LocalNewsPaperPer2,  LP2_Name
From dbo.RPT_RCMS13_Detail
Where weekending_dt=@weekending_dt

 Ok, enough with the damn TSQL. TSQL is for babies. That was just to wake me up after my 8 mile run (yes 8 miles, 1.5 miles to meet Kathleen, 5 miles with her and 1.5 miles back home-how long until the Ironman?). Here was what grew some hair on my chest:

Jonathan Zuck drafted me to help ACT get their website online (like a friggin year ago). I could not say no since ACT has put me before Congress at least 4 or 5 times and introduced me to Heather Davisson, a DAR to my SAR as well as a fellow Scott and she likes to splurge and take me to lunch at Jean-Georges to the envy of all my friends (but I once had to take photos of Mike Piazza’s butt for her).  

Anyway, I did the site in C# and so far so good. We went live today. So I had to use a data repeater on this page on the left nav (well it is a user control so I can take advantage of fragmented caching since the data is loaded dynamically and the data is not that dynamic). But the problem is that the SQL returns repeating information for each row and we don’t want it to repeat in the nav hierarchy. I was way too lazy to do some funky TSQL (I know for wimps), so I decided to take the C# approach on the server. I have to use a data repeater and hide the title for each repeating row. So I would have to programmatically make invisible some client side HTML code on the server. I had to play with the data repeater template and basically make the HTML <tr> element that I want to conditionally hide run on the server (runat=server) so I can manipulate it programmatically on the server ItemEvent. It is real easy once you figure it all out. You set the HTML table row <tr> up with a unique ID (trheader ) and a runat=server. Then on the ItemEvent handler (my method RepeaterSkip) I grab the current data row by intercepting the binding and then compare that to the module level static variable, if they are the same, I make the row (<tr>) invisible, if not, I live and let live and stuff the current value to skip on the next row into the module variable for comparison on the next fireing of the event.

Here is my repeater:

<asp:repeater id="Repeater1" runat="server">

<ItemTemplate>                                 

<tr id="testid" runat=server>

<td width="126" colSpan="2" height="9"><b>"><%# DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem, "IssueCat") %></font></b></td>

</tr>

                          

<tr>

<td width="2" height="9"></td>

<td width="6" height="9"><IMG height="1" src="images/onepixel.gif" width="6"></td>

<td width="116" height="9"><A class="toc" href='issue.aspx?IssueID=<%#DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem, "Issue_ID") %>'>

<%# DataBinder.Eval(Container.DataItem, "Issue_DS") %></A></td>

</tr>

<td width="2" height="9"></td>

</ItemTemplate>

<SeparatorTemplate>

<hr>

</SeparatorTemplate>

</asp:repeater>

So the event that fires is handled by the RepeaterSkip (inside a user control) method I wrote:

private void RepeaterSkip(Object sender, RepeaterItemEventArgs e)

{

    string strCatID;

 

    //This is going to fire for the <ItemTemplate> items only

     if (e.Item.ItemType == ListItemType.Item || e.Item.ItemType == ListItemType.AlternatingItem)

        {

         //get the data that is in the current record

         //and stuff it into a DataRecord

         DbDataRecord dbr   = (DbDataRecord) e.Item.DataItem;

         //Get the current value of the item being databound

         strCatID = dbr["Cat_ID"].ToString();

         //compare to the module static variable and if the same

         //make the HTML invisible

          if (strCatID.Equals(m_strCatID))

             {

              //My HTML has this in it: <tr id="testid" runat=server>

              ((System.Web.UI.HtmlControls.HtmlTableRow)e.Item.FindControl("trheader")).Visible = false;

                           }

               //now make the module variable the same as the current item

               m_strCatID = strCatID;

               }

            }

 

 

private void LoadLeftNav ()

{

   //fill the repeater

   SqlConnection conn = new SqlConnection(System.Configuration.ConfigurationSettings.AppSettings["ConnectionString"]);

   SqlCommand cmd = new SqlCommand("usp_SEL_IssueMenu",conn);

   SqlDataReader dr;

 

   conn.Open();

   dr=cmd.ExecuteReader(CommandBehavior.Default);

             

   //get the issue information

 

   Repeater1.DataSource=dr;

   Repeater1.DataBind();

}

 

Lastly, my pal Tom Halligan (who is stuck in Access-land) emailed me asking: "Hey is there a command I can use to close all open forms at once?"

 

He wanted to use an Access macro! God forbid! He wants to understand VBA, so I had to write it for him. So I wrote this in-between thinking about my datarepeater and wishing I were asleep, VBA is so much fun sometimes:

 

Sub TomisCool()

'why the f**k do you need a macro silly boy?
'remember that i am harmless!

'form object
Dim frm As Form

'loop through all open forms
For Each frm In Application.Forms
    'close the current form
    DoCmd.Close acForm, frm.Name, acSaveYes
'move next
Next frm

'check out my new car: http://autos.yahoo.com/newcars/details/porsche03911turbo/model_overview.html?refsrc=autos/home

End Sub

 

He responded (I think mostly to my calling my insurance company to price how much the new Porsche 911 Turbo I am buying will cost me in insurance):

 

Thanks. You have issues

 

Maybe I do.

 

posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 9:05:17 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Saturday, June 14, 2003

New York, NY

Planning a Bike Ride

I hate Los Angles. I don't even know why. I think it is the urban sprawl. Yet I always have fun (sometimes way too much fun) when I go there, which is at least 2 times a year. This year was looking good until Microsoft announced that the Professional Develoeprs Conference or PDC will take place in LA. The PDC is not an annual event like TechEd or other shows, it just happens when it happens, or when new technology is around the corner, so it is special to attend. That said, I boycotted the last one in Fall 2001 since it was in LA and figured I'd do the same this year. But I had way too much fun with and learned too much from my fellow Microsoft Regional Directors in Dallas that I have to attend in LA.

So what does have to do with planning a bike ride you may ask? Well my good friend and fellow RD Ken Getz wants to ride bikes across the country next year. So Tom Howe had an idea to ride from Los Angles to San Diego after the PDC. What a great training and motivational ride for us and Ken. The plan currently is to do it in 2.5 days and take the train back. I want to push Ken to do it in 2 days, but will do whatever he wants in the end. I also plan to top it all off with a surfing lesson from Steve Hendricks when we arrive in La Jolla

posted on Saturday, June 14, 2003 5:07:43 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [11] Trackback