# Thursday, October 9, 2003

Want a Dell for under $200? (Offer expires today)

Do you want a new Dell for testing or just as an MP3 player in your home? Go to this site and follow these directions. (I of course added a few things like RAM and mine came out to about $300):


Under "Dell Dimension 4600 Series" section, change the selection to "Pentium® 4 Processor at 2.40GHz w/800MHz front side bus/ HT Technology [subtract $50]"
Under "Mail-In Rebate Offer" section, check the box for "$100 MAIL-IN REBATE"
Under "Memory" section, change the selection to "256MB Dual Channel DDR SDRAM at 400MHz (2x128M) [subtract $100]"
Under "Keyboard" section, change the selection to "Dell® Quietkey® Keyboard [subtract $20]"
Under "Bundled Software" section, change the selection to "SAVE $100!! Microsoft® Office Basic Edition 2003 [subtract $15]"
Under "Hard Drive" section, change the selection to "40GB Value Hard Drive [subtract $70]"
Under "CD or DVD Drive" section, change the selection to "48x CD-ROM Drive [subtract $200]"
Under "Monitor" section, change the selection to "No Monitor [subtract $160]"
Under "Video Card" section, change the selection to "64MB DDR NVIDIA GeForce4 MX™ Graphics Card with TV-Out and DVI [subtract $15]"
Under "Modem" section, change the selection to "No Modem Requested [subtract $30]"
Check each and every option to make sure you are getting everything that you need
Scroll Down and click on "Update Price"
Scroll Down and click on "Continue"
On next page, Scroll Down and again Click on "Continue"
On next page, Scroll Down and Click on "Add to Cart"
There is a $100 Rebate on this system
Dell Small Biz is offering Free Shipping on new system purchases
Your Final Price: $239 - $100 = $139.00 + Free Shipping
Note: Dell Small Business charges tax on ALL purchases!

posted on Thursday, October 9, 2003 3:59:46 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [8] Trackback
# Wednesday, October 8, 2003

The Biggest Threat to Our Democracy


While I am a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies (I have seen each and every one more than once), read his work-out book for travelers and am counting the days until Pumping Iron is released to DVD (33 days), I think that the California Recall of Governor Davis is a larger threat to our democracy than the 9/11 attacks and all of the controversial steps taken to ensure our safety (like keeping the prisoners in Cuba, etc).


For starters, I tend to be a centrist, but lean more to the right, so technically I should be happy. I am not. I am losing sleep over this. This threat to our way of life has nothing with Democrats, Republicans or the Terminator. It has to do with the “What have you done for me lately, “ short attention span, need results now, Internet culture that is evolving in this country.  Now people’s short attention span has turned to elections. This is bad.


Another problem is that people don’t like to take responsibility for their actions anymore. The voters have the option to recall an elected official, every 4 years! Governor Davis was elected barely 11 months ago and less than 4 months after he was elected the recall movement was started.


This clearly has to stop. The “what have you done for me lately” culture was seen during the recent war in Iraq. While not taking any sides on the war issue, about 6 days in the news media and popular culture were saying that it was taking “too long”. Six days to invade and take over another country? They can’t be serious. But alas the news media and popular culture were.


People have way to much of a sense of entitlement and this attitude will only come back to haunt us. What is next? Why not elect the president via TV ratings like predicted in the late 80s TV show Max Headroom?

posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2003 3:31:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [18] Trackback
# Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Why didn’t they do this the first time?


I love DataReaders. You know this; I am a DataReader snob. I feel like a superior coder when I use a DataReader. Maybe it is my hatred of the false hype behind WebServices and XML that make me shun the DataSet. Or just my rather strange way of living my life. Who knows. Like most things you love in life, nothing is perfect. I have been using .NET 1.1 for over a year now since my company was an early adopter of Visual Studio 2003 and have gotten use to the HasRows property. For example if you want to test for an empty DataReader after you open it you can use code like this. (This code is more useful when you are NOT looping, but opening a DataReader for a single record.)


             if (dr.HasRows())






                 txt1.Text="No Data!";



But what I forgot is that for .NET 1.0 (Visual Studio 2002), there is no HasRows property. You have to call the Read method which will return False when there are no rows. Here is the code. (Once again if you are in a loop, you would use a while Read=True and be done with it.)


             if (dr.Read()==true)






                 txt1.Text="No Data!";




So this works, but my ultimate question about HasRows is why didn’t they do this the first time?


posted on Tuesday, October 7, 2003 3:30:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [13] Trackback
# Monday, October 6, 2003

I hate LA, but love the PDC

Get yourself to the PDC this year (and hurry it is almost sold out). And add your blog to http://pdcbloggers.net/.

posted on Monday, October 6, 2003 2:36:14 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [14] Trackback


The Buddhists say that the Earth has a song and that to hear it, you have to go to the Himalayas, away from the noise and commotion of the busy world. They also say that once you hear it, you don’t want to stop hearing it. Well, I heard it and want nothing more to hear it again and again.


While I was on my trek, I learned a few lesions from the simple life of the Khumbu Valley and the power of nature on the mountain. Here they are with some commentary following:


  1. Live your dreams
  2. Just do it
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Be thankful of what you have/make the most of what you have
  5. Its not about you


  1. Live your dreams. The first lesson that I learned was to live your dreams the best you could. I have wanted to go to Mt. Everest since I was 7 years old. I have finally did and when I got there a little voice in my head said “What were you waiting for?” Life is too short, live your dreams. No excuses, make it happen.
  2. Just do it. Damn those Nike people are smart. There were a few scary things on this trek. The first time I saw the Khumbu glacier, it looked very intimidating. A friend told me, “Just do it.” Just have no fears and inhibitions and face your fears and challenges head on. Once again, life is just way too short.
  3. Keep it Simple. When I was trekking in the Khumbu valley there were no cars, roads, phones, etc. I now fully appreciate the term “dirt poor.” The day of the week doesn’t matter much to these people. For the first time in my life I went days not knowing what day of the week it was or the day of the month. The folks in the valley are so poor, yet so happy. But you can see the look of joy on the kids faces living a hard but uncomplicated life. I noticed if you keep life as simple as possible, your life will be good.
  4. Be thankful of what you have. It is impossible to come to Khumbu and not pick up this concept, Once again the people are poor, yet they make do and are very happy. They make the most of what they have, don’t complain and live great lives. It may take 2 hours to cook the evening family meal, but it is a social event just preparing it and the family and friends bond while preparing and eating.
  5. Its not about you. This is the most important lesson you can learn from coming here. There is a whole universe out there, don’t spend too much time thinking about yourself and your needs. In the Khumbu there is an overwhelming sense of community (to the point that I still feel it here in New York). In the west we live in such a materialistic and selfish society, take it down a notch and see what you can give to the community at large.


posted on Monday, October 6, 2003 12:28:21 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback
# Sunday, October 5, 2003

Over the Boot Penetration


The hike on Saturday was awesome. We started at 4am with headlamps and it was cold but beautiful. I had to free climb over a 50’ rock face in the dark without any rope (there were tons footholds-photos will be up soon) and we got to the top of our first summit at about 5:30am in the pitch black. (Thanks to Walter who gave me extra headlamp batteries!) We summited the next peak at about 6:30am where we stayed and watched the sun rise.  This is where things went bad. It started to snow. And snow, and snow, and then rain. Then 30 mph winds. We summited the next peak at about 9am in the pouring rain and had no views and did not even stay on the summit it was so cold and windy. At 11ish we got to the spot where were suppose to meet Dorothy and we were 2 hours late and she left us a not that she had left. This should have been a sign. We summited the 4th peak at about noon, about a full hour behind schedule since it was so difficult to cross the terrain being so wet.


By 1:30 we had completed about 18 miles and 4 peaks and called it a day since it had now been raining/snowing for 7 straight hours and by now our gore-tex was failing Ned had stepped in mud so deep that the mud had reached “over the boot penetration”. Anyway, 18 miles, two summits in the dark, 4 peaks total and great conversation on the trail with friends made it an awesome day.


Since we finished early, I was able to attend a family gathering in the area for my Grandmother’s 85th Birthday. So it turns out that like everyone in my family reads my blog. (That fact alone is scary.) What is really funny is that they first say that “oh I just stumbled across it, I skimmed it, it is stupid anyway." But then they spent time telling me how I spelled this word wrong on this day and how this entry was stupid, etc. Hummm, I guess they were doing something more than skimming. :) It was great to see everyone.

posted on Sunday, October 5, 2003 2:28:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [20] Trackback
# Thursday, October 2, 2003

It is not often that I am right. I am right so infrequently that I have to draw attention to myself when I am right. This is going to be one of those times.

I have been predicting for years that Sun Microsystems is going to go under. (Not that I am bitter or anything about the Microsoft trial.) Yesterday Sun crossed the line from "troubled" to "doomed" and its share price dropped over 15% to prove it. Also Moody's has just about downgraded Sun into the junk-bond category.

This is not good news, I don’t like to see major companies go under, epically ones co-founded by a friend and mentor. I think that the reason why Sun is in such trouble is that they have absolutely no Linux strategy. Also contrary to popular belief, Linux is a threat more to Sun than to Microsoft. Linux is based off Unix and makes it obsolete. Sun sells Unix. Linux runs on low end machines. Sun’s Unix does not.

Sure Sun will truck on with layoffs, restructuring and loans, but it is basically done. The Sun has set. Next stop on the Linux train is Windows, watch out Bill…


posted on Thursday, October 2, 2003 5:08:28 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Wednesday, October 1, 2003

"Only a Day Hike"


Saturday my friends and I are doing what Backpacker magazine rates as the hardest day hike in the United States: The Devils Path. The stats:


26 miles

7 peaks to summit along the way

18,000’ of elevation gain (up and down)


The seven peaks are:

Ste-Annes Peak

West Kill Mountain

Hunter Mountain

Plateau Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Twin Mountain

Indian Head


This should be fun.

posted on Wednesday, October 1, 2003 5:10:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Debugging DTS Packages


You haven’t really experienced sheer hell until you have to debug a DTS package. SQL Server development is something completely different from the traditional 4GL languages like VB and C#, you have to think in rows and columns and joins. A lot of 4GL programmers are forced or simply want to get into writing T/SQL Stored Procedures and realize that it is a whole new ballgame. But one that is easy to master if you put the time in. So a lot of beginning SQL Server programmers who came over from the 4GL side ask me often at conferences, “How do I debug a DTS package?” The answer is “You don’t.” (Oh we are all so spoiled by setting a breakpoint in Visual Studio.)


Microsoft has publicly announced some of the new DTS features of Yukon at TechEd in Barcelona and will announce more at the PDC in LA later this month, so I won’t go there and besides Yukon will ship sometime over the rainbow. So let’s start thinking about SQL Server 2000.


First off, proper design of your package will only make debugging much easier. Use only Stored Procedures (with or without parameters) and if you have to use SQL dynamically utilize Views. This is because the more dependencies on “real” database objects, the easier it will be to track down your problem. Avoid ActiveX Scripts as much as you can-consider an Extended Stored Procedure that calls a DLL wrote yourself (or call the DLL with a CreateObject in your script if you must).

For the actual debugging itself my advice to you is to take everything in steps. You can run each DTS package’s step individually just by right clicking on it in the designed and selecting “Execute Step” from the pop-up menu.  That is the first part. Then you can deconstruct the step manually and run those pieces in Query Analyzer. (In theory you can debug your stored procedure in Visual Studio too.) From there it gets easier, small bits and pieces of your step may or may not be working, so start looking at your select statements in QA. Before you know it, you will be in DTS debugging heck instead of hell.

posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2003 1:18:06 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback