# Wednesday, 07 April 2010

As you all know there was a massive earthquake and then a devastating Tsunami in December 2004 in Aceh, Indonesia. A bunch of us .NET programmers got together and auctioned ourselves off on eBay. The Microsoft .NET community raised well over $10,000 for IDEP Foundation, a charity based in Ubud, Indonesia. What we liked about this charity, besides that our fearless leader Julie Lerman found them, is that they are based in Indonesia and had instant access to the disaster area and would be around years later when the world would forget about the Tsunami.

Today I visited the IDEP Foundation headquarters and its outstanding founder Petra Schneider in Ubud, Indonesia. (Sadly there was another earthquake in Aceh today, but the damage was not nearly as bad.) It was awesome to learn what IDEP has been up to: they have been up to a lot. For starters, they are *still* in Aceh, more than 5 years on. They are now past disaster relief work and teaching sustainability (farming, hygiene, etc) and disaster readiness. Petra showed me photos of their work not only in Aceh, but all over Indonesia. I saw photos of what the money we raised went to: the “buckets” or a bucket that contained one week’s supply of cooking oil, rice, sugar, all the basic necessities. They were handed out to thousands of people who needed it. I can report back  the .NET community and all of those who donated that our contribution made a difference.

Today, IDEP is growing and even training other charities on how to operate. They are making some great games for children that teaches sustainability and disaster readiness. Why not at least join their Facebook page or even consider donating some time or money. :)

A lot of times we give money to a charity and then we never get to see the unsung heroes that do the work behind the scenes. Today I got that chance and it was very special. If you are ever in Indonesia, look them up!

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Petra, me, and Avi at IDEP’s training center in Ubud, Indonesia.

IDEP Foundation is an NGO in Indonesia that teaches Permaculture and Disaster Risk Reduction & supports communities in need in times of disaster.
http://www.idepfoundation.org

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posted on Wednesday, 07 April 2010 07:01:38 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I want Microsoft to succeed in the mobile space. As a consumer, I want more choice than Apple and Google. A successful Microsoft in this space will only increase the innovation and drive down price. I held out against the iPhone and Android until my Windows Mobile phone literally fell apart. (It was held together with tape for 3 months when I was in denial.) A few months ago when I walked into the store here in Hong Kong there simply were no good Microsoft options if you wanted touch, music, maps, facebook, etc. So I ordered a Nexus One.

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I was excited by the Windows 7 phone when I first saw it. That said, I will not buy the new Windows phone unless two things happen.

  • First, I will not, under any circumstances, buy the phone from a carrier. Carriers are pure evil and lock the phone, install their own crap on it, and remove native features. If Microsoft wants to change the nature of the industry, they have to create a phone that everyone wants and make it real simple to get one. Apple started the revolution by making a phone that everyone wanted, did not allow the carrier to install their own crap, but did force you into a deal with AT&T (in the USA) and will not unlock the phone. Google continued the revolution by selling the phone on the Web unlocked, but only in 4 countries. If Microsoft makes us buy the phone from carriers, game over-that is a step backwards. Microsoft should continue the revolution and make the phone cheap and not sign any deals with any carriers. They should go direct to the consumers and sell the phone world wide for $300 at electronics retail shops such as Best Buy. It will nothing but revolutionize the way we buy mobile phones in the USA.
  • Second I won’t buy a phone that has the word “Windows” on it. Change the name to something cool. “iPhone” and “Nexus One”, even “Android” are just cool. Windows is old and stale and makes me think of laptops and such. Microsoft has a tendency to over brand “Windows.” They have done a great job at that. The problem is that the consumer market Microsoft is targeting doesn’t care about the Windows brand. They like the XBox and even the Zune brand. Go with that. Microsoft keeps talking about how “we have changed our game” with the “Windows 7 Phone Series.” I’m sorry but that sounds a lot like Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Database Professionals Edition.

Last week I was out with some friends and we were trying to google for something. After someone was painfully slow on their Blackberry, I whipped out my Nexus One. Immediately, they all said “wow, is that the Nexus One?” Before I knew it, I was doing a product demo. I had five people standing around me playing with the phone. Microsoft, please don’t embarrass me when I pull out my “Windows Phone 7 Series.” That is just a lame name. Give it a cool name and make it available everywhere for cheap. Let me buy my “XZune” Phone at Best Buy. Soon.

 

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posted on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 09:41:04 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback
# Monday, 29 March 2010

Someone sent me this link that was posted on MSDN a month or two ago. I am interviewed about my charity work in Nepal, Telerik, Entrepreneurship, and SQL & Windows Azure. Fun stuff.


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posted on Monday, 29 March 2010 07:16:52 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Friday, 26 March 2010

GoDaddy.com, the top Internet domain name registration company, announced this week that , the company had been hacked "due to a lack of enforcement against criminal activities by the Chinese government." In addition, the Chinese government has been forcing all domain registrars to get photos, business ID and signatures for anyone registering a .cn domain. Speaking before the US Congress this week, Christine Jones, GoDaddy’s lawyer, said “We decided we didn’t want to become an agent of the Chinese government” and has ended its operations selling .cn domain names.

Google and now GoDaddy have both stood up to China. Who is next?

posted on Friday, 26 March 2010 02:34:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Thursday, 25 March 2010

Last week Telerik released a new LINQ implementation that is simple to use and produces domain models very fast. Built on top of the enterprise grade OpenAccess ORM, you can connect to any database that OpenAccess can connect to such as: SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, SQL Azure, VistaDB, etc. Today I will show you how to build a domain model using MySQL as your back end.

To get started, you have to download MySQL 5.x and the MySQL Workbench and also, as my colleague Alexander Filipov at Telerik reminded me, make sure you install the MySQL .NET Connector, which is available here.  I like to use Northwind, ok it gives me the warm and fuzzies, so I ran a script to produce Northwind on my MySQL server. There are many ways you can get Northwind on your MySQL database, here is a helpful blog to get your started. I also manipulated the first record to indicate that I am in MySQL and gave a look via the MySQL Workbench.

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Ok, time to build our model! Start up the Domain Model wizard by right clicking on the project in Visual Studio (I have a Web project) and select Add|New Item and choose “Telerik OpenAccess Domain Model” from the new item list.

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When the wizard comes up, choose MySQL as your back end and enter in the name of your saved MySQL connection.

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If you don’t have a saved MySQL connection set up in Visual Studio, click on “New Connection” and enter in the proper connection information. *Note, this is where you need to have the MySQL .NET connector installed.

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After you set your connection to the MySQL database server, you have to choose which tables to include in your model. Just for fun, I will choose all of them.

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Give your model a name, like “NorthwindEntities” and click finish. That is it.

Now let’s consume the model with ASP .net. I created a simple page that also has a GridView on it. On my page load I wrote this code, by now it should look very familiar, a simple LINQ query filtering customers by country (Germany) and binding the results to the grid. 

   1:  protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
   2:  {
   3:      if (!IsPostBack)
   4:      {
   5:          //a reference to the data context
   6:          NorthwindEntities dat = new NorthwindEntities();
   7:          //LINQ Statement
   8:          var result = from c in dat.Customers
   9:                       where c.Country == "Germany"
  10:                       select c;
  11:          //Databinding to the Gridview
  12:          GridView1.DataSource = result;
  13:          GridView1.DataBind();
  14:      }
  15:  }

F5 produces the following.

image

Tomorrow I’ll show how to take the same model and create an Astoria/OData data feed.

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posted on Thursday, 25 March 2010 01:37:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Wednesday, 24 March 2010

I started my career on Wall Street in a non-technical role. After I gained the confidence to make the move from hobby to profession, the company that I was working for did not let me be a programmer, so I quit my job to start my own one man shop. My first customers were Wall Street firms. Because of this background, I understand bonds, options, swaps, and other complex financial transactions. My guilty pleasure is reading about massive financial blowups, books like: When Genius Failed, Liar’s Poker, and House of Cards.

Michael Lewis, the bestselling writer of Liar’s Poker and Moneyball, just released a new book called The Big Short. It is a book about the bond and real estate derivative markets and the short selling people did the year before the massive crash of 2008.

I wanted to read this book and headed to Amazon.com to buy it for my Kindle. I noticed that it was the #1 selling book on Amazon, so I did not even have to search for it, it was right there on the home page.  That is when I realized that there is no Kindle version! I have a rule, no more “real” books, if it is not on the Kindle it doesn't exist to me. This is my preference and it exists for a variety of reasons: love of my Kindle, tons of crap to bring when I travel, too many books laying around the house, me temporary living in Hong Kong and don’t want to transport books 8,000 miles are on the top of the list. (If you don’t own a Kindle and think I am blowing hot air, ask yourself when the last time you bought a physical CD was, fancy iPod owner.)

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If you remember back in January, I made a prediction on the blog that the content providers will fight back against Netflix and Amazon: and fight back they did. Once Macmillan forced Amazon’s hand back in late January, the rules changed. If you remember MacMillian, threatened to withhold their entire collection of books, print and digital, unless Amazon raised their prices for the Kindle. Amazon challenged, but lost and had to capitulate.

Now it appears that the publisher of The Big Short, W. W. Norton & Company, is doing something more evil, they are withholding the Kindle version until the paperback comes out. This is to boost the hardcover sales.

What a bad idea. The publisher is living in the pre-digital book era. Someone who owns an eReader is not going to buy a hardcover book ever again. The market has changed. W W Norton doesn’t realize it.

I heard about the book and was willing to spend $9.99 as an impulse buy. I would even pay $12 or $13 for the Kindle version, only a few dollars less than the list price. Now I have to wait at least 6-8 months and may forget or the book may lose its spot on my priority list.

The publisher is also assuming that I will still want to read this book a year from now, that the financial crisis will still be deep in my mind and I will want to rush to buy it. They are also assuming that I won’t illegally download this book as well. (Something they are forcing me to consider.)

The publisher is making a big mistake. They are pushing me to defer my purchase, a purchase I may never make. They would have made a sale today, but choose not to sell it to me. They are trading guaranteed profits today for potential profits later.

 

Postscript:

The reviews of The Big Short on Amazon are interesting.

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There are more negative reviews (1 star) than positive (5 + 4 star). Most of the reviews are people like me complaining that there is no Kindle version! The author is being punished for the decisions of his publisher. Several bloggers came out to defend Lewis and bash Amazon. I am not one of them.

An author like Lewis has clout and could have put his foot down. He also could have chosen to self publish, sell it on Amazon and B&N only in e-format for $7.99 and kept all the profits. So while it sucks that his book is getting negative reviews, I don’t feel sorry for him. Besides it is still the #1 bestseller on Amazon as of now.

I’ll leave you with a great quote promoting the Kindle:

"The coolest thing, by far, is that you think of a book you'd like to read, someone tells you about a book you'd like to read, and in 30 seconds, it's on your screen, all of it."

--Michael Lewis, 2007.

 

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posted on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 04:46:29 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Today Google announced on its corporate blog that as of today all Google traffic in China will be redirected to Google’s site here in Hong Kong. I use the Hong Kong Google site daily and it has no censorship since Hong Kong is an autonomous self-governing region of China. The Chinese government said that Google is "totally wrong" and accused it of breaking a promise made when it launched its service in China.

I suspect that China will soon block google.com.hk or Google’s mainland China users will stop using Google since the Hong Kong site has excellent search results that have local relevance for Hong Kong but not for mainland China. Either way, the end is near for Google in China. It is interesting that Google has decided to burn a bridge in China.

My question is, does Google’s great “moral” stand matter? Can a company like Google effect the politics of a nation? Should they even try to?

Normally I would say no, a company should not try to change the politics of a nation it is doing business in. If it disagrees with the policies of a nation, it should not do business there. Would Google have done business in Nazi Germany? The Soviet Union?

The world rushes to do business with China, but sweeps under the rug the fact that it is not a free society. (I am reminded of this every day when I read the newspaper in Hong Kong and there is a story about some restriction on the mainland.) The question is, will Google’s actions make other companies think twice about China?

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posted on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 08:03:50 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Monday, 22 March 2010

Tomorrow I will be presenting a “What's new for SQL Server 2008 R2” session at the IT Efficiency Event in Hong Kong put on by Microsoft. Even thought it is an overview session, I’ll be doing a few extensive demos. The demos are on:

  • New TSQL constructs and other goodies like that
  • BING map integration (if I get internet access in the session room!)
  • Data-Tier Applications (fun for both developers and DBAs)
  • PowerPivot

I will be the only English speaking speaker, should be fun. :)

posted on Monday, 22 March 2010 03:30:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback