Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An extra 32 bits

Two years ago I got a brand new dual core machine with 4 gig of ram to run Vista. Right out of the box Dell had installed software that would throw an error during boot up. Needless to day that is not what I was hoping to see on a brand new machine. My only big beef with Vista has been the Karo-syrup-like performance. Recently after joining a new domain, the sidebar stopped working altogether. This prompted a clean installation of Vista - this time with a 64 bit version. Wow, this is the machine I thought I was buying. Everything snaps just like a fresh version of XP. Nice.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

House of Blues Lives up to it's name

The HOB was full of white twenty somethings tonight to see the comedy troupe Stella. Someone commented that they seemed to be improvising their material. Boy I sure hope so. If they spent fifteen minutes in preparation, how will they ever recover all that wasted time?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

To follow up on the relationship post, here is the final result:

I ended up with a very simple design that just allows roles to be defined for each person in a relationship. Since it would be impossible to define every one of these in advance, new [Role] list items can be keyed into the combo box and it will then be appended to the [Roles] table.

The table looks something like this:

Friday, November 21, 2008

My very earliest surviving project was what started out as a simple address book of my personal contacts. Originally an Appleworks file, the data has evolved and still lives inside an Access application. For quite a while I've thought that it would be great to link individuals by pairs of relationships.

So far all I have set up is a table to define these relationships.

Definition Converse Category
Brother Brother Personal
Landlord Tenant Professional
Parent Child Personal
Doctor Patient Professional
Spouse Spouse Personal
Husband Wife Personal
Wife Husband Personal

Each of these will link two "people" records. Some of these are reversable (Spouse) others are directional.

More to follow...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Software for Tough Times

As a long time FMS customer, I found Luke Chung's article to be right to the point about software development:
"Every organization faces a wide range of application development
challenges. Some require enterprise level solutions, while others are best
handled by front-line information workers.

The more information workers can take care of their own needs, the more
value application developers can provide to the problems beyond that. With more
and more power on individual desktops and networks, information workers can
accomplish many tasks themselves. We believe they should do so. Whether it's a
sophisticated Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or Microsoft Access database, end
users can create and modify their own solutions to quickly respond to their

Anyone who has relied on someone else to design a report and experience the
hassles of adjusting columns and getting it "just right" knows the frustrations
of relying on someone else to understand and do what you want. Let's not get in
the way of individual efforts."

Back in school up-front analysis and design was always emphasized as the best practice. Not that this is not important, but real world application development does not hinge on a simple exact formula. As it turns out an iterative approach of Design-Prototype-Present-Repeat is frequently the fastest way to a solid working solution.

Close, on-going contact between the user and developer is also critical. I've seen users develop their own queries from raw tables and thereby come to understand the process and flow of data though the system. Once the data has been identified and successfully extracted, all that was needed to solve the problem was the polish of a good user interface laid on top of wizard-generated reports.

Always important, a slowing economy just serves to emphasize this type of development efficiency.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall Weather

Ah rainy 49 degree nights - finally perfect coding weather.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thought for the day

No doubt about it, web apps are a lot of work.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Twitter - no longer just for the birds

My first thought when I heard about the social networking site, Twitter, was something like, "well that's great for teenagers with a lot of time on their hands." But somewhere along the way the IT Development community seems to have taken a shine to tweeting. Ok, well just so no one can accuse me of falling into online curmudgeon status you will find my Twitter link to the right.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hamlet Under the Stars

Tonight was perfect for and evening with Shakespeare in the Lagoon at Stan Hywet. For my money Andy Nagraj's Laertes was the best performance of the night. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Social Networking

NPR did a spot this morning about how social networks such as facebook, myspace, linked in, meetup.com is impacting people's lives. For the under 30 crowd not having an account on facebook is equivalent to not having a phone number. Essentially you don't exist. Initiations to parties are now going out via facebook or myspace. After all, email is so 1990's. For some of my older friends (not to mentions John McCain) just browsing the web is a daunting task. How ironic that a technology that is supposed to bring people together is now dividing them primarily based on age.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hard to beat free

Today while browsing my junk email folder I found what appeared to be a inquiry from a recent ad posted on Craig's List. Further investigation showed that it was spam sent from what appears to be a rival seeking to duplicate the Craig's List format - free online advertising by region. If you really want to get a new service going I don't think that sending spam with a From name of Tommy Tallywaker to a recipient of back.be.nimble26@gmail.com is going to do the trick.

Craig's List really has demonstrated the power of the web to offer an incredible amount of value all for free. How traditional media will complete with this model is still to be determined.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Subreport Linking

Sometimes the simplest things cause the biggest problems. In this case it's the Subform/Subreport linking feature of Access. My application uses a two-field primary key that links two tables together and this works perfectly with Access forms. However when I try to use the same technique in the report module, it just does not work. Period.

A Google search returned no pertinent posts about this problem. However testing has shown that a single field key works in both contexts. The solutions seems to be to add a extra key (Autonumber field) to the tables just for reporting purposes. I hope this post somehow gets indexed and saves someone else from the frustration of finding a work-around for this issue.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Please disregard the previous post.

330.945.4865 is currently experience trouble - again. Please call 330.310.6097 for information.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Phone Phinaly Phixed

For the last three weeks some callers have experienced static on the line or worse - no service at all. After over a dozen support calls and five on-site visits the systems now seems to be stable. At least one technician at Time Warner knows his trade. If only he had been the first one out the problem would have most likely been fixed the first day.

This experience has produced one (hopefully) positive outcome however, i.e. the email-based ticket tracking system. The idea here is to collect and post any software request or bug fixes to a database that will allow you to check the current status of the request/problem with a single click on the return email. No log-in or complex online system to learn. After all software is supposed to solve problems, not create new ones.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Marketing Mode

Slow rentals have me in a web marketing mode as well as traditional newspaper ads. The problem with print ads is that they used to be about $10-15 to run a three day ad, but now all they offer is one week at $60 or two at $75. Craig's list is giving then a run for their money though. It's hard to beat free.

Looking for a place to stay?

(can't hurt to repeat links right?)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quxior Web Site circa 2008

Finally the new version of the Quixor.com web site is live. This version includes new graphics rather than the Zen inspired simplicity of the old site site which consisted soley of text formatted via Cascading Style Sheets. The essentail layout and features remain the same, but I like having my company logo back in place.

Although not visible, one big change was the move from a table based layout to one driven by css formated <div> tags. The change to div made it somewhat simpler to design the page but not terribly so. Complicating matters was the concurrent change to the use of ASP "Master Pages." This new technology allows a single main page (Master) to be designed that determines the essential layout and the detail pages supply the content. The advantage here is the reuse of site-wide code for things like navigation and user login and security. The key new technique is to learn how to use the FindControl() method to reference portions of the master page HTML inside the detail page's code.

The site is now .Net 3.5 ready as soon as the transfer to a new server takes place. With any luck this should be complete this evening. Now everything is in place to allow me to play with Ajax and Linq.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I finally attended a GCPCUG web development SIG and was very glad I did. Brian Gorbett is a recent addition to MS’s developer evangelist team and his presentation convinced me to add Silverlight to my “technologies to check out” list. Apparently MS is planning on using the 2008 Olympics to push version 2.0 into prime time. One gee wiz thing he showed was called “deep zoom” that allows you to embed one large graphic inside another and then zoom in several levels deep - fractal style. Not really something you would do everywhere but it could have some interesting possibilities. For example you might want to do a Google Earth type thing and scale details of a map.

He also mentioned that the upcoming IE 8 has been made to be more standards compliant and will reportedly break 40% of the existing sites. Fortunately they have a compatibility mode that reverts it back to a version 7 rendering engine. He convinced me to run right home and download it since I’m in the middle of a complete conversion of my web site and want to make sure it's legit HTML-wise. So I did. Big mistake. Apparently it is not yet compatible with VS 2008 new menu control which is now front and center inside my site. I should really know better that to try something in beta on my development machine. Can you say “Virtual Machine?”

If you are just dying to see Silverlight in action you can check out MIX or Memoribilia portion of the Hard Rock site.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Funny Stop

Amateur night at The Funny Stop proved to be worthwhile tonight. It's easy to sort out the people with potential from the rest. Some comics seem to think that all that is necessary for a laugh is to point out the faults in someone else. This is not enough. Surprise is the essential element that makes a joke funny. Take us down a familiar road and then suddenly make a left turn leaving us someplace we didn't expect to be. That is the fastest route to a laugh. Tom Foss was able to do this at a rapid clip.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

History Boys

We went to see "The History Boys" at the Beck Center in Lakewood. The play was fine, even if an hour too long. Student -teacher relationships and attitudes toward homosexuality were explored.

We followed up with a dinner at Players on Madison with a few friends from CFI. The Tortilla Encrusted Organic Chicken Breast was great but Mary was not happy with the "special" fish meal she ordered. The conversation was great as usual.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Post One

The last blogging software I used (RadioUserland) was self-hosted one my web site, but it had a way of slowly falling apart, loosing graphics and even whole posts. So why waste time fixing it? This site has great features and templates, plus no software is required. Now I'm happily blogging again.