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TechEd TechEd Blah Blah Blah

Tuesday, May 25, 2004 by scott
I don’t have any news to report from TechEd, because I’m not there. I’m not bitter about it though. I’m very happy here in the humidity of Mid-Atlantic USA. I’m very happy walking outside and not being able to hear myself think over the roar of the brood X cicada. I’d say I get a certain amount of glee when swarms of them bash into my windshield like hail pellets in a heavy storm, but you might think I’m some sort of deranged entomophobic who would rather be at TechEd. I don’t want to give you that impression.

I’m glad I’m avoiding the sore feet, the junk food, the airports, the jockeying for position at an AC power source, and being herded like an animal to feeding troughs for lunch.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

Embedded Code In Reporting Services

Monday, May 24, 2004 by scott

If you’ve ever wondered just what you can do with the Code property of a report, this article serves as an introduction.

SQL Server 2005 : Reduces Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Too!!

Friday, May 21, 2004 by scott

I came across an MS slide deck recently touting business intelligence improvements in Yukon via Duncan Lamb. Check out slide 22 – it measures the tedious mouse-clicking festival I experienced today designing a cube to analyze hospital profitability (or lack thereof).

To build the Sales and Warehouse cubes in the sample Foodmart database using SQL 2000 requires 115 wizards and 1,321 mouse clicks.

Building the same cubes in Yukon requires 7 mouse clicks.

Honestly, I dread the cube editor in Analysis Services 2000. All hail Yukon!!

The Lab Experiment

Thursday, May 20, 2004 by scott

The Windows Template Library (WTL) first appeared in the Platform SDK in 1999 I believe, and many Windows programmers latched on to WTL as a lightweight and aesthetic alternative to MFC for building GUIs with C++.

About 4 years ago I was at an after hours conference event where someone asked Tony Goodhew about WTL. Tony was, I believe, a PM for VC++ at the time and the response surprised me. WTL, he said, was “an experiment that escaped from the lab” – something to that effect. He then continued to tell everyone not to use WTL. Not in the “use at your own risk this is unsupported” sense but in a “do not use this because I find it very irritating, and it will be destroyed…” sense.

I’m sure there is a story behind his comments, but even after a couple beers it wasn’t forthcoming. In any case, WTL is the second chunk of Microsoft code to reach SourceForge, where presumably it is now safe from Tony.

Tony’s other irritation that evening was the Remote Object Proxy Engine –ROPE. ROPE was part of the unsupported SOAP toolkit version 1. SOAP on a ROPE sounded cute, but didn’t exactly project a professional image. ROPE didn’t make it to V2. I had fond versions of the early toolkit, because I managed to get a client’s J2EE environment working with my company’s COM+ components pretty quickly, even though we both had early toolkits from Microsoft and Apache which did not implement all of the SOAP encoding specifications.

Come to think of it – I wonder if the person who came up with the name for ROPE also came up with the name for SOAPSUDS. If I remember correctly, Don Box declared ROPE flawed, and now SOAPSUDS dead.

Test-Driven Prose (TDP)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004 by scott

When I work on an article, or a newsgroup answer, I often find myself writing little bits of code to tinker with the framework. Sometimes I just want to try out a scenario before I write up a theory as fact. Other times I just want to see what happens in edge cases through observation instead of digging into a spec or decompile code with Reflector. I’ve found this is a good way to clarify grey areas of documentation.

Many times these little code snippets live inside a project in a temp directory with the name of ConsoleApplication9 or something along those lines, and they eventually end up in the recycle bin. Then tonight it finally hit me on the head with a thud – I should use NUnit, and formalize these snippets into something useful - an ongoing work of tests and experiments.

Now, whenever a new version of the framework arrives, be it a major release or a maintenance / bug fix release, I can execute the tests and see what has changed or been fixed.

I can see a potential benefit for authors who will want to update a work for future versions of the framework. By codifying a book’s descriptions of framework behavior into unit tests, an author can spend less time reading the “What’s new” section of the framework documentation. When combined with unit tests for all the sample code, the turnaround time for revision could be much quicker, which makes both author and editor happy people.

In this community of bright people, I’m sure someone has already thought of this. Maybe there is already a book out about TDP and I just don’t know about it.

Speaking of books, I’ve also been eyeing the book ‘TDD in Microsoft .NET’ as a potential purchase. Steve Eichert has a positive review, and I’m wondering what Marcie Robillard thinks of the book. All of my TDD knowledge has been built from conference and magazine material, so it would be nice to have a more comprehensive and detailed source of information.

Improving .NET Application Performance and Scalability

Monday, May 17, 2004 by otcnews
Expert guidance provided for improving the performance of managed code, ASP.NET, Enterprise Services, Web services, remoting, ADO.NET, XML, and SQL Server. Read the guide online or download the PDF.

Long Race for Longhorn

Sunday, May 16, 2004 by scott

It is the third Saturday in May, in Maryland, and that spells Preakness with a capital P. 100,000 people descend into north west Baltimore. Many of them will end up in the infield for an endurance test of drinking, dancing, betting, gawking, passing out from sun stroke, and all sorts of debauchery.

I enjoy an occasional trip to the track. I never win very much, or loose very much, because I bet pretty conservatively. I determined years ago that betting on horses is not my forte. I look at an evening at the track as an evening of entertainment, more expensive than a trip to the movies – but not if I can win just a couple races. I like to stand outside near the track where I can actually see the dirt fly off the hooves.

The hard part about watching outside is I find it difficult to keep track of the horses. I used to try and stay focused on the horse who could give me the best financial outcome, but by the time they reach the backstretch, I’ve lost sight of the horse. I’m trying to listen to the monotone announcer but it always sounds like “blah blah blah your horse blah blah blah”.

So I’ve decided it is more fun to watch the people around me. As the race gets further along, people become more excited. Some of them clap, some of them stomp, some of them “talk” to the horse. They start to yell and jump and make all sorts of rehearsed gyrations intended to bring good luck. My favorites are the people who have an imaginary whip.

I don’t return my attention to the horses until I can see them well down the backstretch. The horses are beautiful at a night race when their coats are gleaming in the lights and dirt is flying everywhere. I can usually pick out my horse for the last 10 seconds and root him on with a few well timed leg slaps.

Longhorn reminds me of the horse races. I don’t know when this horse will cross the finish line. There are many people who want the product to hurry up, and many people who want the product to go out to pasture. The press tries to create controversy and scandal with all sorts of speculations. At the races, when I can't see what the horse is doing, I start watching what the people around me are doing. With Longhorn, that means putting together little applications.

It is fun for me to see what interesting software people are building with Longhorn. There is the Squarified Treemaps app, the NNTP reader, the Calculator, the Virtual Pet, the TranslateIt!, and I took a crack at it myself with the VSS Label Diff (a real yawner in comparison). By release time I’m sure we will all be in a frenzy.

Anyway, congratulations to Smarty Jones, winner of the 2004 Preakness. If you were my horse, I would have named you Starman Jones - like the Heinlein novel, but at 3 – 5 odds I still would never have bet on you.