Wednesday, October 27, 2004


So after writing my previous post, I was thinking that it may seem a little odd that the hours until deployment whittle away and I am posting to my blog. The reason I was able to find the time is because I am currently working from my dining room table. How that is relevant at all is that I am connected to my work network via VPN, so I am also connected to Visual Source Safe via VPN. I am not sure if you have any experience with Source Safe over a VPN connection, but to say it is slow is an understatement. I turn on Visual Studio and click on my solution, read a book, say yes that I want to get latest, take a walk, choose to leave the files that I have checked out, post a blog, cook dinner, IM my friend Avonelle then start working. Avonelle asked me why I don't try Vault. I did find a review of Vault. Has anyone replaced Visual Source Safe with Vault in an MS partner kind of environment?

The Squeeze is On

The time is t - 12 and counting. I am sure you have all been there. You have planned out all of the tasks. You have worked hard to meet the deadline. You felt in control of the iteration. You knew you had this one nailed. But then, as the hour of deployment draws near, it seems like a cruel trick has been played. Suddenly there is an insurmountable amount of work left. Are the tasks multiplying? It seems like as each loose end is tied up, two new ones pop up as if some evil magic spell were cast on the project. It is in this hour, when the odds sometimes seem overwhelming, when I am beginning to forget what the outside world looks like from the long hours of staring at my laptop screen in my cubicle, when the pressure is on, that somehow I feel that I do my best work. Am I a masochist? I have decided that either I perform well under pressure, or I am delirious from a lack of sleep. Do you know the feeling? Where after staring at a problem for hours the solution appears to you so clearly it is as if it were the result of pure genius and you feel completely satisfied with the world…then again, maybe even a hack looks like an ingenious solution when time is short.


Jason Kottke (who has a very entertaining biography on his site) writes a controversial entry in his blog entitled "Normalized Data is for Sissies".

I think I may have maintained a database he was involved with once or twice in the past...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Removing Haloscan

And now after hearing that using Haloscan results in my comments being lost after four months unless I am a premier member, I am removing Haloscan.

So do all of you out there in the blogosphere have your own custom tracking tools?

Monday, October 25, 2004


After getting great feedback from blameMike and Chistopher Hawkins to my previous posts, as well as being referrenced by Julie Lerman and Avonelle Lovhaug, I thought it would be a good idea to turn tracking on. So I have added Haloscan commenting and trackback to my blog.

Gold Plating

I work for a consulting firm, and as projects progress from planning to implementation, whether in an iterative or an old-fashioned waterfall process, I often wonder about “gold plating.” Gold plating is often referenced in relation to cool features in the user interface. But can we gold plate in other aspects of our projects, as well?

Let’s take architecture, for example. When architecting a solution, there are many roads I could take. I could spend 5 minutes on the architecture and hop right into the code. I could spend weeks on the architecture, fashioning a framework made of steel, a framework where I have abstracted every piece that may be shared, a framework where I have carefully planned the separation of the data layer from my domain layer so my customers could use XML, Oracle, or SQL Server as the data store by just changing a setting, and a framework where my domain layer never relies on a configuration file that is specific to a web front end. The more flexible my framework is, the more time that must be spent planning and executing.

The time spent planning a flexible architecture should pay for itself in the long run, when it comes to time spent maintaining and extending the solution. But what if my customer never wants to change data stores? What if my customer only wants to deploy a web solution? How do we determine when the payoffs from planning flexibility are no longer worth it? Can we plan so much that we are gold plating our architecture?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

History of Basic vs. History of Java

The other evening I was talking with a friend of mine about the roots of Basic. My friend thought that Basic was written by Bill Gates. I didn't think that was the case. I found a site that summarized the history of Basic. Basic was written to assist students who were in the process of learning how to program. While Basic was not created by Bill Gates, Basic received a breath of new life as Bill Gates brought Basic into the PC world. This was all in the early 1970's.

Java, on the other hand, has a much shorter history. Java was born in the early 90's. By this time, OO techniques were really catching on. It is not surprising that OO concepts were included in the implementation of Java.

While the first object oriented paper was published in 1965, OO did not become widely accepted by the development community until well after the first release of Basic, into the late 80's. In response to OO programming, and possibly in response to the success of Java, Microsoft redesigned the Visual Studio platform into the .Net release that we have today. My question is this: In rewritting Basic into Visual Basic, and eventually into Visual Basic .Net, has Microsoft enhanced an easy-to-learn programming language into a powerful OO tool? Or has Microsoft been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

Follow-up to VB.Net vs. C#

I have gotten an amazing response from my first blog, so I just wanted to point you in a couple of different directions if you are interested in this subject.

Jake is a C# Elitist
Aaron looks at whether it really matters

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

VB.Net vs. C#

I started out programming by teaching myself Visual Basic 6.0. After programming for a bit, I decided that I should get some formal education, so I earned my Master of Science degree is Software Engineering.

I worked for 5 years programming in VB. I struggled with ASP for awhile, too. So when the alpha release of Visual Studio .Net came out, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. VB.Net was a change from VB 6.0, but I didn't find the move to be too painful. ASP.Net was like heaven compared to the previous version of ASP. I was excited to leave VB Script in the dust and have a full version of VB at my fingertips when building web apps. And the automated state handling in ASP.Net was another leap ahead for me. I have been working with Visual Studio.Net ever since, and I have never missed the days of Visual InterDev or Visual Studio 6.0.

When VS.Net was released, so was this new language written by Microsoft called C#. Within my VB community, C# was dismissed as a Java-wannabe. Since Microsoft has pledged to back VB.Net, we saw no reason to change. All the curly brackets and semi-colons gave me the shivers, anyways.

So last February when I decided to move to a new company, and my new company is a C# firm, I swallowed hard and cringed as I embarked on my adoption of the curly brackets, case sensitivity, and semi-colons. Thus was born Val the C# Gal. Although there are some syntax differences that take time to become accustomed, it has not been a big deal at all. I have not seen anything huge in C# that was missing in VB.Net and vice versa. What I have noticed, however, is that the mentality of the C# group is quite elitist. So why is that? Why do C# programmers so vehemently disregard VB.Net as a viable language? Why do C# programmers so quickly dismiss VB programmers as somehow inferior in intelligence?

I have worked with amazingly brilliant engineers on both sides, and I don't understand why the C# community feels that if someone chooses to continue crafting code in VB rather than porting over to the C# side of the tracks that the VB engineer is lesser for the decision. How do you feel about this?