Recent Posts

  • I was replaced by a biztalk server

    I have to share this gem. This is from the first page of the Biztalk server documentation. "Imagine being the parts manager for an automobile manufacturing company. Your database system informs you that you are low on door handles, so you need to act quickly. You fax a purchase order (PO) to a supplier, who sends you a PO acknowledgment, and ships you the order along with an invoice. You add the shipment to your inventory, pay the invoice, and update your database. And you repeat this process for thousands of other parts." "With BizTalk® Server installed, you arrive at your office in the morning to find that a shipment of door handles that you did not even know you needed is already on your receiving dock ready to be stocked. Not only that, the shipment has already been paid for and your database has been automatically updated." (emphasis mine) Did somebody spike this writer's koolaid? Does Biztalk call the supplier to negotiate the best price? Does it perform the QA verification on the parts? Does it realize that a design change is underway that will make those door handles obsolete? I could go on, but I think you get my point. The fact that someone thinks this kind of utopian scenario is acheivable is probably the reason why most small businesses are still managing their invoices and purchase orders with an Excel form. I can see what happens next.. "Biztalk's HR interface identifies that you actually don't have any more work to do so immediate files all of the necessary paper work to lay you off. The janitorial staff are notified to clean out your desk and a security escort is requested." We should not forget that computers should be used to enhance our capablities not provide a mechanical replacement. Continue reading...

  • There is never enough time

    I recently interviewed some students in the co-op program at Concordia University for an internship position this summer. Overall I was quite pleased with the quality of the candidates. There was one conversation that really stuck out for me. Each of the students was asked what they did outside of school to keep up to date with technology and learn on their own. About half of the students gave me examples of extra-curricular projects they worked on, part time jobs that they had done that were related to the technology field, or just programs they had written for their friends, their relatives, etc. The other half came up with the excuse that in the co-op program it was just too much work to be able to handle doing extra stuff. I'm not quite sure why the co-op program is more work than a regular program, assuming that people in the regular program go get a job during the summer, but that is an aside. My main concern for these students is that if they get a real job, and perhaps a family, and home to look after, there is not going to be spare time to stay up to date with technology. You have to make the time. Regardless of how hectic your schedule is, I believe that is essential that you spend time on stuff that is not assigned to you. If you don't, you will become a slave to whatever work is given to you and never be able to develop your own career direction. Interestingly, the people with the extra-curricular activities had the higher GPAs! Continue reading...

  • Why I like hyperthreading…

    One of questions that I had before buying my latest desktop was how beneficial is hyperthreading. I read all the performance reviews that compared the hyperthreaded P4s to their single threaded brethren and the concensus was pretty much that for today's applications there is little benefit. Applications need to be written to take advantage of multiple CPU's before any benefits is gained. The problem that I had with these benchmark reviews was that it only really took into account running one application at once. For gamer's I can see how that makes sense. For doing software development work I can easily find myself switching between 5 or 6 applications constantly. One of the most frustration experiences when working in this scenario is starting an operation in one application and switching to another, with no response. The first app is hogging the CPU and you are stuck twiddling your thumbs until your PC springs back to life with a flurry of window swapping. What hyperthreading effectively seems to do is limit one application to 50% of the CPU. This guarantees that when you choose to go something else whilst you compressing that 500meg zip file that you will have some CPU horsepower left. Obviously the downside is that your Zip file does not compress as fast it might. I don't care too much as there is always something else I can work on in the meanwhile. It may not be the right choice for everyone but it works for me. Continue reading...

  • Goodbye and Good Riddence

    Mr. Grimes’ Farewell If this is the kind of FUD that Mr. Grimes usually puts out I'm glad he is giving up on .Net commentary column. His complaints from what I can see: - They copied stuff from WFC and VB. - The framework is too large for shareware developers, so it will never gain momentum. - Visual Studio is not written in .Net so they must have no confidence in the framework. - There was no reason for Vb.Net other than to help move VB programmers to .Net, and other than it was a "tired" language and it didn't support multi-threading and ... - Microsoft uses classes where they should have used interfaces. and the best line "I take the decision to make Avalon available to other versions of Windows as a lack of confidence in the sales of Longhorn" What a crock! I expect much more than this whining piece of drivel from someone as respected as Richard Grimes. Continue reading...

  • XML: The good and the bad

    Here is a link to the schema for an Advanced Shipping Notification document defined by the American Institute for Steel Construction. And here is the format for submitting a summary of an employee's annual earnings(T4) to the Canadian government. The ASN has tags such as BillOfLadingReference, TransactionDateTime, ShipmentDateTime, ShipmentWeight and is nicely nested to represent the data relationships between the elements. The T4 however is a doozy. Here are few of my favourite tags: tot_empr_eip_amt, tot_itx_ddct_amt, cmpn_rpay_empr_amt, shr_opt_d1_ben_amt. It structure is more of a laundry list of parameters than any kind of logical document. The whole point of XML is that the data is stored in a readable format. If the document is filled with unintelligible tags it is hardly meeting that goal. Continue reading...

  • A New PC

    Finally, I got myself a new PC. I can retire my well worn Dell 4100 PIII 1Ghz and move up to a Dell Precision 370 P4 2.8Ghz with 1GB. I haven't got the machine up and running with all of my applications but so far I'm very happy. It has a 160 GB Serial ATA drive that seems to be very quick. This along with the pseudo dual processors due to Hyper Threading I am hoping that it is going to really help when I have half a dozen applications running at once. Continue reading...

  • Quote of the day

    "After spending five years being told that the Linux desktop is too hard to use, these fucking alarm clocks boggle my mind. If ordinary people can really figure out how to set the alarm at a hotel, then we are going to make OpenOffice default to vi keybindings in the next Novell Linux Desktop. " Nat Freidman Continue reading...

  • TPC Benchmarks, a new Outlook

    After reading this item on IBM's new record setting hardware I took a quick gander at the TPC-C results. It has been probably 12-18 months since I last looked at these. What a different landscape! In the past Microsoft used to dominate the Price/Performance results. Not anymore. Looking at both the peformance results and the price/performance results I can see no clearly dominant company. Many different system vendors, OS vendors, CPUs and databases are represented. In general it does look like IBM have the upper hand at the moment but that could be fleeting. One very surprising result is the frequency of Microsoft COM+ as the TP monitor. I would have thought the dedicated TP vendors would have had the upper hand. I was especially puzzled to see IBMs top result using Microsoft COM+ in combination with DB2 and AIX! How does that work? Continue reading...

  • Linux OS sales boost Novell

    This news item makes me chuckle. A company that was previously losing money selling a commerical OS is now making a profit selling a free OS. Does this say that from a business customer's perspective "free" is actually more expensive than "not free"? Are the costs just hidden? Anyway, despite being a big Microsoft fan I don't want to see us left with no choices and no competition. Roll on Linux! Maybe Novell can get back to focusing on its own business and stop trying to litigate money out of Microsoft for past sins. Continue reading...

  • Small Business Server

    I installed Small Business Server 2003 for a customer last week. SBS is really starting to mature into a nice product and you can't beat the price especially if you get it bundled with a Dell server. Continue reading...

  • Adding to the Active Directory Schema

    As I understand it, to add to the Active Directory Schema you need an OID assigned. For fellow Canadians thinking of doing this you can go here http://www.pwgsc.gc.ca/cosira and register. It took about a week to get an OID assigned and it didn't cost a penny! Continue reading...

  • Application Security

    I've been reading Craig McMurtry's series on Application Security. It is interesting stuff, especially the use of ADAM as repository for application security information. I certainly can understand why you would want to store user information in a central repository, but I am still struggling with the idea of storing all of the authorization information outside of the application database. What happens in a multi-database scenario? A user may have access rights to certain information in a database for one company, but not in the database for another company. Also, by moving the roles and role assignments out of the database, when I back up the database, I don't back up that information. I guess if ADAM actually ran in Windows 2000 server I would be a bit more concerned, but at this point it is going to be a few more years before the majority of my clients are running W2K3 server. Continue reading...

  • Welcome!

    Although this is not my first attempt at a blog, I have renewed conviction this time. I had wanted to host the blog myself, but it's funny how that spare machine can get used for all sorts of other things. I'm not going to develop much of presence if my blog is only occasionally on line. One of my major motivations for building a blog is to allow me to develop a relationship with prospective employees, employers and development partners. I think a blog says so much more than a resume ever could. I think when it comes time to hiring developers at my company, a good developer blog is going to be a major positive for any candidate. And from the opposite perspective, what better way to find out if you will fit into a company than get to know one of the partners. I'll give more details in the future, but the one liner is that I am one of two partners in a software development company that writes ERP software for small metal fabricators and custom equipment manufacturers. You can check out our company here http://www.tavis.ca Continue reading...

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