Articles from December 2006

The Next Windows, Part 2

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:47 PM :: 2901 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

James Kyton Mobile-ready link writes about what might be expected in the next 2 releases of Windows Mobile-ready link, which he claims we should start seeing the results from within the next 2 years. There are a few things I wanted to comment on...

First, I have to say his timing with the next release is probably about right; however, with Balmer's intentions on time between releases, the following release shouldn't be any more than 3 years after that. In the same breath, I do question a completely new OS in 5 years time. Then again, all they have to do is rewrite the core and update immediately dependant parts; I imagine they've done a somewhat decent job of separating core functionality. At the same time, I know a complete rewrite would be better.

James claims Fiji will come with .NET 3.5. I think I can say what's being called .NET "3.5" today will be out well before the next version of Winodws. While I'm on the subject, the "3.5" in .NET "3.5" is not the expected version number. Instead, this is merely an abstract identifier for a future version of .NET that will include certain features. While it may not be likely, there could potentially be a release before this one. Think of this as Microsoft sharing information without committing to anything. James does say the .NET release could be 4.0, tho, and I think that could be a possibility. Whatever the version is, expect a new version of .NET with Windows.

While integration with Windows Live is definitely a very likely possibility, expect to see a lot of push-back. All I can say is there better be some sort of provider framework built around these. I've mentioned this before in regards to the search features in Vista. I've thought about looking into replacing some of these capabilities with open source alternatives, but the time just isn't there.

Speech recognition in Windows is a gimme. This is obvious with all three of the latest tool releases: Vista, Exchange, and Office. Looking into these will show a vast array of speech tools. I expect speech to be the next great input device in the coming years. Innovations in this space will be very interesting.

The future of managed code is another area I've talked about a lot in the past. To sum up my thoughts, I see a completely managed OS being the ultimate goal of Microsoft. The idea that all non-managed code will run in a sandbox is a touchy subject. There's been a soft-spoken battle between managed and unmanaged code since .NET came out. Most of this has been because the impression was that C++ developers had no choice but to upgrade to .NET. In fact, that's never been true. That's still the case; even in the future of Windows, if you ask me. James seems to be [inadvertantly] backing up my opinions with his comments. I see this being a huge move in the right direction. I expect managed and unmanaged code to completely switch sides in terms of performance, power, and respect, just to name a few.


What Supervillain Are You?

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:16 AM :: 1044 Views :: Other :: Digg it!

Back in June, I found out what superhero I would be Mobile-ready link. I didn't realize there was also a supervillain quiz, tho. Of course, once I found out about it, I had to take it...

You are Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
74%
Apocalypse
69%
Lex Luthor
61%
Juggernaut
61%
Magneto
53%
Riddler
46%
Kingpin
43%
Green Goblin
41%
The Joker
40%
Dark Phoenix
39%
Catwoman
36%
Mr. Freeze
33%
Mystique
29%
Poison Ivy
21%
Venom
19%
Two-Face
17%
Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.
Click here to take the Super Villain Personality Test


Apple and the One-Button Mouse

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:23 PM :: 1036 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Andru Edwards Mobile-ready link writes about why Apple chose to use a one-button mouse for the Mac Mobile-ready link. Basically, his justification comes down to his [and suggestively Apple's] opinion that users are too stupid to handle the second button. This could be the worst attempt at trying to justify such a stupid decision I've ever heard. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to say that nobody has a problem with two-button mice -- I, for one, have never met anyone who's had a problem, tho, and I've met a lot of tech-phobic people -- but I don't think that's the average user by any means. Perhaps the average Mac user :-P Ok, not really; I still stand by my comment that the average user doesn't have a problem with the two-button mouse. His comment that people could go about their day without using the right mouse button is true, but would you really want to? Hell, you could go without a mouse on most systems today; but if you were going to do that, you might as well stop bathing and get Linux. Anyway, I just thought the attempt was funny.


The Next Windows

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:42 AM :: 1694 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

I started this post a while ago, but have been procrastinating on finishing it. First off, let me say that this isn't anything I've heard from anyone official. I'm merely commenting on my own thoughts. While I haven't seen or heard anyone else talk about this, I'm sure others have come to similar conclusions. I'd definitely be interested in others' thoughts on the subject. Anyway, on with the topic...

Over the years, there's been a lot of talk about old problems still remnant in Windows due to backwards compatibility and the possibility of Windows Vista being the last version in its current state. In a talk around 64-bit Windows, I made a connection between these two ideas. I believe this is already public knowledge, but the next version of Windows Server, codename "Longhorn," is planned to have a 64-bit only version. I don't remember all the technical details to that version, but this is definitely the direction we're moving, as an industry. With that, this might be a good point to cut over to a new, top-to-bottom rewrite of Windows. Taking a second or two to think about it, I can see the current line continually upgraded in an attempt to create a closer migration path between the two versions. Honestly, I can't see an easy transition between two incompatible versions of the OS. I think Microsoft would have to give a much more extended support plan to cover users who aren't willing to cut their existing resources loose so easily.

There's a lot that can be said about this, but I'll leave it at that, for now. I'm definitely interested in what comes out of Microsoft in the coming months. I expect to hear something by mid-year; probably not a lot, but at least a taste with some abstract time tables.


Multiple Home Pages in IE7

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:25 PM :: 1277 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
Just noticed yet another nice little feature in the new release of IE: multiple home pages. Typically, I use a blank page because I don't like loading pages I won't use; but I find this feature interesting. I only found out about it after someone mentioned the capability in Firefox 2.0. I don't know if I'll keep using it, but I have it setup for the time being and will give it a try for a few weeks. Just figured I'd mention it to anyone else who may not have noticed it, yet.

Windows Live Maps has Filters

By Michael Flanakin @ 2:59 PM :: 963 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
I recently did a search on Windows Live Maps and noticed they had filters. I thought this was very interesting. The engine comes up with filters related to what you're searching for and tries to limit the less likely results. For instance, if you do a search for best buy, you get all kinds of stuff (i.e. Best Buy Flooring and Best Buy Transport Incorporated). However, you can add filters to limit it to what you are really looking for. In this case, I can add Computer & Computer Equipment Dealers or Electronic Equipment & Service as a filter to get more specific results. Perhaps this is a bad example, but you should get the idea. Nice addition to the service.

Architecture of an XPS Document

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:05 PM :: 1025 Views :: .NET, Technology :: Digg it!
With the recent finalization of the XML Paper Specification (XPS) Mobile-ready link, I've been curious as to what the new document format comprises of. Any "normal" person might look at the spec Mobile-ready link, but I decided to dig into it on my own. Take a look at my article Mobile-ready link to find out more.

Group Policy Update "Success"

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:00 PM :: 1518 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

Ok, now this is just stupid. I know some of you out there will probably say it's typical Microsoft, but whatever... I wanted to update my group policy on a laptop, so I went to the command prompt and ran gpupdate /force. Nothing big. The first time I ran it, my VPN session died on me, so I got the following output...

User Policy update has completed successfully.
Computer policy could not be updated successfully. The following errors were encountered...

After reconnecting, I re-ran the update and got this error...

User Policy update has completed successfully.
Computer Policy update has not completed in the expected time. Exiting...

Come on, people! Who was it that came up with these brilliant messages? Ok, admittedly, I can see how they make sense from one (obscured) point of view -- the initial success message relates to the operation completing without hitting any unhandled exceptions, while the second basically relates to handled exceptions. Even with that, I still think they're moronic messages.


Top Tech Topic of 2006: Microsoft Zune

By Michael Flanakin @ 12:24 PM :: 982 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
Gizmodo Mobile-ready link recently posted the top posts of 2006 Mobile-ready link. While the LG Chocolate phone Mobile-ready link was the single most popular post, Zune posts (2 Mobile-ready link5 Mobile-ready link8 Mobile-ready link9 Mobile-ready link) took up four of those. From what I can tell, the LG post was about 18.5% of these, while Zune posts totalled around 40%. Just thought this was interesting.

Screen Rotation on a Tablet in Vista

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:11 AM :: 1591 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

I mentioned before Mobile-ready link that I was going to look into making screen rotation a tad easier for me on my Vista tablet and it seems my job was pretty simple. At first glance, I didn't notice this, but each section's icon in Windows Mobility Center is actually a link to corresponding options.

Windows Mobility Center

The screen rotation section brings up the Tablet PC Settings dialog. This dialog comes with two key tabs: Display and Buttons. In the Display tab, you can set the sequence you want screen orientations to rotate in. I only care about one landscape and one portait, so I disable the other two.

Windows Mobility Center

The Buttons tab is the important one here, tho. Here, you can change what the tablet buttons do. One of the options is Change display orientation. The one annoyance here is that you have to set it for each of the four possible orientations: primary and secondary landscape and portrait.

Windows Mobility Center

Despite my annoyance, I'm now a button click away from my rotation. I love it! Granted, automatic screen rotation would be better, but I had issues with Toshiba's driver before and I think I like this option better. We'll see how it works out.


Must-Have Tech Deals

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:27 PM :: 1066 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

It may be too late for Christmas, but its not too late to save! Here are two tech deals you should take a look at before New Year's ('cause they expire). I should've mentioned the first one earlier, which I just got yesterday; but I guess it slipped my mind. I did mention it to a few friends, tho. Anyway, without further ado, here they are... First, there's the 4GB USB flash drive for $15 Mobile-ready link. The only thing I can say about this is that sizing is key in every respect -- physical size, storage, and price. My only complaint is that it's not Vista Ready Boost compliant. Oh well, a small price to pay for 4GB at a measly $15. The second is one I just found out about, so I can't attest to its quality; but, there's also a 2GB SD card going for $13 Mobile-ready link. I'm very tempted, but think I'll hold out on that. I have a 1GB card which has been just fine, so I don't need the extra just yet. If it were 4GB, I'd jump on it in a heartbeat, tho. Then again, 8GB cards are coming out, so we'll have to see what happens.

Oh, and by the way, both prices are after mail-in rebates, of course. It can't be as easy as clicking a button, now, can it?


Instrumentation on Windows Server 2003

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:28 PM :: 1687 Views :: .NET :: Digg it!

I'm going to do my best at back-tracking this problem. From my investigations, there are several things which might get you into this situation, but I'll simply describe mine... While trying to do some instrumentation on a web app in Visual Studio, I was getting the following error:

The web site could not be configured correctly; getting ASP.NET process information failed. The server may not be running a version of Asp.Net version 2.0 or greater.  Requesting 'http://localhost/myapp/VSEnterpriseHelper.axd' returned an error: The remote server returned an error: (500) Internal Server Error.

As the error mentions, if you go to the aforementioned URL in a browser, you get a Server Application Unavailable error. Sometimes, you might also see an HTTP 404 (file not found error), which will actually be phrased, Server Error in 'myapp' Application; The resource cannot be found, thanks to .NET. Further investigation will bring up an error in the Application log of the Event Viewer, as well.

It is not possible to run two different versions of ASP.NET in the same IIS process. Please use the IIS Administration Tool to reconfigure your server to run the application in a separate process.

Of course, looking at this, you're probably asking why the heck there are conflicting versions when you've already set the .NET version in IIS -- umm, you have set that, haven't you? Anyway, the problem ultimately comes down to the app pool. I could go into describing the changes in IIS6, which is in Windows Server 2003, but that's been done before and all we care about is a fix, right? Right.

If you open the IIS Manager (Start > Run... > inetmgr, Enter), right click on Application Pools, select New > Application Pool..., and give it a custom name and base it on the DefaultAppPool. From here, all you have to do is change the app pool for your website or virtual directory at the bottom of the Home/Virtual Directory tab in the Properties dialog. Once you've done these two things, you should be good-to-go.


Devcasting on Adobe, Google, Vista, Firefox, and More

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:04 AM :: 2634 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

Devcasting Mobile-ready link is a new cast that discusses random development topics. Their first episode Mobile-ready link was pretty good. I did want to share my thoughts on a few of the topics they discussed.

First, the discussion on Adobe Apollo Mobile-ready link was good. My brief thoughts are that Adobe's trying to bite off too much. Microsoft did it with their original thoughts on Vista (Longhorn, at the time) and all it did was cause problems on multiple fronts. I expect Adobe to see the same type of issues and the delays that go along with them. At the same time, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) will be gaining momentum in the Windows world with WPF/E ("E" for everywhere) will be slowly seeping into the web world on other platforms and browsers. While Flash has time on its side, I see WPF, with WPF/E as a part of that, to be a vastly superior technology. Adobe needs Apollo today. There will probably be a slow start with WPF, but I see a half-and-half WPF/Flash world in 2008, 2009 at the latest.

Another topic that came up was Google's request to have Google search as an option in IE7 Mobile-ready link. While I understand this, I have to say that just adding Google wouldn't really be fair. What about the other search engines? Now, I will say this is an opportunity for Microsoft to make some money. If Google really wants it, Microsoft should put a price on it. With as wide of a distribution IE7 will get, that should cost a pretty penny, in my opinion. Outside of that, they'll just have to keep on keepin' on with their custom IE install.

Of course, the Google seach in IE idea sparked something I thought of when I first saw Vista: Should Vista provide support for other desktop search engines? This may be more and more of a problem as Vista becomes more mainstream, since search is baked into the OS. If someone prefers Google Desktop Search, replacing Windows Desktop Search can't be an easy task and nobody would want both running. Granted, you can turn off indexing, but without integrating another search engine into the OS would leave you at a major disadvantage, in my opinion. Sure, you can get to content without search, but it's so much easier and better, in my opinion. I haven't looked at the possibilities in this arena, but if Google wants to compete here, they'll have to.

One big thing I'm glad to hear about was the screen rotator in Windows Mobility Center Mobile-ready link. I noticed my tablet wasn't rotating anymore after installing Vista and it's been somewhat aggravating. I've downloaded the latest drivers, but it still doesn't work correctly. While I've known about the Mobility Center, I guess I didn't realize there was a screen rotator in there. Thank you! Now, all I need is a shortcut and/or icon to click instead of manually having to activate it from the keyboard. I may work on that, depending on what info is out there on integration.

Lastly, Firefox 2.0 came up with all its complaints. I admit, I was a very big Firefox user. I still love Firefox, but after IE7, I just don't feel the overwhelming need for it. I have both on my computers, but IE7 is my primary browser. Anyway, Firefox 2.0 has been getting a lot of complaints. Part of that is because of some bugs due to a rush to get it out, but I think the larger issue is due to IE7. I can't remember who said it, but IE7 was a huge improvement, while Firefox 2 was a very minor improvement. I think the hardcore Firefox enthusiasts are upset that IE7 gained so much ground on technical capabilities in the new browser war. There's still ground there, but if Microsoft takes this on as they've done in the past, it's only a matter of time before IE supercedes Firefox. I can see another interesting release for IE coming by the end of 2007, but I don't think it'll be as major.

Aside from these topics, more were discussed. I just wanted to comment on these. Check out the cast and enjoy the other 2 that are out right now. I'll be sure to catch up with them soon, that's for sure.


The Butter Wizard?

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:34 AM :: 1161 Views :: Other :: Digg it!
The Butter Wizard Mobile-ready link isn't anything I'd run out and buy, but you bet your arse I wish restaurants would! Essentially, it keeps butter at a constant temperature so its easier to spread. How many times have you been to a restaurant and the butter tore up the bread? Too many times. I admit, this isn't anything all that exciting, but I thought it was interesting, so I figured I'd mention it.

Daily Giz Wiz's Slam on Zune Marketing

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:11 AM :: 1058 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!
A while ago, I subscribed to the Daily Giz Wiz Mobile-ready link feed, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it, yet. Basically, the show is a 10-15 discussion on a random gizmo. After finally getting around to it, I listened to an episode on Microsoft Bob Mobile-ready link and Zune came up. Well, specifically, the Zune marketing campaign's "Welcome to the Social" slogan. I have to admit I think the slogan sounds almost pornographic, but that's a whole 'nother post on a whole 'nother weblog. Their problem with it was that they didn't understand what it meant. They got so close, too. I thought this was obvious, but maybe it's just me. I see "Welcome to the Social" to be a play off the social networking concepts of Web 2.0. It seems apparent to me they don't really know that much about the Zune. Anyway, I just had to mention it. I still plan on listening for the time being. The fact that these are shorts makes me that much more willing to put time into listening to it. We'll see how it goes.

Defining Your Process

By Michael Flanakin @ 12:41 PM :: 1079 Views :: Development, Architecture, Patterns & Practices, Technology :: Digg it!

Processes exist for a reason. I think we all know that. Nobody can acurately say that processes are bad. They can be taken too far, tho, which is why agile processes have grown so rapidly in the software development arena. Personally, I think a lot of that has to do with trying to get away without documentation, but that's a different issue. Honestly, agile processes don't have anything to do with the level of effort put into documentation. Anyway, all of that's besides the point. I read a post, If Not Agile, Then What Mobile-ready link, by Rockford Lhotka Mobile-ready link a while back and I've been meaning to remark on it. Over the years, I've put a lot into defining and working to better development processes. This came from being in a process-heavy organization. At the same time, I've always appreciated the fact that the processes in place were more than I thought necessary. There are certain architecturally significant steps I believe are important for any development project, but the level at which they should be achieved can vary a great deal.

Rockford talks about how nobody follows any process 100% and no process was built to be 100% followed. Well, those aren't his words, but it's the basic jist of it. One thing I've always wanted to do was create something like a step-by-step process for defining your own development process. Basically, you'd input your criteria and out would pop a suggested process, documented from front to back. You could, of course, pick and choose what you actually used; but the core concept is that the practices -- along with their pros and cons -- would be given to you so you can make an informed decision. That's one thing you have to be able to do as a consultant: allow your customers to make thier own decisions. If you want to bury yourself, I'll hand you the shovel; but not before telling you what I believe could happen, what to look out for, and what your options are going to be if my foresights have come to pass. Defining and following a development process is a weak point in most organizations. Sure, people might deliver, but is there enough documentation? Beyond that, how much is enough? There's no single answer for these questions and the thousand others that would typically follow. This, of course, is why I've always wanted to formulate the process generator I mentioned. I don't know if I ever will, but it will always be in the back of my mind.

If you're interested in software engineering processes, I suggest you give Rockford's post a read. I'm always interested in people's opinions regarding engineering processes because it helps me take in different viewpoints and better understand the necessary flexibility for any process to survive across multiple projects, which is almost a must-have for a development organization. The more processes in one organization, the more wasted time and money that goes into managing these processes. I don't think most developers realize the importance of a well-defined process because they haven't been exposed to larger system development teams and organizations where project scheduling and documentation isn't something that can be debated without risking project success.


Send to Command Prompt

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:33 AM :: 1962 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

I'm a fan of the Send To context menu. I've been using Notepad2 Mobile-ready link for quite some time and always set up a Send To menu item so I can open text files quickly -- right click+N+N. The menu flashes briefly and my document pops up. Granted, if anything else starting with N is in the Send To menu, that'll go out the window, but I haven't had a problem, yet, so I'm happy.

When exploring a few of the Sysinternals tools Mobile-ready link that were recently added to Microsoft's website, I decided to add another shortcut to execute something in an open command prompt. This will be quite useful as I tend to create batch files to perform common, repetitive actions. The nice thing is, with my new Send To > Command Prompt, I'm now three keystrokes away from executing and interacting with something in the command prompt -- right click+N+C+Enter. I have to hit Enter because there's already a C item in the menu, Compressed (ZIP) Folder. I could rename it to Prompt to get rid of that extra step... As a matter of fact, I will. Ok, so now I'm back to 2 keystrokes -- right click+N+P. Life is beautiful again.

For those interested, here's the shortcut I'm using: C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /K. The /K option keeps the command prompt open after executing the command that's passed to it -- namely, the file you right click on. One more thing: Make sure the Start In directory is empty. If this is specified, your file will most likely not get executed. Essentially, this would look for the file you click on in the Start In directory. So, if you click on a file called RunMe.bat and have Start In set to C:\Users\Michael\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo\ (the default when you create a new shortcut from the Send To directory in Vista), then the command prompty will try to execute C:\Users\Michael\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo\RunMe.bat, which most likely doesn't exist.

Hope this helps someone out there!


My Plea to the Blogosphere: Be Mobile-Ready

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:52 PM :: 2296 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

As I’ve spent more and more time catching up on my blogroll with my phone, I’ve realized just how far we really need to go to truly support Web 2.0 (and beyond) -- well, my [more than likely] misguided view of what Web 2.0 should be about, anyway. I've tried to outline the top ten in this, my 10 mobile-ready commandments...

  1. Thou Shalt Employ Full-Text Posts. I can’t stand it when I start to read a post that I’m really interested in, but come to find out that it only has the first 500 characters or so. I want to read it all. I don’t want to have to wait until I get to my PC to finish it. Of course, I can click on the obligatory “read more” link, but I’m risking 2 things: (1) chances are that the target page isn’t mobile-ready, either (I’ll touch on links next); and, (2) Mobile IE only supports one, non-tabbed browser window, which means I can’t bounce between different windows. They do a pretty good job of caching for the back button, but when I’m in the middle of reading things on my phone, I tend to get interrupted or have to put it down for a bit. I’d rather just have everything all on one page so I can read it easier without having to scroll thru links, bring up new pages, and then return back to old pages. That process can get very tiresome. I do admit my issues with this are in part because of and can be resolved with software -- I use Bloglines to read my blogs. Still, I stand by this one.
     
  2. Thou Shalt Exploit Mobile-Ready Links. All too often -- like EVERY link I’ve ever seen in a blog post -- we copy a URL of a page and don’t even think twice about the reader. It’s time to be mobile-ready. We need to enable our mobile readers with the ability to bring up these third party pages without depending on the mobile browser to decide how to format a non-mobile-ready page. I admit that I have had this same problem in the past, but I set a precedence to fix that in my blog posts back in September. I’m introducing my mobile-ready icon: Mobile-ready link. From here on -- at least until there’s a standard for this sort of thing -- I vow to provide mobile-ready links after every link I use in my blog posts. This way, mobile users will be able to consume everything related to my post, not just my comments on it. Without some sort of identifier validating the link, there’s no telling what will happen when you try to load a non-mobile-ready link. Just to touch on my first point, if you feel you just can’t live without summary views, at least provide a mobile-ready link to the full content.
     
  3. Thou Shalt Summarize Linked Posts. More often than we probably notice, we tend to say things like, “This post is completely misguided,” or, “I just read this article and it’s the best! Check it out!” Well, this one goes beyond mobile, but it is worse for mobile users, but the problem is, as a user who has no idea what you’re linking to, I have no idea what the target web page says. Please summarize it for me.  At least frame it in the slightest form (i.e. “This intro to generics is completely misguided” or “I just read this article on non-deterministic turing machines and it’s the best! Check it out!”). Having an idea of what the linked page discusses can tell me if it’s worth my time to dig into it. Just give me at least the smallest idea of what idea it’s trying to get across so I don’t have to look for myself. Remember: my mobile time is usually short and mobile bandwidth is limited.
     
  4. Thou Shalt Localize Aggregated Feeds. For [place your deity/profanity here]’s sake, localize your freakin’ aggregated feeds!!! I have no problem with the idea of sharing information on one site in multiple languages, but I have a huge problem when there’s only one aggregation and I have to skip past posts in 5 different languages, which is completely oblivious to my language settings. My mobile device can’t read Cantonese, for instance, and when it tries, it sometimes freaks out because the memory load is seemingly double (if not more) than normal. All you need to do is provide language-specific aggregations and then throw an all-in aggregation for good measure. That’s all I ask.
     
  5. Thou Shalt Not Renew Prior Convictions. This one is a huuuuge pet peeve of mine. Admittedly, it’s not just a mobile issue, but it’s an issue nonetheless. If you see others posting on a topic and don’t have anything to add to the topic, don’t post! Sifting thru post after post that all point to each other is getting overly ridiculous. If you don’t have something original to add to a discussion, just leave it alone! The only well-respected bloggers (and I think I can go as far as to say outspoken people, in general) are the ones who have something to add to the story. If all you do is repeat, then nobody will want to listen. When I’m on a mobile device, that makes my tolerance for such waste of bandwidth and time even lower.
     
  6. Thou Shalt Value Brevity. This one isn’t really all that bad of a problem, but it still happens. Let’s try to keep our titles short, sweet, and to the point. I hate seeing post titles that are too long and wrap 3 or 4 times on a mobile screen. Have some respect! I realize that it’s sometimes necessary, but we need/love our space in the mobile world. For instance, here’s an example: “If you ask a Yes/No question, make sure the user also knows what happens when they say No.” What the crap is that? That could’ve been condensed a lot!
     
  7. Thou Shalt Value Order and Tranquility. When people format their text in all kinds of crazy colors and sizes -- especially sizes -- all you're doing is making it harder and harder to read on a mobile device. I'm not saying all formatting is bad; just use it judiciously. Be sure that your formatting adds to the message or makes it easier to read and understand. If it goes against any of these principles, remove it. There's just no reason to bold-red-25pt your statement because you want to get it across. Bold-red, or even just bold, should work just fine.
  8. Thou Shalt Separate Posts and Articles. Perhaps this isn't that big of a problem, but there's a difference between a blog post and an article. Typically, blog posts are one-time discussions regarding the topic at hand. You may have a long-running set of posts that map together, and that's fine, but don't post a 5 page article which depicts a step-by-step process to perform a complex task. These are better off as articles. The way I look at it is that an article will probably be something you might want to come back to and update, whereas a blog post would be left alone and another one would be created. Another way of looking at it is the degree of information included. Blog posts should be seemingly short, sweet, and to the point while an article may discuss the ins-and-outs of a particular problem. If in doubt, make it an article and keep it separate from your weblog and follow that up with a simple post describing and linking to the article. If you have a lot of articles, create a feed for them. As long as the feeds content style/type is known, I'm all for it.
     
  9. Thou Shalt Not Spam Tech Blogs. If you run a technical blog, please try to keep the non-technical posts to a minimum. If at all possible, maintain a few different blogs for different topics. This also allows you to manage blog categories better. For instance, I have 5 mini-blogs for different things I like to blog about. My main tech blog, tech articles, product feedback, and two personal blogs to track shows/movies I watch and places I go. Each has its purpose and keeping them separate allows anyone interested to consume only what they want.
     
  10. Thou Shalt Respect Thy Resources. There were obviously undertones of this in several other pleas. Honestly, this is probably the most important one. All I ask is that you respect the resources mobile users have at their disposal. Take these main three into consideration: time, space, and bandwidth. Typically -- at least for me, personally -- mobile users don't intend to spend a lot of time on their mobile device. I usually check weblogs when I'm waiting for something; whether it be at a stoplight, stand-still traffic, in line for something, or just plain waiting for something/someone. If I have 5-10 minutes and I'm away from a computer, this is good blog-reading time. Because I do this in short time frames, I don't want to deal with any [aforementioned] issues and I want to get thru as much content as possible. I'll leave it at that for the time issue. Space is probably the first thing that comes to people's minds when thinking about mobility. Yes, it's true; my space is very limited. This is why we need mobile-ready content without crazy formatting. Granted, the space issue goes deeper, but these are the key areas I've noticed the most. Finally, bandwidth is also an issue. Virtually nobody has direct problems with bandwidth; however, virtually everyone has indirect bandwith issues. Whether it be due to heavy site graphics, posting point-less material, or any of the other annoyances, remember that anything you post takes up bandwidth. All I ask is that you make it worth my while by providing something of true interest.

I started this list back in August and am just now getting around to finalizing a posting it. There are so many things I want to say about being mobile-ready, so I just had to sum them up and get the post done. I'm sure others will come up with their own pleas and I welcome them. Anything to help enhance moble-readiness! I truly believe this will become more and more of a factor in 2007.


5 Minute Vista Gadget

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:17 AM :: 965 Views :: Development :: Digg it!
Edgar Sanchez Mobile-ready link mentioned how he created his first Vista gadget Mobile-ready link in 4 simple steps. Of course, it's merely a hello world gadget, but I was surprised to see that it was so simple. I've been wanting to create a gadget for a while and this makes me want to do it even more. Now all I need is a good idea, but I'm full of those... Well, I'm full of ideas; we won't talk about how good they are.

The Potential of Control Adapters

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:47 PM :: 1288 Views :: .NET, Development, Patterns & Practices, Microsoft :: Digg it!

I read an article, Extreme ASP.NET Mobile-ready link, in the October edition Mobile-ready link of MSDN magazine Mobile-ready link that talked about control adapters, a new feature in .NET 2.0. I've heard of control adapters and I knew about the browser capabilities, but I never put the two together like this. Actually, I have to admit that I didn't know much at all about the way the stuff worked, I just knew vague tidbits about them. After reading this article, tho, I'm amped! I can't wait to dig into control adapters!

I'm a big (read: very big) fan of applying standards to your development work. Because of this, I try to use XHTML and CSS wherever possible. The problem is that most developers in the .NET world don't care. Rightfully so, developers are more interested in getting features implemented. I completely understand that and can't argue it -- heck, that's what we get paid to do. But, I can't help but get aggravated when I open a .NET project in Firefox, for instance, and it goes haywire. This is probably more common than you think, too. I admit that IE does add some great features; however, standardization shouldn't be an optional thing. If Microsoft believes so heavily in the added features, then push for them in the W3C. Actually, I can't say too many bad things about Microsoft's lack of applying standards because there has been a huge improvement over the last year or two. I am proud to say that, as a company, we are making great strides in the right direction. Believe it or not, everything's not all about the money... but it does put food on our tables. Anyway, back to control adapters...

One great control adapter implementation is the CSS Control Adapters Mobile-ready link, which was recently released. In a nutshell, control adapters allow you to give a control a completely new look and feel. This set of control adapters resolves non-standard coding practices built into the existing set of ASP.NET controls by providing a standards-based implementation. I love it! I still need to play with it, but I'm merely excited to have the capability.


Good SharePoint Server vs. Services Comparison

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:16 AM :: 1802 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!

In the past, I've been asked what the difference between Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) Mobile-ready link and Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) Mobile-ready link was. In a nutshell, Server builds on Services, as you might imagine, but that doesn't really tell you what the true differences are. In v2, there weren't many, but a lot has been added to v3. With these changes, the difference between the two product lines has grown significantly. The main difference between the two lies within the enterprise features of Server, which ties multiple Services sites together with unified feature sets, like search, which is probably one of the most beneficial features. Of course, there's more to it than this, but you get the idea. Microsoft has a comparison of the different Server products, which is nice. If you're debating which you need, this is a great starting point. Mark Arend Mobile-ready link has just added to this by providing a comparison of what web parts are available in the Server and Services offerings Mobile-ready link. This comparison provides yet another crucial aspect to determining what feature-sets you'll need for your sites.


Licensing the Office Look and Feel

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:53 AM :: 924 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

I can't say I'm surprised there have been complaints about Microsoft's efforts to license the new Office look and feel Mobile-ready link. Some think this will stifle their creativity and limit their ability to control the user interface, but I think that's rubbish. This is the same argument people use against software patents. I honestly don't blame Microsoft for being proactive in licensing their UI. This is the first time they've tried to take control of their intelectual property from a design stand-point and it's well-deserved. If you've seen or played with the UI in Office 2007, love it or hate it, it's revolutionary. The reason for the strict control is to ensure there will be a consistent user experience from one app to the next, not to control what you develop. They put a lot of effort into this layout and it shows. Let's face it; we all try to mimic Office when we create applications. We want to use the same look and feel to ensure users can jump-in without training. It's just a smart move. All Microsoft is doing is trying to make it easier for you by documenting what they've done. The other side of the equation -- the limitations they put on usage and implementation -- are to protect end users. Think about it: When you see an app that tries to mimic a specific look and feel, but doesn't do it correctly, it's aggravating because you make assumptions that it'll work one way, but it doesn't. Then, you have to figure out how it does work, which can take a while, depending on how complex the change. This is just aggravating because it can be a huge productivity drain.

For anyone interested, there's a video on Channel9 Mobile-ready link discussing the UI licensing. I suggest you check it out to get a little more insight in its intentions.

One last thing I have to say... The amount of effort Microsoft put into this new look and feel is one in the face to those who say Microsoft doesn't innovate. Just my opinion, but it had to be said.


Google's Dirty Tactics

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:06 AM :: 1059 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

One of the things that has been said a lot regarding Google, is the company is just like a young Microsoft. This is fairly obvious when you look at how the company does business and the directions it moves in. This is why I wasn't surprised after I read a recent weblog post Mobile-ready link discussing how Google is stifling competitors search results. Anyone who's been around a while can probably see a relation to tactics Microsoft has taken in the past. At the same time, I have to admit that part of me wants to accept this. For instance, when Google Maps first came out, if I did a search for "maps", Google's own service didn't come up. That was astounding to me. Of course, this changed over time, but I've come to expect that a companies services come first. Maybe that's just me. As a potential advertiser, tho, I definitely see a problem. Unfortunately, I don't know what the answer is. I guess the precedant will be set by those willing (or not willing) to pay for Google's ad services. In the meantime, Google is seemingly ignoring history and determined to repeat it. Perhaps they have a trick up their sleeve, but for now, their only defense seems to be the fact that they're looked at in a positive light... for the time being, that is.