Articles from July 2006

Why Make Software Open Source?

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:19 PM :: 1136 Views :: Technology, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

Going thru some videos, I ran across an interview with Martin Taylor where he briefly touched on three reasons a company may decide to open its software to the open source community. I thought they were interesting, so I figured I'd share them...

  1. Given up on research and development (R&D)
    This doesn't necessarily mean that the company doesn't believe in R&D, tho. Instead, this may mean that R&D isn't cost prohibitive or that the company simply doesn't want to spend the time on it. In my opinion, this is probably one of the main reasons people decide to open software.
  2. Not a market leader, not going to be a market leader
    Here's another big one. Being a new swimmer in a large pool can be daunting. You can't expect to jump in the pool and charge for swim lessons right away when nobody knows who you are. Opening software up can give prospective customers the chance to look at you and your solution in a less critical light.
  3. Platform dependencies better enhanced in community
    This one I'm not so sure about. Don't get me wrong, I agree with the idea, but I'm not sure how many people would open their software simply based on this reason, whereas I could with the previous two.

Of course, this makes me wonder what other considerations people put into their open source strategy. A lot of people are simply sharing for the sake of sharing; however, I'd almost say that is implicitly acepting #1 and perhaps even #2. If you come up with a nice tool and don't mind sharing it, open it up to the community and let others grab a hold of it for free. Of course, this brings in the concept of closed open source, which is basically open source software in which you can't truly contribute. This is probably a touchy line, tho, and I don't think I should try to draw it... at least not right now.


.NET on Oracle!?

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:33 PM :: 1150 Views :: .NET, Development, Technology :: Digg it!
Now, here's something that I didn't know... Apparently, Oracle 10g R2 supports running .NET code just like SQL Server 2005. I found that very interesting. Obviously, this isn't something Microsoft promotes very widely because SQL Server 2005 is their focus, but it's definitely something of interest for .NET developers working with Oracle. I've had to work with Oracle a lot in the past, so I found this very interesting. There are still pros and cons to using this approach, but having the option is what's important. I encourage anyone with a .NET+Oracle environment to look into this and play around with it. I will definitely look into it the next time I work on a project like that.

Ballmer Promises Shorter Release Cycles

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:00 AM :: 1283 Views :: Technology :: Digg it!
I'm at Tech Ready this week, which is an internal conference to give the "field agents" at Microsoft an update on things they may not have had a chance to get on their own. One of the nice things that I'll be looking forward to is getting some insight on the future of key products. Not that there'll be a big update, but any insight on the general plans for the future is always nice. For instance, one of the things I'm very happy to hear was Ballmer promising shorter release cycles for our products, which means no 5 year gaps. Now, I'm not sure how this will really pan out, but it's good news. With every system I've worked on, I've tried to get them down to quarterly releases. I like this model a lot. You get things out to the field and customers see an almost immediate benefit, which drives satisfaction up, obviously. With the right staff, it's even possible to stagger development so that you can have releases every 2 months with this same 3 month dev cycle; or, even more to the extreme, one month releases with 3 month dev cycles. In order to do this, however, there would need to be some major changes to how a product was developed and you'd need a very good team that was capable of covering such a rigorous cycle, which most teams don't have. The Windows Live team has been working on quarterly release cycles, from what I hear. I'm glad to see this. Hopefully, other teams will follow suit.

S[vn]aaS

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:15 PM :: 1544 Views :: Configuration Mgmt, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

CollabNet, maker of Subversion (Svn), has just released a software as a service (SaaS) offering to allow teams to make use of Svn without having to invest time and money into the resources to manage it. I think I’ve see this before, but it was from a small company. I’m glad to see it with Svn from it’s largest backer. At $55/user/month, I’m not sure I’d throw the money towards it, but thaen again, I’m not sure what an offering like this should cost. I would think it'd be based on a mixture of bandwidth and repository size, but what do I know? Personally, I can get a Svn server up and running on Windows within an hour, including having teams and repositories setup using Active Directory authentication. This of course makes it easier to manage and use, since every project I've worked on has had a Windows user-base.

The only real concern I have regarding the offering is intellectual property. With a company like CollabNet, I'm not as worried, but with a smaller company with little at stake, I would severely question it. I know that, as an individual, I’ve questioned offerings like this and would rather manage my own server at home than utilize someone else’s and risk IP loss. Maybe that’s just my nature. Despite my support for open source, I still struggle with handing over large amounts of code and getting nothing in return except a full inbox, which, in effect, costs me more time and money. Not that I’m not willing to give to the community.

Anyway, I’m glad to see this offering and I hope that it will increase the use of Svn.


Bathroom Monopolies???

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:10 PM :: 1113 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you probably know that I’m a big fan of Spencer Katt. His comics continue to amuse me and this one is no different....

Spencer Katt, eWeek June 26, 2006


What Do You Want in Your Employees?

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:45 PM :: 973 Views :: Technology, Other :: Digg it!

I just wanted to give kudos to Eric Lundquist for his article, Wanted: More Bill Gateses. Eric discusses what it takes for a leader. I love how it starts, too…

“If Bill Gates showed up at the Microsoft employment office today, would he get a job? I don’t think so. After all, he dropped out of college after three years, doesn’t hold a technical degree, and would probably flunk those tests where you try to find out if the prospective employee works well with others.”

I found this to be amusing. In fact, I don’t know that Bill would have a problem getting a job, but that’s assuming he’d make it past the first level of the screening process. Having been thru Microsoft’s rigorous hiring process, I can say that there are a lot of factors that come into play and they do a good job of finding out who you are and what you’re about. I’m assuming the different divisions use vastly different hiring practices, but the consulting arm is quite thorough – a full days worth of interviews with half a dozen or more people help ensure that.

Besides all that, I just had to comment on Eric’s points of interest: (1) hire the qualified over the credentialed; (2) hire those who are willing to get their hands dirty; and, (3) don’t hire team players when you really want team leaders.  First, I have to say that I hate the concept of degrees and certifications. Those things are for good test takers, which I am not. Don’t get me wrong, I get by and do a pretty good job -- I did graduate Summa Cum Laude -- but that’s not the point. The point is that no matter what grade you get, whether you complete a degree program, or even consider obtaining certifications has nothing to do with your technical merit. I always have and always will hate that about this career field. Don’t get me wrong, tho, I completely understand why it’s there, which is why I have and will focus on obtaining higher degrees and certifications. But, I’ll be the first to say that no matter how many pieces of paper you may have collected over the years, none of that matters when you step up to the whiteboard and piece a real life system together. In a lot of cases, not even experience will give you what you need. You need agility, innovation, and initiative, which touches on Eric’s second point. His last point regarding team players vs leaders is an interesting one. I can’t think of how many times I’ve heard the “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” comment. This is especially true when it comes to the tech arena. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. For instance, it’s simply not feasible to run a project with two top-level architects. A senior architect mixed with one or more junior architects might work, but there are no promises. It’s inevitable that head-butting will ensue at sometime. The smart ones are always the more difficult ones to work with. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve butted heads with people I’ve worked with in the past -- and these are people who I truly value, technically and personally. Despite the aggravations we may have, I’d welcome them into any team/project I work on based on their technical prowess… as long as they know who’s boss, that is *smirk*


IE7 B3

By Michael Flanakin @ 8:39 AM :: 1138 Views :: Technology, Predictions :: Digg it!

I have to admit that, since I first played with Firefox, IE just hasn't been an option to me. Actually, it's worse than that. I haven't even given IE7 a chance since my love affair with Firefox started, which was before any IE7 beta was out. When it came out, I'd admire from over the shoulders of others, but wouldn't even think twice about downloading it. A bad position to take, I'll admit, but I had it set in my mind that it wouldn't be a revolutionary change, but an evolutionary one. I will say that, if you'd ask my why I prefer Firefox, my quick response would be, "Because it's better." Obviously, not scientific. I never thought about nailing down an exact set of reasons for my Firefox preferences, but the primary was tabbed browsing. I know there are other add-ons that support tabbed browsing in IE, but for some reason, I always felt like IE jujst didn't compare. After working more with Firefox from a dev standpoint, I have to say that the ability to create extensions so easily in Firefox makes it leaps and bounds ahead of IE7. I did switch to IE7 on a new work laptop to give it more of a chance, but I don't use that laptop for dev work, so that was my primary reason. There are so many Firefox extensions that I don't think I could live without as a developer. IE7 is an improvement, but there's still so much that needs to be done. Just like my opinion of Windows, IE needs to be re-architected from the ground-up. Sure, it can survive by growing bit by bit, but a complete change from the ground up, built on .NET would be just the revolutionary change IE needs. Why built on .NET? Two reasons: (1) marketing, duh :-P; and, (2) the future of Windows is going to be built on .NET, so having one of the core features built on .NET now, would simply be a step in the right direction.

For now, I'll keep IE7 around, but I don't think it'll be default on any dev computer. We'll have to see how IE8 pans out.


Most Popular IDEs

By Michael Flanakin @ 7:44 PM :: 2128 Views :: .NET, Java, Development :: Digg it!
I found this article interesting. I question the results, tho. I'm not surprised at the order of the most used IDEs, but I expected different numbers. Beyond that, I would've liked to have seen a lot more people surveyed.

IGERSoft/vreboton Rating Module for DNN

By Michael Flanakin @ 6:13 AM :: 1571 Views :: DotNetNuke, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

I noticed a problem when I uploaded the IGERSoft Rating module to a test server the other day -- the module installed fine, but when added to a page, had an error, which turned out to be because the stored procedures weren't taking the object qualifier into account. Not a big deal, and luckily, it was something I could fix myself. I posted in the vreboton Rating module forum for the module, but haven't heard a response. Just wanted to get the word out for those interested. The module is pretty nice.

Unofficial IGERSoft Rating 3.1.1
Disclaimer: This version is not supported by IGERSoft or the vreboton website. This is an unofficial download which has nothing to do with IGERSoft/vreboton. Once a publicly available version of the module with the aforementioned fix has been provided, this download will be removed.


DotNetNuke -- IndexOutOfRangeException: DisplayName

By Michael Flanakin @ 1:45 PM :: 2953 Views :: DotNetNuke :: Digg it!

I recently had to upgrade one of my clients from 3.2.2 to the latest release and ran into a bit of a snag. We started with 3.3.1 and decided to use 3.3.2 in hopes that the problem would be fixed. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Here's what I found...

Symptoms

After upgrading DNN source to 3.3.0-2 or 4.3.0-2 and browsing to the website, you receive an error message that is similar to the following:

System.IndexOutOfRangeException: DisplayName

Cause

When accessing the website, even during an upgrade, the website is authenticating the request. During the authentication process, the membership provider doesn't take into consideration that the SQL scripts haven't been applied. Since the pre-3.3 scripts did not obtain the DisplayName column, the assembly raises the aforementioned exception.

Resolution

You may not like this one...

  1. Download the source version of the release
  2. Open the ...\Providers\MembershipProviders\AspNetMembershipProvider\AspNetMembershipProvider.vb file
  3. In 3.3.2, Starting on line 301, change the entire if block to the following...

    I'm assuming the code is the same in 4.3.2. For those interested in the actual changes, I simply encapsulated teh following properties in try blocks: DisplayName, AffiliateID, Email, UpdatePassword, and IsApproved
  4. Compile and continue as if the problem never happened

I will work on getting have a compiled assembly (3.3.2) available for download. If I get a chance, I'll work on getting 4.3.2 up, but anyone should be able to use this assembly for DNN 4.3.2, also. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

More Information

  • Applies to: DotNetNuke 3.3.0 - 3.3.2, 4.3.0 - 4.3.2

MSDN Subscriptions: July 2006

By Michael Flanakin @ 10:22 AM :: 990 Views :: MSDN Subscriptions :: Digg it!

MSDN

The following consists of the English DVD updates released under the MSDN Premium (Team Suite) subscription level for July 2006.

Applications

  • Disc 3617 / Part X13-67455
    • Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise Edition
    • Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise Edition (x64) (English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese)

For more information, see the MSDN Subscriptions Index.