Archives for December 2002

Time to Get Playing!

Posted on 12/30/2002 to Technology

My wireless ethernet bridge just arrived. Too bad I've got some other stuff to take care of today -- I can't wait to get this thing hooked up to my Xbox and use the Xbox live service. Guess I should use this time to think of a username for the service.

Xbox Live

Posted on 12/26/2002 to Technology

One of my most anticipated gifts this year was Xbox Live. Now the question is "how should I connect it?"

My office shares a wall with our living room, and the wall just happens to be the one that the TV is on, so I could easily run CAT5 between the two rooms. But I've also got a wireless access point in the house. So I set out looking for wireless solutions for the Xbox. Lo and behold, I found this. Now I need to see who carries them locally, and decide if I want to fight the post holiday crowds.

Potentially The Best Present Ever

Posted on 12/25/2002 to In General

I just got potentially the best present ever -- a ticket for tonight's Power Ball. This is a big deal for two reasons.
  1. I don't live in a Power Ball state (or even very close to one).
  2. The last estimate I heard was around $300 million.
Of course, I don't expect to win, but at least now I have a chance.

Thanks Tom!

Happy Holidays

Posted on 12/24/2002 to In General

Heading over to the in-law's now. Won't be back online for at least 24 hours. Boy, these holiday's sure put a crimp in my coding productivity.

p.s. I have learned that I am getting XBox Live and at least one game that supports it. Unfortunately the in-laws don't have a high-speed connection, so the "live" part will have to wait until I get back home.

Cleaning Up

Posted on 12/24/2002 to Site Information

Don't mind me, I am just tidying up around here. Trying to get all these entries a bit more organized. This doesn't impact links to specific entries, only where they show up when clicking the Category links.

Recent Entries List Implemented

Posted on 12/24/2002 to Site Information

In case you haven't noticed, I've added a new feature to this weblog of mine -- a list of recent entries. The functionality for this is provided by the RecentEntries server control that I just created for my weblog app. I can specify the number of posts to show (default = 10), and I can even tell it to only show recent posts for a specific category. Well, that's about it.

New Look

Posted on 12/23/2002 to Site Information

It seems that everything is distracting me from the tasks at hand, which is to overhaul the weblog app. You need not look any further than this website for proof. Instead of working on the weblog app, I've give my personal site a new look.

Hope you like it.

Need To Read

Posted on 12/21/2002 to Developer Stuff

I need to read this article: What Is RSS?. At first glance it looks to provide excellent coverage on the different flavors of RSS, as well as things to think about for the developer building tools to consume them.

Features? Speak Up Now

Posted on 12/20/2002 to Developer Stuff

Now is the time to let me know what you'd like to see in this app. Of course, it might be hard to tell what it needs, when you've never used it and I don't have a current feature list.

Oh well, if you think of something, let me know. If it is already implemented, I'll say so.

The Overhaul Has Begun

Posted on 12/20/2002 to Developer Stuff

Vacation time is here again, and that means that it is time to overhaul my little weblog app. Busy, busy, busy.

Windows .NET Server RC2

Posted on 12/19/2002 to Technology

I just finished loading up .NET Server RC2 on my old desktop. Everything went well except that my 4+ year old Netgear NIC wasn't recognized. This is odd, as it was recognized when I installed beta 3 of .NET Server on this same box a few months ago. Oh well. Instead of digging around for a disc I know I'll never find, or looking for the drivers online, I just slapped in a NIC that came with my DSL installation kit. Worked instantly.

So now I am going to play around on RC2. I think I will install the SharePort Team Services and then create the weblog solution web that comes with FrontPage 11.

I am sure it sucks, but I've got to see it. I'll keep you posted.

Minority Report

Posted on 12/18/2002 to Reviews

I just finished watching Minority Report for the first time. I had heard very good things about this movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is not to say that it is in fact a great film, just very enjoyable to watch.

If you haven't seen it, go rent it, or maybe even buy it. I did, and am glad.

It's time for some sleep, perhaps I'll write more in the morning. That is, if there is time before I am off to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers :-D. You know, there is a B&N right next to the theater, so perhaps I will stop by afterwards and see about picking up a copy of the collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick that contains The Minority Report, which of course is what the movie, Minority Report is based on.

Office 11

Posted on 12/17/2002 to Technology

Well, I just installed beta 1 of Office 11 (I obtained it at the Microsoft booth at XML Conference and Exposition 2002). So far, I've played with XDocs, including designing a form based on a web service, and also a schema. I even went so far as to connect to a database for populating the data for a couple of drop-down lists. Seems very straight forward (at least for the simple things I've tried so far). Based on the little time I've spent with it and the demo at the conference, I can see a lot of use from XDocs for capturing data.

I've also opened up Word and briefly looked at it's XML features, including creating a document based on an XML schema. This didn't seem quite as intuitive, but I need to spend more time with it. My inclination is that Word is not yet ready to be used as an XML editor. For now, we'll stick with XMetaL and XML Spy.

Finally, I opened up FrontPage. I won't go into any of the details of FrontPage other than to say that one of the prebuilt web solutions that it ships with is a weblog solution. Since I have been building a weblog app, I find this interesting. So now I am off to setup the Frontpage weblog solution. More to follow.

Roy Williams Must Have Heard Us

Posted on 12/15/2002 to Sports

As Roy Williams walked off the field at Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium, chants rose up from the crowd "STAY ROY STAY!". Maybe he heard us, or maybe he just realizes the potential benefits of coming back for another year -- either way, he is coming back. Right now, he is probably a late first round or early second round pick, but if he can put together a full season playing the way he has over the last half of this injury plagued season, he will likely be a top 5 pick. Here's hoping that he puts it all together.

For those of you that doubted me when I speculated that he would not leave, be glad that you were wrong.

I've Been Busy

Posted on 12/12/2002 to Developer Stuff

I've been busy attending talks and talking to vendors at XML Conference and Exposition 2002.

The good talks have been few and far between. The one highlight so far was yesterday's first keynote presented by none other than Don Box. It was a nice look inside the world of SOAP and Web Services.

One other highlight was my aquisition of beta 1 of Office 11. I really liked the demo MS had of XDocs, and I can't help but to wonder if the next version of Word might work as an XML editor, instead of having to use something like Epic or XMetal.

Going To Baltimore

Posted on 12/8/2002 to Developer Stuff

I'll be in Baltimore all this week for XML Conference & Exposition 2002. It is a real short notice trip. I went last year, and frankly didn't get a whole lot from it. Then I went to VSLive! in San Francisco back in Feb of this year, and that was supposed to count as my big conference for they year, but then my bosses boss said that I should go to the XML conference when he learned this past Friday that I wasn't going (3 others from my group are already going). So, I spent the rest of Friday nailing down travel arrangements.

I am going to try hooking up with Ken. We've only ever talked via email and IM, so I am looking forward to the possibility. If there is any once else out there that lives in the area or will be at the conference, email me.

I'll be in the Inner Harbor area, so if anyone has suggestions for things to do or places to go, drop a comment here, or email me.

XML Schema and RSS

Posted on 12/8/2002 to Developer Stuff

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've written a very basic Xml schema for RSS 2.0. It is very basic only because it currently includes only the elements that I use when building RSS files. Within the next day or two, I will flesh it out so that it matches the RSS 2.0 spec.

Additionally, after I had my schema, I then used the xsd.exe utiliy to create a class file from the RSS schema. I am now deserializing XML feed files into a rss object and then using that object within the feed reader included in the weblog app I am building.

I know, this isn't exactly earth shattering, but it is fun doing things a little different from how I am accustomed to doing them.

.NET Based Weblog App Update

Posted on 12/5/2002 to Developer Stuff

It seems like I've been working on this .NET based weblog application forever! Truth is, I really haven't done much with it since summer. The problem right now is that it works for me, but I wouldn't be comfortable handing it out to anyone else - but I want to. So the dilemma is finding time to clean things up and finish up some features that are still undone.

Here is what it has so far:

  • a custom server control for handling the templating needs of the weblog, including entries, archives, comments, and trackbacks
  • An XML Schema that provides Intellisense to the HTML view for said server control.
  • It generates valid RSS 2.0 XML files.
  • It includes an RSS Feed Reader.
  • It includes a commenting system.
  • It includes a trackback system.
  • It can ping when an entry is created or updated.
  • It can handle multiple weblogs.
  • It has a hierarchical permission system for allowing/disallowing activity based on user roles.
  • You can specify when an entry goes live.
  • You can specify when an entry has expired.
  • You can assign entries to categories.
  • There is a comment notification system that emails each distinct person that has posted a comment for a specific post whenever there is a new comment, including the person who posted the entry initially.
hmm...what else? That is all I can think of for now. Things that need to be done:
  • User admin is incomplete
  • Fixed (almost) - I wrote an XML Schema for RSS - it works for 0.91,0.92, and 2.0 (working on 1.0) - I should have known better than to trust the dataset to infer the proper schema.Currently read RSS feeds into datasets - this works as long as elements are not duplicated at different levels within the file: this is bad because you could specify for example a category element as a child of channel and also as a child of item, which results in an error like this when reading the XML:
    The same table (category) cannot be the child table in two nested relations.
    The catch is that this implementation easily handles 95% of the feeds I subscribe to, in all flavors of RSS. If I fix the problem, I will end needing to add code to handle the variations in the other flavors (I know, I'm lazy)
  • I'd like to clean up the HTML that is rendered by the custom server control. It needs to be more like the repeater control in that if you don't put the HTML in one of your templates, it doesn't get added to the page.
  • Finally, I'd like to overhaul the UI for the admin area.
To be clear, this is not a complete list, there are more things to do, I just can't remember what they are at the moment.

So there you have it. I guess I should post something over at metaApps so that people who end up there but not here know that it isn't dead.

Time to Lighten Up

Posted on 12/5/2002 to Sports

Did I mention how thrilled I am for my favorite basketball team? The Dallas Mavericks are now 17-1 on the year - that is the 4th best one-loss start ever! I think the Rockets of 93-94 own the best start at something like 22-1. Mavs and the Lakers, in L.A. tomorrow night - GO MAVS!

In other news, it appears that my Cowboys are trying to make a late season rally for a respectable record. I really wish they wouldn't - better record = lower draft pick.

Holiday Update

Posted on 12/5/2002 to In General

Well, I tried to skip out on my picture being taken for later use on a christmas tree ornament, but my boss would have nothing of it. Tomorrow we are supposed to decorate our ornaments. That is something I will pass on - unless I can put a Star of David or a menorah on mine. But then, what is the point? I wouldn't want someone making a manger scene as part of my Hanukkah decorations (if I had any).

I am not sure why I am more bothered by all of this Christmas stuff this year. I have dealt with it all of my life. Heck, we even had a tree when I was a kid (mom's family is not Jewish, though she converted before I was born - to a few this will mean that I am not Jewish, but that doesn't change how I was raised or what I believe).

I have strong memories of a day during the first grade when my mom and the mom's of the other couple of Jewish first-graders came to school and we shared with our teachers and classmates the story and traditions of our minor holiday of Hanukkah. Unfortuantely I don't remember how I felt about doing this at the time. Over the years I have wondered if this one event sheltered me from insensitivity regarding religion (at least in school). As far as I can recall, I was never messed with because of my religion (and rarely for any other reason).

Instead of asking what I got for Christmas, they'd ask about my Hanukkah gifts. I never had to explain why we didn't have lights on the house, or why I wasn't in school during the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur). More than likely, the kids probably thought it was cool that I potentially received gifts for 8 nights and that I was allowed to miss school for the other, more important holidays. Of course what they didn't know is that while I might have received gifts on 8 nights, my parents were no better off than theirs, so in the end we all got about the same amount of stuff. Also, they probably didn't know that while I wasn't in school during the High Holidays, I still had to do any assigned work (due the day I got back) and typically had to take a test earlier if an idiot teacher had scheduled a test for one of those days.

Perhaps the answer is to be more open about my religion -- so people "know".

But I have a problem with that approach. Instead of someone saying "if I had known...," wouldn't it be better to say "I didn't know, and I didn't want to make any assumptions..." (or something similar)? Besides, like I said in my earlier post, my religion is my business. I won't impose my beliefs and traditions on you, please don't impose yours on me.

Are we too closed-minded as a society to realize that we are not all the same, and to be sensitive to possible differences?

I Am In A Funk

Posted on 12/4/2002 to Day Job

What is a guy to do when he doesn't share in the celebratory mood of those around him? No, I am not talking about a win by my favorite sports team's arch-rival, I am talking about this holiday season.

A company Christmas tree...Christmas decorations all up and down the hall outside of my office...even a little departmental tree right outside my office door...everyone is required to have their picture taken to hang on the tree...12 different Christmas activities for the 12 days of Christmas (whoever came up with that, by the way? my calendar shows it being just one day - perhaps someone was jealous of the 8 nights of Hanukkah?)...where will it end?

So you might wonder if I have ever said anything to anyone about this -- no. You might then wonder why the hell I am complaining when I don't have the courage to say anything. Here's the religion is no one else's business. I shouldn't have to complain about the excessive Christmas celebrating going on in the isn't like I work for a church or something. I was under the impression that most companies had moved away from Christmas celebrations in favor of holiday celebrations -- but I guess I am mistaken.

Am I wrong to feel this way?

It's not that I want to rain on anyone's parade or be considered a party pooper...but we are talking about work here. You want to put some Christmas type stuff up in your own office or cube, great, but you don't need to put it all over every other piece of furniture and wall in the building. You want to have a work sponsored party during the holiday's? Well that sounds fun, but consider some of your coworkers might not celebrate Christmas and call it a Holiday Party instead of a Christmas party.

Heck, it's not even like I am asking for official recognition of the other winter holiday's...just don't cram Christmas so far down my throat.

The Streak Ends

Posted on 12/1/2002 to Sports

The Mavericks bid for the most consecutive wins to start a season ended on Thanksgiving. However, they won two nights later to improve to 15-1 on the year. Now...knowing that the longest win streak to start a season is 15, we also know that though they didn't tie or break that mark, they are now tied for the best start to a season after 16 games.

It's that whole silver lining thing -- as if they needed it.