Friday, July 25, 2003

XML News Finally Making A Splash?

If you'd like to store that news locally, index and search it, or—gasp—contribute new content expressed in XML, consider NewsML
Content-centric XML hasn't followed its original five-year script. Celebrating its fifth birthday as a standard last February, XML was supposed to supplant HTML, shift the burden of processing Web sites from servers to underutilized client PCs, and achieve the holy grail of "create once, reuse many times."
But there's hope...

Convert Data Regularly Into XML

Interesting article: Full source is here
You often need to deal with data stored or transferred in various formats, ranging from comma- or tab-separated files to more complicated formats, each needing an appropriate parser. This can slow down development and create a source of errors. In addition, there is no guarantee that your parser will convert data into a format convenient for future processing or integration, especially with third-party software. One solution to this problem is to convert data of certain frequently used formats to an XML document that can be then saved, processed, or transformed to other formats.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Gotta love this headline...

We now return to our regularly scheduled critical flaw
Microsoft issued another passel of warnings about security holes yesterday, including a "critical" flaw involving DirectX that could allow malicious users to run code of their choice on a vulnerable PC. The flaw is unusually widespread, affecting all versions of DirectX from version 5.2 to the current 9.0a running on all versions of Windows from 98 through the new Server 2003. 

PRB: Error 41: "Memo File is Missing or Invalid" Error Message When You Access Tables on Computers That Are Running Windows 98 or Earlier from Computers Th

You use a computer that is running Windows 98 or earlier as a file server, and that computer hosts Visual FoxPro tables that contain memo fields. When users with computers that are running Windows XP try to access these tables, they may receive the following error message, even though there is nothing wrong with the memo file:

Error 41 "Memo file is missing or invalid."
The problem is caused by the difference between the file locking in Windows 98 and earlier, and the file locking in Windows XP.
Resolution: Use a computer that is running Windows XP as the file server.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Article Watch: Creating Mobile Solutions for VFP and .Net

Learn about the ASP.NET Mobile Controls and how they enable you to build a Web-based presentation layer for your Visual FoxPro application that targets multiple mobile devices

Monday, July 21, 2003

Oak Leaf Enterprises Releases Mere Mortals for .Net!

Oak Leaf Enterprises is proud to announce version 1.0 of its Mere Mortals .NET Framework. This enterprise-level development tool consists of a powerful component-based framework. Based on solid object oriented design and patterns, MM .NET simplifies many common data access and rule validation tasks, reducing the amount of code you need to write. Business objects can be combined with a set of super-charged user interface controls that simplify databinding, validation, security, error handling and many other mundane tasks. In addition, many Builders and Wizards help in speeding development of user interface and business object services. The HTML Develpoer's Guide includes a number of Jump Starts that get you up and running quickly. MM .NET was architected and implemented by two C# MVPs (Kevin McNeish and Rick Strahl) and the fully commented source code is provided with the product to allow complete customization and review of the code.

Reducing the File Size of your Runtime Distributions

If you are really clever , and want to reduce the size of your distribution severely, then you can use UPX to pack the files - if you use "upx --best --crp-ms=999999 --nrv2d [filename]", then you can get vfp7r.dll and vfp7renu.dll down to 1.8 MB, for both of the files!

Tracking By Wireless

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak drops stealth: wireless tracking in 900 MHz, ubiquitously (free reg. required): Woz's company, Wheels of Zeus (WOZ, get it?) has a device that can opportunistically use any local network operating in its format to report on GPS-identified whereabouts of people, animals, and things. WOZ uses the 900 MHz unlicensed band, and operates at about 20 Kbps. Interestingly, many of the location-based Wi-Fi systems use the flip side of this: they figure that range is small so if you identify the location of the access point, you can triangulate on a user and pinpoint their location. WozNet identifies the location of each low-speed, long-range (1 to 2 mile) device, liberating the access points. It's not too far in the future that GPS becomes a necessity for travelers and affordably built in. This is yet another example of its utility....

Saturday, July 19, 2003

New Windows Flaw: End of the World? (Again!?!)

From Computer World: A widespread flaw affecting all Windows versions, including Windows Server 2003, is raising user doubts about the efficacy of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative.
You know, I appreciate being told about flaws. I even like getting bug fixes every now and then but for the media to decry flaws as though it shakes the foundation of a company is getting really tiring (does McNealy plant these people or the stories?)
As much as it sounds like heresy, software development is not a perfect science. As NASA has proven in the past, trying to account for every possible condition is virtually impossible. This is not to say that software should be full of holes but rather that I would rather be able to tell a company what to fix and have them fix it  - instead of having the media start predicting the uselessness of a company's attempts to fix problems (or worldwide disaster, depending on the media).
I don't want companies to say "we're not releasing anything until it's 100% bug free" because it will never be. If that were the case, car tires wouldn't blow; houses wouldn't burn down due to faulty wiring and the light bulb probably would have been banned because it has a nasty habit of burning out every now and then.

Business Objects to Buy Crystal

The business-reports software company will buy Crystal Decisions in a deal valued at $820 million, the latest in a series of buyouts reshaping the business software market.

Business Objects is the company who has a lawsuit with patents on the ability to create SQL statements based on friendly database terms (such as with a data dictionary).

Friday, July 18, 2003

Putting Speech to Work in VFP

Here's a Microsoft article on bringing speech functionality into your Web applications with this set of development tools, based on the Speech Application Language Tags specification.
Equally applicable to Desktop applications as well. May use some of these in my new project FoxVoice (a speech enabled development environment for VFP!)
The concept (and I've tested this and it works, "kind of")
User calls out Form.
VFP creates a form and displays it.
Add Label.
VFP adds a label to the form.
Add Textbox.
VFP adds a text box to the form.
Modify Label
Move Right 20
VFP moves the label 20 pixels to the right.
Property AutoSize True
Property Caption User Name
VFP changes Label caption to say User Name
Modify Textbox
Move Right 50
VFP moves Textbox to the right of the label
Anyways, it's kind of cool - gives great demo but also makes it very easy to prototype. More to come on this later...

3 Blinks Means You're Hot: A Wireless Network Tracker

You've seen them wandering through airports and conference centers, holding laptops up at strange angles and squinting at the screens. They move slowly forward, then backward. Then they often scratch their heads, stow their computers and wander off muttering.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Web Services Implementation: Truth & Fiction

Interesting survey results from survey:
Current Results:
28% - Using now
15% - Testing now
31% - Intend to use
11% - Probably will use
16% - No use anticipated


Thursday, July 10, 2003

FoxPro Jobs & Marketing

Ok - I know everyone says it's a tough market out there for FoxPro but maybe it's just that people are being too picky about the work they want to do!

Case in point: there's an on-site job in Kingston for 5 months. The catch? It's FoxPro 2.0 DOS. They want changes, they want lots of changes but they have no intention of moving to Visual FoxPro (still trying to find out why not).

I don't know if they will ever find someone to do that job - which is really too bad because that means that there's one less FoxPro application (Yes I KNOW it's DOS) that exists.

The customer knows it works and just doesn't want to change it, except for these additional modifications.

Kind of like one of my customers here in Ottawa - they have a VFP 5 application that they have fought tooth and nail to keep in a government agency. By now, the IT people are saying "whatever!". But they love their app- when I suggested earlier this year they move it to a more recent version, they balked with the primary reason being that if they had to involve IT, they would have to explain once again why they wanted it kept.

This is where I think the community's marketing efforts really need to hit. Forget about the splashy marketing billboards that everyone complains about not seeing for FoxPro - concentrate on getting the message out to those government agencies, and Fortune companies and even the smaller shops extolling the virtues of newer versions of FoxPro.

I caught myself the other day when a customer was asking what our application was built with: he suggested Access and I said, "No - it's with the Microsoft Visual Development Tools," then stopped and said "This is a Visual FoxPro application." For many years, VFP developers in larger companies promoted the MS connection as a way to get around the IT naysayers (who wanted to rebuild it in something else) but that also leaves VFP out of the promotion.

When I mentioned a Web Portal company in an editorial for FoxPro Advisor (http:/, I got emails saying "why don't they promote the fact that they use FoxPro?" as if just by saying the word FoxPro, it would lend more credibility to the industry.

Frankly, I'm not sure if the end-user really cares - they just want a solution that works (and of course, VFP can do that!) but when people do ask, we should always be prepared to say "Built With Visual FoxPro!"
(Now THAT's an idea for Ken, YaG, Randy and whoever else is managing the VFP marketing effort - little stickers or a GIF that developers can put onto their application that proudly states "Built with Visual FoxPro")

Friday, July 04, 2003

Beating SPAM the Easy Way

Okay - sure I know you can BUY software to prevent SPAM but the easiest way for people who don't usually get e-mails from people they don't know is the following:

(Note: this works better in Outlook 2003 because you can specify the Address Book instead of the having to specify each person)

1. Create a rule for messages when they arrive.
2. The rule should be to move ALL messages to a Junk Mail folder but with the following exception:
a) in Outlook 2003
- except when user is in your address book
b) in all other versions
- except when user is (and then you have to select everyone's name)

Doing this - I have been able to cut down my SPAM by about 90%.

Much happier now - and it didn't cost me a penny.