Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Reality of Sending Email These Days

Never, ever, use the word "sign up" in your emails if you are sending them to users who might be using Outlook 2003. Emails with those words are considered to be "spam" messages and are automatically forwarded into the Junk E-Mail folder in Outlook 2003.
That's a real shame for those companies who want to provide their customers with valuable information but the reality of is that just using those terms in your email suggests possible spam.

Graphic Designers: It's a report, not art!

Sometimes a report just needs to be a report...
Canuckflack: Graphic Designers: It's a report, not art!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Longhorn Gutted: An example of regular software dev processes

Scoble explains a bit of at least his understanding as to why Longhorn was gutted.

It makes sense in many ways. MS (and virtually every other tech company) is always big on "what's coming down the pipe". I remember getting a letter from BillG when Windows 3.1 was released, trying to get people to switch from DOS (and then again with Win95). In many cases, it's about providing a better solution to existing problems. (as an example, remember Apple's Navigator?)

However, in the case of LongHorn, MS seemed to be going after one type of user (corporate dev) and fighting off another tech attack (from Linux users) instead of addressing the bigger issues.

When Bill G originally became the "architect" for MS (instead of CEO), it was supposed to be because he was going to refocus the team on fixing the critical issues he saw in the product. Two years later, unfortunately, MS is more of a target than ever before from tech attacks and little security problems are like holes in the dam, needing to be filled in.

Software developers go through this on a regular basis. You want to build the next greatest application but you have to deal with fixing your existing one first. That's not to say that you screwed up big time on the first one but that as it became used more, you try to find solutions in your existing application. Where does that place your "next big thing"? On the backburner. The ideal is to provide a mounting strategy so that the steps are incremental and result in a better overall tool. Can that happen with an OS? MS has tried it with XP, moving users from DOS to Win 3x to Win95 and now finally to XP. But the idea of being able to simply hit a switch and have all the users jump ship to a new OS?

It's a difficult challenge just as getting your entire company wrapped around Security and the "little things", such as pop-ups and spam.

MS has done it before, turning the entire company on a dime to be Internet-aware (back in 94/95) and they were , arguably, successful at it. But now, they are the primary focus of hackers, security pundits, anti-trust lawyers (and anyone else you can drop into this bucket), and the challenge is harder.

Are there great tools coming down the pipe? Absolutely but MS needs to provide an easy way to get those people on board. Otherwise they will suffer the same fate as Apple with declining marketshare. The difference here is that there is NO real single alternative. Don't get me started on Linux - yes, it's an alternative. But there are at least 6 different mainstream variations so it reminds me of the Sun Open Unix days, when there was NeXT, Sun, IBM AIX, etc. And many of the Linux camps simply try to COPY the existing Windows interface.

So I see it as a good thing that MS pulls back a little bit. Otherwise when Longhorn debuted it would be like the original Infinity car ads - everyone would be left wondering "and this is for .....?"

I would love nothing more than to have a new OS come in that revolutionizes the way my life in computers is done but I'm also a realist. Don't preach "this is the better way" and then change it every few years. Unless it fundamentally changes even the concept of computing, the slow, steady, evolutionary approach is the not the only, but the most logical way to go about it. It may not bring in 40 billion dollars overnight but then again, what does?

Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger

Google to Bloggers: Get Your Ad Share

Now this makes sense. If you want to show ads, here's an opportunity to make some money doing it. If you don't, you won't have to show them.

Since I run a number of different blogs from blogger, this strategy sounds like a sure winner for me.

If they were pop-ups, no but I, for one, don't find Google's adsense a bad thing at all.

Google to Bloggers: Get Your Ad Share

Saturday, August 28, 2004

MSF Agile preview is now available!

The MSF team just released the beta version of MSF agile. I guess "version" is a strong word - it's more of a collection of processes and best practices but if you ever took a look at the original MSF (Microsoft Solutions Framework), it's a great way of describing vision, design, development and implementation for both large and small projects (if only it could be embraced by non-tech managers!)

The Agile system is being integrated directly in the VS 2005 Team system, another exciting step in better software development.

Looking forward to seeing what's changed in MSF Agile.

Now I have some more reading to do...
MSF Agile preview is now available!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Microsoft overhauls Longhorn plans - News - ZDNet

I'm sure you've heard but just in case...the one promising thing here is that it looks like we may get the "good" pieces (Indigo and Avalon) as separate utilities for XP and 2003. That would be awesome!

Microsoft overhauls Longhorn plans - News - ZDNet

First impressions of a newbie PocketPc user - Rick Strahl's WebLog

Rick writes about his first impressions of his new IPAQ and I guess I fall into the category of someone with "chronical disconnection anxiety"

Unfortunately, my Ipaq 1940 screen got smashed and I have yet to fix it but when I had it running, I was using it for all those times I had to leave my office but still wanted to respond to other emails (yup chronic disconnection!)

Actually the best use for it I found was with my AudioTron (an audio device used for playing MP3 and WMa on my network) - it came with a web server that was accessible via WiFi. I now had a remote control anywhere in the house for my music.

First impressions of a newbie PocketPc user - Rick Strahl's WebLog

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

So Where's the Wi-Fi promise in Europe?

 Just got back from ten days in England. Many of the places I stayed at didn't offer WiFi connections (most Internet was only available in the office centres). At least that was a blessing but it certainly made me wish that hotels and areas would really become far more proactive in offering Wifi around. Granted I was in the North away from London but only the Hilton and Quality hotel where I was offered any kind of access and signing up for it proved to be a tiresome exercise and time-consuming, not good when you're off with family and want to get some internet time in.
I wish they had Bongo's WiFi service in those areas. Now I'm back and get to read up on the thousands of messages left waiting for me. If you're waiting for something from me, give me at least a day and I'll be on it.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Sharing Digital Pictures using FoxPro

Calvin gives some details on a little application that he uses for cataloging his images (written in FoxPro of course!)

Sharing Digital Pictures of your friend's

A Dozen Things Outlook Doesn't Do�but Should

David Coursey makes some gripes about what he thinks Outlook should do. His first one is Address Correction. Obviously, he's never entered a foreign address into Outlook. Everytime I sent a Canadian address, Outlook's address correction goes nutty on me and tries to ensure that all my contacts are actually in the US. Why? Must be the US Regional settings I'm using.

Anyways, some of this points are pretty good and he makes note of tools like NewsGator for RSS feeds (I was pretty sure MS would buy this company but now they have VC funding, maybe not).

One of his more interesting ones was the removal of duplicate messages. I actually have this problem regularly and here's the program I wrote to get around it. The logic is such that if there are two identical messages, it will delete the unread one or the second one if both are unread. I use it regularly because I'm on multiple email lists (sales, support, dev) for some of my clients and therefore get LOTS of dup messages. Works great for me.

LOCAL loSpace
LOCAL loApp,loFolder,loMsg,lnmsgs,loMsg2

loApp = GETOBJECT("","Outlook.application")
loSpace = loApp.GetNameSpace("MAPI")
** Change this to go to whatever folder you want to get to.
loFolder = loSpace.Folders("MailBox").Folders("Inbox")
lnMsgs =loFolder.Items.Count

FOR lni = lnMsgs TO 2 STEP -1
loMsg = loFolder.Items(lni)
loMsg2 = loFolder.Items(lni-1)
IF loMsg.Subject = loMsg2.Subject ;
AND loMsg.SenderName = loMsg2.SenderName ;
AND loMsg.Body = loMsg2.Body
CASE loMsg2.Unread
CASE loMsg.Unread
A Dozen Things Outlook Doesn't Do�but Should

Thursday, August 05, 2004

FoxUnit being released on 8/10

Version 1.0 of FoxUnit, a new open source unit-testing module from Vision Data Solutions is becoming available on August 10th. As unit testing is getting more and more popular, this great initiative should be a real benefit to all FoxPro developers. They are having a webinar on the 10th.

Sadly, I won't be there as I'm on holidays but check it out and see how you can integrate better testing into your Visual FoxPro development!

FoxUnit > Home ( DNN 2.0.4 )

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Garrett: Recent Changes to Copyright

Garrett pointed me to the following article that tells me I'm wrong about the campfires:

"In 1996 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) told the Girl Scouts of the USA that scout camps must start paying a licensing fee to sing any of the 4 million copyrighted songs that ASCAP controlled (Walker and Fagan). This included girl scout staples such as "Happy Birthday". Many camps went songless for months, until newspaper and talk show attention generated enough outrage that ASCAP was forced to say that they had no intention of prosecuting girl scout camps for violations of singing songs around the campfire. But in backing down, ASCAP still insisted that they still might prosecute camps for playing background music without a license. Though most citizens would bristle at ASCAP’s attempts to charge the girl scouts, as a copyright holder the law is on their side, and the girl scouts’ only defense would be fair use (but only as long as fair use remains a defense)."

Very Nice.

Recent Changes to Copyright

So I'll sue you because I like what you're doing...

From the strange but true stories, another one that proves no one wins with the lawyers.

"In a recent radio interview, Woody Guthrie's son Arlo said he enjoyed the cartoon and even referred friends and relatives to the site. "I think my dad would have absolutely loved the humour in it," he said."

But still the copyright holder wants $$ for a parody that was free.
Wait til they find out people sing the song at campfires!

Thanks, Todd, for pointing this one out.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Preemptive Testing

An interesting description on how to get people to test software a little better using pre-emptive testing. While not everyone has the benefit of a separate testing group, it helps to even get test scripts or suites written during the development phase instead of after.

Preemptive Testing