THOUGHTS . old school

Filed Under (Random.scribbles) by WildFire on 05-06-2004

Time moves fast these days... too fast sometimes.

I remember there was this time when I was handling the SPL (Structure of Programming Languages) subject where I would constantly torture students mentally with machine problems and projects making them learn things the hard way. One of the principles behind it was considering that it is a war out there in the real world, you don't baby students to prepare them for war, for the realities of IT-related jobs, you polish them. You arm them with weapons.

We were taught and trained this way as well.

In that university where I taught and tortured students for breakfast and lunch, I practiced this constantly for four years. Along with some classmates who worked in that school as well, we even introduced 'pressure programming' (which I'll discuss more in the next blogs to come) and I pushed that pressure to another level.

But outside those 'war rooms' known also as computer laboratories, we were friends. Well of course, computer-related questions are still not allowed to be answered until they have researched and spent sleepless nights for seven days.

Seven days is such a short time, seven years as well.

Seven years after I first taught, one of those students is in a way teaching me means of making my programming related problems easier to solve. That student is Beakman.

Beakman introduced me to using Views, which I know exists but didn't care much about until last night. You see I have these 'old-school-ic' principles. If it can't be programmatically coded then forget about it. The hell with wizards and one click menus.

There was even a time when my codes when copied and pasted to a .prg file would run smoothly when compiled with Clipper 5.2. In fact back then, I had Clipper versions of my program that whenever I'm bored I'd make run along with a VisualFoxpro 5.0 module making them pass data as if they're playing football inside the CPU. The VFP module was not even using timers, just old school for loops.

Talking to Avatar this morning resonated that possible need to retire parts of my old-school attitude. In fact talking to both Beakman and Avatar make me feel like I'm prehistoric already.

So armed with these Windows 2000 Server and SQL Server 2000 installers, a couple of 20GB hard disks, my old Compaq 500MHz PC, a screw driver, a cup of coke and U2's music playing on the background, I'm setting sail for a new quest.

But it doesn't mean I'll be completely leaving behind the cape of old school. There's something extremely mind-thirst-quenching when using it.

workBLOGS . NAV

Filed Under (work.BLOG) by WildFire on 04-06-2004

This morning when I received an sms message telling me that the computers running Project:Valhalla shutdown as expected. The half of the neuron population on this brain of mine, which was already assigned to that project (Yup it's taking that amount of space and energy already), leapt in joy. In fact it was leaping for almost five minutes that at the end of that period, I could feel some bouncing motion in my head. And for another hour, my head was nodding involuntarily as if I'm listening to a certain rock band's beat.

So off I went to another client, having that sense of peace which was missing for almost a week because of those 'outside factors'-induced problems plaguing Valhalla.

When I returned home, the Valhalla.client showed me this error:

Terminating thread due to a stack overflow problem. A VxD, possibly recently installed, has consumed too much stack space. Increase the setting of 'MinSPs' in the SYSTEM.INI or remove recently installed VxDs.

For a second or two the neuron population went nuts. Grinding sounds were heard on my head. When will all these problems end? BUGS seem to be coming and coming and I am slowly being drained.

I was slowly isolating the factors in my head, calculating the possible cause of the problem. All of them seem to point to that Shutdown WinAPI. Then I realized... I was online and there is such thing known as GOOGLE.

So I entered the error as a query and I got this result from Symantec's support site.

You see... the culprit was Norton Antivirus 2001, but since the last thing that was done on that place was the installation of a new system from me, all computer-related problems are being blamed on Valhalla. Probably if an asteroid hits the ocean they would blame Valhalla too. What's next, Valhalla as the cause of offshore related problems?

But this is just part of the thing they call as 'work hazards'... or whatever. Besides as the saying goes... 'Smooth seas do not produce skillful sailors.'

Or if we'll do it the Master Yoda way:

Skillful sailors
Smooth seas
Produce not.

download . VFP9 Beta

Filed Under (Visual FoxPro) by WildFire on 04-06-2004

Visual Foxpro 9.0 Beta Download is now online... and the VFP June Newsletter from VS Data Product Manager Ken Levy as well.

THOUGHTS . VFP Revolution

Filed Under (Random.scribbles, work.BLOG) by WildFire on 03-06-2004

VFP Revolution has been floating around for a week or more and this evening I was reading Craig Berntson's opinion about it on his FoxBlog. Though his opinions may sound pessimistic to some (especially to those live/die-hard Foxpro coders out there), it is in a way a practical approach on how to view things.

I also have some thoughts about this matter since the first day I've read those 'we-feel-abandoned' type of articles in the 'net, but up to this moment I'm still struggling to organize those thoughts.

Just recently I was talking online to a former college classmate of mine who is working on a company whose boss is requiring them to convert their VisualFoxpro systems into a VisualBasic one. My pet tiger and I cringed at hearing that news.

Anyway... if you'll look closely at Microsoft.com's Product Lifecycle Dates : Developer Tools Family, you'll see that the Extended Support for Visual Foxpro 8.0 ends on the 31st of March 2010 and probably VFP9 which will be released late this year will have three to four more years... probably around 2014, and that's ten years from now.

Ten years is such a long time in the world of computers and the internet era. With that span of time you can still develop countless database-driven systems that will last five times that span of time.

Hmm... should VisualFoxpro developers worry about the operating systems and platforms more..?

Just a part of the random thoughts I have on this matter that I'm still trying to organize.

workBLOGS . clientCHECK

Filed Under (work.BLOG) by WildFire on 03-06-2004

I'm on a client's lair updating and monitoring VALHALLA. The vibrations are good.

... and the food as well.

article . Backups

Filed Under (SoftDev (non-VFP)) by WildFire on 03-06-2004

Backups... backups... backups...

download . dotNetRocks TechED

Filed Under (SoftDev (non-VFP)) by WildFire on 02-06-2004

DotNetRocks! TechEd 2004 episode now ready for download.

workBLOGS . The Outside Factors

Filed Under (work.BLOG) by WildFire on 02-06-2004

This is the second straight night that I was talking to a client that monitors Project: Valhalla. I must admit that I have overlooked some parts of the system but most I have fixed already waiting deployment and installation on my next visit. The auto-download and update utility is still in conception so I have to guide my client to do things through online instant messaging.

Go to the Desktop. Right click on the Network Neighborhood icon. Find the computer labeled as ShyMonster. No not that one... the one with the green icon that shows Elvis' face. Find the shared folder. Enter this password. Right click. Map network drive. Pound the keys. Pound the monitor. Grab anything you can grab. Test force. Test gravity... and so on.

I think I'm grumbling too much at night that my little kid's sleeping habits are getting affected too. He's awake up to two in the morning watching Finding Nemo or Monsters Inc or Shrek for the Nth time. Yup and I'm already able to talk along with the movie while coding. And this is showing on some of my variables: cSquishy, cNemo, nBruceTeeth, lMikeWachowski and even procedure names: CheckShrek().

This little kid of mine has the makings of a programmer already... I'm almost convinced until he starts to growl and howl that I'm beginning to picture out what IDE or 'x-developer-environment' in the future should be developed in order to accommodate sounds such as this.

But back to Valhalla, most problems really are 'outside factors'. Internet connection... mis-configured OSes. Unchecked daylight saving time features. Users that seem to be suffering from short term memory loss or the password that seems to like to forget their users. Printers that barf out things... name it, I think these things are popping out everywhere.

Just earlier tonight, the client told me that the Report Preview is 'good', it shows the data but when it prints things, it prints nothing. Data is showed in the preview but when the print button is clicked, the printed sheet shows nothing but headers. Weird for it was working fine just yesterday. In fact it was just working this morning. So I asked her to send the database to me, I tested it here at home and things are fine on my unit. Weird now becomes Weird++.

I tried deleting some 'suspected records' and some 'fall guy records' and sent it back to her and still the problem exists. But of course I have to guide her once again from the backing up of databases, copy-and-pasting things and so on. As a programmer you know already how frustrating it is to wait for the results. Once a mind is in motion, the mind gets pissed if the motion is delayed by an outside force. That's Newton's law.

Yesterday I was beginning to wonder if it is WinAPI's way of saying: 'You think you have conquered us already eh? Dodge this! And this!'

And I'm like... 'Whoa... Hoo...' Ah wait that's FindingNemo's Crash dude DialogBox already.

So I created a temporary patch that exports the database to an Excel sheet for an 'easier' way of printing out this time and just when I was about to ask her if she had printed out the file already... her online presence disappeared.

Only to reappear minutes later telling me that Valhalla's shutdown procedure booted her out. This was followed by a slight panic because data won't show in the preview part anymore when I realized that it was twelve midnight already and things were filtered out by date causing the filtering out of yesterday's data.

Good thing changing dates is not that difficult. But since I added an algorithm that checks inconsistencies in dates and interprets it as a user trying to adjust the time to lessen his/her billing so he/she can save some money to buy some shoes, things get complicated once again.

This was the part where momentarily I was wishing I could just Alt+Ctrl+Del the client and start things all over tomorrow. But of course I was not trained that way. I was trained to do the axe kick + bat + flying dragon approach. So I'm saving all of these 'energies' for my next visit.

And just I was about to wrap things up for the night, a five minute block-out occurred.