Lightning operation commando skills

Filed Under (work.BLOG) by WildFire on 13-08-2004

SMAH.client monthly visit... I was on a bus, pony-tailed my now getting longer hair so that I could feel something when I press my nape against the seat. It gives me that I'm-Neo-I-am-the-one feeling plugged into The Matrix.

I was planning this visit to be a 'lightning operation'. Go in-Execute(Mission)-Go out. That kind of visit. I even made 'one click' automations for some updates and some batch files last night. Some database manipulations were done already at home so that I would be merely copying (after doing some backups of course) the files in the target computers.

I sneaked in past the guard and the 'Big Boss' and after around 17 minutes, the mission was completed. Usually by this time I consume my time talking to some staff, having those kind of normal discussions where you learn a lot (their 'routine' activities, gripes and stuff), you observe a lot (like how many fingers they really use when they're typing and how many fingers are 'pretending' to be moving) and formulate some things in my mind based on these learning and observations.

This was not applicable this time. My mind was set for a 'lightning operation'.

In. Execute. Out. Two down... one to go.

On my way out though, I saw the 'Big Boss' closing the lights in her office... preparing to take her lunch. Of course I could do a commando-type sneak with ease, which I learned from playing video games when I was a child, but that would be unprofessional.

Very unprofessional.

At least I have to say 'hi' or something.

That was when my being 'feedable' impaired the 'lightning operation'. Don't even bother searching for what that word means, I made that up.

Wherever I go, people I meet tend to want to 'feed' me, stuff some food in my belly. For Varumvha's sake, I'm not even thin to start with.

So there I was spending the next couple of hours, chomping, reading the February 2004 edition of Windows and .NET Magazine while waiting, fixing some Excel-related corruption problems and the usual learning and observing activities.

I guess I still have a lot to improve in my lightning operation commando-like skills.

TLC Tools and Utilities

Filed Under (Visual FoxPro) by WildFire on 12-08-2004

TLC: Foxpro Tools and Utilities

Thoughts derived from some food-less midnight work breaks…

Filed Under (Random.links, work.BLOG) by WildFire on 11-08-2004

11:42PM | Regular break from the normal midnight database operations.

My two year old is still watching Dinosaur in the background. Yup very much awake at this time of night... the making of a programmer right?

Dean Michael posted interesting blogs here and here. I'm still finishing some database migration related things for tomorrow's client visit but I'll post some thoughts later.

He also mentioned this site: TopCoder.com

I saw a dollar image in the front page. My interest dropped to sublevel 37.

On the pixel-side of things, I uploaded this Photoshop Shadow Tutorial I made 15 months ago. It is still unreleased from inside the Pixelcatalyst.Lair. Yes... one of those derivations from that 'so-many-cool-things-to-do-so-limited-time' dilemma.

PWA entry fee draws mixed reactions. What do you expect? I have always wanted to blog my thoughts about this since I found out that they're now collecting P2,500 entry fees for that contest... err... awards to prevent 'crappy sites' from entering. Out of respect to some local web designers I've known for years, I'm refraining from posting some thoughts for now.

Let time and output tell if the move was appropriate and effective. I'm not using the words 'good' and 'right'. Elusive words... these are.

In an indirect way, you can compare it to what the Philippine government is pushing these days... the thing about additional taxes. Should we focus more on how making tax collection efficient first before adding more burden to the people?

Should we solve things underneath first before implementing reckless series of patches over it?

Do check the statistics for uncollected revenues for the past 10 years and you'll understand my sentiments, and the majority of the Filipino people's sentiments as well.

Never mind my sentiments, I'm just hungry anyway.

Oh... we're giving up already the idea that we can collect these things efficiently and we'll just add another batch of 'to-collect-things' that highlight the inefficiency and feed Mr. Graft and Miss Corruption?

I'm not raising the white flag for RP's situation though. Not now when I see my two year old watching Dinosaur at this time of the night.

But... I need to resume working.

Hopefully...

select 0
use
RESOURCES shared
if !file('RESOURCES.cdx')
index on alltrim(GoodGovernance) tag CRESGOOD
index on EfficientMeans tag CRESEFFI
index on ATested(Integrity, Passed) tag CRESINTE
index on Stress(DTOS(date())) tag CRESDATE
index on Listen(People(.voice)) tag CRESVOIC
else
CheckIntegrity('RESOURCES', Strict)
endif

... could be of help.

BallPC… yup it’s a ball.

Filed Under (Random.links) by WildFire on 11-08-2004

Make this thing defy gravity... make this float and I'll acquire a dozen and practice my newly found newbie networking skills.

I would even mod it further... add some hairs perhaps.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Mirror Sites

Filed Under (Random.links) by WildFire on 10-08-2004

If you're using Windows XP, then its Service Pack 2 is a must have. Here's a Bit Torrent for SP2 (SP2Torrent.com). I am also currently downloading this SP2 Network Installation Package at MajorGeeks.com.

Not satisfied?

Here's a link to 30+ sites that mirrors the file: FileMirrors.com (Thanks cephei for the link)

Do the world some favor... move your lazy arse.

DeviantArt and pixels

Filed Under (GFX) by WildFire on 09-08-2004

DeviantArt celebrated its fourth birthday last August 07. Considering that it is still three in the morning and I am located in this part of the world where I am ahead by almost twelve hours to where DeviantArt servers are located, that celebration was just yesterday.

It sports a new faster loading skin and a well-organized interface plus a web-based chat feature created by the brains behind the Sonique MP3 player, Andrew McCann. There are quite a number of improvements 'experience-wise' too that you have to see for yourself.

These days DeviantArt holds 7 million deviations already while catering 8.2 million page views a day. Of course there is more to DeviantArt than what those number can show.

Much much more.

Inspired by this, which has also greatly inspired me to start the Pixelcatalyst.Lair website four years ago, do expect some pixel-related blogs from now on. Post that deals on some Photoshop tips and HTML/web design related materials.

I will also be including once in a while the 'creative thoughts' behind some of the artworks I create in my free time, some tutorials and everything sex in between.

When I say 'sex' I mean the 'sex' referred inside those Sex and Cash Theories that are proliferating the blog-o-sphere as of late.

And not the other one.

Some old-school-ic filterin’ code

Filed Under (Visual FoxPro, work.BLOG) by WildFire on 09-08-2004

Early dawn-worm-code snippet:

if .chkMonth.value != 0 .and. !isblank(.cmbMonth.value)
cFilterDate = upper(alltrim(.cmbMonth.value))
cFilterYear = "(year(DATAAMPM.DATE) == year(date()))"
cFilter = "(upper(alltrim(cmonth(DATAAMPM.DATE))) == cFilterDate)"
cFilter = cFilter + " .and. " + cFilterYear
**' cFileName = cFilterDate + alltrim(str(year(date())))

dDate = cFilterDate + alltrim(str(year(date())))
report form Report_AMPM preview for &cFilter
else
cMess = 'Please specify the month first' + chr(13) + ;
'and check the Monthly Report filter'
messagebox(cMess)
endif

One... the above code is not 'extremely optimized' and was done around 2:16AM. So get over it.

Two... I'm just testing the preformatted tag and the colors. I recall someone blogging about a tool that 'autocolorizes' code in blogs, but I just can't remember the URL. At two in the morning I don't want to be involve in any searches.

Three it's nice to know that the ELSE statement functions as 'Everything Else' in most programming language. Foxpro included.

In the above code, given lCondition_01 = .chkMonth.value != 0 and lCondition_02 = !isblank(.cmbMonth.value), the ELSE clause would execute when:

A. lCondition_01 == .F. and lCondition_02 == .F.
B. lCondition_01 == .T. and lCondition_02 == .F.
C. lCondition_01 == .F. and lCondition_02 == .T.

... and not just when A is satisfied. Which if this was done in one of our Math subjects (Automata-related) back in college will be the only basis for the output.

The cFileName line has been weeded out in comments just for the sake of this post. It has been my practice to save and export some filtered queries ('native Foxpro filter' and SQL queries) generated by the program to an .xls file.

Supercomputers and the human brain…

Filed Under (Random.links, Random.scribbles) by WildFire on 08-08-2004

Every time a blackout occurs, I always realize how weak computers are.

Back when I was still working for my old employer, whenever one occurs we would do something 'progressive-for-the-company'... something like playing basketball or table tennis perhaps.

The rest of the other offices prefer to nap.

Of course we could choose the nap way of doing progressive things, but since one of our senior database programmers snores like a wild boar who hasn't slept for two decades after chasing Alicia-looking deers and such, our choices are limited.

But returning to the topic of supercomputers... even if we have seen much of these for the past few months, like the one NASA has, or the one IBM is going to build for the military, or the Earth Simulator Center supercomputer in Japan, and there's this Open Supercomputer codenamed Beowulf... these are still far from my envisioned 'supercomputer'.

For one, I think a supercomputer should not be dependent on electricity... or batteries.

A supercomputer should be able to sustain itself.

Which makes the brain a better supercomputer than those other so-called supercomputers. It is unplugged and it needs no batteries to function. We even lug it around everywhere we go without a thought, imagine attempting to carry those supercomputers around with us.

Of course it needs food, protein, porn and whatever but still... it works.

Humans really have to work on powering it up instead of being dependent on calculators, computers and phones. I'd still believe that if man hasn't discovered the cellphone or even phones in general, we could have furthered our mental telephatic powers by now.

Having said that, I am looking forward for this book. As Boingboing.net calls it... 'Brain Hack: Overclock your Amygdala'.

Mine needs a hibernation period for now.

SMAG visit – 2004.0806

Filed Under (Random.links, Visual FoxPro, work.BLOG) by WildFire on 07-08-2004

Visited a client in Guagua, Pampanga today. Fixed a database corruption on one unit. Installed some ILS module updates. Meet W95.spaces.1445 (I've been cataloguing those kinds of meetings and it seems each company I visit cultivates their own 'pets').

cEntity = 'pets'
cSimilarEntity = substr(cEntity, 1, 2) + ReverseString(substr(cEntity, 3, 2))

Introduced OpenOffice.org since they could afford to buy only one licensed copy of Microsoft Office 2003 this school year. Introduced MajorGeeks.com and explained OfficeXP's save as old format capabilities.

Yes... one of the many advantages of 'freelancing' is having more room to educate people... the 'normal users' who need more enlightenment. Something you don't have that much if you're one of those 'in-house-type-of-programmers' here in this country.

Of course I'm not generalizing here. I've known some good in-house programmers who do not only excel in what they're doing, but passionately 'evangelize' technological matters as well.

But recently I've seen too much work-related grumbling from them. Quite sad.

I am also an 'in-house programmer' in my regular job and I tell you there is a big difference.

Freelancers don't have a boss... or at least we don't call them 'boss' we call them 'clients', our time is flexible (or at least we think it is) and we can work in pajamas (not naked... contrary to popular belief, programmers don't work naked).

You, my friend, are always welcome to the other side of the fence.

Later... 12:31AM and I still have to finish one report for tomorrow's MILD.client visit.

···

Calvin Hsia shares an overview (and even some codes) on how to catalog and share digital pictures using Visual Foxpro, SQL and .NET. Very informative if you'd ask me. Makes you want to say Kenshin's 'There's nothing I can't do with this sword' line.

Replace(LineAbove, 'this sword', 'Foxpro').

Fine-Tune Your Web Site for Windows XP Service Pack 2.

.NET linkwarp: Hyatt.lu

Ada Lovelace started her blogs. Keep it up, Leigh. Can we expect techblogs from Dennis and Exander too?

Gapingvoid.com is an insightful site. I added it in my aggregator a couple of days ago when I read the How to be Creative post. Number 13 is applicable in the field of software development:

Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

Netcrucible: Sex and Cash

More Sex and Cash theories... probably I'll post mine in the future.

Meet IKIA

Filed Under (Random.scribbles, work.BLOG) by WildFire on 06-08-2004

I acquired a new pet today, a three and a half feet fire-breathing orange eyed lizard with fifteen fingers.

For those who have been following this site for quite some time, I'm sure you have heard about my tiger and pterodactyl. Well this lizard is the newest.

... and the most arrogant.

I'm starting to call this one IKIA, a short cut for 'I Know It All'. Ikia claims he knows C++, Java, VB6, VB.NET and SQL. He even understands Clipper and VisualFoxpro as well. He claims his fifteenth finger was meant for the space bar and that he can create a program to generate a 7x7 magic cube in less than five minutes.

Impressive claims if you'd ask me... but until I can find another keyboard for him to use, I won't be allowing his slimy fingers to touch this Logitech keyboard of mine.

Ikia seem to know it all. He started blobbing about certain operating concepts, kernels, threads and other stuff which I believed were discussed when I was in college. Too bad I was busy doodling some non-cs related illustrations then.

Then he proudly stated the words 'I am good because I can solve things fast.'

BEEP.

I have seen this before, good programmers and even good students bragging that this and that are easy.

Well... while programming is indeed about problem solving, it is not just about problem solving. It is about solving problems efficiently.

Not just solving problems efficiently today... or this month or this year, but solving problems retroactively, currently and beyond. Unlike hardware, software, especially database applications are not meant to deteriorate.

Well at least, that's how I see things.

IMCS.CPanel.DataTransfer Module

Filed Under (Visual FoxPro, work.BLOG) by WildFire on 05-08-2004

02:08AM.

Unholy hour for some... but for me this is the holiest of holy hours. Every thing's calm and at peace and I can code the way I want. Of course there are those times (especially when the sun is up) when I would prefer coding when U2, Paul Oakenfold, Enigma, NIN or even the soulful music of ColdPlay pounds in my ears... but when the sun decides to dream, I prefer silence.

Ah... enough of these things. I did promise myself to concentrate on work blogs once more. To discuss more programming/freelancing/system-analysis-related issues and insights would be the priority. The info-links you used to see will still be there, probably underneath each 'work blog'.

So what have I been working on for the past few hours?

IMCS.CPanel.DataTransferModule

What in wakahalarovha's name is that?

IMCS stands for Integrated Media Center System and CPanel for Control Panel. Like most control panels you see in this world, this module aims to give the user the 'lowest level access' to some core parts of the program. Most settings and configuration are in there.

One of my measurements on how 'good' a program/system is, lies on how it can stand alone independent of the programmer who created it. If it can run for 7 years or more without my intervention, the hacker-part of this soul would be lust-ified.

That is why the CPanel is there.

Of course certain 'outside factors' like operating system variables, upgrades, environment, meteorites, non-thinking management and millions of other factors, pose a great challenge to that 'independence'. Include some marketing related factors too. But, that would be another blog for now.

It has been my practice too, to make the database systems I develop compatible with a certain client's other existing database applications. And since the Registrar and Cashiering (which involves different student information-related modules) are already handled in four of my clients by another software development company years before me, I made the Transfer Module as a means to export their databases to my database applications.

Of course I could make use of their database directly inside their own folders, but I prefer using my own re-structured database for a number of reasons.

One's to be safe. If something happens on their part of the application, the database applications I am maintaining would not be affected. Same holds true the other way around. If corruption or any variation of those things happen, their system would not suffer.

And trust me when I say I don't want a fellow Foxpro programmer to suffer... especially in my own hands.

Second reason is I am very particular with how I name the fields, the name formats and such. If you maintain several programs, it would be good for you if you're using your own easy-to-remember conventions which would be hassle-free for you to recall once you switch on your development process to and fro from within your tasks pool.

Third reason involves the way I normalize fields and records. Fields such as Relative01, Relative02, Relative03 and so on is a big no no for me. Well, at least most of the time. This would be a different story though if it is a RelativeGivingOutiPodsandG5sToDevelopers. If this is the case... the more the merrier applies instead.

But following a database system that is not yours is not that easy. Even if both systems are developed in Visual Foxpro and you're only scratching the database parts.

For one, the other database programmer can change the structure of the database at any point, and you, like me, find yourself re-coding some parts of your program, which in my case, the Data Transfer module.

These occur too especially if the other software development company has more than one programmer who seems to juggle with their field naming convention. CLIENT_01 uses MTELNO and FTELNO for their parent's phone numbers. CLIENT_02 on the other hand uses MBTELNO and FBTELNO where I suppose 'B' stands for Business. Client_01 don't have equivalent names for those fields. And in this digital world, one bit makes a BIG difference.

Last June, I also found myself in a position where another database structure was change and I cannot even edit it until I open the database exclusively. A feature which I should be adding on the Database Utility Module (equivalent to Clipper's DBU) I made.

A utility which I will discuss further in another blog... in another time.

���

Good luck, Arctic Team... may you find what you've been looking for. Same shout outs to Cassini and the Mercury Messenger as well (472 million dollars for 7.9 billion kilometer journey eh?).

Aloe vera may treat battle wounds. Nah... I prefer peace, unity and discussion. Deal with things the way 'good' programmers handle problems. War was never a solution... and never will it be. How come we never learn from the past?

Make way for Doom's Day instead.

Mark Anthony Panizales is now bloggin'... and Ceazar Ryan Sealana too. If you could remember they were part of the first call-to-blog post of mine. I'll be posting a second batch of roll calls within the week.

Looks like SCO gets it.

I don't get it.

Nevermind.

Happy birthday, Neil Armstrong.

Foxpro and CSharp

Filed Under (Visual FoxPro) by WildFire on 02-08-2004

One more cyber-info-data-hoppin' trail before I fire up some work:

Sometimes I do wonder what the reactions are inside Microsoft everytime pro-Foxpro comments are unleashed. But I'll be most happy to see more data-centric capabilities inside C Sharp in the future... and happier if its syntax clarity is as good as the Foxpro/xBase models.

When paper was discovered… in the future.

Filed Under (Random.links, Random.scribbles) by WildFire on 02-08-2004

Every time I see a new model of a TabletPC, electronic inks and its variations, I remember an old joke again. Of course I know these 'advanced technologies' are not a joke.

Argh. I tried looking in the archives for that joke but after a couple of hours searching, re-filtering and manually scanning things, I can't seem to find it. It seems that I'll be needing WinFS to even locate it, but since that would be released probably a year from now and moving of release dates often occur, let me just recreate it.

Fast forward to the future... a couple of scientists 'out in the field' re-discovers paper. And of course since they've been dependent on paper-less and advanced nano-quantum (or whatever they call it) computer technologies already, they don't have any idea what it is.

Scientist_001: Station-1029 we discovered something.
HQStation-1029: Be careful spaceboy... can you describe it?
Scientist_002: It's light... thin... white... lighter and thinner than those laptops issued by EarthGov-00290 last September.
S001: And it comes with a pen-like thing... let me read... it says 'Pencil' ('pen-like'? I guess pens outlived papers)
HQS-1029: Be careful, these might be advanced mines planted by our galactic enemies.
S001: I don't think so HQ. I haven't seen something like this before. I'm a pessimist by nature but I feel something good on this.
S002: ... and this could be a discovery of the millenniury! (OK... i made up that word)
S001: Wait look! Using this pen-like thing I can write on it!
S002: Where's the CPU? This is so advanced the CPU is i think so thin and invisible to the eye.
S002: Hooo... I can even flush the things I wrote using the other edge of this pen-like thing. I don't have to press DEL and click on OK a number of times.
S001: And I think it has an auto-purge feature. No need clean the trash... unless the trash of this thing is located on a different sector.
HQS-1029: Whoa... bring it once here.
S001: Look... look I can even fold it and it doesn't break. You can't do that with the computers.
S001: ARGH I dropped it. Hey wait... the data is still there. And it seems to be working fine. No damages so far... not even a scratch.
HQS-1029: WHOA! You can't do that on these ultra-computers of mine. One crash and it's goodbye slick baby.
S002: And it can fit the pocket perfectly! And it fits in the other pocket as well. I guess it adjusts to its container automatically. I bet I can even eat this thing!
HQS-1029: Return to base, spaceboys. An unidentified objects are entering the premises of your location. These are probably manned Quasi-borg SPE-OPlanes!
S001: Oh no! They probably have intercepted the communication frequencies.
S002: Something this thing don't have. More reason to return this to base and replicate things... they're probably after this thing!
HQS-1029: We're sending backups... hold on to your sectors.
Transmission interrupted.

OK... I did over-bloat some parts, but it holds the gist of it. If you know where and who the links and authors of the 'original version', please be kind enough to inform me.

Get well soon, Steve Jobs.

All this memory optimization stuff is but a hoax?

Official Guidelines for User Interface Developers and Designers

Filed Under (Random.links, SoftDev (non-VFP)) by WildFire on 01-08-2004

Official Guidelines for User Interface Developers and Designers.

Do you want an Official Doom III Hardware Guide to come along with that?