Thursday, March 29, 2007

Southwest Fox - Help Spread the Word

Marketing, marketing, marketing.

The organizers of Southwest Fox are gradually cranking up the marketing machine and are asking for your help to spread the word. We are looking for past attendee testimonials to post on the Southwest Fox site, and for those with a Fox related Web site to link to our site. Help spread the word!

Check out our banner developed for us by fellow Fox'er Dave Aring...

Southwest Fox 2007, Mesa, AZ, October 18 - 21, 2007

More details on how you can help, along with directions to create a link using our new banner graphic are available on the Southwest Conference Promote Conference page.

Speaker submissions look great and registration starts May 1st.

Thanks in advance for helping us out!

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Spring arrives in Michigan

I stepped out of the office to get the mail this afternoon and realize it is hot outside. In fact it is officially 79F outside and less than 70F in my office. I was sitting in the office wearing a sweat shirt. So I opened up the windows and let in the noise of the birds chirping, the buses braking, the children playing, and the cars racing down the street.

I have declared it is too nice to work. Unfortunately I have a pile of work to get done today and cannot take the afternoon off. The boss here at White Light is a slave driver.

Spring has officially arrived in Michigan, but winter will be back as I am sure we should get one good snow storm before May 1st.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

VFP conference organizers are friends - honest

Over the last few weeks a few people have commented to me privately how the North American VFP conferences threaten each other in the September and October time frame. I can tell you this is not the case. Sure, in the big picture we are competitors because we are trying to convince the same customer to attend our conference. But the fact is, the conferences are very different in the type of developer we expect to attract to our venues.

Yesterday I got an email from Kevin Cully asking me a question about how we are approaching credit card processing for Southwest Fox. This is a big deal expense to a conference organizer or any business accepting credit card payments. The costs can easily determine if a conference like ours is profitable or generating a loss. I just got off the phone with the second credit card processing vendor I talked to that afternoon when his email arrived. I called Kevin and talked to him for an hour. We covered a number of common issues FoxForward and Southwest Fox face. It was a great conversation and I learned a lot from the discussion. Thanks Kevin.

When I was first contemplating taking over Southwest Fox I called Kevin and the other VFP conference organizers looking for their wisdom and to understand the battle scars. I wanted to avoid making as many mistakes as possible. Kevin, Whil Hentzen, Rainer Becker, Igor Vit, Mike and Toni Feltman, and Craig Bailey have been very supportive and are very open to my inquiries. Each and every one of them spent time advising me on the dos and don'ts. Even Advisor wants to talk to us. Hopefully it will help Southwest Fox to be a great conference, and maybe I can return the favor at some point in the future.

The key here is Kevin and I want each other's conference to be very successful this fall. It is in the best interest of the Fox Community. So if you are worried we are out to cut each other's throats, fear not.

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Outlook 2007 Frustrations - Follow up one

Back a couple weeks ago I mentioned several Outlook 2007 frustrations on my blog. I am making some progress on a couple of issues I noted.

1) "The last frustration is the themed appearance of the title bar.'

I found buried in the Outlook Options the ability to select Blue, Silver, or Black as my "Outlook Theme." You can find this under the Tools | Options dialog box, pick the Mail Format page, Editor Options button (near the bottom of this page). On the Editor Options dialog box you will see the Color scheme option on the "Popular" tab.

While I wish they would let me turn this off and just use the regular Windows Theme I have selected, at least the black theme is closer to the theme I have in Windows and is easier for me to see the Windows inside of Outlook. Unfortunately this is the only one I have resolution on and it is the least of the problems I have with Outlook 2007.

2) "The first is the appearance of Outlook locking up during a Send/Receive pass."

I learned at the MVP Summit that this is a common problem and one that has solutions. Some folks have mentioned the size of PST files over 2GB are an issue. Mine is still floating around 1.5GB and has been at this size for the last couple of years. All the solutions I have been pointed to and read about give solutions that appear to work only on Vista. I can tell you Vista is not in my near future for my primary development machine so I have to find a solution for Windows XP. I have posted this problem on a couple of message boards I have access to and hope the community will jump in and make this easy.

3) I half jokingly mentioned: "I am not sure Outlook and my Treo are ever going to synchronize. {g}"

So far so good. Once I corrected some of the inadvertent time changes all is working on both Outlook and my Treo. No missed appointments so far.

Thanks to those who have offered help and condolences.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Advisor DevCon: Early bird registration approaching

Only one week left to save $200 on the $2195 Gold Passport, or $1695 Regular Main Event fees to the Advisor Summit being held in Anaheim, CA May 6-10, 2007.

Deadline is March 30,2007 so head over to the online registration to save a couple of C-Notes before time runs out.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Want to present at Southwest Fox 2007?

Just a quick reminder that the deadline for speaker proposals is fast approaching for Southwest Fox 2007. The deadline for proposals is 8:00am Eastern Daylight Time on Monday March 26, 2007. To be considered, send your bio, between three and six session proposals, and a digital photo for publicity purposes to: speakers AT swfox DOT net (correcting all the intentionally spelled out parts for the email address).

All the details, expectations, instructions to make a proposal, and the selection process can be found on the Southwest Fox Speakers page. Just click on the link for "Call for Speakers."

Proposals from great speakers have already arrived (as good as getting early birthday gifts) and we are anticipating the selection process to be quite difficult, but this is part of the fun in assembling the best Southwest Fox yet!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

yag reaffirms VFP Roadmap

Alan Griver (yag) who heads the Visaul FoxPro team at Microsoft announced yesterday that Microsoft is not going to release a VFP 10. Is this news? Not at all. Ken Levy posted the VFP Roadmap almost a couple of years ago with this detail. It has been posted on the Microsoft Visual FoxPro site and discussed at great length on the various forums.

What yag did announce yesterday is the packaging and pricing for Sedna. Sedna is the external components (Data Explorer, Upsizing Wizard, My Namespace, NET2COM, Vista Toolkit, etc.) being released this summer. Before this announcement the Fox Community did not know if this was going to be free or have some cost. We now know it will be free to everyone.

Even better news is Sedna will be released as open source on Codeplex. This means the Fox Community will be able to extend the components. This is exciting, but not really surprising. Microsoft has released the XSource components with similar licensing and the ability for the community to extend and enhance. The source will include VFP and VB.NET code).

VFP 9 SP2 is also scheduled to be released this summer. This release could be the most critical release in the long history of VFP as it will be the last scheduled release of the EXE and DLLs. Alan reassured us Microsoft will support the VFP product through the commitment (currently set to January 2015) and will sell licenses for years to come. How long into the future is still to be determined with the legal eagles because some countries have laws with respect to official support after the initial sale.

The MVPs also talked about the Vista compatibility issues. I have blogged about this a few times, but in case you are a new reader: Vista compatibility is the most important feature included in VFP 9 SP2 and Sedna. VFP MVPs Rick Strahl and Doug Hennig have done a lot of work with Vista and have blogged about their findings. The Fox Team knows about several issues and really want to hear from the community as soon as possible to get these issues resolved before SP2 ships. This is super critical and cannot stress enough that we need to get testing on Vista to ensure VFP plays well on Vista in the future.

I think the biggest concern within the community is long term viability of VFP apps on the currently supported operating systems, and moving forward with newer technology. Alan assured us that there will be support through 2015 and Microsoft has C++ resources available to work on major bugs found in the product moving forward, but the resources for VFP 9 SP2 are defined and now is the time to get it working smoothly.

The take aways from our meeting were this
1) Sedna and VFP 9 SP2 are going to Beta 1 soon with release this summer
2) Sedna will be released as open source
3) VFP 9 will be supported into the future
4) VFP 9 will still be sold to developers (how long still to be determined)
5) VFP 9 will be available in MSDN through the support cycle dates
5) There still will be VFP MVPs in the future

So how does this affect me personally? I am going to load Vista and do some serious testing. I have been too busy and priority was not high enough. I don't think Vista is being adopted as quick as anyone thought it would and my customers are not using it yet. But the importance of this to our future and to our community is going to make this a high priority for me. I hope you will help out too. It is very important for us to get the kinks worked out.

The rest of my business will continue as is and I am planning on working with VFP well into the future as long as it serves me and my customers as it is today.

On a personal note, I thanked the VFP team for providing me a tool that has helped me grow my business and serve my customers. VFP rocks, plain and simple. The future is still very bright.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Cloudy Observations

Seattle got a "pineapple express" storm Sunday while Igor and I went sightseeing around Washington state. If you are not familiar with this weather term - it refers to a powers low pressure storm that has much of the energy flowing from the tropics near Hawaii.

So we observed lots of clouds around Mt. St. Helen's and around Mt Rainier. The roads were closed as I expected. We did see part of the crater at Mt. St. Helens from 24 miles away. Nothing impressive, but fun any way. Igor was impressed by the massive forests and the different number of trees. He told me the Czech Republic harvests their trees and replant so they never get very big and the number of varieties is very low.

We headed up to Mt. Rainier to check out more clouds around the dormant volcano. We stopped to get some food for lunch and talked to some locals about the roads. We found out the entire park is closed because it was hit by a storm last November that wiped out an entire campground and the roads near the southwest entrance. Naturally we were bummed. We thought we would head up anyway to see what might be around. Good thing too, because while the park is closed it was open to foot traffic and we could hike in and see the storm washout. It was impressive. I felt bad for the locals because their businesses have been hit really hard because no one is visiting except for a few morbid observers.

So we observed the clouds around Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier and headed back to the Olympia peninsula. It started to rain (what a shock in Seattle). We stopped to take some pictures of a suspension bridge under construction which was cool. We took a ferry back to Seattle which was fun and allowed us to observe more clouds over the city and the sound. Lots of pictures.

A very nice day indeed. Now off to work at the MVP Summit.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Seattle Sightseeing

I am waiting for Igor Vit to arrive here at Sea-Tac so I thought I would check out the AT&T Wi-Fi. It works great and since I am an AT&T customer for my DSL at home I get to use it just by logging in. Nice.

While in Seattle this weekend I will be going down to Portland to reduce the states to visit to two.
Igor and I are hoping to visit Mt. St. Helens and a quick drive by Mt. Rainer tomorrow if the roads are open. Fortunately I stopped by my local AAA office before coming out here or I would not have known the roads into both National Parks are often closed in the winter by the heavy snow. If we cannot get into the parks we will drive up the peninsula to see another part of the state neither of us have visited.

Then back to Seattle tomorrow night to join up with the rest of the VFP MVPs for a fun week with Microsoft. I doubt I will be blogging much about the MVP Summit, because I likely signed something saying I can't.

Have a good week.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Windows Mobile DST Patch - More frustration

I swear this must be a full moon as my software frustrations with Palm and likely Microsoft continue today...

I get home this evening. I have a list of 24 things to do before I leave for the airport in the morning to head to Seattle. I check the mail and see a postcard from Palm telling me to immediately download a Daylight Savings Time (DST) patch for my one year old Treo 700W. Great, just what I need. Last weekend I spent an hour updating all my computers with the XP DST patch, now I have to get the phone updated with no time to do it.

I pop open the PC and download email and set up my phone to sync using ActiveSync 4.1, which is the version I got with the phone. I just installed it on my new machine several weeks ago. I get an email from Palm noting that I better update my Windows Mobile machine with the DST patch. This email was delivered at 7:07pm EST, after the workday on the day before the new Daylight Savings Time kicks in here in the USA. Less than 37 hours before the deadline. Who decided this was a good idea?!?!?

Reading through the steps I have to upgrade to ActiveSync v4.5. So I do. I follow the steps as I am instructed as a good user should. What does this get me? How about a whole new Active Sync profile. What does this mean? It means that the PC and the phone are being completely reintroduced to each other as if they never met before. What the heck?!?!? Shouldn't one think it should perform an upgrade when you go from 4.1 to 4.5 and it would use the same settings? Thanks Microsoft, nice work.

So now I have to reset all my options and make sure I don't lose anything. Never the case though as SplashID (tool I use to store all my passwords) dumped the database. I have to reconnect it to the phone, cross my fingers and pray the passwords stored on my phone sync back to the now empty database on my phone. Fortunately I recovered all the information and was able to recall a password I changed just before I left a client today.

Thanks for making my night Palm and Microsoft. What are you guys thinking? Just in Time compiles are one thing, but Just in Time Deployments (JITD) are INSANE. All I got to say is: this patch better work!!!! Can't wait to see how all this works Sunday morning.

And don't even get me started on the moron congress people who thought this was such a great idea. I doubt they had even a slight clue on the impact they had the day they voted for the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Before this little detour the only thing I did on my list was eat dinner. Twenty-three items to go. No problem, my flight is not until 9:30am. Argh.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Outlook 2007 frustrations

Out of all the changes to Microsoft Office 2007, the big hit or the app most important to me is Outlook. I spend probably too much time in Outlook, so any improvements would be great. Unfortunately I have hit a few "features" that are real frustrating.

The first is the appearance of Outlook locking up during a Send/Receive pass. I have a dozen email addresses designed to get email to Outlook. All of them are POP3. When I used Outlook 2003 I would never even know a pass was in process unless the desktop alerts popped up. I could interactively use Outlook to get contact information, manage tasks, etc. while the pass was in process. Outlook 2007 is completely different. I cannot do anything until the pass is more than 50% complete. This is a huge frustration because I really live in Outlook.

The second frustration is how Microsoft changed the email flags. There are colorized email flags and there are contact categories, and calendar labels in Outlook 2003 and earlier. Now there are colorized categories, and flags represent due dates. Previously I set up email flags to mean things (red - hotlist, blue - developer tools, orange - home, and so on). I set up a couple of Search folders in my favorites list so I could easily track these things. Now all my flags are categories (which is okay, but I have to reset them to something meaningful), and my red flags have become due today items.

I also colorize my calendar items with the 2003 labels. I set up a handful of colors to mean different things. This really made finding events in the calendar simple and allowed me to balance my work and home life. Now the colors are tied to categories. So my blue developer tools color for email conflicts with my blue White Light Computing color in the calendar. Outlook 2007 sees the colors as one category. What a pain in the back end.

It will take some time (which I have very little of this month) to re-categorize all my emails, tasks, and calendar items. Along with the Daylight Savings Time correction, I am not sure Outlook and my Treo are ever going to synchronize. {g}

The last frustration is the themed appearance of the title bar. It does not follow the normal Windows title bar colors. To me it is hard to determine visually which window is active and which windows are not. In particular the problem is accentuated when I have an email window open on top of the main Outlook window. I am sure the usability studies tested this out, but I find it extremely frustrating when I accidentally click on the menu of the main window when I want to work with the email window. This is a time waster. I have not seen any settings in the Options dialog box, but I might have overlooked the setting.

I am hoping to talk to someone at Microsoft next week while I am in Redmond for the almost- annual MVP Summit to see if there is a fix in the works for the send/receive pass lock-up and how I can easily work around my flags/categories issue.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Southwest Fox 2007 - Call for speakers

Today we posted the open call for speakers for Southwest Fox...

Southwest Fox 2007 (October 18-21 in Mesa, AZ, is looking for speakers. The conference is focused on Visual FoxPro and sessions should fit into one of the following tracks:

  • Working with Sedna and SP2: This track will cover the new features and changes introduced in Sedna and in VFP 9 Service Pack 2.
  • Extending VFP (including VFPX, COM, etc.): The sessions in this track will cover technologies that extend VFP's capabilities, such as those in VFPX.
  • Reviewing VFP Fundamentals: This track will appeal to those newer to VFP, whether they are just moving up from earlier versions of FoxPro, or coming from other languages.
  • Integrating VFP (with SQL Server, .NET, etc.): This track will look at using VFP together with other products, including back-end servers, Automation servers, and .NET.
  • Managing the Software Business: This track will offer business advice to VFP developers, including managing clients, the software development process, and so forth.

If you're interested, click on the Call for Speakers link at Please read the entire document before submitting session proposals. All proposals are due by March 26; speakers and topics will be announced May 1, 2007. Send any questions to

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FoxForward 2007 - Announced

I got an email from Kevin Cully this morning and see on ProFox the FoxForward 2007 conference has been formally announced for September 7-9, 2007. The conference will be held in Alpharetta, Georgia. All the details for the conference including the call for speakers, hotel, and registration costs can be found on the conference Web site.

Congrats Kevin and as I mentioned in my email to you this morning, I hope FoxForward is a huge success!

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Geek Humor with Pharmacy

I am sick as a dog today. The cold I had before going to Australia got a little better while I was attending OzFox, and now is worse. I am sure it has everything to do with the lack of sleep, the changing of time zones in rapid fashion, and various other levels of stress inflicted on my human body. So I finally broke down and visited a doctor this morning.

She was very nice to me, only drawing what seemed like a pint of blood and beating my chest with radiation for an x-ray. Nothing found, just a simple bad cold. She then proceeded to tell me traveling is not for the weak of heart and gave me twenty or so tips for long flights. Sure would have been nice if she could have emailed these to me two weeks ago.{g}

Anyway, one of the medications she gave me is cough medicine. I already have a cough so I figured this would be unnecessary. My wife corrected my thinking that this was anti-cough medicine. Strange, that is not what the bottle says. There is another huge mistake on the bottle. These are the direct instructions:
Take 1 or 2 teraspoonfuls every 6 hours
I ask my wife as she drives me home, what is a teraspoonful? Is that like a 1000 gigaspoonfuls? So I call the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist the same two questions. He laughs at my geek humor. I like this guy even though he is a drug pusher. {g}

Thought I would blog about this before I take the next dose. The last one triggered an all afternoon nap. During the nap I recall taking two customer calls, but don't remember a thing we talked about. This is some powerful stuff. Heck, I may not even recall posting this blog entry.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Southwest Fox 2007 Announced

Southwest Fox 2007

October 18-21, 2007
Arizona Golf Resort and Conference Center in Mesa, Arizona

It is our pleasure to announce the fourth annual Southwest Fox Conference, presenting the latest in Microsoft Visual FoxPro development techniques, new changes in VFP 9.0 SP2, Sedna Components, and interop with other technologies with sessions from some of the best and the brightest VFP speakers.

This highly acclaimed and popular conference is the perfect venue for VFP developers interested in learning more about VFP, further refining their software development skills, learning how to better run a consulting firm or IT department, and being a better software craftsman. To this end, there will be sessions available in the following tracks:

1) Working with Sedna and SP2:
This track will cover the new features and changes introduced in Sedna and in VFP 9 Service Pack 2.

2) Extending VFP (including VFPX, COM, etc.):
Sessions in this track will cover technologies that extend VFP's capabilities, such as those in VFPX.

3) Reviewing VFP Fundamentals:
This track will appeal to those newer to VFP, whether they are just moving up from earlier versions of FoxPro, or coming from other languages, or are new to a specific area of VFP.

4) Integrating VFP (with SQL Server, .NET, etc.):
Sessions in this track will look at using VFP together with other products, including back-end servers, Automation servers, and .NET.

5) Managing the Software Business:
This track will offer business advice to VFP developers, including managing clients, the software development process, and so forth.

The call for speakers will go out shortly and the initial speakers and their sessions will be published when registration opens on May 1st.

If you are interested in more details for the conference you can send them to

You will also notice that Southwest Fox is under new management. After three very successful years under Bob Kocher's management, Southwest Fox is now being organized by Visual FoxPro MVPs Rick Schummer, Doug Hennig and Tamar E. Granor. We look forward to continuing the great traditions of Southwest Fox, and building on some new ones too.

More details can be found at

We look forward to seeing you in Arizona in October!

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