Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

Years ago when I was a corporate coder I came to the sad realization that I always work an extra day every four years. I mentioned this to my boss at the time and he tried to correct me by telling me I was finally catching up for the quarter of a day I was stealing from the company the prior four years.

I am assembling an employee handbook here at White Light Computing in anticipation of hiring someone soon (no resumes please, I have interviewed some excellent candidates and have to battle myself to make the right choice). I was thinking about doing a cool holiday that is extra from the accepted normal holidays in the corporate environment. If I am remembering correctly Hentzenwerke use to have Bill Gates Birthday geek holiday (how ironic is that {g}).

Should I throw in February 29th as a holiday? Or will potential employees think I am taking advantage of them by only giving them a bonus day off every 4 years? Maybe I can use Leap Day as the special holiday every four years and change it up on the other three. Or maybe I should just be a hard nose boss and make them work it like I am today! {g}

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Advantage Database Server

I see J.D. Mullin from the Sybase iAnywhere Advantage Database Server (ADS) team is blogging about installing and using the ADS components with Visual FoxPro. I first learned about the Advantage Database at Southwest Fox, more at German DevCon, and have learned a lot more about this product since the conference. They are bringing some serious benefits to the FoxPro Community with the components they are releasing with version 9 of their product currently in beta.

Andy Kramek blogged about his experience with Advantage several weeks back: Advantage Database Server V9.0 released as Beta

If you read Andy's post you will see there are several things Visual FoxPro developers can leverage from this package. The component I think will really excite VFP developers is the ODBC driver which is compatible with VFP 9 database containers. This is something developers have screamed for since VFP 7 hit beta. Microsoft effectively orphaned VFP developers who used ODBC to access VFP data through products not compatible with OLE DB. The Sybase iAnywhere team is solving this problem. I also think the server product they are testing now will solve a serious security problem with DBF files without the need to upsize your database to a backend server.

I was discussing the features with some developers this past weekend and the issue of pricing came up. I checked today with the Advantage team about the cost of the ODBC driver since we talked about it. I have some good news: The ODBC driver is going to be absolutely free. All clients (including ODBC and OLE DB) come with the free Advantage Local Server (ALS) product.

If you want to see the driver installation and setup, J.D. Mullin (from the Advantage Database team) is blogging and has a short screencast about the product. Check it out here:

Getting Started with Visual Foxpro

J.D. shows how you can easily set up a remote view to access the database through a connection via a DSN. You can also use SQL Passthrough and CursorAdapters too. Simple and clean. I am looking forward to using this product soon.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Traveling on the Darkside of VFP - Director's Cut

Christof Wollenhaupt presented a marathon session this evening at the Detroit Area Fox User Group, and what a session it was. For those who saw Christof present this session at Southwest Fox and/or German DevCon, you saw a terrific session. But DAFUG listened to Christof discuss some really interesting observations he has made with respect to the behavior of VFP for more than three hours - a true director's cut.

Christof started the session and told us (maybe warned us {g}) we are in a democracy he will talk until 50% of the people in the room left. He ended by running out of material to cover. Only one person left. I think he would have gone on to a second session, but the group was getting hungry for dinner and it was 9:30.

I personally learned numerous things and I saw part of his session in Mesa. One particular aspect was the discussion on memory, variables, and garbage collection. Christof discussed how VFP uses the idle loop to take time to purge unused memory variables. This loop is entered when VFP is waiting (READ EVENTS, INKEY(), a WAIT WINDOW, or even while tracing code in the debugger). Christof also noted something important to me in particular when he pointed out the SYS(1104) function (documented since VFP 7.0 and in the product since FoxPro 2.6) gives the developer a way to initiate garbage collection. I think this is perfect for a project I am working on where I am converting data and one of the routines is taking 11-12 hours scanning through records. The loop gets slower the more records it processes. Using the SYS(1104) function may improve performance.

Thanks Christof for taking time out of your vacation to stop in Detroit and give us a real treat! This was a terrific session! I can't wait to hear your session proposals for Southwest Fox 2008.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Microsoft - Faster adoption of products?

According to Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is not doing a "service pack one" for Windows Server 2008. Why? Because the first release is SP1. Brilliant. Maybe Microsoft has caught on that many companies do not adopt an update or upgrade until the first service pack is released.

It makes some sense after you read Mary's blog post that Microsoft would want to keep the core code on par with the Vista service pack changes, but is it really that hard to keep the versions in line with normal expectations (first release is RTM, and SP1 is the first set of fixes)?

So how much faster will Windows Server 2008 be adopted by the corporate world because of this slight of hand? I think it will have no affect on the adoption, but I do think it will raise some eyebrows. {g}

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Visual FoxPro DevCon Praha (Prague)

Looks like Igor has announced the Prague DevCon for July 1-3, 2008. I can't say from personal experience, but from talking to others who have attended this conference, it is terrific. This is the conference that hits the big numbers with respect to FoxPro developers every year.

You can get all the details in April, but definitely add this to your calendar if you are near the Czech Republic, and seriously consider attending even if you live half a world away. You will not be disappointed.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

wOOdy's VFP Code Snippets

I see wOOdy (aka Juergen Wondzinski, German VFP MVP and guru) has started a code repository for his own FoxPro code. Check it out here:

I have subscribed to the RSS feed. Thanks for this resource wOOdy!