Archive for May, 2005


It is Memorial Day weekend here so that means I get to take a break from the day-to-day development projects and catch up on some reading (and now listening). Last night I was going through some blogs and came across Andrew MacNeill’s The Fox Show and decided to listen to a couple I had did not have time for when they were first released.

What a resource for the Fox Community! Andrew is producing a podcast that summarizes some news in the Fox world, reviews products he is using (even before you can read the in depth review in his column in FoxPro Advisor), and provides some great insight with some tips and topics on VFP development. I have learned something in each of his podcasts and regularly add something to my to-do list to check out.

I want to thank Andrew for his plug on my recent three city segment of the Deployment Fox 2005 World Tour and the Hentzenwerke Publishing’s Deploying Visual FoxPro Solutions written by myself, Rick Borup and Jacci Adams (a great book for graduating seniors and mid-year bonuses for your favorite developers {g}).

You can get his syndicated feed here and listen to it using your favorite media player on Windows, or an IPod or other portable music player. You can easily listen to a show during lunch. I have added The Fox Show to my must have list.

Off to do some yard work, have a great weekend.


Today I experienced something I have experienced before, and something that I find strange and more than a little frustrating. Outlook 2003 was not getting my email. I was heads down today supporting my client’s clients and did not notice that Outlook was not retrieving my email. Why was it not getting the email? I wish I knew why, but this happens once and a while and so today I have added a task in Outlook telling me to reboot it.

You might ask why I need to reboot Outlook? You see, I never really shutdown my computer. I hibernate it. I leave the apps running so when I start up I get back to what I was doing. I would hazard a guess that I have not rebooted my machine for more than two weeks and Outlook was open and running the entire time.

After I came up for air late this afternoon I noticed my inbox was empty, not even spam in the Junk Mail folder. I have been expecting some responses from my clients and thought it was unusual. I hit the Send/Received button and noticed that many of the email accounts were timing out. I shut down Outlook and restarted it and bingo, here come the emails by the truckload. To all those customers and friends who emailed me in the last 24 hours, please accept my apologies for not responding sooner.

Does this happen to anyone else? How the heck can I send reproducible steps to Microsoft for them to track this down?


Today I decided to take a short break after the battle with the fax machine to see if I could address a problem several of my Fox Friends have found with the site feed from this blog. The site feed provided by Blogger is called Atom.xml and is automatically generated/updated each time I post a blog entry. I had no idea how to fix it, and until my friends noted they had a problem I did not know it was even an issue. You see, I am a huge fan of FeedDemon and it read the Atom.xml feed and established the channel just fine.

Back in March Randy Jean told me he could not get his wiki to syndicate the feed. Craig Berntson and Andrew MacNeill soon followed with emails telling me how Newsgator was choking on the feed. Randy hinted I check out FeedValidator, which I did and sure enough it failed. It was not clear why it was failing. Periodic checks showed success, and later some failures, and then success again. The trouble with tracking down any bug is finding the reproducible steps.

Today I decided to take some advice Andrew provided and looked into FeedBurner. Direct from the FeedBurner Web site:

‘FeedBurner is an RSS/Atom post-processing service that allows publishers to enhance their feeds in a variety of interesting and powerful ways. By republishing their feeds through FeedBurner, publishers gain detailed feed statistics, maximum feed format compatibility, “shockproofing” to absorb bandwidth spikes, and more.’

When I entered in the Blogger site feed, FeedBurner choked. What it also did was tell me it was choking on a tag. So I downloaded the Atom.xml file from my site and searched for the tag. Sure enough it was in the HTML content of several blog entries. Well how the heck did that happen?

I typically use Microsoft Word to write my post so I can spell check and use the rudimentary grammar checks it provides. I then paste in the text to a blog entry using the Blogger Web interface. What I did not realize until today was that I get a bunch of HTML garbage for the ride. Blogger has two sides to the editor, Compose and HTML. I use the Compose mode, but the editor read the clipboard content Word provides and pasted in extra tags I was unaware of. It also grabbed some SmartTag tags as well any time I have the name of a city in the text. Fun.

So I have edited all the entries to remove the errant tags and posted clean enties along with the updated site feed. I also added the FeedBurner site feed which is in RSS format. Now you can subscribe to this blog no matter how your favorite aggregator perfers its feed. Both of the feeds are in the right side bar.

A big thanks to Randy, Craig and Andrew for making my blog better!


Always listen to the voices in your head, especially when they are screaming NO! Once again I didn’t listen to my initial reaction when the sale guy at the local office supply store asked: “Our self branded fax ribbons work just as well as Panasonics, would you like ours instead of waiting a week before we get theirs in stock?”

I hate fax machines with a passion. They never cooperate with me. In fact, I have threatened every fax machine I have ever worked with that it was going to face a drop out to the trash barrel. It is stupid medium in today’s technology world, but for some reason business still depend on faxes. But I digress…

So I decide to not listen to the voices and listen to the “expert” who swears his customers who have purchased these ribbons never bring them back. I agree to try them out. What a waste of time. Thirty minutes of time never to be recovered again. The stoooopid ribbon is never recognized by the fax machine. I tried doing several things including reading the instructions (is it Phillips who is advertising that technology should be simple??). I have changed this ribbon before and did not have a problem and the sales guy’s perfect streak is about to come to end. These generic ribbons are going back.

Fortunately, I remembered that I had a spare Panasonic ribbon in reserve. Thirty seconds later it was installed and working. The difference in cost between the store branded and Panasonic ribbon was three dollars. The difference in functionality and lost time, priceless. The fax machine lives another day and I can get back to crafting software.


I am amazed how frequently I see developers using a fake alias or handle on developer forums, especially on FoxPro forums where we pride ourselves as a friendly community. I am not talking about the chat rooms where you are trying to meet someone and do not want people to know who you are until you get to know them better. I am referring to technical forums where we share ideas, help each other out, collaborate, and as a byproduct of our interaction – develop friendships. I continue to meet most of my friends in the Fox Community online long before I see them at a conference, user group meeting, or work together on projects for clients.

I visit several developer forums including FoxForum, Tek-Tips, Foxite, and occasionally CompuServe, the Virtual FoxPro User Group, OpenTech, and the UniversalThread. Each of the forums has their pluses and minuses, and I know I will find solid answers to my questions on any one of them. Most of the forums encourage using your real name and others require it. I can tell you though I struggle with postings from MickeyMouse and Qwerty Qwerty.

Tek-Tips for instance has some genius contributors and a high volume of traffic with little noise (a restrictive, but effective forum policy). Unfortunately many of the members have handles and this drives me nuts. Same with Microsoft’s Channel 9. It is hard to develop a friendship with FoxDudette, CrazyDeveloper, DespiseCSharpMan, or ZMan999. More importantly, as a Microsoft MVP, part of my duty is to help Microsoft recognize contributions to the Fox Community and nominate others to be recognized as a MVP. It is pretty hard to tell Microsoft to consider FoxGeek879 as an MVP, even though this individual might have MVP caliber contributions.

It is not just on forums, the same is true with book reviews, especially negative reviews. I eliminate these reviews from the list I consider helpful because the person doing the review is hiding behind the alias.

So why does a developer feel compelled to hide behind a handle? My guess is they are afraid of people telling them they ask stupid questions. This is another thing we all should have learned in Kindergarten, there is no such thing as a stupid question. I know some forums are famous for their flaming posts and people do not want to be a part of negative dialog. I understand this, so go find a developer friendly forum where everyone knows your name. Some developers probably do not want to admit they are new to the development language or tool. Sorry, this is unacceptable as well. We all started somewhere, and quite frankly, none of us know everything there is to know about our jobs or the tools we use to craft software. We all have things to learn and need to start somewhere. Asking a question is the perfect way to start learning.

So if you are using a handle stop hiding. Use your real name and identify yourself. Jump out in the forums and ask questions. When you see a question and you know the answer, jump in and help by posting a solution.

(Disclaimer: all aliases and handles used in this blog post are fictional, and are not used here to call out anyone specific. No aliases or handles were harmed in the writing of this blog entry, some settling may occur during posting, your mileage and download speed might vary, use of the keyboard while reading this blog might cause stress injuries to your neck, arms, and wrists.)


In the last couple of weeks I visited the Chicago, Kansas City and Atlanta FoxPro User Groups. I had a great time and learned a number of things on these trips. One of the common questions I was asked on these trips is my thoughts about the future of VFP and what Microsoft might announce in June. As you may know, I am not a fan of speculation on what the Fox Team might do in the future (see my post VFP X, take a look at VFP 9 first) and would rather discuss what I would like to see added to the product. Debate like this is healthy and offers Microsoft ideas on what they should consider in the next version of VFP, speculation is unproductive.

In case you have not seen the post on Ken Levy’s Weblog (or Andrew’s, or Craig’s), Ken has announced he is releasing the Visual FoxPro Roadmap, which will disclose how Microsoft plans to enhance VFP past version 9. So instead of speculating, read this blog entry and wait for Ken’s full announcement on June 1st (also announced in this blog) when he releases the Visual FoxPro Roadmap and questions and answers on the VFP Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page. The following quote from Ken’s post seems to reveal an overview of what we can expect to read in a few days:

“There are many things we can and will do for enhancing Visual FoxPro to interop more and more with the Microsoft .NET platform. In fact, our plans for enhancing Visual FoxPro for .NET interop is our primary goal for enhancing Visual FoxPro going forward. We will also enhancing functionality for Visual FoxPro reports, productivity, and other areas that have nothing to do with .NET (VFP stand-alone). We want to focus on having Visual FoxPro leverage as much as possible integrated into the .NET platform using COM interop.

He also blogged about a Visual FoxPro Service Pack 1 later this year. So keep using VFP 9 and reporting any issues you find so the Fox Team can squash the bugs in Service Pack 1!


Played hooky for a few hours today and went to see Star Wars III. I completely enjoyed it. While some reviewers said it lacked deep dialog, all I can say is that George Lucus tells the best story visually. I was surprised by the reason Anikin turned to the Dark Side as I thought it was going to be something to do with his mom. The spectacular special effects exceeded my expectations (watch for the pilots floating in space after their ship was destroyed in battle). Several moments where the crowd broke out in laughter, but the darkness of the movie and several intense scenes would make me think twice about bringing a young child to see it. Definitely think twice if your child is under 10.

The high schooler I was sitting next to at the 3:00pm showing was on his second viewing and was returning for his third view after the Pistons win tonight (bring on the Heat ). If there was ever a question that Lucas was going to set opening day records, this guy was ready to contribute to the possibility.

I probably will go see it again when the crowds disperse later in June.


Ken Levy informs VFP Developers:

“This week I received a copy of the book What’s New in Nine: Visual FoxPro’s Latest Hits. This is a really great book. Check out the table of contents and you’ll see the book is packed with great chapters on the various new features in Visual FoxPro 9.0. If you currently use or plan to use VFP 9.0, I strongly suggest you get a copy of this book which also includes an electronic eBook download.”

Always good to see a positive review of your work. Thanks for the kind words Ken.