Archive for October, 2005


Podcasters are creating some fantastic material and I really like to listen and learn from it, and to be entertained by it. The one common problem I have found with every single podcast is the sound level. The interviews and the discussion is usually at one level, and then there is the sound/music between segments. It feels like the decibel level jumps from 20 to 120 ( I know I am exaggerating just a little). I swear my eardrums are still hurting after listening to a couple of excellent shows done by Andrew MacNeill (FoxShow – with David Stevenson) and the new OzFoxRocks by Craig Bailey and Scott Scovell in the last couple of hours. It is not just the two Fox Podcasts with this problem, it is other ones I have listened to over the last few months. Today I just found some time to jot a post down on the blog.

This is a little gripe, and definitely not something that stops me from downloading and listening to the shows. I don’t want to discourage you from listening to the recordings. In fact, if you are not listening to these two podcasts you are missing out on great information.

I don’t know how you capture and listen to podcasts, but I download them to my PC using FeedStation (module of FeedDemon), copy them to a SD memory card, and then plug them into my SanDisk MP3 Player. I then listen to them while I drive around to clients or when I am traveling. So when one of these podcasts raises the level of the sound I typically don’t have my hand on the sound wheel, I have them on the steering wheel. So the pain I feel is instant and unavoidable.

So please podcasters, level out the sound level for everyone. It will make listening to your podcast a much better experience. My eardrums and teeth fillings thank you in advance.


I look forward to the 25th hour we get today/tomorrow when we shift back to normal time instead of daylight savings time. I see it as Mother Nature giving me back time it borrowed several months ago. Just wish we could collect interest on the time. I will be spending it watching a movie provided Therese is able to pick one up when she is out tonight (I gave her a short selection I was interested in). I always set my clocks back earlier in the evening so I mentally adjust to the shift.

One thing I learned a couple years ago is working on VFP projects during the time shift is not a good idea. Why? VFP looks at the compile time of the last build and sees the newly saved program as an older file so it does not need to be compiled. I figure it is just easier to read a book or watch a movie than worry about this for one hour every year. One of my favorite 25th hours was a few years ago at WhilFest. It was spent hanging out with the FoxGang.

Over on ProFox, several developers have been debating on the new legislation passed which lengthens the daylight savings time part of the year. Funny how a bunch of lame-brained politicians (I know, redundant) can create unintended hassles in our lives. I would be willing to bet our so called representatives had no thought or clue to the impact on computer users of older, no longer supported operating systems. Some developers are calling this a mini-Y2K. I think this is a bit over dramatic. The hassles this will cause businesses and home users will be trivial to fix, but a pain in the neck. I think the big deal with this is how it can directly impact data. I would hazard a guess that most database applications timestamp data. If one computer is running Windows 98 or even Windows 2000 and others are running Windows XP, some machines will get correctly updated and some will not. This means there potentially could be data corruption. Not a good thing.

I for one like how Windows automatically switches the clock for me. I wish all my clocks worked this way so I could save the 10 minutes it takes me to switch them all twice a year. So how many designers, developers and testers do you think Microsoft, Apple, and the Open Source teams will have on this project to change the code in Windows, OS X and Linux? Then there is all the mainframe operating systems, the Palm OS, and various other platforms. Who is going to beta test the changes? I guess I for one should be cheering this kind of change, after all, it is employing more developers and I see that as a good thing.

The real question is will they be able to get this change done in time for the spring forward of 2006? You would think this is a trivial fix, but what if the daylight savings time module is one of those modules with horrible code no one wants to touch? You know the type of code, we all have it hidden in our applications.


Last week I installed all the new software and upgrades I could in preparation for my German DevCon lockdown. One of the updates I needed to do was moving Acrobat from v7.0.0 to v7.0.5. So being the good user I finally give into the annoying reminder about upgrading when I returned from Southwest Fox.

Acrobat runs fine after the upgrade (which should not be a relief, but lately I have been a little gun shy about updates on any software) . Then this week I notice Acrobat has two shortcuts on the Windows Taskbar when I have two PDFs open – weird because it never did that before. I regularly have multiple PDFs open. So what the heck was the Adobe designers and developers thinking when they added this feature during the upgrade? Probably something like – we are sure all our customers will want to see a shortcut to each and every PDF they have open – so set the default preference on automatically.

No! Noooooo! Nooooooooooo!

You set the preference so the user has the same experience and you make this preference discoverable so the user can turn it on. This is a big deal. I spent quite a bit of time looking through the zillion pages of preference settings inside Acrobat and did not see it. Finally I wizened up and did a search on the Help file and low and behold, there it is on the General preferences. At least it was easy to find in the Help and the tech writers get kudos for doing a good job.

Unchecked the preference and once again all is good in Whoville. But what an aggravation. So if you are experiencing this frustration in Acrobat, on the menu, Edit | Preferences to bring up the Preferences dialog. In the Categories listbox, select General. The last checkbox in the Miscellaneous settings will toggle your preference.


I really hate hardware. Yes, I have said this a million times, and I mean it. I hate recommending it, I hate buying it, I hate shopping for it, and I hate the fact that I need it to so the thing I love doing every day, which is creating software. OK, a million and four times.

My second Epson color printer has died. The first one I owned was a C80 which I purchased based on the great output and experience Steve Sawyer had with his Epson. The big draw was the ink used, the brightness of the color, and the fact that there were separate cartridges for the colors (three different cartridges) and the one black. No more wasting the colors just because one ran out. The first printer lasted just over a year and probably weeks past the warranty it died. To better this experience the printer died just after I bought new cartridges. You know, the same cartridges that cost more than the stoooopid printer!

So I replaced it with the Epson Stylus C84. This printer lasted a little longer, but it too died a premature death (at least premature in my opinion). No kidding, I have a set of fresh cartridges for this as well. Joy.

So I was talking to Steve Bodnar last week and he was telling me how Steve Sawyer just purchased a new Epson Stylus Photo R200 for US$49. So Steve bought his own R200 based on Steve’s recommendation (yes it was absolutely fun having two Steves and business partners {g}). Heck this is cheaper than cartridges. So I go shopping and cannot find the same deal my friends got. Bummer.

So shopping at the local computer store I see Epson has a deal for the Stylus Photo R300 for US$99. It has six different cartridges (naturally none compatible with the set rotting on the shelf in the office) and prints on CDs and DVDs. It also has a card reader slot so I can print pictures direct from the memory card. This is only twenty bucks more than I paid for the old printer and seems to have a bunch of features I never had before.

So what the heck is the deal with “disposable printers”? I hate it. At least the US$300 HP InkJet printer I purchased years ago lasted several years. Maybe this is better though as I get the same life out of my US$300 bucks and get newer and better features each time.

However, I can say one thing to Epson – this is your last shot. Swing and miss and you are out of here. This printer better survive multiple years and better not die just after I purchase a new set of cartridges. I am tired of filling up landfills with inexpensive hardware that breaks. I would rather spend a couple more dollars and have something last. It will save me time and aggravation dealing with procuring new hardware. Didn’t I mention how much I hate doing this?


OK, this is more of a recreational post than anything else, but with a geek twist.

This morning I took a break and was reading a post on the EDS’ Next Big Thing Blog concerning unintending use of technology and followed a link to the ThinkGeek site. I have not been to the ThinkGeek site in a while so in typical geek fashion I followed a couple of links and landed on the LED Binary Clock page. Another fun idea only geeks will be able to understand.

The only thing I could think of was how much trouble I would be in if I purchased this cool gadget. A clock my wife will not be able to read. Therese already hates it when I give her boolean answers to her boolean questions, so how much trouble would I be in if I start telling her what time it is in binary? Ahhh, the joys of living with a geek. Maybe we should of added the following syntax to our marriage vows: “for geekier days and not so geekier days…” (true – in case you are wondering).


Finally home after some much needed rest and relaxation (and a little bit of business) in Sedona and the Grand Canyon after the Southwest Fox 2005 conference. I echo the feelings in Andy Kramek’s blog post, it was the best!

In Barbara Peisch’s session on Using the XFRX Preview Container I learned you can set the printer settings with SYS(1037,2) and reset them SYS(1037,3) as long as you have a dummy FRX hanging around, way cool. This was the most valuable session I sat in all day Saturday (and that says a lot based on the sessions I attended). Looking forward to the session notes to absorb all the material.

Doug Hennig’s session on Cool Uses of a ReportListener was cut short because of an itinerary problem with Doug’s travel agent, but in 20 minutes Doug showed some super cool tricks with hyperlinking reports and simulation of drilldown. I know Doug wrote about this in FoxTalk months ago, but seeing it in action and listening to him explain how it all works was a lot simpler than just reading about the techniques.

Craig Boyd’s session on VFP Cryptography 101 was most impressive. It will take a bit to digest all the information Craig threw out during the session. The only problem I had with the session is it should have been two sessions. This way Craig could have presented all the material he packaged up and I could have taken more time to understand it the first time around.

Rick Borup’s session Integrating RSS with VFP Applications pinpointed a number of things I did not know about RSS layout, but the key take-away was the Author attribute requires an email address to be fully compliant with the RSS specifications and a valid feed.

Andy Kramek did an admirable job presenting Drew’s Big VFP 9 Things Come in Small Packages. My hat is off to both him and Marcia Akins for attempting to fill in for Drew and present his sessions. I cannot think of a much tougher task taken for the entire weekend. I know both felt they could only try, but I can only think Drew was proud from afar.

Tamar’s session on Tips and Tricks I Learned From Drew Speedie was a great session and a great tribute. I believe I was not the only one watching who was remembering some of these tips and possibly relearning a couple. Thanks to Russ Swall and Visionpace for food and beverages after the session. Well done.

I also learned that one developer found the White Light Computing Developer Tools more interesting than attending sessions by the likes of Steve Black, Andy Kramek, Marcia Akins, Rick Borup and Calvin Hsia! Talk about a power pack lineup to have your vendor session slotted. Thanks Bill for showing up – hope you find both tools useful in your development. I enjoyed our discussion.

Naturally, I learned something in each of the sessions I presented. Thanks to all the attendees who were willing to share their experiences, thoughts, and ideas in my sessions. The sessions were better because of your participation and were easy to give because I brought the Staples Easy Button (you had to be there {g}).

There was not a bad session in the lot during the three days of the conference and I had a heck of a time picking which sessions I was going to be able to attend in person. No problem, I will read each of the white papers as time allows. In case you did not know this: the white papers are the second most valuable take-away from the conference, only second to networking opportunity in between sessions and afterhours.

I met a few new friends this weekend (thanks for the kind words in your blog Kevin), caught up with the FoxGang, and discussed some new opportunities to help out the Fox Community with several developers. Check out SednaX if you have not had a chance. This should be super place for extending VFP.

If you were not in attendance this year and are finding yourself a little jealous reading all the blog posts and UT Coverage by Craig Boyd (my eyes still have tears from the laughter – ”passenger seat looked like one of those memory foam beds…”), don’t fret. Bob Kocher is already hard at work planning next year’s Southwest Fox and I am already looking forward to this conference.


I am finishing up some work at a client today, then heading to the airport to fly to Arizona very early tomorrow morning. If you are spending the weekend in the valley of the sun and fox, be sure to stop by the White Light Computing booth and say hello. We have a gift waiting for attendees, first come, first served. We will also be holding a drawing for copies of HackCX Professional and ViewEditor Professional so bring your business cards to enter. Discounts will be offered to attendees as well, so if you don’t win one of the licenses given away you will be able to buy them for less through November 15th.


My son is currently at the University of Michigan working toward a B.S. in Computer Science. He told me last weekend that Bill Gates is visiting college campuses to talk to students and faculty about technology and how vital computer science is today and will be in the future. So I naturally encouraged him to attend. Unfortunately my son is in class during the session. He told me how several of his fellow Computer Science students could not attend because they are in their computer classes. How shortsighted is that? If I were a professor and Bill Gates was stopping by my school, the first thing I would do is pull strings, get the tickets, and then make it mandatory for all the students to be in the session. Boneheads.

On the positive side: it is good to see Bill Gates and Microsoft in general doing the smart thing by opening a dialog and trying to understand why fewer and fewer people are opting to pursue a career in technology. I hope this is just not a couple of people listening, but that there will be some positive action items generated. We will see.