Archive for January, 2006


You may have already read on Ken Levy’s blog how he is planning on taking a new position inside of Microsoft. Congratulations Ken, and godspeed on your new project.

I suspect many people in the Fox Community will find this news a bit disheartening. The last nail in the Visual FoxPro coffin.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone, I don’t. I see it as a chance for fresh ideas and perspective from a new leader. I believe intelligent people need change in their careers. Especially in our business. Ken’s announcement confirms what I suspected for quite some time. I told Ken when I heard about his decision is I thought it was going to happen earlier last year. The only thing I am surprised about is the project where he is landing. I thought he was going to head over to Channel 9 and become the second Scoble. Guess the crystal ball was foggy on that one. {g}

How many of you have been in the same job, doing the same project for more than a few years? I am not talking about the same company, but literally doing the same thing for more than three years? Same code, same support calls, same status reports, same bosses, same development tool, same technology? I suspect there are a couple, but most of you are not raising your hands. Someone who is as smart as Ken is needs to do something different, and now is the right time to do so. I applaud his decision and his choice in jobs. Something totally different. I applaud someone willing to take risks.

I also know Alan Griver (yag) and Milind will not disappoint. They understand our needs because the Fox Community is not shy about telling them. I have known yag for years and he is as energetic today as he was when I first met him. I met Milind at the MVP Summit and at Southwest Fox and he really gets what our community is all about. They both understand what we like about VFP and how it really rocks when it comes to solving problems for our customers. Why do you think they want to enhance Visual Studio to incorporate Fox like data features?

I suspect you can put the Ken into Windows Live, but you cannot take the Fox out of him. It sounds like he is planning on attending Southwest Fox and other VFP events throughout the year. Knowing Ken and his relationship with the VS Data team, I even suspect he will still influence from afar.

In my personal career as a corporate developer I have found things flow in three year cycles. The first year everything is new, fresh and exciting. The second year is like putting on comfortable tennis shoes since you are up to speed and can solve most problems. The third year things get a little stagnant and boring, which ushers in the need for change. This was part of the reason I decided to move on to be an independent developer 5 years ago. I like things fresh and challenging and I get that with each new project and each new customer. So from that perspective, I really understand Ken’s decision.

So Ken, good luck with Windows Live. Thanks for your service to the Fox Community and to helping guide FoxPro to what it is today. VFP rocks!


Each year I try to visit as many Fox User Groups as I can fit into my schedule and still bill enough work to pay the bills. White Light Computing has a corporate directive to share knowledge with other developers and one of the ways we do this is by going on the road and speaking through the user group presentations and developer conferences. Last year I was on the road for six man weeks. This exceeded the corporate goals and made me look good to the boss (always looking for ways to win back brownie points so I can push for a raise during my next review).

I am starting to plan out my tour dates for 2006. This year I am calling it the “Real World Fox 2006 World Tour.”

So far I have firm dates for the Grand Rapids Area Fox User Group and Detroit Area Fox User Group here in Michigan. A couple of other groups already have asked, but I want to make the offer open to all groups who are interested. So if you are the geek in charge of schedule meeting presenters, send me an email (it can be found on the contacts page on the White Light Computing Web site) and I will see what I can do to make it happen.


Your first purchasing decision with respect to the Great Lakes Great Database Workshop (GLGDW) is rapidly approaching. Whil is hosting a completely different conference April 21-24, 2006 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you want to reserve one of the limited seats at GLGDW and for the least amount of cash, you need to react before the end of the day on Monday, January 30th.

Your Next Ten Years as a Visual FoxPro Developer Strategies, Tactics and Best Practices for the Long Run

My session Best Practices for Error Handling and Reporting is one of 14 best practice sessions filled with wisdom needed to develop Visual FoxPro applications for the next decade and beyond.


I think we all have moments in life we will never forget. Time that is frozen. Time where you recall exactly what we were doing when something earth shattering interrupted that moment.

Twenty years ago I was debugging a COBOL module I was working on when my then future sister-in-law came into my office and told me she just heard the Challenger exploded on launch. My wife just told me she was in a Chemistry class. We did not have the Internet back then so I scrambled to find a radio station with the news. How could this happen? How could I miss this launch?

I am a space geek so I took the rest of the day off and went home and watched the extensive news coverage. It did not take me long to see what happened. I did not know it was an o-ring failure, but it was clear to me the solid rocket booster failed and ignited the fuel stored in the external tank.

I will never forget the sacrifice of Challenger’s STS-51L crew: commander Francis ““Dick”” Scobee, pilot Michael Smith, mission specialists Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, payload specialist Gregory Jarvis, and teacher/civilian Christa McAuliffe.

It is hard to believe it is really twenty years ago. So much has happened since the disaster, but it is literally a half a lifetime ago for me so I guess I should not be surprised. Reflecting on this event each year is a gentle reminder how short life is, and why it is so important to live each day doing something to better ourselves and helping others do the same.


Ran across a crazy sounding article today. Cingular Wireless has won a patent for the use of emoticons on cellular phones? Here is a quote from the article on

The patent applies not only to graphic versions of the ubiquitous smiley/mad face but also to simple text versions. :)

Cingular says the aim of the patent is to enable the displaying of graphics on its subscribers’ handsets, the patent would also prohibit sending simple text versions via a dedicated or programmable key.

Human beings have been communicating with emoticons for decades. Now all of a sudden a wireless powerhouse here in the USA can patent how one can enter in text and graphical emoticons into their text messages on a phone?

So I hit the United States Patent and Trademark Office Web site to check this out. I could not find the exact patent noted in the article, but I did search and found fourteen patents have been issued for emoticons. Who would have guessed this? Certainly not me.

Guess I better start using them on my blog before someone gets a patent on entering emoticons on blog posts. ;)


Craig Boyd, Doug Hennig, and I (your SednaX administrators) have been interviewed by Andrew MacNeill on the first The FoxShow podcast of 2006.

If you’re interested in helping the Visual FoxPro Community improve Visual FoxPro through SednaX, this interview will give you details on what SednaX is, what it isn’t, and where its headed. The interview discusses the SednaX licensing, how you can submit project proposals, how you can participate in a project, various roles you can play, types of projects anticipated to be included in SednaX, how awareness can be raised, how projects will evolve, and several other SednaX related topics.

You know I am a big fan of The FoxShow. Head over to Andrew’s site and give The FoxShow a listen. You will understand a lot more about SednaX and some of the challenges and benefits of participating in the Fox Community extensions to Visual FoxPro. We live in exciting times.


Just in case you have not heard of SednaX, it is an umbrella code name for add-ons, extensions, and tools developed for Visual FoxPro 9.0 and beyond by volunteers. There is a SednaX site hosted on the GotDotNet site and already has over 400 VFP developers who are interested in creating and participating in the open/shared source products for the Fox Community.

Today Doug Hennig posted our first template for a formal project proposal. It is a simple document so developers can propose projects to be included in SednaX. You can read the official announcement on the SednaX site.

The process is straightforward. Propose a project, community will discuss on the site message board to see if it is viable and something which works in the spirit of SednaX, and something valuable to other Visual FoxPro developers. The administrators will evaluate the proposal and discussion to make a decision whether it will be accepted or not.

There are several really cool sounding ideas posted on the messageboard. We need people to take charge and fill out the proposal so we can get the process moving. We already have one example done for a real project so others will understand what we are looking for in a proposal. The OOP Menus is a popular idea and one we expect to be a successful project so we used it for the example.

The example and templates are in the download section on the site. Looks like people are already finding it and have already downloaded them. Excellent!

We are working on other document templates for the other aspects of a project (like technical specifications, project plans, code reviews, test plans, and more). While some developers might think this sounds a bit more formal than kicking out some code and posting it on a Web site for people to try, we feel strongly that projects will go smoother with a simple framework of software methodology to back them up.

If you are not already registered, please head over to the site and sign up. There is no monetary cost involved, just the time you invest in making the VFP development experience better.


I got together with some geek friends over the weekend and meant to ask them some questions. So instead of emailing them and asking I figure I can get more responses by asking the entire Fox Community.

1) I am considering getting a new cell phone and PocketPC this year. For years I have thought it would be cool to have the integration, but carrying around the PocketPC on my hip is not as comfortable sounding as carrying around a beeper size phone. I know I want the PocketPC to have Wi-Fi wireless so I can browse and do instant messenger type apps. Any recommendations? Any specific brands and models people like? Do you recommend the integration? What features should I be looking on this platform? Has anyone heard any news on things coming down the pike, which might make me wait a bit before deciding? Any accessories you recommend?

2) I am looking for a language translation engine, applet, or Web site. There are a number of non-English writing bloggers who I would like to add to my list, but sadly I am unable to read their language. The only languages I use regularly are English and FoxPro (although one day I hope to “speak” sign language). Does anyone have any recommendations on this? What I would really like to do is copy their text and have it translate the posting so I can read it.

Feel free to post comments here, or if you have some lengthy answers, feel free to email me privately and thanks for your help.