Archive for April, 2007


One of the things on my list of 18 To-dos today was to figure out the solution to a problem with my Treo 700W. Last week the voicemail notification icon was stuck on. I searched the different settings and preferences, I deleted one of my archived voice mails, I rebooted the phone, and I listened to the archived emails and resaved them. Nothing.

So I called Verizon while I waited for my wife to run into the store. The Verizon tech support is horrible. I have blogged about this on several occasions. I am not kidding, the guy told me the only way to get rid of a stuck notification icon is to a hard reset of the phone. This is the equivalent of doing a Format C:\. I would have to back everything up first, carefully check things to ensure this was ready, do the hard reset, cross fingers hoping it all gets restored, and then begin the process of reloading and resyncing. Definitely not a fun process. I swear they use one tech support script:

  1. Listen to the caller and see what their problem is.
  2. Tell them to perform a hard reset on phone.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until they hang up in frustration, or perform the hard reset which eliminates all problems we have to deal with.

Naturally I became immediately skeptical (as is so often the case with tech support people these days). This afternoon while I was eating lunch I Googled and found the solution in the fourth page I hit: leave yourself a voicemail, listen to it, and delete it. Freaking simple. Problem solved.

Verizon – you guys are suffering from the internal ID10T error. Complete morons.


I did a bit more research yesterday and reviewed most of the MasFoxPro wiki Web site. All the posted messages reference signing a petition so I was looking for the legal petition. I could not find it. I found ideas, wishes, the letter to the Microsoft executives and some discussion, but no petition. So I emailed Pablo Roca (one of the organizers of MasFoxPro) and asked for some clarification and a link to the “petition.” Pablo was kind enough to send me a link to the Letter to Microsoft Executives.

Well that cleared up a lot of confusion on my part as I was looking for this petition thingy. Pablo and I exchanged several great emails and with it I have an better understanding of what the MasFoxPro movement is trying to accomplish and what they really want from Microsoft. In addition to my email exchange with Pablo, some comments on my blog, and reading some of the additional comments from the Fox Community on Doug Hennig’s blog I think I have a better understanding of the issues at hand.

One of the reoccurring themes from angry and not-so-angry people in our community is they want a clearer explanation of why VFP will no longer have dedicated resources within Microsoft. I think Tod McKenna has bullet pointed this best:

All I want is:
(a) continued VFP development, or
(b) a good solid, no-BS reason why VFP was dropped, or
(c) a decent migration path for the dozens of VFP Apps I have floating around.

There is no doubt that I would like to see VFP development continue. This is something we can all agree on. I don’t want anyone to misinterpret any of my writings about the future of VFP to be anything different than I would like to see VFP flourish and be enhanced. The difference I might have with some people is that I believe it can be enhanced and flourish with OR without Microsoft.

I definitely don’t want a decent migration path for my apps to another Microsoft tool or platform. I have worked on migrations in the past (IBM OS changes breaking JCL and COBOL apps is one simple example from the far away past, FoxPro 2.6 DOS and Windows to VFP is one I am living today) and I know it is better to rewrite the applications than to migrate them to a new platform in some magical/automated way.

As far as the reasons Microsoft is stopping future development of VFP and getting a clearer explanation of the reasons: I can understand this, but I believe Alan Griver has regurgitated it over and over on the various forums and his blog. Is the reason the Fox Community is asking for a better explanation because Microsoft gave a convoluted one, or because they did not like what was stated? I think part of the confusion is the fact it was stated so many places and in different message threads, so maybe it would be best for Alan to restate it once so the community is ultimately clear on the reasons.

I still have not decided whether I am going to sign the Letter to Microsoft Executives. I have many more thoughts on this that I plan to share this week as time allows (I am up to my elbows in alligators at the moment) and still have to PDF form-ize the Southwest Fox registration form before it goes live tomorrow. Most of these thoughts are in the emails back and forth with Pablo, but I need polish them up. When I get through most of the 18 items for today’s To-Do list (yes, this is an actual number) I will sit down and blog some more.

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Ouch, I really have to come out of my office more often to ensure my integrity is not being called on the carpet. {g}

I have literally been living in a bubble the last four weeks trying to keep my head above water with three new VFP projects, numerous other projects I am working to secure, working on preparing to hire someone, three user group presentations in the last couple of weeks, preparation for the Advisor Summit, all the work we are doing behind the scenes with Southwest Fox 2007, getting one child to determine where she is going to college, moving another one back home, and the normal everyday family life. I barely had time to keep up on forum and blog reading. Heck, I have not even fixed the light fixture in the kitchen and have been eating in the dark for the last three weeks.

So for those who questioned my integrity on “being silent”, you should have called me before jumping to these broad and inaccurate conclusions. Those who really know me, know how much I dislike getting into the political stuff in the Fox Community. I dislike it so much most people think I am naive about certain “problems” in the Fox Community, and certain “problem posters” on various forums. Guilty. I avoid them because the majority of the time it is too negative for me to deal with it. I am of the believe that a positive lifestyle and positive actions lead to positive results and draws positive things toward you. I also believe in the opposite: a negative lifestyle and negative actions lead to negative results and draw negative things toward you.

I am not saying I am completely in the dark on the petition because I received an email on practically every publicly know email address I have announcing it. I just have not had time to really look at the petition in detail. Without knowing the specifics, I know I wish the organizers well and positive results. But as with any legal document, I don’t sign until I understand what I am signing, and I certainly do my homework before backing any cause. I am someone who gets both or all sides of a story.

So I read Doug’s blog entry (Why I Haven’t Signed) and earlier saw Alex’s blog (Developers petition Microsoft to reconsider FoxPro phase) defending their actions to not sign the petition. I headed online to the UniversalThread and the Fox Wiki to do some reading this evening even though I should probably be working on my projects. Ouch. I see a few people are calling out certain MVPs and the other highly visible people in the Fox Community who have not signed the MasFoxPro petition, and are questioning the integrity of these individuals. Ouch.

I can clear up several of the “fact-less accusations”:

  1. Alan Griver (or anyone from Microsoft) did not call me or communicate to me in any form the need to “defend MSFT’s spin”. Microsoft never has asked me to write specific words or say anything on their behalf. Period.
  2. Microsoft did not ask me to not sign the petition. Even if someone had asked me I would not let it guide me one way or the other. Just like someone telling me to sign it will not get me to sign it.
  3. “I assume because they are friends of YAG and Ken Levy and don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with M$FT.” – absolutely not true. First of all, I don’t think signing this petition would hurt any perceived relationship I have with Microsoft. Ken Levy is far removed from the Fox Team these days and is already two jobs off the Fox Team. Why would I care about affecting this relationship? I have known Alan for years. I do not agree with everything Alan says or does. Heck, I don’t agree with everything my wife says or does. This does not mean I don’t speak out when I disagree. In fact, people who really know me know I will tell them exactly what I feel. I also know for a fact that one of the newest VFP MVPs directly called YAG after the announcement and provided a butt reaming (pardon my language here), earful for Alan to listen to. He was announced as an MVP weeks later. Alan does not control the MVPs and is not even ultimately responsible for picking them. Speaking out against Microsoft does not matter. More on this later.
  4. I personally know most of the MVPs and several of them are close friends. I know their integrity and it should not be questioned. Flat out, those that question their integrity do not know them. A lot of them have privately expressed their concerns to Microsoft over the decision to not release VFP 10 . Most people have no idea what the MVPs and others are doing with respect to this decision. Obviously some have been very public about how they feel. It has nothing to do with the petition and has nothing to do with signing or not signing it.

Victor Espina stated on the Fox Wiki in the MasFoxPro topic:

“I think the main point here is: you can agree or not with MaxFoxpro initiative; what Pablo and many of US don’t understand is that you all could spend 1 min adding your signature to the petition even if you think it is pointless. The fact that most of you haven’t signed means that you, as part of VFP community, don’t care about what M$ did, even if they have their reasons or not.”

While I understand Victor’s passion and his desire for VFP development to be continued by Microsoft, I really think his cause and effect are incorrect. There are many reasons one might not sign the petition. I know most, if not all of us care a great deal about Microsoft’s decision to consider VFP feature complete. This inaccurate correlation is way off base.

There is another problem with Victor’s statement: if one thinks the petition is pointless you should still sign it. What? People have called out the integrity of people in the Fox Community on this issue, then tell others to blindly sign a petition they don’t agree with or have not completely read or understand? This is completely hypocritical. I doubt the decision to sign or not to sign for most individuals is even based on one thing. I seriously consider my actions as they impact others on this planet. I try to do things that are positive and things I believe will make a difference. I also take into consideration how I can best use the limited energy and time I have on this planet to make it a better place.

To further prove I am not afraid to call out Microsoft on poor decisions I provide three very recent examples:

  1. When Microsoft announced SQL Server 2000 and MSDE 2
    0o0 were not supported on Windows Vista, I contacted Milind Lele and asked him to put me in contact with the SQL Server team. I spent hours via email explaining to the SQL Server team why I thought this was a horrible decision and how it hurts vertical market applications relying on the Microsoft vision of SQL Server everywhere.
  2. I am currently in an email exchange with Microsoft Vice-president S. Somasegar with respect to his quote in ComputerWorld about VB6 and VFP developers:
    “Change is always a little hard. It’s hard to hear that you have to go and learn something else. Some of these transitions have been smooth, others not so smooth. We want to be mindful that when transitions occur, there is a good reason and real customer benefit to them.”

    Soma is a brilliant man, who in my opinion is not making a living working as an independent consultant or as an IT person, and is out of touch with reality when it comes to the investment of learning something new. It has nothing to do with learning something new as VFP developers have been doing this for decades. It has to do with making money, serving clients, using the proper technologies to solve real-world problems, AND keeping up with the rapid pace of change in our industry. I don’t know many careers outside of computers where you have to revamp it every 12-18 months.

  3. I have been telling my customers not to move forward with Vista because it is not ready for prime time when even Microsoft’e own products (Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and many others) were not working and were not patched to work when the OS was shipped to consumers in January. Third-party drivers are still not available for common hardware (not the direct fault of Microsoft). The new security features break most applications (not the fault of Microsoft directly). I think Vista is causing more trouble for businesses than it is helping today. I also think it will get better with time. It is just not ready for my clients and my team.

Being an open-minded person I understand both sides of the issues here and fully respect those who have signed the petition and those who have not. I have not decided what I am going to do yet. I can tell you I will consider it when I have time to address it and understand all the ramifications and benefits. I am sure it will be a topic of conversation next week at the Advisor Summit.

In the mean time I am still focused on the things I can control and the positive impacts I can make on the future of Visual FoxPro and the Fox Community:

  1. Organizing Southwest Fox 2007 (and hopefully for many years to come)
  2. VFPX Administrator, Project Manager, and developer
  3. Working on Sedna and testing SP2/Sedna before they ship this summer
  4. Developing VFP apps for my customers daily
  5. Answering as many questions as I can in various FoxPro forums
  6. Presenting at as many conferences as I can afford the time
  7. Presenting at as many user groups as I can fit in each year
  8. Mentoring VFP developers (I currently help 10 other developers directly on a regular basis)

Actions speak louder than words.

I certainly do not question the energy expended by those creating the petition and those promoting it. I applaud their dedication and current and future contributions to the Fox Community. I just wish those who are dabbling on the dark side of this issue would spend less time calling people out and questioning their integrity, and direct this seemingly endless energy into a positive project for the future of Visual FoxPro.

It is my belief and is something I predicted a little less than two years ago: someone will build another FoxPro clone, just like Fox Software did to kick the snot out of dBASE back in the 1980s. I said this not long after the VFP Roadmap was announced and feel with the recent Microsoft announcements that the market is primed for alternatives. We are seeing some public work from companies like etecnologia and their VFPCompiler for .NET, and even some rumblings from the old dBASE now owned by a company known as dataBased Intelligence, Inc. I am certain other projects are in the works.

Who knows what the future holds, but I know one thing for certain, a positive outlook and set of actions will
lead to a more positive outcome.


…the envelope please…

When I talked to Bob about taking over Southwest Fox he told me a number of things that I should be worried about, and all the work that would was ahead of me. He did not warn me how difficult it would be to pick the sessions and the speakers for our event.

I knew it was not going to be easy since we determined the budget would allow for 14 speakers and last year there were 19 speakers. I also know we wanted to invite some “rookie” speakers to grow the speaker community. This is something we admired about Whil’s approach in the past with GLGDW and something I know Kevin did by default with his approach for FoxForward. This meant we could not invite a handful of speakers back from past Southwest Fox conferences, and I knew this would make the speaker selection the hardest part of being an organizer this year.

The submissions surpassed my high expectations. The quality of the abstracts and the ideas presented blew me away. I could have easily invited everyone if we were charging US$1200 per attendee, but we are not so we had to get picky. I remember my first email after seeing the list from Tamar: “Holy….” (ripping off the Volkswagen commercials {g}).

I spent one morning evaluating and rating the choices. Sorting the table, dumping it to Excel and seeing how the sessions rated. Then the hard work started. I had to begin the elimination process. Every session had some merit, but we only had room for 28 sessions because we are committed to giving most sessions twice (there will be some sessions in the Fundamentals track given only once). I think I had something like 38 highly rated sessions. Some people submitted 3 or 4 sessions I wanted, but as a speaker I know preparing and giving four new sessions is completely unreasonable even though we are giving the speakers nearly five months to prepare them. Each of us (Doug, Tamar, and myself) whittled the list down to speakers we absolutely wanted to invite with some alternates. At this point we did some virtual wrestling and debating during a 1.5 hour conference call. Amazingly the three of us had picked 85% of the same sessions and the other 15% were not brutal since the session submissions were so good.

All of this was accomplished on Friday April 13th as we had posted on the Southwest Fox Web site. Some people interpreted this as the deadline to announce – I apologize for that, we should have added another set of dates (notes for doing better next year). We made the picks and then Tamar (who is ultimately the person in charge of speakers) wrote individual invitations to the speakers we selected. We had to wait to hear their acceptances before we started to send out the “sorry – not accepted” emails. All of this takes time and we waited patiently for the speakers to accept. I am happy to say that all the speakers we initially invited did accept. Those who did not get invited this year could easily be invited next year. It is sort of like going to the fruit market and picking the best apples from the stack. Returning a couple of days later and the stack will still have great apples to select from. Most of the people we could not invite still expect to come to Southwest Fox because they really like the conference.

This was a tough process that I am glad is complete.

I am really geeked about our session tracks, the offerings for sessions in the tracks, and the great people you will hear present the sessions. Here is the line up of speakers for Southwest Fox 2007 (sound of envelop ripping…):

Marcia Akins
Rick Borup
Toni Feltman
Tamar Granor
Kevin Goff
Doug Hennig
Whil Hentzen
Michael Hogan
Andy Kramek
Cathy Pountney
Steve Sawyer
Rick Schummer
Alan Stevens
Rick Strahl
Christof Wollenhaupt

Definitely a couple of surprises, eh?

I am not going to spoil the rollout of the session topics yet. We also have started to frame out the keynote, which will be kept under wraps until the night it is given, but you can trust me, it is not to be missed. So many surprises and so many things in the works, and probably more that we have not thought up yet.

Doug is hard at work on the Web site and we are hoping to roll this out Monday or Tuesday in time for the opening of registration on Tuesday. You will see all the sessions, the abstracts, and more of the compelling reasons we hope will entice you to join us in Mesa in October.

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A couple of days ago I got an email from Jim Duffy about his VFP training classes. It got me thinking: why would a .NET guy and VB.NET MVP still be doing some Visual FoxPro training? So I called him.

Jim and I talked for an hour. We caught up on a few things in the VFP world, some projects we are working on, and most of all why Jim is still teaching VFP. After all, has he not heard about VFP being dead? (tongue firmly planted in cheek)

This might surprise you, but Jim is dedicated to teaching people Visual FoxPro (and integration with SQL Server) as long as there are people who need to learn it. Contrary to some people in our community, Jim and I feel there will be new people learning VFP for years to come. Why? One word, turnover. It is the same reason people are learning a lesser used language like COBOL or an orphaned language like Visual Basic v6.0: there are projects that use it and people leave these projects. Companies will need to replaced the developers with someone new. The new person might know Visual FoxPro, or might not know Visual FoxPro. Either way, their experience might need some enhanced training. Then there are companies like mine who will use VFP for new projects because it meets the client’s needs. If VFP developers become harder to find, I will create new ones as I need them. This is why Jim will be teaching VFP for years to come.

I think this is great. If I look back over the last 12 years, I can count on one hand the number of companies I know about that regularly taught VFP here in the USA, and another hand to count the companies outside of the USA. It is nice to know at least a few companies see this niche opportunity, and are planning on continuing this service to the Fox Community. I see this as a smart business decision.

So if you want to get some hands-on-training from a long time VFP’er, give Jim a call ( He has some classes coming up May 21-25, 2007. I used his training material to help a developer get up to speed seven years ago. I was talking to this developer a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned how great it was to learn from me while we worked together on a project. He also mentioned how my mentoring, the App Dev videos by Jim Booth, and the TakeNote training materials really helped him quickly come up to speed on VFP. It was nice to know years later how this impacted his career.

Jim has updated his training materials for VFP 9, so now is the time to get in on his latest round of classes.



Last week Rainer Becker contacted me to let me know the German DevCon 2007 preparations are under way. This will be the 14th time this conference is put on by Rainer and his team. The conference will be November 8-10, 2007. In fact, Rainer announced the next eight German DevCons at the end of the conference last year. This schedule (through the year 2014) is posted on the Fox Wiki’s Upcoming Events page.

Speakers and sessions will be announced at a later date. I have attended the last two and you can read my thoughts on the conference by looking at the numerous blog posts I made during the conferences (see posts in November 2005 and November 2006 in the links to the right on my blog page). Top gun conference, top gun facility, and over the top food make this one of the best conferences around.

German DevCon 2007, Frankfurt, Germany, November 8-10, 2007

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I see the Web site for the often heralded Praha DevCon held Jun 19-21, 2007 in the Czech Republic has been updated while I was not paying attention. This will be the tenth Praha DevCon. I still recall the conference shirts for the 2000 conference that played on the Y2K theme and noted it was the 1900 conference.

Speakers and sessions look real good. North American speakers include long-time VFP gurus Marcia Akins, Steven Black, Alan Griver, and Andy Kramek. European speakers include Ivan Arnold, Uwe Habermann, Martin Haluza, Rudolf Jalovecký, Venelina Jordanova, Michael Juřek, Milan Kosina, Norbert Kustra, Jaromír Stacha, and Jan Vit.

It looks like a fantastic gathering for Fox developers. Everyone I have talked to who has attended this conference in the past have nothing but great things to say about it and the city of Prague. I talked to Igor Vit (the conference organizer) about the conference while we were doing some site seeing before the MVP summit and can hardly believe they can put this on for the price they are charging. 85 Euro for early-bird and 105 Euro for regular registration. At the current exchange rates you are paying US$115. Simply amazing.

If you look at the attendee counts for the different fox conferences, you will see the Prague DevCon is the best attended conference year after year. This not only shows how great the conference is, but how popular Visual FoxPro is in the Czech Republic.

One day I am hoping to get to Prague, but the timing of this year’s offering conflicts with my daughter’s graduation from high school.

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Fellow DAFUGger and friend Paul Mrozowski sent me a link to a Microsoft KB article (933493) yesterday noting Microsoft made a hotfix to Outlook 2007. The KB article notes:

This update fixes a problem in which a calendar item that is marked as private is opened if it is found by using the Search Desktop feature. The update also fixes performance issues that occur when you work with items in a large .pst file or .ost file.

The performance is better and my email seems to be delivered faster. The freeze up during the send/receive is less frequent, but not fixed completely. For instance, during the day yesterday I did not notice when Outlook was doing an email pass. Granted, the email traffic on Sunday is less than a weekday. This morning I started Outlook and the initial pass had 75 emails to download. I could scroll my folder list part of the time and I could switch folders with some hesitation. Way better than the initial release, but still not as good as Outlook 2003.

Thanks for finding and passing this along Paul. Life is better.

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