# Monday, 27 February 2017

Tl;dr – I have (had?) Stage IV metastatic melanoma. This is a diagnosis whose current “5 year survival” rates are about 5%, meaning that 95% of people with this diagnosis die in 5 years or less, generally a lot less, regardless of the treatments they attempt: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy. However, that is entirely based on people diagnosed more than 5 years ago, and everything has changed in the last 5 years, making that number obsolete. I have had a very challenging summer and fall 2016. I have a fantastic result though: using treatments that have become available only in the last 5 years, I have seen my tumours shrink, and many of them disappear.  My symptoms are almost all gone, I am not taking any pain medication, I am exercising regularly and my energy levels are almost back to normal. My treatment continues, and my life is not entirely normal, but it is amazingly great. I look forward to returning to work, though I am still not sure when that will be. We live in the future.

So details, for those who want details. In hindsight, my first symptom was fatigue in the fall of 2015. I came home from an amazing 5 week transPacific trip, and within days was in bed with a wicked cold we all called the Chilean Death Flu. When I got over that, I had to work long hard days to get ready for CppCon, then was at CppCon running days from 8am to 10pm or later, so not surprisingly I was exhausted by the time that was done. But I never really got over that exhaustion and got back to my regular energy. This is a hindsight thing, because fatigue is a cancer symptom, but I never went to the doctor and said “I’m so tired, let’s find out why.” In January after a dentist appointment, I noticed a slight lump and soreness under my chin, but I forgot all about it as the rest of my busy life continued to happen. By April, I had noticed it again (it was larger) and this kicked off a round of medical things that just kept escalating. Blood tests, ultrasound, cat scan, biopsies, more cat scans, pet scans, MRIs, more biopsies – oh, many many more biopsies – and never any conclusions. I had to cancel a headline appearance at an August conference, and scale back my CppCon commitments a bit at a time, eventually deciding I couldn’t even attend. Through all this, the lump, whatever it was, kept growing. It was starting to hurt. Eventually, I had surgery to remove it, enabling all kinds of tests to be run on the removed material. Throughout this I kept the process private, discussing with only my very closest family members. Because I didn’t know what I had, I didn’t want to tell colleagues, clients, conference organizers or even friends “I may be sick, or not, and if I am it could be anything.” So I kept it to myself.

It was September when I officially got the news. The now-removed lump was melanoma. Since it wasn’t presenting on the skin (as a mole or other visible surface blemish), it was a metastasized melanoma. And since the cat scans showed that lumps (growths, nodules, masses, lesions – doctors almost never say tumour) were also in my lungs (and getting larger between scans), it was Stage IV, and distant. Here’s Wikipedia on the matter:

When there is distant metastasis, the cancer is generally considered incurable. The five-year survival rate is less than 10%. The median survival is 6–12 months. Treatment is palliative, focusing on life extension and quality of life. In some cases, patients may live many months or even years with metastatic melanoma (depending on the aggressiveness of the treatment). Metastases to skin and lungs have a better prognosis. Metastases to brain, bone and liver are associated with a worse prognosis. Survival is better with metastasis in which the location of the primary tumor is unknown.

Literally every time I met a doctor in September, they told me another place it had spread. There was the unknown primary, which my own immune system had already cleared away. The neck lump. The lung tumours, first detected in May and having multiplied and grown all summer. The liver. The spine. The surgeon had no more to offer me – there were too many to consider removing them. The radiation specialist also didn’t want to do anything – the neck lump might come back, but “it’s not a survival issue,” he said, meaning that I would doubtless die from the lung or liver involvement, or some other new lump, long before any regrowth of the neck lump had a chance to hurt me. And radiation to the neck would ruin my voice and quality of life. They both repeatedly used the word incurable, just as Wikipedia does. One of them praised me for crying “because it means you understand.” I made lists of paperwork to update (our wills) and find (my life insurance policies) and started thinking about what music I wanted played at my memorial ceremony. After all, those facts are pretty cut and dried. If the median is 6-12 months, you have some months. Maybe 18 months if you’re super lucky, maybe 3 if you’re not. It’s actually a lot of work to “get your affairs in order” and I was super tired and found thinking very difficult, so it was even harder than you would think it would be.

But, here’s where things take a turn. The surgeon told me that things have really changed for melanoma just in the last few years. That great strides are being made. The radiation specialist told me that what I needed was something systemic that would attack everything at once. They referred me to a medical oncologist. And he was like no-one I have ever met.

For one thing, he looked at me – my face, not his feet or my feet – when we talked. And he smiled. He told me I had come to the right place, and that he knew what to do for me. He’d already run some tests on the lump and ruled out one set of treatments, but felt I was a very good candidate for another set. This involved being in a study, getting a treatment that was technically experimental. (Technically because it involves combining two drugs, both of which are already approved in Ontario for treating this, but the combination is not. Since then, the combination has been approved in the US. Things are moving quickly in this area.) He started talking about what percentage of his patients survive and I interrupted him (probably a bit sulkily, because honestly I wasn’t having a great month) and said “for a while, anyway.” He grinned. “I have patients who I have to wait for them to die of old age so I can declare them cured. That’s my plan for you.” So then that was all three doctor’s offices that I cried in, but this time because he gave me hope.

So that brings us to the weird world of cancer and what “cured” and “curable” and such mean. The gold standard is to simply be alive 5 years after you’re diagnosed. That is why diagnosing “early” increases survival rates – not only because people live longer than they otherwise would have (sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t) but because the survival time is measured from diagnosis, not from when some particular stage is reached. If you are diagnosed a year early and nothing changes about the age at which you die, you still survived a year longer after diagnosis than you would have with a later diagnosis.  At first, there was so little that could be done for cancer that basically you either lived or died, and if you managed to still be alive after 5 years, you would almost certainly go on to die of something else like a heart attack or old age. But now people are being diagnosed so early, and even very aggressive cancers are being held back for a while, that the 5 year mark isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re cured. Doctors like to tell people they’re in remission if they don’t happen to have any tumours at the moment, a word that carries with it a promise that the cancer is pretty sure to come back later. You really can’t draw any conclusions about cancer in general, but there may be some stats available about your particular type and stage of cancer.  

So, in order for the official cancer folks to think I’m cured, I need to live 5 years after my diagnosis. It has barely been 6 months. So I’ll be waiting a while on that. And anyway, some folks are now more interested in “progression free survival” which is not only being alive, but not “progressing” during that time – getting new tumours, or having your old ones grow. You also hear about disease-free survival, which is having no symptoms and no signs of tumours on your scans, and event-free survival, which is not having “events” such as needing a surgery, or even reporting a particular pain. There seems to be a belief that three years of disease free survival after melanoma means you can relax, it’s not coming back. I guess for me the clock on that has only recently started, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, according to the current definition of cured, nobody gets cured of what I have, because the people diagnosed 5 years ago and earlier are the only ones whose outcomes are considered, and they pretty well all died. (I’ve had friends tell me stories of people who died of melanoma 5 and a half years after diagnosis, making them count as survivors in the cure math, but not, in the end, surviving it.) So it’s incurable. But in the last 5 years, they’ve started an entirely different kind of treatment, which works, and people on this treatment see their tumours disappear and their symptoms stop and they just return to their regular life. For how long? Well, it’s not possible to know yet, since the number of people who have 5 years of disease free survival, or even three, is very small. It seems like a forever cure. But it can’t be declared one because there just hasn’t been enough time go by yet to draw that conclusion. And that’s why the medical oncologist says he is waiting for his patients to die of old age. Only then can he conclude they never died of the cancer coming back.

Right, diversion  over, what is this treatment I was offered? The two drugs Ipilimumab and Nivolumab. They are monoclonal antibodies. They work by getting your immune system to remove the cancer. This is entirely different from chemo, which poisons the cancer and most of the rest of you too. People's immune systems clear away small cancers all the time. For example, I must have had a "primary" somewhere on my skin. I never saw it, my doctor never saw it, so I must have cleaned it up - although unfortunately not before it spawned off some more cells. That’s normal, a melanoma forms, it gets tidied up.  The observation on Wikipedia that people with unknown primaries do better is probably related to people with unknown primaries having a proven ability to clean melanoma away. The recent breakthrough is understanding that when tumours get to a certain size, they prevent the immune system from cleaning them up – they develop a sort of “cloaking system” that keeps the immune system away. So these two drugs, one ramps up your immune system and the other interferes with the preventing so the tumours no longer defend themselves against (or hide from, or turn off) the immune system. My body just has to do what it did before and clear it all away.

I am in a study because these drugs are not yet approved in Canada to be used in combination like this, though each are approved alone. They have already done studies comparing dose levels of the drugs and found, rather unexpectedly to me, that people getting different doses have the same success rate. This study is to see if they have the same side effects. Personally, I consider that aim secondary to getting me cured, but that's the technical aim of the study. The side effects from these drugs are all the same - inflammation and overactive immune responses. That might mean a rash, or swelling of something. If your eyes swell, that's not as bad as if your heart swells, or your thyroid. I had to commit to being able to drop everything and head to downtown Toronto if I get any kind of side effect at all. That means I can't travel for the duration of the study. The side effects, I was warned, may also keep me from working or from doing some of the things I normally do. So far 100% of the study people get side effects, the issue is only how severe they are. I may end up treated with steroids if they get too bad. As a side note, I understand that these drugs alone (not counting the time and effort of doctors, nurses, scan techs, and so on) cost about $200,000 a year. Being in the study means that the study sponsor, not the Ontario health care system, covers the cost of the drugs. There’s no cost to me for any of it; my only expenses have been hundreds of dollars on hospital parking (don’t get me started), cab and transit fares, and the occasional overpriced food and drink from hospital food courts.

So far, I’ve been extraordinarily lucky about side effects, having by far the least of anyone in the study locally. I may have some thyroid damage, but that’s all. Nonetheless the impact on my day to day life has been total. Working became impossible – partly because I was constantly going to downtown Toronto for appointments, and partly because of symptoms I began to experience as the tumours grew and spread. In less than a week I went from popping out for a 2 km hike while my Thanksgiving turkey cooked, to being unable to get out of bed. I spent weeks at a time in bed. I spent almost a week in the hospital after I got severely dehydrated, possibly because of the liver involvement messing with my metabolism. I pulled muscles coughing (because my lungs were full of tumours) and I may also have cracked a rib. I was taking medications for pain and cough but I was very ill and very weak. I am lucky to have a devoted husband who has put in incredible energy to give me the support I needed – looking after me at home, carrying more than his share of work both at home and in our business, and driving me to all those appointments. I don’t know how I could have coped without him. I also have a close corps of family and friends who cheered me up over email and Skype, and took care of things I couldn't take care of. I had to learn to let people look after me, which was a very difficult lesson. I haven't mastered it, but I've made some progress.

Then the treatment started to work. The way this shows up is in the form of pain. The immune system starts to attack and clean up the tumours. This is a good thing, but it involves swelling and increased blood flow to the area and such, which manifests as pain. A lot of pain. But it was weird, because we all knew this was probably a really good sign and reason to be optimistic and hopeful. Within three weeks of the first treatment, my symptoms began to improve. I had a setback with some hip pain that turned out to be caused by tumours in my hip and leg bones. It’s unusual for melanoma to spread to arms and legs, and more unusual than that to discover it from pain.  It is typically discovered when your leg bone collapses underneath you and you need emergency surgery with plates and pins and things. They were worried I would break my leg, so I got radiation treatment for a week to give those tumours specifically a hard knock back. The radiation techs asked every day “you have pain meds, right? You have enough? You need a refill?” and within a few days I found out why. The pain when the radiation starts to blast the tumour apart, and the immune system comes sweeping in to clean it up, is, well, memorable. And I know precisely how long it takes my opioids to start working from when I take them, as a result.

Another diversion, this one on metaphors and visualizations. I reject the war/fight/battle approach to diseases and to cancer. My leisure time involves a lot of outdoor activity – bike rides, wilderness canoe camping, hiking, that sort of thing. When you’re trying to ride your bike up a long, steep hill, you are not in a fight with the hill. You are not battling the hill. It’s simple: the hill doesn’t even know you are there. The hill doesn’t care. The hill isn’t steep at you, for you, because of you. It just is. When you’re paddling a canoe into the wind, the wind isn’t blowing in some sort of spiteful attempt to keep you from that amazing beach campsite. The wind doesn’t know you’re there, the lake doesn’t know you’re there. You can “win” or “lose” – get to the top of the hill, make it to the campsite, give up and turn around because there isn’t time to do it now – but the hill or the lake doesn’t win or lose, or even engage in this alleged battle in any way. Things can be very difficult without being a fight, a battle, or a war. In the same way, cancer isn’t a side in a fight. My tumours aren’t trying to kill me. They aren’t co-ordinating with other people’s tumours. There is no communication or plotting between elements of my disease and elements of someone else’s disease. Neither cancer in general nor my tumours in particular will feel some sort of sting or loss when I “win” and they won’t exult if I “lose”. They aren’t battling me, and it doesn’t really make sense for me to battle them. I can’t kick cancer’s ass because cancer is heartless, mindless, assless. My metaphor is more about cleaning up. Something is wrong in my body – things are growing where they shouldn’t, and this can be very dangerous, don’t get me wrong. Growths that squeeze vital organs keep them from working. Growths that eat a hole in my leg bone can result in the bone crumbling and collapsing underneath me. This needs to be fixed. This needs to be cleaned up. My immune system can do that, but it needs some help, and the medication is providing that help. I can imagine the lumps and growths being taken apart and tidied up by white blood cells and other immune components of my body. When I feel the pain of a flare that indicates a response is happening, I focus on imagining that process in action right where I’m feeling the pain. I take care of myself, push myself hard when I need to, ask the right questions, report the right details to those who need them, and do the work of getting better. It is hard, really hard, and I do contribute to my recovery, as well as being a very lucky person.

By December I really could tell I had turned a corner. I wrote in a family email update:

My third treatment is in the books and the fourth is scheduled for the Thursday before Christmas. My first scan since the treatment began will be in early January, and then I guess I will have an appointment where someone will tell me what they see on the scan. My expectation is that they will see dramatic shrinkage if not outright disappearance of all the growths and lumps I was told about through the fall, putting me in the 80% of study members who “respond” to the treatment. From my point of view, I ask “where is my cough?” – totally gone. “Where is the belly pain at the bottom of my ribcage?” – totally gone and they can poke my stomach in an exam and it just feels utterly normal like before I was sick. “Where is my fatigue?” – gone. I am not napping. I am out of bed every day and out of the house if I need to be. I can go shopping. Heck, yesterday I went to Costco. That’s right, Costco in December. That probably tells you all you need to know about my energy levels.

We then had Christmas and New Years and I had a scan and met with my doctor – the grin on his face as he came into the room told us all we needed to know. He actually took us out of the exam room to see my before and after scans on a monitor. As I wrote to family, quoting him:

“Here in the lungs, this and this and this, these are tumours. These are blood vessels don’t worry about those. That is a rib. Now over here see? The tumours are gone. Here there was a big blob of something, that’s gone. Now down here to the liver, see how swollen it was? On this side you can see it’s back to normal size. And tumour here and here, over here now you just see a small shadow in that place, probably a hole left behind when the tumour was gone.” And so on.

We came up with a plan to wean off the pair of pain medications I was using, which worked, and other than Tylenol for a headache occasionally, I am taking no pain medications at all. The radiologist opinion, which came later, is a little more conservative, but uses the word “disappeared” fairly often, along with “marked improvement” and “healing”. Overall, the reports show a very good response. Alas, the “whole body” cat scan didn’t include my hip, so I don’t know how things are going there. But my overall colour and energy makes it clear that I have had an amazing response. They don’t see anything new. Everything they used to see is going or gone.

The only question remaining is how long to keep treating me for.  We have switched, as scheduled, from Ipilimumab and Nivolumab every 3 weeks to just Nivolumab every 4 weeks. I have had one and will get at least one more treatment, then depending on the results of the scans after those, they might stop or keep going to 4 treatments or as many as 13. They really aren’t sure how long to treat people for. Some people are better forever after just one treatment – these are folks with terrible side effects who can’t have a second treatment. At first they kept treating people who could tolerate the meds indefinitely, then they decided two years was sensible, then one year, now … well, we’ll take it as it goes.

I’m still essentially side-effect free. I’ve lost a lot of weight: 25 pounds or more since the surgery, most of it in a single unpleasant month, and I had slowly and deliberately lost 35 pounds over a few years before that. I am already starting to regain some of my muscle, lost during all the bedrest. I am sleeping well too, having finally shaken the effects of a lingering “Christmas cold.” (It might have been the flu – there was an outbreak, and I couldn’t have a flu shot this year because of the immunotherapy.) I am cleared to drive again, since I’m off all my pain meds now, and I can have a glass of wine from time to time should the mood strike me. My thyroid levels were low, so I’ve started thyroid meds. They’ve come back to normal on the meds, and I don’t know if that will end up a life-long thing or not. It’s a pretty minor effect overall – plenty of women my age take thyroid meds every day. Low thyroid levels cause fatigue and cold sensitivity, both of which I had in early January, and which seem to have improved since I started the thyroid meds. I had been losing hair, not at the levels you see for people on chemo, but noticeable, and since I started the thyroid meds, that has gone back to normal too. I have enough energy that I could travel to Waterloo for a C++ Meetup in February, my first "public appearance" in perhaps a year.

So that is where I am. My tumours are dramatically shrunken or gone, and may never come back. Bone is growing back where tumours ate it. My symptoms are gone. I don’t know how much longer I will be treated for, or whether more side effects will still arise, but I can start to build my way back towards a more normal life. I got better. I was told I had incurable cancer, Wikipedia told me less than 10% survive it even for 5 years, I could expect to live for just months, and now, less than 6 months after being told that, I’m better. It’s weird. Wonderful, but weird. This is like being around when insulin was first being used, or antibiotics. It changes everything. I should probably have been dead by now and instead I feel the way I did before I knew I was sick, or perhaps even a little bit better.

I decided to share all of this detail for a few reasons.

  • People are curious – I get emails asking if I’m ok, how am I doing, sending me good vibes and such from folks who really don’t know what’s happening but know something is. I would like all of them to know I’m ok now, even though I still can’t travel.
  • People are unaware how much things are changing in the world of cancer treatment and research. I still shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t ended up referred to the particular doctor I ended up with, and had instead only been offered the old (useless) treatment. I like sharing the success story so that other people will know about it.
  • It’s a very happy story and everyone who knows the details is really happy to know them, so why not share that more widely?

I will still be less active than usual for a while, but I am working my way back to being my old self.

Kate

Monday, 27 February 2017 14:04:42 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [5]
# Friday, 16 September 2016
It has been a very busy summer for me. Mostly it's been great, with family visits from all over the world and the wedding of my oldest child. But there have been some challenges, too. Without going into details, I've had to cancel plans to speak at (and even attend) CppCon. This is really sad - CppCon was the largest C++ conference ever when it started in 2014, and has grown remarkably ever since. It's a place where I learn new things, make new friends and contacts, and meet old friends for a wonderful week of laughter, in-jokes, and brain-stretching.

I am hoping that within a few months, I'll be "back in the saddle" again and planning a 2017 full of speaking and learning. In the meantime, I'll be following #CppCon on twitter, and watching the YouTube channel for new videos - the plenaries and keynotes get up really fast. If you're not there in person, be there virtually like me!

Kate

Friday, 16 September 2016 10:59:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 26 February 2016

Our longest-serving employee, Joyce MacDonald, has worked her last day with us. She’s moving away to the other side of the country, where I don’t doubt another firm will soon find themselves blessed with her skills. Joyce joined us full time 16 years (and one month) ago, and had been working part time for us long before that. From the very beginning, every task that she took on she transformed and improved. We needed data entry when we were building a website for a local real estate firm; she took the procedure for adding a listing and kept streamlining it – open these three files at once, copy this once, then paste it here, here, and here – until she had cut the target time in half and then in half again. Later, she helped to develop our Quality Procedures and to bring order to chaos in our software development process as we moved to agile and changed our client mix. She helped our developers to become more organized, to report progress more thoroughly, and to test before committing or deploying. She trained our clients to think about what they really needed and to consider the consequences of what they were asking for. I have never met anyone who cared as much about the success of the firm as Joyce. We’ve employed dozens of people who’ve done good work, worked hard, and cared about our clients. The majority of them, like the majority of people everywhere, never gave much thought to whether the company was doing well, except perhaps to wonder or worry if their job was safe, or if there would be money to spend on perks. I’m not complaining; I think that’s perfectly normal. Joyce is wired differently: it’s fundamentally important to her that things are done right, that the client gets what they want, and that the company makes a profit. That’s what just has to happen, and it’s generally what she’s able to make happen.

Joyce started doing data entry and office administration but quickly moved into more complicated tasks. She’s been managing projects and client interactions for a long time. She also made sure that people did what they were supposed to do when they were supposed to do it, and kept everyone informed and contented. If you’ve ever called our office, you’ve probably talked to her. She’s probably reassured you about something and made sure it got taken care of for you. She has her PMP now, which formally recognizes how well she manages projects, gets requirements out of customers and organized in a way we can all understand, and builds appropriate processes for developers to follow. She’s taken on the challenge of managing not just seasoned, well-behaved, adult developers, but also students and our own grown children, who are not always easy to control. Let’s just say they meet their deadlines for her :-).

Losing Joyce to the west coast hasn’t been a total surprise for us. When we came back from the epic Pacific trip, she got the opportunity to move and though she delayed it, we rather knew it was inevitable. Over the past 6 months or so we’ve adjusted the balance of work we take on so that our remaining clients will be those I can handle client support for, and whose projects I can manage. (Brian will continue to be an architect, developer, and star debugger who doesn’t have to talk to the clients.) For our clients, nothing much will change. For us, there will be a hole in our lives – personally and professionally – that will take a while to settle down. When she joined us, Joyce was a neighbor (I believe we first met in the summer of 92), and for a long time she walked or rode her bike to work in the office attached to our house. Our kids have grown up together. When stuff happens, Joyce is the one we talk it through with – business and not-business. We were able to go to the other side of the world for five weeks, often with no internet, knowing the company would tick along fine without us. It’s going to be an adjustment not having her with us every day, not having her to count on. Still, we know why she’s moving, and we wish her all the best in this new phase of her life.

Kate

PS: If you’ve found this entry as part of due diligence in a hiring process, let me be clear: Hire Her. You won’t regret it.

Friday, 26 February 2016 15:53:18 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 01 October 2013

I am months behind. I will post some of the stuff I've been meaning to post, but later. Right now I need to make new entries so people can get current information. Remember, never blog about why you're not blogging. Just blog.

Tuesday, 01 October 2013 10:32:44 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Sunday, 07 August 2011

Like a lot of people, I got started on Facebook one way, but now I use it another. And like a lot of people, I haven't quite "cleaned up" from my original start. My rule these days is very clear - Facebook friends are actual friends. People I know and like. In fact, my rule is that we should have shared a meal - ideally a meal and some wine - to be friends on Facebook. If we worked together, or presented at the same conference, and we actually enjoy each other's company, chances are we went for dinner, or lunch, or a beer, at some point. It's a handy rule that makes my decision process easy. I get friend requests all the time from people I don't know, and I just ignore them.

With that audience, my Facebook posts can be pretty personal. What my kids are up to. Pictures of my family and my holidays. Details about travel plans, including whole-family trips that leave my house empty. Sure, I know that what you put on Facebook can be forwarded and shared elsewhere. But I know who I'm sharing with and I trust them to have my best interests at heart. I don't connect my Twitter statuses (which I know are public) to my Facebook ones (which are more private and less frequent) or vice versa.

What I've set up, for people who use Facebook as a news hub, is a public page. Here I post when I'm speaking somewhere, or when a video or article is published. If you "like" this page, my announcements will end up in your news feed. So if you added me on Facebook and never heard back, use the public page instead. I don't post links to all my blog entries there, because I figure you can always subscribe to this RSS. I don't post anything personal either, so if you don't actually care where I'm spending my holidays, you might want to like that page even if we're already Facebook friends.

Kate

Sunday, 07 August 2011 12:50:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 05 August 2011
It's worth explaining a few things about me and Twitter. First, I'm @gregcons. There is someone with @KateGregory but it's not me, and whoever it is has never tweeted. I follow several hundred people and several hundred people follow me.  I don't "follow back" when people follow me, unless I happen to recognize the name when Twitter emails me about it. I look at the tweets of people who retweet me or @ me (or who people I follow retweet, or who people I follow are in @ conversations with) and if the tweets look interesting, I follow for at least a while.

I tweet a mixture of personal ephemera (wow, what beautiful weather we're having today), personal stalker-bait (I'm at place x with person y, hey whoever sure was great seeing you today, wow my child just did thing x in place y), and actual technical stuff. The technical stuff might be my own blog entries, my own material being published (a PluralSight course, a Channel 9 interview, a TechEd talk) or a link to someone else's blog entry/interview/talk that I think is interesting. If you want only the technical stuff, my public Facebook feed (more on that in an upcoming post) is a better choice.

I unfollow people for a variety of reasons. People who post a great volume of tweets that are in a language I can't read, or are about things that don't matter to me, just clutter up the stream, so I will unfollow. It's not a value judgement and it's not about the ratio of useful to non useful, just the volume of non useful. (Non useful includes what your cat just did, what airport you just left or arrived at (a few close friends excepted), what you are eating/drinking unless it's inspirationally yummy, coded/veiled potshots at your coworkers, and updates on your car repair or the planning of your wedding.) Since there's a lot of overlap among the people who care about the same stuff as me, I find that when these people post something useful, ten of my friends retweet it anyway, so I won't miss it. People who just post the same thing over and over because they read somewhere that Twitter is ephemeral and people might miss your announcement at 8am so you should do it again and noon and again at 5pm and so on I will usually unfollow also. I don't keep track of who is unfollowing me and I'm not offended if I realize someone has - we all use these things differently and one person may unfollow for too much personal stuff and another may unfollow for not enough personal stuff or not different enough from my other feeds.

I mostly use MetroTwit. This lets me have search columns on myself, my @mentions, and whatever topic I'm interested in according to the news of the day or the event I'm attending. I have a Twitter client on my Windows Phone and A Quick Tweet by Scott Cate as well - it loads super fast because it's for sending tweets, not reading them. I also use the web page from time to time. I always check email before Twitter, so it's not a great way to get hold of me in a hurry.

I don't blog my tweets. I often tweet my blog posts. If something deserves to stick around for a while, I may quickly tweet it, then later write up a blog post about it. Other than that, there's little overlap.

Twitter has turned out to be hugely valuable to me. I find out about breaking news faster than Google News, I hear technical rumours and announcements there first, and I keep in touch with technical friends the world over, as well as my own neighbourhood and my family. I've started my day with smiles from jokes or from just seeing what people I care about are up to, and I've kicked off business conversations, too. It's part of my work rhythm now and it's pretty much the only place I put personal stuff these days. If you're not part of it, consider giving it a try for a week and see what changes for you.

Kate

Friday, 05 August 2011 10:55:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 23 July 2011
So, you're a C++ programmer? You've written a Windows app or two in your time? Let me propose a little challenge to you. Write one. Only start with File, New and don't let Visual Studio generate any code for you. Write each line of it. Then explain it. No MFC, No ATL. That's what was asked of me a while back, and the result is a six-paper series that has finally arrived on MSDN.

I have to say I really enjoyed the simplicity of the smallest Windows program possible. I also enjoyed making it better, which included making it more of a C++ program and less of a C one. I also covered a little Direct2D, a little COM, and a little "here's some other stuff you're going to want to read." If it's been ages since you wrote a Windows program in C++, or wrote one that wasn't all covered in barnacles from frameworks and libraries you might not want to rely on for simple things, I really suggest you give this series a read - it won't take long and you can use Visual C++ Express if you like - the first chapter includes links and instructions for getting all the tools you need. Better still, if you've never written a Windows in C++, why not give it a try and let me know what you think?

Kate

ps: Never blog that you're not blogging. Never blog about why you're not blogging, no-one cares. Just blog. Right?

Saturday, 23 July 2011 00:39:47 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [4]
# Monday, 26 July 2010

The latest refresh of the Windows Phone 7 Tools is now available! Combined with Visual Studio 2010 (any edition, you don't need Express any more, though if that's what you have it will work) you can create apps in no time flat and run them on the emulator. I couldn't resist:

If you've ever done a WPF or Silverlight app, you can do Hello World in a matter of minutes. I put the picture in there just so I could say I had edited the XAML beyond putting my own name in an attribute. If you'd like to do some serious work, there are all kinds of training resource links on Yochay's blog. Don Burnett has some interesting thoughts on why Blend gives you power and productivity for Windows Phone 7 development and how there's just nothing like it for iPhone development.

I have some fun ideas I want to try that will take a little more than 5 minutes, so I'll report back on that front soon. I'm going to put my phone posts in my Client Development category, since after all, client development includes devices like phones just as much as it includes pure Windows apps.

Kate

Monday, 26 July 2010 15:16:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate the women of software. I've blogged about it before, and it seems like a good springboard to get started again. There's a nice post over on Toronto Girl Geek Dinners, too. I have been trying to go to an event there for at least 6 months, maybe a year - seems it's always on a day I'm out of town or otherwise unavailable. April 5th might work out - I hope it does.

What have I been doing for the last almost-4-months? Working hard. Speaking, mostly on Windows 7 things. Planning future speaking gigs. Writing code - real code - in VB, C#, and yes, C++. Some using STL and some using MFC as it happens. Project managing, which can be many times more satisfying than coding but also many times more frustrating. Tweeting (yes, I did - and I tweet personal stuff as much as technical stuff so if you don't care for that you don't need to feel obliged to follow me.) Publishing videos. All of these things will get blog posts of their own over the next little while.

Stay tuned!

Kate

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 20:46:38 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 14 November 2009

I had to check Wikipedia to be sure how to spell that :-). I thought this was a good post to pull some images off my camera and be a little touristy.

Here is the U-Bahn (subway) station nearest the hotel. We rode the subways back and forth each day, about 30 minutes each way including changing lines, and all free thanks to a transit pass that I believe Kylie ("I'm 4 and a half and I'm a PC") might have created for us. Mine got crumpled and soggy but worked perfectly.

Here we all are headed into the Messe one morning. Big, isn't it?

This one shows you a little more of what we were up against. The big round thing is just the entrance to the complex. The red brick building with a big 2 on it had the speaker room in it. Behind it are other buildings of the same size with the exhibition halls, pavilions etc, and past that the food rooms. The blue-grey building with the 7 on it is the one that held all the breakouts. And yes, we had to go outside (and it rained a fair bit) when going from building to building - but only for 20 or 30 feet.

I have a bit of a running joke on my blog about donuts. Some Tech Eds have 'em ... and some don't. This one did. Apparently they're not called Berliners in Berlin. (And btw, JFK didn't say what you're thinking.)

Finally, here's all that's left of the wall in most spots:

And the Brandenburg Gate at night makes a very compelling image. We walked through, East to West.

Next year? I sure hope so.

Kate

Saturday, 14 November 2009 20:15:27 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 23 July 2009

I admit it, I read my referrer logs. I want to see what kinds of searches bring people here, or who is linking to me. I think a lot of the single word searches (women, or shirt, or december) are blog spammers looking for posts to spam on. And some are clearly my name, names of my friends or folks I blog about, conferences I'm speaking at. The majority is things I know about, things for which I want to be your expert source: /clr:pure, windows 7 taskbar, uac manifest file, marshal_as and so on. Yay.

But this one was just plain odd: c++ standard limerick. Really? So I repeated the search, and found this:

When writing a specialization,
be careful about its location;
or to make it compile
will be such a trial
as to kindle its self-immolation.

OK, it's not spaced like that in the standard. But who'da thunk it?

Kate

Thursday, 23 July 2009 19:48:20 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Anyone who blogs on technical topics soon notices they get a lot more hits if they wander into non technical areas for a post or two. That’s just because there are more non technical people out there, searching for tips on stain removal or coupons for TGI Fridays, than there are people who want to know how to get a manifest on an executable or how to write a C++/CLI wrapper for native code or what’s coming in Visual Studio 2010. That’s why my top ten posts last year are:

1 - XPS Document Viewer – Nov 19th 2006
I guess people are still getting XPS documents and don’t know how to read them. OK. Not sure why my page would be the one that over 7000 people find, but what the heck, the information is still valid.


2 - Reading Office 2007 files – Nov 23rd 2006
Also from two years ago but people still need to know this. I send people this link whenever I get one of those “I can’t read your attachment because I’m not on Office 2007 yet” replies to an email. I didn’t send it out 4000 times though, so I guess a lot of people are searching for this stuff.


3 - Try Www.mappoint.com – August 18th 2004
I read recently that people don’t seem to realize they can type URLS into the address bar on their browsers, and have their home pages set to search engines, and actually type entire URLS into search boxes so they can click the result. I would deny this could happen, except many years ago I had a client who did just this, so I know there really are people who do this. I also can’t think of any other reason why over 2500 people would read a four year old post comparing MapPoint to MapQuest given that everybody these days uses either maps.google.com or maps.live.com.


4 - Introduction to Workflow in SharePoint 2007 – June 22nd 2006
Yep, workflow was a hugely important addition to SharePoint. We’re loving it in the SharePoint project we’re doing now. Again this is a topic that must surely be better covered somewhere else though. Still almost 2500 people stopped by to learn about workflow – I hope they followed the link to learn more, and learn something a little more recent – say from after the product was released?


5 - How to earn a million Aeroplan miles – Oct 1st 2005
Now this is really non-technical, but it caught my attention and I guess plenty of other people’s too. I have some other blog entries from time to time about Aeroplan miles, but I don’t really cover how to earn them. For that I highly recommend Flyertalk’s Aeroplan forum.


6 - Batch-convert Visual Studio 2005 projects to Visual Studio 2008 – Dec 17th 2007
The most recent entry yet in this top ten. It makes sense that something that gets hits all year does better than something that wasn’t even around for the first half of 2008. And this is a useful tip I haven’t seen many other places. All those searching people should just subscribe to John Robbins – searching only helps you if you know something exists and want to find it. Smart blogs like John show you things you hadn’t imagined existing.


7 - Another Way to Get the Shield on a Button (or Anywhere Else) – Jan 30th 2008
Finally, something from 2008 in the 2008 top ten! And this is a good tip from Daniel Moth. Remember, the shield on a menu item or button doesn’t bring up the UAC prompt any more than putting ... on a menu item brings up a dialog. And nothing puts the shield there for you if you trigger a prompt any more than something puts the ... for you when it sees you have code to show a dialog. All of this is just sensible developer tradition that helps users feel comfortable with the software they’re using. So please play along and help people know what to expect.


8 - Don't compile MFC apps with /clr:pure – Jan 17th 2007
This one seemed like a no-brainer – MFC includes native stuff, /clr:pure means I don’t have any native stuff, but I was getting emails asking for help and this kept turning out to be the issue. So I blogged it. A lot of my blog topics are the answers to random emails I get from people who are looking for help. This way an extra 1500 or so people saw the answer in 2008.


9 - Hot Laptop? Here's a tip – May 14th 2006
It’s still good advice for working with an overheating laptop. I’m not sure if the searchers all had that problem or were using “hot” more metaphorically.


10 - Adding a manifest to a Vista application – Oct 3rd 2006
This is mostly a link over to Catherine Heller’s Visual Studio 2005 instructions, except that I really wanted to call out how much less work it was for Visual C++ compared to C# and VB.NET. Anyway it’s all a ton easier with Visual Studio 2008 these days.


What else can I tell you from my stats? I got almost a million visits over the year, and they averaged 2.71 requests – meaning most folks clicked around a bit once they arrived. That’s heartening. In 2008 I set myself a goal to blog every day. I didn’t achieve that – there were several long gaps in there – but I did post 135 times. I still like the quote from my post on June 1st, resuming after a four-month gap: “Blogging, like speaking at a Quaker meeting, is something one must do only if the spirit moves one.” I’m looking forward to having my spirit move me hundreds of times in 2009.

Kate

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 22:07:58 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 01 June 2008

Here I am again in Orlando, getting ready for another Tech Ed.

Being in a familiar place, doing something I've done so many times before, it makes me finally ready to blog again. A lovely quote I read just yesterday, "Blogging, like speaking at a Quaker meeting, is something one must do only if the spirit moves one." And today, in a hushed convention centre that will hold over 10,000 tomorrow but seems to have only a dozen today, it moves me. (Read the whole article, btw. And reflect that at Tech Ed we are exhorted to Learn, Connect, Explore.)

Tomorrow, my precon on Vista programming. And plenty more to follow. My friends, in more ways than one, here we are again.

Kate

 

Sunday, 01 June 2008 16:05:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 21 January 2008

I decided to add a Concurrency Category, and to go back in time and add things to it. I hope it helps you find my posts on this increasingly important topic. I enjoyed reading some of what I've been writing about concurrency for the last two years.

Kate

Monday, 21 January 2008 11:34:53 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 11 December 2007

At Tech Ed Developers Europe, one of my talks was on STL/CLR and the marshaling library. There are three super cool things about the marshaling library that all C++ developers need to know. The first is that the random boilerplate code we used to write to convert between two kinds of strings is now taken care of for us:

char* stringfromnativelibrary;   //gets set somehow
ManagedFunctionExpectingSystemString(marshal_as<String^> stringfromnativelibrary);

The second is that it's just templates, meaning it is fast at runtime and intuitive for a C++ developer. The third is that because it's templates, we can write our own specializations, and convert between any two types we feel we will be using - typically on either side of the managed/native border, though that's not a requirement at all.

This last part is really exciting to me. Imagine you have some library you wrote ages ago that takes a RECT and does something with it related to your business logic. But you've replaced your UI and now you have a System::Drawing::Rectangle to represent what your user selected. Wouldn't it be cool to write:

oldfunction( marshal_as<RECT> RectangleFromWinForms);

That's not a problem as long as someone has written that specialization. You can do it, or you can try to find one someone else already wrote.

Date and time, arrays, anything related to screen position, these are going to be types everyone uses. Why not share the effort of writing these conversion functions? That's the thought that hit me at the end of my talk. So I came home and set up a site -  www.marshal-as.net - to use for just this purpose. I've had a few submissions from Jason, who was at my talk and was there when I thought of it, and a wish list from a "little birdie". The C++ team knows what I'm up to and they are excited too. Now what I need is submissions and lots of them!

So, drop me an email, comment on this post, or (better) comment on the first post over at www.marshal-as.net. I'll post the specializations one per post and we'll build a library. I'm inspired by pinvoke.net and would like to see this as the destination for finding a specialization instead of writing one. Can you help?

Kate

Tuesday, 11 December 2007 07:38:37 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 25 November 2007

I stopped blogging this fall because I had just too much on my plate. Most days I never found a peaceful half hour, and those days I did find it, I chose not to spend it blogging. But I have a lot of “stuff to blog” saved up, and it’s time to clear out that file and get this habit back on track. For those of you reading the feed, it will be a bit of a deluge. For the rest of you, I’m going to spread these out dated one a day because that makes them easier for me to manage later.

Kate

Sunday, 25 November 2007 15:24:44 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Again a blogging pause. Just too darn much work and a fair amount of speaking too. I'll do some "what's upcoming" shortly, but first here are the materials from my talk at the Toronto .NET User Group this week. I helped to found this group five years ago and it was great to be back. I've been doing this Vista talk a lot lately (Code Camp, DevTeach, a webcast last week, and now in Toronto) and it seems like people keep wanting to hear it. It's hard to fit it in a single evening but yes, you can learn what you need to get your app working on Vista in just an hour or two.

The first demo - the one app that has a manifest for the whole thing. Play with the required level or take the manifest away (remove the post build step) to see virtualization. UACDemoSolution1.zip (68.65 KB)

The second demo - the partitioned app with an asInvoker manifest for the overall app and a requireAdministrator manifest for the privileged exe. Also shows how to put the shield on the button. UACDemoSolution2.zip (68.2 KB)

Some fun with the Vista look and the effort VistaBridge saves. CommonFileDialogSolution.zip (1.88 MB)

The deck. ItsVistaTime.zip (790.18 KB) Zipped because the four digit extension seems to be causing a problem. It's .pptx which means you need the viewer for it.

More in the days to come!

Kate

Wednesday, 30 May 2007 23:49:16 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Sunday, 07 January 2007

Let's see, I got dinged (so far) by

If I don't step up and produce my Five Things pretty quickly, there won't be anyone with a blog left for me to tag!

  1. I have a PhD in engineering -- Chemical Engineering to be precise -- from the University of Toronto. My thesis title had way too many "of"s in it and was about modelling the very first steps in blood coagulation at a surface. Simultaneous partial differential equations! Boundary layer! Non-Newtonian fluids! Woo hoo! My undergrad work was also in Chemical Engineering, at Waterloo.
  2. If you don't count co-op jobs while an undergrad, TA-ing while a grad student, part time lecturing, and the like, I have held only two "real" jobs in my entire life, one for two years between graduating from my undergrad and starting my grad work, and the other as partner here at Gregory Consulting ever since.
  3. I am an elder in a martial arts system, one of only six in that system. Don't try to beat me up though... we'll both be sorry.
  4. I never lie. I sometimes say I can't talk about something, or I say something that I know is deceptive but is technically true, but I do not lie. For example, I only say "this demo worked on the plane!" if it really did. But I might say "they haven't announced anything" knowing that you will conclude I don't know, when in fact I do know but can't tell you. Sorry.
  5. I adore my kids, and put them first in just about everything I do. I've turned down conferences because it conflicted with family things, and followed a lower-salary career path so I'd have time to be hugely involved in what they do. I even homeschooled one of them half days for an academic year. I just don't talk about them much in my blog to give them some privacy. As a result many people think I don't have kids! Trust me, when we're together in person and it's not all being archived for some future romantic interest of theirs to read 20 years from now, I'll talk your ear off about these sweet, funny, smart, hardworking, reliable little angels!

There.

Now, my victims. Who on my favourites list is not already playing, but knows me enough to take a tag from me?

Kate

Sunday, 07 January 2007 14:18:56 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Monday, 23 October 2006

[back-dated with dasBlog]

While I was in Africa my father's condition worsened and then he slipped away. He died at home, in the bed he'd been using for several months, without pain, knowing he was dying and that it was time to go. He had taken care of the things he needed to take care of: explaining his latest project to his former graduate students so that they can prove his theory and rewrite some text books, explaining the trickier aspects of the boat motor to my sister, giving some instructions to his lawyer. He was content to go at the end.

His obituary was in the Globe. It could easily have been twice as long.

Kate

Monday, 23 October 2006 07:23:19 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Tuesday, 05 September 2006

One more update about my Dad and then some catching up from the old "stuff to blog" file. My Dad has an inoperable lump. Visually the surgeon says it is cancer, but two biopsies have been negative. This lump was blocking bile ducts, blocking the bowel, and doing various things that cause terrible pain and can kill you within days. His late August surgery moved things out of the way of the lump, leaving him to recover from the surgery (and subsequent abscess) and the weight loss and muscle loss that comes from going over 6 weeks without really eating. He has done an amazing job of that, returning within days to regular bike riding, sailing the 26 foot wooden boat he took around the world, and putting weight back on. He is also figuring out how to balance his pain meds so that he can stay as active as he wants to be.

How long does he have? We don't know. He could have died back in August in that dingy hospital room, wearing just that stupid backless gown and with no comforts of home. Now he is home, with ocean views from every room, his own clothes, his own shower, his bike, his boat, music, his laptop, and family. I hope he has another year or more... but we are all prepared for less. And we are all living as though he has more, much more.

Kate

 

Tuesday, 05 September 2006 11:48:30 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Blogging is usually a way I talk to people I don't otherwise talk to. Not that friends, family, clients, and staff don't read it -- I know you're there! But there is another group of people I know are reading who I don't normally email, IM, call, see, or send pieces of paper to. And in my life, as in so many lives, things come up, stresses rise, deadlines loom, project work eats all available hours, and the blog starts to suffer.

It starts with missing a few days, then catching up. The "stuff to blog" file is handy here, so when you catch up you clean out the file. Then the number of days you're behind exceeds the number of entries in the file, and besides most of them are just a link and you don't have time to write the three sentences that go with it. So then you don't blog for a while.

When are you likely to start again? When the blog becomes the more efficient way to talk to the people you usually talk to, but don't have time to. Expect the blog to get a little more personal for a while (though there's some technical stuff to clear out of "stuff to blog" as well, or to go dark again. I'll do what I can.

Kate

Tuesday, 22 August 2006 23:02:22 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 04 July 2006

Is a blog just for reading? Some blogs have way more life in the comments than the original posts (think Mini Microsoft for example, and I'm not saying the original posts are lifeless, just that the comments really take it up a notch) while others (like the one you're reading now) have very few comments. I like to think that people wander off and think about what they read, or go fix the problem in their code (hello all you broke-your-sql-reporting-services-installation people, I see your search terms in my activity list) and think nicely of me.

But here's a rather interesting blog entry. It's one word long. And that word is not all that unusual. Now I love self-reference, Godel, Escher, Bach etc, so I laughed. And I'm not alone. The commenters got it right away, drawing on a long tradition back to Usenet (at least 20 years) and then bringing in some more recent traditions. Good fun for as long as you can stand it.

Kate

Tuesday, 04 July 2006 21:32:03 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Friday, 21 April 2006

I've just updated the mentoring and consulting pages on our website. The mentoring offering is where I get most of my fun, so we've decided to emphasize it a little more. I even found out how to put flare on my blog. Tell your friends :-)

Kate

Friday, 21 April 2006 22:52:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Saturday, 25 February 2006


My blog is worth $17,500.74.
How much is your blog worth?

I have no clue who would come up with a number such as that, but anyone who approaches me with a cheque for $17,500 (or should I say check, I bet that's US dollars) is very likely to become a proud blog-owner :). And that's a 54 cent discount!

Kate

Saturday, 25 February 2006 18:32:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 06 October 2005

At the PDC, we were shown what Office 12 is going to be like, and it was impressive. But since then more announcements keep coming out about it that in many ways are more impressive than the new user interface. (If you're thinking "what new user interface?" you need to check out the future Office page at MSDN for details.) Apparently the Channel 9 Video has been insanely popular also. In some ways the Open XML formats are more exciting than the UI , especially for developers. And now this: Office 12 - not just Word, but Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, everybody - will all know how to publish their documents as PDF. No third party tool, no add in, it will just work. I read about it on Brian Jones' blog, but there are also details on that future Office page.

Kate

 

Thursday, 06 October 2005 06:53:18 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, 09 September 2005

This morning I got an email that my blog was down... turned out that one of the drives in my web server had died. We were in the process of moving everything off that server anyway, to a more modern one, but needless to say this accelerated the schedule a little. While we were at it, we upgraded dasBlog to 1.8. I believe all the comment spam should have gone as part of the upgrade, and from now on you will need to do the Captcha thing to leave comments. If you hate that, email me and we'll discuss it. I sure was hating clearing out the you-know-what.

Kate

Friday, 09 September 2005 23:13:08 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, 11 August 2005

This is a cool little service, “Not Endorsed nor Authorized by Google in any way”, that lets readers show me where you are. Go on, zoom and pan and whatever till you find your location, then double-click to add your little face icon to the map.

Inspired, as I so often am, by Scott Hanselman.

Kate

Thursday, 11 August 2005 09:41:05 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 05 April 2005

In the last few days just about every Microsoft or Microsoft-friendly blog I read has changed its theme. I can't even remember how to change my theme, and suddenly the folks who were black on orange are blue on white, the folks who were blue on grey are orange on white, links that were on the left are on the right and vice versa. More than once this week I have thought I was on the wrong blog!

Let's see if I can get with the spirit and add some flare today or tomorrow...

Kate

Tuesday, 05 April 2005 10:19:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, 10 February 2005

OK, I did the blogmap thing:

http://www.csthota.com/blogmap/

This is my Peterborough office, not that I'm there very often...

Kate

Thursday, 10 February 2005 18:08:19 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, 15 December 2004

I just read a blog entry that, to me, really epitomizes what blogs are all about. It starts out as a musing on a little technical question -- if some C++ code throws a string literal, what kind of catch clauses should win the race to catch it? -- and turns into a very personal story of what C++/CLI is for and about and Stan's motivations in being part of it. He says:

We have had an extraordinary degree of freedom not simply in our design, but in our being able to reach out and work with the general c++ community. this language is a coalition. I think we have all wanted to put the best face on C++ in what we regard as an otherwise hostile environment for C++. We think this is a win-win situation for everyone. if you don't like something, you should let us know. we're not a hundred thousand leagues removed from our users. if you want to use the language, you have every right to tell us what you think about it; how you find it; what you want.

And later:

I just program and write. and I do that best in C++. C# and Java mean nothing to me. Now I have my own language to use on .NET. That was my personal agenda in all this. I think you should check it out.

So go read it. C++/CLI is being developed by real people who care about the technology they use and the technology they create. I don't know what it is about C++ that makes people feel this way about it -- I feel the same way myself. I use VB.NET almost every day, I use XML, I use all kinds of things, but I don't really have feelings towards those things. I do for C++. Weird but true, and --hey!-- I'm not the only one.

Kate

Wednesday, 15 December 2004 11:48:20 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 06 July 2004

I know these things are silly, but anyway:

You are Windows 2000 SP3.  You're a steady and reliable friend.  People think you're all business, but with your recent therapy you've become a little more playful.
Which OS are You?

How did it determine I was service pack 3? I don't want to know. You can see all the possibilities at http://bbspot.com/News/2003/01/os_quiz_all.html. I think I would have rather been XP.

Kate

Tuesday, 06 July 2004 16:21:37 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Tuesday, 08 June 2004

Now people I haven't even met are blogging about donuts... not that the back door he describes could persuade me to scan my own groceries, until the UI improves dramatically. It's forever telling me to put the bag back on the scale or take things off the scale until I'm ready to abandon everything I've bought just to make the process stop.

Kate

Tuesday, 08 June 2004 12:46:06 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 31 May 2004

Marcie blogs about donuts so I don't have to.

As for snacks at TechEd, just don't get me started.

Kate

Monday, 31 May 2004 20:14:14 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 25 May 2004

This year there are two flavours of speaker shirts at TechEd: the darker (more attractive, I think) blue belong to Microsoft people and the lighter ones to third parties -- that would be me. I wore one of mine today and since I have booth duty tomorrow (RD booth -- 49 and 50 in the Microsoft Pavilion in the Exhibit Hall, come on by) I'll be wearing the other one. I'm hoping to get a third shirt tomorrow. I don't know why I packed any of my own clothes, really, folks have been handing me shirts every time I turn around. No-one gives you pants as swag though. Too bad!

As well as the shirt, I have a slightly decorated badge:

I figure I might as well make myself easy to spot. So if you can't recognize me from the picture (upper left corner) on the bingo card, you can recognize my badge :-) Most of the RDs are wearing the Regional Director Program button also, and we tend to know where each other are. So if you still need a Forte or Huckaby signature, if you missed Clemens and Scott in the RD booth tonight, or left before Goksin arrived (oh yes, he did come by later!) then flag down any RD you see and ask us if we've seen the one you're missing.

I think I just about have one piece of badge bling for every category on my blog. I got an INETA card after I took the picture. I forgot to bring my MVP lapel pin, sorry MVP program.

And of course, I can relax and think about badges and shirts and such because I did my talk and it went well. I will try to get my code (and my slides for that matter) on CommNet.

Kate

C++ | Canadian Colour | INETA | Meta | MVP | RD | Speaking
Tuesday, 25 May 2004 02:06:35 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, 11 May 2004

Almost as soon as I noticed (and before I could report it) the only flaw I had found in dasBlog has been fixed. My C++ Category used to always come up empty, though of course I had plenty of posts in it, thanks to the punctuation in the category name. Today a completely painless upgrade to 1.6 fixed that. Yay!

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 14:59:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, 22 March 2004

My favourite sysadmin downloaded dasBlog for me (thanks to Clemens for writing it) and installed it, leaving me with only the task of filling it up with stuff. I can't write much today because I'm getting ready to go to Montreal tomorrow for the Montreal Microsoft .NET Architecture User Group where I'm going to talk about Remoting. Looking forward to the train ride already.

Monday, 22 March 2004 18:31:09 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]