Wednesday, 09 November 2005
Once again I find a friend has written almost the blog entry I would have, sparing me the effort. You just have to read Don Kiely's summary of Bjarne's C++ Connections keynote this morning. I am going to sleep on my thoughts from the keynote, this afternoon's talk, and tonight's panel, and see what I synthesize from them tomorrow.
Tuesday, 08 November 2005
Today at C++ Connections I have attended two Bjarne Stroustrup talks. And yes, I learned something from both talks and took plenty of notes. Bjarne used what he called Ye Olde Shape Example in a discussion of the brittle base class problem. He mentioned that this is an ancient and yet still useful example that he got from the Simula folks way back when. After the talk I asked if he knew when it dated to, since I use it as an example of polymorphism in the OO/UML course I teach at Trent. He thinks it's about 1971. I was disappointed that it wasn't older than me, and he offered "well, there's always the cars and vehicles, stop, go, turn kind of thing. That's from about 1967 or so." I burst out laughing since I use that example too! It doesn't quite make the "older than me" bar, but it's certainly got a history.
The theme for the global launch of Visual Studio, SQL Server, and BizTalk was "Rock the Launch" with a subtheme of being ready. It was a very fun day complete with impersonators (I saw Elvis, Cher, Madonna, and Tina Turner), and a decor of posters and equipment boxes. Scott Stanfield has a nice summary complete with the pictures I haven't got around to taking yet of the gorgeous special editions of the software we recieved. A number of RDs were there: I saw Scott, Rich Hundhausen, Richard Campbell, and Carl Franklin. Richard offered me a ride to Vegas in the dotnetrocks-mobile but I decided to stick with the plane tickets.
Monday, 07 November 2005
Marcie lowered her profile a bit earlier this year but she's back.. with a new name since Microsoft went and changed the DataGrid to the GridView. Take a look at her new blog: http://www.gridviewgirl.com/GridViewGirl/
I love being "in the loop" on new software. It can get kind of surreal, though, when you are at a conference and find a technology kind of boring and everyday, and skip the sessions on it since it's "old stuff" ... and then realize it isn't even shipping yet! I spend time in betas, alphas, SDRs and the like, so it's often years between the time I start working with a technology and the time it releases. When I speak at Tech Ed I tend to hang at the cabanas where I can hear real stories of how people are using the tools and the problems they need help with.
The PDC though, that's a different story. Well, it should be anyway. The PDC is all about the future, right? The workflow announcement was a big deal, but the material wasn't new to me. I began to worry if I would ever attend a session that sparked my interest in something new and important. Then I found it. I've waited to blog it until the sessions were available online.
What Jan Gray had to say in FUN302 and Herb Sutter introduced in TLN309 totally grabbed me. Because clock speed cannot go up any more we all have to write concurrent code even if it's single user:
And since most people can't write good concurrent code (see Herb's Singleton example which still doesn't work even with the double checking and the volatile keyword, at least not all the time) then the OS or the framework or the language needs to do it for them. Herb and Jan are proposing different approaches, but these two guys are among the smartest I know (I've known Jan almost 30 years) and if they are both into this, then I need to learn more about it. You probably do too.
Friday, 04 November 2005
While I was over ten thousand miles from home, my laptop started to get weird on me. First, it started to spontaneously power itself off, for no reason at all, while I was using it. Alarming! But then I eventually discovered that it only did so if I pressed the left Ctrl key. Confining myself to the right Ctrl key was a challenge -- I am hugely keyboard oriented and do Ctrl-S, Ctrl-B, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V sort of things all the time without looking or to be honest even thinking keystrokes, I think Bold and my fingers do the right thing -- but I was able to do a whole presentation without it powering itself off. Then it started to get more delicate. Any pressure on the left side of the keyboard would power it down. And it got harder and harder to power it up. 5 tries, 10 tries, 20 tries... I did manage to power it up in the Jo-burg airport but it shut down while I was working and never did come back up again. I just slept instead of working and put it out of my mind.
When I got home, I confirmed it was still under warranty, next day on site service, and arranged a service call. Then I wanted my files back... I wasn't going to last all weekend without my files. Luckily the hard drives in laptops are delightfully standard things. For $13 Canadian, I bought a little wrapper that turns any 2.5" drive into an external USB drive:
I put the drive in it and ---ooooh, there are all my folders! Yay! But I can't see any actual files! Boo!
Turns out the power cycling and hard power downs (many many of them) had not been nice to the drive. So I got a little utility called File Scavenger from QueTek. I started with the trial version to prove to myself it worked, then got a personal licence and set to work bringing back everything I cared about -- the pictures I took while I was away, my Outlook PST file (yes I backed up before I left, but a lot happened that week) and a lot of work I was in the middle of. Phew!
The service call ended up stretching over several days ... replacing the motherboard, keyboard, palm rest, and hard drive wasn't enough, it also needed a new processor. But now it works again. And what do I get to do with my copious free time? Reinstall things. A lot of things.
Ah well, a good way to clear out junk you don't need any more. It was pretty much repaving time anyway, the machine had been kind of flaky for the last few months. And I'm ready to leave for SF and Vegas now... or at least my laptop is
Thursday, 03 November 2005
I promised my South African friends that I would show them how our autumn compared to their spring. We have our own beauty here and while we're pretty much giraffe-free, there are charms in this northern landscape. These pictures were all taken within minutes of my home on one of the many walks and rambles we do. Gregory Consulting board meetings are quite often held under an arch of golden leaves; it's one of the things I like about living this way.
Monday, 24 October 2005
When you go to a conference, there's a tendency to see nothing beyond the airport, your hotel, and the convention centre. Maybe a few nice restaurants if you're lucky enough to be invited to a press dinner or the like. The minute I got off the plane a year ago for Tech Ed Africa, I knew I wasn't going to have that kind of experience. And this year Julie and I have upped the ante by taking advantage of the Gametrackers services offered right from within the resort where the conference is being held. I took over 40 pictures this morning, here are just a few:
Wish you were here?
Saturday, 22 October 2005
Julie and I have a twelve hour layover in Frankfurt so we decided to go into town for a little sightseeing. Here's where we had our lunch:
What did we have? Sausages (bratwurst to be precise) and potato "salad". Yum!
Next stop, Johannesburg and then on to Sun City!
Friday, 21 October 2005
Leave my house 11:30 am. Flight to New York departs 2:30. Here I am in New York, at about 5:30. In four hours my flight to Frankfurt leaves. 8 hours across the Atlantic. 12 hour stopover in Frankfurt. 10 hours down to Jo-burg. Clear whatever we need to clear, get baggage, wait for the bus, that's another hour, then two more hours to Sun City. Total travel time: 43 hours. Six of it is behind me. It's extra-rehearsing time for me now, here in the Lufthansa lounge of Kennedy airport. Friday night and Saturday night the only sleep I will get will be on planes. Luckily, I'm good at that.
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