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October 2007 Blog Posts
Porcupine Tree, Nils Recurring, a mini 'review'

Nils Recurring is a 4 song mini-cd, made up of music that didn't make the cut for the Fear of A Blank Planet release, but which the band feels was strong enough to release on its own.  After a few listens, these are my admittedly limited comments about the tracks.

'Nils Recurring' is an instrumental that features Robert Fripp as lead guitarist.  Though Fripp is the leader of my favorite band, King Crimson, and he is playing with my second favorite band, Porcupine Tree, this cut doesn't really do much for me.  I mean, it isn't bad, but it isn't really all that interesting.  Fripp does a 'Sailor's Tale' type thing towards the end, sounds like modern King Crimson in most of the rest of it.

'Normal' is awesome.  It is another take at what turned out as 'Sentimental' on FOBP, including the chorus "Sullen and bored the kids stay/And in this way wish away each day."  It has very nice acoustic guitar (though it loses the pretty electric arpeggio) and plays very well.  The lyrics overall don't quite fit the 'teenager' theme, which is probably one of the reasons why it didn't make it (a restraining order isn't something they will have), but overall, this is worth the price by itself.

'Cheating the Polygraph' is okay, but the lyrics referring to suicide bombers on a plane don't do much for me.  Musically, it is okay, nothing really striking.

'What Happens Now?' is apparently the opening number on the current tour (I'm seeing their last show in Atlanta on the 29th) and is a solid piece.  It reminds me of 'Moonloop' type material in spots, with a good driving beat, and a little more hard-core playing towards the end.  It's sort of like a heavy-metal dance track (that probably makes little sense, but it is accurate).

Overall, it's a good piece of work, but not great.  It is interesting that they are playing all the songs (except, unfortunately for 'Normal') on the current tour.  SW has said he considers the EP to be just like a 'normal' release, and so playing the goods on tour (even cutting out two of the songs from FOBP) supports that.

posted @ Sunday, October 21, 2007 9:07 PM | Feedback (0)
Random Sports Thought of the Day

Why is Brett Favre managing the Cleveland Indians?

posted @ Sunday, October 21, 2007 8:54 PM | Feedback (0)
Marillion Videos

Though I was mostly disappointed by their Somewhere Else release (I wasn't surprised by this as they are incredibly hit and miss, and the previous double CD release Marbles is one of my favorites), the title track is the best of the lot, and you can view a live performance video of it here.  It's a song about the dissolution of Hogarth's marriage (Steve Hogarth is the lead singer for those not familiar with the band):

Everyone I love/Lives somewhere else/And I have time/ To look at myself
And I've seen enough

A promotional video for "Don't Hurt Yourself" off of Marbles can be found here.  The meaning behind the lyrics isn't something I necessarily subscribe to (just forget the past because it will bring you down, live only for today, blah blah blah), but it's a good work.  The song is a little cropped at the end.

posted @ Friday, October 12, 2007 7:11 PM | Feedback (0)
Scott Guthrie's Asp.NET MVC Framework Presentation at the Alt.NET Conference

This has been posted by Scott Hanselman here.

I don't have a lot to add to what other people have been saying about the code bits (basically, rave reviews....though I expect there to be a negative blowback at some point about it being a Monorail killer and/or not implementing MVC according to some personal preferred approach).  Other than that I almost feel like hand-writing HTML.  Almost.  This is, of course, because since I am not only BlogCoward but also Rednoser, my Borg-like implants have now been triggered by the mothership.

The other thing I really liked about the presentation was Scott Guthrie and how he handled the crowd.  Sharp wit, quick on his feet.  The back and forth between him and Bellware was awesome, especially when he labeled Bellware a 'Mort' (bringing a quick round of applause from the crowd).

On a related note...those times when I've criticized Bellware, or others, I've always tried to be pretty quick that I was perfectly well aware when it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  As I get older, I realize I need to reign it in a bit, but, as I've told a person or two, "Life becomes a little easier once you accept that fact that you are a raging douchebag."  My Mom would say it is my Dad's fault, but I digress. 

Anyway, watching the back and forth between the 'dueling' Scotts (I put that in scarequotes since there was a lot of humor involved, and Guthrie was also very clearly talking to Bellware almost directly when presenting certain things as to read his reaction), and listening to Bellware, whom I've never met personally, I got a real sense of what it is like to be giving a presentation or conversation with myself when I am not reigning it in.  My simultaneous reaction was "Man, what a jag" and "Man, that's just awesome." 

He's still the guy who said this about people who are supposedly friends (which has led to my joke about what he must be like at dinner parties with them..."Thank me for coming....You suck....You're a sellout....You suck....Could you pass the salt?  This roast sucks", etc.), but it was fascinating for me to watch.

But, I digress.

posted @ Tuesday, October 09, 2007 7:40 PM | Feedback (5)
Bad Analogy Time: Alt.NET Ex-Drinkers

Everything is analogous to everything else, just as everything is different from everything else.  So, what I'm going to do is create an analogy, an admittedly bad analogy, to explain something I think about Alt.NET.

Have you ever known anyone who has quit drinking (or smoking or eating fast food, etc.) and has 'gotten religion' about it?  To the point that they point to every use of alcohol as abuse?  Alt.NET people tend to be like that.

Okay, bad analogy created.  Explanation please.

As far as it has a definition, Alt. NET is about attempting to improve software development, usually by taking an 'Agile' approach, e.g., using Test Driven Development, sprints, etc.  And all that is well and good, to the extent that it actually does improve software development (for the most part, in more situations than not,I think it does).

And as part of trying to improve software development, it follows that you will tend to discuss development practices that you think are not so good.  And this is fine as well.

To build the bad analogy, suppose someone decides that they need to quit drinking, for whatever reason (it's impacting their life negatively, it's causing health issues, they just sold their first-born for Scotch, whatever).  In and of itself, this is a good thing.

But for some, it's not just enough that they stop drinking.  No, every use of alcohol by other people becomes a symptom of the other's problems.  Everyone is an alcoholic because they are (or something like that).

Some of the Alt.NET community are that guy.  It's not just enough that they stopped using designers or wizards or, god forbid, UML (or whatever), everyone else must stop as well to be a good developer.  If you don't, you are stupid, a Mort, or, god forbid, an architect.  The level of contempt and disdain can be overwhelming.

Now, there is nothing wrong with quitting drinking.  In almost all instances, it is a good thing.  But there isn't anything inherently wrong with drinking itself.  In fact, it is good for you, when done in moderation (which is usually the problem, of course....if one glass of wine with dinner is good for you, surely twelve must be that much better).

Similarly, it is okay to use a Visual Studio designer.  It is even okay to use drag and drop.  There, I said it.  Let me say it again, with feeling: IT IS OKAY TO USE DRAG AND DROP.  In moderation.  When it is appropriate.

Did you get nauseous when I said that?  You might be that guy.

Now, keep in mind, I actually agree with much (most?) of what is categorized as Alt.NET.  And I find that well-written contempt can be really damn funny.  And reading blogs is a *great* way to learn.

But the lack of, for lack of a better word, 'perspective' in thinking that you *have* to use MVP everywhere (to make up an example) is just silly.  More than silly.  It's bad for you.  Bad for business which is the greater sin. 

Some people have wondered what it will take for Alt.NET to be just .NET and not 'Alt.'  Losing the attitude and gaining perspective would go a long way.

Time for a drink.

posted @ Sunday, October 07, 2007 2:04 PM | Feedback (10)
Is Alt.NET contrarian? OF COURSE

Sam Gentile finally got around to posting about why he left Code Better and there was nothing surprising in what he said.  I'm guessing it is sort of what everyone who cared to guess about it guessed it was about (as an aside, I do find it hilarious that Sam says he doesn't want to discuss it, just speak his peace and move on, and then posts comments to other people blogging about it.  I'm guessing he is still deleting comments to his own blog as well).

Any number of people posted about it, such as Ayende and Haacked.  In the grand scheme of things, this is all just silliness of course.  But it is entertaining.

What I find kind of funny is that anyone really disagrees with what Sam said.  While all generalizations are inaccurate (self-referential joke), the vast majority of Alt.NET guys appear to be (as I said on Ayende's blog) "pompous insufferable jags who are too cool for the room" and I am one, so I know them when I see them.

Part of this is related to the fact that they've 'gotten religion' and so can't glimpse a wizard or designer without cringing at the code they produce.  There's a lot to be said, and has been said, about this.

What really cracks me up is when Ayende says this: "ALT.NET doesn't include a value statement about those who don't agree"

While that might apply to Ayende (though I would probably quarrel with that....he certainly makes value statements all the time), it certainly doesn't apply to some of the most vocal members of the Alt.NET community.  And not just people who blog at Code Better.  I'd say the one person who I've learned more from as a developer, who is in most respects a great guy, is also pretty insufferable when it comes to talking about software development practices he doesn't like (there is nothing wrong with using a designer, dude).

Now, to be perfectly clear, there isn't anything inherently wrong with making value statements.  Depending on how you count them, I've made 8 or 9 here already.  Pretending that you aren't though is annoying.

posted @ Sunday, October 07, 2007 12:51 PM | Feedback (7)