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June 2008 Blog Posts
ADO.NET Entity Framework Vote of No Confidence

So, a number of people have written (and/or added their names to the list of signatures agreeing with it) to a petition/statement/WhatEverYouWantToCallIt calling out the (real and/or perceived) flaws with the forthcoming (when?  Who knows, but since I believe SQL Server 2008 requires its final release, at that time) Entity Framework coming out of Redmond.

I first noticed it when Dave Laribee posted about its existence on the alt.net mailing list where he briefly mentioned its contents and added:

"I'd encourage you all to sign if (and only if) this is something you agree with and please spread the word."

I'm going to interpret the 'and' as 'and/or', and thus this post.

Quite some time ago, Danny Simmons from Microsoft posted about some 'great discussions' with the NHibernate Mafia (Bellware, Palermo, and Laribee are mentioned, I know there were others, but too tired/lazy to get a comprehensive list) about said Mafia's initial 'misgivings' (other words would probably work but let's go with that) about the direction of the Entity Framework.  After a bit more time, he posted in greater detail about his understanding of the 'misgivings', of how he believed they could be addressed, and how the v1 release of EF wouldn't be able to address them.

The 'Vote of No Confidence' seems to be a restatement of the misgivings, and so initially, it seems a bit odd to make a show of it.  Then again, it's been a hella long time from the 'great discussions' till now, and if you don't read every blog about everything, you wouldn't necessarily know about them.

Around the same time, Tim Mallalieu was posting about the new transparency the EF team was hoping to follow in developing v2 of EF.

As people became aware of the petition, more commentary came about.

Mary-Jo Foley gave it a shout.  And it was nice to see the usual suspects with the expected response (it didn't explicitly demand an apology on behalf of the entire .NET community and wasn't as obnoxious or poorly spelled).  Side note:  when the petition list first came out, it listed Scott as first on the list (though didn't mark him as an MVP).  It also, IIRC, listed Paul Wilson, originator of WORM as an MVP.  Shortly thereafter, Scott's name moved to #23 and it listed Paul as (MVP ret.), though I don't think you retire an MVP, you just don't get renewed.  Not sure if the re-ordering was deliberate or a technical thing, but if anyone felt strongly about adding their signature but opted out because Bellware's name was listed #1, they're an idiot.

Tim then posted a longer response that addressed the petition more directly.

Others have been slightly more vitriolic.

In any event, it looks like there will be more of a feedback loop for v2 of EF and that's probably a good thing.  The petition itself is certainly more measured and productive than what's been seen in the past.

I wouldn't sign something like this myself (it's not like there is much to disagree with, it's just, well, weirdly misplaced), but if it is something you agree with, pony up.

posted @ Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:17 PM | Feedback (2)
Easy and Obvious Ways to Increase Customer Service

I was at a Borders store buying the new Coldplay CD that came out today.  Digression: it sounds like Coldplay.  Nothing majestic like 'Fix You' but it's okay.

Anyway, while I was in the store, a song played over the store intercom.  It sounded pretty good, but I wasn't paying a lot of attention to it.

Once I decided to buy the Coldplay CD (which I was going to do anyway), I asked a very helpful employee if they could tell me the name and artist of the song they had been playing over the intercom.

They couldn't. 

Later tonight, through use of Google, I was able to find the song (turns out it wasn't that good), but Borders should have been able to tell me that info.  They lost an additional sale because of it.

posted @ Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:51 PM | Feedback (0)
From the Department of Redundancy Department....

Overheard conversation:

Person 1: "It's a matter of following DRY."

Person 2: "What's 'DRY'?"

Person 1: "Don't repeat yourself."

I thought it was funny.

posted @ Thursday, June 12, 2008 7:01 PM | Feedback (3)
Running Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SP1 on Vista

I can vouch that this does in fact work, a solution from a company called Bamboo Solutions which built an installer that allows you to install WSS 3.0 SP1 on a Vista machine.  I haven't tested every single aspect of MOSS 2007 or anything exhaustive, but the Admin tool does work, you can create sites normally, etc. so it seems to do the trick.

<Insert expected gratuitous shot at SharePoint here>.

If you are into this sort of thing, check it out.

posted @ Wednesday, June 11, 2008 12:39 PM | Feedback (0)
Remote Desktop Connection Error : "you are already connected to the console of this computer"

I'm posting this just in case someone else is as much an idiot as I am.

I use RDC a lot in my home network.  I have 4 or 5 systems, each dedicated to specific tasks.  I know it is possible to use Virtual PC or VMWare to do a lot of what I'm doing, but what the hell.  I have a lot of hardware lying around, so I use it.

I encountered this problem when trying to connect to one of my Vista laptops (which is dedicated to running all of the 'beta' development stuff for Visual Studio 2008).  I've connected to it many times, without a problem.  But now, it insisted that I couldn't connect because I was already on the console.

WTF?  It's supposed to give me access to the console.  I physically moved the machine, sure, but why would that change anything?

The answer?  I switched the names, and was trying to RDC into the laptop I was launching RDC from, not into the remote laptop (if that isn't clear, I was trying to RCD into Laptop A FROM Laptop A.  When I really wanted to RDC into Laptop B).

First rule of troubleshooting: idiocy check.

posted @ Saturday, June 07, 2008 4:01 PM | Feedback (16)
End of a nice little run

Read about it here.

Fitting that it ended with Mr. Rent a Player just missing.  To be really fitting, he should have hit the post.

Here's a couple of things we learned:

1) While it sounds nice, hitting the post is no more effective than completely missing it.

2) If you don't clear the zone, and especially if you pass it to the other team in your defensive zone, they are more likely to score.

3) If you get multiple 5 on 3 power plays, and don't score on ANY of them, you aren't going to win a series.

Still, there will always be the triple overtime thriller.

Here's hoping it isn't another 16 years.

posted @ Thursday, June 05, 2008 8:29 AM | Feedback (0)
Alt.NET Seattle, Friday, April 18th, Day 1 of 3, Evening Meeting

So, with Sergio, Adam, Jarod and Jason in tow, we arrived at DigiPen.  They sit in an industrial complex area, and are next to the offices of Nintendo.

We weren't the first people there, but it wasn't full either, so we kind of mingled (or in a geek sort of way, just stood there).  One of the first things I noticed was how many people's faces I recognized, but whose names I didn't know.  I guess this proves all those blog 'glamour' shots pay off (though I completely misidentified Jeremy Miller (more on this in a minute), though in my defense, that other guy sure looked a lot like him).

The room filled up fairly quickly.  As it happened, we were sitting directly in front of Brad Wilson.  I was tempted to turn around and offer my hand and say "Hi, I'm blow-hard, know-it-all asshole just trying to be a dick guy" (alt.net mailing list reference), but I was committed to laying low.

While waiting for the formalities to begin, I thought I spotted Jeremy and asked Sergio to introduce us, except it wasn't Jeremy.  Sergio looked around and found him and introduced us.  After some vague pleasantries, Jeremy asked me (paraphrasing) "So when are the fireworks?"  For whatever reason, I didn't get what the hell he was talking about till he added "between you and Bellware."  I just looked at him oddly.  Why would I want to get into an argument with Scott for no reason?  If it happened 'organically' (not necessarily equivalent to 'while plastered'), fine, but that's something that would be much more fun if/when planned.

The format of the conference was 'Open Spaces' and the facilitator was Steven 'Doc' List.  If you want more information, you can click on the links to find out what open spaces is all about.  If it seems to you that there is a bit of a 'kumbaya' factor involved, well, there is.  "Whoever comes are the right people."  Right, what is this, a Barack Obama rally ("we are the change we've been waiting for!!!!")?

But, the format really does work, and work well, at least that is my take from this gathering.  Doc did a very good job in laying out the principles, setting the right tone, being flippant when required, etc.  If you were to pick on thing from the open space format to define it, it would be (for me) that the participants choose the content of the conference.  No pre-defined sessions. 

The way it worked here is that a pad of colored-paper was put out on a table, and when the process was signalled to start, anyone could announce a topic that they wanted to host (people had to be polite and do it in turns, of course).  You then posted it on a board which had all of the time-slots and all of the available rooms.   If the number of announced topics turned out to be greater than the number of total available slots, then the participants negotiated amongst themselves which topics could be combined or dropped or what have you.  People were encouraged to go to the board and initial which topics they were interested in, which would help with the negotiation process.

If you've ever dreamt of an ideal 'town-hall' style democracy, you would have wept tears of joy.  Processes like that can only work in limited fashion and in limited places, but it worked well here.

Although, at the time, I had a moment or two of trepidation.  Just before Doc signaled the beginning of the process, Bellware (jokingly) announced he had written up a few topics on the flight in (though he had a topic already written out) and when the signal was given, he leapt quickly into the center of the room (where topics were to be announced...and over a table, IIRC, nimble little bastard) and announced his first proposed topic as......(paraphrasing) "Auto-mocking containers are a design smell".

And my heart sank for a second.  Really?  That's your topic?  That's what we are going to be having sessions about this weekend?  Geek minutiae?

I needn't have worried.  Bellware never had a separate session on the topic (he had a separate BDD session which I attended (more on that later) during which he explained his idea by pointing to a region of code, and I think made an effective point), and the range of topics was mind-boggling.  Well, I mean, it was a tech conference, so no one brought up 'The Will to Power' or anything, but the range included topics you might think of as 'alt.net' and others that were much more generic.  Or, more specific to different areas.

As the topic selection period came to a close, I felt a little twinge to introduce the topic "Is Alt.NET elitist?" or some such thing but didn't.  In retrospect, I was glad I didn't (not that I don't think it isn't elitist).  It didn't 'fit' the event, and there will always be a time and place for that sort of discussion elsewhere.

At the end of the session, in order to introduce the concept of the 'fishbowl', Doc introduced a discussion about polyglot programming.  I think this is an insanely stupid idea (yes, let's make it even more difficult to achieve business results through geekdom, but I digress), but that's a much longer discussion, so I'll just leave the snide remark here.

The rest of the evening (for me, anyway) involved dinner at a Mexican restaurant by the hotel that wasn't entirely prepared for 50 nerds showing up unannounced.  I gave my standard anti-unit testing/mocking diatribe at one point.  Jeff Brown was there, and was either unconvinced, unimpressed, or both.  No matter, it's something that takes more than an hour to explain.  Food and company was good.

Since I was staying off-site, decided against hitting the hotel lobby for drinks and made my way home till the next day, the first full day of sessions.

posted @ Wednesday, June 04, 2008 7:58 PM | Feedback (2)