Monthly Archives: November 2007

Windows Vista x64 and iTunes like Oil and Water

I had upgraded my Windows XP system to Vista 32-bit a couple weeks ago but I have been having various problems with it since.  My problems ranged from exceptions being thrown from both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 at random times.

I was also unimpressed with the overall performance of Vista on my Intel Duo Core 2 Duo with 4G of RAM and a 10K RPM system drive.  I think this system should be more than enough for Vista.  I am not the  only one reporting Vista slowness all over the blogosphere.

I did read that an in place upgrade from Windows XP to Vista may result in some performance issues so I thought long and hard if I wanted to completely re-install Vista.  I decided to really bite the bullet and install Vista x64.  The installation went very well and I was pretty happy with the performance and how IE and Firefox appeared to work.

The only real problem I had and turned out to be a show stopper was iTunes 7.5.  Installing the software worked well thanks to a post by Brad Wilson and installing the 64-bit version of Gears, a driver used by iTunes.  This driver made iTunes at least work and was able to load up all of my music and podcasts.  The real issue was syncing my iPhone to iTunes, which failed when I plugged the iPhone in, getting an error I wish I had saved.

The error told me to uninstall iTunes and install the 64-bit version, which does not exist.  Come on Apple, get your act together.  It seems Apples vengeance against Microsoft is a bit old, like a child with a whining problem.

So, I am installing a clean install of Windows XP because I know it works.  Once everyone has worked out their drivers with Vista I will revisit 64-bit.

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Can Computer Language Selection be a Popularity Contest?

I came across an interesting post over the weekend from the web site CIO where Esther Schindler  Is Computer Language Popularity Important?   It was a well written look at what drives both developers and companies to a particular language and how the choice is made.

In my experience developers tend to like the latest and greatest technologies because we like to play with great toys that may lead us to a better job or even to make our current work easier.   Esther words this much better than I:

At the developer level, language choice is completely personal. Like picking a brand of hammer or carving knife, the tool should fit well in your hand. Some people think better in Python than in PHP, and God help anyone who thinks in LISP.

Companies on the other hand do tend to make a decision and stick with it.  Companies that have gone with Microsoft technologies running on .NET tend to pick C# or VB.NET and stick with their choice, rarely deviating from it.   This choice makes sense for companies who want to have one type of code base and maintain only that code base.  I can see from one perspective the decision makes sense but in others it doesn’t. 

For example if your company chose C# as their language of choice and made it the tool to solve every software problem, well, we know this is hardly ever the case.  Ruby on Rails is a nice framework for doing fast development, maybe even the choice for prototyping an application.  If we always used C# or Java we may be missing an opportunity to use a fast tool to get the job done or the prototype complete.

For example, Steve Yegge a developer at Google, wanted to introduce Ruby on Rails to the Google developer shop but Google standardizes on Java, Python and JavaScript.  The answer to Steve was a “no”, so what did Steve do?  What any good programmer would do…converted Rails to JavaScript.  This was probably a great exercise but likely never used.

The article did point out a study done on programming language popularity and the results were very interesting.  You can see that the popular programming languages are:

  1. C
  2. Java
  3. PHP
  4. C++
  5. Visual Basic
  6. Perl
  7. C#
  8. Python
  9. Shell
  10. JavaScript
  11. Ruby

You probably don’t need me to tell you that the first 6 languages are likely where they are because of the amount of time they have been out, the number of platforms they support and all of the legacy code out in the world.  The ones that interest me are C# and Ruby.  The study looks at about 25 different languages, some are older than dirt but we see these two relatively new languages near the top.  Why?  I can only guess based on what I read and observe but some of the success has to be with popularity.

If you are a C# developer there are a ton of jobs available right now and the pay is pretty good.  Ruby on Rails has really brought Ruby up this list as well, Rails is Ruby’s killer application and the talk about Ruby on Rails has made Ruby a popular kid.

Just like Cobol, there will always be jobs for C++ and PHP developers and companies aren’t rushing out and converting code from what works to what is popular.  I do so languages like Ruby and C# and the likes of Erlang going higher just because of the buzz around them and how we want to do what the cool kids are doing. 

Sure, companies aren’t going to jump to Ruby if PHP is accomplishing what they want.  Esther says it well:

In business and managerial terms, however, the choice of a programming language is a much larger issue. A corporate standard language (or at least set of languages) ensures that the entire staff can read any in-house code, if not adequately maintain it. Predictability is a good thing, even if it’s boring, though I’ve seen some mighty strange internal standards. In the mid 1980s, Ramada Inns let developers work on PCs in only Assembly language and interpreted BASIC, which meant that otherwise trivial apps were written in Assembly because none of the developers could stand BASIC. Turbo Pascal was smuggled in like booze at the office potluck.

The only options a developer has is to either be happy with the tools their employer uses or jump ship and go somewhere that uses the cool stuff.  Take a look at Monster, CareerBuilder or other job site and do a search for C# and then for C.  I bet you will find a 100:1 of C# over C openings.  The tools will do the job you need but it really boils down to what is popular to satisfy the developer’s desire.

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Dilbert goes Agile

I found this yesterday and thought others might find it amusing.

dilbert2666700071126

I think Scott has summed up the too often the approach to Agile.

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/dilbert-20071126.html

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Grab Some Free TechSmith Tools

I use SnagIt from Techsmith on a regular basis for creating screen shots for some of the posts I publish here as well as for some writing on do for InfoQ or even some training work I perform.  I came across some free versions of both SnagIt and Camtasia Studio (screen casting tool). 

These tools are not the latest versions but appear to be eligible as upgrades to the latest versions.

You can download and get a license for Snagit here and for Camtasia Studio here.   Enjoy, both are great tools.

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When Installing Visual Studio 2008, Uninstall Everything First and Backup

Scott Guthrie has a nice post about what to uninstall BEFORE installing the RTM version of Visual Studio 2008.    Possible components are:

  • Remove “MSDN Library for Visual Studio 2008 Beta”
  • Remove “Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5”
  • Remove “Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 Design Tools”
  • Remove “Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 for Devices”
  • Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Performance Collection Tools”
  • Remove “Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK R2 for Pocket PC”
  • Remove “Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK R2 for Smartphone”
  • Remove “Crystal Reports 2007”
  • Remove “Visual Studio Asset System”
  • Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Web Authoring Component / Microsoft Web Designer Tools”
  • Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System Runtime”
  • Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System Runtime Language Pack” (non-English editions only)
  • Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Office Runtime 3.0”
  • Remove “Microsoft Document Explorer”
  • Remove “Microsoft Document Explorer 2005 Language Pack” (non-English editions only)
  • Remove “Microsoft Device Emulator 3.0”
  • Remove “Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 3.5”
  • Remove “Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 2.0 SP1”
  • Remove “.NET Framework 2.0 SDK”
  • Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio Codename Orcas Remote Debugger”
  • Remove “Microsoft Visual Studio 64bit Prerequisites Beta” (64-bit platforms only)
  • Remove “Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5”

It’s important to backup any changes to the settings you made to your development environment, such as fonts, colors, etc.    This is done through the Tools menu and select Import/Export Settings.

It’s also a good idea to backup your entire system.  I don’t see this kind of advice enough but I back up using Acronis TrueImage and get a good copy of my system out to my external USB drive, just in case either uninstalling does not work or the new install fails or maybe I uninstalled too much.

UPDATE: Rick Strahl has the RTM up and running, so check out his post for details.

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Now that Visual Studio 2008 is Out, Where is My MVC?

Now that Visual Studio 2008 has been released we are one step closer to having the ASP.NET MVC Framework in our hands.   This is one of the biggest pieces of Microsoft technology, in my opinion, that will change ASP.NET development for the better.

Since I don’t have the ASP.NET MVC Framework in my hands yet I can only make statements from the demos I have seen and from those lucky few that have had a chance to play with it.

So what makes having a different framework to write ASP.NET applications with besides WebForms important? 

  • One of the most important reasons to use the new MVC framework is getting rid of ViewState and ViewState management.  ViewState is one of those things that tend to creep up on you and before you know it your web page is huge and you have to start cutting down ViewState usage.  This is something developers should not have to worry about and manage, it’s just a waste of time.
  • Secondly, no more PostBack and PostBack Events.  Here we go again, something developers should not have to waste their time managing.  Frankly, having to have intimate knowledge of when to perform certain actions in various events leads to code that is hard to manage and maintain.  Unless you have this particular knowledge you may be inadvertently writing bad code.  I think this model was created to try to make web application development as close to being WinForm development as possible and make the job of the developer easier.  The intention probably wasn’t to make it harder.

What do we really gain from an MVC implementation?

  • Developers will be able to make use of the framework from static as well as dynamic languages, such as IronRuby and IronPython.   Much of the things that make Ruby on Rails so attractive can now be done in IronRuby using the MVC Framework.
  • Architecting a solution will be much easier and cleaner when we have very clear separation between the view, the controller and our models.   When developing a solution in ASP.NET using webforms we always have blurred lines between our different layers, no real distinction.
  • Testing will be so much easier with the innate ability for testing in an MVC pattern, we will not be pulling our hair out trying to perform the tests we know we should be doing.  Sure, we can and do test now but it is not the easiest of tasks.
  • We can also chose how we want to handle our views with third party support such as NVelocity, Brail or Microsoft’s flavor of view engine that will support ASP.NET.  We will have choice available to us.

We can forget about MonoRail and what that has given us.  MonoRail will find its place once the ASP.NET MVC Framework comes out.  My guess will be that it will take advantage of what Microsoft does and extend it for the better.    Hammett has some thoughts on this too.

I think Ruby on Rails has a lot of influence in the MVC Framework and for good reason, Rails is popular, Rails works and it really helps create maintainable and testable code.   I really enjoy working with Rails and because of this, I am looking forward to the MVC Framework. 

I hope the MVC team takes advantage of Rob Conery’s SubSonic project to give us things like Scaffolding and dynamically creating classes from our models.  I know LINQ will do wonders to make it happen.  I would like to add generation of controllers and models to my wish list too.

Maybe Santa will leave the MVC Framework in my stocking……..

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Somasegar’s WebLog : Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 shipped!

Well, today is a big day for Microsoft developers, Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5 has shipped.  This is great news and should lead to other releases I am personally waiting for, including the ASP.NET MVC Framework.

Chris Bowen talks about the Visual Studio 2008 Training Kit on his blog and gives a link to getting it.  This kit looks to be some really nice training for LINQ and C# 3.0.  I am downloading now….

I guess most of us need to download VS 2008 from MSDN downloads as that is the way to get it right now.

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