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Friday, March 01, 2002

[4:38 PM]

My wife sounds off about my lack of getting Outlook to properly route e-mail through MSN. It's looking rather grim, unfortunately. This is a security/anti-spam precaution that won't let e-mail coming from another address route through MSN servers. I'm hoping there's some way to get around it without changing ISP's again. The information on the page seems to be updated so maybe when I get home we can get it fixed once and for all, I hope.
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[2:17 PM]
That's one!

Thank you for your support!

Say it isn't so?

Brent Simmons is leaving UserLand? It's always tough to see someone that's contributed to fine product walk away from it. Funny thing is if we didn't have the net and Brent didn't help build Manila, Radio, and contribute to the weblogging community would we even know he was leaving? I'd have to say No.

That being said. Thanks Brent. We'll see you on the net.
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[8:22 AM]
Movie line of the week answer

The correct answer to yesterday's move line is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Steven Vore was first with the correct answer, in record time I might add. Congratulations Steven!

Happy Blogday Steven! That's cool!

Yesterday's fun with OPML and Visio

How many people would use a service that generated diagrams from raw data? That's a question I ask myself quite often. Visio is a great desktop product but it doesn't scale well on a server, no surprise there. It's monolithic and built for the end-user experience. That's not a bad thing! Visio was built in 1992 to solve desktop diagramming needs. It's a product for the rest of us. But that was yesterday, today we need something different. Something that scales, something you can take in bits and pieces and roll your own product, something highly customizable! You get the picture. It's time to move Visio forward. Those are the things we're trying to figure out right now as I type this message. Visio as a diagramming engine is only going to get better. Yesterday's experiment is going to move forward as well, it's a proof of concept. I'm hoping it will prove that a component Visio engine is necessary. That someone out there needs a service, or the means to create their own, based on Visio technology.

Wouldn't it be cool to let people visit your web site pick and choose say a network rack and some items to fill that rack, then generate a picture for them? Maybe your company would like to give employees the option to generate an organization from within your intranet? We do it today but could it be easier, more scalable? There are TONS and TONS of possibilities. Have you ever asked yourself "How could we show this in a picture"? I'd have NEVER known about OPML, or thought to create a diagram from it, until Dave asked that question for me almost a year ago.

Do you have an application that could use a great diagramming engine?

I couldn't have said it better myself

Scripting: "The headline would read Apple Is Dead, No Developers; or something like that." - It really does seem that way doesn't it. Grab 'em by the nape and drag them into the story! Once you get there it isn't has horrifying as you thought it was. NOTE: The quote is from the bottom of post, so take a gander at the entire thing.
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Thursday, February 28, 2002

[4:54 PM]
Transformations of a third kind

Transformed Visio VDX from OPMLI've been thinking about a little project for quite a while so one day last week I send Dave Winer an e-mail and asked for a good example of an OPML file. Dave (he created OPML by the way) obliged and provide me with this little gem, along with a little background on a product he'd worked on called More that did this very thing. Anyway, I thought it would be kind of cool to generate a Visio drawing from an OPML file. Since OPML is dirt simple to understand and parse I had something working last night in less than an hour. Here's the resulting .VDX file, and a full sized GIF for your viewing pleasure.

This is only the beginning of what I hope to turn into a full fledged "service", all in fun. I'm hoping to create a SOAP and XML-RPC interface that would allow you to submit your OPML files for transformation to VDX/GIF files, then I'll send them back to you. I'm also hoping to go the other way, you give me a VDX file and I'll give you back an OPML file. Fun stuff!

Now I gotta dig out my nice new C# book and develop the service side of things. Wish me luck!
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[12:47 PM]
C# vs. VB.Net, Part II

Richard continues his exploration of the CLR, IL, C#, and VB.Net with Making a decision: C# or VB.NET Part II. His article includes comparisons of VB.Net IL and C# generated IL. Very nice.
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[9:05 AM]
Movie line of the week

Ok is everybody paying attention? I'm not going to repeat myself, so here it is.

Actor #1: This belongs in a museum!
Actor #2: So do you!
Ok quick, what movie! Send your answers here.

I promise, as always, not to share your e-mail address with anyone. If you have a blog, or website, you'd like me to point to if you win please include that in your e-mail.

Good luck!
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Wednesday, February 27, 2002

[5:08 PM]
Around the web...

CNet: "Sun's blade servers coming this year" - These are totally cool machines, take a gander. I'd love to have one of these baby's sitting in a rack somewhere. Since they're doing Intel based versions as well as UltraSparc based maybe NT will run on 'em?

BusinessWeek Online: "Should Apple Sell PC Software?" - Why not? I've never met a Mac I didn't like. Heck while they're at it they should port OS X! When it was the NeXT OS they had it running on x86 boxes. I'm not sure how much of the UI is new or based on prior work, but they've proven they can do it. Maybe Microsoft should resurrect the PowerPC port of NT? Wouldn't that make the computing landscape look super funky?

Nice cow Richard!
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[1:45 PM]
.NET Security?

Here's a good article on the much talked about "Buffer overflow" problem with the new Visual C++ compiler. It's been talked about as a problem with .NET, it's not. This compiler "feature" is an attempt to protect against certain types of buffer overflow, nothing more, nothing less. It's up to the developer to write good code.

If you're a C/C++ developer do this. Search your code for all occurrences of strcpy, strcat, and sprintf (or variants of those). How many did you find? Your code is quite possibly a security hazard. Note I said possibly, it doesn't mean it is.

You wouldn't do this, would you...

char buffer[5];
strcpy(buffer, "This is a string and it's bigger than the buffer we're putting it in, that's for sure\0");

Not intentionally anyway, but if you use one of the functions mentioned above you may do it without knowing you did it!

Food for thought.
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[9:29 AM]
Visio tip-o-the-day

Yesterday I got an e-mail from a friend asking where Comments were stored in Visio. Are they in the Document, Page, or stored on the Shape. To be honest I've never used the Comments feature so I wasn't sure where they were stored. My first inclination was to tell him they were stored on the selected object or page if nothing was selected but I wanted to be sure before spewing a bunch of nonsense. So here's what I did.
  • Create a new blank drawing

  • Select the rectangle tool, draw a rectangle on the page.

  • Select Insert > Comment, type "Bubba" and click OK.

  • Select File > Save As...

  • Select "XML Drawing" from the Save As combo-box

  • Name the drawing and click OK
Once you've saved the drawing as an XML Drawing(.VDX) you can just look at the text and begin to see how Visio stores data. All I had to do was open the .VDX file and search for the text Bubba and POW there it was! We store Comments in the sheet of an object (a sheet is a generic container used for Documents, Pages, and Shapes). Click here to see the .VDX file, I've renamed it to .XML so you can view it natively in browsers that support viewing .XML. Note the sample contains two comments with the text Bubba applied to them, one is Bubba Page and the other Bubba Shape.

Saving a file as VDX is a great way to see your data and how it relates to Shapes, Pages, and the Drawing.

Happy diagramming.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2002

[1:48 PM]
New links

I've added a couple of new links to the left, you know <---- over there.

First is Larry Staton, he's the resident lawyer of my web world. I've learned a couple of things reading him over the past couple of days. Like why Be is suing Microsoft. I get it know, somewhat. I still don't think it makes it the "right" thing to do, but that's another subject. Note to Larry: I honestly don't agree with everything we as a company do.
The Great Valley Center logo, go visit them today!
Anywho.... The second link is to The Great Valley Center. I've wanted a link that was representative of our wonderful valley, and what it stands for, for a very long time. Now I have one!
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[11:21 AM]
Good article

If you're new to the .NET world, as most of us are, and are trying to make a decision between VB.Net and C# you need to read Richard Caetano's new article on the subject. Richard's been using .NET for quite some time and is totally gung-ho about it. He's been pumping out little articles here and there that are well worth a read. Judge for yourself.
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[9:20 AM]
Is it spring?

The San Joaquin Valley thinks it's spring. Everything is blossoming. I took a long walk yesterday at lunch, it's absolutely beautiful outside. The smell of spring is in the air, it's just a teaser to the real event coming in May. I'm sure it'll snap out of it and we'll get some cool wet weather like we always do at this time of the year.

It was so nice when I got home my youngest daughter and I went for a jog. I haven't jogged since late October, that's BAD, but now my ankle is feeling a bit better so I decided it's time to startup again. Hopefully we'll be able to keep on a schedule.

Is selling software bad? "In a move that could undercut its anti-Microsoft campaign, Sun Microsystems plans to start charging for the next version of its StarOffice software..." - Why is it bad for them to sell their software? Is it because it was free for a time?

Maya for free?

It's true! You can download Maya Personal Limited Edition for free! [via Apple]
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Monday, February 25, 2002

[5:01 PM]
I'm suffering from Lackapostus today

What's lackapostus? Lackapostus is a disease that occurs in bloggers and is triggered when said blogger is either too busy to post, away on vacation, dead, or having too darned much fun at his/her job to care about blogging.

I'd fit the latter category. The code is flowing, that's a good thing.

The world continues to spin normally on it's axis when I don't blog, that's really swell.
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[10:12 AM]
4:20 AM

Ring, ring... ring, ring...
Is John there.
No, you must have the wrong number.
Oh, I'm sorry. Click

Ring, ring... ring, ring...
Oh, what number is this?
It's xxx-xxxx, is that what you're calling?
No, I'm trying to call xxx-xxxx. Sorry, click.

Ring, ring... ring, ring...
Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry.
I think someone gave you the wrong number.
I'm sorry, click.

So how'd your nights sleep go? I'd have blocked them if I could have remembered how, but at four in the morning who can remember that stuff?
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[12:00 AM]
Around the Web

Jay Fahrni: Last update was January 21, 2002. I know you're alive bro, I just spoke with you Thursday night! I know you're busy and all but it's been well over a month. Write something???

Kayli Jankowski: If you can, please help this little girl. She's battling leukemia.

McKinsey Quarterly: "What makes your stock price go up and down?" - Good luck figuring this one out? I certainly can't figure it out.

Greg Franklin: "To visualize this conflict, I decided to skyscraperize the page using my non-elite tool set -- hence the image." - How'd he do that?

Has anyone hacked Oracle's unbreakable software yet? I haven't heard anything? This article seems to think it's breakable. Didn't they have an offer of cash to whoever could bust it?
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Sunday, February 24, 2002

[9:35 PM]
Closing Ceremonies

As I sit here watching the closing ceremonies I can't help but think of 9.11.2001. People from all over the world have gathered to celebrate winter sports, peacefully. Then there's this other side of me keeps wondering if a big bomb or some horrible tragedy will close out the games. Nothing would surprise me at this point.

I guess from now on we're all going to have these thoughts. That pretty much sucks.

That being said I really did enjoy the games! I can't believe the US has done so well and we had some VERY exciting moments, like the ladies figure skating outcome! Here's looking to the 2006 games!
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Copyright © 2001-2002 Rob Fahrni

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