Jul 11

My Identity Across Various Sites

I'm not crazy about the way user identities are tracked and connected across different sites these days. This is becoming more and more prevalent.

Actually, that's not quite right. I like the concept, I love being able to log in once (e.g. using my Google ID) and have many sites remember my preferences, history, etc.

The problem is the execution of this concept. In many cases, it's done in very non-transparent ways. It has happened to me more than once now that I posted a comment on a blog or news site, and it just "magically" conjured up a seemingly random avatar and attached it to the post. Now, like many people, I have various avatars and identities. For example, I have one for professional sites related to my job and programming in general, and I have another for (video) gaming, which I use on gaming blogs and sites. It's frustrating and slightly embarrassing when my gaming avatar suddenly shows up on a professional site, without any kind of warning or verification.

Some sites handle identities quite well. On those that do so, my user id and avatar show up on each page so I can see and edit it and sometimes even shows up right next to text I am editing, before I post it. Unfortunately, these sites are still not the norm, to the point that I am sometimes loath to post because I don't know what will happen if I do.

Jul 11

The End of the Space Shuttle Era

The last space shuttle flight has just landed and I'm pretty bummed.

The Apollo program was run on the computing power of what is now a cheap calculator and hardware MacGuyver rigged up with some wire and a coconut, yet 40 years later, we've gone no further. This is the equivalent of Columbus stopping when he reached England, instead of continuing to America.

I want the future back that I was promised as a kid! Don't make liars of the Jetsons! Damn it, where's my jet pack?!?


I don't mean to take anything away from what we have achieved, in many ways the future has come true. Most people have large flat panel TVs now and I'm typing this on a PC with a 26" LCD monitor. Personal computers are ubiquitous and many fit in your hand and are embedded in many things we use on a daily basis.

Satellites, space-based telescopes like the Hubble, the ISS, the LHC, and too many other marvelous technological marvels to mention, have improved our understanding of science and the universe.

For the past 25 years I have worn an insulin pump the size of a pager that delivers insulin to me 24 hours a day, allowing me to keep my blood sugar closely controlled. For the past 2 years I have been using a continuous glucose meter (CGM), which has a sensor the size of a pinhead and a wireless transmitter the size of a quarter that records my glucose level every 5 minutes 24 hours a day. These are fantastic inventions that have made my life immeasurably easier and healthier than any human who developed diabetes before the 1970s and I'm immensely grateful for these tools.


Yet, I'm still bummed about the space thing. This is the thing that got me excited about science and technology and the future. As a kid, I read every Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov book I could get my hands on. I watched Star Trek and Star Wars. The moon landing happened when I was 2, so clearly we were destined to make it much further in my lifetime. I hope that's still true.

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Apr 10

The Case for Source Control

Source Control has been discussed in our forums off and on for years and it appears that some developers are not convinced that using it will benefit them. If you are not currently using source control, you should seriously reconsider doing so.

I hope this article, posted today on the DAW Development Team blog, clears up most questions.

Mar 10

Help get Google's Ultra High Speed Fiber Service to Austin

Austin and Round Rock, aka "Silicon Hills", are a high-tech mecca. This is a great place to test Google's latest ultra high-speed fiber service, with lots of highly interested and motivated technology companies and employees.

To show your support for Google to test its new service here, please visit Big Gig Austin.

Visit KVUE.com for an article about this effort.

Visit Google's Fiber for Communities project page for more information about this project.

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Mar 10

Developer Resources: Getting the Most from the Forums

I've put together a list of tips and tricks that I hope will help everyone get the most out of the Data Access Worldwide forums.

Feb 10

Los Techies' Pablo's Fiesta

I attended my first Los Techies/Open Spaces conference this weekend: Pablo's Fiesta.

It's nice to live in a place with a thriving developer community and other coders who view software development as craftsmanship.

I also learned what a fishbowl is. Very cool!

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Feb 10

Developer Resources: Finding Information

A big part of our job as software developers is knowing lots of detailed information, but I would argue that knowing how to find information when you need it is even more important. So here is an assortment of resources and tips for Visual DataFlex developers, published today on the DAW Development Team blog.

Feb 10

Searching in Windows 7 part 2

Since writing Searching in Windows (part one), I have been doing more research on this. All recommendations I have read state not to index full hard disks as I suggested because it will slow down the index too much.

The next logical question is how do I find files that are not indexed?

The Search in Windows Vista had an Advanced Search button, which would allow you to check the option "Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow)". I see no way to do this in Windows 7.

One way to be able to actually find a DLL file is to go to the folder it is in (in this case c:\Windows\SysWOW64) and then search for it. In other words, if you know where a file is, Windows can help you find it. Very helpful. Actually it's worse, it will only help you find it in that folder.

It is very weird how difficult it has been to find a solution to this question. I figured out one answer myself:

dir c:\msxml6.dll /s

Has it really come to this? Do I need to revert back to what I last did in DOS to find a file while running the latest Windows operating system in 2010?

In part 1 of exploring the Windows 7 search I thought it was simply unintuitive but had potential. Unfortunately, after more research, things have turned for the worse. I can't see myself relying on this search for anything. I will have to resort to Google desktop for file content searches and the command prompt or some other tool for file searches.

Feb 10

Searching in Windows 7

I have been running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on one of my two main PCs for about 3-4 weeks now. I like it, it seems like an improvement from Windows XP and Vista (admittedly, I only worked on Vista part-time and only felt the real pain when having to figure out how to do things on my wife's PC and my test virtual machines).

I really want to like the Windows 7 search. It certainly allows you to perform more, faster, and more thorough searches than previous Windows versions. It is also far more versatile. It's just really unintuitive if you want to do anything other than the default. I want to try to use it as much as possible; sometimes new features turn out better than your first impression once you really use them.

Thus far, I ran into a couple of gotchas, and here are solutions to both:

  • Searching full local drives

    I typed the file name into the search window for example:


    Out of the box, this returned all documents containing that file name as text, but not the locations of that file on my PC, such as the Windows system32 folder. The problem was that the predefined libraries did not include my complete local hard drives, but only some predefined locations, such as My Documents, Music and Videos. As a programmer, I often search for the locations of specific files on my entire local drive(s), just to make sure I don’t have a stray copy in the wrong place.

    I added a new library named All Local Drives and added C: and D: (both local drives) to it. Now the search finds all copies of this file on both local drives, as well as all files that contain the file name as text.

    Caution: Your libraries are also used as default locations for the built-in Windows backup, so adding more locations as libraries for searches will also back up those locations by default. You can go in and change locations to back up in Control Panel > Backup and Restore.

    I had expected this to be automatic after adding C: and D: to my indexed locations in Control Panel > Indexed Locations.

    Caution: By default, Windows will exclude some locations such as the Windows and AppData folders from the Index and it's quite cumbersome to even figure out what some of these locations are and include them. This really ought to be simpler!

    Update: It turns out that this issue is far worse than I thought. Please see Searching in Windows 7 part 2 for more.

  • Filtering searches

    You can use a filter to constrain the search results to only display files, and not files containing the text. For example:

    msxml6.dll type:=.dll

    Now the search finds all copies of this file on both local drives, but not files that contain the file name as text.

  • Searching multiple Exchange mailboxes

    I have a personal mailbox on our Exchange server, but I also have access to 2 additional mailboxes that I frequently need to find emails in. Windows 7 does not allow me to search these additional mailboxes.

    I had really hoped not having to install Google desktop on my Windows 7 machine (why use two searches if one will do?), but this item is a big deal to me and that was ultimately the solution.