Thursday, October 20, 2005

Busy… busy… b-u-s-y!!

I haven’t been around the blog world much that last few days.

I’ve been deep in a big project at work, and my little ‘garage reorganization’ project has become a major endeavor!

Let’s talk about work first. I know FoxPro is not the first choice among business developers it once was, and it’s a real shame. It’s such a strong language, so rich with features, tools and flat usability that I really feel like the rest of the world is really missing the boat here. Despite an intensely loyal bunch of die hard types like me, I don’t see it recovering anytime soon, if ever.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, primarily because the POL tool I built will probably not make it into the production environment. Why? Well, first and foremost there doesn’t seem to be anyone that is available, or that feels capable, of porting it to COBOL or Java (the only two supported languages at the client site). I’ve offered to port it, but, because I’m attached to the ‘business services’ group, I’m not authorized to write code destined for production.

I’m not saying that they should integrate FoxPro into their already huge code-base. What I am saying is that Microsoft has done such a poor job of positioning and marketing the product, they’re beginning to feel like the old Ashton-Tate folks. For those of you who don’t know, Ashton-Tate was the company that first brought dBASE, the product FoxPro and several other variants were based on, to the market.

They felt so comfortable in their number one position that they didn’t feel the need to properly market the product. The fact that many of you have heard of FoxPro, and not of dBASE, tells you how successful their business plan was. (When I first arrived at this client, they were convinced Microsoft had stopped selling FoxPro, not exactly a stellar marketing group at MS either!)

I’ve been working with Visual Studio.Net for several years now, and while it continues to improve and the languages, especially VB.Net, are getting better all the time, the simple fact is, they’re not yet remotely close to VFP’s ability to manipulate data, in large quantities, with amazing speed.

I think, when this project finally comes to a close, at the end of this year, or next, I’ll probably be hanging up my VFP gloves and adopting .Net as my primary platform. Not because it’s better, but simply because there’s more work, at better rates. I’ve been looking over some of the features in the 2005 release of .Net, and in short, I think by the time 2006 comes to a close, it’ll be ready for serious data work (which is, and has been, my major 'selling' point).

I’m also very interested in PHP, CSS (most blog templates are a CSS style page), XML, DHTML and several other web environments. My main web interest though is publishing, publishing data, in report and graphical forms, in real time, on demand, on the web.

If the weather gets too cold to work on the truck this winter, you might get to see a sampling of what I’ve got in mind.

Anyway… enough work…

Back to the garage project. My driveway looks like a going out of business yard sale for a repair shop. I’ve moved everything I could pick up, drag, push or otherwise move, outside. I had to cover it all with tarps tonight as we’re expecting rain here, overnight or during the day tomorrow.

Inside, I’ve hung four additional eight foot dual tube fluorescent light fixtures (for a total of six now the other two being HO type units) and have started building some shelves over the work benchs. I’m caulking holes, adding some insulation and moving the two four foot fixtures I took down to add additional light at the workbench.

I’ve also fabricated some brackets to attach to one wall so I can hang all the plywood and lumber ‘pieces’ I still have left over from the remodel project on the wall and get them off the floor. It’s all good stuff, and with plywood topping $30/sheet for construction grade stuff, it’s too expensive to just toss.

So, I’m figuring if I work every night after work, as well as all day Saturday and Sunday this weekend I’ll have the garage back together, a place for everything, everything in its place and be ready to start the bed reassembly process the weekend of the 28th. I can't wait to show you all that process, and how good everything looks!!

I should have done this before I started this project. I’ve been working around so much ‘stuff’ the past few weeks I actually felt like I was spending more time moving things around, than actually working.

That’s what I’ve been doing, what are you up to?


jenbeauty said...

That is a lot. We have been busy but things are starting to slow down. Once October is over we can really start gearing up for the holidays.

It seems the kids have loads of activities coming up, but hubby and I not so much. A good end to the summer I think.

Spirit Of Owl said...

I'm looking forward to seeing your web work! As you know I'm rebuilding my own website. I'm trying to make something of a showcase project of it. It's got a lot of back-end work in place that will pay off when I get to tie it all together.

The final project will have interactive user input, but that's the last stage once everything else has had its legs tested.

I've built it with PHP/MySQL, but that's not entirely a choice issue, much as I do have respect for this platform combination. The thing is, I've done a lot of work with Visual Studio 6 in the past, but I can't really work with Microsoft platforms at all now - much beyond Access I guess. Why can't I work with .Net? Simple: I just can't afford it at the moment. What a catch 22!?!?

I feel that, given a seriously committed month, I'd really get confident with a .Net/MS Server combination. I'm also very interested indeed in SOAP, and would love to get my teeth into it because that's exactly what the web has been waiting for, and is clearly where all the exciting development is really going to happen in the next few years.

But that's just not on the cards for me right now. I can only offer my less in demand, lower paid PHP/MySQL skills. I need to show them off somewhere, hence the work on the homepage. I also have a freelance page that I'm going to tackle next. Now I've got a spurt of ideas and energy and drive... I have to make hay while the sun shines, right?

But, there's not a chance that I could even think about doing any of this and restore a truck!! LOL My hat's off to you, as ever, Bill! :D

Firehawk said...


You're the man. You always have so much going on. I'm trying to improve my computer kung-fu, but it's a slow process, and the really knowledgable guy I work with is too impatient to teach me much. I just have to nibble around the edges, I guess.

What do you think about the Open Document Format news? From all I can see, Microsoft stands to lose a big market share as the technology matures, assuming they stick to their non-open XML format. I think the open source alternatives for many things are starting to get so good that it's hard to see paying hundreds of dollars for some of the MS programs anymore. I absoultely adore MS Word, and I've used it since '93, but when someone asks me what they should get for productivity anymore, I point them in the direction of

What have I been doing? Well, writing, of course, and working (for the man, every night and day, if I may quote CCR). I've been on a good workout regimen, 5 days a week, and that's a big positive. I'm hoping a few of the submissions I've made recently get published. After that, there's really only time for food, sleep, and walking the dog.

Thanks for asking!

Trevor Record said...

Bill, Long time no see. Sounds like you're keeping busy.

Moving has been such a hassle! You were right - I've been buying a lot of unanticipated stuff and the things I packed weren't very useful!

Bill said...

Jen - I've made the garage an even bigger mess since I posted this... yesterday I moved a lot of 'stuff' that has been packed away for quite a while... I need to get this wrapped up soon so we can ramp up for the holidays too!

Spirit - Look for an email from me today... I've got something in mind you might have some interest in. Your new 'home' site looks great, I really like the graphics, and the very clean layout!

I sometimes wish I had a 'month' just to focus on some of the ideas I have. In all honesty, by the time I finish work for the day, about the last thing I have energy for is 'more' code work! Then again, when I'm without a 'gig'.. I seem to be entirely focused on finding one... not exploring those same ideas... I need to work on getting those explorations into my schedule as well.

As for the truck project, it's a real mental 'break' for me. Entirely different from the mainly cerebral stuff at 'work', so they're both effort, but in different ways. I like hitting the pillow at night, tired in both mind, and body.

Firehawk - I have too much going on, all the time, in fact I may post some of the 'down sides' of that later today. I've had an interesting 'epiphany' during the 'hoeing out' process this week.

I haven't spent any time looking into 'Open Document'. With that said, I'm also becoming more, and more interested in the whole 'Open Source' movement. I've actually downloaded and reviewed a few projects, including a new Open Source 'framework' for Visual Foxpro that really looks promising.

The one piece that's missing for commercial sustainability (in my mind) is a lack of the profit motive. Folks like MS will continue to produce and market products successfully because they fit into the business model other businesses know and are comfortable with.

The one reason Linux has achieved the level of success it has, commercially, was IBM's decision to back it, and support it.

Open Office is a nice tool, however, I don't see major corporations switching teams as long as MS-Office continues to meet their needs.

XML is a pretty open format, it's well documented and the files are self describing when properly constructed, essentially the same as an "Open Document" file. I see room in the market for both.

Word could easily go the way of WordStar, or WordPerfect (remember when each of them "owned" the market?)... MS has a real challenge to not get knocked off the top like so many of their predecessors.

For personal, or small/home office users.. I think Open Office is a great choice... However, like you, Word is my 'home base' when it comes to processing words... I don't see myself switching any time soon.

You can always quote CCR in my blog!! I've been trying to get my gym time back in the daily routine... I'm hoping this week I'll actually get 3 days in. I used to hit the weights 5 days a week for over ten years. Once I had that back problem, I've never carved that time out again. I miss it, and, I know I'd feel so much better if I could get back in that groove. My hat's off to you for sticking it out.

"I'm hoping a few of the submissions I've made recently get published."

I hope so too! You definitely deserve a wider audience!

Trevor - I've been by your place, at least reading, even if I couldn't think of anything to say (I know, it was a surprise to me too!)

I'm glad you've gotten moved in and are making it *your* home. Don't worry about me being right... I was simply trying to let you know, that in my experience, a person rarely makes the right decisions when packing. I think it's an unwritten law of the universe of something!

Comfort Addict said...


It was interesting to read your comments about FoxPro. I never learned that (though I did a lot of COBOL, CICS, DB2, Powerbuilder, Java and other stuff). Now, I'm getting so far away from my techie side that those days are a little fuzzier than I'm used to.

Thanks for stopping by my site.

Karyn Lyndon said...

I've been sewing (see newest blog post). Oh, and I had a nice nap this afternoon! Thanks for you kind comments about my "hot" scene.

Bill said...

CA - I've done many of those too... but once I found "xBase" it became my language of choice, if for no other reason, for it's flexibility and speed.

I've had sabbaticals from the 'tech' side, but, always drifted back as, with things computer related, it's the techie stuff that gets me out of bed in the morning.

You're welcome, I enjoy your site.

Karyn - I didn't get a nap yesterday, but I was asleep by 9:30 last night!! Manual labor is the best sleeping pill I know!

As for my comments... I found that scene to be everything I said it was! :)

greg said...

If only your new friends could see the pain in your eyes as you and Dr. S. loaded dumpster after dumpster of absolute junk at ol' Goguen's....yes I am but a small mouse O' great king of rats!

Oh some many projects!

Bill said...

Greg - Yeah.. that was a painful time for sure... I think I watched what could have been a nice retirement fund go into the dumpsters that day. We easily dumped ove $50K of useless, value-less software and equipment that day. Not because it didn't work, or was worn out, but, simply because its time had passed.

I never thought, when we were buying it that we'd be tossing it like old lettuce. Believe it or not, I tossed another 25K worth of old SCO and SBT stuff when I finally unpacked here. I'll bet there's close to that much still hidden away in the office somewhere. (as you know you can store several thousand dollars worth of software in a the space the average paperback takes up.!!!)

As always.. good to see, and hear from you!