Saturday, June 16, 2007

I know I’ve been away a lot lately. . .

First, let me say I definitely miss blogging more than I ever thought possible. I've really enjoyed the process of writing, posting and getting to know all of you who've actually made me wish we all lived close to one another.

Second, I’ve just been so busy, between the job, the house, the yard and all of my other ‘projects’ I just haven’t had much time to sit and write.

Not an excuse really, as I know many of you are at least as busy as I am, if not more so. It is however about the only reason I have for being away so long!

I’m hoping to post pictures of the work I’ve done this year on the ‘Natural Area’ of the yard. Some of you may recall that I got started on it last year, but never really wrapped it up. This year I touched up the areas I started last year, and I’ve about doubled the area that I can actually ‘walk around’ in now.

You’ll see in the pictures (when I post them) that I still have a lot of brush to clear along the drainage area, and in the back corner of the lot… that said, I still think I’ve got about 75% of the deal under control now, compared to about 25% last year!

Regarding FoxPro…

I've been fairly quiet on the announcement by Microsoft that they've ceased new development on Visual FoxPro. I, in my heart, knew this day would come the day they announced they'd bought the company from Dave Fulton. I even wrote Bill Gates, and spoke extensively with the folks at Mirosoft back then and was assured they had no such plans.

It seems they may not have had immediate plans... but at this point it feels like all the 'words' did nothing but delay the inevitable.

Most of you know I’ve been a proponent, hell, even a zealot, when it came to singing FoxPro’s praises. I’ve spent the better part of the past 25 years earning a decent living with the Fox (or VFP as many like to call it) as my primary development tool. Many years the number of lines of code I wrote in anything other than FoxPro were so small as to not even be worth counting.

That era is over though… Microsoft is abandoning the product, and once that happens it may as well as be already dead and gone. No new development is popping up on the horizon (well not *my* horizon anyway), and there are fewer and fewer contracts for even maintenance work. It is, after all work, and the work I've done to earn a living for over two decades.

It’s a very strange position to be in.

I feel like I’m assisting in the death of an old friend… Helping an otherwise healthy friend commit suicide… very strange indeed.

Many of you may find it odd that I’d call FoxPro an “old friend”… make comparisons to a living, breathing entity…. Others will simply understand the feeling. Let me try to explain it.

A computer language, is much like any other type of “tool”.

A bit cumbersome when you first pick it up, but, over time, each and every time you use it, you get a little better at using it.

Eventually, you get so good with it, it’s no longer separate from you, but a part of you. You’re better as a result of having the tool, it ‘extends’ you. The tool enables you to do things that before it existed, were either impossible, or so costly as to be considered impossible.

So here I am, a mid-50’s guy who’s achieved a bit of success, and some notoriety (from time to time) as a VFP/FoxPro developer. Yet, I find myself looking forward with a bit of uncertainty as to my marketability, now that my ‘claim to fame’ is soon to be a "here lies" headstone the landscape of development languages.

Yes, it’s true I have decent DotNet chops, and have even completed a couple fairly complex projects with it as the primary tool. I don’t however seeing me becoming the kind of “DotNet guru” that I was with VFP.

Why? A couple of reasons actually.

First, and probably foremost, is the fact that while a decent development environment, DotNet is no VFP. The raw power to manipulate data is simply absent. Not a day goes by that when I show a DotNet, or even a Java developer what I can do with ‘data’ in less time than it takes them to set up to begin coding, that they’re not impressed.

Second, I really don’t have the desire I once had to work day and night (on the job and off) again to get *that* good at any language I’m currently aware of. Trust me on this, there’s no shortcut to become truly proficient with a language, it takes years of 10, 12 even 16 hour days before you truly master a computer language. I’m just not that interested any more… I’d much rather lie in the shade with a pitcher of Gin, Tonic and Lime when I'm not working!!

What I am interested in however is working on mastering the use of the written word…. It’s time to hang up my ‘developer’ hat, and begin a new journey I think…

One where I work at putting words together, to achieve a specific effect… but this time the language will be English, and the effects will be more human emotion, and less mathematics, in nature.

I’ve been thinking lately, that there have been a lot of experiences (in developing systems) over the past 25 years, some funny, some sad, that I’ve never written about… I'm thinking a lot lately of doing so soon.

I haven’t mentioned it before, but a recent position change on the job has me more in the ‘Business’ side of things, and less and less on the “IT/IS” side of things. On a day to day basis, I’m much more involved with the business *need* and far less involved with the IT/IS *how*…. I'm concerned more with analytics, metric and application flow now, than with how that flow is accomplished.

I’d forgotten what a challenge working from the business side can be, and how much fun! We were working on the 2008 Project specifications last week, it’s a strictly business need driven process, and I’ve had more fun reviewing and contributing to that, than I’ve had in quite some time!

So, I'm hoping I'll actually start writing again and you'll start stopping in again to let me know how I'm doing!!

I hope you're all doing well... drop me a note and say hi!

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No_Newz said...

I'm glad you are busy. Been doing a lot of the same things you mentioned. Also miss blogging and the community we've all built. Have a great father's day!!

Bill said...

Lois - Thanks, I'm planning on doing a whole lot of nothing for Father's Day... I hope Mr. Lane has a great day too!

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

Welcome back, stranger! Missed reading your posts on a regular basis!

Lorna said...

glad to see you back. I've kept checking and feel relieved that you've taken up your "pen" again.

Bill said...

Liz, Lorna - Thanks I'm glad to be back, with any luck at all the 'muse' will hang around a bit this time!!