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# Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Microsoft has announced the official launch date for Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and BizTalk Server 2006.  November 7th!  Mark it on your calendars; this one has been anticipated for years now (at least by folks like myself).  It's great to finally get definition on it!

In other news, ASPSOFT debuted project Rally, which is the Microsoft .NET-powered battle bot known as The Finalizer.  Too cool!

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 10:16:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

It struck me recently that folks would probably not know until they bought the book that it contains an implementation of a custom ADO.NET 2.0 provider for Active Directory.  It is for one of the chapters that I wrote that demonstrates what you would need to do to implement a custom ADO.NET provider.

I chose Active Directory because I don't like working directly with DirectoryServices.  When I first had the need to interact with Active Directory, I found the API and, indeed, the underlying concepts to be notably foreign.  I think that most devs who are coming from your typical MS background of building applications with relational databases and ADO-like technologies find it somewhat obscure and puzzling to be confronted by the likes of Active Directory and LDAP.

So my goal, apart from demonstrating how to build an ADO.NET provider (which I honestly think most people don't need to know), was to provide something useful that I and others could put to work, making our lives easier.  While the provider itself is not shrink-wrap quality, it does have the basic functionality you'd need to work with user accounts, which I think is the most common scenario for app devs--the greatest benefit of AD for applications is the centralized profile and authentication store it provides.

I would say, and I'm not just saying this because I wrote it, that the book will be worth the price just to get your hands on this provider code, which is available in both VB.NET and C#.  It majorly simplifies dealing with Active Directory by giving you a very familiar API to work with (ADO.NET) and easily enables data binding and updating for common scenarios.  I'd love to see someone take it and build it out into a full-fledged, commercial-quality provider as I think there is definitely a niche for such a product (I'd buy it!).

Of course, I don't want to downplay the value of the rest of the book; it has a ton of other great stuff that will give you all you need to know to become a pro with ADO.NET 2.  So what are you waiting for?  Go get it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 10:09:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, June 3, 2005

I was just looking something up on Google, and I noticed a little, harmless link in the top right that said "Satellite."  Curious person that I am, I clicked it, and suddenly the map I was staring at was replaced by lush imagery.  Too cool!

But even cooler is that you can drag the screen around, zoom in to a very close proximity, and you can even overlay driving directions on the satellite imagery.  Now how much better can it get than that?

Check it out!

Friday, June 3, 2005 4:29:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, May 19, 2005

I just ran across the patent application for what appears to be some rendition of the purportedly defunct Object Spaces.  At least, I hope that's what it is and not some attempt by Microsoft to patent the idea of entity mapping itself.  I didn't read the whole thing (who has that kind of time!?), but I can only assume (because patenting entity mapping itself would be preposterous) that it is a patent for their particular solution that they are working on for the WinFS timeframe.

In any case, I guess those who were trying to model their own entity mapping utilities off of object spaces need to be careful if/when MS gets the patent on it.  I'm not really sure I see what's to be gained by patenting their approach.  Microsoft will squash any competition in the space when they get something out there anyways...

Thursday, May 19, 2005 3:47:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, May 16, 2005

Tampa Code Camp is looking for you.  We are currently accepting sessions on virtually any .NET dev related topic.  If you've got great ideas that you want to share with others, please send us your sessions.  The deadline for new session submissions is mid-June.  So show off your knowledge, help others, and just generally have fun by participating in Tampa Code Camp this July 16th!

More information is available at the Tampa Code Camp site.

Monday, May 16, 2005 6:31:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, May 14, 2005

I was just surfing around, looking for a decent grammar guide for a friend, when I ran across this site.  The fella there has an impressively long list of common English errors, but what I found most interesting is his list of non-errors.  Non-errors are caused by pedants who are so eager to show off their superior knowledge of the language that they will go too far and actually show their ignorance.

I chuckle inside when I hear someone saying "I feel well" or "between you and I."  I don't fault them for trying to speak proper English; heck, I've often laughed at myself for saying such things, and I immediately correct myself (often under my breath) to remind myself.

You'd be surprised at the number of bad habits I've had to break, things like "coulda went," "less calories," and one that I still have trouble with: "I'm gonna go lay down for a bit."  What can I say?  I was raised in Arkansas and Oklahoma, neither of which are particularly known for proper English. :)

For the record, the proper way to say the above things are:
1. "I feel well" should be "I feel good," unless of course you are talking about your health and not your state of mind.  If you are thinking "I feel good" (like the song), then you should say that and not overcorrect yourself.
2. "Between you and I" should be "between you and me."  This is a case where folks have been told that saying "you and me" is incorrect, usually in the context of using it as the subject (nominative case) in a sentence such as "you and me are going to dinner."  In that case, you should use "you and I" because "I" is the nominative case for the singular, first-person personal pronoun; however, nouns that follow prepositions (which is what "between" is) should be in the accusative or dative case, and that case for the aforementioned personal pronoun is "me."
3. "Coulda went" should be "coulda gone" if you're intending to be colloquial.  Of course, the more proper way would be "could've gone."
4. "Less calories" should be "fewer calories."  This is a toughie, at least for us Americans.  "Less" should be used when referring to a single thing, such as "less water" or "less sand."  "Fewer" should be used when talking about multiple things, such as "fewer items" or "fewer calories."  Even Wal-Mart gets this one wrong, or at least they intentionally use it because it is more common to be incorrect.  Let me know if you find a store whose express lane says "10 or fewer items" rather than "10 or less items."
5. The last one that still causes me trouble is "lay" versus "lie."  The difference is in whether or not the verb takes an object, that is, whether or not it is transitive or intransitive.  If you are putting something down, you would "lay" it down; however, if you are describing what something is doing, you would say it is "lying" down.  So I should say "I'm gonna go lie down for a bit" unless I'm going to go take something and lay it down for a while. 

Anyways, for the time being, these are still shibboleths, but I wouldn't be surprised if in a few decades these become the new non-errors because common usage has made them correct. 

The main thing to keep in mind is that there are plenty of folks who use the way you speak or write as a means to determine your level of education or, worse, intellect.  It's not so much that these little errors really matter in getting your point across (which is, after all, the point of language) but that you don't want to be discounted a priori for what is considered by many others to be incorrect.

Saturday, May 14, 2005 5:32:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, May 12, 2005

I am often and repeatedly reminded that believing in God does not make someone a good person.  I know this, both from experience and reason.  In fact, everyone seems to know this.  Yet somehow people seem to want to ignore this fact and expect that believing in God--heck, let's just throw it out there--believing in Christ should make saints of us all.

I say this because the media perpetually revisit this proven absurdity by constantly mocking believers; they (the media) hedonistically relish the idea of Christians, particularly Christian leaders, not living up to this long-defunct idea that we should somehow be without flaw.  The priest sex abuse scandal is an example of this. 

Despite the facts, during and since, priests as a group have been repeatedly defamed and maligned.  No one in his right mind would defend sexual abuse; it is clearly wrong and should be answered for.  But at the same time, I think we should all keep in mind that 98+% of priests in the U.S. in living memory have not been accused, and of those who have been accused, we should keep in mind that they are accusations that could well not be true.

But for the sake of argument, let's say all ~2% that have been accused are actually guilty.  That leaves that 98% who have been faithful to their calling, selflessly serving God and their parishes.  98%.  In what other areas do we see such commendable "grades"?  That's an A+, summa cum laude.  And yet the media has had a heyday with this, leaving one with the impression that all priests are pedophiles in collars.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

But let's not forget these people who are guilty of this sin.  Consider that roughly the same percentages of pedophiles are seen in society at large.  People in all walks of life.  It is in no way a problem selective to the priesthood, certainly it has nothing to do with the requirement of celibacy.  Psychologists will be the first to tell you that pedophilia is more about power than it is about sex.  But the point is simply that priests are people, too, subject to the same humanity that we all are.

I've seen the same prejudice against others, not just Christian leaders.  In fact, I've seen this prejudice operating within Christian circles.  Somehow people seem to think, despite the irrefutable plethora of evidence to the contrary, that believing in Christ and sharing that belief system with others should somehow make one a saint.  It is a perpetual absurdity!  Name me one Christian you know personally whom you would call a saint.  I think that most of us would be very hard-pressed to do this, and yet I'm sure all of us know plenty of Christians.

I can only guess at why this absurdity persists.  I think it's because people just have axes to grind.  The Church (and more generally, Christianity) stands for truth; it stands for morality; it stands for a better world, the best and most beautiful philosophy.  Unfortunately, this wondrous philosophy wars against the lower impulses of human nature, in particular, sexual desire and greed.  In short, the Church tells us that we can't do everything that strikes our fancies and we can't have everything we want, and that gets under our skins.

In response to this discomfort, we are only to quick to point out the deficiencies in others, trying to deflect the light of truth that scrutinizes the soul.  The Holy Scriptures speak explicitly of this in two places that come to mind. 

First, in the third chapter of the Gospel of John: "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."  Here we see an understanding, if we don't already have it from experience, as to why people dislike the light of truth. 

Then in the Gospels according to Luke and Matthew: "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?"  Here we see a testament to our human nature, which is to try to hide our own failings by highlighting those of others.  It is our natural response when the light is shone on our darkness.

So when a Christian, that is, someone who stands for the light has a failing, we are all too eager to grab a mirror and put it in front of our own failing, attempting to deflect the Light and hoping, thereby, to hide our own failings.

For Christians, we know the proper response when the light shines on us, though we most certainly do not always do it (which only reinforces what I'm saying).  Jesus tells us in the scripture immediately following: "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."  And again, from our passage in John's Gospel: "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." 

As Christians, we should embrace the light, even when it shows our own evil.  In fact, we should embrace because it illumines our darkness.  Without the light, how would we know how to please God?  Because of it, we can see our failings and, with the help of Grace, work to improve them.

For non-Christians, for those to whom I probably sound like a raving looney, all I can ask is that I hope you see the absurdity in expecting all Christians to be saints.  We're not--we're people just like you, subject to the same human baseness.  When we share what we think is truth with you, it is not in order to show our own glory or holiness (for we are more often than not just as base and sinful as the next person), but it is to share the beauty of truth, the light of Christ and of the saints (yes, they have existed and do exist today!). 

True, it can be uncomfortable, particularly when we feel convinced on a very basic and non-rational level that the Gospel of Christ is indeed truth but do not want to accept it, but I can assure you that you are not alone if you feel that way.  Christians walk the same path and experience the same discomfort.  And we must all recognize this--that we all have darkness in us.  Instead of letting that divide us, why not make it a source of strength and comfort, the strength and comfort that comes from knowing you are not alone--you are not forsaken.  God loves Christians and non-Christians alike; his grace is there for all of us to help us overcome our weakness if we only depend on him instead of our own strength.

Surely we are doomed to fail if we depend on our own strength because our strength comes from our human nature, which is the selfsame source of our own failings.  We should not be discouraged, however, because even though humans, Christian and non-Christian alike, may persist in the perpetual absurdity that believing should make someone perfect, God does not.  He understands our human weakness and offers us the grace of the Cross, which atones for the guilt of our failings, and the help of the Spirit to aid us on our way to holiness.

Thursday, May 12, 2005 11:09:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [3]  | 
# Friday, May 6, 2005
Why pirating music, software, movies, and other seeming victimless crimes are not okay.
Friday, May 6, 2005 2:51:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [26]  | 
# Monday, May 2, 2005
Wally, just told me the cover art and basic description for our book are on Amazon.  Go and pre-order copies for all your friends and family!! :)  Well, at least you can sign up to be notified when it'll be available.  Despite what it says (a bit out of date), the target ship date will be close to RTM of Whidbey (so sometime in the Fall).
Monday, May 2, 2005 7:22:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

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