« August 2005 | Main | October 2005 »

September 28, 2005

The Google Powered Developer

A.K.A. You can't keep up with technology, so don't even try.

The paradigm for coding is changing. There used to be a pretty small number of technologies that a given app would use, and if some of those technologies were new to me, I could spend a couple days and spin up on them. Today, we're using many little pieces of very big things. Be it a grid with hundreds of members, or SQL Server with hundreds of features. Today, I'm seeing developers use a different paradigm. They Google, code, Google, code. A developer knows they need a grid. They drop one on a form. How do you get data into it? Google. How do you make alternating lines a different color? Google. The application needs logging. Google says that you can choose the Logging Application Block, or log4net. Google says that log4net is easier. Google shows how to get log4net up and running. The developer needs to encrypt the local database. Google. What's a good way to do dirty form handling? Google.

There's just no way to keep up. The number of developer related technologies, even in the Microsoft-cosm, is increasing at an exponential rate. How much time do you have to learn, in advance, about Reporting Service, Windows Workflow Foundation, WinFX, Indigo, Atlas, Team System, System.Transaction, Lambda functions, Ruby, Visual Studio Tools for Office, Hubards Peak, what's the fastest chart control, DirectX, LINQ, CLR stored procedures, Avalon, Expression studio, MBS, Speech Server, My, Generics, iterators, BackgroundWorker, table layout panel, ClickOnce, BizTalk, Sharepoint, BI, AI, single instance applications, etc., etc. Looking at this list, you probably think exactly what I think, which is, "I don't have to know everything about each of those right now. If I need one of those, I know I can figure it out pretty quickly."

In any area where the knowledge space has exploded, search has become the solution. I used to organize my e-mail. I don't any more. I know with MSN Desktop search, I can just find anything that's ever gone through my Outlook. I don't use my Start menu any more. Start | All Programs | Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 | Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, is too slow. Typing "Visual Stu" in the MSN Desktop search bar is fast.

Since there's no way to keep up with everything new, don't even try, and don't feel bad about it. The new paradigm is to know that for the vast majority of development tasks, a solution probably exists. You just have to find it, figure it out, and use it. If you take two developers with equal coding ability, the one who's a Google Use'n Machine will be far more productive that the developer who isn't. You want the Google Powered Developer in your shop.

Do the people building technology know about the Google Powered Developer? Are they optimizing for the GPD?

Here's a message for those people inventing the new technology. Think Search. Many of your users will not know that your product/feature exists, before they click "Search". When they find your stuff, it better be quickly apparent exactly what your stuff does, and how it should be used to solve their problem. Many users are only going to kick the your tires for a few minutes before they decide to make your stuff part of their solution, or return to The Text Box for more answers. Time to Grok is key. I know you love those who are enamored with your stuff, who research it in depth, and who blog all about it, but for the other 99.999% of your users, they're doing JIT learning.

How JIT-able is your feature? How JIT-able is your product?

Posted on September 28, 2005 at 04:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

September 16, 2005

Does anyone make a cell phone with no keypad or screen?

Does anyone make a cell phone that doesn't have a screen or keypad? One where maybe you just speak the number to dial, and push a button to answer?

Posted on September 16, 2005 at 08:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 15, 2005

Does anyone make a cell phone with no keypad or screen?

Does anyone make a cell phone that doesn't have a screen or keypad? One where maybe you just speak the number to dial, and push a button to answer?

Posted on September 15, 2005 at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The people building VB 9.0 talked, and I listened (and wrote it down, and got it published)

The people designing the VB 9.0 language were gracious enough to agree to be interviewed. It's now on-line at Dr. Dobbs.

See what Paul Vick, Amanda Silver, Erik Meijer, Alan Griver, Rob Copeland, and Jay Roxe had to say about where VB is going.


Update: The interview is now on the home page of Dr. Dobbs. www.ddj.com

Posted on September 15, 2005 at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

The hottest technology of the PDC: LINQ

Here's what people are saying about LINQ (having SQL keywords as part of VB.NET and C#)

.NET Undocumented says LINQ delivers "shock and awe".
Barry Gervin - list of what the world is saying about LINQ.
Hacked Brain agrees that LINQ is the hottest technology at the PDC.
Ted Neward calls LINQ "The Revenge of C-omega"
Niels Hartvig has the photos.

And then there's 101 LINQ samples on MSDN.

Posted on September 14, 2005 at 11:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Extension to the My namespace: My.Blogs

Cool. An extension for the Whidbey "My" feature that lets you write to blogs from an application.


Posted on September 14, 2005 at 10:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Off Topic: Flashback

I went to a little PDC party tonight. The party had a great cover band, with lots of rock'n tunes from the south, including someone who played the horn.

You don't see a lot of horn in bands, unless, you're in, say, New Orleans (a.k.a.. Nawlins). I flashed back to a Tech Ed, a few year ago, and sitting in smoky Jazz bars, outside of the French Quarter. I've been to my share of rock concerts, but Nawlins is the first time I'd seen the soul of music laid bare. I sat mesmerized, listening to trumpet, trombone, and watching the sousaphone player just drop the mic down the throat of his instrument.

That's what I'm talking about.

You can say it was idiotic to build Nawlins below sea level, but we all knew "The Big One" was coming for a good 30+ years. Holland is also below sea level. They seen to know the stakes, and they actually fund their levies.

There's a lot of talk about rebuilding New Orleans, and fixing it's problems, breaking the "cycle of poverty". Admirable, I must say. But if the Jazz bars go away, or it becomes a faux Disney Land Nawlins, then you F'd up the city. Maybe Nawlins should have paid for it's own damn levies. Nifty. Seattle should be building lava levies right now, cause Rainier is gonna blow. It's just a matter of when, and note to Seattle: y'alll is on your own when the big one hits. FEMA, based on the latest intelligence, will argue that there is no Seattle. I just hope SafeCo field is fire-proof. I just hope you like camping in the Astro Dome. Bring a big hat.

There's nothing that can overshadow the human tragedy. Even the death of a supreme court justice ended up below the fold. But this is also a cultural tragedy. The contributions of Nawlins to music can't be overstated.

If you question building below sea level, then you had also better question the Freedom Tower in Manhattan. Rebuilding on the grave of 9/11 is a security and engineering challenge. The engineering one, we can nail. The security one, well, we'll do our best from keeping the bastards from knocking it down, but there are no guarantees.

With Nawlins, it's only an engineering challenge. We know how to keep the city safe from even a Cat 5 hurricane, it's just a question of national will.

If you turn your back on Nawlins, IMHO, you suck. A strong statement, I know, but someday you might be the victim of the cascadian subduction zone, San Andreas, a "finger of God" tornado, or a 1 in 10000 hurricane the size of, say, Africa.

When I've lost everything, and I need somewhere to go, I sure hope I end up someplace where they can nail The Blues.

Listening to: The day the music died

Posted on September 14, 2005 at 01:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (212)

September 13, 2005

Information on Visual Basic 9.0

It's up!

Here's information about how querying is being built into VB (a.k.a. LINQ, XLinq, and Dlinq)


This can't be overstated. This is the biggest change to VB since the switch from VB6 to VB.NET.

Posted on September 13, 2005 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

LINQ Revealed at the PDC

Don Box and Anders Hejlsberg just did a demo at the PDC where they showed how C# (and VB.NET) are being enhanced so that the languages contain query functionality.  There's probably a bunch of white papers going live today, but here's what the syntax looks like.

The following code gets the list of running processes by calling Process.GetProcesses.  This is then joined with information in a SQL database that has descriptions of certain processes:

ProcessDescriptionDb db = new ProcessDescriptionDb();
var query = 
	from p in Process.Getprocesses()
	where p.WorkingSet > 1024 * 1024 * 4
	orderby p.WorkingSet descending
	select new {
		Description = (
			Fom d in db.processDescriptions
			Where d.processName = p.ProcessName
			Select d.Description

foreach (var item in query)
	Console.Writeline("{0,-30}{1,10:N0} {2}", item.ProcessName, item.WorkingSet, item.Description);

Wild.  I can't wait to see some of the VB syntax.

Posted on September 13, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome to LA

Terrorists are threatening to attack, and the power is out, but other than that, Welcome to LA!

Posted on September 13, 2005 at 12:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)