February 19, 2008
Is it October yet?
Although, here in Kansas City, it still feels like October (kinda chilly), we are many months away. Still, I am anxiously awaiting for October 2008 to arrive because that is when the Southwest Fox 2008 Conference will take place. Last year's Southwest Fox 2007 Conference (featuring EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know about Microsoft Visual FoxPro) was the most attended ever; bucking the trend of reduced attendence at VFP conferences. There is no reason why this year's conference can't be even better. It was HIGHLY received by the attendees last year, and first time organizers, Tamar Granor, Rick Schummer, and Doug Hennig are in the process of building upon last year's success.
There are several ways in which the conference can be improved and one of them is to spread the word throughout the FoxPro community about the conference. It is in that spirit that I am pointing you to one of the pages on the ( Southwest Fox website ) that is specifically designed to assist community members in publicizing the conference, the ( "Promote the Conference" ) page. On that page, you will find several ways to help promote the conference and spread the VFP "Word".
I am particularly directing your eyeballs to the section displaying two animated banner ads. One (or both) of these banner ads will easily fit onto a page of anyone's website and/or blog. You can cut and paste the HTML code provided to easily display the banners. It would be a genuinely unselfish gesture if each and everyone of you reading this blog would take the time to post an ad (as well as pass along the URL to the promotion page to others likely to post an ad). Incidentally, if you don't, it will reflect on your parents and a big, black checkmark will go on your permanent record. Seriously, anyone who loves Fox and wants to see it continue to flourish is encouraged to post an ad banner. Your help in making the 2008 conference the best one yet will be greatly appreciated.
Lastly, if you are interested, the call has gone out to all those interested in being a speaker at the 2008 conference. Details are on the Southwest Fox website.
July 09, 2007
How secure is your network? (Luncheon)
Visionpace-IT is proud to present a unique opportunity to learn whether your network is either too secure or not secure enough.
Attend our FREE lunch and learn on July 31, 2007
Travis Davies, Network Architect, will discuss the following:
- Learn why you might be bolting down your network too much!
- Learn about "Social Engineering". What is it? Are you guilty?
- Be Password Savvy.
- Learn what you might be doing to compromise your network.
- Are you giving away your Intellectual Property?
- Become educated on these topics and more...
The luncheon will be on July 31, 2007 from 11:30 - 1:00 at Visionpace (17501 E Hwy 40 Suite 218 Independence, MO 64055). Please call Kelly by July 27th at 816-350-7900 to make a reservation.
May 14, 2007
Denial Isn't Just a River in Egypt
A little over a month ago, the Microsoft Corporation officially announced that they will not be releasing any new versions of its relational database software, Visual FoxPro (VFP). The news came as a surprise to many of the developers in the FoxPro community, but those developers must have been in denial or had their heads buried in the Hentzenwerke “Hacker’s Guide” because the handwriting has been on the wall for months. Years! Decades?
To paraphrase Garrett Morris’ Chico Escuela persona from “Saturday Night Live”, “FoxPro has been bery, bery good to me”. It has provided me with an above average income and a comfortable life style (once I kicked all of my kids out of the house). More importantly, Visual FoxPro and before it, FoxPro for Windows and FoxPro for DOS, has been VERY, VERY good to thousands of small to medium sized business as well as some Fortune 500 companies. A VFP application is used to run the operation of the Chunnel (the underwater link between England and France). During the first Gulf War, FoxPro was an integral part of the military’s JFast application which managed the deployment of troops and supplies. There are many other high profile applications, but my point is that mission critical applications created by FoxPro developers provided reliable, efficient, and economically sound solutions to real world problems. ECONOMY is one of the reasons that Visual FoxPro is one of the best selling application development software tools IN THE WORLD. It is reasonably priced and is “self-contained”. i.e. For the most part, it has it’s own reporting capabilities, user interface capabilities, and data storage capabilities. Those are the basics of most data-centric applications. Of course, it has many, many more features than just those basic capabilities. I could go on about my devotion to VFP and why I (as well as many other developers, world-wide) love it so much. Nevertheless, the fact is that Microsoft is going to support Visual FoxPro only through 2015, so there is no sense in denying it any longer. VFP is on its own.
Notice and this is very important, I did NOT say that VFP is DEAD. I just said it is on its own. Why? Because 2015 is eight years away. Who knows what will happen by then? I, personally, am still maintaining applications written in the mid 1990s that the clients love and couldn’t do without. I expect to see applications, being written today, around for another twenty years. The applications do EXACTLY (another key word) what the client wants them to do and they have no plans of abandoning them. Isn’t that the bottom line? So, if you are in need of custom applications and plan on being in business for the next 20-25 years, there is no compelling reason why you shouldn’t consider (or at the very least, do not summarily dismiss) having those applications written in Visual FoxPro. An honest, ethical developer should offer you all options, explain the pros and cons of each, and then help you to decide upon the approach that is best for you.
April 07, 2006
Cellular Routers and the Last Mile
Over the last ten years a lot has been written about bridging the gap for the last mile (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_mile) and given that I live pretty close to the end of the mile, I’ve been interested in the different technologies as they developed. Since the phone and cable companies aren’t interested in running high speed service to my place (too few houses to make it profitable) and I wasn’t too keen on the prices for satellite based broad band hardware, I’ve been watching the cellular telephone industry as they have been releasing new technologies.
Finally I have found a solution that I felt met my needs. I recently purchased and EVDO PCMCIA card (think cell phone on a network card) and a cellular router from Kyocera. (I went through the site http://www.evdoinfo.com. No affiliation, but they have a lot of good information and made for an easy online purchase.) I was able to activate the card and configure the router in less than 30 minutes, following the instructions included with both. Once configured and running, I had a WEP encrypted WiFi hot spot throughout the house. I haven’t used my PocketPC to see how far away from the router I can get a signal, but the signal is strong throughout the house. The other benefit of this setup, is that when I travel I can take the card (and router if I want) with me and have high speed internet anywhere Verizon has the service available. Right now this is around most metropolitan areas, but is expanding. If the EVDO service isn’t available, the connection defaults to standard dial up. The router also came with a 12v power cord so you can create a WiFi hot spot from your car. Lots of potential. In fact one guy in New York
I’ll leave it to those who predict technologies on a regular basis to project when this kind of cellular data transmission becomes ubiquitous, but my prediction is that this market will continue to grow for a couple of reasons:
- the basic infrastructure (towers, repeaters, etc.) is in place
- it doesn’t require launching and maintaining geosynchronous satellites
- you don’t have to drop cable to keep the service (no right of way, no maintenance, no back hoe’s)
- as the technology advances and demand increases, the infrastructure for that area can be advanced as needed maximizing ROI
The end result, I think, is that in the not too distant future we’ll see companies like Verizon and Sprint offering video and television, much like Vonage offers telephone service over traditional data lines. It’s a brave new world and I like it!
March 24, 2006
Software as a Service (SaaS) ... haven't we done this before?
Not to be a curmudgeon, but I don't get the sudden hype around SaaS. I like my hosted web services as much as anyone, but I find this smells a bit like over-hype. As good as a SaaS service might be, and with AJAX and better bandwidth making the apps extremely rich, these applications are still vulnerable to outages, crashes, and when you're offline ... so is access to your data.
But ... what do you think?
February 15, 2006
I saw Vista at Northern Voice ... very interesting
Those of us attending MooseCamp about a week ago at Northern Voice got a good look at Vista. Robert Scoble and Chris Pirillo did the demo. While the UI changes are slick and cool, it's the under the hood stuff that I'm really looking forward to in this upgrade.
Let's take sound and video. In Vista ... well multitasking (e-mail, browsing, etc) isn't going to make your work music playing start to sound like a 45 played a 33 (yeah I'm dating myself).
Networking. The whole networking stack was written from the ground up. End result? IPv6 support and better (like 20x better) throughput.
Memory. This is very interesting. RAM is more dynamic. In fact you could slap in your handy flash drive and use that as RAM. Yeah, cool. I talked with both Robert and Chris while it isn't going to be a feature that is given a lot of attention, it is going to be there. I can see this being used a temporary "gee I need to export this large file to MP3" tool.
One note I did pick up ... Vista is going to be a video card intensive OS. So if you're looking at a new machine, look at a good amount of RAM (I'm glad I have a gig), above average video card (ATI for me), and well a nice processor isn't going to hurt (64 bit for me).
How close is it? Some members of the Windows team are already using it day to day. Beta 2 is going to be "dog food" soon ... meaning that they are going to have to use it. RC2 ... not long from now.
I'm really hoping to get my hands on it soon.
January 27, 2006
IE 7 starts to leak out
Rumor is that IE 7 is getting close, so close that it's starting to leak out. Still not going to make me switch, but the feature set below looks promising.
Among the new tools shown in the pictures, while relatively low resolution, are some of Microsoft's security-related additions to the dominant browser, including its anti-phishing controls and its recently announced Delete Browsing History function. Also highlighted in the available screen shots is Microsoft's attempt to mirror the so-called tabbed browsing controls popularized by alternative products such as Firefox and Opera, which the software giant has dubbed as QuickTabs.
January 23, 2006
- All new networking stack
- All new audio stack
- New search integration and file management
- New fonts and readability technology
- New kernel changes
- Performance, security, and all that
- New features for international users
- New print technology
- New installer technology
- New sidebar and gadgets
- New sideshow (external monitor for laptops)
- New updated applications like Windows Mail
- New crypto technology
- New RSS platform
- New sound experience by Robert Fripp
January 11, 2006
MSN Messenger 8 (aka Live Messenger) Beta ... sorry no invites yet.
A friend of mine let folks know that he had MSN 8.0 beta and I jumped on the chance, of course. I've been using it for about a day now and I've noticed a couple cool features. First one, and the one that will likely get the most attention, is the shared folders. Activate it and your buddies can get files from a directory of your choosing. Seems like a good idea for small workgroups. I don't know many other people using the Beta so I haven't been able to try it yet. The other cool feature that I just found was then when you go busy ... MSN doesn't ping or pop up. It does flash so if you get a message so you're at your machine you can answer.
Before you ask me for an invite ... I don't have any. I don't know when they give them out.
Now think about this ... Microsoft has taken a nice cue from Google, eh? Build a buzz. Get people clamoring for invites very cool.
Now we'll have to see how the new features pan out.
January 10, 2006
The WMF saga continues
This must be a rough time in Redmond. If the WMF flaw wasn't bad enough. Then users (and bloggers) are screaming for Microsoft to fix it. Security companies went as far as recommending third-party patches. Then in a very uncharacteristic move Microsoft released their patch last week, very early by their standards.
Folks started chiming in that this was great, a new, good sign. Larry Seltzer had this opener to his piece:
Opinion: Everybody's happy that Microsoft expedited the patching of the WMF flaw, but that aspect of the episode raises more questions than it answers. Why aren't one-week patch cycles S.O.P.?
Updated: Just days after the release of Microsoft's out-of-cycle WMF patch, researchers publish details—and exploit code—for two new denial-of-service vulnerabilities. Redmond is investigating.
Just days after rushing out an emergency fix to counter a spate of zero-day attacks, security researchers claim there are at least two new flaws in the way the Windows graphics rendering engine handles WMF (Windows Metafile) images.
The latest warning was posted to the Bugtraq mailing list Monday by a researcher known simply as "cocoruder."
A few hours later, the first sign of what appears to be proof-of-concept exploit code was also published.
A Microsoft spokesperson insists the publicly released code can simply cause a denial-of-service crash.
"As it turns out, these crashes are not exploitable but are instead Windows performance issues that could cause some WMF applications to unexpectedly exit. These issues do not allow an attacker to run code or crash the operating system. They may cause the WMF application to crash, in which case the user may restart the application and resume activity," said Lennart Wistrand, lead security program manager in the MSRC (Microsoft Security Response Center).
What's the lesson here? Well Microsoft, I think, could have relaxed things a bit. Maybe "unofficially" endorsed one of the third-party fixes and let their engineers study the flaw and the patch more closely. Hey maybe if they waited then this new problem could have been included. Don't know, but it goes back to the old software problem ... when the heat is on, it's hard to take it slow, but sometimes it's important.