Scott Hanselman

Explaining CyberGeek Fame to my Wife

May 21, '07 Comments [35] Posted in Musings
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DHH, Fowler, HanselmanIt was fun this week to meet Martin Fowler and David Heinemeier Hansson at RailsConf. It's always cool at a conference to meet someone who's done great work, chat with them, and try to figure out how you too, can do great work. If only others appreciated it also...

Wife: How was the conference?

Geek (Me): It was excellent. I got to meet and chat with Martin Fowler and David Heinemeier Hansson, and they were both very cool.

Wife: Ermm...that's nice...

Geek: Ya, David created a Web Application Development Framework called Rails using a rather obscure Japanese gentleman's language called Ruby, and came up with a number of new and synthesized ideas in a way that no one had yet. It's sweeping the 'net and folks are digging it. Martin is one of the pioneers of Object Orientation and agile methodologies, as well as an Extreme Programming Guy.

Wife: I've never heard of these guys, but I'm glad you're glad!

David Heinemeier Hansson, Martin Fowler, and Scott HanselmanGeek: Well, meeting Martin is kind of like meeting Michael Caine, he's a very respected guy, talented actor, he's been around for a long time, done a lot of great work, and you're never disappointed with any thing you see him in. Meeting David is kind of like meeting Tobey Maguire, because Spiderman kicked butt and everyone enjoyed it, but it's unclear if he'll get a lot of work and do great stuff after Spiderman. But, still, he's Spiderman, so he'll always have that.

Wife: Ah, well, that is cool!

Geek: Darn right.

Wife: Some Geek People out there seem to know who you are also...what actor are you in this analogy?

Geek: I'm Bruce Campbell, of course.

Wife: Who?

Geek: Exactly.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Is Microsoft losing the Alpha Geeks?

May 21, '07 Comments [70] Posted in ASP.NET | Musings | Programming | Ruby
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I'm here at RailsConf in Portland (where I live, so that was nice, eh). As with all conferences, in my experience, the real "conferencing" happens outside the sessions. I stopped by the ThoughtWorks booth and started chatting with a number of folks.

I've been increasingly concerned with the "Web Developer Stack" that we're (the collective We) using. I started a conversation in the ThoughtWorks booth (because they had free granola bars) where I expressed this concern, and it turned into quite a large and very spirited conversation between the ThoughWorks crowd, DHH, Martin Fowler, myself, and a pretty decent-sized crowd egging it on. It was multi-faceted chat and covered a lot of area. I haven't had so much fun at a conference in a while.

The next day, Chris Sells (unintentionally) got a crowd going that also included the ThoughtWorkers, and we talked about what Alpha Geeks want. I asked if there was a coming diaspora of the Alpha Geek towards developer tools and developer experiences that feed their passions, perhaps more than tools and experiences from Microsoft and Sun. At this conference, the general feeling was that a migration of Alpha Geeks had already started. Just as Alpha Geeks forced to develop using Waterfall migrated to more agile shops, these folks feel the same kind of migration is happening around Web Development.

I propose that newer (somtimes younger) programmers may have less "tolerance" for development pain or frustration present in existing stacks just as a frog doesn't like being thrown into a hot pot. Perhaps we older frogs are starting to notice some heat and are considering other, cooler pots to spend time in.

The one thing I learned about Rails and Rails/Ruby folks at this conferences is that they are enthusiastic and passionate. Not just because many are young (I suspect the mean age to be about 26 at this conference) but because they feel that Ruby and Rails expresses their intent in a clean and aesthetically pleasing way that avoids repetition. The code is DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself.)

In the blogosphere, David Laribee proposed a term I've heard bandied about in the last few years - ALT.NET, to describe developers like this:

What does it mean to be ALT.NET? In short it signifies:

  1. You’re the type of developer who uses what works while keeping an eye out for a better way.
  2. You reach outside the mainstream to adopt the best of any community: Open Source, Agile, Java, Ruby, etc.
  3. You’re not content with the status quo. Things can always be better expressed, more elegant and simple, more mutable, higher quality, etc.
  4. You know tools are great, but they only take you so far. It’s the principals and knowledge that really matter. The best tools are those that embed the knowledge and encourage the principals [sic] (e.g. Resharper.)
Why does this have to be ALT.NET? Why is this alternative? Seems that this should be mainstream and baked in by the tools and "dogma" that comes down from on high. Microsoft needs to make ALT.NET attitudes Mainstream.NET attitudes, through leadership, openness, and a lot more prescriptive guidance.

Rails appears to be very prescriptive. It says, by its very nature, "do it this way," but still allows developers to do creative things and extend the framework in ways not previously thought of by DHH.

It's important to remember, I think, that Rails is a Web Application Development Framework that enables one to make Web Applications that talk to Databases really fast. It's not the end-all-be-all development stack, and it's better to compare Rails to ASP.NET than it is to compare Rails to .NET proper.

That said, there's a sense of striving for true beauty, beauty in tests, beauty in expression of code, in markup, that .NET developers should drink in.

I'm an Alpha Geek, and you likely are too. I'd love to have the Ruby on Rails developer experience, the gems, the libraries, as well as the ability to bring in .NET libraries, and run the whole thing on IIS and SQL2k5. I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Sun knows it, and JRuby will (is) bringing "pure" Ruby to the Java-based datacenter.

The collective group in the discussion at RailsConf seemed to agree that Microsoft should make not just the DLR source available, but actually create a non-profit organization, ala Mozilla, and transfer the developers over to that company. They should allow commits to the code from the outside, which should help get around some of the vagaries of the GPL/LGPL licensed Ruby Test Suites. "IronRuby" should be collectively owned by the community.

Why? Because as the Wu Tang Clan said, "Protect Ya Neck." This isn't about Microsoft making money on developer tools, but rather about the platform, where the money is made. An open CLR-based implementation of Ruby on Rails would be a great way to introduce Rails into the Windows-based Enterprise, and would encourage more Alpha Geeks to code on Windows.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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ATI Radeon 9800 Vista Drivers - Flash and Windows Video Stops or Stutters

May 20, '07 Comments [13] Posted in Musings
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I've googled my brains out about this and I can't find anything. For some reason, on my Vista Desktop Video only plays for a few frames, then stops. Sometimes it stops completely, other times it just stutters severely. This happens in both Flash and Windows Media video.

At this point, I'm debating a new Video card. Does ANYONE else have this problem? I've tried contacting ATI and it's virtually impossible to get a straight answer from them.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Twittering my Diabetes

May 18, '07 Comments [27] Posted in Diabetes
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UPDATE: This event is now over and the complete transcript of the Diabetic Day's Twittering's are now available.

Twitter is a new thing on the 'net lately. You can send text messages of up to 140 characters into the cloud, and folks who are your "friends" or "followers" (read: digital stalkers) can receive those updates. You can send your updates to twitter via their Web Interface, via their Mobile Browser interface at http://m.twitter.com, but the really compelling way is via their 5-digit SMS code "40404." Here's a Twitter SMS Cheatsheet. For example, to "subscribe" to me, you'd SMS/text "follow shanselman" to code 40404. To stop, you'd SMS/text "leave shanselman."

Personally I find it a little silly to need to be THAT connected to folks, but I've found twitter to be useful in temporary situations, like conferences when you WANT to let folks know what's going on and what you're doing. It was very useful at Mix to meet up with folks I wanted to talk to, so from a just-in-time networking point of view, it was brilliant. I didn't update after Mix, though, until RailsConf2007.

I've been trying to raise money for Diabetes Research as I'm a Type I diabetic. Driving home today, I had an even better idea on how I could use Twitter.

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 18th, I'm going to "twitter" my Diabetes for one day. By this, I mean, every time I take a manual shot, update my pump, prick my finger, have a high blood sugar, have a low blood sugar, eat, calibrate my continuous meter, or do ANYTHING related to diabetes, I'll send an update to Twitter.

My hope is that this will give folks who don't think about diabetes a little insight into how often I, and 20 million others, either do, or should, be thinking about their diabetes. I'd also like you to imagine if a small child had this disease, and how a parent of a small child deals with it.

Please spread the word by , and I encourage you and yours to subscribe to my Twitter account just for 1 day. If you don't want to make an account, just visit http://www.twitter.com/shanselman throughout Tomorrow and watch the updates. I hope it'll give you some insight into diabetes, and maybe open some eyes.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Ruby on .NET, Silverlight Gems, the DLR, and RailsConf 2007

May 17, '07 Comments [11] Posted in Ruby
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I really have to give my boss credit for being a forward-thinker and an out-of-the-box type. These are clichéd terms, sure, but they fit. The day after the merger and where am I going to be tomorrow? I'll be at RailsConf2007, of course.

We are not religious zealots here at Corillian CheckFree, so we're always looking at other ways to do things. Even as a .NET/Java shop, we'll have four people at the conference, all with open minds, ready to learn. There's lots of folks at Corillian who dabble in Rails, and CheckFree has a Rails Study Group.

Here's where I'll be during the conference, courtesy of myconfplan. Fortunately for me, John Lam has loaned me a 17" MacBookPro with daily bits of his DLRConsole demo, including Ruby support in Silverlight (and .NET) with the DLR. It's all running in Safari, and it's yummy. This is one of the Mac's used at Mix in the Keynote.

Aside: I'm going back and forth about getting the Ultimate Atwood Developer Machine (I got the wife's OK), and getting a fully loaded MacBook Pro. The hardware is sexy as hell, unlike any Windows laptop I've ever seen (and I have a Lenovo t60p, to be clear) and apparently it's a heck of a Vista machine. Dare I even think like this? Having John's machine to borrow has already got be hooked on two-finger scrolling...

If you want to hook up at the conference and get a demo of Ruby on the DLR, you can email me or setup a request through the RailsConf 2007 Conference Meetup website. Tim Sneath will also be around to chat and demo.

The (totally speculative) prospect of the cleanness of the Rails developer experience married with an order of magnitude (or three) speed up, with the .NET GC, Rails (potentially) under IIS7 and SQL2k5 is just dizzying.

Even if you don't believe anything I say and you're a hardcore Rubyist who has no interest in Ruby on .NET, I'm interested in talking about Silverlight-specific gems that could make Silverlight fit into the Ruby lifestyle, with Ruby as code-behind.

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.