Scott Hanselman

Three Things I Learned About Software WHILE NOT in College

June 28, '07 Comments [72] Posted in Programming
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Dare Obasanjo has a great post on the "Three Things I Learned About Software in College," while Jeff has a fine post called Learning, or, Learning How to Learn that points to a great post called Why Is Forever. Jeff says "How lasts five years, but Why is forever." This is a great lesson to be reminded of and a pithy, but true, statement.

 Here's Dare's three things learned in College. Be sure to check the comments on his post, there's some great stuff in them.:

  1. Operating systems aren't elegant. They are a glorious heap of performance hacks piled one upon the other.
  2. Software engineering is the art of amassing collected anecdotes and calling them Best Practices when in truth they have more in common with fads than anything else.
  3. Pizza is better than Chinese food for late night coding sessions.
    [Dare Obasanjo]

I learned some stuff in College, but here's the "Three Things I Learned About Software WHILE NOT in College" as well

Things I Learned about Software in College

  1. Everything has already been done before and will continue to be re-written over and over until the whole world embraces Lisp.
  2. TCP/IP is a beautiful soup.
  3. Beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes through to the bone. This statement often applies to software. Don't go digging if you don't want to find a hack.

Things I Learned about Software While Not in College

  1. The more complex the software being created, the less the problem becomes about technology and the more it becomes about interpersonal communication and group dynamics.
  2. You're not going to need it (YAGNI). You'll always want to add one more method to a utility class, or speculate on how your software will be used, but ultimately you need to keep code and features as constrained as possible.
  3. Every line of code you write that you feel gross about will ultimately come back to haunt you. Therefore, avoid writing code that makes you feel dirty.

...and I'd ask you, Dear Reader, to share your three things, learned both IN and OUT of college. I'm especially interesting in those who didn't go to college at all, to add yours.

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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About Me

June 28, '07 Comments [9] Posted in Musings
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Welcome! You might want to check out my greatest hits. aboutmeI'm also on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

My name is Scott Hanselman. I'm a web technologist and teacher. I work out of my home office in Portland for the Web Platform Team at Microsoft, but this blog, its content and opinions are my own.

I was the Chief Architect at Corillian Corporation, now a part of Checkfree, for 6+ years. I was also involved in a few Microsoft Developer things for many years like the MVP and RD programs and I'll speak about computers (and other passions) whenever someone will listen.

Before Corillian and Microsoft I worked as a Principal Consultant at a local Microsoft Solution Provider called STEP Technology, speaking, writing, consulting, and very much not getting rich during Web 1.0. Even earlier, I worked at a Car Parts Data Warehouse called Chrome Data, and before that I had a small company that specialized in internationalization and thunking. I've also been an Adjunct Professor at OIT, teaching C#. On the side, I created the first PalmPilot Diabetes Management System in 1998 and sold it to a healthcare company five years later. It's now in limbo, but I'm trying to get it released as Open Source.

What else would you like to know?

I am an early adopter, it seems.  I ran Tweak Computer Support BBS, with some success, a very long time ago. I was a FidoNet node. I have nice teeth and love cheese amongst other things. I like Tools, and I've co-written some books. I'm diabetic. I like studying Amharic and Zulu/Ndebele and listening to African Music as well as other more diverse music. I know Black Hair and can both braid and cornrow. I have a podcast. I hack on hardware and waste time. I do Open Source. I have a large forefive-head. I am good at Excel and keep my resume mostly up to date for no reason. We speak Sign Language to my son and my wife speaks Ndebele. I have a great family and have had great teachers and a fantastic wedding with a great Cake Topper. I don't sleep too much. I write a lot. I'm trying to raise $50,000 for Diabetes research.

That's me, today. I'll be different tomorrow, hopefully better.

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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How To: Use the SVNBridge to get TortoiseSVN working with CodePlex

June 28, '07 Comments [13] Posted in Programming | Reviews | Tools
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SVNBridge It's so crazy it just might work. I've been talking on and off with the CodePlex team for at least a year. Many of them I consider friends, so I've always been very frank with them, saying things like:

"I'll never use any Open Source Hosting service without support for Subversion."

Of course, they are using Team Foundation Server, and there's a number of connectivity options if you're cool with them, including:

Still in very active development, this tool is a proxy between a Subversion client and Team Foundation Server. You can use it against any TFS system it seems.

The first version is local proxy - it runs in your tray - but plans are for a server-side version that will require no client installation.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, there's no binary release (or instructions) but here's how you get it working.

  1. Go to the Recent Check-Ins section of the SvnBridge Project on CodePlex and click the Download icon next to the LATEST checkin. Note that it's really changing a lot, so it might be broken. If so, try another.
    image
  2. Unzip the ZIP file the system will give you, and either open the SvnBridge.sln or go to the command line and run "MSBuild SvnBridge.sln".
  3. Run SvnBridge.exe and note the blue Q-bert-looking icon that appears in your tray. Right-click and choose Settings.
    SvnBridge (2)
    Go to your CodePlex project in your browser and note the TFS Server URL of your project. It seems to usually be https://tfs03.codeplex.com. Enter that URL in the settings. The bridge port will usually be 8081, but you can change that. Note that this means http://localhost:8081 will be forwarded to https://tfs03.codeplex.com (443). The SvnBridge is just that, a port forwarder/translator/bridge.
    image
  4. Using your SVN tool of choice - mine is TortoiseSVN - browse to a local repository, using the format http://localhost:8081/<projectname> like http://localhost:8081/Subkismet. If everything works, you'll be checking code out and looking at logs just as if it's a Subversion repository. Madness. (I didn't expect it to work...it does.)
    Log Messages - CUsersScottDesktopNew Folder (2) (2)
  5. Here's a constantly updated list of what works and what doesn't in the SvnBridge.

I think that the CodePlex site is probably the most actively developed Open Source Hosting site out there. (I mean the site itself, not the activity within the projects hosted there). They are always adding new stuff and have some nice things like the Advanced View of the Issue Tracker and RSS feeds for literally everything.

I have to give them credit for putting this bridge together, and for Open Sourcing the bridge itself. I'm reading the code now, and it's pretty cool stuff. Hacky, in places, but that's to be expected given the problem domain, but there's some interesting things going on that make the code worth at least taking a look at. They've got a mini-Mocking system called MyMocks (curious) and a TCPTracing "Tivo" like program that appears to code generate tests. Also, if you're interested in WebDAV in C#, there's a playground of good ideas.

Either way, there's interesting stuff going on over there. I look forward to their 1.0 release.

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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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Reply To All Snowball - Know When To Escalate Communication

June 28, '07 Comments [14] Posted in Musings
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I was chatting on IM to Jeff today and we were going back and forth and back and forth and it became ridiculous. Just pick up the phone.

IM is great, truly. I get to stay connected to all sorts of folks that I either wouldn't be able to call as often, or where a one-line "what's up" email would be a burden to them or a todo.

I find the little piece of "blue toast" that pops up to be very comforting in fact - "Ah, Carl's still out there. How nice."

However, I think it's important to Know When To Escalate the conversation to the Next Level, that might look like one of the following:

  • IM to Phone
  • Phone to Lunch (in Person)
  • Email to In Person
  • In the Cube to In a Meeting Room

How do you know when to take it to the Next Level?

  • When an email thread goes by that is a "Reply to All Snowball," where folks not only continue to Reply to All, but they also CC: more and more people with each Reply to All...it's time to escalate the communication.
  • When your hands start to hurt while typing an Instant Message...it's time to escalate the communication.
  • When you actually get angry that you can't get your thoughts into an mail as fast as you can think...it's time to escalate the communication.
  • When you can't say something nice in IM or email, escalate the communication and say it in person, or just let it go.
  • When you've written an email so long that the scrollbar appears, it's time to escalate the communication. Seriously, no one is going to read that.

What kind of communications problems do you have?

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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DasBlog 1.9.7 Release - Final ASP.NET 1.1 Version

June 26, '07 Comments [22] Posted in ASP.NET | DasBlog
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image

Omar pulled the trigger and we released DasBlog 1.9.7. Download it.

A few points to note about this release.

  • This is the final release on an ASP.NET 1.1 codebase. No bugs will be fixed unless this release kills a kitten.
    • NOTE: To be clear, even though this is compiled under ASP.NET 1.1, it runs GREAT under .NET 2.0 as is. Just follow the comments in the web.config to change a few settings.
  • The next release will literally be in a week or so, will will be called DasBlog 2.0 and will be compiled under .NET 2.0 and have changes to support Medium Trust environments.
    • This will allow folks downloading the source to compile DasBlog happily with VS 2005 or Orcas, or just MSBuild.
  • We'll announce a one year roadmap with our plan to move towards .NET 3.5 as well as a new release every 60 days.
  • We will very likely move to a location that is not SourceForge.
  • We'll have a visual refresh of the main project page as well as some consolidation, but for now:

UPDATE: Alexander Groß has the definitive guide on How To Secure Your dasBlog Installation.

In this release we've fixed some and added some:

  • Fixed a metric buttload of bugs
  • Taken in more patches from the public than any other release (Thanks public!)
  • Category and Home Page Paging Macros
  • LiveComment Preview (thanks SubText!)
  • Emailed Daily Activity Reports
  • Windows Live Writer Custom Integration
  • Support for Akismet Comment Spam Support
    • Go get a WordPress account, without a blog, and use the API key they'll send you.
  • Optionally show comments on the Permalink Page
  • Even more performance gains (4x+) in the Macro engine
  • New Internationalized Languages, including Swedish (Thanks Per Salmi!)
    • This brings our total supported language count up to 15! Although we can ALWAYS use more, and we really need double-checkers and updaters to put in localized strings for some of the new features!
  • Support for Blogging directly from Word 2007
  • Many fixes in our Blogger API and MetaWebLog API support
  • Better detection of referrals from Search Engines
  • CSS fixes and additions like highlighting of the Blog Author's comments
    • Make the comment email address match the email address in sitesecurity.config for this feature.
  • DHTML Timeline of Posts from the MIT Simile project
  • Support for SMTP Servers like Gmail for notifications
  • New themes
  • Support for THREE Rich Editors - FreeTextBox, FCKEditor and TinyMCE (in DasBlog Contrib, see the source)

Thanks to the DasBlog team and the active folks on the Developer List (in no particular order)....

Omar Shahine, Clemens Vasters, Tom Watts, Ken Hughes, Paul Van Brenk, John Forsythe, Nick Schweitzer, Kenneth Lefebvre, Ben Scheirman, Tim Sherrill, Alexander Gross, James Snape, Raymond Llewellyn, Tony Bunce, Josh Flanagan, Aaron Fischer, Anthony Bouch, Ayende Rahien, Ben Taylor, George V. Reilly, Greg Hughes, Mike Schinkel, Marc Mercuri, Rajiv Popat, Tim Sherrill

...and the many patch contributors!

When selecting a Blog based on ASP.NET, I encourage you to check out DasBlog but also these other .NET based blog engines:

Enjoy.

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.