Scott Hanselman

South Africa 2008 - Scott in the Time of Cholera

December 20, '08 Comments [30] Posted in Africa
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image Well, more of lower-cased 'C' cholera. Or, just forgot to wash some grapes. Either way, it feels like Cholera. Much like my trip to Tanzania when I was waiting for Death's Sweet Release.

This of course, has little to do with South Africa specifically and more to do with travelling. In large cities, it also has little to do with water cleanliness. If you are African and you come to the US and drink tap water you are taking a chance that you'll encounter a bug you haven't seen before. I have apparently encountered this bug and insulted its mother, and it's taken it personally. I am OK only when on my back and unconscious. All other positions or levels of awake are a world of pain and nausea.

My uncle just set out yesterday for Harare, Zimbabwe in his truck to bring food and water to our relatives that are left. He's going for 7 days and he is taking 15 liters of bottled water just for himself. The line at Beitbridge to get into Zim is apparently 3km long. It's back to back cars, just waiting in the heat, right in the middle of the Cholera outbreak. I'm feeling crappy, but I hope that our Uncle makes it back safely.

You know you are really, really sick when you can't remember what well feels like. Was I ever well? What does it feel like to eat food and process it appropriately? Will I ever know again?

Here's hoping. ;)

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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.NET 3.5 SP1 GDR is available to download

December 18, '08 Comments [26] Posted in Learning .NET | Musings
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The General Distribution Release with fixes for .NET 3.5 SP1 is up, albeit a bit late, as downloadable content on Microsoft.com.  Note that this is an application compatibility release, and these downloads aren't setup to be friendly to end users.

If you are a developer affected by an issue, you can download these updates. If you aren't affected, I suggest you wait - this is not the way the vast majority of customers will get this fix. Wait until these updates come down via Windows Update next year. As of today, we are still on track for 2009Q1 availability of 3.5 SP1 on Windows Update, and at that point you'll see machines with .NET start updating to .NET 3.5 SP1 with this additional GDR applied.

You can download the packages for the app-compat GDR here. The KB is KB959209 and it should be updated soon with details.

Windows Vista, Windows 2008 Server - x86, x64, IA64

Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 - x86, x64, IA64

I am still on vacation in Africa so I haven't got details yet on registry keys for detection of the GDR, so bear with me. I'll try to get those details ASAP, as well as how to integrate these fixes into your setup if need be.

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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ASP.NET MVC Samples, Oxite, and Community

December 17, '08 Comments [36] Posted in ASP.NET | ASP.NET MVC | Open Source | Programming
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I am writing this sitting on a plane between Joburg and Cape Town, on the way to a User Group meeting to talk about ASP.NET MVC. As I said at the Joburg User Group meeting, ASP.NET MVC is young and we (that is, we the community, not just We, the Microsoft) are still learning about what a "pretty" or aesthetically pleasing MVC application looks like. We have some ASP.NET MVC OSS apps, some Monorail apps, some Rails apps to look to, some Django and Java apps, but we are still finding our way in our spin on this old pattern.

There are still a number of ViewEngines that aren't the default WebFormsViewEngine that are growing in popularity. Folks are familiarizing themselves with the Repository Pattern and other patterns. Folks who had heard of Dependency Injection but hadn't used it are starting to use it. Testability still isn't foremost on many minds.

There are certainly Alpha Geeks, Loud Programmers, or just Talented ones that are impatient with both Microsoft and the community. Why can't they just go from Point A to Point C and skip B?

ASP.NET is mature, and ASP.NET MVC is new. We are all learning, every day. Many folks put themselves out there, in public by sharing their experiences. Quentin Tarentino said:

"He who is most likely to make declarative statements is most likely to be called a fool in retrospect."

There's a lot of Twittering and Blogging going on about Oxite, a new Open Source CMS from a group within Microsoft. It's getting a lot of press, some deserved certainly, but mostly hyperbole. "Microsoft takes dead aim at Wordpress?" Seriously, come on. How come DasBlog or SubText doesn't get that kind of hyperbolic love? ;) "Microsoft predicts DasBlog Global Dominance." (kidding!)

I would encourage you to download the source for Oxite, as I would encourage you to download and read all ASP.NET MVC Open Source applications. Develop your own sense of Code Smell by reading, writing and learning from people you trust. Just because it's called Official ASP.NET MVC Petshop or Contoso MVC Bank or even MVC Storefront doesn't make it gospel.

If you think Oxite or an app that ScottGu created for his blog is the File | New Company project you've been looking for, you'll be disappointed. It doesn't exist yet. Even if it did, you'll likely never be able to Copy/Paste your way to glory.

Oxite is Open Source. If you don't like it, and there are very valid reasons today for concern, I would sincerely encourage you to refactor it and share the results. Follow the project and see what the next release looks like. Just like the ongoing BabySmash saga, let's work as a team to learn what ASP.NET MVC Patterns and Anti-Patterns are. All code has the potential to provide guidance, but you decide if it's a pattern or an anti-pattern. It doesn't matter if Don Box or ScottGu himself wrote it.

I think the team that built it would appreciate it if lots of folks blogged their own "Oxite Code Review" post with improvements and commentary. I want to point you to Rob Conery's most excellent analysis of the situation, and the Oxite code. His review is unblinking, fair, honest, while still kind in tone. Those Hawaiians are just so darned nice.

Javier had an excellent comment on Rob's blog here that reminds me again of BabySmash. I wrote BabySmash wrong, on purpose, with a WinForms-state of mind. I am still working on it today, as it just doesn't smell right.

I think one important thing to note is that Oxite serves as a good example of viewing an MVC implementation from a "WebForms state of mind". This is just my thoughts but I think it would be beneficial to take Oxite and ALTer it a bit to show the flexibility of the MVC framework.

It is a non-trivial think to put oneself, or one's code, out into public. Sometimes it's great, sometimes not so much. But fair, even harsh, criticism can still be constructive and positive. Don't be afraid, Dear Reader, to share your code if you've got it. Some will say it sucks, some will built a corporation around it. Ultimately you have to ask yourself if it was good code, if you learned from it, and if you'd write code like it again.

Rob, ScottGu, Dave Ward and Michael Bach and I are working on an ASP.NET MVC site. It'll be open source, and it'll likely make some percentage of you happy, and some percentage of you sad. Hopefully there will be more of the former, and the latter will share their wisdom and experience and help us make it better. I like being a part of this community for that reason.

The Ruby community's spiritual leader, Matz, is legendarily kind and deferential. As Allan Stevens points out, they say "minswan" meaning "Matz is nice, so we are nice." That definitely jives with the feeling of "ubuntu" and community I'm getting here in Africa.

Be nice, my friends. Write good code, and stay in touch.

I now return me to my regularly scheduled vacation in Africa.

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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South Africa 2008 - Visiting the Mall in Soweto

December 15, '08 Comments [18] Posted in Africa
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CIMG8328 Soweto means South Western Township. I drove the family to the Maponya Mall in Soweto today for an outing. From the city's website:

Soweto is the most populous black urban residential area in the country, with Census 2001 putting its population at 896 995. Thanks to its proximity to Johannesburg, the economic hub of the country, it is also the most metropolitan township in the country - setting trends in politics, fashion, music, dance and language

Soweto celebrated its hundredth birthday in October 2004. A chronology of key events, the June 1976 uprising, and the centenary celebrations.

The city has made the redevelopment of Soweto a major priority, including electrification, tarring of roads, and the building of public facilities and housing.

You may think of ghettos and shacks when you hear the word Soweto, and if you look for them you'll find them, but I've really noticed a difference in Soweto in recent years. I haven't got a tale of rich people visiting poor people as a form of tourism. The mall was as nice a mall as I've ever been to, including malls in Asia (which are REALLY nice). We didn't go to the cultural center (yet) or Mandela's house. We went to the mall. And it was lovely.

There's a rising black middle class, and they were all at the mall today. The whole place was decked out for the holidays, which I find slightly funny because it's quite hot and I just think snow when it's Christmas. Anyway, there was a huge tree in the center part of the mall.

We ate for a very reasonable price at Nando's, which is way better than KFC. We fed a group of 10 for less than US$30, as the US$ to the Rand is a favorable 1:10, as opposed to the 1:6 or 1:7 it's been on previous trips.

One of the things that strikes me about the mall in Soweto is how "put together" everyone is. Great outfits, cute hair, folks are fit and sharp. I felt underdressed, completely. If you go out, you'd better look nice.

CIMG8338I did also feel White, as I was alone in that sense, but didn't feel uncomfortable. It was actually very interesting (as it always is) as it's a reminder as to how my wife feels. As a white guy, it was like dropping into the movie "White Man's Burden," or a photo negative. I was effectively an albino. One actually forgets one's color in these situations, and after a few weeks if I pass a mirror it takes a second to remember my pastiness. Fortunately I am sporting a pretty darn good beard so I'm brown from the neck up. ;)

The Soweto mall has everything any other mall in the world, so it was great for Christmas shopping. My wife's younger brothers are moving out of the house so we are in the market for a fridge for their apartment.

Not a really exciting post, this, but rather a mundane story about holiday commerce. We drove to Soweto, we shopped, we returned. I drove on the left. This was my day, until tomorrow. If you visit Joburg, definitely check out Maponya Mall in Soweto.

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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South Africa 2008 - Emergency Taxis (Combis)

December 13, '08 Comments [19] Posted in Africa
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taxi_overload Taxis in South Africa are not safe. I'm not talking about metered cabs, I'm talking about what we called "ETs" or Emergency Taxis in Zimbabwe. Basically Minibuses on a fixed route, stuff with people. Almost always Black People.

For many (most?) this is the only way to get around. You've either got a car, walk, or take a Taxi. There are nearly 130,000 taxis in RSA. They have no seat belts, or the belts are not used. They often run with the doors open. Once in Zimbabwe I was asked to hold the passenger side door to look shut as it had fallen off the hinges.

They'll pack you in like you've never been packed into a vehicle. You'll sit on laps and hang off the side. You'll hold on for dear life and listen to fights and honks. Sometimes a cab will encroach on another's turf and you're in the middle of it.

You stand by the side of the road in known, but unlabeled spots, and you make a hand signal. Point a finger up to say you want to go to town. A finger pointed down if you want a local taxi for somewhere near. There's many hand signs that you just pick up as lore. For example, there's a route down the street that will take me to the Clearwater Mall for 6 Rand (about 60 US cents) per person. I hold one finger down, and say "NgiyaeClearwater" to make sure they are going that way, and I'm off. I could just say "Clearwater" or speak English, but I feel that if I speak Zulu, or whatever the local language is, depending on where you are catching the taxi, that I'll be less likely to be messed with or talked about. This might just be me, but I've found that if you have a great accent with even a few words, folks assume you're totally fluent until proven otherwise. I'm not...I have the Zulu-speaking abilities of a kindergartener, but I can click effectively.

So far, in eight years, I've seen two other white folks in taxis. It's apparently just not done. I've also been harassed (in Zulu) by a drunk man who said "they take our land and now they are riding in our taxis."

All this said, I wouldn't recommend taxis in South Africa if you have another option.

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.