Scott Hanselman

South Africa 2008 - Relative Fakery

December 22, '08 Comments [14] Posted in Africa
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I wasn't going to write about this but my brother-in-law suggested it. This is likely less about Africa and more about life. I have a fatal flaw, my wife says, and that is that I am the same person everywhere. South Africa or Malaysia or Europe, I'm the same dude. Different language or accent, but the same general idiocy reigns.

My wife, on the other hand, has good sense and, what's it called, social abilities? I assume everyone is my friend and shake hands and kiss babies all day. Ignorance is bliss, it seems.

On the trip there's an endless supply of not just cousins, but third cousins, and "are you my cousins" and even a few "who are you exactly?" I love a parade. However, I also smile and wave like it's a parade. I assume since they all came over to see us that they are genuinely interested in how we are. I also tend to assume that they are also happy, healthy and content people like us.

Turns out that all relatives are not created equal. Wish I'd gotten the memo. There is apparently theses things called envy and posturing I am not familiar with. Some couples come in two cars, for example. I, of course, notice this, but meh, right? They probably came from work. Oh no, we are meant to see that they have two cars.

Watches are dusted off and worn, diamond rings are polished, shirts are ironed. They've come to see mkhwenyana, the white American son-in-law and their long lost sister/cousin/auntie who is, it seams, a hybrid freakish part-African, part-American.

Again, I can't stress my level of cluelessness. There's apathy, and then there's profound ignorance. I have the ignorance level of a 2-dimensional being on a plane in 3-D space. I am not just missing dimensions, but I'm having trouble conceiving of them.

Why haven't you called? Why don't you write or email? What a bad son in law you are!

Um, because we've only just met?

What is America like?

Pretty much like this, except you're not basting and there's fewer electric razor fences.

No, really, I hear America is the land of opportunity.

I think the world is the land of opportunity, myself. You guys have the same stuff we do. Honest.

Listen to mkwenyanna! He says South Africa has the same stuff the states does. Nonsense. Let me see your digital camera. Is that an iPhone?

My wife is able to navigate this conversational minefield while not only staying classy, but also acting as a balm on decade-old sore egos. She also reminds people that it is possible to be from America and still be broke. And we are. We DID fly here, you know?

Turns out "our presence is your gift" doesn't translate well into my broken-Zulu. ;P

I'll remember that next time. Going on 10 years of marriage, and I'll figure all this out if it kills me.

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 - Being Away from Home for a Long Time

December 22, '08 Comments [7] Posted in Africa
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CIMG8307 Here in Joburg it is the holiday season and it is body temperature outside. By that I mean it's 37C/98.6F. That's insane. And it's wet sticky can't sleep no AC and there's bugs hot, not just regular hot. I recommend everyone experience it.

Back home in Oregon, there is two FEET of snow in my front year and it's a balmy -5C/23F, just like I like it. Shorts weather, you know. ;) Apparently the PDX airport is utter chaos, totally frozen. The flight we are taking from Amsterdam has been cancelled or rerouted for days. Should be worked out by the time we get back and we'll literally miss all the excitement as if it didn't happen.

However, we've been away so long (almost a month) that I am starting to forget stuff about home. Sounds silly, but it's true. I hate the heat, but I am getting used to it. I'm drinking water from the tap. I'm driving around Joburg at 1am on the left side of the road and not finding it odd. I bought 20R worth of coat hangers while waiting at a red robot and didn't giggle when folks rolled their R's while saying red robot. I'm asking for brown bread rather than wheat, and amanzi still, rather than bottled water. We're eating sadza or pap and not complaining.

It's nice to visit somewhere for a week or five days, but let me tell you as someone who's done it many times, somewhere around a month your brain starts to say "Hm, maybe this guy isn't going home. Maybe he is home."

You start to figure out where to buy bread and milk, you get connected, you fill up your tank, you learn the footpath shortcuts, you walk home from the mall in the dark. You're not a native by any stretch, but you've found direction and momentum.

You start to figure, "ok, I guess folks CAN live like this."

Now, to be clear, this is the same when going from Oregon to South Africa as it is going from Oregon to, say, California, or from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Moving is moving and everyone has a tushy, as I tell my son. Folks aren't THAT different. This experience is the very essence of travel.

It's an important reminder to be and my family that, (from an American point of view) that there are people in the world that will never come to the US, don't want to come to the US, don't live like folks in the US and aren't interested in the US. Everyone has a different way of doing things and if it works for them, good for them. Seems obvious, but it is surprisingly un-obvious for folks. (This of course, also works if you replace American/US with your country. ;) ) Get your kids out of town, in a tent, at a boma, on a camel and eating tripe. Have them walk 3km barefoot at noon without complaint. Put them in a situation where they are the only white/black/brown/yellow person in a room of folks that aren't. Now, do that for more than a month if you can. South Africa is a nice place to start and I recommend you travel here and check it out. We have a blast every time we go. I wouldn't be out of passport pages if it wasn't true. I am just bummed with didn't make it to Lesotho this time.

Anyway, just as I get start getting used to things, it's time to go. Just another week or so and we'll be packing up.

I want to say Thanks Again to Mario and Tina for loaning me this modem and showing me how to buy minutes/megabytes.

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