5 Days and counting…

I can’t believe it.  5 days until my final walk-through on the house.  And I still can’t believe that they haven’t put the correct shower stall in yet!
Aside from that, things are moving along VERY nicely.  The toilets are in.  The faucets are in.  The dishwasher is in.  The carpeting is NOT in yet.  I stopped by on Friday, and they were doing the touch up painting.  The inside of the garage is painted.
It’s been a long road.  It just amazes me that in 2 weeks, I will own (or at least pay the mortgage on) this house.  My friend Rick has written some thoughs on owning a home, not a house.  I look very forward to finally calling someplace a home after just living somewhere for the last 15 – 20 years.

Latest photos (of the house)

I’ve talked a bit about the changes to the house, but over the last three weeks, visible changes have been rather few and far between.  The sink that was creme has been replaced with the correct white sink.  Also the garage and front door have been painted with the community brown.  Personally, I like the white doors, though.  There were other changes that I didn’t take pictures of.  The electricity is on.  The upstairs temperature gauge / AC panel was working.  More doors were up.
It’s beginning to come together!  My final walk through is May 4th (next Friday!)….  I cannot wait!

Web Page Inheritance Returns in ASP.NET 2.0 with Web Application Projects!

Visual Studio 2005 and .NET 2.0 brought many new features to ASP.NET 2.0, many great, but some that down right stunk.  One of the best and worst features was the compilation model that allowed for per page compiling and the removal of needing namespaces for pages.  It was a noble idea, but the implementation left MUCH to be desired.  One of the biggests loses because of the change was that it was VERY difficult to create web pages that were derived from anything other that System.Web.UI.Page, unless they were in the App_Code directory.
Fortunately with the re-introduction of Web Application Projects, the web pages went back to being more developer friendly.  Now, one can create a class derived from System.Web.UI.Page anywhere, and the Web pages will now recognize the classes correctly.  The only issue I have run across is that the html/design surface is NOT derived, so, one cannot just place a button on a base form (.aspx file), and expect to have it displayed on a derived page.                                                                                                                                               
I should have posted this a LONG time ago (ie, when the ORIGINAL solution came out), but I not had a need to work with it until now.  Hopefully this will get the word out that we can go back to using derived web pages again!

Why Microsoft Silverlight will probably eclipse Adobe Flash

So, Microsoft finally gave a real name to WPF/e, and the name is not too bad.  It is called Microsoft Silverlight.  WPF/e was a pretty cumbersome name.  I just wish WPF had stayed with the Avalon name, but that’s a different subject.
At the same time Adobe has brought begun rolling out Apollo in conjunction with Flash. 
These two technologies are aiming for the same goal…  To create single code base, cross-platform programs.  Each one has leads in different areas.  Flash has been cross platform for a long time.  .NET has an incredible library.  Both want to fill the last gaps in to become the choice of the next generation of developers.
Now, here is why I thing Silverlight will ultimately win.  Tool price.  Adobe is taking the Borland approach with ‘we have better tools, you should pay more for them’.  I personally agree with the philosophy, but the market has had different ideas.  Flash does not have a ‘Learning Edition’.  You either get the full package for $700, or nothing.  Personally, I wouldn’t spend $700 just to learn a technology.  What’s funny is that Microsoft got the ‘Learning Edition’ concept from Borland, too.  When I first started programming for a living, I had heard about Delphi, liked the concept, but couldn’t afford the price of the Pro version, let alone the price of the enterprise version.  So I worked with C++ for a bit, until one day, when Borland released a ‘Trial Edition’ of Delphi 2.  From that moment, I was hooked, got my boss to buy the cheapest edition of Pro out there, and the rest is history.  I think one of the smartest things Microsoft has done was release the Express Editions of Visual Studio.  I’m sure many more developers are comfortable with the Visual Studio IDE because they can download a free, non-expiring, basic version.
It’s going to be some ‘interesting times’ for web development!

Latest house updates… (no pictures this time)

No new pictures this week, as very little has changed.  The last set of pictures revealed a couple of problems.  The downstairs sink is supposed to be white (or Coco Blanco as the technical term).  Also, the master shower is supposed to be semi-frameless.  So, last week, those were noted to the construction office.  I think the new sink is in a box, but the shower replacement is nowhere to be found.

Things are starting to get interesting.  The final walk through date is May 4th.  The closing is on May 11th.  I can’t believe that the house will be finished in little more than 3 weeks…

More photos!

As if everyone wasn’t sick of all the house photos so far… Well, it’s come a LONG way.  I was even able to get a shot of the car in the driveway.  Boy, does that make it feel like it’s almost done, or what?  The latest status shots show that the couter tops are all in.  The bathrooms are next to done.  Light fixtures are in.  They are having to redo some parts of the house, so there was a step or two backwards on the master bedroom.  The mirrors are in (and, yes, I have a very cheapo camera… )
Without further ado, here’s the new pictures!

Building a better interview for developers

As you saw in my previous post, my new company is hiring developers.  Well, we found one so far.  Amazingly, that developer has a similar background to me and my boss.  Hopefully that will make for a easier fit.

But, that’s not the point of this entry.

In creating an interview process, my boss and I had a couple of discussions about how to approach it.  We’ve both had people who interviewed great but they fell apart when they actually started developing.  I had read a blog entry about someone who’s company actually gave the candidate a very simple problem, a computer with a development environment, a time limit, and let them write a program to solve the problem.  I *LOVED* that idea.  One interview I had gone on about a year ago did a similar thing, but they went pretty elaborate where one had to set up a web page, do the database connection, and do a bit with several parts of the framework.  I personally didn’t want to have to set up that environment for someone, so I convinced my boss to do the simpler problem.  He agreed, so I wrote something up.

Now, in writing up the problem, I wanted to present one little twist.  I put an impossible condition into problem.  Why?  Because I wanted to see how the candidate would react.  In fact, I think the company I did MY interview for did the same thing.  They had a faulty database setup.  What I threw out was simpler.  But, it was a flaw in the requirements, not something that would stop someone from coding.

I learned something interesting with this test.  My expectation was that the candidate would see the issue and ASK A QUESTION!  That is my #1 pet peeve.  If one does not understand something, they need to ask questions.  I’ve never been upset with someone who honestly doesn’t understand something.  I *DO* get upset when people don’t at least TRY to figure things out.  It is a very fine line to walk.  There is a point where one must be able to discover answers for themselves.  BUT, in our business world, clarification is important, as what the customer asks for is not always what they say.  It’s far too easy to get into the ‘only do the requirements’ mentality that most big company development seems to have.  When things don’t make sense, it’s best to stop and try to make them make sense, else you’re wasting time.

Speaking of wasting time, it seems that’s what I’m doing.  Time to crash.  More stuff later!

Slow couple of weeks on the blog

It’s not that things have been slow, but too much has been happening, and little of it relevant.  Some things I just don’t wish to talk about have been going on, and until they are resolved, I’m keeping my mouth shut.

First, on the tech front, I finally got a new motherboard to replace the one that died a couple of weeks ago.  The replacement is now running, I moved Vista back (still no major problems with moving it!), and all is right with the world of my computer.  Next, I was able to rebuild a ‘jinxed’ computer for one of my clients.  This thing was no end of trouble, with the final straw being that the motherboard would not recognize the keyboard.  So, I replaced the motherboard and case, and that seems to be running very well.  Another success story for Vista, as I had installed Vista on the computer earlier, and it survived changing the motherboard out with no adverse affects.

Second, I have had a LOT of client work lately, which is one other thing that has kept me from blogging.  9 or 10 hours a day at work, then another 1 to 3 hours a night tech-ing will really catch up to one quickly.  At least the client work has been interesting, to say the least.  Try fixing a dead CD-ROM drive on an 7 year old laptop (32 megs of SYSTEM memory!) by installing an external drive.  They supplied the drivers on a CD… Uh… Doh!  Unfortunately, that was not a successful repair.  Most everything else, though, has been going well.

Third, the house.  I haven’t been able to get by to take pictures, which is why no recent updates.  There is a lot of stuff that is happening, I have a final walk through date and a closing date, which are rapidly coming up.  As they get closer, I’ll let those details be know.

Finally, I have a couple of little rants about blogs and developers.  I saw one of the Microsoft guys blogging about finding a house, but he was real apologetic that the post wasn’t about code!  Now, the code blogs are fine, but geez, you’ve got to live!  If I only blogged about code, this would be the most boring, least read blog out there.  (Not that I have many readers anyway!)  One thing that I think us developers loose sight of is the ‘Big Picture’.  Ultimately, we write software to enhances people’s lives.  The best software makes impossible tasks easy, and difficult tasks simple.  When we take a simple task and make it incredibly difficult is when software is not being developed well.  Why do you think people like Macs?  They are simplier.  They are designed so that people ‘get it’ very quickly.  Not so on the PC.  Most of the concepts are foreign to people, and they never will get them.  Ok, I’ve wandered a bit here… back to my point.  What I’ve been trying to say is that living life helps make one a better programmer.  Someone who can spit out code, but never understand what the ultimate goal is, is just wasting time.  So instead of ‘Live to code’, do ‘Code to Live’.  And, heck, maybe the writing about one’s impressions of life will be more meaningful than what the latest interesting C# operator is.

Ok, enough is enough, time for me to crash.  I should have more blog updates this week, as time permits.