A Peek into the Future Of Dynamic Languages

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There has been a lot of nothing coming out of Microsoft over the last couple of months. I mostly noticed it at the MVP Summit in March, where the level of NDA content (for C# people anyway was non-existent) and I got a lot of 'you should come to Mix' tossed in.

So I am going to Mix '07, and for a taste of the sort of announcement that should be commonplace, check out this post from Mary Jo Foley about a "Dynamic Language Runtime" for .NET. It even includes a quote from an old colleague of mine, John Lam, who knows a thing or two (or a thousand) about dynamic languages and Microsoft.

And I'm pretty certain this won't be the only groundbreaking announcement that comes out.

Microsoft Vista Launch in Toronto

One of the benefits of being an MVP is that occasionally you get to do really cool things. And, in this particular case, I'm using the traditional meaning of cool rather than the geeky.

This event is going on all week, but I get to spend Groundhog's Day in an ice house helping introduce Visa and Office to the community. I'm looking forward to the opportunity, although I do need to go out and get some long underwear before Friday. I've been told that the temperature inside the house is a few degrees below zero. Could be all the ice in the vicinity. ;)

Decrypting Stored Procedures

As part of work that I was doing recently, I had to generate the creation script for a SQL Server database. While running through the Generate Script task in Management Studio, I received an error that indicated that the stored procedure was encrypted. Never having running into encrypted stored procedures before, I was a little surprised. It turns out that encrypted stored procedures can’t be scripted. Could be that they’re encrypted. Duh!

Anyway, the documentation says that, for encrypted stored procedures, it is important to generate the creation script prior to encryption. So I started asking the client if they had the creation scripts. It turns out that a previous DBA had invoked the annoying ‘job security’ clause when creating the stored procedures, so the creation scripts were nowhere to be found.

Some additional research on the problem and I find a third party component that can decrypt the stored procedures. It’s called SQL Decrypter and it’s from Orbital Technologies (http://www.orbitaltechnologies.org/decryptor/). I have to say, it’s a nice tool. Does exactly what it’s supposed to do, quickly, easily and painlessly. So the client gets the generation scription and Orbital gets another (I’m sure) satisfied customer.

Tagging isn't just for walls anymore

You may or may not be aware of the current craze sweeping the (cringe) blogosphere. When you get tagged, you are supposed to reveal five things about yourself that the typical reader is unlikely to know. Since I was honoured by Rob Windsor with a tag, I feel compelled to continue the chain.

1.  My first job in the computer industry was also my first job ever. I was fifteen and I spent the summer writing computer games for the Oxford County Board of Education. On a Commodore Pet. The coolest part of this is that a number of the games that I designed were eventually converted into LOGO and were still being used by the province of Ontario more than 10 years later.

2.  I was a poor writer when I was in high school and university. Not that I’m a great writer now. Only that it comes much more easily than it used to. The key for me was a suggestion to write the way that I speak. Don’t worry about the grammar or coherence. That can be added in the editing process. Just get words down and work from there.

3.  I grew up in Canada and never learned how to skate. Not until this past December, when I laced up skates for the first time in over 35 years. Now I play in two hockey leagues. Not well, but not killing myself is my only bar to success in the sport.

4.  I love playing volleyball. I played the sport on and off for years, but took it up with a vengeance once I moved back to the Toronto area. My height (or lack thereof) means that I set when I’m playing court volleyball. But I also play beach volleyball in the summer, where I mostly play doubles.

5.  When I lived in Los Angeles, I tried out for a number of game shows. This includes a couple that never made it to air, as well as the venerable Jeopardy. I actually appeared on one show, QuickSilver. It was on the USA Network for a couple of seasons. I won the grand prize for the show that I was on, said grand prize being a week at a Dude ranch in Colorado. And I still have the tape to prove this.

Now to pass the baton on to others. I’ll start with one of my partners, Dave Lloyd. Next is Dave Totzke. The someone who probably doesn’t know that I read his blog: Eli Robillard. Finally I go way up the food chain to two blogs that I read to help me get better with my writing and presentation skills, And I know that they have no idea that I read their posts religiously: Kathy Sierra and Garr Reynolds.

Why the Silence

Those of you who actually read my blog on a regular basis might have wondered what had happened to me. While I’ve never been a ‘post-a-day’ kind of writer, it’s rare to have two months go by without a post of any substance. Well, I do have a reason for my absence.

I have spent the past months working on three separate writing projects, specifically the training kits for the Web, Windows and Enterprise Pro exams that are part of the MCPD certification. The names are too long to include, but they are MCPD Self-Paced Training Kits for exams 70-547 (Web), 70-548 (Windows), and 70-549 (Enterprise). None of these books are available yet (Amazon has them being released on Feb 28th), but I put the final stamp of approval on my part a short time ago.

This isn’t the first book I’ve been involved in. The other one was called The ASP 3.0 Code Maintenance Handbook from Wrox. The Friday before it was release, Wrox went bankrupt, so you can imagine that it didn’t sell incredibly well. In one of life’s little ironies, all three of these unreleased books are already selling better than my first ever did. And I can’t imagine that I’m a bad enough writer to drive Microsoft press out of business.

Anyway, once the holiday season has passed, I fully expect to be increasing my blog post output. So look for topics of interest for people who are working with ASP.NET 2.0, as well as anything else that might catch my interest.

Migrating from VB6 to .NET in the Real World

In the Windows world, my developer life starting with Visual Basic 3. As a result, I have a great deal of respect for what can be accomplished using a ‘toy’ development environment. It also means that I have an on-going interest in helping people who have been working in VB6 transition to .NET. But the conversation at the following link (from Scott Swigart posted by Roy Osherove) hits way too close to home. If you want to gain an understanding of at least part of the reason for resistance, put yourself on the receiving end of the conversation. I’m hoping that Microsoft is aware of just how common this pattern is in the real world. And how much it violates the RAD culture that exists in VB6.

Toronto Code Camp is in the Books

Well the first Toronto Code Camp is finished and, as far as I can tell, it was a success. There was somewhere north of 175 people who spent their Saturday to hear some wonderful speakers discuss technology. Current technology. Future technology. And lots of demos galore. Worst thing that happened was that Saturday morning was the first below freezing day in Toronto in quite a while. Meaning that many of the attendees were colder than normal when they walked through the door.

Kudos to Chris Dufour and Jean-Luc David, as well as their crack team of volunteers, for putting on a first-rate conference. When  you hear about the next code camp, make sure you get your name in quickly. I’m sure it will ‘sell’ out as fast as this one did.


Check it out:


Not enough to retire on, but still...

By way of the Freakonomics blog:

My blog is worth $6,774.48.
How much is your blog worth?

Too good, it is. Shared, it must be