Authorification – Resolution 5

Almost a year ago I started work on a book.  I got out of the habit for a long time.  There were many reasons, but the bottom line is that I just got out of the habit of writing daily.  I remember a famous author (I forget who it was at time point, but I’m sure he was a SF writer) once said the secret to prolific writing was to sit down and write a fixed amount of words or pages every day.  It did not matter so much if they were final pages or just thoughts about what future books might be.  But stay in the habit of writing and being creative each day.  When you get out of practice doing that, you soon start to fall far behind your goals.
 
He was right.
 
So beginning tomorrow, New Year’s Day, I intend to dig out the old files and begin working on the book once again.  I am going to shoot for a modest goal of 1 to 2 pages a day.  Now I know that does not sound like much.  But with 365 days in the year, I should be able to finish by the end of the 2007. 
 
Here are a few hints:
  • It is not a computer book. 
  • It is not really a historical book.
  • It is definitely a work of fiction.
  • It will have some aspects of spirituality.
  • It will have some aspects of science.
  • It deals with both the past and the future.
  • But that past and future may not be ours.
 
That is all of my resolutions for this year.
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By sharepointmike Posted in Hobbies

Re-Education – Resolution 4

There always seems like there is so much to learn and so little time to learn it.  Sometimes I’m tempted to just let the tide of technology roll over me because it seems like by the time I learn something, it is replaced by a new technology. 
 
Nearly a decade ago, I started to learn about a new technology called the Internet.  I spent a great deal of time and effort to learn about HTML and how to build simple static web pages.  Soon, static pages became boring and everyone looked at ways to make their pages dynamic.  That lead to the study of scripting technology using both VB Script and JavaScript.  But this was still not good enough and soon the use active server pages (ASP) became the new technology of the web. 
 
It was interesting times but as the .Net bubble burst, I migrated back to database technology where I spent most of my professional career.  But FoxPro was no longer a strong leader so I turned back to SQL Server which I had previously dabbled in previously.
 
Now, thanks to a very interesting job promotion, I find myself primed to return to the Internet in the form of SharePoint Server which coincidentally also uses SQL Server.  But this change will require a massive amount of re-education again.  While I still am very familiar with the techniques of HTML, DHTML, ASP, and even the newer .NET languages, There is much that has changed since I first learned FrontPage to create web pages.  In addition, this comes at a time when SQL Server has made a major improvement in its technology.  SQL Server 2005 now supports .Net languages and the new SSIS greatly improves the old DTS.  However, to become comfortable with all of these technologies will require study, a great deal of study.
 
So my #4 resolution is to spend at least 8 hours a week studying the new technologies needed to become proficient and excel in these new technologies.

Reductification – Resolution 2 & 3

Ever think that you have too much?  Too much free time?  Too much debt?  Too much time spent in front of the TV?  Too much clutter?  Too much wasted time?  Too much time lost that you can never get back?
 
Ok, I have two things that I want to attack this year as having too much (actually I probably have more than that, but two is a good start right?).  The first thing I have too much of is too much junk in my home office.  Much of it has accumulated over the 13 years we have been in this house.  A little bit added here and a little bit added there and soon it has become difficult to turn around without bumping to piles of something or other.  So my first goal in this resolution is to reduce the amount of clutter by summer so that I can once again see the floor.  Things that I haven’t looked at in years (like old technical magazines) will go in the trash.  Old books of obsolete software will also be thrown out.  Old 3.5" diskettes will be also be thrown out with anything I really need to save archived to CD or DVD. 
 
The second thing I really intend to reduce is my weight, may not by a third like the junk in my room, but by at least 50 pounds.  That will be quite the challenge, but last year I started to lose weight and managed to make it to 20 pounds before I got stuck and stayed stuck.  I intend to get rid of the rest of the pounds that I did not get rid of last year.
 
Well that’s it for today.  Thought I would also reduce the size of this entry while I was at it.

Complexification – Resolution 1

Like most computer geeks, I love to play with new electronic gadgets. And for many years I felt that way about most software, not wanting to wait for a new product release, but trying to always get into the beta versions to see what new features were added. But lately most of the thrill of new software has worn off. Why I ask?

I’ve been giving that a lot of thought recently and I came to the conclusion that when the new software features take more effort to learn how to use them for the amount of effort I might save, then why complicate my life and my brain with more software application trivia. Software companies come out with new releases of products every so often for one of only a few reasons:

  • They need to match or one-up the features of a competing product.
  • They need to fix bugs introduced in the last version of the product.
  • They need to increase their sales revenue.

Ok, I’m all for fixing bugs. I’m even all for adding new features when those features will make my life easier. But how many of the changes in the latest release of the software package of your choice really make your life easier?

We stopped by a Wendy’s the other day and the line at the counter was at least a dozen people long. The single cashier working the counter seemed to spend more time trying to enter the order information into the touch-screen terminal than in gathering the order for the customer. In fact, for one person in front of us trying to pay with a bank card, the cashier seemed absolutely puzzled and seemed to have tried the same process at least a dozen times before calling over the manager. During this time, four more people got into line and two left, tired of waiting. The manager finally came over and proceeded to try the same process as the cashier. It must have been the same process because he got the same results. Finally after 3 more people got into line and 2 more left, the manager finally completed the transaction. Touch-screen terminals were suppose to make things easier, right? When customers are leaving in disgust at the wait, I venture to say that we have reached a point in which the complexity of the process is no longer a benefit. I remember my first fast-food experience back in the 60’s. Somehow they managed with primitive equipment to take my order and get my food in a fraction of the time it takes today.

So what does this mean today on the day before Christmas? Nothing more than to just remind all of you that sometimes the simple things are the best. Complexity without making our lives better is an unecessary burden. Perhaps this Christmas we can all make the vow to appreciate the little things in life, reduce the complexity that we have to deal with or force others to deal with, and take time to enrich our lives with our friends and family rather than becoming a slave to increased technology just for the sake of technology.

Thus my first resolution for the new year is to try to reduce complexification in my life and those whose lives I touch by ensuring that the benefits of any new technology I use or ask others to use outweighs the overhead and stress caused by it.

Merry Christmas All and remember that the Spirit of the Season is not what you drink.

Is Microsoft Faking Their Advertising Pictures?

I was recently going through some of my trade magazines and I noticed something strange in Microsoft’s new Exchange advertisement pictures.
 
In InformationWeek’s December 11, 2006 issue, Microsoft’s ad just inside the front cover has what appears to be a two page wide picture of a city scene with many business people in the foreground.
 
In InfoWorld’s December 4, 2006 issue, the Microsoft ad just inside the front cover at first seemed to be the same picture except that it seemed odd.  It only took me a moment to realize the what bothered me was the buildings in the background were the same on both pictures.
 
That was odd enough, then I noticed that the three people on the left side picture were the same as the three people on the right side, but in slightly different positions.  Ok, but the really odd part was the other people in the picture were ‘exactly’ the same as the people in the Information Week picture.  Their arms and legs and general position were exactly the same in both pictures, but with a different background and different foreground people.  Furthermore, the spacing between these background people were slightly different, some even relative to each other.
 
So, the picture is totally fake.  They probably took the pictures of the city buildings separately and the people separately and then cut and paste the entire scene together.  I would not be surprised if the city scape was not even a real city but a cut and paste of different cities.
 
Hmmm.