Tag Archives | FoxPro

Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Me

Andrew Ross MacNeill tagged me with the “Five Things” chain letter, also tagging Craig Bailey, Eric Den Doop, Kok Kiet (John Jones), Richard Base (FoxPro: Catalyst). In turn ARM was tagged by Rick Schummer, who was tagged by Alex Feldstein and Rick also nabbed Kevin Ragsdale, Kevin Cully, Mike Feltman, Randy Jean. Alex had tagged Rick along with Garrett Fitzgerald, Rick Borup, Doug Hennig, Craig Berntson. Alex, in turn was selected by Claudio Lassala. Claudio was tagged by Markus who was tagged by Rick who… well, you get the idea. Someone was bored over the holidays, probably someone who wasn’t incensed over Microsoft giving away Acer laptops for Christmas, and decided to double the volume of the internet with self-indulgent blogging bit. Folks, who cares?

I’ve followed the links back 27 times and still haven’t come across the first couple of A-List bloggers I’d seen playing this game only a few weeks ago, so my back-of-the-envelope math tells me that there’s no one left who has a blog, so I’m tempted to declare the game over. Well done.

But just in case there’s bad juju with breaking the chain, has anyone heard from Calvin Hsia, Christof Wollenhaupt, Paul McNett, Andy Kramek and John “Gonzo” Koziol? No? Tag, boys, you’re it!

For those into this six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon game, there’s a list of blogs at Fox Wiki Blog Watch and, yes, a self-referential aggregator of the resulting feeds at Planet Fox.

  1. I was saved from near-certain death aboard a submarine by a quick-thinking shipmate… and his clipboard. Really.
  2. I sat next to Senator George McGovern at a political rally.
  3. I earned three varsity letters in swimming. Butterfly was my specialty, though I wasn’t very good.
  4. I’m Union and I Vote: UAW Local 1981, the National Writer’s Union, AFL-CIO.
  5. I lived in a travel trailer over summer of 1980 in Orlando, Florida and the winter of 1981 in West Milton, New York, yards from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. Might explain a lot, eh?
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FoxTalk Death Throes Continue…

On the FoxPro wiki, Alex Feldstein documents the most recent of many problems with New Hill Services, aka Eli Research, the latest purchasers of the FoxTalk newsletter, originally from Pinnacle Publishing. (Disclosure: FoxTalk published several articles of mine, starting in 1992 and ending in 2004). These people are just incredibly clumsy in the way they have worked with the community that once supported the newsletters. Terminating the editor, dropping or antagonizing their top-notch contributing writers, harassing former subscribers and failing to engage the community have ruined any chances of FoxTalk’s recovery. I wish they would just terminate the paper and spare us all the embarassment.

Just this morning, I received an email announcing “Your latest FoxTalk 2.0 is Available Online!” Curious if they were giving away free online content or offering a trial, I navigated to http://osslogin.com/login/pin, which asked for a login and displayed the Pinnacle (not Eli, not New Hill) logos and no links — no “Who we are,” “Read our other publications,” nothing. Really suspicious. Examining the HTML source, there were no signs of foul play (it does look like a phishing expedition, doesn’t it?), so I tried the “forgot your password” link and supplied my email address (I already get and squash 500 spams a day, so one more wouldn’t hurt). I promptly got an email with my password, and attempted to log in. “Account Expired” it told me, again with no other information or links. How annoying! If it was expired, why send the email notice? And wouldn’t this be a killer opportunity to ask me to re-up? Nothing. Bozos.

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Dabo rocks!

I’ve mentioned it before, but the dabo project rocks! dabo is intended to be a cross-platform (Mac/Linux/Windows/Everywhere) rich-client application (like FoxPro 2.5 before MS bought it) with the rich-client experience (grids, list boxes, checkboxes, pageframes, menus, multiple forms) in the appropriate widget-set for each OS. It supports a slew of backend data sources (MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL, Oracle, more) and is designed with a similar architecture (UI-BizObjects-Data) to many of the FoxPro frameworks. Best of all, it’s written in Python and available under an Open Source license.

I’ve spent a couple days downloading the source, watching the excellent screencast tutorials, browing the extensive mailing list archives and wiki, running the demos, generating an app with the App Wizard and reading the code. I’ve got an existing LAMP application that would benefit from a rich-client component with reporting capabilities, and dabo looks like a good choice. Hope to blog my progress as I get into it.

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Disclaimers

A favorite Saturday radio show is Michael Feldman’s “Whad’YaKnow” with its predictable lineup of standup, quiz shows, interviews and yes, the Disclaimers. Since it seems I’m not a lucky winner of an Acer Ferrarri for all the nice things I’ve said about Vista, I want to take a stand here and say that I’m not taking back a single word. The issue has brought up (again) the question of the imparitiality of bloggers, a tempest in a teacup in the dead news week between Christmas and New Years when not much else happens other than this-year-retrospectives and pundit’s predictions for next year. Some question the impartiality of bloggers, to which I say, “Well, duh.” Bloggers are real human voices who have agendas, prejudices, biases, opinions and stubborn beliefs. Here are some of my disclaimers:

1. I make my living solving people’s computer problems. I like to say nice things about my customers and I like it when they say nice things about me. I rarely if ever mention a customer in my blog, but when I do, I point out the relationship.

2. I favor LAMP solutions because I believe they are the optimal solution for many situations. I’ve invested time, effort and money in mastering the tools to deliver those solutions, and I’d like my investment to pay off.

3. I own an Apple iMac and want to see Apple succeed.

4. I don’t own an Apple iPod and want DRM to end. I own a teeny amount of Apple stock.

5. I own stock in RedHat (NYSE:RHT) mostly to have them send me their annual report for free. I own sufficient stock to pay for about seven minutes of my retirement.

6. I don’t own any stock in Google. If anyone wants to send me some, feel free.

7. Microsoft: hard to write a simple, glib sentence that summarizes a complex relationship. I’m a former “Solutions Channel” partner, Certified Professional, MCSD, MCSE and nine-time MVP. As a Solution Provider and MVP I often received free or reduced cost products for review, testing or in-house use. I was paid as a lead author on a certification exam. I was feted occasionally with airfare and some expenses covered to visit Redmond for indoctrination/education. Some of it worked. Some of it was pitiful. I invested a lot in MS in the nineties, and I’m cashing out. Their business practices are too rough. Their “vision” is too weak. Their belief that each and every customer should be paying them hundreds of dollars each year is just delusional. I believe that Microsoft had the computer industry reins in their hands in the nineties and could have matured into a powerful and wise industry leader. They blew it.

8. Microsoft Visual FoxPro is the most productive development environment I have ever worked in, bar none. I miss it, and I’m bitter the vendor doesn’t want to promote it to their customers.

9. I have most of my meager riches in retirement funds held by big financial companies that invest it in stuff I don’t always approve of, like telecom oligopolies, pharmaceutical companies, large software companies in the Pacific Northwest (sell! sell! before it’s too late!!!), defense industries and other investments that will make money and perhaps allow me to retire some day. This doesn’t make me want to say nicer things about them.

10. Recent winners should sit on their hands and let someone else play for a change.

11. Office staff should be grateful for having a job at all and not tie up the office phones trying to play.

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LPI discontinues lifetime certifications

“All certification designations earned before Sep. 1, 2004 will no longer be considered “lifetime” designations”

Shades of TiVo! What is it about “lifetime” that the Linux Professional Institute doesn't understand? Ah, they meant the lifetime of the certification, not of the certificate holder. LPI missed the boat on that one.

Over at Linux Watch, Stephen J. Vaughn-Nicholls outlines the changes to the LPI certification program. IT professionals who've been through the ringer with Novell and Microsoft and Cisco and A+ will recognize the tune: the program gallops along at first, realizes that they might be allowing holders of “legacy” knowledge to claim currency, and cut off their own revenue stream. Consequently, they beef up their renewal requirements.

I ran the certification hamster-wheel with Microsoft in the nineties: 16 exams in over 7 years, earning the MCSE designation for NT 4.0 and MCSD for Visual Studio 6. The certifications along with a liberal sprinkling of the logos on business cards, web sites and correspondence certainly helped the marketing efforts of my employers, and I worked hard to maintain the credibility of those programs.

The problem that happens with these kind of designations is that the effort to maintain the certification begins to exceed their value. With four, five or six exams needed to stay current in a single year, you can start to devote more time to studying for recertification than is practical. Staying current for the sake of your clients also means maintaining systems that are four to ten years old. Despite the vendors best wishes, old versions just don't go away, with “Don't fix it if it ain't broke” as a good engineering practice. At Ted Roche & Associates, we continue to support clients with applications that date back to the 80s in a couple of cases. We support clients with FoxPro 6, 7 and 8 applications (a couple of them ported from FoxBASE), PHP4, PHP5, MySQL 3.23, 4.1 and 5.0 applications, and lots of stuff in between. While there's sometimes an opportunity to jump onboard with the latest stuff, it's often the case that a couple of years pass before a new development opportunity comes along that provides the practical hands-on time to master new features and hence qualify to pass the new certification.

Microsoft faced wholesale mutiny when they attempted to discontinue some titles, or force the expiration of some titles like MCSD in favor of a .NET-centric specialty, long before the .NET platform had a reasonably large base in the real world. Certification authorities need to think long and hard about the way to support the lifecycle of their certifications. MS split off new certs, like MCAD, to distinguish the old from the new as they chose the road less traveled into DotNetLand. With Linux, it can be trickier to quantify: are you getting certified on the 2.4 kernel or the 2.6 kernel? XFree86 or X.org? Fedora, Kubuntu or OpenSuSE?

I'm in favor of ongoing continuing education or the equivalent; many professions have CEU requirements. However, certifying agencies have to recognize the balance needed between ongoing certifications and the value of their cert. Lawyers would find other professions if they needed to pass their bar exams every year.

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IE7 Breaks Older QuickBooks

Over at Shedding Some Light, Rick Schummer blogs IE7 Breaks Older QuickBooks: “I use FireFox as my primary Web browser and really like it… A couple of weeks ago at Southwest Fox I learned a bunch of things about IE7 from Rick Borup. His session got me excited about some of the changes and new features. So I have been looking forward to the automatic update about to hit my machine. Then I accidentally ran across a blog from one of my technical partners about how IE7 breaks QuickBooks Pro. No email from Intuit (they hit me up with lots of offers to upgrade, but I guess this little detail was not that important, or I seriously overlooked it)… I use QuickBooks Pro to manage the accounting books here at White Light Computing. I have used this product for years to keep track of the hours I bill, invoicing, tracking accounts receivables, printing checks to my vendors and subcontractors, and reporting the financials to my wife and our accountant. I use this program all the time. It is almost as important to me on the administrative side of the business as Visual FoxPro is to the technical side of the business.”

Rick goes on to point out some work-arounds to prevent IE from “upgrading” itself and making your accounting system inoperable. Thanks for the tip, Rick!!!

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Python Reads SourceSafe

Picking up an example presented in 1998 for using COM Automation on SourceSafe from Visual FoxPro, I created the same example in Python with just as little code. Using Mark Hammond's Win32All to supply the Win32 and COM support, the following code will list all the files in a particular SourceSafe project and their version numbers.


import win32com.client

SSafe=win32com.client.Dispatch("SourceSafe")
SSafe.Open("c:\Projects\VSSPath\srcsafe.ini","troche","secret")

Root=SSafe.VSSItem("$/MyClient/MyProject")
VSSItems=Root.Items

print VSSItems.Count
for loNode in VSSItems:
	print loNode.Name, loNode.VersionNumber
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There is no one best way

Declarations of a One True Way to Python Web Frameworks has lead to lots of kickback. A few samples from Daily Python-URL! (from the Secret Labs):

  • [Floris Bruynooghe] Python web frameworks
  • [online.effbot.org: Fredrik Lundh] he has given us… his shoe!
  • [Groovie] Notes on the Python Web Framework Pronouncement

The consensus seems to be that not much has really changed following the “pronouncement.” No one is in charge, and choice is a good thing. The TurboGears folks will keep trying a little harder, now that they're officially #2, everyone else will try a little harder to unseat them.

What will be good to see implemented would be a comparison chart of the many products. The FoxPro Wiki does a great job of this for VFP Frameworks, and CMS Matrix does a good job on content management systems. This would be a great service to the community.

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Microsoft: Block Excel Attachments

eWEEK.com Messaging and Collaboration reports Microsoft Posts Excel 'Zero-Day' Flaw Workarounds. “Redmond's security response center is recommending that businesses block Excel spreadsheet attachments at the e-mail gateway to avoid targeted zero-day attacks.”

FoxPro developers recall that Microsoft Outlook security patches block attached Visual FoxPro programs because “they could contain malicious code” — provided the recipient downloads the code to disk, runs Visual FoxPro to compile the program file and then runs the resultant file. Outlook, however, will allow through Excel or Word documents containing malicious code with no objection.

People need to get over the binary view of “documents” versus “executables.” Web “pages” contain executable Javascript, ActiveX controls, Java and more. PDF files can run code – they are made out of Postscript, a programming language. HTML Help files include executable features. Screensavers are programs, not pictures. Some people like to send around “slideshows” of pictures, oftentimes a PPS (PowerPointShow) file that could run VBA scripts.

1. Don't open attachments from untrusted sources.

2. There are no trusted sources.

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