Random Task

by Administrator 31. August 2005 15:16

Random Task is my idea for a Visual Studio add in.  The premise is simple, as are many good ideas.  Either you will immediately see the value in this due to your own work habits or you will think it trite.

I do a lot of work on various different things: I have several different solutions for my day job, I have a couple of solutions for side work I spend a lot of time in, and several solutions I only spend time working on from time to time.  Visual Studio is always open if my laptop is on.  My issue is that I often switch between three or more solutions in a sitting and find it difficult to guestimate how much time I spend working on Project A, then Project B, and billing those clients accordingly.

Random Task, then, is a Visual Studio add in that records timestamps for when I open and close solutions.  The UI for the add in can then report on how much time was spent on each solution (and therefore client) just by keeping track of Visual Studio .NET time.  This would save me a lot of pain in "Erring on the side of safety" and essentially under-billing everyone in my efforts to be fair.

I did a quick proof of concept in VS 2003, but there are actually a couple of code contests I could submit this to if I upgrade to VS 2005.  The extensibility IDEs are not a part of the normal Beta 2 distribution so I had to join the Visual Studio Partner Program and download the VS 2005 version of the SDK from http://www.vsipdev.com/downloads/ 

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Digital Rights

by Administrator 30. August 2005 19:56

Look at me, I am such a waste of space that I am not producing anything of value, I merely react to other people's original thoughts with thoughts of my own.  So casey is upset about ever-tighter digital rights management built into Windows, and maybe some day hardware as well.  Let me first share some of my thoughts:

  • I think the companies comprising MPAA and the RIAA horribly mistreat the artists without whom they would not exist.  I think these companies do not recognize an artists Moral Right to their work, nor is "Fair Use" in their vocabulary
  • I think these companies produce a ton of crappy content and then blame piracy for their downfall rather than ponder the idea that I don't feel like me and the Mrs. going through the tedium of acquiring a baby-sitter and then paying over $20 for two tickets and crappy popcorn just to sit in front of something that is 99.9% likely to suck. (It sure is loud though)

That being said, I see no issue with digital rights management as long as it does not interfere with my fair use of something I paid for. I am a strong believer in Capitalism, and as such I can choose or not choose to engage in any transaction with another party.  If I choose to buy something from someone, I must buy it on the terms they offer.  If I sell something, I sell it on my terms and I expect them to be honored.  I view my HD Cable via a DVI digital connection on my TV, which supports HDCP.  It means I cannot record these shows easily, I have no issue with this.  I entered into this arrangement with Charter cable (who also sucks) knowing this up front.

If the MPAA says I can buy this DVD from them but I am not allowed to copy it, then I have agreed not to copy it.  The fact that Microsoft is going to make it harder to copy it from Windows does not concern me as long as my privacy is not comprimised.  I do not have a "right" to use something outside of the terms of the seller, regardless of how ridiculous their copyright law is or how much Pearl Harbor or Alexandar: Director's Cut sucked to begin with.

If you don't like these terms, do not buy it.  If Hollywood shoots themselves in the foot because their new copy protection is not viewable on my mom's TV then its their loss when they miss out on the sale of millions of copies of "The Mummy Returns" to people like her.  If there is some ridiculous backlash against the public (Sueing college kids for trading Mp3s come to mind) then we brought that on ourselves.  What's fair likely lies some place in the middle.

What do you think?  How can we best treat the studios who spend millions of dollars making crap like <<Insert Julia Roberts film title here>>, hardware and software manufactures, and consumers fairly?

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Work from home?

by Administrator 22. August 2005 00:57

Right now I'm sitting at the kitchen table in this purgatory known as "apartment living" while my new house sits uncompleted only a kilometer away.  This completely sucks so I went and picked out a nice new mahogany veneer desk/workstation setup to go in my office when this new house is ready for occupancy.  I am also standing by to order an Aeron chair as it is the most comfortable chair I've ever sat in.  I just built a fast new PC.

I do a lot of work from home. This new office will eliminate manyof the frutrations I have at client sites: the ergonomic nightmare, the slow PCs with no memory and slow hard drives, the silly IT policies blocking this or that messenger, the mandatory virus scans that happen every Thursday at 1pm and render your already slow laptop completely incapable of doing any real work for two hours.  Yeah, the 10,000 RPM Serial ATA hard drive with a gig of ram and 3.6ghz proc can compile the hell out of that code, and setting up multiple monitors is genuinely useful for work.  Its too bad I'll only have this excellent environment for the 10-20 hours per week I am working on side projects at home, while the majority of the work I do will be in the cubical with its interruptions and inferior equipment. 

No matter how many studies are done linking good environment, no internet monitoring, and good equipment to higher worker productivity we are just not ready for the progressive office here in the midwest.  I have yet to see a single office that can hold a candle to the type of work environment a developer would choose if asked to create an environment where they could be most productive.  I think my goal for 2006 is to seek out ways to work from home as much as possible.  Does anyone out there have "Work from home" stories?

 

Update: supporting documentat http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1083900,00.html

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The Damon Show

by Administrator 10. August 2005 15:13

The Damon show has been off the air for a while, and for both of you out there who are regular readers I do apologize for the lack of posts.  I have been so busy with deadlines at work, and deadlines on two of my side projects that I haven't been able to screw around with "Project Cesium" or any of the game programming or AI stuff.  I've been so busy that I sold my house a month and a half ago and just deposited the proceeds on Saturday.    I still have to make enough revenue through my business to pay taxes and buy some appliances.   I guess what I'm saying is that I am a whore and that until my new house is done things that pay money now will win my time over neat projects.  

Finally, in regards to the religious discussion going around the local community, I leave you with this.  It seems as though in this exciting age of Science we have become more religous as a people, not less.  For those of us who choose to sleep in on Sunday, its becoming a social liability.

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About the author

Damon Payne is a Microsoft MVP specializing in Smart Client solution architecture. 

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