It's a boy

by Administrator 29. November 2007 22:31

Definative evidence was presented today, it's going to be a boy.  The picture below is not a picture of the male evidence, as such a thing might get me into trouble in this day and age.  I confess I was seriously hoping for a boy, not that another little girl would have been bad.  I joke that Brooke (she's a bit of a tomboy) is "boy-enough for me" if we had another girl, but this is great.  No name choices yet, I'm researching things are a little different but not too weird. 



States say there is no match for MSFT

by Administrator 29. November 2007 18:40

Via slashdot:

Of course the states are going to say that MSFT needs to be monitored.  The politicians gain tremendous power by punishing businesses and restricting free trade.  As Google and other companies come testify for the states against Microsoft  I'm reminded of several quotes, and a little company called "Standard Oil"

First, the quotes:

"Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it." -- Milton Friedman

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania (1759)

It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
--Thomas Jefferson

Companies seeking to use government force to succeed where their own efforts in the marketplace have failed should be aware that what goes around, comes around.

Standard Oil:

I don't have the exact historical dates and percentages in front of me, but Standard Oil went something like this: Standard Oil had over 90% of the market for Oil in the United States at one time.  As the politicians and the public got behind the idea of Trust Busting, competitors to Standard Oil were slowly gaining market share, and the competition forced the price of oil down.  At the time the Standard Oil "evil monopoly" was broken up it had roughly 60% market share and the inflation adjusted price of oil was lower than it had ever been.  Politicians treated this as a great victory and it was sold to the public as a great victory.  The free market had already done what the goverment sought to do, and justice, property rights, and freedom were compromised to punish an "unpopular" company.


Sync My Ride

by Administrator 28. November 2007 01:19

I wonder if there's a developer program...


Wave forms, turkey, 60/40, Eddie Willers, and health care

by Administrator 27. November 2007 03:02

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I had an absolutely smashing time with my family, especially my dad.  The apple (me) fell perhaps a bit further from the tree (dad) than he would sometimes prefer: I'm a college guy and mostly a software nerd, he got electronics training in the Navy and is more of a hard core electronics nerd.  I write software and he fixes GE's MRIs.  MRI is just insane to read about: Magnets who's strength is measured in Teslas, titanium/niobium coils, and superconductive circuits that lose less than .001% of a charge in 1000 years.  Dad and I completely rebuilt my center channel since I had just ordered a new sqauker (mid-range horn) diaphragm, and he was very disappointed in my soldering job so all the solder points were re-done and the internal wiring was cleaned up with zip ties and such.  If I ever sell the thing I'll take a picture of the internals to show what a top-notch job was done.  As part of this whole effort, he diagnosed some possible issues with a free osciliscope I inherited: someone smart enough to fix insane superconductive electronics is pretty handy to have around.

Another place where the apple was flung far is metaphysics: I'm an atheist and my father was raised (and raised us) in variants of the Babtist religion.  A lot of red wine into the second night of the visit we had covered:

  • Religion and why it has no bearing on my life and why that doesn't make me a bad human being
  • Technology
  • Wealth
  • Relativity (space time, the train and some of Einstein's gedenken experiments)
  • Health care: dad had a great (if depressingly Orwellian) observation about health care.  As the goverment gets more involved in our health care decisions, how long will it be before a helecopter flies through my neighborhood with a diffration horn  screaming "Time to wake up and exercise!!  Keep health care costs low, citizens!"   My solution: health insurance does not "work" using the current popular definitions of "work" without an army of healthy people bearing the costs for those who are not healthy.  Get the goverment out of the health care industry alltogether and you won't find yourself doing pushups at the point of a gun.

"You're not as far into la-la land as I thought" was my father's final judgement on my night of philosophy and politics.  I meet incredibly few Objectivists in day-to-day life, but the more scientific and rational someone's job is the more I find them coming around to my way of thinking.  The world is not populated by John Galts, we wouldn't recognize it if it were.  There are great masses of "Eddie Willers" who can be reached.  Recall Eddie Willers from Atlas Shrugged: 3rd in command, not a Prime Mover, always playing the supporting role to Dangy Taggart.  Eddie is rightfully counted by Rand as one of the heros of the book though.  He rides on the rails made of Rearden metal and he could never have created the metal, the bridge design, or the engines propelling the train, but he also does not seek to enslave the minds who did create these things.  My dad perhaps could not have invented the superconductor system in one of GE's MRIs, but he's smart enough to know what it took to make the thing and can fix the thing when it goes down.  He's smarter than 99.999% of the people out picketing for "universal healthcare." 

Inside a piece of technology like an MRI is a glimpse of the astounding effort, resources, and intelligence that it takes to make our standard of living possible.  I hope the scientists and engineers who work on them gain astounding wealth, and I hope GE makes hundreds of millions of dollars on MRI technology: it's the only reason this life-saving technology exists.


C# "memory leak?" Uhm, no...

by Administrator 17. November 2007 16:34

I suppose it's going to be fashionable to slam Microsoft until the end of time.  Check out this headline at Slashdot, which I have generaly enjoyed for 9 years or so:

Developers: C# Memory Leak Torpedoed Princeton's DARPA Chances

"In a case of 20/20 hindsight, Princeton DARPA Grand Challenge team member Bryan Cattle reflects on how their code failed to forget obstacles it had passed. It was written in Microsoft's C#, which isn't supposed to let you have memory leaks. 'We kept noticing that the computer would begin to bog down after extended periods of driving. This problem was pernicious because it only showed up after 40 minutes to an hour of driving around and collecting obstacles. The computer performance would just gradually slow down until the car just simply stopped responding, usually with the gas pedal down, and would just drive off into the bush until we pulled the plug. We looked through the code on paper, literally line by line, and just couldn't for the life of us imagine what the problem was.'"

Damn Microsoft and their bad products!  Why doesn't everyone just get a Mac so things will "just work"?  The commentary by the team that wrote the code is a bit more telling:

So, the problem was not C#, but a bit of confusion in that subscribing to an event keeps a reference to the subscriber in memory, hence no objects can be deleted.  So this issue would occur in pretty much any modern managed programming language.  Am I wrong to occasionally be miffed at the constant misrepresentation of Microsoft's excellent developer technologies?



by Administrator 16. November 2007 18:08

This story on CNN is a fun read if nothing else.

So these guys are going to meet to determine if the satirical Flying Spaghetti Monster is in fact a real religion.  What makes a "real" religion and how people who think there's more to our interaction with reality than rational epistemology are going to make this determination is anyone's guess.  Oh to be a fly on the wall...

On the surface this is a joke, but there may be something more sinister going on.  One of the favorite weapons of religious apologists these days is Equivocation.  I have observed and participated in debates where the apologist all too quickly abandons any attempt to defend the actual veracity of their supernatural beliefs but instead takes one of two approaches: one is to instead focus on all the good that has come from the faith of believers, the other is to claim that rejecting religion is just another form of faith, being an atheist is just a different cult, that aruing for religion to be kept out of our schools and goverment makes one "just another kind of fundamentalist.  In a small way, the religious declaring the following of the FSM to be a "real" religion seems to me an under the radar attempt at equivocation yet again, an attempt to rob the Flying Spaghetti Monster of it's satirical value.  An attempt, in other words, to furthur the view that there is no difference between believers and non believers.

The idea that being an atheist or rejecting specific religious claims makes one "just another kind of fundamentalist" seems absurd to me.  What dogma have we all embraced to assume that lightning in the night sky is not Thor throwing his hammer at Giants?  To quote Sam Harris "What dogma have we all embraced to not take the wishes of Zeus into account during our daily affairs?"  Usully, when arguing semantics, I start with the Dictionary. So, when consulting Merriam-Webster I learn the following:


One entry found.


Main Entry:
fun·da·men·tal·ism Listen to the pronunciation of fundamentalism
1 aoften capitalized : a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching b: the beliefs of this movement c: adherence to such beliefs2: a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles <Islamic fundamentalism> <political fundamentalism>

So, looking at #2 put me into a conumdrum.  I am indeed a strict adherant to the basic principles that indicte if I try to walk out of the 3rd story window of my office here, I will accellerate towards the ground due to the force of attraction between my body and the earth.  Does this make me a "gravity fundamentalist", and my views on gravity deserve no more or less consideration than those of the "Intelligent Falling" movement?  Am I by denfinition a "Science Fundamentalist" or "Rational Fundamentalist"?  Religious fundamentalists make the claim that the words in their sacred texts are true in the most literal sense; these words do not change with the times, they are not metaphors to be interpreted and they are unchanging.    I make the claim that through rational observation of reality we can predict and describe the behaviors of the natural universe.  That, to me, is a difficult claim to argue with, and it it turns out to be incorrect, what are the alternatives? 

We may some day discover some "Unified Theory" that ties together relativity and quantum mechanics.  Rational people will welcome this as another leap in human knowledge.  Sure, there will be some people who cling to their old pet theories.  I don't see the words of the old testament being re-written to include equal rights for women, or the words of Isaiah prescribing the murder of children "toned down" to be better aligned with what we now know about morality.  That's why I don't like being called a fundamentalist.

{Edit: I should have gotten the rest of the way through my RSS reader this morning.  The same topic on Richard Dawkins's site:,1881,n,n}


AT&T Tilt

by Administrator 13. November 2007 22:21

I got the AT&T tilt today.  I have done the Smartphone thing for a few years but this is my first full PDA phone.  I ported a stripped down version of one of our data collection apps to run on the phone, man do I love the compact framework.  I'm going to see about getting CF 3.5 on here tonight and maybe port my incomplete Asteroids clone to the phone.


The designer story

by Administrator 9. November 2007 21:22

So, WPF is the technology that is finally going to realize the vision of allowing developers and designers to work on the same project, using the same assets, at the same time, and have everyone be happy.  I posted quite a ways back that WPF was cool, and posted pictures of my first two efforts as evidence that WPF will also make it easy for developers to do ridiculous and confusing things.  In my "spare time" at work, which right now means "When I get sick of the things I need to be doing"  I am actually working in WPF, with Orcas and the Expression Blend September preview, on a real application that is going into production next year, with assets supplied by real designers.  Real designers with talent, who are used to specific non-MSFT tools, who are windows-hating Mac users who wouldn't fire up Expression Blend if it came with a free puppy and a pound of gold.  It's very early yet, but I think it's going to work because tools are appearing that will export Adobe Illustrator to XAML, and Expression Design can import vector graphics from Illustrator files.  If WPF and Silverlight gain enough traction is it too much to hope that Illustrator (on the Mac, no less) will be able to understand my VS2008 solution file?  Is it too much furthur to hope that maybe a VSS or Subversion plug-in could be written to let them check the assets right in to my source control?

In the past we've often had one of two situations:

  1. The designer jumps into the asp/jsp/<yourTemplateEngineHere> code to design it up.  Code is accidentally broken, or the designer is unsure of which parts can be edited.
  2. You receive a .TIFF or .PNG graphic depicting insane things and the unenviable task of "Turn this into a web page or windows form".  Hilarity ensues.

If we can get to the point where the UI with insane things going on is an Illustrator file that you import and it "just works", we will have accomplished something.  If the black turtleneck Mac using artist can just check in the XAML skin for my programs, life will be good. 



by Administrator 8. November 2007 05:55

I still can't officially blog about what we have going on, but obviously I'm trying to hire people into my department and am traveling.  We've beenn working quite a bit at the 'ole CarSpot lately to make some things happen and over time that takes its toll.  I've been in more meetings than is healthy (by USRDA standards) the past three days, culminating with giving a brief talk to 600 people in Atlanta today.  I'm back home and feeling a little bit recharged mentally.  No matter how much work has to be done inside Visual Studio, or MS-Project, or Power Point, or Thawte, or Expression Blend, it's very good to escape into the real world and spend some time interacting with entities who don't respond to Ctrl+S or CTRL-SHIFT-B



by Administrator 6. November 2007 03:24

It is, if I am not mistaken, the year 2007.  Why is it that my fancy-pantz hotel room in downtown Atlanta does not just come with Internet access?  Why, further, do they outsource to these companies who's systems seem unerringly to not work the first time?  I don't travel a lot, but I have yet to have Internet access work in a room without calling the front desk or "iBahn" or whatever.  Business travelers flying business class staying in business hotels asking for the corporate rate are highly likely to expect to plug their laptops into the wall and have it work.


About the author

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

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