Why did you go with C#…

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Just reading a post today and it was reminding me of our (my) original foray into .NET.  At the time athough most of our applications were coded in VB5/6, most of the employees at the company were either recently graduated from school in some form or another or had previous lives as java or C++ programmers.  So with some of the old issues of varient types and string concationation issues fresh in our minds as well as the indication from MS at the time that C# was to be the primarily supported language for the .NET platform…..C# here we come.

Looking back it seems that it was the right decision, but it could have gone so wrong.



Consumer vs Commercial

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Reading a posting this morning for “The Death of .NET” and wanted to elaborate a little bit on one of the comments that was made.

But there lies the difficulty: We are in an increasingly consumer-centric world and increasingly things that don’t have a consumer message are seen as obsolete or unimportant.

A lot of the time the press and much of what we see is written from the view of a consumer and consumer products.  How to build web sites, how to market, how to ….  However there are a lot of companies out there, some of which are household names, which aren’t really consumer companies.  Probably the 3 most notable these days are IBM, Microsoft and RIM.  IBM isn’t a big surprise there, but MS and RIM?  You basically need to realize that although both RIM and MS play in the consumer market, the bread and butter of their profits are driven from companies.  RIM certainly sells Blackberries to you and I, but when it comes down to it, it is the Blackberry Enterprise server integration and all of the security that surrounds the Blackberry that makes RIM money.  MS has a similar issue such that the bulk of its money comes from commercial sales of Windows and Office to businesses, both big and small.  This is also the reason neither of the companies are going bankrupt and time soon, they have a vested infrastructure, which although it can be replaced will last at least a decade even if they completely drop the ball.

Google and Apple are on the other side of the coin.  They are consumer companies that dabble in the commercial business, and have the exact opposite problem.  People like them, they want their stuff, but how they do business makes companies nervious.  Google can’t simply access any company data and scan through it to see what you need to buy… that would have implecations from insider trading to security, to industrial espionage, to heaven knows where.  Apple, cannot simply throw a solution out today and then take it back tomorrow because not enough business used it.

As individuals we often forget that if something happens to our phone we throw it away and get a new one, but as a company if 1000 phones just went offline for even an hour, it just cost the company untold sums of money.  Requirements are different, the solution is different, the marketing is different.


Wood burning stoves

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I recently purchased a Vargo wood burning stove for back country camping, mainly to have the benefit of not needing to carry as much fuel with me when I camp.  The main expectation I have is that I will be have to carry enough alcohol and a stove to get me through the tough times of either it being too wet, windy or possibly tired to be bothered with the wood on a given day.  I did my first trip with the stove a couple of weeks ago and I was quite impressed with how well it worked for me.  Anyway today I came across a post where somebody was complaining that they didn’t like the wood burning stoves for a few reasons, so I thought I would add to that thread. http://sectionhiker.com/wood-gas-stoves-second-thoughts/

From my view here are the main points:


  • Less fuel to carry:  as the old saying goes ounces in the morning are pounds at night, so even if I can carry 1/2 as much fuel that is always good.
  • Easy to use: wood stoves are very simple to use and I have generally found it easier to light a fire in the stove than in the fire pit, which is always good.
  • Naturally “Eco”: the fact that I am getting fuel from the forest around me rather than lugging it from a store it was trucked to makes me feel better about the world 😛
  • Gives me something to do: although as is mentioned in the other article you do need to watch the stove, I have generally found this better rather than worse.  I usually am sitting there waiting for my water to boil anyway so tending a little fire is cheap entertainment.


  • Pot soot: This is pretty well documented, and I would highly recommend if you are going to start carrying a wood burner you will probably want to start carrying pot cozies too.  Personally I didn’t find this to be an issue and I don’t carry a camp towel either.
  • More Stoves: I did save overall weight, but now I effectively carry 2 stoves, a small alcohol backup and the primary wood one.  I am sure I could probably move to the wood only, but I am just not there yet.
  • Limited Temperature and Control: I find the wood is similar to trying to cook with a small alcohol stove, there is pretty much just an on/off.  Technically I could probably get it to simmer, but it would require some serious effort.  If you like to really cook things on the trail that are more than rehydrating foods, then this probably isn’t for you.

Just my thoughts so far, but I do like it and this is the one I have:





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Spending a bit of time paddling a big canoe into the wind recently I was hunting around for some rules of thumb.  This seems like a pretty good article.


Understatement of the day:

A 17 foot long touring canoe can be a beast for a solo paddler on a windy day.

It’s easy, just…..

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Although this post is coming at the expense of Apple, I am quickly reminded of why I was learned 10 years ago that Linux would never dethrone Windows in the base consumer market.  At the time I installed a few different version of Linux with different desktops to try then out and two things quickly became apparent that Linux users all like to gloat about.

1. You didn’t save any space.  You might be able to configure Linux to run an FTP server from a floppy.  But as an end user, by the time you install Linux with all of the drivers, bells and whistles it has just as big a footprint as Windows

2. There are 5 ways to do anything (4 of which are commandline driven) and you never really know which one will work, and on top of that one that didn’t work at the beginning might work at the end, because you have changed some random setting.

Appreciating that many of these items are simply familiarity with the platform, McDonalds sums it up nicely 🙂



Annoyances in Coding

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Every once in a while I am doing something in programming that is….well, simply annoying.  I came across one of these tonight while doing a little work.

Lets say I have a number (double) which is a percent and I want to display it somehow.

Double percent = .1234;
String display = percent.ToString(“P2”);

Simple enough, nothing to worry about; now take that same string and turn back into a double.  Basically you can’t, you need to create a special function that will go and strip the % (if it exists) and then divide the resulting number by 100.  Now this is a small thing, but it annoys the crap out of me.  Microsoft has taken the time to handle currency, negatives, thousand separators and most any other type of string based number, why not a percentage?


Markets are People

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As with most people out there I find myself continually drawn to certain subjects and being in IT as a career many of those subjects center around computers.  However, one subject that I continually find myself drawn to is basically human nature and more specifically how it is combining with our current technological advancement.

For one of the few times in human history it is notable that our current level of technology (not just computers and the internet, but medicine, food production, chemicals) is far superior to our cultural ability to absorb these items, understand them, and embed them into the culture in a way that is “good”.

Having been involved in the Sales cycle for software many times I always find it interesting how buyers/users view the world.  In my own way I almost always bucket people into 3 groups.  The ones who want change, those who don’t really care, and those who resist change.  During the sales cycle this generally crops up as, the group who are constantly pointing out the inadequacies of the current solution (whether it be software or manual), those who feel most any solution will do what they need it to do (just tell them how), and those than feel the currently solution is perfectly fine (if not awesome).

In the attached blog post he talks about the “9x Effect”, this being the fact that companies will try to over sell the product and the consumers overall will be skeptical about the benefits (the bottom 2/3s from above) as well as how we are always making “relative evaluations”.  I point this out because of 2 things.

1. Above I mention the top 1/3 who always want change, and as such they will point out the things they don’t like about something and it will give them a “relative” what is better about the new solution attitude.  Eventually they will notice that all is not sunshine and lollypops, but some issues will be solved for them.

2. I believe this is why a “new generation” is required for great leaps in culture (and also why that is not possible in our currently aging society).  A younger person/generation has not vested interest in the current technology, they don’t own it, didn’t grow up with it and since they didn’t do either of these things, see no value in it.

Youth tend to look at the new tech almost like companies do, they see value even if it doesn’t exist and they have both the time and energy to experience it.  Eventually most people are like the rest, as we age we become vested in a specific set of items and are convinced they are the best and that we don’t need the new stuff.

As such, the bulk of the consumer market is normally very “skeptical” about new items and are very quick to disregard the solution.  At face value you can look at new technologies/products which strictly speaking where not that new, but captured the market with the right time, marketing, location, price, features, etc that they very quickly established themselves as the the defacto standard.

  • The iPhone is simply a phone with contacts and email, what pulled it above the fray?
  • Facebook is not significantly different from other offering before it.  Yet, it is now the #1 site on the internet.

As often as not, we can look back as the Monday Morning Quarterback and say what went right or wrong, but doing it with foresight is an entirely different problem.

Answer the 9x question and be a billionaire…….


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