Monday, December 29, 2008

The end of another year

.. and time to look back

With 2008 drawing to close I sit here behind my laptop doing some fixes on code broken by others who celebrate the year's end somewhere else with probably much better coffee. Time to blame myself for not doing so, I guess.

It's difficult to completely devote myself to this so I let my mind go wandering, where it will go. Fixing a hole where the rain gets in, keeps my mind from wandering, where it will go.

I am not fixing my roof, but writing a blog post. Works equally good.

Indiana Population Density MapImage via Wikipedia
What happened in 2008?

A lot of stuff happened in 2008. I started the year with my brother and sister in law over in Bloomington, Indiana. An interesting three weeks in a completely different country. The ebst way to know more about your own country and your own habits. About the things you take for granted.

Map of France highlighting the Region of BrittanyImage via Wikipedia

This summer we spent our holiday in France. We visited Bretagne and stayed near the beach on a nice camp site. It was good. Weather was reasonable. Had a good time.

Work related stuff in 2008

I continu to work as a consultant and have done three jobs with totally different outcome. The first, a three month contract that never really got started since the project I was hired to participate in, only had a shifting start and a fixed end date. Then the contract was not extended. Don't know what happened to the project.

Then I got parachuted into a project that was originally taken on by someone from another office for just a couple of days. I proofed to be a disaster area. It was immediately clear that was already there was not state of the art, nor was it doen according to the book. Any book. There was no plan, no design, no clear goal even. No planning. No coordination. I praise myself lucky to have stated so on the very first day. Told them that if there was enough time then we should start from scratch.

Looking back at that project I know that in the end we (I brought in a colleague on the prject) could and should have started from scratch. It would have delivered more and a better product. The only thing I hold against myself is that I did not insist hard enough on a design. There was NO DESIGN. Completely and utterly absolutely nothing. I still do not understand how we worked for all those weeks and why we worked as hard as we did.

But I am happy we just quit the project in time.

Then I got into my present project. A huge project. We are working to build a new system for the Taxes. Several teams are working hard to create the various parts of the system. Interesting and sometimes amusing to see that small projects can have small problems and that big projects have their challenges as well.

And there is more

Apart from this projects that I did (and am doing) on site at the customer. There is also a big ongoing internal project that is slowly getting ready to go really live. An full blown online version of Microsoft Team Foundation Server: Online TFS. Still, only in alpha testing, but oh so close to the beta phase. I can hardly wait for that.

Also I am currently working on my first Silverlight application. It will hopefully be of help with my other time consuming hobby.

Going for a promotion

In my spare time I am the proud trainer and coach of the MHC Steenwijk Ladies team. We are on a steam roller currently have beaten ALL OF THE OTHER TEAMS in the field hockey compettion. 30 points out of a possible 30 points: a totally 100% score! Now in the winter break we are preparing for the second part of the season with still 8 games to go. With 7 wins we secure the title. Maybe less if some of the teams lose points along the way.

My Silverlight application should help me document my training excercises. I plan on releasing it some time in 2009 and then I will make it available to just about everyone. I will keep you posted.


My oldest daughter has moved to a new school this year. My old school. Weird feeling. It seems like only yesterday when I was attending that school. Well, at lot has changed.

My other daughter was champion with her football team ('soccer' for the suckers). My son has probaly beaten you at Mario Kart.

Finally, my wife is going strong and moved to another job and she is hopefully heading the right direction in 2009.

What about 2009?

In the past I have not been very good at predictions. Still, I have some hopes for next year.

My high hopes and wishes for next year:

  • to bring Online TFS out of aplha into beta and into full swing production
  • to start another exciting internal prject
  • to make it to promotion with the Ladies
  • to be champion with the Ladies
  • for my wife, to find joy and satisfaction in her enw job
  • for my kids, to be succesful and happy at school and at sports
  • for my parents, to have a less eventfull year
  • to finish my Silverlight application
  • to have differenet hopes and wishes for 2010

I wish YOU all the best in 2009!

Image representing Microsoft Silverlight as de...Image via CrunchBase
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Broken Nose principle

.. beware

Fractured nose with haemorrhage.Image via Wikipedia
broken nose as punishment

Sometimes, it seems necessary to point someone out that what he did was not reallu correct. He stepped way out of line, made a bad remark or did some damage or almost did some damage. To the company or the company's reputation. Maybe because he was just plain stupid or just did not know what he was doing or causing.

A form of punishment or retribution seems to be in order here. But once that decision is made one need to establish if a simple converstation with a stern look will suffice. Or maybe some stronger method needs to be applied.

Most often when damage could potentially have been done (note that nothing has happened) managers tend to completely overreact and forget to thoroughly investigate what really happened. They usually tend break the nose of the person closest to the cookie jar.

As a figure of speech.

karate kid meets flying mom - _MG_3046.JPGImage by sean dreilinger via Flickr
It sends the wrong kind of signal

They forget everything they ever learned in management training and they start addressing the subject in full view of everyone, start shouting or plain striking away with bad reviews or firing the poor soul.

Even though all these reactions have a time and place and also have just reasons. The problem is that the manager tends to forget to think first. And to investigate before that. First get your evidence complete and then draw your conclusions. Think before you act and investigate before you think.

The defendant usually ends up with a broken nose.

Here's what wrong with this kind of reaction:

  • even though punishment might be needed for the culprit, the reaction is just over the top, there's no connection between cause and effect;
  • others will fail to understand, because they can not see the reason why you react so Big Time;
  • others will dislike your action, because it is in no direct correlation with the error made;
  • others will dislike you and stay away from you, because you seem schizofrenic at best;
  • as a result they will sympatize with the bad guy;
  • all it shows you have no respect or understanding for your people.
  • it is just over reaction, even when it is a correct reaction, reacting too quickly and too loudly will give a bad first impression
  • the event will only help to spread bad news about you and not about the bad guy: it backfires completely.
A broken nose is a bad punishment

A broken nose is not a very good way to punish someone. There are at least five reasons for that

  1. A broken nose is very painful.
  2. A broken nose will keep coming back over the years through minor or major annoyances.
  3. That way a broken nose will keep the grudge alive.
  4. Also a broken nose will make the grudge grow with years.
  5. A broken nose can cause reaction later on: Hey Manager, always look behind you!
LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 26:  O.J. Simpson, (R) a...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Better think twice before you act

before you strike out at anyone, think again and again and always, always get the story from both sides. Simply because when you do punish in any way, you'll never know their reaction.

  • you may have them silent at first, but then what?
  • they may just strike back directly in an unexpected way
  • they may know karate and you may hit yourself
  • maybe they're a Ninja or worse a lawyer or their bigger brother is one

On top of that: it's almost Christmas!

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Monday, December 15, 2008


.. of silly things

In the past week I took some pictures with my phone which I would like to share with you. The pictures have in common that they both brought a smile to my face and a wrinkle on my forehead.

These pictures just make me wonder if there are people out there that just do stupid things out of good intentions.

Inspirational poster
Do what you want

For the past couple of months I have been involved at a project at Getronics PinkRoccade. That was recently taken over by CapGemini. On the 1st of December things got really going. We had coffee cups with the CapGemini logo and there were pens (the whole familiy now uses those) and peppermint and all things wow!

The same day the logo was taken of the building and replaced. Also posters appeared throughout the building. Including the one above.

So, now we are invited to "do what we want". I don't think that will do the progress of the current project much good. On the other hand I ahve now more time to do one or the other blog post.

Parking lot

Then this weekend I visited a restaurant in the NH Hotel just outside of Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands and spotted this sign.

Woman Only parking lot

The parking lot was slightly wider. I measured it and found that this was four steps wide and the others were three steps wide. So, the parking lot was conceived by someone with the conception that women need more space to park their cars in. That must have been a man. A male chauvinist pig with a tiny brain. Every right thinking man knows that women drive in smaller cars so they do not need extra space to park in.

Thinking back I wish I had spotted the sign before I parked my own car. If I had seen it earlier I probably would have parked like an asshole square across at least two parkings spaces. But then again I would have needed a big SUV for that.


Probably both these have been created by someone with good intentions, but they have both failed completely in my opinion. But still they failed with success.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

What happened to the spacer.gif?

.. did it die or reincarnate?

I have been creating web pages almost like forever, it feels. I must have made my first pages in or even before 1998. That's over 10 years ago. On the Internet that is close to infinity.

John Wallis introduced the infinity symbol to ...Image via Wikipedia

I have always been handcoding the pages in some tool or other that helped me to format the code with nice indents. But still I do my coding by hand. At least during the design phase. Later I break down the bits of a page and turn these into controls that produce the same html tags and fill them dynamically from a CMS database or something like that.

Handcoding is good

Because I did and do everything by hand I have never created a table based layout. I just couldn't get the point of putting in loads and loads of tags to produce something. I just didn't and couldn't understand it. It was absolutely not sexy.

Tracey AdamsImage via Wikipedia

So, I didn't have the need for Photoshop my own 1 by 1 pixel transparent spacer.gif. I wonder how many different spacer.gif files have been created throughout the world?

Now more and more web designers and front end developers know that table based designs are not the way to go and the need for the spacer.gif is diminishing.

Yesterday's shocking discovery

I still am used to seeing a good looking design and then viewing the source to see loads of nested tables. It still happens way too often, but it's getting better.

Yesterday however, I was shocked again when viewing source. I saw that this developer had stripped out the spacer.gif. He (or she) had also discovered the use of the <div>. But his (or her) implementation was enough for my jaw to drop open. See the code below. I rest my case.

<td class="shadowLeft">
  <div class="spacer">

Lo and behold, the spacer div has cometh!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Converting a WebSite project to a Web Application project

.. an interesting journey

In the last few weeks we have been preparing a conversion from a WebSite project to a Web Application project in Visual Studio 2005 solution. To complicate things a bit there is also SharePoint in the equation.

The reason to do the conversion was that we could not automate the build process in TFS and subsequently could not automate the deployment. Also the building of the solution itself within Visual Studio was handwork and took about forever.

What did we do?

Well, quite a lot was done to do the conversion. Along the process we were wishing louder and louder that someone had used his brain before picking the WebSite project. We had about 180 User Controls and about the same number of WebParts, that used these user controls. I know, what you want to say, probably not the best architectual design decision. But then again, when you do not take the time to think about the architectual design no one can put the blame on you for making the wrong architectual design . Duh.

We needed to do a two fold conversion: once for the User Controls and once for the WebParts.

TOKYO - AUGUST 06:  Surveillance humanoid robo...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Converting the User Controls

We created a new Web Application project, deleted the Default.aspx and the Web.Config files and then copied all user controls from the WebSite project. Then we did a Convert to Web Application action through the context menu in the Source Explorer. This adds a.o. the designer files.

Using a specially written tool we processed all ascx and ascx.cs files to add namespaces, change and delete some of the attributes on the <%@ Control %> node. And we added a <%@ Assembly %> node.

Converting the WebParts

In the WebParts the UserControls were instatiated in the CreateChildPanel() method by calling the constructor. That needed to be replaced by a Page.LoadControl() command. Another tool was created to do that conversion.

Bumps in the road

We first figured the process out by creating a small and simple Proof Of Concept. That worked like a breeze. Then we started on a copy of the real code. Yep, that's when the manure hit the propellor. We came across multiple problems, mostly because of inconsistencies in the coding. Sometimes there were comments when did not expect them or a code file was not placed in the correct folder. So, some of our assumptions failed and we had some manual clean up after our conversion tools. But that was limited to roughly 20 files. Not too bad.

But we also saw that our Proof Of Concept was many times less complicated than our real world code. That kept us busy with debugging for quite a few days. That and the fact that we were not experienced SharePoint deployers did nt help speed things up.

Ready to roll

Last friday we were ready to roll. We had figured everything out and had fixes for all the small problems that we encountered. So, the monday was set as the big conversion day. We mailed our offshore team in India to stop any work on the code around noon and made a branch in TFS.

The Big Bang conversion

With the script in hand we took the steps one at the time and started the conversion at half past one. Ticking off each step we were ready to try and compile about an hour later. More manure hitting the fan. Some caused by missing references and some by the new code that was created by our friends in India. They did coding while we were testing out the conversion so we were now working with a new code base. So afcing some new interesting bumps.

We only had to do some things a second time, having forgotten to update one of our conversion tools. Gradually we saw the number of build errors go down from 300 and then up a bit again. And finally at half past seven we had a fully building situation we then checked in in TFS.


Today, we hear some enthousiastic noise from fellow developers who find that the solution compiles a lot easier, without any manual building of separate projects and above all a lot faster than before.

Also we are now starting testing the deployment and ironing out any last bugs that are in there.

Lessons learned

The most important lessons learned is that especially in bigger application development projects it is absolutely necessary to think before you do, design before you start building as that will save you loads of time and trouble later on.

Further we have learned a lot about conversion and file manipulation through RegEx and changing files loaded into MemoryStreams which was an interesting excercise as well.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting more hits through a banana

.. and maybe more bananas as well

In recent times I have published about the banana button and its use and also many competely useless posts about bananas. This being a more serious blog (ahum) there must be something about these banan posts. Well, I could try to pull together an interesting study about my GREAT PLAN that can take over the Internet as we know it, but no, no such plan exists. Yet.

There is just something about bananas that has always apeeled to me. I like to eat them, they're tasty and nutritiuous. But they are also connected with a smile: the curve looks like a smile when held up the right way. Bananas also have slapstick component through the eternal slipping on the peel. Top it off with the bright yellow skin and it is just a very attractive piece of fruit.

Why then yet another banana post?

Does the web need yet another piece of nonsense about bananas?


Banana fruit, leaf and vegetableImage by Technofreak via Flickr
Why then continue?

I have seen many visitors ome to this blog from very weird searches in Google and sometimes they seem totally unrelated to the blog and the content. They are however not totally unrelated. As an example, I keep getting traffic from image search for "Pippi Longstocking". I had mentioned her in a post or two along with a picture I had taken in Sweden.

Ann Elk in Sweden

The second post even increased the traffic more.

a perfect dice throw
So. let's change that banana

It's a bit disturbing to get traffic to your blog like that, but on the other hand if you want traffic above anything else it is a way to do just that. In comes the banana! To the rescue comes the banana. For the people: the everlasting banana.

Bananas are healthy

It's just another stupid experiment to continu writing about all aspects of the banana to tray and make this post become one of the banana resources one would find high in serach reslts.

Bananas beat Google

As I have mentioned before apart from bananas bullets are important too.

A quick recap:

  • Bananas are tasty
  • Bananas are nutritious
  • Bananas are fun
  • Bananas are slastick
  • Bananas are superior
  • Bananas are traffic magnets
  • Bananas are Bananas!

Let's go Bananas!

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Five years ago

.. I ran in the dark in Oregon

This morning while scanning my news feeds I cam across this post from the Official Google Blog. It's about running the Hood to Coast run.

I just had to smile. I did that ficve years ago and I really, really like it. Today, by coincidence I am wearing my Hood to Coast tee from five years ago.

Start the day with a smile

The post made me think back of the team I was thrown in at the last moment, being the third reserve. It turned out to be a great adventure and a lot of fun. Met some great people and did some great running in a great part of the world.

Eventhough a small misunderstanding in communication eventually led to a conflict with a chaotic team lead more than a year later, it's a memory I cherish.

I wish I could do it again.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google OS is a browser

.. well, well, well

Today, the world was shook up by Google in almost Apple style. There was a leak a day or maybe hours earlier than it would officially be announced. Or was it on puropse? Anyhow, the blog hive was alive with buzz-buzz-buzz. Google Chrome was announced.

There has been persistent rumors about the secret Google Operating System and any self respecting Google watcher was certain that one day that would become official. And today it has, sort of.

Well, maybe not. The OS is not an OS, it's a browser. A completely new browser. Designed by today's standards and today's demands. Not building on parts of the past.

Google's Hardest Smack Across Microsoft's Face...Image by l0ckergn0me via Flickr
Well a pleasant shock

This is a pleasant shock and I am really looking forward to this and how this browser will behave on my various sites I built. Will they still render as intended. I think so, since the browser uses the WebKit rendering engine.

Much greater is the anticipation about what the general public will think of it. Will they adopt it now there is browser with a really big name out there. There is big reputation at stake here. And will it nibble away more share from Google or will Firefox lose share? Will it become another tech toy for nerds and proffesionals?

Uhm and then this

Also today I came across this article explaining how IE8 behaves on a Windows system. How much memory it grabs and how much processor power it needs. Astonishing! Compare that with the story of Google Chrome and you can only shake your head.

Watching the official announcement

Doing some live blogging ;-)

  • It surely does look sexy.
  • The Omni Box seems more versatile than the Smart Bar, good name.
  • Web application becoming very much like desktop applications
  • There is a Porno Switch as well!
  • Crashing a browser will only crash tab, that's cool. I have seen and still see crashes of Firefox and IE and those ARE annoying!
  • WebKit is blistering fast!
  • Who wouldn't want a V8 under the hood? And what about a V8 running your JavaScript?
  • Built on Danish Virtual Machine expertise. Hidden classes, hmm, interesting.
  • Ha! I am already downloading!
  • Downloading and installing takes less than two minutes to get started as well! Again blistering fast!
  • 20:58 local time I am now editing this blog post in Google Chrome! I might be one of the first in the World!!!
  • LOL ".. based on my extensive testing for the last three minutes"
  • LOL Statistics for nerds
  • I am really impressed, but will still hold on to Firefox for the time being, but also will be using Google Chrome!

So, I had a quick look at one the statistics that run on my site to see what the Chrome browser is identfied as and .. Lo and behold! It's being recognized as Safari 1.3! This will no doubt be fixed pretty soon. But there is also a mention of Chrome there.

Blog log
Safari 1.3 Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.0; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/525.13


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Friday, August 15, 2008

Google AdSense for Feeds

.. just a quick test

Just read a post about Google AdSense for Feeds and decided to give it a go. Not to get filthy rich (again) but just to see if I could set it up in no time.

So I jumped straight into my AdSense portal and after some clicks and going back and forth to FeedBurner I think I have it set up correctly. Well, I hope I have. Not sure when or how I will see AdSense popup in my feed.

Paris album coverImage via Wikipedia

Head on over an have a look at The new feed.

Well, now for some fun

Just to try and some Olympic Pool size attention by just adding in completely irrelevant keywords like iPhone G3 failures, Paris Hilton, Michael Phelps and see what will happen.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Wanna tip?

.. go ahead

Recently tipping on the Internet has gained some momentum. It's nearing the tipping point, ahum. On various blogs and site you see things popping up like Tipjoy. Sites like these provide the possibility to tip the authors of good, helpful, funny or entertaining content.

I try to be an author of good, helpful, funny or entertaining content. So, I have decided to include a Tipjoy button in my sidebar on the right. It's an experiment.

Probably will never get rich though

I do not think that I will soon be maintaining this blog from a yacht in the Carribean with Satelite Internet but you'll never know.

Looking at the numbers I published recently when literally every visitor clicks the button an donates $0.10 then over a period of almost three years I would make $1271,10. That would hardly pay for a inflatable boat with outboard engine and would certainly not get me to the Carribean.

But then again, you'll never know. So, please start clicking.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Just some numbers

.. I kinda like

While waiting for a virtual image to finish installing and configuring itself I had a glimpse at my Google Analytics figures. I have had that running on this blog since November 2005 and have been pleased with it all the way. Lot's of stats and graphs that show me quite a bit about who reads what on this blog.

I decided to select the entire range from the start in November 2005 until today and saw some happy numbers. I know that many sites generate these kind of numbers in a single day and some of the bigger blogs might need a month or less to achieve this. But still, I think it's something. Impressive, to me at least.

  • 15442 Visits
  • 12711 Unique visitors
  • 21839 Page views
Numbers in my life - ComputerImage by Jeff_Werner via Flickr

Well, that's enough to give myself a good feeling going into the weekend. Hey! the virtual machine is ready. Back to work!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

There are more like me

.. and out there in the wild

How about a banana shoe?

I would vote for it. But do it quickly, voting ends today.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I took it again

.. and again, so should you

If you are one of these people who are involved in creating web sites then it is the time again to fill in the great A List Apart survey for people who make websites

Porsche Type 12, Model 1:5 at Nuremberg Museum...Image via Wikipedia

Just click on the button and do your thing. the survey for people who make websites

Looking forward

I wonder what kind of trends they will identify this year.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Almost unnoticed

.. but I have posted the 250th blog post

This being the 251st. Sweet!

Defintely worth a picture. banana smile

Next target: 500 posts

I have no idea when it will be that I reacht the 500th post, but I am silently aiming at that. But lately, I haven't had that much time to write. I have been in France and saw Bretagne. Some of it coming vertically, some of it diagonally but also some of it coming in horizontally. But most of it under a cloudless sky.

I just realised that due to some remarks by a former employer (without being based on any real facts) I have unpublished some posts. And now I am not so certain that I have 250 (or 251) posts on this blog.

Flag of BrittanyImage via Wikipedia
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Women are better

.. or not?

It is apparently one of these days today. Two remarkable male - female controversies in the IT arena pop up. Totally unrelated.

First: Molly

Molly Holzschlag reports about an event that is to be held at Hooter's. A "Geek Meet". Clearly the organizers only expect men to attend. The women that will be around are only there to be gazed and looked at.

Seems a bit retarded to set up such a meeting there. Especially when someone comments that the food isn't particularly good.

Second: WSJ

And from the opposite corner on comes the Wall Street Journal with an article citing Emma McGrattan, the senior vice-president of engineering for computer-database company Ingres–and one of Silicon Valley’s highest-ranking female programmers. She states that men and women write code differently.

Sounds fair enough: we are different after all in many respects so why not in the area of writing code.

Wall Street Journal
Men Write Code from Mars, Women Write More Helpful Code from Venus

But ...

Women write more helpful code

Women, supposedly write more helpful code. Code that's clarified by many lines of comment showing someone who has to work with code later a road map of the principles behind the code. Men like to keep it cryptic to show off how good they are.

Emma McGrattan
Women are more touchy-feely and considerate of those who will use the code later. Men, on the other hand, have no such pretenses. Often, they try to show how clever they are by writing very cryptic code

Well, having worked on code from others I have learned that putting in comment is very helpful for the next developer. I have taughht myself to insert comments whenever the code becomes a bit fuzzy. And sometimes I put my thoughts, my design into comments first.

Intialize this, loop through all items, return result
things like that.

I have not much experience with female developers (there aren't that many around) and the one I have worked with was pretty solid. I do agree on that point. But to state that in general men try to write a scryptic as possible where women write touchy-feely code ... It's just a bit over the top.

The battle has just begun

What both these articles have in common is that there is still a lot of misunderstanding in battle of the sexes in teh IT arena. Some men hardly realizes that there are women in this line of field. Some women apparently need to make clear that they are oncemore the superior race, which is a pretty strange thing to claim when you are battling for emancipation.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Work & hobbies

.. and what to do with them?

A lot of people do jobs they absolutely not like to do. There's also a lot of people who really like what they do. And the majority, I guess, somewhere in between.

So, it's safe to say that most people at work would rather be doing something else. Most of these people have interesting hobbies. Hobbies, you might not expect. Bus drivers who sing in an opera choir. Brick layers who help out at a local institute for blind people. Or who are collecting stamps. Or gardening. Or being a football coach.

Gardener GardeningImage via Wikipedia
Turning your hobby into your work

Wouldn't these people be absolutely delighted when they could make their hobby their work? Earn a living singing opera, helping the blind, designing gardens and being a coach and beating Italy 3-0. That's seems great.

Maybe everybody has a dream somewhere deep inside where they do only that one thing they would really love to do. No more dull work, just the thing you love.

Wouldn't that be just great?

How about apple pie every day?
Apple pie with lattice upper crustImage via Wikipedia

How about apple pie every single meal?

That will probably be too much after only a couple of days. It means there's only singing opera or gardening and nothing else. You will have a great job, but you also have lost the hobby. And with the cherry on the cake. The cherry that you used to save for the last bite. Because you so enjoyed it.

How about that? Hmm, better not jump into turning your hobby into your work.

And the other way around?

I have also seen people submerging themselves in their work. Working many, many hours every day. Being so devoted that thrive on their work. Finding their satisfaction in working, working, working. They have turned their job into something very much like a hobby.

To me a disturbing thought. These people forget their family and fiends and also forget colleagues with families and friends. These people have gone too far the other way.

So, where's the Holy Grale?

I don't know if there is a Holy Grale, but there must be balance between work and play. Have something special on the menu as a dessert and something else to feed the stumach. That way you can leave the restaurant a happy man.

And return time and time again.

My adcice: stay hungry!

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Monday, May 19, 2008

A banana a day

.. keeps your visitors at bay

Readers of this blog may have noticed my passion for bananas as they are all over the site and pages. I just think the banana is a nice thing, easily recognized object, it's tasty, nutritiuos, kids and adults love them. Well, I better stop before I the water from my mouth starts to run on to the keyboard.

This is a picture of bananas on a countertop.Image via Wikipedia

But there's more to bananas than just fruit. There is? yes, there is. The banana is a symbol that brings a smile to a face, because you know someone might slip on the peel. The banana is also oasis of distraction in a busy world. Hmm that might just stretch it a bit.

The banana as part of the website optimization

Yes, again this seems far fetched, but I do believe in it. I have seen an experiment happen and I saw the effect it had, but can not go into much detail. But, today I found an article on a Dutch site that describes almost exactly the same strategy of using a banana on a webpage.

Here's the story

For those readers that can not read Dutch I give this short translation.

The article is about the three B's of SEO.

  • Bananas
  • Bullets
  • Bold

Starting bottom up. Using bold throughout the text makes it significantly easier to scan. Users can quickly identify the important words and phrases on a page. As a bonus search engines recognize these important keywords as well.

the use of bullets is already shown above. A small list is very easily recognized and is also easily scanned. If you get 4 seconds to scan a page you will straight away go for the headers and sub headers, bold words and the bulleted lists. Mind you, web readers tend to scan pages even fatser than that!

Finally, the banana. It seems a bit out of place, but the article tells about Seth Godin who states that "website visitors are like little monkeys looking for bananas". A picture of a banana on a webpage acts like a strong magnet that pulls the mouse and vistor towards it. The urge to click is irresistable. Create a big button with just a banana on it and users will just start to click on it and they know they will get where they want to go.

I know it works

I have seen the banana on a site and I have seen the data and I know it works. I will now find me a big banana picture and create me nice big banana button.

It's so easy to mistake a madman for a genius and vice versa.


Yes, I could resist it. And then again: who can resist the call of the banana?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Go to South Africa and get certified

.. and have a great time

I know, I know, it's been a while. But I have been busy struggling with spaghetti code for a client that provided the spaghetti without a cookbook (but that's another story).

And that's not all that I have been working on.

New site

After being in the works for quite some time today a new site was launched: Training ICT. This site offers a great way to get Microsoft certified in a truly inspiring part of the world.

Good for employers

Many employers find it an absolute must that employees are fully Microsoft certified and send them to a couple of training courses. The employees are than not productive, but hey it serves a greater purpose! Fully certified personel brings in greater revenue! (At least that's what they believe.)

Sending them out on courses costs time and money, but does not guarantee that they get certified: they need to pass their exams! Wouldn't it be nice if you could get some form of guarantee? Time and money well spent.

Good for employees

So, what's in it for the employees? Going to a course is always fun in some way. It's better than real work, duh. You learn something new and the lunch is great. But what if there would be something more? Some real fun mixed into it?

The concept

The idea is simpel and great:

  • take a plane to South Africa,
  • stay there for three weeks,
  • do a couple of courses,
  • pass the exam and become fully certified
  • AND go on some wonderful day trips in glorious South-Africa!

When you come from Europe you will have no jetlag as well!

The price is very acceptable when comparing the prices of the individual courses to the overall price a lifetime trip like this.

Go and have look on the Fast Track!

On the site on certification is pelled out completely, but the possiblities are unlimited. Get on the Fast Track to certification!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A discussion about creation

.. too early in the morning

Every now and then I am invited to a job interview to sit at the employers side of the table.'That is kind of fun as well. I do enjoy sitting on the other side, because I have the feeling that I am the one who is to make the decision whether to take the position or not. Once they have invited me for the interview I am pretty close to getting hired. At least that is the mood I try to get myself into on most of these occasions.

As I am a developer I mostly attend the interviews for developers. I am usually the ally of the prospect in that sense. The manager that sits there as well is most of the time a non-developer. Someone who knows we need someone with .NET and C# skills, but has no real idea what that means. I am there to see if he or she has any real developer's skills.

Questions to ask

A colleague of mine has very goo question to ask the candidate. He tells the candidate that we would like the manager start programming or at least understand some more what we are doing. One of the things the manager still can not understand is, what is Object Orientation? Can the candidate explain that so the manager can understand the concept. I have heard some hilarious answers to that question. One of the apparent advantages of Object Orientation is that you can spread the objects across multiple servers. The same candidate explained some of the aspects of OO with a dog as an example, one the methods could be Bark() or Sit(). When asked how one would distribute such behavior across multiple servers he fell silent.

Another good and slightly more tricky question to ask is about difference between the terms class, type and object. I must admit that I had to think about that one to come up with a good example. I propose the following example of a Person class, with as properties: first name, last name and birth date. Let's pass those along in the constructor and you get to the following code:

Person person = new Person(firstname, lastname, birth date);

The first word "Person" is the type of the object "person" being created. The class is Person in which a.o. the used constructed is found.

All right, purists, kill me in the comments, but it gently.

A question to ask

I then started to let my mind go wandering where it will go.

I thought about namespaces. I happened to have been in some discussion with namespaces and doing it better than it was in common practice at this job I was at.

The class Person would be in something called

  • Human

Then I started expanding:

  • Nature.Human
  • Earth.Nature.Human
  • Creation.Nature.Human
  • God.Creation.Nature.Human

Hmm, sounds like intelligent design. Note that I haven't named God, that would turn off some other Persons from the namespace Hardcore.Christian.God.Creation.Nature.Human.

Or for those rather having the Evolution Theory, it could be something like:

  • Darwin.Evolution.Mammal.Primate.Human

But working along these ideas, ultimately, all namespaces would be positioned below God or Darwin. That would be strange idea. And what about the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

The God Class

Then I found myself wondering about the God class. "You should never create a God class." It must be one of the ten Developer's Commandments. Which namespace would that God class be in? I became stuck at this point. I at least understand now why I should never create a God class, because there is no namespace to put it in.

On top of that does the God class derive from object? Or from a divine object? Or the other way around: does object derive from God?


So, there I was completely philosophical before 9 in the morning. Suffice to say, I didn't get much work done all day. Especially no Divine Work.

Please someone help! Define divine!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Calling all bananas

.. at least some of them

Just a simple link this time.

I think it's enough.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Trying out another Firefox extension

.. as if I needed yet another one

Today I installed the ScribeFire extension in Firefox. Former known as Performancing for Firefox.

The extension supposedly makes blogging a lot easier. And not just blogging on Blogger, but more than that. You can connect to multiple blog applications. You can keep notes. But it doesn't make you a cappucino.

Needs some getting used to

It sits snuggly in the bottom right corner of the status bar and it pops up at the bottom in a nice big size. It does seem to have quite a few options and I will need time to tweak these to my liking. As I am a source writer (I insert my own html tags) I may need more time to find out how I can make it produce the right type of html. I don't want <br/> for instance, I want the pure pleasure of the <p> tag.

I might get back on this extension.

This post was written the good old Blogger Editor, the previous post I initially fired off using ScribeFire, but then edited it in the Blogger Editor as I did not like the html.

What's all this then?

... have you gone completely gone bananas?

Well, to be honest, yes I think I am getting a bit too banana focussed. It's gotten out of hand and on the floor and that's dangerous as the peels are slippery. So better watch where place your feet.

Or better still, get a tricycle.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A banana a day

.. keeps the ... away

Well, I don't know about this type of banana, but I do not think this is something I would show in public.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blog traffic by Pippi Longstocking

.. weird numbers

I haven't been too active on this blog in the last few months and am only picking things up a bit again. But I always kept some traffic. And I had a liitle more detailed look at that traffic and I just had to laugh.

I noticed that a lot of people were coming to the blog from Images searches on Google. In particular I found that a photo that I linked to last year before I went on holiday to Sweden for the first time in my life. I had posted a picture of Pippi Longstocking and apparently that attracts people to my blog.

Pippi Longstocking, once again!
Pippi Longstocking

So here she is once again: Pippi Longstocking! This time a picture I made myself in the Astrid Lindgren park near Vimmerby. See if traffic picks up on this as well.

Bananas in pyjamas

.. cool?

I was hinted at these bananas.

Not really sure what to think of them, still bananas are bananas!

Monday, February 11, 2008


.. just because

banana ooooom!

Every now and then a banana does one good. Here's one for the people who need them the most!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Google Docs has an interesting new feature

.. and it came at the right moment

Today I discoverd on the Offical Google Docs blog that they have introduced a new feature. You can now share a spreadsheet through a customizable form. Or perhaps it is easier explained the other way round: you can now create a form (like a survey or something similar) that you can send out by email and have the entered data land in a Google Docs spreadsheet. You can then process that information further.

Well, what a coincidence

I am busy doing an internal project which I have hinted about in the past and have come to the point where I would like to get some feedback from my colleagues. Since they are spread out doing various projects at various companies, it is a bit time wasting to wait until the next monthly meeting. So, the online survey thingy from Google Docs comes in very handy!

So, I carefully pulled together the questions I have and created the online form. That is really simple. Type the question (with an optional explanatory paragraph), pick the type of question, for (multi-)select questions (radio buttons or checkboxes) enter the possible questions and continue to the next question. When all the questions are done, you just fill in the email addresses of the people who you want to ask the questions and send it away.

You can keep the spreadsheet open to see the entries coming in, or add a gadgets to your iGoogle page. And by George, it works!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Just a test post

.. well that's what it is

Not really that much here in the sense of real content. I am just testing if I can publish a blog post from Google Docs. Just for testing, hence the bogus content that goes on and on and on.

And now you read it ...

.. and you know it works. It might be a bit weird to look at, but then I will probably jump in the Blogger editor and clean things up. If not I will just leave it at this. I will post an update anyhow.

That is all

Yep, that is all.


Well, it sort of works. There seem to be some difference in presentation or it is me. Now I am updating the post from within the Blogger editor and I will see if that makes thing normal again.


Using Google Docs as the editor has some advantages over the Blogger editor. But nothing really shocking AFAICT.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who's the scary man?

.. and why is he touching me?

Hang in there girl! He will go away soon.

I know, it can never be soon enough.

Yes, he is gone!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Trying to understand what the fuss is all about

.. and trying to understand

Yesterday a small storm was started by two articles:

Hundreds of comments have erupted and I am guilty as charged.

X-UA-Compatible provides a switch for IE to know what the developer wants: does the developer want the old wild west behavior, or a more standards-based behavior?
Now, what is it about?

Slowly and surely I begin to understand what this all about. It takes some time. You have to let the dust settle a bit. Then you can see more clearly again. And think clearly.

The fuss is about a special meta-tag proposed by Microsoft that you can put in a web page to make IE8+ understand which IE version rendering the page requires. It's, for now at least, only applicable to IE8+. Other browsers can ignore it.

When the tag is not present IE8+ will render default in IE7 fashion.

So, what is it really about?

When you are a web developer, like I am, and are really into using web standards, like I am, is this threatening? Not really, I think.

Consider this: you have created a web site using web standards and displays good in all browsers you think it should: Firefox, IE6 and 7, Safari, Opera and the like. Now when Microsoft brings out IE8 your site will display in IE7 fashion and you already have it tested against that. It should not give you any extra work.

Maybe, you have used some really clever stuff, like generated content, that doesn't work in IE7. Without the appropriate tag this will not work in IE8. But if you would like this to work in IE8, you could set the value for the X-UA-Compatible meta tag to "edge" any version of IE8+ will try its utmost and use its newest (and hopefully best) rendering engine. So, you have a good chance that your generated content will show up. However, some other stuff may break, because you may have coded against an IE7 rendering quirk.

Using the "edge" setting, has some advantages, but also some uncertainties and you may not want to be confronted with these by a client on a Friday afternoon when your buddies wait at the door to go to the pub.

So, again, what is it really about?

The fuss seems like a huge storm and people should me think it over for some time. Wait until after the weekend.

To me it says that when IE8 is upon us and I create another website and I want to use the newer, better IE8 rendering engine I need to put in that X-UA-Compatible meta tag. Meaning I will have to test my site against IE8, IE7 and possible IE6 and all the other browsers I mentioned before. In all other situations I can just leave out the tag and test thoroughly against IE7 and only superficially in IE8, just to see if Microsoft lives up to its promise.

So, where do I stand?

At this moment I think that there will be very limited occasions where I would want to use the X-UA-Compatible meta tag. It also feels a bit too non-standard, too alien. In some very special situations one would want to use, but these will be extremely rare. As far as I can see now.

Let's get back to the work that's in my to do list.

And now Håkon Wium Lie (CTO of Opera Software) has tossed his dime into the discussion.

Be sure to read the comments on this post. I hope that it shows clearly that I am not happy with the default behaviour of IE when the X-UA-Compatible meta tag is omitted. But it also explains that I expect never to use the blistering tag anyhow!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Food for thought

.. and lots of disucussions

Today A List Apart published issue 251 which contains two articles that already shock the readers. According to the comments.

Aaron Gustafson and Eric Meyer bring on a new look at browsers and how they should handle sites now and in the future. It's a whole new approach and one that has me still in state of "What?!" and I know I will have to read these articles again and yet again to maybe understand their impact.

Head on over there!

Read the articles again and again. This could be important. No, this is important. One way or the other.

It could be very important day today and then again maybe not.


I couldn't resist and have submitted a comment on A List Apart. Someone said: "it seems a sad day for web development". Well, I don't know abou that, but "it is a confusing day for web development"

it is a confusing day for web development

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fear mongering?

.. or the future?

Having been involved in information security in the past and in the present I have looked at things hackers (or rather crackers) can do to systems, this cames as no real surprise.

Hackers to Blame for Power Outages

This is nothing new in that it is only just possible to do these kind of things. It was something that was bound to happen some time. All public services or institutions should be aware that they can be a target for these types of criminals. If your services can be disrupted and that would harm you or your customers (and they will seek compensation from you!), then it is interesting for a cracker to blackmail you. When that time comes you better be prepared for that.

Banks and most financial institutions are already aware of this risk and have all kinds of security measures in place. Not just digital (firewalls and the like), but also physical (good locks and entrance badges) and more importantly they propagate awareness amongst their staff: the weakest link of the security chain. Social engineering almost always does the trick.

But not only the financial sector should have a defense in place: all utility firms should be ready. Apparently that is not the case.

But is the situation really that bad

However, I have my doubts about the press release. There is no real information. No specific events are mentioned. It creates fear amongst people, without real evidence.

Does the CIA want more money? That is the feeling I get from this news.

But then again, I do feel that there is a real risk for utility companies and that they really should prepare. They should put security measures in place. Or learn the hard way. If you don't build it, they will come!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back again!

.. but I wish I wasn't!

Three weeks in the States was fun and relaxing. And now, already, I wish I was back there. Again at work, doing stuff that is not always that interesting and satisfying. It is hard. Life sucks.

Well, that is a bit too hard. Still, I am already making plans for returning to Indiana. Some pictures of the trip.

So what's up?

Well, you can now find some aggregated personal info on Spock. Yes and I do Twitter! And have a look at my shared news feeds / items in Google Reader.

Well, that's it for now.

And then this

If anyone cares to give me a spare Apple MacBook Air, I would not mind at all!