Windows Procrastination Foundation (WFP)

Windows Vista was released on Nov 30 for businesses – OK about time
.NET framework 3.0 was included which includes the runtime for the Windows Presentation Foundation – it is also available as a download for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 – lovely
Visual Studio 2005 has no designer support for WFP 4 months later – hoorah, oh… what? really?

Hard to believe that one of the huge fanfare technologies of Windows Vista has no serious tool support isn’t it? Well there’s Notepad and the erm… XAMLPad… and… 3rd party tools and convertors…

So when will there be Microsoft support for WFP?
Well there was a Nov CTP of designer support in VS 2005 but the download page is quick to mention that it make not be the same as the final support in Visual Studio codenamed Orcas.
When can I get Orcas? That’s due um… sometime later in 2007, with a March 2007 CTP available. So I’d need to use a less than beta version to get that support.

So I’m now left to consider things like Flash, Direct3D or some serious owner-drawing for a funky interface.

Wait, do I even want a funky interface? Perhaps all that UI consistency that Microsoft has instilled with their many UI design guideline documents will go out the window.

Well, it would make some pretty kiosk and web-launched applications (if everyone has Vista or the .NET 3.0 runtime download installed that is).

Oh well…

Bait, switch and upgrade with DRM-free music

OK – who isn’t talking about this? DRM-free EMI tracks at a higher price and higher quality on iTunes.

I think it comes down to this:

  • you’re still (for now) locked into the Apple eco-system – Apple win;
  • you can get music at high quality and DRM-free – consumer win;
  • many people will re-buy or upgrade songs to get the higher quality or non DRM – EMI win

It’s marketing – someone thought it through…

People will do that last one for the same reason that people buy something on DVD that they already have on VHS – and when will Star Wars come out on Blu-ray or HD-DVD so all geeks feel compelled to buy it again??

The bait is DRM-free or high quality music. The switch is that people will likely spend money on music they already had. If you’re reading this and thinking you’re too clever for that, then this marketing scheme wasn’t aimed at you and you are likely in the minority. This deal is for people who buy stuff just because it’s on sale.

Of course even if the other major industry players cave, DRM will not come off rental/subscriptions deals which of course is perfectly rational.

No new fast food tricks?

I went to McTroggles on the weekend for the first time in over a year.

I wasn’t sure what they’d have but I was quite surprised to see that the menu really hasn’t changed in quite some time. Sticking syrup in a bun seems to be the last big ‘innovation’.

Come to think of it, I haven’t really seen anything new in fast food TV commercials either.

Has innovation in the fast food industry come to a stand still?

SQL Server 2005 Integration Services – Not bad

I have colleagues that have been using this for 8 months or so, and I just took the dive into using it properly myself yesterday.

SQL Server 2005 Integration Services is part of the Business Intelligence set of SQL tools that replaced DTS packages from SQL Server 2000. It’s heart is in the right place, but it’s definately a V1 product.

I should have probably looked at the Adventure Works samples because it wasn’t easy to get into. However, once you figure out what all the bundled task and data flow tools do, you are ready to go…

Well almost:

  • the designer interface is slow (even on an fast machine)
  • error messages are all horribly truncated with the hover tool tips not being too helpful
  • the debugging is pretty bad in terms of being able to really see what’s going on
  • it’s possible to get items corrupted in which case you need to delete, reinsert and reconfigure

However, it is doing the job I want it to do – create a data warehouse from database, webservice and CSV sources using excel reference data – put it’s a little painful at times. Getting the security right to run one of these packages in SQL is also a fun configuration job. Of course, I can create custom tasks and data flow items if I want to which is a plus.

I admit to not yet having installed SQL Server 2005 SP2 and Visual Studio 2005 SP1, so I’ll give those a go.

I’m about to shift to Vista and I know SP2 is needed (plus a hot fix) to make scripted tasks work in the new OS.

I’m wondering whether they will replace the control takes with Windows Workflow Foundation at some point. I can see how needs could have arisen simultaneously but that either the fit or the timing wasn’t quite right…

Frankenstein parents

So I was out driving along at 7am this morning when I hear an ad on the local radio station for a company that will do cosmetic surgey on babies. The ad mentions how babies and young children are still adaptable, etc. It even promotes the service as good for beauty pageant hopefuls.

I’m pretty sure it was an April Fool joke, or at least I hope it was and I couldn’t remember the web address they gave.

However I bet there are parents out there who do get elective cosmetic surgey for their children for the purpose of enhancing their beauty pageant chances.

Anyone who caught the pilot episode of “The Great American Dream Vote” (the cheesiest show on TV by far and hosted by Donny Osmond) on Mon March 26th 2007, can see the enthusiam some people have for getting their children in pageants, enough that a contestant mentioned twice that kids had died from cancer but were buried with pageant crowns on their heads that her daughter raised money to buy. The contestant’s dream was for her daughter to be Miss America. OK, the girl visits dying kids and keeps them company, but come on… I think people tend to have one of two extreme reactions to this story. The fact that Jimmy Kimmel was joking about it on Tuesday night gives you the general impression out there. Perhaps this is where the radio station got their idea for the joke from – I really hope it was a joke.

Life… Art… Life, etc.

Movie review: Blades of Glory

Those were some glorious blades…

The laughs kept on coming in Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. A couple of male champion figure skaters get into fight and are banned for life from singles figure skating… but not from doubles. That, a love interest, and a hell-bent-on-winning brother-sister doubles skating pair for competition, sets the plot for the rest of the movie, and surprisingly the premise manages to last all the way through. William Fichtner, who seems to be in lots of things these days including Fox’s now-slightly-dragging-on-and-it’s-going-to-be-break-out-Sarah-for-Season-3-it-seems but still entertaining Prison Break.

Fortunately Jon Heder didn’t seem like his usual depressed dork character which was a concern going in. The audience kept on laughing and some gags got a bit of a roll going, but it wasn’t a total gut buster. It was a great unwinder of a movie to see.

I wonder what’s next in Will’s subject-matter trail – Brooms of Bravado? That could be a Curling or a Wizard movie.