<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples

25Sep/06Off

Go Scarlet Knights!

Posted by Charles Chen

I never thought I'd see the day.  Rutgers football having a winning season?  It was but a common joke on campus (the football team that is).  But what do you know?  It turns out that Rutgers is now #23 on the AP top 25!

No joke. Rutgers is ranked.

The Scarlet Knights, long a
college football laughingstock, moved Sunday into The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in 30 years.

Applause for Greg Schiano, the coaching staff, and his players.

Filed under: Miscellany No Comments
20Sep/06Off

On Leadership and Teamwork

Posted by Charles Chen

A great quote by Joe Torre I came across in an article on A-Rod's recent struggle:

"What Jason said made me realize that I had to go at it a different way," Torre says. "When the rest of the team starts noticing things, you have to get it fixed. That's my job. I like to give individuals what I believe is the room they need, but when I sense that other people are affected, teamwise, I have to find a solution to it."

It's also a great article in and of itself and speaks a lot about how our own expectations, not to mention the expecations of those around us (in this case, millions of Yankees fans) can weigh down on our ability to perform.

I think it also reveals a lot about how one should approach difficult tasks. To seek assistance, guidance, and counsel are things that many avoid in tough times due to pride or some such inner roadblock, but in fact, honesty and openness are the likely best approach. Honesty with oneself about the expecations and one's failure to meet said expectations.

It's well worth a read.

Filed under: Life No Comments
19Sep/06Off

Try OpenDNS

Posted by Charles Chen

So I came across OpenDNS somehow last night and read about the service that they provide.  From my days as a CS major, I was familiar with the high level workings of the DNS infrastructure and OpenDNS's explanation, at least in theory, made sense.  The gist of it is that somewhere out there, there exists a network of DNS (Domain Name Servers) translating the alphanumeric URL that you type into your browser address bar into numeric IP addresses.  This can be a slow process if the initial DNS does not contain a mapping for the URL that you entered as it means that the DNS will have to consult another DNS (and so on) until it is retrieved.

Of course, I was a bit skeptical of just how much performance there was to gain, but I have to say that it is noticeably zippier browsing today.

So I would give it a shot and see if it makes any difference.

Filed under: Technology 1 Comment
19Sep/06Off

More Exmplary Craftsmanship

Posted by Charles Chen

Awesome...simply awesome: paper cutout art.

Jawdropping even.

More here.

From the creator:

I find the A4 sheet of paper interesting to work with, because it probably still is the most common and consumed media and format for carrying information today, and in that sense it is something very loaded. This means that we rarely notice the actual materiality of the A4 paper. By removing all the information and starting from scratch using the blank white 80gms A4 paper as basic for my creations, I feel that I have found a material which, on one hand, we all are able to relate to, and which on the other hand is non-loaded and neutral and therefore easier to fill with different meanings. The thin white paper gives at the same time the paper sculptures a fragility which underlines the tragic and romantic theme of the works.

Filed under: Awesome No Comments
18Sep/06Off

Workflow and SharePoint

Posted by Charles Chen

Good stuff.  Good freaking stuff.

If you haven't done so already, there's an excellent high level white paper by David Chappell that you should download (if you work with such things like Office and SharePoint) which provides important information so far as system architecture is concerned with regards to integrating workflow and Office.

(Via Paul Andrew).

Small footnote: it's been a year since this blog has been up! :-)

Filed under: .Net, Dev No Comments
13Sep/06Off

Grow Up…

Posted by Charles Chen

Warning: strong language ahead...

So I'm attending this webcast on Microsoft Project Server 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh and I can't believe the stupid motherfuckers on the call who:

  • Can't mute their god-damned phones.
  • Can't leave the screen alone so the presenter can continue.
  • Insist on asking questions on the document instead of in chat.
  • Start drawing on the document...

Motherfuckers...you'd think we'd be a little better behaved than high school kids...Man, we're all professionals and most importantly, we're all adults man!  WTF?

And then, with regards to the install procedure for the Technical Refresh:

"Yes, I know this is painful, but due to time and resource constraints, this is the best we could come up with."

Garrrrrrrrrgh!

And then the kicker: you can't have SharePoint Beta 2 TR and Project Server Beta 2 TR on the same machine...You MUST install SharePoint Beta 2 TR on a seperate server first and then install Project Server Beta 2 and TR on a second server.

While the reasoning behind using the patching procedure is understandable, what is not so clear is why they do not make both types of upgrades (patch and clean/standalone) available so that some people can test the patching if they are interested in that aspect and that others (the majority) can just test the functionality of Project Server (and not have to worry about the complexity of applying the patch).  The complexity of the TR patch itself will make it likely that many will skip over the TR beta testing and simply continue to use the Beta 2 version.

Even more annoying, no further patches will be provided (no Release Candidates) until RTM so that the bugs in TR will persist until RTM.  I suspect this approach will backfire on the Project team as most people will end up simply using Beta 2 without applying the TR patch.

"B-Team" indeed...

Filed under: Dev, Rants No Comments
12Sep/06Off

Talk About Ridiculous…

Posted by Charles Chen

So it looks like the EU is trying to pick Microsoft's pocket again.  The EU is up in fits about Microsoft's inclusion of security features such as Windows Firewall and warns Microsoft that inclusion of such features would bring further fines against it in the future.

Regarding the new security features in Vista, Jonathon Todd, an EU spokesman said:

"Less diversity and innovation would ultimately harm consumers through
reduced choice and higher security risks."

What?  Wait, so having an OS that's, by default, not secured at all, somehow helps consumers?  It's entirely contradictory and the EU has lost all credibility with this move.  The inclusion of default security measures is a gesture to help improve the user experience and make sure that users aren't exposed.  If such features were not included, users would likely not even be aware of the need for security related software until it's too late.

It's not as if Microsoft is blocking others from installing security related software on Vista, it's simply providing some simple functionality out of the box so that there is always protection available to the consumer, whether he or she is aware of the need for such software.

And I'm sure if Microsoft didn't include default security software, the EU would have a different stance and claim Microsoft wasn't protecting consumers by providing a stop-gap solution until third party security solutions were installed.

What a debacle...

Filed under: Rants, Technology No Comments
11Sep/06Off

Remembering September 11, 2001

Posted by Charles Chen

I don't want to get all mushy here and get too deep into this historic event.  I remember being awoken by my girlfriend then (now wife) with a frantic call to turn on the TV after the first plane had already crashed into the World Trade Center.  I watched in disbelief, as if it were some sort of fiction, as the second plane crashed into the second tower on live television.


My mother was a mere five blocks away from the World Trade Center...it was quite frantic trying to check on her condition as all of the cellular channels were overloaded.  Luckily, she was unharmed and was able to make it out of the city that evening.


There's not much else to comment on this I guess, so I'll leave this with a photograph that I took in March of 2002:


World Trade Center Memorial

Filed under: Life No Comments
9Sep/06Off

This Sounds….

Posted by Charles Chen

Pretty freaking awesome, actually:

A half-mile below the surface of the New Mexico desert, the federal government is interring thousands of tons of monstrously dangerous leftovers from its nuclear weapons program --plutonium-infested clothing, tools and chemical sludge that will remain potentially lethal for thousands of years to come.

The berm will be implanted with magnets and radar reflectors to make it obvious that it’s not a natural formation. A structure in the center of the space and two subterranean rooms will hold detailed information on the facility, and hundreds of super-hard disks printed with pictographic danger signs will be scattered throughout its 120 acres.

"We looked at what messages had come from deep in time to the present, like the pyramids," explains David B. Givens, an anthropologist specializing in non-verbal communication who helped conceive the warning system. "It boils down to stones," he says -- the only medium so far to have established a track record of retaining messages for as long as 5,000 years.

It's kind of cool to imagine what sorts of creatures will come upon this monument in several millenia and what our world will look like then. It gets me thinking about our perspective of time; we tend to think of things as being non-transient since our life span is limited, but certainly, history shows that entire cities have been buried in natural catastrophes in the past. What will the world look like 5000 years from now when the unnatural signals emminated by this monument draws intelligent life towards it?

Pretty cool, huh?

Filed under: Awesome No Comments
6Sep/06Off

The Woes of Beta Software

Posted by Charles Chen

There's always a "cool-factor" invovled with working with beta software and trying the latest products out before anyone else.  It's definitely quite exciting to see some of the new features of Office 2007 in action and actually dig into Project Server 2007 and SharePoint Services 3.0.

At the same time, it's also incredibly frustrating, especially if you're the one that has to set up the beta environment :-S.

I've been hunched over my PC and laptop over the last 4-5 days trying to get Project Server 2007 to install on a VM image and it has been downright painful.  From the dreaded "Thread was being aborted" error to the  "Object reference not set to an instance of an object.." error.  It has been slow and painful as each failed install took tons of time and there have been few answers on how to deal with these errors.

With regards to the first type of error, you may be able to solve it by following the warning in the documentation (starting the SharePoint Services Web Application service).  In my case, I believe the process was actually timing out on me.  Initially, I was trying to do the install over remote desktop from my laptop to my desktop.  The documented fix did nothing for me after several tries.  After switching to the desktop, I was able to work around this.

With regards to the second error, well, I'm still working on that, but it seems that to provision the PWA website, an Active Directory domain account is necessary.  Don't ask my why as I have no clue why this should/would be the case.  Apparently, it's fixed in Beta 2 Technical Refresh.

It was also fun coming across the superficial SQL Server collation error reported by SharePoint Services 3.0.  I was on the brink of uninstalling and reinstalling SQL Server before I stumbled on the Microsoft Communities thread.

All in all, this has been brutal weekend.  I'm simply drained from having to deal with this.

Filed under: Dev, Rants No Comments