Monday, October 27, 2008

More eComic


First off, version 0.0.2.001 of eComic is now up and running over at Codeplex. The latest release can be downloaded from here. Now that that's out of the way, first I want to show off the new application icon. I like it. It just screams comic book to me.

Next thing to talk about in regards to this, was the sheer amount of THINGS that the new version does. Everything from GAMMA filtering to spellchecking to thumbnailing the archive. Of course the spellcheck functionality still isn't put out where most folks can get at it, as I'm still working on a really viable datastore for the system.

My heart is telling me that I need some data in a database for some of the functionality I'm aiming for, but at the same time I'm not going to force folks to download and install SQL Express just to run this thing.

It's getting bloated enough as is.

That said, I also don't want to use XML files as they're not an ideal solution for data searching and maintaining relational data concepts.

I tried SQL Server Compact Edition, but the last time I tried to install it, my computer threw up, and took away a large number of my programs, forcing me to do a destructive format on my box. Alas, I'll have to see what I dream up.

And just for the fun of it, here's the Changelog for the new version:

  1. Fixed Startup Issue where PC would launch multiple instances of the application when double-clicking an associated file
  2. Made Temp file clean up more robust
  3. Added in "Go To Page by Thumbnail" functionality
  4. Organized Source Code
  5. Added Slide show option to Image Viewer
  6. Generated Options Dialog
  7. Added in a Gamma Filter
  8. Made Gamma Filter preservable via the OPTIONS dialog, or per archive via the Image Viewer Context Menu
  9. Added in a Adjust Color Filter
  10. Made Adust Color Filter preservable via the OPTIONS dialog, or per archive via the Image Viewer Context Menu
  11. Added in a Contrast Filter
  12. Made Contrast Filter preservable via the OPTIONS dialog, or per archive via the Image Viewer Context Menu
  13. Added in a Brightness Filter
  14. Made Brightness Filter preservable via the OPTIONS dialog, or per archive via the Image Viewer Context Menu
  15. Added in a Color Inversion filter
  16. Added in a grayscale filter
  17. Actually implmented SAVE functionality
  18. Began working with the ComicInfo.xsd file
  19. Made new Application Icon
  20. New MAIN window
  21. Image Viewer
  22. Spellcheck added to Archive Editor

Microsoft Azure

Joel's Sharepoint blog points to a new MS technology named Azure which was released as a CTP for developers today. Being the geek that I am, I was interested so I followed the link over to the site, and saw this pretty link labeled: Azure for Web Developers.

Even more interested, I followed said link, which is when I got this image:
Just in case you don't want to click on the picture to make it bigger, that little line of text states:

The page cannot be displayed because an internal server error has occurred.
Now, I love MS development paradigms. The .NET Framework is my friend. Yet, this does not bode well for the future. We'll have to see where they take it from here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Poor PC

I've seriously damaged my home pc. I was trying to get SQL Server Compact Edition version 3.1 to install and be accessible via my instance of Visual Studio.

You would think it was a simple task, after all, I had the Mobile Components installed, and could create smart device applications. You would think...

I'm not exactly sure what happened, but somehow, someway, I've utterly fubard my install of VS. Which means that I need to load up my VS Installer, and repair VS. Of course that doesn't work, and the installer just keeps complaining and crashing.

So, muttering under my breath, I go and uninstall all the .NET development tools from my box, and try to reinstall VS again.

And again, with the no love.

My next step is to try and kill the .NET Framework (and by that I mean versions 2, 3 and 3.5). Those just flat out refuse to remove themselves as they're still applications dependent upon them.

At which point I mutter evil things about Microsoft. I'm the administrator of my PC, I should be able to remove ANYTHING regardless of what depends on it.

Considering the implications of installing and repairing applications, I delete the contents of my TEMP folder. After all, that's where setup files reside after they've been unpacked by the installer. It's from there that the repair action repairs an installation.

Again with the no love.

At this point, I'm well and truly irked. I mean I can't do any development, as none of my tools are installed, and none of them will install.

Of course, because I'm a programmer, when I screw something up, I do it all the way. Somehow, I've managed to corrupt a dozen different applications and none of them work now. Everything from PhotoShop 5.5 (definitely a non-.NET app) to this little icon app called @IconSushi (which is a .NET 2.0 app).

So, what am I left with? The only thing left to do is slick my drive. Clear it of Windows entirely and start over. Which means that I now have to backup all my data.

And you'd think that as a programmer I'd be doing all this, as I know that good data retention relies upon it. But no, I'm not doing backups (my wife backs up her images to DVD but none of my files are done that way). And I got gigs upon gigs of data waiting to be backed up.

This is what I get to work on this weekend I guess. I just feel so lucky.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Dell Helps Small Businesses

A few days ago, one of the high-muck-a-mucks over at Dell came to our office for a visit. This is the guy in charge of corporate resellers for the Eastern half of the United States. So, yeah, he's a pretty high up there guy.

Now, something about our company. We are a Dell saturation reseller. The only reseller category above ours is the big-box folks such as Wal-Mart or BestBuy.

Anyways, we had this VP come visit us, and tell us all the ways that Dell could "help" the business.

The first thing is that we cannot resell Dell products to customers unless we happen to "register" said customer with Dell, and provide them the opportunity to contact said customer.

What that translates from Corporate speak to real speak is: you're our sales team now, tells us who needs hardware, and then we'll decide if you get to go ahead with the sale, or if someone else on our sales team gets the dollars.

And of course, the whole thing went to pot from that point forward. After all, who wants to give Dell all of their sales leads? I don't. And as a consumer, I don't want a company I'm doing business with providing MY personal information to a third party.

For example, if I buy a Sony TV from Best Buy, I don't expect Best Buy to say "Hey, wait a second. We need to register you with Sony, and then you'll have to wait a few days until they get back to us on whether or not we're allowed to sell you this particular piece of hardware."

I don't expect such behavior from ANY vendor I deal with. Why on earth would Dell expect someone to willingly go along with this.

What I expect is for the company I'm dealing with, to either have said merchandise in stock, and hand it over to me, to deliver said merchandise to my home or to have it on back-order and I can take delivery of it in a few days.

At no point do I expect my vendor's vendor to a) require my information or b) be given a chance to sell to me directly.

Frankly, if either occurred, I would stop use of both vendors. In terms of my example above, I'd tell Best Buy they can forcefully insert the Sony TV into their rectums and go down the street to Circuit City and buy a Philips TV.

And repeat until I find someone willing to sell to me on MY terms.

Problem 2 with the Dell visit deals with inventory. It takes Dell an average of three days to get a new server to the Jackson Metro area. In this day of JIT order schemes, three days is just long enough to put a company out of business. So my bosses had the bright idea of keeping a server in stock.

Sure, we run the risk of having to eat the machine if it becomes out of date, but at the same time it means that we'd be able to respond immediately to one of our customers having a catastrophic failure of their server.

Well, Dell had issues with this. And they tied back to that whole registering thing. They did not like the fact that we held inventory for potential use.

The final problem that popped up in the Dell visit was apparently the vendor channel that we had been using for the past four+ years, has never existed. How's THAT for newspeak for you?

Now, to use the vendor channel there were two options. Option 1 is to become certified on a piece of hardware which my bosses do not want to push as an option for our clients. And to become certified, it means we would need to purchase said hardware--despite not needing it in our infrastructure.

Brilliant move there Dell.

Option 2 is to go through some classes to become approved to resell Dell merchandise through the vendor channel. One drawback there is that the classes aren't offered, and the Dell VP who was here had no clue WHEN they would be offered. If at all.

Yet another brilliant move.

So, where does that leave us? More or less, we're in a position where it would be detrimental to our business to sell Dell. Dell knows this, and doesn't care. Nor does Dell care that the business model they are trying to force on their resellers is inherently anti-privacy, and anti-small business.

I've long heard all the horror stories about Dell, but I've long pushed them, especially for business-class users.

Now, at this point, I'm just happy that the last laptop I bought my wife was a Gateway.

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