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Post-Modern Electioneering: Back to the Future

09-Feb-17 08:11 am EDT Leave a comment
Robyn Urback | Columnist

Robyn Urback Columnist

Written in response to CBC News: “Millennials finally fall out of love with Justin Trudeau after he abandons electoral reform: Opinion by Robyn Urback

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s a member of the vaunted (yes and cynical) Generation-X, I’ve got to just roll my eyes once more….. Millennials are doing precisely what the generations before have done as youth – not voted as a block….at least – not for long.

But if there is really a block here to be won (and – let’s be clear – there isn’t), it would be easy to take yesteryear successes and use ’em again. We need more IT staffers (like me!) to explore service industries like software development or network engineering. And offering a bit of money for vocational training here (alongside some success stories) would really go a long way toward making up for lost ground on the FPP voting fiasco. Trudeau, God bless him, should’ve known better than to try saying “well we tried, but you know in government – you can’t always do what you thought you could before being elected” routine. Even if you believe it, it’s kind of a crappy reason to go back to the public with.

The real worry I have isn’t the loss of some fictionalized Millennial solidarity. It’s the potential for cross-demographic populism and fascism to take hold in this country! And while O’Leary isn’t Trump, maybe the best we can hope for it the short term is that fascism will pass us by and that Trudeau’s over-promise, under-deliver showing so far somehow reverses itself the more experience he gets as our Prime Minister.

I’m about the same age as he is – but it’s obvious to me while he might be better at leading the country than I’d be….his father he is not. And there is plenty for him to learn yet!

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BLOG RELOCATION ANNOUNCEMENT

02-Oct-14 11:15 pm EDT Leave a comment
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ust a quick advisory to everyone concerning this blog — WE’VE MOVED!!! That’s right; as of today (October 2, 2014), The Ross Report is relocating to its new home at a new hosting provider. So don’t think for a second I’m disappearing anywhere…on the contrary. The new address is a migration off of the old wordpress.com site address because a new environment that is more in-line with the growing in-house architecture of The AppRefactory Inc. (the business I’m running) has become available. The new server also offers all the advantages that go with running one’s own WordPress.org application (PHP) server….which is to say absent all the limitations imposed on users of WordPress.com‘s space. More detailed analytics and the option to tie-into a whole bunch more apps and plug-ins are also now available and will facilitate some forthcoming development exercises in the weeks and (more accurately) months ahead.

So update your bookmarks now! The new permanent address is:

http://ross613.wp.apprefactory.ca

Look forward to seeing you there!

AR HelpOuts Launched!

10-Sep-14 08:07 pm EDT Leave a comment
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he AppRefactory Inc. launches its first service offering today with the debut of a partnership with Google Inc. through Google Helpouts.  This further enhances the company’s service offerings in the application maintenance and support space; but also extends its services to more generalized support of the tools and technologies it uses throughout its service delivery process.  Support is being offered through Google Helpouts for technologies and platforms like:

  • G HelpoutsLogoMicrosoft Visual Studio (all ediitions, 2005-2013)
  • Programming Language Support / Tutorials:
    • Visual C#
    • Visual Basic / VB.NET
    • Java
    • JavaScript
    • HTML
    • XML
    • SQL
    • VBScript
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Team Foundation Server
  • Microsoft Windows / Microsoft Windows Server
  • Microsoft Office / MS Office VBA
  • Linux (Ubuntu)
  • Apache WebServer
  • Microsoft Internet Information Server
  • Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)
  • Microsoft Windows Workflow (WF)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Web Services

…and much, much more!

Google Helpouts also offers payment features that allows either the business or individual user to use services on a demand basis easily.  And with this launch, the service is being offered, for a limited time, with a free support instance — giving potential customers an opportunity to “try-and-buy” for a fixed 20-minute session, without charges or fees applied.  (See Google Helpouts terms & conditions for more info.)

Dr. Dobbs: Software Development Trending to be More Complex, Not Less

28-Apr-13 01:14 pm EDT Leave a comment
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here aren’t many advantages to being on disability for the past several months – but as I’ve recovered, looking for work and taking on the challenges with possibly getting my own software projects closer to completion has caused me to reflect on how software development has changed over the course of my career.  Imagine my shock at finding out I wasn’t alone in this realization this weekend, when I ran into a Dr. Dobbs article that articulated more clearly than I ever could (available free time notwithstanding) exactly what this revolution in app development is all about.

Chart above: “Fraction of programmers (y-axis) who spend x amount of time coding in a given language in 2012.  Note the big spike on the left and the mostly sub-2% numbers for programmers coding more than 50% of the time in one language.” (Source: Dr. Dobbs Journal, 03-Apr-2013)

My lead project is actually an upgraded version of a strategy game that’s been in the public domain for quite a while; but has the simplicity necessary to effectively permit interfaces to a number of different platforms – and with them, the necessity of leveraging a number of different technologies to make building and maintenance practical.  What will this mean software development as we close on 2015 or even 2020?  Likely what’s happened before – amalgamation to facilitate the creation of single-vendor solutions so that the process is re-simplified.

But until that happens, coders like me are gonna be left to absorb multiple platforms and become jacks-of-all-trades (and hopefully not lose the mastery of some in the process).

“Google-“?

18-Jul-11 11:57 am EDT Leave a comment

Warning: Low Patience

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t seems even starship captains are having difficulty with the freshly-minted “Google+” these days.  And I hope Bill forgives my schadenfreude here in saying that it reassures me to know I’m not alone at least.  (I call him “Bill” ‘cuz we’re “friends” on You Tube.)

Of course, his problem is a little different from mine; whereas he was having trouble staying on Google+, despite invitation I can’t even get access in the first place.  There are two reasons for this:

  • during the “beta” phase (which with Google, as we all know, can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years as it did with GMail), there are a fixed number of users being allowed — regardless of whether you were invited, and
  • my primary account (the one that got the invite) is actually registered with Google Apps; a service for businesses which only have access to a fraction of Google’s full service offerings.

In my view, things are starting to slip a bit at Google.  It was never huge on customer service (and why should it be since the vast majority of its services are free, after all), but I can only bet the farm that the company is shooting itself in the foot handling things this way.  I keep reading reports in tech journals about how cool Google+ is, but I can’t really find out — a turn off not only for me, but the tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of others sharing my experience.

And, as for Google Apps, I actually upgraded to one of the paid business accounts and decided to terminate within the 30-day full refund period because the number of restrictions and silly rules in the service that made integration with anyone but Google virtually impossible left me wondering if their intent was to hand over the whole notion of Internet-based profit to Facebook on a gold platter.  And, again, even as a paid subscriber to Google services under Google Apps, you still don’t have full access to everything.

And now you can add Google+ to that list.

Not to say “a pox on your house”, but the rest of you who have access to Google+ can revel in your Circles, Hangouts, etc. and Spark away until your whole life’s a big, blazing inferno of Google innovation while those of us concerned with getting stuff done continue to be awestruck for a different reason watching it all on the sidelines…wondering how on Google Earth anyone could believe this company will ever be anything more than Internet ads.

In my view, Google+ isn’t a real threat to Facebook — not by a long shot.

Anti-Microsoft Bigotry Finds New Ammunition in Search Results Scandal

02-Feb-11 10:03 pm EDT Leave a comment
At left, Google searched for the correct spelling of "tarsorrhaphy" even though "torsoraphy" was entered. Bing manages to list the same Wikipedia entry at the top of its results.
Google searched for the correct spelling of "tarsorrhaphy" even though "torsoraphy" was entered. Bing manages to list the same Wikipedia entry at the top of its results.” (Source: FoxNews.com; associated article here.)
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oogle and other players in the information technology (IT) industry say Microsoft is guilty of “industrial espionage” in the wake of catching the software giant displaying results originating from Google itself on the Bing search engine’s results page (which is operated by Microsoft).  The charge itself is surprising; but perhaps almost as surprising is that a company with the name-brand recognition, market share and raw success of Google would float charges as ridiculous as “espionage” is in this case – in public.

It’s all a product of an ongoing and, really, tired theme in the IT sector: techno-bigotry.  It’s existed for years between the two mainstream, competing platforms for Internet-based application delivery: on one side you have Microsoft Corporation which used to be criticized (rightfully) for offering a heavily proprietary solution architecture; and on the other, what I term “the Java alliance” – which is really an architecture that at key points conforms with a loose agreement on industry standards and technologies that are based upon “open-source” development principles (though there are many elements which can be proprietary in nature).

There are those who’d dismiss the Google announcement concerning the alleged Bing results replication as merely the product of the fiercely competitive web search sub-industry – that it’s all about optics and trying to make Google appear more innovative than Microsoft (yet again).  But this is a hugely simplistic view of Google’s real motives.  After all, the information being contested in this complaint is either “out there” – visible to the public; or at least any member of the public equipped with an application capable of reading the web protocol "HTTP” (a web browser), or voluntarily shared with Microsoft by individual users (i.e. data shared though the Bing toolbar or other available “clickstream” data, acquired by legitimate means.  Normally when one conducts espionage, one is surreptitiously (and unlawfully) getting information which has value both as intellectual property and as information that offers competitive advantage (which, in the IT sector would typically be technology that nobody else has).  Typically, such technology is the product of innovation by the company holding it.  So did Microsoft – which admits it did present results in a fashion very similar to Google – commit espionage or, as one analyst claimed, “cheat” doing what it did?  The answer is yes, certainly; if your definition of espionage and cheating includes using information that was broadcast without encryptions or other protections of any kind into the public domain.

JavaDissDotNet
Technology bigotry is so ingrained in the IT industry’s culture; there are very real parallels with college sports, complete with slogans, mascots and meaningless, ad hominem arguments as to which team is better.

My definition of both espionage and cheating differs from that conclusion (as does virtually every published lexical reference I could find online).

Beyond all of this, were Microsoft really guilty of espionage, Google would not be making claims so publicly about their “sting”, as they call it.  Microsoft would be dragged up on criminal charges and Google would be very tight-lipped about what claims it was making in public, notwithstanding the usual statement in such circumstances, “We cannot comment because the matter is before the courts.”  (Particularly in the litigation-prone United States of America.)  So why is Google trying its would-be espionage case in the court of public opinion? In fact, there are many reasons.  For one thing, Google wants to highlight its position as the leader of search technology, because Bing (Microsoft’s search product) has been gaining ground.  And, lets face it, search is Google’s “crown jewels” – just as Microsoft Office products are its “crown jewels” (alongside the Windows operating system).  Google will do anything and everything (within the scope of lawful conduct) to defend its web search property.  In charging Microsoft with “cheating” like this, particularly to the largely non-technical advertising and marketing business audience, Google is attempting to make Microsoft out to be a company that just can’t figure out how to beat Google by innovating on its own.  The trouble is, everyone already recognizes Google as the undisputed leader of web search.  So is there something else Google gains in all this?  You bet!  There’s another audience of note: software developers (like me!).

Web developers and software developers are often overlooked as a relevant crowd in such stories by the mainstream media; but don’t think for a second both Google and Microsoft  don’t spend a lot of time, effort and cold, hard cash wooing developers to use their products.  Why?  Because when software-based solutions are created, the size of the pool of resources available to maintain and upgrade the resulting products are a key consideration for IT managers – which translates into determining how much those solutions end up costing in the end.  In general, the more developers there are whose expertise gravitate to one particular toolset, the less costly that toolset is.  And at the moment, Microsoft is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of software developers (mostly due to the de facto capitulation of Java through IBM’s acquisition of it, via the Sun Microsystems transaction, back in 2009).  In this developer’s opinion, Java has lost much of its momentum throughout the industry as a direct result of IBM taking control of the technology.  And software professionals are aligning their careers accordingly.  But Java’s legacy can’t be underestimated – it is still to be found in many spaces and the Java language will remain a relevant, sought-after skill for several years into the future at least.  And Google can be thanked for this, in part.  As a third-party company, Google is at liberty to offer integration to any partners it prefers…and it is obvious that while it is possible to integrate with many Google service offerings with Microsoft technology – it is not rolling out the red carpet to Microsoft’s .NET platform, nor the Windows operating system by any means.  Indeed there are service offerings which are exclusively available only to the Linux operating system, which is one of the top three competitors to Microsoft Windows.

From a business perspective, this lukewarm reception to Microsoft integration makes some sense, since increasingly Google and Microsoft contest the same service paradigms.  Search is only one example.  Google Docs is a direct competitor to Microsoft Office, Google Desktop is a direct assault on both Microsoft Live Essentials and Microsoft Search technologies.  If Google is to gain mind-share amongst the developer population and someday be able to threaten Microsoft’s dominance in the server room (which is its ultimate goal, I believe, since that’s where the big money is), it really needs to do what it can to discourage adoption of the .NET Framework.

So expect more spectacles of one sort or another with this core theme exhibited as part of a long-term strategy to beat Microsoft.  And I say long-term in the full sense of the word.  Not only is Google not yet directly challenging Microsoft in the operating systems space (which it needs to do in order to get through the server room doorway), but Microsoft has played this game before…and always won.  It beat Java with .NET.  It beat Netscape with IE.  It even beat Sony and its PlayStation with the XBox.  But Microsoft’s never taken on a company quite like Google before…a company as innovative and fast-paced as Google.  Google won an early battle stifling Microsoft’s foray into online services with its Microsoft Live web properties; but Microsoft countered by making a huge consent-based investment in Facebook and continues to increase that investment while partnering more and more closely with the near-monopoly it holds on social networking.  The game is too close to call at this point.

And expect the techno-bigotry to continue….with all is parallels to college sports; slogans, cheers, mascots and meaningless ad hominem arguments as to which team is better.

WS-HTTP-Based Windows Service: Last Choice of WCF Devs?

19-Jun-09 11:12 am EDT Leave a comment
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hile looking for a configuration utility to assist with some WCF development I was doing earlier today, I realized that I’d written an article about that same utility in my blog a while back.  And upon clicking the link to where the tool should have been located, got a “not found” error.  Further research revealed the location where the author apparently moved it to and I’ve updated the article in question (below) accordingly.

If you find broken links — especially to downloadable media that might be of interest to others — please don’t hesitate to let me know using blog feedback at the bottom of the “About me” page.


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ou might not think that WSHTTP isn’t the last choice of WCF developers when developing a Windows Service.  Despite the protocol overhead of HTTP, often developers will default to this protocol in setting up a WCF application because of network rules, compatibility with other applications based on HTTP or just out of raw familiarity.  Whatever the reason, HTTP still ends up being the first choice – as it was for me recently (albeit at another’s urging) and, being a veteran of net.tcp, I ran into trouble pretty quick:

HTTP could not register URL http://+:8083/FoaeaService/ApplicationListSystem.svc/. Your process does not have access rights to this namespace (see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=70353 for details).
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.SharedHttpTransportManager.OnOpen()
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.TransportManager.Open(TransportChannelListener channelListener)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.TransportManagerContainer.Open(SelectTransportManagersCallback selectTransportManagerCallback)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.TransportChannelListener.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.HttpChannelListener.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher.ChannelDispatcher.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostBase.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open()
at Justice.FOAEA.MidTier.Services.FoaeaHostService.OnStart(String[] args) in C:\Projects\WCF\ServiceHost\FoaeaHostService.vb:line 77

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Strangely, I didn’t visit the Help and Support Center, as directed at the bottom of the stack trace above.  Instead I tinkered with my .config file for about an hour before it dawned on me that the settings were actually correct and I should follow the instructions.

To summarize my visit to the Help and Support Center, there is an extremely obscure tool called HttpCfg.exe which is used on that platform I’m currently developing for – Windows Server 2003 (it’s netsh on Vista/Windows Server 2008, and less obscure).  It demands that you divine an arcane string to pass as parameters for your application, security context, etc.  Certainly, one could achieve the desired settings to make their HTTP-hosted service work…eventually.  But I was fortunate enough to spare myself another indefinite period of maddening trial-and-error by stumbling upon an extremely helpful blog article by one Paul Wheeler, a former Microsoft SDE who apparently did some WCF development for the company’s Connected Systems division.  In the article, Wheeler provides a tool for configuring local system HTTP settings with source code under Creative Commons (public license).  The tool offers other advantages over HttpCfg for this purpose and was a lucky find indeed!

I am still debating whether or not to push a lot harder to move my app to net.tcp.  The decision rests with the project’s technical architect; and I wasn’t he on this project at the time (but, in fact, ended up assuming the Technical Architect role about mid-way through the first phase of the project).  But if you, like me, are in a situation requiring HTTP – Wheeler’s HttpNamespaceManager is for you!

Updated: July 26, 2011

Terry Glavin

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