I will not be at the Clarion Live Developers Conference in Denver! I was completely out sick with pneumonia for about two weeks and away from work for additional two weeks. I'm slowly getting back to work, but I'm still not well enough to push myself and still have to be careful. The infection is long gone but the aftermath was severe cough and fatigue and I have not yet got my energy level up to what it was before I got sick.
But, the good news is that I AM getting back to working on both client projects and our products:) I will also start blogging again to lubricate my fingers :)
The pneumonia wasn't quite done with me! Sunday, September 28, I went back down with fever and chest pain. Monday, September 27, I was not feeling any better and went to see the Nurse Practitioner again. She had got the reading from the chest x-ray that was done the week before and had consulted with a pulmonologist as there was a mass on the x-ray that they could not make out what was. As I have had bad pneumonia before and had smoked for a number of years, they both felt that a CT-scan of my chest was in order to make sure what this was.
Monday afternoon I went to the hospital in Port Angeles and had a CT-scan and that evening the NP called me and told me that this mass was infection that had moved up to the upper lobe and there was, fortunately, no sign of cancer or anything else. That was a relief but confirmed that my lung was very infected and I was still very sick. I got new medication immediately and last Thursday the fever finally broke.
More than a week later, I'm still like a rag doll and can barely sit up in front of the computer for more than half an hour or so at the time. I have lost close to 15 pounds, which is not all bad, but I'd rather not have to get deadly sick to do it;) I'm still not up to doing much work and probably won't until next week. Just trying to hang in there and get better:)
Sue and I had been working our little tails off to get her office painted over the weekend so I took some time off on Monday. Tuesday morning when I got up I felt a bit weird, but didn't really think about it that much. By 11:30 I was not feeling good at all. Very dry cough, aches all over my body, particularly in my right ribcage. An hour later I couldn't stand it any more and went to bed and hoped this would pass. It didn't. Got worse and Wednesday and Thursday I had fever around 102-103°F/38.9-39.4°C. No cold symptoms, no soar throat or runny nose, just pain in my right chest, both front, back and top, bones and muscle. The longest solid sleep I had Tuesday to Thursday was about 40 minutes. Couldn't lay on either side and I have always had real problem sleeping on my back so no matter what I did I was extremely uncomfortable. By Thursday I knew exactly what this was - infection in my lungs!
Friday morning I went to see my Nurse Practitioner, Bridget Kraft at the Primary Care Sequim clinic, who is very good. The first thing she said was "You are not feeling good!" I asked how she could tell. "I can see it and you don't come in unless you are really sick" She's right, I don't tend to go to a doctor unless I know and feel that something is just not right. She checked me front and back with the stethoscope and she did a test that I have never seen anyone do. She placed the stethoscope at a certain spot on the front ribcage and told me to say "eeeee" That was the revealing moment, she even called in a colleague to show her how this works! If the bronchi are clean the sound the doctor hear through the stethoscope will be exactly like that "eeeeee". But if the bronchi are plugged with something or are filled with water, the sound gets flatter and sounds like "aaaaaa" in the stethoscope. My NP said she had actually never heard this before but does this on patients where there is suspicion of some kind of lung inflammation. She ordered a chest X-Ray and blood work to see what the white blood cell count was and also to determine if this was bacterial or viral.
Only 2 hours after we got home she called me. They did not have the chest X-Ray yet but the blood work was very clear: "A raging bacterial infection" As I understand it there are 5 different types of white blood cells. She said this had normal levels between 4 and 20, but according to the only website I found that actually detail each one, it's normal up to 100. Mine was 20,000! At least two hundred times the normal level! No wonder I wasn't feeling good! She prescribed me some antibiotic, one 500mg pill every day for just 5 days and said I should start feeling better by last night. She was right. The fever was almost gone last night and I have not had any fever today. I slept for about solid 4 hours last night in one go, which was absolutely fantastic! When I woke up at about 5am I reached up to turn the light on and it was like something had been torn out of my chest. Worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life, but after that I haven't had a single jolt of pain in my chest cavity! I felt good enough to get out of bed and snoop around the house a bit, watching some TV and now, starting to do some computer work done - at least write this so people know I'm not dead! I am going to take it easy while I'm taking the medication. I have bad experience from starting too early and having a relapse!
24 years ago I was struck by a particularly nasty type of pneumonia. Back then I smoked and I had had a cold for a few days. Over night it turned really ugly. Fever at 103.5°F/39.7°C every day, no appetite, severe chest pains. Confirmed with chest X-Ray couple of days later and it was also mostly in the right lung. Was on antibiotics for a little over a week without any results whatsoever. Ended up in a hospital where I stayed about a week, think it was 10 day, but don't remember exactly how long. A guy who later became a very good friend of mine was in the same room as I was rolled into told me many years later that when he saw me his first reaction was: "This guy is going out in a box!" It took about a week at the hospital on some very heavy dose of antibiotics to get the fever down to normal. I was on a total of 2700mg a day for 3 weeks after I left the hospital. I was hovering at 60kg/132lb (I'm 6'2"/186cm tall and currently weigh around 99.5kg/220lb) when I left the hospital and by that time I just had gathered enough strength to walk up half a flight of stairs in the hospital building without taking a break! After I finally got out of bed I could only take 1-2 steps up at a time before having to rest.
One very long term effect of this pneumonia was that I lost a lot of my long term memory. Afterward I had to write everything down as I could not trust my memory at all. I could only remember a few hours back. I could not remember at night what I had done in the morning if it was to save my life! Years of memories from my childhood and teen years were just completely gone. I lost almost all memory from the summer of 1986! I remember being upset at my parents when I got home for not visiting me - they visited several times. Other family members visited and I had no recollection - still don't. It took the short part of the memory (events in the past hours and days) about 5-10 years to come back but the long time part of the long term memory (years, decades) took longer and it isn't really until the last 2-3 years that these memories are popping up, some of them all of a sudden without any particular prompting. It was like the fever had basically scrambled my brain and huge chunks of my memory were no unreadble. So for the past 20 years a side program has been running in my brain to unscramble all those memories and reconnect the synapses correctly. Our brain is certainly an awesome thing.
I have lived with several herniated and damaged disks in my back for a long time, one of them probably since early teens. Once I was run over by a bull, which is not a particularly fun experience;) I've tore the biceps tendon in my right arm, arm-wrestling with a 4x10'x3/4" sheet of plywood, thinking I was still 20;) So I'm not exactly a newcomer to a bit of pain;) But I think these lung infections are the absolutely worst! You can get along by being careful with your back, doing exercises, having a chiropractor, a good one, adjust your back from time to time, which is what has kept me going for the past 10 years. The biceps tendon was repaired and I had no problems at all rehabilitating the arm (actually made a desk for Sue as an exercise and the sanding and staining and all the rest of the work was very good rehabilitation for me) The bull thing... Well, a bit more gray matter in the head would probably not hurt:D
But it is very, very difficult to adjust to a situation when you have serious trouble breathing! Like Dr. Jan Garavaglia, Medical Examiner often says on her TV show, Dr. G "It is just not compatible with life"
I am very, very, very happy that I'm getting better! Ok, enough of my medical history, I'll write about something a bit more positive next time:)
Sue's office is almost ready for her to move in! We have spent the last 4 days painting, replacing the trim around doors and windows and getting the place cleaned up. Sue still has some more painting to do, then clean the carpet and get the furniture in there and she will be all moved in. We should be to that point Thursday. This place looks nothing like it did last Thursday when we first saw it! As always these things take longer than you expect, but sometimes you just have to accept that things that the time they take and not get too stressed about it :) Sue will do most of the remaining work as she needs to figure out how she want's to lay everything out but I will clean the carpet and help with some furniture assembly.
I got a new drive enclosure delivered today. Got the 1TB drive installed, connected via e-SATA and I'm moving my virtual machines over to get some extra room on my C drive. I simply hadn't paid attention to how much disk space the virtual machines were taking and ended up almost running out of disk space!!! I'm using VanTec NexStar 3 NST-360" enclosure. I already had two of them that I use for 1.5TB drives for off-site backups and I have been very happy with them. They are very easy to set up and this type comes with both USB and e-SATA connectors. VanTec has other enclosures that look exactly like this one but don't have e-SATA. The e-SATA enclosures come with e-SATA port that you simply plug into an existing SATA connector on your motherboard and thus get a free e-SATA port supporting 3Gbps compared to 480Mbps for USB2. Simple, easy to use and it just works!
We rented a new office for Sue today. We will be very busy over the weekend to set it up and get everything ready. The carpet needs to be cleaned and we need to paint the walls. We also need to get some furniture and move! I will keep using the office at home so we will have separate offices for the first time! She is picking up the keys tomorrow at noon and we are both very excited about her new office. To add to our excitement, Sue got the go-ahead on a new website contract this morning and I got an confirmation from a client today that he is going ahead with some updates to software that I have worked with him on and off for the past 10 years. So we are going to be very busy in the next couple of months!
I will most definitely still find time to work on my products and I will release an update to the Utilities again on Tuesday next week, September 21. I have been adding to the documentation and I might have the beginning of a new class ready for testing:)
I ran out of disk space on my computer the other day as I was setting up a new virtual machine. To cut a long story short, I had to get an external enclosure with eSATA connection for the drive as I had no more room in the box. I could not get it locally so I had to order it on-line. I hope it will get here before the weekend so I can move my virtual machines over to the new drive as soon as possible. This means that I have had to delay my .NET goal for another week and might have to skip it until the first week in October, but I will get there!!!
Our sister site, Icetips.NET is now up and running even though there is still not front page for it! This is where I will blog about learning .NET and post links, articles and information about resources that I find on my journey to learn .NET.
Every time I blog on Icetips.NET I will also post a short excerpt from it here with a direct link. I will also post on Icetips.NET if I write something interesting here, that other developers might be interested in.
Note that the forum and blog are barely up and running so there will be quite a bit of modifications made in the coming weeks. If you have tips on anything, comments or whatever, please post them on either the Icetips.NET blog or the Icetips.NET forums
To quote Dave: "Six years ago this month, at the only Florida DevCon of the decade, SoftVelocity's president Bob Zaunere announced Clarion.NET, the company's upcoming flagship product for Microsoft's .NET framework. "
Dave's conclusion is "Yes, Clarion.NET has a future, but at present it's not a very bright one. There's no AppGen yet, and past performance suggests that even if one does appear shortly it will take a long time before it is usable, particularly for newer technologies such as WPF."
From my perspective Clarion.NET doesn't exist. I bought a license a couple of years ago or so (don't remember exactly) and nothing much has happened since. I have not even bothered downloading the new builds. There is no application generator, no templates, just an IDE and a Clarion# compiler. I can just as well use Visual Studio and compile in C# or VB.NET. To me there are only two reasons to use Clarion#: Support for TPS files and queues. On the other hand, I don't want TPS files in .NET and from what I understand, collections and LINQ in .NET can easily be used instead of queues. So the advantages of Clarion# for me just aren't there.
Will SoftVelocity ever deliver Clarion.NET? I don't know. The product was developed outside of SoftVelocity and it feels like there is no communication about it. SoftVelocity deletes any threads from the ClarionSharp newsgroup that queries into the status of Clarion.NET. No information at all escapes except what SoftVelocity posts on their blog-site, the last one from just over a month ago, showing one screen-shot from the data pad and one screen-shot from the "Embed interface" which quite frankly is not looking like anything that is going to materialize anytime soon.
It is a well known secret by now that the Clarion.NET product was developed by Arcadia, a company in St. Petersburg, Russia. Arcadia has long experience in software development in Scandinavia. The contract was supposed to start in mid-2004 and take 4.5 years (or 500 man months) with a team of 10 developers. I don't see anything wrong with this, but something has definitely gone wrong in this relationship and one has to wonder if this project is dead. The absolute lack of public communication from SoftVelocity regarding Clarion.NET is worrisome - the silence is indeed deafening.
In the beginning of 2010 I decided to write off my investment in Clarion.NET and not have any expectation of it ever being released. This was actually a relieving decision as it transferred me out of a black hole that the Clarion.NET world had become and into the very exciting other .NET world! I went from negative to positive:) My commitment to the other .NET development environment was further strengthened as I started thinking about what benefits there would be to use Clarion.NET - and I found the benefits were precious little.
While I would miss some of the Clarion functions and syntax, I have done enough programming in both C and PHP to be able to embrace the syntax structure and case sensitivity of C#. I also have some BASIC programming in my background, BASIC being the first computer dialect I learned almost 25 years ago, so I would be Ok with VB.NET. I will blog later on what the initial pros and cons of C# vs VB.NET are for me.
Don't get me wrong: Just looking at all the stuff that is available for all the different options in .NET is an absolutely daunting task! But at the same time, it is energizing and fills me with optimism about programming because I see all those things that I can do! There are all those tools and products available in the .NET world for just about every conceivable task. And the millions of articles and blog posts about the various technical aspects are out there, too. Thousands up on thousands of detailed examples on sites such as Code Project. All right at my fingertips, ready for me when I need them.
Does my decision to move to Visual Studio instead of Clarion.NET affect my support for Clarion as a desktop programming environment? Absolutely not! I will continue to work actively with Clarion, support my Clarion third party products, and add to those products, for a long time to come. I have absolutely no intention to stop using Clarion for desktop development, but I'm simply not waiting for Clarion.NET any more.
If you are considering looking into .NET - and in my opinion you should - you can download the free Visual Studio 2010 Express version right now and start playing with it! For the time being, I'm not sure what exactly the limitations are in the Express edition, but it looks like database access is limited to SQL Server Express and Access databases. Which admittedly should be just fine to start with, although it will not give you much freedom in accessing your existing databases unless they are in either of the supported formats.
The Professional Edition costs $549 if I'm reading things correctly. You can compare the various commercial versions to see what is included in each one. I have the BizSpark package from MS which is free to start, is valid for 3 years and costs $100 at the end and it includes a license for VS 2010 Ultimate so I'm good to go.
The really cool thing about Visual Studio and .NET is that there are more resources available out there than any one of us can even imagine! As an example here is just one tutorial website for Windows Presentation Foundation at http://www.wpftutorial.net/
So where does this leave you? Where do you stand? What are you looking to get out of programming in .NET? What do you want to accomplish? Food for thought...
I have not done any .NET work yet. My plan is to start easing into it in the next month or so. I have some small stuff I can start with. Setting up a mySQL .NET provider, hooking up to my remote database and creating a browse using WPF will be my first step. I'll see if I can glue all the pieces together to make one browse app. I'm going to start messing with ASP.NET, set up a domain to test with online and see how it works. Then I'll take it from there. What are you going to do? Think about it:)
In the coming months I will be taking a journey, studying .NET, experimenting with it and learning how to use it. I will blog about my experiences and perhaps I can help you along on your journey. I will shortly be setting up a new domain that I will use exclusively for exploring ASP.NET and SilverLight, which are my primary targets for .NET at this moment. I will also be exploring WPF, like I said, for some in-house programs, which quite frankly will mostly be to cut my teeth on WPF and desktop programming in .NET. My plan is to have something that connects to a database up and running before September 20!
I am really excited about starting to dig into Visual Studio 2010 and learn to work with .NET. I'm in the design phase for two "Software as a Service" (SaaS) products that I am going to do in ASP.NET. I'm also looking at creating a couple of small administration applications for myself using Windows Presentation Foundation. Those will be desktop applications (not web based) and will connect to our online mySQL database. Eventually they will be replacing parts of Clarion software that I have been using to maintain this database.
To get a nice test platform for VS2010 and MS SQL-Server 2008 I decided to set up a virtual machine with Windows 7 Ultimate 32 loaded on it. I had a ready made Windows 7 virtual machine, so I cloned it. It only had Clarion 6 and Clarion 7 on it and was only set up for 16GB disk size. The first thing I did was use the VMWare Disk Manager to increase the disk size to 32GB as I figured I would need some extra room.
I had asked around for what would be the best and most appropriate order to install VS2010 (Visual Studio 2010) and SQL Server (2008). It didn't seem that the order made a difference: one developer had installed VS first then SQL, so I decided to do that. Got VS 2010 installed without a problem. Did a full update of Windows 7, which took hours to complete.
Then I started installing SQL Server 2008. Windows 7 immediately showed a compatibility error and suggested to either get a newer version or immediately update SQL Server after installing. Since I was already installing I decided to go ahead and install it. During the installation I got an error and ignored it and everything seemed to be ok, except it didn't install the SQL documentation. Ok, so I figured I'd update Windows and it would update SQL Server. That did not happen and I decided to get the most recent version which is SQL Server 2008 R2. Downloaded it, which took awhile, because it is a 4.2GB download!
At this point I realized that I had made some mistakes along the way. I had completely forgotten to create snapshots of the virtual machine as I did the installs. Now that I wanted to go back, I could only go all the way to the beginning, which was from the day before! I had spent hours on installing VS2010 and SQL Server as well as Windows updates, so I was not happy about having to start over.
This time, after SQL Server R2 had downloaded, I snapped the virtual machine back to its initial state and started over. First Windows updates. Snapshot. Visual Studio. Snapshot. Everything was good, except this took me the better part of a day with all the Windows updates. The Windows updates just took forever - partially because at some point the installer had opened a window with some options and it appeared *behind* the installer. So it sat there for an hour or so, apparently working, but was in fact waiting for input on that other window behind it. ;)
I installed SQL server R2 and now I got even more errors than with the original 2008 install! The install ran very slowly and in the end, there were multiple errors. Worst of all, it had completely skipped all of the management tools!
Back to square one. Square two actually, as now I did have the Windows updates to start with. Now I decided I was going to change tactics and install SQL Server 2008 R2 first and then VS2010. Started with SQL Server and now it installed without a glitch and was much faster, probably took less than half the time it had taken before! This was finally done at 4AM, Tuesday morning. I took a snapshot and went to bed!
When I got up I picked up where I'd left and started installing VS2010. Everything went without a single hiccup. Once VS2010 was installed, I took a new snapshot and went on with doing Windows updates since I realized that I probably hadn't finished with them at the snapshot I had gone back to. That took another two hours, so I was not completely done with this until about 3PM on Tuesday.
If you plan on installing those two, make sure that you can roll back in case things do not go right! My advise, based on my experience, is to install SQL Server 2008 R2 before you install VS2010.
Even with all the wealth of information on the internet at our fingertips, sometimes it becomes a real challenge to find a solution to what seems to be a relatively simple problem.
For some upcoming work in Build Automator I wanted to be able to send keystrokes to a program. It somehow doesn't sound all that challenging, but I have spent the better part of today trying to come up with a solution. I have read hundreds of posts on multiple forums about this and have discovered that there are far more people that ask for this solution than those that even understand the problem, let alone who can give an intelligent answer. So far I haven't found a single post that solves it, lot of posts that give a hypothetical answer that looks like it should work, but doesn't, at least not in my case.
I have been successful in sending letter keystrokes to the editor window in NotePad, but trying to send something like Alt-F or Ctrl-O completely fails. So I'm putting this on the shelf for now even though I hate walking away from this, but I can't take more time on trying to find the solution at this point. Sometimes in programming, just like in poker, you have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them!
I got the Utilities build out last night while I was babysitting SQL Server 2008 R2 install and Visual Studio 2010 install. That was an interesting experience and I will blog about it tomorrow! I need to get some work in for my clients this week and next week I will be working on our products. I will also put in some work on the Icetips website which we have been working on behind the scenes for a while. Sue is re-doing almost every single page and it will be a very welcome update to the site!
Icetips Utilities build 1.1.2390 is available for download for all customers with a valid Gold Subscription.
This build contains complete documentation for the Date Class, File Search Class and INI Class. For more information please see the online manual and my blog entry from Sunday, September 5. Below is a detailed list of all updates and fixes in this build:
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