Friday, September 11, 2009

Why did I switch to Blogger?

Basically, for the same reasons I originally switched to BlogEngine: cheap, lazy, old curmudgeon.

It's actually cheaper than BlogEngine, because I don't have to pay for a site on which to host it.

It's easier for me, because I don't have any configuration work to do if I want to add associated blogs, (of which I have several), which means my laziness is less of an impediment. I still haven't figured out out the telepathic blog interface that allows me to create a blog instantly from any random thought/drivel that pops into my mind when I wake up. So I still have to get up in the morning and go to my desk...

I'm still a curmudgeon, and even older than I was before.

The Myth of the Magic Bean

(Originally posted 2008.10.09)

One of my clients has an office that provides free Peets coffee. They buy one pound at a time, whole bean, and store it in the freezer. When coffee is to be made, you grind the beans in the grinder, put the grounds in the maker, add water and electricity to the machine, and voilĂ , we have coffee!

What drives me crazy, is they steadfastly refuse to clean out the grinder. They like to leave the "dust" of the former beans from one grind to another. So what's the problem, eh?

What happens to butter when you leave it out at room temperature? It goes rancid. What happens to vegetable oils when you leave them out at room temperature? They go rancid. Any edible oil will go rancid when left in the open at room temperature. Except the magic coffee beans. These must be the same type of famous beans that Jack traded for his mother's cow (according to the fairy tale). Apparently the oil in coffee beans never goes rancid (in some peoples minds). So, when I grind the beans, social sabatouer that I am, I clean the coffee grinder! Hah! Take that you addled regenerates!

Now, in my defense, my #1 child works part time at the original Peets store in Beserkeley when home from college. The original Peets store, the progenitor of the gourmet coffee craze. Guess what? Peets cleans all their equipment, every single day. I'm guessing they have a far better appreciation for the true attributes of the "magic bean".

If it's good enough for Peets, it's good enough for me...

Why did I switch to BlogEngine?

(Originally posted 2008.05.11)

There were several reasons. But basically, I'm a cheap, lazy, old, curmudgeon.

First, I tried using a few PHP-based Blog engines: Wordpress Multi, Drupal, and something else I can no longer remember ... Since I'm cheap, I was trying to use "free" hosting sites. There are a few. WordPress was free, and since I wanted to have multiple Blogs, I decided Wordpress Multi was probably the best choice. There are a lot of themes. A couple were close enough to the "theme" of each my blogs that I could choose something for each. But the free hosting sites didn't really seem to like letting me put Amazon links in. There were plug-ins for Google Ads, but not for Amazon. Since, I'm also lazy, or more accurately, keenly aware of how much effort I am willing to exert for a given benefit (I am a contract progarmmer, paid hourly), and didn't want to invest the time to invent a new plug-in in a language in which I am a newbie, I decided to research something else in more familiar territory.

.NET open source options (at the time) seemed to be restricted to SubText (.Text was defunct), and dasBlog. I decided on SubText, because dasBlog is file based and that just seemed to me to present potential future performance issues. Also, SubText seemed more mature, with more people supporting it, and it used MS SQL Server. Back to the "cheap" issue again; my hosting provider for my primary site,, only provides me with one MS SQL Server database as part of my monthly fee. Since I could install the SubText tables seamlessly in my existing database, it seemed like a good choice. Back to the lazy issue, I just found it too difficult to develop a suitable theme for this site. I was able to do it, but it just seemed like a pain in the **s. Also, I seemed to be unable to get it to use subdomains the way that I wanted to use them.

So, somehow, I found BlogEngine.NET. And I really like it! It uses XML files natively (like dasBlog), but unlike dasBlog (or at least the version I was researching), it supports multiple blogs in one installation, uses subdomains without jumping through hoops, seems to have permalinks and clean URL's for SEO, and has providers for both MS SQL and MySql server. The installation anywhere for the XML version seems to take about 5 minutes, and the instructions are easy to follow. I was able to create a theme (from an existing one), in about 2-3 hours, and another in about 1 hour. It uses Master pages. It's a bit short on plug-in's at this point, but I expect this to improve.

As for the curmudgeon issue: this product serves my needs quite easily. The curmudgeon in me likes that. I have several other curmudgeonly blogs: theSpiritualCurmudgeon, and theAmericanCurmudgeon. One is already converted to BlogEngine, and the other soon will be.

I highly suggest you take a look at it! (As well as my other Blogs ...)

Who Loves Scotch?

(Originally posted 2008.02.08)


I do ...

Since this site is an "avatar" for a tavern, frequented by software developers, etc., it seems appropriate to discuss the entire gamut of topics suitable to taverns. One of my favorites is "spirits"; Usquabae, whisky, "the water of life". For those of you who are easily amused, try the following link: Whiskipedia.

I have 3 favorites, in the following order of preference: "Laphroaig", "Lagavulin", and "Glenmorangie Port Wood". "Lagavulin" and "Laphroaig" are both "Islay" (eye-la) scotches. They are produced on the Isle of Islay, which is the southernmost island of the Southern Hebrides off the West coast of Scotland. Both are famous for being smoky, peaty, whiskies. They are. Laphroaig sells (here in the US), primarily the 10 and 15 year old. For a good, strong, bracing drink before dinner, the Laphroaig 10 year old is my favorite. For me, it is an aperitif. The 15 year old is much smoother and more refined, but still smoky. I like it with a good piece of bittersweet chocolate.

"Lagavulin" is primarily sold here only in the 16 year old. "Lagavulin" is smoother and sweeter than the "Laphroaig" 15 year old. "Lagavulin" is aged 100% in sherry casks (like Macallen). It has more bite and character than Macallen, to me at least. I find Macallen to be just sweet. Again, good after dinner and with a piece of dark chocolate.

The "Glenmorangie Port Wood" is another single malt. It apparently is aged in Bourbon casks, and then "finished" in Port pipes. It has a slight pink tinge and is sweet and light. I happen to like Port a lot. So the Glenmorangie is a nice diversion for me. Glenmorangie is a Highland scotch, and like all the other Highland and Speyside scotches I've had so far, too light for me.

One peculiar scotch I've come across is "Jura" scotch. The Isle of Jura is another Hebrides island, just a little nor'east of Islay. The first time I had this, I thought the bar keep had gone cross-eyed and poured me some Tequila! It had an "oily" finish I'd only experienced with Tequila before. However, a second glass, and watching the bar keep carefully revealed it was indeed the taste from the bottle. If you can find it, I suggest trying it.

I prefer to drink ALL my whiskey's in a brandy snifter. I don't warm the snifter, I don't add water, ice, or anything. What's your preference?

Who Loves the GAT?

(This was originally posted 2008.01.23)

I've been playing around with the GAT, and the various subsequent GAT packages for a while now. I have to say, it's definitely one of those love/hate relationships. I really like what it does in terms of generating code. And fairly good code.


Some of it is overly complex and generates poorly organized files. For instance, I tried the "Data Repository" factory. It's a very good ORM generator, with lots of features in terms of managing states of objects, generating CRUD stored procedures, etc. But the number of files generated is ENORMOUS. My test database had about 6 tables. 3 of the tables were "linked" in a chain, parent -> child1 -> child2. Each CRUD stored procedure wrapper was, as I recall, a separate file, each with a factory class in another file. And the generated file names didn't start with the table name. So all of the files generated for one table were scattered all over the place with other files for other tables in between. It was a nightmare. I could have dealt with the badly generated file names if all the files for a table were organized into a folder with the table name. But that, sadly was not the case. I think for my 6 tables, something like 100 files were generated -- all in the same folder. Imagine if I had a "real" database with something like 100 tables ....

I then uninstalled the Data Repository -- and am in an install "Catch-22". I couldn't uninstall anything else. Something about the uninstall of the Data Repository removed something necessary for OTHER GAT package uninstalls to work. Finally after a lot of desultory searching on the Internet, I was able to manually remove everything related to the GAT and GAT packages. I know, because when I try to re-install the GAT, it doesn't give me an error stating that it's already installed. Instead, it fails telling me there is a component missing. Less than desultory searching leads me nowhere. The missing component cannot apparently be downloaded by itself.

This is actually the REAL problem with the GAT and the GAT packages. It's too much like working with UNIX packages. They are all like someone's school project. I have spent more time trying to manage the GAT packages than they could possibly have saved me in my coding efforts. If Microsoft is serious about getting people to invest the time in trying to get folks to really trying these out, they have to provide better quality in the management side of these packages.