Friday, November 12, 2004

Thursday, November 04, 2004

My Sessions

I gave my first session on Blackstone Event Gateways yesterday afternoon and again this morning at 11:30. I think it went well. I was trying to work on my pacing and speaking effectively. The MAX conference organizers give us access to a speaker coach, who gave me lots of great feedback on what I do that is good and (mostly) bad. I tend to talk really fast, run out of breath and mumble a the end of my sentances. Hopfully I didn't do too much of that. He also explained to me how I can completly get rid of al of the umms and ahhhs in my speaking. Great stuff and I hope I put it to good use.

My voice has been shot due to (at first) being sick but staying out late, drinking, and screaming at people in noisy bars didn't help much. The voice held out for Wednesdays session OK, and I didn't drink at all last night and I think I am getting better, so the voice was stronger this morning.

In any case, I had a bunch of people for the first(100-150+?), and a good number (50?) for the second go 'round. The feedback I got was universally good in that lots of CFML developers are very excited about using the gateway to do really interesting stuff. I really can't wait to see what people are going to do with this stuff. And since we gave Blackstone B2 to every attendee, I hope we get lots of good feedback in the Beta forums.

I finished really early in both sessions, much to my dismay. I was worried that I didn't put enough content in the slides, but I believe that I built in 10+ minutes for questions, and I didn't get that many. In talking with people about why this is, I believe it is because the gateway is so new, users are just trying to get their heads around the feature so they do not have the "how do I...?" and "Can you do..?" questions that (I hope) they will have next time.

All-in-all, I think it went really well. I love speaking about ColdFusion and I certainly can't ask for a better audience than we get at MAX.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Object Oriented ColdFusion session

Sitting in on Hal Helms session on OO. He is giving a very nice intro to the subject and tying it in to CFML very nicely. He has the most soooooothing voice and I haven't been getting much sleep. Hard to pay attention, but if I didn't already know the subject matter, this would be a great intro in to how to slide from procedural CFML in to using CFCs and thinking more OO.

Notable quote: "Encapsulation is at least 60% of the benefit of OO".

Another thing, Hal is giving his preso sitting down, which I could never do.

General Session - Day 2

The second day keynote session is in progress and I must say that there is much more interesting content than I expected. Rob Burges, our CEO talked for a while and then Juha Christenson, our president of Mobile & Devices unit of Macromedia. He is always an interesting speaker, and he really showed the serious inroads that Macromedia is making in to the overseas mobile marker with Flash and FlashCast. The real kicker is the 1.4 billion users out there that (obviously) Macromedia wants a piece of.

After that Rob came back to demo Breeze, which if you haven't seen is the best thing since sliced bread for making presentations. He showed the Macromedia quarterly results conference call, which if you haven't seen Breeze, is a great introduction to how cool it is. Before that though, he did something which I think was great. He emphasized the fact that Designers and developers (i.e CFMX, Dreamweaver, Flash) was really core to our business and that we were not losing sight of the fact that even though the company is going after these new opportunities, we continue to invest in these products.

Tom Hale then showed off Contribute, which is also a wonderful product for allowing users to control web content, while keep control of the site style.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Coding for Reuse

Just finished listening to Ray Camdens "Coding for Reuse" session. Not much to say, Ray knows his CFML and he did a good job of covering custom tags, a part of CFML that doesn't get as much PR as the more glamorous CFCs, but are still very useful and a bit simpler for CFML coders to wrap their heads around.

MAX 2004 General Session

The general session was pretty good. Lots of incredible stuff, but of course not enough ColdFusion for my taste. It seemed to me that the crowd was just patiently waiting for the 'interesting' stuff (i.e. ColdFusion) to happen. Or maybe it was just me. Stephen Elop, our new COO, did a great job at the opening. Kevin Lynch talked a lot about the various types (5) of Rich Internet Applications that Macromedia sees emerging, and showed multiple demos of each.

Tim and Ben did a good job of showing just a little bit of the Blackstone stuff in the 20 minutes they were given. The crowd seemed to perk up during this, and Ben made sure we all knew when we were supposed to respond to the things he said.

The sneak peak of the next generation Flash player (Maelstrom) came at the very end and the performance improvements did demo very nicely. This stuff doesn't rock my world, but there seemed to be some excitement in the room.

Putting on my CF customer hat, it was a mildly interesting general session, but there was tons of Flash (duh) and probably not enough CF. But it did a good job of showing our customers some of the things Macromedia is focused on moving forward


I started out in Tim Buntel's Blackstone session, but realized that he always has great presentations and that there would be nothing that I already didn't know and left after the first few minutes. It was in a big room that was mostly full, which is great. A good number of people raised their hands when asked if they were in the Beta, so I am not sure if they will hear much news there also.

I moved over to "Building a Basic CMS with CF and Dreamweaver" given by Dave Gallerizo. He was a dynamic speaker and I enjoyed listening to him talk even though it is very unlikely that I will ever design web sites, much less ones with Dreamweaver templates. I did gain even more respect for what you can do with DW and Contribute, and I liked how Dave worked in lots of ColdFuison references in to a DW based talk.

I moved on to catch the last 15 minutes of"CF performance Tips and Tricks" given by Rob Rusher. Rob had some really good advice (scope your variables, arrays are faster than lists, use cfswitch, watch out for whitespace). My favorite comment about someone who used a 30 deep - cfelseif: "Are you on crack?!!?"

There are many thing that I "know" about CFML, just because I am in the code every day. It is good to see stuff like that to remind me that some day we need to fix the fact that CFML lists use Java string functions and are dog slow, so our CFML users wont have to worry about how fast/slow a particular tag or function is. True, we may not be able to prevent every bad coding practice from slowing things down (for instance, we may never be able to 'fix' our friendly variable scope searching) , but everything we provide to users should not penalize them for using it!

On to the keynote!

Printing and Reporting

I am sitting in Dean's, Xu's and Sherman's reporting and printing session. The functionality that these guys have put together is just awesome! It's around 8:45am, which is ridiculously early for a session since Burbon Street is just 5 blocks away and let me say my head is still feeling the hurricanes from last night. :-)

The crowd is pretty good considering the early hour and everyone seems jazzed for these features. Of course there are the usual questions about how much and "can you give me", which we really can't answer given the fact that we are still in Beta and have not announced pricing and packaging.

There was just a question about Excel format reports, which always confuses me as I am really not sure what people do with reports in Excel. I know I am being short sighted, but perhaps I can talk to someone about what happens to reports once they enter a spreadsheet.

I am off to Tim Buntels Blackstone session, which ought to be really good.

Friday, October 29, 2004

See you at MAX!

I am off to MAX 2004 next week where I will be giving a session on the Event Gateway feature of ColdFusion Blackstone. Should be a great time. I am looking forward to talking with customers and getting the kind of feedback that we on the CF team really love. Almost the entire engineering, QA and documenation teams are attending this year, and we have been given shirts to make us highly visible (I call them our bulls-eye shirts). I don't know if that is a good thing or bad.

So stop me and tell me what you like/don't like/want to see in CFMX. You will have better luck talking to me about Gateways, Verity Search and Web Services than database drivers and reporting, but such is life.

Also, watch for the "Meet the ColdFusion Engineers" BOF session which is (I think) Tuesday night. You can have us all lined up at the front of a room (all wearing our bulls-eye shirts probably) and that will be a 'target rich' environment. :-)

See you on Burbon street!

Converting .NET dataset to ColdFusion Queries

Joe Rinehart has posted on his blog a short UDF that shows how to convert a Dataset to CF queries.
This is something we get asked about all the time: "Do CFMX web services support the Microsoft DataSet object?" I have always recommended that using DataSet is a really good way to screw interop, since it is a Microsoft proprietary data type. The problem with it? The WSDL does not describe the data inside the dataset. There is XML Schema inside the XML on the wire that then describes the types of the data. This requires parsing this Schema at runtime. Something the Axis engine at the heart of the CFMX web services support does not do. Why not? Because it is fairly difficult to do well, slows execution time, and would only be to support this wacky MS specific type.

In any case, I haven't tested Joes implementation, but if you are dealing with a MS specific web service that you have to consume, this should help you out tremendously!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

CFMX and DNS caching

Recently a customer complained about the behavior of CFHTTP in ColdFusion MX:

"CFHTTP permanently caches the DNS look-up. This cache can only be flushed by recycling ColdFusion service on the machine in question. Why doesn't CF rely on the server to resolve the domain? What's with caching the DNS look-up at all??"

Needless to say, the CFHTTP code doesn't do anything like this because it would make customers mad. :-) So I did a bit of investigation. The underlying library we use to support HTTP operations (after I switched it from using the Java URLConnection class, don't get me started...) uses the Java InetAddress class to look up host names:

Reading this page you will notice that the JDK caches both positive and negative DNS lookups. And it caches the positive lookups forever.

Hey, its not our fault!

Luckily, this can be controled by the Java security configuration for the JVM. In JDK 1.4.2 you can edit the file .../lib/security/ and set the value networkaddress.cache.ttl, commented out at the bottom of the file, to something other than -1. This controls the time to live for positive DNS results. There are dire security warnings about doing this, but something reasonable, like 4 hours (14,000 seconds), would probably be safe.

I am going to try and get a Tech Note published by support for this and perhaps mention this configuration in the CFHTTP man pages too.

Flat-screenTV emits international distress signal

I had to blog this: Flat-screen TV emits international distress signal. It was nice of Toshiba to offer him a new TV, but how on earth does a piece of electronics manage to hit the exact fequency of the international distress signal? And how many more of these TV's were manufactured? Unbelievable!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Jim says this is cool

Tales of futures past is a site that my friend Jim from Portland (OR) says is really super neat. I can't actually browse it because my mothers increadibly slow dialup (46.6K) makes browsing image heavy web site too much to bear.

Back to work on Monday (after a 8 hour coast to coast and a hour drive from Providence, RI) and back to high speed and my CloudMark spam filter...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tim Ewald: Messages are the model

Tim Ewald has a very interesting piece about his wish to use Relax NG instead of XML Schema. Tim has an interesting point of view and was one of the first people to clearly explain to me why rpc/encoded was bad and document/literal is good. My first reaction to this was that he has gone off the deep end (again), but as usual he has me thinking. A particularly telling point: "We can do a lot better than RPC. If we don't, then what was the point?"

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Pimp my Ride!

This pimped out car is sweet! I am not sure what you do with that much computing power in a Toyota, but I like the very nice builtin look this guy managed to get.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Digital Cable Ready (DCR) TV's sound cool

I discovered an very interesting audio-only interview about Digital Cable Ready televisions. I usually am up to date on this stuff, but this technology took me by surprise. According to the interview, the industry is working on a 2-way version of this, but are rolling out the one-way only version now. Time/Warner already provides these cards to their customers, and Motorola also manufactures them too. What does it do? It is a card that plugs in to the back of your DCR TV and gives you access to all your digital channels via the built in tuner of the TV. This includes all the encrypted channels you pay for. But the one way version means no pay-per-view and no video on demand. Two things I am willing to give up for the convenience of getting rid of a box. And the thought of plugging one of these cards in to a Tivo makes me drool.

Here is an interesting USA Today article on DCR from June 1st. Not nearly as positive about it as I am.

Comcast will probably still get me to pay for the box, because they are rolling out the Motorola digital box with the built in DVR in the Boston area soon, perhaps as soon as next month, and I want something that will record HDTV and this looks like the solution. It isn't Tivo, but the recording capacities listed for this box sound great (it has an 80 Gig hard drive). Check out the sweet Flash interactive demo!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

When I am in the mood for a rant...

causticTech is a great place to read a good diatribe about the tech industry. His recent postings about language snobs and press releases are classics. Check this guy out!

Bluetooth Luggage

This is very cool. You can get Bluetooth luggage tags now. "Bluebird signals your cell phone when your luggage is nearby. There is no need to fight the crowd at the carousel. Have a seat on a nearby bench and read your magazine instead." How sweet is that? I think I want one for my birthday. :-)

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Bill Gates Email hoax revealed!

Wired magazine has a very interesting article on the Bill Gates Email hoax. The author actually tracked the guy who wrote it down!! Great stuff.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Open source from Microsoft

This is an interesting tidbit, the Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset has been released as Open Source on

This is a first for Microsoft. I don't have much faith that this will start a cultural shift at MS, as proprietary software (and destroying competitors) is too baked in to the company (IMHO) to be changed in anything less than decades. But still, I have to respect Rob Mensching's attempt to improve installation on windows ('setup' as he calls it).

Having written the installation for CF on Unix and then being forced to maintain it for years, I was always obsessive about making it a nice experience. Things like making sure you could always install over the top of the current or any previous versions. Things like making sure uninstall always removed everything so you could install clean.

Glen Daniels

Dave Chappell blogged my former co-worker Glen jamming on stage in Chicago. Crappy camera phone pictures, but fun anyway.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


So blogger has added a comments feature, which is cool. Ditched the squawkbox comments, which means I lost all of the previous comments, but what can you do?

The most important thing is I get Email when someone posts comments, so post away!

New look

Blogger has rolled out a new interface, so if you ever actually read the blog from the web site, it looks pretty nice now.

Check it out!

Some really good rants

This guy has a lot to get off his chest! Some good stuff here.

Yeah, I know I am jumping on an already crowded bandwagon linking to his blog as other, more famous, people already have.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Google mulls RSS support

CNet is reporting today that
Google is mulling RSS support for blogger customers (like me).

The fight over RSS and Atom is very surprising to me, even though it shouldn't be. I understand where the Atom people are coming from, but did we really need to start another "standards" war over this?

Monday, June 07, 2004

Not enough postings

Recently my friend Andrew (no link 'cause he doesn't have a blog!) complained that I wasn't blogging enough. So this entry is for him. :-)

I like the idea that Rory over at has - the "After Blog mint". Of course, as Andrew points out I just don't post enough to really use the idea.

I saw Harry Potter today in the IMAX theater. Nice theater, good movie. I might have had my expectation set a bit high from reading all of the accolades from critics who called this the best one yet. It certainly was the darkest one yet - the director washed all the color from Hogwarts!

Friday, May 28, 2004

1 TeraByte DVR

Over on the PVR blog, Matt reported on Sony's Monster DVR.

7 Tuners? I can't imagine what I would do with that many, but it would be nice to have 2 or 3 available. My biggest complaint right now is that Tivo show no sign of releasing a HDTV capable standlone unit. There is a $999 DirecTV unit available that does HD, but its a) too expensive and b) requires satellite.

Friday, May 14, 2004 - Coke sneaks phones, GPS chips into cans - Coke sneaks phones, GPS chips into cans

Holy crap! I can't believe they are going to stick this much stuff in to a coke can!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

SquawkBox for comments

SquawkBox is now suppling free comments to my blog! Like blogger, it seems a bit twichy if you don't pay for the "pro" version. You get what you pay for...

Friday, April 02, 2004

Ant and XML Build Files

James Davidson has an interesting entry on his use of XML in Ant build files. He regrets choosing XML. Having only touched the surface of Ant, it does seem that another, simpler, file format would have been better in the long run.

Friday, March 12, 2004

DLP TV's are nice

My friend Steve has one of the new DLP TV's made by Samsung. Here is an informative article about these TV's. Sam Ruby was impressed, and Steve Loughran thought it was interesting too.

Having watched many things, including New England Patriots football games in Hi-Def on this TV, I can very much recommend them. The price is right compared to Plasma. It seems almost everyone who has not gone Hi-Def that I talk to says they are "saving for a Plasma" or "waiting for Plasma to get cheaper". I always recommend that they check out the DLP TV's.

Steve will be especially bummed about this, because labeling the Video inputs is not allowed on his model, much his his annoyance.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

TiVo skips past naysayers

TiVo skips past naysayers. Things are looking up for the future of Tivo.


"CFMail rocks". I worked on this for CFMX 6.1.

How to prolong lithium-based batteries

"How to prolong lithium-based batteries" is a very interesting article on how to treat your laptop battery. Some of the pithy bits are to store your laptop with a 40% charge and to never buy extra batteries, since lithium batteries have a 2-3 year shelf life from the date of manufacture!

I have an LG 5350 cell phone which has the worst battery meter in the world. It has 4 bars, but if the meter shows three bars and I make or receive a call, it will almost certainly drop the meter down to zero and beep at me to change the battery.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Lord Of The Rings: The Secret Diaries

This is pretty funny: Lord Of The Rings: The Secret Diaries. From Paul Downey's web log via Gudge.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Paul Sumner Downey's blog

Paul Sumner Downey is a cool web log from one of the people on the W3C WSDL working group. He likes putting picture of interesting things in his entries (something I can't do with blogger I don't think).

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

So you Wanna... is a very interesting site.

" teaches you how to do all the things nobody taught you in school."

Don't ask me why, but I read the entire "So you wanna be a sitcom writer" article.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Steve's Ant book

Someone at work just got a copy of Java Development with Ant, written by my Apache Axis co-committer Steve Loughran. It rocks. If you use ant (and if you are using Java, you probably should be) you need to be getting yourself a copy.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Support for Atom in FeedDemon

Nick Bradbury just added support for Atom feeds to FeedDemon 1.10 Beta 1. So not only do I have a blog, but people who have purchased FeedDemon (and only those people) can read my blog without coming to the web site.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

XML feed for Tom

Well, great news Blogger has decided to add a feature which will generate an XML feed of the content of their blogs. The bad news is that this is an ATOM feed, which many readers don't handle yet, but will be adding support for soon. In particular, FeedDemon does yet support it but will in its next version.

A list of tools that support Atom is at

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Blogs that I like

Interesting BLogs that I am enjoying reading:

And of course FeedDemon (on Windows) is a the only way I can keep up with the 26 blogs that I read regularly.

Happy New Year

So its a new year and Blogger(tm) still is in this neverland of not offering BloggerPro for sale and not providing anyway to publish an RSS feed of a free web log.

To say I am frustrated is an understatement. I really should spring the money for a Radio UserLand account, but do I really have enough to say that I would be willing to keep thing up to date? I don't know.