Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I'm a CPO!

Well, it's official. I am now certified as a CPO, a "Certified Professional of Occupancy." I can now pursue my dream and work at a HUD subsidized apartment.

Whoa. Wait...that's not my dream! I guess I won't quit programming yet. But, it is true. For my work at RealPage in developing software for LIHTC properties I took the class and am now certified. So now I have three more letters to put beside my name. And here is probably the only time you'll see it.

Eric Sowell, BA, ThM, CPO

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Found By Google

Well, the blog was finally found by Google. I figured it would have to happen eventually, especially since Google owns Blogger.

But, I don't think that's the reason. The first official link to this page is from here, where they reference that I had purchased their book on mono. But how did they find me? The cached page in the Google search says it is from August 24, but the other page goes back to at least August 21...strange. Maybe the cached page overwrote an earlier cached page.

Regardless, it is nice to be found.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Installing Fedora Core 2

To run my mono stuff I decided to install Redhat's Fedora Core 2 on my laptop. For those who are interested in trying out Linux, here's how it went and some general thoughts about the whole thing.

First, I've heard it is generally much more difficult to get Linux working right on a laptop than a desktop (hardware issues). This is the case with the last version of Mandrake that I tried to run on my Dell laptop, but the install for FC2 went very well. With Mandrake I had video card and touchpad mouse issues galore.

Second, the only issue I had had to do with video display. I started out at 1024x768 resolution, which is the highest supported by the laptop, but then chose in my settings a higher resolution. Problem: I couldn't get anything to appear on my screen! Nothing! Since this was the first thing I did once installing, I just reinstalled FC2 instead of trying to figure out how to fix the problem. I figured that would be much easier, since I know next to nothing about Linux systems at this point in my life.

Third, there were four iso images that I needed to download to install FC2, but the install (the first time, when I didn't install as much developer stuff) only required the first two disks, which is nice. It even told me up front, "You're only going to need disks 1 and 2". Nice.

But now it gets difficult...I actually have to figure out how this Linux thing works. But if you are thinking of trying out Linux, I would recommend FC2. It is easy to install and get started. Now, unless you have a reason to go Linux for something, I don't really recommend it. They are quite a bit behind Windows as far as usability is concerned, especially for beginners. This is bound to improve though (and has improved). For now, stick with Windows.

Spyware Tips

The Scobleizer pointed his users to this very useful blog about spyware. Know how to avoid people putting stuff on your machine? If you're not up on this, I highly recommend this blog entry.

Friday, August 20, 2004

The Return of the Browser Wars?

A few years ago Internet Explorer was battling it out with Netscape Navigator to see who would win the hearts and browsing time of the millions who use the web. IE won by a landslide, and its usage is now up in the 96%+ range last I heard. Is this about to change? I sure hope so.

It is not that I hate IE. I don't. It's just that a) I like their new rival Firefox quite a bit better and b) basic western economics tell us that a new browser war would be helpful. On the latter, what IE has generally lacked is a competitor, and so Microsoft has done little to improve the product since version 6's release date in 2002. But that is no huge surprise. But now the buzz is that they have a new competitor, Firefox. FF has been gaining an audience recently and this seems to be bothering some MS folks. I recently heard a report that MS was coming out with IE7, and then heard that they were going to try to release it before Longhorn, the next version of Windows. Could this be a response to FF?

If you haven't, you should try it out at the Mozilla Firefox page. I switched a few months ago because of the tabbed browsing and all the nice plugins. You might like it too.

Eric Sowell

American Gymnastic Success...again

Well, I'm happy that once again America has conquered more of the Olympic world. Though I did not get to see it last night, I was very pleased to hear that we won the women's all around in gymnastics yesterday.

Yes...America rocks.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

New Book - Mono: A Developer's Notebook

I got a new book yesterday, my first book on mono. The book is called Mono: A Developer's Notebook. It is published by O'Reilly and authored by Edd Dumbill and Niel M. Bornstein...two guys I'm personally not familiar with. The format is really strange for an O'Reilly book; it is very different than the books in its other series. I've only had time to read the first chapter, but I have high expectations for the book (and for the mono development platform) and look forward to digging into it. But at first glance, the book seems to be pretty nice. If you're a C# developer needing to go cross-platform, this might be a really good book for you to have.

Eric Sowell

Arab World Analysis

My big brother just created his first website. A few months ago he published a book called The Arab World: An Illustrated History. www.arabworldanalysis is the website he created to be a home to his little book. If you're interested in the subject matter, get a copy!

Eric Sowell

American Hamm

I'm feeling particularly patriotic right now. As the presidential election draws forward this is increasingly so since I see a growing threat to America and its place in the world on the horizon if the wrong guy gets elected. But right now I'm feeling rather patriotic because of the olympics.

Over the last several days I've really enjoyed seeing America do very well, despite the swimming losses we have to Australia occassionally. I was particularly pleased last night (I waited for the broadcast...I know it happened earlier in the day) when Hamm pulled out a gold in the men's all-around gymnastic competition. Woohoo! Makes me want to wear tights and do flips! Ok, not really...

Eric Sowell

Interview with Linus Torvalds

Nothing earth-shattering here, but I found this interview with Linux originator Linus Torvalds interesting.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Just noticed that an electronic copy of my thesis can be purchased now for under $10! What a deal! Or, you can get it free at Christonomy.com.


Eric Sowell

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Taking the mono plunge

Well, I did it. I finally installed mono, created a Glade# project in Visual Studio, and ran the default form. So I have officially created my first rudimentery mono gui gtk# application.

It was also rather easy to do. If you want to do the same, here is how I did it.
First, I downloaded the Windows mono installer from the mono site and installed it.
Second, I downloaded the gtk# installer from Novell and installed it.
Third, I opened up Visual Studio .NET (2003), created a new Glade# C# application, changed a few settings as is discussed here.
Fourth, built and ran it. Cool.

What I was surprised about: First, it was incredibly easy to setup. Second, the gui for a gtk# program is all held in xml, and in this case in the default file gladesharp1.glade.

Disappointments: Only one, that there is no drag-n-drop forms designer for gtk# in VS, but this is no surprise.

So, all in all, getting started wasn't much of a problem. We'll see how things progress from here.

Eric Sowell

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Interesting article on Apple/Mac history

I found this article explaining why the Mac did not succeed and the Windows platform did. Interesting theory, if you're in to this sort of stuff.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

New Christonomy Release

Well, it has been a long time, but I finally got a new Christonomy posting up. Not much new content, but a lot of changes in the backend. Making the move from Sql Server 2000 to MySql went pretty smoothly.

The only real hangup was finding good ways to connect to MySql from .NET code. I tried both the generic OleDb and ODBC classes in the .NET framework, but that was nothing but painful. I also tried a few other libraries provided by third parties and eventually settled on one of them provided by ByteFX. They have their own website and have been adopted by MySql and the mono project as their supported MySql library. MySql also has a page devoted to the library.

MySql, however, does not seem to be widely used in the .NET community. This is probably because most .NET developers are also Sql Server developers (which is the case for me as well). And even though the price of a Sql Server license itself is a little high, cheap hosting is available, often as cheap as MySql hosting. But, the super-nice fella who was giving us free hosting could not afford a Sql Server license at this time, so it was either use a free database (like MySql) or go elsewhere. Thus I made the move to MySql, and I'm happy about it. It is, by far, the highest quality and easiest to use open-source software package I've ever tried to use. Installation on my local pc was a snap (less intensive than a Sql Server install, though theirs isn't bad) and the development tools you can download from the MySql site are pretty nice (though not quite as nice as Sql Server's Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer). Development was, of course, slower at first, having to go from stored procs to dynamic sql and having to deal with new data types, but once I got used to everything not really any slower than Sql Server development. Overall, I am very pleased with the experience, plan to use it again, and hope more .NET developers do the same. Not that I don't like Sql Server...I do quite a bit. But MySql has its advantages.

Eric Sowell

Thursday, August 05, 2004

August Plano .NET Users Group Meeting

Another enjoyable experience at PDNUG. I didn't win any prizes this time, but all attendees are getting free copies of CodeSmith Professional, a code tempating and generation tool. The meeting was centered around the tool, and I must say I was quite impressed. Take a look at it at http://www.ericjsmith.net/codesmith/. I'm ready to get my license so I can get started.

Eric Sowell

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Article on de Icaza, Mono's main guy.

Found a very interesting article about Miguel de Icaza, the developer who started the always-more-famous mono project.

I really hope mono ends up to be a good programming platform. Personally, I'm not looking for a way to escape .NET programming nor generally rebelious against Microsoft (I actually love .NET programming); I'm just interested in cross-platform choices. One area of software development that I am particularly interested in is the world of biblical studies, and because of a really nice Mac biblical studies program there is a large Mac community in said field, especially among professors and scholars. Having a way to simultaneously develop for both Windows and Mac users in C# would be fabulous. I haven't had a chance to really test mono myself, but I'm looking forward to it and hopeful of the future.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

My First Blog...the Ramblings of Eric Sowell

Sometimes you just want to say something. Maybe it's about something you learned that some other random guy might want to know. Or maybe it is an odd thought that just needed to be said to clear your head. I guess these are some of the uses of blogging, at least mine.

Tech stuff. Greek stuff. Biblical studies stuff. You'll probably see a little bit of it all here.

And in the long-standing programming tradition, "Hello, world!".