Archive for September, 2004

There’s Nothing Like Debugging Code on a Live Server

September 30, 04 by kenrich

Today I had to launch some scripts on the production server just to test to fix the bugs in my code. You see, my boss here has had me cross over to work on another major section of the code that previously had been the responsibility of others. I don’t have the time to produce an adequate “test case” so I couldn’t test my code on our development server.

But I finally got the code done even though it involved considerable
fudging of the code and what I ended up with was quite a mess. Oh well, at least I got the job done and can relax a bit now.

The weather today is kind of cloudy. They said that it might drizzle this morning. But I didn’t notice anything like that when I woke up. It starts to get darker earlier and earlier out here. Summer is definitely making a hasty retreat. Next I have a wonderful e-mail blast to work on. At least that is more-or-less a mindless task.

Bush is the Real Flip-Flopper

September 23, 04 by kenrich

There’s an interesting article on the Washington Post about how Kerry has basically been tagged with the “flip-flopper” tag by the Media and all of Dubya’s cronies. The article talks about how you could just as easily label Bush a flip-flopper when you look at his record as president.

An interesting point is that George Bush was totally against making another agency to coordinate the effort of all of our defense agencies (Homeland Security) after the Democrats suggested this immediately following the 9/11 attacks. And then about a year later, he changed his mind and decided that such an agency would be needed. When congress didn’t pass his bill needed to create an agency right away, he blamed the Democrats for dragging their feet.

Even though Kerry is not any more of a “flip-flopper” than Dubya. The conception put forth by the Media and the Republicans is that Kerry can’t make up his mind on anything. The facts couldn’t be anything farther from the truth. Bush is the ultimate “flip-flopper” for joining the National Guard and then refusing to do his duty. I guess when it comes down to it … Bush is for other people following the laws of the government, while he just does
whatever he damn well pleases.

Here’s the article Despite
Bush Flip-Flops, Kerry Gets Label

Building a Content Management System

September 22, 04 by kenrich

Well today has been another fun day at work – I spent most of the morning finishing up another lookup form for our web site. It was basically another implementation of the other lookup I worked on yesterday. And since I already had done most of the work previously, it went very quickly.

Now I have been added a new task to create a whole bunch of content
management areas for the web site. Instead of creating a whole bunch of custom admin interfaces and public viewing modules, I am going to try to integrate everything into one unified system. I will do this be creating generic Content storage in the database where all the properties for the content can be stored in another detail table.

This will be a lot of work, but it will make things easier down the road when we start building other specific content areas for our other clients. It is something that we have done before with other major entities in our database so I know that it works. The one unfortunate drawback is that it places a greater load on the database server … but when in Rome!

I Love Disjointed Project Timelines

September 21, 04 by kenrich

Today I was busy finishing up a project that I started about 2 months ago. One of the wonderful things about my job is that I can get 90% done with a project and then be put on one urgent task after another until finally… two months later I am asked to finish up the original project.

Unfortunately, it takes me a few hours just to get up to speed on the
current state of the project and I have to do a whole new round of testing to make sure everything works properly. And to add to this, the state of the development servers is always in a constant state of flux. Luckily, I have learned to document all of my work on my own computer so I can reconstruct what I’ve built before.

It took about twice as long as I wanted to get the project up and running. At least everything is working now. On the positive side – my ASP Nuke project now has an italian language translation so now my project is officially international. I am going to monitor more closely the traffic I receive on this site to see if the popularity increases due to the new features I’ve added.

New Version of ASP Nuke Released

September 17, 04 by kenrich

Today I finished packaging and launching the latest version of ASP Nuke. It is available for download off of the home page (ASP Nuke Home Page) This version adds support for MySQL which is an open source database server which can be obtained free of charge.

This week will mark the 1 year anniversary of the project that I have
developed solely on my own in my free time. I have placed a link for
donations on the site but so far have not received a single penny in
donations. It’s okay though because I really wasn’t trying to make a lot of money with this project. It’s more to showcase my skills and help out others who want a powerful and dynamic web site but don’t have the time or motivation to build it.

With the new support for two different databases, it should expand the audience of people who use my software and allow me to make further enhancements along the way. A large majority of the major bugs have already been fixed since the site has been in use for a year and I get instant notification of scripting errors that occur on the site.

One of my next steps for the project will be to create a “snapshot” of the database structure so that I can build a “database migration script” when I launch the next version of ASP Nuke. But first I will probably relax and work on some other projects that I have been neglecting.

Working Towards a New ASP Nuke Release

September 16, 04 by kenrich

Life is good, the boss just left town this morning and is headed out of the state. This gives me a little time to relax and recharge my
batteries. Don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of work to do. It’s just that working a lot of overtime tends to burn you out pretty quick.

I am working toward wrapping up my new release of ASP Nuke (as I mentioned before). Today, I finished up the initial implementation of a MySQL database management tool that allows operators to create and alter tables as well as manipulate the data rows stored in each table. I finished the scripts to add, edit and delete records from a table today and I was happy with how smoothly the work progressed. Hopefully I can get this pig launched soon and start working on my next project.

I watched the movie “Hero” last night starring Jet Li. This was the
second time I have seen it and I must say that the story is very original. Of course, the story is based on Chinese history/legend so it had a lot of help there. There is a lot of fantasy in that movie much like the earlier success: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. The performances by Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Broken Sword) and Maggie Cheung (Flying Snow) were exceptionally good. Check this movie out if you get a chance.

The weather has finally cooled off quite a bit down here signaling the end of summer. It is really nice now, especially since I don’t have air conditioning in my house. I ordered a new hard drive for my laptop computer (60GB for only $60). Someone suspects this was a price error, but my order went through fine and I haven’t received any email telling me the item is a price error. “Party on Wayne, Party on Garth”!

Building an Automated E-Mail Reader

September 15, 04 by kenrich

So today I am toiling away at building an automated message processing tool that will open a POP connection to a Microsoft Exchange mailbox and read all of the e-mails in the account. From these e-mails, I need to parse information that is found in the mail headers for an attached e-mail. Only problem is, the headers for the attached message are changed by Microsoft Exchange when you read the e-mail through a POP account.

So after much thought, we have decided that POP (post office protocol) isn’t going to cut it for this project. Instead, we are going to go with a custom dotNet component that was developed in-house. Despite the fact that I haven’t ever worked with dotNet here at work and would have to learn how to use both regular expressions and the database interface, this seemed like the easiest solution to my boss.

We could have done the same thing by using a free ASP IMAP component
available from the web and developed it in 1/10th the time. So this project that is already 2 weeks overdue is going to press on for another week or so. The funny part is that this is just a temporary fix to hold us until another temporary fix is put in place and finally (who knows when) a final solution is built and put in place.

All of this is necessary because Microsoft Exchange changes all of the Internet Headers that are sent through POP access. I really am starting to believe that Microsoft Exchange totally blows!

Dealing With a Mess of Code Today

September 13, 04 by kenrich

Today, I had the ominous task of fixing the team information edit page. This involves modifying a web page that is used for 3 different applications and has numerous configuration and security permissions which modify the way it works depending on who you are and which site you log into. Yeah, it’s not exactly the prettiest code in the world and it took me a good 3 hours just to get it working the way it is supposed to.

We have a real mess of code here that is used for many different purposes. All of our sites we build share the same code, so whenever we make a minor change, it affects all of our clients. This is a good thing as far as maintaining code because we can quickly correct issues that affect all of our clients. It becomes a nightmare when we write “client-specific” code for behavior that is only applied to one client’s site.

The code wouldn’t be so bad if we had used a logical way to encapsulate all of the client-specific logic. But instead, we have a rat’s nest of code with lots of conditional statements that make maintaining this beast anything but easy. In fact, most of our time is just spent fixing bugs. We have so many bugs because everything is a rush job and it wasn’t done right the first time. Even my boss admitted this on more than one occasion and he is just as sick as I am of using “patch-worked” code.

It’s not the way to run a professional business because it makes us look bad. This is probably a major reason why our company hasn’t been as successful as it could be. But don’t tell management that they are doing things wrong – they would rather be wrong than successful.

You Just Gotta Love Fridays

September 10, 04 by kenrich

It just wouldn’t be Friday without a crap-load of projects due to be
launched today and another major project piled on me by my boss. My new project is not too difficult though. I have to create a new configuration tab for our web application and make sure a couple of forms have there input fields disabled. In addition to this I have to change some of the
site navigation.

The weather has been very warm down here. It’s been around 90 degrees where I live for the past few weeks. I guess I should get my air conditioner fixed. I called a repair guy last month (actually, I called him 3 or 4 times for the same appointment) but he didn’t show up on time. I’m looking forward to things cooling off a bit
soon. It should be a little bit cooler this weekend.

It’s nice having three different people managing my time. I have the project manager, boss of IT, and the boss’s assistant all giving me instructions and constantly asking me if their project is done yet. On top of this, our project manager is begging me to get his project done because one of the executives has been hounding him to get it done.

Oh, and here’s the topper – as I was posting this short Blog entry, boss called me to ask when I could start working on the project for the project manager and the executive, and “how long will it take?” and “can you stay late tonight to get it done?” Maybe I should just answer him with a question of my own – “can you pay me my full bonus this year instead of stiffing me like before?” I honestly wonder why I still work here sometimes.

Visual Studio Stupifies Me Sometimes

September 09, 04 by kenrich

Alright, so I’m waiting for my Visual Studio project to load and I thought it would be a good time to update my blog (yes it does take this long.) Things have been crazy around here this short week and I have a lot to get done. Currently, I am working on some bug fixes and also data migration.

Oh, this is just great .. I loaded my project and now the work that I had done a couple of days ago has disappeared. This is pretty typical of the way things go around here. You never know when your work is just going to disappear because of someone’s careless use of Source Control.

So now I am waiting to reload the entire proeject by getting the latest version from Source Control. I’m hoping that my project still lives and breathes. My project manager has been harping on me 3 to 4 times a day on this project alone. It sure would be nice to get something done and off my back.

Yep, it’s still loading. Maybe I’ll go check the TV Guide or something and see if there is anything good on TV tonight. Oh yeah, I don’t need to check, tonight is the premier of “The Apprentice”. I will definitely be watching that tonight to see the next crop of entrepreneurs are up to. Well, I think my project has finally finished loading, better get back to
work.