Microsoft continues to disappoint VS.NET 2003 VB.NET developers

It’s a real shame how complicated Microsoft makes certain things…
If you have the problem with VS.NET 2003 disappearing while compiling your app, you may not know that Microsoft has a hotfix for it.  Unfortunately, you cannot just get the hotfix.  You have to submit a support request, pay your money, get the hotfix, and then get your money back.
They say the hotfix isn’t fully regression tested – well, okay, that’s certainly a concern, but if you install it and all your stuff turns turtle, just uninstall it and you’re back where you were.  It wouldn’t be too hard to have a seperate screen that shows up when trying to download it that makes you type something like "I AGREE" to a warning and disclaimer.  Total lost time, a few minutes.
Instead, you have a multi day process just to make your tool work the way it’s supposed to.
Heck, I can even understand having a hotfix being hard to get if it’s for something like Windows or Active Directory, because some yahoo who doesn’t know what they’re doing can apply it when it isn’t relevant – but this one, and another one that I had to obtain the same way, are for *big* projects.  Joe Schmoe developer who is using a buddy’s stolen copy of VB.NET 2003 isn’t going to create a 100,000+ LOC project in his spare time and need these patches.  Professional developers need them, and should be able to get them easliy.
I wish I had cornered Paul Vick at the PDC to get an explanation for why this works the way it works.
Can someone in Microsoft give us a clear explanation why several critical hotfixes for VS.NET are held hostage like this?  It isn’t because MS is making money off of the support requests – they will refund the submitted amount.
It just reeks of a process that wasn’t thought through.

HD DVD and Microsoft

Tom’s Hardware has a very interesting article up about Microsoft’s recent decision to adopt HD DVD rather than Blu Ray.
I have kind of ignored the whole debate, but recently it has become clear that Blu Ray is truly dedicated to controlling content even more than DVD’s do today and to the complete exclusion of consumers interests.  For example, if a Blu Ray key is cracked so that a disc could be copied and played "illegally" (whatever that means in the world of Blu Ray), another disc released at a later date can update the key list to make that (bad) disc no longer play.  Yeah, you know what?  I don’t care for that.  I used to buy all my DVD’s (over 300 to date) and now I use Netflix,  but I’m not planning on letting *that* backdoor into my systems, even if I have to do without disc based movies.
There is an implicit contract between consumers of entertainment and the providers of it.  While some consumers have run off the rails "stealing" music, the providers are really going too far.  The next few years are going to be both fascinating and ugly.  The providers will inevitably lose the arms race with the ‘hackers’, but while they are fighting it, we consumers are going to have to deal with all sorts of stupidity and collateral damage.
Who is representing us?  Funny, based on the article above, it looks like Microsoft might be, at least a bit…

The E-Ring TV show – some potential, lots of irritants

A friend of mine recently recommended E-Ring as a show worthy of watching.  I told him that I didn’t want to get addicted to any more shows, as our MCE system records more than we can watch anyway (we don’t watch that much TV).
Well, in any case, a few day ago Deb and I were up and unable to sleep, so we had a Law and Order marathon on and at midnight or so an episode of E-Ring came on.  Since it had just come up earlier that day, I decided to take a look.
Overall, I think the show has some potential, but I’ve got to say that some of the writing and clips used during the show really ruined it for me.
The premise of the show that I watched was that a spy working for America in China had been exposed, and America had to go get her.  The plan called for her to be extracted within 6 hours of when she asked for help.  So far so good.
The spy then proceeds to do a pretty good job of changing her appearance to look like a guy so that she can safely drive to the beach where the SEAL team is going to pick her up.  Peachy.
Now things start to go downhill.  She is a spy, and is running for her life.  *Everyone* has pictures of her, there are checkpoints everywhere, agents chasing her, etc.  So why is it that in just about every scene, she is using her cell phone to talk to someone?  Um, if you’re wanted that badly, perhaps you should turn off the radio transmitter that’s giving away your position, don’t you thinK?  Okay, I can deal with this – if I was under that kind of stress, well, I’d do stupid things too (heck, I do stupid things on a daily basis, and I don’t have the cops chasing me).
The slide downhill just continues to accelerate.  From the Pentagon General’s virtually schizophrenic  personality (essentially – "you should never do that again!  You broke the rules! Now let’s try out your suggestion that broke the rules!  YEAH!")  to the submarine shots that really got my back up.
See if you can explain the logic to me: There is a sub on a top secret mission off the coast of China working with a SEAL team – very convenient.  Cut to a shot of the sub – on the surface?  Is this 1939?  Then later on, when the SEAL team is given approval to go rescue the spy, they show the sub in an action shot underwater – turning and openening a torpedo tube!  Maybe they’re going to make the SEAL’s trip a rapid one.  A few seconds later you see the SEAL team exiting a hatch on top of the sub – I guess they didn’t want a ride on a torpedo – chickens.  At this point, the sub is 1 mile from the coast of China, with a SEAL team in transit underwater to pick up the spy.
Now things get really "interesting" – little Ms. Spy has been on the beach, in the same location for three hours blinking a red flashlight into the water to signal the SEAL’s that aren’t there yet.  Good thing she’s doing this in China.  In America that behavior would be considered unusual and would be investigated.  However, in China, it appears that if you are a wanted criminal, you should stay in one spot and really make yourself stand out.  Good to know.
Finally, the SEAL’s "rescue" her, a Chinese satellite is making it’s way towards them so they have to get away from the beach fast, and… the sub has to crash dive in order to avoid detection?!  WHAT?!  So they eject the seal team underwater, and then surface to enjoy the brisk air?  WTF? 
That was the limit of my ability to suspend disbelief and buy into the show.  I’d been hoping that it would get better, but at this point, I was done.  I knew this show wasn’t going to go onto the scheduled recordings list.
There were some other parts of the show that were just as bad, but I believe I’ve given you enough highlights to know whether you’d enjoy it or not.
The shame of it is – the actual episode plot concept was a good one!  If they had done it without all the technical errors and perhaps not treated some of the characters as if the military was staffed by a bunch of stereotypes (the daring Colonel fresh from Afghanistan, the staffer with an attitude but who can get anything done, the General cranking the 70’s music in the Pentagon, etc), it could have been a very good show.
Oh well, spares me 42 minutes a week…
Post a comment and chime in!  Agree or disagree?

I’m in some sort of purgatory

I woke up at about 2:45 this morning, and I haven’t been able to get back to sleep.  There are thunderstorms rolling through, which initially woke me up, but it gets much more complicated than that.
I recently returned from the Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in Los Angeles.  After coming back from there, my sleep patterns have been a mess.  Before last night, I didn’t get to bed until 2am.  So last night I was asleep by about 9pm.  So far, so good.
However, also last night, we had our carpets cleaned.  While I was at work my girlfriend moved all the stuff in the house (relax, it’s a small house, and not much stuff) into various hidey holes so that it wouldn’t be on the carpet.  It will take another day or so before the carpets are really dry enough to move everything back to where it belongs.
Well, as it turns out, when I went to go take a shower at 3:15 this morning, I couldn’t make it to the shower without removing at least three chairs, one game table thingy and an ottoman from the main bathroom.  Not a big deal, but impossible to do without waking her up.  I then thought about just going to work without a shower (ugh), but then I figured out that I can’t make it to the closet either to get to a clean set of clothes.  Then I thought about just going into work in last nights clothes (it just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?), and remembered that we had dinner at Gators, our local dive bar in Wheeling, and my clothes smell like smoke – so no wearing those – I hate the smell of cigarrette smoke.
So here I sit, on the couch with the laptop on my, uh, lap, unable to sleep, shower or get dressed.  The alarm will go off at 5am, but until then, I guess I have to just wait. 
Today is going to suck.

Looking for a good place to donate for Katrina relief?

Flying your own airplane for this sort of thing incurs a lot of costs beyond fuel.  By contributing to Angel Flight America, you can at least help them with their fuel costs.  They are still spending a lot of money (and their time naturally) shuttling food and supplies to the effected areas.