May, 2004

  • frankarr - an aussie microsoft blogger

    RSS Sync - really useful pocket pc app


    RSS Sync I stumbled across a terrific app - RSS Sync.

    RSS Sync is a Pocket PC 2003 ActiveSync Extension. It synchronizes RSS/RDF news to your PDA - effectively creating an offline newsreader.

    Features :

    RSS Sync currently boasts the following features:

    • Reads all known versions of RSS/RDF
    • Imports OPML files
    • Checks HTTP E-tag and Modified Date for optimal download performance
    • Viewer with adjustable ClearType™ and font-size settings
    • Easy to use interface with embedded web-browser
    • Maintains a local database of all headlines to ensure integrity

    Do yourself a favour and check it out



  • frankarr - an aussie microsoft blogger

    WTL now part of Microsoft's Shared Source initiative - posted to Sourceforge.


    Back in April, WiX code was released to Sourceforge under the shared source initiative.

    Today, I saw that Windows Template Library (WTL) is now part of Microsoft's Shared Source initiative, which will allow people external to Microsoft to contribute to WTLWTL picks up where ATL leaves off and adds a bunch of useful things for doing GUI stuff on Windows in C++. 

    I remember I was involved in a firedrill a year ago when there was speculation that this was going to happen, based on a post in a newsgroup. I got a call from our PR team on a public holiday, while I was out with my family. Ahhhh memories....

  • frankarr - an aussie microsoft blogger

    Three Unexpected Results in Empirical Open-Source Software Engineering


    On Thursday Tyson Dowd attended a talk by Stephen R Schach from Vanderbilt University.  He talked at UTS in Sydney about some empirical research into OSS

    Slides for this talk are at:

    The results were very interesting.

    Unexpected result 1: Linus’s Law is not applicable to open-source software development

    Linus’s Law: As formulated by Raymond [2000] in his essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar

    4     “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” 

    In other word

    4     If there are enough individuals examining an open-source software product, for each fault there should be someone who is able to locate that fault and explain how to fix it. 

    If there is a core group of developers and a vast periphery of users who are supposed to fix bugs because they have access to the source code, we should expect to see the majority of bugs fixed by the periphery, not the core.

    This is not the case at all:

    Fixed by core Fixed by periphery
    Tomcat 4.0 71.7% 28.3%
    Gnome 81.1% 18.9%
    Mozilla 89.6% 10.4%

    The major role the periphery plays is finding and reporting bugs, much like in closed source software.  Most of the fixes they suggest are rejected and the core provides a “correct” fix.

    Also as an extra result, enhancements come from the core, not the periphery – and decisions regarding which enhancements are made come from the core.  Core enhancements outnumber periphery 17:1.

    Unexpected result 2: Linux is unmaintainable

    Common coupling = shared global variables = bad software engineering.  It leads to unmaintanable code because the coupling introduces dependencies of otherwise unrelated modules.


    • The number of instances of common coupling grows exponentially with version number
    • The number of lines of code grows linearly with version number
    • Conclusion: As Linux grows in size, it will become unmaintainable

    Linux was found to have > 10 times the couplings (and all of them are bad, just that some are much worse than others) than OpenBSD, FreeBSD and NetBSD.

    When presented for the first time these results caused a riot amongst Linux supporters – a riot largely aimed at the presenter.

    A more accurate study was done, identifying definitions and uses (lvals and rvals for compiler lovers) of variables.  It turns out that most of the couplings are of the worst variety – non-kernel modules that modify global variables used and modified by kernel modules.  This means every optional module could conceivably break the kernel.  It makes quality control extremely difficult and means configuration testing becomes very hard (can’t test each module individually).   The results make seasoned software engineers gasp.

    Unexpected result 3: The LST result is false

    By examining bugzilla databases they find that the popular Lientz, Swanson and Tompkins result that 17.4% of maintenance was corrective, 18.2% was adaptive, 60.3% was perfective and 4.1% was other.  They authors assert that this result is wrong, chances are the people surveyed had no data (the study was from 1978 – few companies even had data) so they made up something that sounded nice.

    See the slides for more info on this at:

  • frankarr - an aussie microsoft blogger

    Aussie XMLTV WebService


    I stumbled across a really interesting xml webservice that does something really handy, provides access to a local Australian TV program guide information. A very handy service indeed.

    Development One's XMLTV based television programme guide information service for Australia.

    The following operations are supported.

    • GetProviders
      Provides a listing of all Television providers for Australia - consisting of a code and a description for each provider.

    • GetPayProviders
      Provides a listing of all Pay Television providers for Australia - consisting of a code and a description for each provider.

    • GetChannels
      Provides a listing of Channels for a given Provider and Region.

    • GetRegions
      Provides a listing of regions for Australia, consisting of a code and a description for each region.

    • GetPayChannels2
      Provides a listing of Pay Television Channels for a given Provider and Region, with the option to list the Pay TV channels or the Free to Air channels.

    • GetRecordCount
      Provides the record count for a given database table.

    • GetPrograms
      Provides a listing of Programs for a given Channel (using its ChannelID) and Date.

    • GetPayChannels
      Provides a listing of Pay Television Channels for a given Provider and Region, with the option to include Free to Air Channels.

    • GetChannelInfo
      Provides the details for a given Channel or Channels. List multiple channels with space delimiter.

    • GetFreeChannels
      Provides a listing of Free to Air Channels for a given Region.

    I'm thinking of using this to create an TV GUIDE app for my XDA II! Hmmm, two dreams apps now for my device.

  • frankarr - an aussie microsoft blogger

    ASP.NET Site of the Day -- Cracker


    Those guys at F2 are really getting into ASP.NET.

    I got a note from one of the developers of a new site they launch earlier this year - - which is a free classifieds site.

    Here's their About Us page

    At Cracker we have a strong opinion on what a web community should be.

    It's a place where users decide the content, not us.

    Cracker's aim is simple: to give local communities a free voice. That means we offer not-for-profit discussion forums and FREE classified ads on a town-to-town basis. We don't have online auctions or a global-domination agenda. We simply want to connect (and entertain) local Australians, in local suburbs, in local cities.

    Of course, we can't allow illegal behaviour - but ultimately, this site's content is up to you. We don't censor content unless the Cracker community specifically votes for it (and in large numbers). Go ahead, try your best to shock us. Strong language? Pffft. Unless other Cracker users request it, you won't get banned. Yes. Really.

    The best thing is, almost all of our services are entirely free.

    Here's exactly what we're here for:

    We give you

    • Free classified ads - including dating, real estate, cars, community events… you name it, we cover it! We also have some paid-ad categories (eg, jobs) to help pay our operating costs.
    • Peer-censored discussion forums. We're not the thought police so voice your real opinion.
    • A good time. We're not into boring classifieds ads so we encourage you to be imaginative. You've got nothing to lose by placing a crazily-worded ad - it's free and you can stay completely anonymous.

    We DON'T give you

    • banner ads
    • online auctions
    • censorship of content, unless the community requests it
    • hidden after-sale fees or commissions

    What do we believe in?

    • A fast and simple site - we doubt you'll find Cracker slow or hard-to-use.
    • Fresh, up-to-date content - old content bad, new content goo-oo-ood.
    • Democracy - you guys decide what's fair game on this site, NOT us
    • A free voice for everyone - so use it
    • Respect, trust and (and possibly even intimacy?) for your fellow Cracker members
    • Consistent, down-to-earth values

    OK, now get to it. It's up to you to make this a great site.

    After all, it's your web community, not ours.

    - The Ed

    Check it out!

  • frankarr - an aussie microsoft blogger

    Windows Media Center continues overseas march


    CNET has gone public on this, so I can post it......

    Windows Media Center continues overseas march
    Microsoft plans to announce on Monday that its Media Center operating system is moving into new countries, even as the software maker works to make the entertainment software more ready for prime time.

    After launching the operating system in the United States and Korea, Microsoft has slowly been introducing it in more countries. The company is set to announce Monday that the operating system will reach Australia, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland by the end of the year. [more]

    Yes, you have read right - Australia will have Windows Media Center in the local market before the end of the year!!!!!

    If you want to see Windows Media Center in action, head to the Sydney Home Show for a sneak preview. Tell'em you read it on Frank's blog :)

  • frankarr - an aussie microsoft blogger

    MSDN Connection Member Update


    The following email went out to MSDN Connection members today:

    Dear MSDN Connection Member,

    The excitement and support that developers across Australia have shown for the MSDN Connection program has been phenomenal - thank you for being apart of it!

    As a result of the volume of members to the program, a MSDN Connection Welcome Kit will be sent to your postal address within the next 14 working days.

    What can I expect to see in my MSDN Connection Welcome Kit?

    • MSDN Connection Welcome Letter
    • INETA User Group Stickers
    • MSDN Connection Membership card
    • MSDN Connection Program Guide
    • ASP.NET Resource Kit CD
    • Name Classes Poster
    • .Net Asia Magazine

    Its an exciting time to be apart of the developer community, with lots of things ramping up in the next few months online, so make sure to regularly check the MSDN Connection Members portal at

    Kind regards,
    MSDN Connection Team
    Microsoft Australia

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