Writing ... or Just Practicing?

Random Disconnected Diatribes of a p&p Documentation Engineer

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    Windows 2008 Hyper-V and Service Pack 2

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    A quick note to Hyper-V users. When I installed Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2, it installed fine with no errors, but after a while I was getting NetBT errors in Event Log saying there was a duplicate name on the network, and other issues finding machines on the network.

    Turns out that the service pack had re-enabled all of the network connections in the base O/S running Hyper-V. As two of these need to be disabled (see http://blogs.msdn.com/alexhomer/archive/2009/02/08/Hyper_2D00_Ventilation_2C00_-Act-III.aspx for an explanation), this meant the base O/S had two connections to the internal network, one of which was obtaining a new IP address through DHCP and registering itself in DNS. 

    After disabling these connections again, everything returned to normal. Maybe I should have deleted the connections in the first place instead of just disabling them... any advice from an expert in this area would be very welcome.

    Update: In Windows Server 2008 R2 you can untick the Allow management operating system to share this network adapter option in Virtual Network Manager to remove these duplicated connections from the base O/S so that updates and patches applied in the future do not re-enable them.

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    Currently Overloaded...

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    You don't normally expect zonking amounts of current to be flying around inside a computer (unless you've packed it solid with extra disk drives), so tagging a couple of skinny wires to one end of the circuit board is probably an eminently sensible approach. Those five DC volts will eventually find their way along the copper tracks and wander into the odd chip when required, and it's fairly unlikely you'll get flash-over between the connector pins or a nasty smell as several amps of current rumble uncontrolled through the resistors and capacitors.

    In fact, the working bits inside a chip are now so small and close together that we worry about quantum effects (and if all the dead cats will interfere with calculations). I mean, what if an odd electron decided to go walkabout one day and debit your account at the bank instead of crediting it? If the nice man at Intel happened to sneeze when they were making the chip for your machine, it could mean that all of your spreadsheets are calculating the wrong answer.

    See, this is the thing. We're so focused on digital stuff, miniaturized electronics, and tiny voltages squirming their way through the ever-increasing complexity of modern machines that we tend to forget that real electricity doesn't behave anything like this. It needs big chunky wires, and often involves several real amperes rather than those wimpy milliamp things - as I discovered when I went to see if I could help a friend sort out a problem with his model railway (railroad) layout last week.

    When I was younger, and a practitioner in the art of miniaturized transport modeling, the only way you could get the locos to move was to shove lots of DC current through the track, accompanied (in the later period as electronics began to blossom into the modeling world) with a high frequency pulsed current that zapped the bits of dust and cat hair that might impede the flow of amps into the tiny electric motors. It you put two locos on the same track, they went round together and the speed controller box got hotter and hotter until the reset button popped out. Unless, of course, you'd wired them different so they went opposite ways. Then the head-on collision usually occurred before the reset button had time to react.

    I remember reading, just at the end of my modeling days, about the new electronics that were coming to the hobby. Digital Command Control (DCC) was the upcoming thing. You just shove 15 volts AC into all of the track all of the time, and the individual control modules in each loco, turnout motor, and accessory allow you to individually control each one. Up to 99 separate channels, and superbly fine speed control as well because the chip can fire pulsed bursts of current into the electric motor, rather than just feeding it a constant voltage. And, from what I've seen in working layouts recently, it really does make everything easier and better. Another first for technology. It even uses wireless now so that the "driver" can wander around getting the best viewpoint without being constrained by (or tripping over) trailing cables.

    However, the trouble with my friend's layout was that the fine control only worked for about 30 seconds before the control box decided all was not well and turned off the power. We initially suspected a short circuit, but my multi-meter could find no sign of one. We tested several different locomotives with no effect. Finally, we started measuring track voltages and current consumption in multiple places around the layout.

    And, yes, even with DCC and the magic of electronics, model railway locos still do absorb quite a lot of power. The voltage drop as each one started was quite noticeable and it soon became clear that the controller was cutting out not when there were too many amps coming out of it, but when it detected that the voltage in the track had dropped below some predefined limit. Yet it took 30 seconds or so for this to occur.

    Finally, after investigating the wiring layout, it became clear why. My friend had made the same assumption that computer system builders do - that you just need to tag on some skinny wires at one end, and the volts will meander through to where they're needed. In fact, this system used skinny wires to carry the track power all the way from the remote power unit to one end of a long and remote siding so that the whole layout (containing a very large four-track main line loop) dragged these volts through several very thin connectors, and lots of fishplates between track sections that (although soldered together) would move around with changes in humidity and movement of the baseboards and the floor underneath.

    One of these joints was probably not as good as it could have been, and was increasingly resisting the not inconsiderable amount of current flowing through it. My suggestion was to go back to the principles of the electrician. Run couple of bus bars made of thick single-strand copper wire all the way from the power unit, continuing underneath the whole layout, and tag the track and everything else into it at regular intervals.

    I suspect that it's not a solution you could apply to a recalcitrant server, though another friend did have lots of problems with a disk array that kept failing when he was driving it off an old 200 Watt power supply, so maybe there's correlation there. Amazingly, this friend uses speaker cable for his extra-high hi-fi stuff that could comfortably carry the output of a small power station. Mind you, at ten pounds (in money) per metre, it's probably a bit expensive for wiring up a model railway.

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    How Much Configuration Do You Need?

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    I endured a severe culture shock this week. And that was without meeting new people from countries afar, or travelling to distant lands. And it didn't involve a trip to some foreign eatery (such as our local Indian restaurant or Greek fish 'n' chip shop) either. No, all I did was respond to a change in the company security policy by replacing the existing well-known virus protection software with the new Forefront Client Security application. All I need to do now is work out how to configure it.

    You see, I'm used to virus scanners (and most other software) that provides oodles of configuration options. I mean, the one we just abandoned has about ten pages of check boxes, option buttons, lists, and text boxes where you can play happily for hours messing up the configuration, then click the Reset button to put it all back to where you started. Ah, the many happy hours spent trying to decide whether to scan zip file contents on disk, or just when the files inside them are opened (and the additional hours spent trying to remember where I found that option the last time).

    But, all of a sudden, I've got almost no configuration options. Forefront Client is one of those applications where they could have fitted all of the UI into a window about one inch square. It only has one page plus a link to open the Help file. And I thought Windows Defender was extravagant with screen estate. OK, so there is a link you can open to look at all the nasty malware that it captured, and one that has a few options to specify the type of scan to perform and the frequency. They even included some options to specify files, locations, and processes you don't want to scan. But you can't help thinking that it all looks a bit sparse, like they have only built half of it so far. I mean, when you flip open one of the tab-bar things, all you get is one line of text telling you that the feature is turned on or off, or is up to date, and no buttons to do anything about it.

    And then, after you install it and run it for a while, you discover that it added a new Event Log named Operations Manager with a size of about 15 MB, and is proceeding to fill it up with error messages that it can't find a management server to connect to (although that may be because I installed our "corporate" version). Obviously the name of the log gives the game away - it's meant to be administered remotely from some Windows System Server management console. Probably that's why the interface is so sparse and lacking in stuff to play with. No problem, I thought, I'll just install the Forefront Server Security Management Console (FSSMC) so there's something for my local machines that aren't joined to the corporate big iron to talk to.

    Maybe you'll remember (if you have a habit of wasting your time reading my weekly disconnected ramblings) that I recently went through the Hyper Ventilation experience and upgraded all my server infrastructure to Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V hosted machine instances. But the FSSMC will only install (at least in the current incarnation) on Windows 2003 32-bit systems. OK, so I've got such a box running ISA 2006, but I'm not convinced that's a prime location for an admin tool that manages internal network security. Especially as you have to allow DCOM through all your internal firewalls. I did find a link to a page named "Forefront Server Security Products Next Generation", and - since I'm working on Enterprise Library at the moment - it seemed for a while that 2009 might be my Star Trek year. But no such luck, the next generation products don't yet include a Windows 2008-compatible 64-bit version.

    Mind you, there is the Client Security Enterprise Manager, but the reams of installation instructions frightened me off that - at least for the time being. It's probably overkill for managing six machines anyway. And it looks like it all hooks into System Center Operations Manager in a big way, so I reckon that's a "wait and see" job. I'd love to have all that working, but I can't face the effort at the moment. Maybe after I've managed to get a life, and there is some spare left over.

    Meanwhile, at least it seems to be doing stuff. The Event Log says is did a scan when it should, and that it is happily downloading and installing the new definitions every day from my WSUS server. Interestingly, on Vista, I still have Windows Defender running as well. I removed if from the XP boxes, but as its part of the O/S in Vista I didn't know whether to remove it (or how to) and the helpful support guy I spoke to said I should just leave it running alongside. I suppose, when I do pick up some malware infection, they'll have a fight over who gets to quarantine it.

    And what's the best part of all? The Forefront Client UI is plastered all over with the word "Antimalware" which, when you glance at it, always seems to read "Animalware". Every time I decide to check my security status, I end up with visions of horse blankets, fur coats for dogs, and those photos you see on the Web where people dress up their family moggy in some ridiculous outfit.

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    Five Go To The Library

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    Our little documentation department here at p&p occasionally gets some odd requests. I've done the "write some fictitious stories about corporations that don't exist" bit in the past (as content for a sample application, in case you were wondering), and the "write a technical article about cloud computing but don't mention any products or technologies" thing (it was a very short article). Combine this with an emerging policy of rewriting everything four times when people keep changing their minds about what they want, and you can see why I'm usually quite busy.

    However, now that I've at last escaped from nearly a year of working on the updated Application Architecture Guide (more news of that it a couple of weeks time), I'm free to devote my full resources to the upcoming version 5.0 of Enterprise Library. This is one of my favorite projects, and I've worked on several releases in the past. In fact, I suspect that it was working as a contractor on EntLib (as we insiders like to call it) for three releases that persuaded Microsoft to give me a proper full-time job. Perhaps everyone else is frightened off when they see the 900 pages of source Word documents that make up the documentation for it.

    If you've been keeping up with the news on the community site (http://www.codeplex.com/entlib) you'll have seen that the team finally got bored with holidaying on foreign beaches and basking in the glow of version 4.1. They decided that they need to make it even better by building a whole new version for release early next year. There's lots of new goodness planned, based on feedback from a survey undertaken a couple of months ago. This includes closer integration with the Unity dependency injection mechanism, better opportunities to decouple your crosscutting concerns from your "actually does stuff" code, and plenty of other minor but useful improvements across many of the application blocks. You can read about the results of the survey and the new release plans on Grigori's blog, and even see a 1920s-style sepia-tinted photo of the miscellaneous collection of miscreants who are charged with achieving all this.

    One of the main thrusts of the version 5.0 release is "learnability" (yes, it's a made-up word, but not one of mine - blame Grigori for this one). So I've been asked to create a series of printed guides that "provide a friendly and conversational introduction to working with EntLib". I'm not convinced that my previous efforts at guidance were aloof, detached, or unsociable; but I get that the plan is to try and write stuff that is entertaining and well as educational. And I'm not sure if they intend to have someone sit next to me and crack me over the knuckles with a stick every time I type "functionally implementable versionability" or "demonstrably compartmental manageability capabilities". I did suggest we include a joke from every country from which members of the developer team originate, and then have a quiz at the back of the book to see if anyone can guess the correct country for each one. But I'm not sure I could get that past our legal department.

    So, anyway, the long-term plan is to have a printed guide for developers, one for architects, and one for administrators. We may even do one that concentrates solely on the principle of dependency inversion, though maybe I could just send everyone an attribute and have this book injected automatically at runtime. Of course, it's kind of hard to write all these while the dev guys are still "exploring concepts" (an activity I've christened "white-board rafting") and playing with early code spikes. But, amazingly, we do have a preview of the developer guide available now! I don't know how I do it. And, even better, you can get a chance of a free copy when it's finally released in "real paper and ink" format by downloading the preview and submitting your opinions through our online feedback and survey. Go to the preview page, grab the PDF, and tell us what you think.

    But please be gentle with me... they made me learn about lambda expressions this week, and I'm still recovering.

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    Boeing, Boeing, Gone to Seattle

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    Travel, they say, broadens your mind and narrows your arteries. Now back home in wonderfully green and Springing England after a couple of weeks in downtown Redmond, it looks like I survived the combined effects of altitude sickness, jet lag, and airport aggravation. Perhaps I'm becoming a "seasoned traveler". Especially as the dictionary definitions of "seasoned" include "hardened", "tested", and "weathered". I probably fit into all of those categories; and probably "soaked in alcohol" as well, though probably not "rubbed with herbs".

    Perhaps it's also the reason that my weekly rants regularly seem to include airports. Mind you, I am rapidly becoming a fan of Schipol airport in Amsterdam (which, I'm reliably informed, is the is the only international airport located below sea level. That must be scary for pilots when their altimeter starts to go negative...). Unlike most airports, Schipol seems to have been designed especially so that people can use it to get on and off 'planes; without having to take a train or bus trip, or go through three security barriers.

    Talking of airports, I really like the quote from Terry Pratchett who says "It's no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase 'As pretty as an airport' appear." Likewise the comments I heard from one of our local comedians this week. He asked why we say "I'm going to the airport", like there is actually only one. He pointed out that this would make traveling somewhat boring. The only flights available would start and end in the same place, but they'd probably still be able to lose your luggage.

    However, what I really wanted to talk about this week was not airports, but airplanes (see how I cover a broad range of topics each week). When I was growing up, we lived on air bases all around the world and so I'm a long time fanatic of all things connected with planes, especially military ones. Therefore, two of the highlights of my recent trip to Seattle, other than a visit to Archie McPhee as described last week, were visits to the Boeing Museum of Flight and the Boeing Factory Tour.

    The Museum of Flight is quite amazing. As well as loads of planes (including an SR-71 Blackbird hanging from the ceiling in the main hall), they have displays and memorabilia commemorating space flights, and whole halls devoted to WWI and WWII planes and events. Outside, you can wander through the cabins of Concorde and an old "Air Force One" 707 from 1959. I liked the way that there are little signs pointing out the features of the presidential airliner, including one in front of the mass of extremely ancient communication gear that says "The fact that it never worked very well was only revealed after the aircraft was decommissioned". That could have been a little worrying. Imagine if, when deciding whether to start a nuclear war, all that Eisenhower or Kennedy could hear was whistling noises and odd chunks of broken speech... There is also a little label on the president's desk pointing to a hole in the table that says "Cup-holder". Shows you how old the plane must be if it only has one cup-holder. I've seen baby buggies fitted with two.

    Saturday morning was the trip to the Boeing Factory. This tour, called the Future of Flight takes you round the factory where they build the 747, 767, 777, and the new 787. After a half-mile walk through a tunnel full of pipes and cables that reminds you of some futuristic science fiction movie, you pop out onto a balcony overlooking a production floor so large that I didn't actually notice a Jumbo jet parked in one corner (probably back for its annual service and oil change) until the guide pointed it out. I wonder if they get delivery pilots wandering around asking if anyone had seen their 747? "Hmmm, I'm sure I left it over by that pile of tail fins..."

    But it really is stunning to see six airliners lined up in a row still under construction. You almost can't appreciate how big the place is. Even if you are not wildly passionate about aircraft, it's worth going just to marvel at the size and the technology. Best of all is the facility where they're assembling the new all-plastic 787 "Dreamliner". It seems that they make the parts all over the world, and fly them in using a fleet of strangely modified 747s that look like they're pregnant (they call these "Dreamlifters"). Then they just have to glue all the bits together in the main hall, and nail on the engines and wheels. It all sounds like those model airplane kits I used to build when I was a kid. Except they seem to make a lot neater job of painting theirs.

    There's also some nice displays of associated technologies. I especially enjoyed seeing the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines they offer as an optional extra when you order a new 'plane. They make these engines in a factory only a few miles from where I live. One of my friends who works there likes to tell everyone about how they test them by firing fresh chickens into them with a special compressed air cannon while the engine is running at full speed. I wonder who gets the job of cleaning them afterwards - I can't see Boeing being terribly pleased if they drip blood all over their nice clean factory floor when they unpack them.

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    Snake Oil Salesmen

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    I reckon that, last week, I broke a World record. I managed to cycle through 38 TV channels in turn that were all showing commercials. OK, so I was in a hotel in the U.S. and maybe that's to be expected. And some of the commercials are more interesting than the programs. Of course, it's probably the same here in England now that we have "digital choice", but I just don't notice 'cos we let Media Center record anything we want to watch and then skip over the commercials. Mind you, we need some serious practice to make commercials that are as blatantly misleading as those I've been watching.

    I mean, here in the People's Republic of Europe, the concept of "caveat emptor" (buyer beware) is pretty much obsolete because trading laws are so strict that you almost have to refund people's money before they buy stuff. We have a whole Government department whose entire job is to guard the population against misleading advertisements. Yet, surely the whole point of advertising is to be misleading. I wouldn't be tempted to buy a car they described as "fairly good except when going round corners, and bits of the fascia come loose after a while." Or a new flavor of yoghurt where the actor says "we use fresh ingredients when we can get them, they don't taste too bad, and we very rarely send them out with dead insects inside".

    Yet, last week I was offered a new type of super high quality cleaning duster that magically cleans everything twice as fast as a "normal" duster, comes with an unbreakable handle, a replaceable head, lasts forever, and leaves all other dusters standing. And it was worth $40 but I was lucky because that week they were offering them at only $9.95. And for that price they would actually send you two! And not only that, but they'd also include two packs of replacement heads and a mini duster and free shipping worth a total of $70! I don't know why, but somehow I got the impression that they were being a little economical with the truth somewhere along the line.

    Even better, there was a famous actor (who I didn't actually recognize) explaining that - in his 25 years on TV - he'd never seen an easier way to make "hundreds of thousands of dollars" than the new "cash flow notes" program. No investment, guaranteed money back, and only $159 to "start earning". And if you order in the next 18 minutes "while stocks last", he said, you get the whole package at a one-time special rate. And there are two free gifts as well that make it a "total $295 value" - all for just $39. No wonder we have a financial crisis...

    And then there are the 20 second ones that flash past so fast it takes a while to catch on. Like the commercial for "top-up medical insurance" that covers you for stuff your existing medical insurance doesn't. Or the guy who says you can phone him now and get any three of his computer training DVDs completely free. Learn how to make money on EBay, or master Windows Vista. And, this week, he'll even allow you to order three extra completely free DVDs. You only pay $6.95 each for shipping. OK, so I'm not an expert in this area, but last time I had bulk DVDs made they cost less than two dollars each, and I'm sure it can't cost more than a couple of dollars to send a DVD by post in a padded bag. So their business model really consists of selling post and packing.

    More worrying, however, is the weirdness of some of the programs. Last time I was there I inadvertently watched, while eating breakfast, a program about the top ten retail stores in the U.S. One of them was a place called Archie McPhee, which is actually in Seattle! They sell novelties and daft stuff, and I just had to pay them a visit this time. I found some useful things such as an emergency reflective jacket and a brush for cleaning my fishpond filter. However, it's probably a good thing they didn't search my case at customs on the way home as it might have been difficult to explain why I needed several packs of plasters (bandages) with toast and ninjas on, some plastic model office cubicles (plus additional figures), a bag of Mini Devil Duckies, a roll of "Crime Scene Keep Out" tape, and a shopping bag that says "My wife said I had to bring this bag with me".

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    Are You Offset Early Yet?

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    I watched a program on TV the other night about how your body clock works. It seems that when you are young, your body clock is "offset late" so you are useless in the mornings and tend to be a bit of a night owl. I guess this is useful so you can go to those all-night parties and clubs. When you get old your body clock is "offset early", so you have to go to bed at 6:30 PM and get up in time to watch breakfast TV and those weird quiz shows that nobody has heard of. I suppose this means that there are only a couple of weeks around the age of 35 when your life is actually aligned with the world around you. That's going to be my excuse in future, anyway.

    And it seems that all this is the result of strict scientific investigation, and not just some university student making stuff up for his final exam dissertation. It's supposed to explain why extricating a teenager from their bed before lunchtime is about as easy as folding custard (or herding cats). In fact, there is a school in the North East of England where they are experimenting with delaying the start of lessons that require anything more than desultory half-awakeness until after 11:00 AM. Maybe this is a way to reduce traffic congestion - send kids to school for 10:30 in the morning so we can all get to work without being buried by a flock of 4x4s on the school run, and keep them there until we've had a chance to sit down after work and read the paper in peace.

    They also say that "body clock research" (which surely has to be a made-up science) can predict the best time of day to have a heart attack or stroke, provide the reason why you feel tired after a beer at lunchtime, and tell you when to have sex. Now, I'm no expert, but I reckon I could figure that the best time to have a heart attack or stroke is never, the reason you feel tired is because that's what beer does, and - well - I'll refrain from comment on the remaining point.

    Strange thing is that, in my advancing years, I should now be well into the "offset early" camp. According to a rough calculation on the back of a Notepad document, I should be drifting off to sleep at seventeen minutes past nine all this week. And be wide awake and furiously typing guidance and documentation by around ten to seven in the morning. I'd have to say that his doesn't bear comparison with reality. If I go to bed much before midnight I can't drop off to sleep, and I don't remember when I last saw any time prior to 8:00 AM on the bedside alarm clock. I've even tried following my wife's sage advice that "...it's about time you had an early night", but it seems to make little difference. Me and a zombie exhibit remarkably similar traits (and appearance, according to my wife) any time before about 9:00 AM and the second cup of coffee.

    I put it down to the fact that I live on GMT and work on PCT (Pacific Coast Time). So being a night owl is useful because I'm generally still around in the evenings trying to catch up on work while my colleagues are yawning and scratching their way into the office. As long as it's before lunch time their time, I'm generally around to answer panic emails, ignore desperate pleas for completion of the latest important document, and attend conference meeting calls where all I can hear is distant mumblings and trans-Atlantic crosstalk on the line. On one occasion last week, I think I was in three meetings at the same time. I remember agreeing to a new wholesale price for bulk crayfish shipments, and an updated schedule for delivery of some pork bellies to Nebraska. I think we agreed on the appropriate terminology for describing presentation layer components as well, but I can’t be sure about that part.

    Maybe your body clock influences your choice of employment. Or maybe it’s the other way round - your choice of career actually changes your body clock schedule. I mean, you'd have to assume that postmen (sorry, postal delivery workers) are offset early, and that night-club bouncers are offset late. So what about us in the IT world? I've noticed that the p&p office is not exactly bursting with activity at 8:00 AM, or even 9:00 AM, most days. Yet there are still plenty of people hunched over keyboards late into the evenings. Do you actually know any "offset-early" IT people?

  • Writing ... or Just Practicing?

    Miss Spellings and Bad Grandma

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    I suspect that there is a crisis at our local council offices at the moment. They've obviously run out of things to waste taxpayer's money on, so they decided to publish a ten page full-color pamphlet containing really useful information about our local community. On page three, it says that - in case we hadn't noticed - work is underway on the open-cast coal mine just across the fields from where I live. Really? I would never have guessed that the brand new railway, dozens of huge trucks, and a hole half a mile wide and a hundred feet deep were connected with that.

    Of course, there is some less-blindingly-obvious information in there as well. Like the fact that the local post office has had to close because the postmaster is in prison (we live in an exciting area); and news that in the village next to us they are going to concrete over the field where all the kids play, then spend thousands of pounds making it into a kids' play area. But what struck me most was the incredible number of misspellings and serious grammar errors in the ten pages that - in total - hold no more than about 30 complete sentences. Does nobody read this stuff before they send it out? Or is it some covert scheme to try and make everybody think our local district is run by idiots? As if we needed convincing...

    Still, at least they put a nondescript photo of some unidentifiable area of countryside covered in snow on the cover to cheer us all up. Obviously they were ensuring they didn't fall into the "wrong city" trap like the council that runs the second largest city here in England did a while ago. Maybe you saw it in the papers - it even made it into the US Today newspaper (which they deliver to all hotel rooms in the US - whether you want it or not). Somebody probably asked a junior editor in the "community communication" department to search the Web for a picture of Birmingham. When the thousands of leaflets were distributed across the city, several people remarked that they never realized there were so many skyscrapers in Birmingham. Of course, there aren't. They'd put a photo of Birmingham Alabama on the cover (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/7560392.stm and http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2008/08/birmingham_england_officials_c.html).

    Anyway, coming back to the topic of this post (spelling and grammar in case you've forgotten), maybe it's the fact that I work with words and documents that means I tend to spot mistakes, and that they annoy me so much. But the best ones are often amusing in a silly kind of way. For example, I got very nervous reading about how you create Office Business Applications (OBAs) when I found a note in the documentation about how they are really useful "...when you have a rage of documents to handle". Now I have to keep checking if there are any angry spreadsheets on my computer, and I wonder if my virus checker will detect furious Word documents. Maybe there is an irateness rating for emails that my spam filter can use? On a scale of one to ten, move anything over 4.5 into the Junk Mail folder.

    I also came across an article by somebody who writes data access code the same way as I do - just gather together some keywords that sound like they might be appropriate, add a few randomly named variables, and mix it all up until it does something useful. At least that's what I assumed they meant when they said that "...the best approach is to use a stired procedure." But I reckon the best of all was the article that described how "Exception management and logging are often not sufficient in enterprise applications, and you should consider complimenting them with notifications". I tried this - but after half an hour, I ran out of accolades and flattering remarks without seeming to achieve any positive effect on the application.

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