Monday, October 31, 2005

Free Commercial Databases as Far as the Eye Can See

Looks like with Oracle's recent announcement all of the big names in the commercial database market have free versions that can be used in production environments. There is Sybase ASE Express Edition for Linux, Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, and Oracle Database 10g Express Edition.

Here's a short feature comparison on the very basic stats.

Oracle Database 10g Express Edition
4 GB of data
1 GB of RAM
One instance per server
Downloads For Windows or Linux

Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
4 GB of data
1 GB of RAM
Windows Only

Sybase ASE Express Edition for Linux
5 GB of data
2 GB of RAM

Each of these databases are exceptional pieces of technology. I have worked mainly with Oracle and SQL Server and am really blown away with the features that have been packed into Oracle 10g and SQL Server 2005. I think these moves by the commercial database companies to release free versions of their software could really have an impact on the open source databases typically used to build small to medium sized databases on the cheap. We'll see how it affects their future.

Also, the Alabama .Net Code Camp this past weekend went great. I'll have a post tomorrow summarizing things and posting a link to the files from my presentation.

Monday, October 24, 2005

DataWindow.Net 2.0 Beta Now Open

Just got word today from Dave Fish with Sybase, Inc. that the Beta for DataWindow.Net 2.0 has just opened. Here is the text of the message and link that Dave posted to the Sybase Newsgroups:

The Beta program for DataWindow .NET 2.0 is now open. Please visit to register and download the software. The Beta web site contains information on how to access the Beta newsgroup.

Dave Fish

If you are a current or former PowerBuilder developer working in the .Net world, then you already know all of the amazing things the DataWindow brings to the table. The 2.0 release includes some incredible new features including: support for using DataWindow.Net with WebForms and the ability to bind datawindows to .Net datasets

If you are not familiar with the DataWindow and have looked at competing controls such as the ones available from Infragistics or the new and improved .Net DataGrid, you really should give DataWindow.Net a try. It is a fantastic product.

Also, if you are going to be in the Birmingham, AL area this weekend, you can come see Dave Avera, one of the programmers that works on DataWindow.Net, give a presentation at the Alabama .Net Code Camp on this very subject.

(Shameless Plug: I'll also be at the Code Camp giving a presentation on the Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset).

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ticketmaster Is Evil

So I broke down and decided to go ahead and attend the Butch Walker show in Atlanta coming up on November 18, 2005. This show will pretty much be the end of his tour and then he'll be back in the studio to record a new album. So this will be the last chance to see him perform live for a bit.

Mobile is 328 miles from Atlanta (so says Google Maps). Multiply that by two for both legs of the trip and you get 656 miles round trip. My truck gets between 17 and 20 mpg. Gas is running about $2.70/gallon so the total fuel costs will be:

Worst Case - 656 miles / 17 mpg * $2.70/gallon = $104.19
Best Case - 656 miles / 20 mpg * $2.70/gallon = $ 88.56

Hotel Room for 2 nights will be around $80/night so $160 lodging.

Then of course there is the little matter about the tickets to the show. The face value of the tickets is $18/ticket, but I'm sure from the title of this post, you know it didn't cost me $36 for two tickets.

Not even close. Behold the audacity and greedy disregard to the fans and the artists that ticketmaster has.

Good thing I'm a big fan, because something about an $18.50 premium added to $36 dollars of tickets seems wrong. And hey Ticketmaster, that "Convenience" charge doesn't feel very convenient to me. And the Order Processing Charge.....shouldn't that be part of the "Convenience" charge. Oh and the Ticketfast Delivery charge you see there. That's e-mail. They are e-mailing me tickets to print out myself. If I trusted the good old US Postal service, I could have them mailed to me for no charge (which I might add is a larger expense to Ticketmaster than e-mailing them to me). Yes, expensive trip, but I am a fan. But Ticketmaster is still a very, very bad organization.

It is true. There are just a few absolute evils in this world, and Ticketmaster is one of them.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Come Hear Me Speak At Alabama CodeCamp 2005

I just got word yesterday that I have been accepted to speak at the upcoming Alabama .Net Code Camp in Birmingham, AL on Saturday, October 29, 2005.

The topic I'll be presenting is: Introduction to Creating Installation Packages with Microsoft's Windows Installer XML (WiX) Toolset

WiX is an open source toolkit (yes Microsoft is an open source company) for building MSI files that was written by Rob Mensching. It is being used internally by Microsoft on many of their products and also has been adopted by some in the open source community as well (MySQL being one of the bigger ones).

Installation packages are one of those things that tend to get pushed off until the end of a product's development cycle. This is unfortunate since they really are an integral part of the finished product. Also how many of us have tried to install versions of our own products during development and been forced to track down developers to find all of the undocumented things that must be done to get the product running. WiX can help make all of that pain go away.

WiX allows you to define XML configuration files that detail the installation process. These files are then analyzed and coalesced into an MSI installation file of the product. One of the really beautiful parts of this system is that it is fully scriptable since it relies on command line calls to executables.

Thus you can add the creation of an MSI into your build process so that at every step of development there is always a nice installation file that can be used to install the product. This can help you embody Continuous Integration end to end.

I am a huge believer in the Continuous Integration ideology and try to constantly preach the gospel of source control, unit testing, and nightly (at least) builds to any in the unwashed masses that will listen. These concepts can save so much time in the long run and alleviate many of the common issues that cause us headaches as developers.

If you will be attending or in the area, come check out my presentation or at least say hi. I will be out and about in Birmingham throughout the weekend so feel free to give me a call (my cell is listed in the top right corner on my blog's webpage) if you want to meet up.

The Code Camp's session list is posted Here. If you look closely, you will see that my friend Dave Avera from Sybase will be speaking. He is based in Auburn, AL and is one of the guys that is doing amazing things with the DataWindow.Net product.

Hope to see you there.

Update: I had incorrectly spelled "Hear" in the title of the post using "Here" instead. Oops, my mistake got it corrected now. Where is that context sensitive spellchecker when I need it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Butch Walker

One of the feeds I read regularly (Creating Passionate Users) talks about how to get users excited about your product, company, etc.. Excited users tend to share their experiences and stick with you for the long haul.

Those that know me know that I am this way towards the music of the great Butch Walker. He is a perfect example of an entertainer that has created and nurtured a very passionate fanbase.

Here is a great example that let me see it first hand:

He was recently opening for Avril Lavigne (with whom he cowrote and produced some tracks on her latest album) at a show in Atlanta and posted on his website that he would be performing after the show at a local club under an assumed name (because of contractual reasons I believe).

So with zero marketing aside from the post on his site he was able to pack around 500 people into a tiny club and put on a great rock show. Now that really qualifies as a passionate user base. I even drove 4 hours from here in Mobile, AL to attend. What makes him different aside from great music?

It could be because of some of these characteristics:

- He communicates to his fans through his site which creates a dialog

-He puts on great shows that include interaction with the crowd (he'll even come out into the crowd and perform a song sans mike if he's feeling the vibe)

-He keeps you guessing (I pre-ordered his latest CD through Sony Music after hearing about it through his site, and when it arrived they had thrown in a live album he recorded for those that pre-ordered, good surprises rock)

-He sticks around after shows for autographs and pictures so he is very approachable.

-**The GF Casey added this one**He just looks so dreamy when he's up there rocking out (And I thought she was just going to the shows with me because she liked spending time with me)

And thus he has created this ever-expanding fanbase that follows him around and supports his musical endeavors. Now those are passionate users.

***Free Stuff Alert***
If you saw yesterday's post, you know that he just released a new album of cover songs through iTunes. I really, really want you to check out his music and see him live if you get the chance.

To help with that process, I'm willing to gift one of the singles off the new album to any that ask for it. I will gift out 10 total so don't procrastinate. The single is a medley of Queen tunes from a live performance he did in Atlanta.

This medley really gives you a great idea of what his live performances are like. Disclaimer: There is some explicit wording in the song so if you are under 18, please don't respond (but it is a rock show, so what do you expect)

To qualify for the free single, e-mail me (if you go to the webpage containing this blog, my e-mail is in the upper right corner) and let me know your Name, E-mail Address, and what City and State you are in and I'll send it out.

**** Unfortunately this offer is only good to those in the US (iTunes gift rules, not mine).

I will keep the number of remaining singles updated at the bottom of this post.

No more singles remaining

1 - Kayla in Anaheim, CA
2 - Nicholas in New York City, NY
3 - Aaron in Katonah, NY
4 - Alex in Blackwood, NJ
5 - Chris in New York City, NY
6 - Winston in Dallas, TX
7 - Taylor in Tempe, AZ
8 - Steven in Austin, TX
9 - Jennifer in Seattle, WA
10 - Lisa in Gloster, MS

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Butch Walker - Cover Me Badd EP

Some of my friends complain that my blog tends to stay too technical and doesn't really talk much about my personal life. So here is something for them.

For those of you that don't know me, I am hooked on the music of a musician named Butch Walker. Some of you may remember him from a little band called the Marvelous 3 that had a hit song "Freak of the Week" Windows Media Real Player back in the mid 90's. I highly recommend checking him and his music out if you get the chance. He has one of the best live shows I've ever seen. Since the breakup of the Marvelous 3, he has done two solo albums (Here and Here) and has become a very sought after producer (producing the likes of Avril Lavigne, SR-71, American Hi-Fi, and The Donnas).

Got an e-mail yesterday from mentioning that he had just put out an album of cover songs on iTunes. The album is titled Cover Me Badd - Link here for you iTunes folks (a play on words, of course, with the cheesy 90's band Color Me Badd

The EP contains 6 songs:
Since U Been Gone (Live) - 2:15 - Kelly Clarkson
A Good Year for the Roses - 4:04 - George Jones
Alison (Live) - 3:47 - Elvis Costello
Live and Let Die - 3:14 - The Beatles
Queen Medley (Live) - 8:37 - Queen (of course)
Always Something There to Remind Me (Live) - 4:13 -Naked Eyes

The live tracks (especially the Queen Medley) do a great job showing how Butch is in concert. He likes to joke and have a good time with the audience and most of all get them involved in the show. "Always Something There to Remind Me" was the closing song that Marvelous 3 used to perform and it is an awesome cover. I got a chance to see the Marvelous 3 perform at Atlanta's Music Midtown (2001 to be exact) right before they broke up for good and when they played this song it was absolutely unbelievable.

Butch may be coming to your town. Here is his current Tour Listing

He will be in Atlanta on November 18 but I don't think I'm going to be able to make the drive this time. Saw him about a month or two ago up there and it was awesome. Have to see if I can make it up there for it somehow....

Also here is a article on Butch - Butch Walker Has Been Here Before

Happy listening.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Oracle Acquires Innobase

Though it didn't seem to get noticed much in the main technical press, the acquisition of Innobase by Oracle is big news in the open source database market. Many of you may recognize Innobase as the company that produced and supports InnoDB (one of the underlying database engines used by MySQL).

This could have dire consequences for the business model of MySQL AB. MySQL AB sells commercial licenses for their MySQL database product along with services and support. The contract regarding inclusion of InnoDB with MySQL is up for renewal next year and with Oracle holding the reigns now the negotiations could be difficult (and costly) for MySQL AB.

The press release by Oracle says they are committed to expanding the product and contributing to the open source community, but if you have seen what is to become of the PeopleSoft and JD Edwards products Oracle recently acquired, you may not be so convinced of their noble intentions.

For the open source crowd, we can take solace in the fact that InnoDB is GPL software, but with Oracle now "owning" the main developers on the product, new features and maintenance could dry up considerably. We'll just have to wait and see what Oracle's plans are for the newly acquired company.

In addition to MySQL, there are other alternatives to the high cost databases out there. Some of these are: PostgreSQL, Sybase ASE on Linux (Free for one CPU box, 5 GB max data storage, and 2 GB max RAM), Apache Derby, and FireBird

Here are some of the reactions and reporting from the Blogosphere:
KasLog - Oracle’s Innobase Acquisition; Open Source is Not Necessarily "Free"

Oracle's Open Source

IT Toolbox - InnoDB and the Compromise of Dual Licensing

SAP Ventures - Oracle's Open Source Database Endorsement

CIO Weblog - Oracle adds open source to the shopping cart

Monday, October 03, 2005

LANUG Meeting One Recap

The first meeting of LANUG (the moniker given to the Lower Alabama .Net Users Group) was a great success with around 27 in attendance. There were some new faces and quite a few friends and acquaintances I have met over the years. Some of the companies that had employees in attendance were: ACO, STI, Morrison's, Dawson Engineering, and of course yours truly from DailyAccess Corporation.

Microsoft's Developer Evangelist for the South East region, Joe Healy, was on hand to give a presentation of some of the new features in Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. I must say that the upcoming features are very exciting. ASP.Net 2.0 is an incredible language and platform and definitely is well ahead of the other technologies out there.

Visual Studio 2005 brings some great new features for VB.Net and C# developers including Edit and Continue (allows one to alter variables and add code during execution in Debug mode), incredible refactoring support (very similar to what exists for Java in Eclipse), and Click Once deployment (adds smart client capabilities to apps to allow them to update themselves to the latest version via the internet seamlessly for the user).

SQL Server 2005 has an incredible number of new features, we were able to only cover a few but they were awesome. The new version adds incredible XML support right into the database (very similar to what Oracle 9i and up have with SQLX and the XML SDK's in PL/SQL). There is also the ability to call .Net managed code functions inside stored procedures and standard SQL queries. This allows one to have the option of writing functions in a .Net language versus T-SQL which depending on what is needed can make things much easier (have you tried to split a string in T-SQL based on a delimiter??? It's one line in C#). The example that Joe gave of this feature was the Great Circle algorithm with GPS coordinates. (Something I also saw this week, is that IBM's DB2 and Oracle's 10gR2 on Windows have support for this type of functionality)

I have to say that Joe Healy is one of the best presenters I have seen in awhile. He had great energy, was comfortable in front of a crowd, and had great contents (more code than powerpoint which is a big plus). I would highly recommend checking him out if you have the opportunity to hear him speak. He also gave out some great books as door prizes (unfortunately I was not a winner of any of the texts, but Casey won a VB.Net book)

Here are links to the code samples that Joe used from his site DevFish.Net.

What's new and cool in VS2005 - Powerpoint, SQL2005 GPS functions for bearing and Great Circle Distance, stored procedure and view definitions. Visual Studio 2005 Beta2 project using Virtual Earth.

Upcoming .Net Events
October 29, 2005 - Birmingham, AL - Alabama Code Camp 2005

November 25, 2005 - Atlanta, GA - Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 Launch Event

November 25, 2005 - Mobile, AL - LANUG Meeting Two - Speakers TBD

December 13, 2005 - Birmingham, AL - Satellite Launch Event for Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005