Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Jamming to Broadband

AOL announced that they are going to raise the price of their 56K dialup from $23 to $25 to be the same as their Broadband service. I have a coupld of questions about this.

  • Who is not paying 2$ a month more for broadband?
  • Of those who is going to pay 2$ a month more for the existing 56K connection?
  • What has taken so long?

I have had broadband (either DSL or Cable) now for almost 2 years. I used to say that "I don't use the internet for anything", but I realize now that I just couldn't use the internet for anything. It's not that the content I was looking for was too time consuming, but the advertisements on the same screen would take forever to download and keep me from reading the content. I'm not very patient when it comes to that. Now I use the internet daily. I post to my blogs. I watch news clips, listen to podcasts, (particularly Piano by Joel) and read content. I read lots of blogs and news articles. I keep up mostly on my baseball addiction with the web.

In related news, Chicago is trying to be a Wi-Fi hotspot. Yes the entire city is going to be a 224 mile Wi-Fi hotspot. Thanks to this article in InformationWeek I see that Chicago already has the 3rd most hotspots for a city in the country. I'm excited that an entire city will have this WiFi capability. I wonder how they are going to generate any revenue from this. How can we say that tax money goes to pay for a citywide WiFi network, but only the poor can use it. If it's tax money paying for it, then everyone should also be allowed to use it. If the poor don't get a free ride and this is going to earn it's own way by charging a fee, then charge the same fee to everyone. I expect that any broadband providers that are already operating in Chicago are not happy about this. Will Wi-Fi eliminate the competition from broadband vendors? How many people will stop subscribing to AOL and start using public Wi-Fi networks? There are some interesting things that will come out of cities providing Wi-Fi networks. I'm not sure how much of it is socialist policy and how much is just trying to be too much. Maybe cities are finally trying to earn their money rather than just taxing for it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Difference between the Web and Brochures

Brochures, Pamphlets, Flyers, even Magazine or News advertisements are the same. They are minimalist. You pay for the amount of space that you use. You need to get the most out of it and you need it to catch the readers eye. These are almost always nice photos or graphics with a minimal amount of text over the top of them. For this type of medium, the less text distracting the reader from the main point, the better. Some great ads are extremely simple. Everyone knows about the "Got Milk" ads and the "Army of One" ads. These worked well for both TV and print ads because they were visually stimulating and had very simple messages. I can even remember the poses of Pete Sampras, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra in their "Got Milk" ads. But what would happen if they created a website that simple had the same phrase on it; "Got Milk" one time. This page would look just like the magazine ad, but it wouldn't say anything. Nobody would want to go to the page because it doesn't tell them anything.

The web is an entirely different medium. It can be small or large. The best websites are the ones with the most content. These are not necessarily the best looking sites, but they are the ones that are linked to the most often. You can use the web to describe every detail of what you do. You can use a forum to be interactive with your potential customers. It is a living breathing thing that can change on a moments notice to stay in touch with your business as your needs change. The web allows both images and text. You can describe every little detail for a house, including each room dimension, and types of decorations, or you can just say "Cape Cod Style Home". The web page doesn't care. The readers of your site care. You want to have enough information on the web to give your readers everything that they are looking for. You should leave them with no questions, at the same time you won't want to completley overwhelm them. There will be people who want the basics and only the basics. That is why the design and layout of web pages is so important. A website should have overviews of information with links to additional details, those readers that are interested enough, or just the types that need to know everything, can continue to drill down to find the more detailed information. Without this more detailed information a website will hurt itself. It will lose potential sales, and it will not provide the potential magic keyword that would put it at the top of the list in Google for something that the business owner hadn't even considered an important topic. I have found over and over that this is the case. A business will focus on something with several lesser things that they also offer, and by providing enough content on their websites, what used to be the lesser things, becomes the focus of the business. You never know where the money will come from with your customers, so always be prepared to offer as much information as you can.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What I don't do

I do, program in c# and VB. I do spend a lot of time learning new things to improve myself.

What I don't do, that list is so much larger.

  • I don't use good OO design.
  • I don't use TDD development.
  • I don't even use Agile correctly.

It's not that I don't want to do these things, along with the hundreds of others that I don't do that I should, it's that I have such short deadlines and I'm not given the initial extra time required to learn to use these properly. I want to use TDD. And I've spent a little time writing some examples this way, but they took me more than twice as long as it would have otherwise. Plus I still had pieces in the sample application that I could not figure out how to test, so they just weren't tested. This means I had a sample TDD app that was not really TDD. AHHHH!!! Again it's not that I don't want to, but I have trouble understanding where and how to use the seperation correctly in order to do this. Is this just a remnant of the fact that I taught myself in Basic on the Commodore 64 so many years ago and I'm good at programming the way that I do it, but I have trouble learning new things? Will I become one of those relics that I laugh at now that is currently stuck working in Cobol or RPG?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

C# tracing and logging

Ok, no more excuses. Here's some of my tracing code. If you want to use an event log trace listener you can use this.

EventLogTraceListener myTraceListener = null;

public TracingDLL()
// Create a trace listener for the event log.
myTraceListener = new EventLogTraceListener("myEventLogSource");
// Add the event log trace listener to the collection.
// Write output to the event log.
Trace.WriteLine("Test output in TracingDLL");

In order to user a TraceSwitch you have to declare it in your code and then use it. You can either hard code the configuration, or you can use the config file as shown below.

TraceSwitch generalSwitch = new TraceSwitch("General", "Entire application");
Trace.WriteLineIf(generalSwitch.TraceError, "Write Error Line");
Trace.WriteLineIf(generalSwitch.TraceWarning, "Write Warning Line");
Trace.WriteLineIf(generalSwitch.TraceInfo, "Write Info");
Trace.WriteLineIf(generalSwitch.TraceVerbose, "Write Verbose.");

<-- The default Trace listener is Console />