Microsoft.VisualBasic.Compatibility improvements


I listened to Don Box’s talk today at the MVP Summit. One of the questions, from Rocky Lhotka, focused on the difficulty in configuring Indigo services, specifically “is it going to get easier”. Good question, Rocky, although I do find that they have made tremendous strides in this area.

 

As the Q&A went on, Rocky focused particularly on the case sensitivity of the configuration file. Don explained it was XML and XML is case sensitive. He also stated that Microsoft was not going to change the case sensitive nature of XML. We are getting into a region where Rocky and I would disagree (note for Rocky: I respect your work immensely, please put down that ax).  🙂

 

I have an idea, Don, why not the Microsoft.VisualBasic.Compatibility.XAML namespace? It could include the IDoWhatIMean interface (aka the IPsychic interface). You should not be scared that Microsoft has done piss poor at correcting my code in the past (FrontPage 97 and 98 come to mind instantly) and, instead, consider it a challenge. Under this new namespace, a config like:

 

<CaseSensitive>

<OopsIScrewedUp>

</oopsIScrewedUp>

</casesensitive>

 

Would magically be corrected to something like:

<casesensitive>

<oopsiscrewedup>

</oopsiscrewedup>

</casesensitive>

 

Think about it THINK = think = Think = tHink (but does not equal t71nK – even though the last option looks like hackerese). No matter how bad something is coded, it automagically gets corrected.

 

Okay, I am getting a bit out of sorts, perhaps an IPascalCase interface or ICamelCase interface. Perhaps, to be really fun, you could code them using generics. Oh, wait, even better, you can code the generics in XAML. Now, that would be cool. If you are buying  the beers, I will code it tonight (don’t guarantee it will work when I am done with a few stouts, but what the hell?).

 

See how easily you can really screw with our minds? A side benefit: you can create the config so it is completely unreadable as all lower case and correct anyone who accidentally hits the shift key. Anything to make it easier for the VB developer, I always say. We need more training wheels!

 

Please note a great portion of this post is tongue-in-cheek. I really have no animosity for VB or VB.NET developers; I love VB developers. They taste like chicken. 🙂

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$40 billion for Louisiana to rebuild


According to a Washington Post article, the Louisiana Congressional delegation has requested $40 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects in Louisiana. This is ten times the current $4 billion/year budget for the Corps and 16 times the $2.5 billion the Corps states it will take to make levees that can withstand a Category 5 storm.

 

Farm Aid is considered inefficient when only 28% of the monies gets to the farmers. By Better Business Bureau standards, administrative costs of 40% are a good number. Louisiana needs 94% for overhead. Perhaps corruption requires a bit more overhead than standard administration?

Carter says Bush lost election


Well I would say that in the year 2000 the country failed abysmally in the presidential election process. There’s no doubt in my mind that Al Gore was elected president. He received the most votes nationwide, and in my opinion, he also received the most votes in Florida And the decision was made as you know on a 5-4 vote on a highly partisan basis by the U.S. Supreme Court, so I would say in 2000, there was a failure.

Florida RecountPotential Issue: I agree with anyone who is stating that Gore could have won in certain scenarios. The evidence plainly supports this line of thought. The majority of the recounts fall in the Bush column, however. And, using the standards in place, as well as standards proposed by Gore, Bush still wins.

Popular voteNon-issue: There have been four times in history, the winner of the popular vote lost. Quincy Adams (Andrew Jackson got both popular and electoral votes, but not a clear majority of 50%+), Hayes, Harrison and Bush. But, we do not vote on the popular vote, nor have we ever. You only have a Gore win in this category by changing the rules after the game is over.

Supreme Court partisanshipNon-issue unless the recount falls in Gore’s court and the assertion can be proven: The crux of this argument lies in Republican nominees versus Democratic nominees rather than focusing on the political ideology of the candidates. Even if one takes this as gospel, however, we still have the problem that the standard in place when the count was stopped would have resulted in a Bush win.

Take power away from King George


With all of the news lately, I am a bit concerned about the direction this country has gone. In specific, there are the following charges against our king that I can no longer be silent about, namely:
  • He continues to kill American soldiers, because he has already killed American soldiers – Cindy Sheehan
  • He sends in special forces to blow up levees to flood black areas of New Orleans so the white areas might be saved – Louis Farrakhan

In response, I believe it is evident that the American public band together to do something about this tyrant. I suggest a radical departure for our government to ensure these abuses can never occur again. Please bear with me, as any new plan is bound to have its detractors; we must be in it for the long haul.

First, I suggest we divide the kingdom into fifty smaller states. The people of these new states will then elect a magistrate which we will call a governor. The governor will have the authority to call in aid to stricken areas in the form of a national guard. The king will have no power over this national guard, except in cases where the governor gives that power away. This will remove the king’s power to ignore a region struck by disaster, as the governor will have the power to send in aid.

On an even smaller level, I suggest we take each of the cities in these states and allow the residents to elect an official to oversee the city. We shall call this official a mayor. The mayor can arrange things like buses to help evacuate people in times of crisis. The king will not be necessary to get the ball rolling any longer.

On the national level, I suggest we create a democratically elected body called Congress, which will be split into two bodies: the Senate and the House. Each of the states will have two elected officials in Senate to ensure a balance of power amongst all states. Each of the states will also have representation in the house baed on their population, which will give power to the people. With this new federal institution, the king will not be allowed to wage war without the permission of duly elected officials. He will also be powerless to hold back national spending on levees that can withstand hurricanes with a strength greater than category three.

Finally, I suggest we change the king’s role in our government. In particular, the idea of a lifelong tyrant is very disconcerting. In addition, the word "king" sounds so belittling to the masses. For this reason, I suggest we rename the position "President" and allow the people, through representatives, to elect this President on four year cycles, called a term. A single President will be allowed to serve no more than two of these terms. Furthermore, to prevent too much power at any level, we will set up similar elections and terms at all levels: Congress, Governor and Mayor.

It is time to act now, lest the tyrant continue to ignore our poor and lead us to war so he can kill more of our children. We need elections now. We need a Congress now. We need Governors now. We need mayors now. No more king!!!

The Zen of Bus Riding


Since the beginning of this month (September), I have been riding the city bus. The last time I worked downtown, I did the same. This time it is a bit more interesting, as far more people are riding the bus than ever before.

The Bike Riding Philosopher:
One of the most interesting characters I have met thus far is the bike riding philosopher. He rides a different bus than I, which is probably fortunate. His favorite pasttime is ranting about how his parents were rich and he is now lower class, how life is unfair. He likes to talk, to noone in particular, at high volumes. You might have heard him?

The Street Evangelist:
Also, does not ride my bus. He stands on the corner yelling "do you want to be saved today?" While I admire his zeal, I am not certain his ministry is having any effect, unless, of course, the desired effect is people ridiculing him behind his back.

The Physics of Falling Books:
The other day, one of the magnet (high school) students was sitting with her physics in her lap. When the bus took a corner, the book fell to the floor. "Why did that happen?" I responded "centrifugal force and gravity"; hell, I figured she was studying physics. She gave me a very interesting look. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she was probably considering the coefficient of friction on her lap and its influence on the event. Either that or she did not have a clue. You decide.

The Talker
I am generally less interested in talking to people on the bus, preferring to spend my time reading or working on my laptop. Some people cannot get the clue, so I am polite and engage in conversation. One man, in particular, always desires a conversation.

When he first found out I was a computer programmer, he asked if "I charged to fix computers". I had a sudden dilemna at this juncture: Do I include the f-bomb before "yeah" or not? I told him I was a solutions architect, not a help desk employee. He responded by telling me about the network wiring in his house. Sigh!

Yesterday, this gentleman asked Barry (a member of my church) and I if we were "bushmen"? Other than our tribal warpaint, I had no idea why anyone would ask such a strange question. He then proceeded to feed us the "world according to Michael Moore" (kind of like the World According to Garp, but less filling). When I informed him of some of the problems in his arguments, he side stepped and went on another rant, accompanied by "it’s true, I read it on the Internet". It is a real shame when ideology outweighs thought and the brain could be substituted with tapioca without much damage!

Seeing the conversation was going nowhere, I made a segue into partical physics and big bang cosmology. I figured it would end the conversation quickly and let me get back to my typing. I was wrong; he also read about the big bang on the Internet. I need a good google whack subject to bone up on. ;->

Al Gore, Global Warming and Hurricanes


Now, the scientific community is warning us that the average hurricane will continue to get stronger because of global warming. A scientist at MIT has published a study well before this tragedy showing that since the 1970s, hurricanes in both the Atlantic and the Pacific have increased in duration, and in intensity, by about 50 %.
 
To test Al Gore’s assertions, I download the NOA hurricane database (Atlantic only), adding information for hurricanes from 2005.
 
Intensity:
Intensity is measure in either wind speed or pressure. Unfortunately, we only have numbers back to the 1960s for pressure, so wind speed is better, as it gives us a wider number of years to consider (Hurricane data dates back to the 1850s). We can also run number of hurricanes of a greater force.
 
Wind Speed: In average max hurricane wind speed (only hurricanes), the speeds are higher now than the eighties and early nineties, but there are other times when the cycle was high. The average hurricane wind speed sits in the mid 90s (mph); in the mid 60s, the numbers were in the 100s to the 110s (mph). Result: There is no evidence that global warming has increased wind speed.
 
What about all storms, not just hurricanes? For all storms, the speeds are currently averaging in the mid 70s (mph). This trend is also seen in the early 60s.
 
We see the trends for both hurricane winds and all storms with similar cycles in the 1930s, 1910s and the 1890s and the 1850s.
 
Number of hurricanes of greater force: When we look at just the numbers, we see category 5 storms in 1935, 1969, 1992 and 2005. If we expand to 4s and 5s, 2005 is a banner year, with three of these types of storms. 1915 has 2 storms of these categories. Sounds pretty convincing, right.
 
If we index this, however, by taking number of storms * intensity, we end up with more interesting numbers. 2005 still wins, with an index of 19. The rest are as follows:
  • 1886 – 15
  • 2004 – 14
  • 1893 – 13
  • 1933 – 13
  • 1909 – 12
  • 1916 – 11
  • 1985 – 11
  • 1954 – 10
  • 1964 – 9
  • 1915 – 9
  • 1926 – 9

Once again, we are seeing cycles. This index is also shown on the Junk Science site in a nice chart.  With indexes, we once again see a cycle, although this gives a stronger argument for Mr. Gore’s point, if the trend continues, that is.

Duration:
So, what about duration? The average duration for 2003 is 9.4375, 2004 is 10.333 and 2005, thus far, has shaped up to 6 days of duration. During the 1890s, the average duration was as high. We also see this trend throughout the 1960s and late 80s. The 70s were largely low duration storms (5-6 days average).

Summary:
The 70s were cherry picked to fit the data to the point. Had a wider net been thrown, the numbers would not favor the global warming causes hurricanes scenario.

Does this mean we should not be concerned about our environment? Certainly not, but we need to think rather than simply react to politicos bashing each other. By using our brains, we find out that much of the information out there is pure bovine fecal matter designed to get people stirred up about one cause or another, with little regard to fact.

The statements and studies also show how you can selectively use numbers to make any point you desire. This means we, the people, must take the time to examine the numbers ourselves.