Sunday, January 29, 2006

SnowCamp '06 - Pictures

Well, I am back from the SnowCamp '06 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This post will show some of the 1000 Pictures we have taken out there. better-office has offered a great knowledge tour. I will write more about the things we've learned there at a later point. Today I want to show you some pictures Thorsten, Daniel, and I have taken there while going to the Zugspitze, largest mountain in Germany. Some are from other days, read the notes. ;-) All pictures are copyright by their owners, those not taken by myself are marked explicitly. Simply drop me a mail for a original of any of mine. Click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

On Tuesday most of us went sledding. It was great fun and sometimes quite fast ;-)

If you want to go to school, learning Delphi, you need to get a copy. Here we are, after geo-caching and finding our very own copy of the Borland Developer Studio 2006.

The mountains seen from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Looks quite cool when the sun is setting, doesn't it?

The frozen Eibsee (Eib-Lake). It's temperature is a freezing 40°C below zero! You can see it from the cable car bringing you to the Zugspitze.

The same mountain, the same light settings, just different filter, effect and white balance correction settings. Looks great, doesn't it? <-- I could say that for almost any of the pictures we have taken up there ;-)

Six of us decided to stay a day longer (the Friday) and go up the Zugspitze and enjoy ourselves. And we did, though it was freezing cold, 16°C below zero. Though it felt much worse with the winds up there.

Daniel Wolf, administrator of the Delphi-PRAXiS looks quite cold, doesn't he? But he didn't mind, it was so beautiful up there.

Some more breath-taking views from up there. Remember, we are city-guys and we do not see such views everyday, as some of you may ;-)

Some big utility cars used to prepare the skiing pists. When we used sleds to go down the mountain, one was coming right at us. What a scary thought not getting your sled to stop in time.

Thorsten is inspecting the highest church in Germany. It's right at the Zugspitz-Glacier and all snown-in ;-)

Me in the snow ;-)

I told you, it is a snow camp. Sitting in the snow, starting your laptop and doing some delphi. Now, this way you got a freezing butt...

Daniel and me walking in the sun. Still freezing temperatures though...

I did try skiing. I've learned that I need to get a trainer next time. Did you know that skis are actually slippery? I knew before, but now I know that I can barely hold myself on them, let alone use them to get anywhere...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Why you should not use .NET for Windows and Explorer Extensions

Shocked? Well, there is a single good reason why you should refrain from using .NET assemblies to extend the Windows Explorer or other basic Windows components. With this entry I do not want to start a rant against .NET, far from it, I do love .NET, well ASP.NET anyway. But it is not a good choice for example for desk bands, even though creation of such explorer extensions just got easier with .NET.

Why, I hear you asking. Well, let's say you have a file context menu extension installed, which is based on MS .NET Framework 1.1. Windows Explorer, itself not being a .NET application, will automatically load the .NET 1.1 framework to get the extension up and running. Everything works fine. Every customer of yours, using this extension will be just as happy.

Now, they install the MS .NET Framework 2.0, great framework that is ;-) And they install for example Paint.NET, based on .NET 2.0, not a 1.1 version. It will run and it will work. Well, most parts anyway. But there are at least two very basic things that will not. The Open and Save dialogs. Do you already guess why? Well, in .NET 2.0, as well as other versions of .NET, they still encapsulate the normal Windows Explorer (non .NET based) dialog controls. Can you imagine what happens here? Your .NET 2.0 application will start the Windows Explorer internally, which in return will start your .NET 1.1 file extension dialog plug-in when the user right clicks any file... This is not supported by the .NET environment at all, and it is - by design - not supposed to work. Go figure ;-)

Now just imagine your .NET 1.1 control and a .NET 2.0 control from another supplier both want to integrate into the context menu of the Explorer. It will not work, ever. The whole explorer will be shut down by .NET saying it is not supported. Have fun ;-)

In short: .NET is a great environment, but before doing everything with .NET think about possible consequences coming your way.

This said, I am off and preparing my trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where Daniel and Thomas will teach many more techniques on ASP.NET with Borland Developer Studio 2006. My Virtual Machine is all setup and ready. What a great week this will be... I'll blog about it, as Jason Vokes is bound to come you'll see some pictures, also.

For so long,
Daniel :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Win your ticket for the German Community Delphi Days

I told you before, on February 18th, we will have the Delphi-Tage in Frankfurt. If you think about coming and if you do not have a ticket yet, you may try to win one in the raffle at Delphi-PRAXiS.

It asks you to write an email to Gérome and tell him, why you believe that just you should be awarded a free ticket. There are three tickets to win.

If you do not believe in your personal luck, go to Delphi-Tage and buy your ticket, as they are soon sold out, if we continue at the current pace ;-)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

DELL offers arriving - which one is the less worse...?

Last week I got two DELL prospects arriving on the same day. One was targetted at my business partner, who has bought a DELL computer last year, and one was targetted at myself. I never bought any DELL computer and their chances of me doing so, just got less. But interesting those prospects are! - to say it Yoda-like. ;-)

The prospect with my name on it (remember: both arrived at our office headquarter the same day, January 7th 2006) has 8 pages. The one with my partners name on it has a "whopping" 24 pages. So, they think he is likely to buy another computer I guess, while they just try to get me.

Now, I look at the cover of my prospect and I see an offer for a DellTM DimensionTM 3100. It comes with a P4 630, Windows® XP Professional, 512 MB RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and a 17" TFT display. All for 599 Euro (plus tax).
599€ incl. TFT

So, what do they have for my partner? Well, it is a DellTM DimensionTM 3100 Desktop. It comes with a P4 640, Windows® XP Professional, 1024 MB RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and no monitor/TFT. All for 499 Euro (plus tax).
599€ incl. TFT

Now, I'll leave it up to you to decide which offer is the better one (click on the images for full cover scans), but I think those differences quite interessting. DELLs pricing politics always sturdled me, but this almost tops it. For a note, when my partner bought his computer he got five different offers (the same day) when browsing the DELL page. All setups where, in the end, exactly alike, but the prices differed between aprox. 1000 Euro and 1450 Euro - almost 50% difference for the same computer with all the same gimmicks. Okay, the more expensive offers did not include a DELL printer, which will go up on ebay at some point, but who cares ;-)

Friday, January 06, 2006

RSS Feed for my Delphi Developer Notes

You might have read the comments from Lasse Jari Hansen asking for a RSS export of my blog. Sadly, does not generate it automatically. Well, I took that as an excuse to not provide one, until now. As for the new "Welcome Page", which will arrive rather soon, it will handle both types, RSS and ATOM sources. But the current one out there does not. Now, if only one uses the RSS feed for my page, I will be more than happy. Because I have learned a little while preparing it, I do not really care either (sorry). It is an ASP.NET 2.0 application using the ATOM.NET assembly and the System.Xml namespace.

Get the RSS Feed of Delphi-Developer Notes

SnowCamp - The ASP.NET Knowledgetour

This year, I am planing to visit the better-office SnowCamp 2006, a week full of lectures on ASP.NET 1.1 with Borland Developer Studio 2006 and Microsoft Visual Studio.

I am exited already, as I know I am going to meet some good friends there, again. First time this year that Daniel, Daniel and me (Daniel) get together again. Thomas "Mr. Rave" Pfister will be there, Jason Vokes is coming and other will be there too. So if you have time and if you believe there are yet things to learn in .NET come and join us from January 23rd through 27th. Just be aware that space is very limited - at a maximum there will be 20 "students", four "teachers" and two keynote speakers.

The whole event will be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, South Germany and snow is guaranteed at this time of the year. Full pension, hotel room, Lenovo (IBM) notebooks will be provided, etc. Come there and let's rock the .NET world. I am eager to finally dive deep into that matter and believe me: Danny is fun to listen too and he knows his stuff!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Websites powered by Delphi

Well, today I want to present a website to you, that ultimately is powered by Borland Delphi. The version running on the system is based on version 7 of Borland Delphi. I am executing officer of a company which builds web-based content management systems, labeled Content ACE. The current version 4 release 3 fully supports Unicode and UTF-8. The system is build as a combination of DCOM objects, COM objects, ISAPI Filters, Windows NT service applications and a few more adminstrative applications.

The web site womensnet (targetting the European audience, especially German speaking folks) is a promotional web site of Henkel. womensnet has an active registered user base of about 150.000 users.

The system itself is running on ASP (not ASP.NET yet) and MS IIS 6.0 on a Microsoft Windows 2003 server with 1GB RAM, MS SQL Server and a P4 single CPU. It can handle up to 500 concurrent users easily and still has some room air left for more ;-)

Another web site, I already have mentioned in my blog is running on the same system. Currently though, I am preparing to move it to a new server, the old one (PIII, 256MB RAM) is a little sluggish and needs to get kicked.

For the coming quarter, I am planing to move our system to Borland Developer Studio 2006. First tests have shown a performance increase by 10 to 20 percent, so I am excited to see what will happen.
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