iPod Mania

Since I posted about considering the purchase of an iPod at least two people on my team have picked up iPods; Joshua and Andy. I've messed around with Joshua's iPod and I've decided to get one. The only question now is which accessories I get and whether I get the 15GB or 30 GB version.

Apple sure does know how to make some sexy hardware.


XQuery at PDC

Christoph Schittko has suggested that there should be an XQuery birds of a feather at PDC. Due to reasons beyond my control I will not be attending PDC but I have pinged various folks internally who will definitely be attended. If the XQuery BOF is accepted then attendees will get to talk to Paul Cotton (chairman of the XML Query working group), Arpan Desai (the PM behind bringing XQuery to managed code), Andrew Conrad (one of the original folks that brought you SQLXML) and at least one person from the SQL Server team.

If this sounds like your cup of tean and you're going to be at PDC then go to the INETA BOF page and vote for the XQuery birds of a feather under the "View Proposed Topics" option.

PS: Am I the only one that thinks that websites that use javascript enabled links thereby stoping you from creating decent hyperlinks into parts of the site are quite irritating?


On Writing Technical Books

Ted Neward writes
In many books, authors don't establish their end of the deal from the start. During the authoring process, they tend to lose sight of what it is they're trying to do with this book. One such book that fell into this trap, I think, was Box/Lam/Skonnard's "Essential XML". They started by assuming readers were interested in the higher-order abstractions created by the XML Infoset model, when in fact most readers were looking for answers to questions of syntax and parsing. As a result, it got horrendous reviews from all but a few people who happened to think the same way Don, John and Aaron did.
I tend to agree with Ted Neward's assessment of the book. Two years ago when I was starting as an intern on the WebData XML team someone suggested reading Essential XML: Beyond Markup to ramp up my knowledge of XML. I followed the person's advice because I noticed the book was on the bookshelves of a lot of the people on the team. I borrowed a copy of the book and hated it. My impression was similar to most of the customer reviews on Amazon, the book lacked much practical information and was not helpful for the XML novice.

Nowadays I look at the book as being quite insightful and ahead of its time with regards to how it looked at XML as much more than just a markup language.

This is one of the problems authors face when writing technical books. The audience is either too small which doesn't justify the effort when compared to the financial returns or the book while being technically excellent may be unappreciated by the book buying public because it doesn't play to preconceived notions.

That's why I prefer writing articles. You can select the audience and tailor the content as necessary. The investment of effort is also not as significant but you still get the rewards of having disseminated useful information to the developer community.


Blogs and Journalists

Jon Udell of Infoworld recently posted a blog entry about the time I posted a comment in Robert Scoble's blog bemoaning the fact that people like Chris Brumme who post the equivalent of white papers about the inner workings of the .NET Framework to their blogs should actually be publishing such content on official Microsoft Developer sites like MSDN not in their online journal which may only be read by a few hundred people. Shortly after posting that comment I made a similar complaint to Sara Williams who runs MSDN and she seemed to share my sentiments so I assume it's just a matter of time before MSDN figures out how to incorporate such blog posts into their official content

Coincidentally shortly after reading Jon Udell's blog entry someone at MSFT sent me a patch to RSS Bandit which had the following comment in the code
// This class makes careful use of MemoryBarrier. Before adjusting the any of the memory barrier code,
// carefully read http://blogs.gotdotnet.com/cbrumme/PermaLink.aspx/480d3a6d-1aa8-4694-96db-c69f01 d7ff2b
// which explains the intracies of the clr memory model.
I wondered to myself exactly what the comment would have said if Chris Brumme's blog didn't exist. Perhaps it would say something like
This class makes careful use of MemoryBarrier. Read the scant documentation at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/cpref/html/frlrfsystemthreadingthreadcla ssmemorybarriertopic.asp to figure it out
Thank God for Chris Brumme's blog. Too bad most people who develop for Microsoft platforms get their information from MSDN and the docs not random blogs.


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Disclaimer: The above comments do not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. They are solely my opinion.