Trying to Catch On, Finally

In their cover article Try Catch Patterns in the February, 2005 issue of FoxTalk 2.0, Randy Pearson and Lauren Clarke show us a range of uses for structured error handling (TRY...CATCH...FINALLY). Although introduced in VFP 8.0, I would guess (because I am one of them) that many long-time VFP developers haven't fully appreciated the power of structured error handling, much less integrated it comfortably into their daily development work. Randy and Loren's article is a wake-up call to the design improvements possible with the use of this structure. For myself, I think it's going to be one of those things I start using, perhaps awkwardly at first, until I finally grok its real potential and then wonder how on earth I got along without it. Thanks, Randy and Lauren, for the kick in the seat of the pants.


Visual FoxPro 9.0 now in retail channel

Microsoft® Visual FoxPro 9.0 Professional is now available from retail distributors. Spotted it this morning at FoxToolbox.com and at Provantage®. Packaging is new for this version - VFP 9.0 comes in a sleek DVD case instead of a cardboard box. With its host of exciting new features, including the entirely new report engine, the best just keeps getting better.



Eric Sink's Finance for Geeks

Eric Sink, founder of SourceGear, writes a monthly column under The Business of Software on MSDN. In Finance for Geeks, from November 2003, he walks us through the basic concepts of accounting and finance from the perspective of a small ISV. Whether you've had any formal education in small business accounting and finance or not, this should be required reading for independent software developers. [Updated 01/26/2005 - link to article was corrected.]



Wireless Printing

I added a wireless (Wi-Fi enabled) printer to our home network over the holidays. With three of us needing to print from three different computers, one of which is a Mac, this seemed like a good way to go. The appeal of a Wi-Fi printer was not only the ability to use it from any machine, but also the freedom to put it anywhere in the house without having to tether it to a computer or the router. Think kitchen counter, bookshelf, etc.

We decided on the HP 6840 Color Inkjet printer, which has 802.11g capability built-in. It also has an Ethernet port for a wired network connection, plus a USB connector for direct use from a single computer. When used in wireless mode a built-in signal strength indicator on the front panel lets you know you're still within range of your router, and the only thing coming out the back of the printer is the AC power cord. Sweet.

Setup was fairly painless: install the software from the CD-ROM, configure the printer, and go. We chose to give our printer a fixed IP address, and on our Windows® machines it was then necessary to go to the Ports page of the Printer Properties dialog and add a port for that address. If that step was in the instructions from HP I didn't see it, but other than that the instructions were simple and complete.

So far, our experience with this printer has been very positive. My only disappointment is that it has only two ink cartridges - black and color - which of course means you have to replace all the colors when one runs out, but I knew this going in. Our intended use is mainly for everyday printing, but the HP 6840 is also a photo printer with a front slot for feeding photo-quality paper and a PictBridge connector for digital cameras. PC Magazine has a review of this printer here.



Economics 101 for Software Developers

In Camels and Rubber Duckies, Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software answers the question, "How much should I charge for my software?" Remember that micro-economics class you took in college? Neither do I, but here's everything you need to know on one page.


First post

Seymour Cray, founder of Cray Research and a pioneer in the development of some of the world's fastest computers, said "If you do keep trying, you will occasionally do something worthwhile." An understatement is his case, but good advice for the rest of us. That quote, which has hung on my office wall since I first encountered it in 1996, is on my mind this morning as I launch this blog with the sentiment that "If you keep trying, you may occasionally say something worthwhile."

Blogs have exponentially increased our ability to communicate with one another. Whether it's a short post linking to something of interest or a longer one contributing to the body of common knowledge, whether it's a well-reasoned opinion or a rant, it's a pretty good bet that what you say will be of interest to someone. Communication is a good thing.

So from now on I'll be adding my two cents worth to the blogfest. I expect to be posting on an irregular but not infrequent basis. If you're interested, subscribe to the feed and take a look whenever something new comes along. Of course, it's always up to you to decide what's worthwhile. Meanwhile, keep on bloggin'!