Bob Muglia to head Microsoft's Server and Tools business

From Microsoft PressPass: "REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 28, 2005 – Microsoft this week named longtime executive Bob Muglia senior vice president of the company’s Server and Tools business. The 17-year Microsoft veteran, who has led Microsoft’s Windows Server business since 2003, will replace Eric Rudder, who is taking on a new role working directly for Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect."


PDC05 sessions are available online

Just spotted this on Michael Swanson's blog from Monday 10/24/2005: The session content from last month's Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2005 (PDC05) is now available online at microsoft.sitestream.com/PDC05/. You can watch the session videos online and/or download the video and slides for offline viewing. There's a huge amount of content here, but it's only going to be available for six months. The site requires Internet Explorer 5.5 or better.

Side note: At my session on Integrating RSS with Visual FoxPro Applications at Southwest Fox 2005 earlier this month, I mentioned Microsoft is working on RSS features for Vista and IE7. In the PDC05 materials I found session DAT320: Windows Vista: Building RSS Enabled Applications, which provides some insight into Microsoft's plans in this area. The session runs just over an hour and fifteen minutes and is well worth watching if you're interested in the future of RSS as Microsoft sees it.



Jumlbed Txet is Esay to Read

It's been said that people can read jumbled text fairly easily when the middle letters in each word are rearranged, as long as the first and last letters of each word remain the same.

This idea gained attention not long ago from an example floating around the Internet that cited "research at Cambridge University" (acutally, it cited "rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy".) That claim appears to be false and is refuted by Cambridge's Matt Davis in a writing posted at www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/~mattd/Cmabrigde/, in which he dissects the Internet piece and references some real research in this field. There is, however, evidently some truth to this idea, at least in English and other languages where words are similarly structured.

In any case, it's fun to play with. By way of example, here's a jumbled version of the first sentence of this blog entry:

"It's been siad that peolpe can raed jbumeld text farily esliay when the mlidde lrtetes in ecah word are raegarnerd, as lnog as the frsit and lsat lteters of ecah word reiamn the smae."

Did you have much difficulty reading that? Clearly, some jumbled words are easier to read than others. Among other things, the degree of difficulty depends on the length of the word and the extent to which its middle letters are jumbled. In the example above, I find the jumbled version of the word "rearranged" more difficult to read than some of the other, shorter words because it's longer and the letters are pretty well mixed up.

What I find interesting is that jumbles involving the trasnposition of two or even three adjacent letters are so easy to overlook. This is evidently because our brains compensate for the errors in such a way that we don't even notice them (the errors, not our brains).

This is probably one reason why we sometimes fail to see typos in our own work, which of course has implications for software developers. For example, while working in Visual FoxPro I sometimes type 'emtpy' when I mean 'empty', but I usually don't notice it.

BTW, developers using Visual FoxPro 9.0 have an advantage in this regard over developers using previous versions of VFP. The new background compilation feature in VFP 9.0 highlights incorrect syntax as you type by underlining or changing the color of the incorrect syntax. This helps catch errors right away instead of having to wait until compile time or run time. You can choose your preferred style for this feature from the Background Compile drop-down list under Tools | Options | Editor.

Just for fun, I wrote a VFP class called JumbleTron to do this kind of jumbling on any block of text. You can download it from my website at www.ita-software.com/foxpage.htm. Look for the link to JumbleTron under "Just for fun" in the downloads section. By design, the class accepts only 4K-byte blocks of text or smaller, but you can increase this if you want to.

Usage is simple: instantiate a JumbleTron object and pass some text to its GetJumbledText method. For example, copy some text to the clipboard, then in the VFP command window do the following to display the jumbled text on the screen.

ox=NEWOBJECT( "jumbleTron", "jumbleTron.prg")
?ox.GetJumbledText( _cliptext)

Or, to return the jumbled text to the clipboard:

_cliptext = ox.GetJumbledText( _cliptext)

Play around with the JumbleTron and decide for yourself how easy or difficult it is to read jumbled text. Have fun!

P.S. Outside of the deliberate examples, there are two typographical errors in this blog entry. Both are simple transpositions of two adjacent letters. Can you find them? Did they jump out at you as you were reading this, or did your brain take them in stride without notifying you?



Skype and port 80 conflict with IIS

This one bit me yesterday... If you encounter "unexpected error 0x8ffe2740" when trying to start a Web site under IIS, it may be a conflict with Skype using port 80. If so, the solution, which is found on Jon Galloway's blog, is to go into Skype's options and uncheck "Use ports 80 and 443 as alternatives for incoming connections". In Skype this is located under Tools | Options | Connection. You may have to close and restart Skype for the change to take effect.



WiX has a new Web site

Rob Mensching blogs that WiX has a new home on the Web. WiX in the Windows Installer XML toolset for building MSI and MSM files from XML. The new URL is wix.sourceforge.net.

Side note: I'll be doing a presentation on using WiX with Visual FoxPro applications at the Southwest Fox conference in mid-October.