Long Live VB!!! or not?

Ok, first a disclaimer: I’m a Microsoft MVP with a competency in Visual Basic.

Normally I would not give this much thought, I’ve always favored VB (I started using it back when it was in version 3) over all other languages and thought very little of the debates that went on online comparing it to other languages.

Even when I read columns like this one, I felt nothing of it. ‘VB will prevail’ I used to tell myself, after all, no sane company in its right mind would alienate its ‘largest group of developers’. I still think so.

However, when I am asked to ‘consider’ switching over to C# by my company, and specifically my boss and friend, who he himself is a former VB MVP, a few different thought-storms are brewing in my mind.

But probably the most important question is: how did this happen?

That is when I decided to write this blog. The fact of the matter is, there are many reasons for this to happen. The migration of developers from other platforms, J2EE for example, find a more familiar face in C#. VB6ers NOT migrating to the .Net world is another factor. And perhaps, the mere fact that VB is dumbed the hobbyists language of choice (after all, it is the most downloaded setup of Microsoft’s ‘express’ editions) is yet another reason why ‘professionals’ are migrating.

But perhaps most importantly is universities worldwide offering C# as the development language of choice (or any semicolon language for that matter).

All the rest, is merely the chain reaction set in motion. C# books becoming more popular and better selling. C# developers becoming more desirable and thus paid better. Resources for C# are becoming much more available than for VB. And now Microsoft, the company that popularized the language, are treating it as a second-class citizen.

I don’t mind becoming ‘multilingual’, but I’ve grown to love and respect VB throughout the years, and I won’t go down without a fight! In my opinion, VB is and will remain the ‘easiest’ most efficient language to develop applications in; plus I don’t think it is fair. Bill Gates: help!!

Anyway I’ll take C#, with a grain of salt.

What do you think?


A developer’s best friend is…

Two years ago, my friend, mentor, manager and fellow MVP Omar Shraim and I were on a Whidbey (now Visual Studio 2005) and Yukon (now SQL Server 2005) ‘Train-the-Trainer’ course in Paris, France.

And I can remember our trainer for the Yukon course was ‘Richard Hundhausen,’ an MVP and an RD, who gave us a few tips from ‘real life’ so-to-speak about development in the ‘real world’. And, according to him, ‘a developer’s best friend is Google’.

Well, not particularily Google, but back then your best choice for online searching was, in fact, Google. Things have changed since then.

The moral of this blog is not to try to debate which search engine is best, but to show developers out there the light of way. When developing applications and stuck on the best way (or any way) to write a particular piece of code, don’t bang your head against the wall and attempt to read every book there is on the shelf (you can use that as a last resort).

Literally, almost everything, related to software development or otherwise, is available on the internet. All you have to do, is search. I say this from experience. Never underestimate the power of ‘internet search’.

Now, the next time you face a problem, any problem, ‘Google it!’ or best still ‘Live it!’

Live.com: Search Dot Net

I just came back from Friday prayer, my kids are out with their Aunt (probably at McDonald’s), my wife’s in the kitchen prepping something up for lunch, so I have the study room all to myself. I went in, and instead of firing up my laptop, I logged on to my desktop, which I don’t usually log on to because my kids have it monopolized.

I fired up IE7 and was about to go check how Spider-man 3 did in the box office, when I was sort of taken aback by the home page; www.live.com. Its been a while since I’d done any searching on Live (yes, I confess, I usually search on Google; I’m sorry :-)). So, for the sake of humanity, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Being a self-centered geek, and an MVP, I decided to search for ‘Bashar Lulu’, and boy was I amazed by the results. Not by the number of hits, as many as they were, but by the organization, the relevance, the readability and the fact that I could actually use this as a reference. These are things I could never have done a while ago, because I saw Live as lacking, frail and simply un-usable. The results where out of order (by relevance, or importance), the engine itself seemed buggy; not any more.

Mind you, I’m not saying that Live is perfect, or that it is better than Google, I’m just saying that its getting better, much better.

Now, let me continue my story. One of the search results took me here; a list of Visual Basic MVP blogs. Yes, my name was there, and a few names down, was Dan Appleman’s. I’ve always been a fan of Dan’s, back from the days of VB5 and his book on the Windows API. Under his name was a link to his blog which I immediately clicked on.

To cut a long story short, it was on Dan’s blog that I learned about SearhDotNet a search site for .Net developers. Based on Google’s custom search facility (which allows you to create your own search engine), SearchDotNet gives .Net developers information relevant to .Net only.

Dan puts it as: ‘Many typical developer search terms (like “cryptography” or “Url”) apply to many technologies, not just .NET. When I search for cryptography, I don’t want to know how to do it in PHP, nor am I interested in the latest government policies on the topic. I want to know how it works in .NET.’

Not only that, but Dan also allows users to suggest ‘inclusion criteria‘ where we can suggest what sites to add to the search results.

My kids are back, they want the PC, got to go!


Take Control of Your System

First a personal piece of information: my MVP status has been renewed! Wooohooo! I’m happy 🙂

Now for the real stuff; the other day I was trying to uninstall WDS (Windows Desktop Search) and since I did not find the uninstaller in ‘Add or Remove Programs’ I had to do it manually. I found an entry on the net that explains in detail how to remove WDS and it involved removing the installation folder in the ‘Program Files’ directory.

When I tried to delete the folder, I could not because it was ‘locked’. A quick search online turned up this utility that enables you to unlock ANY folder and subsequently delete it. Lovely tool indeed. It will also give you of all locking threads and you can decide which to kill / remove.

On other news, remember a company called Sysinternals? Well, Microsoft acquired the company back in 2006. (You will be redirected to a Microsoft Technet site.) Sysinternals had some extremely wonderful tools that enabled you to monitor literally everything on your computer. You can monitor the entries to your registry (RegMon) in real time! You can monitor your hard disk activity (FileMon). You can monitor the processes running on you computer (Process Explorer); it even shows .Net assemblies and other JIT (just in time) information.

The one I liked most, was Autoruns which allows you to view and switch on or off all the applications that start with Windows. Please note that RegMon and FileMon have been replaced by Process Explorer which, apparently, will do the same job.

Check it out!!


Farewell Seattle…

This summit has been tremendously successful and lots of fun. I got to meet some wonderful people, Billy Hollis (we had a lengthy but lovely chat over lunch, thank you Billy!!), Shaun Walker (the founder of DotNetNuke) and Sean O’Driscoll (the MVP boss of them all). I also got to establish a connection with the people responsible for VB at Redmond who promised that my voice will be heard; I like!

I’m sad to have to leave Seattle. It is a lovely city. Lost of rain, yeah you heard right, I love the rain. From where I come it rains approximately 5 days a year; while in Seattle it rains 300 days a year. It’s not just that, everything seems to be so easy in Seattle, or for that matter, the whole of the United States. And the American people (not the American industry) are so setback, easygoing and relaxed. At one point, I thought I could get away with almost anything. That’s a little different from the way it is back home; different culture I guess, but less forgiving, at least initially.

I’ll be back soon for more techie data.


I’m in Seattle!!

Ok, lets see. I left Kuwait at 9am. 7 hours later I was in Heathrow. Left London at 6pm Kuwait time and more than 10 hours later… I’m in Seattle. After a total of over 18 hours of fly time!!! I’m here to attend the MVP Global Summit 2007.

I am exhausted to say the least. I flew British Airways all the way (supposed to be one of the best), and I have to say this, if this the best the aviation industry can provide, then we have a LOT of work to do. The plane itself was way overcrowded, mind you NOT in first or business class. But the stewardesses, or flight attendants or whatever they call them nowadays are downright rude! British! And I paid good money for that flight!

The exciting part was discovering the MVPs onboard as time went by. Some of them had MVP shirts, some had MVP bags, some had MVP emblems on their laptops and some looked like MVPs! 2 were actually recording an ‘Infrastructure Security’ (whatever that is) session at the back of the plane.

Seattle weather is wet and a bit on the cold side. The cab driver from the airport said it has been raining for the past coupla days.

I’ll keep you posted on the events of the summit as time goes by.


MVP Global Summit 2007

I am very anxious to be going to the 2007 Global Summit. The Global Summit will take place March 12-15, 2007 in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center and at Microsoft Corporation’s main campus in Redmond, Washington.

Bill Gates will deliver the keynote!! Yes, I’m gonna meet Bill Gates!!! Very very excited!

I’m gonna do a lot of shopping too. A lot of shopping!

Meanwhile, Virtual PC 2007 is available and it is absolutely free. “Virtual PC 2007 is a powerful software virtualization solution that allows you to run multiple PC-based operating systems simultaneously on one workstation, providing a safety net to maintain compatibility with legacy applications while you migrate to a new operating system.”

Check it out here http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx. Download it here.


Vista vs. OS X

The question has been asked again and again, and again. I’ve read so much about it; in fact, I’ve seen a coupla videos on You Tube that mock the similarities between the two operating system. In last weeks InfoConnect 2007, I’ve had people come up to me and ask that, with a ‘gotcha’ grin on their faces. Is Microsoft imitating OS X; or any other operating system?

To answer this question I refer back to a video I saw a few years ago, of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO talking to a gathering of over 30,000 Microsoft employees. In the video, Mr. Ballmer came hopping on to the stage and for the better part of 3 minutes, all he did was jump around and shout; developers, developers, developers, developers.

Yes, arguably, Microsoft may have borrowed 🙂 features from other operating systems, but the main difference here is the humongous support Microsoft provides to its developer community. After all, an operating system is ONLY as good as the number of applications running on it.

The .Net framework is debatably the most widely used development framework in the world; and it is ONLY 6 years old! It is very important to realize that Microsoft has never released a new product or technology before providing developer support earlier. Almost everything in every Microsoft technology is programmable.

As a matter of fact, you can download developer tools, from the Microsoft website, that will enable you to create applications for all versions of the .Net framework, for free. Plus, Microsoft provides every means of developer support thinkable. The documentation is extensive (a Microsoft tradition) and there are at least a gazillion forums online that will provide you with every bit of information you want.

Yes, at face value, both operating systems are similar, but that is the extent of the resemblance.

Even More MVPs

A couple of my friends just became MVPs. I would like to congratulate them all on their great achievements and wish them the best in their future endeavors.

One word of advice guys, enjoy it as much as you can, you never know what’ll happen next year 😉

Fadi Atteya – MVP Microsoft Office SharePoint

Mohammed AbdulHaleem – MVP Live Communication Server