ColdFusion Muse

The Muse Feigning Brilliance

Muse note: This is a post in the "humor and life" category. Allthough no CF developer has been harmed in the writing of this post, there are no useful tips on CF here.

I have an annoying reputation of being able to stare at debugging information and code carefully for a few minutes and then come up with a solution that others could not see. If I can say so without seeming immodest (and really, a lack of modesty is my only flaw), I am often right. Being a good debugger and troubleshooter is a function of how I am wired. I tend to outline possibilities in my head, make lists, and test them mentally to figure out which one has the best potential for being a magic bullet. Along with this mental prioritization, I have a talent for seeing the whole system - code, drivers, database, networking, browser etc - instead of narrowly focusing on just one aspect of a given problem. This serves me well in my capacity as a consultant and occasional mentor for the developers who do most of the work here at CF Webtools.

A few days ago a couple of the brightest and most cleverest developers on my staff called me into one of their offices for a consolation. They were receiving a cfquery error that said something like "incorrect syntax at @p8". It was in a query of a query - which as you may know often throws rather obscure and indecipherable errors. In this case they were using cfqueryparam inside of the query of a query. While that is not strictly necessary it shouldn't cause any problems either so no harm no foul right? The developers where convinced this a problem with the quirkiness of Q of a Q and they needed a second opinion. The error did not make sense to them and they had gone over the code pretty carefully. That's when they sent up the bat signal and called me in....

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New Take on Dancing Baby

I don't usually post little snippets like this but a friend of mine with a baby and too much time on his hands (that must be the definition of an oxymoron) made this very creative video. The kid has a voice don't you think?

My Email Is Taunting Me

I just received the following message in my inbox with the subject of "Message Removed":

A message has been removed from this mailbox by an entity other than this program, probably by a virus scanner. This message is a replacement for the missing message.
Now maybe I've been getting these all along and this is just the first time one of them made it through my filters - but come on... what kind of a replacement is this? In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, "Well that's just maddeningly unhelpful". It boggles my mind that some programmer somewhere actually dreamed up this message.

"Uh... We had a message here. We are not sure what it was. We aren't sure what happened to it either (although it was obviously not our fault). We only know it's missing - and rather than leave it out of your already crowded inbox, we just thought we would give you this friendly note as a replacement. There's nothing really you can do about it, but perhaps you can sit there wondering for 90 seconds or so..."

It's kind of like the dozens of times I've asked for a girl's number and received it, but when I called it later it was disconnected - or worse, it was the lady who gives out the time or maybe the Chinese take-away. Have you ever tried to get a date from the guy who answers the phone at the Chinese take-away? It's humiliating.

Muse' Annual Fishing Report

Those of you who follow the personal life of the muse know I have traveled for the last 12 or 13 years to the northern reaches of Minnesota to a resort (Cedar Rapids Lodge) on the shores of Medicine Lake. Medicine Lake is an under-fished haven for Walleye and Northern Pike. For many years now the lake has been under a DNR program that requires fisherman to return Pike that are longer than 22 inches and shorter than 32 inches back to the lake. The end result has been a significant growth in the size of the fish on the lake. These days it is pretty rare to go fishing for pike for more than an hour without hauling in a 28 or 30 incher.

This year the DNR raised the slot to between 26 and 36 inches because the size of the fish has become significantly larger. The fishing and the weather this year were spectacular. The lodge and cabins were in great shape, the wind was moderate and the evenings were cool. All in all I would rate this as one of the best weeks of Muse fishing ever. If you don't believe me just take a look at this 34 inch trophy that took my line last Friday.

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Memorial Day in the Nation's Capital

It's campaign season and the country is abuzz with speculation about our next president. The air waves are humming, the blogosphere is awash with sound bites and pithy slogans alongside lengthy diatribes advocating this candidate or that candidate. It seems we are destined to make history no matter who we elect. Now before your blood-pressure starts racing let me assure you that this is not a political post. I only want to point out that during this cycle in our communal life as a nation we get pretty jaded. Our eyes glaze over at the latest political ad and we have long since stopped giving any politician the benefit of the doubt. Experience has taught us that the business of getting elected is a dirty one, and the dirt rubs off on everyone... or at least so I thought. Last week I was in DC, speaking and attending Webmaniacs at the Carnegie Center, and I had an experience that made me both proud of my country and ashamed of my cynicism.

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CF Webtools Says Goodbye to Axel Jensen

CF Webtools is fortunate to have an excellent staff of developers. For the last year our main Flex developer has been Axel Jensen. We are saying goodbye to Axel this week. He is taking a new position at Gallup here in Omaha. Since Axel is one of my favorite people, and an avid CF Webtools blogger, I have to stop and say a few words about him.

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Ben Forta For President? - Muse's 2008 Predictions.

Every pundit has predictions this time of year - so a CF Pundit should be no Exception. Even though I have no track record, no skill at prediction (as my record in the "bowl pick-em" contest around our office can attest) and no technical reason to do it, I have decided to offer up my predictions for 2008 just the same.

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To Blog or Not to Blog - That Is the Question

A reader added a comment that got me to thinking about why I blog. It's something that has become an important part of my life. I blog at Coldfusion Muse and I blog on another site as well. On the 10th anniversary of the word "weblog" that morphed into "blog" I thought I might answer the burning question (that no one is probably asking) "Why do you Blog?"

I Like to Write

Regular readers of my blog will know I enjoy writing. I even attempt to entertain from time to time. In fact, if you click on the Humor and Life category you will find more than 40 entries that are not technology related at all. They range from attempts at satire to commentary on my life, fatherhood, family and faith. I really enjoy letting readers get to know me from time to time. I am well aware that most of my readers who are not related to me (Hi Mom!) find my blog interesting because I write about Coldfusion and web programming. Still, I enjoy taking little side journeys into life with you. All work and no play make Jack (or Ben or Ray or Sean or even the Muse) a dull boy.

I Blog to Remember

Have you ever found yourself solving a problem that you were sure you had solved before but you just couldn't remember how you did it? I have this problem every year when it's time to put Christmas lights on my house. I try to put them up the same way every year. The lights are supposed to be strung together in a certain order but every year I'm at a loss to remember how I did it the year before. I suppose if I got them out in March and again in September and practiced putting them up it would help me recall the steps. The same problem crops up in Coldfusion or SQL programming from time to time. For example, I know there is a way to programmatically restart the print spooler - but this issue has only come up once or twice before, so I can't remember how to do it. But if I blog about it, I have a knowledge base to mine for the information. In fact (and I know this might be immodest to say) I find myself returning to my own blog almost daily to look something up. I'm famous for referring my own developers (developers who work for me at CF Webtools) to my blog with the famous words, "Check my blog - I think I have a post about that." So blogging regularly about fixes and tips is an important part of keeping my own knowledge current and in view.

I Blog for Business

CF Webtools has no marketing budget. We spend about 1200 dollars per year on Google ads - that's it. That's the whole enchilada. In spite of this lack of marketing we have grown from 2 employees to 12 employees in the span of about 3 years. About 30 percent of our leads come from word of mouth - but about 50 to 60 percent of our leads come as a direct result of this blog and the other CF Webtools blogs. Companies looking for a high level of expertise in Coldfusion stumble onto our blogs and contact us directly. Please understand that while blogging benefits our business, the tone and purpose of our blogs is not "Hire Us". Rather, it is an attempt to add to the compendium of knowledge available on the web and cut through the noise with a message about Coldfusion's benefits and uses. Like many areas of life, when you do something nice and try to be helpful you are rewarded.

Conclusion

I'm sure there are other reasons why I blog. Perhaps it allows me to vent occasionally. Perhaps I enjoy the comments or discussions - or perhaps it feels smug to post your own links into CF-Talk in answer to a question (ha). Anyway, perhaps this post will inspire you to "pick up the pen". Don't be shy - there's plenty of room on the net for all of us.

I Feel Pretty and Witty and Bright

I just got a spam message advertising a beauty product. In the subject line it said, "You are a Beautiful Woman". It went on to tell me how I am wonderful and beautiful - and I don't hear it a enough (after which it tried to sell me something for my wrinkly, saggy skin). It's true I don't hear it enough. In fact, I don't hear it at all - at least not to my face. I admit there are occasions when I feel pretty and want to listen to Bette Midler or watch a musical... but they are really pretty rare. I have enough problems in my life without my inbox adding gender confusion. Isn't it enough that they think I'm bald, fat, under-financed, impotent, and have a very small ....er...uh... television? Do they have to criticize my makeup as well? I remember that old prayer, "Lord, help me be the man my dog thinks I am." I would add to that, "...and never let me be the man (or woman) my email thinks I am."

The 300 Kilowatt Christmas Spirit

One of our senior web developers, Mike Klostermeyer, has the misfortune to live next to neighbors who make Clark Griswald look like a piker. In fact, 2 brother-in-laws living next to each seem to be trying to outdo each other. They are the Hansen's and the Honeycutts. Rumor has it that you can only approach the neighborhood wearing special sun glasses.

The Hansens



Next Door at the Honeycutts




Of course all this Christmas camp comes with synchronized music. Check out the whole story and see the videos if you like at their Holiday Website. If any of you want some extra press for your design skills you might want to volunteer to help them out... on the web site I mean :)

Spell Check's Asian Connection

In my computer lives a subtle and slightly demented gnome who's job it is to futz with my spelling. He's in charge of spell check and he delights in making decent sentences seem like they come from the mad-lib hall of fame. Today, while writing my "Thanksgiving Day" post I was talking about how I love the holidays and how my house is filled with the "smell of nutmeg and cinnamon". When I ran it through spell-check I found I had misspelled "cinnamon" (as I usually do). I chose the default without looking and then saved my changes and previewed the result. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my house is filled with the smell of nutmeg and Chinamen. I definitely need to take a break. Maybe I'll go for a wok.

Joe Rinehart on Sys-Con's Propaganda

I don't usually favor chain blogging, but I thought this was worth repeating. I was reading a post by Coldfusion legend Ben Forta that he wrote on Oct 12th - immediately after sys-con published their now infamous Coldfusion demise article. Ben (as always) was succinct and took exactly the right tone in my opinion. It was while reading the comments however, that I stumbled onto a comeback that makes my top 10 list for funniest flames. Model-glue guru Joe Rinehart quoted the infinite monkey theorem:

"Given an infinite amount of monkeys, an infinite amount of typewriters, and an infinite amount of time, they'd eventually write Hamlet."
Then he followed it up by saying that if you applied the theorem to the sys-con article it would take "...two monkeys (one deceased), one typewriter and ten minutes" to produce it.

Thanks Joe. That was precious. It's the one deceased that really had me cackling. I'll put that one in my quip arsenal.

Yankees Let Go of the Dope (Film at 11:00)

You might know that I'm a long time Cubs Fan. Those of you who suffered with me during the White Sox championship season may remember this post of grudgingly offered congratulations. Like most Midwesterners I'm also not a Yankee fan. Actually, given the choice between meeting a Yankee and sleeping with a water buffalo - I'm taking the buffalo. It's not that some of the players on the Yankees don't garner my admiration. I think Arod had one of the best months of April I've ever seen - a fact that ESPN would not let us forget for more than 2 minutes.

In any case, I learned a couple of days ago that the Yanks fired "strength coach" Marty Miller. He was in charge of conditioning, but he was apparently working for the Red Sox because the Yankees can't seem to tie a shoe without throwing a hammy or breaking a collar bone. Anyway, I found it interesting that the strength coach's actual title in the organization is the "Director of Player Enhancement" - an acronym that spells "DOPE". Here is the story that I wish I had seen on the wire...

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Snow Day in Omaha

I'm the only one who made it into work this morning. That gas guzzling 4 wheel drive I usually complain about does a great job of mashing through the snow drifts to carry me the 18 miles of my commute. In case you are interested - here is the reason that all the other CF Webtools developers did not make it to work today (them and their pansy cars and mini-vans ... humpht).

Coldfusion Sloggers of the World Unite!

We are often called upon to fix or upgrade applications for our clients. In that capacity we have had the fortunate (or often unfortunate) task of reviewing code that has been written by others. Of course this gives us CF Webtools developers things to talk about around the water cooler - "Hey... did you see that loop? What a piece of work eh?" (followed by raucous laughter). Hopefully we are not referring to our own code at the time. Anyway, these applications are often written by bright individuals with little or no experience in Coldfusion. Coldfusion is accessible in a way that makes it possible for someone to churn out a site or application if they just start at the beginning and keep "slogging away" till things seem to work. Of course, after the applications is under load or the data set grows or the technology changes you have to call in the big guns (that's where we come in). Still, the sloggers produce a great deal of the Coldfusion code in the world (perhaps contributing to Coldfusion's unwarranted reputation as being too "light weight" for serious applications). Here are some of the sloggers we've run into.

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