Friday, February 27, 2009

Fan Mail post of the week

Hi John

I have purchased one of your books in the past and now I working on getting back into programming and wanted to get your new C# 08 express book. I look forward to reading it. I do have a question however, I have been a System Engineer / Sys Admin for about 17 years now and now I have the honor of working for a local health department as the Network Administrator.

I support a network of 70 staff and equipment and we use a lot of data bases and various programs to do our work as you can well imagine. I want to streamline a lot of the day to day activities by writing web based programs and pc based programs to better serve the staff here in their work.

My problem is that when programming I have used numerous books and although I do feel that yours is the best that I have read I still have the same problem when staring at the programming interface "how do I start?" what I mean is there is a lot of code in programs; now that being said nowadays most of the back-end coding is already done but I still have problems figuring out how and where to start, why would I use one command over another and are there cheat sheets a beginning programmer can keep around for quick reference?

I am interested in using Visual Web Developer 2008 Express with C# and using SQL for Database and am just at my wits end on figuring out the basics. Any advise would be helpful and I do appreciate any assistance you can give.

Thank you

My response:

Hi Bob

In the old days of team programming, we would just borrow some one's code and see what they did. That's a little harder these days, as there just aren't that many big programming shops---lot of people are doing things on their own. Plus, the technologies are much more advanced than when I started coding in COBOL.

Having said that, a book I use in my Internet classes that seems to meet your requirements is

Build Your Own ASP.Net 2.0 Web Site using C# and VB

It has a full featured Web application that you develop that could give you a good starting point.

You only need to know the C# you'll learn in my book, so that would be the next best step.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Penn State MIS 204

I've been asking my Penn State students if they've been reading my blog, and I can see from my Search statistics that several of you have found me.

Let's start thinking about the midterm, shall we?

Nancy Pelosi meets the Pope

I read with much amusement yesterday that Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House of Representatives) met with Pope Benedict the other day. During the meeting, the Pope urged Nancy to protect and respect life at all stages of life.

Nancy labels herself a Catholic, and has been described as such by the press---does anyone know what church she attends, as I'd love to attend Mass there one Sunday and see what Church advocates abortion.

I don't want to be judgmental, but it's my religion, and I have the right...

Let's face it---Nancy's a politician, and has been for some time.

Once she decided to run for public office, she had a decision to make---follow the tenets (doctines) of the Catholic faith, or knuckle under to the secular world. She knuckled under. She really had no choice. In today's environment, it's difficult to win election with a Pro-life stance (wow, can I say anti-abortion stance?)

Nancy should cease describing herself as a Catholic. It annoys me. It offends me.

I'm likewise offended that in the same article describing Nancy as a Catholic, it reminded us that JFK was a Catholic president.

I'm not sure that I would describe JFK's marital indiscretions as something the Catholic faith advocates and believes in.

Let's cease with the JFK Catholic label as well.

Comcast showed up on time...Friday, February 20, 2009

Comcast showed up right on time this morning--the technician, Kevin, was someone who's been to the house several times before (for my problematic Digital Voice Service) and he confirmed that I had 3 Digital boxes, not 4 as the Central Office believed.

He told me that the phantom box will be removed from my electronic account (Penn State students, are you listening) and that I should no longer be billed for the movies that the person who has that box has been ordering.

I'll continue to monitor for these charges, as he or she seems to order them on the weekend.

Thanks Kevin and Mark for (hopefully) resolving the problem.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Wow, I'm really impressed.

I had blogged about my experience with Comcast, my phantom box, and their failure to show up for an appointment to inventory my house.

Someone from their Customer Service department somehow saw my blog post, contacted me via a comment he posted, and within an hour of emailing him with my story, a representative (Betsy) from the Comcast Executive office called to say she would be personally handling my problem.

Comcast still isn't coming out any earlier (Friday, February 20th, between 8 and 10AM), but it's nice to know that someone there is overseeing the problem.

Bristol Palin, if you can't say anything worthwhile, don't say something stupid

Bristol Palin was trying, really trying to say something intelligent when she said she favored abstinence, but that in today's society, it's just not going to work.

That's pretty funny---abstinence worked well in my generation for a number of reasons.

First, boys who got their girlfriends pregnant were more than likely going to get the hell kicked out of them by both the girlfriend's father and their own.

Secondly, after getting said girlfriend pregnant, most young men I know married the girl on Saturday, dropped out of school on Monday, and immediately entered the workforce. No High School diploma, no College, no destination wedding, no small wedding with a white dress, no reception, no nothing. The same was true for the girl.

Bristol's lucky--she can now enjoy her own sexual revolution, since she has parents that can afford to give their baby girl everything she wants.

Not all girls (and the boys who date them) are as lucky.

Some actually have to take care of and provide for the baby they bring into this world.

Well not all do--some of them abort their babies, but that's for another post.

I don't want to generalize, but today's society is a give me society---immediate satisfaction.

Even my dog is guilty of it.

Abstain, save yourself for marriage, it's very possible.

Another stupid television show, the Bachelor

I happened to wander into the living room the other night when the Bachelor was on.

Apparently, 3 weeks prior to the 'exciting conclusion', the Bachelor has a 'one on one' date with the three remaining girls, and surprise, surprise, after having a nice dinner, he hands her a card with an invitation to 'bypass' their single rooms and spend the night in a 'fantasy suite'.

Let's call it what it is, it's a fornication chamber.

He has sex with all 3 girls (presumably on separate days, but who knows) then decides to dump one of them so that the following week we can see which one of the remaining two he will 'choose' to 'spend the rest of his life with'.

Oh, I'm nauseous just writing about this crap.

What self respecting woman will allow this 'man' to pick her out of a lineup like a farmer would pick out a milk cow is beyond me.

By the way, I hear this season's bachelor has a 3 year old son---that's great, the little boys can play together.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can there be another company more INCOMPETENT than COMCAST of Burlington County

You may recall the issue of my 3 cable boxes--COMCAST of Burlington County has me recorded as having 4.

Last Wednesday, February 9th, I scheduled an appointment to have a search done of my premises to verify that I truly have 3.

When I made the appointment, the Customer Service Rep (I should have written or blogged her name) told me these types of appointments are limited, and that the earliest she could get someone there would be Tuesday, February 17th, between 12 and 2.

At 2:10PM today, after no one showed up, I called COMCAST to ask where they were---the Customer Service Rep (again, I didn't record the name) told me the technician was running late, but would be here today.

Finally, when no one showed by 3:45, I called COMCAST again. The Customer Service Rep (Danielle her name was) told me the appointment had been set up wrong, and that no one would be coming out today. Furthermore, she said, these types of appointments are limited, and the earliest she can get someone to verify my service would be Friday, February 20th, between 8 and 10AM.

Danielle apologized profusely, and assured me she knows how to set up the special appointment.

COMCAST, by the way, is great for apologizing---they do it all the time when they mess up your service, fail to provide reasonable Digital Voice in the Cinnaminson area, not show for appointments, mess up appointment registrations, etc, etc, etc.

Want to be they don't show?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Comcast---February 16, 2009

Comcast believes I have 4 Cable boxes---I have 3. I found this out last week when I returned an unused cable box and their representative told me my count had gone down from 5 to 4. Huh?

I only have 3, I said. No problem, they're sending out a technician on Tuesday to execute a search warrant on my premises. Presumably, at that point, they'll realize I only have 3.

Interestingly, the 4th cable box they believe I have has been used to order 7 on demand movies on my accounts since November (it could be worse, it could be more, and the person has decent taste in movies.)

After installing Purchase code PIIN's on all 3 of my Cable boxes last week, I thought I was fully armed to ask Comcast to remove the charges. They refused. Well, after some arm twisting (asking to talk to a supervisor, threatening to call my Cable ombudsman--whatever that is--they agreed to think about it.

They still didn't see the issue.

In fact, I was absolutely stunned to discover that Comcast can't prevent the purchase of any Pay-per-view activity from my house. Really?

Their solution? Put a purchase PIIN on all of my cable boxes. I did that, remember?

It's hard to believe that a company as big and tech savy as Comcast can't figure out where cable box


really is.

All I know is that it's not in my house.

More to follow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Musings on the letter A

Have you noticed that if place an 'A' in front of some words that you create an antonym? For the benefit of those who don't know what an antonym is, it's an opposition. Check out these examples.

Gnostic Agnostic
Moral Amoral
Symetrical Asymetrical
Typical Atypical
Borigine Aborigine (just kidding with that one :)

Can you think of any others?

Danger in the skies over Cinnaminson

I'm sure the guy who called me a moron in reference to my Retrofitness post a few weeks ago know the answer to this question---and undoubtedly the man I met last week at the Ritz 16 last week who never made a mistake in his life know the answer to this question but...

The tragic crash of the Continental airplane in Buffalo last night, coupled with my early morning view of incoming air traffic over the skies of Cinnaminson this morning brought to mind several incidents of what I consider to be illegal flight actions over my neighborhood.

For instance, several years ago when a ride malfunctioned at the St. Charles June carnival, leaving riders suspended upside down for a few hours, there were 3 news helicopters over the scene taking live pictures for television. Does air traffic control know they are there? We have jets circling over Cinnaminson and then proceeding to Philadelphia International for landing. They are so low I can see the numbers on the tail.

About two years ago, I noticed a small plane circling the neighborhood on Sunday mornings---I suspected he may have known someone in the neighborhood, as he seemed to be making an attempt to get the attention of someone on the ground.

I'm pretty sure that these are FAA violations---is there a telephone number I can use to report activity like this and complain?

Registration Fees

I read this morning that Philadelphia is thinking of charging incoming prisoners to its City Jail a $35 Registration Fee.

Why is it that my daughter's Catholic Elementary school is charging me a $150 Registration Fee---and that's for someone who's attended the school for 7 years (well, 8 if you count Kindergarten).

Does it cost that much more to process a student than a prisoner?

I hate it when school 'fees' are used in this way---if it's a deposit to hold a child's place, call it a deposit, and refund it or credit it to the tuition when the child attends.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Musings on the verbs that can follow I

I feel
I think
I believe
I say
I state
I am
I profess

Ritz 16 Voorhees---Saturday, February 7th

I could tell it was a full moon at the Ritz 16 Voorhees on Saturday night---unruly patrons picking fights with clumsy popcorn carriers, yakking ladies next to me in the movies, and the ultimate annoyance---the husband and wife who brought peanuts to the movies, and proceeded to crack and shell them throughout the performance.

Once again, with a full theater, and sitting in the back row, there's not a lot we could do---no place to move.

And after witnessing near fisticuffs in the foyer, I wasn't about to say anything.

I need to convince my wife to start going to matinees---with an emptier theater, you can just get up and move to get away from the annoying twits.

Links to my books

Recent analysis of my blog stats indicates that people are looking for links to the many computer books I have written, so here they are...

Learn to Program with VB.Net 2008 Express
ISBN: 978-0-615-24843-1 (Smiley Publishing, August 24, 2008)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order via Amazon
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)

Learn to Program with Visual C# 2008 Express
ISBN: 978-0-615-24842-4 (Smiley Publishing, June 20, 2008)
Note: If you already have the Visual C# 2005 Express edition, please don't order this one. The changes in the Editions, at the Introductory level of this book, are miniscule. Only screen shots have changed.
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order via Amazon
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)

Learn to Program with Visual C# 2005 Express
ISBN: Not Assigned Yet (Smiley Publishing, April 7, 2008)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)

Learn to Program with VB.Net 2005 Express
ISBN: Not Assigned Yet (Smiley Publishing, May 16, 2007)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)

Learn to Program with JavaScript
ISBN: 978-1-84728-999-1 (Smiley Publishing, September 20, 2006)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order via Amazon
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)

Learn to Program with C++ (using the Borland C++ Batch Compiler)
Original ISBN: 0072-225-351 (Osborne/McGraw Hill, April 23, 2002)
ISBN: Pending: (Smiley Publishing, February 14, 2007)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)
Read a sample chapter (Chapter 6)
View Table of Contents

Learn to Program with C# (using the .Net C# Batch Compiler)
Original ISBN: 0072-222-611 (Osborne/McGraw Hill, April 23, 2002)
ISBN: Pending: (Smiley Publishing, December 11, 2006)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)
Read an article on Installing and configuring the C# Batch compiler
View Table of Contents

Learn to Program with Java
Original ISBN: 0072-131-896 (Osborne/McGraw Hill, November 2, 2001)
ISBN: Pending: (Smiley Publishing, August 13, 2007)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)
Read an article on Installing the Java Development Kit
Read the bonus chapter, Chapter 14 on Applet Creation, which is not in the book
Read a sample chapter (Chapter 7)
View Table of Contents

Learn to Program with Visual Basic.Net 2002/2003
Original ISBN: 0072-131-772 (Osborne/McGraw Hill, January 11, 2002)
ISBN: Pending: (Smiley Publishing, February 14, 2007)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal)
Order a copy for $39.99 via
Order an Electronic Version for $13.95 ($12.95 via PayPal)
Read a sample chapter (Chapter 8)
View Table of Contents

Learn to Program with Visual Basic Objects
Original ISBN: 1902-745-048 (Wrox Press, December 1, 1999)
ISBN: 1929-685-165 (Course Technology, March 1, 2001)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 (Sorry, sold out)
Order via Amazon
Download the China Shop Project as of the end of the Intro book/beginning of this book
View Table of Contents

Learn to Program with Visual Basic Databases
Original ISBN: 1902-745-035 (Wrox Press, July 1, 1999)
ISBN: 1929-685-157 (Course Technology, March 1, 2001)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 ($45 via PayPal) Hurry, only 1 left!
Order via Amazon
View Table of Contents

Learn to Program with Visual Basic Examples
Original ISBN: 1902-745-06X (Wrox Press, May 1, 1999)
ISBN: 1929-685-157 (Course Technology, March 1, 2001)
Order an Autographed Copy for $38 (Sorry, sold out)
Order via Amazon

Learn to Program with Visual Basic 6
Original ISBN: 1902-745-000 (Wrox Press, November 30, 1998)
ISBN: 1590-591-518 (Apress, July 3, 2003)
Now being published by Smiley Publishing (September 1, 2007)
Order an Autographed Copy for $48 (Sorry, sold out)
Order via Amazon
Order via (Coming soon!)
View Table of Contents

Saturday, February 7, 2009

.NET 3.5 framework object models

My thanks to a student of mine, Steve, for pointing this out to me.

For anyone who might find this useful (I know I always do), Microsoft has a link where you can download the .Net 3.5 Framework Object Model Posters.

These come in quite handy if you are programming in any of the .Net languages, such as VB.Net or C#. Here's the link...

Here's the Tinyurl

Printing the poster will be up to you---I have an old one here that came with my Visual Studio 2003 edition---it's about 3x5 feet, and it hung on my wall for many years.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Drunken driver ignition lock bill advances

I'm all for this one...

The Associated Press reported last week that a bill requiring alcohol-sensing ignition locks on the vehicles of most people convicted of drunken driving advanced in the New Jersey Legislature on Monday.

The lock is a Breathalyzer like device that keeps the vehicle from starting it is senses an alcohol level that exceeds the legal limit. Either states have ignition-lock laws. New Jersey currently requires the licks for repeat offenders.

Not everyone convicted of drunken driving will be required to use the locks---but repeat offenders will, and that makes me feel better.

Here's a Philadelphia Inquirer link to a story that details the fight to get this law passed by the family of a teenager killed by an Ocean City realtor (repeat drunken driving offender) who plowed into him as he and a group of his friends rode on the shoulder of Ocean Drive on their way to Ocean City.

Let's hope the law passes---your chance of being hit by a drunken driver are high.

My parents were twice in cars hit by drunken drivers.

Gene therapy curesa a "bubble boy disase"

I used to think that Gene Therapy was getting closer to curing diseases--now it seems to be there, for at least one disease.

Researchers report that Gene therapy seems to have cured 8 of 10 children who had potentially fatal "bubble boy disease" according to a study that followed their progress for about four years after treatment.

The eight patients were no longer on medication for the rare disease, which cripples the body;s defenses against infection.

The successful treatment is reported in Thursday's issue (January 29th, 2009) of the New England Journal of Medicine and offers hope for treating other diseases with a gene therapy approach.

Bubble boy disease is formally called sever combined immunodeficiency, or SCID. this genetic disorder is diagnosed in about 40 to 100 babies each year in the United States.

The nickname comes from the experience of a Houston boy, David Vetter, who became famous for living behind plastic barriers to protect him from germs. He died in 1984 at age 12.

He was portrayed in a made for TV film my John Travolta.

Man charged in carjacking, bank robbery

On December 11th I wrote about a man who carjacked a pregnant woman near the Retrofitness Health club in the Family Dollar Shopping Center.

Thursday's Burlington County Times reports that William A. Berger, 36, of Cedar Lane Mount Laurel has been charged with that crime, and also in the robbery of the Liberty Bell bank down the street and another carjacking in Cherry Hill.

For the moment, shoppers in this area can rest easy.

Federal response to Kentucky Ice Storm

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that there's been no criticism of the Federal response to the Kentucky Ice Storm disaster.

If the Bush administration were still in charge, wouldn't we be hearing something about the lack of a Federal (FEMA) response to a situation that is dire and getting worse by the day?