Gavin Bowman's blog

Holidays and the Micro ISV

On Monday, while US readers were observing Memorial Day, we had our own holiday here in the UK: the Spring Bank Holiday. Traditionally, it was for Whitsun, a moveable religious festival, but now it always falls on the last Monday in May.

I’ve been working to my own schedule for quite a few years now, so I only tend to remember our holidays if I try to book an appointment with someone. This time I said I’d call in and see a customer early this week, and they were kind enough to remind me not to come on Monday.

.NET and Excel Importing

A quick tech tip this week, it’s not ground breaking, it might not even be new to many of you, but it really helped me out. I was looking to buy a component to add a simple Excel import facility to a project, and I had one of those "d’oh" moments.

Amongst all the components for sale, there were search results about using Jet, ISAMs, and OLEDB. I’ve used Office and Jet enough in the past to know that it makes reading an Excel file a straight forward process, but somehow I hadn’t realized that I could do it just as easily using OLEDB from a .NET application.

Burnout, taking a day off, and the 4 day week

While I was away, Keith posted here and on his personal blog about the dangers of burnout, and the benefits of recharging. I was paying close attention; it had been a while since I’d felt like I was in any position to think about my productivity and effectiveness, but I knew it was overdue.

I’m not really counting this last year as a normal year, I’m just happy to have made it through relatively unscathed. In cold professional stats, I’ve made more contacts, improved my software, and been more involved with the online ISV community. I feel much more comfortable with the situation I’m in right now than I was with my situation 16 months ago. Even though that might sound like a successful year, it felt quite different behind the scenes.

Back Home, Back-up

Or, "How I learned to start worrying and love back-ups".

The 8th January 2005 began like any other Saturday, I hadn't quite woken up, and in the distance I could hear a cell phone ringing. My head cleared and I realized it was mine; I must have left it downstairs last night. I thought about letting it ring, I knew the timing pretty well, so I knew it would inevitably stop ringing seconds before I could find and answer it. For some reason, I got out of bed and headed downstairs.

In hindsight I could tell you that it felt a little different walking downstairs, maybe colder, or maybe it seemed slightly darker than usual, but I was too sleepy to notice. It's only when I stepped off the last stair into the room that I finally woke up.

Live Clipboard, or not…

I set aside my Codesnipers time this week to continue last week’s exploration of the Live Clipboard technical introduction. Then I found this link on Bob’s blog, and that kind of threw me off track:-

Live Clipboard Specification v0.91

I know it wouldn’t be smart to press on regardless, pretending that there was no new information, so I need to do some reading. In a normal week, that wouldn’t hold me back; I’d read the new information, adapting the article if necessary, or I’d pick something else to write about. I decided that this week would be different, for a couple of reasons.

Using Live Clipboard, part 1

Last week, I was talking about Live Clipboard, and how it was well worth investigating. Now I’m taking a closer look at the technical introduction, to see how it works, and find out how easy it is to add to a page.

Live Clipboard

This week, Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie presented his Live Clipboard concept at eTech. I saw links to the announcement everywhere I looked for a day or so. At first, I wondered what all the fuss was about, and if the muted reaction on the BoS forum is anything to go by, I might not have been the only one.

I should have been paying more attention; this is very cool.

Diary of a side project

All the way back in January, I wrote here about my goals for 2006. Although it’s too soon to do a full recap, I’m sure you’ll all be glad to hear that I seem to be making better use of my time this year, my software is still improving and sales seem to be on a gentle upward curve. Irritatingly, I’m still waiting to go home, but that one’s out of my hands.

But, the reason for bringing this back up wasn’t for an update on my progress over the last couple of months, it was because of the remaining goal: to learn more. I suggested that rather than trying to learn a little bit of everything this year, I would focus those few spare brain cycles on just Flash and Ruby on Rails.

The Right Idea?

If I believe everything I read: ideas are cheap; it's all about execution. Developers are sitting on dozens of great ideas for products or services, if they only had enough time and funding. It wouldn’t matter which idea they chose, as long as the execution was right.

Although there's plenty of truth in the "execution is everything" school of thought, it’s important not to completely devalue the idea, a good idea will imply and steer you towards the right execution.