Is It 2006 Already?

Sometimes it seems easy to find really interesting stuff to write about as the month draws to a close, and the only other exciting thing on the agenda is doing the monthly accounts. Other times it seems like the weeks flash by in a haze of activity, yet nothing remotely out of the ordinary actually happened. I suppose the life of a writer and developer is like that - one month you are travelling the world, visiting exotic places, and mixing with lots of interesting people. The next month you spend staring at a computer screen wondering why your code doesn't work, your article resolutely defies all attempts to finish it, and your customers all appear to have gone into hibernation for the winter.

I guess December and January followed that pattern. Of course, the usual daily events still impinge on the aura of boredom, such as a bout of 'flu, a leak in my Mother's under-floor central heating pipes, and finally succumbing to my wife's demands that I hang the two doors that have spent Christmas laid on the floor of the dining room. Oh well, a bit of woodwork tends to while away the hours. And it only took four trips to the local DIY store to get the bits I forgot each time. I did hear a comedian on TV the other night say that if you sent a man to the supermarket to get the weekly shopping, he'd come back with a copy of "What Car" magazine and a frozen pizza. Except in my case, it would probably be "What PC". But it's amazing how you can go to a DIY store to buy wood and paint, and come back with a car full of trees, the latest new type of hacksaw, four cans of weed killer because it was on sale, and the wrong size light bulb. And forget the paint.

Still, I had some good news in January in that I've been re-awarded my MVP status, and was treated to a nice meal out by our FGM (Fairy Godmother) in the shape of Lorna. We had one of the regular "pie and pint" evenings at a very nice old pub near Coventry, and I got to meet up with some old and some new friends. A good night out, even if it means a long drive home afterwards. I even found a network expert who I can see will be receiving regular pleading phone calls to visit the wilds of Derbyshire - if my previous expertise, and its effects on my own network, are anything to go by.

In terms of "real" work, I've been writing about the CAB and Enterprise Library recently, and discovering how little I really know about the intricacies of object-oriented programming. And, of course, it's nearly all C# so I'm rapidly getting the semi-colon habit. I've even considered resorting to getting my wife to sit next to me with a long stick when I write VB.NET code now, so she can rap me sharply over the knuckles when I get to the end of each line. Or when I wander dangerously close to the square bracket key. It's a shame that the last of our cats died just before Christmas, or I could have trained him instead. Mind you, he slept till 3:00 PM every day, so I would have to start work an hour later that usual.

But, wandering back to the subject in hand, it's well worth taking a look at the Enterprise Library if you haven't already done so. There's some amazing stuff in there, especially if you need to do caching or encryption. And the logging and data access blocks are also maturing nicely. You could save yourself a lot of work on your next project. Meanwhile, I'm back to debugging my "simple" example application block that seems determined to configure itself in an unusual and highly unhelpful way every time I run it. I blame this new-fangled XML stuff. One of these days I'm going back to writing everything in self-modifying assembler code. At least you got a really good system crash that way, instead of these wimpy exception messages.

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