How to Host/embed Microsoft Word or Excel in a web browser or your own application?

I am currently looking to see if there is any demand for the feature to host Office applications, like Word or Excel in a browser or an application. I am considering writing an ActiveX control that would allow for this ability, but have not decided if it is worth the effort.

If you think you would find this useful, and would want to buy something like this, let me know. I would hate to waste my time to make something no one would use, except for me.


The Pirate Bay is down….Again???

It looks like The Pirate Bay,, is down again. It seems their servers are being dodgy or possibly under attack.

Also possible ISP’s have decided to screw with people. Who knows..

Anyway, figured I would chronicle it as I thought it interesting.

NOTE: I don’t endorse doing anything illegal. There are plenty of legal uses of this torrent site.

The cost of a code freeze and maybe a better way of doing it.

The cost of a code freeze

So you’re thinking about doing a code freeze in your company, or maybe you already are. This article discusses the pros and cons and potential solutions to the common pitfalls.

A “code freeze” is general the period of time in which developers of a team based software development project are barred from the check-in of code into the source code control repository. Code freezes are used as a way of obtaining a clean version of code for preparation of a release. A lot of companies use these for internal build releases as well that are generally provided for the Quality Assurance department.

Is a code freeze a good thing? Well, maybe. Conceptually it sounds like a great idea; tell all developers to hold off on the check-in of code for a set period of time while a build is prepared off of the active development branch of the source control system. Proponents of the standard code freeze argue that the lock down period of time is necessary in order to properly create a build that is functional. The issue that arises is really around the length of time the code freeze is truly in effect. If the standard build and assurance process lasts a few hours, the impact is relatively negligible. If in turn the process takes a day or longer, then the impact to the development cycle is truly felt.

The impact of the denial of code checkins on an active project is dependent on a number of factors; the size of the team, the lack of source code isolation of the distributed tasks, and the velocity of the tasks.  These variables interact in a non-definitive but potentially exponential way. The higher any of the values are, the more the value of the other variables affects the cost. For example, the more developers there are on a project the greater the impact of higher velocity and lack of source code isolation on the tasks.

Say you have X developers, they work on code with an isolation level that has a probability of interaction of Y (likelihood a developer is working on a section of code another developer is also working on), and they are working on tasks at a velocity of Z. Let us also assume the code freeze occurs for H hours. The variable interaction would be similar to H * ((X2 *  Z) * Y. While the math on this particular equation is very loose and up for debate, the potential impact is obvious. We can determine the true impact if we were to take on an actual experimental situation (or really put a lot more thought to it than I did) to find the actual impact.

What the above is basically showing is that the cost of the code freeze increases the longer it lasts and is dramatically more when a larger number of potential interactions (developer activities) are introduced.

What can be done about this?

The code freeze employed by some companies is the hold all code and wait until a valid build is created from the development/active branch of the source control system. The implied benefit is that developers can check in code ONLY to fix the actual build process and get the initial assurance verification tests to complete successfully. The cost of this particular method is generally not worth its benefit.

An alternative to this particular cycle is to use a form of the Branch by Purpose pattern (“The Importance of Branching Models in SCM.” IEEE Computing Practices. 0018-9162/02.) recommended by Walrad and Strom which dictates that you create source branches when the code in the branch will be used for a particular purpose; a bit self explanatory in nature. This method allows you to have a code freeze for only the period of time it takes to snapshot the branch. You can then build your releases of the branch. The developers will encounter minimal impact due to the brevity of the code freeze and defects can easily be fixed in the secondary branch and merged back into the main branch if necessary.

The utilization of my interpretation of this pattern is quite simple. The source control is created with a main/active development folder to house the current iteration of source code. You then create a quality assurance branch which you use to send copies of the main/active branch when you need to create builds to send off to the quality assurance team. This format allows the development team to continue on with work while the build team uses the QA branch to produce the QA builds. Any code changes to fix the process would be made in this branch and merged back to the main branch.

Windows 7 is officially bad ass…………

I got a virus on my Windows Vista machine that caused it to run slower than all holy hell. I decided, well, now must be the time to upgrade my OS. No one ever wants to go through the new OS nightmare of having to reinstall every program they use. Especially not a guy in the IT field that uses a whole lot more than just Office.

So, I went full out and put on Windows 7 64-bit. Oh yeah. I finally get all 4 gigs of my ram. I expected the OS to be pretty much Vista with a new name.

Luckily, its not. I have only had it installed for about a day now but I see all sorts of little changes that make my experience SOOOO much better.

The themes are really cool. The desktop background rotates a nice image  every hour or so. I definitely like the variety, but thats not my big happy change.

The UAC is a lot more friendly than it used to be. I like the prompts as it make me feel a bit in control, but in Vista I disabled UAC altogether because nothing worked when it was on. Windows 7, not a problem. I run Visual Studio 2008 and don’t have any of the Vista issues I had.

The biggest thing I found I like so far is the taskbar. I am not only able to “pin” my programs to it, which is a great timesaver, but I can pin my documents to the program as well. I open and close the same 4 documents all the time. Now, its easy to pop into the word icon and go right to my document. Great time saver.

The other major timesaver I use is the ability to see all the windows for a process when I click on the taskbar icon. It is so much easier to figure out what IE window I want to go to or explorer folder when I can see the image of it at a glance. 

Windows 7 gets my vote as a great new OS for productivity. Vista is a smelly pile of crap once you get used to the new Windows.

Crazy day of travel..

I hopped on my ridiculously early flight to Colorado Spring this morning and was happy to get an exit row seat. About 5 minutes before departure from the Tampa airport(TIA) two security guards board the plane. Routine check, right?
Nope. They begin talking with a passenger in the back of the plane and then escort him off.

Freaky, right? So we are all left with the though of wtf? Why was this guy escorted off the plane.

We take off and land at Houston then I board this plane called the Continental Express for Colorado Springs. What a tiny piece of crap. My head hit the ceiling and the seats were so small I had to disengage my arm rest to fit my legs. Anyway, I arrive safe and sound at the Colorado Springs airport.

I checked in at the Broadmoor hotel. This is an amazing hotel by the way. Fast forward to the me having drinks at the bar at midnight. I talk with a few people and find out that General Petraeus is staying here. I thought that was pretty interesting.

But wait…..Whats more interesting?

I met a lady who was sitting by the fire outside who said she was a famous author that was going on Opera and the Jay Leno show. She was smashed out of her mind and said she was marrying the gentleman with her because he had saved her from a racoon. Can’t make this up folks. She had met him that night and decided they must be married.

Suffice it to say, plastered plastered plastered. So, I will be watching Leno to see if she really is as much a crackpot as I think or if I get proven wrong.

Its 3am in my time zone, so good night.

Thought on complexity….

After reviewing the new database design for a project I am working on, I invariably declared that no one can do anything straight forward and simple anymore.

In a world of exceedingly complex thoughts and designs, developers inevitably strive to push the bounds in ways never thought possible. In essence, simplicity does not serve the ego well enough., Brian Seekford

Verizon….A love hate relationship and why their FIOS customer service sucks….

I have been a Verizon customer for many years now. I was generally happy with the service until now. The tv service provides a great picture and the Internet speeds are rediculously fast.

They just suck when you try and order the service. How can that be you ask? How can a company not bend over backwards to earn you as a customer? Below is part of my email to the buggers.

  I have spent roughly 4+ hours on the phone with your people to place my order for a move of service. I am moving to Tampa and just wanted to keep FIOS.

A week later, bungled order and mistake and issue after issue I am here.

I first called last week to setup my service. I placed the order and went through the entire process only for my order to freeze. So the representative said they would call me back that night once they were able to get the order to unfreeze. Well a few days went by and I called back. Enter this Monday. I talk with a representative that promises me to take care of placing the order.

Mind you, I am trying to BUY your services. Shouldn’t this be painless? Shouldn’t I be treated really well? Isn’t Brighthouse just a call away?

Anyway, I talk with the agent about my order and she says it locked in limbo. She reconfirms my order and promises to take care of the issue and guaruntee my Friday installation.

Well, we speak again Tuesday and she says the order is still locked up. She has to call me back 3 times. The day ends with no service setup.
I call today and get a new representative. She says she can’t transfer me to my old representative but promises to take care of it all.

She pulls up the order and says its locked. We 3 way call into some other office and they tell her its locked and to place another order then hang up on us. Quite rude.

I  then place my order AGAIN with her. This is getting old as you can see. I go through the whole thing again and she sets up the order. They then give me an installation date of NEXT WEEK.

This is just rediculous. I placed the order LAST WEEK.


Yes….A week of effort to place an order.