Dave Noderer's Blog

February 2009 Entries

BigWords101.com – Grammar Lesson Plan Book

A long time / good friend of ours, Arlene Miller in Petaluma, CA is self publishing her first book for both school and home school teachers. You can find it at: http://www.bigwords101.com/. She is now working on a full grammar book.

Arlene is also an English teacher, writing coach and also has a long career in technical writing.

I met my wife Bobbi at a party at Arlene’s house in Boston in 1978.

If you know any English teachers they should have a look!

Ft Lauderdale Arc Sig – 20090217

Last night Rainer Habermann and I led an “iPimp your Architecture”. We had a special treat for the attendees… see end of article.


The first subject of discussion was the name. Alternate names for this type of session were “Trick my Architecture”, “Architect Garage” and “Fix my Architecture”. So.. before the next time we do this we will consider the name again.


First up was Ray Almonte who described a 4.5 million line, mostly c++ client / server cad app that helps design buildings that use his companies roof truss systems. He and his team have considered many things and came to the meeting looking to get a silver bullet.

Due to a lot of “global variables” the current program is almost impossible to parallelize which would dramatically speed up the processing. Currently an engineer will press the button to “design” a building and leave to go get coffee and take a break.

Although it would give his company a competitive advantage, management has not seen fit to spend what Ray has estimated to them to be ~ $500k to do the work.

He has already thought about this a lot and thinks the approach is to one by one encapsulate each of the design objects (walls, panels, trusses, etc) that are currently global variables into objects. This requires wrapping the global and then going through all the 4.5 million lines of codes changing references and method signatures to match.

One new idea from Jeff Barnes out of the discussion was to write a program to automate this renaming / refactoring of the code so that you wrap a global and then run this program on the code base to make the changes. There still may be some hand tweaking but it should be able to automatically change almost everything. Ray thought this was a great idea and will go back and investigate this approach. We are looking for a follow-up report next month!

Here are the notes I took (ok my 3rd grade teacher asked me many years later if I ever learned to write):



Thanks to Ray for transcribing the notes: Email: ralmonte@bellsouth.net

1) 4,500,000 LOC ( Mostly Legacy app after merge of acquired code) 400 customers, 5k seats.

2) Originally Fortran, ported to C, then C++.

3) Lots of Globals

4) Want to process more than 1 object at a time ( Automate a repeatable pattern)

5) Typical Globals

- Piece List

- Plate List

- Different front & back end globals of same information

6) Processes on a Wall Panel

- Pricing

- Drawing

- Cutting info

- Drive MFG Equipment, ...

6) Mostly runs on 2 screens

7) Truss Design

- If not waiting for loads from other components, design

8) Urgent now, low perceived business value

- Encapsulate, abstract up

- Start over

9) Estimate ~ $500,000

10) Maybe some simplification

11) Comes down to business case

Next up was Jose who talked about software he was working on for an insurance agency commission tracking application. A few approaches were suggested including a database centric design and a more object oriented way. I did not take a picture of the notes!

Finally Rainer and I presented the basics of an app we have worked with for many years and which I originally wrote almost 12 years ago. It is a vb6 app for a call center with Nortel Meridian phone switch, multiple call center sites, sql server back end and many modifications over the years. It does not get modified very much these days but is very stable. It does have problems including not running on Vista (app ok but some of the 3rd party components it uses do not), large footprint, and the fact that the telecom world has changed and a new approach is required. Rainer has implemented one part, a new order system in .net that is appended to and takes the place of the built in order features.

Again Jeff Barnes pointed out a two part article in MSDN Magazine Jan/Feb of 2009 that shows a call center app written in Silverlight!! See: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dd365188.aspx

A diagram of the vb6 system is shown below but for simplicity leaves out many details:



SPECIAL TREAT – Microsoft Surface

If you don’t know what Microsoft Surface is, check out: http://www.microsoft.com/surface/index.html

At the meeting last night it just happened that Myrna Pinto and Phil West were in town with a surface unit to show some government customers. So I started directing meeting attendees into that room so they could get a look first hand. It was the first time I had ever actually put my hands on and tried a surface unit as well.



South Florida Code Camp 2009 – 02/07/2009

Another year another South Florida Code Camp!

Final stats...

We had 858 registered with well over 650 (peak instantaneous count was 660). It is pretty clear that there were over 700 attendees who showed up sometime during the course of the day.  We had 60 speakers giving 72 sessions in 12 parallel tracks. Only one speaker was no-show and that was due to a flat tire on a plane in Jacksonville that prevented him from getting to Ft Lauderdale.

A special treat was the filming of the first “Russ TV” with Russ Fustino, Stan Schultes and Jason Beres, overseen by Carl Franklin.

We drank 1000 waters, 800 sodas, over 500 cups of coffee, ate 170 pizzas and used 200 pounds of ice.

Speaker links as I get them: http://codecamp09.fladotnet.com/Presentations.aspx

Thanks to all the sponsors for making this great event happen!

No code camp would be possible without all the great speakers, some local and many who traveled to on their own with no monetary help from us. The entire developer community is grateful to each one!

I'd like to point out the other volunteers who helped make it all look easy! Many of them were speakers as well but I want to make sure they get the credit they deserve.

Scott Katarincic - “Code Camp Volunteer of the year” - created and enhanced web administration pages and managed all the posting of information and images to the website and supported track chairs and others who might have had problems with the main or administration website.

Ed Hill – “Code Camp Special Recognition” - Devry University Professor organized the venue, provided student volunteers, gave presentations, made multiple runs to Costco, received and organized all the material from sponsors and was on the run  all day Saturday during the event.

DeVry Student Volunteers..Ed Hill, Bob O'Connell (another Devry professor) and the student volunteers: Byron Blank,  Michael Cintron,  Lee Culver and George Arredondo all did a great job. They stuffed over 500 goodie bags and helped all day during the event. I’d like to especially thank Byron who came early and stayed late and was a big help all day.

Alex Funkhouser - In  charge of the T-shirts and t-shirt graphics plus organization of the commons for the sponsors and the after party at “On The Border”. Veronica helped me get organized for the wrap-up session and thanks to her too!

We had a lot of track chairs which also made organizing all the speakers sooo… much easier! John Dunagan, Max Trinidad, Jonas Stawski, Vishal Shukla, Scott Klein, Oleg Sych, Randy Patterson, Bill Reiss, Joe Healy, Jeff Barnes, Rainer, Will Strohl, David Hayden, Chuck Hughes, Stacy Draper, Jonas Stawski

John Dunagan aka "ICE MAN" who for the third year in a row drove from Naples to deliver 200 pounds of ice... This year he was also a track chair and speaker!

Mai Nguyen was our code camp statistician and kept a count of each session for the second year. This year I eliminated the “registration/check in” process. With over five hundred people arriving by 8:30 (all 500 bags that were stuffed were gone by then) I decided to take the radical step of eliminating this historical piece of administrivia. The counts are not accurate anyway as there are at least five doors to get in the facility and there is no practical way to monitor. So keeping count in the sessions is a really important activity! Thanks Mai!

Morgan Baker helped organize the un-organized speaker sessions with a spreadsheet that got us launched into the actual scheduling of sessions.

Joe Healy as always was a great support but for the second year he enjoyed watching it happen without a lot of his help. He took a number of videos and if you send photos to him he is going to try a photo-synth

Next year's code camp has tentatively been set for  2/13/2009, the weekend after the Superbowl in Miami for the 10th time!

I’ve posted all my photos on my facebook account – Username: DaveNoderer and on my SkyDrive: https://cid-e8348157304bce63.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/SF%20Code%20Camp%202009 . Stay tuned to Joe Healy’s www.devfish.net site for additional pictures.

As a special bonus you can order your own Code Camp Speaker Shirt for only $25. I’ll be placing orders soon. There is a pay pal order button on the code camp website: http://codecamp09.fladotnet.com/