The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Stuff to read later today

It's fascinating how working from home doesn't seem to give me more time to, you know, work. So these have backed up on me, and I hope to read them...someday:

OK, so, that's going to take a few minutes...

Fun start to the month

I love getting an email at 7am because of a production bug. I love it even more when it's pre-release software, still in development and changing almost every day, that the client has decided to demo to a customer.

Parker is happy I'm still home, though he may be left all by himself for a few hours if I have to go into the office anyway.

Real blog entry later if I get a break.

New technology does away with sales manuals

Crain's this morning profiles Ryan Leavitt and Vishal Shah, who have launched a company to revolutionize sales training:

LearnCore has moved sales training materials online and taken advantage of webcams to allow salespeople to do virtual role-playing. Using screen-capture technology, the company also can record how salespeople explain and demonstrate products for customers. The training can be delivered virtually when it's convenient for the user. It's also easier to track employee progress and completion online than on paper.

Shipping company C.H. Robinson uses LearnCore in Chicago, where it has a sales force of about 500, for training programs that last four weeks to six months. “New employees are able to sell faster than we'd seen in the past, because they get so much more practice,” says Carmen Smith, a human resources manager at the company. The cost per user—Learncore licenses its software for $4 to $34 per user per month—“is about what we'd typically pay for a two-day in-person training class.”

Ill be interested to see where they take the company.

Break-Fix, or why it's nice to know the developer

The IANA time zone database published an update a couple days ago, and yesterday I uploaded the changes to a few of my web applications. Then one of the applications blew up. This is because I hadn't accounted for the possibility that a time zone abbreviation could include non-alpha-numeric characters.

Within an hour I'd updated the affected code and published an updated NuGet package. So now it's fixed. I just have to update a couple of applications that have all their time zone data in caches, so that when they reload the data, they continue functioning. (This blog is one of the apps.)

Meanwhile, you can see the problem if you go to the Inner Drive time zone demo, select Europe/Astrakhan, you'll see the "+03" or "+04" that my stuff couldn't parse properly.

So one of my customers, not quite understanding how NuGet works, asked about what they should do if they need something in an Inner Drive package changed. Let this be an example of why they might not need even to ask. And also, contrast this quick response with, say, Microsoft, who created most of the packages that people use in ASP.NET applications.

WTF to LoC ratio

I had a meeting this morning to bring a new developer onto a maintenance-mode project. In doing so I went over some code I wrote 4 years ago. Yikes.

We're doing a deep-dive on Monday...

Still in DLL hell

The problem with NuGet is that installers don't always update assembly binding mappings.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm trying to upgrade a very large project to a new version of the ASP.NET runtime to try to solve a lingering problem. This required updating somewhere around 20 NuGet packages, only some of which make correct changes to configuration files.

I've just gone through a 15-minute publish cycle that ended with an old and familiar error message for old and familiar reasons.

Guys. Quit messing with my configuration files. But if you have to, do it correctly. Seriously.

Minor complaints

There's a blizzard outside, which has alarmed Parker to no end (the wind scares him), and my computer is dragging because it's running a virus scan. And I'm having yet another version conflict installing a NuGet package, which is annoying since NuGet is supposed to stop that from happening.

Otherwise, just an ordinary Wednesday...