Experiences and Experiments in Programming

 Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wow...I know I am not the best poster...ok, I am a horrible poster, but it has been a whirlwind while since my last post.  There has been so much I wanted to post about and have not had the time.  For those that might be reading this, and are interested, you might ask why.

For those of you that know me personally, you know that I have been the CISO at Softech Development for many years.  The CEO and I have been friends since we worked together in the mid 90s and had talked back then about starting a company and venturing out on our own.  It has been a great ride with lots of ups and downs, but overall rewarding, and at times, down right exciting!

As of December 12, I decided to get off the roller coaster and begin a new adventure.  I am now working for DAXKO, in Birmingham, AL.  I am the .NET Development Manager and have a great set of challenges ahead of me, challenges that I think will make for a wonderful adventure.

This move is bitter sweet!  I leave behind great friends and much blood, sweat, and tears.  Softech, and all of its employees, has been a second family to me.  A big part of my decision was to allow me to focus more on my family.  My beautiful wife and wonderful children (not that my wife is not wonderful :)) have often times been neglected and placed lower on the priority totem pole than they should be.

Of course this change has meant many other changes like transitioning email, new machine setups, etc.  So over the few weeks I have been trying to get these transitions completed (or at least far enough along to get by day to day).  I also decided to take a technology vacation over the Christmas holidays.  I didn't crack the laptop for over a week.  It actually felt good!!!  I would recommend it to anyone!

So I am now pretty much back to being "connected" everywhere and look forward to getting caught up on all the changes and updates that I have missed over the last month or so!  As we all start a new year, I also start a new chapter in the book of life.  I hope it is a good read!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 1:54:12 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, August 16, 2007

I have been invited to be a member of the IT Advisory Council for a local campus of a technical school in town.  Today I attended my first council meeting.  The school looks to people in the technology industry to give feedback and suggestions to help them make modifications to their curriculum.  I think this is a great idea and the discussions today were wonderful.  It is really nice to see a school attempt to really incorporate this kind of feedback into their program.  After all, the graduates are going to come out of school wanting to enter many of these companies.  If the school is listening to the industry, and incorporating that information back into their program, the students should be more prepared for that industry!  Anyway, I think more schools should take this type of approach.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 7:54:21 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Monday, June 11, 2007

Well on June 6th, my wife gave birth to our second little girl!  It was a great day.  For those of you with kids, you know what a joy it is to add a new child to your family.  For those of you who don't have kids, let me tell you, it is a very special thing!  Mom and baby are doing really well and the nights have not been too bad so far!

Big Sister

Monday, June 11, 2007 5:19:17 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Well it has been another while since I posted.  Things have been crazy both at work and at home.  But I still have a lot of topics I have been wanting to post about so hopefully soon, I will begin to get them out of my notebook and into some posts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 11:13:27 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I mentioned after Christmas that I had a lot of good stuff to move out into posts and a personal announcement to make.  Well I guess I can make the announcement now: My wife is expecting our 2nd child!  Over the last year or so, she has had a couple of miscarriages.  It has been hard on everyone.  So when we found out she was pregnant, we decided to just keep it under wraps until after the first trimester.  Well, we have made it this far and everything seems to be going ok.  Hopefully everything will continue as planned and middle of June will bring a healthy new family member.  Our daughter, who is 4, is already making big plans for baby brother or sister.  So if you read this post, keep your fingers crossed for us!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 12:40:14 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)

Well everyone has them, and some stick to them.  Hopefully I will be successful in sticking with my resolutions this year.  One of them is to more regularly post relevant blog entries on WPF and DotNetNuke (and maybe both together).  It is really funny.  I spend a tremendous amount of time working with these two technologies.  Whenever I think about blogging about something I find, I tend to decide to play a little more so that I have more info to post.  By the time I am ready to post, I have to go do something else.  It seems it is an endless cycle of "hey, I need to put this into a post...I'll do that right after I finish this".  Needless to say there is always a "finish this" and rarely a post!  I am going to dedicate some time each week to posting here and in forums.  It seems that is the only way to make it happen consistently.  There is always something at work requiring my time.  So I have relegated myself to the fact that if I put things off till I have time, they will never get done!  I have a lot of plans for this year both professionally and personally.

One of my personal goals is to spend less time at home in front of the computer and more time with my wife and daughter.  A very close friend of mine's wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.  She is just my age and, believe me, it makes you stop and think about what is important!  Technology, software, the web....they are not just my job but my hobby and sincere love.  So I am always working on the laptop.  I don't want to neglect my other loves!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 12:34:38 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Well another Christmas has come and gone.  I just thought I would post a note to say a Merry Christmas to everyone.  And for those of you that might read my blog that don't practice Christmas, I hope you had a nice relaxing and enjoyable day yesterday doing all the things you enjoy!
I have a number of posts that I have been wanting to get out for a while that I hope to get out this week.  So hopefully we will have some good new items out here soon...as well as a personal announcement. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 12:38:27 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Monday, November 13, 2006

I have been meaning to mention that I won the 8th place prize in October from Community Credit. The 8th place prize is a really cool lightening disc for lack of a better term.  You can see a picture of one here.  If you have not visited Community Credit yet, check it out!

Monday, November 13, 2006 12:29:35 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tonight I attended the 3rd Annual AITA Leadership in Technology Awards.  The company I work for, Softech Development, was nominated for the Small Technology Company of the Year.  So I would just like to thank everyone in Softech for working so hard to help make Softech a consideration for this type of award!
Thursday, October 26, 2006 9:50:08 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I have been working with a local chocolatier to put together her first web site.  We went live last night.  If you like chocolate, check her site out.  If you really like chocolate, give her a call.  She can put together any kind of package from an individual gift to a corporate gift package.  She has some cool stuff for the holidays too!  She can ship to anywhere.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a chocoholic!  And being a chocoholic, I can tell you, she has some great products!  He shop is really cool.  There is an area where you can actually stand and watch her make stuff in the kitchen.  She makes most of her chocolate products there on site, so what you get is always real fresh.
Well, now that my mouth is watering for some chocolate covered popcorn or some truffles or just about anything, I guess I better let you go check out her site for yourself!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:15:00 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Friday, September 22, 2006

Well I have successfully upgraded to version 1.9 of dasBlog. I didn't have any problems. For anyone that is interested, the process of upgrading from 1.8 to 1.9 is very straightforward. According to the Scott Hanselman's upgrade note, you should be able to merge any of your own changes into the web.config, backup any custom themes, and overwrite most of the other files.

The process I followed was as follows:
1. merged my changes into the web.config
2. merged my changes and settings into the appropriate files in the SiteConfig subdirectory.
3. I left my content directory and my logs directory alone but copied over everything else as though it were a new install.
4. Once I had everything copied, I browsed to the site, logged in, and changed the administrator password (since in 1.9 it is encrypted and thus it is probably not advisable to change it directly in the config file).

There you have it. Pretty simple. I had no problems and am looking forward to utilizing some of the new features.  Oh and BTW, I am posting this entry from Live Writer so there are no issues with Live Writer and 1.9!

Happy Upgrading!

Friday, September 22, 2006 10:35:20 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Friday, July 21, 2006
One of the challenges often facing many smaller businesses is the decision to turn away clients or projects (and the revenue that goes with it) that can be counterproductive to the goals and success of the business. Sometimes it really is ok to just say no! Ultimately, you want to find engagements that allow you to help your client succeed as well as promote the success of your business. But what often happens is that compromises are made for the sake of revenue. And there is a difference between receiving revenue and long term success!

Not long ago I had a discussion with the CEO of a small development company. This CEO was telling me a little about their scenario and wanted my input/opinion. The company started out to provide custom software development for enterprise projects in the 1 - 10 million dollar range. They had a small but experienced staff. One of the projects they took on was a large enterprise system that was to be developed and integrated with an already existing business infrastructure. It was a large project and was going to span at least 1-1.5 years. All the resources of the company, including the CEO, except for the sales staff was dedicated to the project. Due to their level of expertise, the development company's staff were put in positions of leadership in the project, acting as senior level developers, and other team leads. All the members of the development company felt very strongly about the project and wanted to see it succeed.

This is where a change occurred. The desire to see the the project succeed became the top priority. Without even realizing it, they forgot their business goals and became dedicated to a project that ultimately was doomed to failure. Leadership in the client's company was not dedicated to the project and there was no true direction. Over that first year, the project became a ship being tossed around in a big ocean. Once the first series of work orders had expired, the client asked the development company to stay on and signed new work orders. Wanting to see the project succeed, they continued in this fashion for more than twice the original term of the project. Project Scope and direction continued to change and it had still not been moved into production.

Since all of the technical staff, as well as the company leaders, were occupied by the client's project, the development company's sales staff had no one to meet with clients that spoke the technical jargon. The business was not really being run; it was just running. The incredible frustration of the CEO finally cleared his head and he was able to realize what had been happening. Upon the next request by the client to extend their working arrangement and sign new work orders, the CEO had a tough decision to make: make a decision to put the client and the project first (even though the client continued to make poor decisions and have no direction), or make the decision that was the best for his company and employees and move on. The decision was made to not sign any additional work orders on the project. The decision was the right decision for the development company.

The development company had a couple of stressful months looking for the next project. But in that time, they were able to focus on strengthening and building the company. They had well defined short term and long term goals and a strategy to acheive them. It didn't take long before they were back on track and headed for success.

The point is that there is a fine line between wanting to help a client succeed and putting the client's success over your own. To be successful, I think you must put your company and your employees first. When trying to make decisions, a good question to ask is "is this the right decision for my company?". Who benefits from the decision you make? You obviously want your client to benefit from your services. That is why you are in business. But not at the expense of your own company.

Friday, July 21, 2006 10:29:46 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Sunday, June 11, 2006
Well, we made it.  The world did not end. Maybe I have more time to work on my blogging. I was really glad that the world didn't end because my family got a potential once in a lifetime experience!

Thursday 06/08, we visited a last stop exotic animal preserve called Tigers for Tomorrow. We had an "Untamed Encounter". We got to sit on the ground with some 4 week old baby bengal tiger cubs and feed and interact with them. For those of you who know me, you know that animals are one of my passions. Tigers and wolves are two of my biggest passions, and I think my wife would trade me in for tigers. For us, this was one of the greatest opportunities we have ever had (and may ever have again).

There is no way to describe what an incredible experience it was for all of us. My 4 year old daughter has been talking about it every day since Thursday night. I encourage anyone who reads this to visit the web site and make a donation. Sue and Wilbur are wonderful folks who have dedicated their lives to these magnificent animals and making their remaining days comfortable. While there we became a guardian angel to one of the tiger cubs, Annie. I am certain that we will add other animals to our guardian angel-ship as money becomes available.

Sunday, June 11, 2006 9:20:55 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Well, I guess it is too bad I didn't jump on this blog thing much earlier.  I have enjoyed it and still feel like I had a lot to learn and a lot of improvement to be made.  However, since so many people think that today (06/06/06) is the last day of the world, I guess I won't be able to make any more posts.  Maybe I will be in luck and the world won't end tonight so I will be able to live to post again!  Just in case, I wanted to say thanks to those that have read my blog!  :)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:42:07 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I am sure there is a lot that I have forgotten from the past month.  If I come up with some good juicy stuff, I will add it in.  In the meantime, I am gearing up for June! Forget the past....the future awaits!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 12:23:23 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Hooray! I won the 10th prize in the April 2006 Community Credit Contest.  I was surprised. I won "The Encyclopedia of Game.Machines". I get to add this image to my site as a winner.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 12:02:12 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Well I think my family is back to some level of normal (if you can ever say we were normal before!).  As I mentioned a short time ago, we had a family medical issue come up that has taken a good deal of our attention. We have worked through the problems we had crop up and I am trying to get back into the flow of things.  A lot has happened this month that I have gotten behind on, so I will try to get caught up for the most part.

Monday, May 29, 2006 11:52:52 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Sunday, April 30, 2006
On a brighter note, this weekend was the Softech Celebrity Shootout.  The company I work for, Softech Development, was the title sponsor for the Softech Celebrity Shootout benefitting The Joe Cribbs Youth Foundation. We have signed up for the title sponsorship for the next 2 years.  We had a great time!  I got to play golf Saturday with Hines Ward.  I got to meet a lot of the celebrities and got quite a number of signatures.  It all took place at Ross Bridge Resort...very relaxing!  My wife and my room overlooked a waterfall near the pool.  Most of the time we were in our room, we had our balcony door open to hear the sound of the water.  I think I could definately do that on a regular basis.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 9:25:16 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Well it has been a little bit since my last post.  We had a family medical problem arise that kept my focus with my family.  I am not going to go to the Atlanta Code Camp because I need to stay closer to home.  But I think things will eventually level out.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 8:47:42 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, April 12, 2006
While it was definately not one of my best presentations, last night's presentation went well.  We wound up creating a DVD library.  Often times you wonder if presentations really matter and if anyone actually gets anything out of them.  Well today I was presently surprised.  One of the folks at the meeting last night contacted me to let me know they used some things covered in the presentation last night. Jeremy got a call from a client today asking for a quick turn-around on a task.  He was able to use what the presentation covered last night to get the client what they needed.  Awesome!  It is nice to hear that something you do is helpful and is actually used.  Thanks Jeremy for the call!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 2:02:46 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Monday, April 10, 2006
A new web site has been created by Shawn Weekly for professionals in the Birmingham Alabama area.  It is called Bhamdeveloper.com. Currently, he is offering a weblog, an email address, and the ability to share your resume to those from the area who register on the site.  Check it out!

Monday, April 10, 2006 9:38:59 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Saturday, April 08, 2006
A few days ago, I found a site which I thought I would pass on.  Community Credit was created by David Silverlight and Alex Januschewsky.  They are both Microsoft MVPs.  The site is dedicated to recognizing and awarding people who are active in the technology community based on their contributions. They give away prizes to those who have been most active each month.

But beyond the prizes, "community credit simply highlights your contributions and is one way of seperating yourself from the crowd and showing that you are a serious professional".

If you are really serious about contributing to the technical community, visit Community Credit.
Friday, April 07, 2006 11:09:59 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Saturday, March 11, 2006
I am in Memphis, TN this weekend.  We came up here for a trade show that she was doing a booth for.  She is involved in a new endeavor and had booth space at the Southern Women's show. While she did her thing, I continued to try to decide on what I wanted to attend while at Mix06.  I hope it is going to live up to my expectations.  I typically am cautious about conventions because I rarely get out of them what I hope to.  I am hoping this one will be what I expect.  So far, from what I am hearing, it appears to be. I'll let you know.

Saturday, March 11, 2006 10:25:45 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Monday, March 06, 2006
Well, I finally got a new skin created.  It is ok for now.  I don't know that I am really happy with it yet.  It just doesn't seem to do it for me.  Of course this is my engineer coming out.  The perfectionist in me is never satisfied!

Monday, March 06, 2006 12:42:52 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Wow!  February 1st already. That one snuck up on me. Sometimes I can't believe how fast time goes by. You hear parents say that once you have a child, time just continues to speed up. Now that my daughter is 3.5 years old, I can say that it seems to be true!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 7:42:32 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Since the last entry I made, a lot has changed.  I have taken on a different responsibility concerning the project I have been on for quite some time.  The project has lingered much longer than it should have.  The people in charge of the project were not very good at managing the effort/the budget/the people/etc.  Now the environment has changed, many of the developers have left, the leadership has completely changed, and now I am picking up the pieces left by my predecessors.  All in all, it is a good thing.  Finally, we will be able to plan properly for the work that is to be done.  The new leadership is also putting in place a plan to transition the knowledge of the system from the contractors to the full time employees that are left.  This is a good thing.  We (the contractors) won't be here forever, and someone will have to take the reigns when we move on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:37:51 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, November 24, 2005

Well I am happy to say that I have moved my blog to my own server and am now using dasBlog. I have started with one of the included themes but I anticipate you will see some changes over the next...well who knows...as I begin to play around with the theme. I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a happy one!
Thursday, November 24, 2005 11:58:51 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, November 17, 2005

Well, I have needed to get a blog started for a while and I have finally taken that first step. Now I just have to keep it up. I am sure that won't be hard since the software and technology world is never short of good content!
Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:47:45 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Who Am I - Todd Miranda
MVP Visual Developer - ASP/ASP.NET
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