# Saturday, May 05, 2012

Habits are like paths across a field. New ones are often difficult and uncomfortable and may even cause some pain as we work through the new ground. However with time and use they grow more comfortable and familiar while the old paths grow over and become hard to recognize.

We must learn to recognize the habits in our lives that are wrong and make conscious efforts to correct them with the Lord’s help. Do not excuse or tolerate some evil thought or wicked action because you think, “that’s just the way I am.” When the Holy Spirit brings a sinful action or thought to your mind repent and ask the Lord’s help to change your habit in that area.

I believe we will find that as we put this into practice that we will find the new paths aren’t new at all. Rather, we have simply rediscovered old paths that we were meant to be on all along.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” -- Jeremiah 6:16

posted on Saturday, May 05, 2012 11:02:14 AM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, December 14, 2011
"We are to keep at the point of self-nothingness and at the same time look to God alone for sufficiency just as truly as we take the sunshine from the sun today and do not think of using the sunshine of yesterday." - George D. Watson
posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 11:20:07 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Do you ever feel like you spent the entire day on a merry-go-round and got off at the same place you got on, only more dizzy than when the day started?

posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:31:38 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, May 17, 2010
From my experience if you have 2 pad locks, each with a different key, you have a less than 50% chance of selecting the correct key on your first attempt to open one of the locks.

posted on Monday, May 17, 2010 8:26:36 AM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, July 30, 2009

We have an application at work that pulls images from a proprietary binary file and saves them to a local directory. The directory path and filename on the local machine are built on the fly based on client information. The application went through a full round of testing and passed all cases. However, when we moved the application to production and ran it against live data we ran into the following error:

System.Runtime.InteropServices.ExternalException: A generic error occurred in GDI+

We spent most of the day trying to track down the error, but nothing I found on the Internet gave a clue. First we thought that perhaps we were getting image data in a format that we didn't expect (i.e. loading JPEG data and saving it as a TIFF file), but that wasn't it. Finally, we tried writing the raw data out to disk using a FileStream instead of Image.Save(). This did not solve the problem, but it produced a different Exception that pointed us in the right direction. The new Exception stated something similar to the message below:

"Could not find part of the path 'C:\TEMP\2345\111299\Bin1\Slot3\Company.Bin1\Slot3.PartNumber_1.TIFF'"

The clue came in the last part of the message. The path format was supposed to be:



<FileName> = <CompanyID>.<StorageSection>.<PartNumber>.TIFF

Looking closely we discovered that our path was including a <StorageSection> that had a backslash in the name (i.e. "Bin1\Slot3"). Therefore, when .NET tried to create a file with the name "Company.Bin1\Slot3.PartNumber_1.TIFF" an Exception was thrown.

A simple one line change to our application fixed the issue by cleaning up the file name before attempting to save the file:

// Ensure that we have a safe filename
strFileNamePrefix = Regex.Replace(strFileNamePrefix, @"[\\/\?\:\<\>\|\*]", "_");

Hopefully the above will help you save more time than it took us to figure this out.


posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009 8:35:07 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, July 06, 2009
“What kind of kingdom is this? The last are first they say. What kind of kingdom is this? Where servants are called great.” -- Jill Moore

Those words are from a Jill Moore song that I am really beginning to like quite a bit. We were listening to it in the van yesterday and I found it going through my thoughts as I woke up this morning.

What kind of Kingdom is this?

The Bible says that the last shall be first and the first shall be last, that the weak shall be strong and the meek shall inherit the Earth. How can this be? It is a concept that we cannot even comprehend in our minds though we try will all our might, which is to say in our flesh.

Cain tried in this way. He brought “an offering to the Lord.” His brother Abel, for his part, brought “the firstlings of his flock and their fat portions.” What is the difference here? Cain brought God something. Abel brought God the best that he had. What were the two sacrifices? One might say “Cain brought the fruit of the ground, while Abel brought the firstlings of his flocks.” That is true, but that is according to this Earthly kingdom. What did each bring in accordance with God’s kingdom?

Cain brought a portion of his heart; a portion of his devotion. What ever it was it was not pleasing to God. Abel brought his whole heart; his entire devotion. He sacrificed the very portions of his flock that stood the best chance of making him rich. The firstlings. The best. He sacrificed the portions of his flock that stood the best chance of making his stomach happy; the fat portions. He took the very best of what he had and he brought that to God. This was an outward sign of an inward reality that God had his whole heart.

You see, God’s kingdom is not like this Earthly kingdom. God’s kingdom is spiritual; the kingdom of this world is physical. The Bible says “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6.

Many have tried, like Cain, in their own strength to gain righteousness before God. They try, often with all their might, to be good. They desire with all their strength to be holy. However, this one thing they have held back from God, that is, their heart. The one thing that is required to true acceptance from God is the one thing they are not willing to let go of.

It’s a shame too, the heart is deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9); it’s not to be trusted.

posted on Monday, July 06, 2009 9:44:53 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Public speaking can be a daunting thing. I used to get really nervous. I don’t do a whole lot of public speaking, but when I do, it isn’t nearly as intimidating as it used to be. I’d say that is primarily due to one simple piece of advice I got a long time ago.

That advice is:
Before you stand up to speak, know 40 times more than you need to know on the subject that you are speaking about.

So, if you are going to talk for 5 minutes about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, know what the difference between crunchy and smooth peanut butter is. Know the difference between jelly, jam and preserves. Know the difference between whole grain and white bread. Know what brands of peanut butter separate and how to prevent it (you put it in the refrigerator, btw) and then know what happens to peanut butter when you put it in the refrigerator (it gets hard and doesn’t spread easily). Then be sure you think of any other aspects of making that sandwich and variations on that sandwich that you can think of. When you’re all done, you could probably speak on the various aspects of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for at least 20 minutes if not an hour. Now, when you stand up to give your 5 minute presentation not only will you not be as nervous, you’ll have so much information that you will be able to pull the high-points and easily fill the 5 minute presentation without much effort at all.

posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008 11:21:22 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Monday, June 09, 2008
I just signed up for Technorati. This blog is currently ranked: 3,900,162. Looks like I've got a little ways to go before I hit the top 100.

Here's my technorati profile:
Technorati Profile
posted on Monday, June 09, 2008 4:43:21 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
I just downloaded the Oracle client tools for a job I’m working on. It was an interesting experience.

Strike One: I had to download 3 different zip files named “Disk1”, “Disk2” and “Disk3”. Huh? I thought multiple floppies went out with the advent of DSL.

Strike Two: Once I downloaded and unzipped the three disk images into my “My Documents” folder I double-clicked the setup application in the Disk1 folder. An hourglass popped up, then went away. Huh? Nothing happened. Tried again. Nothing. So I rebooted. Went to the Disk1 folder and tried again. Nothing. Opened Task Manager. Didn’t appear that setup was even running. <sigh> On a whim decided to move the 3 disk image folders to the C: root. Opened the first image directory, double-clicked the setup again... walla! Oh come on. You’ve got to be kidding. Long file names and directory paths with spaces in them became common place with Windows 95.

As I was talking about in my Feeling Clean post, it is that last 5% of the effort that can make all the difference. Do you know how hard it is to make an application accept spaces in the application path? One line of code. One simple line of code to be sure you customer experience is pleasant and uneventful. Instead, I lost the current state of every application I was running as well as the web pages I had open for consultation on the setup I’m trying to do. All because a Windows application running in 2007 doesn’t support spaces in the file path. This is the type of behavior you might expect in a high school homework project or even in some shareware application, but is not what I would expect from a technology powerhouse that has aspirations of knocking Microsoft off the top of the hill.

Not a big deal you say? Well, let’s think about this. There’s an old saying you’ve all no doubt heard: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Your installer application is the first impression any customer has of your company. If I had not tried to move these 3 folders to the C: root, I would have likely spent several hours, maybe even days trying to find the answer to how to get this application installed. That would cost me money. If I had contacted one or more of the guys I work with to get their help that would have cost even more money. The more help, the more money. Finally, if I had picked up the phone and called Oracle I’m quite certain it would have cost a whole lot more money; either my own for the support fee or Oracle if they have “free” or shall I say complementary support. Either way, this small and reasonably simple oversight on both the part of the developer and the testing team has almost certainly cost many people, many hours of frustration and in turn many dollars in lost time.

There were almost certainly thousands and thousands of straws on the back of that proverbial camel before it finally broke. Large established companies have lots of details to fret. Nonetheless, there is always a point where one too many mistakes were made. One too many dissatisfied customers simply walked away. One too many small details were overlooked.

Here’s the lesson: You are never too big and you are never too small to sweat the details. It is the small stuff that counts. It is the details that set you apart from everyone else. It is the little things that will keep your customers coming back and telling their friends about your products. What you do, or don’t do, says a lot about who you are and what your company is like. When you don’t care enough to insure my installation is carefree, how can I be sure you’ll care enough to support me when I’m depending on your product to run my business and take care of my own customers?

Take this opportunity to look at the products and services that you offer. Ask yourself if there are any holes in your offering that may cause your customers to have a bad experience; better yet, ask your customers. Create an ongoing list of rough spots in your product offering; then fix them. It may very likely mean the difference between surviving and thriving.

posted on Monday, June 09, 2008 2:51:17 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, June 05, 2008
I’ve been using a Mac for over a year now. Before that I was a Windows user since 1988.

Why did I switch? Quite simply, the Mac feels clean. When you turn it on you feel welcomed and embraced; understood even. Sounds silly, but it’s true. The small things make all the difference.

Take Microsoft Outlook for instance. When I switched to the Mac I stopped using Microsoft Outlook and began using Mail and iCal to manage all my email and tasks. These applications work good and I never really thought about Outlook or even missed it. However, yesterday, for work reasons, I started running Windows again as my primary development computer. In doing so I started using Outlook again.

Wow! What a nice application. When Microsoft Outlook first opens it is clean, tidy and well organized. I felt in control immediately. That’s how all software should be. Clean.

How do your products make your customers feel? What is their first impression of you and your company? Do you make them feel clean? Do you help them to feel in control? Let me encourage you to put in the extra effort to make a strong, positive first impression. It will pay dividends in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

posted on Thursday, June 05, 2008 6:03:47 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]