Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Macy's Presentation on Christa McAuliffe

Macy was tasked with giving a presentation on a famous explorer. She chose Christa McAuliffe, who was supposed to be the first teacher in space. She lost her life in the Challenger disaster in 1986. Macy had to do a four-minute presentation that contained certain elements, including facts about McAuliffe's life, artifacts from the journey (in this case a small rocket and some mission patches) and providing clues to the class so that they could guess the subject of the presentation.

She did an awesome job (of course) and got a great review from her teacher.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some Personal Experience With Political Bias In College

There's been some minor noise recently about two new studies that show colleges and universities have a pronounced leftward drift in their tenure tracks. I'm not sure why these studies keep coming out; (1) they pretty much always report the same findings and (2) those findings are always ignored by those same colleges and universities.

This isn't going to be a rant about how all colleges are overrun by Leftist thought (some are, but not all), or how students who are conservative face an uphill battle on college campuses (they sometimes do, but not always).

Instead I'm going to relate my own personal experience with political thought in college. Largely, politics was ignored at Moorhead State University (now Minnesota State University-Moorhead). It didn't creep into English 101 or Chemsitry 190 or C++ Progamming 250. But it (predictably) remained front and center in one class. It was an internalnational relations class, as I recall. I won't name the professor, though you can probably figure it out with a few minutes of internet detective work. This professor fits the stereotype of a liberal professor. He's very supportive of all the right causes. His real passion is the United Nations, however. He's a true believer in the transformative power of the U.N. and an unwavering supporter of the belief that it should be the funnel through which all state power should flow.

I took this class intentionally and of my own free will. You may wonder why. Well, the reasons are two-fold. Firstly, the class sounded like an interesting way to fulfill one of my electives, a nice break from working in a computer lab. Secondly, I already knew the professor and liked him very much. This is because, in a very important way, he didn't fit the stereotype: he was a man of great conviction who respected the convictions of others.

He knew when he saw my name on his roll that semester that he was getting a student who was far more skeptical of the U.N. and the peace movement than he was. He understood that I wasn't part of the choir. For my part, I didn't fully understand that there was a choir, but I would soon find out. The professor, however, even though we often disagreed, understood why I took the positions I did and respected it. For a short time (we've been out of contact for may years) we had the rarest of relationships; we could talk about politics from different sides of the aisle and agree to do it again sometime when the conversation was over.

But back to the choir. Early on in the class it became apparent that most of my fellow classmates believed there was a right way to think and a wrong way. Unions were great (they get the minimum wage increased, one student informed me). Republicans love war. Democrats like to help people. The military is evil. That sort of thing. It meant that I often found myself taking on the role of devil's advocate in order for any sort or real discussion to take place. Don't get me wrong: I'm not claiming that in a class of about 25 students it was 24-against-me. It was more like ten-against-me with fourteen abstensions. And really it was more like six-against-me with fourteen abstensions and four who used the cover of the six to limply pile on.

One example: the professor was talking about voting and posed a simple question: should voting be mandatory for anyone of legal voting age? I was surprised that the class was pretty solidly in favor of this idea. The reasoning went (yes, I'm simplifying) something like this: voting is good; everybody should participate in a Democracy; voting is how we participate in a Democracy; it doesn't hurt anyone to force them to vote. I raised my hand and played devil's advocate. I explained that forcing someone to vote actually does involve harm; it hurts the person you force to vote since they no longer get a choice in the matter. It hurts the process because there's no requirement that the person inform themselves about the issues; voting becomes a corrupt exercise full of people who don't know what they're voting for. To be sure, this happens now. I just didn't see a need to encourage more of it. I was called naive and a tool and all sorts of other knee-jerk names when I said this, as was pretty normal in this class.

At this point one of the four cover-seekers, as meekly as I have ever heard someone interrupt another--really, it was almost heartbreaking--informed me that in that case I shouldn't complain when an elected official does something I didn't like. In other words, voting was a freedom-to-complain card and if I didn't have one I should just shut up. I politely informed her that I had voted in every election for which I was eligible, federal, state and local. I asked her if she could say the same. She didn't respond, so I assumed that meant no.

It was really kind of fascinating to see this dynamic at work. The same general group of students would wave the flag for the Left. A few others would wait to make sure they had strength of numbers and then would join in to pile on. I wish I had been taking a psychology course at that time so I would have had a forum in which to study it with a professional.

Another time we were talking about media coverage of some event. This would have been 1997 or maybe 1998, so it could have been a lot of things. Something to do with Clinton probably. I made mention of the fact that media biases made it hard to know what was really going on anyway. It resulted in the second (and so far last) time anyone ever hissed at me (the first was in basic training, by a female drill sargeant).

This hisser let me know that I was full of excrement and that the only bias in the media was from Rush Limbaugh. Please take a moment to note more closely what I said and the response to it. You'll see that I made no mention of a liberal media bent, a left-wing conspiracy to make conservatives look bad, or a stirring defense of Rush Limbaugh as a paragon of journalistic virtue. What I did say was that media is biased. That seemed to me then (and still does today) to be an obviously true statement. Fox News is biased. So is Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. So is ABC and the Washington Post and the New York Times and TV Guide. But all the lefties in the class heard was the word 'bias' from someone they had identified as an "other" and filled in the rest of the sentence.

In a sense it was a microcosm of what happens on the internet every day. There was no anonymity, so only those with confidence (or perhaps egos) were able to unselfconsiously let fly with the vitriol. Others were quick to jump in only after they judged little risk to themselves. It makes you wonder what percentage of commenters on this forum would really have the gall to say face to face what they type in the comment box. I'm guessing the percentage is quite low.

I spoke at length about this phenomenon with the professor, His advice was simple: stick to your guns and don't let the fact that you are in the minority get you down. Unspoken but understood was an admonishment to stay respectful even when you weren't being respected. If those people thought that the professor was silently cheering them on, I'm sorry to report that he was a bit disappointed and embarrassed in them. Well, not sorry exactly. But the professor was right, and I followed his advice. I learned a lot from the experience, even if it wasn't in the syllabus.

(Crossposted at Say Anything)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

3 Rings

I took some pictures of our rings for all to see. For all things wedding-related, be sure to check out our website.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blogging in the Key of Nerd: Setting Up a Debug Environment in the Dynamics GP Client With Locally Built Code Consumed from the Dex Depot

I had an interesting time trying to set up a debug environment with the Business Analyzer code the other day. This code is stored in the Dexterity depot and consumed as part of the GP build. Due to the difference in the test keys between the two branches, it is not possible to just build locally and drop debug assemblies over the top of the installed components.

Instead, there are a few steps you have to perform. First, go to your project file's debug tab in Visual Studio and set up some debugging options. This involves launching your debug session by starting an external program, in this case Dynamics.exe. Don't forget to use the .set file.

(click to enlarge)

Next you need to go to the Signing tab and set the build process to build with the correct test key. For our project this is located in the \keys folder.

(click to enlarge)

Once this is done, go to the following location in the source codes' depot (in my case this is the Dex11.0 depot): \private\developer. Create a folder in this location with your alias as its name. Create a subfolder called "build". Inside of this build folder create a file called "userenv.cmd". The contents of this file should look like this:

@echo off
rem ******
rem Set type of signing

rem test -- use the test key and full signing
rem delay -- use the real key and do delay signing
rem none -- don't do signing at all
rem prs -- official delay signing
rem ******

set MY_SIGNING=delay
set PREFIX_HOME=%INETROOT%\build\tools\prefix\5.6
set PATH=%PATH%;%INETROOT%\public\ext\fxcop\1.35\x86;%INETROOT%\build\tools;%PREFIX_HOME%\bin;%_NTDEVELOPER%
if exist "%BC_PATH%" (

if exist "%INETROOT%\build\allpreenv.cmd" (
call "%INETROOT%\build\allpreenv.cmd" %MY_SIGNING%
if /i "%MY_SIGNING%"=="none" (

for %%i in ("%INETROOT%") do title %%~ni%%~xi %MY_SIGNING% signing


Then, close your enlistment command prompt and relaunch. Build your assemblies (debug, of course), drop them into their locations in the GP client install on your machine, and start debugging.

If you run into issues, you may need to disable strong name verification for your debug assemblies. You can do this from your enlistment with the following command:

sn -Vr [assembly]

If you're doing this from the depot, you aren't likely to be in the location where your assembly lives in the GP client install. Remember to provide the full path of each assembly to the sn tool.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Wedding Diaries (Part 3): Engagement Photos!

We got our engagement proofs from Milestones Photography and you can view a few selections on our wedding site. Here's a sneak peak:

New At Say Anything: U.K. Energy CEO Sees Atlas Shrugging at Reduced Availability

I have a confession to make. I think Atlas Shrugged ultimately fails as a piece of literature. It's far too long and makes its central point -- that government meddling in the private sphere mucks things up to no end -- over and over, ad nauseum, like a metronome. By the third gratuitous (and long) illustration the metronome analogy fails and is replaced by one of a hammer pounding on your skull. The characters are largely caricatures, one dimensional heroes or baddies. And "the speech". You know the one I mean.

Looked at as a how-to guide for large, central-planning governments to wreck and economy and lower the standard of living for its citizens, however, the book is gold. Ayn Rand might bombard her readers with endless examples that tell the same story, but that doesn't make the point any less valid. Who knows, maybe that was the point. It's true that by the end of the book it was disheartening to see people with good ideas and a strong work ethic beaten down by inane laws and capricious regulations. The book is a testament to myopic politicians who rig the game for their own short term gain at the expense of the long term welfare of the people.

By that I mean that too many politicians succumb to the immediate; the opportunity to make money, to take up a cause, to champion a law, to elevate their standing with (who they determine to be) the right people. They pursue these goals with a tunnel vision that ensures that any stimuli that might trigger revisitation of those goals will be deflected harmlessly away. That same tunnel is padded with the adulation and support of those same "right people" who walk through tunnels of their own.

(Continue reading this article at Say Anything.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Social Security: Perception Vs. Reality

Please read this whole piece by Eric Schurenberg at the Fiscal Times, which details several reasons why Social Security is not and may never be the safety net it was meant to be, at least by the time I'm old enough to start withdrawing.

But, if that's too much book-learnin', I've taken the liberty of condensing Mr. Schurenberg's wisdom down into easily-understandable visual aids:



Monday, March 7, 2011

Belated Valentine's Gift

Macy recently gave me a belated Valentine's Day gift, which she made herself. It took awhile for it to set up so that she could give it to me. It was worth the wait. It's a small transparent stone with a message.

...and you're the best daughter a dad could have.

Macy's Letter To The Editor

So, a couple weekends ago Macy sat down in our living room and wrote a letter. She didn't have any particular reason, and it wasn't really for anyone's eyes, per se. She just felt like writing a letter.

She showed it to me and I told her she should send it to the local paper. Her eyes got wide; she had no idea such a thing was an option. I explained to her what an opinion page was (the whole paper nowadays, amirite?) and she was quite excited. She quickly wanted to know when we could do this. Since she did all the heavy lifting of coming up with the idea and writing it out longhand, I told her I would type it up for her. The condition was that I would type it exactly has she had written it; all the typos, warts and all. Actually, there were very few of those anyway.

As it turns out, her letter got printed in Saturday's Fargo Forum. You can view the electronic version here, but I'm going to reprint it in this post as the electronic version will only be available for free for seven days.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

HP Reserves The Right To Screw Up Your Network Printer Even If You Have A Xerox

So there I am, trying to print a Very Important Document from one of my work machines when I get a message telling me that the printer in question can't be found. "It's right there, next to the candy machine where it always is," I explain patiently. I walk over and, sure enough, there it is: a xerox document center the size of a Waffle House (my midwestern readers should click here). Fine, I think. I'll show you; I've got more than one work machine, and I'll bet that one remembers where the candy machine is. I quarter-turn my chair and go to print. Same problem. Oooookay.

I decide to delete the printer and re-add it, being a rational intelligent person. The deletion step goes exactly as planned. Re-adding proves problematic, however. No matter which printer I attempt to add, I get the following cryptic message:

"Windows cannot connect to the printer. The specified port is unknown."

Well if it's unknown to you, what makes you think I know what it is? I jump onto Bing and provide the error message to the search engine. I get back all kinds of theories including a registry key setting, a need to set up the network printer by attaching it as a local one (not an option), and turning off my firewall (also not an option -- corporate networks tend to frown upon that sort of thing). I sigh dramatically and create a service ticket.

This problem is affecting two of my machines. Both run Windows Server 2008 and have pretty much the exact same suite of development tools. Neither has been wiped recently and other than forced updates, nothing has been installed recently.

A very nice man comes to help and I explain all this to him. We decide it probably has something to do with a patch not playing nice with the printer drivers. He directs me to rename this file:


(I rename it by adding ".old" to the end.)

I reboot the machine and... everything works.

You may be wondering how that particular file, which by all accounts is an Hewlitt-Packard assembly file, could keep me from connecting to my Xerox printer. Yeah, me too.