WordPress 2.1.1

The latest and greatest version of WordPress (the software that powers this site) has been released. This release looks to be mainly small fixes; nothing earth shattering this time around. As always, painless upgrade, and all seems to be working well.

As I didn’t see a package for just the changed files, I went ahead and zipped them up. These are just the changed files from 2.1, so this should make the upgrade process much quicker if you’ve already got 2.1 up and running.

Vista & ReadyBoost

Using Vista? Then I highly recommend getting a decent 1GB+ thumb drive, and use it for ReadyBoost; while the FAQ says 256MB is enough, for best performance I’d shoot for more. There is little difference under normal operation, it’s under high loads that ReadyBoost really shines.

On my main PC (with 1GB RAM), I would see fairly frequent freezes when several applications were open (primarily when memory utilization passed 80%). With a minor upgrade to 1.5GB RAM, and a 1GB thumb-drive* for ReadyBoost, the system became much more stable. This may be among the best new features in Vista.

I’ve frequently blasted Vista for the poor performance compared to XP, but with a few tweaks, it runs quite well.

  • These drives (SanDisk Cruzer Mirco U3) work well, once to get the drivers working properly. If possible, pick a different drive; these are a pain at times.

I Love My Job

I love what I do, and I work with a great team. While it’s still far from perfect; I can say that I do love my job. For the last couple weeks though, I’ve had to remind myself of this several times. I’m sure we’ve all done it, in this industry it’s hard to avoid. You read an email or receive a phone call and repeat the mantra “I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.”

Unreasonable clients, managers that just don’t understand; there are so many reasons, so many triggers. While reciting this mantra often invokes laughter from those nearby, some thought should be given anytime it’s used. More often than not, used as a joke, but a joke masking true problems.

Some issues are unavoidable, some no amount a planning or preparation will help with; for those I can offer no advice. For those, even a perfect environment won’t help. It’s the others I care about, those issues that shouldn’t be, the deadlines that should never have been set, and those whose sole cause is lack of planning or forethought. Those are the ones that tire me; those are the ones I hate.

When I run into one of these situations, it makes me wish this was closer to reality than a dream of how we want things to be. However, why shouldn’t it be reality? Why do we allow this to happen time and time again?

Wait, read that last sentence again. Why do we allow, why do we allow? Yes, as developers we allow this to happen, and often encourage it. Late nights, working weekends, 90-hour weeks. Those could all be prevented, and could be reduced significantly should we stand up. If we do not take a stand, we encourage those that push us too far by doing just what they ask. Why should they stop if they can get a single developer to do the work of two?

A Solution?

So, what are we to do? Taking a page from Rob, here is my modest proposal. A few simple rules for both developers and managers to keep in mind. While rules such as these can never be enforced, keeping these things in mind could make life more pleasant for everybody.


  • shall keep requests for after hours work to a minimum. While there are “crunch times” on occasion, these should be minimal.
  • shall seek input from at least one developer before estimating a project. An estimate should not be created without consulting those that will be working on it, as they should have the most realistic idea of how long it will take to implement.
  • shall not ask developers to implement a hack or kludgey solution to meet an unreasonable deadline or request; especially if it will compromise stability or maintainability.
  • shall understand that developers are often passionate about their work, and the quality of the software they produce. Asking a professional to implement a solution based on a bad design, or inferior technologies will often be viewed as an insult, especially when this is done to meet an unreasonable goal.
  • shall shield developers from unnecessary distractions and meetings. Distractions can destroy productivity.
  • shall not ask developers to do the job of a Support technician. Tasks such as installing or configuring third-party software should not be given to a developer.
  • shall filter all requests and put policies in place to ensure that requests do not go directly to a developer.
  • shall give developers the freedom and opportunity to test different development methodologies when the schedule allows.


  • shall make every reasonable effort to complete a task, including working long hours (so long as the hours and frequency are reasonable).
  • shall not complain about boring or undesirable tasks.
  • shall alert management when an issue arises that may impact a deadline, as soon as possible.
  • shall build the best software they are able to.
  • shall provide accurate estimates when asked.
  • shall be available as much as possible should an emergency arise.
  • shall not over-build, or over architect just for the sake of doing so.
  • shall try to understand the pressures and forces at play when communicating with management.
  • shall make an effort to improve development methods and processes.

If you agree with this last, take it to your manager and talk about it; if not, build your own and talk about it. Either way, the idea is to talk about the issues and try to find ways to get everybody on the same page. If we make no effort to improve things, then we are just as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

If you don’t like things, complain; but complaining to a friend or co-worker won’t help, you need to let management know that there are problems and that you have some ideas to fix them.

From Outlook, to Gmail, to The Bat!

Back in March, I switched from The Bat! to Outlook as a result of being annoyed with using two different clients (work & home)*. So today, I’m running The Bat again, thanks to Gmail.

Moving to Gmail

I had been thinking about moving to Gmail for a while, the other day I decided to bite the bullet and do it. There was some pain involved, but not as bad as I expected. The process goes something like this:

  1. Setup any custom From address, personally, I had 5. Now, here’s a word of warning: pay close attention to the note on that page, I didn’t, and it bit me quite hard, here’s why.

  2. Setup Filters to Label your email based on the To address, this way you can see what account a message was sent to.

  3. Forward your existing email account to @gmail.com.

  4. Convert/Export your email to the mbox format (some clients such as Thunderbird support this natively), for some clients, you may need the help of something like Aid4Mail (this is what I used, works great).

  5. Finally, use Mark Lyon’s Gmail Loader to read the mbox files you just created, and shoot them to your Gmail account. One note on this, it sends one email every two seconds, assuming no errors, so if you have several thousand emails, this is a slow process.

Once you’ve completed those 5 steps, you’re done.

Now, there are some things to keep in mind, if you don’t want people to see your Gmail address via that custom From address, well, you’re out of luck. Google sends a Sender header with your Gmail address. This results in a number of issues, but the most painful for me was in Outlook displaying something like this:

“From @gmail.com on behalf of @example.com”

As far as I’m concerned, that’s about the most unprofessional thing a business email could display. It reeks of uncaring attitudes and oozes the impression of fraud. I use my email for business, so that isn’t an option.

Thankfully, I noticed this before it caused too much embarrassment, but it’s a death-nail for any user that needs mobile business email.

Moving to The Bat!

Thankfully I was only using Gmail full-time for around a day, so I don’t have to fight the battle of getting my email back from Google**. Thanks to the import features of The Bat, I moved my 15,000 or so emails over from Outlook 2007 in less than an hour. All told I spent around 50 hours importing email, setting up filters and cleaning up on Gmail; for The Bat!, that same task took less than three hours, and that includes setting up several fairly complex filters.

After a year using Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003, then one whole day with Gmail as my primary mail client, I’m glad to be back with The Bat!. The lag that so annoyed me with Outlook is finally gone. Everything it does is fast.

I wanted a real web-based solution, and the best candidate failed. Now I’m back to a desktop client, but one that offers better performance and more flexibility than Outlook can provide.

  • Truth be told, I believe I was just frustrated with the lack of flexibility that Outlook has compared to The Bat!, and since I couldn’t avoid Outlook, I axed The Bat.

** Has anyone noticed that Gmail has no easy or even reasonable way to get your email out of the system? Locking users in seems odd for a company that promises to not be evil.