Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Monster's Ball
I watched the movie "Monster's Ball" the other night. A dark, somewhat depressing movie about a prison guard (Billy Bob Thornton) who's racist attitude is softened when he falls in love with the black wife (Halle Berry) of a convict he helped execute.

A great movie. If you find yourself with a couple of hours without kids around (a very "R" rated movie), take a look at it. Great movie.
It's an Effing joke

I enjoy a bit of crudeness as much as the next guy. But I was really concerned when I read Dan Fox's remarks regarding the use of the F-Word on TV. The "legend" is that the FCC has approved the use of the word on TV. This is not true (thankfully). The confusion arose when U2 lead singer uttered the word on a recent awards broadcast. The FCC received complaints, but determined that this particular incident did not violate FCC regulations (huh?). Their reasoning was somewhat ubscure, but basically, this was an isolated incident.

Rest assured however, that the FCC has not approved the use of the word on TV. But, this does bring up an interesting point. The F-word cannot be used on TV under most circumstances, but I'm convinced that one day, it will be allowed. Language on TV is already becoming crude. As a father of two young children, I find it increasingly difficult to shield them. Watch any sit-com tonight. See if you hear the word "ass," or references to sex. Again, I'm no prude, but I think it would be nice to let the TV be on a network channel without worrying about what my kids are hearing.

And the radio is even worse. The FM stations that play the music that kids typically enjoy have morning zoo shows that are beyond distasteful.

Add to that the limited number of movies that are kid-friendly, and we can see why parenting is so difficult. Even "kids" movies do not meet with my approval. I remember a recent movie called "The Iron Giant." This was an animated movie about a boy who befriends a giant robot from outer space. The movie is obviously aimed at children, however, the producers found it necessary to squeeze "damn" and "hell" into the film. Why? Tamer words would have worked just as well ("darn" and "heck").

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Royals Moves

My favorite Royals Fans, Rob and Rany, have a new entry in their running dialog about the Royals. Most interesting are the comments on Raul Ibanez, who just signed as a free agent with the Mariners. As much as I liked Raul, I'm glad the M's signed him. Raul's a great player, but his age and salary prevent him from being a member of the Royals. And by the M's being so impatient to sign him, the Royals get 2 draft picks. A great deal for the Royals.

The Royals are also in the process of moving the fences back at Kauffman Stadium. Also a great move. The Royals have always been built as a speed, gap hitting team. The Royals have never been a power team, and the closer fences hurt the Royals' young pitchers more than helped their hitters.

It should be an interesting off season as the Royals try to build on the surprise success of 2003.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Picked up the new Barenaked Ladies CD. Again, a great collection of songs. My favorite song right now is "War on Drugs."

Friday, November 14, 2003

I watched all three Godfather movies this week - two on Saturday and the third Tuesday evening. Obviously, the first Godfather movie is a classic. A great movie. I love its meandering pace, and it's interesting to see the transformation of Micheal from "that's my family, that's not me" into a full fledged gangster.

The second movie is also pretty good, but way too long, in my opinion. The second continues to follow Michael's life as he builds up his wealth with Las Vegal casinos. The movie also flashes back to tell the story of how Vito, the original godfather, ended up in America and how he gained his power. Interesting to know, but not necessary. The movie also takes us to Cuba for a confusing sequence of events. I'm still not sure if Hyman Roth was Michael's friend or enemy, or why there was rioting in Havanna. The powerful ending of the movie had Michael commiting an act that he would regret for the rest of his life.

Godfather Part III is just a confusing mess. This time, we pick up Michael after he's sold all of his casinos and has become a very wealthy man. The movie tries to tell us how Michael is involved with business deals with the Catholic Church. We see that his health if failing a bit, his son has become an opera singer, and his daughter has fallen in love with her cousin. The best scene involved Michael confessing his sins to the soon-to-be Pope. Very powerful. Beyond that, I'm confused. Who killed the Pope and why? What happened to Immobilare? Why did Michael give up his control over the family? Who tried to kill Micheal and why? Who killed the old men in Sicily? I don't know!!! Maybe I just wasn't in the proper frame of mind for this movie. The only thing I got out of it is that Michael lived to be an old man, and died of natural causes in Sicily. Good for him.
ShrarePoint Complete
Sheesh! It's been a long time since my last post. I've been busy working on a consulting engagement for a local Engineering firm. When working on an engagement, I typically don't take time out for blogging. My evenings have been tied up with general life/family events. That's my excuse.

Okay, so back to SharePoint. We've completed our first Proof of Concept project using SharePoint Portal server. It turned out great. I was able to build some custom web parts to take care of the desired functionality that is not natively provided by the product. Writing web parts takes some getting used to, but after building a couple, I found it to be fairly simple. One resource that I used quite often was This is a community site with lots of helpful tips published. I've submitted a few tips sharing some techniques that I stumbled across.

The project we did was a small Proof of Concept designed to give the executives of the organization a taste of what could be done with the product. The hope is that once they see the product in action, they will sign off on a large, full implementation of SharePoint to build an entire intranet/portal for the organization.

I am overall pleased with SharePoint. Great product, but not without its faults. SharePoint uses lots of XML and ASPX template files. These files can be changed to customize the look and feel of the portal. Unfortunately, the documentation for this is scarce. In fact, our portal was broken for two weeks while we hunted down one piece of of bad code in an XML file. Live and learn, I suppose.

The web part pages seem to suffer from over-intelligence. The designer at the organization was getting very frustrated because the web part zones would size themselves based on the size of other items in the page. She could not control exactly how the page would look. This is going to come up a lot as designers try to customize their SharePoint pages.