Kevin Ragsdale: Visual FoxPro 9.0

Advisor DevCon Day Three Sessions

The crackers and Sprite I had for “dinner” Tuesday night didn’t do much for my stomach. I was worried about my 1:30PM session, and was feeling a bit rough, so I skipped the first two sessions of the day.

Rick started the day (as he always does on the last day of any conference) with Learn How to Use VFPX Tools and Components for Visual FoxPro. I hated to miss this one, but Rick will be presenting another VFPX-related session at Southwest Fox in October, and I’m not going to miss that one! One thing that surprised me at DevCon was the number of people who had never heard of VFPX before. I’ll go into a bit more detail about that in my “post-conference wrap-up” post.

Doug was up next with Integrate RSS and Visual FoxPro. Again, I missed this one, though I hated to miss it. Doug always presents informative, fun, and fast-paced sessions.

I did catch some of Tamar’s next session, Solve Common Problems with Visual FoxPro SQL, though I had to leave for a little while. Watching Tamar present a session is like watching all of the best teachers I’ve ever had. The last part of the session was quite interactive, and very impressive.

I had planned to skip lunch, because my session was coming up next. I thought maybe some bread and water would suffice, but I was really, really, hungry. I had some pasta and bread (and water), then headed into the conference room to setup.

As soon as I stepped up to the stage, I felt dizzy. The floor underneath me felt like I was standing on a boat. The floor was bobbing up and down! “OK,” I thought, “just 75 more minutes. Please, let me get through the 75 minutes.”

I chatted a bit with Jeanine, an attendee in the front row, while I was setting up, and another guy came in and sat at the front row. He said something about really looking forward to this session. I said something like I hope it doesn’t disappoint you. He said it was a really cool title for a session.

When I finally looked up to start the session, I was surprised by the number of people in the room. There were a lot of people in there, including some I had not seen in the previous three days. Maybe they liked the title, too: The COM Cookbook: Five Tasty Recipes for COM Automation with Visual FoxPro. Certainly a l-o-n-g title, don’t you think?

I started off talking a little about COM, then kicked into Desktop Alerts. I quickly found that during my setup I had forgotten to set my fonts to a readable size, so I had to pause a moment to do that. A couple of other examples were wrapping Craig Boyd’s encryption and compression FLL’s. Not the best of examples, but the compression FLL did provide my best “joke” during the conference. I said something about creating my own version of WinZip using the FLL and a UI, selling it as shareware, and having a splash screen that says, “You’ve used this software 15,000 times during the trial period. Please register.”

I mentioned (briefly) using BLAT.DLL as an email engine, and demoed a small app I had done with a COM “auto-updater”. Unfortunately, I discovered during the time I had created a session description and the time of the conference that there was a much better way to do “auto-updates”. I’ll be working on the new stuff soon, and posting about it here. In short, I ended up with only four “tasty recipes” instead of the advertised five.

Well, I made it through the session without passing out, and I made it through all three of my sessions without having to “excuse myself“. I wasn’t particularly happy with any of them, though, and I hope to do a much better job at FoxForward this September.

The conference “ended” after my session. But, the FoxPro track went on! We ended up with two “bonus” sessions. And, I actually made it through both of them. Maybe my stomach was beginning to calm down a bit.

Rick started “overtime” with Expand Your SQL Server Toolkit for the Microsoft Visual FoxPro Developer. As always, Rick presented a very well prepared and informative session. I have not used SQL Server very much, and when I do I always use the Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer that comes with SQL Server. Rick showed a variety of products that address a variety of needs (some of the “needs” I had never even thought of). An excellent session!

Doug closed out the conference with Get Best Practices for Vertical Application Development in Microsoft Visual FoxPro. I had no doubt that this would be a great session, and I was not disappointed at all.

We met in the lobby later to go to dinner. Jeanine (the attendee I mentioned earlier) joined Rick, Doug, Tamar and myself for dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

I was feeling better. Much better than I had been feeling, though I was a bit worried about my stomach. I had actually planned to skip dinner again, but figured “what the heck, it’s my last night here”, so I went.

Boy, was I glad I went! Another opportunity to spend time with Rick, Doug, Tamar and Jeanine. A wonderful dinner, a couple of Sam Adams beers, and then we found out that we were the 1000th table served and dinner was on the house!

We found out later that Jeanine had taken care of the bill, and had worked out the “1,000th table” ruse with the waiter. Jeanine, if you’re reading this, “Thank you again for a wonderful dinner and conversations!”

Back to the hotel. It was my last night in Anaheim, so I had another couple of beers while we chatted. It was truly an amazing experience for me, spending time with Rick, Doug, and Tamar. Truly, great people.

Another attendee came to our table, just as I finished my 4th beer of the night. So, I had another one. 🙂

Sorry for the long post. I’ll do a wrap-up post later.