Genuine

I am amidst a discussion at my club about the definition of genuine ninjutsu. You see, the bujinkan teaches a very well-defined, kata driven style or taijutsu that has by soke's own admission survived eventually unchanged since the eighteenth century. My club trains on a very modern style of taijutsu that looks a lot like a contemporary MMA match that broke out at a gymnastics meet. The reasoning for my club is that no one wears armor or throws lunge punches, so why train on them?

Well, I like that philosophy, so I train with my school, not the bujinkan school down the road. Why? Because I would rather get my history in books and be able to defend myself in a fight, than get my history in training and get my ass kicked. This is exactly how I see it too.
The bujinkan is trying - at least on the surface - to keep a historical art alive, and more power to them. Here's hoping that the history of the ninja is never lost. If it takes the bujinkan to keep it alive, so be it. Something has to.

However, the spirit of the ninja is to persevere. When a new threat emerges, it must be dealt with in its turn. When guns were introduced to Japan, the ninja embraced them. Today, people fight differently - heavily influenced by western boxing and easily carried knives. The ninja embraces these changes.

As such, we train for the new challenges, and allow the old ways to die. When we train metsubushi, we use pepper spray. Our intonjutsu looks a lot like parkour - embracing something that works. We have a ground game in our taijutsu because fighting occurs on the ground - honor is out the window, these days.

Are we less ninjutsu than the bujinkan schools? It could be said that we are more. I understand their point, though - there is a historical precedent and we are tromping on it. I firmly believe that we have a good reason, however, and I would put our curriculum up against any one's. I am glad I am studying this way - and I would like the bujinkan to see this for what it is and be pleased that the art continues to grow.

Weakness

I have learned in the last six months that weakness takes many forms. Few of them, in fact, are weaknesses of the flesh - rather I find weaknesses of the mind. What I am learning is that anything that prevents you from performing your best is a weakness. It's not just muscular, and it isn't just skill either.

For instance - Do you like the occasional drink? Do you like the occasional 7 drinks? Aside from that being bad for you, it is a weakness. You have lost control over yourself - just as bad as losing control in conflict. You have also given other people power over you. You have also compromised your ability to fight, both during and after drinking.

Overweight? That is also a weakness. It can be significantly exploited by an adversary. You likely have a lower endurance than a lighter compatriot. In a conflict you would be more apt to be overcome with exhaustion than a lighter adversary.

How about attitude? Is that a potential for weakness? You bet it is. I found myself in randori the other night basically 'laying down my king' - just giving up because I had lost the will to go on in that conflict. It is a completely ridiculous attitude, and I can't explain it. A bad attitude is a major weakness in conflict and in life.

The reason I bring all of this up is that Charles Daniel in his book Taijutsu: Ninja Art of Unarmed Combat stresses that increasing your strengths is not the goal of studying Taijutsu, but rather reducing your exploitable weaknesses. I agree, but take it a step further. Don't just look for weakness in your taijutsu. Look for it in your life.

TechEd 2007

I would have liked to post live, but things got a little out of control.  Stuff happens and all that.  If anyone is interested, let me know and we can take it offline.

Anyway.

I had a good TechEd.  There was a good mix of courses.  The Technical Learning Center was impressive - with the notable exceptions of Office Live, Visio team members and MapPoint.  There were about 50% IT Pro vendors, and about 50% programming vendors.  It was a well designed conference.

I attended a panel of Open Source advocates who made me blush to be in their presence.  There was much discussion about the reasons that Open Source is beneficial to the developer community, without my well known views of programmer education even making an appearance.  (My mouth was full)  So I'll blog about that this week.

I attended a GREAT talk by Steve Lasker about SQL CE replication that I will blog about later.  He covered Merge and Replication and RDS, as well as the new Sync modules taht are coming in Orcas and CE 3.5.  I plan on using what I learned to further the Clarity Workgroup Edition (Oh, didn't I mention that?) and generally become a better DBA-friendly architect. 

I talked with my old friend Simon Guest (I remember how we know each other, Simon.  Apress!) about the Microsoft Certified Architect program.  I have a few thoughts about that program that I would like to share with the community.  A few of the nay-sayers make a lot of sense to me.

I missed the Birds of a Feather sessions.  Rich Hundhausen is gonna roast my toes.  He even gave me a flamingo.  Anyway, the guys from Community Server were there and I am sorry I missed them.  I'll blog about the implementation of the OmniPath AICC LMS that I have put on top of CS later this month.

I also went to a great talk by Tom Fuller about SOA.  This applied directly to a project that I am starting later this summer, and I will have a lot to say about what I learned.  (See what I am doing here?  Setting myself up to HAVE to blog a bout this stuff.)

Another career changing talk was the Composite Application chat by Scott Jamison.  He showed me how the SharePoint services stack that is included in the Windows 2003 install can be used to provide search, object management and a bunch of other neet stuff.  Very cool.  I'll post about that session later too.

Finally, I got Gabrielle a new HP tx1000z with a conference-only deal that they had going.  It's pretty snazzy.  I'll post about it if it is good, and post 10,000 times if it is a dog.

Carry on as before.

Preparedness

Preparation isn't just about carrying a weapon wherever you go. There is more to it than that. Preparation is having the tools that you need, when you need them.

Practically, there is a problem with that. Clearly you might need a bathtub here and there. You know, those times when you think 'man, I could really use a bath'? But you don't carry one. When you travel, though, might it not be a bad idea to have a bit of soap in case you fine a place you can get clean?

That's the kind of preparation I am talking about here. Pragmatic preparation is my goal. I am a fairly parochial chap; I go to see clients, and come home. I travel only occasionally, and live in the suburbs. This defines in part my preparation tactics. If you are in a rural setting, or travel a lot, and your strategy includes preparation, your needs will differ.

My personal preparation includes two phases. I have certain things that are always on my person. There is also a 'kit' of items that I stash in a hall closet to those 'better grab the kit before I go out' kind of trips.

On my person, I have three things that I always carry: a belt, a Leatherman Wave, and a lighter. I believe that each of these things - none a weapon in most minds - is an important part of hour by hour preparedness. A belt fives you two extra feet of reach, is a Kusari Fundo, and can be used as a restraint. A Leatherman trims toenails, disassembles anything, and has a four inch blade with a thumb release. A lighter gives light, can be a distraction, and lights cigars.

The kit is a little more complete. I don't have a complete inventory at the moment, but off the top of my head, I have the following:

  • screwdrivers
  • a crowbar
  • wire
  • rope
  • an emergency blanket
  • first aid
  • smoke bombs
  • waterproof, windproof matches
  • water purification
  • a mechanical flashlight
  • thermite and starter
  • a glass cutter
  • epoxy
  • wire cutters
  • a small butane torch
  • a slingshot
  • nails
  • duct tape
  • and a few other things


When your brother and law calls and says "I have a problem, can you come over?" it is time to grab the kit. When you have to go to a strange part of town, grab the kit. If there is an odd noise outside, grab the kit. Get the idea? It is self protection times twelve.

What to you do to assure preparedness?

Something to think about

If you had to run a mile, could you do it? I don't mean in a race, or among friends. I mean running a mile as if your life depended on it? How about the life of your spouse, or your child?
Really? How about after a full meal? Or after three drinks? Or if you were ill? Or injured?
How about through pouring rain? Or through standing water?
What if you were carrying someone else?
Just to test, I ran around a lake with my son on my shoulders, while we were on vacation. We were near the recent shuttle launch, and I used the Magic If. "What if that shuttle exploded and there was rubble landing all around me?" I needed to get to shelter: to save myself and my son. I had just had a full meal, and a beer. I couldn't do it.
Could you?
While you never know what adrenaline can do, wouldn't it be good to know that it was possible to run like that in a Magic If situation? If you had the energy of a real life or death situation it should be even easier - you should be able to go twice as far.
This is something that everyone should think about - not just warriors. It doesn't take the shuttle exploding to make for a situation in which a person might have to run a mile under less-than-optimal situations. Train like you needed to run that mile to save what is dear to you.

SSIS ProgramTeam == Monty Python?

Error message from SSIS:

Warning: 0x80019002 at File Loader - Trans Package - Invoice: The Execution method succeeded, but the number of errors raised (3) reached the maximum allowed (3); resulting in failure. This occurs when the number of errors reaches the number specified in MaximumErrorCount. Change the MaximumErrorCount or fix the errors.

Skit from Holy Grail:

Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.

Only their hairdresser knows for sure.

ASP.NET Membership, SqlMembershipProvider, and LDAP

As part of my work at OmniPath, I need to create an LDAP provider that confirms credentials if they are not already in the ASP.NET Membership system.  It seems that ADAM is the pathway to this, but I bet there are a bunch of tools out there that already will do this for me, maybe even already set up for Community Server.  When I was at the Community Server Developers Conference last month, I talked to a few people that had done this, but did I write down their email?  Nooooo....  Anyway, that's the next job that I need to look at.

Boy, it's nice to be back writing random thoughts in to a blogging engine.  How did I not do this for the last four months?

A client reminded me of a project that we did together ten years ago that revolved around tracking scope points into requirements into designs into test plans.  It was very slick.  There was a way for people to comment on the document remotely, and then the author could mark down comments and accept the changes, and only the unhandled comments would be taken to the quality gate meetings.

Sound familiar?  Sharepoint and Office 2007.

So, I am going to look at renewing that project using contemporary technology.  There is a lot of stuff already out there - with a good set of templates, I bet I won't even have to write any code!  W00t!  Looking forward to that.

C# is the new VB

I am officially tired of the C# versus VB sniping, folks.

 

C# is just Microsoft's way of making code bigots program in VB.

 

Let's face the facts.  VB has traditionally brought three things to the table that couldn't easily be accomplished in ASM or C++ or Java or whatever:

 

  1. A ubiquitous runtime library
  2. Semi-structured typing
  3. Memory Management

 

Guess what C# has.  You guessed it.

 

  1. The .NET Framework
  2. The Object
  3. The GC

 

Just.  Like.  VB.

 

I don't want to hear any more crap.  Neither language is better, just as Blue isn't better than Green.  They are both languages, they do the same thing, they compile to IL, there is no effective difference.

 

Want to impress me?  Use both.  Or write in C++.  C# programmers don't impress me.  I used it for three years and switched to VB because I like it better.  Not because it is better, because I like it better.

 

There, I feel a lot better.  Don't you??

News flash: MSXML6 breaks stuff

I should be used to this.  Really, I should.  It is just SO easy to make bad assumptions about Microsoft software when you are coding.  Take MSXML6 ... please!  (That's my best Dangerfield, I swear!)  They added a XMLHttpRequest class, which Netscape has supported forever.  My inherited Learning Management System has this conditional:

if (window.XMLHttpRequest) 

{ 

          //assume Mozilla 

}else{ 

          //assume Microsoft 

} 

Now, this code is just there to help determine if the ActiveX control should be used, but of COURSE the original developer leaned on it later for all SORTS of stuff.  So, when MSXML6 came out, with its juicy new XMLHttpRequest object, the conditional assumed Mozilla, and, well, hilarity ensued.

The rocking starts earlier every year

Well, I don't talk much about our son on this page, but this is too good to pass up.  At the gaming conference Origins this year, CD101 (a local radio station) had a booth.  Gabrielle and I are fans, and we stopped to chat for a second with Adam dozing in his carriage.  The gave us one of their ubiquitous stickers, which somehos ended up on the carriage.  A picture and much hilarity followed, and it ended with Adam's first internet appearance.

It's a weird, weird world, folks.  A picture of Adam with a cthulu handing over the edge of the carriage on CD101's web page ... because we went to a gaming conference.  What's next I wonder...

Bill Sempf

Husband. Father. Pentester. Secure software composer. Brewer. Lockpicker. Ninja. Insurrectionist. Lumberjack. All words that have been used to describe me recently. I help people write more secure software.

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