Archive for January, 2013

Symbols matter

Do symbols matter? According to the West Wing they do:

“Are we gonna stand for something, or just hang around, change the sheets for the President’s hospital bed?” asks Toby. “Should we make our stand fighting a symbol?” ponders C.J. “Yes, we should fight it! Fight the symbol, yes. Symbols matter. If they didn’t, why would you care what they say about you on the internet?” Toby replies.

This week President Obama became the first president to argue for marriage equality and, I believe, to mention gay rights in an inauguration speech. His speech is largely symbolic, for I understand that he has no real power to implement a change himself. Some would say his speech is therefore irrelevant but I’m with Toby: the symbols matter. Millions of men and women have heard their leader tell them that they are created equal.

Halfway across the globe in Australia we are stuck with a government whose policy is a ‘conscience vote’ and an opposition whose policy is… well, opposition. Neither the Prime Minister or Opposition leader supports marriage equality. A vote to amend the marriage act failed last year.

Many suspect the the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has little genuine interest in preventing marriage equality and has instead chosen it as one of the areas to differentiate her government from the ‘radical’ left wing Greens. If that is the case, she is playing political positioning with peoples hearts, hopes and dreams.

Such as strategy is not only heartless, it is also useless. She will never out-right the right-wing opposition leader Tony Abbott and you only have to look at the so-called ‘Boat people’ policies to realise this is so.

So what should she do? Fight for the symbol: Marriage for same-sex couples may be barely any different to existing civil union arrangements – but symbols matter and equal means equal. As as aside, check out Campbell Newman’s Queensland to see how  Civil unions are working out for same-sex couples in that jurisdiction. Julia Gillard should make a symbolic stand even if it she has no power to directly change the law. It would make a difference to those young people who feel they have no hope to see their government standing with them.  She could also recongise that those who care about keeping the traditional definition of marriage aren’t likely to vote for her anyway.

What will she do? I suspect she will spend the dying days of her government changing the bed sheets.


In trying a “bring the kitchen sink” approach to market, Sharepoint ends up almost failing to recognise that the kitchen is for cooking. My workplace has been implementing a relatively complex solution that involves the creation of more than 20000 document libraries each containing up to 10000 documents. As such, we have constantly been challenged by the inherit limitations in the capabilities of Sharepoint to handle large lists and large numbers of list.

You might rightly ask “why not just change the solution design to nicely fit the Sharepoint limitations”? True, that would be a reasonable suggestion if not for part of the whole Sharepoint rationale being a flexible system. My issue is that many of these limitations seem to stem from the underlying schema and could easily be overcome if Microsoft dedicated resources to ‘fix’ (IMHO) the schema.

Sharepoint stores every list in the AllLists table of the content database and all ListItems (Documents etc) in the AllUserData table. The AllUserData table has a fixed number of varchar, integer, and other fields and jams each ListItem into one of more of these rows. It’s a highly inefficient design but highly flexible.

The downside of the design is that all our data for 20000+ lists and 650000+ documents are in two tables. One of the tables is littered with unrequired columns and our data is totally inaccessible using SQL due to the convoluted schema. So what could be done? Microsoft could take a CRM-like approach and instead create a new ‘ContentTypeData’ table for each content type with columns that actually match the content type schema.

Advantages: No more index tables (use SQL Server indexing), Tables/Views for use with SSRS that can be directly queried (instead of needing to create some XML service or a data warehouse to get data to SSRS)

Disadvantages: Changing the underlying data structure need not impact the Object model at all, so aside from requiring a large upgrade process when the schema changes, I can’t see any real disadvantages. Can you?

IMG_0540Forget the degustation sampler if you are traveling to New York and opt for the disgustation menu instead. We sample some fine meals in new york including Victor’s Cafe and Patsy’s but nothing compared to the fine dining at the Trailer Park lounge.

If you find yourself in the city that never sleeps are are over expensive meals heading down to the Trailer Park for some southern hospitality. The shop is adorned with Dolly Parton, Elvis and Tammy Fae Bakker memorabilia and the staff talk and dress exactly how you’d expect from the name.

The cuisine is genuine trailer trash: mac and cheese, tatter tots, moon pies and the like with a fine selection of diabolical cocktails.I recommend ‘Jim Bob’s IQ’ if you are sampling from the cocktail menu as it comes with a guarantee to leave you with less IQ points than Jim Bob and it doesn’t disappoint.