Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pioneering and the Eureka! moment

I love the pioneering aspect of being a software developer, and occasionally you come across a problem that doesn't involve the usual routine search of MSDN to find the right function to use for a particular database, user interface or security operation. These types of problems are great to get your teeth into, because you end up trawling through newsgroups (admittedly in their sanitised form courtesy of Google Groups), to see if there are any other souls out there who are operating in the same field. Almost always, if you look hard enough, you will find someone who has asked questions similar to the ones you want answered, and has had them answered by some higher authority (such as a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP)), in which case you drop in on their conversation and metaphorically dig out the nuggets of knowledge that have been left there.

I'm my own boss, and one of the beauties of being your own boss is the fact that you can decide when to take on and try out new technologies instead of waiting for dinosaurs further up the food chain to decide for you.

In the past few weeks I have completed a website using Microsoft's .NET Framework 2.0 and the latest version of Microsoft's commercial database software, SQL Server 2005. It was so new when I started using it, I struggled to find any Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that would host it!

I've also been looking into building a web spider that will surf the web without needing to use a web browser. This has been extremely interesting in a totally nerdy way, because I've had to investigate how to send and receive data to and from a website and interpret the results. If I can crack how to do this, I'll have a much faster way of spidering insurance quotes for example, and also be able to use the resulting technology in other projects too. I worked late into the night on this on Friday and also yesterday morning and evening. Spending time burrowing my way around the internet looking for solutions does give you a buzz, but not as much as when you actually get the Eureka! moment of finally getting some small part of your software to work! I know I'm gonna crack this eventually!