March 2002 News

Hi Folks

Hope you've had a good month. Spring is right around the corner!

What are the major news events for March? 

First, I've finished the draft of my C# book--it should be published in May. As I write this, I'm in negotiation with another author to write a C++ book for the Learn to Program series. This is the first time someone other than me will be writing a book in the series--but I have great confidence in this individual, and I think the University can certainly use another 'professor'. While the C++ book is being written, I'll be writing a beginner's book on JavaScript. This is an exciting prospect for me--those of you who have followed me for a while know I've always wanted to turn my attention to the Web, and although it's not the VB and the Web book I pictured, it will be a valuable book for those of you who work with your own web pages. 

Secondly,VB.Net has arrived, and I find myself in the position of having to learn (and become certified) in a new development environment. They say change is good--but it takes time (and a lot of effort) to get to the Certification level. With everything else I'm trying to do (write books, mentor people, teach classes, answer 200+ emails a week) something will have to suffer. More on that later.

Finally, two major sources of of my income have just about dried up---Paid articles and Online training. 

You may have noticed that I'm drastically behind on my updates to my free Web articles. Almost since their inception, these articles have been in one way or other sponsored by someone. Each article can take anywhere between 8 and 16 hours to write--and that's a lot of time out of my schedule. At one time I thought about offering these on a subscription basis, but quite honestly, people aren't interested in paying for information (although some of you have generously donated via my Honor account.). All I can say is that I'll try to get to these as time permits. 

Demand for Online training (such as ElementK, SmartPlanet and ZDU) are drastically down, perhaps as a result of the economy. In addition, demand for the study groups, Bootcamps and classes I offer myself are also drastically down. At the same time, costs to run my own classes has increased. I would love to run these for free, but I need to rent 'classroom' space on, and hire a work study student to do some basic clerical work for me. Plus there's the matter of the time I need to put in preparing materials (syllabus, quizzes), checking the classroom, and hosting a weekly chat. As a result, I can foresee in the not too distant future discontinuing them altogether. 

On a positive note, book sales remain good--thanks in large part to you folks who have purchased them and passed the word about them. In general, the computer book market is depressed--but the Learn to Program series of books remains viable. Thanks!

Here's the news for March---be sure to check my main news page for previously posted information.

John Smiley

New News....

1. VB.Net Study Group postponed
2. Free stuff page updated
3. VB5 Free version still available
4. Free Java, C# and VB.Net compiler
5. Microsoft Website--is it useful for beginners?
6. New Web page--questions and answers
7. Garage book sale
8. Donations gladly accepted

 1. VB.Net Study Group postponed

An inability to get the 'official' release of VB.Net, plus a lack of sufficient enrollment, forced me to postpone the group, scheduled to begin on March 15th. As of now, the study group is scheduled to begin on April 15th.

2. Free Stuff page updated/corrected

Hi Folks

My thanks to several people who pointed out that my Fresstuff page had
some bad links--I've corrected those.

3. VB5 Free version still available

Did you know that you can still download a free version of Visual
Basic 5 from the Microsoft Web Site. Follow this link...

If you looking to learn Visual Basic cheaply, this version of Visual
Basic can help you--plus, my Introductory Visual Basic book was
written using this version.

4. FREE Java, C#, VB.Net compiler

One of our list members, Jim Combs, reports that he's found two decent IDE's for C# and VB.Net (that is, if you don't wish to use the
Visual Studio IDE, or don't like using Notepad).

Check these out--and if you use them, please let me know how you make out.



5. Microsoft Website--is it useful for beginners?

I'll shortly be making a pitch to Microsoft suggesting that beginner programmers have a hard time finding useful information/features on
the Microsoft web site, and that they (Microsoft) need to create a beginner's portal.

Can you let me know if you agree or disagree--and if you agree, provide me with some concrete examples.

For instance, many of you have written telling me that without some of the links on my website, you would never be able to find a Service
Pack for VB6, or the freely downloadable Control Creation Edition of VB5, or an answer as to how to change the color of a Command Button.

If I'm going to convince Microsoft that I'm right, I need as much information (and horror stories) that you can come up with. Please respond with
anything that you may have.

6. New Web Page--Questions and Answers

Pretty much I spend my Friday afternoons catching up on email, and many times, I find that some of the questions I'm answering would be
useful for others to see.

For that reason, I've just implemented a new web page to consolidate these questions and answers in one place.

Hope you find it useful.

7. Book sale

Last week was garage clean up day (yes, we do this twice a year), and my wife discovered that we have a number of my books in the garage and she wants to reclaim the space. Therefore, while quantities last, we are having a book sale. (Sorry, US shipping only)

Prices (which INCLUDE US shipping) are:

Learn to Program with Visual Basic 6 ------------$30
Learn to Program with Visual Basic 6 Examples----$30
Learn to Program Databases with Visual Basic 6---$35
Learn to Program Objects with Visual Basic 6-----$35

All four Visual Basic 6 books-------------------$100
Examples, Databases and Objects------------------$82

Learn to Program with Java ----------------------$35
Learn to Program with VB.Net---------------------$35

If you are interested, check out this link:

8Donations gladly accepted

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March 31, 2002