The Desk of Sigmund Freud

I’m almost certain that the last time I mentioned Sigmund Freud was in my writing health exercise from 2004, “Basic Black: The Funky Sutra.” Here in the rasx() context, Freud is very, very important because of one thing: Freud (I’m almost certain) was the first European (after whatever the Greeks might have had) to formally name ‘anatomical’ parts of the unseen parts of a human being. It does not matter here that he was “right” about his names and parts, what’s important here is that he tried the dance move at all.

Buy this Book at! It is an error for self-described, “African intellectuals” to assume that this ability to see invisible parts of human being with names like “Id, ego, and super-ego” was easily available to Westerners and our Four Humors. This is both an insult to the hard work of Sigmund Freud (and I am not Freudian) and, yes, here we go again: Africa. Let’s take a closer look at most of the “statues” on Sigmund Freud’s desk… I need to get a better picture than the etching shown here.

The idea that the human being is made up of named components working together in a system likened to a family comes from Africa. So when we see a “statue” from a traditionally successful African society, we might be seeing a symbol representing a component that works with other symbols. In the case of the Old Kingdom of the Nile Valley, this is exactly what we are seeing. This should explain why a separate field of psychology was not necessary in ancient Africa (but Africa certainly needs that shit now).

Is the Freudian iceberg colder? For those of us coming from our father’s Christianity, we might have seen the phrase “let us go down” when The Lord announces movement. Does not this seem strange to us English speakers that The Lord is so plural? Shouldn’t The Lord be singular?

So my daring assertion is that those African “statues” from ancient Egypt on Freud’s desk was not some trivial decoration of typical European plays with exoticism. Those “trinkets” were profound intellectual inspirations.

What I have written here is utterly outrageous—even to people living right now in the 21st century—even to Black people of the sad future. Well, here is yet another reason why you and I are not friends…

I am probably incorrect when crediting Ashra Kwesi for showing me what was on Freud’s desk. It might actually have been Runoko Rashidi—but Runoko was the brother that said what happened in Egypt 5000 years ago ain’t got a damn thing to do with the Black man today. So Runoko connecting ancient Egypt with modern Freud might not have been his thang… Regardless of how this idea came to me, my ability to process this information definitely comes from the Queen Mother of SHIGI UAT. You can listen to her 2004 streaming audio presentation in “LIBRadio Sampler: Divine Conversations.”

Aida Edemariam: “The only books that have been published and not arrived via an agent were recommended by friends in the publishing industry, or by Hamish Hamilton’s writers, ‘which is slightly different, because there is some connection,’ says Prosser.” Clearly, my author friends who have retail dreams nurtured in their childhood 1970s of being a “famous writer” don’t need my friendship. They don’t need my information—or my criticism—they need an agent.

The Literary Consultancy

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Buy this Book at! John Oliver Killens (1916-1987)

Toni Cade Bambara: “Published originally on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954, Youngblood marked the beginning of a new era in African American literature, for it broke starkly with the Wright school and opened a path for those novelists, poets, and playwrights who comprised the Neo-Black Arts Movement—a movement that recognized John Oliver Killens as its spiritual father.”

Buy this Book at! “Wright: On assimilation” “Once the Negro has won his so-called rights, he is going to be confronted with a truly knotty problem. Will he be able to settle down and live the normal, vulgar, day-to-day life of the average white American? Or will he still cling to his sense of outsidedness? For those who can see, this will be a wonderfully strange drama.”

It appears that Wright’s fictional character is constructing a false dichotomy between clinging to being an “outsider” and settling “down.” These two-choice positions are typical of a lack of imagination—even in the 1950s. These constructs are very “Negro”—not African.

Buy this Book at! Here, as we end the year 2008, Microsoft SharePoint is still suffering from Web design horrors from the 1990s. Both SharePoint products, WSS and MOSS, are preoccupied with data-management infrastructure issues that make data-intensive developers like me show our sincere respect. However, Microsoft still fails violently in the visual design facilities for customizing SharePoint.

What this means is that I cannot in a few easy steps customize the actual “look” and the actual “feel” of SharePoint. This apparently “trivial” issue is actually a huge showstopper in the real world of superficial, non-technical managers still running most of the world. As I developer/designer, what I need to do is quickly make any SharePoint installation look like anything I want in order to ‘fool’ management into using SharePoint.

Currently, I am aware of three known ways to customize SharePoint:

  1. Risk destroying your entire SharePoint installation by adding your custom Theme.
  2. Customize only a subset of your Site by editing the default.master Master Page in SharePoint Designer 2007.
  3. Build your own “extended” read-only Web that is fed by data from an ‘unmolested’ SharePoint site.

Option #3 is the most responsible to me—but this is exactly the option most “business leaders” would avoid investing in proactively. So, now, I will spend the rest of this writ recording why options #1 and #2 suck.

SharePoint customization options #1 and #2 both involve changing SharePoint files on the file system. For those of you who saw, “Customizing a Windows SharePoint Services V3 site with the SharePoint Designer 2007,” you should know that SharePoint Designer can change Master Pages in the content database—but you will be tempted to change application.master, which is located on disk in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS. This temptation is so strong that a Microsoft Employee, Steve Caravajal (a co-author of SharePoint 2007 and Office Development Expert Solutions), in his MSDN Blog post, “SharePoint Branding and Application.Master,” answers “a number of folks”:

Q: How can I edit application.master using SharePoint Designer?

A: Short answer, don’t do it. Unlike default.master and other master pages in SharePoint sites, the application.master is not exposed to SharePoint Designer by default. This is for VERY good reason. Application.master lives in the _layouts directory and this location is not displayed when editing a site using SPD. If you navigate to the _layouts directory to edit and view the application.master you’ll find that you can’t view it in design mode. This should be a hint that maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. Editing pages in this folder will likely result in corruption so DON’T do it. I know, I know….if you’re like me you’re probably opening designer to do this right now because you were told not to…….don’t say you weren’t warned.

Steve Caravajal is probably one of only a handful of Microsoft Employees that would admit that “…a master page called default.master is created and added to the Master Page Gallery. This page defines the chrome of the page and serves as the foundation for customization using SPD [SharePoint Designer] to achieve a branded site. Unfortunately, default.master is not the master page for all pages in the site.” This is extremely important information that can save professionals who value their time hours of fun.

Now more fun: even when you are vendor-compliant and editing default.master in SharePoint Designer you will be tempted to add more master pages to the Site content database. This temptation gets very strong after reading Microsoft’s SharePoint MVP, Heather Solomon, her article, “Minimal or Base Master Pages,” and downloading her “Base Master Page for Collaboration Sites and WSS Sites.” Even Microsoft tempts us with “How to: Create a Minimal Master Page.”

The problem is that you could end up not being able to delete one of your master pages because you are unable to unset it as the default or custom Master. In SharePoint Designer, you might see an error message like, “One of the selected files cannot be deleted because one of the files is currently set as the default or custom Master page for the Web site.” Should you get the idea that you can delete the Master page from inside the SharePoint site itself, you should have the same problem Eric Kraus solved in MOSS but the command he used is unavailable in WSS.

Okay. Okay. Let’s assume you are having no problems customizing SharePoint to your satisfaction. Let’s go further and grant you the super-power of customizing SharePoint files on disk without fear of Microsoft corrupting your changes with a Service Pack or simply by running the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard. Let me direct you to the bottom line as described by a SharePoint consultant in “The Pains of Altering the SharePoint UI”:

I was immediately struck by the mess that is the default master page. The master page is laid out with, of course, tables which is reminiscent of why Microsoft is such a joke in the designer world. Well, I decided to rip out the tables, and surely that would make it easier right? No. It turns out that SharePoint only uses one standard ASP.NET control (the navigation control), and the rest are SharePoint specific “delegate” controls which made layouts with CSS difficult. These are of course stored on the file system, and the only way to edit them is to create painful features. It looked as though I was stuck with extensive tables for much of the layout.

The fun doesn’t stop there. SharePoint has a core stylesheet that is over 4,000 lines long. I’ve dealt with more styles in one shot, but looking at the stylesheet you would think a 10th grader created them. There is a lack of shorthand, units of measure, and extensive IE proprietary styles. Add onto the fact there are no comments in the stylesheet it is absolutely useless to attempt to decode it. You also can’t simply remove the core styles; well, you could, but it’s another headache that is ultimately not worth tackling. It’s again easier to deal with the bad then try to make it better.

It would irresponsible to use SharePoint as a public-facing Web presence or in any situation when precise visual design is required. Now that I am finished shaking a stick at SharePoint, I can now move on to its strengths: SharePoint facilitates the sharing of data with an (relatively) easy to use Web interface. As of today (and probably for a few years), it is an error to regard this Web interface as anything else other than a user-friendly data entry point. Both MOSS and WSS provide RSS syndication for its default data collections that can feed third-party Web front-ends. This RSS feature alone should make SharePoint the number one choice for the Microsoft Office enterprise needing to ‘ship’ their data to third parties. By the end of 2009, I should have stable and time-tested solutions for using SharePoint ‘data islands’ as tiered hubs for my custom Web sites.

Buy this book at! I have not updated my résumé in years. I have been doing time in the same W2 labor camp for almost ten years. Since I’ve known me for quite some time, I can tell that I am interested in summarizing my skills because my damn-near ten years of ‘exile’ has produced a revised and improved view of my personal technology plan. This writing here is like a little fire drill to exercise my ability to succinctly communicate the scope of my information technology concerns.

My IT Concerns by Operating System

There are two operating systems that are used for my development work: Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu Linux. Microsoft Windows is required because of its native support for the .NET Framework and Microsoft Office file formats. Ubuntu Linux is required because of its friendly relationships with the Java Runtime and the Apache HTTP Server. It is extremely important to emphasize that these operating systems are maintained by organizations that encourage and discourage technologies. In the “real world” of the IT business we must pick our “battles” wisely and not recklessly “fight” such organizations by using technologies that are not “approved.”

Buy this book at!My IT Concerns by Software Environment

There are three major ‘software environments’ that are of my concern: the .NET Framework, the “Standard Edition” of Java with its associated runtime and the XAMPP ‘stack’—a grab bag of traditional Linux technologies featuring Apache, MySQL and PHP (supplemented by my use of the Zend Framework and YUI).

My IT Concerns by Shell Language

There are two ‘shell’ languages that are of my concern: bash scripting and PowerShell. My bash efforts drive directly into PHP-related file management (featuring rsync) and the Java runtime for console applications (featuring JAXP solutions). My PowerShell efforts are currently very minimal with a few XCopy deployments for Visual Studio.

My IT Concerns by General-Purpose Software Language

These are the general-purpose software languages that are of my concern: C# and Java. These two languages are the preferred choice after working through BASIC, FORTRAN and Visual Basic (which implies I am familiar with Visual Basic .NET—and very familiar with VBA). A future language to explore might be F#.

Buy this book at!My IT Concerns by Domain Specific Software Language

These are the domain-specific languages of my concern: t-SQL, JavaScript (under AJAX), PHP, XSLT and XAML. These result from working through MS-SQL (for Microsoft Access) and ASP (for Microsoft Internet Information Server). Currently, there are no plans to explore new domain-specific languages outside of ones based on XML.

My IT Concerns by HTTP Server

There are two HTTP Servers of my concern: Apache HTTP Server and Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). Do note the glaring omission of any Java-based server technologies. Also the presence of IIS here—coupled with my concern for .NET—implies that I am actively using ASP.NET.

My IT Concerns by Database Management System (DBMS)

There are two DBMS products of my concern: Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL. It is not technically accurate to include SQLite in this list but it is definitely worth mentioning because I also use this database frequently!

Buy this book at!My IT Concerns by Client-Interface Technology

There are three client-interface technologies of my active concern: AJAX-based HTTP clients, XAML-based HTTP clients and Adobe-Flex-based HTTP clients. All of these concerns share HTTP as the means of transporting data for human-readable viewing.

It important to emphasize that I also divide these concerns into two use categories: clients for intense data editing and clients for mostly-read-only scenarios. The mostly-read-only clients needs to be available to a wide audience—this implies that AJAX and Flex work well here. In my considered opinion, the intense-data-editing client is suited for XAML technologies like Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight 2. This means that I intend to produce data-editing tools for a small, specialized set of users (supporting a mostly-read-only audience through a decoupled publishing system). This position is not in agreement with the current trend of social, “Web 2.0” applications where “everyone” can be reader and writer.

It is also important to mention that since my commitment to building clients exists, this means that I have working knowledge of traditional design software products like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. I am also quite skillful in the field of sound design but this area leaves the scope of this writ.

My IT Concerns by Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

There are three IDE products that are of my concern: Microsoft Visual Studio, Eclipse Foundation Eclipse and Sun Microsystems NetBeans. I prefer to work with Eclipse and NetBeans in a Linux-based graphical user interface like Gnome or KDE.

Did I miss anything?

What would be really strange (for me) is to take the time here to set healthy boundaries only to find out that there is this whole other world of crap that I do in IT that I am unaware of… that would be literally unprofessional. My intent here is to capture and control my behavior and find out exactly what I am doing so that actually can profess and produce with potency.

The future of FrontPage Hello. I uninstalled Expression Web because I use SharePoint and Visual Studio. I uninstalled Expression Web in order to install SharePoint Designer. It was Ted Pattison that finally explained to me in “Customizing a Windows SharePoint Services V3 site with the SharePoint Designer 2007” why I need SharePoint Designer. Ted is a very special guy. He seems to be the only person on Earth who can explain SharePoint in ways that I can understand. Too many SharePoint presenters get lost in more than six details of this ridiculously complex product, dramatizing “Business Intelligence” scenarios that I do not care about. But a strong dude like Ted Pattison can leap up to the 30,000-foot level to provide a clear overview and then jump back into the details. He can do this several times during his presentations casually and easily. I appreciate this strength.

Here are two sad facts for Visual Studio users, who have installed extensions for SharePoint about why you still need SharePoint Designer:

  • One: try to open a SharePoint web site in Visual Studio. You should get an error message.
  • Two: SharePoint Designer can open SharePoint webs and provide version control for pages using the native SharePoint database.

Now are you worried about the differences between SharePoint designer and Expression Web? Spencer Harbar explains in “SharePoint Designer and Expression Web”:

Currently there is really only one key difference—Expression Web cannot open SharePoint sites. Otherwise it’s basically the same (Expression Web has a nicer splash screen). Now this won’t always be the case, and you can expect divergence in the future.

Also, Microsoft has a cute diagram leading MOSS and WSS developers to SharePoint Designer. Of course, since I am guy that’s so “negative,” I cannot leave this journal entry without expressing my undying hatred for FrontPage. FrontPage sucks—and a “portion” of FrontPage technology lives on in SharePoint Designer (and Expression Web).

And one more rant: it will be a bright sunny day in rainy Redmond when someone among the tens of thousands employees announces that SharePoint will be XHTML compliant. It is intellectually and technically disgusting to see 1990s HTML tag shit that makes hundreds of SharePoint pages so filthy. Ask any professional Web developer the last time they saw HTML tags in upper case… When you get through with that, check out this awesome post, “Guide to making SharePoint XHTML Compliant.”