From this morning's email:

* The plasma Java benchmark -- even if you don't like Java, it's neat to gawk.

* From an article examining if it's worth upgrading to VS.NET:
    Lazy programmers calling

    With the enhancements of VS.NET, it makes actual coding almost obsolete and this was shown at Bill Gate's keynote at VSLive.

    "The best way to avoid coding errors is to not code at all"

    This opens it up to beginners and lazy programmers who want hundreds of lines of code done for them. Although I might fall into the category of lazy programmer, I would still learn the language so I can code with my trusty notepad before stepping up to VS.NET.

I wish more people felt that way, as I've been saying for months now. Microsoft could do many of us a real favor by keeping people who can't code out of the coding business. Unfortunately VB sells, and as long as the people who can't code have dollars...

I think the best point of the article was the following (though I wonder why this guy who's obviously been programming at least a little while hasn't yet discovered vim; notepad is no fun):

Apart from the drag and drop, free code and the features that come with it (ie. VSS, Visio etc.) there aren't any coding functions [that you can accomplish in VS.NET] that you can't do with Notepad. This wasn't the case with applications like VB6 where you had to have VB6 to create VB applications, in .NET you can use use the command-line compiler (although, creating a Windows Form application in notepad wouldn't be my preference).

I'll probably expand on that later when I have more time. This really is the bottom line showing why .NET is a major step up from MS's past "closed" practices, and one of the fruits of this new tack is that C# IDE SharpDevelop, I like, at least in theory (admittedly not used it much yet). As long as the cmd line compilers are freely available for .NET, I really can't fault Microsoft's stronger push into the server side of life.

One of the ideals I've heard more than one Linux user express was that anyone with a computer could learn to program -- and make "The Next Great [Software] Thing" -- for Linux for the price of a library card. With .NET anyone with a computer that can find access to a copy of Windows, give or take, should be able to do the same thing for Windows users.

Long rant; sorry.