Visual Studio Object reference error when viewing DataSet properties in an RDLC

System/software used:

  • Visual Studio 2015 Enterprise Update 2 (14.0.25123.00)
  • Windows 7 Enterprise

In Visual Studio, if there is an “Object reference not set to an instance of an object” messagebox displayed when opening an RDLC file -> Dataset properties, open the
Package Manager Console, and fix any errors.

To reproduce:

  • Open an RDLC file in Visual Studio.
  • Open the “Report Data” panel.
  • Right-click a Dataset in the “Report Data” panel -> “Dataset Properties”.
  • Object reference error pops up.

To fix it:

  • I had to uninstall the Powershell Tools for Visual Studio 2015 add-on. That’s probably not the best option, but it solved this problem at least.

This is a weird error. Why would the Powershell Tools extension have anything to do with an RDLC dataset’s properties? *shrugs shoulders* This should probably be moved/reported to the Powershell Tools extension team.

Querying 2D and 3D space

In programming, we have the ability to query databases. We can say, “Show me all customers born after 1980”, and get back a set of customers matching those conditions.

A thought occurred to me that: we don’t seem to have a simple, default ability to query 2D or 3D space. For example: assume we have a virtual world, such as a 2D map in a videogame. As a user, I should be able to say, “Highlight/retrieve all regions in this 2D map that have R >= 200, G >= 250, B >= 250”, or “Highlight/retrieve all polygons in this 3D environment with a certain color, and a certain shape”.

What prompted this? A recent article discussing 3D maps used for self-driving cars. It would be useful to query all 3D maps across the world for cases of specifically-shaped stop signs or stop lights, and annotate them on a map, for example.

Maybe it’s time to write a new SQL? Space Query Language?

Maybe the way to solve this is to build game engines on top of relational databases, and use the underlying database for querying? It kind of sounds like a montrosity, but it’s kind of intriguing also…

Using an X220i keyboard in a T410

NOTE: DON’T BLAME ME IF THIS BREAKS YOUR COMPUTER. THIS IS AN ANECDOTE, NOT EXTENSIVELY TESTED.

With that disclaimer: recently I had a problem where part of my Lenovo T410’s keyboard stopped working. I have a spare Lenovo X220i available, which is built almost identically to the T410. So I decided to swap out the keyboards. So far, this has worked – no problems. Posting this in case someone else has this situation in the future.

Rant: Why money isn’t neutral

People often make the argument that money is “neutral” – it has no morality. Money doesn’t have political power; money only lets you buy goods/services. It’s true that money mainly lets you buy goods/services. However, importantly, one of those things that money lets you buy is other peoples’ time. In the U.S., we have a democracy for electing leaders – people vote on who they want to put in office and, more or less, those people get into office. A problem is that money allows a person to have others enact their desires. If someone has $1,000,000,000, then they can afford to tell ~33,000 people making $30,000 a year what to do for 8 hours a day, over a year. That’s 660 people in every state taking actions, every day, to serve a single person’s interests. The person with money is “buying the good/service of another person’s labor”. In exchange, the person with money gets to have their wishes carried out, with little/no questioning from the people carrying out the work. If the workers disagree significantly with the work, they’re fired or work elsewhere.

How can a society consider money to be orthogonal to politics when large sums of money allow the wealthy to control how classes of people spend large portions of their lives? A better way to say it might be: If I gave one person in the world the ability to order around 100,000 people [for example] for a year and enact their will, including using those people to change laws for the person with money’s benefit, how is such a system not directly contradicting democracy? People have democracy at polls, but not at work, and thus you see journalists/workers enacting the will of the wealthy at work, which directly influences decision-making at the polls.

Money equals (at least in some cases) time spent by workers. Money equals the power to tell people what to do for a period of time, and have your will enacted in the world. Ergo, money is power, and it is not neutral.

Mandatory IQ tests for political candidates?

A quick thought: As a voter in the U.S., it’s always useful to have more information about candidates running for office. It would be nice if a law could be implemented which requires presidential (and ideally Senate/House members also) candidates to take an IQ test before running for office, and to require that the results be disclosed to the public.

Of course, if this were to be implemented, candidates with money would probably try to game the system/bribe the group administering the test, which would be a problem. Further, there’s debate over the usefulness of IQ tests in general. If this could be implemented though, it would be extra, useful data for voters. Further, it would be interesting to see trends of IQ scores over time/by state/by section of government/etc. And who can argue against wanting to have more intelligent people in positions of power?