Thursday, March 27, 2008

Application-delivery architects are key hires

"A need for higher-level architectural management is required across the board, with special emphasis on the communications between server and browser. This includes coding of objects as cacheable versus dynamic, the use of the local browser cache and compression or request pipelining for example," Joe Skorupa, research vice president at Gartner. (...) Proposing the adoption of the "lifeboat method" of application development, where a team must work in unison to ensure success, Gartner said it sees the application-delivery architect taking on the role of "lifeboat captain". (link)

In the present day, working in unison across boundaries is a prerequisite. Anything less is doomed to get shipwrecked sooner or later.

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Modular snake robots

This is so lifelike, it is outright creepy. And so cool.

See video.

link

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Microsoft SharePoint taking business by storm

"Microsoft's SharePoint Server is on a billion dollar juggernaut to potentially become the next must-have technology, offering companies tools for building everything from collaborative applications to Internet sites and potentially handing Microsoft its next cash cow."

See link.

Update: fixed broken link.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Phobot, the phobic robot

A team of the University of Amsterdam have built a phobic robot, called Phobot, using LEGO Mindstorms NXT and an additional sensor.

While building a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot a is not an earth-shattering event by itself, the amount of emotion and interaction the robot conveys is quite astonishing! I did a little test and showed my daughter a video of the robot. It told her the robot was afraid of big robots and needed assurance and confirmation in order to be brave enough to approach the big robot. "And oh look! Now it starts dancing! Isn't that cute?"

Well, she immediately asked me to build it overnight so that she could play with it in the morning, it was so cute!

I have contacted the team, they told me that they were quite overwhelmed by the media attention they had gotten. And who can blame them. After things calm down a bit they would look into sending the code and perhaps the building instructions, which they haven't gotten around to just yet. Ork, if you're reading this...?

Anyway, take a look at the site and video. Be warned, the video is in Dutch. 50 seconds into the video there is a good demo of the robot, which is self explanatory.

Update: Ork just contacted me, we should expect the code and building instructions to appear very soon! That's great news! Thanks Ork.

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It's Always Your Fault

Jeff Atwood has a great article, called: The First Rule of Programming: It's Always Your Fault.

An excerpt: "You know the feeling. It's happened to all of us at some point: you've pored over the code a dozen times and still can't find a problem with it. But there's some bug or error you can't seem to get rid of. There just has to be something wrong with the machine you're coding on, with the operating system you're running under, with the tools and libraries you're using. There just has to be!"

It is far more likely that something you built is causing the error than, say, the OS, hardware or Network: "of total errors reported, roughly 95% are caused by programmers"

I can't count the number of times I had to deal with resistance to take ownership or cooperate. No, it wasn't the codebase, there has to be something wrong with the system or the network. Even when faced with cold, hard data to prove otherwise. Or, the other way around: no, our network and systems are sized just fine, the application is causing all the issues! They are at fault, not us.

The way I usually deal with these kind of issues is to get everybody together in one room and break down the boundary. This is an issue we have to solve together. After all, what are we really talking about here? This is not about who's at fault here, this is not about personal abilities. This is about a technical issue. Heck, it might even be because of some weird interaction between the network configuration and the code for all we know. Who knows? Hmm... couldn't that be the case?

Once the defenses are down, people are focusing on the issue and willing to work together to solve it, we can really get down to business. And call for pizza of course!

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Windows 2008 MCITP: Server Administrator Charter Member

Looks like the results for the exams 70-646 and 70-647 are finally coming in: Prometric tells me I passed exam 70-646, Server Administrator. Another certification to add to the list. The certification doesn't show up on the MCP web site yet.

Still waiting on Enterprise Administrator though.

Update: I've passed 70-647 too! Yay! A refresh did the trick. Now only for that pesky Vista exam and I can put MCITP Enterprise Administrator on my personal Wall of Fame too.

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Picture with Trika, Richard and William

Trika put up a picture of us at the Microsoft Visitors Center when we met up with her. If anyone asks what happened to my face on the picture: I have no clue. Perhaps it was the excellent -and HUGE- steak we had at Daniels Broiler the evening before. Or the great food at the Microsoft cafeteria next to Building 40. Heck, it remains one of life's mysteries.

When I find some time I'll post a bit of info of the time I worked at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Microsoft SQL Server Data Services

Wow. I heard about the new initiative of Microsoft Hosted Services, but even Hosted SQL Data Services?

Take a look and sign up for the free Beta: SQL Server Data Services

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Get rid of Orphaned sites: Detach and Reattach the Content Database

"My solution was to drop the content database in Central Administration. I remembered that as part of a content database attach process, SharePoint would examine the db to see what site collections existed. So after detaching and then re-attaching, sure enough the site showed up in Central Admin and I could delete the site collection."

Update: one of my a coworkers has tried this out just as we speak and with success!

edhild's WebLog : So I ran into an interesting problem in my MOSS development environment

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Teaching with an Edge

"MIT professor and Web star Walter Lewin swings from pendulums and faces down wrecking balls to show students the zany beauty of science.

"It took me a decade to come to the realization," says Lewin at his MIT office, "that really what counts is not what you cover, but what counts is what you uncover."

"You have to challenge [students]. You have to be a little fun. I could make them sit on the edge of their seats, I could make them wet their pants." — Walter Lewin

People of the Web - High Wire Act - with video.

I still have vivid memories of one of my professors at Leiden University. His class in Physical Chemistry took us on an engaging journey from the most primitive laws of Physics to the modern day laws. And it was the way he led this journey: not with a dry summary of dates and figures, but by asking simple but provoking questions which would lead us eventually to the next law. Wow. Seeing all these laws being linked together on the canvas of history was quite a revelation!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hidden list named "User Information List"

"In case if you don't know there is a hidden list named "User Information List" which displays all the users of the site (collection) {MOSS / Sharepoint 2007}. And there is a page "Simple.aspx"  which show this list, the URL for the page would be http://YOURSITENAME/_catalogs/users/simple.aspx."

Gregory S. MacBeth : User Profiles

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Simplicity

What can we learn about usability…

 

It’s Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happens

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Friday, March 14, 2008

SharePoint Skills Advisor Tool

"If you [are] interested in ramping up on SharePoint, the Product Group has developed a very slick tool that will point you to all currently available training on SharePoint, whether it be Instructor Led, Hands on Lab, Online Course, Reading, etc..."

I downloaded the Access database and it looks like a very nice tool indeed!

How many times have you been searching though all the available sources for that particular piece of information? If so, this might come in handy. Thanks Sean.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Team Foundation Server mailing list

Looks there is a mailing list dedicated to Team Foundation Server from Down Under: OzTFS.com : Team Foundation Server in Australia.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Second TFS Hosting Provider on the market

Looks like there is now a second Team Foundation Server hosting provider on the market. If you need a hosted TFS solution, head over to TeamDevCentral or TFS Now! and give them a ping.

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Error 1704

During deployment of a Team Foundation Server Policy I was greeted by the following error:

"Installation for Microsoft .NET Framework Service Pack 1 is currently suspended. You must undo the changes by that installation to continue. Do you want to undo those changes?"

While troubleshooting I found a utility provided by Chris Millard, called the Error 1704 Cleanup Utility. The utility removes any registry entries that cause the error. "Sometimes, when you try to (un)install a program packaged with Windows Installer, the routine fails. It leaves behind registry entries that give an Error 1704 - preventing further (un)installs of Windows Installer packaged programs."

The utility solved the problem nicely and I was able to install the policy. Good work Chris!

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Bringing down an ASP.NET Application for updates

ASP.NET Debugging : Bringing down an ASP.NET Application for updates

"One of the really useful, and not well-known features of ASP.NET 2.0 is that you can use a special file to take your application down and show users a friendly message while you update the site... Just place a file called "app_offline.htm" in the root of your application.  The html of this file is what will get displayed to any users that attempt to browse to the site.  When you are done making changes, simply delete this file and the site will start back up normally."

A little gem and nice to know. The article also includes a link to the Top 10 Best Practices for Production ASP.NET Applications, which also includes the app_offline.htm tip, as well as other tips like generating new encryption keys.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Free Windows PowerShell workshops

If you are interested in PowerShell, take a look at these downloadable workshops: mcs.ireland.blog/infrastructure : Free Windows PowerShell workshops

On a personal note: I'm very interested in how PowerShell will shape the IT Pro/Developer landscape. Because for the first time in history, IT Pro's will have the full power of the .NET Framework right at their fingertips! Can you imagine, Administrators creating and using Objects? The holy grail of the Developer? And as Microsoft has added PowerShell to the list of Common Engineering Criteria, which in essence will mean that from 2009, all new products will need to support PowerShell.

Did you know that for example the Exchange 2007 GUI is really sending PowerShell command(lets) to the engine? Or as I heard a Trainer repeat, just like Steve Ballmers classic mantra:"Developers Developers Developers..."

"PowerShell, PowerShell, PowerShell..."

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SharePoint 2007 and WSS 3.0 Dispose Patterns by Example

A very good article about Sharepoint 2007 and WSS 3.0 Dispose Patterns: Roger Lamb's SharePoint Developer Blog : SharePoint 2007 and WSS 3.0 Dispose Patterns by Example

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Microsoft Product Supports look at understanding and deploying hotfixes, product updates and service packs for WSS and MOSS

Daniel has a good post on a session given by Dan Winter on the Seattle Sharepoint Conference. The session deals with everything about fixes, service packs, deployment methods and so on. The thing that really caught my eye -apart from the bold facing- was the fact that you will need a Slipstreamed Sharepoint installation if you wish to add new servers to an existing MOSS farm that is already on SP1. That's good to know.

Daniel, keep up the good work!

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Windows 2008 MCTS Charter Member

Yes! I just got the results back from the three Microsoft Windows 2008 TS beta exams: I passed all three of them! And oh how do I just love the 'Charter Member' addition. It just gives you that extra warm and fuzzy feeling...

  • Exam 070-640 Technical Specialist: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory
  • Exam 070-642 Technical Specialist: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure
  • Exam 070-643 Technical Specialist: Windows Server 2008 Applications
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    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Being a Gentleman in Business

    handshake Differences should always be solved with the best interest of the client in mind. This will ensure a good  relationship with your client from which both of you will benefit. It is often that I see people or companies struggling and fighting however. Fighting to keep the client which they tend to see as solely theirs, obstinately refraining their employees from transferring to the client and putting their feet in the sand in spite of sound judgement which should be telling them otherwise.

    And you know what?
    It is okay to defend your hard earned rights and that which you have worked hard for to let grow and flourish. It is okay to not let other people willfully take advantage of that what you have created. It is okay to keep people to their end of the bargain, promise or obligation! But... does this include hanging on to agreements which will end up hurting everybody, including yourself? Blindly clinging on to that -what you perceive to be- opportunity which you alone have seized and is by birthright now solely you and yours alone? The client you're squeezing every penny out of because it is your belief that he or she is yours alone for the taking? The employee who you helped to blossom and now whishes to go over to The Dark Side, leaving you alone in the cold?

    Well, wake up and smell the coffee!

    The client who needed your guidance has grown up and is ready for their next step. They don't need you anymore. And your employee, once a fledgling and now a fully grown soaring eagle, has found a better working environment: the client he or she currently works for. So what do you do?

    1. We're in it together. You recognize the fact that everything changes over time. You sit down with the client and try to find a solution from which you both will benefit the most. You nullify the contract with the client and even help them get everything adjusted. And after talking with your employee you find out that they really like working there and that he/she will get paid more. You suggest a settlement with the client.
    2. Me! You cry:"foul play!!" and think to yourself: this is rightfully mine! So you heed the client to the contract and threaten with legal prosecution if they don't execute their part of the contract. Sure, there is always a way out, but it will cost them. Dearly. After all, this is your money they are talking about! Apply same scenario for your employee.

    Now, what will you choose?

    Sadly, I've seen it more often than not that #2 is chosen. This is so bad. For a number of reasons. A sample:

    Luckily I've also witnessed some very applaudable behavior from several people and companies. And if you ask around, those companies and people will end up with a more stable base of loyal customers and employees. True, this approach can cost you some in the short run. But it will pay off in the long run. And you'll also sleep better at night.

    Addendum: Wharton University's Business Journal has a good read on the subject: "In the Game of Business, Playing Fair Can Actually Lead to Greater Profits", where the paragraph title 'Fairness over Profit Maximization' sums it up rather nicely.

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