December 21, 2006
Getting Started with Windows Workflow Foundation
Get the details in my latest newsletter.
December 18, 2006
Print the same way in .NET as you did in VB6
Microsoft has just released the Microsoft Printer Compatibility Library 1.0 to let you migrate your VB6 printing code right over to .NET (or let you print as easilly in .NET as you did in VB6).
Download the Microsoft Printer Compatibility Library 1.0 here.
Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 has released
Start your downloads from here.
December 08, 2006
MSDN Wiki Goes Live
This is likely the most important thing that Microsoft has done for developer documentation since the invention of .CHM files. With MSDN Wiki, you can add directly to the online Microsoft documents.
You can read my interview with the Microsoft team that created it here.
The Statistics page: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/default.aspx
RSS Feed: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-US/library/Community-Edits(d=rss).aspx
For Visual Studio: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fx6bk1f4(VS.80).aspx
For Visual Basic: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/2x7h1hfk(VS.80).aspx
For .NET Framework 2.0 reference: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms229335(VS.80).aspx
For .NET Framework 3.0: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa388745.aspx
MSDN Subscribers not free to express themselves
The Microsoft Expression Studio, which is used to build Windows Presentation Foundation user interfaces, will not be included in MSDN subscriber downloads. Yet another reason why I'm not rushing to care about WPF.
December 01, 2006
Pre-configured Virtual Machine Images Downloadable from Microsoft
Microsoft has recently started letting people download pre-configured virtual machine images. To date, you can download the following:
- Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition VHD
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition VHD
- Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2006 VHD
- Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 VHD - 32-bit version
- Internet Explorer 6 Application Compatibility VPC Image
- Visual Studio 2005 Team System Basics Training
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Virtual PC Demonstration
November 30, 2006
Windows Communication Foundation Resource Roundup
Search VB has a great roundup of WCF resources.
You can (Finally) download hotfixes for Visual Studio 2005
You can finally download various hotfixes for Visual Studio 2005. Good news since the VS2005 SP1 Beta has closed, but SP1 hasn't released.
November 15, 2006
The Nameless Developer Podcast
I really like the podcasts that Derek Hatchard and Mike Mullen are putting together. This week's is "Show me the smack." These guys are up on everything new, and it's chock full of good stuff.
November 09, 2006
Microsoft Ships Windows Vista
In a banner week for the software maker, Vista has released, along with the .NET Framework 3.0, and 2007 Microsoft Office System. You have at least one week to enjoy the shinnyness before Microsoft starts referring to those products as "legacy" and starts pimping things like the .NET Framework 3.5, Orcas, et al.
Download the Sysinternals Suite
What process is accessing this folder, preventing me from deleting it? What process has this DLL in use, preventing me from overwriting it? The Sysinternals tools are the solution to these sorts of troubleshooting issues. Now you can download the whole suite from Microsoft in one shot. And, it's only 8MB.
November 08, 2006
Search Smarter, not Harder
Ed Kaim offers tips on how developers can search more effectively.
November 07, 2006
.NET Framework 3.0 Ships
Get yours here. For some reason, it appears under the Vista developer center, even though it runs on XP and Windows Server.
Oh, and the full redist is 50MB.
November 06, 2006
Office 2007 Ships
Microsoft has announced that Office 2007 has shipped. I wonder if this also means that the .NET Framework 3.0 has shipped? Vista, anyone?
November 05, 2006
Known Folder Browser for Vista
From Kenny Karr, "Are you finding all the "special folders" in Windows Vista a bit overwhelming? Which are real folders and which are virtualized? Which are profile-specific and which are common to all users? Which are rooted and which are relative?" Known Folder Browser shows you what's what.
November 03, 2006
Free Online File Converters
Media Convert will let you convert files from one format to another, for example, from Word to PDF, online (no converter to install). There doesn't seem to be a file size limit, but they make you stare at a lot of ads.
Another option is Neevia, which does away with the ads, but limits you to a 1MB source file.
November 02, 2006
Have our Cake and Your Browser 2.
Apparently, when the Mozilla team shipped FireFox 2, the Microsoft IE team sent them a cake.
Microsoft Live Search - Still a Long Way to Go?
I've been scanning through a long thread about the internals of Microsoft Live Search. If you're into search engine optimization (which I'm not), then the consensus from the forum is:
- Use of H1 and H2 tags will penalize you.
- Low keyword density is good. High makes the algorithm think you're spam.
- Authority sites don't rank well.
- If the search term is in the domain name, life is good.
Oh, and overall, people claim the Microsoft search results return a lot of spammy link pages.
November 01, 2006
Iraq + PowerPoint + Edward Tufte
I'm very into the convergence of technology, but sometimes even I marvel at how things come together. On one thread, you have some dudes in Redmond Washington taking the concept of the slide projector/overhead projector, implementing it in software, and calling it PowerPoint.
Then, you have the most capable military the world has ever seen, with the ability to precisely direct the most devastating force, locked into highly factious civil conflict for which the military industrial complex has provided almost no tools. It's one thing to talk about putting in screws with a hammer, but I don't think that really captures the challenge of building a national power grid using precision guided munitions. Don't get me wrong, I mean who wouldn't want a minigun? Still, it has it's reconstruction limits.
Then, there's Edward Tufte, off critiquing how well visuals convey information and meaning.
Put it all together, and you get Edward saying "Thbbbt!" about this:
For Mr. Tufte's actual comments, go here and scroll to the bottom.
Details about the Google/YouTube Deal
Dare links to a fascinating post that sheds light on how big business can operate.
It breaks down the gist of the Google/YouTube deal as an industry menaje a trois. YouTube gets bought and the founders make oodles. Google sucks up this Internet icon. The media companies that were about to go after YouTube get a pile of cash (none of which they have to pay out as royalties to the talent). To provide air-cover for Google, the media companies sue YouTube competitors, and don't sue YouTube, to give it a big competitive boost in the marketplace (it's a nice advantage to be able to infringe on copyrights, risk free, for 6 months). After that, it's assumed that Google will clamp down on the copyrighted material, which won't hurt them much because the competitors will either be quashed, or will have had to remove copyrighted material some time ago.
Do no evil.
<strike>SQL Server Everywhere Edition</strike> SQL Server Compact Edition
As Steve Lasker says, "So, why Compact? Because that’s exactly what it is."
I wonder if Sybase having already claimed "SQL Everywhere" as a trademark might have something to do with the name change as well.
Honestly, I don't really care what they call it. It's a cool product for local data storage, and hopefully the Access killer for .NET developers.
October 31, 2006
A great post. A company is people with talent. All the other stuff (office space, servers, telephone systems, etc.) are just necessary evils to support the people. Today, there are so many companies who's business it is to host infrastructure. How little infrastructure can you get away with? One large company that I work with is ultra-distributed. They have a main office in Colorado, but their people are all over the US, doing work, managing teams, you name it. They've made geography irrelevant.
When I launched my one-man shop, I decided that my first commandment would be "Thou shalt maintain no servers." Some people love to set up servers, and have a network of 10 machines in their home office. I hate it. I just want my e-mail/blog/accounting software to work at all times. I want to spend zero hours on server admin. I want to be able to flatline my machine, and be back at 100% productivity as fast as possible. I don't even install a local blog reader any more. I want to be equally productive and capable in "the office" or on the road. I joke that I'm a hermit crab. I carry my office in a backpack.
Grego posits building larger organizations that are infrastructure-less, noting how infrastructure adds inertia and drag to your operation. Infrastructure decreases agility, and as grego notes, you can mark the beginning of the end for many companies as the point where they move into that new big office.
Artificial Intelligence Progress as Measured by SPAM Literary Quality
As SPAM becomes ever more prevalent, we can at least take solace in the fact that, as literature, it's quality continues to increase. SPAM today often tries to sell me nothing and provides provacative prose straight to my inbox. Take the following recently received piece:
When the lover is righteous, a spartan tripod brainwashes the pork chop related to another crank case. Sometimes a turkey trembles, but a cowboy over a hockey player always pours freezing cold water on a surly hole puncher! Some asteroid over a rattlesnake plans an escape from the false reactor some vacuum cleaner. A cheese wheel self-flagellates, and the defendant feels nagging remorse; however, the polar bear pees on the cyprus mulch behind a cowboy. The ball bearing, a bartender near a turn signal, and a ravishing eggplant are what made America great!
A revered polar bear, a warranty, a revered polar bear. Furthermore, a recliner prays, and the blithe spirit related to some tabloid bestows great honor upon another senator toward a chess board. Another cloud formation over a minivan sanitizes the bullfrog. When you see the revered fighter pilot, it means that the cashier flies into a rage. The earring buries a moronic deficit. A roller coaster of a cowboy shares a shower with a mastadon.
How true. How true indeed. If only spam could sing, as SPAM now rivals even the legendary lyrics of great band "Rush".
(From Rush - 2112)
...'The massive grey walls of the Temples rise from the heart of every Federation city. I
have always been awed by them, to think that every single facet of every life is regulated
and directed from within! Our books, our music, our work and play are all looked after by
the benevolent wisdom of the priests...'
We've taken care of everything
The words you hear, the songs you sing
The pictures that give pleasure to your eyes
It's one for all and all for one
We work together, common sons
Never need to wonder how or why
We are the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx
Our great computers fill the hallowed halls
We are the Priests, of the Temples of Syrinx
All the gifts of life are held within our walls
My inbox isn't just big. Man, it's deep.
October 30, 2006
DXCore appears to rule
It seems that if you want to do something that integrates fairly deeply into Visual Studio, DXCore is the way to go. Bill McCarthy used it to build his Exception Helper, and now Joel Fjordén has used it to build a coding style enforcer.
Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007
Microsoft has released a free "express" accounting package. Personally, I've been satisfied with the QuickBooks Online Edition, but I'll likely check the Microsoft product out and see how it works for my "One guy and a modem" business structure.
October 24, 2006
Vista Coming Soon?
Paul Thurrott says that Microsoft has a Vista build "in escrow". Barring the discovery of any show-stopper bugs, Vista will ship on or before Nov 8th.
Windows Defender Released (and Free)
Microsoft has shipped Windows Defender, Microsoft's spyware removal tool. It's free, but in my experience, there's a lot of malware that it fails to remove. Start with Windows Defender, and if you find things that it can't handle, check out StopZilla.
Nifty. More here.
Roundup of Customer Search Offerings
Dare does a nice roundup of Google Co-op, Live Search Macros, and Yahoo! Search Builder.
October 23, 2006
Windows Media Photo (WMP) and JPG 2000 Compared
Is Microsoft a software company, or a file format company? It seems that MS can never just use an existing file format, they always have to go and invent their own (WMV, WMA, etc.) Here's a comparison of JPG-2000 and Microsoft's proprietary WMP.
Maybe if WMP wins, they'll open it up.
Microsoft to get into chip design business
I guess to do the next XBox right, they feel they'll need to do the chips themselves.
Salaries forcasted to rise for IT pros
EWeek has the roundup on Robert Half Technology's salary guide.
October 20, 2006
Despite the Hype, Vista Will Follow .NET Path
It won't be long (one would hope) before Windows Vista ships, and when it does, expect MSDN to turn the Vista volume up to 11. But despite Vista courting developers, developers, developers, is Vista really a bandwagon you should jump on?
In this week's newsletter I opine that with 6 years of .NET Framework hindsight, it's pretty easy to see exactly what Vista will really mean for developers.
Excess Budget Money? (Worry no more!!!)
I just got this in my InBox from ComponentOne. Now let me go on the record and say that I really like ComponentOne products. I've used them on a number of production applications, and I would recommend them to anyone, so this is no dis against them as a company, or their technology, in any way.
That said, their latest marketing campaign did make me giggle:
Excess Budget Money?
Try Studio Express 2006
Are you or your colleagues looking for a reasonable way to spend your excess year-end budget money that will meet your development needs today and well into 2007? If so, ComponentOne has the perfect solution.
IE7 Has Shipped
Some new features:
- Tabbed browsing
- Phishing filter (and a bunch of other security stuff)
- Printing (that works)
- RSS feed detection
Full features list here.
A great roundup of information here, including recommended pre-install and post-install steps.
Free Sharepoint Online Training
The Ascentium Portland blog links to WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 infrastructure and developer training. Free!
Another juicy tidbit, the quick reference sheet for IE 7.0.
October 19, 2006
I call BS on ohloh
It's a very cool site, and has lots of great information. I also think it does an effective job of cutting through the hype and showing what's really being actively developed, how many people are working on an open source project, etc. In fact, the headline for today is "PHP eats Rails for Breakfast", showing that while Rails might be the sexy new bling for developers to sport, 1 out of every 5 lines of open source being written is PHP.
Now for the BS part. The site estimates how much it would have cost to hire a team and write the same thing from scratch. Scott Hanselman (from whom I learned about ohloh) points to dasBlog, which ohloh claims is currently the equivalent of a 15 man-year effort. While this project has been developed by superstars like Scott Hanselman, Clemens Vasters, and Chris Anderson, and I have no doubt that they are more productive than the average developer, there's no way that anything close to 15 man-years have been spent on this, so take the Project Cost estimate with a nice chunk of salt. In fact, that makes me wonder, what would ohloh calculate as the total value of all the open-source which it has analyzed?
Threading, Ruby, and Python
Larry posts his disappointment that Ruby isn't really multi-threaded, and is therefor not able to take advantage of multi-core architectures (not without spinning up multiple instances of the interpreter, that is). The comments to the post are even more interesting, pointing out that Python can have the same issue, and there's a lot of talk in the python community that what we think of as multi-threading is really a bad idea. Everyone agrees that you need to be able to perform operations in parallel, and leverage the hardware fully, but maybe shared memory and traditional synchronization mechanisms are just wrong, wrong, wrong.
October 18, 2006
Password security tester
Microsoft has a site that shows the relative security strength of a password, as you type it in.
You can get to this site with HTTP, or HTTPS. I'm thinking, since you may be entering a actual password to see how strong it is, HTTPS might be a good idea.
Microsoft VHD format no longer proprietary
Microsoft has announced that it's opening it's Virtual Hard Disk format. When you use Virtual PC, or Virtual Server, the virtual machine image is stored in a VHD file. Until now, that had been a Microsoft proprietary file format. Microsoft has announced that it's opening the format in hopes that it becomes the standard virtual hard drive format.