The blogs of Black Marble staff

ClickOnce publish to a non available URLs

If you are publishing an application with ClickOnce you may not have the final URL for the deployment site e.g. you are planning to use but you have no access now, this happens to us quite oftan as a software house when we are developing something that will be deployed with ClickOnce within a client's network.

You can of course publish to you local machine but the problem is the temporary URL you use to deploy is stored in the ClickOnce manifest, which has a checksum so you cannot edit it by hand.

To get round this we have done the following:

  1. In the c:\windows\system32\etc\drv\hosts add with the IP address
  2. You can now try to deploy to, but it fails with a 401 security error (maybe giving you a login box that does not work)
  3. To address this use workround 1 in;..., this allow URLs other than localhost to work as loopback, basically you add a registry key to disable the loopback check
  4. After a reboot you can now deploy to, you may get a login box, but yoy can now use any valid login for the box.
  5. Once this is done the publish works locally, and if you look in the manifest you see the right URL. You can then ship off the whole directory to the live site as required

Getting the SMDC working on Sun X2100 servers with Windows tools

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the LOM 

I've been working hard lately on Black Marble's infrastructure. To support the various software technologies we run and would like to run there are now three shiny Sun X2100 servers sitting in our rack. Sun hardware is great - it's robust, reliable and well built. It's also quick! I've used the 64-bit V20 and V40 servers in the past and one of the things I liked a great deal was the LOM functionality they had. I could SSH to a dedicated subsystem and probe the servers for information on their status, temperature, faults etc. I could also power-cyle them - really handy when a server has hung and it's a ten minute walk between buildings in the rain!

So, back to our three servers. The Sun web site tells me that there are two options for LOM - an IPMI 1.5 compliant version and an IPMI 2 compliant version. Taking the lid off the box, I can see a natty daughterboard mounted atop the DVD drive. It's labelled up as being a management board - great! Question is, how do I configure and query it?

If, like me, you looked in the paper manuals and found nothing, then looked on the 'supplemental' cdrom and found nothing then this post is for you. Here's how I got the SMDC daughterboard working, and managed to probe it from my workstation running Vista.

Problem Number 1: Documentation

As it turns out, this is actually the easy bit. Sun's website has reams of documentation on their products available for download. The X2100 documentation spans four guides and a set of release notes. The one you want is the Sun Fire X2100 Server User Guide (pdf), or go to the online version - you need to read Appendix C.

Problem Number 2: Configure the SMDC card

Aha! The supplemental CDROM is bootable - I never thought to try that. Nothing written on it tells me it's bootable and all it holds are drivers so why would I boot from it? If you do start your server with the CDROM in you'll find it boots a DOS environment with hardware diagnostics. You can also exit to a prompt which will allow you to flash the system BIOS, and if you delve deep enough, you'll find the SMDC configuration utility - enigmatically monikered util.exe.

The SMDC card uses the second network interface on the X2100. Connect it to your LAN and run through the configuration pages to give the SMDC an IP address, subnet mask and gateway. You'll also want to set passwords on the four accounts that can be used to access the SMDC.

Problem Number 3: Talking to the LOM

The V20 and V40 servers were great - you used SSH to connect to the embedded linux system and used IPMItool to query the LOM. The X2100 doesn't do that. You have to use IPMItool to query the SMDC directly across the LAN. That would be great, if there was a version of IPMItool for MS Windows. There _is_ a DOS utility on the Sun CD. If anybody can tell me how it works I'd be grateful - Sun support were as in the dark as I was - but IPMItool it isn't.

I search high and low for a windows IPMItool. The devs have since offered to compile a version for me, but nobody has found the time yet. It matters less now, because I found ipmiutil on Sourceforge. They come in a 32-bit Windows version and allow me to query the SMDC over the network. They're not perfect - I can only query a subset of the available information, but they give me enough for now. I can query the sensors to see fan speeds and temperatures and I can power the system on and off, and reset it. That last part matters less now that I'm ten feet from the servers, not ten minutes, but what the heck!

A note - I query the SMDC using the Admin account. In order for that to work you need to specify the -V switch on the utility you are running and set the admin level to 4. If you don't do this, it won't work.

For example, to get the sensor readings for a server, connecting as admin, you would run:

sensor.exe -N x.x.x.x -U Admin -P password -V 4

And the SMDC will sing you a song about fan speeds and core temps.

Where next?

My next step is to investigate how I get the SMDC card to send alerts and events to a management system. More reading and experimentation is needed for that, and I'll write another post if and when I make some progress.

In the meantime, if anyone has a Windows 32-bit version of IPMItool that they could point me to I'd be grateful. Building a Linux or Solaris VM just for IPMItool does seem a little bit like overkill!

So it is all over

So what are my final thoughts on TechEd developer 2006? Well I think the split of Developers from IT Pros works. In my opinion this is the best TechEd I have been to from a content quality and relevance point of view, in the past there have been too many sessions on IT Support issues.

Also it is good to be back in Barcelona, a nice bit of late season sun. I surprise myself saying that as I hated the old venue used for past Barcelona TechEds; out towards the airport, but I have to say the CCIB is great. All session rooms are close to each other, everything ran smoothly, there are shops nearby and easy metro link to hotels and other civilization - what more can you ask for a conference?

The only downside for me, and is not a real issue, is the social side seems quieter. At past TechEds and PDCs there has been a big Thursday night do, but nothing this week (or next week it seems for the IT pros). Now you (or at least I) don't come conferences to party and to be honest I did not actually miss the big party (a quiet meal and beer was more what I needed after 3 days of sessions) but the lack of the big party, when there has been one in the past, make it seem like the event has scaled back. However, in pure numbers it is the biggest TechEd Europe ever. It is a perception thing, if there had never been big parties they would not be missed.

I noticed Robert blogged on the lack of a theme for the conference. Maybe this is due to the lack of Vista RTM announcement? I would agree the event for me has been buzz free, no single topic every has said 'you must see this'. However this could just be a product of so many products that we have seen so long in Beta being released at the the moment. No so much a buzz but a sigh of relief.

So would I recommend TechEd to others? on the past week yes the content has been great and what else is a conference really for?



Geek Migration Patterns

it is now the time that Geek's start their migration away from their temporary home , back to their regular nesting locations. I think watching the migrating geek is fascinating and I have been following this timid species for several days and here are my findings.


The natural instinct of the geek is to flock in a fixed pattern which is actually a representation of the layout of the caffeine molecule ( hence the term a caffeine of geek's )

At the start of the Gathering the geek's decorate them selves in plumage designed to help them gather more freebies and the prized "Goodie", I have seen many geek's bedecked in bright orange SQL Server 2005 shirts in the hope of getting the Bose Speaker Goodie and many in hats looking for the free mobile "Goodie". Some geek's decorate themselves with plumage from previous gatherings such as PDC or TechED 2001 in the hope of getting a mate ( highly unlikely )

During the gathering the Geek's have been feeding on freebies to keep them through the winter and have stocked up despite the lean pickings, most have done well. This can only be achieved if the geek if ample application of caffeine and chocolate ( which has been missing from the gathering ground this year ) is available.

Just before the trip home the geek will under go several important stages , each essential to the survival of the geek

The Shedding occurs suddenly normally near a public bin/trash can, where the geek will divest him/her self of any remaining flyers , party invites or light-weight/worthless giveaways. This process is essential to allow the geek to physically move enough to get home, in some unfortunate cases , the geek will refill on more freebies and can end up stuck for a year until the next gathering occurs. This is also the time when the plumage is discarded or stored for next year.

The waddle happens just before migration when the Geek is full of freebies waiting to fly home , this is a serene time for the Geek giving him/her time to reflect on the time of the gathering,


So long my Geek's , I have enjoyed my time among you in the mists , I look forward to seeing you all next year, fly home geek , fly





TechED shortfalls , support, and successes

During dinner several of us were discussing the shortfalls and successes of the TechED so far.



Great speakers , good content , well delivered. Which when all considered is all that is needed. 



Perceivable lack of Theme , each talk has been categorized and I do say perceived , as a chat to Dave Gristwood at the UK drinks covered this thorny subject to great depth suggested that planning content TechED is by no way an easy task, but stood out side it would have been nice to see more viable threads.

One Keynote , seems a shame when at events such as JavaOne and PDC , the keynote sets the tone for the day. JaveOne still has the edge for the Keynotes ( from distant memory ) as one day was  presented by a guest speaker such as Douglas Adams, which was always something to look forward to.


I think that the technical support has been a bit lite at TechED

 with only two channel 9 guys in attendance. But they still managed to fix my laptop ( see earlier post ) and fix a difficult threading problem, so I guess I can't complain




TechED Swag - Feeding the developer

As all of the developer community knows , developers live on caffeine and freebies , for example a .NET 3.0 FX T-Shirt can keep a developer alive for over 2 weeks , a hat and pen will keep a developer going for over a week, and a rucksack or Jacket for several months.

TechED has been a bit lite on Swag , but that has not stopped us from getting some interesting giveaways for our community events ( not for our regular events ) over the next few months ( watch this space for announcements ) and thanks to intervention from some generous souls in the .NET team and Microsoft DPE in the UK with promises of material and giveaways for the community events , we have now stopped moving at the speed of loot through TechED safe in the knowledge that the developers we know and will meet over the next few months will be fed well and that some of our European colleagues will also have a chance at some freebies :).




Side Show

I was lucky enough to see a hands on session with Side Show yesterday afternoon, Dan Polivy who presented the sesssion brought along a selection of mock-up and nearly ready prototypes of mock up Slide Show devices , I think there has been a lot of misconceptions as to the purpose on Side Show and I think that developers really need to look at the HOL's available and understand that the program they write will NEVER run on the device , the application provides data.

It was noticable that several of the devices were somewhat battered and broken , which shows a large level of interest. The only shame was the level of turn out to the session. Unfortunatly I had to leave before the end as I had a meeting.




TechEd Day 3

Most interesting session for me today was on 'Offline Caching and Synchronization with a New ADO.NET Sync Framework'. This can be summed up as making Smart Client applications behave like Outlook  i.e. occasionally connected, but all done without the user having to be involved. Thus allowing the application to run on less than reliable networks whilst keeping a central store of data up to date.

Historically this is problematic to achieve but with the new ADO.Net framework extension that has just gone to RC status it can be done in a few lines of code. For more details have a look at




TechED 2006 so far

So far the quality of presentations at TechED has been fantastic , the only downside technically so far has been a dead machine ( now rectified ).

The must see slots have been by Roy Osherove ,  Anders Hejlsburg  , Aaron Skonnard and Todd Bleeker. My favorite so far was a white boarding session with Aaron on "Agreeing to Disagree", one of those insiteful events.




DDD4 Session - But it works on my PC

Just seen that my session at DDD4 has received enough votes to get on the schedule for the event in December, thanks to everyone who voted for it. If you have not been to a previous DDD event I would really recommend having a look at this day conference, I am sure anyone can learn a lot and a great networking opportunity

So I better get round to writing my demos now!