BM-Bloggers

The blogs of Black Marble staff

Post PDC 2008 thoughts

So back home now after a reasonable journey back from LA all things considered; so I have had a bit of time to reflect, was the PDC good?

Well I think I enjoyed my previous PDC in 2005 more, your first time always sticks in your memory. I think that this might be due to the fact that at the 2005 PDC LINQ was announced and it was a real left field thing, nobody seemed to see it coming. Due to the prior announcements (leaks) there was nothing that was not expected at this years PDC.

This said, it does not mean the the announcements were not important, for the future of Microsoft probably far more important than LINQ was. You could argue that Azure is more of an IT pro announcement, on a day to day basis it will certainly effect them, due to remote hosting of core services, more than developers who will still basically be using .NET via WCF, EF etc. just altering a connection string or two. So an announcement at the Professional Developers Conference was in itself interesting, but where else would Microsoft do it?

On a more step change for developers front, will Oslo change the world? Well in my opinion not yet, but this was a PDC so we expect the new ‘real’ product to be a few years out. Next year’s PDC 2009 I think will see the Oslo and Dublin technologies productify (is that a word?). It is worth comment that a PDC two years running is rare, so Microsoft must have something up their corporate sleeve.

Since getting back I have done the conference survey and I found one question interesting ‘does the fact that the sessions were all available via www.microsoftpdc.com effect your choice to go to the conference in the future?’. I have to say yes, but on reflection it was worth the trip. A conference is more than the keynote and breakout sessions, maybe there is a future in fully online conferences but it is not there for me yet. Whether I want to travel best part of half way round the world is a interesting point; a 2 hour flight to Barcelona did seemed attractive when sitting in Heathrow Terminal 5 prior to my11 hour flight. But I was lucky I suppose, a friend was off to Hawaii for an air compressor conference the same week I was in LA (each to their own I suppose). The location for me does not warrant the travel, the inside of a conference centre is much the same in any country. I suppose a factor here is how much time you spend in the conference against the beach, for me if you are going to a conference it is to learn not have a holiday (or hunt for swag!), but I am not sure all people have the same opinion here. Some people seem to see a conference a reward for work done in the year, so at treat not a learning experience.

So will I be at PDC 2009 – I expect so. Whether Black Marble send as many to the PDC as opposed to the various TechEds I am not sure, this is a discussion we need to have post conference season. We defiantly need to cover both types of conference, as does any forward looking Microsoft partner, but the ratio is the question.

As for me next it is the Vbug conference I am speaking on VSTS; I believe there are still spaces available, maybe I will see you there.

Team System Database GDR Edition RTM Released

While I was at the PDC I missed the announcement that the release candidate for Database Edition was made, I was not following blogs too much. You can find all the download links for the RTM at Gert Drapers Blog, you can also see his PDC session where he made the announcement.

Why did I miss the session you might ask? well I was in Agile development with Team System session – some big improvement in Office integration with TFS

Anyway I have now installed the GDR edition and it is easy and fast, at least if you are upgrading from the previous version. I have not tried a virgin install which I am sure many people will be doing given that any person with Team System Developer license can download the Database GDR edition.

Barcelona-bound

Andy and I are travelling to Barcelona this weekend for TechEd EMEA IT. I’m really looking forward to some of the sessions on Hyper-V, SharePoint and Forefront.If you’re going to be there, feel free to drop us a line and say hi.

VBUG Newcastle: Introducing OpenXML with Craig Murphy – Wednesday 29th October 2008

Many thanks to Andy Westgarth for organising a very interesting talk on OpenXML, given by Craig Murphy yesterday. Craig gave an excellent introduction to Open XML file formats in general and specifically the Open XML Format SDK 2.0.

I've been working recently on a project migrating SharePoint 2001 Portals to MOSS. The project has had some tight deadlines, hence the absence of posts. I've used PowerShell to deploy and customise the sites. I'll try and post about my experiences using PowerShell with SharePoint.

PDC Day 3

The keynote today was all about MSR, interesting as ever. I particularly liked the demos of Second Light (Surface computing that reaches beyond the surface of the physical pc) and Boku (a system to help children program). The latter is close to our hearts at Black Marble due to the work we have done on FPL, another system to teach children to program (watch out for free downloads of this application soon)

It was also interesting to see that there was a date for a PDC 2009 – shows that Microsoft have plenty of new things in the pipeline.

Outside of the keynote, what could be more directly useful to me will be Visual Studio Team Lab, a new SKU for 2010 (sorry still can’t find a link with more details) that will manage the provisioning of test environments: Hyper-v VHDs are stored in a repository and created using pre defined rules as part of a build process. Test can then be run either automatically or manually using the new VS2010 test tools. Test results are then fed back into the TFS work item tracking system including screen shots, error test information – in fact enough information to allow a developer to connect to the Hyper-v pc at the point of error and debug. This idea is something we are working on internally with current VS2008 and Hyper-V tools. Unfortunately we are unlikely to see Team Lab until VS2010 reaches beta, so a good way off – so I am going to have to persist with our own internal projects it seems.

PDC 2008 Day 2 Keynote

Well it was all end user focused today; Windows 7 and experience in Live systems. All looks very nice, given the usually question you have to raise in a connected environment over personal data security. I am sure Microsoft have done a good job of physical and logical data security, but the whole concept of mesh networks opens up a huge potential for social attacks. No developer can protect against the user clicking on an ill advised email or now mesh link; I know I have fixed too many friends PCs with the XP Antivirus 2008 Trojan of late, where they click on a link because an email said their anti virus was out of date, they thought they were doing good.

It was interesting that the major third party demo’s big demo’s were both from the UK: Tesco and the BBC. Is it me or does the fact Tesco plan to offer a WPF application to handle your online orders but also manages family photos see a little scary? Where is their reach going to end?

The second half of the keynote was the Don Box and Chris Anderson show  - excellent as ever. A whistle stop tour of programming against Azure. And all the demo’s coded against the live web sites even worked!.

SCVMM 2008 Beta and non-admin access to remote machines - further information

Following my last blog post regarding SCVMM 2008 Beta and the issues I was seeing with non-admin access to remote machines via Hyper-V manager, I thought it would be beneficial to forward my query to the team concerned via Connect. Here's the answer I got:

"What you are seeing is expected behaviour. When you add a Hyper-V host in SCVMM the Initialstore.xml file is no longer used for Hyper-V security. Instead SCVMM creates a new XML file and modifies it based on the user and admin roles that apply to that host in the SCVMM. That means that the step where you ran Azman and updated the Initialstore.xml file is lost. There is not a good workaround for this issue. The only thing that could be done is to add the user that needs access as a delegated administrator in SCVMM (with the right to administrator this specific host). Then SCVMM will update the XML file it uses with the correct info. Note that if you edit that file manually those changes will be lost when SCVMM refreshes it. It is called Hypervauthstore.xml."

This is useful insofar as it does indeed allow me a nice way around the problem I was describing. It does however raise another issue, which is that I don't believe that there is enough granularity in the delegated administrator role mentioned. I can only assign a host to a delegated administrator, not an individual guest. While I can limit which virtual machines a delegated administrator can log onto via user accounts, it may well generate a lower administrative overhead if I could limit the machines that a delegated administrator can connect to (say in the same way that TS Gateway works with RAPS and CAPS).

I'll feed this suggestion back to the team via Connect.

PDC Day 1 , Azure

Microsoft Azure is the name of Microsoft’s Cloud Operating system, a new service based operating platform

Windows Azure ( cool logo to come ) is Microsoft’s core web tier capability for virtual computation with automated service management
using a fabric controller for the provisioning with its design based on a balance based on existing windows dev skills + code , allowing develop

It turns out the the legendary Dave Cutler has been working on Azure for a while, all of the azure team were
touting Red shoes , presumably as a nod to the original working title of Red Box(I think that is right)

Windows Azure , is a solution hosted by Microsoft , released as a CTP with a first fraction of the initial features. Azure will deliver rapid change of Azure itself. Microsoft will move its own systems over to azure.

Azure provides scalable hosting with a hypervisor designed for cloud ,multiple level security implemented using hypervisor enforced isolation.

Azure also provides automated service management which allows it to cope with application
upgrades and OS in place upgrades. At Azures heart is the fabric controller which views all of the data centre as a fabric of hardware.

The fabric controller manages services not just servers. There is a light weight dev environment to allow testing.
which then can deploy to staging and then production.

Pricing to be released.

My thoughts are watch Azure.

b.

It made me laugh…

At the PDC expo drinks last night I was asked to show age ID to get a drink! Just me it seems, nobody else from the company.

I thought I was doing well to be carded on my 30th birthday whilst in the US, but 10 years on it getting silly – You must ask how do I keep my youthfully countenance? Wish I knew, but they say it is youth culture here in LA.

So my new aim is to get asked to prove my age to get a drink with an OAP bus pass.