But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

Where are all the people?

Since arriving in the Bellevue/Redmond area I have been struck by the lack of people. Wherever I have gone it seems like the place was built for at least twice the number that are present, whether it be the shopping centers or restaurants. I wondered was it because:

  1. the others are soon to arrive
  2. half the people left

Now after traveling in to the conference for a couple of days and watching the local news I have the answer, It is option 1. - they are all stuck in traffic.

The traffic between the city in the Puget Sound area is bad, more a parking lot than a road system. I am glad our hotel is just a couple of blocks away from Microsoft Campus, 5 minutes irrespective of the time of day.

Microsoft SOA Conference - end of day 1

So my thoughts at the end of day....

Certainly a useful day, but the conference seems a little slow. The breaks seem long,the sessions short and the breakout sessions finished quite early in the day. Maybe I am just used to the crammed in format of TechEd that go on late into the evening.

On the plus side this format does give a good chance to chat to other attendees, who seem very chatty and are from a wide variety of locations across the world; though nearly all white and male, an even less diverse group than at Mix UK! What does this say about the IT industry or maybe more to the point who gets to go to conferences?

I did see a great session this afternoon from David Chappell comparing .NET to J2EE.I think I saw in effect the equivalent session he did at JavaOne in year 2000 back when Black Marble was a Java house. The key point remains the same - the choice of underlying platform once made is very hard to change, even within the J2EE family of vendors. All platforms have good and bad features so a company has to make a bet on which platform will meet their needs now and allow them develop in the future. I personally can't get away from view that a single vendor solution (i.e. .NET) allow better internal consistency and easy of development but still allows external improbability via ws* standards (or the ISB in the future). But I would say that wouldn't I as I work for a Microsoft Gold Partner!

In the Q&A session at the end of the day it was interesting to hear the Microsoft take on companies using the cloud as the ISB, which as I posted this morning was my concern. Their view is to think of Exchange as the model, Microsoft could host it, other third parties can host it or a corporate may host their own. In many cases it is will only be a routing service and so will not actually be storing data (which could be encrypted anyway). This should go a long way to aiding acceptance.

But enough for today, off to the ask the experts reception now.

Mission control we have a problem

Sitting here at the back of the Kodiak room at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond is somewhat similar to the control room at JPL which I went to on my last trip to the USA.


All is can see is a sea of laptops and heads just visible over the rows of desks.

It is nice to have a desk and easy access to power and Internet - all conferences should be this way.

Microsoft SOA Conference Day 1

After a couple of days in the Washington state my body has caught up to a manageable time zone (somewhere east of Denver I think, but that is close enough) just in time for for the start of the Microsoft SOA 2007 conference.

The keynote for me highlighted that Microsoft see the future in the cloud, the Internet Service Bus (ISB) as opposed to silo'd Enterprise Service Buses (ESB). Now this assumes customers have gone down the SOA route already, which I would say is not the case in the SME market I work in. I still see many monolithic legacy applications where migration to SOA has not been considered yet.

Anyway that aside, I see storage in the cloud being the big question - yes Microsoft are throwing services out there such as:

Time will tell what the uptake of such services will be, and I think issues of trust will be a major factor - will you trust Microsoft, or Google or Yahoo to store you personal and/or corporate data? And what about the cost? At present these services are free; I expect them to remain free for the home user, but corporate users will expect better defined SLAs and these will no doubt costs. Is this another journey down the Application Service Provider style of business model?

To get the seamless application integration of the systems, as we see in demos, we will also need a better uptake of federated security models else you will spend all your time entering passwords. Now this can be mitigated by making the connections behind the scenes (within the ISB), however most of the demos seem to use the desktop client as the central point to access these various ISB services, which is sensible as this the point the data is needed.

In the keynote Oslo, the next wave of BizTalk and related products, was announced. This will address some of these cross silo connectivity issues, specifically by providing BizTalk Services, a Microsoft hosted set of routing and workflow services using BizTalk V6 (vNext) that will allow easier firewall traversal between corporate silos, but even CTPs of these products is a way off.

Anyway enough for the morning session off to lunch.

ps. Just done a sound bite for Ron Jacobs of Channel 9 on Oslo - I wonder if it makes the cut?

Vista high CPU on startup

For a while I have been suffering that when I switch on my Acer Core2 Duo Vista laptop, both cores sometimes go to 85%+ utilization, so the PC is slooooow. Usually after a few reboots it seems to clear. This can happen after a resume from hibernate and complete restart; there was no obvious pattern. Task manager only says that the load is due to the NT Kernel process - so not much help there.

After a bit of google'ing I found other people reporting the problem after installation of Microsoft Network Monitor 3.1, which I did months ago Interestingly I have only seen the problem is recent. However, as soon as I went into the network protocol stack and disabled the network monitor protocol on my WiFi card the problems have gone away.

My guess is some strange race condition caused by a recent service patch; this not a major problem as you can switch the protocol on and off as required without a reboot.


I have been on holiday for a week and I see that registration for DDD6 has opened and closed - good job my session was voted onto the agenda else I would not be going.

Thanks to anyone who voted for my session, see you there.

Bradford the 'greenest city'

I see Bradford, where the Black Marble offices are, has been ranked the greenest city in the UK. Strange that at the technology centre we are in there is no recycling at all, not for paper, cans or plastic.

We have asked if such a service can be laid on (developers drink a lot of can of coke), but were told that recycling is not a service offered as part of the council's commercial refuse collection service.

If Bradford is the best what are the rest like?

A long day of seminars

Just got home from a long day of Black Marble hosted presentations. This morning I was presenting on SQL 2008, seemed to go well. This afternoon it was a very busy MSDN session by Martin Parry and Daniel Moth from the Microsoft DPE team on VS2008 and .NET 3.5. Finally this evening there was a interesting community event on the .NET Micro Framework by Rob Miles, the same session he is doing at TechEd in Barcelona, worth getting along to if you are there, if not try the book.

Considering how many developers turned up for the MSDN event I was surprised how relatively few decided to stay for the evening event, even though it only meant a short wait between session and food was laid on. The numbers attending community/evening events seems to be constant issue for events in Leeds and Bradford. I am often surprised in the low number I see at evening events we host (compared to day events) but I see the same at BCS and the Yorkshire Extreme Programming Club events, even with the high quality speakers we are seeing at all three venues.

I was talking on this very subject to the David Turner the chair(?) of the Yorkshire Extreme Programming Club, we both were wondering what can be done to get people enthused and networking locally with their peers. I am interested to hear other peoples views - what more does the developer on the street (or more correctly at the PC) need to get them out to events. Is what we see in Yorkshire the same in other places? I have seen good crowds at user groups I have presented at or attended around the country but maybe I have just gone on good days.

The attendance at local events and national one area that Gary Short touched upon in his recent blog post. Do people just want to turn out for big national events? or does it seem that way because having a national catchments for attendees means any event fills up fast?

Any comments ?