But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

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PCs with the XP Antivirus 2008 Trojan of late, where they click on a link because an email said their anti virus was out of date, they thought they were doing good.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!.

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.

VSTS 2010 at the PDC

Though not really mentioned in the keynote there are a lot of sessions on VSTS 2010 at the PDC; it is going to be a major really major release.

Chatting in between the sessions with other delegates there seems to loads of interest in the new testing features, but we know this is pain point from Alt.net meetings. It will be interesting to see how these new tools deliver, I am sure the manual testing tools will be useful, but I am a bit more doubtful over the UI testing tools. We have all seen the demo promise of these products before and hit problems when we try to use them for real.

I think the improved integration for Office is also going to be important. At the moment we use the eScrum template for VSTS and the main reasons for this are the easy project visibility it gives to non-developer users via it’s web site and the way it manages the relationship between the product backlog and sprint tasks (given the lack of hieratical work items in the current VSTS). With 2010 I am not sure we are going to need the eScrum web site. The ease of reporting (and live work item updating) in Excel and hieratical work items will make this it superfluous, so the basic Agile template in 2010 may will be able to do the job.  

PDC 2008 thoughts day 1

So it seems we are going to have themed days at the 2008 PDC and day one is all about  the Azure services platform. Though judging by the expo stands the key announcements for tomorrow - Oslo and Dublin are out there too. As conferences go it seems a bit confused to me, I guess Microsoft are aiming for three big bangs at three keynotes; but we seem to have had a big bang today and splutter of future items.

However, I might be wrong, there could be stuff we have not even suspected, lets wait and see what we get tomorrow. Don Box and Chris Anderson are usually good value whenever they present so I await their keynote session with anticipation!

So as to Azure, a new move for Microsoft? Well not really it seems the logical next step especially given the offerings of Amazon and Google. It will be interesting how this develops, but on a first quick look Azure seems a very strong offering, I guess it will all be down to price in the end. Oh and if you trust Microsoft to host your business data.

TF53010 & TF213000 unable to load

I got this error when installing TFS 2008. In the error log I could see the problem was when the TfsGssInit.exe  was run, it said

Detailed Message: TF213000: A required user account could not be added during installation or repair of Team Foundation Server.  The installation or repair failed with the following exception message: System.TypeInitializationException…..

I found the answer in the TFS forum. The thread (and others) did suggest there were DNS lookup issues, but the thing that got it for me was removing VS2008 Team Client (and it’s SP1) from the server. I had installed these whilst I had been waiting for the IT department do some work in the SQL Data Tier. I thought I was saving times, I was wrong!.

I think the issue was the VS2008 SP1, but I removed both and the install of TFS worked OK.

TF220050 error in TFS install

Whilst doing a new TFS 2008 dual tier install I was getting a failure with a TF220050 error when I entered the data tier DB instance name. The setup wizard just said ‘failed to connect to data tier’, but you can find the actual error number in the install logs to be found under C:\Documents and Settings\[setup user]\Local Settings\Temp

This error seems to be just a generic low level ‘cannot connect to the DB’; in my case it was caused by one of two issues:

  • The SQL server I was pointing at was a SQL 2000 not SQL 2005 (I had been given the wrong server name) – the moral is always check the version yourself.
  • Also analysis services was not running on the SQL  2000 box.

So I am not sure which is the actual cause of the error message here, version or missing OLAP service In my case the fix was to just connection to the correct SQL 2005 instance.