TechED 2007 Developer Here I come

Well it can be told I have been offered a speaking place at TechED Barcelona, I am very chuffed. I am presenting with Ewan Fairweather who is a Premier Field Engineer at Microsoft on Implementing ESB using the Microsoft best practices. It looks, even though I say so myself to be a great talk.

if you are at TechED 2007 Developer and you are interested in finding out more about ESB and BizTalk then pop into our session on Friday.

The Talk is called Implementing the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) using Microsoft BizTalk Server and ID is SBP208.


Visual Studio 2008 update

I had been quietly predicting that visual studio 2008 would be available around the time of TechED 2007 Barcelona ( 5th-9th November ). But today a patch for Beta 2 has been released which would suggest otherwise The Patch covers faults with C# and intelisense.

Update: Having run the update on some machines it is producing an error HotIron !!!

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Only Egg could get Egg on their face

In a recent post I discussed the feelings I had about Egg’s poor telephone Security, with a follow up that in writing ( this is important to the plot ) that I thought their telephone security was poor and I wished a) to only be contacted in writing and b) close my account. With the predictability of an A-Team episode , Egg dutifully called ( from a withheld number , but a human not a machine , there’s progress for you ) and demanded that I go through a security check !!!!

Again I can’t blame the person on the phone , it is the system , but dear me it was hard. Linda took over as I just had enough. The summary as reported by Linda was circular , pointless , they didn’t get the point.



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Mildly Miffed

In a previous Post I discussed Name space collisions inside BM, I am quite upset that nobody has been paying attention to this problem and it is still getting worse.

In the last week Paul hired Paul to work for him and Steve hired wait for it , Steve to work for him. if this continues , everybody will will either get issued a GUID or get sub-dermal RFID implants and all references will involve using a scanner.

On a related note I would like to welcome the twins (Paul and Steve) ! to the company.


C8C93163-C551-4918-BA3A-AF4FB0C9E84B .

( I always saw myself as a 8F kind of guy but Visual Studio is never wrong )

EGG’s Training Program for Cyber Criminals

This morning as I was finishing breakfast with the children, I received a call which was an automated call from EGG ( a UK credit card provider ) stating that there had been unusual activity on my credit card. This in itself is not unsurprising as I have just come back from South Korea (see past posts) , the deeply deeply worrying part was the automated call then demanded Security information from me. Some of you may know that I regularly speak on Software and Application Security and more so on How easily people can be manipulated into handing over Secure information and how this can be mitigated. In my opinion the single biggest problem in opening people up to manipulation is large organizations showing users poor security.

So what have Egg done that in my opinion is so wrong, Simply they are suggesting that if you receive an unannounced call you should hand over security details to the unknown party , this is great for Cyber Criminals who are looking for a population who are used to at the drop of an automated phone call hand over security information , but not for the general public who need greater security training . The security transaction should be at the very least two way ( they supply information to you ), but better still they should follow the best example I have experienced which was Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) who when they called suggested that I call the number on the back of my Credit Card and asked to speak to their group. The RBS scenario works so well as I have to authenticate against a source I trust ( the card and number ) and RBS gets to speak to me, a win for everybody.

Now all of this IMHO is bad enough but I have gone on record with EGG several times about this and I have been assured 🙂 that this is being dealt with. But today to add insult to injury , instead of handing over my details blind to an automated system, Linda called them back ( I had the pleasure of helping dress the children at the time ) and after several minutes of watching Linda struggle with the automated voice recognition the children were in fits of hysterics , eventually someone came on the line and asked to speak to me and I was told in no uncertain terms that Linda calling Egg was in direct breach of Eggs security protocols ( I think they must have been watching a bit too much 24 ) and that I did not understand how important security was in preventing Credit Card fraud. At these moments there are too many levels of sarcasm ready to pounce, I decided that no more could be done to help and I just closed the account ( I suspect that the fraud prevention group don’t get that very often ).

It must be said that in general this is not just Egg it occurs with many of the Service companies and Banks and that Egg Fraud have detected times when you would expect to see fraud, but this is just not enough. Banks and Service companies should have procedures that protect customers not just themselves.

if this all wasn’t so depressing it would be funny.

On a lighter note , for those of you who are interested in the implications of real security for IT managers and Developers , I am pleased to announce that I will be doing another tour with Ed Gibson ( Microsoft’s Chief Security Advisor for the UK ) in the Autumn, details will be coming soon. Have no Fear that this story will be top of the list to tell.


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Should you go to Korea , Should you do the Imagine Cup

The empathic answer to both of these is YES. Several people have commented that after reading my blog they felt that I did not have a great time in Korea with the Imagine Cup, nothing could be further from the truth. It was great , weird but great, I think any down fall in enjoyment ( and there wasn’t much ) was entirely down to lack of preparation on my part and so I have included some thoughts on both the Imagine Cup and visiting Korea.


Advice on the Imagine Cup for Mentors

Prepare that the students will do the unexpected <sigh>, I spent a week with over enthusiastic , hyper students who were just happy to be in Korea and wanted to explore. The best description I can give of my week with the students is that it was like herding cats in the dark.

I think that the mentors need to plan early with the students on the visit and not leave it to the last minute as well as a clearly defined set of roles as to , who does what.

Engage with your Microsoft ADE , I was fortunate that the UK had a great ADE who was more understanding than he should have been 😉

The one regret I think I have is that we did not organize to do more as a team when we were out, we did go for meals and we did do the organized trips but I think we should have done more.

As for the competition , read the Judging criteria carefully as they Judges are straight and fair, they will stick to the criteria like glue.

Advice on the Imagine Cup for Students

The main thing to do is enjoy yourselves, you need to do all your prep before hand but prepare to have fun , the event will be like nothing else you have experienced ( unless you did a previous imagine cup ).

I think a clear definition between the students , the Mentor and Microsoft as to who is doing what is needed as soon as the team is set to go to the finals and writing it down will help students remember.

Advice on visiting South Korea

Prepare , Prepare , Prepare. Normally when I am visiting a country for the first time I carefully learn enough of both the language ( enough to get around ) and culture before I go.

For reasons of not getting around to it I did not manage any preparation , Jim and Matt learnt a few words on the plane , but for all practical purposes we were ignorant westerners and for that I still feel quite ashamed.

I think the bit I found most shocking in Korea is that I felt functionally illiterate and I did not like the experience. Spend a bit of time learning some written language will not help much but should help you feel better about yourself.

Tip: take a MP3 recorder and get the concierge at the hotel to record “Please take me to <hotel name> <hotel address>” , as an alternative you can use a piece of paper , but with the paper method it took us several tries with Taxi drivers and to get us home which was a bit worrying.

Top Tip:Visit the Imperial palaces , they are stunning as is Seoul itself , put aside at least 1/2 a day.

Food was the biggest issue for most of the people, I think trying the local food is important again reading a guide book first should sort out any issues.


Imagine Cup Days 4 and 5

Day 4 was well like a normal day , sleep (some) , food (mostly edible) . we saw some great presentations and had a normal day with out the need to work.

Day 5 started early 8.00 and the Seedlings did 3 hours on the stand as did all of the other competitors, doing the rounds when there is no competition was great as everybody was relaxed and happy.

Andy Sithers was Extra Super Exited to be with us

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a lot of people came around including some journalists from China ( Beijing Evening News and DigiTimes )

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I had an amble around and I was struck by the work done by the Austrian Team who have produced a rather good white boarding solution, it looks amazing.

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I think the chaps name was Michael Hurnaus in the picture , either way check out the work at Intoi

Then we joined the world party (the results) and a lot of people dressed up in their national costume and I singularly failed to get any pictures despite some serious effort , the most notable were the Japanese contingent who all seemed to be in costume and looked fine for it and one of the Austrian girls who also won the design contest. For everybody in costume , every shot I tried to take someone stepped in the way or in one case the Lift did not have enough room to take the shot. I congratulate all of the people who tried to make the party more enjoyable.

the lads and Nick Randolph

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A Picture with a South African Journalist and one of the Irish Team, I could not seem to get the Red Light out of the picture.

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and Andy having a chat with Joe Wilson over something important I expect

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over what though I could not imagine , I guess that is the 500,000 Won question.

all thought evening event was good they couldn’t grasp why the hot Dogs weren’t being eaten

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who can tell 😉

it is now 1.00am , we are out of the door at 6.00am



Korea (Imagine Cup) Days 3 – 78

Today was a very bizarre experience. we set off at 8.00am (midnight UK time) in a thunderous downpour to see the sights.

After several uncomfortable days in transit in the bus , we were issues a pastel colored umbrellas and fans! The first visit was to the national museum , much time was taken by the organizers to organizes themselves, reorganizes themselves , double check their organization skills and think about synergies the plan over future events, while we waited on the bus.

When we did get to the museum the most interesting part was the brolly wrapper, as you enter the museum you must insert the brolly into the machine and a plastic bag is placed over the brolly ( picture from later on due to hysterical laughter at the first event )

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there were some nice pieces but in the 30 mins we had , it was frankly a total waste of time.

I did get a couple of small pressies for children 😉

then back to the bus for more sitting and on to a set of palaces, Now these were worth a visit , my poor photography skills do them no justice whatsoever.

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Wow , this was worth having the rest of the day for , but then sadly onto food , more time on the bus  ( 4 hours so far in the day , of which over 2 in the bus ) and then to the 1988 Olympic stadium (basketball) for lunch.

I think the polite term for the directions of the onsite managers was bossy and a classic line of ” I have told you several times what to do and you are ignoring me” , signaled real trouble. A set of people sat around a large (2-3m wide) wok and stirred hopefully our food for a very long time.

the guys from channel 10 were trying to help by cheering people up but to no avail.

here is the result of the food ( not channel 10’s efforts )

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I am afraid I cannot even face being polite about this, it was vile , cold rice , something in something else and stuff in goo , Jim took the brave approach of putting so much chili sauce on he could not feel his mouth ( the lady organizer than announced that this was not acceptable and we should enjoy the food instead). so having being shouted at and missed dinner we progressed on to a boat cruise up the Han which was actually quite pleasant, during which the last parts of the escape plan were ironed out

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as the busses moved of we readied ourselves and when the moment arrived we ran for it into the city and hoped for the best, after a while we found a shop that would sell us edible food

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strolling down the street with a can of Welches Grape Soda ( we can’t get it in the UK 🙁 ) and Mat with a bag of dorrito’s we decided to hit the technical markets and after getting lost in a rather dodgy area of town avoiding the catch nets of the organizers we got onto the subway.

NOTE :- when I think of a subway, I think of London, Barcelona or LA , Seoul has a whole new set of ideas on the subject. Most of the stops we entered were bigger than Kings Cross RAIL station !

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The local travelers of Seoul were SO kind to a bumbling set of idiots with no language skills or sense of direction, I am truly humbled. At every turn someone was trying to help us, they have been so kind.

Tech Center Seoul Style

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we then took Taxis to an Italian restaurant and ate food , real food , this is the first time I have felt close to full in 5 days.

I cannot reveal the help we had on the inside of the event to boost us out, but my deepest thanks go out to the UK and US Academic teams , thanks guys for a great day ( in the end )

Update we got back at 11.00pm Local time

It has been a long few months today and I hope to sleep well into tomorrow.



Korea (Imagine Cup) Day 2

And onto Day 2 , the presentation was at 9.00am. it went very very well.

Just after the presentation some of the Argentinean team came over for a chat


During the chat a Mexican film crew came around and started talking about the UK and Argentina , in my deep subconscious all I could hear was one of my school teachers saying just before a school trip to Germany “DONT MENTION THE WAR, BOY” only to hear the word “Malvenas”  from the film crew and feel a very tight feeling in my stomach.

However the girl from the Argentinean team discussed very vocally that students who are keen on education are thinking forward, not harboring grudges 🙂 , I suspect that was not the coverage that was being hoped for.

The Results are in and I have to say I am quite surprised that the UK team are not through to the next round.

Everybody retired to the bar to plot despicable plans in the provided Dr Evil chairs.

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Korea (Imagine Cup) Day 1

Well here we are Day 1 , it already feels like Thursday.  

Set up has gone well , everything is working on the initial pass.

the booth looking nice and tidy


then we filled the booth with some riff-raff


and then the first presentation

First Presentation

 The presentation went will, the QandA was a bit hairy more due to tiredness than anything else