Just sharing some of my inconsequential lunch conversations with you... RSS  

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Azure comes to Europe

… oh, and Chicago… Here’s the announcement:

The Dublin, Ireland, data center is our first mega data center built outside of the United States. This building covers 303,000 square feet, with 5.4 mega watts of critical power available now. Over time, the data center can expand to a total of 22.2 mega watts of critical power, growing with our business and customer demand.

Funny as we don’t measure datacenter in teraflops anymore, the mega watt has became the standard datacenter measure unit :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Note to President Obama: Want to Fix the Schools? Look to Portugal!

US schools are failing a large number of young Americans. Don Tapscott suggests that the president take a look at a modest country across the Atlantic that's turning into the world leader in rethinking education for the 21st century. That country is Portugal.

Its economy in early 2005 was sagging, and it was running out of the usual economic fixes. It also scored some of the lowest educational achievement results in western Europe.

So Prime Minister Jose Socrates took a courageous step. He decided to invest heavily in a "technological shock" to jolt his country into the 21st century. This meant, among other things, that he'd make sure everyone in the workforce could handle a computer and use the Internet effectively.

This could transform Portuguese society by giving people immediate access to world. It would open up huge opportunities that could make Portugal a richer and more competitive place. But it wouldn't happen unless people had a computer in their hands.

And Don goes on:

They're also thinking of creating a new online platform to allow teachers to work together to create new lessons and course materials that take advantage of the interactive technology. Through this collaboration, the Portuguese school system will create exciting new online materials to educate children. Lots of ideas are already making their way into Portuguese classrooms, says Mario Franco, chair of the Foundation for Mobile Communication, which is managing the e-school program. There are 50 different educational programs and games inside the laptops the youngest children use. The laptops are even equipped with a control to encourage kids to finish their homework and score high marks. If they do, they get more time to play.

Naturally the success of this model will have to wait to be evaluated, but I’m pretty sure it will return many times its investment. I’d like to add one advantage more: Portugal is not only investing on raising it’s competitive capability, it’s also investing on social justice and equity.

I’ve no doubts about the kids ability to use the laptops (presently, Portugal is introducing 50€ laptops to 1st grade!), the bottleneck here is probably the teachers. Changing their mindset from the old to the new education model is the major risk this concept will experiment.


Don Tapscott is a Canadian business executive, author, consultant and speaker based in Toronto, Ontario, specializing in business strategy, organizational transformation and the role of technology in business and society. Tapscott is chairman of business strategy think tank New Paradigm (now nGenera Insight), which he founded in 1993. Tapscott is also Adjunct Professor of Management at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dr. Dobbs go parallel

Here’s a cool link for those of us that love parallel computing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 RTM set for…

… July 13th!

According to bink.nu:

Microsoft has now set July 13th for RTM “sign-off”. Sign off is the process where all divisions sign that they agree on the final code, which means the actual RTM build will be created a few days earlier, which is targeted on July 10th.

The general availability (GA) is set to October 22nd, this is when you can buy it in stores in a box or on new PC’s (OEM).

We can expect the RTM much earlier on MSDN, Technet and Volume Licensing download sites, probably a few days after July 13th.

<update>MSFT to RTM Windows 7 by June 26? Build 7260 leaks</update>

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

URLizer

Sometimes we need to download a file, not open it with an application. A common scenario is downloading mp3 from a given URL. Here’s a simple site to URLize your link so you can “save target as”.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bing is still growing

According to comStore:

It appears that Microsoft Bing has continued to generate interest from the market for the second consecutive week,” said Mike Hurt, comScore senior vice president. “These early data reflect a continued positive market reaction to Bing in the initial stages of its launch.”

Here’s their data:

Microsoft Sites Search Performance
Work Week: 5/25/09 – 6/12/09
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore qSearch

Work Week

5/25/09-5/29/09

6/1/09-6/5/09

6/8/09-6/12/09

Searcher Penetration (Avg. Daily)

13.7%

15.8%

16.7%

Share of Search Result Pages

9.1%

11.3%

12.1%

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cool StopWatch helper

I was browsing some code when I hit the following:

        static TimeSpan Time(Action action)
{
var sw = Stopwatch.StartNew();
action();
return sw.Elapsed;
}


Not that this code is somewhat extraordinary, the beauty of this is precisely how simply we can write this code nowadays:



    TimeSpan elapsed = Time(() => Matrix.Multiply(matA, matB, matC));


I just can’t stop being amazed with simplicity :)

Who’s afraid of bing?

According to New York Post bing is getting on Google’s nerves:

[…]co-founder Sergey Brin is so rattled by the launch of Microsoft's rival search engine that he has assembled a team of top engineers to work on urgent upgrades to his Web service, The Post has learned.

Ok, bing won’t knock Google down, but according to the same post the predominant features that dictate how people search the Internet are ease of use and force of habit. It seems like:

Google has been so dominant for so long that it will be tough for anyone to take significant market share away from them.

Doesn’t this remind us of another company?

PS: the announced 11% market share is probably way more than bing has right now. And let’s see how it goes from here, will the trend continue uphill or will it fall to the usual 5% after this very aggressive ad campaign?

Parallel Computing with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1

I’ve found (to be honest not even that, I’ve received :S) this cool post with a collection of links on what’s new in Parallel Computing with Visual Studio 2010.

Here is the must from that list:

And for last my favorite one:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Visual Studio Lab Management 2010 beta

Visual Studio Team System 2010 Lab Management is an integrated solution to give you all the benefits of virtualization for application lifecycle management. The next picture shows a high level architecture diagram for Lab Management:

image

The lab management service in TFS uses System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) for management of lab infrastructure and provisioning of virtual machines across multiple virtualization platforms. You get a copy of SCVMM with Lab Management.

Microsoft Test and Lab Manager is a Windows Presentation Foundation based rich client. The Lab Center in Test and Lab Manager allows you to

  • Create and manage virtual or physical environments
  • Take environment snapshots or revert to existing snapshots for virtual environments
  • Interact with the virtual machines in the environments through environment viewer
  • Define test settings for the environments

Ok, now VMWare just lost the advantage it still had on the development teams.

So how much EPCGlobal compatible is BizTalk 2009 after all?

Well, not totally I’m afraid. BizTalk 2009’s compatibility is limited to the following:

  • LLRP – Low Level Reading Protocol
  • TDT library
  • EPCIS domain model – and helpers to get them from an event handler

What does this means? The LLRP support tries to guarantee that the hardware remains BizTalk RFID agnostic. The EPCIS domain models means we can get event readings into a compatible object model and do whatever we want with it. So what are we lacking?

For starters, we don’t have ALE. So we’ll have to live with the event handler’s pipeline.

Following up the EPCGlobal stack we don’t have a capture application surface. Though capturing applications are by definition custom made, on an EPCGlobal infrastructure we get for free the repository, repository persistence and subscribing events.

Finally, we lack the EPCIS query interface itself. Oh well, so much for the core of EPCGlobal compatibility...

The good news is that most of this infrastructure that is lacking is really simple to implement over WCF. All but the ALE engine itself, on most cases over BizTalk RFID we will have to live with the event handler pipeline.

Here are a couple of post about aligning BizTalk with EPCIS:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Three-strikes bill is out… there, somewhere on a waste bin :)

As expected, the French Constitutional Council declared unconstitutional the new Création et Internet law which would disconnect repeat online copyright infringers.

This council instructed Mr. Sarkozy:

  • Every man is presumed innocent until has has been proven guilty
  • Freedom of expression and communication is so valuable that its exercise is a prerequisite for democracy and one of the guarantees of respect for other rights and freedoms and attacks on the exercise of this freedom must be necessary, appropriate and proportionate to the aim pursued

Let’s only hope that the content providers don’t have influence enough to rewrite the basis of the European constitutions.

Hear about it at ars technica.

.NET RIA Services

The first time I’ve heard about .NET RIA Services was only a couple of weeks ago, when a colleague of mine (thanks Rui Rasteiro) introduced me to this pattern he was trying it out.

So what is .NET RIA Services:

Microsoft .NET RIA Services simplifies the traditional n-tier application pattern by bringing together the ASP.NET and Silverlight platforms. The RIA Services provides a pattern to write application logic that runs on the mid-tier and controls access to data for queries, changes and custom operations. It also provides end-to-end support for common tasks such as data validation, authentication and roles by integrating with Silverlight components on the client and ASP.NET on the mid-tier.

It is basically a pattern to implement N-tier architectures (with N tending to 3) on RIA apps, targeting rich the presentation layer for Silverlight (and ASP.NET), decoupling the physical data stores by the introduction of ADO.NET DataServices, articulated through an application mid-tier which can focus on domain logic as the plumbing solves:

[…] write application logic on the server and display, validate the data,  as well as supporting authorization,  querying, sorting, filtering, paging, etc, not to mention providing a clean way to mock out the data layer to do testing (a la TDD, etc).  All regardless of what data store you use (Entity Framework, Linq2Sql, nHibernate, Xml file, REST service, WCF-server, etc). 

Here’s the roadmap:

July 2009 CTP

PDC 2009 Beta

First part of 2010: RTW

Windows 7 to be shipped in Europe without Internet Explorer

Ok, I can understand the antitrust action based on the way Microsoft back in the 90’s, but on 2009 this is starting to look ridiculous. Take the market share (by Net Application):

image

Isn’t this a little bit out of date? Since Microsoft is no longer tying Internet Explorer to Windows (nor shipping), shouldn’t the same shipping prohibition be extended to Safari and Firefox on Mac OS X and Ubuntu? Or better yet, shouldn’t we stop this anachronism?

Oh well, probably the OEMs will just pack IE on the distributions we get here in Europe so I’m just wasting our time on what won’t probably be a problem…

Shame on you, VMWare

I’ve been using VMWare since 2001, but now I feel like porting my VMs elsewhere. It came as a shock to me that a company like VMWare would anonymously post a video of a crashing Hyper-V on YouTube.

The shame doesn’t stop here. The post came from Scott Drummonds, a VMware Product Marketing! And according to ITPro:

And probably because the copy of Hyper-V that you see blue-screening is apparently running on pre-release Intel hardware that you get under the kind of agreement that says you won’t do benchmarking on it, certainly not for public consumption.

Well, at least they apologized.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Using Sensor-Based Networks to address Global Issues: Policy Opportunities and Challenges

The Experts Conference will adopt a holistic approach to exploring sensor-based networks. Sessions 1 to 3 will include an introduction with case studies and a panel discussion on the economic, social, and technical drivers, enablers and challenges, based on the following list of issues:

  • Recent developments in sensor networks.

  • Benefits and impacts of sensor networks.

  • Drivers and obstacles for innovation, such as the existence or lack of market incentives, new business models, and potential economic impacts.

  • Cost and return on investment in these technologies.

  • Infrastructure, such as Internet connectivity, bandwidth and addressing issues.

  • Information Security, such as challenges to maintaining confidentiality, data integrity, and data availability in a sensor-network environment.

  • Privacy, such as the protection of personal data, including the ability to provide control and transparency to users on what personal data is being collected and how it is used.

  • Interoperability, such as methods to allow different devices or networks of devices to communicate with each other.

Bing still not fully supported in Portugal

Here’s bing in Portugal:

image

Not too much to ad to google, I’m afraid… :( And here’s bing in the US:

image

And here’s some gadget finding:

image

So my advice to you is: set localization to United States. Though it shouldn't, the same happens in google in respect to functionalities…

It look like bing is deserving the 6% Share Within Hours of Launch – bye bye Yahoo?

Convert a Word .docx file into PDF for IEEE Xplore

Though IEEE PDF eXpress accepts Word documents, I rather convert them to PDF so I can preview the final result. Most references out there on the web use Adobe print driver, but I prefer to use Word 2007 “Publish as PDF”. To embed the fonts please make sure to check the ISO 19005-1 (PDF/A) compliant option:

image

<update>

Please do it at your own risk, IEEE usually advises:

Print to a PDF Printer or PDF Distiller. Do not use any conversion wizards built into your word processor or "save as PDF" as they might add PDF bookmarks and Web links. Bookmarks and Web links are currently not allowed by IEEE library.

</update>

Monday, June 08, 2009

Benchmarking search engines

Here’s a simple yet cool engine search reviewer: blindsearch:

Type in a search query above, hit search then vote for the column which you believe best matches your query. The columns are randomized with every query.

The goal of this site is simple, we want to see what happens when you remove the branding from search engines. How differently will you perceive the results?

Here’s how it looks:

image[1]

Strangely enough, and for the few searches I’ve submitted, Yahoo and Bing won…

update: it’s my eyes or nowadays the difference from google to bing an yahoo is not what we were used to?… no wonder this site is written by a Microsoft employee :)

Windows 7 task bar thumbnails

Microsoft applications seem to be quite well prepared to project independent windows thumbnails on Windows 7 task bar. And for some strange reason, applications like Chrome and Firefox still didn’t react, leaving IE with a (I admit, small) competitive advantage. When will Chrome and Firefox respond? Since Windows 7 I’m inverting my browser usage from Chrome to IE, can this be a reason?

Team Foundation Server Power Tools

Team Foundation Server Power Tools is a set of enhancements, tools and command-line utilities that improve the Team Foundation Server user experience.

Team Foundation Server Tools include:

Particularly valuable is the Team Foundation Server Best Practices Analyzer, which includes both pre and post install checks.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Task or tray?

Now that Windows 7 has a cool new task bar (ok, a complete OS X rip off…) it’s probably a good time to set some order on the task versus tray.

Though probably not a rule set by Microsoft, in my vision we should:

  • use task bar for applications
  • use tray for system, services, utilities and notifications

As a corollary of this rules I’ve just made up, I’d propose:

  • we should never put an application both on task and tray bar

This got more important now because of the new Mac OS like task bar. Applications that hide themselves when minimized may confuse the user more then ever. So my advice is: disable “hide when minimized” from all apps.

Now that we’re talking about that, let me share my experience with Outlook 2007. In my opinion it shouldn’t reside on the tray icon, I’d rather see it to represent the presence of unread mail. Anyway, when the “hide when minimized” is set and upon minimization it looks like Outlook is not running (ok, we can always check the tray bar). More, we can no longer take a thumbnail peek on the opened windows.

I’ll end this post with a suggestion: double-clicking a task bar windows could restores all opened windows. All I can do for now is hitting Ctrl when clicking: it will circle each of these windows.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Google Chrome: Mac and Linux builds available

It seems like Chrome is finally available on Mac and Linux:

In order to get more feedback from developers, we have early developer channel versions of Google Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux, but whatever you do, please DON'T DOWNLOAD THEM! Unless of course you are a developer or take great pleasure in incomplete, unpredictable, and potentially crashing software.
How incomplete? So incomplete that, among other things , you won't yet be able to view YouTube videos, change your privacy settings, set your default search provider, or even print.
Meanwhile, we'll get back to trying to get Google Chrome on these platforms stable enough for a beta release as soon as possible!

I can’t wait to get my hands on Chrome on Mac OS – Firefox loads very slowly on Mac OS. Though I probably won’t find it most different from Safari on startup speed… let’s see how it goes…

<update>

It work just fine! It even brings more options than the Chrome 2 Windows version :)

</update>

TFS to TFS Migration Tool

Here’s a cool tool I have to test one of this days: TFS to TFS Migration Tool.

Beware of the limitations:

  • 1) This tool is limited to migrating only Version Control items, Work Items, and the links between them. Other portions of Team Projects are not migrated by this tool, including Reports, Team Build data, and Sharepoint content.
  • 2) Work Item IDs and Changeset numbers will not be preserved during migration. New IDs are assigned sequentially as items are migrated, so any references to these IDs will be invalid after migration. As work items and changesets are migrated, the links between those items will be migrated correctly, despite the ID changes.
  • 3) Timestamps on work item revisions and changesets will be updated to the time of migration. Any work item fields that store date time information will have their values correctly migrated, but the time of the revision will not be migrated. The most significant impact this has on a system is in reports that rely on a time dimension (i.e. Bug Trends, Code Churn). Because the migration typically occurs over a much shorter time span than the original operations, the time axis in such reports will effectively be compressed.
  • 4) Some branching and merging scenarios may not be migrated correctly. While there have been efforts in the latest release to make the migration of branches and merges more robust, there are still a large number of cases which have not been tested. The release notes contain some additional information about the branch and merge cases with known issues.

<update>Here’s a known problem</update>

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009

bing.com is available

Here it is: http://www.bing.com. For now the experience has been a little disappointing, at least in Portugal, could it be dependent on local data? Hope it gets better...

Virtual PC USB support

I've downloaded the XP Mode Virtual Machine and it seems to have USB support. Strange, it hasn't been publicied, has it? I'll try to test it as soon as I can and post the results back here.

PS: I'm posting from the web, Writer isn't working on my Windows 7 RC... argh...


<update>I've just test it: it works. I've tried it with an USB webcam that doesn't support my 64 bits host and it works just fine. It's about time!</update>

Development Catharsis :: Copyright 2006 Mário Romano