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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

.NET: Whitehorse Core to DSI Mission 

Today, Steve Ballmer released an executive mail discussing Microsoft's vision for the Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI). Here's an excerpt from this message describing DSI:

"Specifically, DSI is about doing three things really well:
  • Building software development tools that help IT managers and software-development teams design computing systems that are inherently simple and inexpensive to manage. We call this "design for operations."

  • Enhancing the Windows operating system platform with powerful management technologies suited for complex and constantly-changing IT environments, such as automated deployment, configuration and monitoring.

  • Building easy-to-use, scalable solutions that cover every aspect of the management experience, with real-time feedback on system performance and a high level of automation."

These are the key tenets of the Whitehorse tools -- a set of designers for Visual Studio 2005 that allow developers and operations people to create diagrams of their logical data center, define constraints on them, build applications that will run on machines with those constraints, and test a deployment to ensure the application will run on the specified machines. Whitehorse is the 'design' part in the 'design for operations' tag line.

Whitehorse was first demoed at PDC last year and will also be a key component of what's discussed at TechEd 2004 in May.

BLOG: RSS Aggregators Leveling Playing Field? 

Josh makes some very good points about 'A-List Bloggers' and how news aggregators can help level the playing field between those on the 'list' and newer bloggers with interesting content.

At first glance at the title of his post, I was worried that it was going to be some rant railing against 'A-List bloggers' and how they're stealing all of his readers. But, reading through the post, Josh talks about how using RSS Bandit to get updates from 2000 feeds (Wow! that's a lot of posts), he can cover more territory than reading the blogs in IE. And, now he only reads the posts that interest him from any blogger he's signed up for, rather than always reading the same people (regardless of what they were talking about on a particular day).

I have to agree with him. Using RSS Bandit to keep tabs on all of the feeds that mildly interest me definitely lets me keep my tentacles out there and see and read more content that interests me. It works pretty well with feeds numbering in the hundreds as well as the thousands. And, I hear that some of the fancier aggregators have better productivity features to head you search and sort through the feeds. But, RSS Bandit works well for me, and it's the right price -- free!

The only drawback to this -- you still have to know a blog is out there and sign up to it. Otherwise, you may never come across it. At least not until people start referencing it.

Monday, April 26, 2004

BLOG: Stealing Blog Content? 

Scoble took down his experimental aggregator blog after several complaints about it being stealing. It's a shame that Scoble felt pressured into taking down his aggregator. Although it aggregated copies of whole blog entries, it did attribute the original author. The one point might be that the attribution was a little subtle, and it could have made it clearer that these came from other blogs. But, I didn't think it was a big deal. As a reader of his aggregator blog, I was clear on which content came from where...

Hopefully, Scoble will come back with an aggregator blog that just uses excerpts of the posts, because I found it kind of useful.

Just to be clear. Anyone who wants to can copy content from my blog -- either piecemeal or wholesale. That's what it's here for. But, a link back to my original blog post would be greatly appreciated.

HUMOR: Featuring the Latest in Peripherals, the i-Duck 

Finally, I've found a memory storage device that I can use. It has:
  • a USB 1.1 interface

  • maximum storage capacity of 256MB

  • available in 6 different colors (including camouflage)

  • and, oh yeah, it's shaped like a rubber ducky

What more could you ask for? Introducing the new i-Duck by Dynamism.com:

[via Neil Gaiman's blog]

BOOK: The Da Vinci Code 

I just finished reading "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown this weekend. It was a very interesting book. I really liked the way he tied a historical context to a modern day suspense/thriller. The following are all spoilers, so stop now if you plan to read the book.

The book was a very interesting read. He did a good job of blurring the portions of it that were based on factual, historical data and the parts that were purely fiction. I guess that's what made it so interesting. There's actually a couple of books that were written explaining the history behind "The Da Vinci Code" (like "De-Coding Davinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code" and Fact and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code). I've thought about picking one up and reading it, but maybe it's best not to ruin the mystery. So, has anyone read these (or other similar) books? If so, what are your recommendations? Should I read one???

The book was definitely well-paced and fun. It almost had the feel of an episode of 24 (which I'm a big fan of) with almost all of the action taking place within a one day period. And, Brown made extensive use of flashbacks to bring the reader up to speed on Grail mythology and on Sophie's life. Also, the puzzles they had to solve to find the Holy Grail were also entertaining.

And, the twist at the end with the Teacher being none other than Leigh Teabing was good (although I did find that part a little over the top), especially since the author went through some trouble trying to set the police chief, Fache, up as the possible mastermind. One thing I would have liked to have learned more about was Fache, and how exactly he changed his mind from thinking that Langdon was the murderer to believing it was someone else. That was kind of glossed over in the novel. Overall though, I would recommend this book as a good read.

Finally, as an observation, I find it intriguing that there seems to be a set of books coming out with deep historical ties. The Da Vinci Code being one of them, but others like The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, seem to be leading the charge of historically-based novels.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

.NET: What Good Is XML For? 

Ever ask yourself that questions? Sometimes it seems that people think XML is the cure all. Once they've moved their system to XML all of their interoperability problems will go away. I'm sure you recognize the shpeal...

Well, there's an interesting discussion about this taking place on Sean Grimaldi blog, in case you're interested to see how other people feel about it or make your own observations.

HUMOR: Star Trek: SP1 Released! 

This fake press release from BBSpot is damn funny.

Looks like Paramount is going to release a service pack for the original Star Trek series. This patch will contain fixes for technical goofs and other errors, which have nagged fans for decades. And, it will be call Star Trek: SP1. I'm sure the trekkies out there (me included) will enjoy this...
[via Wil Wheaton's blog]

And, if you liked that one, check out this article about Star Wars: Episode III.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

MUSIC: Worst Song Ever! 

There was a new list published by Blender of the worst songs ever. Here is link to the top 10 (or is that the bottom).

Can't say that I argue with most of their choices...

.NET: Finally PInvoke.NET 

PInvoke.NET is a wiki that is accumulating all of the wrappers for unmanaged Win32 APIs to make it easier for you to include calls to them in your .NET programs. This is a very useful resource for anyone doing significant WinForms development. I know it would have come in handy on several occasions for me. And, I'm sure it will be useful for me going forward...
[via DuncanMa's blog]

BOOK: Wired Interview with Neal Stephenson 

Now that the second book in The Baroque Cycle, The Confusion, is out in stores, Neal Stephenson just did an interview with Wired. Neal talks about some of the plot devices he uses in the second novel in the series, and about how (and why) a science fiction author ended up writing about 1600-1700's.

Monday, April 19, 2004

.NET: Free VC++ 2003 Compiler Available 

VC++ has nearly become forgotten with the flood of C# and Visual Basic.NET content, samples, and press releases, but Microsoft is now releasing the Microsoft Visual C++ Toolkit 2003, which includes all of the tools that you need to compile and link C++-based applications for Windows and the .NET Framework (including additional samples).

It's really cool that this is out there for C++ developers to test-drive the lastest release of Visual C++ for free.

.NET: Keith Short's Article on Non-UML in Whitehorse 

Whitehorse is a set of visual designers that will release with Visual Studio Whidbey. Some of you may already have seen the Class Designer because it was part of the PDC demos and sessions. The other designers: the Service Designer and Logical Data Center Designer, will be seen at TechEd 2004 in May.

There has been a lot of talk and questions about why these designers are not UML-based. Keith Short just recently blogged about Microsoft's UML support and emergence of domain specific languages (DSL). This article is a very good read if you're interested in the reasoning behind Whitehorse's move towards DSL and the features that it will enable over standard UML based tools.

BOOK: Neil Gaiman Wins Nebula for Best Novella 

Caroline by Neil Gaiman won this year's Nebula award for Best Novella over the weekend -- via Neil's blog.

I'm glad to see Neil win another award. He's a great writer.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

VS.NET Wallpaper Add-In 

Here's a cool little VS add-in from CodeProject that lets you add a wallpaper image to the background to your code window. Now, you can write code over your favorite picture.

Cool? Yep. Useful? Probably not...


You just can't go wrong with a website named DrinkBoy.com. It's actually quite interesting for any mixologists out there...

Friday, April 16, 2004

Finally Finished Quicksilver 

Traveling to and fro finally gave me enough time to finish Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. It was a very intricate story and after about half way through, the pace of the action finally picked up. The problem with it being the first novel of a planned three book set is that's where all of the background and character development happens, so it tends to slow the pace of the book a bit.

That said, it's a sweeping epic with lots of political intrigue and a smattering of science to keep things interesting. The Natural Philosophers were an interesting group that were responsible for bringing about science as we recognize it today. I'm a big fan of Daniel Waterhouse and Jack Shaftoe, so I hope they have big parts in the upcoming books as well. But, I was expecting to see (or read) more of Isaac Newton in the novel. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it's not for those without some perseverence (but what did you expect from a thousand page book :).

Here's a link to another review of Quicksilver by shonk.

And, it looks like good timing too, because the next book in the series, The Confusion, just came out.

Finally, I decided to add a Currently Reading section to my navigation panel to let folks know which book I might talk about next...

Old Game Index 

Ever wonder about old video games that you played but haven't seen in a while? If you're feeling nostalgic, check out Home of the Underdogs. It's an index of old video games and provides links to downloads for some of them, too.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Everywhere Are Signs 

Here's a cool link (brought to you by the U.S. Navy) to some funny street signs from Brad Abrams.

Hawaiians Love Doughnuts 

Hawaiians are going crazy for Krispy Kreme and who can blame them:

Hawaii residents love Krispy Kreme Doughnuts so much that they often stock up at a new store in Maui before boarding inter-island flights back home, overloading airline luggage bins along the way. "The locals bring so many boxes of doughnuts on board that we can't always fit them on our flights. Some people will put five or six boxes in an overhead bin," says Mark Dunkerley, president of Hawaiian Airlines.

I actually experienced this on a ferry from Maui to Lana'i while I was on vacation last week. There were a few people carting boxes of Krispy Kreme onto the ferry. I was jealous...

Building a Wikammer 

Here's an interesting idea for possible use and extension of a wiki to do collaborative coding that I found by Manip on Channel9.

...has anyone ever used a Wiki type format for Open-Source programming. I mean at the moment you can add new topics and write about it, why can't we expand that to functional programming. Imagine if you could just go to apache.org and edit out an error you spotted and have your code appear in the next release.

I haven't heard of anything similar to this idea. It could be a fun project for someone to try.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Howdy Scott 

An old friend, Scott Seely, just started a blog. His first entry is about the new configuration system for Whidbey. Scott works on the Indigo team, so I'm sure we'll get some interesting thoughts from him on Web Services too.

Also, here are a couple of books that he's written:

I'm Back 

Well, I'm back and ready to blog!

First things first. From the 'better late than never' category, how about those UConn Huskies!!! National champs in both men's and women's basketball. As an alumnus, I just couldn't be prouder...

And, I was sitting at an outdoor bar in Maui, having a Mai-Tai, watching the Huskies kick Georgia Tech's butt. It just doesn't get much better than that! Well, other than breaking Duke's heart in the Final Four... :)

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Gone Fishin'... 

Well, not really fishing, but just gone on vacation. And, I won't be posting to the blog.

I'll be back in about a week...