A Blog by Scott Isaacs

Tag: Technology Page 3 of 11

Banjo and Open Source

I don’t remember how I found it in the first place anymore, but I recently started listening to a new podcast called PC Load Letter.  It’s two guys that used to work together on Subversion (and now work together at Google) talking about open source software and related topics.  So far, there have only been three episodes, each fairly short, and I’ve enjoyed them.  Especially the banjo in the intro/exit music.  If you like open source software and banjo picking, this might just be what you never knew you were looking for.

New Things I Want To Learn

Over the last 18 months or so, Microsoft has been releasing things faster than I am able to keep up.  Work keeps me really busy, and when I get home, I really haven’t been in the mood to write any code or really learn anything.  That said, there are a number of new things that I would like to get my head around.  The things I am most interested in at the moment are:

  • Silverlight 2.0
  • ASP.NET AJAX — I expect this one to be relatively easy once I get to it.

Additionally, I might be picking up the following over the next couple months at the office:

  • Compact Framework development (2.0 or 3.5, not sure yet)
  • WCF — This one is something I should have picked up right away when it came out.  It could make a big difference in some of the projects I have at work, but the task list has been too long so I’ve been finding other simpler (read: familiar) ways.

At the moment, I’m not looking to become an expert at any one of these topics.  I just want to get familiar enough with them to know the basics, as well as know where to go when I don’t know something.

For the personal list, I think I will start with MVC.  I plan to spend some time poking around www.asp.net as well as watching videos from Scott Hanselman — unless someone has some better suggestions for getting started, that is.

VS2008 DVDs From InstallFest

If you attended a VS2008 InstallFest in the last couple months and registered your trial copy of VS2008, you have probably received the final media in the mail in the last day or two (or probably will in the next day or two).  Someone sent me a note today asking about activated the installed trial version with the "real" software key.  He (and I) thought that it would be done from within the VS2008 IDE.

We were wrong.  In case anyone else is missing it like we were, this tip is for you.  You have to actually run the installer on the new disc.  Choose the option to "modify or uninstall" and after the installer finally loads, click next and you’ll see a handful of choices, including one to add a license key.  Copy the key from the disc jacket and you’re all set.

Looking For Virtualization Info and Advice

For two unrelated projects I am looking into server virtualization.  Both are for production systems and are not developer or consumer focused.  Most of the conversations I’ve had about VMs so far have been in the context of software development and software testing, but I know there are many people out there that have successfully virtualized their production server environment.  In talking about this with the people I’d be working on these projects with, here is a list of pros and cons we came up with based on what we’ve heard or read here and there — none of us are VM experts.


  • Can setup so that data is on one drive and OS/apps are on another, with each virtual drive being a separate VHD (virtual Hard Disk) file.  With that, we can easily backup the data drive separate from the OS/app drive, and in the event of a major problem, we can restore one without the other.  This can also be done with physical hardware, but we do not have access to the physical hardware.
  • Can create multiple virtual servers.  For example, we can put e-mail on its own server, SQL Server on its own, and web on its own.  We can then run all three VMs on a single physical machine.  If we tax the limits of the physical machine, moving one of the virtual machines to another physical is a simple file copy (for the most part).
  • Backups and restores of entire servers or disks are file copies.
  • If we have two physical servers we can schedule regular backs from one to the other and in the event of one physical server going bad, we can turn on all the VMs on a single physical server while repairing/replacing the first physical server.  Things would run more slowly, but at least they would be up.
  • We can test in other environments, such as Linux/Apache/Mono in a virtual server without having to have new hardware.
  • A problem with one virtual server will not affect the other servers.
  • Adding more servers is easy.  Make a copy of one and change a few settings.


  • Takes up more disk space as there are multiple copies of OS and some apps — installed for each VM.
  • I would guess that running all three VMs (from the example above) on a single real machine would be less performant that running the three services directly on the real server.
  • Multiple licenses to OS/apps are needed.  Multiple licenses = more $$$.


So based on what I have here so far, I have a few questions for my readers.

  • What pros and cons have I missed?  What pros and cons have I listed, but are incorrect, or have significant caveats?
  • Can anyone provide any real world advice, info or data that would help us determine if, how and what we should virtualize?
  • Are there some services that should not be virtualized?  POP3 e-mail?  Exchange Server?  SQL Server?  IIS?  If so, why and under what conditions?  Is it OK sometimes, but not in certain cases?
  • How much does the load on one VM affect the host?  What about the other VMs?
  • What about the host server?  Minimum hardware specs?  Recommended hardware specs?  How do I calculate what I need?  Do I simply add the specs of the VMs to calculate the specs of the host?
  • Microsoft Virtual Server?  VMWare Server?

If you have anything to add, please leave a comment here or contact me here or reply on Twitter.  I know there is a ton of info out there, but since this is not my area of expertise, I’d prefer to hear from someone I know who knows — even if what they share is simply their approval/disapproval of another source of information.


Deeper in .NET 2008 Registration Open!

I’m very happy to announce that registration for Deeper in .NET 2008 is now open.  You can visit the site now to get the latest info and register to attend.

Lots of the info is still in the works, but there is definitely some good info out there now.  In addition to all of the info about our sponsors (we have six so far!) we’ve announced three of the speakers that will be coming to Milwaukee on April 5 for Deeper in .NET 2008 (DiDN).

We’re very happy to have Jason Beres from Infragistics returning to Milwaukee.  Jason has been at all but one of our Deeper in .NET conferences and has spoken for us more than just about any other single speaker (that’s one of those unverified statistics, but it seems to be about right).

Also, joining us this year courtesy of INETA is Mark Miller from Developer Express.  I’ve never experienced the pleasure of seeing Mark present myself, but everyone I speak to tells me that I’ve been missing out.  His presentation is sure to keep you entertained and informed.

Our third speaker for Deeper in .NET 2008 is Richard Campbell.  You may know of Richard from his company Strangeloop Networks, or perhaps you’ve heard him as co-host on .NET Rocks!  I spoke with Richard on the phone the other day and he sounds just as excited about coming to Milwaukee as we are to have him.

More speakers, the schedule, and the details of the different sessions will be posted in the upcoming weeks, so please keep checking back on the site for the latest info.  I’ll also try to post updates on my site as more details are finalized.

I mentioned earlier that we have six sponsors signed up so far.  We’re very thankful to New Resources Consulting (Platinum), Edgenet (Platinum), Centare Group (Gold), Stratagem (Gold), Compuware (Gold), and Exacta Corporation (Silver) for getting involved and supporting the group.  Without them there wouldn’t be a conference this year.

We still need more sponsors, though, to make DiDN a huge success, so if your company is interested, please have them contact me and visit our sponsors page for more info.

So sign up today and start telling everyone you know about Deeper in .NET.  If you blog, blog about it and trackback here or send me a link.  Tell your co-workers, family and neighbors.  I’m very excited about DiDN and it’s coming up soon on April 5 (just over 7 weeks away)!

Mock Objects Tonight at WI .NET UG

Tonight is meeting night for the WI .NET Users GroupDerik Whittaker is making the trek up from the Chicagoland area to talk to us about mock objects.  After opening registration only a couple days ago, we already have 60 people signed up, so if you’re interested in coming, please register soon.

Tonight we have the pleasure of having a new sponsor for tonight’s meeting as well.  Manpower Professional is putting us up at Libiamo’s Italian Restaurant downtown Milwaukee.  Parking will be available in the Manpower parking structure next door to Libiamo’s.

I hope to see everyone there.

Can Anyone Recommend An Electrical Engineer

At work, we are looking to design and build a small device, possibly running Windows CE (possibly not).  We have been talking to a couple different engineers to get their feedback and estimates, but I would be interested in any personal recommendations that anyone might have.

Please contact me if you know anyone.  We are first looking for someone to produce a prototype device, but also someone who can handle production runs as well.  Also, they need to be within approximately 90 minutes or so from the Milwaukee area.

Holiday Party Canceled (For Now)

The WI .NET Users Group Holiday Party I mentioned before has been canceled due to weather.  As soon as it is re-scheduled, we will let everyone know.  I apologize for any inconvenience.

More About The WI .NET UG Holiday Party

So the WI .NET Users Group’s Holiday Party is coming up soon.  Today I was able to increase the registration capacity because Dave Bost from Microsoft was able to come through for us and got us a few dozen more Visual Studio 2008 licenses than previously expected.

By the way, if you’re attending the party to install Visual Studio, Dave has a great post that includes some steps you should take to prepare for the installation.  He also talks about a number of contests surrounding the party.  There is even a contest you can enter even if you can’t make it to the party.

One of the contests is a Demo Contest.  We are looking for a number of people who are willing and able to do a short demo (around 5-15 minutes, depending on participation).  If you’ve been using VS08 or .NET 3.5 and would like to talk about one of your favorite features, please contact me and let me know.  As long as the schedule permits, we’ll allow people to "sign up" to give a quick demo right there at the party, but we’d like to get as many interested people as possible to sign up in advance.

Even though we have again reached our limit for Visual Studio licenses, there is another link to register on our site.  We’d still like to have everyone at the party for the food and fun, so sign up using this alternate link.  Also, by signing up you’ll be added to the waiting list in case anyone the already registered is unable to make it for some reason.

I hope to see everyone there.

I Was Wondering When This Would Happen

Silverlight 1.1 becomes Silverlight 2.0. (Thanks for the heads up, Dave.)

Now I just have to find a way to get to Mix ’08 next year.

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