June 2007 Archives

Today's Big Launch

The blogosphere today is buzzing with news of the other launch happening today, but there is one a bit closer to my own heart - Eclipse 3.3 (Europa) has been released.  I'm downloading it right now.

I've been running Eclipse 3.3 since Milestone 3 at the start of the year, and as the releases have been coming out it has been getting better and better.  Interestingly, the download site today has broken down Eclipse into separate versions geared towards downloading the parts that different audiences are interested in - bringing the straight "Eclipse IDE for Java Developers" down to 78MB.  The version I need "Eclipse for RCP/Plug-in Developers" is a more substantial 153MB.

My immediate needs in Eclipse 3.3 was support for the Windows Vista native UI widgets (including things like the Vista tree control).  The version of SWT that was shipping at the time of Vista launch had a weird bug which caused the JVM to crash randomly, but was fixed early in the 3.3 codebase.  SWT in the 3.3 release has also got a version which renders using WPF rather than Win32.  I'm still not really sure what the reasoning behind a WPF version, but it is funny to compile Teamprise Explorer against this version of WPF and then zoom in using the magnification tool in Vista and everything is all smooth as it is vector based.  Performance sucks with the WPF version - but still.  With Teamprise Explorer compiled against the 3.3 Win32 SWT libraries, performance is super with the application looking more native on Vista than ones written using .NET 3.0.

Other the next few weeks I'm also going to try looking into some of the additional Europa projects.  The whole organization of the Eclipse Open Source project is very interesting to watch.  Today sees the simultaneous launch of 21 separate open source projects - many of which have dependencies on other projects.  The complexity is very interesting and yet (from the outside at least) seems to work impressively well.  Eclipse has been very good at doing releases every year, with substantial improvements as well as incremental changes.

As I write, I am 89% done downloading.  I'll let you know how I get on.  If anyone is queuing for the other launch, be sure to let me know how that goes.

Team System Live Chat

By the time I post this, you'll probably see it posted a hundred places, however on the rare chance that you only read my blog and not one of the many other great blogs about team system, can I point you to the upcoming Team System chat.  The reason why these get so widely blogged about is not because we get asked to (well, it might have a little to do with that) - but actually because these chats are actually really worthwhile attending.  You get the opportunity to talk with loads of people from the product groups, from the decision makers who sign the cheques on which features get worked on, through to the actual guys and gals who do the actual work on those features.  You also get to ask questions about how something you use today works and get the answer, in real-time, from the person that wrote it (or at least, someone who knows that person).  It is a great opportunity to influence the team as well as get your questions answered.

Come chat with the Team System product team – July 3rd

Join members of the Visual Studio Team System product group to discuss features available in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, Team Editions for Architects, Developers, Database Pros, and Testers. In addition, discuss what's new in the upcoming Orcas CTP.

As it proved so successful last time, they will be holding two sessions to try and catch as many folks around the globe as possible:

Join the chat on Tuesday, July 3rd , 2007 from 10:00am - 11:00am Pacific Time. Add to Calendar | Additional Time Zones


Join the chat on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 from 4:00pm - 5:00pm Pacific Time. Add to Calendar | Additional Time Zones

All Your Disks Are Belong To Us

The Microsoft Anti-Piracy Team With the Trustworthy Computing initiative, we'd all thought the days of easter eggs in Microsoft products had died, however three enterprising young men from the Anti-piracy Team at Microsoft managed to get themselves included as part of the security hologram on the front of every copy of the Windows Vista media.  If you have a copy of Vista handy, take a close look at the color windows logos, in the outermost circles you will see two large rectangles with two small rectangles either side (about 1mm high).  If you zoom into these rectangles you'll either get a public domain picture of an old master, or the picture above of the folks that designed the hologram.  Good work fellas!  For more information, see the Windows Vista blog, the site of the guy who noticed this picture or the Engadget post about the story.

STS-117 Launch

Shuttle Trail Cloud At Sunset At 4pm the floor of TechEd 2007 closed and I headed straight off to Cocoa Beach to find a spot to watch the Shuttle launch.  It was great driving along the roads, past all the people parked up on the side of the road. Obviously the traffic was pretty bad, but better than I expected.  We arrived just after 7pm and found a perfect spot on the beach in fantastic weather.  The sight and sounds of the actual launch were incredible, especially the belly rumbling thunder of the sonic boom and the cheers of joy from all the people massed onto the beach.  The most unexpected thing was the cloud left by the launch trail - a truly beautiful sight.  Photo's of the launch are up on Flikr and video available on YouTube.

Grr, Ed has laid down the gauntlet and gone to rather extreme lengths to beat my claim to have the world's smallest TFS Proxy server up and running.  I'm off to go talk to the embedded folks...

Trip to Kennedy Space Center

Me in the reflection of Neil Armstrongs space suit. Last night I had the privilege of being invited to a party hosted by the good folks running the Visual Studio Industry Partner program that Teamprise is a member of.  The venue was the perfect place to host a party for nerds - they hired out the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center.  I have wanted to visit the space center since I was a child so this was a great moment for me. They even allowed us in to the IMAX theater to watch the Space Station movie in 3D, and all the soda and popcorn was also included - fantastic.  As well as looking at rockets, there is a nice little museum attached to the conference center.  Thanks to everyone at VSIP for organizing the event - especially Laura and Joe. I've posted a set of the photos if you are interested.

TechEd 2007 Day 0

Folks enjoying the party It's been a busy day today getting setup.  Started over at the Teamprise Booth getting the stand backdrop and the various machines set up (without any exploding this time which is a bonus).  Then headed back to the hotel for 5 minutes to drop off my TechEd bag with all the associated swag.  If you are interested, the bag is better quality than last years, but the pen is not as good - a compromise that works for me.  After dropping off the swag, I headed back into the conference center to attend the staff orientation, get the VSTS TLC machine set up with Orcas Beta 1 of Team Foundation Server finishing up at about 6pm - enough time to get changed for the TechEd Edition of Party with Palermo.

I enjoyed myself immensely - possibly a little too much judging by how I am feeling now.  The Team System folks all ended up in a big group catching up on the gossip - and they are always a bad influence on me ;-)

Tomorrow (well today now I guess) is the big keynote and then I'll be hanging around the Teamprise booth during the exhibition hours.  Drop by if you are around.

I don't travel as much as I used to, but there are some things about a hotel that caters to business travelers that they should get right.  Forget about your fancy shmancy decor and strange taps that take you 5 minutes to figure out how to turn on, I'm talking basics here.  Here is my list of things that a hotel should get right:-

  1. Internet access that does not suck, and is free.  You'd think that paying $12.95 per day would give you a decent internet connection wouldn't you - well apparently not.
  2. An iron and ironing board in your room.  If I've traveled halfway across the world, then the odds are that my shirts are going to need a little bit of a press in the morning.  I do not want to have to call down to housekeeping for an iron and ironing board to take 30 minutes to arrive when I am already late.  I have a funny anecdote about ironing shirts in hotels that I'll share with you sometime - feel free to ask me about it if you see me.
  3. A good shower.  One that you has a gradual range of settings from hot to cold, trickle all the way up to water cannon.  Pressure and temperature controls should not be binary in operation.
  4. An alarm clock. When I wake up in the middle of the night with jetlag, it would be great to be able to look up at a clock to tell the time without switching a light on.
  5. Air conditioning.  Any air conditioning system that is used should not sound like a 777 taking off.
  6. A light switch by the door.  This seems to be something that American hotels have trouble with in particular.  I'd light to flick a switch by the door that switches a majority of the lights on.  I don't want to go fumbling around in the dark to figure out how to switch on all the lamps individually - what is it with that twisty thing on American light fittings?
  7. Plenty of spare plug sockets.  I want to be able to plug in my laptop and possibly charge my cell phone at the same time without having to move furniture.
  8. Hangers in a wardrobe.  More than 2 hangers please.  Real hangers are the best, but if you have to use those weird anti-theft ones then fine - but I might steal those just to make a point.
  9. Curtains that shut in the middle.  In the precious few hours I get in my room I would love a bit of sleep - blocking the light out would help me a lot.
  10. Noise insulation.  If the couple in the room next door is having a noisy argument (or worse, the couple next door are having a noisy something else) then I really don't want to hear it - especially when I've met the elderly and somewhat large couple occupying the room and so am unable to block the disturbing mental images from my mind.

Note that there is nothing fancy here.  Yet you frequently find hotels that consider themselves a bit more upmarket often get the basics totally wrong.  I've tried to be restrained with the nice things that actually make me smile.  Things like big fluffy towels, proper duvets, nice decor, alarm clocks than include an iPod dock, and friendly and helpful staff - those would all be a bonus.

Sorry for the rant - I love the work I do and I am very privileged to get to travel around talking to people about interesting stuff, I'm just tired and grumpy (possibly because my current hotel scores 2.5/10 in this list ;-)

I am currently sat in sunny Newark having sped through immigration in record time (there wasn't a single person in front of me in the queue - the first time that has ever happened. For anyone that it interested, I've fallen back into my Chicken rut

Anyway, I'm on my way to TechEd in Orlando.  This year I'll be working at the Team System TLC (Technical Learning Center) as well as hanging around the Teamprise booth (#1333 near the massage area apparently) - do pop by and say "Hi" if you are around or at any of the various parties etc.

Update: Woot!  I've just had an email telling me that I've been bumped to First for my Newark to Orlando segment.  Sweet.

Good news World's Smallest TFS Proxy fans.  At 11:10 this morning, the friendly man from Dell appeared at my door with a new motherboard flown in from Holland this morning.  With-in twenty minutes he had the motherboards swapped out and we plugged the SX270 in to hear that familiar whirr of the fans as it came back to life.

Now, I know that Dell customer support has been getting a lot of stick lately - but I have to say that I've been left seriously impressed.  Exactly 24-hours after reporting a problem with an old, out of warranty, machine I'd bought from their Dell Outlet store (which sells returned machines at a discount), I had a brand new motherboard and was back up an running.  Can't ask for more than that.

More importantly, the World's Smallest TFS Proxy Server lives again, hopefully to put in a few more years tireless service in my garage.


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