May 2008 Archives

Brian the Build Bunny Wallpaper It turns out that the little video I posted yesterday has taken on a bit of a life of it's own.  Last time I checked, it was in the top 10 Science and Technology posts for YouTube in Ireland.  It's funny how it is always the posts that you do more for your own entertainment that take off. 

Anyway, there is no doubting that Brian is a bit of a character, he's already recorded his first TV appearance as a guest on this weeks, "This Week in Channel 9" (to be broadcast soon).  I wish that Nabaztag had an affiliate program as it sounds like I may have sold a few rabbits for them. 

Anyway, if you can't afford your own bunny, then you can have the next best thing for free.  Your very own Brian the Build Bunny Background on the desktop of a computer near you (standard and widescreen versions available).  Click here to chose a image size that suits you.

Brian the Build Bunny


I'm always keen try new and novel ways to keep in touch with the status of my software projects.  Fortunately, Team Foundation Server provides many ways to do this.  While the Build Wallboard is fun if you have a spare monitor and machine lying around, I wanted to experiment with some inexpensive dedicated devices, and so Brian the Build Bunny was born.

Brian is a Nabaztag smart rabbit.  He reads out details of check-ins and builds.  If a build has failed then his ears go down to show how sad he feels, but if you fix the build his ears will soon pick up again.

I've had Brian for about a year now waiting to do this project, but when I tried it in the past I always found the response times from the rabbit to be too slow.  However earlier this year, the Nabaztag developers updated the code running the rabbits so that they are now using the XMPP (Jabber) protocol to receive updates and the service now seems pretty good.

Brian is now sitting on my desk chattering away and letting me know what is happening in TFS.  If you want to find out more about how he works and see him in action then take a look at the video. If your company blocks YouTube but you have Silverlight installed then you can view a higher quality version of the video courtesy of the Windows Live Streaming service.  I'll go through the code behind Brian in a later post if there is any interest, but it is pretty much a standard TFS event listener that then sends text to the rabbit using the Nabaztag API.

radiotfs I've just posted the latest installment of Radio TFS.  I'm actually a show behind on editing so expect to see episode 6 up soon.  However, in episode 5 Paul, Mickey and I attempt to answer some of the common questions we hear people ask about Team System including:

  • What is Team System?
  • Which edition is right for me?
  • Why can't I find Team Foundation Server on MSDN?
  • What is Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition?
  • Is VSTS 2005 compatible with TFS 2008?
  • Why can't I see Team Foundation Server when I install Team Suite?
  • What are my options for migrating from my old system(s) to TFS?
  • Can I use TFS with VB6, .NET 1.1, Eclipse etc?
  • What is a Team Project - how should it be scoped?
  • I deleted a file locally, I do a "Get Latest" and TFS doesn't download it - why?

As well as the usual sprinkling of tangents along the way.

Click here for a direct link to this episode.

If you have any questions that you would like answered, or if you have any comments and feedback about the show then please contact us at or visit the website at for quick links to subscribe to the feed in iTunes, Zune etc.

Pocket Knife LanguageAs a professional programmer, the languages I code in during the day are very much dependant on the particular project I am working on.  Also as a programmer I have a very low threshold for repetitive or complex tasks - basically if I have to do something more than twice then I'll probably write a quick program to do it for me (sometimes taking longer than the repetitive task would have done, but I have a lot more fun along the way :-) ).  These little programs are throwaway pieces of code.  I'll probably never run them more than once - I'll almost certainly never come back to them and I'm certain that no-one else will see them.

I find it interesting what language people choose to write these little disposal programs with - I call it your "Pocket Knife Language".  Currently I would usually use C#, despite that fact that I code all day in Java.  I would normally use C# just because it is that much easier to access the bits of the operating system I normally run on (Windows) - but there are a huge number of libraries and methods in the .NET framework to do the heavy lifting for me.  Jumping between C# and Java is pretty easy for my brain to cope with.

But It's not always been like this for me.  I guess my first pocket knife language was probably Excel and then I quickly moved on to Visual Basic.  I stayed with VB for a while. At the time I was earning a living writing mainframe code - anything that requires you to write a 30 line program (in JCL) to just compile and run your code is not suitable for inclusion in anyone's coding pocket knife :-)  In my professional career I then moved into web development, it was around this time that Java started to appear on the scene and I moved into J2EE work and at some point, I'm not quite sure when, I started using Java as my pocket knife language.  I went through a brief spell when I was doing a lot of front end web development that I dispensed with IDE's and compilers completely and JavaScript and the DOM actually became my pocket knife of first choice.  However I quickly saw the light.  Once I started working on .NET projects professionally it didn't take me long to move to C# as my pocket knife language and it has stuck there for a few years now despite moving back to Java on the professional front.

I was having a chat at the weekend with a friend of mine who is currently doing some very clever and complex work down at a pretty low level which requires him to be coding in C++ all day long - however I found it interesting that he was using Java as his pocket knife language.  Other people I work with would use Perl or Python as theirs.

So, dear reader, what is your pocket knife language and why?

Infragistics is the world's largest publisher of reusable presentation layer development tools for Windows Forms, ASP.NET, WPF, Tablet PC and Java (JSF) environments.  I think they can count most of the Fortune 2000 as customers of theirs.  They also happen to be a customer of ours. 

I was in an email discussion with fellow MVP Ed Blankenship, when he came out with the following quote which Infragistics have kindly given me permission to share.

“We completely use Microsoft® Team Foundation Server (with Teamprise) for the development of all of our products now.  This was especially challenging with bringing in our Java (JSF) development group into the same development process of our .NET product lines.  By leveraging the Teamprise Eclipse plug-in and the ANT Team Build tasks, we were able to ensure they were using the exact same systems as the other departments in Engineering.  So the JSF team now has access to the same build, version control, work item tracking, and other internal automated software solutions that the rest of our company uses.  Visual Studio® Team System has really enabled us to solidify our internal ALM process, metrics gathering, and reduce overhead from supporting different systems across product teams.”

Ed Blankenship

Thanks for sharing Ed!  On a personal note, I'm glad that the Ant integration is proving so useful to many companies and this is an area that we are going to continue investing in along with everything else.

I am currently playing with SP1 of VSTS 2008 and TFS 2008 in a Windows Server 2008 VMWare instance I have.   Whenever I created this particular instance I kept the disk space at 16Gb which is normally plenty for these play instances but after installing the service pack of VSTS my disk space was getting low.

I thought I would try extending the size of my virtual disk and it was suprising easy.

  1. First, I had to take a fill clone my image to remove the snapshot history.
  2. The on the new clone's disk I executed the following command:
    "C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation\vmware-vdiskmanager.exe" -x 32Gb win2008-000004-cl1.vmdk
  3. This extended the disk size, now I need to extend the size of the partition.  Boot up the virtual Windows 2008 server, right click on "My Computer" and select "Manage".  Go To Storage, Disk Management and then right click on the C: partition and select Extend to extend the partition the the size of the remaining disk.

Tada.  No third party tools (like Partition Magic etc) needed.


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