Monthly Archives: March 2006

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On March 29, 2006 a total solar eclipse will be visible from parts of Turkey. In the Netherlands the eclipse will only be partial, which is no way near as spectacular as a total eclipse. The Wikipedia article on solar eclipses has nice animation of this solar eclipse.

I am leaving tomorrow for an 8-day vacation in Turkey to see this solar eclipse and to hike in the beautiful region named Cappadocia.

Hopefully I might be able to take a photograph as beautiful as the one you see below, which was taken by Govert Schilling. But it probably won't happen because it is quite difficult to get the correct lighting in the short timespan of 3-4 minutes of totality.

Picture of total solar eclipse. The corona of the sun is visible.

In this picture you can see the corona of the sun. The corona is only visible during a total solar eclipse, because the sun itself is a million times brighter.

As Rob Caron wrote on his blog, the RTM version of Team Foundation Server can be downloaded from MSDN Subscriber Downloads. To be precise, you can download the Workgroup Edition and the Trial Edition. The Workgroup Edition is limited to 5 users. If you have more users that need to access a single TFS instance you need to purchase another edition of TFS like the Standard Edition. I cannot find a reseller in the Netherlands, but the list price in the USA is about $2.800.

In any case, you need a Client Access License (CAL) for accessing a Team Foundation Server. If you are a licensed user of one of the Team Editions of Visual Studio 2005, you already have a CAL and are ready to go. Team members without Visual Studio that want to connect from Excel or MS Project or want to view the Project Portal should buy a separate CAL. This would cost about $500.

This morning I upgraded my Release Candidate instance to the RTM Workgroup Edition. This only took about an hour and a half and went very smoothly. If we manage to buy a license for the Standard Edition, upgrading to the full version should be easy and will not require a reinstall.

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[Update 2006-03-24: The Microsoft iPod Packaging video can now be found on Google Video]

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know a recurring theme is me complaining about Microsoft product branding: overly long product names and names causing confusion amongst different products.

Of course there are other people doing the same thing. It is also a recurring theme on the Microsoft Monitor weblog. For example, this entry about how confusing the name Office Live is. Through another entry on this blog I found the Microsoft iPod packaging video on YouTube. This is a spoof that was leaked from Microsoft. It is a hilarious take on what happens if you let Microsoft name and package the iPod.

Here is a still from the video to get an idea what this leads to:

Image of a spoofed product box for a Microsoft iPod

Hopefully the makers of this video and other Microsofties that feel the same, will gain a foothold inside Microsoft.

Maybe someday Microsoft will resist the temptation to slam things like "Home Premium" to the otherwise cool name "Windows Vista" (beautiful page by the way). I do like the name "Windows Vista Ultimate" but I fear it's just an excuse to get extra $$$$$ from customers. Let's hope it is included in my MSDN Premium Subscription for Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers and I don't need to upgrade it to MSDN Extra Premium Subscription for Visual Studio 2005 Team System with Windows Vista Ultimate.

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Today at the Microsoft Developer Days in the Netherlands, Scott Guthrie gave a talk about "Atlas". He showed off a diverse feature set with lots of demos. Scott anounced there will an Atlas release with a go-live license this spring. As always Scott did a great job with his presentation.

I am very amazed by the speed at which the ASP.NET team has been rolling out new technology "out-of-band" and by the speed at which they are responding to customer feedback. With "out-of-band" I mean shipping  add-ons, enhancements and CTPs that work on top of the officially supported ASP.NET 2.0 release and Visual Studio 2005. This way we don't have to wait for Visual Studio "Orcas" to get these enhancements.

Scott is the general manager for the Client and Web Platform & Tools Team at Microsoft. He also mentioned the CLR, but it isn't clear to me if he has also become responsible for managing the CLR team. I continue to be amazed by how much Scott knows about the technology his team is working on. This is unfortunately quite rare for managers.

If you are interested in ASP.NET and haven't yet subscribed to Scott's blog (through this RSS feed of course), I highly recommend doing so. For instance, he has a blog entry about the latest publicly available Atlas build.

And lastly, wanna take a guess at what the cool name "Atlas" will turn into once Microsoft's marketing department gets a hold of it when it becomes an official product? Please leave a comment.

[Update 2006-03-12: Scott just posted a blog entry about his talk with a link to the slides and demos.]

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Today I convinced two of my collegues to join me to attend Erik Meijer's session about Visual Basic 9 at the Dutch Microsoft Developer Days. To protect the innocent I will not reveal their identities here 😉 They were in for a treat!

Erik gave a very dynamic, energetic and entertaining talk about some of the new language features for VB 9.0: more dynamic typing, type inferencing, LINQ and XML integration. Unlike Erik, his laptop was having some energy shortage problems. Erik found himself a volunteer to hold the power cables together and managed to work through this.

I have previously outed myself as being very interested in Visual Basic 9. I am still not convinced that having a case-insensitive language is a good thing. Nor do I like line continuation characters. Sorry Erik, I am just not ready for that yet! 😉 But if C# 3.0 doesn't gain some of the new VB 9.0 features I think I will be compelled to overcome those small hurdles in the future.

At the end of his talk Erik gave us the mission to spread the love. So here it is: you gotta love VB 9.0! VB 9.0 *is* .

Today I went to Day 1 of the Microsoft Developer Days in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. One of the keynote speakers was Rafal Lukawiecki. He is a highly rated speaker at events like TechEd.

I have attended previous sessions by Rafal and was generally impressed with his presentation skills and the content of his presentations. Unfortunately today his talk seemed to be too marketing inspired and he had sometimes trouble separating fact from fiction. For instance, he claimed "Windows Vista builds on top of WinFX". Isn't that a little hard when WinFX isn't even installed out-of-the-box in Windows Vista?!

Of course from a licensing perspective I can understand why Microsoft wants us to think that Windows Vista is a powerful new platform for application developers. But the truth is that there isn't that much new stuff for .NET developers that will only work on Windows Vista. Most of WinFX will be delivered for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 as well. I am very excited about WinFX as an application developer and I am very excited about lots of improvements in Windows Vista as an end-user. But those are very separate things.

Do I regret that Windows Vista doesn't have more unique things to offer to .NET developers? No. I really appreciate that Microsoft makes WinFX available for down-level versions of Windows. Forcing companies and users to upgrade their OS to a new version just to run your latest-and-greatest app will probably not be a succesful tactic. This way the uptake for WinFX will be much quicker and we can take advantage of it sooner rather than later.

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eWeek runs a story with the title "Why Windows Vista will suck".  It links to the full story by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols on DesktopLinux.com. Although I have my fair share of criticism of Windows Vista, this story is very biased and sometimes plain wrong.

For instance, it states

If you didn't buy your PC in 2006, I wouldn't even try to run Vista on it.

Well, my computer is from November 2003 and it runs Windows Vista just fine. I even get the full Aero experience. Granted, in 2003 I did buy a high-end graphics card with my computer: the ATI Radeon 9800PRO with 128 MB VRAM. These days you can buy a similar card for less than 100$/€ 100.

Next it claims

Unfortunately, while Microsoft has worked hard on improving Vista's security, it's still pretty much the same old rickety kernel underneath it. Need proof? In January, Microsoft shipped the first security patch for Vista. It was for the WMF (Windows Metafile) hole.

This proofs the writer has no clue what he is talking about. The WMF hole has nothing to do with the Windows kernel. It was a user-mode vulnerability. Code exploiting this vulnerability gains the rights of the logged in user, but no more.

You see, with SuperFetch you can a USB 2.0-based flash drive as a fetch buffer between your RAM and your hard disk. Let me spell that out for you. Vista will put part of your running application on a device that can be kicked off, knocked out, or that your dog can carry away as a chew toy. Do you see the problem here? Me too!

Microsoft has publicly demonstrated at conferences that you can pull out the flash memory without any problem while Windows Vista is running. This memory is only used for caching items that can be recreated on the fly. You will take a performance hit, but you will not loose any data.

What I do know, is that I really don't see a thing, not one single thing, that will make the still undelivered Vista significantly better than the Linux or the Mac OS X desktops I have in front of me today.

What about an OS that has way more applications written for it than those other OS's and has much better backwards app compatibility than Max OS X 😉