March 2005 - Posts
In Sweden, an XBox with a replaced power-cord has blown up in its user's face. According to the user he "got sparks in my face and the whole apartment smelled of the burn."
Microsoft just issued a recall of over 14 million powercords supplied with early XBox consoles. Even then the problem isn't solved, Microsoft knows. It's a problem in the power supply of the box.
Microsoft now claims it's not about the power-cord but it's about solder joints. Good to know is that broken solder joints inside your XBox are a warrenty issue. So when yours blows up in your face, you'll get a new one!
Theres a lot of commotion about the Visual Studio 2005 en Team Foundation server licensing going on. Microsoft released their new pricing model and it seems you'll have to pay a lot of money for a single version of Team System (where there are three, developer, architect and tester) and you'll have to purchase Team Foundation server separately for $2.799.
The problem many people have is, of course the amount of money. They are starting to compare the package with IBM/Rational's suite. And whenever something is ridiculously expensive, people tend to compare it with that suite as "it's in the range of Rational's suite".
But another problem stated, is the fact that a lot of (independent) developers will never purchase the suite, won't work with it (at home) and will not recommend the package to their customers because they're not familiar with it. Currently, they/we recommand Visual Studio 2003 with a lot of smaller tools like MSBuild, nUnit, TestDriven.NET, nDoc, and so on. Why would we do the same, if we can't even test if the program is working and fullfilling our (project's) needs?
Mark Gunderloy wraps up nicely the whole new pricing scheme for Visual Studio 2005 and Team System editions. Eric Bowen also created a post on the topic, on which Prashant Sridharan responds that they could net let people pay multiple times for a server license. When they'd sell it with the product (developer, architect or tester) you'd be buying the server version with every package, paying an enormous amount of money. I really don't get why he's refering to it, we just want Team Foundation Server as a seperate download from our MSDN Universal subscription.
But I've also asked myself why they'd provide three different products. Why this special architect version? When I'm the developing architect, or the architecting developer, need I install two versions? Or when I'm the testing developer (which I'm currently am, yuck!) or the developing tester... You get the point.
To sum things up, take a look at this post from Rick LaPlante in which is a clean diagram of the costs. After reading it all, you can decide if you want to place a vote against the licensing scheme in Microsoft's feedback center.
Update: As it seems, Microsoft has some time to think about it, as Microsoft has pushed the release of VS2005 back a bit more... Are we thinking 2006 already!? :)
Gerke Geurts has also
AJAX lately, with some pointers to resources and a company here in the
Netherlands called BackBase with some
excellent demos on how AJAX should work. They've build their own framework on
top of Java.
I just saw some more
links on Robin Curry's website with some links on how to get functionality
like Google Suggest in ASP.NET 2.0 but also some example for the current
versions. Have fun!
Jason Alexander has created CodeSmith Templates that create database documentation in a
very nice (and goodlooking) html format. Tables, Stored Procedures and such are
placed in nice html documents, contain code highlighting, the works!
They're extremely easy to create and it's really easy to browse all objects.
Can come in pretty handy when you're doing some coding and want a clean look at
your database, or just need the extra documentation for a client or
Every year our company holds this meeting where every employee from the
Netherlands is invited for. Our chiefs come to talk about how great we are, how
great the company does because of us and how great we, the employees, are going
to make this year for us and our company. We are the heroes, with a lot of
ambition to make this company the best and, last but not least, make a
lot of money. And so on, and so on.
Then there's someone to entertain the crowd. This year they invited Jan
Kortie, a name no one has ever heard of. At the office, we visited his site, and this not have high
expectations of his performance. The site says he'll invite everyone to sing
with him. But when you've ever been at these occasions, you know it's very hard
to achieve. But despite my expectations, Jan Kortie was very funny and in the
end, he got about 3500 people to sing some wicked song with him! Quite an
After that, Golden Earring performed live for us. This rockband from our
country, is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year! So you could say their
band members are... Well, pretty old. They were invited based on the fact
that our company was formed 40 years ago also. Normally they don't perform at
events like this, but what a performance they gave for us now!
crowd of over 3500 people wanders of after the presentations and only a few
hundred people stay to watch the performance of the band. But probably because
so many people enjoyed Golden Earring while they were young, a lot more people
then usual stayed to watch. And it was worth staying because, again, they gave a
great performance. It was a small but complete concert, with drum solo, the
usual jokes and such. The crowd was enjoyed and you could notice that the band
was also having a good time, because the lead singer was showing his affection
when really a lot of people started singing along, knowing all songs and
Last year, Blöf was performing. I'm not a big fan of Blöf, but man
did that performance suck. Their fans in our company say it was a good
performance, but they could not be more wrong. The band was having a bad time or
something, because it really showed. They just did some songs, got off stage and
never came back. Golden Earring however whiped Blöf from the face of the earth
with their performance. Played their greatest hits and as encore, their latest
hit called "Can't sleep without you".
Besides all this, I met up with old friends who I hadn't seen in a long time.
And between all the nerds, suits and fortune tellers, there were some really
beautifull women around! ;-)
For me, this was the best meeting I had in these four past years! I doubt
next year they'll achieve a better meeting!
After this, you might think why I blogged this. I just had to! :-)
Update: Now with a picture of the lead singer. Be sure to
check out his tie! ;)
For the visitors from the Dutch DevDays 2005, you can download the
I heard they also taped some tracks which would also be shown in the site,
but haven't found these yet.
Because I was too late for the Indigo chat, I decided to meet up with
friends at the Team System chat. It was, to my surprise, more about (MSF) Agile
then about Team System. The presentation was by Ron Tolido who gave the
presentation much flair and we had a very funny time. For a magazine for IT
professionals, he had written an article in which he explained his view on 9
different IT archetypes and in this presentation he used them happily to enjoy
If you were totally unfamiliar with the topics, this wasn't a presentation
you would learn a lot. Even if he made a lot of jokes, he made you believe
RUP was totally useless, UML is something only people with gray beards and
sandals would use and Agile is without any form of documentation or
models. Precisely for this archetype, the Microsoftie, as they like to
drag-n-drop a lot and not think about any structure or application design,
or at least not until most of the application is working. Or at least looks
like it's working, a crashing desktop as result is something Microsofties takes
for granted. Of course that's not the case. Right? Sometimes we do
think about something we develop, before ever touching code.
Another thing Tolido mentioned, was Java developers. They crave for complex
problems, complex models, etc. He said, when everyone started understanding
relational databases and fourth generation languages, they brought us OO and
inheritance. When people started to understand that, they thought, let's throw
in multiple inheritance, polymorphism, etc. The thing however was the fact that
'they' create these objects, but to persist these into a relational database, a
mapper is required. A lot of complexity goes into this mapping business. And now
everyone is using xml for messaging and they need another mapper to serialize
these objects into xml.
The last archetype I have to say something about is the tester, and this
'new' thing called exploritory testing. Tolido said that for this, the tester
needs to hang back, losen up, take a sip from the waterpipe and in a very
relaxed mode, check out the application. That's what exploritory testing is
He did however also say some good things about Agile. He taught the
audience that the plan wasn't everything, the planning
of the project was much more important. One of the tenets of Agile is
responding to change over following a plan. Other (older) methodologies have
some kind of a war scenario with the customer. The customer asks you to build
something, you promise to build product "A" and when you're finished, you
exactly hand over product "A". I've seen it happen so many times, a customer
telling that what's delivered isn't exactly what he asked for! I think even
methodologies like RUP can cause these 'symptoms'. Or at least I've seen it
fail because of it. Agile however enforces a lot of communication
between developers, business analysts, project leader and... customer! After
every iteration, you show a working version of your application to the customer
and based on that working version, the customer decides what changes
and what new functionality is.
Of course your planning/timeline can grow larger and larger, and the client
does not want to pay an infinite amount of money. When you do the juicy bits
first, the customer at least first and foremost gets what he wants
most. He can then personally decide to change stuff or add more
functionality. I just started reading Agile Software Development by Robert C.
Martin and he describes the way new functionality is rated. You get scenarios
(use cases in RUP) and the developers create tasks from those scenarios and give
them points on a scale from 1 to 10. The higher the score, the more work it
takes. After a few iterations, you and your customer know what your velocity
is, how many points you can process within one iteration. The
customer chooses the juicy scenarios first, also based on the points the team
can process. I have no hands on experience with this, but it looks like this
must work! My goal for this year is, to use Agile development in a project and
see how this turns out.
Just read it on Abgar's blog, that FotoVision has been converted to C#. FotoVision is a smart-client example application that can be found on MSDN.
Elegance Technologies has created a tool called C-Sharpener to convert VB.NET projects to... C#. To prove their tool works, they've converted FotoVision and according to their stats, 99.8% of the code was converted by the tool. They only had to do 16 modifications on the converted source code, which seems as a pretty good performance from the tool.
FotoVision consists of a tool to edit and upload your pictures onto a website. The FotoVision website can show your pictures to visitors. All communication between client and web application is done through webservices.
The keynote today was quite good. In about one and a half hour, Prashant Sridharan showed the Visual Studio road map, what audience each version of Visual Studio is for and showed Team System.
Visual Studio Audiences
Prashant began explaining that Microsoft was looking for what kids would like to see in a tool they'd use to develop applications in. You can probably not image what someone who has virtually no experience with tools like VS.NET will think of Visual Studio Team System. So many buttons and functions even professional developers can go mad. So that's why they created the Express versions, like Prashant explained.
After that, they created the standard version, which is based more towards current php or macromedia developers. They need something more, but can't be overthrown with buttons, keys, etc. Then us, the developers, get into the picture, with Visual Studio Professional. The name says it all! ;-) And of course when you're working with large teams on big enterprise applications, you can have lots of fun with Team System. Of course I will be using that version all the time. I like my tools with lots of fancy buttons! ;-)
Visual Studio road map
Nothing really fancy to tell you, just that the next version of Team System will also be based more towards the project managers and the likes. More based towards the software life cycle. Prashant explained, as Marcel de Vries did yesterday, that the development of the product is only a very small part of the total cost. The complete life cycle must be taken into consideration.
I've already blogged a bit about the pre conference day, but left out a few things. Things that I think are worth mentioning.
- I haven't heard Prashant about it today, but according to Marcel de Vries there will ship a stand alone tool with TS for project managers. Very cool, as I don't think most will like a full TS install on their desk.
- Team System has more of what other tools lack. More information, more collaboration, more connected. Personalized information, at the time and place you need it. More collaboration in sharing work items, code, etc. More connected between the different Team System parts, all in one development studio. No need to go external for the most basic tools. More connected between MS Project, MS Excell and MS Outlook (via plugin once it ships).
- Webtesting, but no WinTesting?
There's no Windows Forms test project in Team System, to simulate user actions, like there is for web applications. As it seems, it's because Microsoft won't put an amount of effort into this tester, because they have set their hopes on Avalon forms. I have no idea if it's possible or at least easy to do, for Windows forms, because I've never seen it work. I have seen it work perfectly for web, but only as http requests inside code. That's a totally different way then actions on Windows forms.
update: why did I add “TT” to the item title? Removed! :-)
Todat was the pre conference day for the Dutch Dev Days 2005. The topic I went to was about Team System. Most of the things I had already seen from various documents and a TechEd video presentation. It still was pretty cool.
One thing though, was that for Team System to work from a home pc, you need a VPN connection to your server, if you want to go across public internet. In the RTM version it's supposed to work over https with a nice popup box for you username & password, but until then it's useless to test it over the internet. This doesn't fit into some plans I had, to work with some collegues on TS from our homes.
Another thing people could not ignore, was the snow. We aren't used to a lot of snow anymore here in Holland, but it's almost a miracle when it's that much, in march! Took me some time to get home. Luckely a lot of people went home early or didn't go to work at all, so traffic jams weren't as bad as expected.