Geeks With Blogs
A Technical Debtor Toward continuous improvement October 2008 Entries
Favorite Quote of the Week

At the C#/VB MVP dinner on Monday night, Billy Hollis offered a toast to “the language leads, who reflect the beauty and elegance of their respective languages.”

'Nuff said.

Posted On Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:22 PM

Great Party Last Night!
I’ve gotta give props to Warren Wilbee and the ISV guys for putting on a terrific party last night. Called “Devs After Dark,” it really was a great time – they organizers really understood what we needed at a conference party. It wasn’t heavily advertised; essentially, it was a word of mouth deal. There were several XBox stations, lots of bars without waits, some fairly small rooms for chats. We could hear each other talk, have interesting conversations. And, without being elitist, it was more or ......

Posted On Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:22 PM

Dave Brubeck Quartet
(been meaning to post this for a while) The concert Sunday night was great, as you might expect from someone who has been recording music for close to sixty years. The Disney Hall had pretty good acoustics and, by sheer chance, I had a seat where I could watch Dave Brubeck’s hands as he played. For those of you who know of Dave Brubeck, he really needs no introduction. Nor, frankly, could anything I say add to his much-deserved reputation. For those who don’t know who Dave Brubeck in, he’s a jazz ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 29, 2008 2:59 PM

PDC 2008 Keynote 3: Rick Rashid
MSR has about 850 PhD researchers world-wide, working in a variety of areas. That’s a larger faculty than all of Carnegie-Mellon, or the equivalent of building a Berkley faculty every year for the last 17 years. The fundamental concepts in computer science date back to Turing and Church, and are the results of heavy, long-term investments by corporations and governments. 1990: MSR was created in an environment where other companies were scaling back on R&D funding… even though Microsoft was a ......

Posted On Wednesday, October 29, 2008 2:58 PM

VB Futures: Paul Vick and Lucian Wischik
(Yay!! Finally, some VB!!) Where is Visual Basic headed? Let’s look at where it’s been and what role it plays at Microsoft. It’s been the primary way that the platform has been made easy to use for all programmers. Seventeen years ago, Visual Basic (VB1-VB3) played a key role in making Windows the premier platform. From VB4 to VB6, the focua was on making COM programming possible for normal, mortal human beings. VB7 was the first .NET release, helping establish the CLR as the premier runtime. VB8 ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 11:14 PM

PDC 2008: Project “Velocity”
Online data caching service Web scenarios: distributed/global object cache (low latency, high scale); cache for reference and activity data; scale IIS/ASP applications Enterprise/HPC scenarios: LINQ enabled cache; co-locate data and computation; persistence; heterogeneous client support Software + Services: application cache for cloud storage (integration with SSDS, Azure); more data services; REST and SOA access Partitioned Caching is an option; each partition is put on a separate cache, with a ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 9:06 PM

Essential Cloud Services
Blob Namespace http://<account>.blob... can be used as a hierarchical namespace can be up to 50GB each accessed via REST PUT/GET interface includes continuation on upload scenario: blobs are broken up into blocks; if large file upload fails, it can resume without retrying successful blocks; PutBlockList commits the upload under the covers, each blob consists of several immutable blocks (up to 4 Mb each) if multiple blocks with the same ID are ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 7:35 PM

PDC 2008 Disappointment
So far, I’m a couple days intll that cloud services can, in fact, be ao PDC. The only VB code I’ve seen anywhere was code that I wrote myself. None of the presentations have been VB. There are very few labs that are VB. Having said that, I can assure you that cloud services can, in fact, be written using VB.NET. Doing the lab in C# (as it was written) would have been too easy. So, despite having no support from Microsoft, I did it in VB.NET. I’ve also been talking to a few people to make sure those ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 7:24 PM

PDC Keynote 2: Don Box and Chris Anderson

I can’t possibly cover this one… go see the keynote video once it’s released.

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 4:59 PM

PDC Keynote 2: Scott Guthrie
.NET 3.5 SP1 improvements streamlined setup startup performance graphics improvements DirectX/Direct3D interop in WPF more controls Code demo for lighting up Windows 7 functionality using WPF this week, a new WPF ribbon control will ship; ties into standard WPF command infrastructure WPF has journaling and navigation built in WPF also has styling/skinning built in can declaratively add jump lists in WPF touch events added to base events cool new DX effects (ripple, etc) Release of new WPF toolkit ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 3:46 PM

More release announcements
  • IIS Smooth Streaming
  • jQuery intellisense
  • WPF toolkit
  • Silverlight toolkit
  • Silverlight running external to the browser

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 3:24 PM

PDC Keynote 2: Windows 7 (Steven Sinosky)
Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 share the same kernel and are in sync for release Three foci: personalized experience with user control, connectivity and information organization, and device functionality Julie Larson-Green -- Corporate VP, Windows Experience This is a highly visual demo. You need to check it out at the PDC site. I can’t possibly keep up with all the features shown. New task bar with application thumbnails. Task bar shows thumbnail icons (including tabs) and allows app management, ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 2:46 PM

PDC Keynote 2: Opening (Ray Ozzie)
Today’s keynote will take more of a UX perspective, focusing on client apps, OS… paradigm shift to embrace “personal computing,” but not just the PC. We’ve grown from an era when the notion of a computer on every desk was a wild aspiration. Yet, today, we are challenged to imagine not having one on every desk. We trust them with our family memories, our financial information… The Internet has impacted virtually every aspect of modern life. However, the web and the PC are still two separate things. ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 1:50 PM

The Perils of PDC
Sitting waiting for the keynote on day 2 of the PDC. One of the things they’re doing is posting Twitter messages on the screens. There’s an awful lot of people running behind today. Of course, that could well be because they kept a similar schedule to mine last night. First I hit the VB/C# MVP dinner, with such notables in attendance as Paul Vick, Beth Massi, Ted Neward, Amanda Laucher (the self-acclaimed “F# Chick”), Steven “Doc List”, Alan Griver... and that was the table I was at. Scott Hanselman ......

Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008 1:27 PM

Parallel Computing: Making the Most of Multi-Core Systems
Why is this an important problem? We are in a multi-core world, with single-thread processor performance being basically flat for the foreseeable future. We have to do more work ourselves to exploit multiple cores. However, this isn’t an easy thing to do, and Microsoft is providing libraries to help developers. VS 2010 includes many features specific to parallel programming, including concurrency analysis tools and the Task Parallel Library. Parallelism is all about performance. The cycle: Understand ......

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 7:39 PM

PDC 2008: A Lap Around Azure Services (Manuvir Das)
Windows Azure is an “operating system for the cloud” What is the cloud? a set of connected servers on which developers can: install and run services store and retrieve data What we do today for services: Respond to hardware failures Handle increase in traffic Add storage capacity Diagnose service failures Apply OS patches Perform live upgrades Expand to new locale For the desktop, it’s not quite this bad, since we have an operating system that performs abstractions, provisioning, resource allocation. ......

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 4:44 PM

PDC Keynote Comment

Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive to it, being a VB MVP and all. But it sure would have been nice to see at least one line of VB in the keynote demos. The unintended message is pretty clear: Microsoft uses C# and doesn’t care about VB.

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 3:52 PM

PDC Keynote: Dave Thompson; “Online and the Power of Choice”
Some companies don’t have the core IT staff to manage their infrastructure without it being a disproportionate burden. Yet, these customers needed to stay up to date, with a high security and high availability environment. Microsoft Online is enterprise-class software, hosted by Microsoft. In the future, all enterprise software will have the option to be delivered online. The value proposition is high security, high reliability, ease of updates and deployment. However, there are choices required. ......

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 3:11 PM

PDC Keynote: Amitab Shrivestava (VP of Azure)
Azure is the kernel of the Microsoft cloud platform, allowing others to build killer apps Azure is a scalable solution for deploying services to the cloud, hosting by a hypervisor optimized for cloud computing. Security is key and is implemented at many levels. Azure manages the entire global infrastructure, while providing a layer of abstraction. Automated service management to upgrade services without degrading performance or taking service down. OS and service are managed separately. The core ......

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 3:10 PM

PDC.. For Those Not Here

There’s a bunch of videos available here.

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 3:10 PM

PDC 2008 Keynote – Ray Ozzie; Windows Azure
(Caveat: these are, again, raw notes.) This PDC will be focused on the Microsoft end-to-end strategy regarding services, and the transformation of their business. Three things that always kept Ray Ozzie betting on Microsoft: Microsoft builds their own key apps for the platform Sheer scope means that key platforms are likely to reach critical mass Microsoft understands that, to be successful, their partners must be successful. The transformation to the cloud is being energized by cheap computing, ......

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 3:04 PM

Code Names and Release Announcements

“Oslo” – new generation modeling tool

“Atlanta” --  takes advantage of Azure services; uses service bus to connect to MOM, and transmits data to Azure to a single database (planned for 100s of GB/day). Virtual machines are spun up to process the data, and dumps the results into a second database.

Azure – released; cloud services

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 3:01 PM

Bluehoo – a quick comment about a new social networking tool

For those of you who insist on being on the latest social networking tool, consider checking out Bluehoo. The beta will be available for download at mid-day today. It’s built on top of the new Windows Azure platform (more on that in a few minutes.)

Posted On Monday, October 27, 2008 2:25 PM

You know you're a geek and not a rock star when...
.. the audience is taking pictures of your slide deck, and not you.

Just saying.

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 10:50 PM

Concurrent, Multi-Core Programming on Windows and .NET (Part VI -- .NET 4.0: Stephen Toub)
Channel 9 example ("baby names") PLINQ uses the .AsParallel keyword to spread a query over multiple processors Parallel Extensions to .NET 4.0 What is it? - .NET types - no compiler changes necessary - ThreadPool runtime (new and improved ThreadPool) - in .NET 4.0, the ThreadPool is still inter-process; you can still run into a situation where each process believes it owns the whole box and will load it up with as many threads as there are cores - however, there are limiting mechanisms built into ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 10:37 PM

Stating the Blatantly Obvious
I've seen a few people wearing the plain back T-shirt put out by Microsoft, with the word "geek." in white letters.

Ummm... we're at the PDC pre-con. Anyone who read my notes from the parallelism talks knows: "If you're here, you're a geek. Not just a little geek... a certifiable alpha geek."

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 10:14 PM

Concurrent, Multi-Core Programming on Windows and .NET (Part V -- Designs and Algorithms: Joe Duffy)
BlockingQueue: common producer/consumer data structure - manual reset events: simple to write; poor performance if many more consumers than producers (or slow producer and fast consumers); all threads wake up - auto reset events: trickier logic; however, sets don't keep track of the number of sets (as semaphores do); oh... and this doesn't work - monitors: simplest code that can work... and it quickly becomes non-trivial when bounded blocking queues come into play [I think I've got a problem that ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 10:11 PM

Concurrent, Multi-Core Programming on Windows and .NET (Part IV -- Synchronization Best Practices: Stephen Toub)
Lock Consistently DO: Lock over all shared mutable states DO: Ensure you always use the same lock to protect the same data DO: Comment on how state is protected Lock for the Right Duration DO: Lock over the entire invariant DON'T: Lock for longer than absolutely necessary Note: in .NET 1.1, there are non-generic synchronized types (e.g. ArrayList.Synchronized) Make Critical Regions Short and Sweet DO: Minimize the time you hold on to a lock DON'T: Call others' code while you hold locks DON'T: block ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 9:24 PM

Concurrent, Multi-Core Programming on Windows and .NET (Part III -- Brain-Melting Concurrency: Joe Duffy)
Note: Joe's stated goal at the beginning of this talk was to melt our brains in the following hour. From the volume of notes, you can see he worked hard at it. Concurrency and State (The Pitfall of Shared Memory) Threads in a process share access to memory. This makes it easy -- even enticing -- to share information. However, it can be had to tell what is shared -- private variables are not shared, but shared (static) variables are explicitly shared. .NET prevents you from shared ByRefs across thread ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 8:14 PM

Concurrent, Multi-Core Programming on Windows and .NET (Part II -- Threading: Stephen Toub)
System.Threading namespace is the typical starting point for threading. Quick demo of some techniques (all in C#) Scheduling: Explicit Threading 1. Join 2. IsBackground 3. Interrupt - only occurs on ThreadWaitSleepJoinState - dangerous because developers don't expect exceptions coming from wait state - doesn't interrupt SpinWait 4. Abort - more dangerous... just plain stops it - the ThreadAbortException is recognized by the .NET framework as something that shouldn't tear down the application - ThreadAbortException ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 5:12 PM

Concurrent, Multi-Core Programming on Windows and .NET (Part I -- Intro and Overview: David Callahan)
Pre-lunch: Overview and Architecture; Mechanisms for Asynchrony Post-lunch: Topics in Synchronization; Synchronization Best Practices; Designs and Algorithms; .NET 4.0 These are my notes from the pre-con, with minimal editing. My goal is to provide the raw meat of the talk. I'll sum up and discuss in a later post. My commentary in [ ]. Parallel Computing Program (PCP) : mandate is to prepare Microsoft for the furture Parallel computing matters more as multi-core hardware architectures become more ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 4:05 PM

Blatant Name-Dropping
Well, the pre-con sessions haven't even officially started, and I've seen a bunch of familiar faces: David Yack, Joe Mayo, Keith Hill, Chris Wllace, Don Dempsak and Allan LaFramboise (ESRI). I also got to meet Andy Gup (also of ESRI).

And now, without further ado.... "Concurrent, Multi-Core Programming on Windows and .NET," presented by David Callahan, Joe Duffy and Stephen Toub.

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 3:00 PM

Bewildered and Amused
Despite knowing that the Internet has made communications easier, and given us new ways of networking, some things still surprise me. Things like the fact that my wife reads my blog. For that matter, the fact that anyone reads my blog. I attribute much of that to aggregators -- I'm certainly not patient enough to check someone's blog day after day after day, hoping they've posted. And I know I post more sporadically than most. But what really astounded me was that, within a couple hours of posting ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 12:04 PM

Jazzy Goodness
Warning: a completely non-technical post A couple years ago, I looked at my CD collection and noticed that I really had no jazz at all. I've always liked jazz and blues, especially traditional styles. Part of it, I suspect, is that those musicians we still listen to have survived fifty or so years of criticism. Part of it, I know, is that those musicians were artists -- trailblazers who made the most of their instruments. I really enjoy watching (or listening to) artists at work. Unlike much modern ......

Posted On Sunday, October 26, 2008 11:56 AM

New Software Architects group formed in Fort Collins
Wow. Seems like I have lots of catching up to do as far as motion on the architect community. In February, the International Association of Software Architects stood up a Denver chapter, with Paul Rayner as president. In a nutshell, IASA wants to be for software what the AMA is to medicine. They've got some great ideas, and some big challenges ahead -- but that's the topic of another post. Four of us from the Fort Collins area (Kathleen Dollard, Mark Sigda, Peggy Collins and myself) attended the ......

Posted On Monday, October 20, 2008 1:10 PM

Eight days until PDC...
I've been meaning to mention for a while now that I'm one of the lucky people that gets to attend the Microsoft PDC in just a eight days. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Microsoft announces. Rosario, cloud computing, Oslo, Mesh, parallel computing... there's a ton of very cool technology coming down the pipe. And that's on top of getting to spend the week networking with a bunch of intelligent, passionate developers -- including a pretty decent number of my fellow MVPs. Gonna be a great ......

Posted On Friday, October 17, 2008 5:46 PM

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