Monday, September 29, 2008

Visual Studio Team System 2010!

The official name of "Rosario" has finally been released: 


From the article:

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 Overview

Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4.0 mark the next generation of developer tools from Microsoft. Designed to address the latest needs of developers, Visual Studio and the .NET Framework deliver key innovations in the following pillars:

  • Democratizing Application Lifecycle Management
    Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) crosses many roles within an organization and traditionally not every one of the roles has been an equal player in the process. Visual Studio Team System 2010 continues to build the platform for functional equality and shared commitment across an organization’s ALM process.
  • Enabling emerging trends
    Every year the industry develops new technologies and new trends. With Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft delivers tooling and framework support for the latest innovations in application architecture, development and deployment.
  • Inspiring developer delight
    Ever since the first release of Visual Studio, Microsoft has set the bar for developer productivity and flexibility. Visual Studio 2010 continues to deliver on the core developer experience by significantly improving upon it for roles involved with the software development process.
  • Riding the next generation platform wave
    Microsoft continues to invest in the market leading operating system, productivity application and server platforms to deliver increased customer value in these offerings. With Visual Studio 2010 customers will have the tooling support needed to create amazing solutions around these technologies.
  • Breakthrough Departmental Applications
    Customers continue to build applications that span from department to the enterprise. Visual Studio 2010 will ensure development is supported across this wide spectrum of applications.

MSDN Events Unleashed: Demystifying WPF, Silverlight 2 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1

Tomorrow (Tuesday 30 September) Rob Bagby is hosting a talk here in Colorado Springs (At Configuresoft). Here are the event details:

Today’s applications need to do more than simply work.  They need to draw in the user, and provide a differentiated experience. This means moving beyond battleship gray forms boxy UIs and simple HTML forms, and providing a positive user experience.  Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight 2 provide powerful capabilities to develop compelling user interfaces, on the client and in the browser, respectively. 

At the heart of these rich applications is data.  There are a growing number of choices of technologies available to access data, create database abstraction layers and expose data as services.  Visual Studio 2008 (and .NET Framework 3.5) SP1 include the production release of the ADO.NET Entity Framework, ADO.NET Data Services, as well as some enhancements to the Web Programming model (REST-Friendly) in WCF. 

In this session, Rob Bagby will examine the core concepts of WPF and Silverlight such as layout panels, data binding, styles and control templates, and will use them to develop an application UI from the ground up.  Rob will further examine and demystify the options available to you to expose data to your rich applications. 


Register Online here:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Tablet PC

I’ve been somewhat irritated (ok, that’s not really true, I’ve been mad as He*&) with my work laptop, and given the frustrations that I’ve put the IT guys through over it, I decided that I was just going to go out and buy my own. I don’t really need the mobile workstation power that a lot of people want. I just basically need my Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 toolset, and of course email and PowerPoint. (Also OneNote, I am addicted to OneNote)

Well, I was in Costco yesterday and noticed that they had an excellent price (under USD$1000) for an HP Pavilion tx2513cl Tablet. It’s a 2Ghz AMD Turion Dual Core processor, with ATI Radeon graphics and a whole bunch of consumer-related features, including a media center remote and a Lightscribe dvd burner. All in all, I am normally concerned with consumer-level products, but with Costco’s liberal return policy I figured I had nothing to lose.

After removing all the crapware (by simply wiping the disk and reinstalling x64 Vista Ultimate (yeah, I know, I would have loved to put Server 2008 on it, but it’s a tablet!) and getting everything setup, the box looks like it is going to solve my needs just fine! The “Experience Index” on the box is 3.7, and it seems to load Visual Studio Team System 2008 just fine…

Gotta say, I love it so far. We will see how it goes over the next few weeks. I was considering buying a MacBook, but I really wanted a tablet….



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kudos to Qwest

Well, this is actually a painful blog post to write. I have been a frequent critic of the local phone company here in Colorado over the years. Qwest Communications and I have had quite a rocky relationship, and I haven’t been one to let it slide. I’ve complained to all sorts of folks and told anyone who’d listen how I felt. At every turn, I’d find ways to divorce myself from their services as much as possible. (Packet8 for IP Phone, Verizon for Wireless, etc. etc.)

For the past 6 years, I’ve had DSL service through a local company here in Colorado Springs, but have had the local loop through Qwest. Recently however, the local company has been experiencing more outages than I’m prepared to handle, and so I started looking for replacement service. As it turns out, Qwest has a new very high speed service in my neighborhood (20Mb/s) so I decided to give them another try..

One of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time!

Not only did the service install exactly on schedule and without a hitch, but the additional services that I needed through (Static IPs, Reverse DNS mapping, etc) also went off without a hitch. I had prepared the family and friends for a long service outage while I switched everything (I host our own email server and web, plus I host the web sites for an organization that I volunteer with), but as it turns out, it was less than 1 hour from the point that I started until we were back up and functional again.

It’s been a week now, and the service is running perfectly, and let me tell you, it is so very nice to be able to download large image files blazing fast…


I do know that those of you with FIOS service look at the speed above and wonder why it’s so slow, but hey, us DSL types think this is quite nice.

Anyway, Kudos to Qwest. They’ve obviously come a long way….

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MVP TV - Scrumtastic Development with VSTS

This is open to the public, so if you are interested in Agile development, this session is something you should check out:


Mike Azocar (one of the authors of the VSTS Lightweight Scrum template) will be presenting: Scrum-tastic Development with Visual Studio Team System and Light Weight Scrum

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 | 9:00am – 10:00am (PDT, Redmond time)

Session Abstract:  

                   All the Interaction of the MSDN Chats but with the richer experience of Live Meeting and hosted by the recognized world technology leaders – the Visual Studio Team System Microsoft MVPs. In this second airing of MVP TV, please join recognized process expert Mike Azocar delivering his much lauded Tech Fest session. Mike will cover the fundamentals of the Scrum development framework.  Why more and more companies and teams are moving to Scrum and see how joining the community-based Light Weight Scrum Process template and Visual Studio Team System can empower your teams and speed up your development.

                     About Mike Azocar: A VSTS MVP and Consultant for Notion Solutions. Mike evangelizes Visual Studio Team System and works closely with both the Microsoft Houston office and the VSTS Product Team in Redmond.  Mike has been featured on .Net Rocks and regularly speaks at conferences all over the world. Mike's blogs blog can be found at  or

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

VMware ESX Server “Compliance Checker”

My company (Configuresoft, Inc.) recently released a free tool called the “Compliance Checker” for VMware ESX Server. Here is the info on it:

VMware ESX servers are vulnerable when they are not configured correctly. Whether you have 3 ESX hosts or 50, you want to ensure that they don’t become the target of an attack due to an incorrect configuration. Protect your ESX hosts from vulnerabilities and threats with the help of Configuresoft Compliance Checker. Compliance Checker downloads, installs and assesses the security of your VMware ESX hosts in minutes.
ACT NOW: Download your FREE copy at

With Compliance Checker you can:

  • Validate that your ESX hosts are meeting VMware hardening guidelines and Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmarks
  • Check up to 5 ESX servers at a time
  • Print audit quality reports
  • Get a detailed explanation of each guideline
  • Understand what needs to be done to remediate a rule violation
  • Access a wealth of information on virtualization security and compliance from the tool



SQL Server 2008 Cumulative Update 1

As you are most likely aware, Microsoft has moved to a “Cumulative Update” model for delivering SQL Server hotfixes and updates. This model was introduced in SQL Server 2005 and continues with SQL Server 2008.

Microsoft just announced the availability of CU 1 for SQL Server 2008. You can read about it here: 

Notice that you cannot simply download the hotfix from the KB, you do have to request it at this time. Generally they make these available for download at some point, so keep checking the site if you don’t want to email them the request for the Hotfix.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New version of eScrum for Visual Studio Team System

The eScrum guys have released a long-awaited version of the eScrum project guidance template for Visual Studio Team System!!! eScrum is a nice implementation of Scrum that is implemented in a series of templates, WorkItem types and guidance for VSTS and Team Foundation Server.


From the download page: “eScrum is a Web-based, end-to-end project management tool for Scrum built on the Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server platform. It provides multiple ways to interact with your Scrum project: eScrum Web-based UI, Team Explorer, and Excel or Project, via Team Foundation Office Integration. In addition, it provides a single place for all Scrum artifacts such as product backlog, sprint backlog, task management, retrospective, and reports with built-in context sensitive help.”

If you haven’t yet checked it out, do so here:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Team System Users Group (TSUG) – Virtual Edition

VSTS MVPs Paul Hacker and Dave McKinstry have recently created a new users group experience called, “Team System Users Group- Virtual Edition”.

Basically it uses Second Life (Guess I need to figure this out, I have never messed with SL before) and the “Microsoft Island” along with Microsoft LiveMeeting clients.


Here is what Dave had to say about it:

In addition to the few user groups focused on Visual Studio Team System in major cities, now all Visual Studio Team System enthusiasts and users can join together to share stories and learn.  Like most user groups, we will meet on a monthly basis, socialize a little, and have presentations.  We plan to have demo-rich presentations and support an interactive format allowing attendees to participate and ask questions.

Unlike the ‘classic’ user group, you will be able to participate regardless of your location!  You no longer have to live in one of the handful of cities world-wide to join and participate in a Team Systems community!  In addition, we can now pull from a broader pool of excellent presenters from around the globe!

Our initial meetings will all be in English and are targeting an Americas-friendly time zone.  But other times and places are possible.  If you are interested, visit our web site:  Sign-up and we’ll contact you with additional meeting information.  It is free to join and none of the underlying technologies require fees beyond what you already pay for your computer and network access!  We will not use your contact info  for anything other than user group communications (approximately once per month).  Our first meeting is September 18th at 6PM (Pacific Time / SLT).  We hope to see you there!!

Connecting with the "Community"

My (by Proxy -- We miss you PJ, but we love Suzanna too!) MVP lead recently sent out an email talking about connecting with the community. She had some specific questions that she wanted feedback on.. I was busy typing up my responses when I realized she probably didn't want to hear from me, but more so from the members at large in the community, so, I thought I would post the questions and my answers here, and let you all (all 1 or 2 of you that actually read this blog) chime in as well. My answers are confined to Visual Studio Team System, but please feel free to comment on any related technology.

So, here goes:


1) What is the current sentiment amongst users about the product for which you are an “independent expert”?

I don't know if I am actually an "expert" in anything, but my MVP award is focused on Visual Studio Team System. My entire team uses VSTS, and most of the company does as well (There are some notable exceptions here, and the cross-platform stuff is definitely made harder with VSTS). From my perspective, VSTS is a game changer in the Agile software development world. As a team lead, I have instant access to the status of the project, and can tell you exactly where our problem areas lie. VSTS fosters team development as well as object ownership among team members, so I believe it is one of the best things we've ever implemented. In terms of outside the walls, the sentiment seems to be similar if not identical.

2) Are there any critical bugs out there that we need to address?

Speaking directly about VSTS 2008, I think SP1 resolved many of the issues that we were seeing, so as of now I don't know about any blocking issues.

3) Are multiple users having a similar problem using one of our technologies, and if so, what is the problem?

This is like a broken record for me, and I'm sure the VSTS team is tired of hearing me say it, but I'll put it on record again. The biggest issue we have with VSTS (speaking specifically now of the Team Suite IDE) is it's hard ties to a version of SQL Server. For example, to use Visual Studio Team System for Database Professionals with SQL Server 2008, you need the GDR release of the "DataDude" tools. This means I have to mix released code with Beta code on my production development environment if I want to use the latest SQL Server. What's worse is that I have to maintain my instance of Visual Studio 2005 as well, because it's the only version of VSTS that will author Business Intelligence projects using SQL Server 2005. It's somewhat of a support nightmare, and given that SQL Server is such a core part of our product (and is a Microsoft Flagship server no less!!!) it is very hard to explain to developers why this is good. Anyone faced with developing SQL Server 2005 and 2008 projects will have the same problem. Biztalk suffers from this as well.

4)  How are users feeling about Microsoft’s response-time to issues they are seeing?

This answer is probably unfair. For issues that we've had with VSTS, things have been pretty good. The problem for me though is that they've been good because I've leveraged contacts on the "inside" for most of them. The poor sap, er developer who doesn't have internal contacts is stuck in a support maze that can be very difficult to manage. Even Premier support customers have a rough go here because they generally don't get to VSTS Saavy folks until the 3rd escalation. With all that said, once the problem is identified it's generally handled quickly.

A similar comment can be made for other products such as SharePoint. I don't believe MS fully anticipated the support needs for SharePoint and they are just now completely getting up to speed on that front.


Well, what do you think? What would your answers to these questions be?

SSWUG "Ultimate" Virtual Conference

As those of you (1 or 2) that read this blog know, I've been pretty involved with the SSWUG Virtual conferences. I am the conference chair for the SharePoint virtual conference. and am delivering 3 sessions for the SQL and the BI conferences as well.

So you may wonder why I'm writing about this yet again........

Well, the folks over at SSWUG have decided to combine the 4 Virtual Conferences into a single, "Ultimate" conference.

Here is an excerpt from their press release:

Tucson, AZ, September 16, 2008: November 5, 6 and 7, 2008, SSWUG.ORG is presenting a comprehensive learning event for SQL Server, Business Intelligence, SharePoint and .NET Development technologies, at The online event will present sessions in 12 simultaneous tracks from 40 different industry-recognized presenters. The conference, presented entirely online with broadcast-quality sessions and classes, includes full video of the presenters, downloadable session materials, transcripts and much more. In addition, attendees are not required to travel, instead being able to attend the conference from the comfort of their office or home. “We’re excited to present this fall conference suite – in the June conference, according to our attendees, combined, they saved more than $2,500,000 in travel and conference expenses alone,” says Stephen Wynkoop, Editor and Founder for SSWUG.ORG. “This, combined with the amazing array of presenters, the decreased time away from the office and the complete learning environment provided by the vConferenceOnline tools means our attendees and exhibitors get an excellent, meaningful online event never before possible.” SSWUG.ORG is combining four different conference disciplines in the comprehensive conference schedule. Attendees will be able to pick from Business Intelligence, SQL Server, SharePoint and .NET Developer technologies, all running concurrently. In addition, attendees are able to view sessions and download transcripts, scripts, examples and tutorials on-demand following the event.


Chris Shaw, Director of Virtual Conferences, outlines some of the concepts being addressed with the conferences: “We’re really looking to create an amazing community event. We want to make sure attendees are able to gain real-world insights into the technologies they use and support. They’ll also experience a wide array of technologies and, at the same time, they are able to come back, review sessions and pick up those finer points that may have been missed in sessions when they first are attended. The fact that you can review sessions on-demand after the original schedule means you won’t miss a single tip, and you can broaden your skill set by attending sessions from other disciplines,” said Shaw. “Our speakers are well-known book authors, Microsoft MVPs and recognized industry experts. Never before has such an incredible gathering of speakers been presented in an event like this, assuring that the information to be gained is top-notch and rock solid.” The virtual conference also means people are more environmentally conscious, and at the same time learning in ways simply not possible at traditional conferences. From full transcripts to on-demand materials, real-time chats with speakers and networking with other attendees and vendors, attendees and exhibitors both win. “The focus is on learning, networking, tips, tricks and techniques that you can put to use the minute you’ve finished with a session. More than 91% of our attendees say they can use what they’ve learned immediately in their jobs. Combine this learning with the eco-friendly online approach, the complete elimination of travel expenses for attendees, the interaction and learning tools provided, the expert speakers – you have a way to vastly increase your knowledge without breaking the bank or expending significant out of office time,” Shaw said.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Interview with Chris Shaw

I was recently asked a series of questions by Chris Shaw and he did a very good job of compiling my answers and making me sound good.

Thanks Chris.

Read the article here: 

As you may know, I am the content chair for the upcoming SSWUG SharePoint virtual conference. The list of sessions and speakers for this conference are pretty amazing and considering that the total cost to attendees is $100 I don’t see how anyone could decide NOT to attend. Check it out, you will not be disappointed!!