Monthly Archives: March 2006


Our (Readify) external newsletter went out yesterday to customers and one of the announcements on it was about ReadiFridays. Basically the idea is that we send one of our consultants around the country and on Friday they run a FREE seminar. The first one is “Fast track your way to Real Time Collaboration” which will talk about Live Communications Server 2005, look at some real-life deployments (including our own internal deployment of LCS).

Derrick will be doing the rounds this time and he has plenting of street cred when it comes to working with collaborative technology. We’ve got a whole heap of topics that we want to cover moving forward so stay tuned!

Don’t install Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition!!!

Got your attention? Why would someone like me who has been trying to promote the use of TFS turn around and tell you not to install the workgroup edition? Maybe I should rephrase that – don’t install the workgroup edition if you intend scale up your team to more than five users between now and some time in May (probably longer).

The reason is that the workgroup edition is limited to five users (which is fair enough) and in order to go higher than that you need to upgrade to the full version. No worries says I, its not that expensive and its definately worth the asking price. Who do we give the cash to?

Well – it turns out that we can’t actually get our hands on a TFS license until some time in May – that is a long time to live with a limit of five users, what if we wanted to you know – do work?

The next obvious question is – can I cross over to the trial edition so I can get rid of the user limit and then buy the license when its actually available. Nope – can’t do that, we’ll have to un-install the system and re-install it.

It strikes me as a little bit unfair to those people that have been early adopters and supporters of this product that went out and installed workgroup edition with the view to upgrade have effectively painted themselves into a corner and can’t get out without a lot of rework.

Come on guys – in real terms, how long would it take you to make this a supported scenario?

Why we should abolish daylight savings time in Australia.

For the past couple of weeks Melbourne has played host to the Commonwealth Games. For my readers in the USA the Commonwealth Games is a competition that you opted out of in the mid-1700s. Not that we mind, your absence gives us a chance to win medals in something other than swimming.

As part of the preparations for this major event our legislators decided to move the date at which the South Eastern States of Australia transitions out of daylight savings time. The reasoning behind this was that the change would confuse spectators and competitors alike resulting in general scheduling chaos. That’s pretty sound reasoning, and to be honest I wish I had the power to control time on my projects as well, mind you I would want to move time back about one month, not one hour.

While it makes sense when just the games are considered, the decision had ripple effects through many Australian businesses. In order to keep clocks from transitioning out of daylight savings time too early Microsoft customers had to download a special patch which added an additional timezone just for the games. Once the patch was installed the user had to select this new timezone.

Of course – the patch was not deployed via Windows Update, so most home users and small to medium businesses didn’t even know about the patches existence, and for the larger enterprises with dedicated IT teams that did, the deployment of the patch across their desktop fleet was “patchy” at best.

The end result – chaos. While some of the people I know managed to apply the patch correctly, the vast majority didn’t so the the appointments in their Outlook Calendars were out by an hour. This begs the question – why did we bother?

Its a good question – but here is a better one, why do we even bother with daylight savings time here in Australia? The whole thing just adds a level of confusion that we don’t need in our day to day lives, and thats before we even start to look at the economic impact of missed business meetings. With the majority of Australia’s GDP coming from the services industry (see below, source: Wikipedia) its important to understand what impact it has there.

  • Agriculture = 3.4%
  • Mining = 4.9%
  • Industry = 23.2%
  • Services = 68.4%

As our society changes (from agricultural to services/industry based) – are the reasons for daylight savings time still valid? Personally I think it is pointless and frustraiting, and I think Cameron agrees.

P.S. If you are in the US and would like to join the Commonwealth to play in the games. In 2010 they will be playing cricket – you wouldn’t stand a chance

FrankArr: SSCLI 2.0

Frank has got the scoop on the availability of SSCLI 2.0 (hint, its ready now!). I’m a fan of the SSCLI, its a great learning tool especially when you want to see how the folks at Microsoft tackle certain challenges. The best thing about it is if you want to try out one of those “what-if-the-runtime-did-this” scenarios you can just go and hack the code – provided you stay within the terms of the license agreement of course.

Introducing Readify’s MSH script site.

At Readify we love MSH (or as Scott Hanselman refers to it “mush”). Now – thats not strictly true, when I told the developer folk at Readify that I wanted to do a presentation at TechEd 2005 on the upcoming Microsoft Command Shell they suggested that I would be the only one in the room and they started referring to me as Monad Mitch.

Now that Readify has an infrastructure practice I don’t feel quite so alone because the infrastructure guys seem to get the whole scripting thing. Thats why we have decided to launch the scripts site:

We are going to use this site to publish useful scripts that we write (and if we can, the ones we find). We really want it to become a community resource so feel free to check out the Scripts, Links and FAQ pages and make any suggestions (via the forms provided). You can also hook up to the RSS feed so you know when it has been updated (the feeds actually contain the content which is cool).

Site Implementation Details

Implemented using ASP.NET 2.0 (duh!). I actually used the soon to be released Web Application Project and rather than using the database to store the data we actually use SharePoint as a backend store. The advantage of doing this is that we don’t have to write an administration interface and we can leverage a tool that everyone in the organisation is already familiar with.

While the data access was possibly a little bit more involved, it really saved time on the administration front. Time actual for development would have been around three or four hours, but time elapsed was probably more like three weeks since it was done in spare time.

Using an i-mate JasJar as a USB modem.

So, you’ve just plugged your handy dandy WM 5.0 device (in my case an i-mate JasJar) into your laptop and started the Wireless Modem program on the device – wait a few seconds and start scratching your head! When you do this Windows will attempt to detect the hardware, and it will pick up a generic USB modem device for which it doesn’t have a driver.

What you need to do to get this working is install this USB modem driver when prompted. It will do a whole heap of buzzing and finally spit out that it has successfully configured the device. After the installation is complete you will have a “HTC USB Modem (WirelessModem)” connection defined in your Network Connections.

It will dial up the device using *99# and use your default access point name (configured on the device under the tools menu in the Wireless Modem program. For Vodafone Australia it is “”.

I found Bluetooth easier to configure (just create a partnership between the devices – from the desktop) and it detects a standard bluetooth modem. In that case you need to create your own connection that dials *99#. The problem with running bluetooth is that it really runs down the battery in this mode so when you can, hook up using USB to keep the charge in your mobile device.

Warning: Make sure you have a good data plan before doing too much surfing or e-mail.

Scrum for Team System 1.0 Released

No – I haven’t created it, but I have been BETA testing it. The guys over at Conchango have been hard at work for quite some time pulling together a process template for Scrum. I got an e-mail today that they have released it and you can go and download it (registration required, but its free).

Congratuations to the guys at Conchango, I think that this will be one of the most widely used Process Templates outside of MSF Agile 4.0!

Process Template Released: Personal Workspace – v1.0

Last week, before he presented his session in Canberra, I was having a chat to Jeff Beehler about some of the things I would like to see in TFS down the track. One of the topics that came up was the lack of a scratch pad for developers who wanted to version control their stuff but not choose a process template which was in-appropriate for them.

Well – tonight I sat down and took the process template form MSF Agile 4.0 and stripped it down to the bare essentials. Like all good things, its not what you put in, but what you take away.

  • No portal support.
  • No reporting support.
  • No iterations.

Basically its an empty shell with only one type of work item (Task). You get all this in a tiny 7KB package (download here). This is the first version of the Personal Workspace process template so if you see something that you would like added (or better yet, taken away) shoot me an e-mail.

Getting into Password Minder

I hope Rocky doesn’t see this. But I’ve had enough of forgetting passwords and password reset e-mails taking hours and sometimes days to be sent. So I have downloaded and installed Password Minder by Keith Brown over at Pluralsight.

The issue came to a head when I was having a _secure_ IM conversation with one of our infrastructure guys – Derrick Buckley. Derrick was giving me about my 1000th unique username/password combination to remember and he himself wondered whether I would be able to remember.

Being an honest kinda guy, I said no – and he suggested Password Minder. So far I have about twenty passwords safely tucked away behind my super password (30–40 characters) and backups of the password file are taking place every week.