Monthly Archives: September 2008

Nearly Sucked In

Recently I purchased in item for my Windows Media Centre which would allow me to expose SPDIF output so that I could feed it into a 5.1 sound system and get the full surround experience (note, I’m not an AV geek my any stretch). Anyway, I had trouble finding one from the motherboard manufacturer so I ended up purchasing one on eBay that looked like it would be compatible.

I’m probably what you would call an annoying eBay customer because I don’t use it often and I don’t really understand the etiquette around rating sellers in a certain time frame. Since I’ve been travelling (surprise surprise) I haven’t had the time to tear down the case and plug the component in so I’ve held back from rating the seller, although they did ship the component very quickly which I was impressed by.

Anyway – a few days ago I received an e-mail that looked like it was from eBay that said someone had started a dispute with me. Not thinking I clicked on the link expecting the seller to suggest that I hadn’t given any feedback. The page returned an error (no server).

I thought that was odd and decided that my mobile Internet connection must be flakey, sometimes it does that, but since I was busy I parked it and came back to it this morning. So here I am sitting in the foyer of the hotel on my wireless connection again and I click the link – same problem.

Then it dawned on me that an e-mail had made it past my usual spam filters and the site I was going to was a phishing scam – bastards! And I almost fell for it. I’m usually pretty careful but it just shows how effective a phishing scheme that is relevant to the activities of a particular user can be. I normally pick these things up because I’m not usually an eBay user, but this one time I clicked because I half expected some feedback.

You’ve gotta be so careful…

Presentation Style

Whilst I was uploading my latest presentation to SlideShare (first time I have ever done this) I took the opportunity to check out the winners of the 2008 “World’s Best Presentation Content”. It caught my eye because Guy Kawasaki is one of the judges and I have been conscious of his presentation tips for a while and try (but don’t always succeed) to follow some of them.

So – I just opened up each of the presentations and I am going to churn through them to see what I can learn. Will be interesting to see what techniques that I pick up. What are your favourite presentations? I like Larry Lessig style of doing presentations and probably borrow a lot from him, although I find it hard to translate to developer related content.

SBTUG: Done!

I had great fun presenting at SBTUG this evening. My presentation was on the evolution of software development. The presentation seemed to go down well and resonate with a few people which means that I wasn’t completely off-base. I’ve uploaded my slides to SlideShare over here if you want to check them out, although without audio from the talk it may not make a lot of sense (SlideShare didn’t do a perfect conversion so if you want the PPTX file, you can pull it down as well).

Craig Bailey suggested that I record the presentation in some way. Maybe I can find a forum in Melbourne where I can present and record it. I really don’t think I could do a good job recording it into a microphone without a live audience.

Finally, thanks to everyone who attended my session, it was also great to get to see August de los Reyes present. I hadn’t heard of August before now but his session really inspired me spend some more time looking at the hard research around UX. August is here for Web Directions South 08 and will be presenting “Predicting the Past”. The session that he presented at the SBTUG user group nicely flowed into mine.

P.S. If you want to take parts of this presentation and re-present it feel free, although I would appreciate it if you let me know, I’m kinda interested where this content goes and who it gets in front of.

notreadify?

This one made me chuckle. Presumably one of the folks who made a comment on this post over here on my blog has decided it would be cool to set up a blog with a similar name to mine: notreadify (instead of notgartner). I found out about it via a post back on my About Mitch page. Given that I have a “not”-blog, I guess I have to take that one on the chin.

Whilst it may seem witty to have a “not”-blog it can be fairly boring unless you fill it with content. When I started my blog oh so many years ago my first post wasn’t about Gartner, and in fact when I’ve told people that I am a blogger and told them the name of my blog, I’ve often had to explain who Gartner is, and what they do. Ultimately, I haven’t blogged much about Gartner, and when I do it is pretty tame stuff.

On the other hand some more serious “not”-bloggers have had a pretty major impact on companies like Microsoft. I’d wager that a fair number of Microsoft employees point their RSS aggregator to Mini-Microsoft and take heart that at least someone is saying what they think.

As for notreadify? Who knows what role it will fulfil. I can’t imagine a blog that is just about Readify and its exploits would be riveting reading for most people, but it is good to know that we’ve a profile in the industry where people can actually be anti-“us”.

The Future of Enterprise Application Development

On the 24th of September (Wednesday next week) I will be giving a talk on “The Future of Enterprise Application Development”. There are two talks on that evening, the other is by August de los Reyes presenting on Emotional Design.

My talk was rescheduled from one that I was meant to do earlier in the year but couldn’t because I was ill. In the end it was fortunate because the mood in the industry around things such as SaaS is moving and SaaS has a huge impact on the platforms that developers will be using to deliver solutions in the future.

Software as a Service is the notion that rather than building and selling software, vendors will package up that software into a complete service offering where we pay on an ongoing basis for the right to use that software and they will continue to evolve and improve that software over time.

As part of the re-preparation for my talk I’ve been building up a mind-map of all the things that are relevant to the conversation. Perhaps the best way to describe my talk is list out what I think are the open questions that still need to be answered:

  • Business Users
    • What are the forces driving the move from in-house IT to SaaS?
    • Is SaaS just a re-badging of the old failed outsourcing model?
    • How do I integrate my personal computing life with my business computing life?
  • IT Professionals
    • If we out-source all our infrastructure what happens to our jobs?
    • If our apps don’t run on our infrastructure where is out data?
    • How will we manage rights of our users?
    • How do we deal with vendors “upgrading their applications”?
    • How do we negotiate a SaaS style SLA?
  • Application Developers
    • What happens to line of business application development?
    • How do I build multi-tenant applications?
    • What kind of new skills am I going to need?
    • How do I integrate my application with other SaaS offerings?
    • Will we need to support multiple versions of our SaaS solution?
  • Solution Vendors
    • How do track and bill usage by user and by feature?
    • How do we transform our business from consulting?

I don’t think that anyone has all the answers but I think by understanding what the forces are and what kind of questions need to be answered we are better positioned to take advantage of this new trend. My session is all about exposing and discussing these questions and looking at some of the practical things that you can do in your line of business applications today to get yourself ready.

Some interesting IE8 feedback from the troops.

I was scanning the internal mailing list the other day and I came across this little quotable e-mail from David Burela:

Ie8Feedback

I thought it was interesting because a lot of our guys, whilst they support Internet Explorer actually do a lot of their development with Firefox to spot any issues early and because Firebug is so damned cool.

While this quote is a week old and the IE8 honeymoon may be over it is an indication that this browser release from Microsoft may actually halt adoption of Firefox and Google Chrome (FWIW, I installed Chrome, it had some nice features but I’m back on IE8B2).

Anonymity == Gutless?

One of the things that Noon Silk brought over here in the comments is that anonymity is actually OK. He was responding to a comment by my co-worker Philip Beadle who suggested (paraphrasing) that you might lack courage if you didn’t state your name in a public forum.

I don’t really know where I stand on this one. On one hand anonymity is a right that we associate with voting, a very democratic institution, and there are groups out there that promote our right to privacy.

However I do find that when you are forced to be accountable for what you say you approach it in a more diplomatic way (well most people do anyway). Not only because there are repercussions but also because in this industry there is a very real chance that you’ll end up having to work with the person sitting across the table from you.

So is choosing remain anonymous gutless, or is it a way of ensuring that you can say exactly what you mean so that you can get your message across. I’d probably prefer to be out in the open in most occasions, but sometimes I have chosen to remain anonymous so I can’t throw stones.

The Sydney ALT.NET Group

Richard Banks is looking for some link love regarding the Sydney ALT.NET Group which will be running out of the ThoughtWorks offices in Sydney. The first meeting is on the 30th of September and the agenda has been posted up here. I’m looking to get involved setting up a similar group in Melbourne if anyone is interested – I’m just trying to convince someone with better organisational abilities than I to help with some of the monthly logistics 🙂

A tale of WSS woe.

Today started out alright. The night before I had successfully upgraded a customers TFS server from 2005 to 2008 server inside the outage window and with a minimum of fuss. As I am sure most of you know, upgrading TFS is a two step affair where you can optionally also upgrade the WSS 2.0 installation to WSS 3.0 – I opted to do this the following day and wear any minor outages (IISRESETs etc) while everyone was working.

My strategy for WSS 2.0 to WSS 3.0 upgrade was to do an in-place upgrade where I simply install WSS 3.0 over the top and then tell TFS where the new admin service is so that Team Project creation works. I never even got to the point where TFS needed to know about WSS 3.0 – oh no, my tale of woe had begun.

The upgrade process for WSS started smooth enough with the new install getting dropped down onto the machine without too many issues. However, when I went to run the configuration wizard (psconfigui.exe) it bombed out at step 7 (provisioning the central administration web application). The log file produced indicated that something was seriously wrong.

WSS3Log

Looking at the log file there were several hints as to what might be the issue:

  1. Some kerberos issue.
  2. Some security issue.
  3. Some IIS issue.

I still don’t know which one it is because I ended up rolling back to WSS 2.0, however that wasn’t before spending about ten hours trying to figure out what was going on using a combination of Google and various debugging tools.

I managed to find this thread featuring Michael Nemtsev which pretty much matched the issue that I was having, however none of the other comments of the thread offered a solution that worked for me (either I wasn’t able to try them or they just didn’t make sense, I followed up with Michael who happens to work for Readify as well and he shared some scripts with me that were informative but didn’t help much. I also learned that not doing the right thing with psconfig.exe can lead to your Default Web Site being deleted (the hard way).

So what was a stressed developer to do? Well, I decided it was time to learn more about the problem and spent a few couple of hours attaching various debuggers (Visual Studio 2005, cordb.exe and mdbg.exe) to the psconfigui.exe process and steping through Microsoft’s code to migure out exactly what data was being passed into FileIOPermission to make the thing fall over. It turns out that the value “adminvs” was being passed in, but that doesn’t really make sense so I left feeling pretty mystified.

I’ve actually pinged a few people to see if they can help me. Hopefully between us we can figure out what the answer is. Before I sign-off I just wanted to make an observation about dependencies…

Dependencies are Evil

Whilst I can appreciate why the TFS team might want to depend on WSS, and on Reporting Services they then need to accept that their product will only be as stable as those products, and that their upgrade processes will only be as good as their upgrade process. When you take a dependency on a complex piece of software, then your software automatically becomes that complex.

This is one of the reasons why I am so excited by SaaS. WSS might be a fantastic collaboration space but from an install experience point of view it sucks, in fact there are lots of products out there whose install experience suck – the majority I would say. In a SaaS world where the vendor hosts their product I wouldn’t care how crappy their install process is because I would never have to do it, I could just use the software and plug my tools into it.

In the future, when I create a team project I hope that I can just point at my hosted SPS2007 infrastructure, or some other site that I’ve already created and just say “use that for collaboration”.

Who is “Nick”? Contact me!

I’m following up the comments of “Nick” who left comments on Roger Lawrence’s blog post (here), and on Paul Stovell’s blog post (here). The comments have caused a bit of a stir at Readify and I’d like to invite Nick to e-mail me on my personal address (mitch.denny@notgartner.com) so that we can have a conversation about it.

Nick – if you are willing to give you a forum here on my blog where we can thrash out some of the issues (if you don’t have your own blog). Some people say that you shouldn’t pick a scab, but I think there is a lot to be said for getting issues out and into the open.

I’m going to ask the Readify guys to link to this blog post to try and make sure we catch your attention. I’m sure others feel the same way you do so now might be a good time to examine the points you raise.

If you’d prefer not to contact me directly, that is fine, feel free to leave comments on this post.