# Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I will again be speaking at Visual Studio Live in Redmond this year. I am excited to be speaking again and with the chances of another Build/PDC conference seemingly going down each day I have started to tell people that they can only go to one conference a year they should consider a different one. Check out to see if Visual Studio Live is a good fit for you.

Here is some basic information about the conference.

Visual Studio Live! Redmond
August 6-10
Microsoft HQ in Redmond, WA

Speakers: http://vslive.com/events/redmond-2012/speakers/speaker-list.aspx
Agenda: http://vslive.com/events/redmond-2012/sessions/session-list.aspx
10 Reasons to Attend: http://vslive.com/events/redmond-2012/information/10-reasons.aspx

Tracks at Visual Studio Live! Redmond include:
  • Visual Studio / .NET
  • Windows 8 / WinRT
  • Cloud Computing and Services (such Azure and WCF)
  • Silverlight / WPF
  • Data Management (including SQL Server, SQL Azure and Hadoop)
  • Windows Phone
  • Cross-Platform Mobile (including app development for iOS, Android and WP7)
  • HTML5
  • Web (including ASP.NET and RESTful Services)

The extra-cool part about Visual Studio Live! Redmond: attendees get exclusive access to the Microsoft campus, including the employee-only discount area at the Microsoft Company Store (which means stocking up on hugely-discounted software)!

Register before tomorrow and Save $300!

http://vslive.com/Events/Redmond-2012/Home.aspx?utm_source=AttendeeMktg&utm_medium=Banner Ad&utm_campaign=VNSP12

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 5:02:00 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, June 21, 2012

I really liked the idea of Information Cards and the Windows implementation of that technology as Windows Card Space. I like the idea of having a cryptographically secure way of proving my identity to a web site or program. Unfortunately the idea hasn’t caught on as fast as I would like. In the mean time we have other and arguably better solutions like the Open Authentication Protocol (e.g. oAuth).

Until there is enough momentum and agreement around any one protocol or a small set of protocols that means that we will be stuck with user names and passwords for authentication on most sites. It also means that we will be looking at reports of passwords being stolen just like LinkedIn, eHarmony, and Last.fm.

I personally use KeePass to manage my passwords so even though my LinkedIn password was one of the ones leaked and it appears to have been cracked (shame on me for only using 8 random characters). Fortunately I don’t use it anywhere else and there isn’t a lot in LinkedIn that I am concerned about but it still hurts to have been “hacked”.

There are other problems. A while ago I reset my Hotmail password. I chose a good, long password. I then started seeing a lot of times when I couldn’t log in because my password had been entered incorrectly too many times. It turns out to be 2 different issues. The first issue is that it appears that you can enter a long password (mine was 22 characters) but only the first 15 are significant. Some places like the web interface let me enter all the characters and would log me in. Others like Windows Phone would give me an invalid password with those same 22 characters. When I only entered the first 15 characters then it authenticated me. The second issue is that those credentials are entered in a lot of different places. Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Live Messenger, etc. I have to go to every machine where I have entered the credentials and to each application individually to change the password. I would love to see them use the password vault in Windows so I can change it once for all of the applications that use it.

Another problem with passwords that I ran into yesterday was the need to change it. In a lot of corporate environments there is a password policy that the passwords will expire every x number of days. You can set up your LiveID (ahem Microsoft ID) to expire every 72 days. I don’t have that setting se t but I did get this dialog box and had to reset my password.


This was totally unexpected since I have been using this account for a long time (I think 8 years) so I shouldn’t have to activate the account. I also wasn’t expecting a password reset. I thought this might be a new form of malware so I went out to my Hotmail in the browser and sure enough I had to reset my password.

Thursday, June 21, 2012 10:22:00 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, March 09, 2012

I have been thinking about privacy on the Internet lately. There have been several things that came up including Target knowing that a girl was pregnant before her father did, Google changing its privacy policy, the Obama administration asking for consumers to have more control over their personal information, and my recent trip to Hong Kong and traveling through customs.

I am not naïve enough to think that we will ever be able to get rid of tracking and privacy concerns because we have come to expect some things like our broadcast TV, discounts at merchants, and a lot of Internet content for free. In most cases we are either directly or indirectly giving up information about ourselves in order to get what we see as a benefit. In the case of a supermarket discount program we give up our name, address, phone number, and possibly other information that can then be combined with census data or other data from databases to give the retailer an idea of our income and possible spending habits. Over time by tracking what we actually purchase we give them a very detailed account of what we buy. For broadcast TV there are other ways that we give up some information like the Neilsen ratings where our viewing habits are surmised based on a set of people willing to give more detailed information.

I remember attending the Software Developers West (SD West) conference in 1997. I attended a session there where the speaker said that privacy and privacy concerns were a relatively new invention. He used “Little House on the Prairie” as an example. In the small town scenario if I were to go in and buy a necklace at the only local store and then the store owner saw someone other than my wife wearing the necklace he would know I had given it to her. There was no privacy and no expectation of privacy. Having grown up in a small town I can attest that this is still the status quo for a lot of people. Certainly all of the “stupid boy” things that I did growing up are known and remembered by many people there. The reason that nobody got too uptight about knowing what was going on was that except for a few people we all realized that we were human and cut each other a lot of slack. Also the social norm seemed to be that telling too many of your neighbor’s secrets got you branded a gossip and nobody wanted that. I don’t know but I would be willing to bet that if you were to travel back in time and ask people then about privacy if they had thought about it at all it would probably come up in the context of the Constitution, not having your mail read, or illegal search and seizure of property.

Now it seems that with many people living in large, urban environments we have come to expect a certain level of privacy. I know that I enjoy some benefits from having moved away from the same people that I went to school with. I am not reminded on a daily basis about the fights, crushes, and other activities of junior high and high school. At the same time I also try to self sensor myself to make sure that I am not creating a new persona that would have negative items associated with it. I am careful about what I post on the Internet and especially on sites that are designed for sharing like Facebook and LinkedIn and this blog. These social media sites are the antithesis of privacy as they encourage us to share many details including our most intimate thoughts.

One of the privacy related things that I have been interested in over the years is watching how my information has spread across different marketing firms. My name was misspelled in a particular database. I started getting mail with that misspelling from different companies. Since I do not use that misspelling and have never responded back to any mailings or calls with that name (I tell the telemarketers that nobody with that name lives here) I saw its use go way up and then drop off in a long tail slide into oblivion.

I don’t know that there is an easy solution to this problem but here is what I would like to see several things to “protect my privacy”.

  1. I would like an explicit policy from any company that gathers my personal information.
  2. I would like a standard way of viewing and updating the information.
  3. I would like to know exactly who they are sharing the data with. The current standard language about “select 3rd party companies” or “trusted partners” doesn’t quite do it for me. I want to know if a site I like is going to sell/share my information with another company that I don’t care to give that information to.
  4. I want stronger guidance around encrypting and securing my personal data.
  5. I want a way to delete the data. I realize this is the hardest thing to do since I have probably gotten a discount or free information for my private information and just deleting the information doesn’t compensate the person who gathered the information but on the other hand they could probably work out a system where it costs a nominal fee to delete the information.
Friday, March 09, 2012 8:03:00 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, October 06, 2011

I learned today that Steve Jobs passed away. The announcement on the Apple site is very short and like most Apple products is very well designed and beautiful. I never got to meet him but I can see his influence in the computer in front of me, the phone in my pocket, and a lot of the discussions we seem to be having around design and aesthetics. I don’t know if there is another CEO in any industry that has brought together the drive, passion, and attention to detail that Steve brought to Apple. Although I personally don’t use Apple products I have appreciated the competition and vision that they have brought to our industry. I will always remember my first assembly programming language class that was taught on an Apple II and later classes on the Apple Lisa (I think).

Rest In Peace Mr. Jobs

Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:32:00 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, September 16, 2011

Windows Azure SDK 1.5
September 2011 release of the Visual Studio Tools
ASP.NET MVC3 as a project template
More information as the emulator starts
Faster start up of the emulator
Multiple configuration files based on the profile
Profiling support in the cloud
View profile information from Server Explorer
15 states as an application is deployed, Now we can see the state transition
New management APIs
Ability to rollback
Storage analytics in CSV log file
$logs hidden folder
Information on containers and objedts
SQL Azure impot/export as a "backpack " file
, Add additional servers up to 6 per subscription
REST based API for management
Assign other administrators
Use Windows Azure Storage to upload backpack files before importing into SQL Azure

Friday, September 16, 2011 9:43:43 AM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

Dev-ops will change architecture

Jason Zander
Latest release of Azure tools just released
Intellitrace and profiling available in the cloud
Image editor in VS11
New Azure toolkit and SDK for VS11 available today

Scott Guthrie
Automatic bundling and minification of JavaScript
Device specific layout templates to make it easier to support different form factors. Also use jQuery
Deep support for web sockets
Deploy to Azure in all server project types

Jason Zander
TFS preview is TFS in Azure running SaaS
Significant amount of Agile work
Works with VS 2010
Developer preview of Windows Server 8
Has symmetry with Windows Azure
Identity and Secure access are built in!

Friday, September 16, 2011 9:21:21 AM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I was really excited and pleased with the announcements at the build conference today. I didn’t have any previous knowledge about what would be announced but I had some things that I though would make the conference a success. They were:

  • A really good Windows 8 OS with a polished look and feel
  • Good tooling in Visual Studio to make it easy to create applications for Windows 8
  • Clarification on the story about HTML5, CSS, Silverlight, and WPF
  • A timeline on when all this goodness will be available

I didn’t get everything I wanted but I am very pleased with what I did get from today.

I was excited by the keynote. I can’t remember being this excited by a Microsoft product announcement in a long time. There were some glitches and I have seen some interesting things on the slate that I have as far as performance goes but nothing that was repeatable so I am not sure what is causing it. For the record most of the problems I am seeing are related to networking but the network on my laptop is dropping its connection a lot so it might not be related to Windows 8. Overall I think that for a developer preview this is a very polished build.

I saw some things I really liked in the next version of Visual Studio. I like what I saw of the tools and controls. What I was hoping for but didn’t see was a way to make CSS easier. Since I am not a good designer I wanted to see templates like those in PowerPoint that would get me most of the way to a good design. I am told that this is possible now but IO haven’t really seen any demos of this feature.

With the architecture slides and the discussion around the different languages it seems that Silverlight and WPF as separate technologies will be subsumed into the Windows Runtime (RT) and that the technology will live on but the branding will go away. I am planning on attending more sessions to make sure that this is the case.

We were told that Windows 8 will be released when it meets quality bars and not on some timeline.

I am very excited about Windows 8 and I am sure that through the rest of the week I will learn more about how Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Azure will work together to create a vision of the future of computing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 5:26:00 AM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, August 05, 2011

Today I was working with someone and thought we had a permissions problem opening a .DLL file in a particular directory. I had them open the file with notepad.exe to check to see if they had rights. Before I could warn them about the checkbox to always open .DLLs with notepad they had clicked on the OK button.

I wanted to clean up the association so they wouldn’t accidentally open and save a .DLL causing some kind of hard to track down corruption. I did some searching and found a lot of people talking about how to associate files with a particular program by either right clicking on the file and going through the open process to get to the point where they could choose a program (like we did) or through Control Panel –> Default Programs –> Associate a file type or protocol with a program but very few explaining how to remove the file associations.

I found this process and it worked for me. Of course all of the standard disclaimers about changing the registry also apply here.

If you open regedit and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.dll you will see that there are three keys.

I deleted the OpenWithList and UserChoice keys.

Under the OpenWithProgids key I didn’t need to make any changes. The key had a default value and a REG_NONE value named dllfile.

This fixed the association for me and I haven’t seen any issues with the changes.

Friday, August 05, 2011 8:34:00 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, August 03, 2011

By now you have probably heard that the Build conference in September is sold out. If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet you can enter a contest here. All you have to do is mail them a short (less than 140 character) reason why you should get one of these tickets.

Good luck and I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011 1:38:00 PM (Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |