Darth Reed

Now that I have a place to put my quasi-technical babble over at MSDN, the space is reserved for me to spew my political bile and enjoy all things sci-fi. Heh.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Don't get me wrong, I love Virtual PC, but...

Don't get me wrong, I love Virtual PC, but it has issues. The whole point of virtualization is to abstract the hardware out of the equation and enable you to move images around. There are a couple of gotchas in Virtual PC 2004 with that. In creating an image for a BizTalk development environment, I ran into one of these naughty little critters...

After installing the Windows Server 2003, all the spiffy BizTalk prerequisites, Visual Studio .NET 2003, etc, I sysprep-ed the image so that each developer would have to use his own personal MSDN Universal license keys for Windows and Office 2003; sysprep calls all of the other installers (for SQL Server 2000, BizTalk, the service packs, etc) after mini-setup is done because SQL Server and BizTalk do *NOT* rename well. C'est la guerre. All that was good and tested nicely on my Toshiba Tecra M3 (note the Centrino processor) many times.

Then I copied the image to the Dell micro-workstation P4 PCs that the developers will be using... and *KABOOM*. BSOD. I haven't seen a blue screen of death in a long time. They suck. I hope that they at least change the color with Vista, but I digress. The core of the error is someting wacky about an invalid operation or instruction and intelppm.sys and unloaded, blah, blah, blah. After hours of setup time, I'm starting to get irritated.

Turns out that somebody in Redmond in or near the Virtual PC team blogged about a related but this past Monday. Ain't synchronicity grand? At least Google indexes HIS blog properly... See Virtual PC Guy's WebLog : Problems with Intelppm.sys and processr.sys under Virtual PC / Virtual Server.

In order to get around this "special feature," I had to copy an un-sysprep-ed image to a P4, disable the intelppm driver in the registry and then sysprep the image. (Apparently something in sysprep reactivates the feature because it didn't work when I disabled the driver and sysprep-ed on the Centrino before copying to the P4.) One man's bug is another man's feature. Heh. But with help from the Virtual PC Guy, we got it a-werkin'!!

Strike one!

OMG! It could be worse than Hillary in '08.

Walken for President 2008

This is the same guy who can't do an interview with anybody and make sense. I don't think he's ever been in public other than while under the influence of unspecified, probably-not-legal substances... Nobody can seriously want this guy carrying the nuclear football.

While I'm NOT a huge fan of Laura Ingram, I do think she needs to send a personally autographed copy of her book, Shut Up and Sing to Mr. Walken. (Maybe he could sound out the first two words? Or let his agent read them to him?) Possibly to every loony in Hollywood.

Strike down liberalism!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

How about a tax cut instead?

This is insane. I don't want my Congress Critterz deciding how to upgrade my TV equipment!! This is just as stupid as publicly funded sports arenas. Which probably means it will happen.

Slashdot | Congress Pays You $3 Billion to Keep Watching TV

It's long past time for another tea party.

Strike now!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Can you Hummer-size that, please?

In order to get over the "gas is cheaper" hump (even at $3US a gallon), you've got to have some serious coolness factor. I'm personally in favor of nuclear-powered cars, but I'll settle for a fuel cell... if it comes in a Hummer-sized package. I simply can't fit all the wife and kidlets (with car safety seats) in a teensy little four-door, and the wife won't ride on the bumper for some reason...

Never-the-less, Honda's got a pretty cool concept car in the works: Green Car Congress: Hondas More Powerful Fuel Cell Concept with Home Hydrogen Refueling. Even the greenies can't complain about a Hummer-sized vehicle if it doesn't run on oil, right?

Strike more!

From the Fair & Balanced File: The Opposite of Unit Testing

For an opposing opinion, on the subject of unit testing, you can always look to the Jedi who think they walk on water and believe that they never forget to double-check any of their own code: Unit testing is teh suck, Urr.. Mr. Wil Shipley despises unit testing, which is obvious from his deleterious rant. It is a case in point that he has a Constitutional Right®, of course, to be an idiot. Years of breathing too much oxygen seems to do that to people...

To paraphrase him (and his grandfather), "I've been doing it this way for a million years and it's always been good enough before!" He even makes the goofy claim that he won't switch because he doesn't have any hard data. Heh! There is plenty of hard data that the state of software development is horrific. But if we follow Wil's advice of doing more of the same from decades past, we'll continue to get the same kind of buggy software that went on before... I'm only linking to it by way of reminding myself that there are more minions out there which remain to be conquered by the forces of Order and Righteousness. There is more random not-quite-agreement over at the Coding Horror.

Unit testing isn't the be all and end all of testing. Period. Because you still have to spend years in integration testing and acceptance testing before installing your already obsolete software at the client site. (How else are we supposed to make money on upgrades? Heh.) Unit testing is a damn good practice to impose on the underpaid, sometimes-offshore monkeys in your software factories because developers are human, unreliable and make mistakes. They forget to include things in protein tests later. They don't make checklists. They don't even read my blog. Besides, unit tests give you pretty red and green lights AND spiffy new metrics like "code coverage" to crush the spirit of those evil developer monkeys with. Put the screws to them by demanding that they write the unit tests AND the program code in the same amount of time under the same budget as they used to just write just the software. And the best part is that you can slap a shiny, new "agile" label on the "methodology" to make it easier for management to swallow it (and pay extra for!).

Make the world a better place: Smack down a Jedi prima donna today!

Is your color printer spying on you?

This article, Schneier on Security: Secret Forensic Codes in Color Laser Printers, brings up an interesting point. Most of us have no idea how many people are spying on us all the time, or could if they wanted to.

You have to wonder what possed Xerox to put them in there in the first place. Was it a secret deal pre-dating the Patriot Act? Where are Mulder and Scully when you need 'em? Is the Internet slowly taking over the planet? Or is this just a bug in the self-diagnostic routine? Heh.

Strike something!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Children incompatible with blogosphere?

Jeff Stahler is a funny guy. Somehow, though, I feel like I/we/you are the butt of this blogosphere joke and it's not as funny as I think it is... At least the paternal figure in the cartoon gets a little more respect and peace-and-quiet than is typical of someone in the blogosphere here at Fort Reed.

Strike out!

Test-Driven BizTalk

The great equalizer, TDD is. The stronger your unit testing skills are, the more powerful you will be. You will be. Heh.

If you've been living under a development rock in VB6 or hiding inside an IBM mainframe cave, here's the short version of test-driven development (TDD): write your tests before you write your code. It’s sometimes thought to be the same as its cousin test-first development (TFD). [See TDD = TFD + refactoring.] The purpose of TDD is to improve quality and to improve resistance of the solution to regression errors by wrapping *everything* in unit tests from as many different angles as possible (success and failure). TDD is arguably the core of most agile methodologies, like Extreme Programming (XP). Use it when you want/need to interpose insurance against expected high levels of change and churn between yourself and "the customer(s)." And when wouldn't you want to do that?

OK, so you get it. You test first. You ask questions later. And then you're assigned to a BizTalk project. So what? Well, it's a little harder to wrap NUnit around BizTalk than a simple .NET assembly. But you've got to start somewhere, right? Here's where you start: MSDN Webcast: Test-Driven Development with BizTalk Server 2004 (Level 200).

Now this webcast isn't a heavy-duty, nothin' but code, level 400 course, but it's a decent start and a decent introduction to TDD. You'll have to register to watch the webcast, but that's a small price to pay (since BillG already knows who you are and all about you anyway). You can either install the LiveMeeting replay ActiveX control and watch it streamed or download the WMV (it's ~8.15MB) and view it offline later. What better use could you have for an hour of your time? (Besides web comics and hacking the company firewall for fun and profit, I mean. Ha-ha!)

Seek the green lights, padawan, for in them your salvation from regression errors will be...

Strike now!

Friday, October 14, 2005

64-bit bitching: What's the point?

Everywhere you read about Windows Server 2003 64-bit editions (either x64 or IA), the big warning is "You're going to have problems with drivers!" and "Beware the missing 64-bit drivers!!" And, yes, I can confirm that drivers are a problem; however it's not the biggest problem, dammit!!!

Out of the box, the x64 version doesn't have the .NET Framework installed!! Windows Update doesn't deliver the 1.1 Framework to it even as an option, either. Then, the quote-unquote 64-bit version of SP1 won't install on the x64 version (it's not clear which 64-bit version is supported, but I must assume it's only IA), leaving one to install the 32-bit version of SP1 on your 64-bit machine. Most of the post-SP1 hotfixes will not install on the x64 version... and the list goes on. But those are just the minor nits that I have to pick.

The biggest problem is that Microsoft in its infinite wisdom did NOT build the 64-bit versions identically to the 32-bit versions - for obvious reasons, but one could certainly HOPE for a bit better thought out backwards compatibility!!! Geez, you can't even install standard Windows Server System products on it that aren't specifically 64-bit... It's almost as if M$ doesn't care if you can only use 64-bit hardware for SQL Server 2000! After fighting with SharePoint Portal Server (which refuses to install on the x64 version), I had no choice but to revert to the 32-bit version and accept the memory management problems that is has with more than 3GB of RAM. *big pout*

Monday, October 10, 2005

I obviously don't have enough free time.

Some guy named Sakakibara Kikai has built what he calls a Land Walker Robot. I'm not sure that it meets the definition of robot, since it's got a human pilot and is human controlled... but he's got one (and it's armed) and I don't, so I'm not inclined to quibble.

OK, so it's only armed with what look like spongie tennis balls (right now), but hey... That beats not having one, right?

As soon as I save up enough money to buy some free time, I'm going to build me a 'mech that can take Sakakibara's robot's lunch money.

Actually, now I have to choose between a 'mech and rocket plane... Hrm. Tough choice.

Strike soon!

BizTalk 2006 absolutely rocks.

As I spend more time with BT2k6 in the coming days/weeks/months/years, I'll share more of my favorite features. However, one teensy little improvement over previous versions of BizTalk is enough to make it a compelling upgrade, IMNSHO. Here's the feature description from Understanding BizTalk Server 2006:

In BizTalk Server 2006, it’s also possible to subscribe to specific error conditions. Unlike the previous release, in which messages that caused errors were simply suspended, an error message can now be processed in a particular way or routed to a specific destination, such as a WSS folder.


Now, the rumors of its slight delay in RTM delivery is a little disappointing, but you can't have everything, eh? Get the beta anyway and get to work!

Strike now!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

One small step closer to getting off this rock!!

Who says that prayers are never answered?? (It must be just that guy, because mine sure are.) Woohoo!! As soon as I sell as many internal organs as I can spare for the money, I'm going to be joining the Rocket Racing League! [A big thank you to Fox News for profiling the league tonight.] Yeehaw!!!

And to think earlier today that I was going settle for an RC helicopter...

Look for my Texas-sized rocket racer zooming over a major metropolitan area near you.

Strike fast!

Moments of epiphany

Every once in a while, you read a book that makes you say, "Aha!" It's especially rare to find a book that delivers more than one "Aha!" moment about a technology that you've been working with for quite a while.

Fast Track to MDX is just such a book. If you have time for only one reference/tutorial to get you up to speed on the guts of Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, this is that book.

Strike many times!