# Friday, March 14, 2008

All of the mainstream press is done talking about Mix last week. So I wanted to give my impression as a long time Microsoft watcher and developer.

First I have sat through hundreds if not thousands of keynotes over the last 15 years at Microsoft events. (Most recently I sat through one in Portuguese on Wednesday in Lisbon.  2700 developers, what a turn out!) Microsoft is really focused on the developer. They have a developer culture (that gets them in trouble with the mainstream press a lot) and treat developers like gold.

For all the great treatment, they will still turn up the PR engine at these keynotes, because while TechEd, PDC, and Mix maybe developer events, the press is still there. I noticed something different about Microsoft at Mix: honestly.

Case in point. In all of my years at keynotes, MS has never admitted to a mistake. They have come close by saying "Version 3.0 was slow, sorry. Version 4.0 out in XX months will be 10x faster! We rock! Cheer for us!"

They have touched some third rails like during the IE monopoly trial in the USA they brought a new computer out on stage and said "where is IE" in the middle of the demo. It was loaded with Netscape. That kind of poking fun at themselves was nice, but still not what I was looking for.

No at Mix they showed the maturity of an industry leader. They showed IE 7.0 not implementing CSS 2.1 standards. They then showed FireFox and Opera implementing it correctly. Then they said that they will fix it in IE 8 and showed us a demo to the point.


Some of you may not think that this is a big deal. It is. It is Microsoft growing up knowing that they are not the only player out there, realizing that people depend on their stuff and they are willing to take responsibility. This is the first step in losing their arrogance.

Speaking of arrogance. That is my opinion of Apple at the moment. As a developer, the iPhone SDK is 1. late to the party, 2. not that compelling (I had similar tools for RIM 7 years ago and Palm and MS SmartPhone 5+ years ago) and 3. arrogant. I have to develop according to the Apple UI and deployment standards. Sorry Steve Jobs look in the mirror. You will see Bill Gates of 10 years ago. The person you hate is the person you just became.

A torch has been passed. Who will replace Microsoft as the arrogant one in the software space? It will take a few years for Microsoft to completely change and a few more years for that change to be accepted. I think buying Yahoo! and working in a mature manner with Yahoo! is the first step. Who will replace Microsoft? The likely candidates: Google or Apple.

posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 8:27:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Sunday, March 9, 2008

The .NET community lost one of its great leaders last night, Stephen R. Goodwin. He was 60 years old and lost his bout with cancer, a bout he almost defeated last year.Steve worked tirelessly as a User Group leader in New York City (Enterprise Windows User Group) and set up many great events and organized low cost training for user group members-the first such program of its kind. Steve was also an MVP and represented NY to Culminis.

His firm, Cartwright & Goodwin, was a Microsoft Certified Partner-but Cartwright did not exist, he made it up to sound more "white and Jewish" since he started this firm in the 1970s when the market did not look as kindly on black entrepreneurs as it does today.

I use to call Steve "Mayor Bloomberg" since he had a great photo of him and the mayor that he use to carry around. I was luckier than most, Steve only lived 1 block away and we would often ride the subway home from the user group meetings and grab a dinner at the local Japanese place where he would tell me crazy stories about his trips to Japan back in his Wall Street trader days.

You also may not know but you can catch a glimpse of him in Eddy Murphy's "Trading Places" in the gold pit of the NY Commodities Exchange-back when he was a commodity trader.

Stephen’s obituary is here.

posted on Sunday, March 9, 2008 3:41:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, March 7, 2008

Next week I will be in Lisbon, Portugal speaking at Techdays 2008.All my stuff is listed in Portuguese, I hope they realize I don’t speak Portuguese. :)

Will be doing three sessions:

posted on Friday, March 7, 2008 5:43:57 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Thursday, March 6, 2008

I am on .NET Rocks today talking about distributed teams. Enjoy.

posted on Thursday, March 6, 2008 9:44:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I have been working with web technology since the earliest days of the commercial web. I remember back about 15 years ago learning HTML and basically making a fool of myself with my personal home page and talking myself into a job at Fidelity Investments in 1994 saying I knew this thing called HTML. I remember about 13 years ago using raw ODBC via CGI scripts to make data from a database appear on a web page. Then came OLE ISAPI and life got a little easier-but you had to code the page yourself (like do all the response.* stuff that ASPx does automatically for you today).

What I remember for most of my time as a developer is how hard the web was to code for. Around 1995 I tried to tell customers (I was construing then) that the web was a passing fad to avoid building web apps. (they did not believe me.) The tools were immature (Visual Notepad 1.0) the IDEs just sucked (remember HotDog?) and all the APIs were out of process. Then along came a beta for IIS 1.0 sometime I think 12 years ago. I still remember where I was when I first saw it. I was in Chicago at a developer conference. Things started to get easier.

Back around 1996 programming for the web was better but still quite a challenge. At the same time, Java was threatening Microsoft. Netscape was the darling of Wall Street and the geeks. Microsoft's back was against the wall. There was an anti-trust lawsuit. People said that they were big and mean (and they were mean at times!) and could not adapt to the Internet. The Internet would make Microsoft unimportant.

Microsoft responded. Code named Denali, Active Server Pages and ActiveX Data Objects gave us an in-process way to code pages with a framework on top of ISAPI, gone were the days of having to write the pluming. Tools started to come along, Visual InterDev was a good first attempt and then the evolution of Visual Studio. The Java folkes were jealous of the MS IDEs. Coding for the web just got way easier.

This helped fuel the .COM boom. IIS was so innovative (the only web server at the time to be out of process), the IDEs were so much easier, and scaling to a web farm was so cost efficient, Microsoft set a new standard in web development. Microsoft technology lead the way during the boom, others were big players but by 2001 people were actually starting to play catch up to Microsoft when they put .NET to beta. How about that for not being unimportant?

Well fast forward 7 or 8 years.  I was at the New York Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008 launch today and headed to Mix 2008 tomorrow. I look at the way we code web pages today and it is 10 times easier than the .com era! Maybe more!

The likes of Google and open source-ers have claimed that Microsoft is again unimportant. Goolge is the darling of Wall Street and the geeks. Linux and open source have their religious zeal. Microsoft faces anti-trust in Europe. Sure Google owns the online ad space. Great, they can have it. Wall Street and the lay press have stated that Microsoft is behind Google because it is in third place for Ads on the Web. They say that Microsoft was asleep behind the wheel. I beg to differ. Let's take a look at some of the technology that the boys and girls from Redmond have produced in recent months:

  • The .NET Framework and the 3.5 extensions (WF, WCF, ASP Ajax, and ASP.NET MVC Framework)
  • Visual Studio 2008, the slickest IDE out there
  • SharePoint
  • Silverlight

Not to mention all of the back end stuff like Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 all with supporting technology like LINQ and XLINQ.

Holy cow is developing for the web easy! Not only easier, but developers have more unprecedented power. When you compare the Java and Open Source offerings of .NET, Visual Studio, SharePoint, Windows, SQL Server, and Silverlight, there is no stack that even comes close in power and productivity. Not bad for the "unimportant" Microsoft.

Case in point. I started a new business in December. Something very speculative and it needed a large data driven user interactive transactional web site. Back 10 years ago, I would have had to make up some PowerPoint slides and beg angel investors for a few hundred thousand dollars to build out a proof of concept. It would then take six months to get to an alpha since debugging would consist of CTRL+G and counting down to the response.write("strSQL"). The UI was painful for users and very static.

Now due to infrastructure reasons like cheap bandwidth, outsourcing, and tools like Skype and IM, you can do this much cheaper. But Microsoft has made the development light years ahead of the .com era.

Remember my new startup? We have an Ajax enabled Microsoft .NET 3.5 ASPx site up and in customer ready beta today, in only two months. One architect, one developer, and one tester. That is 200% faster than my last startup Corzen which was built on top of the .NET 1.0 stack 6 years ago and 500% faster than a comparable web site build in the .com era for Zagat on the last ASP stack. All that and no begging any Angel investors, it was so cheap we paid for it ourselves!

Google may own Sillicon Valley and Wall Street, but Microsoft owns the majority of developers hearts and minds. They own it because they make our life so damn easy. Microsoft has thrown the web wide open to everyone. If you can get a new business started in 2 months on the Microsoft stack, think about all the great things that people will do!

Looking forward to the next stack in a few years from Microsoft and looking back at this current stack as slow and out of date like I do the .NET 1.0 stack. Maybe it will only take me 1 month to start a new business. :)

posted on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 1:01:06 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, March 3, 2008

I just got a new tablet PC and am loading it up for my upcoming trips to MIX, and TechDays in Lisbon, Portugal. When you load up a new computer you realize what you really need. So I figured that I would list them here, besides the common denominator of Windows, Office, Visual Studio, and SQL Server, here are the five pieces of software that I can't live without, software that I use on a daily basis:

1. Skype. I use Skype daily to drive the evil telcos out of business. For example I just loaded up Skype on my new computer today and had two conversations with people overseas for over an hour all for free. I pay for SkypeIn and SkypeOut and SkypePro, very valuable tools when I travel.

2. Netvibes. I use Netvibes to create a custom home page as my start page. It aggregates all of my RSS feeds as well as the typical sports, news, stocks, and weather.

3. Trillian. I use Trillian to have 1 IM client for all of my accounts: MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

4. Snagit. Great for screen captures, great for telling developers what is wrong with their pages.

5. SQL Data Compare and SQL Compare. These tools from Red Gate software keep your SQL Server databases in sync. Invaluable!

posted on Monday, March 3, 2008 3:12:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, March 1, 2008


Albany Marriott Hotel

189 Wolf Road

Albany, NY 12205  

Date & Time

March 12, 2008 9:00AM – 4:00 PM EST 

Registration Information: Click here


About the Conference

We invite you to join us for a day of developer-oriented technical sessions, featuring Application Lifecycle Management, Microsoft Silver Light 2.0, Building mobile applications with Visual Studio 2008, Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and Windows Communication Foundation. These exciting technologies enable entirely new types of applications to be built in record time. With interoperability now available in today’s software development tools and platforms, understanding how to weave the various products and processes into a manageable and cost effective platform can be challenging. The session on Application Lifecycle management will tackle the licensing and process-centric questions that often arise in considering Visual Studio Team System 2008 for the first time, or integrating it into an existing Java or multi-platform environment. This session will also provide some best practices around developer desktop inventory management, integrating .NET and non-Microsoft toolsets; demystifying the decision-making process of Visual Studio Team System 2008. The session on building mobile applications with Visual Studio 2008 will explore the productive integration offered by VS2008 to enable product development and testing of mobile applications as well as exploring new additions to the mobile development platform. You will learn to create and integrate workflows into everyday applications using Windows Workflow Foundation. Discover the ability to create rich, visually stunning, interactive content and applications that run on multiple browsers and operating systems with Microsoft Silverlight 2.0. You will also learn about the benefits of Microsoft Silverlight from a developer perspective and get an introduction to building Microsoft Silverlight applications using JavaScript and C# using Microsoft developer and designer tools.

These sessions will target Developers, Architects and Web Designers be very much demonstration oriented, and will be delivered by seasoned developers with experience in Government and Public Sector. Seize this opportunity to immerse yourself amidst these exciting new technologies!

Who Should Attend

Developers, Architects and technical managers who wish to get an early look at the next advancement in Software Development. 

The Agenda







Demystifying the Microsoft Application Lifecycle Management Platform




Building Rich Internet Applications Using Microsoft Silverlight 2.0




Building Mobile Applications with Visual Studio 2008


What's New in Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow (WF) in Visual Studio 2008 & the .NET Framework 3.5

posted on Saturday, March 1, 2008 3:00:07 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, February 29, 2008

Yesterday we discussed the changes to XQuery by allowing LET statements. Today the last XML enhancement is an "enhancement" to XML DML.

XML Data Manipulation Language (DML) is specific to MS SQL Server 2005 and 2008. It is a very useful feature that allows you to insert nodes to an existing XML instance, delete an element, or replace the value of (sort of an edit.) It works like this:

First let's create a table with an XML data type and insert a piece of XML into it:

Create table XMLTest1
    Speaker_ID int primary key,
    SpeakerXML xml not null


Insert into XMLTest1
        <class name="Writing Secure Code for ASP .NET " />
        <class name="Using XQuery in SQL Server 2008" />
        <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together" />

Now to insert an element into this table it is pretty easy, just use the XML modify method of the XML data type. Since our XML instance is in a SQL Server table we have to use the standard SQL UPDATE and SET syntax with a WHERE clause to get to the piece of XML in our table we are concerned with. You can see how easy it is to add an element to the table here:

Update XMLTest1
Set SpeakerXML.modify(
<class name="Using Linq to SQL" />
into /classes[1]'
Where Speaker_ID=1

If we select * from XMLTest1 WHERE Speaker_ID=1 the XML column looks like this now:

  <class name="Writing Secure Code for ASP .NET " />
  <class name="Using XQuery in SQL Server 2008" />
  <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together" />
  <class name="Using Linq to SQL" />

SQL Server 2008 has an enhancement to this. You can substitute the XML element with a variable. For example let's create a variable here:

DECLARE @newElement xml
Set @newElement='<class name="ASP.NET Scalability"/>'

Now let's do the same insert as before, however, we will use the @newElement variable. This will enable you to select XML from other areas and stick it into a variable and then insert it into another XML instance. Here is the final piece:

Update XMLTest1
Set SpeakerXML.modify(
into /classes[1]'
Where Speaker_ID=1

If we select * from XMLTest1 WHERE Speaker_ID=1 the XML column looks like this now:

  <class name="Writing Secure Code for ASP .NET " />
  <class name="Using XQuery in SQL Server 2008" />
  <class name="SQL Server and Oracle Working Together" />
  <class name="Using Linq to SQL" />
  <class name="ASP.NET Scalability" />

Not the greatest of new features, but a handy dandy feature to say the least.

posted on Friday, February 29, 2008 12:00:54 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback