# Monday, 12 July 2010

Want to learn about TFS 2010 by doing nine application lifecycle (ALM) labs? You can download a Virtual Machine from Microsoft that has a full version of Windows and Visual Studio 2010 Team Foundation Server including nine labs. You can download it as Hyber-V, Windows 7 VPC or regular “old school” VPC. The VPC will not expire until Dec 31, 2010, but Microsoft promises to release another one before then.

Check out this  blog for more details.

posted on Monday, 12 July 2010 10:19:57 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 09 July 2010

I reported the other day in my blog that Android overtook Apple’s market share of smart phones in the US in Q1 2010. I got my data from the NPD Group. You can read the report here, it states that in the first quarter 2010 (Jan, Feb, and March) RIM was at 36%, Android 28%, and iPhone 21%.

I have some new, and somewhat conflicting data. Yesterday comScore reported Android in 4th place, not second place. comScore’s data covers a three month moving average, ending in May 2010, so comScore and NDP are not completely comparing apples to apples. comScore states that Android is the only platform to gain from the last report, a gain of 4%. This data is before the release of the iPhone 4 and Droid X, so for a better comparison, we should revisit these figures in a few months.

Here is the data from their press release:


posted on Friday, 09 July 2010 07:43:52 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Thursday, 08 July 2010

Tuesday Microsoft released WebMatrix.  WebMatrix and its supporting technologies (IIS Express, SQL CE and the new ASP.NET “Razor”) is a new free tool from Microsoft for web development.  It is a lightweight IDE (not Visual Studio) that provides coding and database support. You can use WebMatrix to select from an open source web application gallery (WordPress, CRM, e-Commerce platforms, etc) to start your application template from. Lastly, WebMatrix makes it easy to publish web sites to web hosting providers (or even help you find one if you don’t have one).

Microsoft is not targeting me, or most of you (professional developers) with this new product. Clearly Microsoft is targeting the students, hackers, hobbyists, and Facebook application developers. The issue is that today most of these developers are using the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PhP) stack. WebMatrix is an attempt to lower that price barrier (all of WebMatrix is free) and level the playing field. The question is will it work?

Ten years or so ago, I would say no, this would not work, Microsoft was the bad guy. Today the perception has changed and Microsoft is perceived as “big corporate” but not the bad guy. Developers look for cost and innovation when deciding what platform to use. LAMP has a huge head start, but Razor makes coding .NET for WebMatrix pretty easy and the template engine allows you to base your application off another’s API, a huge head start when building something custom.

Will Microsoft succeed in winning over mindshare from the LAMP stack? I don’t know, but now they have a fighting chance.

posted on Thursday, 08 July 2010 11:27:45 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Wednesday, 07 July 2010

Companies that had market dominance always had a golden era: a time when everything went right, market share did nothing but grow, its stock soared, and the company had nothing but awesome coverage in the media. The first half of the last decade belonged to Google and the second half obviously belonged to Apple. That said, Apple’s golden era is now over.

While Apple is still strong and selling well, it is no longer the darling of the media. In the past it was taboo to knock on Apple in the media. Now that line has been crossed and there is no going back.  Microsoft lost the media in the late 90s with the IE fight and anti-trust battle, Google lost its halo with its on again, off again do no evil in China policy over the past few years. This year Apple seems to have stumbled with the kicking down the doors of a journalist’s source demanding the lost iPhone back.  Someone should remind Steve Jobs that an attack on one journalist is an attack on them all and that some journalists went to jail to protect a source just a few years ago under a Bush administration crackdown. If journalists are willing to stand up to the full force of the US Federal Government, they will stand up to Steve Jobs.

This led to bad blood with the media and the media jumped on the iPhone 4.0 antenna problem with glee. Business week even mocked Steve Jobs’ claim that the iPhone 4 was the most successful product launch in Apple’s history. Remember Jon Stewart’s AppHoles? The rock star treatment of Apple in the media is over.   That will make Apple spend more time and energy on its image. (Something it is good at, BTW.)

The media is not the only reason why Apple’s golden era is over. The second reason is the government. Last summer’s blocking of Google Voice by the AppStore led to the first threat of FCC and DOJ investigations. Now there are grumblings in Washington DC about more investigations (which I don’t think are necessary, but obviously the government has less important things to do.) Once DC opens up a case, expect the EU to follow suit. Government investigations and suits distract companies and they never fully recover. Just ask IBM and Microsoft. Apple will not only be distracted by these potential governmental probes, but will also have to devote more resources to its legal and government affairs issues, resources that should be going to products.

The third reason why the golden ear is over is increased competition and the “second mover advantage”. Apple was the first mover in the uber cool app driven web integrated smart phone category: they created a new category and reaped the rewards for years in both market share and mindshare. As with all first movers, Apple spent a lot of time and money educating the consumer base, telling them that they want this new product category. As what always happens with a new category, second movers then come in and free ride on that education and offer similar and sometimes superior products. The second movers get the second mover advantage and start to eat away at the first mover’s margins and market share. This is what is happening with Google’s Android. Android is growing faster than the iPhone and overtook the iPhone’s market share in the United States for smart phones in the first quarter of this year. A year ago Android was a rounding error, now it is a dominate player and formidable competitor to Apple. Second mover advantage at work.

I also won’t count out Microsoft. While I am not confident that they can create a better offering than the iPhone or Android out of the gate, they are masters at the second mover advantage game. (Remember how the Mac created the PC revolution, Netscape created the Internet revolution, etc.) Microsoft is flush with cash coming off its 150 million Windows 7 sales this year and motivated. Apple will face massive competition in the form of two tech industry giants: Google and Microsoft. In addition you can’t expect Samsung’s Galaxy, RIM/Blackberry and Nokia to roll over and die either. So five giants on Apple’s heels, as well as any startups that emerge.

Don’t get me wrong, Apple will still be strong and successful. The golden age is just over. Welcome to the rest of us Apple.

posted on Wednesday, 07 July 2010 08:02:43 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Tuesday, 06 July 2010

I recently read Essential C# 4.0 by Mark Michaelis and highly recommend it.

This is a book about the fundamentals and advanced features of the C# language. Mark does a great job laying out the concepts in a clear and concise way, with great examples and engaging prose. If you are new to C# you should make this the first book you read and read it cover to cover. If you are an advanced programmer, or even an old timer like me who has been using C# for 10 years since the beta, reading it will make you a better programmer.

The book is not just a rehash of the user manuals and new features of C# 4.0, rather is it a well thought out guide to using the language. That said, I learned much more about the new features of C# 4.0 here than anywhere else. By reading this book I now understand the underlying structure of dynamic typing and parallel programming much better. I highly recommend it to both beginner and experienced developers.

posted on Tuesday, 06 July 2010 06:44:00 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 02 July 2010

I am not the number one fan of patent law, I tend to think that most of the law is outdated and needs review for the 21st century, but I do think that patents play a key role in fostering innovation. Without patents, we will have less innovation.

It gave me great pleasure to see the US Supreme Court rule against expanding patent law to so called “business method claims.” In the case, Bilski v. Kappos, Bilski tried to patent a “business process.” He did not invent anything, just a creative way to hedge commodities. Luckily for us, the court’s finding this week was that Bilski’s patent was not valid.

Some will say that the court has to “get with the 21st century” and in some issues that criticism is correct, however, in Bilski v. Kappos, the court made the right decision. For example I could go and patent my implementation of Scrum since it is a business process and then turn around an sue all of you since I think you are using it. Clearly, we did not need this.

Score one for the legal system protecting innovation.

posted on Friday, 02 July 2010 11:58:02 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 01 July 2010

With the Q1 release of Telerik OpenAccess ORM, Telerik released a brand new LINQ Implementation and supporting Visual Entity Designer. I have shown in this blog how to connect to SQL Server, MySQL, and how to use the new LINQ with RIA Services. Today I will show you how to connect to SQL Azrue.

To get started, we have to create a new Telerik Domain Model in the server (ASP.NET) project. We’ll create a new Domain Model by right clicking on the server project and selecting “Add” and choosing the Telerik Domain Model from the menu.

In the dialog presented by OpenAccess select the database you want to connect to, for this project choose Microsoft SQL Azure. You also have to manually put in the connection string to SQL Azure in the format of:

Server=tcp:yourSQLAzureDatabaseServer;Database=YourDatabaseName;USER=YourUserID, Password=YourPassword;


Next you have to map your tables to entities. The easiest thing to do is just map all of your tables by selecting the checkbox next to “Tables” in the Choose Database Items dialog and pressing the Finish button.


Visual Studio adds a new Telerik Domain Model to your project.


Now you are free to use the LINQ implementation to build your application. For simplicity, I will drag a gridView control onto the form and then use LINQ to bind all the customers in Germany. The code is here:


   1:  protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
   2:  {
   3:      if (IsPostBack==false)
   4:      {
   5:       //data context
   6:       NorthwindEntityDiagrams dat = new NorthwindEntityDiagrams();
   7:       //LINQ Statement
   8:       var result = from c in dat.Customers
   9:                           where c.Country == "Germany"
  10:                           orderby c.CustomerID
  11:                           select c;
  12:      //Databind to the ASP.NET GridView
  13:      GridView1.DataSource = result;
  14:      GridView1.DataBind();
  15:      }
  16:  }

The results are show here.



posted on Thursday, 01 July 2010 02:50:27 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 30 June 2010

With all the hoopla over the popular iPad, don’t count out the Kindle. Amazon started by selling us a dedicated reader and the eBooks at a lower price than their physical version. Then they introduced an application for the iPhone where you did not have to buy the dedicated reader, increasing the availability of their platform. (And protecting their core asset, book sales.) Then came a PC Version and this week (finally!) an Android version.

Of course there has been pushback from the publishers over price. Publishers don’t like that new releases they charge in physical form for $30 sell for $9.99 in electronic format. Some publishers have fought back by delaying their release dates in Kindle format.

Amazon has come up with something that will potentially change the publishing industry forever. Effective today there is a new program where you can get 70% of the revenues, less delivery costs (which are $0.15 per MB.) In order to qualify, you have to list your book under $10 and it has to be 20% less than the physical price.

By sharing more of the profits, Amazon, will win over more and more publishers and thus have even more titles in Kindle format. What people may not realize is that in a few years, after iPads and Google Pads take over the world and at the same time the Kindle format has critical mass, many authors will skip publishing altogether and publish only eBooks with the Kindle format the preferred format.  Just like some rock bands today skip the record labels and go straight to iTunes. The publishing industry will be changed forever, starting today.

posted on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:47:46 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback