March 25, 2008

Notes from Microsoft 2008 Heroes Happen {here} Launch Event

I went to the Launch event today in Washington, DC for Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008. I took notes, so I'm going to jot them all down here.

First off, the freebies - Vista Ultimate and Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition. The other freebies are one-year evaluation versions of Server 2008 Enterprise and SQL Server 2008 Standard (via voucher as it's still in beta - but you also get the CTP disk). Free is free - I would have liked a copy of Server 2008 outright instead of the Vista Ultimate (which I neither needed nor really wanted). It would be much more fun to have Server 2008 on my machine which I use as my home server than the copy of XP Media Edition that is on it right now. Seeing as how I run MS Virtual PC to run other OS's on that machine, it's already acting as a server.

On to the notes:
Got badges, etc, picked up breakfast which came in a cooler [w/lunch] that has been labeled Microsoft [freebie soft cooler! yay!] Got a coupon for the free software which we won't get until lunchtime.

Visit this link to look at current Business Intelligence products from Microsoft including Performance Point Server and Proclarity (and its Sharepoint plugin?!?). I spoke with a BI guy at a Microsoft BI booth in the hall during breakfast, and I had not seen Performance Point Server yet. It looks like it may have some very cool stuff that's easy to take advantage of, including KPI metrics and Balanced Scorecard presentation stuff out of the box. This could be useful in some work I'm currently doing.

Keynote Address:
Bob Muglia
-- Sorry Bob, I think you lost your audience from the get-go. There didn't seem to be enough dynamic information in your presentation - it was geared for business managers, not techies. The slides were frequently boring with no real message for us, and it felt like a lecture - we'd rather have WOW upfront. Leave the slides for the boardroom.
-- Unfortunately, Bob also has a bit of squeaky voice. When he stresses a point, his voice-box would collapse on him, very noticeable when amplified. Made it harder still to hear his message.
-- He also started to talk about how management structure needs to support new technology. Great, Bob, would love some tips on how to change that.....but you didn't give us any.
-- There was a few minutes of blatant pushing of Vista SP1 (wrong launch event, no?)
Have a note in here to look at the Workflow Designer in VS 2008.

Finally, Bob got to the meat of things and brought up Partners and showed us a real product implementation at Vanderbuilt University Medical Center [I think I know someone there - note to myself to ask them about their experiences with 2008 product line].

Finally we get to some of the new product stuff:
Server 2008 - Deployable images, Geo-clustering
SQL Server 2008 - SQL Server security over Oracle (0 CVE's in last 4 years?!? need to verify that!)

UniSys Partner came up and talked about their product the Infrastructure Management Suite. The whole time Bob Muglia seemed to stand there with a perma-frown. My notes say he looked kind of like Fred Thompson's twin brother, but I was sitting toward the back, even with the Jumbo-screens.....

SSIS experiences were discussed and the guest speaker (forgot which) mentions he imported 1TB of data in 30 minutes...testament to SQL Server 2008 performance.

Virtualization was discussed - HyperV - and something I didn't know about - SoftGrid Application Virtualization - my notes have a 'definitely go look up' next to that. Virtualization for applications is a great move, I think, and as the day wore on, I saw that virtualizing applications is a nice new feature. Why serve up a whole desktop (RDP) when you only need to serve up one app at a time.

System Center has a new addition - Virtual Machine Manager - to integrate into Operations Manager. They pointed out that in VM Manager, you could put prebuilt images into the library for easy deployment of new VMs on a pre-built configuration - nice feature. They also mentioned the VM Manager would eventually support managing VMWare ESX servers....

New in IIS - Shared Configuration - from a Configuration Server, you can save the configuration of a website and redeploy the configuration to a new IIS Server.

SQL 2008 -
Resource Governor, application pools by which CPU/memory could be managed for multiple user groups to give more power to those who need it.
Policies - Set up policies for compliance and configurations - apply them to multiple servers.
Full Database Encryption - invisible to the user, use asymmetric keys or server certificates

Server 2008 again - Terminal Server Remote Application Manager - more on virtualization, and Presentation Virtualization .

G. Andrew Duthie shows us Visual Studio 2008 stuff, including:
Team Foundation Server integration
Split Views
CSS View to track where CSS is being applied
JavaScript debugging

He also shows us Expression Blend and VS 2008 sharing a project, mentions that project files are compatible between the two.

A J Mee shows us SQL Server 2008 stuff, but from user perspectives:
Outlook's integration with Dynamic CRM
KPI/Balanced Scorecard presentation of data, support for Geo-spatial data, integration with Virtual Earth...
Shows us that SQL Server 2008 exposes underlying analysis tools through Excel 2007 - looks like something to definitely look into (in my notes and big STAR next to it)

Free copy of Vista is mentioned, and the keynote is over. While the first part of the keynote offered to bore me to tears, I am now fully awake and anxious to hear about some of the stuff I've heard about...I decide to change tracks to the Database track from the IT Pro track (but I still want to see the Application Virtualization!). I managed to catch all the stuff I wanted to. I'll throw up some more of my notes from the breakout sessions later this week.

March 12, 2008

Is Computer Science actually Linguistics?

Thought for the day:

Computer programming is considered alternately a 'science' subject and a 'mathematics' subject. Yet, science and math are two different approaches to problems. The scientific method involves identifying questions, formulating hypothesis based on knowledge, designing experiments to prove the hypothesis, experimenting and recording the results. Science may also involve using these results to solve problems that drove the initial questions. Some people think of programming this way. Programs to these people are trial and error constructs by which former knowledge is researched to find solutions to newly posed problems. Requirements, then, become the initial problem, and logical questions are posed, solutions hypothesized, and some code is thrown at it to see if it works. When it does, it's documented and perhaps utilized in the overall solution.

Alternately, programming is a mathematical discipline. Mathematics is the linguistics of science. It is the constrained language by which concepts are discussed. Study of mathematics, like any language, is the study of pre-defined concepts and how these concepts can be put together to express ideas. Again, some people think of programming in this fashion. Programs to them are sentences and paragraphs to be put together to express the ideas posed to them in one language (e.g. English) in another language (e.g. COBOL). Conversion of software requirements to computer code means the literal translation of instructions such that the machine acts in such a way as defined by the original authors.

Cool thing of the day: (thanks to Digg users for the link). Bio-engineers are attempting to create an organism (by programming DNA) that will eat CO2 and sunlight to create oil fuels. I could go on, but the video at the site includes explanations that speak for themselves. If you have 15 minutes, go watch this link at Ecogeeks. The work they are doing at Synthetic Genomics is VERY cool.

March 10, 2008

Bread Machine

Let's see, this weekend I wasted time. That's pretty much all I did. I played a little World of Warcraft, played with a new physics-based game called Phun, and on Sunday I bought a bread machine. As I was purchasing it, I realized that it had been a subconscious decision brought upon by TV, but I bought it anyway. I had recently seen two episodes on TV that had bread machines in them. One was an episode of Friends (where Chandler makes out with Joey's girlfriend), and another was an episode of Raymond, where his dad bought a bread machine (but he's going to return it) to have a bread making race with his mother.

I had searched online and saw some bread recipes and decided that I want to try it. I still haven't gone shopping for ingredients. I'm going to do a little research to see where I can pick up some tips and tricks for making a good loaf from the start. If you have suggestions, please leave them as comments.