Category Archives: Product Reviews

BuddyFuse integrates Google Talk and Twitter into Windows Live Messenger

Ran across this today. Setting up a laptop, and one team we use Windows Live Messenger, the other Google Talk. I know there is Trillian, Digsby, etc, but I just wanted to use Windows Live Messenger, but still IM Google Talk contacts

BuddyFuse integrates Google Talk and Twitter into Windows Live Messenger

BuddyFuse to the rescue! Seems to be working well. Why just Windows Live Messenger? I like the presence it brings with Outlook 2010 and TFS, etc. More tightly coupled with the OS. Like using iChat on a Mac.

PC vs Mac

Microsoft has published a site, PC vs Mac

There is only one thing you have to know, everything else is fluff.

You will never get a blue screen of death on a Mac. Oh, I got one last night on a Windows machine. With an xlsx half way open and not done yet. Lovely.

done. game over. Mac wins.

And I love Windows, for Development and Business Intelligence. It is the hardware and software that have problems working together. Should Microsoft try to build a PC? Hardware? (ala Xbox?) Would it perform better? Maybe. Would they have more control? Of course, the hardware and software could integrate nicely. I would buy a mythical Microsoft computer before buying a regular PC. Just like I would buy a Mac rather than a Hackintosh :)

Flipboard for iPad, Personal Techmeme

Last week Flipboard informed me that their iPad app was ready for me to use (I have had it since day one, but their servers were overwhelmed).

The premise is that it takes your Twitter and Facebook feeds and creates personal “magazines”. It has other aggregated/curated content from around the web as well. I don’t know what the exact algorithm for figuring out what to show me is, but it seems to do ok. Right now I see it as another quick way to scan through things.

What I think would be an awesome edition, if it could handle it, is syncing my Google Reader. I want a personal “cloud” or personal “techmeme” – filter and find and combine like items. I thought maybe “The Early Edition” for iPad would do that, but it croaked on my 300 some feeds.

Some day there will be an app that does it :)


Tool of the Day: Sysinternals ProcMon

Funny how you might not EVER use a given tool, and some days you might end up using it twice. Sysinternals Procmon was that tool today.

It is the successor from old utils from Sysinternals – Filemon and Regmon.

What does it do? It monitors all processes and services and watches what they are doing on your system. File, Registry, etc, etc. Open/Close, Read/Write, what user, status, etc. You can filter and pause and find out pretty much anything going on in windows.

So early in the day, running into a website issue, not loading in IIS. No idea what is going on. Fire up Procmon and filter to the website directory on disk. Lo and behold, the site is trying to impersonate a user, and that user doesn’t have permissions. The site still didn’t work, and if I would have dug a bit more with Procmon, would have found that the user impersonating on the site also needed rights to the ASP.NET Temporary files, but after seeing the impersonation and the site still not working, I guessed it didn’t have rights to the temp folder.

Things like the scenario above I have seen people waste a support call with Microsoft with.

Second thing today. Trying to install a extension to SSRS. The installer isn’t even seeing that SSRS is installed, yet it clearly is and functioning correctly on the box. Some how the installer must be reading something or looking somewhere and not finding something. Procmon to the rescue. Fire it up, watch msiexec.exe. Seeing registry reads, it finds the SSRS instance names, then looks to a registry area with that instance name and tries to find more details. Was failing on finding the details because there was no reg keys in the second location (for whatever reason). But there was info in the first location, the same info it was looking for. I exported it out, changed the reg path of the keys, and imported. Re-ran setup and it found the instance this time and I could install the extension.

Without Procmon would have been flying blind or just guessing randomly on what to do. Could have been hours on tech support with a company, or again, a support call with Microsoft.

Procmon saved the day. Check it out and try to use where applicable in your day to day troubleshooting.

Living Virtually: Running your Dev Process on Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines have been around for years. VMWare and Microsoft have been the main competitors for a while, both offering somewhat similar products. Parallels for Mac is another, and Virtual Box for pretty much everything. I have used them all. When it comes right down to it, VMWare, to me, is ahead of the rest, so I am going to focus on that. Heck, I did a P2V (Physical to Virtual) on my girlfriends wacked out laptop and that is working great, 2 months later :)

What is a typical scenario for most people? They go buy a machine, set it up, use it. It works great. It crashes or gets hosed. They lose most if not everything, spend a week redoing the machine and start the process over. This goes on for a few years, then they get a new machine, and start the cycle over

But…

What if you thought “virtually”? So, you go buy (or build) your beefy development machine. But then didn’t install anything but Windows Updates (of course), and VMWare Workstation. Now granted your want your physical box to have 8, 12, or 16 GB of RAM, and loads of fast disk space, but yeah, just need to have a beefy machine.

Now, you set up your actual dev machine as a virtual machine, you give it 8 GB of RAM. You install the OS, and take a snapshot (In VMWare). You install VS2010, take a snapshot. You install SQL Server 2008 R2 Dev, snapshot. You install each browser you need to test with, snapshot, snapshot, snapshot. You get the idea.

Now, if something is totally wacked, you can revert to a snapshot. You can even have multiple paths of snapshots, this type of thing is very VERY cool if you get it going correctly.

You can also just grab the entire VM hard disk and settings and copy off to your trusty 2 TB USB drive or whatever and you can do this once a week and you have a complete backup of your dev machine.

You can then set up another VM, say, “Web Server” or whatever you desire, give it 2 GB or whatever it needs to run, do the same thing. You can have both running, and do your testing. You can create a separate SQL Machine for testing. Try to set up your environment as you would for your development. If you need an Active Directory? Set that up, set up 3 VM’s or whatever, you don’t need to have them all running all the time. You need Exchange? Or SharePoint? Same thing. You have a Technet or MSDN Subscription, right? No? Go get one NOW.

What is even better then best, is that 3 years later, when you get an even better machine, you know what? You just install VMWorkstation, and copy or locate your VM’s and you are set. No resetting things up, etc, etc. It just works.

You want to create a smaller dev VM for holiday travel? Take it on USB, use Mom’s PC with VMWare Player and give your VM 1 GB of RAM. You just need enough to get by on. No laptop needed, just bring up your USB. You get the idea.. you can do pretty much anything you’d like.

If a salesperson came up to you and said “I have a way for you to configure multiple environments, multiple computers, setups, and have ways to revert back to things you did while configuring, and take backups of everything easily, etc, etc” How much would you pay? $1k? $5k? More?

How about roughly $200, for VMWare Workstation (if you already have Technet/MSDN – which you would have already). I’m sold.

If you really want to get complicated, you can set up VM Farms, and run VMWare Servers, and have multiple VM’s going and easily accessible. But using VMWorkstation to start is good enough, and good enough is fine :)


Hulu+ ? Right now, not worth it

According to Gizmodo, Hulu+ Invites are Now Arriving.. Well, I got mine on July 16th. And I have already cancelled it. It isn’t worth 10 dollars a month, at least not a this point. Why?

Well, first off, your queue and shows on regular Hulu aren’t in Hulu+, so you can’t watch them on the iPad and iPhone, WTF?

Also, the shows they have archives for are mostly stupid one offs that no one watched when they were out the first time.

Hopefully once more shows sync up to the Hulu+ model and are on the main “Hulu” and + edition, I will look at going back to it.


office.live.com – Docs in the Cloud

For a while, there have been offerings from Google (Google Apps/Docs), Zoho, and others, and recently, Microsoft jumped into the “online office” game with office.live.com.

Pretty cool. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in the cloud. Limited, but you can create docs, share them, edit them, with *no software* installed on your system. Good in a pinch, good to sync some docs up that you might want to edit, good on a relatives computer that doesn’t have office.

Where have I started to use it more though? OneNote. What is OneNote? Well, before Office 2010, OneNote was installed as a separate application with Office. Kind of like Visio. My biggest problem with OneNote was that I was stuck to my laptop, or whatever. Had to be on the actual box.

Now, you can create a OneNote notebook in the cloud, and edit it in the browser, or on your machine. OneNote also has some cool features, like

“You can now share your notes with other OneNote users in real time by hosting or participating in shared note-taking sessions. Over a live connection, you can work together on a project or share a read-only copy of your notes with an audience.”. It also integrates nicely with tablet/bamboo and mic/text/voice recognition, as well as Outlook and meetings, etc. Integration everywhere.

I actually like OneNote better than Evernote – but Evernote I can get on my computers, web, iPad and iPhone. Yes, there is a OneNote iPhone app (MobileNoter) but you have to install a client, blah blah. Should just work over the cloud.

Anyways, if you need office online in a pinch, try office.live.com, but also check out OneNote and using it with others to share/read notes in real time, really cool features.