Today, I met the worst salesperson (who wasn’t really a salesperson)

This afternoon, my willpower finally cracked.  On Monday, just before lunchtime, Dunkin Donuts sent me an email with an enticing picture of their new croissant donut, with the catch “we only make a limited number per day” followed by the challenge “get runnin'” (which ironically is also my penance for eating such a delicacy).  After two earlier coffee runs where the “limited number” had already been sold, today I looked across the glistening counters of my favorite (or perhaps simply most convenient) coffee shop to behold a nearly-full rack of croissant donuts.  “I’ll try one of those,” I said, trying not to sound too More >

Long term planning for IT infrastructure

As the end of 2010 approaches, now is a great time to put in some time doing some long-term planning for your business’s IT infrastructure.

The primary factors that influence most small businesses to replace workstations include:

  • Manufacturer/OEM support window:  Many companies like to keep mission-critical computers under a hardware support contract.  When your manufacturer says “Sorry, no more extensions on that contract,” that can be a sign that it’s time to consider hardware replacement.
  • Minimizing the risk of hardware failure:  The dawn of every new day also sees a small increase in your computer’s failure risk level.  As computers get older, parts More >

Keeping IT Simple – Infrastructure Choices for the Small Business

With the economic climate becoming increasingly hostile to small businesses, I’ve been giving a lot of thought (and research) into how small businesses can keep their IT costs low and maintain a smoothly-running IT infrastructure. Of course, the best way to discuss these topics is to dive into a specific example.


The scenario for this discussion is an accounting firm with 5-10 employees (I’m being particularly ambiguous, as this scenario involves a real client). Currently, they run Windows Small Business Server 2003. I’ll summarize their IT needs as (1) Exchange Server, (2) file serving, and (3) database software More >

Creating a Modern Line of Business Application using eXpressApp Framework

About a year ago, I began work on a large project to replace a FoxPro-based line-of-business application with a new modern system that would provide the customer with better visibility and management of their data, as well as improving our ability to rapidly implement new software capabilities to improve their business operations.

Before I get into the details of the new system, I’ll elaborate a bit on the old system. The customer’s Microsoft Visual FoxPro solution had been ported from the pre-Microsoft non-Visual version of FoxPro, so it was entirely text-based. In its previous life, the system resided on an IBM More >

VS2008 Web Server Here Shell Extension

I ran across a great article on Phil Haack’s blog regarding a registry tweak you can make so you can right-click on any folder and launch the Visual Studio Web Server (aka Cassini) against the directory. This is very handy if you are working on a website locally and want to spin it up without completely opening Visual Studio. Here’s the code you need:

32 bit (x86)
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\VS2008 WebServer]
@="ASP.NET Web Server Here"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\VS2008 WebServer\command]
@="C:\\Program Files\\Common Files\\microsoft shared\\DevServer
\\9.0\\Webdev.WebServer.exe /port:8080 /path:\"%1\""
64 bit (x64)
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\VS2008 WebServer]
@="ASP.NET Web Server Here"
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Directory\shell\VS2008 WebServer\command] More >

Why my Zune did not have a happy New Years Eve

So yesterday, on December 31, 2008, everyone with one of the original 30GB Zunes (I have two) found their precious portable media players frozen at a startup screen. Of course, in today’s blogging world, this hit the news quickly and Microsoft found themselves swamped with support calls and demands to fix the problem (wouldn’t that be a great way to wake up?).

This morning, I saw that a user over at has found the bug in a reverse-engineered version of the Zune 30 source code. This is just such a classic programming “oops” that I had to post it for other More >

Some Good Windows Azure Videos

Some good videos came out today about Windows Azure.  I’m linking them here as a good single-page way to get a quick (haha… ok, several hours) understanding of what Azure is all about.

Program Manager Steve Marx gives a great 35 minute overview of what Windows Azure means for developers Steve Marx: Windows Azure for Developers

Next on the list, is a 40-minute video of Manuvir Das, Director in the Windows Azure team introducing Windows Azure.  Lots of good architecture stuff in this video. Manuvir Das: Introducing Windows Azure

Diving a bit into more of the individual Azure services, Technical Fellow John Shewchuk More >

What I’ll Be Working on for the Next Few Years

No, I’m not going to become a one-project guy.  That would just be too easy.  Rather, here’s the technology stack that I’ll be working on for the next few years — announced at the Microsoft PDC today — the Windows Azure Services Platform.

Learn more:

Here a diagram from the PDC of Microsoft’s broad online platform vision:

Mary Jo Foley has a nice overview about the Azure Services Platform over at ZDNet

Windows Home Server can back up Windows Server 2008

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been getting my new development machine configured. It’s running the 64-bit version of Windows Server 2008 Standard. I also have a Windows Home Server (I love it!). I was pretty sure that the two wouldn’t play nicely together. That is, I was pretty sure that I’d try to install the Windows Home Server connector on my development machine and it would yell at me and say I couldn’t do that.

To my surprise, though, the connector installed just fine. Better yet, the backup feature in Windows Home Server works just fine. WOW! So More >

Problem accessing varchar(max) field from Classic ASP

At Info et Cetera, we have a really nice content management system that we developed a number of years ago, which we have in place at several clients.  While there are lots of content management systems commercially available today that probably have much more advanced features than our system, we like our CMS because it lets us build lots of custom database functionality to integrate into our clients’ sites.  Additionally, our system provides complete separation between the back end management system and the front end templating system in a very convenient and flexible manner.  But enough about that…

This week, I More >