Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blog Move

It's the end of an era. I am moving off of the Blogger platform and domain onto a new one that is all my own:

The blog feed (through Feedburner) has already been updated. If you subscribe to the feed, then chances are that you will not see this post. ;-)

Monday, August 06, 2007

New Developer Evangelist

It's old news at this point, but the replacement for Drew Robbins has been announced:

Jeff Blankenburg, previously of Quick Solutions fame, is now a blue badge!

I think the first item on his agenda will be to revamp or retire the talk that he gave at Day of .NET in Ann Arbor entitled "Google APIs: Why Aren't You Using Them?" /grin

Congratulations, Jeff. I look forward to working with you.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Thank you, Microsoft

When I did my blog reading this afternoon, I noticed the normal flurry of "I'm a MVP!" posts that happen on the first day of each quarter. I checked my email, and there was nothing. Oh, well! Maybe next quarter.

Then, a bit later, I returned to my email. On a hunch, I checked the Spam folder and there staring back at me was a 4-hour old message from "support" with the subject line:

"[MVP] Congratulations! You have received the Microsoft MVP Award"

Thank you, Microsoft! I'm truly honored! I look forward to meeting my MVP lead, Steve Dybing, and my fellow SQL Server MVPs.

And Google, we need to have a talk about this little prank that you played on me. Please don't hide my important emails in the Spam folder, mmmmkay?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lenovo Battery Recall

My new laptop's battery is part of the Lenovo battery recall. You know, because they spontaneously catch on fire and stuff.

I went through the process of submitting my shipping information, and received the following confirmation:

Thank you for placing your order for a replacement battery. We have received your order and will ship your replacement as soon as supply is available. Please allow up to 4 weeks for your replacement battery to arrive.

Boy, I'm glad that they're rushing it to me! I hope this one doesn't flame up in the next 4 weeks.

UPDATE/FYI/ETC: The details about the recall, which was issued months ago (as a reader pointed out), can be found here:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

UAC Deactivated

I'm sorry Microsoft. I had to do it. I just joined the growing ranks of developers out there who deactivated UAC on Vista.

I gave it a try. I really did! I didn't even mind answering all of the "Are you sure?" prompts whenever I tried to do anything (it's really not as bad as what that "Hi, I'm a PC... and I'm a Mac" commercial makes it out to be).

The final straw for me was the inability to work with files on my hard drive unless they were in certain directories (folders). For whatever reason, when I copied my "C:\Dev" directory structure from a backup onto my hard drive, I couldn't edit any of the files. As a developer, this is a pretty bad thing to have happen.

Even a simple change to an XML file using Notepad would not overwrite the existing file. I tinkered around for 30 minutes trying to get this one task to work, playing with things like changing the NTFS owner of the file and directory tree. No luck.

Alas, the need for productivity superceded the security benefits. Deactivating UAC allowed me to overwrite files in my source directory.

And now, back to work!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Making SQL Server Management Server work on Windows Vista

Under Windows XP, I could define a "Stored User Name and Password" that would use a domain wildcard. That is, I could say "DOMAINX\*" and then the provided user/password would work for any computer that was a member of DOMAINX.

Note: The "Stored User Name and Password" interface is available from the User Accounts control panel, select a user (under XP; the current user is auto selected under Vista), and then click "Manage my Network Passwords" on the left.

This feature was particularly useful to me, as a consultant with a laptop that is not part of my client's domain. I log onto the laptop as a local user, yet I had the ability to seamlessly access any domain resource without being prompted for credentials. This mechanism also allowed me to override individual servers, just in case I needed to use a different user/password for specific situations.

It seems that Vista, either by design or due to a bug, does not allow this concept of domain wildcarding - at least in respect to NetBIOS or LM or any related technology. This particularly crippled me in that I could not connect to any of the SQL Servers at this location using SQL Management Studio.

Using a network packet sniffer (Ethereal), I could see that the SQL Server was challenging my client for domain credentials, but my client would reply with local credentials instead. The end result:

Login failed for user '(null)'. Not associated with a trusted SQL Server connection (18452).

I sent a few emails off to a few Microsoft folks that I knew, and then began to play around while waiting for any sort of response.

The first signs of success started when I mapped a network drive to any fileshare on the domain, just to kick-off a domain-specific connection. Then, I created one password rule per SQL Server that I wanted to connect to, and finally forced the SSMS connection to use Named Pipes. Cumbersome, but it seemed to work (albeit, a little flaky on boot-up, because the mapped drive would not automatically reconnect for some reason, requiring me to remap it before things started to work).

I then stepped back, and remembered the "RunAs" command. By creating a new shortcut to SQL Server Management Studio using my network credentials, I am able to consistantly force SSMS to authenticate with the SQL Servers using my domain user every time, including over TCP/IP (instead of Named Pipes).

The shortcut runs the following (all one command, broken up for readability):

C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe /netonly /user:domainx\myusername
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\Binn\VSShell\Common7\IDE\SqlWb.exe"

This is the workaround that I'll be using until MS fixes the "Stored User Names and Passwords" feature (or explains why the Vista behavior is different than the XP behavior as far as domain wildcards go).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wrapping up Tech Ed

While the conference is not yet over, the energy level is certainly winding down. Today is the last day of the Expo, so I have been making my rounds to say goodbye to all of the people who I have worked with in previous sponsorships (for CodeMash and Day of .NET in Ann Arbor).

One vendor (AvePoint) totally missed an opportunity that they had. Today, they raffled off a Ducati motorcycle, so at the time of the drawing, 1-2 Thousand people congregated in the aisle around their booth. This crowd assembled a full 15 minutes before the drawing, and were simply standing there with nothing to do (I was in that crowd, btw). AvePoint had the PERFECT opportunity to give a quick sales presentation to a very captive audience, but they did nothing of the sorts. Next year, perhaps? (And bring some amplification to the event, plskthx).

One of my favorite vendors, Red Gate Software, gave me a demo of upcoming changes to their SQL Compare tool. What's exciting for me is that SQL Compare will now include the ability to use scripts as source or destination schema. So, you can reverse engineer your development database and generate individual SQL script files for each object in the schema. Or, you can start with individual scripts (i.e., one per table or proc, etc) and push changes to the database. The greatest utility of this that I see is the ability to easily capture your database change history into source control (especially with Subversion and TortoiseSVN, which works at the filesystem/Windows Explorer level). Direct SCCM capabilities should come in a future release, they say. :-)

Last night at the influencer party, Javier Lozano (Iowa .NET User Group) and I spoke in depth about what it takes to organize a small-to-midsized conference, like a Day of .NET or a CodeMash. Look for some good things to come out of the Iowa area over the coming year!

All in all, I didn't get a sense of anything big on the horizon. All of the new product releases weren't accompanied with great fanfare, and as a result, I'm just not leaving here as excited as I was last year. Don't get me wrong: there's a lot of cool things coming out, but I think they could have been hyped more than what they are.

Lastly, I leave you with an observation: Microsoft did an outstanding job at marketing Silverlight as a new technology that has never been seen before (my observation). When you peel back the covers, though, it's nothing more than the latest iteration of the Java Applet or ActiveX control paradigm. If you start thinking of Silverlight in this way, instead of a totally new whizbang all-containing platform, then I think you'll be more successful in implementing the technology in your solutions.

I cannot wait to get back home so that I can [finally] install Visual Studio 2008 ("Orcas") and SQL Server 2008 ("Katmai") and begin to work with the new things that I've seen here.

(Attendee party tonight! See you there!)