DevConnections Day 4: The Last Day#

Started this morning early, packing up and checking out - Kent and I would fly out together this afternoon. I need to get back tonight because I leave on Saturday for Barcelona and Tech Ed Europe IT Forum.

First thing this morning was my second session with Kent, called Load Testing ASP.NET Applications for Performance and Scaling. Had some technical problems with the network, but I solved them on the fly while Kent did a soft-shoe number.

I use my big tank of a laptop, the Dell M90, to do this demo. I'm running two virtual machines at once: one has the load test environment on it, the other is the web server, databases, etc.

We dig into all the goodies around load testing - using perfmon, using WAST (old, but free) and Visual Studio for Testers (new, not free).

The 75 minutes tears by... there's so much to talk about in this space. But we get to run a few real tests along the way and talk about what their results mean.

As soon as the session was done I was running across the conference center again, this time to a RunAs Radio Live session with Chris Avis. Since RunAs Radio is only a half hour show, we actually recorded two separate topics, one on deployment, the other on spam management in Exchange.

When we were done there, I had a few minutes to rest before running off with Carl to do the DotNetNuke Futures Panel. All the senior folks from DotNetNukeCorp were on the panel talking about taking DotNetNuke to the next level. The reality is that DotNetNuke has gotten successful enough that it needs full time people just to manage the volunteers, much less dig into the less-cool stuff that needs to be built to make DotNetNuke fully viable in the enterprise space.

Carl and I sat at either end of the table, managed questions from the audience and generally kept things moving along. I'm sure it'll be a great .NET Rocks show when its published.

The moment the panel was done, I shook hands with everyone and ran - back to the speakers lounge to pick up Kent and head for the airport.

We had a little excitement at the airport with Kent's ticket (we flew Philippine Airlines home, it was the only thing that fit the schedule), but otherwise, the day went well.

And now I'm home. For like, 48 hours. Then its off to Barcelona!

Thursday, November 8, 2007 5:27:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


RunAs Radio #31: Randy Smith Helps Us Secure Vista!#

Greg and I talked to Randy Smith about locking down Vista. We couldn't help laughing a bit about UAC, but that's to be expected. We did get into more of the cool things that Vista adds, like controlling USB keys, using BitLocker, and so on.

Send your feedback to

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 2:16:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


Vista Challenges#

So I'm writing this blog entry from Phillip, the now Vista Build 5308 computer.

The Glass interface is very addictive - its all those little things that make the computing experience better. The quality of the type face, the simplicity of the default window appearance, it all lends itself to a better computing experience.

You get a real sense that things are different in Vista, although the changes are subtle for the most part.

I think the most interesting experiences so far have been the failures - and really, the only place I think I've had problems is around the video driver.

I realized the problem the first morning after installing Vista (call it the morning after hang over if you must... "what did I DO?"). The screen was blank, which isn't surprising, I'd turned on the blank screen screensaver. So I hit a shift key and things started twitching.

At first I thought the machine was hung. Then the display lit up showing the "machine locked" screen. Which is reasonable, that's how I configured the screen saver.

Then I thought the keyboard was hung, but the NumLock key seemed to work. And the mouse appeared to function fine, but clicking on things did nothing.

The screen went blank again, and when it came back, the accessibility controls were up.

It took me awhile to figure out what was going on - it seemed that the machine would freeze for several seconds, then do every keypress and mouse click that I tried.

And the repeated tapping of Shift and NumLock had triggered the accessibility stuff, which looks really cool in Vista.

Finally I clued in: what was actually happening was that the video drivers were repeatedly dying, and Vista was restarting them over and over again. Hence the constantly blank screens.

So, very slowly, one click at a time, I rebooted the machine. And everything came back to normal.

It wasn't until the next day that I figured out it wasn't the screen saver doing this, but rather Vista's default behaviour of sending the machine to sleep after an hour. Likely the ATI display driver doesn't recover properly from sleep.

So I've disabled sleep mode. Hopefully that will solve that.

Next up, DivX. For some reason, DivX just doesn't work on this machine, not in its own player or in Media Player. I've found blog entries where people said this was no problem, but its a problem for me, and an annoying one at that. Audio works, but video doesn't.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 1:21:46 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [3]  | 


Going Vista!#

So I was looking around my desk the other day at all my shiny machines and thinking "gee, everything is working entirely too well, I should break something!"

Actually, I had, like so many others, set up the February Community Technology Preview of Vista in a Virtual PC on my big workstation. And it worked like a hot damn. But it wasn't as pretty as it ought to be. The great new UI that is one of the big features of Vista won't run under VPC.

And that's when I started looking around my desk. After all, with all these computers, surely ONE of them can be sacrificed to the beta OS gods? Right?

So I took the plunge, burning a DVD of the 64 bit version of Vista Feb CTP and blowing away Phillip, my secondary workstation machine running a 4000+ Opteron, 2GB of RAM on an ASUS A8N-SLI motherboard with that honkin great Sapphire ATI X1900XT video card (because 512MB of RAM in your video card is a special kinda love).

And what can I say? Vista is beautiful.

But there's more to an OS than beauty - can it run the things I need? The first challenge was video drivers, but ATI came to the rescue with a lightweight, easy-to-install 64 bit beta driver, only 38MB!

The next thing I worried about was a bit tougher - Phillip is water cooled, and the only real fan in there is a Vantec 120mm fan connected to an Orbital Matrix LCD controller. This USB device has a bit of software installed on the machine so you can control the display and also vary fan speed based on a temperature sensor. Without this driver working, the fan would not spin, and ultimately, Phillip was doomed.

Amazingly, Orbital Matrix makes 64 bit drivers for their products, and LCDC, the software of choice for making the controller do its thing, fired up with no problems at all.

So now I have a functional Vista machine. Sure its beta, but so far so good! Lots more software to install and test, I'll keep y'all posted on the love.


Toys | Vista
Thursday, March 23, 2006 10:25:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


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