Blog ala Vidar

SQL, AppFrame and other cool technologies

Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009 Summary

Yes, we’ve come to the part of the year where everyone’s summing up the last year. I’m about to do the same, and I’ll also give out some awards. So, what’s been happening the great year of 2009? Let’s start with my accomplishments: I’ve moved to another department, started playing with WPF, Silverlight, WCF, LINQ, Azure, Chrome OS and Wave. Cuddled with Windows 7, started “5 minutes interviews”, Wiki, listened to A LOT of podcasts, seen too much series, played A LOT trackmania, hosted a couple of NNUG events and written 68 blog posts. I’ve also been on sick leave most of the year, so I’m pretty happy! Now let’s move on to what’s happened in the rest of the world. The only things I can remember, without cheating/googling is Michael Jackson dying and the release of Windows 7. Not much in other words, but then again, I’ve got about 128kB RAM and it’s all used!

Awards:
I thought I’d start a tradition giving out awards. If you’ve got suggestions for next year, let me know!

Best server software – SQL Server 2008 R2
I doubt SQL Server will ever loose this category, but hey! Maybe next year!

Best client software – Microsoft Security Essentials
Man, this have really saved A LOT of phone calls for me. I’ve installed it on all my friends and family’s computers. It (almost) never bugs you about updates, scans. It’s simple, light and have found more viruses than Avast and AVG on my 5-minute-testing.

Best speakerMark Russinovich
Excellent sessions about the kernel changes in Win7 and 2k8R2. Watch them at http://microsoftpdc.com/Videos.

Best blog seriesBad habits to kick (Aaron Bertrand)
Reading all the 15 blog posts should be mandatory for everyone that’s touching SQL Server.

Best wiki updater – Werner Waage

Best picture

Best bossJohnny Vik

If you’ve got requests for blog posts, either technical or interviews, please let me know. Also, remember to update wiki. If you’re good I’ll send you a t-shirt. The first to send me an e-mail with what the pictures got to do with the ones getting the prize will also get a t-shirt!

Last, but not least, Merry Christmas and happy new year!

Home servers – Part 2

Now all my servers are set up as I wanted them, running everything in AD (Active Directory) and monitoring it with SCOM (System Center Operations Manager). Well, everything in AD is a bit of an exaggeration, since MS Home Server doesn’t like this. I find it weird, but that might just be me. Anyways, after struggling for some while I removed it from the domain and things started working again 🙂

I’ve also used quite some time to try to install SCMDM (System Center Mobile Device Manager), to be able to add my phone to the domain. After installing all the prerequisites I found out it only supports installing on Windows Server 2003. This really bugs me, since it’s now almost two years since Windows Server 2008 was released, and SP1 for SCMDM was released almost a year ago, which did include support for running with AD 2008, but not running on a 2008 server!

Next, I’ve been trying to get rid of my iPod. Not as in selling it, but using my phone as podcast player. Here Microsoft really have something to learn from Apple. With iPod/iPhone you just plug your device in and it syncs with iTunes. What do you think I have to do to sync my podcasts and/or music with my computer? MANUALLY copy the files over. Yes, I said MANUALLY! Steve Ballmer said in an interview that they were planning to add Zune to Windows Mobile. I hope they soon (Zune?) can get their ass out of their ass, because iPod was first released in Q4 2001. That’s 8 years ago, and Microsoft STILL doesn’t support this. So, because they’re so slow, me and a friend of mine (Erik Skagen Vindenes) have started a little project called PodcastPlayer. It’s not only to solve my issues with syncing, but also to learn new technologies. For instance, I’ve now created my first WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) service and started understanding the great possibilities with WCF compared to normal web services. It’s also a great project to start learning Silverlight and the new features of .NET 4.0. I’ll keep you posted about the project when we’ve got something to show.

Did I mention I bought an Xbox? I’ve never been a gamer (except Transport Tycoon and Trackmania), but the Xbox really found the gamer in me. Add me to Xbox Live and I’ll kick your ass in both FIFA 10 (or FIFA 1.0 as we call it) and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2! My gamer tag is PolarSirNordnes. In addition to games Xbox is a nice media-center which automatically connected to my home server enabling me to play my movies and music directly from it. I already have a media center PC, where I’m going to test out a new MediaCenter application called XBMC MediaCenter recommended by JanCB, but till then I’ll enjoy the nice UI on the Xbox!

Home servers

As a part of the Christmas presents to myself, I bought some new hardware for my server. I had a main board laying around with a quad core AMD processor. Yes, I hate AMD, but it’s better to use it than just having it laying around.. Anyhow, I bought 8GB RAM and 2x2TB disks for it. I’m running Windows Server 2008 R2 on it with Hyper-V, so it’s running 7 virtual servers, including Active Directory, SQL, Web etc.

Over you can see how good I am in Visio! This is a bit outdated since I’ve now bought a Gbit switch to put in my living room so my HDPC, PS3 and my soon to arrive Xbox will all be connected. Hyper-V has a cool feature which enables me to add an internal network between the servers. This is running on 10 Gbit! It’s used for backup, service-monitoring etc. So, why do I need 7 virtual servers? For testing! I’m generally VERY interested in technology, and this enables me to do almost what ever is possible. For instance, I’ve never had the time to check out SharePoint. I know it’s some kind of web-server-thingy, but that’s about it. Also, I want to check out Exchange 2010 and some cool features related to AD in 2008 R2, including Direct Access. The SQL Server is of course running 6 instances (2005, 2005Express etc). I’ve also installed BizTalk on vsWEB. What’s BizTalk? Have no idea! That’s why I’m doing this 🙂

So, to sum up. I’m going to test out SharePoint, Exchange, BizTalk, System Center Operations Manager, AD and of course play a bit with some SQL features I haven’t used too much time with: Analysis Services and Reporting Services. I’ll hopefully get to blog about my findings, if I’m not TOO exited when getting my Xbox. If there’s something in particular you want me to blog about, please let me know!

Chrome Beta

I’ve been running chrome for some time now, and I’m very happy with it. In the beta they’ve started adding a couple of new features which some might not know about. First out is the “bookmark synchronization”. You set it up to sync with your Google account, and you’ll get all your bookmarks on all your computers. Really nice for those of us that has 3-4 computers that are regularly in use.

Second out is extensions. This has been one of the key features Firefox-users have been missing. I’ve only installed 4 extensions, since I’ve never missed this feature from Firefox. All the extensions are placed in the top right corner, right beside the new and tools-buttons. I’m using “One Number” which collects the number of unread mail, news and waves. IE Tab, which enables you to run a tab with IE inside chrome. StumbleUpon which is a cool site where you check of what you’re interested in, and it randomly shows you pages that have been categorized by other users. The last extension I’m using is Google’s similar pages. After installing Google Chrome Beta, go to https://chrome.google.com/extensions to install your extensions. NB! You need to be running chrome in English to be able to use this.

HTC Touch HD2 LEO

It’s almost Christmas time and therefore I had to buy myself a couple of presents. One of them was a new phone, HTC Touch HD2 aka “LEO”. For technical specifications click here. I also bought a 16GB microSD card, so I can use it as a podcast player while I’m commuting from and to Ølen. I’ve been playing with the phone for a couple of days now, and I must say. I’M IMPRESSED! I’ve had 4-5 different WM (Windows Mobile) phones, and they’ve all been struggling with performance. This is now not a problem anymore. They’ve put a 1GHz CPU in it in addition to 448MB RAM which makes it fly. The best performance test I’ve got is importing contacts. On older phones, after I’ve imported 1000 contacts from Omega’s contact register the phones have been very sluggish and to be honest, useless. After doing the same “performance test” on this phone, it was still quick! You can see a video of it here and here.

It’s a big phone. A bit bigger than iPhone. I’ve wanted an iPhone for some time now, but I’m anti-Apple. If you want to discuss apple, go find someone else. I’ve played with my uncle’s Mac, and I don’t like it. My uncle loves it though, and for his use it’s probably pretty good. I don’t do videos, pictures and stuff like that. I work with SQL Server, Visual Studio etc and when that’s available on Mac, I’ll give it another chance. Till then, I’m not interested in even hearing about how much YOU love Mac 🙂 Oh, and btw. iTunes is one of the worst performing applications ever made for a computer 🙂

So, enough about Apple. No, not yet. Let me just say: this phone kicks iPhone’s metal shiny ass, 5 times! I’ve always liked qwerty-keyboards on these types of phones, but Leo only has a touch keyboard. Even with my big thumbs this is actually pretty good. After a couple of minutes I got used to it, and typing with both thumbs makes it really fast. This was made possible by some new display type. You can run a knife over the display and it doesn’t leave a mark! Just check this video. Turn off the volume, since he’s only speaking gibberish. I’ve tested this myself, and it works 🙂

Trygve recommended a couple of applications that makes it even cooler. Here’s a quick list of the ones I found most useful:

  • BsB Tweaks – Application that enables you to change “hidden” settings in the OS
  • S2U2 – Slide 2 Unlock 2
  • TorchButton – Application that uses the flashlight on the back of the phone as a torch

So, to conclude: This is the best WM phone I’ve ever tested. It’s even better than my old Nokia 7110! I really recommend this phone for everyone. Maybe not my mom, but everyone with an computer-IQ over average should own one of these!

Holiday times

Instead of taking vacation in the summer I’ve chosen to do it now since it’s so close to Christmas. So, what does Vidar do when he’s on vacation? Travel, work in the garden, renovate the apartment? No no no. I just ordered a new phone, HTC Touch HD2 as well as 8 GB RAM and 4TB disk etc for my server. I’m going to set up a Hyper-V server with 7 virtual servers. I’m going to run my own AD controller, SQL Server (with 6 instances, for testing purposes), Exchange, BizTalk and SharePoint. And last but not least, home server. I’ve been running this before, but now they’ve finally got real support for windows 7, so I’m going to run it again. So, why am I doing this? Well, now that I’m not in the technology department anymore, I’m “limited” to do research on my spare time. I still haven’t touched SharePoint or BizTalk. I’ve installed Exchange before, but never played with it. Will it be useful? Probably not, but I’ll definitely learn much and maybe get some great ideas on how to improve our systems.

In addition to my new server, I’m playing around in Visual Studio 2010 Beta2. I’ve now learned to LOVE XAML. I’ve played a bit with Silverlight, but mostly with WPF. I hope we’ll soon get over to this. Maybe CR4? 🙂 So, this blog post is just a notice that “be aware of a series of blog posts!”.

Oh, I almost forgot. Get ready for some cool sessions at NNUG next year. First of will be how to create an application running Azure, SQL Azure, Silverlight and WCF RIA Services.

5 minutes interview #20 – Petter Aalvik

Let me present to you the CEO of Omega; Petter Aalvik. I haven’t had much to do with him, but from what I’ve heard he’s a cool guy. Petter have been interviewed several times. You can read some of the interviews here.

When did you start in Omega? Do you remember your first day?
It must have been 1998 or 1999. Oil price had bottomed out at USD 10 per barrel, and most companies in the oil sector were reviewing their strategies inclusive Omega. Despite the poor market, these guys had fun, they were full of energy, very enthusiastic and hard working.
I participated in evening brainstorming sessions with Arne Gunnar, Sigmund and Leif Arild in Ølen. If they got an idea in one meeting, it was already implemented before the next meeting. Their ability to get things done impressed me. I was grateful for an opportunity to join the Board; I think it was the winter 1999/2000.
My engagement with Omega increased gradually from the brainstorming sessions, to board position, to part time work, to full time work.

As the CEO of Omega, what do you fill your day with?
In Omega we have a flat organization, which means that I have 20 managers reporting to me, at several locations in Norway and abroad, each manager with their own business unit.
Two baskets of tasks fill my day. Basket 1 contains things that I need to produce which I can plan forward in time. Basket 2 contains tasks that need urgent attention, assistance and support, issues that need to be resolved immediately. Basket 2 should always be empty at the end of the day.
It is a good mix. I need a basket 1 in order to feel creative and productive, some documented proof on a daily basis that I am also producing and contributing. Also, in between basket 2 tasks, it is good to have something else to focus on that are my initiatives. But basket 2 makes the job more exciting, and to the extent that I can assist some of the other 20 managers to get their job done, it has impact, even though I sometimes need to ask myself after a heavy basket 2 day, what did I do today?
Basket 1 tasks are for instance issuing a new HSE manual, a management agreement with a daughter company, a presentation to a client, input to a tender, organizing a board meeting, and so forth. Some of the tasks have deadline each month, for instance monthly report to the board and management meetings. Then we have processes that we do annually or quarterly like for instance board meetings for Omega AS and various daughter companies, shareholder meetings, budget processes, preparations of annual reports, strategy processes.
Basket 2 tasks might be an agreement in Houston to be reviewed and approved, a personnel issue in a department which require special management attention, an employee in Vietnam that turns to me for resolving some issues because his manager is not available, a client enquiring about Omega and so forth.

Have you ever been programming?
In my final year project at the University I made a program in Fortran that calculated speed and power requirements of planning boats. Lots of variables to consider and some heavy differential equations. I had the opportunity to use a test tank where I could run models and take measurements to determine the equations.

Where do you see Omega in 5 years?
Clients’ number one choice for project consultants and project management systems. The company is recognized for its service mindedness and the high quality of the personnel and systems it provides. We have rounded 1000 employees and NOK 1 billion in revenue with good margins. The company has the capacity to serve our clients at all locations where they expect us to be present.

Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy taking care of my family. Cleaning and maintenance of house and car must be done whether I enjoy it or not. I am particularly fond of outdoor activities. I like to exercise and I am trying to keep my body reasonable fit and healthy. I have a small (15 ft) cheap plastic boat that requires no maintenance. The boat requires nothing from me, it is just lying there waiting for a trip on the fjord. Occasionally, during the summer, we take her out for an afternoon cruise and have a really good time.