Saturday, 21 February 2004

If you do - time to clean up and rake in the prizes. Microsoft has a contest running for businesses that can tell a great story about how Windows Server 2003 addresses challenges and makes a difference in the real world. It's the Windows Server 2003 Challenge, and the prizes are pretty sweet, so if you have a story, give it a shot! I'd enter, but they already wrote a case study about ours, so we're not elligible. Be sure to read the complete rules, too.

... To be eligible for judging in Round Two, online entries must be received no later than 11:59 PM PT on March 28, 2004 (07:59 GMT March 29). Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. By entering the Contest, you agree to allow a Microsoft representative to contact you regarding potential Solution Brief/Case Study development and reference opportunities.

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Saturday, 21 February 2004 09:37:15 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Okay, I have been asked this a zillion times now - each time by people who for some reason that escapes me think that *I* would know anything about .NET, what it is, how it works, etc.

I'm not completely ignorant on the matter - I do understand the concepts, architecture, how it all fits together. But I am definfitely not a programmer, and beyond the basics of describing what it is, I can't help much.

In fact, I was at a conference earlier this week along with a bunch of other corporate IT-leader types, and one thing that surprised me was how few knew what .NET is (other than the fact that its something their systems are built on and their developers talk about in gobbledygook secret code language all day long). I suppose the fact that the crowd at the conference was all upper-level and executive management types allowed the people there to come out of their shells a little bit, and to openly ask the people around them what the heck this .NET thing is, anyhow (without fear of some developer rolling eyes, I guess :-)).

Now, I always figured it's good to know these things ahead of time, but when some of the Microsofties I know started bringing people over to me so I could explain .NET ... Well, you get the picture.

Of course, what people need is a good, clean, concise explanation of the technology in layman's terms, not programmer-speak, and not more than a couple of minutes. As I recently noted when I wrote about “What is XML?” it's not always what you know, it's more often than not what resources you can find and how you use them.

Anyhow, point is that these days, when I am asked “What the heck is .NET anyhow?” I like to point people to a web page that Microsoft recently put together which - for the first time - provides a very brief, concise and easy to understand overview of the basics of the “What is .NET?” question. Check it out here.

There's more to it than what's on that page, but the links get you to the next level of detail (and they keep it simple at that level, as well, which is good).

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Saturday, 21 February 2004 09:21:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 19 February 2004

Collaboration solutions from Microsoft have changed significantly over time. The newest offerings can be a bit overwhelming if you have not been following their release over the past several months (and part of the blame for that goes to Microsoft for not doing the most effective job of making people aware through their marketing, IMHO... The television commercials are “cute“ but don't actually tell anyone anything about the new products, so unless you've gone looking for the new technology proactively on your own, you're not too likely to be aware).

But the advertising is not an indicator of the quality of the actual products - these are some really powerful tools. A quick article over at MSDN sorts out Microsoft's collaboration technologies, and provides a basic, decent and not-too-deep view of where it started and how it got where it is today. It also helps make some sense of what's here now and how it can be effectively applied.

Make no mistake: The way of the future has been seen, and this is the path. If you have not invested in some sort of collaborative technologies, it's worth a look - you can get a lot for a relatively small investment, and the next age of computing applications will - I am telling you now - be centered around mobility and collaboration, the two technologies these new products are taking to the next level right now.

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Thursday, 19 February 2004 21:32:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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My friend Scott Hanselman will be on the .NET Rocks! show (an internet radio broadcast for those who are one with this thing they call .NET) tomorrow (Friday) morning at 9am Pacific Time. This should be fun:

Scott Hanselman takes on ASP.NET - LIVE!
February 20, 2004

He's back and he's pissed! Not really, but we've always wanted to say that. Scott Hanselman talks with Carl and Rory about the following:

* Declarative Programming
* "Word Documents have no teeth"
* Client Side Validation
* Code Generation - CodeSmith
* Caching
* Performance Counters in ASP.NET
* Perf Testing
* "A caste system for APIs"
* other ideas: blogging trends, usenet, google, toolbars, future interfaces,
* where he's speaking this quarter....
* DevDays
* Whidbey

As always, Scott lays his "must-have" tool list on us.

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Thursday, 19 February 2004 20:16:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 18 February 2004

Microsoft has finally come up with a web administration interface for SQL server (as pointed out to me by our trusty developer, Travis, earlier today). I have these conflicting thoughts about the product (which is not unusual for me. Oh, and since it's free, is it really a product?)

First of all, it's about time they did something like this. Having to load a copy of Enterprise manager on every PC you want to work from is more than just a slight pain. It sucks. So, on that level, great news - It does a lot of the things you would commonly do in Enterprise Manager.

On the other hand, from the perspective of security and running secure apps on a business network, I have to say that when I read this, I get a little nervous:

There are two versions of the SQL Server Web Data Administrator Tool. One runs under IIS and the other runs under a Microsoft .NET open source web server named Cassini. For more information on Cassini and source code please go to...

Oh Boy. This should be interesting. At our company, we will need to test this and have the security guys look at it before we allow it to be used - especially considering the sensitivity of the data we deal with in SQL databases.

But, for working with non-critical data in SQL databases and doing some basic database administration, it's pretty sweet stuff.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2004 21:10:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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For some people, I am completely certain it's important to make sure certain types of email attachments never make it through the email client to the end user's machine. But I am - after all - a technically-savvy person (and I can spell savvy), so I want (well, actually need) to be able to receive a lot of the kinds of files that Microsoft Outlook seems to think I shouldn't be able to get at.

Enter OL2K2SEC (an Outlook 2003 version is also available, for all you acronym decoders who have not yet clicked). Sure, you could edit the registry, but frankly I have better things to do with my time, I deal with too many computers, and I might need/want to enable someone else to do the same thing on their computer (and I am leary to direct most people to edit their registries). Not for everyone, to be sure, but great for those who need it.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2004 20:57:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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