Saturday, 30 December 2006

New RDP client UI MS has released v6 of it's Remote Desktop Connection client.

Remote Desktop Connection (Terminal Services Client 6.0) provides a way to use any new Terminal Services features introduced in Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows Server Code Name “Longhorn” from a computer running Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1.

The features in this release are really about Vista and Longhorn server for the most part. But, one feature that works in XP while connecting to Windows Server 2003 (and I was prompted to do this by default after upgrading, by the way) is the option to provide the username and password in the client before logging on, and the option to save that information so you don't have to re-enter it each time (not sure I like that specific idea for security purposes, but it has its place, and there are several security enhancements when connecting to Vista and Longhorn server).

Download it from Microsoft here. Read the KB article here (which includes links to versions for OSes other than 32-bit XP, as well).

(via Omar)

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IT Security | Tech
Saturday, 30 December 2006 14:14:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 29 December 2006

To add to my totally analog Christmas (and the subsequent mostly-analog vacation week that's followed), my friend Cory and I started building a shed in the back yard this morning. We only had a few hours to work today, but we got a lot done. It was 32 degrees out but we hardly noticed. Below are some pics, which I will update periodically as we make progress. Click on each to see a larger view.

A few notes for anyone who is considering taking on a project like this one:

  • Having someone around who actually knows what they're doing is a great thing. My buddy Cory's done a lot of carpentry and construction work, so he's The Boss. Foreman. Teacher. All that stuff. Thank goodness.
  • Seriously, don't even think about picking all the stuff out yourself and trying to haul it home in your truck or car. For this project we went to Home Depot for the materials (due to some reasonable prices and a very attractive zero-payments/interest-for-a-year financing deal). We went to the pro desk, handed over the plans and the parts list, along with $59.00 for site delivery, which was done on a semi truck with a big forklift. This was definitely more than worth the cost. The pro desk helped tweak things, checked the plans and corrected a couple assumptions I'd made, and generally made it a better experience (so far, anyhow - heh).
  • Speaking of plans, is a great place to go and spend a small amount of money for a quality, detailed building plan. I spent $15 with them and it would have been worth it even if I didn't use the plans at all - The building information in there was great and worth the price alone. Of course, we are using their plans for our structure (which is a 12x16-foot gable-roof shed).

Day one: Floor framing

Cory pretty much leveled the site the day before with a shovel, a rake and the 4-wheeler. So today we put together the framed floor. It's in two sections, which were later "wrapped" with a second layer of treated 2x's:

The site is ready to go, and the floor sections are laid out in the general area:

On the piers, it starts to look more substantial - like you got something done. In the last picture Cory and Diogi survey the work we did.

More to come when it gets done. :)

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Random Stuff
Friday, 29 December 2006 23:52:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Joel Spolsky points to a blog entry by Dmitri Zimine that does a good job pointing out the problem with interruptions when a software developer or team needs to be heads-down on a project. The posts are more than a month old, but they're still just as relevant. As an agile development team manager, I know a significant part of my job is to provide a layer of abstraction between the dev staff and everything else in the world. Interruptions and distractions have a compounding, maybe even exponential delay effect on major software projects - a half-day interruption can result in several days of lost productivity (especially if the half day is scattered an hour or half-hour at a time over a couple days, for example).

I've often wrestled with trying to strike a balance between what needs to get done on some project and the rest of the needs (and wants) that are out there. Ultimately, here is what I have come up with:

  1. Bugs that impact real customers simply have to be fixed. Bugs happen, and so fixing happens. How important and impactful the bug is determines the priority of the effort and whether or not (and when) to interrupt the programmers.
  2. It's my job to put myself in the communication loop, as a filter. I have fallen down on the job a bit in that regard recently, partly because of my work travel schedule. I need to re-insert myself to enable the development staff do their jobs even better.
  3. It seems obvious but it's worth saying: You cannot make everyone happy all the time, and you should never try to do so. All you'll get is disappointment, and that's not a worthy goal.
  4. Nothing is ever as big a deal as it seems. Everyone has their own priorities, and it's human nature for people to make their own priorities seem highest. But that's not the way it really works. See Number 2, above, for a solution.
  5. Focused developer and QA people are happy. Distracted ones are grumpy, much less productive and complain a lot. In other words, there is a domino effect. Professionals expect their managers to help them do their jobs well, and that's a reasonable expectation. My job is to hire good people, make sure they have what they need, and then let them do what they do best.

I truly enjoy working with my team in an agile world. It's always a fight to strike that perfect balance, and since true perfection is impossible, it's always a moving target. But a good manager will stay on top of that target, anticipate problems, adjust to the environment, and head those pesky issues off at the pass whenever possible.

For the record, I'm about as far from an optimal agile dev team manager as one could find. I am learning something new every day, much of it OTJ style, and there are other people where I work that are quite literally pros in the agile management field. For all I know, they may have something to say that contradicts what I've espoused. Should be interesting.

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Friday, 29 December 2006 22:44:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 27 December 2006

I just realized something interesting. This year I had a completely non-techie Christmas. Of the gifts I received, only one was even remotely computer related (but hey, no need to go cold-turkey, right?). I think that's kind of cool. Plus this Christmas was a good one once again, spent at home with friends.

My friend Cory (who appears to have started blogging for Christmas, heh) points out that the act of giving is a good one to practice. I agree.

Of course, receiving is quite fun as well, and I received some very thoughtful gifts this year. Perhaps my favorite (it's hard to choose you know) is a painting that Cory made for me to hang in my office. It's based on a painting by Peter Pongratz from Austria - we saw a bunch of his (rather interesting and crazy) art at the Belvedere museum in Vienna a couple months ago in a display called Sweet Home Vienna. Cory took the Pongratz-style phrases in the painting and replaced them with Office Space lines. Heh. Pongratz and Office Space are a lot alike.

An analog Christmas. Nice.

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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Wednesday, 27 December 2006 14:02:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 25 December 2006
People who have noticed the site's been unavailable recently will understand why I'm making some changes here. While DNS propogation completes the availability of the site may be a little whacky, since you might be bounced between two servers for a little while. Not much I can do about that, but it will all be better very soon. I've moved this site to a dedicated host server, since the traffic and web server hits are too much for the shared hosting environment it's been on up 'til this point.

Sorry for the mess.

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Blogging | Random Stuff
Monday, 25 December 2006 23:38:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 23 December 2006

I've pretty much had enough. The WRT54G has proven to be a fun router to play with, but I've bricked a few of them over the past couple years, and the one I have now is less than optimal. It drops wireless connections fairly regularly. I can try upgrading the Talisman firmware to the latest (I am running 1.0.5 and there have been two releases since), but I'm not convinced it's a software issue really.

So, the question is: Which wireless router is best for me? I'll do some research of my own, of course, but I know some of you smart people will let me know what your experiences are.

Here's a bit off the old Stuff-I-Need list as it relates to the router:

  • I use Vonage for phone service. For the past year I have had the Vonage terminal adapter sitting on the Internet, and the wireless router plugs into the TA's LAN port.
  • I'd like to be able to define QoS for a variety of apps, network destinations and service types.
  • Security security security. It must have a good firewall and the ability to DMZ properly.
  • Geekiness geekiness geekiness. Plus points for ability to configure and tweak a lot.

Any ideas out there? I'm off to do some research. This will be my Christmas present to myself, if and when I decide to do the replacement. I have a week off from work to catch up on life and things at home, so this is on my list (not at the top, priority-wise, but it's on there).

Starting point: This Buffalo router looks pretty good.

UPDATE: I tried upgrading to the latest Talisman/SveaSoft firmware, but problems persisted and in fact even got worse. DHCP completely failed and . I removed the router from the network, hooked up to the Vonage TA directly, connected to, and downloaded the latest factory firmware. Once I managed to get that installed, everything seems to be back up and running and looks stable at first glance. But the Linksys firmware, although greatly improved since I last looked at the Linksys factory stuff, doesn't have the same great options. But I'll let this run for a while and see if it's more stable. Fingers crossed. I still want to replace this thing. Thanks for the emails and comments so far. Any more ideas to consider?

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Saturday, 23 December 2006 09:46:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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