Thursday, 20 March 2008

We recently conducted an interview with Michael Manos, Senior Director of Data Center Services at Microsoft, on RunAs Radio. Microsoft's been working on a substantial set of data center build-outs, and so Richard and I figured there's a lot we can all learn from someone like Michael. Not many people have to think as carefully or in such a large scale about how to best tackle the data center design and build issues.

Microsoft has been doubling their data center capacity each year, and they have to think about maximizing efficiencies, "greening" the data center, locations, power - you name it.

If you're in any way associated with data center design, architecture or operations this show's for you.

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RunAs Radio | Tech
Thursday, 20 March 2008 14:06:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Stories at CNN, Ars Technica and CNET are covering the fact that Apple is working on a plan that would allow unlimited "free" access to the iTunes music library - if users paid more up-front for their iPod devices.

This sounds interesting, but it seems like an up-front charge (when you buy the device, as a one-time fee) might have some legal (not to mention business viability) challenges associated with it. Now, if they were to go with a Zune-like monthly subscription model, that would be a whole different story. It would actually make a lot of sense.

Group-think/conventional wisdom seems to be that since the average iPod/Phone user spends about $20 total on music through the iTunes store, it would make sense to charge everyone that much up front. Others say something more like $80 is more reasonable. I think they're all wrong: Charge me $20 up front, and I will do everything I can to maximize - in a big way - that mandatory investment. People only spend an average of $20 because they have to keep paying. Charge that up front and grant them unlimited access, and they'll download more music than you can possibly imagine.

That's where the Zune Pass idea is a better one. Recurring monthly revenue of a predictable, fixed amount (which is great from a business standpoint) and a happy customer base. I just don't see a one-time fixed fee model holding water for very long. But then again, if your intent (hypothetically) is to launch a firestorm campaign to (further) monopolize the market and then dump it as unviable... Well, you might actually succeed at one goal by failing at another. Just an thought. :)

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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Thursday, 20 March 2008 13:53:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Guy Kawasaki and a couple of his friends recently fired up a site/service called Alltop, which displays a variety of popular topical areas in which various popular blog/news feeds are aggregated. Think of each of the topical sites as a one-stop-information-shop. High-level topics include the categories of Work, Living, People, Interests, Culture, Geekery, Good and News. On his blog Guy describes it as:

Alltop... a news aggregation site that provides “all the top” stories for forty of the most popular topics on the Web. The headlines and first paragraph of the five most recent stories from forty to eighty sources for each topic are displayed. Alltop stories are refreshed approximately every ten minutes.

The interface is clean and easy to read - lots of information on alltop-windowsthe page. Mouse over a headline and see the first few sentences of the article. Click the headline to go to the original site and read the full article or post.

I'm privileged to be among the bloggers whose sites are listed on the Windows Alltop news site (at, along with a list of information sites and authors which - truth be told - I am amazed to be paired with. I mean, glancing at the site right now, I'm on the page between Ed Bott and the IEBlog. If I work hard enough at it, I can only hope to provide the types and quality of information you get from the other sites in the list.

Check out Alltop. Lots of good stuff there.

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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:55:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Vista SP1 is available (details in the document available at this link and Ed Bott did a great what-to-expect write-up and FAQ), so it's time to head on over to Windows Update (it's in your start menu) and grab it. Assuming it shows up in the available-updates list, of course. Apparently there are certain drivers and configurations which, if present on your system, will prevent the service pack from being offered. A Microsoft Knowledge Base article - KB948343 - details the possible causes and solutions.

I upgraded on my 64-bit Vista Ultimate machine a little less than a month ago and have been happy with the performance improvements. If nothing else, just the speed of file copies over the network made it completely worthwhile. Add in other improvements and fixes and it's an important one in my book.

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Thursday, 20 March 2008 11:20:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Yesterday I mentioned some new C# screencasts by my friend Stuart that are being published over at Channel 9. Another screencast-format resource for learning about .NET programming and the .NET framework is a new site that Dmitry Lyalin put together recently, called "Better Know a Framework." Dmitry recently joined Microsoft on the East Coast and is passionate about helping people understand the technology. So, if you're a .NET programmer (or want to be), you should check it out, as well. The screencasts so far are well-produced and quite usable.

A short introduction...

The Concept. The concept behind Better Know a Framework is directly inspired by a segment on the .NET Rocks podcast. In this segment the host (Carl) regularly discusses a class or a part of the .NET Framework as a way to expand peoples knowledge. My inspiration is to take this to the next level and bring screencast content to the development community in a similar fashion, a small segment at a time.

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Geek Out | Tech
Thursday, 20 March 2008 08:43:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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One of my colleagues and past co-worker when I was at Corillian/CheckFree, Stuart Celarier, has teamed up with Microsoft's Bruce Kyle and made a whole slew of what they're calling "Whirlwinds" that are being published at the Channel 9 community site at MSDN. By the time they've all been published, Stuart tells me he will have visually covered every new feature in C# v2. Wow, cool information! Stuart, correct me here if I am somehow exaggerating. :)

You can start anywhere you like as these screencasts are published, but for reference, here's a link to the first one, and some information about the project:

Bruce Kyle of Microsoft and Stuart Celarier of CheckFree explore the new languages features in C#. It's a whirlwind tour of the important language features since C# 1. Stuart describes the feature and why it is useful. But doesn't get into best practices nor suggested usages. Just the facts about the feature.

Whirlwinds are bite-sized webcasts, each is shorter than 15 minutes. You can start anywhere in the series to learn about the parts you're most interested in.

In Part 1 about generics, Stuart describes:

  • What generics are.
  • How generics compare with collections.
  • How the compiler treats generics.
  • He also describes how generics increase performance and save memory.

This feature is part of C# 2 in .NET 2.0.

Also available is "Whirlwind 2: What's new in C# 2 - Iterators," with lots more to come. Cool idea, well-executed - Congrats, Stuart! If you're a C# person (or would like to be), be sure to check it out.

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Geek Out | Tech
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 23:12:08 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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