Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sharepoint and TFS

I've been doing some work with Sharepoint (WSS 2.0) lately in an effort to improve online collaboration with the team at work. I've found that meeting workspaces are a convenient way to manage meeting agenda, attendees, documents, discussion and tasks.

However, I'd really like my WSS tasks and shared document libraries to integrate with TFS. Meeting workspaces are a  great way to capture information but TFS offers some advantages for work item tracking and version control. Apparently help is at hand!

There is a project on CodePlex to build a TFS Migration and Synchronization Toolkit. The toolkit includes samples that convert data from WSS to TFS. One sample migrates and synchronizes data between a WSS Shared Document Library and TFS version control. Another sample migrates and synchronizes data between a WSS Task List and TFS work items.

The toolkit can also be used to integrate many other systems with TFS. I haven't downloaded the toolkit and tried it out yet so I'm happy to receive comments from anyone who has experience.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2

Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 is now available for download with RTM likely before end of 2007. You can also expect to see the first CTP for Visual Studio Rosario in the next week! I'll post a link for the Rosario CTP virtual machine when it becomes available.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Google Search Appliance

I discovered today that Google sells intranet search appliances, allowing you to search your business systems using Google technology. The basic model indexes up to 50,000 documents and retails for around 2300 AUD. You can scale the solution by adding additional appliances. Click here for an online demo.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chuck Norris

I was watching Family Guy last night and heard this Chuck Norris joke:

There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard, only another fist.

I guess it was funny at the time. Click here for more.

IEEE 802.11

Like many of us, I have a wireless router installed at home because I like the flexibility of portable network access. My Netgear router boasts pre-N technology meaning that the PHY is based on a draft version of IEEE 802.11n. But what does this mean?

IEEE 802.11 specifies 3 physical (PHY) layers which define how digital signals are modulated.

Protocol Frequency Modulation Max Rate
802.11a 5 GHz OFDM 54 Mbps
802.11b 2.4 GHz DSSS 11 Mbps
802.11g 2.4 GHz OFDM 54 Mbps

I've deliberately left 802.11n off the list because it's still a draft protocol. However, 802.11n will be interoperable with 802.11a/b/g and will support greenfield mode offering up to 248 Mbps between 802.11n peers.

Why does 802.11n have such a high maximum data rate? There are a few reasons. The first is that greenfield mode operates in the 5 GHz band which is relatively quiet compared to the 2.4 GHz band shared by microwave ovens and Bluetooth devices. The higher band means that channel bonding can be used to increase theoretical data rate. The second reason is that 802.11n supports OFDM, a multiplexing technique that significantly reduces the impact of transmission errors due to multipath and inter-symbol interference at high frequencies. The third reason is MIMO or multiple-input multiple-output, which is an antenna technology that increases channel utilization.

However, very few notebooks are fitted with pre-N wireless cards, so the highest data rate most of us can expect is 54 Mbps unless we install a non-WiFi certified card. Hence the problem with pre-N.

Pre-N wireless technology is based on a draft standard and interpretation varies among vendors. It's therefore very difficult for the WiFi-Alliance to certify interoperability for pre-N hardware. Furthermore, pre-N hardware is unlikely to be compatible with 802.11n hardware, meaning that the notebook you buy in 2008 with an 802.11n card won't support greenfield mode if peered with a pre-N router.

I actually run my pre-N Netgear router using 802.11g only and use WPA Personal and TKIP to create a robust security network in accordance with 802.11i. When configuring your wireless router, remember to steer clear of WEP because the encryption algorithm is cryptographically weak and is considered insecure.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I was recently looking at the Visual Studio Orcas SDK and discovered that it contains two tools, MPLEX & MPPG, which allow you to create your own managed language. I took a closer look at the documentation and found that the author of the tools is none other than John Gough, QUT.

I took a class on compiler construction at QUT earlier this year so I'm interested in seeing what mayhem I can cause with LEX and YACC. I probably won't give up weekends though.

Windows Installer XML

Software developers rarely give much thought to the setup and installation experience of end users. First impressions usually stick and a mediocre setup experience can seriously impact perception of software quality. 

I've created several setup projects in Visual Studio but always felt frustrated by efforts to customize the installer, often resorting to Orca to hack the MSI database. The resulting installers are difficult to maintain and fit poorly in the overall build process.

However, there is an open source solution called Windows Installer XML (WiX) that offers a powerful DSL and compiler for customizing installers. WiX also installs several MSBuild targets for build process integration.

WiX simplifies many installer tasks including database creation, progress updates, UI localization, and launch after install. UI Wizards are fantastic and offer four different flavors depending on desired sophistication.  The Mondo flavor includes welcome page, license agreement, setup type (typical, custom, complete), feature customization, browsing for target directory, disk costing and maintenance mode dialogs.

Unfortunately, the power and flexibility of WiX comes with a steep learning curve so it may not be the best solution for all applications. However, it's worth pointing out that WiX was used to build the installer for Microsoft Office 2007 and was originally developed by Microsoft.

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Visual Studio 2008

Visual Studio 2008 will be launched in February 2008 together with Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 according to this press release. I wonder when the RTM will be available to MSDN subscribers? I'm still keeping an eye out for Visual Studio Orcas Beta 2 which should be available in the next month.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Zero Gravity

Check out this neat Silverlight game! Thanks Shane.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

VS Orcas Beta 2

After searching the web this morning, it looks like Microsoft will release VS Orcas Beta 2 this July or early August. The Acropolis team is also looking to release CTP2 in the interim with a supplementary CTP shortly after Orcas Beta 2.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Outlook 2007 Connector for Live Mail

Microsoft have released an updated Outlook Connector that allows you to access and manage your full Live Mail account from Outlook 2007.  I stumbled across this component because I was looking for a faster way for Outlook 2007 to synchronize email headers over http! The connector seems to have done the trick. It is a beta product so I recommend reading the FAQ before installation.