Pete Wright's Radio Weblog
Musings on anything and everything, but mainly code!



11 August 2004

I just got an email from Owen Cutajar, a young chap that I tried to steal from Conchango for Edenbrook a while back (unfortunately, it didn't work out -shame). Owen's a bit of a Biztalk hero and noticed that I'm about to do a crash absorbtion of Biztalk knowledge over the next 3 days and very kindly dropped me some great links to info. Here's what he gave me


If you're new to BizTalk, there's a good primer here: (by David Chappell)
If you want something a bit more detailed, check out (Charles Young - How Subscriptions Work)
and these are some great blogs:
On a more Architecture slant, check out:
 Enterprise Integration Patterns with BizTalk 2004 (Thoughtworks)
Shold be enough to get you started :)
Those links look great, and I've already started exploring some of them. Scott Woodgate's blog I already subscribe to, so I'm ok on that one, but the rest are cool. ANyone else got any additional pointers?

1:39:01 PM    comment []

I was just reading Rory's latest blog entry. He's in Florida at the moment and had a run in with a Golden Silk Spider. They look like this

The body alone on the female can be in excess of 4cms long, and they can spin webs in excess of 1 meter in diameter. SO, for all my airsofting buddies out there THIS is why I'm not airsofting when we move to the States, and hence this is why I just sold all my airsoft guns and kit. Screw crawling around on your stomach in the woods trying to get the perfect sniper spot and coming face to face with this hideous abhoration. Eewwwwwwwww!

12:05:23 PM    comment []

I've got to do a presentation next week at a client on Biztalk Server 2004, a subject I currently know little about, so while I'm sitting here waiting for Biztalk, VS and a virtual machine to install, I thought I'd blog on a great afternoon I had yesterday at Microsoft.

Microsoft are partnering with us to do the presentation since the sales potential is quite big, both for us and them, so I had an afternoon at the Microsoft campus in Reading to talk with one of their Biztalk gurus, and to get a copy of the demo image Microsoft themselves use. I've been up there a few times before but yesterday was different. It wasn't a meeting so much as a problem solving exercise. We had some real issues copying the 6 gig virtual server image from a Microsoft machine across to my Edenbrook laptop so much running around and problem solving was involved in which time I got to have a great peek at the way Microsoft actually do things.

First up, the people. The external USB 2 hard disk that had the image on just didn't want to talk to my machine so we had to take a trip to the tech support guys to see what could be done. I've dealt with Tech Support guys in other roles quite a lot and without exception they all seem to be surly, miserable people who really find amusement in your dilemma and don't want to do anything to help out. At Microsoft though they were different, very different. The guys there brainstormed with us to come up with other solutions to problems and eventually coughed up a fantastic tiny external hard disk for us to try on my machine that might do the trick (it did). They seemed keen to help and positively excited by the challenge.

Back at the desk, while the image was copying, my contact there decided to walk me through the Biztalk demo image I was getting and answering my questions. But, since his machine was busy copying the image we had to go to a different machine in the office. THis one wasn't running the right version of Virtual Server so we had a troll through some of Microsoft's internal fileshares. I nearly fell off my chair. Every single product you could think of from Microsoft was on the share. New products, products about to go to master, or which had just gone were on a different share. What a fantastic resource to have in your company. Need some software, any software, just log onto a file share, grab it, grab a key and away you go. Awesome. Another tech support guy helped us out in finding just what we needed and again he was incredibly helpful and really keen to help out. It was a true breath of fresh air.

The other thing I noticed that's really cool was the hotdesk arrangement there. Everyone has a notebook, and every hot desk had a monitor, and a docking station. No messing around with roaming profiles and such like to get a familiar desk top environment when you log in at Microsoft - just dock your MS notebook on a hotdesk and away you go.Simple, practical and very cool.

All in all, I had a blast. It was great to brainstorm stuff and problem solve with the 'softies, and wonderfully self affirming to see me thinking along exactly the same lines as those guys, and in a couple of cases thinking ahead of them. What a great environment that would be to work in - shame they don't have an Orlando office looking for evangelists <sigh>



11:51:33 AM    comment []

There's a lot to love in Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, but there's a few things to be very wary of as well. I haven't blogged much over the past few days, nor replied to email or done much of anything for which I would reply on my Acer Tablet; installing Service Pack 2 completely hosed the machine and I only managed to get it rebuilt and all my software back on at about 1am last night. On my Edenbrook Toshiba Tablet, various apps stopped working and all sorts of other problems have cropped up ove the past few days, invariably requiring those apps to be reinstalled.

On the Acer what happend was this. I had the beta and then the release candidate of service pack 2 on the machine and uninstalled that before trying to put on the actual RTM of Service Pack 2. Uninstalled the release candidate popped up a message telling me that some apps would fail to run after the uninstall, but I ignored it since I figured I would be putting the RTM back on straight away. After uninstalling and rebooting though the machine just didn't want to boot. It would simply freeze and sit there doing nothing for ages, before eventually popping up some really scary Windows error messages that bore more than a passing resemblence to one of the recent viruses.

I managed to get Service Pack 2 on the machine by booting into Safe mode, but that didn't really fix the problems. THe machine would still hang on boot, and was incredibly slow to use. The network didn't work, it was too slow to un any apps and generally it appeared that the only option would be an uninstall. Because the machine was so slow though it was a real problem to back data up. I couldn't get on the network to spool everything off to a server share, and I couldn't mount a firewire iPod to use that for backup. In the end I did manage to backup using a PCMCIA compact flash card reader and a couple of 1 gig microdrives. Reformatting the machine though, restoring the original OS and then patching that has given me back my machine and it's better than ever. SP2 truly is awesome in use.

On the Tosh at work, the problems I had related to virus scanners and network software. Virtual Server just wouldn't let me connect to the admin web site. The Virus scanner would either crash or just run for ages seemingly achieving nothing. Network connections also showed some glitches. In all cases though re-installing the offending software fixed the problem, and now at long last I get to use the new Lonestar Tip windows on my work Tablet, which is very cool indeed.

Moral of the story though - backup, really backup, before you attempt to install SP2, and be totally prepared for something horrendous to happen. BUT, DO install SP2 - it brings a lot of great features to the table that are long overdue.


10:24:45 AM    comment []

I've been itching to blog this for weeks now but until things were finalised I couldn't tell Edenbrook, and thus I couldn't tell you.

I'm Leaving Edenbrook!!!!

It's for all the right reasons as well, and none of the wrong ones. I love Edenbrook, their business model, and the work I do there. To be quite frank, I don't really want to leave (in the sense that someone who found something better, or who hated their job would want to leave a company). The thing is Heather and I have been toying with the idea of moving back to the States for quite some time now. Heather's been over here for 7 years, and after returning home to visit her parents recently came home pretty much desperate to move back to be closer to her family. I love my wife, and I love her family to bits, so that's what we're doing.

We'll be moving to Volusia County, Florida, hopefully before the end of the year, although at this point, timescales are very much up in the air. We've filed for my permanent residency of the US, and we've pretty much agreed between us that this will be the final move, so in a few years I'll happily renounce my British citizenship to become a genuine foreigner. My boss Sean took is really well. I've started to get a lot off the ground in terms of evangelism and delivery quality management at Edenbrook, and I'll have some time yet to make sure it's all well and truly up and running before I leave. He's a great guy and totally accepted why I want to leave and has been very supportive in my decision. Thanks a bunch Sean.

In terms of work, it's looking at this point like I'll be going independent again. That has good and bad sides, the bad being absolutely no long term job security. But, really, who can honestly say that they truly have that these days? The good bits though are numerous

  • I get to choose what I work on
  • I get to choose when I work, and who I work with
  • Our financial status returns once again to where it was before Enron went under (my last independent contract)
  • I get to focus on areas of technology that I adore (.NET, and Tablets)
  • I get to focus on work that absolutely dote over (speaking, writing, and teaching)
  • I get a lot more freedom to focus on my books and Apress, and that's a FANTASTIC thing

I will miss Edenbrook a great deal, but as with all organisations of any size there are of course one or two people I won't miss one bit (well, one person anyway), but we won't go into that.

So, at long last, I've got all that off my chest.

Lew, Sara - I'm bringing your baby and your grandson home!!!


Update: I forgot to mention one really cool thing, short term, that I'm looking forward to. There's a TechEd next year in Orlando, about an hour from where we are going to live, and of course I'm going (although I have to pay for myself this year). So, for the first year ever, I get to go to TechEd without neglecting my family, and I even get to drive there each day. No doubt, I'll organize my own TechEd party one evening for friends I know there in the form of a barbeque or something. Fantastic.





12:05:43 AM    comment []

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