Beautiful T1ness

This is my first post utilizing my freshly installed T1 line.  It is everything I thought it could be.

The image above is from SpeakEasy.  I also tried another site that uses a java applet and it reported upload speed about the same.

The whole process worked like this:

  • I search google for T1 and my hometown, which got me a list of brokers.  I filled out the online forms for a few and received pricing via email.  I only looked at firms that would give me the pricing without speaking to me first.
  • You can get service either with or without a router included.  I wanted a router included because I know next to nothing about networking hardware, and they configure the whole thing for you if you get one through the provider.  You can also get voice service included in the quote or data only.  I went with data only and also with a full T1.  I saw quotes for 1/2 and 1/3 T1 service.
  • I chose Access2Go as my provider.
  • They fax you paperwork to sign and fax back and then the scheduling process begins.  It took about 1 month from when I signed the paperwork until I had a working line.  I assume it took this long because I live in the middle of nowhere but maybe it always takes this long even if you are in the city.
  • About once every week, Access2Go emailed me some configuration information and a status of what was going on.  In the end, they give you the external ip address for the router, called the serial address, and a block of ip addresses that the router is pre-configured to route inside your network.  The rest is information about the line itself and is only useful to you if something goes wrong.  When you activate, they give you the addresses of the DNS servers and other information like that.
  • The line is actually through Quest, although AT&T is responsible for putting the line in.  Two days ago, the installer showed up and told me that I already had adequate lines run up to my house, which was nice because we have received quite a bit of rain so I was concerned about giant trench marks across my property.  Normally, AT&T only runs the wire to the outside of the building and it is your responsibility to run it to where you need it.  In my case, that was the closet in my office.  Since I also no nothing about pulling wire, I was going to pay them to run wire to my closet but was pleasantly surprised when the installer told me the wire I need was already run to the closet.  He put in a jack, did a bunch of testing and left.  He also told me that some rather well off folks down the road have 2 T1 lines running to their house.  One for data, and one for monitoring their wine cellar.  Not sure why a high speed line is needed to monitor wine but I thought that was interesting.
  • Later the same day that the installer was here, I received the T1 router which is a Cisco 1721 with WAN card, via UPS.  I received no documentation with it so I registered with the Cisco website and downloaded everything.  I read it all and it did help me to understand all of the configuration information that Access2Go had emailed to me.  In reality, you don’t need the documentation except to know what cables plug-in where.  I also tried out the serial port interface to the router just because I thought it was cool.
  • This morning I called Access2Go to hook up everything.  A patch cable (regular ethernet cable) goes from the jack to the WAN port on the T1 router.  A crossover cable goes from the ethernet port on the T1 router out to my network.  In my case, this is a business class router from linksys that supports secure vpn and has a good firewall.  The router on your network gets assigned one of the lan ip addresses from the block they give you.  Access2Go got a Quest rep on the line and we tested everything and I was up and running.  The call lasted less than 10 minutes and was painless.

This is a good option for telecommuters that live somewhat out in the country like I do.  It is much more expensive than DSL or cable that you can get in the city and the download speed is not as good as the higher end of these services.  Upload speed is outstanding, however.  Also, a T1 is dedicated and has an SLA of 4 hours for someone to arrive on the scene if it quits working.  You won’t get that with DSL or cable, at least not at the consumer rate.

Visual Studio Links #4

My latest in a series of the weekly, or more often, summary of interesting links I come across related to Visual Studio.  This is a shorter version than usual due the combination of a busy me and a quiet before the storm of the VS Launch.

Aaron Marten posted a brief sample of creating a VSPackage with F#.

Quan To announced that Visual Studio Gallery is liveVisual Studio Gallery is a one stop shop to find out about extensions to Visual Studio.  I will be adding my product shortly.

Aaron Marten announced that a few Channel 9 videos are available discussing VSX and the Visual Studio Gallery.

Sara Ford discussed the multi-targeting capability in VS 2008 on her tip of the day.

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Visual Studio Links #3

My latest in a series of the weekly, or more often, summary of interesting links I come across related to Visual Studio.

Aaron Marten explains how to work around a painting bug in the VS 2008 SDK Browser.

Aaron also posted a link to a talk he participated in about integrating new languages into VS.

Here are links to Visual Studio 2008 Key Bindings posters for C# and

Sara Ford posted a tip on how you can hide projects in the VS Solution Explorer.

Scott Guthrie announced that the first beta release of Silverlight 2.0 is coming soon and gave an overview of what is included.

Jason Zander posted a link to videos from the last Lang.Net Symposium.

Robert Pickering has added F# integration into the latest beta of SharpDevelop.  SharpDevelop is an open source IDE for .Net.

If you are using SourceSafe with Visual Studio, this is a KB article on diagnosing hanging and general slowness in the IDE.  If you are not using SourceSafe, you are already ahead of the game.

Here is a Microsoft KB article on tools to monitor StackOverflowException problems.

The CodeKeep Visual Studio AddIn now works with 2008.  CodeKeep allows you to keep track of code snippets from within VS.

Visual Studio Team System Management Model Designer Power Tool – February 2008 Technology Preview is now available at the Microsoft Download Center.  Winner of the longest product name award.

The Windows SDK team posted a blog entry on how to use the Windows SDK with Visual C++ 2008 express.

The Windows SDK team posted a workaround for users reporting a problem where xaml intellisence quits working in VS 2008 after the SDK is installed.

From Jason Haley’s blog:  Johan Straarup has posted a good summary of the process he goes through to debug a memory leak in code running under IIS6.

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Beta 1 of Silverlight 2.0 is coming soon

Scott Guthrie announced on his blog that the first beta of Silverlight 2.0 is coming soon.  He gave an overview of what is included and linked to tutorials for a sample application.

A few things are interesting in the announcement:

  • Not only are http protocols like SOAP and RSS supported but socket based networking is also included.  This could mean that Silverlight applications have the ability to communicate with applications on the host computer via remoting.  I’ll be checking that out when the beta comes.
  • Threading will be there.
  • Local storage.  This will be big for Silverlight, in my opinion.

I think the crucial component affecting adoption by developers will be how much of WPF is available.  Scott mentioned that it will be a compatible subset.  If this subset is large enough that component vendors are able to deliver controls that work the same on standalone clients and in Silverlight, the adoption will be swift and wide.

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Abstract Base Classes and Interfaces

Phil Haack, who is working on the ASP.NET MVC project at Microsoft, posted an explanation of the choice they made to change the abstraction of HTTPContext from an interface to an abstract base class.

This topic is something I like to ask about in interviews for more senior developers who are expected to take on design work as well as development.  The answer I generally look for is something along the lines of:

Abstract base classes should be used in cases where the actual behavior is significant to the contract.

Phil goes in to much more depth here and discusses something that is also very important:  the choice between interfaces and abstract base classes is a crucial component to flexibility when it comes to versioning.

Read Phil’s post on this.  It is a good explanation of the tradeoffs involved.


White UI Testing Framework for Windows Applications

I just read this post on InfoQ written by Jay Flowers.  Jay discusses a new framework that has been released on CodePlex called White

White is a testing framework for the UI layer and supports Win32, Windows Forms, WPF, and the SWT java framework.  For those of you who may be surprised about the java framework part of SWT, I’ll let you know that this is possible because SWT is actually implemented using native UI Widgets on each platform it supports.  Since native code is being executed, I would presume any testing framework that works at the Win32 level would also work on SWT.

The thing I really like when I first look at White is the syntax and the apparent support of non standard UI controls.  The main drawback I have seen with other attempts at UI testing frameworks is that they do not easily accept controls that are not shipped with Windows Forms.

The CodePlex site has some samples and a link to a good getting started tutorial.

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Visual Studio Links #2

I changed the idea of these posts from once a week to a few times a week because the list gets a little long if I wait a week.

.NET Mass Downloader 1.2 introduces the ability to work behind a proxy server.  The post points to an article on CodePlex that shows how to get this working with Express as well.

Visual Studio Extensions for Windows Sharepoint Services 1.1 has been released.  Currently for 2005 only but 2008 should be coming this summer.

Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition Power Tools has been released.

As previously mentioned, JetBrains has started the EAP for ReSharper 4.0

This is a good article on How to Submit Problems or Bugs to Microsoft about VS that discusses alternatives to opening a case with support.

John Robbins discussed the new version of SOSEX that has been released.  SOSEX, written by Steve Johnson,  provides useful extensions to WinDBG.  Anyone who uses WinDBG quite a bit should look at this.  John’s post also points to his prior description of SOSEX, which is a good read as well.

The Visual Web Developer team blog has an overview of the tooling that will be accompanying the next release of MVC.

Nannette Thacker discusses the installation of the Ajax Control Toolkit in VS.

The Visual Web Developer team shows how to get Javascript Intellisense working with jQuery.

Maarten Balliauw shows how to use performance analysis tools in VS 2008.

ScottGu pointed out Charlie Calvert’s blog post on the Expression Tree Visualizer for LINQ.  This is very cool and is actually one of the online samples for C# in VS 2008.  I had missed this one.

Bart De Smet posted a good explanation of creating and debugging custom MSBuild tasks.

Pablo Galiano posted that a new version of the Guidance Automation Extensions has been released and now supports VS 2005 and 2008.  Software Factory goodness for the masses.

Scott Guthrie speaks on the .Net 3.5 Client Product Roadmap here.  Improved .Net Framework Setup integration with 3rd party setup products and improved cold start times are my favorites.

Not really VS specific but here is a good article on monitoring IIS application pool restarts.

If you are a college student, look here to find out how to get VS 2008 for free.

Quan To posted a few links to articles on migrating Visual Studio packages from 2005 to 2008.

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Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning?

For those having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, when you really should, maybe could give this a try. 

You have to solve a math problem correctly to get the alarm to shutoff.

Getting Free Software From Microsoft

Microsoft wants developers to write applications for Windows.  This is no secret.  What is not publicized very well, in my opinion, are the various ways that developers can get the tools they need to develop these applications for free.

Yesterday, I received my absolutely free, no strings attached, completely legal version of Visual Studio 2008 Professional via DHL.  I was given this because I showed up to the Visual Studio 2008 Installfest at the Houston .Net User’s Group just before Christmas.  For the effort of showing up, Microsoft also compensated me with all the pizza I could eat, all the Halo 3 and Guitar Hero I could play, and a tshirt.

If you missed out on this, Microsoft is having the official Visual Studio 2008 launch in a city near you coming very soon.  I know that 2008 has been out for a while now, but this is the official launch party that is combined with Server 2008 and SQLServer 2008.  I am sure they will be giving out more free stuff.  The Houston event is March 20 and I’ll be there.  You can register here for any of the scheduled cities. 

Come on, break free from your cubicle for a day.  You know you want to.


A Weekend of Websites and Marketing

This weekend was spent working on the marketing plan and website for my upcoming product, which I will start talking a lot more about in the next few weeks.  Yes, even a small company had better have a marketing plan.  Maybe not the huge formal document you are thinking of, but I believe something written down is important for no other reason than it forces you to think about marketing in detail.

Bob Walsh, author of Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality, has written a new e-book titled MicroISV Sites that Sell!.  Quite timely for me.  I obviously jumped at it and have already gone through about half the book.  At $19, the book is well worth the cost. 

The book covers mistakes that ISVs make on their sites and why they make them.  The next part covers how to refine your message for your target market.  That is as far as I’ve gone so far, but I think the book is applicable for more than just small software companies.  I think it can be useful for anyone presenting a product or service on the internet.  I plan on putting up a full review when I’m finished reading the book.

Those interested in other similar books should also check out Eric Sink On The Business Of Software.  Eric and Bob are the moderators for the Joel on Software Business of Software Forum.

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