End of an Era

If Old Yeller were a cloud service.

To understand my weekend, you have to imagine the story of Old Yeller, but instead of a beloved dog like the adorable one in this picture, substitute a cloud hosting service.

You still with me? Getting all teary just thinking about it?

For the record my websites, pets, family and friends are all just fine, but my websites have a new home.

Microsoft's BizSpark program is an excellent choice for scrappy start-ups with a great idea who need first rate development tools and world class cloud services.

Three years ago, I thought I might pull just such a start-up off.

Three years later, I'm pretty confident that I didn't.

Not only did I not make enough to "quit my day job", I didn't make enough to "pay for my Azure Account" and barely enough to "buy dinner out for my family once."

Therein lies the rub.

I actually realized during the first six months, that bootstrapping a start-up while working a demanding full-time job wasn't likely to happen.

My brief foray into the Windows Marketplace much like my foray into the Windows Phone Marketplace, convinced me that I am not very good at picking marketplaces.

I definitely enjoyed the Azure credits and came to love what were called Azure Web Sites and are now called Application Services.

The ability to host mulitple sites very simply and robustly is quite appealing.

Like the old "Good, Cheap, Fast: pick any two" saying, I found that although I love the service, I do not love the price once the artificial BizSpark price of $0 goes away.

Over the past couple of months I've migrated all my sites over to a Linux VPS at DigitalOcean, so shutting down my Azure account was mostly symobolic.

Old Yeller symbolic, just without the beloved dog part.

Going through the motions of shutting down the account was definitely a bit melancholy, but it has helped me clarify some thoughts.

  1. I'm not likely to come up with a big idea that spawns a successful start-up
  2. I actually like my day job (which includes much Azure work)
  3. Azure is not suited to the "one man band side project"
  4. Linux servers are cheaper even on Azure
  5. NGINX, git and static site generators rock for content sites
  6. I think way too much about these things...

So that pretty much sums up my weekend of giving my Azure account the Old Yeller treatment.

The somewhat awkward thing about my melancholy, is that my websites on the Digital Ocean VPS with SSD drives are actually quite a bit faster than they were on Azure. Yes I'll miss the Azure Web Services, but the Linux VPS is mighty nice.

First Look At Visual Studio Code

Check out the video preview I made of the new Visual Studio Code. I published the video back at the first of June, so there have been a couple of updates since then.

Overall I really like this editor.

I'm very happy to see Microsoft releasing quality software that works on Mac and Linux!

It is still an alpha product to be sure, but it shows great promise.

In my opinion the steps Microsoft needs to take to make this a success are:

  1. Open source it
  2. Make creating plug-ins easy
  3. Encourage community contributions

I'm quite surprised they didn't release it as an open source project from the get-go.

The list of projects and products Microsoft is releasing as open source is growing. To me Code is a natural. The fact that it is almost all JavaScript means that the code isn't hidden, so it's not like they are keeping something secret.

A programmer's text editor lives or dies by its community and their contributions. No one company, not even Microsoft, can add in all the esoteric little features that make a text editor great. Those have to come from motivated users hacking on the tool they love.

Microsoft have provided a great base that could grow into fantastic ecosystem if they nurture it properly.

Code is a combination of four things:

  1. GitHub's Electron
  2. Chrome's Chromium (open source bits of Chrome)
  3. Microsoft's JavaScript based Monaco code editor
  4. Node.js

Electron is a cool technology that consists of Mac, Windows and Linux native wrappers around a web component. Essentially web apps in a shell.

If you like cheesy tech jokes, the name Electron was chosen because it is the shell around GitHub's Atom processor. Atom. Electron. Shell. sigh.

Check out my video, and check out Microsoft's Code.

I need to make a video about Atom as well. It is similar, but much more complete at this point with a rich ecosystem of plug-ins. In other words, check Atom out as well.

ASP 5: Getting Started Workshop

ASP 5 Workshop Cover Image
Download Presenation

This was the first time I've given two talks in the same week. Whew!

On Monday, July 6, 2015 I spoke at the Windows App Developer group at the Microsoft office in Alpharetta.

On Thursday, July 9, 2015 I spoke to my group GGMUG (Gwinnett, Georgia Microsoft User Group).

I tried to make the talks be two sides of the same coin.

On Monday I tried to emphasize the bits that have not changed, and on Thursday I tried to show the things that have changed.

For the Monday talk I stayed in Windows and Visual Studio, but for Thursday I did my samples in Ubuntu Linux and a combination of the text editors Atom from GitHub and Code from Microsoft.

I'm afraid that the Monday talk suffered from the fact that the big differences in ASP 5 and the current version of MVC are all in the "getting started" stage.

That made it kind of hard to get everyone to the comfortable stage in one session.

I enjoyed the talks, and I hope the attendees did too.

If you follow along with the workshop portion at the end of the presentation, let me know how it goes.

You can check out the sample project I reference on GitHub at WinPHoneSpotter01.

This version works in Visual Studio 2015 with ASP 5 beta 4.