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

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

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



Download Presenation

Working with REST or SOAP APIs via HTTP can be deceptive in .NET.

If you don’t know these details, you can cripple your performance and have no idea why.

Happy New Year 2015

2015 has formally arrived.

The New Year is always a good time to stop and reflect on yourself, your industry, and your career.

In 2014 I decided to change jobs and accepted a position with Sage Software. So far I’m really enjoying the work
as well as the people I’m working with.

Most of my time thus far has been spent working with Microsoft’s Azure, specifically Service Bus. It has been
refreshing to work almost exclusively in C# for a while.

Top News Of 2014

Well, top news for developers who work with Microsoft technologies…

The big news has to be the open sourcing of much of .Net and the release of
the community edition of Visual Studio.

Only time will tell if Microsoft’s new strategy will pay off, but I’m hopeful it will.

Visual Studio Community

For a long time the price of Visual Studio made it a barrier to entry into the Microsoft ecosystem. The free Express editions
were at best a cruel joke.

The new Community Edition seems to be the equivalent of the Professional Edition. The restrictions only kick in if you
pass 5 developers. Naturally it isn’t exactly that simple. It’s 5 developers if you are a “non-enterprise” company…

.Net Open Source

Big wow on this one. Not only will much of the source code be open, there will be official versions for Linux and Mac.

I believe we can thank Azure for this one.

Since 20% of the VMs running in Azure are Linux, Microsoft couldn’t avoid the reality that it was time to attract new
developers or lose relevance to anyone under 40…

Cross Platform

For the first time when Microsoft says they have a cross platform strategy, they don’t just mean Windows AND Windows Phone.

In addition to .Net on Linux and Mac, Microsoft has two options for writing mobile apps that target Android and iOS.

The first is a C# centric approach via their partnership with Xamarin.

The second is an HTML/JavaScript approach via Cordova, the open source Apache project that is the foundation of
Adobe’s PhoneGap.

I’ve only peeked at these so far, but I’m pretty excited with what I’ve seen.

Break With The Web Forms Past

The other big open source development from Redmond has been the next version of ASP.

For the first time, the split between the older Web Forms and the newer MVC and Web API will be complete.

Web Forms will be an island that does not share a code base with the rest of ASP.Net.

I’ve played with the new bits some and although I like the new direction, I expect some vocal backlash from
the .Net community.

Entity Framework Code First ONLY

This will likely cause some wailing and gnashing of teeth.

With EF 7 the code first approach will be the only approach.

I don’t have a strong feeling on this one personally. I haven’t really had a great relationship with EF, and
mostly write ADO.Net code myself rather than rely on EF. (Shh. Don’t tell anyone I said that!)

Personal Plans

I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store at the moment.

There are so many really cool things I could play with that I’m not sure where to put my spare time.

At a high level I’m waffling between web and mobile play projects.

On the web side, I’m toying with writing a .Net static blog generator to replace the DocPad I currently use.

Nothing against DocPad, but I prefer working with C# over JavaScript.

I really want to spend some time with the new ASP MVC on Linux. For some reason that just sounds super
fun to me.

On the mobile side, I’d love to experiment with both the Cordova and Xamarin approaches in Visual Studio.

Finally I’d like to try my hand at screencasts. I got a cool Blue Yeti microphone for Christmas with plans of spending this
week producing a beginner’s series on SQL. Naturally I got the flu for Christmas as well and haven’t been able to
speak without coughing…

If you want to see my first attempt at a screencast (prior to the new microphone), check
out Formatted JSon In Notepad++ Video Tutorial.

Best Wishes!

Here’s hoping 2015 is a great year for everyone!