Ruminations of an Application Simian
It’s been many years since the Cincinnati-Dayton Code Camp. The event got merged into the Central Ohio Day of .NET and when that event moved North to Columbus we didn’t move along with it. The Cincinnati .NET User group has revived the code camp and is hosting the Southwest Ohio Code Camp on Saturday, December 7th. There are still tickets and you have until Dec 1st to register.
Here’s the tentative schedule:
Creating Single Page Applications with AngularJS and ASP.NET MVC 4 Web API (Brian Woodward)
How I Learned to Love Dependency Injection (James Bender)
Diversified ASP.Net - One Web Project - 4 ASP.Net Frameworks (Jeff Fritz)
AOP for You and Me (Matt Groves)
Mobile ASP.Net Web Forms - Making the impossible possible (Jeff Fritz)
The class that knew too much: refactoring spaghetti code (Matt Groves)
Introduction to HTML5 (Sam Nasr)
Git your .NET on! (James Bender)
Cloud: It's More than Virtual Machines (Mike Wood)
Infrastructure Automation via Chef and Vagrant (Adam Kunk)
Dependable Cloud Architecture (Mike Wood)
I’m especially looking forward to Brian Woodward’s talk on AngularJS and single page applications.
The cost is $10 to cover food, which is really, really cheap for continuous learning.
In addition to the code camp there is a Day of Agile on the Friday beforehand. You can register for that event at the same link.
It’s that time of year again when things very busy. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, award ceremonies at schools, projects are due, and life just seems to need everything crammed into the smallest time frame as possible before the new year. I wish I could say that I’ve got an answer to all that stress, but in fact, I’m going to add one more thing you can tack into your calendar for December: A game Day!
When: Sunday, December 15th, 2013 – 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM
Where: The Microsoft Office in Mason, OH - 4605 Duke Drive, Suite 800, Mason, OH 45040
What: Board games and frivolity
Come and reduce some of your stress by having fun with other like-minded geeks and their families.
The Windows Azure Virtual Machines (WAVM) feature uses the BLOB storage service to store the actual VHDs for the guest virtual machines. The OS disk and any attached data disks are basically giant Page Blob files stored in your Windows Azure storage account.
When the WAVM feature was first announced someone immediately asked the question, “If I have an 100 GB data Disk VHD file in my storage account, but it’s only got 20 GB of space used am I charged for all 100 GB?” This was a good question and the answer was a “No, but…”. Only fixed sized VHDs are supported in Windows Azure; however, the storage system supports sparse files, so if only 20 GB of space was used on the VHD then you were only charged for that 20 GB.
That’s great, but note that if you then added another 30 GB of data and promptly deleted say 40 GB you would be charged 50 GB of storage. This is because the VHDs worked like any other hard drive and even though you delete the data the actual pages aren’t really removed (which is why things like undelete work and why we have tools like Kill Disk to completely erase disks on our local hard drives).
The great news is that a change has been released so that Windows Azure VMs for some Windows OSs now support TRIM-like functionality! A TRIM command to a Solid State Drive is a way for the OS to tell the drive that blocks of data are no longer valid and can be removed. This type of functionality is now built in to some of the Windows Servers available in Windows Azure. Basically the OS tells the Storage system that certain pages are no longer valid and they are removed (just like in the SSD TRIM commands). Note that this works for deleted files, not files that simply changed in size. The best thing is that this just happens for you behind the scenes and since it is dealt with at the Host level you are likely already enjoying the benefit of this feature.
The Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 virtual machines completely support the TRIM like command for all disks (OS and Data). The Windows Server 2008 R2 based virtual machines only has this support for the OS disk (which is due to the older OS supporting TRIM only on SATA disks and not SCSI which the data disks appear to the OS as). They are looking at ways of incorporating the same functionality for the Linux based OSs available on Windows Azure, but there are apparently commands that can be used to force this type of operation on Linux manually (I’m not a Linux expert so I won’t be expanding on that).
This is actually a really great feature. There’s nothing like doing nothing special and saving money while doing it.
Today has shaped up to be awesome for me. First off, I started at Cerebrata (Red Gate) as a Product Evangelist. This role is something I’ve been excited about since a side conversation almost a year ago even brought up the possibility. Most of today was spent roaming the halls of Red Gate (digitally since I’m working remote), meeting new folks over email, seeing the internal communications and trying to get my bearings of all the resources. Just in what I’ve seen so far I’m incredibly happy I’ve gotten this opportunity. There is still a ton more to dig into and my @work list is growing steadily.
While I was Skyping with my new colleagues I received an email from Microsoft informing me that I’ve been awarded a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for my community contributions around Windows Azure in 2013! It’s always nice to be recognized, but I’m mostly happy that my contributions have been helpful for people learning Windows Azure. I find the technology and platform fascinating (otherwise I wouldn’t have the new job I have) and I enjoy sharing some of that interest with anyone who wants to learn.
All this and I still have some more work, my son’s soccer practice and cub scouts to go. I’m going to be exhausted today.
A week ago today I was on my way home from an awesome trip in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a short trip (just five days, two of which was mostly spent traveling), but I was able to get three great achievements in (still a long way from catching up with Brian).
Achievement Unlocked: Swedish Meatballs
The first achievement was just visiting Sweden itself. I’ve been out of the country a few time, but only once before had I gone across the “pond”. Awesome is about the only word I can come up with to describe it. The city was a great mix of new and old.
A few weeks before I went I happened to see a Bing image of the Rådhuset station and as it turns out that was the station we were using most. The metro stops on the Blue line were all decorated slightly differently, but all have the feel of being carved out of rock. A comment made on twitter actually had the photographer, Alexander Dragunov, of the Bing image chiming in. Check out his tribute book to the underground of Stockholm.
On Saturday the core Global Windows Azure Boot Camp team met to discuss vNext of the event while traveling by boat amoung the archipelagos around Stockholm. There are about 30,000 islands and islets in the group (according to Wikipedia) and it was a great way to relax and talk about what’s next for the event.
That evening we went to Gamla Stan (the old town) to have dinner, and yes I had traditional Swedish meatballs. The food was great, but the company was better. The entire trip couldn’t have been better (well, if wormhole or transporter technology was involved it might have been improved).
Make sure you add Sweden to your list of places to visit.
Achievement Unlocked: International Man of Speaking
The real reason I traveled to Sweden was to attend and speak at the 2013 Cloud Burst conference! This was the second year for the conference and it has grown quite well very quickly. There were about 150 local attendees, but they were also streaming online and had an additional 372 unique online viewers over the course of the two days of the conference. At any given time there were about 80-100 online viewers which was really cool.
I have to say hats off to Magnus and Alan who organized the conference. The Microsoft facility in Akalla (a suburb of Stockholm) was excellent with a great stage and theatre seating. They picked out a great location and brought in some really, really good speakers: Maarten Balliauw (Blog | @maartenballiauw), Mark Brown (Blog | @markjbrown), Andy Cross (Blog | @andybareweb), Patriek van Dorp (Blog | @pvandorp), Björn Eriksen (Blog | @bjorn_eriksen), Scott Klein (Blog | @SQLScott), Magnus Mårtensson (Blog | @noopman), Mike Martin (Blog | @TechMike2kX), David Rodriguez (Blog | @davidjrh), Alan Smith (Blog | @alansmith), Sam Vanhoutte (Blog | @SamVanhoutte) and myself (still not sure how I snuck on this list). Also Teemu Tapanila and Karl Ots were over from Finland for the conference and I had a chance to meet Teemu who helped out a great deal on the first Global Windows Azure Boot Camp.
I met many really enthusiastic attendees (hey Luis!) who were all there to learn more about Azure. Owing to how far Windows Azure has come in the last several years almost everyone there was actively using the platform and many were looking for information beyond the introductory level. Between the sessions I spoke with several folks and met people from all over. It seems Sweden has a magnetic quality to it in that people come and then want to stay to work there.
This was my first International speaking opportunity and so I can add “International Speaker” to my list of achievements. Thanks Magnus and Alan!
Achievement Unlocked: Niner
And the last achievement was that all the presentations from the event have been posted to Channel 9! So, for those of you on this side of the planet that were asleep while most of the conference was occurring, or if you just happened to miss it for other reasons you can watch all the sessions online. Now I’m also a speaker on Channel 9. I spoke on Dependable Cloud Architecture, which was a condensed talk from the CodeMash workshop I did with Brent Stineman.
It was a great trip and I can’t thank Alan and Magnus enough for the opportunity.
Yesterday I packed up my belongings at Resurgent and said good bye to the great folks there. It’s funny what you gather up over the years at a location and I brought home a bag full of memories. But now it is time to start new memories.
I’m very happy to announce that as of October 1st I’ll be a Product Evangelist for Cerebrata!
Several years ago Gaurav Mantri, a fellow Windows Azure MVP, created Cloud Storage Studio, then also produced Azure Diagnostics Manager and some Windows Azure related PowerShell CmdLets. These development and management tools were some of the few options out there in the early days of Windows Azure and their popularity just took off. This eventually caught the eye of Red Gate Software and Cerebrata was purchased by Red Gate about two years ago. The two tools have since been merged into a single tool, Azure Management Studio, which is the main product that I will be working with.
Technically, I’ll be a Red Gate employee working on the Cerebrata Team; however, I’m sure I’ll also be getting familiar with the many tools that Red Gate offers. I’ll be a remote team member as I don’t have to move from the Cincinnati area. Several times a year I’ll be visiting the product team over in Cambridge, UK and making numerous trips to conferences and events around the US, but for the most part I’ll be working out of my house.
I’m very excited about this new chapter in my career. I’m looking forward to working with Luke Jefferson, Matt Dickens and rest of the Cerebrata team to help work on tools that I personally use already. Look for more articles from me on Simple-Talk in the cloud computing category, as well as other places around the web. I’ll be creating screen casts for Azure Management Studio and will be blogging about new Windows Azure features in addition to continuing to talk about Windows Azure at events and conferences.
So, here’s to the next chapter.
"All changes are more or less tinged
with melancholy, for what we are
leaving behind is part of ourselves."
- Ameila Barr
Today is my last day at Resurgent Capital Services. I found the quote above recently and it is certainly the case in this situation. I’m very excited for the next opportunity I’m moving on to, but I can’t help but be saddened by the group of people I’m leaving. In one way or another I’ve worked with many of them for almost nine years. That’s a lot of time to build friendships and connections to some hard working, fun-loving folks.
There have been lots of changes to the company over time, both in terms of new people and those that have moved on, as well as approach to how things are run. The company became more agile over the last few years and continues to attempt to improve on things. If anything, the group is always trying to make things better. Like all companies that pursue improvement, some decisions work out and others need further refinement. It’s been a fun process and I think they are making good progress.
I’m not leaving because of any bad decisions that were made, or that people there are hard to deal with; basically, if this new opportunity hadn’t been something I’d wanted for years I would not be leaving at all. For those with a little drive and willingness to put forth effort, Resurgent is an excellent employer.
I’ll miss the random Geek T-Shirt Friday, the hallway discussions and, most of all, the folks I’ve grown to know well over these last many years.
PS- I’ll be blogging about what’s next soon.
My Choice talk from the KalamazooX Conference has been posted to vimeo if you are interested. Here is the abstract:
“We make countless choices each day with differing levels of impact on our lives. Sometimes choices are easy, and other times we hide from the choices we know we must make. What type of algorithm should you use for a particular problem? What do you eat for lunch (and do you tweet about it)? Should you change your career?
Wayne Dyer, an author and motivation speaker, is quoted as saying, “Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.” I’d like to share some of the choices I’ve made and lessons I have learned from them. In essence I’d like to share a bit of my life with you.”
By my own mistake I didn’t start up Camtasia when I started my talk so they didn’t get the mixture of my slides put the audio like they wanted. Some of the slides ended up washed out to where you couldn’t see the text on them in the video. Here is a link to my Choice talk slides on SlideShare which you can follow along with on the video if you’d like.
On September 19th & 20th the CloudBurst conference will be held in Stockholm Sweden! Before you stop reading because you don’t plan on traveling to Sweden, note that they will be streaming the material live as well. They are even putting on a Business Track in conjunction with Microsoft Sweden.
From the event website:
“The event features two days of sessions from Windows Azure community and industry leaders and provides real-world content for Windows Azure developers and those wanting to explore the platform. The focus will be on developing Windows Azure applications and real-world cloud-based solutions. After the sessions on Thursday there will be a chance to chat the presenters and other attendees. All sessions at CloudBurst are presented in English.”
There are some really great speakers that have been asked to travel from all over to share their experiences. The speakers are well known names when it comes to Windows Azure and Cloud Computing (then, somehow I’m on that list, of which I’m both honored and not sure if they know what they have gotten themselves into).
I’m looking forward to the experience and would highly recommend checking out the schedule to see if there are any of the sessions you’d like to catch live.