October 2006 - Posts

MSSQLTips.com
Saturday, October 14, 2006 2:25 PM

While at the Verify 2006 Conference, I got to catch up with Jeremy Kadlec (one of our local NOVASQL User Group leaders) and found out about some of the new things that Edgewood Solutions are doing.  The Edgewood team, who are experts in Microsoft SQL Server, are now publishing a daily Microsoft SQL Server tip on their website

http://www.mssqltips.com

Some recent tips that grabbed my attention:

Our team (Thycotic) has strong SQL Server expertise but mostly on the development side – consuming these tips is an exciting opportunity to get inside the minds of the gurus who can administer, tweak and tune SQL Server to do amazing things.  Add these tips to your daily tech diet – we plan to! 

Jonathan Cogley is the CEO and founder of Thycotic Software, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC.  Thycotic Secret Server is a secure web-based solution to both "Where is my Hotmail password?" and "Who has the password for our domain name?".  Secret Server is the leader in secret management and sharing within companies and teams.

 

Upgrading memory in the Toshiba M400 Tablet PC
Saturday, October 14, 2006 1:06 PM

My new laptop is a Toshiba M400 Tablet PC – it only came with 1GB RAM which I planned to upgrade.  I ordered two 1GB sticks of M400–compatible RAM from EZ-Computer (EDGE MEMORY - PERIPHERAL KTT667D2/1G-PE 1GB PC25300 NONECC UNBUFF 200PIN DDR2 SODIMM).  When the sticks arrived, I started poking around the back of the tablet only to discover that there was no memory compartment!?  After searching around the net, I came across this awesome detailed explanation of the procedure from Toshiba – it was a little more than I bargained for but only took about 10 minutes once I got started.  You basically have to remove the keyboard to get access to the memory compartment.  I had to do a similar thing a few years back to get access to the hard drive in a VPR Matrix laptop that Best Buy used to sell.

I took a few pictures to help out anyone else going through the same process …

M400_1_s

I started by unclipping the keyboard holder from one side and remove it to get access to the screws for the keyboard.

M400_2_s

Removed the screws then folded the keyboard over.

M400_3_s

Now we can see the memory compartment, remove the screws on the left of it.

M400_4_s

Now simply replace the memory sticks.

Anyone want to buy two 512MB sticks?

Look out for a post soon about my experiences using the tablet for managing and building software.

Jonathan Cogley is the CEO and founder of Thycotic Software, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC.  Thycotic Secret Server is a secure web-based solution to both "Where is my Hotmail password?" and "Who has the password for our domain name?".  Secret Server is the leader in secret management and sharing within companies and teams.

 

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Verify 2006 Conference : Review
Thursday, October 12, 2006 9:39 AM

There was a good turnout for the Verify 2006 Conference especially since it is the very first year of the conference.  The attendees were typically software testers or software development managers.  There weren’t many developers so the Thycotic crew was a little out of our comfort zone but they were a great bunch to pitch on our Secret Server product.

One of the hardest parts when building an ‘off the shelf’ product is understanding the customers needs – because there is usually not one person you can call on to clarify a requirement (as is often the case in custom development for a client).  This conference was our first customer engagement opportunity to see what people think of our products face to face and understand how we can tailor our products to solve their daily pains.  The Thycotic booth was positioned right by the registration desk in the hallway which meant that all the attendees walked past us at some point!

Verify2006

(Shiva is featured in the picture working away on some new functionality for thycotic.com)

Unfortunately we didn’t get much direction for new features in the product but we did get to vindicate our decisions on current features - most attendees found the system useful and easy to understand.  It was also a good testing ground for understanding which aspects of the system were most appealing to users which should help in tuning our current online marketing efforts.

I spoke this morning at 11am on “Pair Programming” – a mainstay practice for the Thycotic team.  The session walked through the benefits, then a hands-on demo with Math problems and wraps up with best practices and practical issues such as configuration and setup of your team workspace.  The turnout for my session was small but I was speaking to a new crowd (non .NET) and “Pair Programming” might be a stretch for the typical Quality Assurance person to bite off on.

 

Jonathan Cogley is the CEO and founder of Thycotic Software, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC.  Thycotic Secret Server is a secure web-based solution to both "Where is my Hotmail password?" and "Who has the password for our domain name?".  Secret Server is the leader in secret management and sharing within companies and teams.

 

Verify 2006 Conference: Day One (arrived)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 10:51 AM

Thycotic is sponsoring our first ever vendor booth at the Verify 2006 Conference in Crystal City, VA (Washington DC Metro Area).  The conference is all about testing, testing frameworks and tools but from a quality assurance and developer perspective.  Thycotic is well versed in testing since we practice Test Driven Development and use NUnit and NUnitAsp every day!

The morning started well with Shiva and I meeting at the office at 6am to get some promotional items and one of the workstations with the big 19” screens.  We arrived at the Crown Plaza Hotel and started setting up only to realize that we forgot our Microsoft Gold Certified banner and one of the analog monitor cables.

We are showcasing two Thycotic products at the conference:

  • Secret Server – the web-based encrypted database to store all your passwords and sensitive items and then securely share them with colleagues and/or family members.
  • MyClockWatcher – web-based time tracking for billable professionals – ideal for teams from 1–10 people.  It is optimized for easy entry of time all day.

If you are in the area (or at the conference), stop by and say “hi” or come along to talk about NUnit, WATIR or WatiN or whatever else rocks your testing boat.

 

Jonathan Cogley is the CEO and founder of Thycotic Software, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC.  Thycotic has just released Thycotic Secret Server which is a secure web-based solution to both "Where is my Hotmail password?" and "Who has the password for our domain name?".  Secret Server is the leader in secret management and sharing within companies and teams.

Richmond Code Camp 2 : review
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 10:16 AM

At 5:00am on Saturday morning, I headed in to downtown DC to get some prizes and a few books from the Thycotic office.  Then off to collect Ryan Olshan at 5:30, and John Morales at 5:45.  We hit 95 and headed south for Richmond.  The drive was uneventful with most of us still in pre-coffee haze and Bob Marley playing.  We got to the Code Camp at the ECPI center well before the kickoff time and claimed our hard earned coffee and bagels (outstanding cream cheese from Panera!).

The turn out was good – over a 100 people I think.  I started with a session by Joe Waldin on VSTO – I had tried downloading the new beta of VSTO and had problems getting a sample add-in to compile.  Joe worked through all the quirks and gave some great tips and advise for deployment.  It sounds like Microsoft has made huge progress on the ease with which add-ins can be developed but still have a few wrinkles to iron out on the deployment process.  Next up was a Podcasting session by Frank La Vigne (Tablet PC MVP) – we have recently been videotaping a series of Thycotic development team presentations and the idea of a podcast to share some of the public stuff had come up.  Frank walked through the tools and tricks of recording your own podcast and also got into the gory details of the XML to publish your feed.  Look for an initial Thycotic team podcast soon …

Now it was my turn, my session was titled simply “Refactoring”.  I went slideless during the last Code Camp in Reston and had so much fun that I wanted to do it again.  First problem, the projector didn’t work – not expected at all since I was not the first session of the day!  I walked through the introduction to Refactoring where I used Bob Martin’s explanation about “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and explain that software can be considered broken if it doesn’t meet all 3 requirements:

  • it works (hopefully this means that your unit tests pass)
  • it is easy to change
  • it is easy to read and communicates its purpose clearly

Next we jumped into the code and used Bryant Smith’s (another Thycotic team member) C# conversion of Martin Fowler’s refactoring example.  This involved Movies, Rentals, Customers and a nasty looking Statement method.  Lots of discussion occurred including why static methods are often a bad idea and how data and operation should be related.

Next was John’s session on “ASP.NET Performance Tuning”.  This is something close to John’s heart as he really likes to get in there and tweak away whenever possible but he has a method! (standard best practices for Performance Tuning … measure, measure, measure!) and the tools to support it.  John used Application Center Test to produce a repeatable test to produce load and get some timing numbers for some simple tasks in the web application.  After finding the slow points in the application (the application under test was our very own Secret Server), he pulled out DotTrace 2.0 from JetBrains and showed how to drill down into the problem area.  John had made some initial guesses as to the cause of the slowdown but then showed through careful measurement and profiling that the cause was something else!  Veterans of Performance Tuning will be smiling right now – it is very common to find that your guess is completely and totally wrong.  This was John’s first solo session at a Code Camp and he did a great job both with his pace through the material and engaging with the audience.

Last up was my session on “Web Application Testing ASP.NET with NUnitAsp and WATIR (and even WatiN!)” which was a hands on coding session playing with all 3 tools and talking about best practices.  We also talked through the contrast in testing techniques since NUnitAsp tests at the HTTP level whereas WATIR and Watin use Internet Explorer automation.   In the age of AJAX and sophisticated Javascript this is a big plus (NUnitAsp cannot test Javascript).  The WatiN framework was a happy surprise when John IM’ed me about it at 11pm on Friday (yes, the night before).  It is the equivalent of the WATIR framework but for .NET … why is this cool?

  • All our existing tools work with it (TestDriven.NET, NUnitGui, Build scripts)
  • The developer team doesn’t have to learn a new language (no matter how much fun that might be!)
  • <flameretardant>It also seemed to execute much faster than WATIR!</flameretardant>

I hope to post more about Watin as we experiment with it.  We have a HUGE amount of testing code in NUnitAsp so a migration is probably out of the question but it would be fun to try it on new work. 

Jonathan Cogley is the CEO and founder of Thycotic Software, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC.  Thycotic has just released Thycotic Secret Server which is a secure web-based solution to both "Where is my Hotmail password?" and "Who has the password for our domain name?".  Secret Server is the leader in secret management and sharing within companies and teams.

Speaking at Richmond Code Camp tomorrow
Friday, October 6, 2006 10:57 PM

I will be presenting two sessions at the Richmond Code Camp tomorrow:

  • Refactoring
    This will be a walkthrough of the Martin Fowler example but in C# (thanks to our very own, Bryant Smith who converted it to C# some time back).  We will also get in to why, when and how to refactor.
  • Unit Testing ASP.NET with NUnitAsp and WATIR
    Our team excels with NUnitAsp – we use it daily on all our projects and this session will highlight our tips and tricks.  The smaller section on WATIR is very new and is designed to showcase an alternative to NUnitAsp – this is something which I have far less experience but hope to put on a good show anyway!  John Morales on the Thycotic team just pointed me towards WatiN tonight which looks very interesting and I will try to spin up an example in this too.

John will be presenting on Performance tuning ASP.NET Applications and Ryan will be coming along for the ride and to possibly fill in for a session if one comes up.  We will all be wearing bright green Thycotic shirts so watch out for us and come to our sessions to win lots of great stuff:

  • Thycotic notepads and pens
  • 10 user license to Secret Server in each session

See you there!  Oh yeah, and there will be NO SLIDES, JUST CODE.

Jonathan Cogley is the CEO and founder of Thycotic Software, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC.  Thycotic has just released Thycotic Secret Server which is a secure web-based solution to both "Where is my Hotmail password?" and "Who has the password for our domain name?".  Secret Server is the leader in secret management and sharing within companies and teams.

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