free geoip October 2006 - Jayson's Blog -
A conduit to the voices inside my head.

October 2006 - Jayson's Blog

  • Community Server 2.1 Service Pack 1 Released

    As was announced over in the forums yesterday, Telligent has released Service Pack 1 for CS 2.1.  A list of fixes/enhancements as well as download and installation instructions is located here (you can choose to only download the SP itself, or an complete installation of CS2.1 with SP1 included).  I have updated most of my sites (including this one) with no issues.  Of course if you've modified any of the core CS code you'll need to run a diff on those files and download the SP1 SDK so you can modify the appropriate code.

  • jaysonBlog Turns Three

    I cannot believe it's been 3 years since I first decided to build my own blogging engine as a coding exercise one lonely night back in 2003, and here I am still pounding away at the keyboard in an attempt to keep my 5 loyal readers somewhat entertained.  The most notable thing that happened to my site was that traffic congestion finally forced me to move it off my home network and over to a real hosting solution.  Site content also noticeably started going more towards the Community Server end of the spectrum, as well as just branching out into general technology related posts (among others).

    I still read most of the core technology blogs I started reading 3 year ago, and one thing I've noticed over time is that most of us (in one way or another) found more of a focus for topics we post about; in a sense we've all kind of grown up and found our specific voices.  Three years ago, the whole .Net framework thing was still relatively new, so most of us were plugging away with topics like stack vs heap types, or cache vs session, or the differences between httpModules and httpHandlers, etc.  As we've all grown familiar with the intricacies of .Net, I've seen a shift towards less code oriented posts, and more towards design and conceptual topics.  Reading code-centric posts is still great, but most of us who hopped on .Net early on are beyond that now, which bodes well for the future of the framework in my opinion.  Of course the big bad buzzwords of the past year have been SOA, AJAX, Scrum/Agile/Unit Testing/etc, which also shows the overall maturation of programming within the .Net realm.  How buzzworthy these will be in another year remains to be seen, but it's great to see stuff like this popping up.

    Whereas the first 2 years of me blogging were more about getting into blogging (and technology) itself, this past year has been more about honing in on the community aspect of the web...hence my involvement in Community Server.  Through posting over on the CS forums, participating on internal CS email threads, and getting more involved in the CS MVP program I've met some great folks who've really inspired me, namely ScottW, Gary, J-O, Keyvan, Rick, Rich, Nick, Jaxon, Thommi, Trefry, Burke, Ben, Jose, Ken, et al.  I'm a firm believer that you can't get better at what you do without hanging out with folks who do it better.

    From a personal standpoint (and as regular readers of this blog already know), the past year has been an absolute rollercoaster.  Things went from bad, to worse, to almost unbearable...perseverance has paid off and things are most definitely on the up and up though.  As I've said before, it's easy to get caught up in the minutiae of life and get sidetracked from things needing more attention (well, easy for me at least).  Before you know it a year has passed and you're left scratching your head saying "what the fuck happened?"  C'est la vie, and at least I was fortunate enough to have people around me who cared enough to kick my ass back into reality.  And at the very least it kept life interesting :-).

    Regardless (which seems to be my favorite word lately), here's hoping the coming year is a good one...if the past couple of months are any indication of things to come, it should be.

  • Bon Voyage Weblogs.Asp.Net Feed

    During my last round of Rss feed pruning, I finally deleted (it's been a long time coming).  Too many of the following:

    • Duplicate posts about the same news item.
    • Posts linking to other posts on essentially saying "yeah me too" or "so-and-so posted about the following."
    • Posts that are locale specific (i.e. speaker in blah part of the country type stuff).
    • AJAX related fluff posts.

    I'd say out of 20 posts, maybe 1 of them actually piques any interest from me anymore.  Nothing against the bloggers who are aggregated over there, but it's run its course...for me at least.  I'm individually subscribed to a handful of bloggers from there that I'll continue to read.  I'm also down to under 100 feeds I read on a regular basis.

  • Scam Update -- Final Chapter (And Other Stuff)

    One of those sleepless nights, and I realized I never did really sew up what happened with all the scam BS that happened a few months ago.  In short, nothing really happened.  My bank A) transferred most of the funds I had lost into my savings account and B) allowed me to cash it all out.  I appreciate the donations that came in (which in hindsite I realize was a pretty tacky thing to ask for, but hey...desperate times call for desperate measures) and have paid most of them back.  Outstanding invoices were paid and I was able to liquefy some other assets so all is well that ends well; this post closes my mini-series on this topic (thank god).

    Needless to say I'm living cash only (i.e. no checking/savings) for the time being out of sheer paranoia, and when I do decide to reopen a bank account it will be with a different former bank has been nothing short of a total PITA throughout the whole ordeal.  PayPal has long since been canceled, as well as eBay (I will never ever ever use either of those again, they made my bank look like a bunch of saints), no less than 20+ passwords have been changed (or accounts canceled)...I did everything short of changing my SSN.  "Officially" speaking, the case is closed...I got some money back, the crooks got away with it...just another statistic to be filed away as caveat emptor.

    The transition from home office back to corporate IT world hasn't been as smooth as I'd's taking forever.  Apparently somewhere over the past couple of years outside of corporate IT I became "Sr. Developer" worthy (at least that's what the headhunting firms consider me...personally I despise titles) which entitles me to a better salary, but also limits the job options.  What's crazy is that a few of the firms won't even consider me for mid-level stuff which a month ago was fine, but at this point I just want to get back to work.  Headhunting firms are great, but in the end they want their slice of the pie as well...if they can market someone at a higher payrate, they make more is business, and I get caught in the crossfire.  I'm also wary of taking long term contracts (or anything fulltime) as I've committed to MS should they offer me a position.  What's even crazier is that I've already had the rug pulled out from under me on one position because they read my blog and saw that I was screening with MS, something to the effect of "you should have told us where you were at in the process with other firms" though they didn't come out and say that they garnered that info from my blog (saying so would be illegal), however my log files indicate otherwise!  So the whole blog-as-a-resume thing can work both ways; can help you get noticed by firms, but being too candid can backfire.  Will that stop me from being candid?  Absolutely not, it's probably not a firm I would have wanted to do business with anyway.

    This does however bring up an interesting conundrum: During my interview process with Microsoft I am somewhat unmarketable to other firms desiring a long term engagement, unless I willingly take an offer I know I might not be able to complete (Charlotte is small, and burning bridges is not advised as all these guys play golf together or whatnot).  Most firms ask upfront where you're at with other companies, and when they hear "interviewing with MS" they pretty much put you in a holding pattern.  Sad but true.  I also don't make a habit of lying.

    So blah blah blah, the answer is simple enough: I'll take a part time gig somewhere to get off my idle ass, which will also leave me enough time to still put plenty of effort into getting reintegrated into IT'dom.  I even thought about taking on some more CS work, but dismissed it...I had my go at it, what's done is done.

    It's been an interesting year, and it's one I'll be happy to see roll on into 2007 and fade into oblivion.  I think the worst is behind me...and it was just in time.

  • Some More Microsoft Updates

    I'm a little late posting about the most recent Microsoft news, but have been attempting to wait some things out so I can consolidate it all in one post.  In a nutshell, I did not get the position with the specific group I interviewed with down in Dallas.  I did however get some incredibly good feedback from that team, and they've given me their full support (an endorsement of sorts) to a couple other teams within Microsoft that they think I'd be a better fit for.  Once again I can't really get into many details other than the teams I've been forwarded on to are more on the proactive side of the spectrum, i.e. they design and implement solutions moreso than supporting and maintaining them.  I will divulge more details as they present themselves, but things are still looking promising.

  • Visual Studio 2005 // TODO

    Note to self:  Continue to use Class View over Solution Explorer on all projects in the very near future...this has been on my todo list for a while now and I keep forgetting about it.  Class View beats the snot out of Solution Explorer hands down.

  • Some New Software Releases

    The past 2 days have been chock full of new software releases...these 3 are the most significant for me:

    1. Windows Defender has gone gold for Windows XP and Windows 2003.  Maybe now I can finally ditch Norton, though I do like SpeedDisk.
    2. Fedora Core 6 has finally been released (as of now only some of the Asian mirrors have it, but it will be widely available later on today), which is the only *nix distro I've ever even remotely gotten along with.  I cannot get it to install in Virtual PC though (getting a kernel soft crash exception).  As is the norm, it comes in both i386 and x64 builds, and ships with mono preinstalled.
    3. Firefox 2.0 has been posted to Mozilla's FTP site (sometimes generates 521: Too Many Users errors).  98% of my extensions were incompatible; you can reinstall 1.5.x over the 2.0 release to "undo" it, i.e. revert back to looks like it'll be a while before I upgrade because of the incompatibilities, I wish there was a standalone upgrade advisor that could be run to check on that first.

    So now I just have to sit back and hold tight for Vista and Office 2007 (more excited about the Office release than anything else right now) to round out the releases for the majority of the software I use.

  • Vista Doesn't Like My New Memory DIMM

    So I made the first of my readiness upgrades for Vista today: I installed a second 1 gig DIMM of RAM in my machine...same brand and speed as the existing DIMM, lo and behold the memory test in Vista actually dropped 2/10ths of a point, from 4.2 to 4.0 (~5% decrease).  I wasn't expecting it to go up, but certainly wasn't expecting it to go down.  What gives?  Could the new stick have some faults in it?

  • Getting Ready For Vista -- Geek Wishlist

    Now that the Vista release is officially right around the corner, I have an excuse to make some hardware upgrades to my workstation box (no, I don't really need new hardware, but then again who really does).  After doing some research, I was actually quite pleasantly surprised to find that my almost 2 year old motherboard (Abit Fatal1ty AN8) still supports modern hardware, i.e. it's a very scalable/extensible board so I won't have to overhaul the entire box.  That makes Jay a happy geek as I don't feel like gutting my entire system just to eek out an extra half a point on the Vista performance scale (I keed).  So, here's my geek wishlist for Christmas:

    • Ditching my AMD Athlon 64 3500+ and upgrading to an AMD Athlon X2 4800+ Dual Core.  As of now that processor pushes the limits of the socket 939 boards to just about their max for a very reasonable sub $300 price tag...I'm very impressed that my board will support this much extra horsepower.
    • One of the best hardware purchases I've ever made was my Western Digital Raptor...74 gigs spinning at 10,000 RPMs pushed through a SATA 1.5 interface.  I don't remember what I paid for it (it was definitely high on the $/gig ratio), but the throughput increase is immediately noticeable.  My first thought was to just bump up to the 150 gig model, but a geek IM session with Bob got us on the topic of RAID...the new 150 gig Raptors are 330 bucks and I wouldn't get any performance benefits at all.  For less than half that, I can snap up another 74 gig Raptor and implement either a stripe or mirrored set due to (yet again) the scalability of my board: built in hardware RAID support for SATA. I will more than likely go the RAID 1 route as storage space on my system drive(s) isn't a concern, and the performance + redundancy benefits are fantastic.
    • This will not be an immediate upgrade as my existing ATI XL800 card is still performing beautifully in most scenarios, but I'll end up going with one of the current generation ATI X1600 or X1900 cards in the $200-$250 range; you can get a ton of performance for the 200 dollar range these days.  Or I might wait for the next gen ATI cards to come out and wait for the X1950 prices to fall.  I'll play the wait and see game for now.
    • And finally, an upgrade that is about 1 year overdue: I must get another 1 gig DIMM of RAM, especially since Visual Studio 2005 is such an enormous memory hog...a couple of instances of that plus a fully loaded Firefox session (and Outlook, various messengers, etc) page like crazy...sometimes I think my machine is going to levitate, or rattle itself apart it's so loud.

    So for around 500 bucks (sans video adapter) I'll basically be getting an all new machine (from a performance perspective at least).  Subtract the 100 or so dollars I can get for the old components and it's an even better deal.  Order shall be placed within the next month or so...god bless NewEgg.

  • Static Doesn't Mean Thread Safe

    K. Scott Allen recently posted an interesting blurb on the thread safety-ness of static (Shared) members in .Net:

    One misunderstanding I often see is "if I make this member static it will be thread safe". I think this misconception arises because of the boilerplate MSDN documentation that will often say: "Any public static (Shared in Visual Basic) members of this type are thread safe. Any instance members are not guaranteed to be thread safe."

    When a .NET framework class appears with the above documentation, it means a developer took the necessary precautions to make the static member thread safe. Perhaps they added a lock, or used some other synchronization mechanism to ensure thread safety. See: Statics and Thread Safety Part I and Part II.

    I've had this question come up in numerous interviews, and until recently I didn't realize that I was answering it incorrectly.  On a related note, an interesting discussion concerning static constructors (which are thread safe by design without any extra locking needed on the part of the developer) can be found here.

    I do not like the wording that MS uses in the MSDN documentation as it can easily lead a developer to believe that all static members are thread safe due to the design of the CLR, which is not the Scott states it just so happens that the language devs took the extra steps to make most static members thread safe within the .Net framework.  Thanks for the great refresher Scott!

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