November 2011 Blog Posts
It’s not every day you write this sort of blog post. And you hope it’s not something you do so often that you ever get good at it. I’m certainly sucking up a storm here.
Just last month I hit my four year mark at Microsoft. I reflected on the sheer joy I experienced working with such smart people on cool projects. I’ve been very lucky and fortunate to be able to speak about these projects at many conferences, meeting so many interesting attendees. It’s been a real blast.
Today, I write a different sort of post. It was a tough decision to make, but I’ve decided to leave Microsoft to try something different. This is my last week as a Microsoft employee. On Monday, December 5, 2011 I’ll come into the office, hand over my card key, the launch codes, and the Amex card, and then experience a Microsoft exit interview. It will be interesting.
But before I continue, there’s two things I want to make crystal clear:
- I will still be involved with the .NET community and development.
- I will still work on NuGet.
- I’m known for off-by-one errors and lame jokes.
I’ll let you know on December 7, when I start a new gig. My new company often announces new employees and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise! I’m very excited about it as it’s a position that will keep me involved in .NET and working on NuGet, but will also let me stretch into multiple other technologies beyond .NET.
I’m not leaving .NET
The way I see it, the .NET community isn’t a place you just leave. A community is a set of relationships among people who hold some common goals or ideals. The people I think are interesting today, will still be interesting on December 7. Well, most of you at least.
Rather, I like to think that I will focus more on being a member of a larger software community, as I wrote about recently. It’s one thing to write about it, but I hope to better live it in the future.
So while I’m not leaving .NET, I am also arriving at Macs, Ruby, and Node.js and whatever other technologies I need to get the job done. I look forward to getting my hands dirty building things with these other technologies in addition to .NET.
What About NuGet?
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll continue to work on the NuGet open source project as a core contributor. From the Outercurve Foundation’s side of things, I’ll also remain on this page as a project lead, though most of the day to day responsibilities will transfer to a Program Manager on the Microsoft side of things. We have yet to figure out in detail how we’ll share responsibilities.
This is possible because there’s an interesting distinction between the NuGet open source project and the NuGet based product that Microsoft ships. I should write about this another time. For the time being, just know I’ll continue to be heavily involved in NuGet once I ramp up in my new job.
What about ASP.NET MVC?
ASP.NET MVC has been a joy to work on. It’s pioneered so much change at Microsoft. Leaving it will be hard, especially with all the cool stuff coming down the pike I wish I could tell you about. Suffice to say, ASP.NET MVC is a mature product in good hands with a strong team in place. I’m not worried about it at all.
In fact, there’s a lot of good stuff coming from the overall team that’s been the result of a long succession of baby steps. I can’t talk about it yet, but I can say that knowing this made my decision especially difficult to make.
I will still be speaking at CodeMania in New Zealand in March 2012. I made sure to contact the organizers in case they wanted to change their minds given my news but they’re happy to have me speak.
I’m still happy to speak about NuGet, ASP.NET MVC, or anything else for that matter if you have a conference you think I’d be a good fit for.
I will miss working at Microsoft and being involved with the community in that capacity. But I am also excited about this new opportunity to work with the community in a different capacity.
Next week, I’ll tell you about what could possibly draw me away from Microsoft. I hope you’ll stick around.
Donut caching, the ability to cache an entire page except for a small region of the page (or set of regions) has been conspicuously absent from ASP.NET MVC since version 2.
Mmmmm, donuts! – Photo by Pzado at sxc.hu
This is something that’s on our Roadmap for ASP.NET MVC 4, but we have yet to flesh out the design. In the meanwhile, there’s a new NuGet package written by Paul Hiles that brings donut caching to ASP.NET MVC 3. I haven’t tried it myself yet, so be forewarned, but judging by the blog post, Paul has done some extensive research into how output caching works.
One issue with his approach is that to create “donut holes”, you need to call an action from within your view. That works for ASP.NET MVC, but not for ASP.NET Web Pages. What if you simply want to carve out a region in your view that isn’t cached?
Well to implement such a thing requires that we make changes to Razor pages itself to support substitution caching. I’ve been tasked with the design of this, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve fallen behind. So I’m going to sketch some thoughts here and get your input, and then turn in your work as if I had done it. Ha!
Ideally, Razor should have first class support for carving out donut holes. Perhaps something like:
<h1>This entire view is cached</h1>
<div>But this part is not. @DateTime.Now</div>
As this seems to be the most common scenario for donut holes, I like the simplicity of this approach. However, there may be times when you do want the hole cached, but at a different interval than the rest of the page.
<h1>The entire view is cached for a day</h1>
<div>But this part is cached for 10 seconds. @DateTime.Now</div>
If we have the second
cache directive, we probably don’t really need the
nocache directive as its redundant. But since I think it’s the most common scenario, I’d want to keep it anyways.
The final question is whether these should be actual Razor directives or simply methods. I haven’t dug into Razor enough to know the answer, but my gut feel is that it would require changes to Razor itself to support it and can’t be added on as method calls as method calls run too late.
What do you think of this approach?
While attending Oredev 2011, I had an interesting conversation with Corey Haines about his perception of the Ruby community as compared to the .NET community.
One thing he suggested is that the .NET community is seems a bit insular and self-isolating. He noted that when he attended .NET user groups, he only saw folks he knew to be .NET developers. But when he attends Ruby, Scala, NodeJS, Erlang, etc. user groups, he sees many of the same people at these meet ups.
While I’m not completely against identifying oneself as a .NET developer to indicate your primary focus, I do see what Corey is getting at. Rather than only seeing ourselves as .NET developers, it’s just as important to also see ourselves as software developers.
We should recognize that we’re part of this larger cosmopolitan software community. We have a lot to learn from this greater community. Just as importantly, our community also has much to offer to the larger community!
As a good friend once told me, a rising tide lifts all boats. The interchange of ideas between these disparate technology communities can only result in good things for everyone.
I’ve been grateful that folks such as Nick Quaranto have this view. Although he’s one of those hippie Ruby folks and runs http://rubygems.org/ (which some might see as a competitor to NuGet), he’s been extremely helpful and generous with advice for the NuGet team. To me, that’s what community is about. Not isolating oneself from ideas simply because they come from someone who’s eschewed curly braces.
The good news is that I think the .NET community is actually further along in this than it gets credit for. Podcasts such as Herding Code have a very polyglot bent to it. Even .NET Rocks, seen as the bastion of .NET, has expanded its archive with topics such as node.js and Modernizr recently.
So if you identify yourself as a .NET developer, well you’re in good company. There’s a lot of interesting .NET developers around. At the same time, I encourage you to reach across the aisle and learn a thing or two about a different technology. Maybe even hoist a beer with one of those hippie rubyists or smug clojure developers!
Once in a while folks ask me for details about the hardware and software that hosts my blog. Rather than write about it, a photo can provide all the details that you need.
There you have it.
Well actuallyTM, my blog runs on a bit more hardware than that these days. Especially after the Great Hard-Drive Failure of 2009. As longtime readers of my blog might remember, nearly two years ago, this blog went down in flames due to a faulty hard-drive on the hosting server.
My hosting provider, CrystalTech (now rebranded to be the Web Services home of The Small Business Authority), took regular backups of the server, but I hosted my blog in a virtual machine. As it turns out, the backups did not include the VM because it was always “in use”. In order to backup a virtual machine, the backup needs to take special action to ensure that works.
Today, I still host with CrystalTech in a large part due to their response to the great hard-drive meltdown. First and foremost, they didn’t jump to blame me. They focused on fixing the problem at hand. In the past, I’ve hosted with other providers who excelled at making you feel that anything wrong was your fault. Ever been in a relationships like that?
Once things were settled, they worked with me to figure out what systematic changes they should make to ensure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again. Hard drives will fail. You can’t prevent that. But you can ensure that the data customers care about are backed up and verified.
Not only that, they hooked me up with a pretty nice new dedicated server.
Even though they now are prepared to ensure VMs are backed up, I now host on bare metal, in part because my other tenant moved off of the server so I don’t really need to share it anymore. All miiiiiine!
- Case: 2U server dedicated server
- Processors: 2x Intex Xeon CPU 3.20 GHZ (1 core, 2 logical processors) x64
- Memory: 4.00 GB RAM
- OS Hard Drive: C: 233 GB RAID 1 (2 physical drives)
- Data Hard Drive: D: 467 GB RAID 5 (3 physical drives)
- OS: Windows Server 2008 Datacenter SP2
- Database: SQL Server 2008
- Web Server: IIS 7 running ASP.NET 4
- Blog: Subtext
- Backup: In addition to the machine backus, I have a scheduled task that 7z archives my web directories and also takes a SQL backup into a backups folder. Windows Live Mesh syncs those backup files to my home machine.
This server hosts the following sites:
For some of these sites, I plan to migrate them to other cloud based solutions. For example, rather than have my own NuGet feed, I’ll just use a http://myget.org/ feed.
Even so, I plan to keep http://haacked.com/ on this hardware for as long as The Small Business Authority lets me. It’s a great way for me to keep my system administration skills from completely atrophying and I like having a server at my disposal.
So thanks again to The Small Business Authority (though I admit, I liked CrystalTech as a name better) for hosting this blog! And thank you for reading!
As I mentioned in my last post, I have an overnight stopover in Reykjavik Iceland. After checking into my hotel at an ungodly early hour (which ended up being really late for me Seattle time), my first order of business was to head over to the Blue Lagoon.
No, not that Blue Lagoon! This one!
Look at that steam coming off the water! The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa with a 5000 square meter lagoon. The water comes from a nearby geothermal plant and is renewed every two days. According to Wikipedia,
Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal hot water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in.
Yes, the thought of being cooked in superheated water did cross my mind since my manager reminded me of a scene from some crappy movie where that happened. Fortunately, that did not happen.
This method of heating the lagoon is just one example of how Iceland gets a lot of its power from the heat within the Earth. From another Wikipedia article, emphasis mine,
Five major geothermal power plants exist in Iceland, which produce approximately 26.2% (2010) of the nation's energy. In addition, geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of approximately 87% of all buildings in Iceland. Apart from geothermal energy, 75.4% of the nation’s electricity was generated by hydro power, and 0.1% from fossil fuels.
It’s pretty impressive. They plan to go 100% fossil-fuel-free in the near future. Of course, the one downside is that the water here smells slightly of sulfur. I actually don’t mind it.
The spa provides buckets of white silica gel you can put on your face to exfoliate your skin. I found that the sleet being whipped around 35 mile per hours did a fine job of exfoliating my skin. It nearly exfoliated it off of my face.
Though I have to admit, that was part of the fun. It was novel to be swimming outdoors in November with sleet and wind pouring down, but nice and warm within the heated waters.
I even had time to stop at a water side bar for a drink.
A good part of the drive to the Lagoon is through a vast lava field that is reminiscent of the photos sent back by the Mars Rover. It’s very easy to catch a bus from your hotel or from the airport to get there and they provide lockers as well as towel and even swimwear rental. They really make it easy to take a quick jaunt over there if you’re just on a stopover in Iceland.
Now I’m warm and dry in my hotel room planning my next step. I would like to do some sight seeing before I meet folks at the bar, but I also like remaining warm and dry. Conundrums!
I think I’ll venture out now and report back later. If you ever find yourself with a long stopover in Iceland, do visit the Blue Lagoon.