How deep do you want to go? Parallels, VMWare, Remote Desktop Connection

by Xavier Comments: 0

I just noticed something. I am:
– Using my Mac Book Pro (Lion? not yet) to connect via Remote Desktop Connection to
– My Dell PowerEdge Server with Windows Ultimate 7, which is next to me but I don’t change the Apple display for anything, plus I like the mobility – work from everywhere via RDC to my server – and
– In my server I am running VMWare Player to host another Windows 7 that
– I then use to VPN all the way to a server in the UK via Citrix (I use a VM as the Citrix software sometimes blue screens on 64 bit systems)
– And in the Uk I connect to another virtual machine running Windows Server 2008
… Where I can check if our software is running appropriately.

Best of all… it works!!!!

In my Mac I also run Parallels, I love it… Give it a shot, Coherence is great! (If you don’t know what Coherence is, think of it as just running both Windows and Mac OSX and feeling it is the same one.

Also, I had the PowerEdge running Windows Server 2008 with HyperV. HHHNNNNN. Gets the job “done”, but VMWare Player is far superior for what I need. Won’t run in 2k8, so that’s why I moved to W7.

My Favorite XCode Tutorials so far…

by Xavier Comments: 2

XCode and Objective C are not for the faint of heart… oh well at least in some departments like web services and xml parsing. Anyway, there I go little by little learning and learning.

I came across this site last night…yes Friday night…. and I love it!
http://www.xcode-tutorials.com/

No affiliation with these people, just want to recognize when someone does something useful!

Simple tool to manage clipboard – CloudClipX

by Xavier Comments: 0

One of the most annoying things for me is how dumb the clipboard is (yet at the same time being extremely useful).

Quick scenario to demonstrate my point
– Ctrl C on an email address from a person you are going to write in the next few seconds
– You get distracted, move to a different window and copy paste a file that you need to share in a network drive (more on effective file sharing soon)
– You get back to write the email and you no longer have the text in your clipboard. Ohhhh the humanity!!!! Well, not quite a Hindenburg disaster, but still VERY annoying

Well, it is extremely simple to fix. Download CloudClipX and it will help you keep track of the most recent text’s you’ve added on your clipboard.

Just click on the icon in the task bar and select the entry you want again in your clipboard and you are good to go!

Email sending made simple in C# with SendGrid

by Xavier Comments: 2

Note: I am not affiliated with SendGrid nor I am trying to make $20 for each referral. I am just a happy customer. I like to point out when other people make products or provide services that add value and make my life simpler (that is the key… MAKE MY LIFE SIMPLER).

Yes, I know. Having your own SMTP is not that hard, or expensive. Also, some services like Google Apps or Godaddy Pop can be used despite the fact that they have daily limits, which sometimes might be a bit low.

Amazon SES ( http://aws.amazon.com/ses/ ) is simple to use and inexpensive, but I found a simple alternative IMHO called SendGrid.

Check it out, just go to www.sendgrid.com and subscribe to it, use your credentials and send. It has some nice features like a dashboard, counters and a few other things without too much fuzz.

And to send the email we just do…


MailMessage mm = new MailMessage(new System.Net.Mail.MailAddress(from, fromName), new System.Net.Mail.MailAddress(to));
// mm.CC.Add(tocc);
//Assign the MailMessage's properties
mm.IsBodyHtml = isHtml;
mm.Subject = subject;
mm.Body = msg;
SmtpClient smtp = new SmtpClient();
smtp.EnableSsl = true;
smtp.Host = "smtp.sendgrid.net";
smtp.Credentials = new System.Net.NetworkCredential(user, pwd);
smtp.Send(mm);

Errors when installing a SharePoint 2010 Farm with FAST a.k.a. RTM

by Xavier Comments: 1

A fellow SharePointer was having many strange errors when installing SharePoint 2010. He suffered, reached out for help all around and at the end it turned out to be something pretty simple. The problem was that the communication between the Fast Admin server and the query server worker node was not working.

After running the command get-fastsearchsecurityworkernode from the Fast Admin server, you get this:

dead net.tcp://fastservername.com:13279/

Also when he did the installation of Fast for SharePoint he was able to crawl just fine but when doing a search he got this:

“The search request was unable to connect to the Search Service.”

Oh FAST for SharePoint….

Solution: The firewall needs to be turned ON during installation

You can read the full installation requirements here:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff381239.aspx#BKMK_WindowsFirewallMustBeConfiguredOnAllServers

How does a geek’s start menu look like?

by Xavier Comments: 0

Not that I wouldn’t have guessed if someone asked me, but I think my bias towards Microsoft technologies is kind of noticeable.

However, I never would’ve guessed to what extent until today. Look at my start menu!

Yes… yes… Firefox too… Maybe I am a bit slutty too hahaha

Seagate GoFlexHome 2 TB Hard Drive Review and Complaints

by Xavier Comments: 0

So one of my hard drives started to fail, and I NEED to have enough storage for all my stuff. I guess 3.5 TB overall wasn’t enough, so I just got another 2TB more. Yes…. Just let me be clear, those 5 TB are distributed among my many computers and external hard drives.

Anyway, I have multiple Western Digitals but decided to be bold, so I got a Seagate Home GoFlex 2 TB with wireless printing and I don’t remember what more promises I got from Amazon’s description.

Bottom line: genius idea all around, EXTREMELY CRAPPY EXECUTION

Being honest: it gets the job done, 2 TB accessible without being attached to a computer. Connects directly to the router, speed is “decent”, around 10 MBPS with two 500GB WD pounding on it at the same time. Not quite what I expected, but I can live with it.

Why is it bad execution of a great idea:
– Setup is not fit for a regular human being. The “out of the box, one disc, easy set up” did not work. I tried on the work network and then directly plugged in to my router at home. I had to log in to my router, find the ip address from the MAC address list and then slash slash my way to the drive.
I am quite geek and it was not pleasant at all

– When installing, it installs all kind of stupid applications that are supposed to help. Again, a horrible user experience IMHO. How easy would it be to have a folder in your computer, where everything would be synchronized with the hard drive, just like dropbox.com did to beat the crap out of Microsoft’s skydrive. Simplicity beats features IMHO. Or just a picasa folder selector style where you chose what to back up. Again, common sense did not get into the design of this product.

– It then installs a control panel that has all kind of stupid options too. It also has a web access, so why do you want to install a “Seagate Dashboard” that would only confuse end users?

– Moving forward, I tried to add another user. It hung, but cancel worked. So I try again and to my surprise the textboxes are disabled. Some crappy programmer forgot to do “MyTextbox.Enabled = true;” on cancel. Something as simple as that worries me about what else is inside this code.

– Here comes one of my favorites, you CAN’T change the name!!!!!! That means that you can only have ONE in your network.

Oh well, I think Seagate knows how crappy the user experience is with their software that they don’t expect anybody to buy a second one. A for effort on this one, but F for execution

My personal recommendation is stick to what works, go for a Western Digital that you simply plug into your USB port.

Seagate: c’mon… you can do better than this… And in case you are wondering, yes I can do it better. It just takes some good ol’common sense.

What would’ve I’ve done differently
– Add a little led that would display the ip address, that way when I connect it I can see “10.10.20.123”
– So I can go to http://10.10.20.123, log in as admin admin and create users. Don’t make the user install a dashboard, give web access which even my mom would be familiar with.
– If you have different areas like backup/personal and others, use different ips for those. I am pretty sure that is possible with one ethernet, not a full requirement but nice to have
– Now have a VERY SIMPLE application to install in the computers you wan’t to back up. Allow either “backup everything inside MyStuff(i.e.) folder” or the Picasa style folder selector
– Let the user change the name, so he can personalize his HD (who knows, this might be possible but all forums say it isn’t). More importantly, that allows people that LIKE this HD (if the previous steps are done) to buy additional ones
– Have a simpler way of explaining to users what the pro version does. Very simple, just have a “Do you want to access this drive from outside your home/network? Just pay $20 a year and we give you a way”. If you go geeky tech and explain, you are getting your users scared and can’t convince them no matter what.
For me, this simple steps would make a big difference on this product.

Ohh… don’t get me started on the printer!

Por que odio Racsa, TRATE de volver a Amnet y “Pollito Chicken”

by Xavier Comments: 0

Hace unos meses tenia internet de cobro doble y estaba decidiendo entre “Full Amnet” y Racsa. Unicamente por que me HARTE de que Amnet me llamara y mandara mensajes para pasarme como 5 veces por semana, incluidos sabados en la noche me pase a Racsa.

De Guatemala a Guatepeor….

Empecemos:
– Me acaban de cortar por falta de pago, reviso en internet y hay dos recibos cobrados y dos no. Es la misma tarjeta, nada cambia y simplemente dejaron de cobrar. Yo dependo de internet, deberian avisar por lo menos aunque sea error de ellos.
– Antes de eso, tuve que luchar para poder usar el sistema de racsa en linea, que de “user friendly” se saca un 0. Hasta me salen los errores de la base de datos que un usuario normal se asustaria leyendolos

– Llamo a 800 Racsa y para empezar el menu es estupido, veamos
Opcion 1 -> Espannol -> Opcion 1 servicio nuevo (por que en servicio al cliente no me atienden) -> de ahi otra vez llego a las mismas opciones de antes, es decir como voy a querer soporte tecnico en servicio nuevo
– Entonces trato el chat, eso si tiene que servir verdad? Si le da click a la imagen de abajo se daran cuenta que el chat NO abre, una pagina no existente.

– Y por ultimo selecciono la opcion de ingles. Me contesta una persona digna del anuncio “Pollito Chicken” y me pasa a servicio al cliente.

Voy a Amnet, con el cual no estaba feliz pero por lo menos no estaba torturado!

Racsa… si no fueran del gobierno ya estarian quebrados….

Actualizacion: llame a Amnet y me dicen que tengo que ir a firmar la desconexion con Racsa y luego ir a firmar una reconexion con ellos. Cuando entenderan las dos empresas que lo que ellos brindan es un commodity, no un privilegio y como tal lo que deberian de hacer es hacernos la vida mas facil para mantenernos como clientes felices.

Estoy impresionado como ninguna de las dos lo pueden ayudar a uno.

Actualizacion #2: ya logre pagar Racsa en el BN, y supuestamente me reconectan en el transcurso de la tarde. Estoy impresionado del mal servicio (la verdad no se que estaba esperando yo….) y ademas el menu telefonico es totalmente inutilizable, da circulos y cueeeeeeeeeesta que lo atiendan a uno.

The Subtle Art of User Friendliness, i.e. IE 8 and others…

by Xavier Comments: 0

A few days ago I finished reading Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think. It is amazing how this guy has been able to summarize so many useful advice in what can be read in a few hours. I believe the architects and designers from big corporations should all read a copy of this book, because in the end a big part of the success of a product lies on whether end users like your product and make it part of your life.

It doesn’t matter who you are, if you don’t design your product well people are not going to use it. Let me show you a few examples:
– Skype vs MSN Live vs Google Chat & Voice: Skype is by far the best product, the lifeline of communications for millions of folks worldwide. The other services have the same features, but Skype by far is better. (Maybe that’s why MS bought it)
– Google Chrome vs Internet Explorer vs Firefox vs Safari: IE might have killed Netscape and others, but Firefox came and showed how it should be done, especially with its big community building add ons. IMHO Chrome is the best, I like it’s speed. Like I said, IE had its prime, but not adhering to standards, being slow, and pretending they were alone was not sustainable. IE 9 is trying to fix this, but only time will tell
– Dropbox vs Live Mesh: in this one Live Mesh tried to present an offering that had everything you need and in doing so made a product so unusable that a simple “have a root folder, drop all your stuff there” approach worked as it fitted for the biggest number of users.

And I can go on and on and on… However I just wanted to point out how sometimes building a great product is only a matter of building it usable. You know the old saying, “Elegant simplicity is the ultimate sophisticaiton“. That’s what I try to do with everything I build in my life.

BTW: AS I am writing this post, I bumped into this dialog. I can’t count how many times I’ve said “later” or did the process and it still comes up. This can’t be more annoying!

The Problem with Microsoft Now

by Xavier Comments: 0

I read today a great article called The Ballmer Days are Over,  in which Ben Brooks describes some of the problems that Microsoft is currently facing.  Here is my take on Microsoft:

I used to work as a v- for Microsoft for a few years and then I cofounded a company that provided vendor services for them (7 years total – and already left the company), so I know my way around Microsoft.

All the time I worked there I was never able to understand why everything was so bureaucratic and slow… innovation didn’t seem like the norm.

MS Consulting IMHO is not what it could be, I worked there too and they have extremely good technical people, but the only thing a lot of them seem to be passionate about is being a Microsoft employee and not building amazing stuff. Besides, a lot of them look down on other companies when they shouldn’t.

 

They are too arrogant about other products, when instead they should respect and even fear the competition to be able to build something amazing.  I mean, even a fat guy can run fast if you put a lion behind him.

 

The innovation I saw (I was an evangelist for Windows 64 bit in the DPE group – you can see all the places I presented here )  was usually centered around the technology, not the user.  All projects were about “let’s use this technology” but didn’t care much about what was really important, which is “why would the customer care to use my product”.

 

Also there was a mentality of “let’s build it and see if it sticks to the wall”, which is a good approach only if people are committed to what they are building, the attitude that I saw was not correct given that most people were only interested in keeping their steady jobs with MS and not take any chances. This is good to pay your mortgage, but not to make history.

Oh, and Skype. Why buy what they already have with Live. Oh I know, because Skype is built better. Anyway, maybe they bought it because they recognized that they couldn’t do it right like Skype did. I have no idea…

 

And last but not least, sadly within Microsoft people are usually not fired.  They are moved from one group to another. So ironically, if someone gets hired into a group but that person does not live to the expectations, then that guy GETS RECOMMENDED so that he/she is hired by another group! This is something I’ve never been able to understand!!!! Recommend someone because he/she is not good, so that you pass the problem along to another department!

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Microsoft and I am a total Microsoft technology guy.  Just that it feels like they are just hanging to the train but not pushing it…. or even better, they could be pulling it!