We Are Microsoft - Team Sogeti

The South Central Developer Guidance Council is hosting an event, being organized by the fabulous Toi Wright, called We Are Microsoft.  This event is a developer competition where teams of developers create projects for charities over the weekend of January 18th-20th, 2008. If you've not looked into this event, you should.  You should get a group of developers together and compete.  Why? Because Team Sogeti is going to school you, fool, that's why!  Sogeti will be fielding a team of extraordinary talent to deliver for whatever charity we end up paired with, and we're ready to crush the competition.  The exact members of the team are still evolving, but we will be there, and will be bringing our A-game. Think you've got what it takes to compete with us?  Great ... Bring It!

Visual Studio 2008 InstallFest

Chris Koenig, our Local Developer Evangelist has a big event coming up, here are some details: To celebrate the RTM of Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft is teaming up with some of the local area User Groups to throw a set of Holiday Party InstallFests.  We've got 3 of them scheduled for South Central District: Dec 3 – Tulsa (Registration Link) with the Tulsa Developers User GroupDec 5 – Dallas (Registration Link) with the North Dallas .NET User GroupDec 13 – Houston (Registration Link) with the Houston .NET User Group These holiday parties will feature food, drink, fun - including several Xbox 360s in HD with some of the latest games, fellowship and a chance to install the RTM bits of Visual Studio 2008 along with your friends! In fact, EVERYONE THAT REGISTERS FOR AND ATTENDS THE EVENT IN PERSON WILL RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF VISUAL STUDIO 2008 PROFESSIONAL IN THE MAIL ONCE IT'S AVAILABLE!  As an added bonus - if you install Visual Studio 2008 on your computer during the event, we'll give you a free Visual Studio T-Shirt! So - no sneaky register-for-the-event-and-then-not-show-up action - you must be present to win :-)Since we're giving away free product, we've had to put a cap on registrations - so register now and make sure you attend to get your free copy of Visual Studio 2008 Professional.  If registrations are full, the waitlist should be enabled, so get on it.  If you don't make it on the registration or waitlist list, don't fret - walk-ins are totally welcome, and we'd love to have you join us at the party!  If there is any product left over after all the registered and wait-listed folks get theirs, you'll be next in line to get one :-) Q&A: Q:  What version of Visual Studio will I get, and how will the free version upgrade work? A:  You will be installing a copy of Visual Studio 2008 Professional Trial Edition at the event.  This is a specially created 90-day evaluation of VS08Pro - it is NOT the same thing that is available today from Microsoft Downloads.   Once you receive your free copy of Visual Studio 2008 in the mail, you will be able to enter the product key from the packaging into VS08 and "unlock" it.  The unlocking process will only work for the PRO trial edition that you get at the InstallFest - the version from Microsoft Downloads or MSDN will NOT be unlockable and will require an uninstall/re-install to get the proper version installed. Q:  Isn't Visual Studio 2008 RTM already publicly available?  Why do I need to come to this party? A:  Several reasons - first, the opportunity to have some fun over the holidays with your local user groups!  Second, we are giving away FREE copies of Visual Studio 2008 Professional to registered attendees in the mail following the product launch.  Q:  Do I have to bring my laptop to the event? A: No, you don't. But - if you install the bits at the party, we'll give you a free T-shirt Q:  What if I don't have a laptop - can I bring my Desktop?  Will there be room/power? A:  Yes!  Please do - we're looking for volunteers to bring their monitors + keyboards + mice to the event so that not everyone else needs to.  If you're interested in helping us this way, please let me know. Q: Can I bring a friend? A:  Absolutely!  Bring 2!  Just remember that you have to be registered, or on the wait list, for a chance to win free product. Q:  Does this InstallFest party cost anything to attend? A: Nope - it's absolutely FREE to all attendees! Q:  Does this replace the normal .NET User Group meeting in my city? A:  Yes - there aren't any plans to have additional meetings, but there will be plenty of .NET conversations going on around the party, I'm sure :-) Q: I can't go to this event - can I still get a free copy of Visual Studio 2008 somewhere else? A: There are several other events coming up that will give you additional chances at getting free product including the next round of DevCares events, the "official" product launch events starting at the end of February, and some post-release Community Launch events starting in March (more on that in a future post).

Windows Home Server

About 30 days ago I began the process of installing a Windows Home Server in my house.  After what is now referred to as the "Great Hard Drive Crash of April 2007" by my wife, it was clear to me that I needed to address the data recovery/disaster recovery plan for my house a little bit more in depth, a Home Server was my second step, the first was Mozy but that's another post. The "Windows Home Server" operating system is currently only available OEM to System Builders or via online resellers which resell such OEM products.  Creating a Home Server was both no problem what so ever, and obviously System Builder material at the same time.  The OS install reboots multiple times, identifies itself as Windows Small Business Server 2003 for portions of it, and otherwise is not "polished" for retail delivery. On the other hand, the experience once it is installed is fantastic.  This software has many useful features, but the big one for us was the dynamic storage system.  You can create a virtual storage system from many smaller drives which have no restrictions on them, they can be any size, speed, interface, etc you happen to have. In my case the first portion of storage was the remainder of my boot drive, which the system automatically partitioned and handed over the largest segment of (all but 30gb) to storage.  Then I added 2 USB hard drives.  A few weeks later, after some traveling, I added another drive from a system I was no longer using bringing the total storage to 0.98 TB, not bad.  Well during the recent Black Friday sales here in the US I picked up a new 1TB My Book from Western Digital, installed that and brought the server to 1.98 TB. It was this upgrade that made me write this post.  I was anxious, I did the upgrade in the middle of the night while several people in my house were watching videos from the Home Server.  I had to add a USB hub, so I had to unplug one of the drives in the array.  Instantly every box on the network was notified of a drive failure on the Home Server, but despite that there was no interruption of either video stream that was running.  I then plugged in the drives, added the additional storage, and started pulling a video file myself to take the load to 3 simultaneous video feeds.  There was a touch of slowness during the next 5 minutes as the server sought to balance the storage, but nothing horrible.  My house has 4 laptops, 3 desktops and a the home server currently and I must say that it handles this admirably. My only gripe?  They need a 64 bit version of the Home Server client software.  I'm aware of the hacks to get this installed, but it doesn't get the backups running and that is key.