2008 MVP Summit Stats

I received the following from Scott Vallee with Airfoil PR; a PR firm working on Microsoft's behalf.  (Thanks Scott!)

We thought you might be interested in some quick facts about the MVP Summit, the program and the impact the MVP community has had on Microsoft.  With the summit quickly approaching, we thought you might like to have some of these data points the significant role MVPs play.

•       Worldwide there are more than 100 million participants in technical communities.
•       Of these participants there are only 4,000 MVPs located across 93 countries, spanning more than 30 languages and more than 90 Microsoft technologies.
•       There has been a 10 percent to 15 percent MVP audience growth in countries such as China, Russia and Korea.
•       Over the past few years new regions with MVPs include the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nepal, Macedonia and Macao
•       In recent years, a handful of MVPs have been awarded in new categories such as MSN, Xbox, Visual Studio Tools for Office, Microsoft Dynamics and Visual Studio Team System.
•       MVPs are a diverse group that includes accountants, teachers, artists, government workers, engineers and technologists.

To find out more, you can browse the MVP site at http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/.

By virtue of being an MVP, I knew some of this, but there is definitely stuff I wasn't aware of.  Interesting, at any rate.  🙂

Windows Update Rant

This morning I received a few windows updates that really made me angry. It wasn't the updates per se, but rather how they were stuffed into my system. Here's what happened...

Like every morning, when I got to work I booted up my laptop running Windows Vista. I then launch VMWare Workstation, and started up my Windows XP workstation that I use for my day job.* So far so good.

*This may sound strange, but I test a lot of different things, including Vista, trying to find what works with our system. I wouldn't normally run such a heavy host OS, but I'm testing it out at home to ensure that I know how to use it once I decide to make it mainstream at Fairwinds. The fact is that some of our main applications STILL don't work on Vista properly, so I ported my old physical Win XP Pro machine to a VM, and I use that daily to do my work.

Now, the guest OS (Windows XP) was running a little slow at first, but that's not unusual at all. It takes some time to check for windows updates, and do the other normal startup routines for programs I have installed. I didn't really think anything of the speed until I was finally prompted with that nice little windows update message. You know the one... "I've installed updates for you, and I'm going to reboot your system in 30 seconds." The only options you have are essentially, "Okay, do it now then" or "remind me every five minutes that I'm going to reboot your system."

I was working on something important, so I said "Restart Later." All was fine for about 1 minute. Next thing I know, my Windows XP session shuts off, VMWare is telling me something, and my Vista OS starts to shut down!

Now, I have a pretty decent system here, running a Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz processor, with 4GB of RAM. There is nothing slow about this machine, and yet it took 15 minutes for the host to shutdown, install updates, reboot, configure updates, and get back logged in. Grrrr... The reason I said Later is that I'm busy! The problem, of course, was that the Vista host had the same "Do or die" message, only I didn't see it as my Windows XP guest OS was running in full screen mode.

At any rate, after rebooting I opened up VMWare and found that it had suspended my Windows XP machine. Great! I clicked to start it up, then turned to other tasks. (I had a couple of thin clients to configure for users.) I figured I had a couple of minutes, as it does take some time for VMWare to resume from a suspended state. But by the time I turned back to it, the guest was shutting down! Arrrgggghhh! I had again missed the "Piss off" prompt! Another 10 minutes, give or take, until I could get back in to do any work on my Windows XP system!

All in all, I was not impressed, and immediately shut off the "Auto Download and Apply Updates" feature in both the guest and the host.

I suppose that you could argue that I should have known better, and done this ages ago, but I don't really feel that way. I try to adhere to good practices as best I can, and one of those is applying Windows Updates. In addition, look at what Windows own OneCare program says when you flip the settings to "Download and Notify me to install":


What the hell? So because I'm taking more control of my system, it's "At Risk", and I have to stare at a little red icon in my system tray? This is a bit of a misrepresentation to me.

I'm not only choked about the time I lost today, although that does play in. No... it's because this contravenes several best practice points in programming, in my opinion. What if I'd been working on my Accpac 6.0 database that I still use? If I were posting, and VMWare suspended my desktop in the middle of it, the database would have been corrupted. The last time I had a corrupted database, back in 2000 or so, it cost me over $1000 to get it fixed. I don't even know if I could find a tech to do it now, as the software is supposedly "obsolete".

Why, Microsoft, do you feel so comfortable shutting down your clients systems without any regard as to what they are doing? The fact that I missed my host's message is irrelevant. Besides the fact that virtualization is a fact now, it could have just as easily been an issue if I were on the phone with my back turned to the computer. This is blatantly wrong, and WILL cost at least one customer some corrupted data at one point.

This is a serious issue that needs to be rectified immediately. An OS patch should NEVER force a reboot without warning. If you want to pop up a message that strongly recommends a reboot after installing, then fine, but don't force it. Even keep reminding me every 5 minutes that I should reboot to apply the updates, fine. Again, DO NOT FORCE IT! Or try things the other way, and warn me that a reboot will be needed once the update is applied BEFORE you install it. At least that way I'm not caught in the middle of things.

Ultimately, I take a lot of responsibility for my systems, running firewalls, antivirus software and even tape backups. If I delay an update and get hacked in some way, then that's my problem, and THAT is a risk that I'm willing to take. Risking my data is definitely not something I should have to do.

I also have a hard time believing that any update is critical enough that it warrants such a blatant disregard for my system. The point behind these is to protect, not risk the clients system. What's more is that the majority of updates are released on "Patch Tuesday", once per month. So what's another 4 hours?

I am far from impressed with this cavalier attitude to my work schedule and data.

MVP Summit 2008

Well, according to the Vista desktop gadget that I have installed, (shown below,) it's only 4 1/2 days until the MVP summit.


Somehow, in that time, I still need to finish up a bunch of stuff at work, pack, and travel to Seattle. Actually, I have less time than that as my first, er... meeting is at 9:00PM on Saturday night. 🙂

I do plan on posting some photos from the trip, although they may not show up until afterwards, as the nights do tend to run kind of long on occasion. 😉 If you're looking for something summit related to read in the mean time, you could always check out my posts from last year's summit.

Java irks me…

I hate Java.

In my not so humble opinion, Java is by far the slowest executing programming language I've ever run into.  I know that it's supposed to be platform independant, but it truly makes me grind my teeth every time I have to use an app that is coded in that language.

I'm not sure what it is about the apps... the look and feel, they delays in execution, or maybe it is that java programmers don't seem to add the polish that other programmers do.  (Why can't I double click something and have it add to a listbox in any of the java apps I use?  It's a default behaviour in anything coded in other languages...)

A few more things that drive me crazy:

  • Java automatically installs its update manager as soon as you install it.  No choice, they just assume you always want it.  (I've usually taken to knocking it out of my boot configurations, as it drives me crazy.)
  • Every time you install an update, it installs a quasi-new install.  The old version and the new stay in your "programs" list.  Uninstall one version, though, and the all go, but the others remain in the list.

And the crowning one for me...

Tonight I installed version 6, update 5.  I had to deal with an error similar to that below no less than 4 times:


Clicking Retry (each time), let it complete the install.  Sorry, but send me the whole damn package to begin with.  I don't need to stare at messages from either your crappy programming, timeouts on the net, or whatever else caused this.  It's painfully obvious that this is not the way to deliver an application.

VMWare Workstation 6.5 Beta Released

If you've been waiting to get into the VMWare game, now could be a good time.  VMWare is offering a beta of the 6.5 version of Workstation.  (You don't have to buy anything, but you do need to register with them to do it.)

I haven't tried 6.5 yet (I run Workstation 6.0), but I certainly plan on giving it a go.  The only issue I have is that I have a quarter end going on right now... since I run my work PC in a workstation VM, and my deadline for getting financial statements out is this week, installing Beta software is a risk I can't take.

For what it's worth, Microsoft does have a free version of their "Virtual PC" available, but it's years behind VMWare at this point.  I see that workstation 6.5 now supports 3D graphics inside a VM (looking forward to trying that out.)  Microsoft also can't support USB devices inside their VM's, but VMWare can.  (That's reason enough to pay for VMWare right there, IMO.)  I also find VMWare's UI MUCH better than the VPC one as well.

I can't wait to try out 6.5, and will almost certainly post more on this once I do.  🙂