Friday, December 07, 2007

Well it certainly has been a while since my last post, but I am up early this morning and bored so….MSCRM v4 RC0 was released recently, and the corporate team subsequently released a new VPC image with RC) on it. So after downloading it, I fired it up and was immediately greeted with an error message:

Hmmm, that seems a little strange, does the corp team not have enough accumulated knowledge to build a VPC without errors? I also found that after I opened up the VPC that Exchange was not installed, the image is set to a dynamic IP, and that DNS seems to be a bit messed up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

If you're like me and constantly switching between email accounts, you'll love this little utility from Microsoft. It allows you to access your Hotmail account from Outlook:

Outlook Connector

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's things like this that have me thinking it is time to bid ADIEU to MSCRM and software in general.

Today I was working away on a demo VPC image, and since I was about to make some changes to the image, I thought I’d better back up my virtual server hard drives, I always do that before making major changes. So I get the thing backed up and restart, and for some reason I’ve lost the network on the image. It was working fine before I exited, now it is not.

No idea why, no messages from Virtual Server or Windows. The physical network adapter is properly bound to the image, the Virtual Server Network services are OK.

I’ve been sitting here for 3 hours trying to figure it out with no luck. My blood pressure is through the roof and I am about to punch a hole in my monitor.

As a last resort I decided to re-install VS 2005 and that seemed to work for now but this *cannot* be a recommended fix.
This being the “dog days of summer” there’s not much sales activity going on, so I dove into a little project to stay interested. As you may or may not know, before I was the “MscrmGuy” I was “JavaMann”, winner of a worldwide Java programming contest in 1997. So I started thinking about ways to access MSCRM on a MAC, and thought a J2EE application might fit the bill nicely. So here’s a screenshot of what I mocked up over a few hours…stay tuned for more!

Friday, April 13, 2007

When is the government going to realize that teenage kids should not be driving cars??

Yesterday afternoon seemed like a normal day, my wife left our house at right around 3:30 PM to walk the few blocks to the bus stop to pick up our 6-year old daughter. She and our 3-year old do this every Tuesday and Thursday, and there are always a lot of kids around after the bus leaves, playing and chatting. I have pasted a map here that shows the streets, and the bus stop is marked with the dot.

So on this day, seconds after my wife collected our daughter, an idiot kid came SCREAMING up Chalmers in a white minivan. We don’t know for sure how fast he was going, but my wife saw him and said she thinks he was going well over 100 KM/Hr. So as this jackass tears up the road, he completely loses control of the car, skids into a tree, jumps the curb, and then the car does a complete rotation while spinning ACROSS the sidewalk, taking out everything in its path! The route the idiot followed and the final placement of the car is shown here in red:

Now on most days, my wife and kids walk home by going up Chalmers to Mohawk, and then up Mohawk, so as you can see by the path this kid took, he put that car right through the sidewalk where they usually walk, at the EXACT time they usually walk it. By some miracle yesterday they went the opposite way and so were standing safely on the opposite corner when this jackass obliterated the route they are normally on.

All this time I was working away in my basement office, and I remember glancing at the clock, seeing it was 4:10 PM and wondering why it was taking the family so long to get home from the bus. Never imagining for one minute what might have just occurred I figured they were just stopping along the way to play with some of the neighborhood kids.

When my wife got home and told me the story, she realized that since she saw the whole thing she should probably go and give the police a statement, so we went back. I cannot describe to you the feeling I had seeing the tire tracks right through the exact spot where my family usually is.

To make matters worse, I saw the kid who did this standing over by the police cars with his mother. He is s typical young punk with an attitude, and we observed him laughing with one of his buddies, and then when he caught one of the neighborhood kids looking at him, he actually give this kid the “flip off” with his middle finger! The mother also proved herself to be an idiot, not offering one word of apology or show of remorse to the gathered parents standing there contemplating how close they came to losing some children that day.

My comment on this is that sometimes I walk to the bus with my wife, and I am very happy I wasn’t here yesterday because if I had been, I would have dragged that little jackass out of the car and beaten him to within an inch of his life, and then in a twist of irony I am sure I would have been the one arrested!

To top it off we found out where idiot-stick was speeding off to…to pick up his 7-year old sister from school! Sadly this kid was not hurt himself, and since he is a minor I am sure the consequences of his actions will be negligible, however the consequences to my family or any of the other families who use that bus stop could have been enormous.

So back to the title of this article, when is the government going to realize teenage kids should not be driving? Driving a car is an enormous responsibility that too many people take far too casually. A car is a multiple-thousand pound hunk of metal, propelled by extremely powerful engines. It’s not a toy, it’s a killing machine and most teenagers simply do not have the maturity to handle it.

In another example of this when we moved to this neighborhood a few years ago, there was a kid who was speeding up and down our street one day. I walked up the street and had a word, and I got the typical teenager blow off “yeah yeah, whatever”. The kid did stop speeding on our street, but then not 2 nights later he crashed while racing on another street, killing himself and his passenger, who just happened to be a kid living on our street. The only positive that came out of this tragedy is that this kid did not kill anyone of the family in the mini-van that they crashed into while racing.

We have all seen teenagers speeding through our streets, getting arrested for racing, causing accidents, etc. yet NOTHING is done to raise the driving age! I wouldn’t trust the average 16 year old with a loaded gun, so why does the government insist on letting these kids get behind the wheel of a car??

Why, in our society do the brilliant powers-that-be decree a kid shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are 19, but, by all means, go get behind the wheel of a killing machine at 16? In my opinion the change that needs to happen is to lower the drinking age to 16, and raise the driving age to 25! Who cares if a bunch of kids want to stagger around drunk, that’s a hell of a lot safer than watching them speed down suburban streets at breakneck speeds.

We can only hope that sooner or later the government gets a clue and raises the driving age. For now we are going to petition the city to put in a stop sign at that intersection – not many teenage drivers I see pay attention to stop sings anyway –and hope that this never happens again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I am working on a project that will allow an MSCRM user to create a Word document from a quote. All the user has to do is click a button on the Quote toolbar, and a formatted quote document will be created in Word 2007...

Here are some screenshots:
I just did an article on the Code Project web site for my MSCRM Vista gadget...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Everyone knows I am a big fan of Microsoft technology. For example recently at work I was asked to be able to speak about the business value of Blackberry, and I cannot even get that sentence out of my mouth! J

However, it continues to amaze me how complacent SO MANY people at Microsoft are. I am currently working on a deal where we have a chance to displace not 1, not 2, but 3 (that’s right, 3!) major competitors, and when I pinged some people at Microsoft to ask for help what did I get? “Check the website”. Nice. One MSFT employee actually told me to check http://arsenal/ which is a bloody Microsoft internal site! Brilliant.

Hey Microsoft employees, time to wake up! You’re getting your ASSES kicked all over the map in pretty much every product area, and for some reason the company continues to pour bad money into stupid products, ala the Zune. If it wasn’t for that damn Office cash cow, MSFT would be in serious trouble yet there is this overall attitude of complacency I just don’t get. For example take MSCRM. I work very closely with this product, and now has 646,000 Subscribers!!! Holy crap! How many licenses does MSCRM have? I am not sure of the exact number today, but the latest slides I have say about 180,000. Here’s a bulletin…that’s a good old-fashioned ASS KICKING!

The Zune debacle is even worse. The iPod owns the portable music player market, much the same way Google owns search. As to whether Google owns search because it is better, or just because people like to say “Google” is up for some debate, I use exclusively and I’ve never managed to not find something! So anyway let’s take on the iPod and release the Zune. BUT let’s not make the Zune BETTER than the iPod, and let’s certainly make sure e come up with some bizarre scheme for the online music store and use points as opposed to simple cents! Brilliant, what did that cost, about a billion dollars??

So what’s the point of this? Microsoft is BEHIND in pretty much every market segment excepting the Windows desktop and Office, and it’s time the employees started behaving as such. Many of the product groups need to adopt a “startup “mentality and when a Microsoft partner needs help, don’t just blow it off with a “look at the web site” reply…Get off your ass and let's kick some!

Friday, February 02, 2007

So Vista has launched and websites everywhere are talking about how although Microsoft says it’s the most secure OS they have released for consumers, there are bound to be security holes.

Gee, do you think?

Why can’t we stop talking about this and everyone just get over the fact that ANY computer system has vulnerabilities, and those are caused by the very features people want. You want a more secure computer system? Then don’t plug it into that cable modem. Oh wait, we can’t do that because then you won’t be able to chat with your new online friend in Timbuktu and send those pictures of Uncle Nestor’s new dog. Face it folks, if you want all those great features, and you seem to, there are GOING to be risks! And please note that I did not say that not plugging into the cable modem would make the system secure, it’s just a bit more secure than the one that *is* plugged in!

People like to make that joke about cars vs. computers so let's use that analogy and ask this: are cars secure? Can someone steal your car if they REALLY want to? Hell yes! And why?? Because the doors are a possible security risk, but how would we get in the car without them or if we welded them shut to prevent access?? The starter is a possible security risk, but how we would start the car without it? And let’s not forget the windows, we could cover them up with steel plating so they couldn’t be broken and deny access to the car that way, but a window with a steel plate over it ain’t much of a window now is it?!

Does that help all you folks out there understand the problem Microsoft faces? People want features, and those features create security risks. And don’t even try and say that the Mac/UNIX/Linux is secure because if someone REALLY wanted to hack those systems, they damn well can, will, and do. It’s just that the press they would get from the 16 people who use Macs getting upset isn't worth thier time. And that includes that loser on those commercials- if Apple wanted to show Macs as cool, why didn’t they pick a cool dude???

Here endeth the lesson.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vista Sync Toy.

Since I use a USB drive for data backup, one of my favorite XP programs is SyncToy from Microsoft. Now that I am using Vista I missed this tool, so I was very happy to find SyncToy 1.4 which works with Vista!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

So a few weeks little Avery was running around and snapped my wife’s iPod Shuffle off her USB port. So she went out and bought a new one, and WOW. So this thing is 1 GB, rectangular in shape, and has a built-in clip. The biggest complaint I had with my Creative Zen is its size, trying to work out and/or run with the Zen is like attaching a small brick to my shorts, and I’ve dropped it several times resulting in the belt clip breaking. So today, my lovely wife surprised me with a new iPod. So my allegiance to Microsoft notwithstanding, I think I am going to love this thing! I can just clip it on my sleeve and the weight is negligible. I am still not sure how it will work with my music, stay tuned!

Friday, January 19, 2007

So for some reason I have lost my icons for Office, Office Documents, and Acrobat documents in Vista.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

I am trying to install Visual Studio patches for Vista, but I keep getting this strange message:

I am searching like crazy trying to find a fix, so if anyone knows, please do tell!

I found this 8th Grade Math test via Ben Riga's Blog

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

I always knew that 5-year engineering degree would come in handy! :)
I recently saw a hypothetical situation which described an ISV who has developed a solution on Java Servlets and they are thinking about moving to MSCRM.

Here is a condensed version of how I would go about addressing this question.

First we need to find out some info about where they are today.

1. The first question I would ask is why they chose to develop with only servlets, which are traditionally a presentation layer technology, and not utilize features such as EJBs
2. I would next ask about vendors, who the web server is, what about the servlet container, is there an application server, etc. Usually those come from several sources and can be used to create some FUD around who is supporting this application, what about licensing costs of any servers, this gets passed on to the end-use resulting in higher costs. This could relate back to #1. Servlet containers can be had for free whereas full-fledged J2EE App Servers generally have high costs associated with them ala WebSphere!
3. I would next ask about their team, do they have developers who are aligned with the technology directions? What are their skill sets, if any? For all we know they could have outsourced the entire project which leads to whole different set of questions and issues! Sometimes, more often than not, it turns out a very small team of people have developed the code base, no one has documented anything, and they are not sure where the code is!
4. Are they keen to leverage some of their existing work, most probably yes, any J2EE project is a substantial work so if we can re-use some work as part of a migration strategy then great.

So those are 4 main questions which generally lead to more questions as we dig into their environment. Some strengths of the MSFT platform I usually address are:

1. People love to say Microsoft solutions are proprietary, but most people do not understand the difference between Open Source and Open Standards. For example, MSCRM adheres to open standards such as the Web Services Interoperability Basic Profile 1.1, and the utilization of a SaaS architecture for its API. This means that if an ISV embarks on a substantial project customizing MSCRM, the tools and APIs they would use, all from Microsoft, lend themselves to maintainability. If, half-way through a project the team lost some people, it is relatively easy to replace those people and ramp them up due to the consistencies of the Microsoft tools. Not so the J2EE environment where in this example we might have 5 different vendors, and the code to tie all those vendors together was probably custom written by someone on the project., In this scenario companies find themselves locked to a proprietary solution not from 1 company, but proprietary to 1 *person*!
2. What about future directions? Who are the vendors, what are their future plans, who is maintaining the products they use in their solution in the future? Let’s say they chose a more obscure servlet container suck as Gemstone/J. What happens if Gemstone goes out of business? Although Java promised a “write once, run anywhere” paradigm, the reality is this was not the case and changes almost certainly have to be made when porting from one app server to another. Similarly, what if they chose an open source container for cost reasons, and then find they need to go to a paid product? This could drive the costs of the project beyond acceptable limits. With the Microsoft platform, the web server and application server are IIS and .NET technology, a fully supported platform from Microsoft.
3. Future enhancements to their products? They develop a solution for HR, so I am betting there are *lots* of paper forms involved. This can be a logistical and storage nightmare, so what about possibly extending the solution to include document management via Sharepoint Team Services? This is yet another Microsoft product, so incorporating this into their solution (once it is developed using .NET) would be a lot less labor intensive than if they tried to hook into Sharepoint using their current servlet implementation. And I wouldn’t even want to begin to estimate what it might take to find an open source Sharepoint equivalent or develop one from scratch. In fact, a guy from Canada even has step-by-step instructions on his blog on how to hook MSCRM and Sharepoint together! J
4. If their in-house team has Java development skills, the transition to .NET will be relatively painless due to the language support. The team could use C# which is so syntactically similar to Java that I have seen Java developers productive with the language in as little as 1 day. Or their in-house team might have VB people who were not used for the current project, but could be utilized with greater productivity when they start developing with .NET.
5. By utilizing MSCRM as the basis for their development, they can significantly decrease the time it takes to implement new features. MSCRM has extensive built-in functionality that would otherwise need to be developed from scratch, so instead of concentrating on the “plumbing” the ISV can do what they do best, develop a solution based on their area of expertise and spend their time adding value to the solution.

So let’s assume the ISV likes what they hear and are interested in beginning to look at the platform, but want to leverage some of their existing technology as they transition. I would suggest a phased migration, utilizing the interoperability features of .NET to allow them to exploit the work they have done on the presentation layer using Servlets, and being by hooking their servlets into the MSCRM business logic layer via web services interoperability. Something like this:

With the business and data tiers being provided by MSCRM.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


So the phone system at work is an IP system, and a particularly cool feature is that when I get a voicemail it comes to my email inbox. However with every cool feature comes more frustration – the VMs are saved in WAV format, which doesn’t play back on WM 10 Mobile (or whatever version is on my WM 5 Smartphone). Why is that? I have no idea.

So after a Live search ( I found a really cool mobile player that plays WAV files: