Categories
Geeky/Programming Product Reviews

Living Virtually: Running your Dev Process on Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines have been around for years. VMWare and Microsoft have been the main competitors for a while, both offering somewhat similar products. Parallels for Mac is another, and Virtual Box for pretty much everything. I have used them all. When it comes right down to it, VMWare, to me, is ahead of the rest, so I am going to focus on that. Heck, I did a P2V (Physical to Virtual) on my girlfriends wacked out laptop and that is working great, 2 months later 🙂

What is a typical scenario for most people? They go buy a machine, set it up, use it. It works great. It crashes or gets hosed. They lose most if not everything, spend a week redoing the machine and start the process over. This goes on for a few years, then they get a new machine, and start the cycle over

But…

What if you thought “virtually”? So, you go buy (or build) your beefy development machine. But then didn’t install anything but Windows Updates (of course), and VMWare Workstation. Now granted your want your physical box to have 8, 12, or 16 GB of RAM, and loads of fast disk space, but yeah, just need to have a beefy machine.

Now, you set up your actual dev machine as a virtual machine, you give it 8 GB of RAM. You install the OS, and take a snapshot (In VMWare). You install VS2010, take a snapshot. You install SQL Server 2008 R2 Dev, snapshot. You install each browser you need to test with, snapshot, snapshot, snapshot. You get the idea.

Now, if something is totally wacked, you can revert to a snapshot. You can even have multiple paths of snapshots, this type of thing is very VERY cool if you get it going correctly.

You can also just grab the entire VM hard disk and settings and copy off to your trusty 2 TB USB drive or whatever and you can do this once a week and you have a complete backup of your dev machine.

You can then set up another VM, say, “Web Server” or whatever you desire, give it 2 GB or whatever it needs to run, do the same thing. You can have both running, and do your testing. You can create a separate SQL Machine for testing. Try to set up your environment as you would for your development. If you need an Active Directory? Set that up, set up 3 VM’s or whatever, you don’t need to have them all running all the time. You need Exchange? Or SharePoint? Same thing. You have a Technet or MSDN Subscription, right? No? Go get one NOW.

What is even better then best, is that 3 years later, when you get an even better machine, you know what? You just install VMWorkstation, and copy or locate your VM’s and you are set. No resetting things up, etc, etc. It just works.

You want to create a smaller dev VM for holiday travel? Take it on USB, use Mom’s PC with VMWare Player and give your VM 1 GB of RAM. You just need enough to get by on. No laptop needed, just bring up your USB. You get the idea.. you can do pretty much anything you’d like.

If a salesperson came up to you and said “I have a way for you to configure multiple environments, multiple computers, setups, and have ways to revert back to things you did while configuring, and take backups of everything easily, etc, etc” How much would you pay? $1k? $5k? More?

How about roughly $200, for VMWare Workstation (if you already have Technet/MSDN – which you would have already). I’m sold.

If you really want to get complicated, you can set up VM Farms, and run VMWare Servers, and have multiple VM’s going and easily accessible. But using VMWorkstation to start is good enough, and good enough is fine 🙂


Categories
Product Reviews

Hulu+ ? Right now, not worth it

According to Gizmodo, Hulu+ Invites are Now Arriving.. Well, I got mine on July 16th. And I have already cancelled it. It isn’t worth 10 dollars a month, at least not a this point. Why?

Well, first off, your queue and shows on regular Hulu aren’t in Hulu+, so you can’t watch them on the iPad and iPhone, WTF?

Also, the shows they have archives for are mostly stupid one offs that no one watched when they were out the first time.

Hopefully once more shows sync up to the Hulu+ model and are on the main “Hulu” and + edition, I will look at going back to it.


Categories
Product Reviews

office.live.com – Docs in the Cloud

For a while, there have been offerings from Google (Google Apps/Docs), Zoho, and others, and recently, Microsoft jumped into the “online office” game with office.live.com.

Pretty cool. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in the cloud. Limited, but you can create docs, share them, edit them, with *no software* installed on your system. Good in a pinch, good to sync some docs up that you might want to edit, good on a relatives computer that doesn’t have office.

Where have I started to use it more though? OneNote. What is OneNote? Well, before Office 2010, OneNote was installed as a separate application with Office. Kind of like Visio. My biggest problem with OneNote was that I was stuck to my laptop, or whatever. Had to be on the actual box.

Now, you can create a OneNote notebook in the cloud, and edit it in the browser, or on your machine. OneNote also has some cool features, like

“You can now share your notes with other OneNote users in real time by hosting or participating in shared note-taking sessions. Over a live connection, you can work together on a project or share a read-only copy of your notes with an audience.”. It also integrates nicely with tablet/bamboo and mic/text/voice recognition, as well as Outlook and meetings, etc. Integration everywhere.

I actually like OneNote better than Evernote – but Evernote I can get on my computers, web, iPad and iPhone. Yes, there is a OneNote iPhone app (MobileNoter) but you have to install a client, blah blah. Should just work over the cloud.

Anyways, if you need office online in a pinch, try office.live.com, but also check out OneNote and using it with others to share/read notes in real time, really cool features.

Categories
Product Reviews

Goto Meeting vs Whatever

I have used a ton of “meeting” apps. Live Meeting, Goto Meeting, ATT Web Conference, TeamViewer, etc, etc.

Best of the best? My opinion? Goto Meeting. Easy to setup, easy to use. Just works.

There is also an iPad app! I have used a couple of times and it works great. Whenever some *other* meeting software seems to fail, Goto Meeting works.

Not saying there isn’t room for improvement, but it just seems to always work. I have had to use it to step in when LiveMeeting fails, or ATT web meeting fails, etc. It is a pretty awesome product and if you have a chance to use it, I would say go for it, You won’t be disappointed.

Categories
Geeky/Programming Product Reviews Ramblings

One Thing About the iPhone 4..

I still love it. Like I said, I don’t use it as a phone. But I have noticed something different (And I blame AT&T for this – working for cell phone company for 5 years, I blame the carrier :))

In Madison/Sun Prairie, I get 3G ,works great, no issues. When I drive out to work, in the big city of Waterloo, WI – there is no 3G, just Edge/2G. I noticed that the phone is just “Searching..” or low bars – trying VERY hard to connect.

What I did was turn off 3G and it was at FULL bars. So once I get to work, I turn off 3G, and once I leave, I turn it back on.

What it is, the phone is hanging on to the 3G signal from the big town of Sun Prairie, and tries, tries, tries its hardest to hold on to that. Bad handoffs or something. The cell sites aren’t handing it off gracefully to the Edge/2G network, so I have to force it.

Go figure.

Categories
Geeky/Programming Product Reviews

Thoughts on the iPhone 4

I picked up my iPhone 4 on Friday afternoon (July 16th). Wonderful device. Retina display is awesome. Video camera, front facing camera, flash: awesome.

People wonder about the dropped calls, etc. Whatever. First, I may be different. I haven’t even USED the phone yet. I don’t really use the iPhone as a phone. Personal Handheld Online News Entertainment ? Who knows.. I use it for everything but a phone. Maps, Reading, Feeds, Twitter, Facebook, News, Movies, Games, Work, Email, etc, etc, etc. It isn’t a phone. 🙂

Any ways, Steve Jobs already told us that we are getting bumpers, I might use it.

This device is the best out there, by far. Most gripes might be with AT&T, not Apple. Like others have said, build a better device, and then we will see. I don’t see it yet. I have tried other devices and they just aren’t as smooth.

I can’t wait for Emily to get hers so we can do the FaceTime thing, that will really be awesome.


Categories
Product Reviews

Thoughts on the iPad

I am writing this from my iPad. What do I think of it? Pretty awesome. More apps will make it even better.

Playing “board” games is pretty fun. Crosswords, Sudoku, Words with Friends and others.

IMDB and Wikipanion are nice too. News and magazine apps make total sense. Of course this device is just completely built for consuming media but you can still create as I am now.

I like email in landscape mode, maps is awesome too.

Biggest thing i wish i could do? SMS. Other than that i am pretty pleased.

Next versions of the iPad will be better (as usual) so I am pretty excited.

Categories
Business Intelligence Product Reviews

Redgate SQL Search – Free Download

I have always wanted a good way to search all the db’s on a server, find procs, views, whatever that have something in their DDL so i could do what I want with it. There are ways using DMV’s or other things in SQL Server, but it just becomes a pain.

Then came along SQL Search (http://www.red-gate.com/products/SQL_Search/index.htm) – from Redgate. And it is free! Works like a charm. It eliminates the need to fire up some query and change what you are looking for. It works well. Check it out the next time you are trying to find every object that has “whatever” in its T-SQL DDL.

Categories
Product Reviews

Reeder, a Google Reader App for iPhone

I have tried many iPhone Google Reader apps, and nothing has come close to working well for me but the web app as a web clip shortcut. That changed this week when I checked out Reeder (http://reederapp.com/2/)

I read a ton of Google Reader (usually 10,000+ posts a month) so I need something good. Reeder has actually replaced my Web Clip Reader link on my second iPhone page as my go to Google Reader app.

If you read a lot of feeds, from Google Reader, I suggest checking out Reeder.

Categories
Product Reviews

FlickrFetchr – great little Mac app to download flickr sets (supports Guest Passes!)

I get photo’s shared with me on Flickr. Guest Passes. Pretty cool to look at them and do slideshows online, but what if I want to download them all?

There are many apps out there for windows and mac that let you download your OWN sets, or also download public sets from other users, but I needed to get a guest pass set.

stumbled upon this, FlickrFetchr. Works as promised, nice little app.