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Posts Tagged ‘microsoft’

Fresh New Look for The AppRefactory Inc.

03-Nov-16 09:23 am EDT Leave a comment
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fter 3+ years hosted at Weebly.com, it was time to finally take The AppRefactory Inc. company website into a modern hosting environment with features and integration potential that would allow us to demonstrate, albeit in brief, what ASP.NET MVC could offer.  Dynamic product listings with breadcrumb sub-navigation, upload sections for partner contracts and résumés; and database-driven contact forms that make it easier than ever (and convenient) to stay in touch are all just the beginning.  In the days ahead we still expect to add:

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The AppRefactory Inc. website redeployment announcement graphic: http://apprefactory.ca

  • Links to customer features site (requiring login) via Office365, Visual Studio (online ed.) and SharePoint,
  • Highlights and links to ongoing software development currently being undertaken by the company,
  • Book time online with a consultant to review your software service needs or setup an in-depth remote service session online through HackHands.com,
  • Subscription for partner companies and contacts looking for email updates consultant availability and/or major site & service offering revisions, and
  • Links to WindowsStore.com and related sites for specific product integrations (Windows desktop, server and phone all to be included).

So stay tuned!  There’s much more yet to come….and you won’t want to miss any of it.

(Additional graphics related to the new website can be found on our Yelp.ca listing.)

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AR HelpOuts Launched!

10-Sep-14 08:07 pm EDT Leave a comment
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he AppRefactory Inc. launches its first service offering today with the debut of a partnership with Google Inc. through Google Helpouts.  This further enhances the company’s service offerings in the application maintenance and support space; but also extends its services to more generalized support of the tools and technologies it uses throughout its service delivery process.  Support is being offered through Google Helpouts for technologies and platforms like:

  • G HelpoutsLogoMicrosoft Visual Studio (all ediitions, 2005-2013)
  • Programming Language Support / Tutorials:
    • Visual C#
    • Visual Basic / VB.NET
    • Java
    • JavaScript
    • HTML
    • XML
    • SQL
    • VBScript
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Team Foundation Server
  • Microsoft Windows / Microsoft Windows Server
  • Microsoft Office / MS Office VBA
  • Linux (Ubuntu)
  • Apache WebServer
  • Microsoft Internet Information Server
  • Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)
  • Microsoft Windows Workflow (WF)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Web Services

…and much, much more!

Google Helpouts also offers payment features that allows either the business or individual user to use services on a demand basis easily.  And with this launch, the service is being offered, for a limited time, with a free support instance — giving potential customers an opportunity to “try-and-buy” for a fixed 20-minute session, without charges or fees applied.  (See Google Helpouts terms & conditions for more info.)

Microsoft Buys Nokia

03-Sep-13 12:24 pm EDT 1 comment

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ust last week, following a discussion with a potential business partner, I’d found myself doing something I’ve done a few times over the course of my career — wondering whether I was making the right choice sticking with being “a Microsoft technology expert”.  Typically, such ennui occurs during downtimes for the software giant….and there have definitely been downs with the ups in the 30-year-long Microsoft saga.  But with the announcement late yesterday about the Nokia buyout, I think I may have learned to recognize such feelings as moments the really herald the coming of a big announcement or some influential development; as once more, my momentary doubts about sticking with Microsoft were immediately laid to rest.

Nokia, for its part, hasn’t been doing well in the smartphone market — not even as well as Microsoft’s own Windows Phone operating system — in an industry dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.  During its now outgoing CEO’s (Stephen Elop) reign, Nokia shares dropped an extremely disappointing 85% giving pause to any notions one might have toward thinking of him a replacement for Steve Ballmer (who’s also in the midst of his own departure from Microsoft).  Nokia was already licensing Windows Phone from Microsoft so some have said not much else is likely to change at the former Finnish cellphone giant.

In the end, Elop (a Canadian) may have been partly behind an engineering of optics in league with Ballmer to succeed the latter at Microsoft.  But along with those optics will be those of a renewed momentum for the Windows Phone OS, which can only be a good thing for those of us believers in the Microsoft brand.


Story supporting links:

Anti-Microsoft Bigotry Finds New Ammunition in Search Results Scandal

02-Feb-11 10:03 pm EDT Leave a comment
At left, Google searched for the correct spelling of "tarsorrhaphy" even though "torsoraphy" was entered. Bing manages to list the same Wikipedia entry at the top of its results.
Google searched for the correct spelling of "tarsorrhaphy" even though "torsoraphy" was entered. Bing manages to list the same Wikipedia entry at the top of its results.” (Source: FoxNews.com; associated article here.)
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oogle and other players in the information technology (IT) industry say Microsoft is guilty of “industrial espionage” in the wake of catching the software giant displaying results originating from Google itself on the Bing search engine’s results page (which is operated by Microsoft).  The charge itself is surprising; but perhaps almost as surprising is that a company with the name-brand recognition, market share and raw success of Google would float charges as ridiculous as “espionage” is in this case – in public.

It’s all a product of an ongoing and, really, tired theme in the IT sector: techno-bigotry.  It’s existed for years between the two mainstream, competing platforms for Internet-based application delivery: on one side you have Microsoft Corporation which used to be criticized (rightfully) for offering a heavily proprietary solution architecture; and on the other, what I term “the Java alliance” – which is really an architecture that at key points conforms with a loose agreement on industry standards and technologies that are based upon “open-source” development principles (though there are many elements which can be proprietary in nature).

There are those who’d dismiss the Google announcement concerning the alleged Bing results replication as merely the product of the fiercely competitive web search sub-industry – that it’s all about optics and trying to make Google appear more innovative than Microsoft (yet again).  But this is a hugely simplistic view of Google’s real motives.  After all, the information being contested in this complaint is either “out there” – visible to the public; or at least any member of the public equipped with an application capable of reading the web protocol "HTTP” (a web browser), or voluntarily shared with Microsoft by individual users (i.e. data shared though the Bing toolbar or other available “clickstream” data, acquired by legitimate means.  Normally when one conducts espionage, one is surreptitiously (and unlawfully) getting information which has value both as intellectual property and as information that offers competitive advantage (which, in the IT sector would typically be technology that nobody else has).  Typically, such technology is the product of innovation by the company holding it.  So did Microsoft – which admits it did present results in a fashion very similar to Google – commit espionage or, as one analyst claimed, “cheat” doing what it did?  The answer is yes, certainly; if your definition of espionage and cheating includes using information that was broadcast without encryptions or other protections of any kind into the public domain.

JavaDissDotNet
Technology bigotry is so ingrained in the IT industry’s culture; there are very real parallels with college sports, complete with slogans, mascots and meaningless, ad hominem arguments as to which team is better.

My definition of both espionage and cheating differs from that conclusion (as does virtually every published lexical reference I could find online).

Beyond all of this, were Microsoft really guilty of espionage, Google would not be making claims so publicly about their “sting”, as they call it.  Microsoft would be dragged up on criminal charges and Google would be very tight-lipped about what claims it was making in public, notwithstanding the usual statement in such circumstances, “We cannot comment because the matter is before the courts.”  (Particularly in the litigation-prone United States of America.)  So why is Google trying its would-be espionage case in the court of public opinion? In fact, there are many reasons.  For one thing, Google wants to highlight its position as the leader of search technology, because Bing (Microsoft’s search product) has been gaining ground.  And, lets face it, search is Google’s “crown jewels” – just as Microsoft Office products are its “crown jewels” (alongside the Windows operating system).  Google will do anything and everything (within the scope of lawful conduct) to defend its web search property.  In charging Microsoft with “cheating” like this, particularly to the largely non-technical advertising and marketing business audience, Google is attempting to make Microsoft out to be a company that just can’t figure out how to beat Google by innovating on its own.  The trouble is, everyone already recognizes Google as the undisputed leader of web search.  So is there something else Google gains in all this?  You bet!  There’s another audience of note: software developers (like me!).

Web developers and software developers are often overlooked as a relevant crowd in such stories by the mainstream media; but don’t think for a second both Google and Microsoft  don’t spend a lot of time, effort and cold, hard cash wooing developers to use their products.  Why?  Because when software-based solutions are created, the size of the pool of resources available to maintain and upgrade the resulting products are a key consideration for IT managers – which translates into determining how much those solutions end up costing in the end.  In general, the more developers there are whose expertise gravitate to one particular toolset, the less costly that toolset is.  And at the moment, Microsoft is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of software developers (mostly due to the de facto capitulation of Java through IBM’s acquisition of it, via the Sun Microsystems transaction, back in 2009).  In this developer’s opinion, Java has lost much of its momentum throughout the industry as a direct result of IBM taking control of the technology.  And software professionals are aligning their careers accordingly.  But Java’s legacy can’t be underestimated – it is still to be found in many spaces and the Java language will remain a relevant, sought-after skill for several years into the future at least.  And Google can be thanked for this, in part.  As a third-party company, Google is at liberty to offer integration to any partners it prefers…and it is obvious that while it is possible to integrate with many Google service offerings with Microsoft technology – it is not rolling out the red carpet to Microsoft’s .NET platform, nor the Windows operating system by any means.  Indeed there are service offerings which are exclusively available only to the Linux operating system, which is one of the top three competitors to Microsoft Windows.

From a business perspective, this lukewarm reception to Microsoft integration makes some sense, since increasingly Google and Microsoft contest the same service paradigms.  Search is only one example.  Google Docs is a direct competitor to Microsoft Office, Google Desktop is a direct assault on both Microsoft Live Essentials and Microsoft Search technologies.  If Google is to gain mind-share amongst the developer population and someday be able to threaten Microsoft’s dominance in the server room (which is its ultimate goal, I believe, since that’s where the big money is), it really needs to do what it can to discourage adoption of the .NET Framework.

So expect more spectacles of one sort or another with this core theme exhibited as part of a long-term strategy to beat Microsoft.  And I say long-term in the full sense of the word.  Not only is Google not yet directly challenging Microsoft in the operating systems space (which it needs to do in order to get through the server room doorway), but Microsoft has played this game before…and always won.  It beat Java with .NET.  It beat Netscape with IE.  It even beat Sony and its PlayStation with the XBox.  But Microsoft’s never taken on a company quite like Google before…a company as innovative and fast-paced as Google.  Google won an early battle stifling Microsoft’s foray into online services with its Microsoft Live web properties; but Microsoft countered by making a huge consent-based investment in Facebook and continues to increase that investment while partnering more and more closely with the near-monopoly it holds on social networking.  The game is too close to call at this point.

And expect the techno-bigotry to continue….with all is parallels to college sports; slogans, cheers, mascots and meaningless ad hominem arguments as to which team is better.

We’ve Moved!!!

19-Jan-11 09:38 am EDT Leave a comment
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icrosoft shut down its Live Spaces social networking site as of January 1, 2011 — resulting in all the blogs being hosted there (including that of yours truly) to be migrated to WordPress.com per a deal inked back in 2010.  Consequently, you’ll notice a number of changes to the presentation; though I’m inclined to try to preserve the original layout to a certain extent….because I don’t want to confuse those who visit regularly any more than is going to be necessary.  Watch for refinements and customizations to this effect in the days ahead.

So why did Microsoft dump Live Spaces? Simply put: Spaces was totally eclipsed by other facilities that did it better.  And Microsoft isn’t shy about asking for help from 3rd parties when it can’t go it alone.  That’s exactly the story behind the partnership with Gatineau-based Cactus Commerce for the development of Microsoft Commerce Server (a project I had the rare privilege to participate on for the better part of two years).  And it isn’t without precedent for such agreements to evolve into takeovers; though any suggestion that such a development is imminent where either Cactus or WordPress are concerned would be premature.

So welcome to my blog’s new home!  And here’s hoping we’ll see you return again and again in the months and years to come.

WS-HTTP-Based Windows Service: Last Choice of WCF Devs?

19-Jun-09 11:12 am EDT Leave a comment
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hile looking for a configuration utility to assist with some WCF development I was doing earlier today, I realized that I’d written an article about that same utility in my blog a while back.  And upon clicking the link to where the tool should have been located, got a “not found” error.  Further research revealed the location where the author apparently moved it to and I’ve updated the article in question (below) accordingly.

If you find broken links — especially to downloadable media that might be of interest to others — please don’t hesitate to let me know using blog feedback at the bottom of the “About me” page.


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ou might not think that WSHTTP isn’t the last choice of WCF developers when developing a Windows Service.  Despite the protocol overhead of HTTP, often developers will default to this protocol in setting up a WCF application because of network rules, compatibility with other applications based on HTTP or just out of raw familiarity.  Whatever the reason, HTTP still ends up being the first choice – as it was for me recently (albeit at another’s urging) and, being a veteran of net.tcp, I ran into trouble pretty quick:

HTTP could not register URL http://+:8083/FoaeaService/ApplicationListSystem.svc/. Your process does not have access rights to this namespace (see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=70353 for details).
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.SharedHttpTransportManager.OnOpen()
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.TransportManager.Open(TransportChannelListener channelListener)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.TransportManagerContainer.Open(SelectTransportManagersCallback selectTransportManagerCallback)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.TransportChannelListener.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.HttpChannelListener.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher.ChannelDispatcher.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.ServiceHostBase.OnOpen(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open(TimeSpan timeout)
at System.ServiceModel.Channels.CommunicationObject.Open()
at Justice.FOAEA.MidTier.Services.FoaeaHostService.OnStart(String[] args) in C:\Projects\WCF\ServiceHost\FoaeaHostService.vb:line 77

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

Strangely, I didn’t visit the Help and Support Center, as directed at the bottom of the stack trace above.  Instead I tinkered with my .config file for about an hour before it dawned on me that the settings were actually correct and I should follow the instructions.

To summarize my visit to the Help and Support Center, there is an extremely obscure tool called HttpCfg.exe which is used on that platform I’m currently developing for – Windows Server 2003 (it’s netsh on Vista/Windows Server 2008, and less obscure).  It demands that you divine an arcane string to pass as parameters for your application, security context, etc.  Certainly, one could achieve the desired settings to make their HTTP-hosted service work…eventually.  But I was fortunate enough to spare myself another indefinite period of maddening trial-and-error by stumbling upon an extremely helpful blog article by one Paul Wheeler, a former Microsoft SDE who apparently did some WCF development for the company’s Connected Systems division.  In the article, Wheeler provides a tool for configuring local system HTTP settings with source code under Creative Commons (public license).  The tool offers other advantages over HttpCfg for this purpose and was a lucky find indeed!

I am still debating whether or not to push a lot harder to move my app to net.tcp.  The decision rests with the project’s technical architect; and I wasn’t he on this project at the time (but, in fact, ended up assuming the Technical Architect role about mid-way through the first phase of the project).  But if you, like me, are in a situation requiring HTTP – Wheeler’s HttpNamespaceManager is for you!

Updated: July 26, 2011

Terry Glavin

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