Set-IT-and-Forget-IT: No IT Doesn’t Work that Way Anymore

Forever, (or at least since ’81 and the IBM PC) individuals and businesses have purchased (or acquired through other channels) their software to run on their PC’s and they expected it to run there for years and years.  And in most cases it did.  There was nothing to compel you to do differently.

Well in case you have been caught napping, the smart phone came along more than 10 years ago and as they say, “The world changed.” It truly has changed the face of computing and the notions of software that runs on computers (including all devices.)

What is the big deal? You ask… Well for most individuals the big deal is really not a big deal. When the device you have (PC, tablet, smart-phone, TV, whatever) is out of date you do what most people do, go to Amazon or Best Buy and come home with a new X Box, you get the picture – software is included. In other words, “No thinking required, No brainer, Not a problem.”

For businesses that is not the case. [Shakespearean Aside: My definition of a business in this post excludes those very small businesses that are virtually “one-man” operations who behave as individuals.]  Business owners follow time-honored and government regulated practices which immediately put the brakes on the, “lets just upgrade” mentality.  The non-business person who likely is employed by one, is even guilty of saying lets just get new software.  The problem with that thinking is simply this, the customer will be affected and that is a negative (unless you are Apple).

Fortunately for you I am not going into all that business hoopla; there are plenty of online articles and debate enough already for you to do your own research.

The Point of this Post:

Today, computers (including all devices) are effectively disposable equipment with an expected lifetime of approximately three (3) years.  With hardware refresh rates shorting even more.  Cars, for example, are on a one year refresh rate.  Yes, I know cars last more than a year but it is out of date in one year.  You practically have no choice now but to take it regularly back to the dealer for a software upgrade.  In the computer business this is a “patch” or “bug fix.”  So if high-ticket priced items are on a schedule, then it is reasonable to assume that devices follow the same type of curve.  They do.

Businesses must alter their purchasing practices of the software that drives/supports their line-of-business.  If you continue to think that your software is a fixture like your building, then you are going to be in a financial predicament in the near future.  Software is a service, hardware (infrastructure) is a lease.  Start recalculating your business plans.  If you need help, you need to contact someone like me to assist you.

(Note: All companies mentioned in this article are owners of their various trademarks and other intellectual property. I make no claim to any of their respective rights and have used them here as common well-known public companies for illustrative purposes. I am or have been a customer of each.)

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Visual Studio 2017 and Windows 10 Fall Creator Update (.NET 4.7.1)

This just a short note on compatibility.  If you are having this weird compile time error in Visual Studio 2017 15.4.x similar to: “… missing assembly reference. You must add a reference to assembly (netstandard Version 2.0.0.0)”, error then this might help.

The issue is the tooling in Visual Studio not knowing about .NET 4.7.1. These days Windows, Visual Studio, and .NET are not any longer released together so there are and will continue to be mismatches in OS’s, tools, and .NET releases.  You have a couple choices.  1- If you like the bleeding edge then DWI.  2- If your earning a living, use only versions that are listed on the .NET and Visual Studio sites as Latest Stable.

Now, I obviously am one of those in the DWI category.  To use .NET 4.7.1 you must have Visual Studio 2017 15.5 Preview 2 or you will get build errors.  Naturally you forked your code before targeting 4.7.1 and netstandard 2.0 together – right, you did this?

Good luck…

Big Announcement – Intact and AWS

Intact Partners is now an Amazon Web Services Consulting Partner.  I knew that at some point we would have to expand beyond Microsoft Azure to AWS but I didn’t expect it to come so soon.

About a month ago I got a call from a man that I have known for years.  We were together on public healthcare forum several years ago.  Since that time we have remained friends.  Michael Jackson is a person I respect.  When he called and asked if I would consider a special project with Amazon I told him that if it had been anyone other than he, I would have said, no.

So over the next few weeks we talked and I am now an AWS Consulting Partner.  AWS and Microsoft Azure to be sure are different systems.  But therein lies the power of my company’s products.  PowerLine does not “care” what the underlying cloud platform is or who provides it.  CodeSolve our development tooling creates code  agnostic to the platform infrastructure.  In the real world customers acquire services from multiple vendors, always have in the past and likely will in the future.  PowerLine was designed to take advantage of this reality.  Azure was our first choice because of our existing Microsoft experience.  From my point of view (and the code’s) the platforms are interchangeable.  Customers, government and business, will and do have cloud(s) and local workloads.  This will not change, cannot change.  Critical services must always maintain a certain locality of data and operations for those times when remote services are not available.

AWS is launching a new internal project in the next few weeks.  Intact is a premier consultant for AWS on this project.  I will post when AWS goes public with the project.

Quick Review – Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update

Intact Partners Inc is a Tallahassee, Florida company that I work in.  It’s hard to separate the job and the personal life when you are a fully immersed code and software junkie.  So if you read stuff on this blog site, it is not the “official” company line; but hey, who cares if you get the facts and/or an opinion.

Alright, so I installed the Windows 10 Enterprise Creator’s Update.  Since my Surface Pro 3 is a company device I had to use the subscription download which took forever to locate on Microsoft’s site. I checked their site this morning and they have that fixed.  Just log into your MSDN (now called VisualStudio.com) and type “Window 10” in the search box then look for “Windows 10 (multi-edition) VL, Version 1709 (Updated Sept 2017)”.  OK, hopefully you have it installed.

So here is my “Quick Review“: It’s great, I love it!  Works like I hoped and didn’t wreck anything when it installed. (You can stop here if you only want the short version.)

If you want more, read on…  What I have noticed since installing Windows 10 are simple things, but important to me.

  1. It is faster.  No really, noticeably faster on app loading.  Performance overall is definitely improved.  I use Visual Studio Ultimate all the time, along with a 5 node Service Fabric virtual machine cluster, SQL Server 2016 instance and a bunch of other apps at the same time.  I also have my tunes – Pandora going.  That is a fair load on any machine.
  2. It starts up now in less than a second. NOW THAT IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!  Before I would push the button and sit watching the word “Surface” and a bunch of spinning dots for a couple minutes while all my background apps started up. This is the single-most improved experience I see.
  3. Security,  I know all the stuff I’ve read about in the security area but here is the one thing sticking right out.  The DNS server routing has never worked right.  You could by-pass the company’s DNS servers or get nowhere if the company blocked you.  Now Windows 10 actually uses the company’s provided DNS even if you have specified different servers.  This is very good since I am always in different customers’ networks when working.  I also have parental protection on my home network router so I want it observed no matter what.
  4. There are subtle changes in menus and that seem to simplify things.  This is an Easter Egg hunt, go find things.
  5. Finally, while technically not a Windows 10 OS change, the Edge browser has major improvements in user experience.  But under the hood, Edge now fully supports the CSS 3 standard for CSS Grid Layout.  Chrome, Firefox, and others supported CSS Grid Layout for a while as the standard developed.  You can look here to check the support.  Why is this important? Developers can simplify code, increase speed, and offer more app-like features.  (I could go technical on you here, but I won’t. Go read for yourself.)

Parting words.  I’ve been using the latest update for several days with no issues.  I think Microsoft did it right.  The changes, for me at least, are fantastic (your mileage may vary.)

UPDATE
Reviewed on my Surface Pro 3, i7 – 8gig – 256gig SSD. I have subsequently installed on two home computers.  Surface Pro 3, i3 – 4gig – 64gig SSD. Installed with no issues, about one second start-up.  Apps load subjectively faster. Sony All-In-One, i5 – 4gig – 256 HDD.  Again no issues with install.  This is a major improvement in the start-up time for this machine. While it took about 15-20 seconds to start it did not peg the disk drive for literally 10 minutes like before which made the Sony almost unusable.  I believe the relatively “long” start compared to the Surface devices is due to the Sony’s HDD vs the SSD drives in the Surface devices.

Developer Help: There’s Open Source and then there’s Snippets

Open source has its issues as I have posted about.  On the flip side there are the true code jockeys. I love these guys and gals who fix real issues and then are kind enough to post real code with real documentation.  Code Projects  is a real source of this type of full solutions with documentation. Then there is Stack overflow – every developer lives on Stack overflow.  If you are a developer and not using these resources then you are working too hard!

Finally I have found sources of code that really fit my needs.  There is this guy Rick Stahl (http://www.west-wind.com) who writes code and documentation that anybody can understand.  I have followed Rick for years.  In my estimation he has to be one of the most prolific developers out there.  I have no idea how he is able to create code and documentation at such an incredible rate.  I envy you, Rick.  Thank you for helping we the less talented look great!

Larry

jQuery UI – blank

As is the case with a lot of open source – complete working samples that actually demonstrate the code are few and far between.  The jQuery UI is no exception.  It is just about unusable because it lacks any serious documentation.  I try to use it in projects to save time and money.  The truth is, I save neither time nor money and take on a load of stress.  Open source, as I have said so many times is *not* free.  It has a high cost.

Almost all contracts where I partner with a larger company include language that prohibit open source libraries and code.  There are good reasons for this.

  • Lack of support
  • Lack of documentation
  • Cannot verify compliance with applicable laws
  • No one to hold accountable
  • Can’t meet legal indemnification clauses
  • License issues

I am sure there are other issues.  It is a shame that so much effort is put into an open-source effort only to have it rendered practically unusable because the developer doesn’t make credible documentation and samples.  I’m guilty too.  That is why I don’t publish much in the way of open source.  So if you are a developer and want to create open source code, do everybody a favor and document or don’t publish!  By the way this is my opinion and I don’t care about yours.

Microsoft .NET Core 2.0 and .NET Framework the Future

Well I have predicted the demise of the now very old .NET Framework model for several years.  However its demise is not total.  It is true that .NET Framework as we have known it for so many years is at end of life – Long Live .NET Core!

If you care and read about such things and you are interested it cloud computing and you are a Microsoft developer then .NET matters.  So I will get straight to the point.  If you are running a Windows OS in the future you will have a version of .NET Framework automatically installed.  The reason is simple, Microsoft has used it as part of the Window 10 and Windows 2016 Server OS’s.  It is baked in. It is part of the OS, meaning it is not “installed” as it once was.

So what is the deal with .NET Core 2.0?  Simply, .NET Core 2.0 Standard is a “standard”.  Starting with .NET 4.7.1 Framework the full .NET Core 2.0 Standard is implemented.  The key work is implemented. .NET Core 2.o Standard is not an actual implementation its is the standard by which companies including Microsoft can build on.  .NET Core 2.0 Standard is an open standard.

All these standards and implementations mean something.  I as a developer want to create code that is valuable to my customer and earn a living.  With .NET Core 2.0 Standard, I can develop code to deploy on a Windows 10/2016 and know that all the necessary libraries will be present.  If I am running on another OS (eg Linux) and I develop on .NET Core 2.0 Standard, I know that all the necessary libraries for that OS will be deployed to that environment.

This is very good.  From a business owner’s perspective, I should have a “requirement” in my statement of work that requires developers to adhere to .NET Core 2.0 (or higher) Standard.  This will assure that my project can be run on any supported environment, cloud, local, or whatever is dreamed up next.

Happy developing!