blog

9/15/2014 10:24:05 PM

It is amazing to me the relationship that (almost) every jeep owner has towards another jeep owner.  Whether I know the jeep driving towards me or not I feel compelled to wave at them as they drive by.  Generally they reciprocate with a head nod or a wave back.  If we stop next to one another we immediately check out the other fella’s ride.  If the windows are down we exchange compliments.

I have worked at Clear Measure for a few weeks now.  We moved into our new building about a week ago.  And with my new window view I see a yellow jeep and a blue jeep drive in and out several times through out the day.  I finally had a chance to go introduce myself as a fellow jeep owner.  We looked at his yellow jeep.  And talked about future mods.

Then we walked into the garage and looked at my jeep and Jeffrey’s jeep (parked side by side so that they can have some alone time throughout the day – if we are lucky they will make more white Rubicon JK’s!).  This then led to “what do you do”.  We are both C# developers.  This then led to a tour of his office on the 5th floor in the same building as Clear Measure.  Then a business card exchange.  Ending with a “we should meet on the trail one of these days”.

The only other community that I have come even close to this level of immediate friendship is in the “back to the land” or sustainable farming community.  The difference being that we really expect helping hands and knowledge exchange from one another.  Where as jeepers generally expect only a wave or a tow out of a sticky situation.

I acknowledge that there is a similar friendliness in the motorcycle group…but there you often have harley snobs, rice rocket racers, and leather gangs.

I love being a jeep owner! 

8/20/2014 9:28:10 PM

Azurians,

My name is Andrew Siemer.  I recently left Dell and started working with Jeffrey Palermo and the gang over at Clear Measure.  As soon as I heard that there was an opportunity to get this Azure group up and moving again I jumped on it.  I very much look forward to serving you all!

Please let me know if you find any interesting content that would appreciated by this group in a weekly newsletter.  Even better - if you make that content send it my way!  Also, if you are interested in presenting feel free to reach out to me and I will get you scheduled.  Would your company like to sponsor the user group?  All we need is pizza and sugar water in exchange for a few minutes with a captive audience!

Also, we are planning on moving this from a virtual event to an in person event.  We are targeting the Microsoft campus - 10900 Stonelake Blvd, Austin.  And we are looking to get this scheduled for every third wednesday of the month at 6pm.

New Azurians: Me, Mohcine Madkour, Adrian Luff, Steve MunLeeuw, James Allen

Azure info for the week:

Web Casts
- Canada Does Windows Azure - SentinelAgent
- Azure WebSites - Best Practices
- Episode 149: Azure Site Recovery with Praven Vijayaraghavan
- Episode 148: Azure Files with Andrew Edwards

Pod Casts
- Episode 042 - Creating Office 365 Applications using Azure - An Interview with Scot Hillier
- Episode 39 - Brewmaster!

Posts
- Azure Automation Capabilities in Depth: The Azure Automation PowerShell Cmdlets
- Azure Virtual Machine Disk Encryption using CloudLink
- MyGet Now Available in the Azure Store
- Enabling Command-line or Continuous Delivery of Azure WebJobs
- SQL Server High Availability in Windows Azure Iaas

Snippets
- Updates Azure PowerShell directly from GitHub
- Landlord for server environment automation
News
- Azure Exam: 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
Free
- Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure
- Microsoft Azure courses

Jobs
- If you like building cutting edge apps targeted for Auzre come apply at the coolest engineering shop in Austin - Clear Measure!  We are always looking for talented people.  http://www.clear-measure.com/careers/

8/15/2014 3:30:33 PM

I have now been at Clear Measure for a week.  Today is actually the end of my first week.  I have to say that I love it!  I have worked for many consulting type companies before so I have quite a few to compare too.

Like any mostly new company that is just getting itself started – the most important factor is the people that make up the team.  This team is a great one.  I have not met a single person that isn’t here to help every other person.  This is hugely important.

Let’s quickly get the standard Joel Spolsky test out of the way.  We get a score of 8 out of 12.  We have two NO’s.  One maybe and one sort of.  Not too shabby!

  1. YES - Do you use source control? 
    For client projects we use Visual Studio Online (TFS) with GIT.  For open source projects we use GitHub.
  2. YES - Can you make a build in one step?
    It is our goal to always have CI for every project.  Generally this comes first.  Sometimes it comes a few steps into the project.  But this is very high on our list of importance.  TeamCity is the preferred tool for this job.
  3. YES - Do you make daily builds?
    This again requires that the CI for the project is in place but once it is daily builds if not more often are always the goal.
  4. YES - Do you have a bug database?
    We use VSO for some of this, Trello for others.
  5. maybe - Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
    In a customer driven environment, this is ultimately up to the customer.  But as software craftsmanship is our core competency we do plead our case as best we can about fixing bugs.  Sadly, we don’t always win this fight and from time to time bugs in the system are not prioritized over new features at all times.
  6. YES - Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
    Our VP’s of Engineering…the guys who run each of our projects – know what they are doing as it pertains to the customer, the project, the code, and the schedule.  There are very few non-technical folks in the company and that’s great!
  7. YES - Do you have a spec?
  8. no - Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
    As the company is young it had to start small in terms of office space.  Everybody from the CEO to the interns are sitting in shared space.  We are moving to a new office at the end of the month where I am told the quite developer folks will be separated from the loud business/sales folks.  But I believe we will still be
  9. YES - Do you use the best tools money can buy?
    Yes!  Always.  I have yet to hit a wall when asking for a tool to do my job or make the company a better place.
  10. sort of - Do you have testers?
    Everyone is a tester don’t ya know?  Have not yet met a full time real QA person.  But that isn’t to say that we don’t have people responsible for testing.  We have several folks that start in the world of SDET.
  11. YES - Do new candidates write code during their interview?
    Our interview does indeed require you to write code.  At first pass I thought “how simple was that”.  But after being on the other side listening to calls and hearing about the test results of various folks, I am shocked to learn how such a simple test is able to weed out so many folks!
  12. no - Do you do hallway usability testing?
    …but to be fair we don’t yet have any hallways!  :)

If you haven’t seen this test before take a look here.  It’s priceless for us developery folk!  http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000043.html

Although its only been a week…I am looking forward to my future here.  Come join me!

3/10/2014 2:34:15 AM

This week was Logan’s 11th birthday.  Some of you may know that he and I are really enjoying competing in three gun together.  But as he is left handed, and still young at a fresh 11, shooting some of my gear is difficult for him either due to being right hand specific or heavy for a little guy.  To alleviate some of those issues I had a custom left handed light weight rifle built for him.  My rifle is 6 pounds and right handed.  His is 4 pounds and left handed. 

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Read more about it here.

3/1/2014 1:23:09 PM

A neighbor of ours has sold his house.  He is basically done with the life of having property.  Well, the work of having property.  He decided to leave Texas and head back to Florida for walks on the beach.  As he no longer needed his stuff he decided to have an everything must go sale.  A buddy and I went in on a convertible trailer.  Part flat bed.  Part stock trailer.  Perfect for small time ranchers like us who need a flat bed near daily and a stock trailer now and then.

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The first major task for us was to get some hay for the horses.  This meant that we needed to take the top off.  Uh oh…no where to put it!  I know – hang it from the barn rafters (hope that old barn holds).  Backed it in.  Hung it up.  Ratcheted it off.

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And we will NEVER do that again!  Poor old barn didn’t know what we were doing to it!

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Then off we went to get some hay.

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Four bales at a time is way better than two!

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The horses didn’t know what it was that we were doing unloading huge piles of food at night.  But they couldn’t wait to get into it.

 

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And the kids couldn’t help but play in the hay as well.

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Going up!

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2/26/2014 4:43:22 AM

Everyone at one point or another in their career fantasizes about how cool it would be to work from home.  They always joke about taking meetings in their under wear.  Do a little work with your family in the other room.  Have lunch with the family.  Be as comfy as you want to be.  And be able to pay the bills with that life style.

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Coding challenge number two has been thrown down.  The nice thing about having two competitive kids learning something together is that they inevitably push each other to do more than the teacher (me) asked.  They have been hard at work figuring out the first challenge and were immediately ready for the next thing.

So…I hollar’d “C H A L - L AAAA N G E” !!!!!  $5 to the winner (first to complete)

This exercise is to extend the concept of a single document to a “web”.  Three documents and two images.  All linked together correctly.  As before, a lo-fi mock has been provided.

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Hard at work helping each other out already.

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I foresee lots of phone calls at work tomorrow.

2/26/2014 4:09:18 AM

I am teaching some of my kids how to write html and dabble in css.  This has been quite a bit of fun.  More than I thought it would be actually.  In fact, as soon as I was done giving my older boy his first lesson, one of my girls immediately wanted lessons (they are very competitive).  Now I have two learning how to write html.  I love this.

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During the first lesson I ask them to follow a simple wire frame which shows how to add a header, an image, some wrapped text, a table, and some simple formatting.  This meant that we had to go find a picture.  In doing so the kids had a chance to see a long ugly Facebook url. 

“What’s that!??”

Of course anyone not in the know would see that and say YUCK!  In explaining loosely what it is and how it works I came up with this scenario:

The http part is how you call me from down the hall and say "hey dad”.  The other part of the long string is the rest of the message “can you give me my green shirt?"  to which I toss you your green shirt.

Where as the “s” in https is a more secure way to do the same thing. Only in this case you call down the hall and say "hey dad can you give me my green shirt...the one with my bank account # written on the front"...but before I toss the shirt to you I take the shirt apart and instead toss you a ball of thread with instructions on how to put it back together again.

This way your attackers have a harder time figuring out the important information – the bank account number. And as with anything where I want to make it harder for someone else to read...it takes a little bit longer for me to read it too.

I didn’t cover the various scenario’s where the kid screams down the hall asking me for his green shirt to which I reply

  • “I can’t find it” – 404
  • “Your door is locked” – 401
  • When there is more than one green shirt – 300
  • When the requested shirt is dirty and in the laundry - 307
  • I am busy practicing making another kid with your mother – 408
  • When the daughter asks for her short shorts and tight top – 403 or 406
  • Or in the near future when you kid thankfully no longer lives with you – 301

More of these analogies can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HTTP_status_codes

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2/25/2014 2:54:52 AM

As a full time web developer that has been paying the bills for a great many years with self taught web skills, I finally decided that my kids were ready for me to pass the baton.  It is my hope that my kids will go to college and learn what ever tickles their fancy.  But no flipping burgers for my monsters.  Instead I fully intend to enter them into the world wide job market that is the inter-webs ASAP.  They can easily afford college with simple programming skills.  How better to start them off than teach them first and foremost how to learn by speaking Google.  This is a very important distinction over actually teaching HTML.  Learning how to look for information, absorb only what is needed for the immediate task at hand, as well as get a cursory understanding of all the peripheral information is how I work every day.  Rather than teach this tag or that tag I gave him a simple understanding of how to feed in the proper english term set to Google to get the results you need.  Lets do this!

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As with any web developer job, I started Drake off with a low-fidelity wire frame.  I asked him to create a basic web page that has a header, his picture, some paragraphs of text with the first paragraph wrapped around his photo.  3 paragraphs about himself.  He asked me if it was to be in “first person” or not.  I love this boy.  And at the bottom I asked for a simple table with his personal information.

He immediately went to the googles and found w3schools.  The best place for the low down on all html tags.

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He doesn’t know it yet, but this is one of the few gigs in life where you can easily make well over 6 figures in your bath robe from your home every day.

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Getting this boy to sit style while smiling is not easy.

Here you can see that he got his image to render from Facebook.  Now he is smiling again.

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2/25/2014 1:47:24 AM

As a farmer there are many things you need to do on a regular basis.  Similar to being a software developer, you have to check your email at some interval no matter how much you like it.  Well, as a farmer I have to walk my fence line with some frequency.  And like email, now and then you come across fun surprises with the other lame task.

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While walking my fence line, both internal fences (where I keep my pigs), and external fences (which keep out the neighbors stock), I ran across a new batch of cattle in the back acreage.  Curious critters.  They wanted to know as much about me as I did them.

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Its very easy for me to see why there are so many lawyers, doctors, and engineers, (the top three professions dropping out of city life at an alarming rate) returning to the farming life style.  All that stress in the job contrasted with walking along and seeing gentle cows chewing their cud.  Farming, while always busy, is generally very low stress and enjoyable.

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How many folks have a parks worth of grass in their front lawn to toss the football with…with your kids, dogs, horses, and cats?

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I love this life.

2/25/2014 1:38:25 AM

My dad recently passed away.  This has left me thinking quite a bit about my relationships with all of my kids (I have six if you didn’t know).  And while I didn’t really know all that much about my father, I am keenly aware of the things that we did and didn’t do together.  I think I like most of the things that I remember about my dad and how he raised me and I see that I have replicated much of this in my relationships with my kids.  However, I also see me doing many of the things that I didn’t really enjoy.  I am now actively trying to change those items.

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It is odd to me how important the simple act of throwing a ball with your father is to a boy.  I never really thought much about this.  But these days I think about it a lot.  I never really had the opportunity to do this with my old man as he never really had time…and was sort of old.  I know now that having time and making time are just different ways to manage the many things that are going on in life.  My boys love throwing the ball.  And I really enjoy it too.  And it really only takes a few minutes a day to check a box of this nature.  And the memories that are built from it set the foundation for many other things in life.

From a home schooling perspective, throwing the foot ball is so much more than the bond made between father and son.  Hand eye co-ordination.  Tactics.  Judgment.  Gamesmanship.  All important topics that are difficult to teach in other formats regularly taught at home.  Add to that three flies up with dog piles and brotherly punishment and you end up with tough happy monsters…with good memories of a certain boyhood requirement.