Sunday, December 18, 2005

Gouda

Yesterday I visited Nol van't Riet in his pretty 17th century house in Gouda, the Netherlands. Yes, that is where the famous cheese originated. I did even eat some Gouda in Gouda. Together with Med Samraoui, the new ICCF president, Alan Borwell, and Michael Millstone we discussed the future of the server.

The trip back to Bonn was an adventure. I took the train from Gouda to Utrecht, where I was supposed to change into the ICE to Köln. However, the train from Gouda was too late, and I missed the ICE. At the station in Utrecht I got a stamp into my ticket, confirming that the train was too late, so that I could use any other train without a valid ticket. I was then told to use the train to Eindhoven instead.

That train did not go further than St'Herthogenbosch, because there was an accident with a car on the track ahead. The passengers then had to use a bus to continue to Eindhoven. In Eindhoven I was told to use a (very slow) train to Venlo, the last city before the border.

When I arrived in Venlo, no more trains were going there. There were four passengers on the way to Germany, who had all been late because of that accident. The Dutch railway organized a taxi to Viersen, the first city in Germany behind the border. The taxi driver first did not find the station, because he was in the wrong part of the city. In Viersen I was able to catch the latest train to Mönchengladbach. It was already midnight, and I had to wait another hour for the train to Köln.

All the previous stations were already closed, because of the late hour. That was all different in Köln. The station there has opened 24 hours, with some shops, a Burger King, and a McDonalds open around the clock, including long queues of hungry lunatics.

I then took the train to Bonn, where I finally took a taxi to arrive at my apartment close to three in the morning. What a trip, six trains, two taxis, and one bus.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Visual Studio Team System not available to partners

On Monday, Microsoft officially launched Visual Studio 2005. There are some new editions of Visual Studio with this release. At the low end, there is the Express edition targeted at the hobbyist developer. The Express edition is available for free.


At the high end is Visual Studio Team System, which comes with several tools, that cover the whole project lifecycle. There are tools for system design, unit testing, web testing, code coverage, profiling, code analysis and so on, all integrated with the development environment. Visual Studio Team System itself comes in four editions, for architects, developers, and testers, which contain only a subset of those tools, and Visual Studio Team Suite, which contains all of them.


Teams that work with Visual Studio Team System can also install a server product, Visual Studio Team System Foundation Server, that integrates all the tools with workflow and source control. The server product will be released next year.


These new products are able to improve the development process considerably, but mind you, there is a learning curve to be mastered here. I have tried to install the beta version of foundation server. It is a bad sign that you need a setup manual to do that. Still, despite using the setup manual, after several hours of installing, my setup just failed with an error number (not even a message). And from what I am reading, configuring the server after installation is no trivial task either.


Realistically, if these new products are supposed to have a good share of the market, Microsoft will have to rely on experts - experts that know how to install and the server, how to configure it for your development process, how to make the most out of the various tools, and how to make sure this thing is used throughout the whole project lifecycle.


Now, I am a Microsoft Certified Partner and Independent Software Vendor, and I have experience with being in charge of a development process and consulting on development processes. So I think I am just the kind of person who could become such an expert and help Microsoft introduce this new product into the market. Surely, Microsoft will leverage their partner infrastructure to do just that?


Apparently, this is not the case. I phoned the partner hotline, and they told me that partners will only have access to the professional edition of Visual Studio. No team foundation server, no tools for architecture, hey, not even unit tests. So I thought the partner hotline must be wrong about this and I contacted my ISV buddy in Redmond. Here is the official statement I received from Microsoft today:




Visual Studio and MSDN Subscriptions are provided by the Microsoft Partner Program as a benefit of MSPP membership.


Prior to the launch of VS2005, MSDN Universal was provided to all members, from Empower through to Certified and Gold Certified members.


As we worked with the Microsoft Partner Program to revise the benefits for Visual Studio 2005, our goal was to provide every partner with a comparable or better benefit than they receive currently. Here is how these benefits have been revised to meet this goal:



  • Partners at the Gold Certified Partner level will receive the enhanced version of Microsoft(r) Visual Studio(r) 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers with MSDN(r) Premium Subscription. As before, this will include 10 MSDN licenses.
  • Partners at the Gold level and in the ISV or Custom Developer Solutions Competency will see an increase of 25 MSDN licenses with the enhanced version of Microsoft(r) Visual Studio(r) 2005 Team Edition for Software Developers with MSDN(r) Premium Subscription
  • Partners at the Certified Partner level will receive the new Microsoft(r) Visual Studio(r) 2005 Professional Edition with MSDN(r) Premium Subscription. As before, this will include 5 MSDN licenses.
  • Empower partners will receive the new Microsoft(r) Visual Studio(r) 2005 Professional Edition with MSDN(r) Premium Subscription. As before, this will include 5 MSDN licenses.


I think this is a very bad decision from Microsoft. Partners like myself will not have the chance to become experts on Visual Studio Team System. Big projects will not be able to introduce Visual Studio Team System without experts. If Microsoft does not rethink this decision, I am afraid that Visual Studio Team System will fail.

Friday, September 16, 2005

PDC

I always thought Word and data access were boring. PDC has changed this over night. Julie and Anders blew me away completely. Word and data access are now hot.

All time high

In the new ICCF rating list 2005/2 I get my best rating ever, 2448.
I also upgraded my IM norm to a SIM norm, by winning another game in the Rochade jubilee.
And I qualified for the ICCF world championship semifinals, by winning my last game in EM/M/237, thus moving into 2nd place on tiebreak. I already had another 2nd place in EM/M/181, and you need one 1st or two 2nd places.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

First IM norm

I just scored my first IM norm in the Rochade jubilee team event.
So far I played eight draws and three wins, the wins against two IMs, and one FIDE GM. I am playing for team Chessmail again, check out the site for a crosstable with links to the games.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Microsoft Certified Partner

I am now a Microsoft Certified Partner with the competency ISV Software Solutions - a true Micro-ISV. To see the logo, look at my business site.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Alexey Tsvetkov Memorial

Chessfriend.com is running an interesting correspondence chess tournament, the Alexey Tsvetkov Memorial. The event is a KO format, two players play two games against each other, colours reversed in the 2nd game. The time control is a Fischer clock 20 days plus 2 days per move. In case of a tie, the lower-rated player proceeds to the next round.

With server chess and this kind of time control a KO format actually seems possible. In postal days a KO event would probably have lasted for decades.

There have been some hot discussions on TCCMB and elsewhere about the two serious correspondence chess servers (the others attract the casual gamer). While I am the developer of the ICCF server, I actually think it is healthy to have more than one server. A tournament such as the Alexey Tsvetkov Memorial can be considered experimental, but if it is a success I can imagine that ICCF will consider running similar events in the future.

I am actually participating in the Alexey Tsvetkov Memorial myself. I managed to proceed to the next round after two exciting games.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Podcasts

I am now using my MDA compact to listen to podcasts during my commutes. .NET Rocks!, Gaming Steve, and Dragon Page are cool. A new one is Slice of Sci-Fi which had Save Enterprise in their first show. After listening to this, I must say that they are very serious, and who knows what will happen if they can keep momentum.


With podcasting we can have radio shows on demand via the internet - wouldn't that be cool to have with TV shows as well? The communities are already there, and they are international. However, in non-English speaking countries you either have to wait to see the shows until the buzz is long gone, or you have to use legally dubious ways to obtain the content.


There sure is a business model here. Will somebody pick it up? It could be the next level of the media revolution.

Monday, February 28, 2005

XECTool 1.0 released

Andres Valverde today released XECTool 1.0, which complies to my Xfcc standard, allowing you to play correspondence chess server games via a rich client. Happy day!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

MDA compact

Got the MDA compact, running Windows CE for Smartphones. Now I loose against my phone, running Pocket Fritz 2. With a memory card, it replaces the MP3 player. With Microsoft Reader it is great for reading ebooks.


You can use the Reader Add-in for Word to convert almost anything, such as the stuff linked up at freesfonline (which has an RSS feed now).


It can also run interactive fiction using ZipCE, ScummVM, or Commodore 64 files.


I am sure when I can renew the contract again in two years, it will also have WLAN, GPS (which you can already get as an extension), and a decent camera (the current one is still only a toy) built in.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Cool, free, and legal ebooks

Here are some recommended, legally free ebooks:


Simon Singh's Code Book on CD-ROM, a very cool book about cryptography.


Essential XML, a handy reference about the various XML standards.


Synthetic Serendipity, a brilliant short story by Vernor Vinge, an excerpt of his next novel.