Get Virtualised with Microsoft System Centre Essentials
This is the first interactive session I've been to this year. As we are currently running Virtual Server at work, I thought this would be a good session to find out where Microsoft are going with virtualisation. I was very impressed with System Essentials.It has all the management of your network in one place. Very powerful support for virtualisation right out of the box.
The best feature they showed is a three step wizard for virtualising a physical machine to a virtual machine. It will take across everything from the physical machine using bit copy. This will save us loads of hassle when moving existing boxes into Virtual Server. The manager is pretty clever when it comes to knowing which vm's will run on which host based on hard disk, memory etc.
Extend Your Web Server: What's New in Internet Information Server (IIS) and the Microsoft Web Platform
David Lowe is running this session covering the new features in IIS 7.5 that comes with Windows Server 2008 R2. He started out by covering the web platform installer. It allows you to setup your server quickly and easily. It has third party products built into it allowing you to install everything you need to run on your web server. These third party tool are like WordPress and Umbraco.
The new MMC interface now works over HTTP allowing you to easily mange your server from anywhere. Nice!
With Windows Server 2008 R2 now support ASP.NET on Server Core. This means you can have your web server with only command line to reduce your attack surface. The server core commands look scary as!
Something shocking he mentioned while chatting about this is that Window Server R2 is only 64bit!!!!
IIS extensions are now fully supported in managed applications in Microsoft.Web.Administration.
They have a whole bunch of extensions out of the box, giving you loads of feautes like FTP, Media Server, Routing, Advanced Logging and even database explorer.
Secure FTP now comes out of the box in R2. You can assign SSL certificates on your FTP site to make sure all passwords are encrypted.
IIS Application request routing module is a very nice tool for setting up web farms just using IIS. It can also be used for for forwarding sites to different boxes.
Must remember to use the Search Engine optimization tool more. Very sexy!
Never seen Best Practices analysis before and looks like a good tool to get security tips on your websites.
Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010: Becoming productive in 30 minutes
This session is showing how to install TFS 2010 in 30 minutes. Microsoft have done some good work to make the install / configuration much easier. There is now 64x version of TFS, meaning it can make full use of uber servers.
TFS now comes with a lovely administration console to tweak settings for TFS.
In the new version of TFS they have introduced a concept of ProjectCollection. This means that projects are grouped into collections. These collections can be moved from server to server.
This session did a really nice demo of TFS with VS 2010. See all the little changes on day to day work.
Microsoft Silverlight 3: What's in it for developers
Silverlight 3 introduced GPU acceleration support. This feature is opt in meaning that you have to say that your silverlight project will use GPU acceleration. It only works in full screen mode on the mac due to a restriction on the mac OS. LIttle tip bit that came out was that stretching pixels in hard cpu work. GPU acceleration really helps with that. To enable GPU acceleration, you pop EnableGPUAcceleration in the html object tag. You also have to enable any elements in your xaml that you want to be accelerated by adding CacheMode="BitmapCache". They have a debug tag called EnableCacheVisualisation which will show you what parts of your silverlight application can be improved by GPU Acceleration.
Silverlight 3 also got video streaming improvements and more easing functions. IIS Smooth streaming is now out of the box supported.
Another nice feature that came in Silverlight 3 is local messaging support. This means we can send messages from multiple Silverlight controls. It does it via a shared memory concept. This communication can work across tabs and browsers.
A quick demo was shown using the new navigation APIs. This includes support for links to jump to parts of your Silverlight application. Using this enables the use of the back and forward button. Very nice!
The power behind the navigation support comes from the frame controls. You can also control the Uri that gets produced using UriMappers on the frame control.
They have a nice system to break out any referenced assemblies in to smaller packages meaning the client is more likely to cache common references. This reduced your xap files.
Sexy feature when using out of browser support in Silverlight 3 is CheckAndDownloadUpdateAsync(). This method will check the version of the local app and allow you to get the latest version before running the normal application.
Securing Microsoft Silverlight: Knowing the Enemy
As we are producing Silverlight applications, I thought I should get on top of this issue. The first topic was an easy one which is packet sniffing. Simple solution, use SSL!
To protect data, keep it on the server and send down only the XAML. Isolated storage is not secured. Its just sitting around on the disk, open to the user.
How Microsoft Does It: Internal Use of Team Foundation Server and Microsoft Visual Studio
This session was done last year but has been updated with new stats. All the advice in this session is from Microsoft experience internally. One of the big problems they suffered with Visual Studio development was putting off bugs. Doing all the work upfront and fixing the bugs at the end. This caused a big problem as they took longer to fix later.
The speaker showed a nice end to end storyboard of the visual studio 2010, 3 years ago. Very interesting to see where they went with it and how they associated them with work items.