Back in the saddle–a few updates…

When we last tuned in, it was December and I was about to move across country! Well sure enough, I did that, and I’m pretty well settled in now.

However, now there is a LONG backlog of things that I need or want to do. So, let me try to get back into my regular blogging routine by just writing down some interesting things:

Windows Home Server 2011:
Up until about a month or two ago, I had my own servers and Active Directory, where I hosted TFS, SQL Server, IIS, etc. This included an actual AD implementation which included DNS and integrated DHCP. It ends up that the server rack was just too big, loud, and expensive to run. I started looking for something simpler.

I found Windows Home Server. It is basically Windows Server 2008 R2 under the hood, but has some extra software that lets me share files and printers, let’s the server backup all the machines on the “home network”, and can also do things like host IIS.

So, I transitioned to this. I got a little HP mini-server for $250 and Windows Home Server 2011 for $50. I put some big drives in there and upgraded the RAM and viola, I got myself a decent home server. So far, it has worked out really well! But wait, what about those other things – like hosting a web server, and TFS for source control?

TFS Replacement:
The trend for everything is to outsource, at some point. I outsource my movie collection to Netflix, Redbox, and Amazon. I outsource my music to Zune. Maybe it’s time to outsource my server needs to? I started looking for a place where I could set up some source code repositories – ideally for free. Places like github charge for private repositories. So then, I found http://www.bitbucket.org – they offer UNLIMITED private repositories, for free! So, I am in the process of migrating my projects over to that. I haven’t got it working yet – but apparently you can use Git or Mercurial tools to talk to it. I will likely do a post, once I figure out how to use it from VS2010.

Web Server:
I really just wanted an easy way to make a site available, from a web server hosted here. My home server has IIS (for it’s own needs). I just set up another site, turned on port-forwarding on my router, then set up a dynamic-DNS pointer – and voila, I can get to my private website from the web, in a mildly secure way.

Once I realized that if I had file sharing, print sharing, backups, source control, and a web server – and that I could do it from this VERY quiet, cheap little server – the switch was easy. Now, I need to clean up the old server and put it on Ebay!

As for some other things I have coming up:

  • MCPD – I am woefully behind on my MCPD certification. I have all the study material at this point, I just need to carve out “study time” again, so that I can get through and take the exams.
  • CISSP – I was able to arrange it through work that I will knock out 3 CPE’s every other Thursday afternoon, starting in April. So, I should be able to keep up with my CPE’s again this year.
  • NETMF/Gadgeteer – I got the new Spider gadgeteer kit from www.ghielectronics.com and have been messing around with it. It’s definitely a leap forward in how easy it is to use. One project I’m slowing working on, is a standalone “weather station”. I have things like temperature, humidity, and barometer figured out – and have a basic “web server” to host that data, and a simple website. The trickier part is finding/building an anemometer and weather vane that I can read electronically. So, I’m continuing to dabble with that.
  • Parallelism – I’m doing a couple of sessions next week on parallelism and async programming. In preparation for that, I’ve been boning up and trying to fill in the cracks of my understanding. In the process, I ran across two GREAT resources. First, this book Parallel Programming with Microsoft .NET. Next, Introduction to Async and Parallel Programming in .NET 4.0 – by Dr. Joe Hummel, on Pluralsight. This guy writes horrible code with horrible names, BUT he really knows his stuff and explains things in a very understandable way. GREAT series!

So, that is some of what is coming up. Also, I broke down and bought an iPad 3. It’ll be here next week. I’ll do my review of it when I get it in. I am generally very anti-Apple, but for a few reasons, I decided to cross the line. More on that when I get it in.

My intention is to get back to at least once-per-week postings, probably on Wednesdays – or if/when I have something interesting to write down.

Posted in .NET 4.0, Cloud Computing, Computers and Internet, Infrastructure, New Technology, Professional Development, Team Foundation Server, Uncategorized

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