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  • Digital Storage for Airline Entertainment

    - by Bill Evjen
    by Thomas Coughlin Common flash memory cards The most common flash memory products currently in use are SD cards and derivative products (e.g. mini and micro-SD cards) Some compact flash used for professional applications (such as DSLR cameras) Evolution of leading flash formats Standardization –> market expansion Market expansion –> volume iNAND –> focus is on enabling embedded X3 iSSD –> ideal for thin form factor devices Flash memory applications Phones are the #1 user of flash memory Flash memory is used as embedded and removable storage in many mobile applications Flash memory is being used in computers as USB sticks and SSDs Possible use of flash memory in computer combined with HDDs (hybrid HDDs and paired or dual storage computers) It can be a removable card or an embedded card These devices can only handle a specific number of writes Flash memory reads considerably quicker than hard drives Hybrid and dual storage in computers SSDs can provide fast performance but they are expensive HDDs can provide cheap storage but they are relatively slow Combining some flash memory with a HDD can provide costs close to those of HDDs and performance close to flash memory Seagate Momentus XT hybrid HDD Various dual storage offerings putting flash memory with HDDs Other common flash memory devices USB sticks All forms and colors Used for moving files around Some sold with content on them (Sony Movies on USB sticks) Solid State Drives (SSDs) Floating Gate Flash Memory Cell When a bit is programmed, electrons are stored upon the floating gate This has the effect of offsetting the charge on the control gate of the transistor If there is no charge upon the floating gate, then the control gate’s charge determines whether or not a current flows through the channel A strong charge on the control gate assumes that no current flows. A weak charge will allow a strong current to flow through. Similar to HDDs, flash memory must provide: Bit error correction Bad block management NAND and NOR memories are treated differently when it comes to managing wear In many NOR-based systems no management is used at all, since the NOR is simply used to store code, and data is stored in other devices. In this case, it would take a near-infinite amount of time for wear to become an issue since the only time the chip would see an erase/write cycle is when the code in the system is being upgraded, which rarely if ever happens over the life of a typical system. NAND is usually found in very different application than is NOR Flash memory wears out This is expected to get worse over time Retention: Disappearing data Bits fade away Retention decreases with increasing read/writes Bits may change when adjacent bits are read Time and traffic are concerns Controllers typically groom read disturb errors Like DRAM refresh Increases erase/write frequency Application characteristics Music – reads high / writes very low Video – r high / writes very low Internet Cache – r high / writes low On airplanes Many consumers now have their own content viewing devices – do they need the airlines? Is there a way to offer more to consumers, especially with their own viewers Additional special content tie into airplane network access to electrical power, internet Should there be fixed embedded or removable storage for on-board airline entertainment? Is there a way to leverage personal and airline viewers and content in new and entertaining ways?

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  • Can LittleBigPlanet2's engine be used for other ?

    - by Bill
    LittleBigPlanet2 just came out. I've worked with the original LBP level editor a bit and really enjoyed it. I've read that LBP2's featureset in the game is much richer; is it possible to use these advanced features to create different sorts of game other than just a regular platformer? I imagine that something along the lines of a Breakout clone would definitely be manageable, but I'm interested in hearing more about the capabilities of the platform.

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  • How to Name Linked Servers

    - by Bill Graziano
    I did another SQL Server migration over the weekend that dealt with linked servers.  I’ve seen all kinds of odd naming schemes and there are a few I like and a few I suggest you avoid. Don’t name your linked server for its IP address.  At some point whatever is on the other end of that IP address will move.  You’ll probably need to point your linked server to a new IP address but not change the name of the linked server.  And then you’ve completely lost any context around this.  Bonus points if a new SQL Server eventually ends up at the old IP address further adding confusion when you’re trying to troubleshoot. Don’t name your linked server based on its instance name.  This one is less obvious.  It sounds nice to have a linked server named [VSRV1\SQLTRAN01].  You know what it is and it’s easy to use.  It’s less nice when you’ve got 200 stored procedures that all reference this linked server but the database they reference has moved to a new instance.  Now when you query this you’re actually querying a different instance. (Please note: I’m not saying it’s a good idea to have 200 stored procedures that all reference a linked server.  I’m just saying it’s not all that uncommon.) Consider naming your linked server something that you can easily search on.  See my note above.  You can also get around this by always enclosing the name in brackets.  That is harder to enforce unless you use some odd characters in it. Consider naming your linked server based on the function.  For example, I’ve had some luck having a linked server named [DW] that points to our data warehouse server.  That server can change names or physically move and all I need to do is update the linked server to point to the new destination.  The descriptive name of the linked server is still accurate.  No code needs to change and people still know what it is just by looking at it. Consider naming your linked server for the database.  I’m still thinking through this one.  It may mean you have multiple linked servers that point to the same instance.  I’ve found that database names rarely change.  It also makes it easier to move individual databases to new servers. Consider pointing your linked servers to DNS entries and not IP addresses.  I’ve done this for reporting databases and had some success.  Especially for read-only snapshots that can get created on the main database or on the mirror.  What issues have you had with linked server names?  What has worked for you?  Where are the holes in my approach?

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  • Top 10 Linked Blogs of 2010

    - by Bill Graziano
    Each week I send out a SQL Server newsletter and include links to interesting blog posts.  I’ve linked to over 500 blog posts so far in 2010.  Late last year I started storing those links in a database so I could do a little reporting.  I tend to link to posts related to the OLTP engine.  I also try to link to the individual blogger in the group blogs.  Unfortunately that wasn’t possible for the SQLCAT and CSS blogs.  I also have a real weakness for posts related to PASS. These are the top 10 blogs that I linked to during the year ordered by the number of posts I linked to. Paul Randal – Paul writes extensively on the internals of the relational engine.  Lots of great posts around transactions, transaction log, disaster recovery, corruption, indexes and DBCC.  I also linked to many of his SQL Server myths posts. Glenn Berry – Glenn writes very interesting posts on how hardware affects SQL Server.  I especially like his posts on the various CPU platforms.  These aren’t necessarily topics that I’m searching for but I really enjoy reading them. The SQLCAT Team – This Microsoft team focuses on the largest and most interesting SQL Server installations.  The regularly publish white papers and best practices. SQL Server CSS Team – These are the top engineers from the Microsoft Customer Service and Support group.  These are the folks you finally talk to after your case has been escalated about 20 times.  They write about the interesting problems they find. Brent Ozar – The posts I linked to mostly focused on the relational engine: CPU, NUMA, SSD drives, performance monitoring, etc.  But Brent writes about a real variety of topics including blogging, social networking, speaking, the MCM, SQL Azure and anything else that seems to strike his fancy.  His posts are always well written and though provoking. Jeremiah Peschka – A number of Jeremiah’s posts weren’t about SQL Server.  He’s very active in the “NoSQL” area and I linked to a number of those posts.  I think it’s important for people to know what other technologies are out there. Brad McGehee – Brad writes about being a DBA including maintenance plans, DBA checklists, compression and audit. Thomas LaRock – I linked to a variety of posts from PBM to networking to 24 Hours of PASS to TDE.  Just a real variety of topics.  Tom always writes with an interesting style usually mixing in a movie theme and/or bacon. Aaron Bertrand – Many of my links this year were Denali features.  He also had a great series on bad habits to kick. Michael J. Swart – This last one surprised me.  There are some well known SQL Server bloggers below Michael on this list.  I linked to posts on indexes, hierarchies, transactions and I/O performance and a variety of other engine related posts.  All are interesting and well thought out.  Many of his non-SQL posts are also very good.  He seems to have an interest in puzzles and other brain teasers.  Michael, I won’t be surprised again!

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  • Ubuntu 11.04 and 10.04 hang with black screen while installing from USB disk

    - by Bill
    I've been trying to install Ubuntu 11.04 from a USB flash stick and each time I try to boot from the USB key one of two things happen: A) The screen that asks you what you would like to do (e.g. run Ubuntu from the USB key or install it) shows up and the countdown to the default option starts to count down but as soon as I either touch the keyboard (sometimes I press enter or the arrow keys to select an option) or the countdown gets to zero the screen just locks up and nothing happens no matter how long I wait. B) When I boot from the USB key the screen will flicker for a second and then go black with a flashing white underscore at the top left corner of the screen. Again it doesn't matter how long I wait, nothing happens and pressing keys doesn't do a thing. The very first time I tried to install it I got a terminal-like screen that said something about a directory called 'casper' having an error of some sort. I have tried installing from USB using both 11.04 and 10.10. I'm about to try 10.04. I have read tons of forum posts about this but so far I haven't seen anything in the solutions that apply to me. My intention is to dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I must keep Windows as I am required to use Visual Studio for one of my college courses. Right now I'm using Wubi but I really want a full install. I can't use LVPM because it doesn't work with the version of Wubi I used. So now I'm thinking my best bet is to try to get a clean install working. I'd also convert Wubi to a full install too but there's no solution as far as I've read. So could someone tell me a reason why this is happening or if there's something I can do to get around the problem? I'm using a Gateway LT2802u netbook with and Intel Atom N455 processor, 1GB RAM, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 graphics card, and a 250GB HDD. I don't have anything on my current Wubi install that I can't replace so keep in mind when answering that I don't care if I lose my current settings and files from Wubi. Thanks everyone! UPDATE I just answered my own question so in case anyone else is having this same problem using similar hardware, do the following: When I first tried installing 11.04 I used the recommended universal installer tool to create the USB live/installation disk. That caused the original problem. Note that I had already downloaded the 11.04 ISO and did not use the included downloader from the USB creator. After that failed I used the same USB creator but had it download 10.10 for me. It also failed with the same issue. I repeated this process with unetbootin as well for both versions. Finally, I downloaded the Ubuntu 10.04 ISO and used the recommended USB creator once again. There was an error while creating the USB live install so I reformatted the USB key as FAT32 and tried again. It created the USB key. I then booted from the USB flash drive and selected "Install Ubuntu" (exact wording was different). It worked! It took me through the process that you see shown in pictures on the Ubuntu website. I let it create the appropriate partitions for me and it simply worked. I did get a few errors while the system tried to restart after it installed. It hung on a terminal-like screen but I pressed ENTER and it restarted. I booted into Windows 7, it checked the disks as it sensed that I messed with a partition, then it booted into Windows normally. Now I'm going to uninstall Wubi and update my new full install of Ubuntu! I'm excited to get the benefits of a full install now. So in the end, hopefully someone can learn from what I did.

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  • Six Unusual Blogs I Like

    - by Bill Graziano
    I subscribe to and read over 100 SQL Server blogs every day.  I link to posts that I think are interesting.  I also read a fair number of non-SQL Server blogs.  Here are a few that I think are interesting. danah boyd. She is a researcher with Microsoft and writes about privacy, social media and teenagers.  I discovered her blog while looking for strategies to keep my personal and professional life separate.  (I haven’t found a good solution to that yet.)  Her stories of how teenagers use Facebook and other social media tools are fascinating. Clayton’s Web Snacks.  Steve Clayton works at Microsoft and has a variety of blogs out there.  This one focuses on … hmmm.  His latest posts are on graffiti, infographics, paper tweets, cartoons and slow motion videos.  It’s mostly visual and you never really know what you’ll get.  It’s always interesting though and I like what he posts.  It’s good creative stuff. Seth Godin.  Seth writes about Marketing.  I read him for motivation to get off my butt and get things done.  He’s a great motivator who encourages you to think big.  And do something! Ask the Pilot.  Patrick Smith is a commercial airline pilot writing about the airline industry.  He’s a great debunker of myths (no they don’t reduce oxygen in the cabin to keep you docile).  My favorite topics include the TSA, flying myths, airport reviews and flight delays. My old favorite flight blog used to be enplaned.  No one knew who wrote it.  It focused on the economics of the airline industry.  It was fascinating stuff.  One day it was gone.  The entire blog was deleted.  Someone tracked down some partial archives and put them online. The Agent’s Journal.  Jack Bechta is an NFL agent.  He writes about the business side of the NFL, the draft and free agency.  Lately he’s been writing about the potential lockout.  He has a distinct lack of hype which I find very refreshing.  xkcd.  I call this the comic for smart people.  A little math, some IT and internet privacy thrown in all make an unusual comic. Funny and intelligent.

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  • La loi de Moore a-t-elle encore un avenir ? Oui, répond un ingénieur, si les développeurs se mettent

    La loi de Moore est elle encore pertinente ? Plus pour les CPU, répond un responsable de Nvidia qui appelle au développement de la programmation parallèle Bill Dally est un des ingénieurs les plus importants de Nvidia. Dans une tribune publiée dans le magasine Forbes, l'ingénieur en chef doute fortement que la loi de Moore puisse encore s'appliquer aux processeurs (CPU) : « Les performances des CPUs ne peuvent plus doubler tous les 18 mois », constate-t-il, « et cela va poser un grave problème à de nombreuses industries qui reposent sur cette croissance des performances ». Optimiste, Bill Dally en tire cependant une raison d'espérer « La bonne nouvelle, c'e...

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  • The Evolution of Television and Home Entertainment

    - by Bill Evjen
    This is a group that is focused on entertainment in the aviation industry. I am attending their conference for the first time as it relates to my job at Swank Motion Pictures and what we do for our various markets. I will post my notes here. The Evolution of Television and Home Entertainment by Patrick Cosson, Veebeam TV has been the center of living rooms for sometime. Conversations and culture evolve around the TV. The way we consume this content has dramatically been changing. After TV, we had the MTV revolution of TV. It has created shorter attention spans, it made us more materialistic, narcissistic, and not easily impressed. Then we came to the Internet. The amount of content has expanded. It contains a ton of user-generated content, provides filtering, organization, distribution. We now have a problem. We are in the age of digital excess. We can access whatever we want. In conjunction with this – we are moving. The challenge we have now is curation. The trends  we see: rapid shift from scheduled to on demand consumption. A move to Internet protocols from cable Rapid fragmentation of media a transition from the TV set to a variety of screens Social connections bring mediators and amplifiers. TiVo – the shift to on demand It is because of a time-crunch Provides personal experiences Once old consumption habits are changed, there is no way back! Experiences are that people are loading up content and then bringing it with them on planes, to hotels, etc. Rapid fragmentation of media sources Many new professional content sources and channels, the rise of digital distribution, and the rise of user-generated content contribute to the wealth of content sources and abundant choice. Netflix, BBC iPlayer, hulu, Pandora, iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Voddler, Spotify (these companies didn’t exist 5 years ago). People now expect this kind of consumption. People are now thinking how to deliver all these tools. Transition from the TV set to multi-screens The TV screen has traditionally been the dominant consumption screen for TV and video. Now the PC, game consoles, and various mobile devices are rapidly becoming common video devices. Multi-screens are now the norm. Social connections becoming key mediators What increasingly funnels traffic on the web, social networking enablers, will become an integral part of the discovery, consumption and sharing model for Television. The revolution will be broadcasted on Facebook and Twitter. There is business disruption There are a lot of new entrants Rapid internationalization Increasing competition from existing media players A fragmenting audience base Web browser Freedom to access any site The fight over the walled garden Most devices are not powerful enough to support a full browser PC will always be present in the living room Wireless link between PC and TV Output 1080p, plays anything, secure Key players and their challenges Services Internet media is increasingly interconnected to social media and publicly shared UGC Content delivery moving to IPTV Rights management issues are creating silos and hindering a great user experience and growth Devices Devices are becoming people’s windows into all kinds of media from all kinds of sources There won’t be a consolidation of the device landscape, rather the opposite Finding the right niche makes the most sense. We are moving to an on demand world of streaming world. People want full access to anything.

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  • I got my z-5 Logitech speakers to work, but whenever I restart, I have to reconfigure them

    - by The Bill
    This is the content of my alsa-base.conf file (for some reason, the entries preceded by # are bolded--anyway): autoloader aliases install sound-slot-0 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-0 install sound-slot-1 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-1 install sound-slot-2 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-2 install sound-slot-3 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-3 install sound-slot-4 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-4 install sound-slot-5 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-5 install sound-slot-6 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-6 install sound-slot-7 /sbin/modprobe snd-card-7 Cause optional modules to be loaded above generic modules install snd /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install snd $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-ioctl32 ; /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-seq ; } # Workaround at bug #499695 (reverted in Ubuntu see LP #319505) install snd-pcm /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install snd-pcm $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-pcm-oss ; : ; } install snd-mixer /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install snd-mixer $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-mixer-oss ; : ; } install snd-seq /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install snd-seq $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-seq-midi ; /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-seq-oss ; : ; } # install snd-rawmidi /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install snd-rawmidi $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-seq-midi ; : ; } Cause optional modules to be loaded above sound card driver modules install snd-emu10k1 /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install snd-emu10k1 $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-emu10k1-synth ; } install snd-via82xx /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install snd-via82xx $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist snd-seq ; } Load saa7134-alsa instead of saa7134 (which gets dragged in by it anyway) install saa7134 /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install saa7134 $CMDLINE_OPTS && { /sbin/modprobe --quiet --use-blacklist saa7134-alsa ; : ; } Prevent abnormal drivers from grabbing index 0 options bt87x index=-2 options cx88_alsa index=-2 options saa7134-alsa index=-2 options snd-atiixp-modem index=-2 options snd-intel8x0m index=-2 options snd-via82xx-modem index=-2 options snd-usb-audio index=-2 options snd-usb-caiaq index=-2 options snd-usb-ua101 index=-2 options snd-usb-us122l index=-2 options snd-usb-usx2y index=-2 alias snd-card-0 snd-usb-audio alias snd-card-1 snd-hda-intel options snd-usb-audio index=0 options snd-hda-intel index=1 Ubuntu #62691, enable MPU for snd-cmipci options snd-cmipci mpu_port=0x330 fm_port=0x388 Keep snd-pcsp from being loaded as first soundcard options snd-pcsp index=-2 options snd-usb-audio index=-2 options snd-usb-audio index=0 alias snd-card-0 snd-usb-audio alias snd-card-1 snd-hda-intel options snd-hda-intel index=1 I deleted a line that said something like "#Keep usb-audio from being loaded as first soundcard" and that made the speakers work for the first time (before this, they never showed up). I also added the last four lines. Anyway, what can I add to this so that I don't have to reconfigure them each time I restart? Currently, I have to open Sound Settings, then under the hardware tab, select Analog Stereo Output, and then unplug my USB speakers and plug them back in. This makes them pop up so that I can see them. Otherwise, it will not show my Z-5 speakers as a device that can be configured.

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  • Visual Studio 2010 Is Here!

    - by Bill Evjen
    I think back to the days of the first versions of Visual Studio (when it was called Visual Studio .NET, remember?) and I think about how far Microsoft has come with this IDE. It really is the best IDE on the market. There is so much to this IDE it is amazing. It now can really handle managing your complete software application development lifecycle. For me, it is (besides Windows 7) the best and most successful product Microsoft has developed. You can obviously get this now and it is available on MSDN and some other places: MSDN Visual Studio Trial Editions Visual Studio 2010 Express Editions (free) You will also find great info at the Visual Studio Developer Center. Some other interesting tidbits of info: JetBrain’s ReSharper 5.0 has been released for VS2010 Oracle will have the new Oracle Dev Tools for VS2010 within one month - http://bit.ly/9gC9NE Visual Studio 64-bit - Why there is no 64-bit version of VS - http://bit.ly/dhhwAj In installing this version of Visual Studio, if you have been working on the previous RC builds, then you are going to want to uninstall these previous editions of the 2010 product. You can do this through the Add Remove Programs dialog and you are going to want to select the appropriate item from the long list of Visual Studio items. You are then going to want to step through the Visual Studio dialog (it will seem as if you are installing it again) – and you will then come to a point where you can select the option to Uninstall the entire application. If you have installed the Silverlight 4 RC stuff, then you are also going to want to uninstall this and you are also going to want to uninstall the “Update for Visual Studio 2010 (KB976272)” before installing Silverlight RC2 – which you can find on www.silverlight.net. Technorati Tags: vs2010,.net,visualstudio,microsoft

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  • How do people deal with Android fragmentation?

    - by Bill
    I've spent the past few years working on iOS apps, and I'm now giving some serious consideration to creating an Android port of one of my apps. I'm sure that complaints about fragmentation are a frustrating cliche to experienced Android programmers, but as an iOS programmer, I'm quite honestly overwhelmed by the number of configurations and devices that my app might end up running on. There are literally thousands of Android devices in the wild, but I know there are successful Android developers in the world and I know they're not testing or developing for thousands of different devices. So how can a relatively small company deal with fragmentation? Is it possible to pick the five or six most popular devices, focus on those and prevent the app from being installed on any other devices? Are there any other strategies for practically dealing with the number of different configurations an app will face?

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  • PASS: Board Q&amp;A at the Summit

    - by Bill Graziano
    The last two years we’ve put the Board in front of the members and taken questions.  We’re going to do that again this year.  It will be in Room 307/308 from 12:15 to 1:30 on Friday. Yes, this time overlaps with the Birds of a Feather Lunch and the start of afternoon sessions – but only partially.  You can attend the Q&A and still get to parts of both of those.  There just isn’t a great time to do this.  Every time overlaps with something. We can’t do it after the last session on Friday.  We can’t fit it between the last session and the evening events on Wednesday or Thursday.  We had some discussion around breakfast time but I didn’t think that was realistic.  This is the least bad time we could come up with. Last year we had 60-70 people attend.  These are the items that were specific things that I could work on: The first question was whether to increase transparency around individual votes of Board members.  We approved this at the Board meeting the following day.  The only caveat was that if the Board is given confidential information as a basis for their vote then we may not be able to disclose individual votes.  Putting a Director in a position where they can’t publicly defend the reason for their vote is a difficult situation.  Thanks Kendal! Can we have a Board member discretionary fund?  As background, I took a couple of people to lunch so we could have a quiet place to talk.  I bought lunch but wasn’t able to expense it back to PASS.  We just don’t have a budget item for things like this.  I think we should.  I would guess the entire Board would like it also.  It was in an earlier version of the budget but came out as part of a cost-cutting move to balance the budget.  I’d like to see it added back in but we’ll have to see. I know there were a comments about the elections.  At this point we had created the Election Review Committee.  I’ve already written at length about this process. Where does IT work go?  PASS started to publish our internal management reports starting in December 2010.  You can find them on our Governance page.  These aren’t filtered at all and include a variety of information about IT projects.  The most recent update had roughly a page of updates related to IT.  Lots of the work was related to Summit and the Orator tool that we use to manage speaker submissions. There were numerous requests that Tina Turner not be repeated.  Done.  I don’t think we’ll do anything quite like that again.  We had a request for a payment plan for Summit.  We looked into this briefly but didn’t take any action.  We didn’t think the effort was worth the small number of people that would use it.  If you disagree, submit this on our Summit Feedback site and get some votes. There were lots of suggestions around the first-timers events – especially from first timers.  You can find all our current activities related to first-timers at the First Timers page on the Summit web site.  Plus links to 34 (!) blog posts on suggestions for first-timers.  And a big THANK YOU to Confio and Red Gate for sponsoring this. I hope you get the chance to attend.  These events are very helpful to me as a Board member.  I like being able to look around the room as comments are being made and see the audience reaction.  It helps me gauge the interest in an idea. I’d also like to direct you to the Summit Feedback site.  You can submit and vote on ideas to make the Summit a better experience.  As of right now we have the suggestions from last year still up.  We may reset these prior to the Summit though.

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  • My Latest Books &ndash; Professional C# 2010 and Professional ASP.NET 4

    - by Bill Evjen
    My two latest books are out! Professional ASP.NET 4 in C# and VB Professional C# 4 and .NET 4 From the back covers: Take your web development to the next level using ASP.NET 4 ASP.NET is about making you as productive as possible when building fast and secure web applications. Each release of ASP.NET gets better and removes a lot of the tedious code that you previously needed to put in place, making common ASP.NET tasks easier. With this book, an unparalleled team of authors walks you through the full breadth of ASP.NET and the new and exciting capabilities of ASP.NET 4. The authors also show you how to maximize the abundance of features that ASP.NET offers to make your development process smoother and more efficient. Professional ASP.NET 4: Demonstrates ASP.NET built-in systems such as the membership and role management systems Covers everything you need to know about working with and manipulating data Discusses the plethora of server controls that are at your disposal Explores new ways to build ASP.NET, such as working with ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET AJAX Examines the full life cycle of ASP.NET, including debugging and error handling, HTTP modules, the provider model, and more Features both printed and downloadable C# and VB code examples Start using the new features of C# 4 and .NET 4 right away The new C# 4 language version is indispensable for writing code in Visual Studio 2010. This essential guide emphasizes that C# is the language of choice for your .NET 4 applications. The unparalleled author team of experts begins with a refresher of C# basics and quickly moves on to provide detailed coverage of all the recently added language and Framework features so that you can start writing Windows applications and ASP.NET web applications immediately. Reviews the .NET architecture, objects, generics, inheritance, arrays, operators, casts, delegates, events, Lambda expressions, and more Details integration with dynamic objects in C#, named and optional parameters, COM-specific interop features, and type-safe variance Provides coverage of new features of .NET 4, Workflow Foundation 4, ADO.NET Data Services, MEF, the Parallel Task Library, and PLINQ Has deep coverage of great technologies including LINQ, WCF, WPF, flow and fixed documents, and Silverlight Reviews ASP.NET programming and goes into new features such as ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Dynamic Data Discusses communication with WCF, MSMQ, peer-to-peer, and syndication

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  • L'ancien PDG de Sun dit « ce qu'il ne pouvait pas dire » sur les brevets logiciels, Steve Jobs et Bi

    L'ancien PDG de Sun dit "ce qu'il ne pouvait pas dire" Et s'en prend au brevet logiciel, à Steve Jobs et à Bill Gates Jonathan Schwartz, l'ancien PDG de Sun Microsystems qui vient juste de démissionner, a visiblement envie de faire parler lui. Et il s'y prend plutôt bien. Dans son blog, "Ce que je ne pouvais pas dire...", il vient en effet de publier un billet fleuve intitulé "Les bons artistes copient, les grands volent". Un titre doux-amère qui évoque directement Steve Jobs et Bill Gates. Les récentes sorties plutôt virulentes du PDG d'Apple contre Adobe et les poursuites qu'il lance contre HTC et Nokia n...

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  • Extract derived 3D scaling from a 3D Sprite to set to a 2D billboard

    - by Bill Kotsias
    I am trying to get the derived position and scaling of a 3D Sprite and set them to a 2D Sprite. I have managed to do the first part like this: var p:Point = sprite3d.local3DToGlobal(new Vector3D(0,0,0)); billboard.x = p.x; billboard.y = p.y; But I can't get the scaling part correctly. I am trying this: var mat:Matrix3D = sprite3d.transform.getRelativeMatrix3D(stage); // get derived matrix(?) var scaleV:Vector3D = mat.decompose()[2]; // get scaling vector from derived matrix var scale:Number = scaleV.length; billboard.scaleX = scale; billboard.scaleY = scale; ...but the result is apparently wrong. PS. One might ask what I am trying to achieve. I am trying to create "billboard" 3D sprites, i.e. sprites which are affected by all 3D transformations except rotations, thus they always face the "camera".

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  • When should a bullet texture be loaded in XNA?

    - by Bill
    I'm making a SpaceWar!-esque game using XNA. I want to limit my ships to 5 active bullets at any time. I have a Bullet DrawableGameComponent and a Ship DrawableGameComponent. My Ship has an array of 5 Bullet. What is the best way to manage the Bullet textures? Specifically, when should I be calling LoadTexture? Right now, my solution is to populate the Bullet array in the Ship's constructor, with LoadTexture being called in the Bullet constructor. The Bullet objects will be disabled/not visible except when they are active. Does the texture really need to be loaded once for each individual instance of the bullet object? This seems like a very processor-intensive operation. Note: This is a small-scale project, so I'm OK with not implementing a huge texture-management framework since there won't be more than half a dozen or so in the entire game. I'd still like to hear about scalable solutions for future applications, though.

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  • Speaking in St. Louis on June 14th

    - by Bill Graziano
    I’m going back to speak in St. Louis next month.  I didn’t make it last year and I’m looking forward to it.  You can find additional details on the St. Louis SQL Server user group web site.  The meeting will be held at the Microsoft office and I’ll be speaking at 1PM. I’ll be speaking on the procedure cache.  As people get better and better tuning queries this is the next major piece to understand.  We’ll talk about how and when query plans are reused.  The most common issue I see around odd query plans are stored procedures that use one query plan but the queries run completely different when you extract the SQL and hard code the parameters.  That’s just one of the common issues that I’ll address. There will be a second speaker after I’m done, then a short vendor presentation and a drawing for a netbook.

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  • PASS: Bylaw Changes

    - by Bill Graziano
    While you’re reading this, a post should be going up on the PASS blog on the plans to change our bylaws.  You should be able to find our old bylaws, our proposed bylaws and a red-lined version of the changes.  We plan to listen to feedback until March 31st.  At that point we’ll decide whether to vote on these changes or take other action. The executive summary is that we’re adding a restriction to prevent more than two people from the same company on the Board and eliminating the Board’s Officer Appointment Committee to have Officers directly elected by the Board.  This second change better matches how officer elections have been conducted in the past. The Gritty Details Our scope was to change bylaws to match how PASS actually works and tackle a limited set of issues.  Changing the bylaws is hard.  We’ve been working on these changes since the March board meeting last year.  At that meeting we met and talked through the issues we wanted to address.  In years past the Board has tried to come up with language and then we’ve discussed and negotiated to get to the result.  In March, we gave HQ guidance on what we wanted and asked them to come up with a starting point.  Hannes worked on building us an initial set of changes that we could work our way through.  Discussing changes like this over email is difficult wasn’t very productive.  We do a much better job on this at the in-person Board meetings.  Unfortunately there are only 2 or 3 of those a year. In August we met in Nashville and spent time discussing the changes.  That was also the day after we released the slate for the 2010 election. The discussion around that colored what we talked about in terms of these changes.  We talked very briefly at the Summit and again reviewed and revised the changes at the Board meeting in January.  This is the result of those changes and discussions. We made numerous small changes to clean up language and make wording more clear.  We also made two big changes. Director Employment Restrictions The first is that only two people from the same company can serve on the Board at the same time.  The actual language in section VI.3 reads: A maximum of two (2) Directors who are employed by, or who are joint owners or partners in, the same for-profit venture, company, organization, or other legal entity, may concurrently serve on the PASS Board of Directors at any time. The definition of “employed” is at the sole discretion of the Board. And what a mess this turns out to be in practice.  Our membership is a hodgepodge of interlocking relationships.  Let’s say three Board members get together and start a blog service for SQL Server bloggers.  It’s technically for-profit.  Let’s assume it makes $8 in the first year.  Does that trigger this clause?  (Technically yes.)  We had a horrible time trying to write language that covered everything.  All the sample bylaws that we found were just as vague as this. That led to the third clause in this section.  The first sentence reads: The Board of Directors reserves the right, strictly on a case-by-case basis, to overrule the requirements of Section VI.3 by majority decision for any single Director’s conflict of employment. We needed some way to handle the trivial issues and exercise some judgment.  It seems like a public vote is the best way.  This discloses the relationship and gets each Board member on record on the issue.   In practice I think this clause will rarely be used.  I think this entire section will only be invoked for actual employment issues and not for small side projects.  In either case we have the mechanisms in place to handle it in a public, transparent way. That’s the first and third clauses.  The second clause says that if your situation changes and you fall afoul of this restriction you need to notify the Board.  The clause further states that if this new job means a Board members violates the “two-per-company” rule the Board may request their resignation.  The Board can also  allow the person to continue serving with a majority vote.  I think this will also take some judgment.  Consider a person switching jobs that leads to three people from the same company.  I’m very likely to ask for someone to resign if all three are two weeks into a two year term.  I’m unlikely to ask anyone to resign if one is two weeks away from ending their term.  In either case, the decision will be a public vote that we can be held accountable for. One concern that was raised was whether this would affect someone choosing to accept a job.  I think that’s a choice for them to make.  PASS is clearly stating its intent that only two directors from any one organization should serve at any time.  Once these bylaws are approved, this policy should not come as a surprise to any potential or current Board members considering a job change.  This clause isn’t perfect.  The biggest hole is business relationships that aren’t defined above.  Let’s say that two employees from company “X” serve on the Board.  What happens if I accept a full-time consulting contract with that company?  Let’s assume I’m working directly for one of the two existing Board members.  That doesn’t violate section VI.3.  But I think it’s clearly the kind of relationship we’d like to prevent.  Unfortunately that was even harder to write than what we have now.  I fully expect that in the next revision of the bylaws we’ll address this.  It just didn’t make it into this one. Officer Elections The officer election process received a slightly different rewrite.  Our goal was to codify in the bylaws the actual process we used to elect the officers.  The officers are the President, Executive Vice-President (EVP) and Vice-President of Marketing.  The Immediate Past President (IPP) is also an officer but isn’t elected.  The IPP serves in that role for two years after completing their term as President.  We do that for continuity’s sake.  Some organizations have a President-elect that serves for one or two years.  The group that founded PASS chose to have an IPP. When I started on the Board, the Nominating Committee (NomCom) selected the slate for the at-large directors and the slate for the officers.  There was always one candidate for each officer position.  It wasn’t really an election so much as the NomCom decided who the next person would be for each officer position.  Behind the scenes the Board worked to select the best people for the role. In June 2009 that process was changed to bring it line with what actually happens.  An Officer Appointment Committee was created that was a subset of the Board.  That committee would take time to interview the candidates and present a slate to the Board for approval.  The majority vote of the Board would determine the officers for the next two years.  In practice the Board itself interviewed the candidates and conducted the elections.  That means it was time to change the bylaws again. Section VII.2 and VII.3 spell out the process used to select the officers.  We use the phrase “Officer Appointment” to separate it from the Director election but the end result is that the Board elects the officers.  Section VII.3 starts: Officers shall be appointed bi-annually by a majority of all the voting members of the Board of Directors. Everything else revolves around that sentence.  We use the word appoint but they truly are elected.  There are details in the bylaws for term limits, minimum requirements for President (1 prior term as an officer), tie breakers and filling vacancies. In practice we will have an election for President, then an election for EVP and then an election for VP Marketing.  That means that losing candidates will be able to fall down the ladder and run for the next open position.  Another point to note is that officers aren’t at-large directors.  That means if a current sitting officer loses all three elections they are off the Board.  Having Board member votes public will help with the transparency of this approach. This process has a number of positive and negatives.  The biggest concern I expect to hear is that our members don’t directly choose the officers.  I’m going to try and list all the positives and negatives of this approach. Many non-profits value continuity and are slower to change than a business.  On the plus side this promotes that.  On the negative side this promotes that.  If we change too slowly the members complain that we aren’t responsive.  If we change too quickly we make mistakes and fail at various things.  We’ve been criticized for both of those lately so I’m not entirely sure where to draw the line.  My rough assumption to this point is that we’re going too slow on governance and too quickly on becoming “more than a Summit.”  This approach creates competition in the officer elections.  If you are an at-large director there is no consequence to losing an election.  If you are an officer the only way to stay on the Board is to win an officer election or an at-large election.  If you are an officer and lose an election you can always run for the next office down.  This makes it very easy for multiple people to contest an election. There is value in a person moving through the officer positions up to the Presidency.  Having the Board select the officers promotes this.  The down side is that it takes a LOT of time to get to the Presidency.  We’ve had good people struggle with burnout.  We’ve had lots of discussion around this.  The process as we’ve described it here makes it possible for someone to move quickly through the ranks but doesn’t prevent people from working their way up through each role. We talked long and hard about having the officers elected by the members.  We had a self-imposed deadline to complete these changes prior to elections this summer. The other challenge was that our original goal was to make the bylaws reflect our actual process rather than create a new one.  I believe we accomplished this goal. We ran out of time to consider this option in the detail it needs.  Having member elections for officers needs a number of problems solved.  We would need a way for candidates to fall through the election.  This is what promotes competition.  Without this few people would risk an election and we’ll be back to one candidate per slot.  We need to do this without having multiple elections.  We may be able to copy what other organizations are doing but I was surprised at how little I could find on other organizations.  We also need a way for people that lose an officer election to win an at-large election.  Otherwise we’ll have very little competition for officers. This brings me to an area that I think we as a Board haven’t done a good job.  We haven’t built a strong process to tell you who is doing a good job and who isn’t.  This is a double-edged sword.  I don’t want to highlight Board members that are failing.  That’s not a good way to get people to volunteer and run for the Board.  But I also need a way let the members make an informed choice about who is doing a good job and would make a good officer.  Encouraging Board members to blog, publishing minutes and making votes public helps in that regard but isn’t the final answer.  I don’t know what the final answer is yet.  I do know that the Board members themselves are uniquely positioned to know which other Board members are doing good work.  They know who speaks up in meetings, who works to build consensus, who has good ideas and who works with the members.  What I Could Do Better I’ve learned a lot writing this about how we communicated with our members.  The next time we revise the bylaws I’d do a few things differently.  The biggest change would be to provide better documentation.  The March 2009 minutes provide a very detailed look into what changes we wanted to make to the bylaws.  Looking back, I’m a little surprised at how closely they matched our final changes and covered the various arguments.  If you just read those you’d get 90% of what we eventually changed.  Nearly everything else was just details around implementation.  I’d also consider publishing a scope document defining exactly what we were doing any why.  I think it really helped that we had a limited, defined goal in mind.  I don’t think we did a good job communicating that goal outside the meeting minutes though. That said, I wish I’d blogged more after the August and January meeting.  I think it would have helped more people to know that this change was coming and to be ready for it. Conclusion These changes address two big concerns that the Board had.  First, it prevents a single organization from dominating the Board.  Second, it codifies and clearly spells out how officers are elected.  This is the process that was previously followed but it was somewhat murky.  These changes bring clarity to this and clearly explain the process the Board will follow. We’re going to listen to feedback until March 31st.  At that time we’ll decide whether to approve these changes.  I’m also assuming that we’ll start another round of changes in the next year or two.  Are there other issues in the bylaws that we should tackle in the future?

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  • The Changing Face of PASS

    - by Bill Graziano
    I’m starting my sixth year on the PASS Board.  I served two years as the Program Director, two years as the Vice-President of Marketing and I’m starting my second year as the Executive Vice-President of Finance.  There’s a pretty good chance that if PASS has done something you don’t like or is doing something you don’t like, that I’m involved in one way or another. Andy Leonard asked in a comment on his blog if the Board had ever reversed itself based on community input.  He asserted that it hadn’t.  I disagree.  I’m not going to try and list all the changes we make inside portfolios based on feedback from and meetings with the community.  I’m going to focus on major governance issues since I was elected to the Board. Management Company The first big change was our management company.  Our old management company had a standard approach to running a non-profit.  It worked well when PASS was launched.  Having a ready-made structure and process to run the organization enabled the organization to grow quickly.  As time went on we were limited in some of the things we wanted to do.  The more involved you were with PASS, the more you saw these limitations.  Key volunteers were regularly providing feedback that they wanted certain changes that were difficult for us to accomplish.  The Board at that time wanted changes that were difficult or impossible to accomplish under that structure. This was not a simple change.  Imagine a $2.5 million dollar company letting all its employees go on a Friday and starting with a new staff on Monday.  We also had a very narrow window to accomplish that so that we wouldn’t affect the Summit – our only source of revenue.  We spent the year after the change rebuilding processes and putting on the Summit in Denver.  That’s a concrete example of a huge change that PASS made to better serve its members.  And it was a change that many in the community were telling us we needed to make. Financials We heard regularly from our members that they wanted our financials posted.  Today on our web site you can find audited financials going back to 2004.  We publish our budget at the start of each year.  If you ask a question about the financials on the PASS site I do my best to answer it.  I’m also trying to do a better job answering financial questions posted in other locations.  (And yes, I know I owe a few of you some blog posts.) That’s another concrete example of a change that our members asked for that the Board agreed was a good decision. Minutes When I started on the Board the meeting minutes were very limited.  The minutes from a two day Board meeting might fit on one page.  I think we did the bare minimum we were legally required to do.  Today Board meeting minutes run from 5 to 12 pages and go into incredible detail on what we talk about.  There are certain topics that are NDA but where possible we try to list the topic we discussed but that the actual discussion was under NDA.  We also publish the agenda of Board meetings ahead of time. This is another specific example where input from the community influenced the decision.  It was certainly easier to have limited minutes but I think the extra effort helps our members understand what’s going on. Board Q&A At the 2009 Summit the Board held its first public Q&A with our members.  We’d always been available individually to answer questions.  There’s a benefit to getting us all in one room and asking the really hard questions to watch us squirm.  We learn what questions we don’t have good answers for.  We get to see how many people in the crowd look interested in the various questions and answers. I don’t recall the genesis of how this came about.  I’m fairly certain there was some community pressure though. Board Votes Until last November, the Board only reported the vote totals and not how individual Board members voted.  That was one of the topics at a great lunch I had with Tim Mitchell and Kendal van Dyke at the Summit.  That was also the topic of the first question asked at the Board Q&A by Kendal.  Kendal expressed his opposition to to anonymous votes clearly and passionately and without trying to paint anyone into a corner.  Less than 24 hours later the PASS Board voted to make individual votes public unless the topic was under NDA.  That’s another area where the Board decided to change based on feedback from our members. Summit Location While this isn’t actually a governance issue it is one of the more public decisions we make that has taken some public criticism.  There is a significant portion of our members that want the Summit near them.  There is a significant portion of our members that like the Summit in Seattle.  There is a significant portion of our members that think it should move around the country.  I was one that felt strongly that there were significant, tangible benefits to our attendees to being in Seattle every year.  I’m also one that has been swayed by some very compelling arguments that we need to have at least one outside Seattle and then revisit the decision.  I can’t tell you how the Board will vote but I know the opinion of our members weighs heavily on the decision. Elections And that brings us to the grand-daddy of all governance issues.  My thesis for this blog post is that the PASS Board has implemented policy changes in response to member feedback.  It isn’t to defend or criticize our election process.  It’s just to say that is has been under going continuous change since I’ve been on the Board.  I ran for the Board in the fall of 2005.  I don’t know much about what happened before then.  I was actively volunteering for PASS for four years prior to that as a chapter leader and on the program committee.  I don’t recall any complaints about elections but that doesn’t mean they didn’t occur.  The questions from the Nominating Committee (NomCom) were trivial and the selection process rudimentary (For example, “Tell us about your accomplishments”).  I don’t even remember who I ran against or how many other people ran.  I ran for the VP of Marketing in the fall of 2007.  I don’t recall any significant changes the Board made in the election process for that election.  I think a lot of the changes in 2007 came from us asking the management company to work on the election process.  I was expecting a similar set of puff ball questions from my previous election.  Boy, was I in for a shock.  The NomCom had found a much better set of questions and really made the interview portion difficult.  The questions were much more behavioral in nature.  I’d already written about my vision for PASS and my goals.  They wanted to know how I handled adversity, how I handled criticism, how I handled conflict, how I handled troublesome volunteers, how I motivated people and how I responded to motivation. And many, many other things. They grilled me for over an hour.  I’ve done a fair bit of technical sales in my time.  I feel I speak well under pressure addressing pointed questions.  This interview intentionally put me under pressure.  In addition to wanting to know about my interpersonal skills, my work experience, my volunteer experience and my supervisory experience they wanted to see how I’d do under pressure.  They wanted to see who would respond under pressure and who wouldn’t.  It was a bit of a shock. That was the first big change I remember in the election process.  I know there were other improvements around the process but none of them stick in my mind quite like the unexpected hour-long grilling. The next big change I remember was after the 2009 elections.  Andy Warren was unhappy with the election process and wanted to make some changes.  He worked with Hannes at HQ and they came up with a better set of processes.  I think Andy moved PASS in the right direction.  Nonetheless, after the 2010 election even more people were very publicly clamoring for changes to our election process.  In August of 2010 we had a choice to make.  There were numerous bloggers criticizing the Board and our upcoming election.  The easy change would be to announce that we were changing the process in a way that would satisfy our critics.  I believe that a knee-jerk response to criticism is seldom correct. Instead the Board spent August and September and October and November listening to the community.  I visited two SQLSaturdays and asked questions of everyone I could.  I attended chapter meetings and asked questions of as many people as they’d let me.  At Summit I made it a point to introduce myself to strangers and ask them about the election.  At every breakfast I’d sit down at a table full of strangers and ask about the election.  I’m happy to say that I left most tables arguing about the election.  Most days I managed to get 2 or 3 breakfasts in. I spent less time talking to people that had already written about the election.  They were already expressing their opinion.  I wanted to talk to people that hadn’t spoken up.  I wanted to know what the silent majority thought.  The Board all attended the Q&A session where our members expressed their concerns about a variety of issues including the election. The PASS Board also chose to create the Election Review Committee.  We wanted people from the community that had been involved with PASS to look at our election process with fresh eyes while listening to what the community had to say and give us some advice on how we could improve the process.  I’m a part of this as is Andy Warren.  None of the other members are on the Board.  I’ve sat in numerous calls and interviews with this group and attended an open meeting at the Summit.  We asked anyone that wanted to discuss the election to come speak with us.  The ERC held an open meeting at the Summit and invited anyone to attend.  There are forums on the ERC web site where we’ve invited people to participate.  The ERC has reached to key people involved in recent elections.  The years that I haven’t mentioned also saw minor improvements in the election process.  Off the top of my head I don’t recall what exact changes were made each year.  Specifically since the 2010 election we’ve gone out of our way to seek input from the community about the process.  I’m not sure what more we could have done to invite feedback from the community. I think to say that we haven’t “fixed” the election process isn’t a fair criticism at this time.  We haven’t rushed any changes through the process.  If you don’t see any changes in our election process in July or August then I think it’s fair to criticize us for ignoring the community or ask for an explanation for what we’ve done. In Summary Andy’s main point was that the PASS Board hasn’t changed in response to our members wishes.  I think I’ve shown that time and time again the PASS Board has changed in response to what our members want.  There are only two outstanding issues: Summit location and elections.  The 2013 Summit location hasn’t been decided yet.  Our work on the elections is also in progress.  And at every step in the election review we’ve gone out of our way to listen to the community and incorporate their feedback on the process. I also hope I’m not encouraging everyone that wants some change in the organization to organize a “blog rush” against the Board.  We take public suggestions very seriously but we also take the time to evaluate those suggestions and learn what the rest of our members think and make a measured decision.

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  • Future Trends and Challenges for Aircraft Cabins

    - by Bill Evjen
    Ingo Wuggetzer The aircraft cabin changes from the 60s till now has worsened. First class is actually premium / economy is still moving down in quality The challenge is to do efficiency and comfort Graying population is a challenge will be 14% of the world’s population soon Obesity increasingly becoming an all-milieu core societal problem Will have impact on seat sizes Female forces – women will increasingly influence business and lifestyle There are now more women in college than men People want to be green and this reflects into aircrafts. You can now buy carbon-offsets when you buy a ticket in some airlines 20% are willing to pay for green products 13% would like to but are not doing it yet Seamless Connectivity Internet is obviously mainstream and the influence of our daily lives 2 billion users in 2010 One direction is going mobile Another direction is going social computing We have to explore this to use more with our products Convergence of products iPad usage on Finair , Virgin, Jetstar iPhone share 2% Other smartphones – 11% Feature Phone – 87% Plans to invest in technology trends within the next 3 years connectivity to/from aircraft – 21% major investment / 47% R&D nominal investment Web 2.0 – 22% major investment / 57% R&D nominal investment Cabin technical investments Lighting Wireless Sensors Displays People want to use technologies on the plane that they can use on the ground Planes have moved to digital in the last decade – now they are moving to wireless Data volumes are going through the roof – (Moore’s Law)

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  • PASS: Election Changes for 2011

    - by Bill Graziano
    Last year after the election, the PASS Board created an Election Review Committee.  This group was charged with reviewing our election procedures and making suggestions to improve the process.  You can read about the formation of the group and review some of the intermediate work on the site – especially in the forums. I was one of the members of the group along with Joe Webb (Chair), Lori Edwards, Brian Kelley, Wendy Pastrick, Andy Warren and Allen White.  This group worked from October to April on our election process.  Along the way we: Interviewed interested parties including former NomCom members, Board candidates and anyone else that came forward. Held a session at the Summit to allow interested parties to discuss the issues Had numerous conference calls and worked through the various topics I can’t thank these people enough for the work they did.  They invested a tremendous number of hours thinking, talking and writing about our elections.  I’m proud to say I was a member of this group and thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone (even if I did finally get tired of all the calls.) The ERC delivered their recommendations to the PASS Board prior to our May Board meeting.  We reviewed those and made a few modifications.  I took their recommendations and rewrote them as procedures while incorporating those changes.  Their original recommendations as well as our final document are posted at the ERC documents page.  Please take a second and read them BEFORE we start the elections.  If you have any questions please post them in the forums on the ERC site. (My final document includes a change log at the end that I decided to leave in.  If you want to know which areas to pay special attention to that’s a good start.) Many of those recommendations were already posted in the forums or in the blogs of individual ERC members.  Hopefully nothing in the ERC document is too surprising. In this post I’m going to walk through some of the key changes and talk about what I remember from both ERC and Board discussions.  I’ll pay a little extra attention to things the Board changed from the ERC.  I’d also encourage any of the Board or ERC members to blog their thoughts on this. The Nominating Committee will continue to exist.  Personally, I was curious to see what the non-Board ERC members would think about the NomCom.  There was broad agreement that a group to vet candidates had value to the organization. The NomCom will be composed of five members.  Two will be Board members and three will be from the membership at large.  The only requirement for the three community members is that you’ve volunteered in some way (and volunteering is defined very broadly).  We expect potential at-large NomCom members to participate in a forum on the PASS site to answer questions from the other PASS members. We’re going to hold an election to determine the three community members.  It will be closer to voting for Summit sessions than voting for Board members.  That means there won’t be multiple dedicated emails.  If you’re at all paying attention it will be easy to participate.  Personally I wanted it easy for those that cared to participate but not overwhelm those that didn’t care.  I think this strikes a good balance. There’s also a clause that in order to be considered a winner in this NomCom election, you must receive 10 votes.  This is something I suggested.  I have no idea how popular the NomCom election is going to be.  I just wanted a fallback that if no one participated and some random person got in with one or two votes.  Any open slots will be filled by the NomCom chair (usually the PASS Immediate Past President).  My assumption is that they would probably take the next highest vote getters unless they were throwing flames in the forums or clearly unqualified.  As a final check, the Board still approves the final NomCom. The NomCom is going to rank candidates instead of rating them.  This has interesting implications.  This was championed by another ERC member and I’m hoping they write something about it.  This will really force the NomCom to make decisions between candidates.  You can’t just rate everyone a 3 and be done with it.  It may also make candidates appear further apart than they actually are.  I’m looking forward talking with the NomCom after this election and getting their feedback on this. The PASS Board added an option to remove a candidate with a unanimous vote of the NomCom.  This was primarily put in place to handle people that lied on their application or had a criminal background or some other unusual situation and we figured it out. We list an explicit goal of three candidate per open slot. We also wanted an easy way to find the NomCom candidate rankings from the ballot.  Hopefully this will satisfy those that want a broad candidate pool and those that want the NomCom to identify the most qualified candidates. The primary spokesperson for the NomCom is the committee chair.  After the issues around the election last year we didn’t have a good communication plan in place.  We should have and that was a failure on the part of the Board.  If there is criticism of the election this year I hope that falls squarely on the Board.  The community members of the NomCom shouldn’t be fielding complaints over the election process.  That said, the NomCom is ranking candidates and we are forcing them to rank some lower than others.  I’m sure you’ll each find someone that you think should have been ranked differently.  I also want to highlight one other change to the process that we started last year and isn’t included in these documents.  I think the candidate forums on the PASS site were tremendously helpful last year in helping people to find out more about candidates.  That gives our members a way to ask hard questions of the candidates and publicly see their answers. This year we have two important groups to fill.  The first is the NomCom.  We need three people from our membership to step up and fill this role.  It won’t be easy.  You will have to make subjective rankings of your fellow community members.  Your actions will be important in deciding who the future leaders of PASS will be.  There’s a 50/50 chance that one of the people you interview will be the President of PASS someday.  This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. The second is the slate of candidates.  If you’ve ever thought about running for the Board this is the year.  We’ve never had nine candidates on the ballot before.  Your chance of making it through the NomCom are higher than in any previous year.  Unfortunately the more of you that run, the more of you that will lose in the election.  And hopefully that competition will mean more community involvement and better Board members for PASS. Is this the end of changes to the election process?  It isn’t.  Every year that I’ve been on the Board the election process has changed.  Some years there have been small changes and some years there have been large changes.  After this election we’ll look at how the process worked and decide what steps to take – just like we do every year.

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  • Are certification courses worth it?

    - by Bill Williams
    I'm planning on getting certification in Database Development for SQL Server (MSTC - 70-433). I'm a junior level report writer at a new job and the company is offering to pay the majority, if not all, of training course fees. The course is five days. I noticed that MS has a self-paced training kit (book) that I could use. I'm wondering if this would be a better option because it will allow me to go as quick as possible. I've also heard about video training sessions (Lynda.com) but they seem to go at slow pace. My questions are: What should I expect at a certification course? Is it hands-on training? Small classes with personal feedback or not? Would I be better off learning at my own pace using the training kit? (I'd rather this not turn into a certifications are pointless discussion..)

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  • PASS: 2013 Summit Location

    - by Bill Graziano
    HQ recently posted a brief update on our search for a location for 2013.  It includes links to posts by four Board members and two community members. I’d like to add my thoughts to the mix and ask you a question.  But I can’t give you a real understanding without telling you some history first. So far we’ve had the Summit in Chicago, San Francisco, Orlando, Dallas, Denver and Seattle.  Each has a little different feel and distinct memories.  I enjoyed getting drinks by the pool in Orlando after the sessions ended.  I didn’t like that our location in Dallas was so far away from all the nightlife.  Denver was in downtown but we had real challenges with hotels.  I enjoyed the different locations.  I always enjoyed the announcement during the third keynote with the location of the next Summit. There are two big events that impacted my thinking on the Summit location.  The first was our transition to the new management company in early 2007.  The event that September in Denver was put on with a six month planning cycle by a brand new headquarters staff.  It wasn’t perfect but came off much better than I had dared to hope.  It also moved us out of the cookie cutter conferences that we used to do into a model where we have a lot more control.  I think you’ll all agree that the production values of our last few Summits have been fantastic.  That Summit also led to our changing relationship with Microsoft.  Microsoft holds two seats on the PASS Board.  All the PASS Board members face the same challenge: we all have full-time jobs and PASS comes in second place professionally (or sometimes further back).  Starting in 2008 we were assigned a liaison from Microsoft that had a much larger block of time to coordinate with us.  That changed everything between PASS and Microsoft.  Suddenly we were talking to product marketing, Microsoft PR, their event team, the Tech*Ed team, the education division, their user group team and their field sales team – locally and internationally.  We strengthened our relationship with CSS, SQLCAT and the engineering teams.  We had exposure at the executive level that we’d never had before.  And their level of participation at the Summit changed from under 100 people to 400-500 people.  I think those 400+ Microsoft employees have value at a conference on Microsoft SQL Server.  For the first time, Seattle had a real competitive advantage over other cities. I’m one that looked very hard at staying in Seattle for a long, long time.  I think those Microsoft engineers have value to our attendees.  I think the increased support that Microsoft can provide when we’re in Seattle has value to our attendees.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  There’s a significant (and vocal!) percentage of our membership that wants the Summit outside Seattle.  Post-2007 PASS doesn’t know what it’s like to have a Summit outside of Seattle.  I think until we have a Summit in another city we won’t really know the trade-offs. I think a model where we move every third or every other year is interesting.  But until we have another Summit outside Seattle and we can evaluate the logistics and how important it is to have depth and variety in our Microsoft participation we won’t really know. Another benefit that comes with a move is variety or diversity.  I learn more when I’m exposed to new things and new people.  I believe that moving the Summit will give a different set of people an opportunity to attend. Grant Fritchey writes “It seems that the board is leaning, extremely heavily, towards making it a permanent fixture in Seattle.”  I don’t believe that’s true.  I know there was discussion of that earlier but I don’t believe it’s true now. And that brings me to my question.  Do we announce the city now or do we wait until the 2012 Summit?  I’m happy to announce Seattle vs. not-Seattle as soon as we sign the contract.  But I’d like to leave the actual city announcement until the 2011 Summit.  I like the drama and mystery of it.  I also like that it doesn’t give you a reason to skip a Summit and wait for the next one if it’s closer or back in Seattle.  The other side of the coin is that your planning is easier if you know where it is.  What do you think?

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  • C Programming Language and UNIX Pioneer Passes Away

    According to a statement given to the New York Times by Ritchie's brother Bill, Dennis Ritchie was living alone at his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, prior to his death. Richie's health had reportedly deteriorated, and his last years were made difficult by the after effects of treatments for prostate cancer and heart disease. In addition to his brother Bill, Ritchie is survived by his sister Lynn and his other brother John. Dennis Ritchie was born in Bronxville, New York, in 1941. His father was an engineer with Bell Labs and his mother was a homemaker. His family eventually moved...

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