Monthly Archives: April 2008

This Blog is Moving

Hello readers, the time has come for me to move my blog to my own server and some nice new Graffiti CMS software.  Anyone reading this feed either in the direct RSS feed or the old FeedBurner one, please change to the new one:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/AccidentalTechnologist

The old site will remain up but all the content is on the shiny new web site.  So please head on over.  See you there.

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Great Conversation with Chris Tavares about Microsoft Unity

I had a really great conversation recently with Chris Tavares, the lead developer of the Unity Application Block for Microsoft.  The chat was for my weekly article on InfoQ.  Please check it out. patternspractices

Some information on Unity to get going:

There are certainly a good number of Dependency Injection contains for .NET which have either been around for a long time or have sprung up recently.  I am planning a post covering them in a bit of detail for those interested in learning about DI containers or understanding what is available.

Finally Ordered a New Office Chair

I have been using the same Staples special office task chair for the last 8 years, yes 8 years.  It has served me very well but the cloth was starting to wear out heavily on the seat and it was time to get something new.aeron

I considered many options as my analytical mind does and contemplated long and hard.  The decision was influenced from many factors including:

  • Cost – I am, let’s say..frugal and I didn’t want to spend too much.  I learned from looking at the chairs that cost was so subjective and it was not easy to make good comparisons.  There really were three general categories of chairs.
    • $50-$200 – These were mainly sold at Staples and this is the category I picked last time.  They seem mostly very consumer-oriented and sold simply based on cost.  I had one of these at one of my jobs and it did not last.
    • $200-$400 – This category was the hardest to really determine the value of the chair, most were names I had not heard of and was hard to distinguish between the low-end and these.  The only real difference I could see was the price.
    • $400-$1200 – This is the chair for someone really trying to find a long-lasting and good chair.  This is where Herman-Miller, Steelcase, Humanscale and others fall into.
  • Comfort – I tried out a lot of chairs and the low-end today felt very low-end.  The others had so many adjustments it was hard not to find a comfort zone.
  • Durability – I really wanted a chair which will last a long time and not be falling apart 6 months from now.
  • Brand – Brand is often an important factor, beyond recognition, brand is a great way to pick a chair on reputation alone.
  • Psychological Benefits – If I buy a great chair I will write better code and more interesting articles, right?
  • Adjustability – This goes in line with comfort but is important to have adjustable everything, arms, back, height, etc.

I spent about 4 weeks on and off trying to determine the best path to go down.  In the end, it came down to getting what you pay for, so I had to bump my budget up a bit.

I am not an office chair expert and frankly, I don’t want to be.  My new chair is the Herman Miller Aeron purchased from Sit4less.com, they had great customer service and great prices, free shipping and a month to use the chair and decide if it’s right for me. 

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Ruby on Rails and IIS7 Playing Nicely Together

Ruby on Rails has been around for a few years now and has become a hugely popular web development framework, but not on Windows and Internet Information Server (IIS).  Rails has run on Linux and Max OSX almost exclusively, until recently. 

The Ruby on Rails Wiki has a very good article on setting up Ruby on Rails using IIS7.

Enter FastCGI

FastCGI is the key to getting Rails running in IIS.  The FastCGI web site describes FastCGI as:

FastCGI  is a language independent, scalable, open extension to CGI that provides high performance without the limitations of server specific APIs. See the docs for more details.

Dave Scruggs has a nice short tutorial about his experience getting Rails running on Windows Visata SP1 and IIS 7 with FastCGI.  One of the really nice features of Vista SP1 is that it includes FastCGI built-in. 

In the event you are running IIS7 without FastCGI built in, Dave points out a good tutorial from Carlos Caneja called Install FAST CGI on IIS7.

FastCGI is used to serve applications on IIS7 for languages such as:

  • Ruby
  • Python
  • PHP
  • and others….

What about IIS6?

Most of the recent resources on the web I have seen show FastCGI applications running on IIS7, mainly because it is built-into Vista SP1 and that avoids some configuration difficulties but IIS6 does has FastCGI support for it.  I have not personally attempted it but I may in the future.   The IIS.NET site has some information about using FastCGI on IIS6.

It seems the primary support for FastCGI from Microsoft is on IIS7 but not everyone may be at the point where their web servers are running IIS7 just yet. 

Personal Setup

The tutorials given here are very good and work really well with Vista.  I have a VMWare VM setup on my MacBook Pro running Vista SP1, the setup was flawless.  I have an advantage of many years of IIS experience with a couple years of Ruby on Rails experience, which I think does help.

I would like to see some performance numbers of running Rails or any FastCGI hosted application under IIS.  I am not aware of any but would like to hear back from someone putting IIS and FastCGI through it paces.

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Laptop Screaming Fan Syndrome

crazyman.jpg

My current laptop I use most of the day either in my home office or on the road is a Dell Latitude D820. I have had it about a year and half with the exception of the last month or so I have been very happy with it.

The last month the fan has been getting louder and louder to the point I almost bought a new Lenovo Thinkpad T61 but it sounded a bit irrational, clear evidence of how crazy it has been making me. The fan is running at maximum speed most of time and almost screaming.  I was at one of my clients this week and people even commented how loud it was and asking if that annoying sound was my laptop.  Embarrassingly enough, I had to admit that it certain was my laptop.

I started searching the Internet a bit and found others who had the same problem in both the same and different Latitude models.  I also decided to check out the Dell Support Site to see if any problems like this had been reported.  It turns out there is a new BIOS version, A07, which addressed the problem because the quiet mode of the laptop could not be set correctly.  Unfortunately, I already had version A07 of the BIOS installed.

D820

There were a few forum posts I came across that shed some light on the solution; cleaning the fan.  It had never dawned on me that this would be a problem.  One bit of information was on Devshed and made me think a bit about how and where I use my laptop.

My work environment is either the home office or a client and it’s never dusty.   I figured it was worth a shot to clean the fan.  I grabbed my trusty can of compressed air and, while the system was still running, blew the air into as many different angles as I could.  I was surprised to see the amount of dust coming out of the fan.

Once I was done the fan took about 2 minutes to slow down and become extremely quiet.  I would never have guessed the solution would be so simple.  One gentleman takes his D600 apart once every 6 months and cleans the fan and heat sink.

I think I will have to start making this as part of my system maintenance routine to keep my fan quiet and my clients happy.

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