tsJensen

A quest for software excellence...

Vista Defrag Woefully Inadequate - Enter O&O Defrag

Being rather new to Vista this week, I was sorely disappointed to see the severely dumbed down defrag utility in Vista. A pathetic effort. Really! So after a few highly scientific Google searches, I settled on O&O Defrag and could not be happier.

Here's the lame, incredibly useless UI in Vista's Disk Defragmenter. Note, if you are going to use some other defragmenter on a schedule, which I would recommend, be sure to disable the regularly scheduled Vista defragmenter by unchecking the box. One way of getting there is to go to the Control Panel and then Performance Information and Tools and then Advanced Tools.

And here is only part of the incredibly useful O&O Defrag UI, a shot taken as it defrags my drives:

Of course there are other suitable defrag tools such as DiskKeeper and others. Perhaps Microsoft wanted the Vista tool to cater only to the basic, uninformed user. If so, they certainly left the market wide open to the more sophisticated tools vendors such as O&O.

 

From XP Pro to Vista Ultimate x64

I finally took the plunge. Now I get to use 4GB out of 4GB except that the bare minimum I seem to be able to get Vista x64 down to is a 1.2GB footprint. And that's after hours and hours of experimentation and disabling some visual enhancements, though I feel no loss there and am experiencing a significantly reduced sense of loss.

Now I'm happy to be able to test on x64 virtual images using VMWare's Workstation, I'm afraid I may need to buy four 2GB sticks of RAM now. Despite the fact that the additional memory is available now, the larger footprint nearly wipes out the gain.

And that's without running any significant applications, except IE, which is quite a memory hog. I guess the old 640K upper limit days are over.

Yes, RAM is cheap. A quick check on Newegg.com and I found 8GB (4 x 2GB DDR2 800) for $174. I can't even buy three tanks of gas for my SUV for that.

Virtual PC 2007 vs VMWare Workstation 6.5

I'm getting ready to do some serious MOSS 2007 architecture and development work. In the past, I've used Virtual PC 2007 to host a virtual development environment running a Windows server operating system, SQL Server, MOSS and Visual Studio all running in the same virtual machine. And I've never been very happy with the performance of that virtual machine.

So today I decided to give VMWare a try and downloaded VMWare Workstation 6.5. I installed Windows Server 2008 Standard x86 (full install) on a new virtual machine with the same disk space and memory as I had allocated for the same operating system install using Virtual PC 2007. I gave both virtual machines 30GB of disk space and 1GB of RAM. I'm running on a Core 2 Duo 6600 on an ASUS P5B at factory default speed with 4GB of RAM with virtualization support enabled. Both virtual machines virtual drives live on the same drive.

The major advantage of VMWare is its ability to utilize both cores where Virtual PC is stuck with using just one. I'm sure there are additional reasons for the differences in performance. I used PerformanceTest 6.1 from PassMark. I'm sure there are other ways to test virtual machine performance, but this seemed to be a reasonable though unscientific approach. I made sure my machine was running the same processes and completely idle except for the virtual machine host application.

I only ran the tests that mattered to me: CPU, 2D, memory, and disk. I don't care about 3D and CD performance for the virtual machine. Here's the results:

vmware

test 1

test 2

avg

ratio

cpu: 326.6 344.4 335.5 2.2x
2D: 28.7 32.2 30.45 3.3x
Memory: 96.7 96.2 96.45 1.2x
Disk: 469.1 454.5 461.8 6.4x
Total: 921.1 927.3 924.2 2.9x
vpc 2007
cpu: 150.7 154.1 152.4
2D: 9.2 9.3 9.25
Memory: 83.3 83.2 83.25
Disk: 69.6 73.8 71.7
Total: 312.8 320.4 316.6
 

I was amazed to see that overall, the VMWare virtual machine ran 2.9 times faster than the Virtual PC machine. Even more amazing was the performance improvement of the 2D and disk tests, 3.3 and 6.4 times faster respectively.

I am now completely sold on the value of the VMWare Workstation license. The best price I found after a quick search was $161. For all the saved frustration in working with a slow virtual machine development image for MOSS, the product is well worth the price. But don't take my word for it, run your own tests if you don't believe me. Of course, if you aren't running a multicore machine, and what self respecting developer isn't, you probably won't see any improvement. On the other hand, if you have at least two cores, choosing save a few bucks seems to penny wise but pound foolish!

 

MSDN Subscription - Zupancic Heroic MVP

Props, kudos, and thanks a million to my good friend Aaron Zupancic, one of Microsoft's most valuable MVPs. Last week I pinged him to ask his opinion about a site I'd found adversting an VS 2008 Pro MSDN Pro 2 year sub for $999. It was a decent price but the site seemed a bit sketchy. He seemed to agree with my assessment and then asked if I'd like one of the complimentary VSTS 2008 MSDN Premium subscriptions that Microsoft had sent him with his MVP package. Wow!

That's over $10,000 worth of tools!

Thanks ten thousand times over, Aaron! You're awesome!

In exchange, I promise to faithfully attend the Utah user group meetings!

And before you inundate Aaron with begging, let me dispell the rumor that he has an unlimited supply. Aaron gave the other complinetary sub to another friend and user group supporter. And please don't nag him for picking me over you. Blame me, blind luck, and accidentally perfect timing!

ASP.NET MVC Making Web Development Fun Again

I want to thank Scott Guthrie and Scott Hanselman and the whole ASP.NET MVC team for making web development fun again.

The simplicity of Rails, the power of .NET, and so much more. I've been reading the posts and watching some of the screencasts but had not yet tried it for real. That all changed over the weekend while working my latest pet project which I hope to reveal sometime soon. I decided to put MVC Preview 4 to the test. I was not disappointed.

I mean, who could not fall in love with the elegant simplicity of this view?

<tr>
  <td>Current password:</td>
  <td><%= Html.Password("currentPassword") %></td>
</
tr>
<
tr>
  <td>New password:</td>
  <td><%= Html.Password("newPassword") %></td>
</
tr>
<
tr>
  <td>Confirm new password:</td>
  <td><%= Html.Password("confirmPassword") %></td>
</
tr>
<
tr>
  <td></td>
  <td><input type="submit" value="Change Password" /></td>
</
tr>

Handled by this controller:

[Authorize]
public ActionResult ChangePassword(string currentPassword, string newPassword, string confirmPassword)
{

    ViewData["Title"] = "Change Password";
    ViewData["PasswordLength"] = Provider.MinRequiredPasswordLength;

    // Non-POST requests should just display the ChangePassword form
    if (Request.HttpMethod != "POST")
    {
        return View();
    }

    // Basic parameter validation
    List<string> errors = new List<string>();

    if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(currentPassword))
    {
        errors.Add("You must specify a current password.");
    }
    if (newPassword == null || newPassword.Length < Provider.MinRequiredPasswordLength)
    {
        errors.Add(String.Format(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture,
                    "You must specify a new password of {0} or more characters.",
                    Provider.MinRequiredPasswordLength));
    }
    if (!String.Equals(newPassword, confirmPassword, StringComparison.Ordinal))
    {
        errors.Add("The new password and confirmation password do not match.");
    }

    if (errors.Count == 0)
    {

        // Attempt to change password
        MembershipUser currentUser = Provider.GetUser(User.Identity.Name, true /* userIsOnline */);
        bool changeSuccessful = false;
        try
        {
            changeSuccessful = currentUser.ChangePassword(currentPassword, newPassword);
        }
        catch
        {
            // An exception is thrown if the new password does not meet the provider's requirements
        }

        if (changeSuccessful)
        {
            return RedirectToAction("ChangePasswordSuccess");
        }
        else
        {
            errors.Add("The current password is incorrect or the new password is invalid.");
        }
    }

    // If we got this far, something failed, redisplay form
    ViewData["errors"] = errors;
    return View();
}

Yes, you say, but what about all my high powered controls from XYZ Controls Company? Do they really make your life that much easier? Is HTML so hard? Have you looked at your ViewState lately? Yikes! Certainly there are tradeoffs, but you can bet that controls are on their way. Where Microsoft stack developers go, the control vendors soon follow.

Give me clean HTML with CSS style and controllers that support TDD in the most straightforward manner I've ever seen, sprinkle in some convention over configuration jazz from Ruby on Rails, and I'm a happy web developer again after having spent the last four and a half years avoiding ASP.NET while writing back end data and content analysis systems.

ASP.NET never looked better!