The Scourge of Politics in Development

It is my dream to be able to do coding, analysis and design without any interference from politics. I naively thought that if I just focused wholly on technical things and avoided any involvement in politics that I would be fine. Inevitably I found this to be false, since you have to work with others on projects of significance and in this world it is too easy to find bitter envy and selfish ambition. Only when I work 100% independently can I avoid all this and just make my tiny little projects and consume them by myself.

Consider the case of design where there are competing alternatives with similar qualities. The best alternative is likely overtaken by someone’s own idea or the one that they like or an idea from one who is most convincing or from one who is the best at presenting the benefits of their own idea.

Nonetheless, I still feel that focusing on technical merits, hard work and discipline are better than  getting involved in politics. I just want to be aware and have an understanding of others perspectives. I would still rather improve my abilities in development than learn to be a better presenter or salesperson.

I feel that is best to just let people have their glory, let them keep their ideas and opinions and not try to drag them down. I want to let everyone have their own recognition or power or whatever they want. I can contribute in a low-key kind of way; focused, objective and humble.

What is your opinion?

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Saving Money on Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Once you set up a Windows Azure Virtual machine the costs incur on an hourly basis, but what if you don’t need the machine running 24 hours a day? What if you just need it once in a while for a few hours maybe? You might be tempted to just shut down the virtual machine from the management console but that doesn’t do anything: The costs still incur because the virtual machine is still reserved even though it is not running. See

In order to preserve the state of the virtual machine and reduce the cost you have to use the Windows Azure Powershell commandlets. The commandlets can be downloaded here from the Microsoft site. They used to be on codeplex.

To get started with the PowerShell commandlets see:

To begin working with your virtual machines using PowerShell see:

The general idea is to export the state of your virtual machine and then delete it. When you need it again you import and start.


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Disable the People Pane in Outlook

The People Pane in Outlook appears at the bottom of each email that you open. I found it quite annoying since it uses up so much space, but I wasn’t sure how to remove it. I found myself closing it manually on every email in order to see more of the message. To remove it once and for all, do the following.

In Outlook, Click the View tab, then Click the People Pane button.  From the People Pane menu, Click the Off option.

people pane

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Connecting to SQL Azure using ADO.NET

Use the SqlConnectionStringBuilder and then set properties.

SqlConnectionStringBuilder connection = new SqlConnectionStringBuilder();
connection.DataSource = "tcp: " + ServerName;
connection.InitialCatalog = DatabaseName;
connection.UserID = UserID;
connection.Password = Password;
connection.Encrypt = true;
connection.TrustServerCertificate = false;
return connection.ToString();


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Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 Available

Update 2 for Visual Studio came out yesterday and it is available for download. It has a load of new features and changes and bug fixes. I’ll highlight some of the new features.

Switching Between Projects

Switching between projects is easier now. You used to have drill down on the right click menu, but now you get a list where you can even switch between servers and collections. Just use the new button at the top of Team Explorer, then click on the project from the list.

Work Item Tags

Tagging work items in Web Access is a nice feature. Although you can only tag one item at a time, you can have multiple tags for each item. Tags can have any text that you choose and in the interface you can filter based on a tag or multiple tags at a time. You can’t enter the tags using Visual Studio, but if you can query on the tags since they are stored in an ordinary column. The condition has a “Contains Words” option when setting up your query.

Code Map

The Code Map feature has been brought down from Ultimate to Premium, This is cool, while debugging, click on Code Map button at the top, and diagram shows up on the right. It displays a visualization of your call stack, you can tell without clicking around how you got to  your break point.

Cloning Test Plans

Now we have the ability to clone test plans. Just right click on the plan and select Clone Test Plan.

Test Runner

There is a test runner available from web access, so that you can run your tests manually without MTM.


Now you can pick and choose the unit tests that you want to run and keep them in a playlist.

Kanban Board

There is a new kanban board. It is not on the regular board, but under product backlog, There are two menu items: stories and board. Click on board and that is where the Kanban board lives. It is separate from the story board. You can customize columns, with new states. The states that you create apply only to the Kanban board. Each state has a real work item state (Active, Closed). Once you create the new custom column in the order that you want, you can drag and drop your tasks between your new states, just like on the story board. You can also see a cumulative flow graph, that can show your growth of items.

Compatible with 2010 Build Servers

Now you can run 2010 build servers with TFS 2012!

Update 3

After this, I hear that Update 3 is coming around the bend, but that is expected to have more modest changes. Following that we should expect a 2013 release which should have more major changes.


To update Visual Studio, download and install the following.

To update your Team Foundation Server 2012 download and install and configure the following.


For more information see the description of the update from Microsoft.

Also check out the Team Foundation Server blog.

Also check out these two short videos that show the testing improvements.

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SSIS 2012 Package Editing using Visual Studio 2012

When attempting to open an SSIS package created by Sql Server Data Tools from the Sql Server 2012 install, using Visual Studio 2012, the text (incompatible) appears beside the project name and the package icon appears with a blue circle on it.


If you try to open the package, a message appears saying “The application is not installed.”. The package would open without any problem using Sql Server Data Tools under the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 folder on the Start menu, which uses the Visual Studio 2010 shell.

To resolve this you need to install a Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools update.

Download and run SSDTBI_VS2012_x86_ENU.exe on your system. During the installation expect an SQL Server 2012 Setup panel to appear. Click Next to go start the setup. By default it may be set to install a new instance of SQL Server, keep this setting because you are not creating a new database engine, just the data tools. Select “SQL Server Data Tools – Business Intelligence for Visual Studio 2012” under Shared Features, on the Feature Selection panel. Open Visual Studio 2012 and create a new project. You should see the Business Intelligence projects available on the left hand side.

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SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services Drill Down Details

There are a number of ways to accomplish drill down to details in your reports, with the easiest way that I have found is using grouping and hiding the detail rows. The viewer of the report then clicks on a + to open the detail rows just below the group heading. When your grouping involves multiple columns, then it is not a good way because the columns that go along with the group are repeated in each detail row. What I am trying to describe is   a group that has an ID and along with a number of attributes that describe the group and appear alongside the group ID. The details within the group would appear on several rows with the group header information repeated in each row.

When this happens, I think it is better to display the details in a separate report. To accomplish this you can use a link to a separate report. Using Report Builder 3.0, open up your report for editing, then remove the detail columns from your report. Then select a cell in one of the remaining columns, then right-click, then select Text Box Properties. In the properties window, select Action on the left.


Here you can change the action from ‘None’ to ‘Go to report’, then specify the report and then Add parameters. In the Value column for the parameter, choose a field value to pass to the separate report. Try out the report. When you hover over the data in the column with the action property the mouse cursor turns into a hand. Click on the cell and the new report is rendered with the parameter automatically passed in.

Thanks to Scott Murray for providing the tip.

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