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# Thursday, 30 October 2008

Hi guys - there's a bunch of stuff going on right now at PDC 08 in LA.

What's hot:

(If you're on a PDA/Mobile - grab a the PDC from here -


So if you can't sleep then there's going to be some interesting reading coming up for us all. :-)



Thursday, 30 October 2008 20:11:12 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time, UTC+11:00)  #    Comments [0] -
BizTalk | Insights | Oslo | Events
# Tuesday, 28 October 2008

When implementing/deploying and building all things BizTalk/Silverlight and related, there's going to be a time when you're needing to see what's on the wire.

I've currently found a few handy options:

  1. FireFox's FireBug - brilliant! a plug-in straight from the browser environment. Deals only in Browser initiated traffic though.

    Gives great anaylsis on HTML page composition/scripts and dynamic content source - A MUST for any Silverlight work
  2. Fiddler - sets itself up as a proxy that your browser requests through, once again, my browser has to initiate the calls.
  3. Smart Sniff - smsniff - 48kb and this is a full blown packet anaylser giving access to all packets to/from NICs. - THIS by far is my choice!

Check them out folks - Smartsniff small enough to go on any memory key.


All free!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008 09:45:32 (AUS Eastern Daylight Time, UTC+11:00)  #    Comments [0] -
General | Tips
# Monday, 20 October 2008

InfoPath 2007, SharePoint 2007 + BizTalk 2006 R2!!

Aloha!!! With PDC currently on over in the US we’re going to be sinking our teeth into some great material this month.

We’ve had some great discussions this month on our BizTalk Discussions email list (email me if you want to get on it) – we’ve got around 50 BizTalk User group members extending out to the US (New York) as well. Email me if you want to get on – it’s currently invite only.

What’s cooking this month for the group?
I will focus on 3 main key players this month – InfoPath 2007, SharePoint 2007 + BizTalk 2006 R2!!
I’ve had a lot of requests on how to do this and the best way to marry all these players up at the poker table over the years. Together you can build out some very powerful forms based solutions (or even some part of exception handling that needs user input).

Other questions like “Why wouldn’t I use SharePoint Workflow only?”; “Where can I keep my InfoPath Forms?”; “Where does BizTalk fit in and do I need to install BizTalk on my SharePoint machine?” a whole bunch of others.
I’ll answer those and more.
If you have SharePoint, and want the full potential of BizTalk.......see you there.

I’ll give you some specifics.....

Main Event on the night:
- Using InfoPath forms to drive SharePoint and BizTalk solutions.

This session will cover:

1.      What InfoPath forms comprise of.

2.      InfoPath forms communicating to SharePoint and BizTalk via WCF.

3.      Using SharePoint and BizTalk in Harmony for serious processing.

4.      Gotchas (no there wouldn’t be all just ‘works’ ;)

Meeting details:

When: Oct 29, Food at 6pm, kick off 6.30pm. Finish up around 8.30pm.
Where: Microsoft
1 Epping Road
Riverside Corporate Park
North Ryde NSW 2113 Australia.
(parking available)
Speaker: Mick Badran (your trusty User Group Host)

What’s happening in the BizTalk Community:
– PDC is currently going on in the US with new ‘CTP’ bits of BizTalk vNext (Oslo), .NET Framework v4.0 (CTP) and Visual Studio 2010 (ctp) being sampled by the audience. I’ll share what I can with you guys so bring a HDD just in case – 40GB should cover it J
Share the User Group Soap Box:
I always welcome a new voice and ideas at our group – if you want to share your experiences, thoughts, “I wish I can do..... for my solution...”. Then contact me and I’ll be more than happy to slot you in.
Q. Do you need to have presentation skills: No (just look at me) – can you tell a story in the office or at the pub? Or at a 3 yr old party? – then I want you.
Q. Do I need a PowerPoint Slide Deck? – no!!! *death by powerpoint* is a painful way to go......
Q. Can you capture my ‘best’ side? We take you whichever way you are. J

We’re up for a great night – come along and learn how to make your BizTalk solutions go a long way.

See you there and let me know your coming
Mick (mb: 0404 842 833)

Monday, 20 October 2008 11:04:54 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [0] -
# Tuesday, 14 October 2008


One of our staff recently got an iPhone after a vodafone sales rep suggested they should 'try' piece of detail they left off......

Vodafone didn't put them on the appropriate plan (?????) as the iPhone can be a little chatty (as we all know).

First bill came in at a 500% increase from previous - wow!!! No phone calls, txts, reminders...nothing (but I get regular txts asking me if I want circus tickets??)

Upon asking them the big "Why" question - "'re not on an iPhone plan..." ???????? (Should have read "You're on our most expensive plan so we can squeeze more out of you!")

(But you sold me the iPhone......)


The good thing that did come out of all this is that I discovered a site that compares all pricing/plans for iPhones from major carriers. - even got knobs and dials!

Virgin Mobile look to be leading the way here

Problem#2 - How to move over to Virgin Mobile?


Tuesday, 14 October 2008 13:14:37 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [0] -
General | Other
# Thursday, 02 October 2008

I've been re-awarded my BizTalk MVP - so a big thanks for allowing me to be part of the program for another year (at least :)

A focus of mine is the community - sharing and bettering information sources around the technologies we work and play with. So thanks guys hope you're getting value out of my efforts, and thank you for being part of our growing community.

This year should be a fantastic year in the SOA/ESB/BizTalk/Oslo/WCF/WF/MOSS/BDC/RFID (did I leave any off?) as we're going to see the emergence of several of these technologies play beautifully together.
(we saw this in the last .NET 3.5 Framework - with WCF/WF Services.....stay tuned...for one of my favourite pieces - Windows Workflow)

So for me lots of things to focus on, but one main area is doing more information integrating MOSS/SharePoint with BizTalk/InfoPath/RFID....... and of course workflows....... :-)

Stay tuned......

Thank you linesman and thank you ball boys for your hard efforts and major participation!!!!!

Life is short!



Thursday, 02 October 2008 10:20:47 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [2] -
General | Other
# Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Folks - it's been one of those weeks (I know it's only Tues :)

I just got to a point where I was just opening up tooo many RDP connections, managing them - some using Terminal Services Gateways, others not.

Configuring BTS boxes/SQL Servers/MOSS/Indexers/Search..... and the list goes on.

From client to client or even our network internally - my head was rapidly filling up with these random ip addresses that I wished I didn't have to remember.

So I wanted to have a way simply to manage all these windows (a crude version I wrote some years back was simply to drop 6 RDP ActiveX controls onto a web page an knock yourself out).

I needed:

- to work on Vista and Win2008 as well as the other list of usual suspects.

- be able to set Terminal Services Gateway on some.

They panned out as follows:

  1. Remote Desktops - found in Win2K3 Admin Tools SP1, which is OK as it presents a simple tree view and you're away.
  2. Terminals (currently 1.7) - SENSATIONAL!!! I almost wanted to get VNC etc just to use those bits.
    It's got - network tools, port scanners just absolutely brilliant, a well polished application with a very very handy toolbar.
    Only ONE problem for TSG support :-(   - forums state this is planned..... :)

    Check out TERMINALS HERE
  3. Royal TS - Supports RDP Terminal Service Gateway Connections :)
    So this one for the moment is one that I'm going with, just downloading .NET 3.5 SP1 as we speak and about to fire this up on Vista (x86).

    Does a very good job at managing RDP connections, it doesn't support any of the other clients.

    Presents a TreeView allowing groupings of connections (although I had to 'Create a Document' first)

    Check out Royal TS HERE




Terminals *would* be the one I'd go for if it supported TSG connections......have to check back shortly.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008 19:56:18 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [0] -
General | Tips
# Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Folks - I recently came across a great article on Perf in BizTalk.

I had previous noted a BTS2004 one but always handy to have the updated version.

I thought I'd jot this down before I lost the reference -



Wednesday, 24 September 2008 09:29:59 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [4] -
BizTalk | Insights
# Thursday, 11 September 2008

The system we built has made it through its maiden event and was still capturing reads well into the later afternoon (until we got round to tearing it down....technically called 'Bump Out'....with all the moving bodies and parts, it's no wonder they call it Bump Out!)

 I grabbed a couple of SilverLight screen shots to show what the system is capable of - in the hectic pace of last week I didn't manage to grab some screen captures of the system in action, these screen shots come from the courtesy of Eileen Brown's Blog (she is responsible for running MS Events in the UK + a founder/advocate for Women in IT)

Walk-In Displays - these walk in displays were up on the big screens as delegates entered/exited their sessions. Pretty cool!!!.

These screens are delivered via a browser and are what we call the 'Walk-in' Display. Here you can see 3 people leaving the room with the graph in the background showing some delegate profiling data around attendance of previous TechEds.

Here we've got an enter and a leaving of the session. Something we didn't get time to do at this show was to play on the scope for customisations with these avatars. We had over 120 textures + bitmap type surfaces set for this, but during the show this 'feature' got bumped further down the list. (Hats, scarves, hair type, colours etc. you know the stuff)

We had fun with a couple of names though - '@Coatsy' was one, 'The Stig' was another.

The beauty about these screens was that people outside the conference got real time stats about the rooms and could see the 'Walk-in' displays in near real time. (Late night trouble shooting with my friends in MS Corp - this proved a great tool)

In testing performance of our SL Services over the internet - I had a link to the UK where we had a technician monitoring the various walk-in displays and giving feedback. All worked pretty well.
(At this point we don't have an upper limit on the number of individual 'Walk-in' display sessions that run concurrently - each open browser receiving events in near realtime is an additional WCF Service instance + a SQL connection. Not sure how much benefit SQL Connection pooling will give as these connections are active pretty much all the time)

This screen is from the 'Speaker Charts' which are designed to give the speaker various breakdowns of up to the minute information of their audiences.


Overall the Breeze Boiler room (HQ) got great attendance from the delegates wanting to know the "whats/whos/whys" on the Breeze Event Tracker System.

We're currently still analysing the results but some interesting numbers are:

(1) In a 16 hr period for one room, we got 345000 reads.......(this maybe picking up the persons in the back row while sessions are on - our business logic takes care of these)

(2) We experienced a very particular 'known' problem (don't you love it when you experience an issue for the first time and describe it, only to be told it's 'known' - well telling us that ahead of time would have been great :). The problem arises from Tags being physically close together, and two tags respond 'around' the same time. In very special circumstances this confuses the Reader and instead of getting 12byte TagIDs we got 16, 18 or sometimes 20 byte IDs where the 2 tagIDs were 'spliced'.

It occurred in very special cases - but we got it. That particular read should be discarded as it fails the CRC check.
In peak time, out of 8000 reads we got around 2 of these cases.

Couple of phone calls to India and our Intel R1000 Provider was 'patched' and as a PlanB we had the current provider being wrapped by another .NET class to catch that particular exception.

(3) SCOM2007 couldn't have worked better!!!! I dropped on the BizTalk RFID Mgmnt pack and it was a breath of fresh air. All the Readers, Devices, Processes, Providers and RFID Servers out on the network appeared as healthy items in lists (mostly). From the mgmnt pack I was able to see the number of Tags Read, settings, when the last heartbeat was heard etc etc. from all the devices over the conference - certainly Mission Control.

(4) We had various 'Show' type issues such as power cords being unplugged; cables being cut; cabinets that housed the equipment in each room all in all it was filled with fun and excitement. We did have a couple of Network issues where at the conference there were several networks implemented for different regions/events at the conference. e.g Public Delegate WiFi; Networks within each of the Break out rooms - we were on our own VLAN and these network layers above us, proved a little troublesome from time to time.


Various Licensing arrangements of this system are available - from the software components through to the hardware. Feel free to ping me for more details.

Here's a video of a screen capture that I *did* manage to do.

Thursday, 11 September 2008 21:54:16 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [0] -
.NET Developer | BizTalk | Insights | RFID | BET
# Monday, 08 September 2008

From another session Breeze jointly did with Kenetics whom supplied the hardware for the entire TechEd 08.

It was a great session Scotty & myself did around demo-ing the bits that were used to build the system.

Implementing RFID with BizTalk

Monday, 08 September 2008 11:31:22 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [0] -
BizTalk | RFID | Events | TechEd

As promised, the chaos of TechEd has subsided and if there's that thing of normality approaching....we'll I must be close to it.

My Thursday after lunch session went great with a whole series of demos about different aspects of hosting and running workflows (WCF based, .NET 3.5, Tracking, FilePersistence, Obtaining Metadata etc):


Monday, 08 September 2008 10:47:53 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [2] -
BizTalk | TechEd | WinWF


The main details folks are as follows: (from an earlier email from Corp)


1. BizTalk Server vNext:

  • Naming Change: We have also updated the name of the next release from BizTalk Server 2006 R3 to “BizTalk Server 2009”.  By calling the product BizTalk Server 2009, we can clearly communicate this is a full product release with new and enhanced capabilities and updated platform support for customers to take full advantage of the latest technology wave (Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008, .NET Framework 3.5).
  • BizTalk Server 2009 Timing: We will deliver a public CTP by the end of this calendar year.  Additionally, BizTalk Server 2009 is on track for availability in the first half of calendar year 2009.
  • Features: We bucket the 2009 release into 5 core feature areas, which are detailed further on the BizTalk roadmap page. These include platform support, SOA & web services, business to business integration, device connectivity and developer and team productivity(i.e. VSTS support :-)


2. Future Plans:

  • Ship Rhythm: Microsoft’s commitment to maintain a rhythm of releases roughly every 2 years. 
  • High-Level Themes: We outlined priorities for the next couple of releases. Including:
    • Developer productivity enhancements (e.g. complex mapping);
    • Enhanced B2B support (e.g. complex trading partner management, expanded industry standards and schemas);
    • Low-latency messaging enhancements and ESB Guidance;
    • Enhanced device support for cross-enterprise asset tracking, enterprise manageability of devices, and key industry standards;
    • Real-time  business event visibility through BI / BAM Enhancements; and
    • Integration with the latest new platform capabilities (to take advantage of the latest advances in the .NET Framework, Visual Studio, and Windows Server).

More Info:

For more information on the BizTalk Server roadmap announcement please visit the BizTalk roadmap page.

Additional Resources

For more information go to:

· PressPass Q & A with Oliver Sharp, GM of BizTalk Server:

· BizTalk Website:

· BizTalk Server Team Blog:

· Steven Martin, director in the Connected Systems Division Blog:

Monday, 08 September 2008 10:03:51 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [0] -
BizTalk | Insights
# Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hi folks - over the last week or so I've had many requests about what's happening around privacy and what does it mean to get a "Tag" this year.

Breeze Event SystemBreeze Event System  

Reasons for Building the System
1. Breeze designed, built and owns the 'Breeze Event' System. I am talking first hand (and am happy to share details with you). A variant of the idea originated years back when myself and David McGhee worked on a very cut down alpha variation - together we cut the code and got about 5 mins of RFID activity from the devices we were using before our battery died.

Stepping forward to the current system, once we presented MS with the concepts of what we wanted to do - many folks gave some sensational support (such as Marcy Larsen & Rahul Garg) in integrating this new piece with 'TechEd proper'. We got there in the end and for me - it's a real eye opener to see how big TechEd is and how much planning goes into it.

2. As a speaker/delegate/MVP at many TechEds and other conferences my motivation was all about giving you the Delegate (& myself as a Speaker) a better TechEd experience. Taking the pain out of a lot of things. For example:

  • TechEd to me is about experience technology, not just hearing about it. Here's your chance to play and experience some cool technology.
  • Being able to see when rooms over capacity before you get there only to be told to go away
  • Be given online evals just for the sessions you attended (currently we set 'attended' to be at least 15 mins within the session)
  • I might be a new developer, what sessions do I go to? You could have information such as 80% of other 'new developers' went to SessionX. Great I might go to that one.

    A big one for me is that at the end of the conference Delegate's get a boxed DVD Set of sessions in other TechEds with thousands of hours of material on it. Wouldn't it be great to be given such things as '80% of other new developers have these sessions/webcasts etc as their top 10 list' - that way I've got targeted viewing.
  • As a speaker - they will know the cross section of interests and technology tracks in the room. (there's a chart display we've created). So the classic question of 'How many developers are in the room? How many ITPros?' no longer needs to be asked AND as a Delegate the speaker will be able to have more information to tailor their material to the interests of the audience (hopefully reducing the amount - 'that just went over my head')
  • Planning - future conferences/sessions and material will now have direct influence by the Delegates. What sessions you valued, and got the most out of.
  • More...

As you can see, we've designed the system with us (delegates & speakers) in mind.

I digress.....Ok onto the main items......

Privacy Concerns - yours and mine

I wanted to fill you in as much as possible about the system (this is eating into my sleeping time :) so there is a clear understanding about the what is going on.

Some Details on How the System Works

1. Your tag - holds a number e.g. 1234 (we printed it on the plastic surface of your tag) end of story. Nothing else.  These tags are 'EPC Gen II' UHF Tags and operate between 920-926MHz.

Here is the actual Tag itself (it will be stuck onto a card to make it look beautiful :)

Some facts:

  1. The tag is known as a Dog Bone by the way the metal aerial is shaped. Just above the barcode, there's the number and above that there is an indent the size of a 'pin head' in the middle - this is the chip.
  2. The tag is a passive tag (as opposed to active - such as your E-Tags in cars) which means radio waves need to be sent to it, to excite the tag and so the tag can transmit its number. This distance in our case is around 2-3m. If there's no waves, then nothing is transmitted.

    What this generally means is that you should be able to walk straight through into sessions, rather than people scanning your individual barcodes as was in previous years.
  3. The Barcode is there so we can integrate with your established Registration process. We printed the barcode there as a fall back mechanism.

    The barcode number is the only piece of information written onto your tag. (Printing the barcode + printing to the Tag at the same time doing around 5000 tags took a bit of development and H/W)

    In other Systems, things like temperature readings are frequently written to the tag, so that when the fish is delivered to the restaurant, they know the freshness and quality of it.

    Generally speaking in RFID based solutions there will be no sensitive information written to the tag (if it gets lost, crushed, drowned etc etc)

    Tidbit - the amount of data you can write to these tags is in bytes (like 96 bits), but other tags can store around 64KB!!!! (that was the total sum size of my Apple II as a kid!!)


2. Readers - come in many shapes and sizes for different purposes. Our Readers have a read range of 2m. There will be white pizza shaped 'boxes' mounted and these are the antennae. The reader is connected to local pcs that drive the system.

There will be 56 Readers and 118 antennae mounted around Session/Breakout rooms doorways and as I mentioned they have a range of 2m. This is designed to reduce the queues (with reading a barcode) getting into rooms as you should be able to just stroll through.
(there have been some ski resorts in Europe implementing RFID ski passes - ski straight on/off)

                                                                 RFID Antennae
                                                                   Shot of the Antennae

3. Local PC - each room with have one a PC where all the Readers are connected to. We designed our system so that if we have a network meltdown, each room will (hopefully :-) still be running. In fact each Local PC runs our solution on top of BizTalk RFID Server to drive the walk-in and chart displays.

4. Network - there will be a dedicated network for the RFID component @ Teched where these Local PCs and us will be connected to in isolation to the rest of the network.

5. The Information captured - the information that your tag number associates with in the back end is essentially the Conference profile information you entered as part of the Registration process.

This enables things like 60% of people like Jazz in this session.....ideally we're really interested in aggregates of information to help improve your experience.

(I'm hoping to get MS and MVP information as well - so you as a Delegate may be notified when a Windows2008 MVP is in the house)

Just quickly - we're using SQL Replication to frequently replicate the information from each Room back to our servers centrally.

Sneak peak....

Cause you read to the bottom of this's a reward.....
Now according to my team - this information is available on All Rooms, or by Individual Room.
(my current challenge is how to expose these screens to you guys (approx 500-700 concurrent connections) without causing grief to our system.....nothing like a challenge a week out from TechEd......)

Looking fwd to a very different TechEd....see you there....nighty night.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008 01:11:33 (AUS Eastern Standard Time, UTC+10:00)  #    Comments [1] -
BizTalk | RFID | TechEd | Silverlight
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