.net and other musings

Ben Lovell, an agile developer living in the UK.

Category: Tools

Cloud based backups

I was looking around for a (preferably free) cloud based backup service for backing up my projects on the work laptop and found Mozy a free online service. Mozy provides you with 2GB of free space and all data transfer is fully encrypted by 128 bit SSL. The data itself is encrypted on your machine before upload with 448 bit Blowfish encryption via a Mozy supplied key or your own if you prefer.

Further price plans are available depending on how much data you backup and how many restores you need to perform, hopefully none of course 🙂 After your initial backup, further backups are incremental so the space is used wisely.

I’ve been using it for around 2 weeks now without any issues. It was quick and easy to setup after downloading and installing the provided tool. The encryption and uploading process is pretty snappy on my machine and connection, I’ve got it running daily at the moment at the end of the working day and its proving to be one of those configure-and-forget kinda tools.

Take a look.

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VMware Player 2 Beta

The excellent VMware player has a version 2 beta release out in the wild. With support for 2-way virtual SMP, hosting or guesting with Vista, USB 2.0 devices (finally,  thank you!) and better file-sharing between host and guest OS’es. Also included is a new homepage environment linking in to the multitude of virtual appliances available for download.

Take a look here… 

Orcas Designer: The New Hope

With reference to my last webform designer woes post, someone has pointed me to the upcoming webforms designer in Visual Studio codename Orcas. Apparently Orcas takes the design surface from Expression Web, which is an altogether nicer experience than that of the current Visual Studio products.

Good news as well is that Orcas supports multiple build targets… So .NET 2.0 compatibility is guaranteed too! I’m downloading as I post this and I’ll post a mini-review of sorts as soon as I’ve had a thrash around.

ReSharper 2.5

ReSharper 2.5 has been released for VS.NET 2005. A few neat new things have been added in this release but the one I was most pleased to see is proper support for intellisense in WPF (code-behinds) at last.

If you write C# and don’t use ReSharper, seriously, you are a sadist!

Virtual Desktops in Windows 2003 Server

One thing i’ve grown rather fond of in Ubuntu (and Linux in general of course) is having separate desktop instances running and the ability to switch between them (especially with the snazzy effects provided by XGL!). Unfortunately this isn’t built into Windows, but it is actually freely available as a powertoy from Microsoft, however, this doesn’t support Server 2003.

After a bit of digging around I found a version which supports 2003 server. It looks as though the original source is down so i’ve uploaded it here. Also, check this for a handy guide to installing and using the desktop manager.

Take a look at what happens when you zoom out to view all desktops. Quite neat.

Virtual Desktop

GParted Partition Manager

So, given that Ubuntu 6.06 has been out and about for a little while now – and that I like it muchly – I decided to install it on my main machine and dual boot with Windows XP. The only issue being that the existing hard disk was unpartitioned and I wasn't willing to shell out for PartitionMagic or another product of that ilk.

After having a little browse around I found the most excellent GParted LiveCD. This is a LiveCD version of the GParted partition management application weighing in at a measly 30mb download and is of course completely free. Creating partitions over existing disks has a fairly high PPS (potential pant staining) factor, one false move and you can pretty much hose the whole box… Thankfully my pants (and I) survived the incident and Ubuntu 6.06 is happily occupying a new partition on my main box at home.

I'm thinking about hosing the Windows partition soon and reclaiming the space for the Ubuntu partition. Especially now I've got VMWare Player up and running in Ubuntu… 

Visual task tips

Check out this nifty little tool which displays previews of window contents when you hover over the corresponding button in the taskbar.

TaskbarPreview

VS.NET 2003 SP1 Beta

I'd recently enrolled on the VS.NET 2003 SP1 beta and consequently installed it on my development VM machine at home, after using it "in anger" it seems stable enough. I didn't experience any crashes or other weirdness and it has fixed one of the most annoying issues i've had with the environment.

When opening a solution and performing a VSS get latest, sometimes certain assemblies get locked and cannot be overwritten via build or rebuild unless you first close the IDE and reopen the solution. Hella annoying and always seemed to happen at exactly the wrong time. 🙂