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New Computers Revisit

So it seems that Vista Home Premium just does not cut it. I have to use VMware Workstation daily as well as work with IIS and both of these components were not working on this OS release.

I have since installed Vista Ultimate and I have to say I am very happy with the performance and functionality of this machine. As I write this I am copying 145GB of VM’s, Downloading a source tree from TFS, and installing acrobat have not exceeded 25 % CPU capacity

– Mark

New Office Equipment

I spend a large portion of my day to day developing products or working on SalesLogix customizations of one form or another. I find that I have to jump from one virtual machine to another to handle difference client requirements. I think this is pretty normal for a consultancy firm that does work for many customers. For the past 2 years I have been working on a Dual core x64 AMD machine custom machine with 4GBs of ram. For the most part it has been pretty snappy and been able to keep up with my general needs. However now that I am finding that I need to run the main OS and then one or two VM’s at a time the memory limitations were getting pretty difficult to manage.

We are also looking to add a new Jr. Developer here at BITtelligent and I wanted to ensure that our hardware choices would not be a limiter to any productivity. We use various 3rd party libraries in our solutions from Developer Express, or Infragistics, work with SQL instances, IIS Server and VS 2008. Given all of these different working parts I really wanted something with 8gb of ram or better. I have been investigating, looking for the right hardware at the right price given that I do not want a hardware purchase to impact our day to day cash flow. For example if I went to Apple hardware with decent specs I would be looking at around 5K per machine. I really wanted to go commodity hardware. Enter Future Shop. This is one of our big box electronics superstores here in Canada. The special flyer came as it always did and lo and behold, what I perceive as the first 8bg, 1TB, Quad Core machine that has entered the retail market at this level was on sale ….

I called and reserved 2 since they had none in stock. They are supposed to come on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday here). I went on a trek today to see my Grandfather, and before I got there I decided to duck into a Best Buy and one was available there for purchase. Like a kid in a candy store, I passed over my Credit Card, paid for it and headed out with anticipation for starting up the Bad Boy (Real Geek Moment).

Got it home and after about 1 1/2 hours I pretty much got my core development environment setup. Its definitely fast and copying seems somewhat surreal to me. I had a copy of SQL2005 SP2 on a WD MyBook USB drive. Its somewhat around 245 Mb. From the time I selected to copy the file to go over and create a folder and select paste, the operation was almost instantaneous.

It comes preloaded with Vista Home Premium and I was going to upgrade to ultimate but found that all of the core functionality I needed was available including IIS 7.0 support. I have decided to leave the OS alone and see how things go. So far the only downfall I have found with the machine is the maximum resolution supported which is 1920×1200 which seems somewhat strange to me as I have always used 1920×1600 but given the memory/processor and HD space I think I can overlook that.

– Mark

You suck as a Business Partner

Harsh title I know but do I have your attention?

I have noticed that there is a level of negativity that exists around what a Sage SalesLogix Business partner should or should not know. It bothers me when this kind of discussion ensues because its generally targeted as some arbitrary feature/API method and in my opinion misses the mark substantially. First of all determining the capabilities of any services company based on the obscure is just wrong and usually is not an indicator of their capability to deliver.

There are just so many moving parts today that it is important to be able to filter out the important from the white noise. That being said there is a need for solid foundation skills as our collective customer base requires more for their budget dollars. The ability to transition from platform to integration development, to know and have a strong understanding of the collective technologies in any work plan and to provide strong and practical support moving forward. The ability to just get it done is one that should not be overlooked and be embraced and I suspect from an consulting point of view there is going to be more of this kind of work in the future and less in the process driven requirements development up front. We see this in agile but it really make’s sense in a CRM consulting world.

Take an inventory of your in-house skills and figure out if you are ready to move forward.

  • What development languages can you support (C#,, Java). VB6 does not cut it anymore. Databases ?
  • SQL, Oracle. Pattens, Library development .. can you provide solutions based on well known patterns, are you building up the next generation libraries to offer your customers the best bang for your buck.
  • 3rd partly libraries .. are you familiar with some of the 1st tier UI libraries, can you offer your customers better experiences to increase user adoption rates.
  • New technologies, are you familiar with/or played with web services, RIA applications, Share Point, WF, WPF, SilverLight, ORM (NHibernate or Other).
  • Understand Change Control, Unit Testing, Modularizing the code. This is an important thing moving forward. Being able to write the code in such a way that it can be tested (automated is preferred). It can be versioned and managed from a team stance.
  • How are your people skills? This is an important one, being able to adapt and wear many hats it the Consultants bread and butter. The more capable your resources are the more value they are to your customers. If one resource is capable of doing the job of 2 (not in workload, but in raw capability) the customer will perceive value

So back to the title … The only one who has the right to say ‘You Suck’ is your customer, and if you do not provide the capability you need to acquire the skills. If you are not capable of getting up to speed, partner with another BP to help bootstrap the process. That being said there are also times when there is just too much work, or a current project takes skills outside of the core competency. Again seek out a neutral BP that you can work with to satisfy the customers needs, doing so will reinforce your desire to make your customer happy.

– Mark