Office Live Workspace Upgrades Coming

Nate and I have made extensive use of Office Live Workspaces while writing our Azure book (in fact, it was a book on Office Live Workspaces for small businesses  I initially pitched to Packt–kind of glad they talked me out of it).  Workspaces was like a very lite version of SharePoint Services 2003.  With the latest release of Office 2010 Web edition, Workspaces are being upgraded and merged with Skydrive.  I got this bit of good news in today's email:

Within the next seven days, you'll have the opportunity to upgrade your Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta account to Windows Live SkyDrive. The service will remain free, and all of your documents and sharing permissions will be retained.

With your SkyDrive account you can:

1.    Access and share documents and photos from virtually anywhere.
2.    Take advantage of up to 25 GB of online storage.
3.    Use Microsoft Office Web Apps to view and edit documents within a supported Web browser.

When your upgrade is available and you sign in to your Office Live Workspace account, you will see the notification below. Simply click "Upgrade now" and your upgrade will begin.

New Database Sizes in SQL Azure

Received this bit of cool news yesterday:

Dear Customer,

We are pleased to announce that starting on June 28, 2010, we will be increasing the size limit of a SQL Azure Business Edition database from 10 GB to 50 GB and that of a SQL Azure Web Edition database from 1 GB to 5 GB.  Please note that if you elect to increase your existing databases to take advantage of these new sizes, there are additional charges.  Please refer to our offer comparison table for more details by offer on our pricing.

Thank you for your business and your continued interest in the Windows Azure platform.

Windows Azure Platform Team

MonoDroid in beta release

Are you a .NET guy (or gal) who wants to develop .NET on Android?  MonoDroid is ready to enter a public beta cycle, with full release later this summer:

MonoDroid is a SDK for developing applications for Android devices using C# and other CIL languages, while taking advantage of the native APIs of the Android platform.

MonoDroid is now ready to enter a public beta cycle. We are looking for developers that might be interested in providing feedback to us on how to improve this product.

MonoDroid is a commercial product based on the open source Mono project and at release time it will be licensed on a per-developer basis. We are planning on launching MonoDroid later this summer.

This survey will help us select developers to invite to this beta.

Signup form at

SQL Source Control Release Candidate Drops!

RedGate’s SQL Source Control has been a great tool, and it’s now hit v1.0!  Pricing has been announced, too.  Here’s the email:

Great news! The Release Candidate for SQL
Source Control
is now available.


·        Use your own local dedicated db for
development.  If you require a shared db, see
our forum.

·        Do not use SQL Source Control on your
production database server.


SQL Source Control is licensed per
user.  It will be included in the SQL Toolbelt and SQL Developer
Bundle.  If you have one of these with support and upgrades, then you will
get SQL Source Control at no extra cost.  SQL Source Control is also
available as a standalone tool:

SQL Source Control

(without support &

(with support and


1 user

5 user

10 user


1 user

5 user

10 user

















For more information, please contact

Kindle 2.5 Upgrade – Amazon Still Doesn’t Understand Folders

The Kindle 2.5 upgrade dropped today, and I love that Amazon lets you update manally.  My killer feature this time was going to be Collections, with the promise that you could finally arrange your content into folders.  I'm not sure why this was never present on a device that could hold like 1500 books and is based on Linux, but it wasn't.

Here's what I was expecting: when you connect your Kindle via USB, it shows up as a drive.  Open the Kindle drive and there are three folders–audible, documents and music.  I'm expecting to be able to open documents, create a folder, and drag my content into the folder.  Standard stuff on pretty much anything these days.  Much like any other OS, when I arrange the display by title, the collections/folders would be on top in aplhabetical order, and anything not in a subfolder would follow, also in alphabetical order.

Here's the reality: Collections can only be created through the Kindle menu. Documents can be added to Collections by using the 5-way controller to highlight the document, nudging the 5-way to the right to expose a "right-click" menu, then choosing "Add to a Collection".  You're then presented with a list of available collections, and you can choose the collection.  Repeat for every document you want to organize.  I imagine in someone's mind this was a cool idea so you could put a document in multiple Collections, but why when you could already tag documents with multiple tags, and then selectively display content by tag.

The real annoyance is sorting the home screen.  If you sort by collections, the Collections show up alphabetically, and anything in a Collection does not appear.  Anything not in a Collection is organized in some other non-alphabetical fashion.  If you sort by title, Collections show in line with the rest of the content, and all titles–even the ones in a Collection–are listed as well.

Collections are not folders–they are simply metadata the UI uses to arrange items.  After you create a Collection, there is no subfolder.  No one has ever accused of having a great UI experience, and it seems they're going to carry that experience through to the Kindle.

Health Care’s Hidden Headache: More 1099 Forms on Tap

I'm leaching this article 100% from the Society of American Florists newsletter since it's so well written and too important to not share.

Health Care’s Hidden Headache: More 1099 Forms on Tap
By Drew Gruenburg
SAF is working on Capitol Hill to repeal the law that would mandate that all business owners issue more 1099s for what they buy from vendors.

As part of the health care reform law, beginning Jan. 1, 2012, small businesses must issue 1099 forms to individuals or companies from whom they purchase more than $600 worth of goods or services. Under current rules, most payments to corporations are exempt from 1099 reporting requirements; the form is mainly used to report money paid to independent contractors or freelancers for services.

Business owners will also have to get a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from all vendors. Without a TIN, businesses can withhold payment.

Under the new law, 64 percent of respondents to an SAF survey anticipate issuing 50 or more 1099 forms. Under existing law, 4 percent of respondents currently issue 50 or more 1099 forms.

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-3-CA) has introduced H.R. 5141, The Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, to repeal the new requirement.

“SAF supports this bill and will work toward its passage,” said Jeanne Ramsay, SAF’s senior director of government relations. “But also, through SAF’s participation in coalitions, meetings have been held with the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration to explain the impact on small businesses.”

Here are some examples of situations in which a business will have to issue a 1099 to the appropriate vendor (for expenses exceeding $600), beginning in 2012, unless the law is repealed:

    * space rentals from a corporate landlord
    * educational seminars hosted by a corporation
    * inventory purchases from a supplier
    * trade show lodging at a corporate hotel
    * business airfare
    * holiday parties held at a restaurant operated as a corporation,
    * office supply purchases for copier ink and paper
    * gas station purchases

Businesses must file a 1099 once it once the expense exceeds $600 during a calendar year.

This new law was put into place to help pay for the cost of health care reform and to help ease the “tax gap” — the gap between what is supposed to be paid in taxes to the IRS and what the IRS is actually collecting. Some estimate the tax gap is $350 billion a year.

H.R. 5141 currently has 71 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Constant Contact adds Social Media

Recently Constant Contact acquired Nutshell Mail, a tool which specializes in social media marketing beyond CC’s core e-mail marketing business.

Sometime in the last two weeks Constant Contact added a new contact import feature–import from a webmail account.  You can now mine your contact lists in GMail, Hotmail, etc. for recipients.  Did your contacts opt-in?

How much longer until there is an import from Facebook?  Ethically, could that be done?  Does “likeing” a business on Facebook give them permission to contact you through email?  I vote no.  Use the contact form if you have feedback, comment spammers are still assaulting my blog.

FAST Search Engine – Where is it now?

Remember FAST search engine?  Maybe this will ring a bell:

FAST Search and Transfer isn't known for stealth technology, but it should be.
Its search engine has snuck up on all of the major search engines
with new features, speed and customization capabilities, and is now a viable
challenger to pack-leader Google.

"There are four new technologies that will drive customers to the site," said
Bob Thomas, spokesperson for FAST. These include dynamic clustering of results,
real-time news search, a "pre-analysis" tool that helps refine search queries,
and enhanced user interface and customization options, according to Thomas., Nov 13, 2001

This was written almost 9 years ago, and the 2001 concept of "real time news" seems almost charming with the increase in blogging and creation of Facebook and Twitter since then, but kudos to FAST for innovating on something we all take for granted today.

Reports of FAST challenging Google were rather optimistic, and as we sit here in 2010 we can guess how that worked out for FAST.  But what happened to them?  Well, in 2008, Microsoft consumed FAST and rebranded it Enterprise Search (  Heard of it?  Yeah, me neither.  I'm not even sure I could find it in my MSDN DVDs going back to 2003.

Well, speaking of MSDN, when I logged in to grab Expression 4 (shiny new thing!!), something else was listed in the new downloads: FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint.  Heard of it?  Yeah, me neither.  One thing hasn't changed in 9 years–the stealth aspects.

BTW– still exists, it's a Yahoo! property now.  And, I suspect, still challenging Google. 

PGHDOTNET June Meeting — Microsoft .NET 4 Language Features — Monday, June 14th, 2010

Pay attention here–the meeting is moved to Monday because of a Pirates game.

Please join us on Monday, June 14th, at 5:30 PM at the Microsoft Offices on the North Shore for a deep dive into the new C# and VB.NET language features with two Microsoft engineers (Adrian 'Spotty' Bowles for VB.NET and David Sterling for C#) who are part of the language teams at Microsoft!  There will be two sessions, one for each C# and VB.NET.  And while there will be prepared materials for these sessions, please take this opportunity to ask the engineers who work on the language teams why the languages behave the way they do.  This is your opportunity to directly ask Microsoft about C# and VB.NET!!
Please RSVP early for this meeting as we expect a full crowd.  Please note that due to traveling schedules and a Pirates home game on Tuesday 6/15, this meeting is next Monday, 6/14.
If you have any questions, please reply to
Thank you!
June PGHDOTNET Meeting – Microsoft .NET 4 Language Tour
 Monday, June 14th, 2010
 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
 Microsoft Offices, 30 Isabella St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212
 Registration details :
Session 1: VB 2008/2010 New Language Features
Visual Basic has always been about developing applications to get the job done quickly.  During the 2008 and 2010 product cycles many new language features have been added to provide enhanced functionality and productivity.  Come learn about many of these new features and how these can help you “code like the wind“.
About Adrian 'Spotty' Bowles
Spotty is Software Engineer in Test on the VB Compiler team. He has worked on the team for 5 years testing features like extension methods, collection and array initializers.   Spotty earned a Bachelor of science in Computer Studies from the Leicester University in the UK.

Session 2: C# 4.0 – New Language Features (Level 300)
From simpler Office development to interaction with dynamic languages, C# 4.0 makes many programming tasks just plain easier. There are lots of new features both big and small that we’d like to introduce to you!  Come learn about dynamic, named arguments and all the other language gems in C# in Visual Studio 2010.
About David Sterling
David is Software Engineer in Test on the C# Compiler team. He has worked on the team for 3 years testing features like covariance and named arguments. David earned a Bachelor of Software Engineering from the University of Waterloo. You can follow David on twitter at
This meeting is sponsored by DiscountASP.NET.  DiscountASP.NET is the global leader in ASP.NET Web Hosting Services.