• Why Websense is stupid (and I told them so)

    One of the vendors who happened to be exhibiting at TechEd Australia this year was a company called Websense.

    They were giving away T-shirts, so it was only after I had received my free shirt from them that I then proceeded to tell them how stupid and horrible their software was.

    This seem to take the Websense staff a bit by surprise and they tried to defend their product assuring me with words to the effect that their software was wonderful and couldn’t possibly be faulty and had the “largest database”. Well let me assure you “quantity” definitely does not equate to “quality”, and it may be no coincidence that their company name rhymes with “nonsense” :-)

    Don’t believe me? Well take a look at this example:

    Try and browse http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.html through Websense and you are greeted with this response:

    Reason:

    The Websense category "Entertainment" is filtered.

     

    URL:

    http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.html

    Presumably the legal department must have a fair bit of influence at Websense, Inc. as I don’t think anyone else would consider reading software licenses ‘Entertainment’.

    It just goes to reinforce the enhancement Mitch Denny made in his Software Development Pitfalls talk to point 5 of Jeff Attwood’s Programmer’s Bill of Rights :

    Every programmer shall have a fast, unfiltered internet connection

    Ah, we can but dream.

  • BinScope and MiniFuzz

    Following on from seeing Michael Howard at TechEd last week, here’s a couple of new tools to help with analysing your applications for security issues.

    BinScope is a verification tool that analyzes binaries on a project-wide level to ensure that they have been built in compliance with Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) requirements and recommendations”

    MiniFuzz is a basic testing tool designed to help detect code flaws that may expose security vulnerabilities in file-handling code. This tool creates multiple random variations of file content and feeds it to the application to exercise the code in an attempt to expose unexpected and potentially insecure application behaviours”

  • Tech-Ed 2009 – Friday

    Highlights

    • Talking to Virtual PC Guy (Ben Armstrong) about his home HyperV machine that also runs Windows Home Server
    • Watch Pete Calvert compete in one of the crazy competitions in the Mobile Smackdown

    2008 R2 Virtualisation with Ben Armstrong

    • Live migration – 1-1.5 seconds
      • Copies config, then up to 5 passes copying memory, then finally state (CPU etc)
    • Cluster shared volumes – allows direct access to NTFS
    • Intel i7 – Hyperthreading is ok (not bad and may be good)
    • VMQ – networking optimisation (feature of NIC)
    • VM Memory Management
      • Uses shadow page tables to emulate page tables for each VM (avoids software emulation)
      • For i7, AMD gen3 Quad
      • Huge positive impact for 75
      • Solves performance issue with 3D video support
    • Deferred procedure calls (used by device drivers) now run on local core instead of core 0.
    • Power efficiency
      • Core parking (really processor parking)
    • Timer coalescing
      • align Windows timer ticks
      • Allows processor to deep sleep/save power
    • Native VHD
      • Don’t need to use passthru for performance anymore
    • VHD Boot
      • WIM2VHD (Codeplex)
      • Create VHD through Disk Management

    .NET 4 Parallel Extensions with Corneliu Tusnea

    • Need to watch out for locking
    • Parallel extensions now part of .NET Framework
    • Parallel.For/Parallel.ForEach
    • New concurrent collections
    • Automatically allocate work to to each core
    • Task, Task<>
    • PLinq
      • Need to partition data to cores
      • Depends on underlying type – eg. List or IEnumerable
      • AsParallel()
      • AsSequential() – to revert to single core
    • Debugging
      • Parallel tasks window

    Big Algorithms in F# with Joel Pobar

    • Functional Programming avoids state and mutable data
    • Increase modularity and composability
    • F# interactive
    • Search
    • Recommendation engine (Netflix)
      • Nearest Neighbour algorithm

    Mobile Smackdown

    This was bizarre and quite crazy in a mostly good way. Because I’d won a token from the WCF talk, I got get a front-row (well second to front) seat and got a pile of goodies on my seat.

    The basic rule of the smackdown was that anytime a demo failed assorted pieces of “swag” would be thrown into the audience.. Hence the audience were keen to see things fail!

    Quite a few new Windows Mobile phones, headsets, mice and other nice prizes were given way.

    I was also pleased to see that this year, no cat food was involved in any of the competitions (unlike the session from last year)

    Final thoughts

    So did I get my money’s worth? Yes, I think so. I felt I learned or was exposed to new things in almost every session I attended. It was also great to catch up with lots of friends and familiar faces.

    While the Gold Coast isn’t the most convenient venue to get to from Adelaide, I do think the convention centre does an excellent job looking after and catering for everyone. No complaints about the food!

    The HP Mini 2140 netbook is really nice. I think it was quite innovative to allow all delegates to be able to participate in the conference in an online fashion. Wireless network access at the convention centre worked pretty well considering how many concurrent users it had to cope with. Depending on which way the wind blew, I could sometime connect even when I returned to my motel room (which was just across the road). I’ve given my netbook to Narelle and I think she’s pretty impressed already.

    Maybe I missed them in the crowd, but I wonder if the days of UniSA sending >10 delegates are over as I didn’t bump into any old colleagues this year. It did feel different not having Gary, Dat, Mark around or bumping into familiar faces from IT.

    Finally I do especially appreciate the sacrifice my family made (both in my time away from home and financially) to allow me to attend.