• A simple 'Up Next' Dashboard using PowerShell

    Last Saturday, we ran DDD Adelaide 2019. When we were setting up the venue on Friday afternoon, I realised that there was a huge flat-screen TV in the open area (behind where the registration/info desk would be located) and we hadn’t made any plans to use it.

    We could just pop a copy of the DDD logo on a USB stick and probably the TV could just show that in ‘slide-show’ mode. But then I thought maybe we could go one better. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could display a simple ‘What’s on now, and what’s coming up next’ dashboard?

    Ok, it’s Friday night, and I really should have been heading to bed, but I’d been inspired - now to find something that would fit the bill. A quick search of GitHub didn’t reveal anything obvious, so can I write a simple application myself to do the job?

    First question - WPF, WinForms? HTML+JavaScript? They’d all do the job, but I wanted something simple that I could get done quickly! I decided I’d give PowerShell a go - and I kind of liked the idea of making it “old-school” ASCII text too.

    I copied over the conference agenda data and decided on simple ordered dictionary would suffice for the data structure, using the time as the key. Then just two queries - one to find the entry who’s time is now, and the second to find the entry for what’s coming up next.

    To help with development, I added a -test mode, that sped up time and made the clock run from 7am. Later on Saturday I realised I had an ‘off by one’ bug in the query logic - the test mode was useful to validate the fix.

    One extra touch - I added a ‘current time’ and used [Console]::SetCursorPosition() to locate that in the bottom right-hand corner. While I was at it, just to be fancy, I added some colour to the ‘DDD’ bit in the title.

    To run the dashboard, I used Windows Terminal. That allowed me to run full screen and choose a nice font size.

    Dashboard in use at DDD Adelaide 2019

    The dashboard worked well and I heard a few compliments that people liked it. Not bad for something whipped up in an hour!

    If I revisit the script in the future, I might see if I can incorporate a simple Tweet wall - either on the right-hand side, or maybe alternating every 30 seconds. There was a lot of Twitter traffic on the day and it would have been nice to showcase that.

    The source is all on GitHub. Pull requests welcome!

  • DDD Adelaide 2019 Summary

    Phew! DDD Adelaide 2019 is done. Yesterday we had 150 people come along to UniSA’s MOD building in the city and see 16 speakers present some awesome topics on software development.

    The feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive. I’ll be catching up with co-organiser Andrew soon to debrief and also review the comments received from attendees.

    Special thanks to the gold sponsors:

    Here’s a few of my highlights of the day:

    Some kind people brought one or two donuts to share! Donuts


    Lars Klint was our keynote speaker, kicking off the day. Lars Klint

    A fantastic range of speakers, including Ming Johanson Ming Johanson

    and Liam McLennan (who incidentally was actually a speaker around 10 years ago at the last DDD Adelaide) Liam McLennan

    Really yummy catering provided by Food LoreLunchtime

    Afternoon tea

    … and Coffee Cart provided by B3 Coffee and sponsored by Encode Talent

    It was great to see so many software developers gathered together in Adelaide. Audience

    Andrew drawing the prize winners (prizes sponsored by Octopus Deploy) and closing out the day. Andrew Best

    Finally, special thanks to my wife and two eldest kids who also gave up their Saturday to help out as volunteers for the day. I really appreciate their support.

  • Trying Docker for Windows and Linux

    I’ve been spending a bit of time trying out Docker over the past few days, with the goal of making builds more reliable and repeatable.

    Docker Desktop for Windows has the ability to run in Windows mode and Linux mode. Usually that means you can only run containers of one OS at at a time.

    However, if you run configure Docker to enable ‘Experimental’ mode, then you can actually run both platforms simultaneously.

    Interestingly, when you’re in this mode and you set ‘Windows’ as the default container platform, you don’t see an extra virtual machine listed in HyperV.

    Here’s Docker running with Linux containers: Hyper-V Manager showing Docker virtual machine

    And here’s Docker with Windows containers: Hyper-V Manager showing Docker machine not running Notice the VM may be there, but it is not running, even when I’m actually building a Linux container when that screenshot was taken.

    So with experimental mode on, how can Docker be also running Linux containers in Windows mode?

    Currently it uses something called LCOW - Linux Containers on Windows.

    I know Docker also has preview support for WSL2. I think the plan is that once that ships (presumably with Windows 10 20H1) then Docker will be able to leverage that for Linux execution.

    So in theory, if you need to spin up Linux and Windows containers, then this is the technology that will make that happen.

    There’s still a few rough edges - probably why it’s all behind ‘preview’ or ‘experimental’ flags.

    I hit one issue where trying to spin up a Node Linux container which has a step to run yarn resulted in some weird internal error:

    Step 14/22 : RUN yarn
    ---> Running in eb14f055a9aa
    container eb14f055a9aaa23db5f35493feec9009b775c6688e3c488b26c6880517bdd9f1 encountered an error during CreateProcess: failure in a Windows system call: Unspecified error (0x80004005)
    [Event Detail: failed to run runc create/exec call for container eb14f055a9aaa23db5f35493feec9009b775c6688e3c488b26c6880517bdd9f1: exit status 1 Stack Trace:

    No idea what’s going on there other than maybe I’ve managed to hit some issue where some API isn’t implemented?

    It’s strange, as a different container (based on a different Linux distribution) didn’t have that problem.

    So it has potential, but it’s obviously a work in progress.