Azure Platform to Launch Fully in Feb 2010

Windows Azure, SQL Azure and .NET Services will go live as follows, according to a CTP newsletter I just received:

At PDC 2009, on November 17th, 2009, a number of new features in Windows Azure will be made available for the first time. The CTP will remain open through December 31st, allowing you to experiment with the full feature platform and to give us any final feedback.

Beginning January, 2010, new customers will have to sign up for an offer to access services on the Windows Azure platform. You’ll receive your first bill with a $0 balance, so you can see your exact usage while still enjoying free service.

On February 1, 2010, we will begin charging customers for using the Windows Azure platform.

This ‘delay’ from the anticipated commercial launch at PDC, is explained as follows:

Making the transition in these three steps accomplishes a few goals. First, it gives you a chance to explore our full feature set for free. Second, it allows our team time to get your feedback on the new features and address any issues that arise. Finally, it lets you preview exactly how billing will work before you need to start paying.

That’s some great spin, but at least it’s on the way.  Let’s see what these new features are in 3 weeks.

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Google Maps’ Street View – The Online Dating Bunny Boiler’s Friend?

So after trolling searching the Internet dating sites you’ve gone on that first in-person date but it doesn’t seem like it will go anywhere, or perhaps, you’re a little way into a new Internet-initiated relationship and you’ve kept things on a first-name only basis and now things are not going very well.  At this point, you decide you’d like to walk away. 

In some cases (and this can happen), you may be concerned that your date may not take the news so well (especially if you had a long online courtship before meeting or he/she is just a little bit weird) and you may be wondering if there will be any unwelcome in-person ‘visits’ for a ‘talk’ (from either gender) this Halloween.

However, you feel confident that you have not provided your address or your phone number (you know about reverse look-up if you don’t pay the rip-off non-listed fee right?).

Just wait a second…

You may have mentioned the area of town you live in and your date/ex may have seen your vehicle or you may even have picked him/her up in it.

That shouldn’t matter though, because he/she most likely doesn’t have your license plate information (unless they texted it to their friends for their own safety of course), and even if they did, they don’t have access to the Government’s vehicle licensing database.

Oh… but who needs the vehicle licensing database, when you have Street View on Google Maps – now available in some major Canadian areas.

Yes.  That’s right.  If your scorned date/ex has a bone to pick, he/she can virtually cruise around your neighbourhood looking for your car, all from the comfort of his/her home computer without a neighbourhood watch captain in site.  It doesn’t matter if the license plate is blurred out because someone on a mission will just go and check out the real view on a few narrowed down options ;-).

So if you have an unhappy ex. and you thought they’d never find you while you move on to the next dating adventure, it’s time to park off the streets, in the garage or just lose the car and hope the Google van comes around again soon for a fresh picture…  Alternatively consider limiting disclosure of your home location to planet Earth and hope they don’t have great image searching software.

Win 7 RTM on an Intel X25-M (2nd gen) SSD

Back in July as Win 7 RTM’d, I got a new Dell Studio 14z notebook and at the same time, ordered an Intel X25-M 80GB 2nd gen drive – SSDSA2MH080G2C1.

Despite the back-order status on the SSD, the supplier assured me they would be coming into stock on the date indicated on their website.  My delivery date came and went and the supplier was none-the-wiser.  I eventually discovered that there had been a recall on the drives.  Don’t you hate it when you know more about this stuff than the supplier?  Where’s the value add?

Out of the blue, I received the drive last week, about 10 weeks late…

I didn’t think I’d have time to install it before next week, but waiting for a furnace service and testing some long-running workflow code provided the opportunity, because… using an SSD (especially this one) makes everything fast!

Here are the immediately noticeable benefits:

  • Windows 7 Pro 64 installed in about 12 minutes (excluding interaction)!
  • Windows 7 boots in under 15 seconds!
  • There is no HDD noise.
  • Hibernate and resume is super fast.
  • Applications launch very very quickly.
  • Installs are very quick.
  • The Win 7 WEI data transfer sub-score if 7.8, just 0.1 below the max.

The only bad part of the experience was the slight moment of panic when I thought I’d broken a motherboard connector (but hadn’t) for the keyboard (which had to be out of the way to swap the hard drive easily).  The drive has a SATA interface and a 2.5” drive form factor (including an extra layer of plastic to fill out its size to match regular drive depth).

Of course there’s the cost.  This drive was ~CDN$250 for 80GB.  I use 10,000RPM Raptors in RAID 0 on my desktop (yes I know its risky – that’s what back up for).  Despite the SSD cost, I may go for 2xSSD in RAID 0 for when I move from Vista to Win 7 on there.  I may also build a 4xSSD RAID10 setup for my hyper-v server’s VHD storage – should be interesting.  The price of these things can only come down.

There are no fancy benchmarks here – just a happy customer.  I have not had a chance to try any serious application use yet.  I use the machine for couch-development and presentations and will be installing Visual Studio and SQL Server (64-bit).  I will also try the new Virtual PC.  Perhaps more on that later.