New Azure Client OS VM Images for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7

I love the awesome surprises I get in the Azure Management Portal on a regular basis!  Today’s (05/12/2014) was an awesome set of new base images for MSDN subscribers:

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Yep, you see correctly, Windows 8.1 Enterprise and Windows 7 Enterprise images, including some with Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 already installed! w00t!

I also noticed that a number of new extensions are available as well!  Including “Custom Script” and numerous “Security Extensions” with support for Microsoft Antimalware, as well as Symantec Endpoint Protection and Trend Micro Deep Security Agent.  Time to go learn more! 

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Oh, and look at these tantalizing new preview features! Azure RemoteApp and Windows Azure Files, an SMB File Share service!

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Global Windows Azure Bootcamp San Diego (GWAB)

Looking forward to seeing everybody at the Global Windows Azure Bootcamp in San Diego tomorrow.  Wanted to get a couple of quick logistical things for the event.  You can also check back here for updates both during and after the event:

Date:

March 29th, 2014 from 9am to 4pm. 

Location:

Microsoft San Diego Office
9255 Towne Centre Drive
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92121

Parking:

Parking is $12.50 for the day.
If you don’t want to pay for parking you can try to park on the street or over at UTC shopping center.

Please Bring:

Your EventBrite ticket and a laptop (or a Development VM in Azure, see below) with :

As an alternative to having the pre-requisites on your own laptop, you can create a Virtual Machine is Azure that has everything you need.  I have another blog post with a video that walks through that process: How to Use a Windows Azure VM for Windows 8.1 Development

I also have a step by step walkthrough here: Setting up an Azure Virtual Machine For Developers with Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate and SQL Server 2012 Express.

You should be aware that if you are going to create an VM in Azure to use as your “development workstation” the initial setup time can take a couple of hours (It just takes time to install Visual Studio, SQL Server, SDKs, Updates, etc).  Point being, you might want to get that started as soon as possible. 

FAQs:

Q: I signed up for a free trial a while ago but it has expired
A:
You can sign up for another free trial, but you will need to use a different Microsoft Account (aka Live ID).  You can create a new free Microsoft Account by going to signup.live.com . Then once you have a new Microsoft Account sign up for the free trial again.  Note, you may need to use “InPrivate Browsing” in Internet Explorer (Ctrl+Shift+P) or an “Incognito Window” in Chrome (Ctrl+Shift+N)

Q: Can I use Visual Studio Express Versions
A:
Yes, but be aware that many tasks require a full Visual Studio installation.  For general Azure development with Web Sites and Cloud Services you can use the Visual Studio Express for Web editions. 

Q: I don’t have Visual Studio 2013, can I use Visual Studio 2012 (or vice-versa)
A:
Regardless of which version you have, you will likely find labs that are written for a different version.  For the most part, everything works just fine, but you will find some differences between what you see, and what the lab says.  Just use your best judgement, and ask questions if you can’t figure out the differences.

Q: My Azure Portal doesn’t match the screen shots or lab instructions
A: Azure evolves rapidly, but that means that older versions of labs may not match the current state of the service.  For the most part, everything works just fine, but you will find some differences between what you see, and what the lab says.  Just use your best judgement, and ask questions if you can’t figure out the differences.

“Developing Windows Azure and Web Services Jump Start” Demo Files

Hi all, I’ll update this post with more details later, but if you are attending the “Developing Windows Azure and Web Services Jump Start” session with Bruno Terkaly and myself, you can grab a copy of my demo files here:

Grab the demo File from GitHub: http://aka.ms/MvaWsAndAzZip 

Again, I’ll update this post later with the final info after the session!

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HACKTIVE Hackathon Review & My 3rd Place PhatActive Submission

I spent last weekend (09/21/2013-09/22/2013) at Active.com’s HACKTIVE hackathon. I had an awesome time, met ton’s of great people, and actually placed 3rd in the “developer” category with my “PhatActive” submission. WooHoo!  A big thank you to Active.com, Mashery, Yahoo, Aetna, CoMerge and all the other sponsors for putting on a great event!  As an evangelist, I am involved with a lot of hackathons, etc.  It was so much fun to go as a participant!  And these guys put on an awesome event!

The People and the Place

There was a great turn out for the event.   There were a total of 15 apps presented (three in each of the “categories”, see below).  However, MOST teams had at least two people on them, and some had as many as five.  The room was pretty packed when it came time to present.

The event was held at CoMerge in San Diego.  This is a fantastic facility.  Thank you so much to Robert for the space!

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Cheston Coantoi, owner of Driveframe LLC, and a seasoned hackathon particiapte was their to help teams focus on the challenge and build compelling presentations.  There were also a number of folks from Active.com as well as Neil Mansilla from Mashery, Jesse Givens from Aetna, Tom Clancy from TAO Venture Capital Partners, and Rik Suhonen from Yahoo.  Lots of support. 

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10 Easy Steps to Azure Web Site Custom Domains

If you want to add a custom domain name to an Azure Web Site, you are just a few steps away.  This quick tutorial will show you how to configure both your DNS zone, as well as your Azure Web Site. I did make a few assumptions though…

Assumptions:

  1. You have already registered your custom domain with a registrar, and have a DNS provider.  I usually use GoDaddy for this, but there are numerous other choices. Use whichever one you prefer.
  2. Since I usually use GoDaddy as my DNS provider, I will show the steps specific to their tools.  However, you should be able to complete the exact same steps with your own DNS provider’s administration pages
  3. I assume you already have a valid Windows Azure account, and a web site configured.
  4. All of my domain name references assume a “.com” top level domain.  You can use any top level domain name you wish though (“.net”, “.org”, “.us”, etc.)

Ok. let ‘s get started:

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Business Intelligence Landscape Presentation

I’ll be delivering a “Business Intelligence Landscape” session tonight at the UCSD Extension Continuing Education & Career Showcase.  In talk I’ll go over what people mean when they say “Business Intelligence”, as well as some of the core concepts and common solutions.  We’ll talk about stuff like Extract, Transform and Load (ETL), Data Warehouses, Star Schema, Cubes, Aggregates, MDX, KPIs Reporting Tools, and Data Mining.  But if that weren’t enough we’ll see how the cloud and big data are changing the BI landscape as well.

Feel free to grab a copy of my slides:

Business intelligence landcape

Enjoy.

Determining the Node.js version in Azure Mobile Services

Overview

Windows Azure Mobile Services is effectively a node.js application, and as such is extensible using node.js. Currently this extensibility comes in the form of table scripts, scheduler scripts and custom apis.

As you begin to write these scripts for your azure mobile services, it is helpful to have access not only to the documentation for the Windows Azure Mobile Services Script Reference, but to Node.js itself. Node.js however evolves rapidly as do most other modern frameworks. That means that the documentation you find on the Node.js site may be for a different version of node than is actually running in your Mobile Service.

So that brings up two questions:

  1. How do you Identify the version of Node that is running in your Azure Mobile Service?
  2. How you get docs for that version of the Node API?

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Windows Azure Mobile Services Presentation for San Diego .NET User Group

I’ll be showing off all things good about Windows Azure Mobile Services tonight at the San Diego .NET User Group. Feel free to grab a copy of my slides!

Windows Azure Mobile Services Introduction

Slides (720KB)

Links:

Azure SQL Database “Premium” Preview

Azure SQL Database “Premium” limited preview is now available.  Premium edition databases offer performance advantages over the current Web and Business edition SQL Database offerings by allowing the reservation of a fixed amount of reserve capacity for a database, including it’s built-in secondary replicas.  This ability is ideal for applications with requirements such as:

  • High Peak Load
  • Many Concurrent Requests
  • Predictable Latency

Currently, two “reservation sizes”, P1 & P2, are being offered.  P1 offers better performance predictability than the current Web and Business editions, while P2 roughly doubles the performance of P1.   Premium databases are billed based on their reservation size and storage volume.

Sign up for the preview here:
Windows Azure Preview Features page

More details, including preview pricing are available here:
SQL Database Pricing

Viewing System.Diagnostics.Trace Entries in the Windows Azure Compute Emulator

Windows Azure Cloud Services have some fantastic diagnostics capabilities that leverage those provided by Windows and the .NET Framework.

If you are creating a Web Role, and would like to be able to easily view trace information in the Compute Emulator during debug sessions on the local machine, you may find that the trace entries don’t appear by default. 

To fix the problem, you simply need to add an entry to your web.config inside the web project.

<configuration>
  <system.diagnostics>
    <trace>
      <listeners>

        <add type="Microsoft.ServiceHosting.Tools.DevelopmentFabric.Runtime.DevelopmentFabricTraceListener, Microsoft.ServiceHosting.Tools.DevelopmentFabric.Runtime, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35"
             name="DevFabricListener">
          <filter type="" />
        </add>

      </listeners>
    </trace>
  </system.diagnostics>
</configuration>