First experience of Git in Team Foundation Server

As part of our expansion plans we recently moved all of our Source control into Visual Studio Online and moved to Git.

Up until this point I had rarely worked with any source control and was a little sceptical about how easy it would be to use.

I run Visual Studio 2013 on my desktops and laptops, so getting into TFS (Team Foundation Server) wasn’t difficult. I’d not used Git before, so needed to install that on my clients, and was recommend Tortoise Git as a UI to help me manage it.

Most of our development is actually done outside of Visual Studio, but I did use Visual Studio to help me set-up the repositories as it seemed easier and was a familiar interface.

Since that point, I have been using git to manage a number of repositories, which coupled with some new PowerShell scripts, keep all my releases up to date.

It has also meant that I can work on files from more than one place at once and only commit them when I’m ready, so I can play around with things, and roll them back with ease if I don’t like it.

All told, I’m still very much a novice with Git, but I have grown to like it over the past couple of months, and expect to be using it quite a lot over the coming years.

Hyper-V in Windows 8.1 – I might be a convert

I’ve been using VMWare Workstation for all of my professional life, and have never really entertained the notion of moving to another platform.

However, last month I received my new Dell Precision laptop and decided that I would give Hyper-V a try, a chance to shine.

I run Windows 8.1 as my primary OS, but regularly use a number of VM’s running Server 2008 > 2012 R2, and the odd TurnKey LAMP Stack.

Setting it up
As you’d expect from a built in Feature, getting it up and running wasn’t too difficult. I’ve used some Servers running Hyper-V before, so have some experience with the Hyper-V manager, which made getting my first VM’s up and running

Converting an Existing VMWare Disk
Although most of the VM’s I’m building for my laptop are new, there is one that I wanted to copy from my desktop (as its a real pain to reconfigure)

After some quick research I found that the easiest way to do this would likely be to use a conversion tool to convert the VHD and then attach that to a new VM.

I found the Starwind V2V Image Converter (free) was more than up to this task and converted my VHD perfectly first time round, making the whole process quite easy.

Performance
I have only been using Hyper-V for a few weeks now on my laptop, but what shows instantly is that the Disk Performance is very good compared to VMWare. This will be partly due to the fact the VM’s are on an SSD on my laptop as opposed to a SATA 3 drive in RAID 10 on my desktop, but I do think that some of this is down to Hyper-V too.

Conclusion
I don’t think I’m going to be ditching VMWare any time soon, but will definately considering Hyper-V as a platform for the future. I want to do some testing with VM’s running multiple Montiors and the graphics performance as I use 2/3 monitors in my VMWare Machines regularly, and love the flexibility of switching between them.

I also want to do some testing around the Virtual Networking as I use multiple set up’s currently and want to make sure I can get them all to work as I need them.

I’m not completely sold, but the disk performance is a huge plus. I’m definitely a lot less sceptical than I was a month ago.

Time will tell.

Salamander Active Directory – MIS Compatibility

Most of our customers know that we can work with Sims, Facility CMIS and some other MIS systems, but did you know that Salamander Active Directory can currently work with over 10 different MIS systems?

Supported MIS systems

We currently (July 2014) support these MIS systems:

Sims.net by Capita
Facility CMIS by Advanced Learning
Progresso by Advanced Learning
iSAMS
Bromcom
Engage by Double First
Integris G2 by RM
ScholarPack
Pass by WCBS
Phoenix Gold
Arbor

Currently, not all of Salamander Active Directories features are not supported in every MIS System, but we will always endeavour to develop the features required for your environment.

Development
We are always looking into how we can improve our products, and provide additional support for MIS systems. If you are interested in a feature or MIS system that we don’t current support, please do get in touch and we’ll see what we can do to support your requirements.

For some information on our products please contact info@salamandersoft.co.uk

What I Use – July 2014

I’m not sure why, but recently I’ve had a number of questions around where i work, and what equipment I use day to day.

The Office
Like many of us that work from home, my office was once a second bedroom. However, this is no longer the case as now I’ve filled it with all my kit, there’s no room for a bed any more.

I live in a rented cottage, so don’t really have the opportunity to build fitted furniture, but have instead turned to Ikea to provide most of the furniture in the office (and indeed the house).

Office-July2014

As this is somewhere i spend most of my working days (and evening’s) i decided to try and make it feel as much like an office as possible, which is why its painted in a dull office like colour. As a home worker, I find i need to have a dedicated space to work which feels different from the rest of the house. I’ve tried to work from the dining table and the sofa, but I struggle to keep any concentration if I’m not somewhere that feels like an office.

Equipment – Hardware

Main PC
This is a custom built workstation. Currently it is running:
Dual Xeon X5560 CPU’s
96GB Ram
1x 256 SSD
4x 1TB HDD’s in Raid 10 and a 2TB HDD
ATI Radeon HD 7800 (driving 3 monitors)

Monitors
Currently, I use 24″ Monitors on my deskop, of 3 different makes and ages, all running at 1920 x 1080.

Various Peripherals
Headset – Sennheiser PC-7 USB
Speakers – Creative T10
Microphone – Samson C01U
Skype Phone – RTX4088

Laptop
My primary laptop is currently a Dell Precision M4600, running an i7, 256GB SSD and 8GB of Ram.

I also use a Surface Pro (1st edition) as my tablet

Phone
My Phone is currently a Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8.1 Dev Preview

Software
I use a multiple of software, but here I’ve listed the things I most commonly use, and couldn’t work without day to day.

Desktop OS – Windows Pro 8.1
I use Windows Pro 8.1 as my OS of choice on all of my machines (including my Surface Pro)

On my desktop I use 8.1 as my primary OS, but then have a VM built specifically for work purposes (also 8.1), which is hosted in VMWare Workstation.

Virtual Machines
I use Virtual Machines quite heavily in my work day to day. I’ve been using VMWare Workstation for a number of years now and still do on my Desktop. I’m looking into Hyper-V though and am quite liking it on my laptop.

Day to Day software
Every day I use a very similar set of software to do my work…

Notepad ++
I have used Notepad ++ for a number of years now and have always been a big fan of what it can do. It’s one of the pieces of software I would struggle to work without.

Office 2013
Apart from the obvious uses of Office, as a business we communicate via Lync quite a bit, so I use that. I also use OneNote exclusively now as my note taking software, and have almost completely eradicated the humble pen and paper.

File Management and Backup
I use SugarSync as my software of choice currently for managing and maintaining all my files across my computers and VM’s. I love the way that I can sync only the folders I need onto each machine, and also they way I can dictate where the folders should go on each machine (as this varies)

Remote Working
As I do most of my ‘site’ work remotely, I need to be able to access servers all over the world with ease. To do this, I will generally try to use RDP or TeamViewer.

I use Royal TS to manage my RDP connections. Highly recommended.

Worth a mention:
CyberDuck – Free and Easy FTP
Visual Studio 2013 Premium
SQL Management Studio
Windows Snipping Tool – Great for the odd screenshot that I need.
Skype with a Skype Number