I've been meaning to start a technical journal for quite some time now, if nothing else just to consolidate some of the articles and ideas I come across on a week to week basis. So I grabbed a copy of DotNetNuke, but it proved to be much more than I actually needed for creating something as simple as this. Don't get me wrong, it's a great project, but some of the modules don't offer the same kind of convenience as tagging and categories right out of the box. So I begin my BlogEngine.Net adventure.
One of the things I like to do (especially for my development initiatives) is to run server operating systems on my laptop for my development partitions, so with this new project I've installed a copy of Windows 2012. Everyone has heard about the new metro UI for Windows 8, and Windows 2012 shares that interface (though, admittedly without some of the eye candy). When I first sat down to use Windows 8 on my laptop it lasted... maybe 30 minutes. I was infuriated with the new format, the start screen didn't make any sense (after nearly 20 years of having the start menu be "the thing of the future"). I knew I was going to reformat the laptop anyway so I wasted no time in dispatching Windows 8 in favor of Windows 7 (for entertainment) and Windows 2008r2 (for my development environment). I left a partition open on the disk though to try out "the new stuff", and soon loaded up Windows 2012, MSSQL 2012, Visual Studio 2012, and Office 2013.
Once I had the chance to work through some of the installation and explanations of Windows 2012, Metro started making sense to me. You could arrange the tiles in groups based on what you did with those things (Productivity apps in one group, Image Editing and such in another group, and Development Tools in a third group). The key to making the Metro UI productive was to personalize it. Honestly, I can't see my mother doing that. She just installs things, leaves it out there, and goes hunting for it when she needs it. I imagine without keeping the Start screen tidy you would get overrun by useless tiles, but maybe there's some cool algorithm to auto-sort them over a long enough period of time.
Even though I've gotten used to it, I still spend most of my time on the desktop because I have Visual Studio open, a spreadsheet, and a couple of web browsers. Since it feels like a different brain compartment to jump to the Start screen from the desktop (especially if you just want to launch Notepad++) there are a few alternatives to help you access your apps from your desktop view. One thing I will say that I miss is the old Aero Glass windowing theme. There are some hacks you can do to Windows 8 and Metro to make the window borders transparent, but there's no way to bring back the glossy, semi-transparent look that blurs and/or drop shadows what's behind it. What would be really cool is if you could bring back that or if you could use a custom texture for your window decorations (similar to the way Firefox skinning used to work). That goes back to wishing every window manager worked like KDE 3.5, right?
I've also had a chance to tinker with Visual Studio 2012 a little bit. The updated intellisense definitions for CSS3 and HTML5 are nice. The interface is completely different but if you peel back the eye candy some of the traditional options and settings are there. One thing I was disappointed about was not being able to customize the installation. I was running on Windows 2012 so I didn't need IIS Express or SQL2012 express, yet there was an insistence by the installer to bundle those components with my installation. Even though the interface for VS2012 has started to look like an Adobe product, I don't find a technical advantage to using it yet but it's only been a few hours.
I think the thing that has me most excited about Windows 2012 is Cluster Shared Volumes. I'm going to tinker with it a bit and put together a web platform (MSSQL/IIS) that runs based on a shared volume. Windows had things like DFS before, but that was on a file-sync level, it wasn't a shared block device. It's exciting to have cluster-aware block device support right in the operating system, rather than an expensive third party add-on. I've been waiting for "DRBD for Windows" for a long time.
Well, I hadn't planned on writing such a long intro to the blog but I suppose it will be better than the "Welcome to BlogEngine.Net" page. Hopefully there will be more technical meat-and-potatoes coming soon.