Recently in quadro Category

Wholesale upgrading to Microsoft Windows 7 on the Centrale SOHO LAN breaks the existing nfoCentrale web deployment model.  Until I can resolve that problem, I must keep a Windows XP PC system operating well enough to sustain the web-deployment model. 

The Problem

Pages can be checked-out for editing in FrontPage-aware client software, but they can’t be checked back in from the same Windows 7 client PC.  The development server reports that the page is checked-out to a different user (e.g., compagno/vicki instead of scritto/vicki) even though the check-out was done using the same Windows 7 client (and scritto/vicki successfully logged into the development server as compagno/vicki).

I do not know what is different between Windows 7 client PCs and Windows XP client PCs that is at the root of this difficulty.  I also don’t know to what degree the use of a Windows XP Professional PC as the development server might contribute to the problem. 

I do have some ideas about what I might be able to adjust and where I can adjust it.   But while I explore that, I must not do anything that puts the procedures that do work out of business.

Emergency Procedure

Because Scampo, my Windows XP developer PC, had to be retired quickly with an emergency upgrading to a Windows 7 Ultimate developer PC, I adjusted my plans for the preservation of web deployment into three main stages:

  1. Urgent Mitigation: I will always have a Windows XP client for web development and deployment until I can remedy the situation with Windows 7 client PCs.  I needed to ensure that while Scampo was being retired and before the replacement machine was in place.  I needed to ensure that my Tablet PC, Quadro, my last-remaining Windows XP PC, was up and running with the necessary client software before Scampo failed completely or was decommissioned.
      
  2. Client-Side Stability: I shall preserve the Windows XP client even even after the web-site development configuration is moved from a Windows XP PC to the Windows Home Server (based on Windows Server 2003 and a later version of IIS).  This is necessary to reduce the number of changes happening at once and have a known successful case as a backstop while trouble-shooting and confirming the move.
      
  3. Preservation of the Model with New Tools: I will solve the Windows 7 FrontPage Client difficulties using the new location of the development IIS, FrontPage extensions, and VSS.  This will include migration to Microsoft Expression Studio if possible.  When that has succeeded, whatever it takes to do that, I can retire use of Microsoft FrontPage knowing that I can accomplish all essential provision of my deployment model with Expression Studio on Windows 7 and beyond.

My Commitment

I am not prepared to give up the current deployment model.  Under that model, all of the nfoCentrale sites and hosted blogs depend on the integration of a Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) development site with Visual Source Safe (VSS) for version-control and backup of development site content.  FrontPage Extensions and FrontPage-aware clients are then used for orchestrating the authoring of static pages.  The public, hosted-web sites are populated from the IIS development site via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) for synchronization between a local extract of a development-site release and the hosted web. 

Certain design-time capabilities of FrontPage and Visual SourceSafe are essential to the model and I will find a way to preserve those essential characteristics by any means possible. 

Minimum First Step

As the result of beta-test usage of my Tablet PC, I no longer have a copy of Microsoft FrontPage on that machine.  I also have managed to discard my install disc for Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003.  So I shall use the copy of FrontPage 2002 Upgrade that had been on Vicki’s machine until we updated to a new Windows 7 Machine.  That secured step 1.

It now occurs to me that I can also use Microsoft Office FrontPage 2002 in Virtual PC XP Mode on the new developer desktop.  This may be an opportunity to troubleshoot the check-out and check-in breakdown as well.

To be continued …

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Quadro's Smaller Screen provides special challenges to my workflow during stand-in operation

The 1024 x 768 pixel display on Quadro, a Tablet PC, requires some adaptation in carrying-on activities that are ordinarily carried out using a 24” 1920 x 1080 display.  The crowding of icons onto the left side is a concession to when the screen is rotated into portrait orientation for use.  The icons are in an area that is never cropped, squashed, or rearranged when the screen is rotated from one aspect to another.  Although Quadro has a DVI port, I would rather use the 24” display with the new machine at once and not depend on it for the stand-in.

Desktop Stand-In Support

While my main desktop system, Scampo -- a 2005 model Gateway 831GM Media Center PC,  is failing and is being decommissioned, I need to be have essential functions on my Tablet PC, Quadro, until the replacement machine is fully installed and configured.  The Tablet PC was already going to be kept in reserve for those web-development function that I have not been able to replicate under Windows 7.  The decline of Scampo accelerated the establishment of the necessary software on Quadro.

Essential Functions

There are many functions on the desktop system that I do not require on the Tablet PC as a working stand-in.  I can exclude photo-processing, video-development, and audio-processing software.  I can also exclude software-development software such as Visual Studio, development SDKs, and MSDN Libraries.  What I need is a means to ensure perpetuation of essential communication, access to files and documents, and web-site development.

  1.  Access to Files and Documents
      
    Quadro is already tied into the Centrale SOHO LAN and the Windows Home Server.  All material that is moved to shared space on WHS is available to Quadro and will simply be used from there.  Quadro is also backed-up to the Windows Home Server every day.  Quadro is also tied into Windows Live and has shared access to the contacts and calendars maintained there.

    I have Microsoft Office 2007, Acrobat Reader, and OpenOffice.org 3.2 to handle my immediate document needs.  I have not installed Microsoft Money Plus; I will if I need to update accounts and monitor balances as part of month-end activity. 
     
    I also have WinZip and jEdit for document forensic work and operating with XML documents, should that be required.
      
  2. Essential Communication
      
    All of the Outlook PST files that were in use on Scampo have been moved to the Windows Home Server.  I have completed use of Outlook from Scampo and archived the files for the last time.  I brought the files into the appropriate directory used by Office 2007 Outlook on Quadro and made them the PST files in use.  I also installed the latest version of Outlook Connector to complete the tie-in with Windows Live Hotmail Contacts and calendars.

    I also have, on the Windows Home Server, all of the Favorites and shortcuts from Scampo that make it easy to find internet accounts and resources that I need on a regular basis.  The password safe form Scampo is replicated on Quadro, which is now the master version.
      
  3. Web-Site Development

    For blog posts, such as this one, I have Windows Live Writer configured for posting to blogs hosted on nfoCentrale and already converted to Movable Type.
     
    For editing web pages I have FrontPage 2002 installed and operating properly with the
    Internet Information Server on Compagno, the old laptop that holds my web-site development and that was the first to be retired and migrated until Scampo began to fail.
      
    Also, Visual Source Safe 2005 client is installed and operating successfully with the VSS repository that is also on Compagno and used for automatic version control of the web-site development via the integrated FrontPage extensions.
      
    This is sufficient to provide continued web-site development and also serve as a stand-in during the retirement of Compagno and movement of web-development server operation to the Windows Home Server.

Fortunately all of this was achieved in time to take over my day-to-day operation before Scampo failed irrecoverably. 

The Prequel

I work almost exclusively over the Internet from home.  My Toshiba Satellite Tablet PC, Quadro, was acquired in 2006 when I anticipated heavy use for note-taking and diagramming while digging around in university research libraries.  While that might happen again, the current us of Quadro is for occasional out-of-office meetings and travel.  When not traveling, Quadro inhabits the Centrale SOHO LAN so it is available for light, connected work while the production system is engaged in some uninterruptible task.  Quadro in slate configuration is also useful as a reader: I have used Kindle for the PC as well as other document-reading software that way.

Because it is not critical to my day-to-day operations, Quadro tends to be the victim-of-choice for beta releases of software.  Originally shipped with Microsoft Windows XP Table PC Edition 2005, Quadro was saddled with Windows Vista and Windows 7 beta releases.  It was also subjected to Office 2007 and 2010 previews.  Toshiba has long since ceased to provide driver updates for later operating systems, making the machine unacceptable as well as under-powered for serious production use on operating systems beyond Windows XP. 

Once the Windows 7 beta expired, Quadro was restored to its original Windows XP configuration (fully updated to SP3 and with regular updates beyond that, of course).  Its continued duties are as a standby for important XP-based functions that support nfoCentrale development while other machines are retired Windows 7 computers are introduced.  There are some web-development operations that I have not managed to preserve using Windows 7 and Quadro provides working functions until I can resolve the Windows 7 limitations.

With the sudden deterioration of the Scampo desktop system, having Quadro as a stand-in was required sooner than expected.  Quadro was in a rather haphazard state (also reflected in the peculiar accumulation of icons on the desktop), and I needed to ensure complete stand-in capability before dismantling Scampo or it failed completely (whichever were to come first).

Fortunately, it has been easy to switch over those functions that I must preserve while Scampo is retired and the Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit workhorse, Astraendo, is installed in its place.

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Scampo has been my main desktop system since it solved an emergency for me in September 2005.  I don’t think of it as an old machine, since I have also kept machines (all from Dell, now that I think of it) operating successfully for over ten years.  That left me with some guilt over planning its replacement with the now-arrived, waiting-to-be-installed Astraendo desktop, a Dell XPS 9100.

I’m not ready to cut over to Astraendo just yet.  It is a Windows 7 system and there are a number of migration issues for me to resolve, especially for my web development procedures and practices.

Morning Sickness?

But Scampo is dying on me.   I don’t know if it is a cyberspace counterpart of sibling jealousy, but Scampo has been sickly since the carton with Astraendo arrived.  The problem occurs mostly in the form of morning sickness:  The system has difficulty responding to power on, it often fails to boot up completely and has to be force-restarted, and so on. 

One of these mornings, I may not be able to wake Scampo up for our daily work together.

So I shall not shut it off tonight until I have established the following safeguards:

Backup Preparations

I will have a current backup on the Windows Home Server before I shut down.

I will also migrate as much data as I can off of Scampo onto shared space on the Windows Home Server.  This will be available to all of my other systems, and to Astraendo once it is brought up.  The data will continue to be used from the shared directories, so that it is current whenever I start using it from another of my SOHO computers.

An important case for sharing consists of my Windows Live Writer Drafts and Recently Posted collections.  I will place those in a shared location so that I can switch to authoring on Quadro the moment Scampo becomes unavailable.  Some other shared materials will probably not be used on Quadro much, even though available there, but they will be immediately available when I have moved operations to Astraendo.

I will also perform an inventory to ensure that I have everything I need to move operations to another computer.

Bring On the Stand-In

My Tablet PC, Quadro, is still running Windows XP SP3.  Although the machine does not have the capacity or the performance of Scampo, it can easily take over my essential functions:

  • FrontPage 2002 for continuing web development without requiring Scampo.
  • VSS 6.0d client, also for web development.
  • Tortoise SVN for other coordinated versioning, particularly for SourceForge and OASIS projects.
  • Outlook 2007.  I have Office 2007 Ultimate on Quadro.  I need to move my Outlook PST files to Quadro and perform all e-mail functions there until I finally move to Astraendo.  I can continue to share contacts and calendars via Windows Live and Outlook Connector, but I need my collection of e-mail archives to be at my fingertips and available to desktop searching.
  • My latest password set brought from Scampo to the password vault on Quadro.
  • Zune PC so I can synchronize my Windows Phone from Quadro.
  • Microsoft Money, since I continue to use it in its off-line unregistered desktop form.
  • Other tools on Scampo that may be important to have on Quadro for interim operation, although I much prefer holding off until I can do more on Astraendo.

I won’t bring over anything that requires the higher performance of either Scampo or Astraendo.  No photographic and no audio software will be brought over.  I probably won’t be watching Netflix on Quadro either.  Nothing that really requires a larger screen than the Tablet PC 1024 by 758.

Preparing for Migration

To abandon Scampo successfully, I will also need to find upgraded software for operation on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.  That is particularly important for my E-MU devices and audio dock.  It will also matter for my printer and scanner.  The Scampo inventory will help me to plan the necessary staging of software and device connections.

Returning to Normal

I will continue retiring Compagno and moving Web Development to the Windows Home Server.  At some point down the road, this will include switching to Expression Web once I have determined how to operate with the IIS FrontPage extensions properly for web-page check-out/-in and how to work around the lack of direct support for design-time FrontPage functions that I rely on quite stubbornly.

 

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I’ve been looking at all of the projects that I have and the number of burners there are for my efforts.

In the past week, I realized that I needed a consolidated plan with defensible, risk-managed timelines for getting to where I want to be on New Years Day, 2011: Launching a family of interoperability-centered tutorial, test-fixture, and reference-implementation projects around document formats and their processing.  (Hmm, short enough for an elavator speech but not something I would be able to recite at gunpoint.  Needs work.)

I have gathered my envisioning into a spreadsheet that keeps my commitment and my management of it in a structure that holds my vision in existence.  Here is the finish line and, at the bottom, where I am standing right now:

2011 nfoProjects Launch Crunch tracking-document extract

This is a high-level perspective.  I blocked out the calendar weeks and arranged more-or-less week-sized chunks in which to make headway along four tracks.  Since I am a solo developer, this is enough for me to follow and use as an instrument for keeping my eye on critical setbacks and interdependencies that I must keep my attention on.  There’s an opportunity for some Personal Kanban  and Personal Software Process.

The OpenDocument Format continuation work is related to my current involvement on the OASIS ODF and OIC Technical Committees, as well as the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC34 WG6 working-group for ODF maintenance.   As ODF 1.2 moves toward ratification as an OASIS Standard in early 2011, there is a hiatus that allows me to devote more attention to Interoperability and Conformance and the alignment of the ISO/IEC and OASIS efforts. 

The blog, web, and development system (Centrale) efforts have been identified here in a piece-meal fashion.  This three-track view provides my first projection of a coherent feasible structure on those activities.  There will be many opportunities for adjustment and course-correction as progress is made and details of further steps are reviewed.

In simply arranging these activities, I found how to avoid a situation in which I was retiring Compagno and in a sudden-death gap on being able to move everything I needed to the Windows Home Server.  This was definitely sky-diving without a parachute.  What I had not seen until I placed the activities in this form, is that Quadro, my Tablet PC, can mirror Compagno perfectly and also assist in verifying how migration from FrontPage to Expression Web can be accomplished while preserving practices that serve me too well for them to be abandoned without a fight.

I have also noticed, already, how having my eye on New Years Day gets me out of bed in the morning, excited to make further headway on these activities.

I will be reporting results and updates here on the week-by-week progress.  And, for those playing along from home, here’s the tracking document  on-line:

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[update 2010-08-23T04:14Z I realized, when posting about additional web-development categories, that I can seed the unseeded subcategories simply by using the seeding post: this one.  This repost is strictly to accomplish that.]

As part of the nfoCentrale anchor-site stabilization, I am seeding all of the new categories I have established.  This will cause each category subfolder to be created and populated as part of the nfoCentrale Status blog structure on the hosted site.  I will then bring those folders under the construction-structure management of the nfoCentrale anchor site.

I have been quietly repaving the nfoCentrale anchor, as part of bringing a systematic sites cleanup and repaving under a single coordination point.

I will also be experimenting with alterations of Movable Type templates here and on Spanner Wingnut in preparation and confirmation of the stages to be undertaken in the systematic re-animation of my now-dormant blogs.

Although this seems to be a diversion from the task of restoring blogs, and I have this pent-up urge to be posting anew on them, this repaving work is crucial for providing me a place where I capture my experience and arrive at a guide that I can follow systematically.  This is also a precaution against any future situation where I need to do more of this, whether because of upgrading to new releases of Movable Type, porting to a new hosted site, simply adding more blogs, or integrating with new, now-unanticipated content-management facilities.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the quadro category.

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