How to Do Business with Extremely Busy People

Big Picture

The bottom line when working with busy people is to preempt as much of the mental overhead of working with you as possible; all it really takes is some brevity and thoughtfulness on your part. If you form the eight behaviors I list below (and others I may be forgetting) into habits, you'll be much easier to work with and you'll get better results.

Define "Busy"

One of the transformational things my job at Microsoft has done for me is help me appreciate what it is like to be extremely busy and how hard it can be to work with other extremely busy people.

“Busy-ness” isn’t a measure of how much time someone spends working, although there’s typically a strong correlation; it’s really a measure of the total amount of concern a particular individual has to manage at any point in time. The busier you are, the...

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How to Use the Azure npm Package Locally without the Azure Compute Emulator

One thing that is a little dicey about the Windows Azure SDK for Node [footnote:“azure” is the name of the associated npm package] is that it by default it depends on being run inside of Azure itself or the compute emulator.

The Azure npm package looks for environment variables parsed from web.config and won’t find them if you run your node application via the node [entrypoint].js commandline.

So why would you want to run your Node application outside the Azure emulator if you’re utilizing the Azure npm package? If you’re using Cloud9 to develop and deploy Node applications to Windows Azure, then that’s one reason.

Another is that IIS eats any error messages your Node application throws by default[footnote: I’m sure there’s a way to change that behavior in the IISnode configuration settings] and on some occasions errors don’t always get logged to server.js/logs/[n].txt, so occasionally you have...

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Code Camp Talks: Intro to Node.JS and Building Web Apps with Express

This past weekend at SoCal Code Camp I gave two presentations back-to-back on Node.JS: “Intro to Node.JS” and “Building Web Apps with Express.”

I don’t have much to add on what I did at the sessions other than to mention just how surprised I was at how enthusiastic people were to see Microsoft involved with the Node effort and how eager everyone was to learn Node. I was thoroughly impressed.

Below are links to my slides and code samples for both talks – enjoy!

Intro to Node.JS

Source code: Github or Cloud9

 

 

Building Web Apps with Express

 

How to Automatically Utilize Multicore Servers with Node on Windows Azure

One major advantage of developing Node applications for Windows Azure is the ability to have your Node apps managed directly by IIS via iisnode.

You can read more about the benefits of iisnode here, but I want to call out these two points specifically from the iisnode wiki:

Scalability on multi-core servers. Since node.exe is a single threaded process, it only scales to one CPU core. The iisnode module allows creation of multiple node.exe processes per application and load balances the HTTP traffic between them, therefore enabling full utilization of a server’s CPU capacity without requiring additional infrastructure code from an application developer.

Process management. The iisnode module takes care of lifetime management of node.exe processes making it simple to improve overall reliability. You don’t have to implement infrastructure to start, stop, and monitor the processes.

Scalability on multicore servers with Node typically requires developers to...

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Troubleshooting “500 Internal Server Errors” in the Windows Azure Emulator when Working with Node.JS

On my primary development machine, where I have tweaked and prodded IIS multiple times for many projects over the past couple of years, I get the following 500 – Internal Server Error message when I try to fire up even the simplest “Hello World” Node.JS project included in the default template for each Windows Azure Node Web Role:

image

However, when I push the default “Hello World” Node.JS app to a production on Windows Azure, I have no issues whatsoever! So what’s the problem?

Cause

The issue is that the Windows Azure emulator:

  • Creates integrated AppPools for your Node roles in IIS (hosted in iisnode), which is intended for ASP.NET applications that take advantage of the HTTP request processing pipeline in IIS 7+ and
  • Runs the AppPools...

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Node.JS on Windows Azure Part 1: Setting Up Your Environment

Following Microsoft’s announcements regarding first-class Node.JS support on Windows Azure, I thought it would be helpful to walk newbie Node.JS and Windows Azure developers through the process of getting their Node.JS development environment set up, building their first simple Node.JS application, and then learning how to take advantage of popular NPM packages like Express to build actual web applications on Windows Azure.

If you need a primer on how Node.JS works and what Node is useful for, go ahead and check out my post from last week: “Intro to Node.JS for .NET Developers.”

Setting Up Your Node.JS + Windows Azure Environment

First, a big disclaimer: all of the Windows Azure deployment and packaging components require Windows in order to work. You will not be able to deploy your application to Windows Azure without a Windows Vista / 7 box.

That being said, the rest of the setup...

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Node.JS on Windows Azure Part 2: Building a Basic Web Application with Node.JS on Azure

In the last post in this series on working with Node.JS in Windows Azure I showed you how to set up your development environment for working with Node.JS and Windows Azure. In this post I am going to show you how to write and deploy a simple web application to Windows Azure using Node.

Step 1 – Create a New Node Project via Windows Azure PowerShell for Node.JS

The first thing we need to do is create a new Node.JS project using the Windows Azure PowerShell for Node.JS tools.

image

Use the New-AzureService [servicename] command just like how we did in the last part – I named my service “loggity.simple” in this instance.

Next, create your Node web service using the Add-AzureNodeWebRole [rolename]...

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New Windows Phone 7 App: Lolcats Professional Pro Plus

localcatsproplus-icon-largeIn addition to my regular work for Microsoft and the open source projects I create and contribute to on Github, I also like to ship the occasional app or website under my StannardLabs masthead.

My absolute favorite app that I shipped early in the summer is Lolcats Professional Pro Plus, a simple app that makes it a breeze to flip through pictures of Lolcats from ICanHasCheezburger.

I’ve since modified the app pretty drastically so that it now includes touch support, a clean minimalist UI, and a selection of 60,000 plus images to page through, with hundreds more being added every day.

Lolcats Professional...

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Project Scaffolding for Python

 python-logo.pngOver the summer I went through Zed Shaw’s Learn Python the Hard Way in an effort to broaden my horizons and start learning languages beyond C#.

Learn Python the Hard Way is a book designed for people with no programming experience whatsoever, but even as an experienced software developer I got a lot of value out of it. Zed does a great job forcing the reader to develop Python muscle memory early, and he introduces concepts like unit testing in Python and package management from the beginning.

One of the really valuable lessons of Learn Python the Hard Way is in exercise #46, where Zed recommends a great generic folder and file structure for new Python projects, like this one:

/[projectname]/
/[projectname]/setup.py
/[projectname]/bin
/[projectname]/docs
/[projectname]/[projectname]
/[projectname]/[projectname]/__init__.py Read More

Intro to Node.JS for .NET Developers

Node.js darkMicrosoft announced out-of-the-box support for Node.JS on Windows Azure on Tuesday; we pushed both an official Node.JS SDK for Windows Azure services (table storage, blob storage, and queues) and some tools for creating and managing Node.JS roles on Windows Azure, both of which are available through the official Windows Azure page on Github.

I’ve been playing around with Node for a short while and have the pleasure of working with some great startups that utilize Node heavily in production, so I wanted an opportunity to explain to my fellow .NET developers why they should be excited about Node support on Azure and how they can put it to work for them.

Node at a Glance

If you want to spend 90 minutes and get a full 100-level understanding of Node, check out...

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