Brian Johnson's Startup Developer Blog

February, 2004


    Security Webcast Week Starts Monday

    Tomorrow starts a week of security webcasts at Microsoft.

    Developer Security Webcast Week February 16 - 20, 2004
    Microsoft announces a special week of webcasts addressing the most important and newly emerging security issues surrounding developers. Topics range from corporate security reviews and computer crime to a host of webcasts aimed specifically at developers. These webcasts are designed to help developers write applications that are resistant to security attacks.
    This is bound to be great stuff. Sign up as soon as possible to reserve the seats in the sessions you want to attend.

    Update Your PC Now

    We created a new graphic today for the home page to drive people to Windows Update to try to get rid of Mydoom and to get them to update their machines. Let your family and friends know that they should stop by Windows Update for a quick check.

    I pulled the graphic because it's a little big. :) You can see it on the Microsoft home page.

    The Updated Visual C++ Developer Center is Live!

    We updated the Visual C++ Developer Center today. We now feature three top stories and I'll be able to keep a running list of resources that the Visual C++ team at Microsoft deems important to customers. Thanks so much to John, Amy, Henry, Kent, and Duncan for help making this happen.

    Today we also published a new article by Eric Fleegal entitled, Microsoft Visual C++ Floating-Point Optimization. You won't want to miss that.

    Finally, if you have any feedback on the new design be sure to drop me a note at We're trying to make it as easy as possible for Visual C++ developers to find the information that they need, and I think that this is a step in the right direction.

    Stan Lippman on Supporting Direct Handles to Boxed Value Types

    If you haven't read Stan's blog, start from the bottom and read all the entries. They are consistently insightful and fascinating. Today Stan answers a reader question about boxing:
    Yes, the need to box occurs only when the source of the assignment to an Object^ is a value type. A Value type, recall, maintains its state within each associated object [what in C++ is created when we write T t]. A Reference type is a duple in which the named instance is a handle holding either null or the address of an unnamed object allocated on the managed heap. When we initialize the Object^ second parameter of Console::WriteLine with a Value type, there is a hiccup in the unified type system because there is no way to represent the Value type directly within the handle of a Reference type. The solution is to create a shadowed Reference to the Value type on the managed heap and pass in the address of that object.

    Updated Errata for Writing Secure Code 2nd Edition

    Last week, Michael Howard posted the errata for Writing Secure Code, Second Edition. I was the technical editor on that book and one that caught my eye was was the first one listed:
    Entire Book
    Please replace all references to Windows® .NET Server with Windows® Server 2003.

    Microsoft had decided to finalize the Windows Server name as Windows .NET Server, just a couple of days before we were shipping to the printer. So I changed every reference in the book from Windows 2003 Server to Windows .NET Server. It took me a long time and I was very proud of the work I did to make that change. I think they changed the name to Windows Server 2003 a couple of weeks after I got my first copy of the book back from the printer. Doh!

    In any case, this is literally the best book you can buy on writing secure applications on any platform. I keep it on my desk and I use it all the time.


    C++ Webcast Tomorrow - Friday, February 13th

    Register right now for tomorrow's MSDN Webcast:

    MSDN Webcast: Managed and Native code in Longhorn – Roadmap for Existing C/C++ Applications
    Join Microsoft experts from the Visual C++ Product Group on Friday, February 13, 2004 at 11:00 AM PST to discuss the roadmap, best-practices, and recommendations for moving existing C/C++ Win32/MFC applications to Longhorn. We will also explore topics such as C++ and the CLR, mixing native and managed code, COM interop, migrating to WinFX, and the future of MFC. Presenter: Anson Tsao, Program Manager, Microsoft

    Update: This turned out to be a great Webcast. I'll post a note when it's avaialble online.


    Changes Coming Soon to the Visual C++ Developer Center

    This week my site managers Amy and John are rebuilding the home page of the Visual C++ Developer Center to include my C++ RSS feed. The site will look a lot like Duncan's Visual Basic Developer Center and the Visual C# Developer Center. These guys did an awesome job in making this happen. It's not up yet, but we should go live with it Friday or Monday. What this setup will let me do is highlight especially interesting blog postings, articles outside of MSDN, and other important C++ information.

    As always, you can provide feedback to me regarding the Visual C++ Developer Center by e-mail at, or you can send feedback via the Contact Us link on the page. I'll post tomorrow as soon as the new site design goes live. It will probably be near the end of the day.

    Hubble and NASA

    You've got to wonder what the guys at NASA are thinking (from Wired)...
    Hubble Space Telescope: 1990-2007 NASA officials adamantly defend the decision not to perform any more service missions to Hubble -- which means one of the greatest scientific instruments in history will die as early as 2007. By Amit Asaravala.
    And here's the one that really gets me... would be too difficult for NASA to prepare a second, backup shuttle on the ground in case of an emergency during the Hubble mission. The backup plan would be required under the agency's new safety policies, set forth after seven astronauts died in last year's Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.
    I wish that everyone was safe all of the time and that nothing bad ever had to happen to anyone. That said, why are we trying to make space flight the safest thing that you can do on the planet? Since when do we put safety above all other considerations? How would a backup shuttle have saved the astronauts on the Columbia? If NASA worked this way in the 60's, I doubt that we would have ever gotten to the moon at all.

    It's difficult to put people in harm's way. We need to make a space fight as reasonably safe as it can be given the technology we have. But if we're going to allow one of the most important pieces of scientific equipment in history be destroyed just because we were too afraid to fix it, then that is just another tragedy.

    Performance and Diagnostics

    It's so funny that Steve mentions this page on the Visual Studio Developer Center. Just today I was looking at a similar page I have on the Visual C++ Developer Center and I've got some great new content going up there soon. Stay tuned.
    .NET Performance and Diagnostics

    Just came across this great page of links up on MSDN: Performance and Diagnostics.


    Moved to FeedDemon

    Steve Makofsky asks about Sharpreader updates and whether it's time to consider RSS Bandit. I finally ended up registering FeedDemon, not because I had and specific problem with SharpReader, but just because FeedDemon is so darn good. It does everything I want it to, it's really powerful, and it's put together well. I especially like the Channel Groups that let me watch specific blogs in specific categories. I use this when I'm trying to parse out MSDN content and security news.

    Of course I still use trusty PocketFeed on my Pocket PC.
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