Brian Keller

Director of ALM Evangelism for Microsoft

September, 2009

Posts
  • Brian Keller

    Why BCC can be bad thing for large email distribution lists (and what to do about it)

    • 3 Comments

    If you work at a large company like I do, then you probably participate in at least a handful of email distribution lists. An email distribution list is a single email address (e.g. example@microsoft.com) which allows you to send a mail to one address which is then delivered to 1 or more people (potentially even thousands of people).

    A common practice is to use inbox filtering rules (such as those offered by Microsoft Outlook) to route mail sent to these distribution lists into a subfolder in your inbox. This way when I’m interested in catching up on the latest discussions on a particular topic I can browse that subfolder instead of being constantly barraged with such messages in my main inbox.

    So far so good, right? The problem that happens is when somebody decides to take a discussion “offline” by BCC’ing the distribution list. The intention is good, and goes something like this:

    Original mail
    From:
    Joe
    To: Widgets Discussion
    Hey everybody! I need help selling a Widget to my customer in North Dakota. Who can help? – Joe

    Reply:
    From:
    Steve
    To: Joe
    Bcc: Widgets Discussion
    Hi Joe,
    I can help, let’s take it offline. Bcc’ing Widgets Discussion. – Steve

    Now when Joe replies he will only be replying to Steve, since there’s no need to involve the rest of the Widgets Discussion distribution list. This reduces “noise” for the rest of the Widgets Discussion recipients who don’t need to be involved with Joe and Steve’s ongoing sale discussion. Good, right? Yes, but the problem is that when Steve bcc’d the Widgets Discussion alias it broke inbox filtering rules. Inbox filtering rules such as these rely on knowing that the message was sent to the Widgets Discussion alias in order to route it to the appropriate inbox subfolder – but with a bcc you don’t get that information (that’s the whole purpose of a blind carbon copy). Now every one of the hundreds (thousands?) of people on the Widgets Discussion alias just got a message in their inboxes that they have to manage (e.g. delete) instead of just having that message land in the appropriate subfolder.

    So what’s the alternative?

    A much better alternative which allows for the inbox filtering rules to continue to operate and for Steve to take the discussion offline is for Steve to simply send two mails. So the conversation would go like this:

    Original mail
    From:
    Joe
    To: Widgets Discussion
    Hey everybody! I need help selling a Widget to my customer in North Dakota. Who can help? – Joe

    Reply to all:
    From:
    Steve
    To: Joe; Widgets Discussion
    Hi Joe,
    I can help, let’s take it offline. I will email you separately. – Steve

    Private reply:
    From:
    Steve
    To: Joe
    Hi Joe,
    I’d love to help. I’ve sold lots of Widgets in North Dakota. Do you have time on Thursday to meet? – Steve

    Notice that the first reply was sent to everybody, and the second reply was sent only to Joe. This extra step takes a few extra seconds on behalf of Steve, but can save the hundreds or thousands of people on the Widgets Discussion from getting the “inbox spam” which occurs when the act of BCC’ing breaks your inbox filtering rules.

    Think this could work for you or somebody you know? Please pass it along! Here’s an easy-to-remember URL: http://tinyurl.com/FightInboxSpam

  • Brian Keller

    Slides from my TechEd Brazil Sessions

    • 0 Comments

    Last month I had the opportunity to visit Brazil and present at TechEd Brazil 2009 to share my passion about what’s coming in Visual Studio Team System 2010.

    I finally got around to uploading my slides from two of my presentations. The decks aren’t scripted so if you weren’t at my talk you might be missing some of the context required to understand what I was talking about, but there’s a lot of content in there which may still be useful if you’re trying to wrap your head around what’s coming in VSTS 2010.

    ALM201 - New Features in Visual Studio Team System 2010
    This session will be a quick tour through some of the great new features coming in Visual Studio Team System 2010. This includes new project management capabilities (hierarchical work items, agile reporting, iteration planning, MOSS dashboards); branching and merging visualizations; new tools for application architecture; historical debugging; test impact analysis; and a brief overview of the new testing capabilities (for more on testing see my other session!).

    ALM302 - Software Testing with Visual Studio Team System 2010
    Are you tired of spending hours trying to reproduce and diagnose bugs? Do you have a hard time getting testers and developers to talk to each other? Is it difficult to determine which tests are most important to run after you produce a new build?

    If so then this session is for you! Software testing is perhaps the #1 area of investment for Visual Studio Team System 2010. During this session we will explore manual testing, lab management, data diagnostics adapters, the “actionable bug”, functional UI testing, test impact analysis, and much, much more which will help you more easily find and eliminate defects from your software.

    This was a really fun set of sessions to deliver. Unfortunately it’s impossible to cover everything that makes up Visual Studio Team System 2010 in two hours – there’s just too much good stuff coming out!

  • Brian Keller

    Visual Studio: The Documentary

    • 0 Comments

    It’s here! Our team just published Visual Studio: The Documentary to Channel 9. I had the opportunity to help contribute to this piece and I’m really proud to see the finished product. Tina and team did a great job of pulling together lots of historical content, interviews, screenshots, box shots, random tidbits, etc. to really tell the story of Visual Studio past, present, and future.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    If you like this style of documentary you may also want to go back and watch The History of Microsoft, which is another documentary that Tina produced for Channel 9. I love this stuff…

  • Brian Keller

    Faster bootup time (sort of) for Windows

    • 0 Comments

    When Windows boots up, it will automatically start many of your services prior to you even logging in. This means that by the time you log in, many of the services your machine uses are already started and you don’t have to wait for them to launch.

    But your startup applications (like Outlook, Messenger, etc.) don’t start up automatically until you actually log in. This is “by design” in Windows since (among other reasons) until you log in, Windows doesn’t know which user you are going to sign in as and hence which user’s applications and application settings should be used.

    This past week, I was in a discussion with some colleagues over this fact. We all agreed that if you’re the only person who uses the machine (the only user) then it would be really nice to have all of your applications start up automatically before you even log in. This way you could boot up your machine in the morning, go grab your coffee, log into your PC and start working right away.

    I came up with a solution (ok, a “hack”) which allows this to work. My friend Steve Smith did a great job of blogging the process I outlined, so I’ll just link to his post. As Steve points out this is not without its risks (it creates a couple of security holes) but if you are a good steward of your PC’s physical security (and making sure you lock it when you’re away) then it should be an acceptable solution.

    I’ve tested this on Windows 7 but it should work on most (all?) versions of Windows. Well, except for Windows 3.1, of course… which means I’ve just alienated part of my blog readership. Sorry, guys.

  • Brian Keller

    Zoom in/out with Visual Studio 2010 editor

    • 0 Comments

    Edit: The keyboard shortcuts below will only work with builds of Visual Studio 2010 post-beta 1. So this is something to look forward to for beta 2, coming “soon”!

    Visual Studio 2010 now supports the ability to zoom in and out of the text editor by using the mouse wheel. I love this feature for a couple of reasons:

    - Makes it easy to pop in and out of your code to toggle between the “big picture” and “code level” views.

    - Very nice when showing code to a group, such as during a demo to a large audience, or during team code reviews.

    But what if you don’t have a mouse wheel? It turns out that there are keyboard shortcuts for this.

    Functionality

    Command

    Keyboard Shortcut

    Zoom in

    View.ZoomIn

    Ctrl+Shift+period

    Zoom out

    View.ZoomOut

    Ctrl+Shift+comma

    The team has also added a zoom indicator in beta 2, similar to what you see in other applications like IE or Word. Here’s a screenshot:

    clip_image002

     

    Thanks to Brittany Behrens on the VS Editor team for this information. Check out the VS Editor blog for more great tips on the new Visual Studio 2010 editor!

Page 1 of 1 (5 items)