Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Developer Environment

I’ve read Steve Smith post regarding Developer’s Machine.  Great post.  Got me thinking about my development environment…

Background: to fully understand the whole lifecycle of a solution, you need to know not just Unit test or integration tests. But also about  the backend/infrastructure where this application would eventually live. 

For instance, I have been involved in several integration projects at different clients. The solution calls for situations that involved multiple users, multiple roles, multiple permission profiles.  Yet, they only provided me with a SINGLE account to their environment to fully test my application.!

Being an integration geek, you need to have a bigger bag of utilities to help you being certain that your app works as intended.  IMHO, you not only need to know about IIS settings/security, but also about AD, Clustering, SQL roles, etc.  And it is not enough to just READ it from a blog.  You need to experienced it and work with it.  You need to be a JOAT.

Ideally, like Steve’s view, the Developer workstation will be both mobile and desktop.  It is nice to be able to take that mobile environment with you.  However, most of the times while working at home, I would trade my portability for some speed and flexibility. I like desktops with Dual screens (wish I had more than 2 monitors… :) and full size keyboards. I like to feel a mouse and not those annoying keypads/touchpads. Yes, I do HATE touchpads…!

I had built my own controlled environment (SandBox).  This is so that I can experience what the network operator/admin that is going to inherit my application would experience. Under this controlled environment, I can test the full cycle of my software (deployment, running, integration) . Nothing worse that going into a client’s environment and say: “… but, it works on my machine…”

I know that now a days, with VM’s (VPC/VMWare), building a Sandbox environment is easier and cheaper.  However, there are pros/cons for virtualization vs real machines. I feel that my investment was well spent.  My future upgrade will be to beef up my SQL server (still keeping it as a real machine).  Then put a couple of VM’s on the app and the web servers to test NLB and some Farm features of BizTalk and SharePoint.

CIMG6596 old CRT 14" monitor. No LCD here… :(
CIMG6592 I selected 4u cases for my servers, since they can fit  standard hardware (MB, Power Supl., video, nic’s) = cheaper…

4U – App Server
4U – SQL Server
2U – Web server
Guess which case I bought first…. ;)
CIMG6580 16-Ports Switch used to be plenty of ports over 5 years ago… :(
 CIMG6581 LAN lines.  Rest of my hardware ( 3 laptops, NetBook, Wii, NDS’s) are all on the Wi-Fi.
CIMG6573 Power master switch for all servers.
CIMG6587 KVM switch.
CIMG6595 My mini-keyboard. Love it…


BTW, I think building your own computer is still the way to go.

Friday, May 01, 2009

PANAMA 2009 Elections: RERE, TE, PLAGEL, CPP

Having dual citizenship give me the opportunity to choose and to compare 2 different ways of voting. I casted my vote for the most powerful man of the free world back on Nov. 2008, and now I have the privilege to influence who will lead my Querida Panama for the next government.

Since most people I know in the US have no idea about presidential elections outside of the US, I want to share a little bit of knowledge.

There are 8 political parties (as of today ;)  in Panama.  The main one is the PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democratico). It stands for Revolution and Democracy.  BTW, it is the same government that we had with Noriega. All of the other parties are opposition to this one.  Each of them claims to be different because of  X-Some facts/view. 

People line up with the political party that they feel, closely matches their views, concerns.  However, if you work for any government institution it is expected that you lined up with the PRD, if you don’t your job might/will be at risk.  All of the parties put their candidates up and start the political satire that occurs everywhere, in which they try to convince the audience that they party is better than the other ones.

This all seems very similar to the US elections.  Start with the flow of information on the Radio, TV, Newspapers (negativity and lies).  However, in Panama, they also do Posters, Billboards, Musical Tours. There are about 3.5 million people in Panama according to the CIA world factbook. Since the population is so disperse, one of the ways to get your message across is to *tour* the small towns.  What is different about this, is that they bring what is called MURGAS to each city.  It is basically a band playing folklore music. There is plenty of free drinks and dancing. Most of the times they close the roads and make the whole road a big staging area.

DSC_1105 Another of the ways they publicize their slogans.

People rent their cars/time to drive around small towns and playing loud messages over their megaphones. ANY time of the day.!!


One thing you need to know about the Panamanian culture, and all Latin cultures for that matter.  We are very centric on socializing and having a good time. So the Murgas, attract the majority of the local audience, and if you have a good time with this candidate’s murgas, then voting for this candidate will bring more of the good time, right?… ;)

This is what an official ballot looks like. You need to select ONE entry only.  As you notice there are only 3 candidates to president.  Just like in the US (Rep., Dem., Waste-your-vote).  Now, we started with 8 political parties, and as the election date gets near, each party aligned with the candidate that they think will win. 


In Panama, there is still a lot of bribery. (just like in the US, but not as organized ;).  So if you are in one of the political parties that have won, you can expect to have favoritism over jobs and influences once the new party takes over.  One step further, you can even put your own people on jobs that are already filled by people from the losing party..!  And this is regardless of qualifications/tenure.  It is all about who you know.

Union Patriotica
Vanguardia Moral de la Patria
image Partido Popular


Cambio Democratico
Partido Liberal

So you see, there is LOTS of thing riding on your vote. Not just the future of your country, but also your vote affects DIRECTLY your future.  The percentage of people willing to vote in Panama is a LOT higher than in the US for that matter.  In the US, we get to elect the most powerful man in the world, and yet I see many people that are not even excited about having this privilege.!

Hope this little bit of info have brought you a new insight into exercising your right to vote.

BTW, there are LOTS of acronyms used in Panama.  TE: Tribunal Electoral.  CPP: Centro de Procesamiento Postal.  PLAGEL: Plan General de Elecciones. RERE: Registro de Electores Residentes en el Extranjero.