Archive for November, 2015

Microsoft BizSpark Retrospective

In October of this year Resgrid graduated form the Microsoft BizSpark program after 3 years. In those 3 years I’ve had the chance to experience a number of things the program offered and want to give a retrospective on the program as a whole.

startup-pirates-119-876fb79e0905b58bf21f-For the uninitiated the BizSpark program is a way startups can leverage Microsoft technologies or services at zero (or low cost) for 3 years. There program also features outreach support, partners with Incubators and Accelerators and much more.


It’s a WIN-WIN for Microsoft and for Startups. The startup gets access to Microsoft tech, products and services for free or at reasonable rates and Microsoft has a chance to enable a long term relationship.

The Good

The good parts of the BizSpark program are the access to Microsoft products and services. With BizSpark you get an MSDN Ultimate license, which gives you licenses to a large number of products. Plus you get $150/mo Azure credit, perfect for testing and development.

Microsoft helps your startups visibility as well. They have a Featured Startup section that is shown to a broad audience. There were other options put forward in front of us, some mention in blog articles and a podcast (although that never materialized).

The Bad

If your startup is hardware dependent (i.e. Surface devices) there is limited help from Microsoft in that area, see the section below. Support and/or offers for your company could be based on the current marketing priorities for Microsoft. For example when Resgrid was going through the BizSpark program the priority was Open Source, if your software or service was built on no open source during that time frame, no additional support or offers for you.

The Ugly

I only had a point of contact with Microsoft for about a week and he was based out of the East Coast. I live about a 45 minute drive from MSLI’s offices, yet there was no one in my area apparently. I’m also unclear if he was an MVP, Evangelist, Advisor or what. Past that I had no contact with Microsoft and received no help in sourcing hardware (trying to rent or buy Surface devices for development of our software in Police, Fire, EMS vehicles).

Also if your not in a major metro area or one of the coasts you can almost forget about BizSpark Plus. Incubators I looked at would not accept distant startups and some of them didn’t exist or their online presence didn’t exist. This is a shame, as there are entrepreneurs and startups all over the country and the world, but if your not lucky to live in the Bay Area, Seattle, NYC, well no plus for you.


Microsoft’s BizSpark is a great program and I recommend it to everyone I talk to thinking about starting up. But to get the full benefit you’re startup needs to be located in certain areas and be aligned with Microsoft’s current marking priorities. It also doesn’t hurt if your startup is targeting other businesses (B2B software) as they will receive a fair amount of the BizSpark program communications that you may be a part of.

It would be nice for Microsoft to have more Reps or Advisors around to help guide startups through the program and make the most of it. I would also hope that in the future Microsoft finds a way to open up BizSpark Plus to more areas either through expanding it’s partners or in this age using the Internet.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

Computer Build 2015/2016

It’s that time again to build a new primary workstation and gaming rig. Occasionally I get asked why I build 1 system for both use cases (Gaming and Development) and I’ve found that having 2 systems that you use all the time costs a fair amount more, sucks (switching back and forth) and really the same thing that is good for gaming (minus a good GFX card) are also good for development.

14103f3ea83d0d4d7f6692ed0609c1fc.256cI usually try build a new system every 3 years or so. I normally try an align myself with the Tock of Intel’s Tick/Tock cycle. My reasoning is that the Tick is usually the first chip/architecture in a new fabrication process and hopefully by the Tock they have worked out all issues and optimized the platform.

I absolutely love my Cooler Master HAF-X case, but my previous build as a CM HAF case and I couldn’t bare myself to buy another one again. So I went I decided to mix it up and go with a white case instead. I’m starting to think Black is the new Beige anyways for computer cases.


Here I’m listing what the new build is compared to the old build.

  New New Cost Old Old Cost
CPU Intel i7-6700k $400 Intel i7-4770k $350
GFX Asus GTX980 $500 EVGA GTX780 $650
MB Asus Z170-Deluxe $340 Asus Maximus VI Extreme $380
RAM Patriot Viper 32GB DDR4 $290 Corsair Dominator Plat 32GB DDR3 $460
System HDD Intel SSD 750 400GB $400 Samsung 840 PRO 512GB $475
Dev HDD Samsung 850 EVO M.2 500GB $200 OCZ-AGILITY3 128GB $70
Data HDD WD Black 3TB $150 Seagate Barracuda 3TB $130
Sound NA $0 Sound Blaster ZxR $250
Optical LG Blue-Ray Combo $50 LG Blue-Ray Combo $70
PSU Seasonic Platinum-Plus 1050 $210 Seasonic Platinum-Plus 860 $200
Case Cooler Master Strom Stryker $180 Cooler Master HAF-X $200
Water Cooler Corsair Hydro H110i $140 Corsair Hydro H100i $200
    $2,860   $3,435

Some notes:

  • I’ve been preferring SeaSonic PSU’s for a couple builds now and I always get the Platinum-Plus versions. The build before my last one had numerous PSU issues. After that and doing some research SeaSonic seems to be the Rolls-Royce of PSU and I’ve never looked back. Even if I’m building a PC for someone else a SeaSonic of appropriate wattage is always part of the build.
  • My experience with the SoundBlaster ZxR has turned me away from SoundBlaster forever. I’ve always included one in my builds (since the x86 days where you needed an addin sound card). Audio on the motherboards is just fine and it’s not worth the extra cost.
  • My brands of choice: Intel, Asus for MB’s, PNY or EVGA for GFX, Samsung and WD for HDD’s, Corsair for RAM and Water Cooling, SeaSonic for PSU’s and CM for cases. I tend to be very brand loyal until they start pricing gouging or quality dips.
  • My review sites of choice Anandtech, Toms Hardware & Guru3D. I usually consult these and other sites before I commit to a part.
  • I was going to get a Samsung 850 PRO for my system HDD but after Boggie2988’s review and some Googling I decided to go with the Intel 750.
  • I’m rolling the dice on the Patriot RAM and the Asus GFX card. I trust Asus more then Patriot so I’m more concerned with the RAM. Hopefully it works out.
  • I source parts from the Fry’s in Roseville and Sacramento and Amazon. But after my last experience at Frys (after a 2 1/2 hour drive, they told me an item was in stock, confirmed it, sent me to another store which had sold it) and the ZERO help from any sales people I doubt I’ll be sending money at Frys in the near term.
  • I will never again by a Seagate drive, the reliability reviews for a fair amount of the Barracuda drives is truly awful and my crashed so hard it left a hole in my floor.

There have been some leaks about Intel’s next chip refresh that will include way more physical cores but a slower clock speed. This interests me as a fair amount of my operations are multi threaded. I’ll be keeping a eye on it and thankfully that chip will be hardware compatibility with my current setup.

My last build (minus the SoundBlaster card and the Seagate HDD) was very good. I’m looking forward to 3 or 4 more good years with my new build.

Azure Web App NPM Install Error

In a previous post I talked about using Gulp, Node and NPM to run automation during source code deployment to Windows Azure Web Apps. I recently encountered a new error standing up the Gulp/Node/NPM workflow on a new Azure Web App.

Here’s the bulk of the error:

> node postinstall
 npm ERR! Windows_NT 6.2.9200
npm ERR! argv "D:\\Program Files (x86)\\nodejs\\4.1.2\\node.exe" "D:\\Program Files (x86)\\npm\\2.14.4\\node_modules\\npm\\bin\\npm-cli.js" "install"
npm ERR! node v4.1.2
npm ERR! npm  v2.14.4
npm ERR! path D:\home\site\repository\node_modules\gulp-util\node_modules\dateformat\node_modules\meow\node_modules\normalize-package-data\node_modules\validate-npm-package-license\node_modules\spdx-correct\node_modules\spdx-license-ids\package.json.2216d6e92a8a6bf6068310c3c1b75618
npm ERR! code EINVAL
npm ERR! errno -4071
npm ERR! syscall rename
 npm ERR! EINVAL: invalid argument, rename 'D:\home\site\repository\node_modules\gulp-util\node_modules\dateformat\node_modules\meow\node_modules\normalize-package-data\node_modules\validate-npm-package-license\node_modules\spdx-correct\node_modules\spdx-license-ids\package.json.2216d6e92a8a6bf6068310c3c1b75618' -> 'D:\home\site\repository\node_modules\gulp-util\node_modules\dateformat\node_modules\meow\node_modules\normalize-package-data\node_modules\validate-npm-package-license\node_modules\spdx-correct\node_modules\spdx-license-ids\package.json'
npm ERR! 

The Key bit seems to be “npm ERR! errno –4071” and “npm ERR! syscall rename”. After quite a bit of messing around with the script the deploy.cmd and package.json I took a look at our existing Web App to see what were the differences then I found this under the config tab, but our existing apps were “0.10.32”


Changing the setting to “0.10.32” fixed the error.


I don’t know what other Node versions work, but it’s apparent 4.1.2 doesn’t work. I spent a few hours struggling with this issue, hopefully this helps someone resolve the issue quicker then I did.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

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