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Tuesday 13 December 2011

Understanding Windows Azure spending limits

If you have logged into the Azure billing portal since 12th December 2011 you will have noticed it has had a facelift as well as some changes to its functionality. Particularly a billing spending cap.

I just wanted to share my findings on the new feature of spending limits. Now there will be a $0 spending cap on your account when you sign up for a free trial. This ensures you will not be charged during your free trial. Beware though that once this cap is met your free trial service will stop working and you know that will happen just before you prototype demo.

Let me just clear up some things because I was a bit confused with exactly what had changed until I did some digging about. Mainly because my imagination just invented how the spending caps should work and partly because it is difficult to find documentation on this.

If you set up a new free trial FROM NOW you will get the $0 spending limit. If you had one before (presumably 12th Dec) you have a little note saying you have removed the spending limit. You didn't, you just never got the limit because you registered for a free trial before that the spending cap facility was available. Confusing notification at fault really.

So here is what I found on the payment caps:

  • If you are not on a free trial you have no spending cap and you cannot create one ($0 or otherwise)
  • If you are on a free trial since before 12th December 2011 it will say you removed the spending limit
  • If you joined a free trial on or after 12th December 2011 you will automatically have a $0 billing limit
  • If you remove the $0 spending charge limit you cannot put it back

My thoughts

I think it is a nice idea to keep people reassured that they will not be billed during a free trial. I understand some people felt hard done by when they were charged during this evaluation period (despite how well communicated and fair the free trial usage limits were... but anyway).

However, I think the Azure team has missed a trick here. Why not allow people to set custom spending limits on their accounts? It'd be very nice to be reassured that I would not be billed more than £x a month if I had a fixed budget. It seems like the infrastructure for such a feature is there but just missing the implementation at this time.

Maybe in time the ones of us willing to invest in Azure will get the same reassurances as the free trial users?

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Wednesday 7 December 2011

Where are my .NET certificates and their thumbprints? Ask Powershell

I ran into a confusing situation where I was trying to pass a certificate with a PowerShell command but found it incredibly confusing to find my certificates.

I was trying to use a certificate on my local machine that I created at an earlier time but where the hell are they? If you open Microsoft Management Console (type mmc into the start bar) and then add the certificates snap in. Choose either Current User or Local computer or whichever is most relevant for you.

Let's dispel some weirdness. My = Personal. For some hilarious reason there is no 'My' folder and it is actually called 'Personal'. This is the place you should be looking for for your own certificates you have created.

So if you have found the certificates you were after you will probably need the thumbprint... but it is encrypted. Awesome.

If you open up PowerShell and type the command

get-childitem -path cert:\CurrentUser\My
this will list all of the certificates in the Current User\Personal folder for you by thumbprint. Very handy. For the ones in Local machine simply replace CurrentUser with LocalMachine.

Hopefully this will save you some time when dealing with this confusing certificate nightmare.

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