Experiences and Experiments in Programming

 Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Microsoft announced today that there will be an SP3 for Windows XP.  It is currently targeted for 1H 2008.  It is essentially a rollup of all the hot fixes and patches including security updates, out of band releases and hotfixes.  There are no new features in Windows XP SP3, with the exception of Network Access Protection, a capability in Windows Vista that is also being made available on Windows XP SP3 and will require Windows Server 2008.

As far as Vista goes, SP1 is being targeted for 1Q 2008.  In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.  SP1 also continues to improve upon the IT administration experience. SP1 is not intended to be a vehicle for releasing new features; however some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1.

Vista SP1 is currently weighing in at about 50Mb when delivered over Windows Update, but a standalone version is planned to help larger IT organizations.  The standalone version is currently about 1Gb.  One of the reasons for the size difference is the fact that all supported languages will be included in one file.  So there is a convenience/size trade-off.

What improvements are there to reliability in SP1?
Windows Vista SP1 improves the reliability of Windows Vista in many areas.  Thanks to the rich instrumentation capability of Windows Vista, we are able to understand the type of problems that our customers are experiencing (while respecting their personal information and privacy preferences).  

Many of these crashes and blue screens stem from problems with 3rd party applications and drivers, so we are working with our partners to solve these problems together.  Other problems occur entirely in Windows code so we are aggressively working to solve as many of these as possible too. 

Some of these improvements are made available before SP1 in the August updates available via Windows Update and the Download Center. 

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Support for emerging technologies and standards” category?
Throughout the lifetime of Windows, new hardware innovations occur and standards enter the marketplace.  SP1 includes support for some of these new innovations, which are expected to become increasingly important in the coming years.  For example:

  • With SP1, Windows Vista can boot via EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) on an x64 machine
  • SP1 supports ExFAT, a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices
  • Support for SD Advanced DMA Support to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization is part of SP1
  • SP1 includes a series of new API's and software features to enable 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generation of graphics Direct3D 10.1 hardware
  • Windows Vista SP1 includes SSTP (Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol), a remote access VPN tunneling protocol that will be part of Microsoft’s RRAS (Routing and Remote Access Service) platform.  SSTP helps provide full-network VPN remote access connections without some of the challenges that other VPN tunnels face traversing NAT, web proxies, and firewalls

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Improve management experience” category?
SP1 improves the administration experience.  For example:

  • With Windows Vista SP1, BitLocker Drive Encryption has been enhanced to not only fully encrypt the entire Windows Vista volume but also any or all additional locally created data volumes.  (Customers can now not only fully encrypt C: but also D: and E:)
  • SP1 Improves printer management by addressing problems associated with printing to a local printer from within a Terminal Server session
  • Network Diagnostics in Windows Vista SP1 will help users with the most common file sharing problems, in addition to basic problems already supported
  • SP1 includes an update to Disk Defragmenter so administrators can control which volumes the disk  defragmenter runs on

Additionally, the tools used to manage Group Policy for Windows Vista will change with the installation of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. GPMC will be uninstalled with Service Pack 1 and GPEdit will default to Local Group Policy editing. Following these changes, SP1 users can download an updated version of GPMC that contains much requested functionality including the ability to add comments to GPOs or individual settings, to search for specific GP settings, and to use Starter GPOs which encapsulate best practices.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 4:28:33 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)

Well I completed the upgrade to DasBlog 2.0 this morning.  There was really only one hiccup and for the most part it was my fault.
If you don't know, about 2 weeks ago, DasBlog 2.0 was released.  So what you might say!  Well this release of DasBlog supports running on .NET 2.0 under Medium Trust.
I host my blog with GoDaddy so I have been holding off on going to .NET 2.0 on my hosting because DasBlog would not run.  It previously required Full Trust.  So as of this morning, I have been able to move all of my hosted stuff to .NET 2.0 and subsequently upgraded DasBlog to version 2.0.
I began by following the upgrade instructions located here on the DasBlog site.  I won't re-list all the steps here.  The basic idea is to download and unpack the DasBlog install files.  Copy down your web and site config files and your content directory from your existing installation to a local drive.  Merge the web and site config files with those in the new DasBlog install.  Run the DasBlogUpgrader.exe against your content directory.  Now here is where I had my first problem.  When I tested the upgrade in my test environment I got an error in the aspnet_wp.exe.  I checked my application log files and found that a duplicate key was trying to be inserted into the ASP.NET Cache.  The description of the error said

An unhandled exception occurred and the process was terminated.
Application ID: /LM/W3SVC/1/Root/dasblog
Process ID: 4104
Exception: System.ArgumentException
Message: Item has already been added. Key in dictionary:
'9db86387-f712-4b43-be7d-d41d999a90d0' Key being added:

I took a look in the content directory of my DasBlog install and noticed that there were 2 files for the same date.  I really don't know what caused the duplicate file to get created, but they appeared to be identical.  Deleting one of the sets of files fixed the problem.
So once I got everything running in the test environment I started the migration to the hosting server.  Again, the basic idea was replace most everything with the new files including the merged web and site config files and the content directory.  So here is where I ran into my second problem.  I uploaded everything and got an error when I tried to hit the blog.  In the System.Web section of the web.config file, there is an element which specifies the trust level.

<trust level="Medium" originUrl="" />

The problem is that GoDaddy specifies this in their machine.config file and also sets the attribute that tells ASP.NET to not allow a local site to override it.  So to fix the problem, just comment out this line in the web.config of the blog and inherit the setting value from the machine.config.
That was it!  I would consider that a pretty painless upgrade ( as a matter of fact, considering some of the nightmares I have experienced, I would even consider it pleasant! ).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 10:15:26 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)

The Alabama Code Camp site has been updated with some more data including information about the Silverlight game contest.  Sounds like it could be fun!  The call for speakers is out there.  If you do not have Silverlight installed, first of all, why not?  Second, here is a direct link to both the speaker form and the Silverlight contest guidelines.

Speakers should begin to be updated in the next couple of days!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 9:11:04 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I was invited to join the Birmingham UX Group.  Group membership is open so anyone can join.  If you are in the area and have a stake in UI design and development, come join the group.  The description of the group, as stated on their Google Groups page is:

The Birmingham User Experience Group meets monthly to discuss issues relevant to the fields of User Experience, Usability, Human Factors and Interaction Design.

Since User Experience (UX) is being brought more to the forefront of development, I think this group will be a good source of information and sharing amongst UI developers and designers!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 7:54:21 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Monday, August 20, 2007

The call for speakers went out this morning for the 5th Alabama Code Camp.  You can go to their site at www.alabamacodecamp.com and download the speaker form if you want to be a speaker.

I think I am going to do at least one presentation!  It should be a great code camp.  If you think you can make it, you should sign up as a speaker!

Monday, August 20, 2007 9:48:56 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Thursday, August 16, 2007

I have been invited to be a member of the IT Advisory Council for a local campus of a technical school in town.  Today I attended my first council meeting.  The school looks to people in the technology industry to give feedback and suggestions to help them make modifications to their curriculum.  I think this is a great idea and the discussions today were wonderful.  It is really nice to see a school attempt to really incorporate this kind of feedback into their program.  After all, the graduates are going to come out of school wanting to enter many of these companies.  If the school is listening to the industry, and incorporating that information back into their program, the students should be more prepared for that industry!  Anyway, I think more schools should take this type of approach.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 7:54:21 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Monday, August 13, 2007

Looks like things have started moving forward with the next Alabama Code Camp.  The site has been updated with a new look.  It asks the question, "Do you believe in magic".  Interesting!  And the site is using Silverlight 1.0 RC!  The date is apparently Saturday October 6th.  No mention of venue yet.  A Silverlight contest has been announced and it looks like the winner is going to get a Zune!  Cool!

I will post more as the site gets updated.  I will be interested to see what the Silverlight contest is going to be.  If you want to watch the progress yourself, go to www.alabamacodecamp.com.

Monday, August 13, 2007 1:01:50 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Sunday, July 29, 2007

I am trying to get some things caught up...including some posts I have been wanting to make...so I am a little late with this news.   Unless you live under a rock, you have probably already heard this.  But for you rock dwellers, Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 Beta 2 has been released.

There are a couple of extra installation tasks that must be performed post installation.  Scott Guthrie has a nice post on some of the new features and the post installation tasks that must be performed.

Sunday, July 29, 2007 8:41:28 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)

It is time, my friends!  Silverlight RC 1.0 has been released.  Silverlight periodically checks for updates, but why wait....go and install it now.  Just remember a couple things:

If you develop Silverlight apps, take note of my previous blog post about the breaking changes in the RC.

If you just enjoy Silverlight apps as a user, please keep in mind that it may take some developers a short while to make modifications to their existing apps to accommodate some of the changes in this release.


Sunday, July 29, 2007 8:21:37 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
 Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On July 13th, Tim Sneath posted that Silverlight 1.0 Release Candidate would be posted soon.  While that is great news, there is more to this post than just spreading that word!

There are some breaking changes that will be introduced in the release candidate.  But after this release, there should not be any further breaking changes once it is finally released.  Of course it could always happen, but it is nice to hear that the Silverlight team thinks this is a stable API release.

Tim includes a download link in his post that contains:

  • a new silverlight.js file that detects both the beta and the RC version of the plug-in,
  • a document that lists differences between the Beta and the RC releases,
  • an updated Visual Studio template that can be used to correctly embed the new plug-in,
  • and a EULA that governs the legal usage of the items in the above bullets.

Although we don't have access to the new plug-in yet, these items will allow us to get a head start on making our Silverlight programs compatible with the new RC prior to its release.  If you have been working with Silverlight 1.0 and/or doing presentations on it, I encourage you to be proactive and update your apps to be compatible with both the Beta and the RC.  That way, when it is released, you will be ready!

A couple of good resources of information on the RC and some of the breaking changes can be found at:
Tim Sneath's blog post on the upcoming RC release
Joe Stegman's blog post on the breaking changes

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 1:41:06 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Who Am I - Todd Miranda
MVP Visual Developer - ASP/ASP.NET
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