# Thursday, 01 February 2007

I was just checking out a Windows Vista story on LifeHacker and wanted to leave a comment on User Account Protection which seems to everybody's favorite dead horse to beat these days. It turns out I can't. You need to log in to get commenting but you can't unless you're invited to site. WTF?! How snobby is that? I get that Google can get away with something like that but LifeHacker? No way. How is this at all useful?

"Anyone who has been invited, either by us or by a friend. The invite system works like Gmail's invite system. We've invited a bunch of our favorite productivity freaks, bloggers, and frequent tipsters to comment, then given them invitations to share with their friends and colleagues. That way, the burden of inclusion, and exclusion, is shared."

All sillyness aside Gina states in the article that she wished she knew how to turn off User Account Protection to which I would have responded, if I could: How Not to Sell User Account Protection

posted on Thursday, 01 February 2007 12:54:44 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback

Give User Account Control a chance. I know how annoying it is when you're getting everything up and running but when the system is all installed it's really not all that annoying. I was about to turn it off when I decided to live with it for a while longer to see what the experience in the long run would be and I'm pretty happy I did.

Don't let the initial bad impression of UAC make you disable it. Stick with it. You'll see it does actually get better.

Usability experts talk about giving the user a good experience right off the bat and UAC is certainly not an example of doing so. Quite the opposite in fact. It will continually get in your face and annoy the heck out of you before it's able to do its intended job: Everyday protection from malware. Most users won't ever get the benefits of UAC simply because Microsoft goes about selling the feature to user the wrong way. Now what would the right way look like? I have no idea. Maybe you could leave UAC off for a couple of days following the initial Windows installation because usually that's when the most heavy install process is going.

posted on Thursday, 01 February 2007 12:51:50 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Visual Studio 2005 SP1 is getting pushed out via Microsoft Update and the one question which keeps popping up here at the office is why the installation fails. Typically this is caused because some version of Web Application Project is installed. WAP is included in SP1 which is why the install fails.

 You will need to remove it before you can successfully install SP1. It would appear that the SP1 installation isn't very clear on this.

Just a little heads up. Scott Guthrie posted about this a while back.

posted on Thursday, 01 February 2007 09:39:29 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Today marks the day where Bolia.com adds an interior design feature (sorry the pages only exist in Scandinavian and German languages) to their site allowing you to decorate your own home with Bolia furniture. We've been working on the feature over the summer and it's great to finally see it in production. Having an interior design feature is something we've been talking about for years and years, in fact it's something I remember mentioned when I first started working on the project almost five years ago :) We did the backend web service integration for the feature and Voxtrup Innovation did the Flash frontend.

I think it turned out really well. I especially like the way the app scales automagically to the window size without messing up the design. Nice.

What's interesting technically about the backend architecture is that we needed a way to create a clean unified interface to the Bolia 1.0 application which is written partly in VBScript and VB6. We decided to go with .NET Framework 2.0 ASMX web services which in turn makes HTTP requests directly to the legacy VBScript code which then returns XML messages formatted according to the specified contract. Using this technique we're able to keep our interfaces to the Flash application even though the underlying implementation changes which is frequently the case and we employ new technology which is better suited for the future.

posted on Thursday, 01 February 2007 08:48:12 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Erik sent me a link today to Mei Ying's blog which has a post called Integrating Microsoft Commerce Server 2007 and MOSS. It's an older post from last year but it completely passed below my radar.

The post is pertinent to a project we are about to undertake as we're looking at integrating MCS and MOSS very tightly in order to leverage both products to create a highly flexible e-commerce solution. The problem consists of two pieces: product setup and integration of a MCS- and MOSS site and the meat of the problem which is all about the presentation of MCS content using MOSS as the driver for the site.

Basically Mei Ying's post takes care of the first issue of actually setting up the two products and getting their individual configuration files merged. Now on to the next problem. Of course there are lots more to it than just getting the two servers set up and create the middleware tier but it's a good place to start as we're seeing lots of interest in CS coupled with some kind of CMS.

posted on Wednesday, 31 January 2007 14:27:00 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 30 January 2007

"From the Incompetent's perspective, it seemed like any other contract. Some company needed a few weeks of work done on some C#-based web service. However, on his first day, the company did something a little unexpected."
[The Contractor's Note]

posted on Tuesday, 30 January 2007 22:11:17 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Nvidia has finally released a final version (100.54) of their Windows Vista driver for GeForce 8800. Grab it from their site. I'm getting ready to install it myself and have heard rumors that the SLI capabilities are somewhat lacking in this version. Expect frequent releases from Nvidia from this point on.

posted on Tuesday, 30 January 2007 18:12:07 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 28 January 2007

Does Firefox stick out like a sore thumb in your fresh Windows Vista installation? It sure did in mine so I was very glad to find that someone went ahead and did something about it and that that someone wasn't yours truly :)

*solidfilter from DeviantArt has the goods. Want to make Firefox go from this:

 

To this:

 

Then take a look at the Windows Vista theme for Firefox. The download link is for a .jar file and if you're like me you won't have any idea of what to do with it so to save you the bit of trouble I went through: You just need to open Tools => Add-ons => Themes window and drag the .jar file onto it. Presto. Easy if you know how.

One thing I noticed is that there seems to be a small incompatability between the Tabmix Plus extension and the theme as a small graphical error appears next to the close button in inactive tabs. You can remove the close button the Tabmix Plus extension but I'm sure a fix will come along.

posted on Sunday, 28 January 2007 14:01:47 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [5] Trackback
# Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Yes it's finally here. I use finally lightly as the development cycle of the product has been anything but slow and now we've got the final version to play around with.

"ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 delivers a rich client-side AJAX library that provides cross platform, cross browser support for a core JavaScript type-system, JSON-based network serialization stack, JavaScript component/control model, as well as common client JavaScript helper classes.  ASP.NET AJAX also delivers a rich server-side library that integrates AJAX functionality within ASP.NET, and enables developers to easily AJAX-enable existing ASP.NET 2.0 sites with minimal effort."

[ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 Released]

posted on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 20:34:22 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 22 January 2007

Lots and lots of people have taken a look at Windows Vista and found it underwhelming. I've been playing around with Vista since beta 1 and basically I took a very cynical stance too. I simply couldn't see Windows Vista brings to the table when compared to Windows XP. Sure the Aero glass interface is pretty, sure Windows Vista brings a lot of new stuff beneath the covers but why should the average consumer really care about stuff you only get to see if you're a developer?

Having had a chance to use the final version of Windows Vista since the release to MSDN in November on my primary machine at home I can now finally point to a number of features which are sure to impress and increase productivity. As hinted they are not immediately obvious to new users of the OS which is something I hope to remedy with a series of articles starting with the single most important feature as seen from an end user perspective: Search.

We've had desktop search around for some time so what makes the Windows Vista desktop search so different that I would actually sit down and do an article about it? As it turns out having search deeply integrated in the shell makes all the difference in the world. I've given Google Desktop, Windows Desktop Search, and Copernic Desktop Search multiple tries but they've never stuck. Of the three Copernic stayed on my system the longest but ultimately it had to go too. The main reason was that they simply needn't allow me to access my stuff faster than I was able to without all the "help". Out they went and I never looked back. One desktop search-like program which actually stuck was Launchy which I've raved about a number of times on this blog. Launchy makes me more efficient in that it allows me to launch programs much quicker than I would normally be able to.

Search from the Start Menu

It would seem that Microsoft found this to be a good idea also as they've gone ahead and implemented the same functionality in Windows Vista. They've actually done one better than that and enhanced the experience to make a remarkably nice keyboard driven interface.

Take a look at the screenshot below and notice the "Start Search" box at the bottom of the start menu. Yes, search is integrated right into the start menu and provides easy access for every single aspect of the start menu. When you popup the start menu the field has focus and you just start typing to start the search. The results are refined as you type.

Want to launch Firefox? Just type start typing "firefox" in the search box and look what happens. What the screenshot doesn't convey is the speed of this thing. It's lightning fast; you literally type firefox, push enter, and up comes Firefox. No waiting at all.

Now what if you had a particular web site in mind? You can actually just launch a URL directly from the start menu. No need to go through the process of opening the browser and typing the URL. Just enter the URL in the start menu and watch your default browser pop up with the URL you just specified. Don't let the Favorites and History heading fool you any URL will do. Speaking of Favorites and History. You can access that too. Yes I do spend way too much on Digg.com :)

Search from Windows Explorer

Another cool thing is the ability to search from anywhere in the system using Windows Explorer. Notice the search box at the top right corner of the Explorer window? That box is pretty much omni-present in Windows Vista. Open Explorer it's there, open Control Panel, it's there. Open Printers, it's... well you get the idea. Everything is driven by Windows Explorer like in Windows XP which is why you get the search capability anywhere. It works much like the start menu: Stat typing and the contents are filtered accordingly. Also you get the ability to search current folder and subfolders in one go. Don't worry if you like the old behavior where focus moves according to what you enter you can simply turn off the "search when you type" feature. Also searches can be saved as virtual folders making for some interesting use cases.

Vanilla Desktop Search

Windows Vista has got something for those who likes the standard desktop search experience. We're all familiar with the search window which provides access to the standard search packages. You basically get that too although I can't really see why you would want to use it with the rich integration provided by the previous two features I described. Click the Search item on the start menu and you get the search window.

There you go. The Windows Vista search capability is truly the killer feature of the OS seen from an end-user perspective in that it provides easy access to files for people not too comfortable with using computers and it provides quick access to programs, files, and settings for those of us who know our way around the computer. Integrated search is the one feature I miss when I sit down with a Windows XP computer as the habit of pushing the Windows key and entering the name of the program I want is already pretty much down.

 

posted on Monday, 22 January 2007 21:26:04 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Sunday, 21 January 2007

... Shoots Itself in Foot in Process. I find the story about Krak demanding a fee for a link to one of their maps on their site highly amusing. Surely they must know how the Internet works and have sent the letter as some kind of premature April fools joke?!

Even if they do have the law on their side they must know that this kind of action is highly damaging to their reputation. With the online map business being what it is I wouldn't stomp around pissing my customers off. There are better and free alternatives out there like Google Maps, Live Maps, and Yahoo Maps.

Here's the story in Danish from the guy who received the letter and here's the story in English from his friend along with the Digg article which I would like you to go digg.

posted on Sunday, 21 January 2007 19:35:22 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 18 January 2007

Here's something interesting I literally stumbled upon tonight: Hamachi is a VPN client which allows you to create VPN between a number of computers. And here's the kicker: It does it P2P style meaning no central server needs to be setup. It even provides NAT traversal by employing a mediation server to create the initial connection. Here's what the site says:

"LogMeIn Hamachi is a zero-configuration virtual private networking (VPN) application.
In other words Hamachi is a program that allows you to arrange multiple computers into their own secure network just as if they were connected by a physical network cable."

Check out Hamachi. If you have doubts read more about Hamachi on Wikipedia. Alternatively you can take a look at OpenVPN which does much the same thing.

posted on Thursday, 18 January 2007 21:05:11 (Romance Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback