Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Go to Bootcamp

Don’t know whether to buy a new WinTel PC or try a Mac? Why not try both?

I have a long history with Apple and Mac computers, ever since I was a kid. As an adult, I waited patiently to get one and now I finally have a Mac Mini, running a dual-core Intel CPU.

The nice thing about it is that you can enjoy both worlds. Using a program from Apple called Bootcamp you can install as many operating systems on your Mac as you'd like. I currently have Mac OS X 1.4.9 and Windows XP SP2. I considered adding Linux, but didn't see the point, as Mac OS X has a UNIX kernel.

Bootcamp made it very easy for me to installl Windows XP:

  1. It partitioned the hard disk
  2. Created an image disc with all the drivers needed to be installed in Windows
  3. Prepared the machine for installation
  4. And finally, installed a control panel, in both OSs, allowing easy switching between them.

Of course, the cons are:

  1. One OS at a time
  2. To share disk space between the 2 OSs, it has to be formatted to FAT32, as Mac OS X doesn't allow writing to an NTFS partition, and XP can only read HFS with the aid of a third party software.

But still, I consider getting my parents a Mac Mini, even just for the form factor and ease of use...

VMWare 6 is in Beta

VMWare has long been one of my favorite softwares for several years now.
The ability to use several virtual machines to test and learn new operating systems, softwares and test scenarios – amazing, and cheap!

VMWare v6 is in beta. I have it installed and it does offer some improvements, especially for 64bit and Vista and for Dual Core CPUs (all of you with D620s :)).
But the most interesting addition I can see is the new scripting language they've added. All the machines are now fully scriptable with a C like language. I can think of several such usages we can utilize.

If you wish to learn more: Release Notes or Download.

BEWARE! It uninstalls V5.5 - but does not harm or change the VMs themselves.

Posted from Word 2007

I decided to see whether I can post directly from Word 2007 (as advertised).

So this is a test blog. If this works, posting will become much easier for me in the future…

Oh wait – it works! Thanks Microsoft, for doing something right :)

7 (Ok 8) rules of support

JoelOnSoftware by Joel Spolsky, is one of my favorite blogs out there,
and I could probaly fill my blog by cross-linking to his - which is not quite original. But this article, is a must read:

IIS 7 - start now!

Here's a document on how to start using IIS 7 (currently available in Vista only) and the differences from IIS 6:

Find the root cause of your problem with Microsoft tools

MS has been making attempts at "problem resolution software" from time to time.

  1. Network Monitor 3 - Tool to allow capturing and protocol analysis of network traffic. Think Ethereal, but standardized.

  2. Desktop Heap Monitor - attach to any running app and dump its heap - or clear it.

  3. User Mode Process Dumper - dumps any running Win32 processes memory image (including system processes such as csrss.exe, winlogon.exe, services.exe, etc) on the fly, without attaching a debugger, or terminating target processes. Generated dump file can be analyzed or debugged by using the standard debugging tools.
    The userdump generates dump file by several triggers:

    • Dump by specifying PID or process name from command line
    • Dump automatically when process being monitored caused exceptions
    • Dump automatically when process being monitored exited
    • Dump by pressing hot key sequence

    • Dumps can be analyzed by a standard debugger.

SilverLight: the Flash killer?

Microsoft targets Adobe, by offering a Flash alternative called SilverLight.

Unlike Flash, the SDKs are free and the content is Hi Def! (well, the ! is for those of us who appreciate HD content :)).

You can download the player and watch a demo of a site combining XAML (subject for another tech review) and SilverLight. Content can be downloaded or streamed.

Silverlight ties nicely into WPF/E - the new Windows Presentation Foundation (the download will install WPF on your machine - no worries - just a set of .Net classes - njavascript:void(0)
Publish Posto restart required).

Why is this interesting? Well if you haven't been following the Web development trends, the 2 main client-side methodologies right now are AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) - used everywhere - but not appealing graphically.
On the other side is a technology called Flex - essentially the same, with Flash (needless to say - more appealing).

Now that Microsoft has this new tool, they can (and will) combine it with AJAX to create something that will erase Flex (after a few service packs :))

The technology allows seperating design from development: the designers will work in a suite called Expression, while the developers be able to stay in Visual Studio and add content and business logic to the design.

Be that as it may, a good friend of mine just bet me $5 that Adobe will get it's act together and beat this new technology :)

Wasting life with the Xbox 360

I have succumbed. I caved in. I bought an Xbox, and whatever was left of my life will be even more wasted now. But God, what can replace the pure joy of jumping, running, shooting monsters and saving desperate princesses, without having to lift your butt of your sofa?

My first week with the Blackberry 8800

I wanted to share with you some of my experiences with my new 8800, in hope that you'd benefit from them somehow:

The Good:

  1. Smaller, lighter than 8700

  2. Bright, readable screen - marvelous resolution.

  3. Great speaker - for phone, music, alarm clock and ring tones.

  4. Easier to navigate with the control ball :)

  5. Add a 2GB microSD card (around $20) and you can now play hours of MP3s, watch videos (wouldn't recommend full length movies) or just carry around files.
    I recommend turning the mass storage mode to On - this turns your Blackberry into a storage device visible to Windows, so you don't have to use the RIM software to move files.

  6. Great as a music player - in combination with the speaker, you can use it in a car, instead of looking for local radio stations. I seriously consider leaving my iPod at home for the next trip.

  7. Faster response from the Web Browser.

  8. Internal GPS, with Telenav that works great in California (more on that later)

  9. Looks cool and gets everyone on the plane looking at you :) (well, this item will probably be obsolete in a couple of weeks when everyone willl have them).

The Bad:

  1. Battery life seems to be shorter than the 8700 - even when I just use it for mail.
  2. You can't use normal headphones with it. You need a headset with 2.5" plug. Bastards!
  3. Gets disconnected from Enterprise Server much frequently than any other model I had - could be Cingular's fault.
  4. Phone reception in the Valley area close to nil - I have one bar in my Sunnyvale office.
  5. GPS doesn't always work - gave it a week in Seattle. Sometime it had no reception. Other times it located itself after 20 minutes - when I was already at the customer's site.
    Twice it gave me wrong directions (turn left, where there was no turn, turn right instead of left on a major avenue).
  6. Keyboard is smaller than 8700 and kinda plasticky, Takes a while to get used to. The feedback is different as well.
  7. Volume buttons are a bit hard to manipulate.
  8. The whole device is a fingerprint and scratch magnet.
  9. When you play a long video, the device stops every 5 minutes (presumably to conserve battery?) and has to be jogged to life. Could be I misconfigured something - will let you know if this gets solved.
  10. Voice dialing doesn't understand me :( I say "call home", it calls the bank. I say "call Rick", it tries calling a different number.


  1. Get an adapter that'll allow you to connect the USB cable to the car power socket - only then can you rely on GPS, since that's a huge battery drainer (not to mention playing music).

  2. Install the Google set of mobile applications. This will allow you to search google with one key click, and read your gmail on the device (this app actually looks nicer than the Blackberry mail),
    and of course, Google Maps are great to find business and get directions when the GPS doesn't know left from right :)

  3. Blackberry Video Converter from Seabyrd (free) will convert any video file to one usable on the Blackberry.
    Newest version 1.1.3 actually knows about the 8800 resolution etc. automatically.

  4. Texas Hold'em King 2 - for when you have nothing to do.