May 2008 - Posts
If you have Foxit PDF reader, make sure you update to the latest build, V2.3 Build 2923. This fixes a potential bug in the way script is passed that could lead to a buffer overflow exploit.
If you don't have Foxit, get it now, and dump that old Adobe Acrobat Reader bloatware stuff. Foxit is light weight and fast. I've been using it for a couple of months now, and won't go back to Adobe, that's for sure.
Oh, and if you do have Acrobat Reader installed, also make sure it is patched. You will probably also find that Adobe loads a quick launch into your system's startup to make it *appear* it start's quickly, when in fact it just slows down your system's startup times. (run msconfig to remove it)
The download for foxit reader is about 2.3 MB.
I was reading Kathleen's recent blog entry about Office and Windows and accessibility. Kathleen was referring to the cases where you don't have a mouse, only keyboard, and the fact that CTRL+I wasn't discoverable in that scenario. I have mixed feeling about the Office 2007 UI: I actually think it is a step in the right direction *visually*, but lacking a lot of features especially customization. But as far as accessibility for the visually impaired goes it is terrible.
Please take the time to try this at home :
- Put on a set of dark glasses and turn your monitor to dim as possible, or if you are really game, make it so as you can't see the monitor at all.
- Turn on Microsoft Narrator from Windows Ease Of Access tools
- Try using a simple app like Notepad. It takes some getting use to, but you will get clear information about the application bar, how many menu items, etc.
- Now try using Word. Try using the ribbon.
At this point you should now be saying like "oh my god .." or "those bastards ..." or something in that vein. Please do take the few minutes it takes to try this.
One positive takeaway, I need to be always testing this for my apps.
Oh, and I should point out that discovering keyboard shortcuts for the visually impaired is virtually impossible even with the old style menus :(
I turn off Aero and themes, and all is good except for the start menu shut down and log-off icons which are just incredibly ugly:
Notice the search icon is showed in colour, but the shut down and log-off are some crappy black and white images. What the f is up with that ?
I wasn't going to install VS 2008 SP1 Beta on my main development machine until I read a MSDN blog that said the final SP1 will install over the top of it. So I figure there's more good in getting feedback into the system now, than waiting. Installing it on my VPC's would provide limited feedback in comparison. So I decided to dive in ....
First problem was the installer needs an internet connection to download the files. That's actually a real pain if you are using Windows Firewall locked down to only allow known programs. And because the way the installer extracts, and then spawns another exe, it's close to impossible to add a program based rule. You probably could just open up whatever port it is, but the documents don't tell you. For the record, if you have outbound firewall rules, blocking this kind of application that spawns another exe to call home is exactly what you want to do. I was almost at the point where I was going to turn off the firewall while downloading, but I wasn't sure how long that was going to be either. In the end I used a VPC to run the setup to download the files for an administer install. See Heath Stewart's blog entry on the details
So the entire download experience could be a lot better such as up front saying what firewall rules your need and how big the entire download is likely to be. For the record, my SP1 Beta install folder is 785 MB !!
Next came the install process. First time round it failed. I tried again.. it failed. This time I clicked on the install log, and at first it didn't seem to tell me much at all, just that one part failed. At this point, I'm thinking ... oh no, wading through install logs looking for the cryptic clue. Then I noticed the check boxes on the html page that is the install log. They filter what you see. Check the "warnings" box, and the log expands to show lots of stuff (noise <g>) PLUS the warnings highlighted ! So this was a simple scroll, read the highlighted warnings. One warning told me I had to uninstall a VS hotfix.....
Now I'm really not sure why the installer would have explicit details as to what KB's had to be uninstalled, and yet not be able to prompt me to uninstall them, instead forcing me to read the log and repeat the process, but in any case I really do like that error log feature... some good concepts to borrow from.
So I uninstall the known deadly hotfix KB, and try the install again. I waited and waited.. finally the install failed, and it's back to the error log. This time there was something about another KB to do with VSTO being installed. So I uninstalled that and try again.
This time the install ran further, then after a while I get a message about Machine Debugger, saying that it should be closed, and giving me the options of Retry, Ignore and Cancel. I decided to kill the Machine Debugger process, and then clicked on Retry. The installer then said that something failed and that it was rolling back or something like that, but it seemed to be doing nothing. I waited, and waited, and waited... Finally I killed it, and decided to reboot and try again.
This time (I've lost count) the installer got almost as far, and then started that apparent do nothing but saying it's rolling back, and again seemed to be hung. My patience by now is wearing thin, so I only waited and waited instead of three lots of waiting <g> I decide to manually roll back the last few KB's. I open up Programs and Features from Control panel, and order "installed updates" by date, and remove the last four or so. Two of these wanted a reboot, so I let the second prompt for a reboot actually reboot the system.
So I try the install again... at last success :)
Then I open VS 2008 and it says configuring it for the first time ... I have to pick a default profile, all my settings seem lost :( I tried to import what were my previous settings, but they don't restore the IDE to how I had it configured. Finally, I dug up an old settings file from a different OS & Drive, and use that. I still had to go through and make a few changes, such as exe paths etc.
Ah, the funs of Beta :(
Autumn is here:
In the orchard all the crops are in. The last was of course the Chestnuts:
As you can see, Chestnuts have a prickly outer shell:
Given this thorny outer defense, I was wondering what could possibly be eating them. As I discovered the Rosellas are actually very adept, and they wait till the outer casing opens enough for them to fetch the nuts out. I still got plenty of chestnuts, and on occasion roast a few in the fireplace on a cold autumn evening.
Apples were plentiful, and I've still got some. Although picked a month ago, they're still great for cooking.
In the veggie patch:
March was a month of extremes. The first two weeks were really hot ( > 5C above average), then the last two weeks cooled down. The hot weather made lots of the veggies ripen quickly. Cucumbers (now finished) went crazy, with dozens and dozens all ripening up. The tomatoes moved into full swing, and the capsicums also started turning nice shades of red:
The tomatoes and capsicum along with the last of the sweet basil continue to provide plenty for lots of pasta sauces on the cooler Autumn nights :) And of course, every pasta sauce needs some zucchini. I left one zucchini to grow for seed:
That's almost 2 foot long !!! I never thought I'd be one of those guys that brags about the size of their zucchini, but there you have it ;)
This weekend just past I brought in the last of the pumpkins:
They aren't huge; roughly in the 5 to 6 kg range (10lb to 14lb), but there's plenty of them. That's two different varieties in the picture above. The first were ready to eat in February, and were nice roasted on the BBQ. Now autumn is truly here, they make great pumpkin soup and stews.
There's plenty of other goodies still in the garden, carrots, beetroot, silver beet and celery.
I often will pick some plants to save some seed from, and apart from feeling good about completing the cycle, it also often means I get some wild crops for free from the seeds that spill or get turned in with the crop residues. Basically it means I get a nicer class of weeds:
Self sown Broad beans:
Cos lettuce seedlings growing wild along with other weeds:
I was hoping to get some seed from the sunflowers, but the Rosellas wiped them out in a really short time:
I'll probably still grow sunflowers again, as it's actually nice to watch the Rosellas out my office window :)
Different birds are enjoying some of my tomatoes at present, which I'm not as happy about, but there is plenty there to share. My long term plan is to make it more difficult for larger birds to get into the veggie patch. The garden is fenced off from kangaroos etc, so I'm growing grapes, kiwi fruit, berries, passion-fruit and jasmine along the fencing:
March was hot to start then cooled down substantially. It was still about 3C above average. April temperatures were pretty much on average. Both March and April rainfalls were significantly lower than average
It's bad enough when the Windows Live team continually releases their SDKs omitting VB, but when XNA 3.0 CTP is released and STILL NO VB support, it's getting beyond a joke. XNA 3 is for Visual Studio 2008 and lets you do cool things like create games for Zunes, unless of course you want to do that in VB.
I got an email inviting me to take part in some great deals on some books from a certain company ( name withheld to protect the innocent). As the site was new, they were also encouraging some feedback. As it turned out a lot of the site didn't work for me on my development machine. Here's what I posted:
When a user signs up, deal with non alpha numeric characters, such as ' in addresses. At present it appears as if nothing happens except for a notification of a script error: server returned a 401 from line 605 char 13 I'd also check if the same applies to names, such as O'Brien. Might also be nice if you look at the site on Win 2008 in IE, protected mode on. This is the only site I have problems with, and had to add it to trusted sites to get it to work properly. The accordian panels don't display until that is done. (Works fine on a Vista box though.)
Funny thing is, I reported the issue with ' in address fields, but of course their web based comment gathering stripped all four out of the above message <g>
Here's the "tech support" response:
"We can’t support windows server 2008 protection mode. We’ve been running and testing on windows server 2008. However we’ve disabled Internet explorer protection mode because most websites don’t work correct.
I’ve just registered a new account and it all works fine, although I’m not using windows server 2008 with Internet explorer protection mode active.
If his using windows server 2008 as workstation, well firstly Microsoft offers windows vista as workstation not server. Additionally if he really wants to run windows server 2008 as a workstation like vista, then he should read a Microsoft blog. I’ve personally convert a windows server 2008 box to workstation and I’ve tested the website using this win 2008 box. "
Wooo ! I should " read a Microsoft blog" ??? Gee thanks for the advice.
Sad thing is, this person clearly has no clue what "Protected Mode" is. It isn't peculiar to Win2008, in fact most folks running Vista with UAC on will be running with protected mode on. I think they are probably confusing it with IE Enhanced Security Configuration (or IE ESC for short). Perhaps they should read a few more Microsoft blogs themselves ;)
And note, they seem to have totally missed the problem about apostrophe's !! I'd be a bit worried if the server returns a 401 error rather than dealing with that elegantly. Seems they should probably read a few Microsoft blogs about code security and SQL injection... actually make that some books, not just blogs ..... Hey I know just the site as long as your name isn't O'Brien ;)