Microsoft Product Launch Less Than Inspiring

Silhouette DudeHeroes?So we drove up to Denver this morning for the Microsoft Product Launch they’ve dubbed Heroes Happen Here (exsqueeze me? What?). We all got signed up late so we had to do the morning sessions which weren’t the developer sessions.

That was really fine because we were all only going for the free software. I’ve gotta say, though, that the sessions were nothing but big snooze-fests. Maybe the developer track was better, but wow. ZZzzzzzzz.

After attending one session, we went to a different track to see if it was any better. Had to leave within a few minutes for fear that the enthusiasm with which these folks presented their topics was enough to make one’s mind seize up from inactivity (doesn’t work that way, but I’m bad at analogies. Work with me here).

Ok. I exaggerate. When we did duck out of the second session early, much to our surprise and delight, we found that they were handing out the goods without requiring the session evaluations. Sweet! We grabbed the software and got outta there. The software included Visual Studio 2008 (Standard), SQL Server 2008, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.

I haven’t done any Windows development in a while, but should the time come again that I need to, I will have the latest software. It was worth the trip, but only for that reason. The presentation was, well… lacking.

Don’t think they have that problem on that other platform.

Single-Sided Floppies

I just got some new old music hardware from a friend–a Roland S-330 sampler module. It only takes floppies for loading samples so I went digging through my old boxes for some floppies I can use. I found a couple, but then came to learn that not only does the system take floppies only, but it also requires them to be single-sided 720K floppies.

After doing a little research on the web I found that the trick is to take a Double-Sided Double-Density floppy, cover the hole in the disk opposite the write-protect hole with tape and then format it as a 720K disk. Sounds easy enough and fortunately it is. The only problem now is that in Windows XP the format command:

c:\> format a: /F:720

Does not work. The only option in XP is to use /F:1.44. I then dug a little deeper and came across this gem, which does the correct formatting:

C:\> format a: /T:80 /N:9

When I get a little more time, I’ll look up exactly what each of these does, but for now suffice it to say, it does the job and I have now turned several perfectly good 1.44MB floppy discs into 720K floppy discs. Who would have ever thought that might be desireable? :-D

Resetting a .NET Installation

Recently I had to re-install an application I had written using C# on a Windows® 2000 server. The server had been restored after a crash from a system backup. The issue was that the registry had been corrupted and many keys had been destroyed altogether.

Once I got onto the server I realized that there were several components I use that needed re-installed. I decided to start with Windows® Update. While there I realized that the .NET framework 1.1 had not been updated. I went ahead with that update and rebooted. When the system came back online, I went back into Windows® Update and realized it was again reporting that the .NET framework 1.1 still needed installed.

To make a long story short, it turns out that I needed to force Windows® update to see the .NET framework as really uninstalled. I started with trying to install using the dotnetfx.exe redistributable file and then removing that, but that didn’t work. In the end it boiled down to removing one file. This file is called mscoree.dll. It is located in ‘C:\WINDOWS\system32’. I simply moved the file from this location to a temporary folder (in case it broke something and I needed to put it back). Once this was done, Windows update saw it as “really” uninstalled and actually re-installed everything.

So, should you find yourself needing to re-install the .NET framework after a system recovery, remember that the easiest way is to simple move the mscoree.dll file and you’ll save yourself a lot of time.

Note: I’m not sure if this is the same with .NET framework 2.0. You’ll have to try it out and let me know should you need to do this on a system that uses .NET 2.0.

Microsoft Love/Hate or Love to Hate

For a long time I have seen Microsoft as being evil in tactics but good in what they provide for developers. I use Microsoft’s tools to do my job and find that the majority of my experience doing so is positive. This is why I consider that I have a love/hate relationship with them.

The other day however, I was working and got notified that I needed to install an update from Microsoft, so I went ahead and had it do the install. Keep in mind that I was in the middle of doing something when I was notified. When the install had finished it asked me if I wanted to restart now or restart later. I clicked “Restart Later” and believed that would be the end of it. Within five or ten minutes I was getting notified again with the exact same question. “Restart Now” or “Restart Later”. This was getting very irritating.

Now, if you find yourself asking, “why didn’t you just restart?”, well then you’ve never been in my situation before. I was running and debugging code and trying to fix a problem with my work. When my mind gets into it, it is counter productive to pull away and have to wait. My mind gets on other things and I don’t tend to return to my work with the same vigor as I had before

After several hours of being notified every couple minutes, I realized I needed to download a large amount of data, so I started that process. I had to leave for a while and figured when I came back the download would be finished.

Bwah haa haa haaa haaaa!!! (I can hear Steve Ballmer laughing out loud).

There’s going to be none of that!! You think you have control over your own computer? Well, you don’t. And apparently Microsoft thinks you shouldn’t. When I returned to my computer later, it had restarted without getting the ok from me!!!! What the *&%#$!!!

I suppose part of the problem is that Microsoft doesn’t like getting blamed for security problems and so they enforce that you restart and accept the update, but this is just ridiculous. At least give me a third option on the reminder dialog that says “I will restart my computer as soon as I’m done with my work, I promise.” next to the “Restart Now”, and “Restart Later” buttons. C’mon Microsoft, I love the dev tools, but this crap makes me love to hate you!