Archive for September, 2006

Visual Studio on Vista

This all looks a bit alarming… The gist being that none of Microsoft’s dev tools for the .Net framework are fully compatible with Vista and only VS2005 is ever going to be. This leaves mine and everyone else’s 1.1 projects out in the cold as far as Vista is concerned.

There are lots of efforts around to get VS 2005 building against the .Net framework 1.1 but surely, especially in light of the fact that the Windows folk claim it is a piece of piddle to get your applications to run on Vista, we should be able to run 2003.



Jonathan Allen links to a bit of Microsoft opinion on this issue… The official line lies between “great progress w/Vista on the security front” and “We are just as (financially)constrained as everyone else”. In some ways I can buy the first one. Security is a trade off and generally, to get the benefits, you have to give up something. Whilst the second one may be true in that the dev tools folk no doubt have a budget and a finite amount of resources I don’t think it is a good choice of argument to pacify the VS using public. As it happens, it also turns out that most of VS2003 will work if you are running as admin so hopefully it isn’t going to be too much of an issue.

Vista RC1… Feel the pain

In my earlier post on Vista in Virtual PC 2004 I mentioned some of the troubles I had installing and running Vista RC1. Scott Hanselman posted yesterday about some of the issues, rather all of the issues (I hope as there is a big old list of them) that he has come across since taking the plunge to install on his ‘everyday’ machine. Sounds like it has made a right mess of it.

I like that way he points out that he is still ‘stoked about Vista’ despite the fact it has buggered his machine up. Never say die…

I reckon if Scott Hanselman (without lavishing too much praise in his general direction) is having trouble then there isn’t much hope for the rest of us…

So what does RC stand for then?

  • Retreat Cautiously
  • Really Crap
  • Return at Christmas

Any suggestions?

VBUG Manchester Meet…

Continuing my hectic week of nerd community events (two is hectic by my standards) I attended a VBUG doo in Manchester yesterday evening. The presentation was an overview of the of the newly named, and with characteristic verbosity of course, ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions and was ably delivered by Gary Rowntree.

The presentation only briefly touched on the other elements of the ‘Atlas’ framework but did cover the server side of things in a fair bit of depth, particularly the update panel and the process it utlises to weave its magic.

I have used all kinds of terribly hackish methods for doing away with obvious page postbacks in the past, which generally involved stashing a hidden page in an iframe or sneaky window, but I haven’t really scratched the surface of the frameworks that are available now. So I’m no expert but what I would say is that we should all give it a little bit of thought before using asynch callbacks for everything. Alex Bosworth has an interesting list of AJAX no nos on his blog. The ease of the update panel might make AJAX monsters of us all…

I stumbled today on a new podcast that I hadn’t listened to before and funnily enough the current episode (show, cast, release… what do you call them?) is about the client library side of the Atlas set up which is the bit that was largely absent from Gary’s talk. The podcast is by Wally McClure and can be found here and includes a demo video.

If you fancy going to any of the Manchester VBUG meetings should keep an eye on the listing or get in touch with VBUG.

September GeekUp has been and gone…

Another GeekUp took place this week at the B-Lounge in Piccadilly, Manchester.

A couple of interesting presentations were delivered:

Rob Lee gave us an entertaining run down on REST. Slides are on his blog.

Andrew Disley gave us a timely reminder about the importance of backing up your stuff. He also mentioned the Amazon API which appears to be worth a look.

Thankyou gentlemen…

The rest of the night was the usual bunch of nerds having a few beers. Not a pretty sight I think it is fair to say.

The most notable happening of the night was the impromptu creation and organisation of the free GeekUp – Ruby and Rails day scheduled for 30 September. Get ’em while they’re hot, they’re lovely…

The lowdown on d.construct 2006

Phil ‘source of all my traffic’ Winstanley has posted an in-depth review of d.construct 2006 in which he discusses his continued defection to the dark side.

He mentions that he forgot his laptop power supply and was effectively ‘nerd naked’ for the duration of the conference. My question is this, “Why didn’t you take your mac Phil?”. Then you could have borrowed one 🙂

Vista RC1 on Virtual PC 2004

I have finally got Windows Vista RC1 going in a virtual machine on my laptop. I started with it yesterday and I have to say it wasn’t the smoothest ride. That isn’t to say it is Vista’s fault but more getting it to play nicely in a virtual machine. The first couple of attempts were slow and unstable, so much so that I couldn’t actually get it not to freeze for long enough to get the virtual machine additions installed.

On a browse around the web this morning I discovered that according to Mike Kolitz (and he should know as according to his bio he is on the Virtualization team) the VM Additions that you need for the RC1 build are cunningly hidden inside the iso that comes when you install Virtual Server 2005 R2 Beta 2. You need to install that first and then attach the iso that ends up in your programs folder to the virtual machine for installation. Why they aren’t available seperately is anyones guess but there they are.

Once I managed to get those installed everything was hunky dory. Well, almost everything except I had no Internet connectivity. After a lot of prodding around I discovered that the Virtual Machine Network Services that are required on the host machine network connection had been mysteriously disabled. Virtual Server perhaps? Who knows but having enabled them again all was well.

I was hoping that, armed with the appropriate VM Additions I would get the Aero interface but alas, the emulated graphics card in Virtual PC doesn’t appear to be up to the task. I didn’t even realise that it emulated a graphics card so I spent a fair while trying to get the drivers for my card into the VM thinking that their absence was causing my initial woes… Well… you live and learn.

As for Vista, it looks great. I don’t think you can really give an informed opinion on an operating system until you use it ‘in the trenches’ but it is looking good so far.

Array Serialization in Flex

I have been doing a lot of Flex work over the last couple of weeks. I have to say, it is like a dream come true after having written my fair share of code in the Macromedia Flash IDE which is something akin to eating beans with a toothpick, you get there in the end but it is a long and arduous journey. FlexBuilder, built on Eclipse, is a fully featured IDE that relieves a lot of the frustration.

Anyway, back to the plot… Being a .NET developer at heart my first foray into Flex has been a front end that sits on top of some .NET web services. There are a few options as to what you put behind your Flex apps but .NET was the best fit for the job and my skills…

So off I went and all was going swimmingly until I tried to send an array of integers from the flex app to my .NET web service. The darn thing wouldn’t work. So I opened up (the excellent, probably worth another post) Service Capture and had a look at what was being submitted to the web service.

Flex, it appears, was serializing my int array like so:


My web service was expecting:


So what did I do? I spent a while looking around the FlexCoders Yahoo group. Could’t find exactly what I was after so I posted the problem…

The upshot is there seems to be a couple of serialization bugs that Adobe are planning to sort out in the imminent service update. Whether they are responsible for my problem I didn’t find out but here’s hoping.

In the meantime my options are to send literal XML to my web service rather than allow Flex to serialize it for me. This, I imagine will require some adjustments to the back end too although  I haven’t tried it yet and don’t really want to if I can help it, simply because I shouldn’t have to in this day and age.

There are various solutions I could implement on the server such as some sort of custom deserialization but this is all very complicated just so as I can pass an array of integers and  besides which, if this is due to a bug I’ll have to undo it all when it is fixed.

Another alternative suggested on the group was to use JSON. It turns out that there is a Flex JSON implementation and a .NET one, neither of which I had heard of before. Sam Shrefler explains… Thanks Sam that looks just the ticket.

‘Crikey’… Steve Irwin is dead.

Love him or loathe him you will surely know him. Killed by a stingray of all things. RIP Steve and condolences to Terri and the littluns…

Is Microsoft censoring Google?

Has anyone else noticed that Google feeds don’t work at Every other RSS feed I have ever added to my page works fine but in all of the Google ones I have added the links don’t work.

Now, I am not an RSS expert by any means but I have had a cursory glance at the feed contents and all seems in order. When I compared a Google one to a Digg one it looked ok. Also, if you copy the URLs from the link tags within the Google feeds and paste them into the address bar of your browser they work fine. Click on them from however and you just get a blank page.

Follow these steps to recreate this and you tell me:

  • Go to and click on the RSS link near the top left of the page
  • You now have the feed open. If you know what you are talking about in RSS terms, have a look at it and see if you can tell me what the problem is. Otherwise copy the URL from the address bar
  • Now, go to If you are not already a user (and you should be, Google ‘censorship’ aside it is a good service) click the ‘Get Started’ button beneath ‘Personalize your Homepage’.
  • Click on ‘Add Stuff’, then ‘Advanced Options’ and then paste your Google feed URL into the middle of the three text boxes and click subscribe.
  • Drag the Google News icon from your ‘My Stuff’ section down onto the page below. You should now have a list of the latest Google News entries.
  • Try clicking on one of the links… Firefox – you get a new tab with a blank page in it. IE – you get a blank new window but you do get the URL in the address bar.
  • Repeat the subscription operations using another RSS feed, the one to the right of this article for example. Give it a run out… Works fine.

So, you tell me. Is Microsoft censoring Google?

RSS My Last.Fm

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.