Vista is gone


My saga is over. Only a few hours.

The solution is simple. Copy the SMINST directory from one computer to another (have another HP computer that is my home machine – also blue screens regulary, adding to my belief that HP sucks, but that is a story for another day). Anyway, fire off start.exe with the /run switch (as starting start.exe without run does nothing – flag protection?). Then, it is YES, I want to recover and reboot. About 30 minutes later I am installing all of my software again. Oh Joy!!!

The thing that will really take the cake is if I find Vista was working perfectly and HP is the entire problem.

NOw, more info on the Vista problem. If you are a developer, there are a few issues.

  • You have to jump through hoops to get Visual Studio developing under IIS 7. Even after installing the Vista patch, you have a couple of requirements that you must follow. First, you have to run Visual Studio as an administrator. Second, you have to flip your sites to an app pool that runs correctly under 2.0. The second is not as bad as it sounds.
  • Spent more than six months, on this machine, under XP and never had a problem with Visual Studio. Under Vista, it ends up with corrupt settings from time to time. You can use the devenv.exe switches to reset the IDE. At least that was the case until today, when the switches no longer worked.

I love Vista. I think it is both beautiful and quite functional. And, once they have Orcas out and iron out the probems, I will likely be back for a second try. At this point in time, however, I think Microsoft is releasing too much software too fast to get it all working properly together.

My reinstallation saga (or why HP sucks – at least support)


Well, I thought I was saying goodbye to Vista, but Hp will not let me.

HP computers come with a recovery partition. This is a part of your drive that contains everything necessary to recover your computer to factory specifications. According to the nc8430 manual, you simply press F11 when the computer starts and recovery is on its way. Not so with my particular laptop. Vista booted as normal.

I figured I could install the recovery tool that accessed the recovery partition from the site. Sounds fair enough. You add a partition and have software to use it, it seems you should have a way to access that software, right? No, there is no install. And, as my Vista upgrade required a toasting of the hard drive, I no longer have the required software.

So, support should be able to help. Makes sense, after all that is what people pay support for is to help people. The coversation was rather short (paraphrased as I have shut down the window).

Me: I need to recovery my computer to factory specifications. I have installed Vista and it required a new installation. The recovery partitiion is still there. I have tried F11 on boot and it is not working. I need one of three options:
1. How to install with the boot recovery option. F11 is not working on my computer.
2. How to get the software to initiate the recovery from Vista. It must be available to download from somewhere.
3. How to get the standard Microsoft media to recognize the hard drive, as it tells me there is none, probably due to some setting you guys have enabled to stop people from installing standard Microsoft OS software.

Guy in some other country: I understand you are having trouble recovering your HP computer.

Me: yes.

Guy in some other country: Start up the recovery program.

Me: I do not have the recovery program.

Guy in some other country: Then use the recovery disks.

Me: I stated I did not have the recovery disks, I merely want to use the boot recovery option or download the software that can start the process.

Guy in some other country: Canned you have to call support to order disks for a nominal fee message.

What a  load. I have to order disks because you have no other support option than "buy disks". I have a full partition with everything I need and I am sure there is someone at some level of support that knows how to fire it up without purchasing disks and waiting many days to recieve them. Are you saying that the partition is useless unless you leave things precisely as it was original set up or your buy disks?

Me: Are you saying the only way to restore my computer is to buy recovery disks, even if the partition is still there?

Guy in some other countries: You said you could not access the recovery program, so you have to buy the disks.

So, I am going to see if I can move the recovery FUD from another HP computer and do it that way. I see no reason to buy a set of disks when I already have the full contents of the damned disk on my computer. It will probably fail, as there are millions of registry entries, but I am going to try.

Why I am considering Vista a failed experiment


I am giving up. I surrender and I no longer care.

I did not give up easy. I was so jazzed about Vista I even gave the evangelism talk to many of my friends about how kewl Vista was. But, I can no longer afford to support betaware in a wrapper.

Since I have moved to Vista, I find that devenv.exe /resetuserdata is my friend. This is a sad state, because it means Visual Studio 2005 is essentially dead and you are resurrecting it. Today, no matter what switches I use, I cannot resurrect Visual Studio. And, I am throwing in the towel. Once Microsoft releases Orcas, I will likely be back, as I love a lot of Vista features.

R.I.P. My friend. Perhaps I will see you in the next life. ūüôā

Blending, Mixing and Mashing


There are times when Microsoft does something right. Yes, I am talking about Silverlight. Being able to bring rich experiences to the web without having to compile them (aka, Flash or Java) and deal with the inherent restrictions in talking to pages and services (also Flash and Java) is nice. Very small download. Available for different browsers and platforms.

Then, there are times Microsoft does something wrong. In this case, I am talking about rushing Blend to market. Expression Blend is a great product, but it is far too rushed to be useful for many of the types of projects we will want to build. It will be extremely easy for us to step outside of the box. Of course, those who learn how to hand code XAML will be more valuable in the coming year(s).

If you have not yet watched the keynote from MIX, it is something you should at least glance at. Just tune your browser to http://sessions.visitmix.com/. So you can get to the juicy parts, here is an outline (these are approximate):

0:00 –¬†25:40 ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Ray Ozzie
>>15:45 –¬†17:45¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Video samples of Silverlight applications
26:00 –¬†END¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Scott Guthrie
>>32:00 Р41:40      NetFlix demo (Neil Hunt & Darin Brown) Рmovies on demand
>>44:00 –¬†59:25 ¬†¬†¬†¬† Expression Studio and Silverlight (Wayne Smith)
                              45:30 Р49:47   Expression Media Encoder
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 49:47 –¬†51:00¬† ¬†Expression Design (Output to XAML)
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 51:00 –¬†55:50 ¬† Expression Blend 2 Preview
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 56:10 –¬†56:55¬†¬† Back to Expression Media Encoder to reuse Blend work
                              56:55 Р59:25   Expression Web 2 (Silverlight Media Extensions)
>>60:10 –¬†65:00¬†¬†¬†¬† CBS Television demo (Jonathan Lees) – HD news broadcast including user video

The rest gets into some demos with PHP and other languages, which is really cool. I did not have time to get back to video pointers.

Expression Media Encoder

I really like the Media Encoder. Nice tool for preparing video for the web. And, the ability to watch the video in both its original and encoded format (to see degradation at certain levels) is sweet. It is also nice that you can save the XAML skins and reuse them. In Wayne’s demo, he shows the following:

  • Encoding a video
  • Video preview
  • Working with Templates (also focuses on mixing Design and Encoder)
  • Saving Blend work to reuse as an asset in Media Encoder

Expression Design

Expression design is a design tool. Of most use to designers and developers (at least web designers) is the ability to output your design to XAML. This is what is focused on in Wayne’s demo.

Expression Blend

Expression Blend 2 gives designers and developers the ability to pull Media Assets and XAML assets from Expression Design to create fully "blended" Silverlight or WPF productions. In Wayne’s demo, he shows how to set up a clipping path and use it for Video display.

Expression Web 2

I like Expression Web 1. It is a nice product for CSS compliant websites. I also have a bit of a hate relationship with it, as it currently has hard coded lists of components. I cannot tell, from the video, if you can add to the toolbox in Expression Web 2. It is nice that they have added the AJAX extensions, along with Silverlight stuff, but if it is still hardcoded, Expression will still be less valuable to me. But, then, Orcas has a lot of the feature set.