Monthly Archives: November 2006

I'm dictating this post using speech recognition in Windows Vista.  So without touching any keys.  It works remarkably well. I find this the most impressive feature in Windows Vista I've seen so far.  The computer is still getting used to my voice, so I have to correct some words.  You don't even have to touch the keyboard to correct words.  You can move the cursor using voice commands.  I could even assign categories to this post by calling out "show numbers" and choosing user interface elements by calling out the number that is then displayed over the element. 

If you are running Windows Vista and have a microphone try this out by running the speech recognition tutorial.  Press the start button and type "speech recognition" in the search box to find it.

That is all for now.  It does take getting used to and I'm getting tired.

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I've been booting into Windows Vista instead of Windows XP for the past week. The ride is still not very smooth.

I don't leave my computer running when I don't use it. Instead I have grown fond of the hibernate option in Windows XP. To my surprise it was no longer present on my machine in Windows Vista.

I should have a lot of options, but Hibernate is not one of them.

Go read Joel Spolsky's big complaint about the UI design for the whole shutdown story for Vista. And read about the frustration of one of the people involved in trying to design this feature: "The Windows Shutdown Crapfest". 

I found out that I could use the Sleep option instead. It turns out that this dumps the contents of the system RAM to disk and then switches the machine to a low-power mode without turning off. If I just cut the power when my computer is in this state, the situation is indistinguishable from hibernate. When I turn my computer back on, the system RAM is restored from disk and I am back where I left off.

Now comes the really strange part. Using the power options control panel (which has been completely redesigned when compared to XP) I can assign the Hibernate option to the Shutdown button in the Start menu!

I noticed that on other Vista machines the Hibernate option is present. It's a mystery why it is missing on my machine.

Leave a comment if you also don't have the Hibernate options in Windows Vista or if you know what is going on.

[Update 2006-12-03: This missing "Hibernate" issue is caused by having "Hybrid sleep" enabled in the advanced power settings.]

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This post is coming to you from Windows XP. I am glad I didn't flatten my hard disk when installing the RTM build of Windows Vista. On my home machine I am having more problems with the RTM build than with the beta 2, RC1 and RC2 builds!

Yesterday evening when my PC came out of standby, the screen on my main monitor remained black because the monitor stayed in the enery-saving mode. It took a while before I figured out what was going on. I have two monitors connected to my PC. I rarely use the second monitor so it was turned off. Nevertheless it had suddenly been assigned by Vista to be the primary and only monitor. When I turned it on, I could unlock my PC and switch the display back to my main monitor. Annoying, but not fatal.

Wireless networking is still kinda flaky for me in Vista. Just as on XP I regularly have to repair my wireless connection to get it working again when the computer comes out of standby or hibernation.

I was having trouble with the wired LAN connection as well. Windows Vista wasn't able to acquire an IP-address from my DHCP server. Turning off Windows Firewall didn't help. I had to manually configure an IP-adress, default gateway, etc. to get a connection 🙁 On Windows XP I never experienced this issue.

The real problem occurred this morning. During the boot process, after showing the Vista splash screen (which sucks big time BTW *) and playing the startup sound, both monitors turned black because they went into power-saving and there was no way to get anything on the screen.

Hopefully it's just a display driver issue. But it would be strange if a beta version from the ATI site works better than the RTM display driver included with Windows Vista.

So after posting this, it's time to boot into "safe mode" 🙁

Update 20:04: Upgrading to a new display driver gave a bit of trouble. The ATI setup wouldn't work in safe mode, because hardware detection failed. I had to disable the ATI drivers and boot back into normal mode. This time Vista booted with the standard display drivers and I was able to see something again. I could now install the new drivers. Rebooting after installation gave yet another black screen. The only difference: the monitor didn't go into power saving.

So it was back to safe mode again. After some experimentation I managed to get the ATI display driver working after disabling the Hauppage WinTV PVR PCI II driver. This is a Microsoft approved driver. Nevertheless it causes a conflict with the display driver.

*) Where is all the cool stuff that Microsoft was supposed to put in the RTM build? Apart from the problems I am experiencing, I hardly notice any difference with the RC2 build and I am unimpressed by the new Windows Vista sounds. Microsoft hasn't even put a decent graphic on the boot splash screen. It's just a green progress bar with "© Microsoft Corporation" beneath it.

Today November 8th, Microsoft has released Windows Vista to manufacturing. You can watch the announcement by Jim Allchin on Microsoft's clone of YouTube: Soapbox (*). Actually announcement is a bit of an overstatement since he only says the very short line: "It's Time".

If you want to hear more from the man in charge of developing Vista check out:

If you have been following Microsoft's struggle with developing Windows Vista from what started out as Windows "Longhorn" you will notice that Jim sounds and looks far more relaxed in this video than in the public "Longhorn Update" announcement in August 2005.

This public announcement was preceded by the "Longhorn Reset" inside of Microsoft by about a year. Basically Microsoft threw away a lot of the work they had done on Longhorn and started fresh from the codebase of Windows Server 2003 SP1. They only reverse integrated new stuff back in the main tree that passed several quality gates. Microsoft has come a long way since the Longhorn Reset. Some things have gone (think WinFS), security has become even more important (think User Account Control), downlevel support was added (think WPF on XP).

My congratulations go out to Microsoft and its employees on reaching the RTM milestone. I can't wait to get my hands on the RTM build of Windows Vista (the Ultimate Edition of course ;).

*) Notice how Soapbox even uses Flash video like YouTube and not Windows Media Player.

As announced here, Microsoft has released version 3.0 of the .NET Framework for download. You can download a couple of variants.

  • Bootstrapper setup program (2.80 MB) that inspects your computer and downloads the components that it needs
  • The x86 full version (50.3 MB)
  • The x64 full version (90.1 MB )

Probably needless to say, but these are the English language versions. Localized versions will be released in the near future.

The release of .NET Fx 3.0 had to be imminent, because Office 2007 RTM-ed last Friday, and it depends on Windows Workflow Foundation which is part of .NET Fx 3.0. Also Windows Vista is set to be completed this week and it has the .NET Fx 3.0 preinstalled.

There are accompanying downloads of

The Windows SDK is an RTM release. It's version number is 6.00.6000 which is the same as the RTM version number of Windows Vista. The Vista build number will be artifically bumped to 6000 once the final RTM build has been selected by Microsoft.

The Workflow extensions for VS 2005 (version 3.00.4203.2) are also an RTM version and will be supported by Microsoft.

However, the "Orcas" CTP of the WCF and WPF developer tools that currently runs on VS 2005 is the last to appear in this form. The next version will be integrated into "Orcas" builds of Visual Studio and will only be released as part of full-blown "Orcas" CTPs.  

If you develop using Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer and currently have the latest CTP installed, you will probably want to wait until a version of EID will be released that works on the RTM version of .NET Fx 3.0.

The RTM download of the x86 version of .NET Fx 3.0 is 1.6 MB bigger than the RC1 version. There has been a steady increase in size of the CTPs leading up RTM.

These are the main components in the .NET Fx 3.0 file:

The largest component is the RTM version of .NET Fx 2.0 that was digitally signed by Microsoft on September 23, 2005. So no red bits changes there. And no SP1 or anything like that. The list of components that I blogged previously still applies. There is still not much consistency in naming conventions of setup technology for these components. That might explain why installing it takes quite some time.

Unfortunately Microsoft has been unwilling to fix or explain their weird diversion from the naming conventions for the framework folders:

I mean: there is no build number in v3.0 like there is in all other Fx folder names; it's WPF but Windows Workflow Foundation?! I will have to live with it and be annoyed everytime I take a look in this folder 🙁 Note that .NET Fx 3.5 does have the build number in the folder name.

File version numbers:

  • WPF: 3.0.6920.0
  • WCF and WCS: 3.0.4506.30
  • WF: 3.0.4203.2

Assembly version number is 3.0.0.0 for all of these. Here is the list of assemblies added on top of .NET Fx 2.0 by .NET Fx 3.0:

List of .NET Fx 3.0 assemblies

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Microsoft has released the October 2006 CTP of Visual Studio Codename "Orcas". If you have the available bandwith go download it here.

It is a bit larger than the September 2006 CTP. This time it is a 4.05 GB self-extracting EXE split over 6 parts for the Orcas differencing disk. This works on top of the 2.72 GB VHD file for the base image. After turning off undo disks, booting the VPC for the first time, installing the Virtual Machine Additions and starting Visual Studio, the VHD of the differencing disk was 10.0 GB.

The version numbering mayhem that I blogged about previously, still continues with this CTP.

The build number of the 3.5 part of the framework has changed to 61010:

The .NET 3.0 build that is included is still the same old version 4310 as in the September CTP.

This is the content of the Microsoft.NETFrameworkv3.5.61010 folder:

New with respect to the September CTP are System.Data.Entity.dll and System.Xml.XLinq.dll. There are still no .NET 3.0 or .NET 3.5 (LINQ) related project templates available in Visual Studio. You will have to do everything manually. There is no Windows SDK included in the image so don't go look for any help on developing for .NET 3.0 or .NET 3.5 there.

There is more new .NET 3.5 framework stuff in System.Core.dll when compared with the September CTP. These are the main namespaces in the October CTP:

To create a very simple LINQ program I had to manually add a reference to the System.Core.dll assembly. The .NET 3.5 Framework folder contains version 8.00.61010 of the C# compiler. When building the program VS "Orcas" seems to be using a .NET 2.0 version of the C# compiler, version 8.00.50727.192, yet it understands the var keyword that is being introduced in C# 3.0.

The output window in VS says:

C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50727Csc.exe /noconfig /nowarn:1701,1702 /errorreport:prompt /warn:4 /define:DEBUG;TRACE /reference:C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv3.5.61010System.Core.dll /reference:C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50727System.Data.dll /reference:C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50727System.dll /reference:C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50727System.Xml.dll /debug+ /debug:full /filealign:512 /optimize- /out:objDebugConsoleApplication1.exe /target:exe Program.cs PropertiesAssemblyInfo.cs

Maybe I am still confused as to the red vs green bit changes in .NET 3.5. It would seem this is a red bit change, while I thought it would be a green bit change. The "normal" .NET 2.0 C# compiler has the version number 8.00.50727.42. If someone understands how this works, please let me know.

BTW: The C# 3.0 (3.5?!) compiler executable is gigantic when compared to the 2.0 version: 1.13 MB vs 69 kB. The stuff that was previously implemented in cscomp.dll seems to have moved into the executable itself.

All in all, I think this CTP still doesn't qualify as being really useful.

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Before moving to Amsterdam I seriously doubted if I should become a customer of UPC for cable TV. They have a very bad reputation for sending wrong bills, having an incompetent helpdesk and overall administrative chaos. Nevertheless I decided I wanted to have cable TV instead of DVB or IPTV.

Boy, was that a stupid decision. Yesterday some of my worst fears about UPC became a reality.

Even before I moved to Amsterdam, I called UPC to become a customer. That way I would have cable TV right from my first day of ownership of my new apartment on October 20, 2006. They told me their system was not able to send me a confirmation letter to my old address. They could only send mail to the new address which was still occupied by the previous owner at that time.

At the end of September UPC withdrew an amount of 36 euro from my bank account. I wasn't too alarmed because I had heard that you have to pay in advance.

When I moved into the apartment on October 20, 2006 the previous owner told me that no mail in my name from UPC had arrived. On October 29, I asked UPC to resend me the bill corresponding to the withdrawal on September 28. On October 31, I received an e-mail with a PDF for a bill dated October 31. That was not the bill I had asked for and this new bill had not even arrived yet by mail. When I checked my bank account I saw UPC had withdrawn an amount of 79 euros on the same day. Pretty bad practice to withdraw the money BEFORE sending the bill!

The bill dated October 31 stated that it was for the period October 20-December 31, 2006 and it included a one time joiner's fee of 35 euro. Well that pretty much covered everything I should pay to UPC, so I was even more curious what the bill of September was for. So I sent another e-mail inquiring about the double billing. On November 1 I received a response by e-mail that said that UPC had checked their system and noticed I had recently been in contact with the helpdesk, so the problem must have been resolved already. Totally ignoring the fact that this was a very different and newer question!

I called my bank to have the withdrawal of 36 euros on September 29 reversed. They told me I was too late because 30 calendar days had already passed. Me noting that their web site indicates that you have a period of 30 working days for such a reversal didn't help.

So I had to call the UPC helpdesk. They charge you 0.1 euro per minute for waiting until an employee becomes available. Always a good way to treat a customer. The voice response system indicated that it was very busy and that the wait could be long. Happily saying that over 75% of all customer requests can be handled through the UPC web site, so there is no need to call. Apparently I was in the 25% category of loosers that have to call the helpdesk. The voice response system indicated that I could voluntarily participate in a questionnaire about the service of UPC after the call. I could not waive this opportunity to spill my guts with complaints so I pressed the 1 on my phone. Almost immediately after that an employee became available. Could it be that they want to give you a more positive impression if you are willing to participate in the survey and then put you at the front of the queue? Either way, I could speak to a human being. He checked both bills and saw that I had been charged twice for the one-time joiner's fee. For this he had no explanation other than that someone must have f*cked up. Even weirder was an unexplained difference of 1 euro between the joiner's fee and the withdrawal of September 29. Apparently I had been charged for two days in September when I didn't even live in Amsterdam?!

Now comes the really good part. I asked for my money back and the employee agreed that I should get a refund. However, the proposed way to do this was to credit me on the next bill. Since I already paid up till the end of 2006, it would be quite a while before that next bill would arrive. So I asked for an immediate refund. He told me their system does not allow them to do that. There was a manual procedure for it, but it would take 8 weeks!

When I threatened to have the withdrawal of October 31 reversed by my bank to get my money back sooner, he warned me that that would only make matters worse. Their system would really get back at me, because I would be getting back more money than they owed me. If I would manually transfer the difference between the two amounts back to UPC, it would not be processed as a payment. And if the UPC system flags you as not having paid in time, you are really in trouble. They will start adding fines to your bill. Which you can fight of course, because you did pay, but it will cost you a lot of phone calls. After some back and forth's I finally gave in and agreed to wait 90 days and then pay less on my next bill instead of getting my money back ;(

After the call with the employee ended, I was transferred to the survey. The last question of the survery was: "On a scale from 1 to 5, would you recommend UPC to your friends?" Guess what I answered to that question.