24 August 2006 in .Net & Code & Events & Intergen & Windows | Comments (3)


First off, it was fantastic. I’ve only been to TechEd twice but Microsoft put on a great event. Everything went unbelievably smoothly and the atmosphere was really good. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and everything was already humming.

I managed to attend quite a few sessions and all of them had great speakers.

One thing that I didn’t expect, but was happily surprised about, was that the Live initiative really is shaping up to be a compelling offering across the board. My earlier reservations have been quashed and I’m looking forward to the further development of the Live platform over the next six months. I guess the key message I would share about this is that perhaps while the portal might not be your kettle of fish, the other services really are quite compelling.

Speaking of Live, the Web in general was well discussed. Rowan Simpson from TradeMe presented a few times and was an excellent speaker. I think he added some balance to the event – making it clear the back end doesn’t matter if you don’t solve a problem for your end users in an easy to use manner. Congratulations to them on achieving 1 billion page views per month as well, that’s impressive.

Office 2007 was represented very well at TechEd. I attended several sessions about Office and picked up a few things. The whole stack of Office, Vista and Live is going to be compelling.

Intergen, where I work, was running the hands on labs again this year which is always enjoyable and a great way to meet other people attending TechEd. Hopefully everyone tried them out and learnt a lot.

TechFest was a heap of fun. It was similar to last years event however that was great considering the success of last year. This was another great place to meet other people in the industry but, sadly, we couldn’t convince any of the ladies at TechFest that were near to jump up on my shoulders for The Feelers however I was pleased to see more representation of woman in technology at TechEd this year :) . Some of us ended up at Globe and had a great time there until the wee hours (as well as meeting even more great folks).

Then last night we had the mad dash to the airport. As much as I love TechEd it’s just long enough to make me appreciate being back in my own bed :) I’m sure everyone else had a great time.

This post is quite a quick brain dump of my thoughts, I’ll probably follow up over the next few days with this I remember as being useful or cool :)

- JD

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 245 user reviews.

17 August 2006 in Apple & Windows | Comments (13)

Recently Apple unveiled some of the features expected in the next update to OS X. Some of them were pretty cool but I couldn’t help but feel this time Apple was copying more things from Microsoft than many people may realise. Let me start by stating that I’m interested in buying a MacBook – they seem pretty cool and the fact I could run Windows on it is the real killer feature in my eyes. This post is just to discuss one feature of OS X.

In the next version of OS X there is a feature to fly back in time and view previous versions of files. Sounds good and is certainly useful. In typical Apple style there is a funky app for ”flying” back in time to view versions. The only thing is that I can’t help but feel that while it does look cool, it’s the sort of thing you’re going to find a total pain in the ass  to have to go flying every time you want to see previous editions.

What some people don’t realise is that this feature is available today in Windows 2003 and XP. It’s called Windows Shadow Copy. I’ve worked on several client sites where this feature is enabled and it works easily (file properties show all previous versions of the file). Windows Vista will enable it by default as well as beefing up the tools to find previous versions so no surprises that OS X will include it. What gets me a wee bit is when Apple fans think Apple invents everything.

On top of this, from what I’ve read so far the technology behind the Apple version of undelete is horribly inefficient.

In Windows there is a driver which uses 15% of the drive space to keep the block differences in files for restoration. If you only change 2 blocks worth of data in a 10MB document you’re only using 2 blocks to have the revision.

In OS X you need a separate drive. You can’t use it if you only have one disk. On top of this, it does a complete file copy so if you add a full stop to that 10MB document you just lost 10MB of space for a backup copy. That seems like a pretty bad implementation. Having a separate drive does offer that physical redundancy but the fact is this solution is not designed for drive backups but revision backups so you’re not going to have all your data anyway (unless you’ve edited ALL of it).

I trust future versions of OS X will fix some of this up but explain to me again how OS X is Vista 2.0?

 - JD

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 168 user reviews.

3 July 2006 in Windows | Comments (0)

As a heads up to anyone else that uses Acronis Disk Director (ADD), it can cause issues with Vista Beta 2.

I created a new partition and formatted it using ADD only to find after using Vista for 20 minutes it was complaining that I needed to run chkdsk to fix file system errors. I ended up assuming the drive was busted and did another setup on another physical disk only to have the same problem.

After a bit of searching people have found that using ADD to do the filesystem manipulation causes the problem. Apparently you can still create the partition using ADD but make sure you do the format using the Vista Setup. I’ll validate this tonight or tomorrow (you never know, maybe all my drives are broken).

– JD

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 276 user reviews.

12 June 2006 in Microsoft & Windows | Comments (7)

I’ve been using Windows Vista Beta 2 at home for a few days now (bit of a laggard I know) and have been enjoying reading other peoples thoughts on it. One thing I’ve seen as a common theme is comments about memory consumption. For a bit of a laugh I thought I’d see just how bad Vista’s memory consumption was and here is what I found:

Windows 95, Recommended memory: 8MB

Memory in 1995 cost $500 for an 8MB SIMM

Windows XP, Recommended memory: 128MB

Memory in 2001 cost $60 for 128MB

Windows Vista memory requirements ~1GB

Memory at the moment is $121 for 1GB

Some things to note:

  1. 2001 was the year that had the massive memory glut and prices became stupidly cheap. Perhaps this was fortunate for the release of XP.
  2. The memory price in 2001 was a rough conversion of mine to the NZD plus our magically tech gear markup.
  3. There is still six months of memory price drops before Vista actually comes out.
  4. I’ve used the “Vista Premium Ready” Certification for this example. If comparing to the “Vista Capable” certification which requires 512MB it would be $61 for 512MB – only a buck more than XP prices.
  5. I read the recommended memory requirements for Windows 95 off the Windows 95 box that I still have in my closet that my Dad brought the day Windows 95 came out :)

Looking 6 months ahead, I’d be willing to predict that memory prices will be approximately in line with the costs of Windows XP which is pretty darn good considering the massive memory glut for the time. According to Yahoo the price of a computer capable of running windows Vista will be approximately 70% of the cost of a computer that was required to run XP.

So I don’t quiet get why exactly is Vista’s memory usage really an issue? It surely can’t be a price issue.

- JD

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 277 user reviews.

10 June 2006 in .Net & Windows | Comments (0)

Spotted on Nic’s blog that Microsoft are renaming of WinFX to .Net 3.0.

Checking out MSBlog (great site for tacking techo Microsoft stuff at btw :) ) they appear to answer one of Nic’s questions about if the name change will mean a new version of the framework with LINQ and other goodies – the answer appears to be no. It will be built on the .Net 2.0 framework and looks to just add the pillars of WinFX.

- JD

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 289 user reviews.

12 May 2006 in Microsoft & Windows | Comments (2)

Windows Live

There seems to be some discussion about going on in the .net blogging space in New Zealand at the moment so I thought I’d jot down my own thoughts.

I played with Windows Live months and months back when it first launched. I initially thought “heh, that’s kinda cool – I can move stuff around just like in SharePoint”. Then I closed the browser and didn’t go back.

A few months passed and I saw comments about the new live search and I found myself again playing around with the Windows Live portal again. It was more polished – a lot more gadgets had been added. I played for a while longer but at no point did I have any desire to set it as my homepage.

As many people have said – it’s bulky and slow. When I open my browser I have it set to about:blank because I want it to snappy. I hate having my browser slow. It’s 2006 for crying outloud – browsers have been around for more than a decade, why the heck should I need to wait five seconds for my browser to become useable? I have a 10mbit down internet connection – I’m not going to tolerate it being slow. This is a massive issue that I bitch about from time to time – Why have we had a 100x improvement in computing and network speed but everything seems to be getting slower and slower? Anything more than 1 second between clicking the browser icon and having my browser usable is not acceptable in my eyes.

And that pretty much sums it up – from a functional point of view it’s fine. You can do a lot. But from a usability point of view it’s just not something I enjoy using. It almost feels like a typical Microsoft way of doing things – add tonnes of functionality. They need to mix it with how Apple does things – it might not do *everything* but damn, it’s nice to use!

I realise that so far it seems like I’m ripping a new one – I’m really not. I know I don’t represent a normal cross section of computer users. I like the idea of a single portal but I think people realised that portals weren’t the best idea in the late 90′s. Just because I can personalise it now doesn’t make me want to use it anymore than I did then. This entry would be exactly the same if you replaced “” with “Google personalised homepage”.

Perhaps I’ll change my mind eventually – perhaps it will become a lot faster. Who knows – all I do know is that I find it far too much of a gimmick at the moment. I do think I’ll use gadgets in Vista – but that’s because they’ll be asyncronous – I can use the computer and have them update in their own time. That makes me happy – and once I have gadgets that I can’t live without I’ll becoming a raving fan.

I look forward to the continuing debate about I would love for people to point out some positives that I’ve missed. I really love the search, I think it’s fantastic. Tim seems to be tracking this debate if you care to read more peoples views.

- JD

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 191 user reviews.

3 May 2006 in Windows | Comments (1)

Since the most popular page on my site is the entry about the Consolas font, it’s nice to now post that you can download the Consolas font :)

Download: Click here to download Consolas

Supposedly only for people using Visual Studio 2006… whatever that is! :-D

– JD

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 295 user reviews.

26 April 2006 in Windows | Comments (2)

Internet Explorer 7.0 Logo

Finally Microsoft have released a copy of Internet Explorer 7.0 that runs on Windows
2003 without hacks :) Officially this is Beta 2.

I installed it last night and had no problems with it wrecking my networking stack – looked good. Integration between Office 2007 and IE 7 seems to already be baked in (Outlook asked if I wanted to have IE and Outlook share the same RSS feeds).

Click here to download Internet Explorer 7.0

– JD

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 187 user reviews.