Thursday, 7 June 2007

Windows XP Tips & Tricks

Longest list of tricks ever found?


It has been a while since I posted on my techy blog. So here you go this is a great list of tricks for your PC. Why do I bother writting my own frankly?


I found it thanks to StumbleUpon.
Enjoy.

Friday, 13 April 2007

What makes Software so fascinating!

Is it because it runs our country from planes to nuclear plants?

Is it because it has significantly transformed our day to day life?

Is it because it has freed us from our physical limitations?



I was born while Software was still in research labs. However, as grew up, Software did as well, learning fast, relentlessly breaking frontiers year after year, without ever stopping.

While I was a teenager, my big brother bought a Commodore 64. What a beast is was! If I remember well, in less than a year the Software running on this old beaten plastic box evolved from basic to pure assembler then finally stabilised on C (for the non technical these are old relatively unused programming languages).

Looking back on this, it seems like history. My Commodore must be nearly as powerful as the computer in my phone (but surely far more reliable). Even in my wildest dreams I never thought that this would happen: this is just a damn phone after all.

Being in the Software industry myself, I can see that it does run my live. No doubt. It is there at work watching my every move; it is waiting for me patiently at home … It has just taken over my phone and soon my car (scary thought). I have even heard rumours of people plugging little microchips in their arms. Where will it stop? I can see a picture building here, Isaac may be found a visionary.



Yes, Software has undoubtedly evolved at a rate nothing else has. It has over passed other technologies by a significant margin (although not on all aspects; read quality). It has changed the way we live; it has changed the way we communicate and it will soon become an integral part of our most private sanctuary: our body.

Software is in the process of transforming us entirely, no escaping. Don’t be mistaken, Software is still very much in its infancy. What we see today, will very likely be history in less than a decade. In a decade or so Software will start walking like a young child, be prepared, one day it will leave us behind.

In this blog, I shall give you an insight on the small ongoing evolutions that may eventually turn into fantastic revolutions transforming our society in ways that our mind may not be able to comprehend or imaging … yet.

How to stop Windows beeping?

I always found quite annoying the Windows beep that wake the office when on a difficult Monday morning I struggle to enter my password.

Why can't Windows just say: "Sorry dear, you had too many beers yesterday, you mistyped your password again, let me help you ..." In 100 years maybe!

The solution to that embarrassing affliction is relatively easy even for a non computer savvy (but follow the steps carefully).

The beeper is a prehistoric feature of Windows which appears under the device manager. To remove it follow these steps:

  • go on my computer and select "view system information",
  • in the hardware tab select "device manager",
  • then in device manager go in view and select "show hidden devices",
  • go under "non plug and play drivers",
  • finally you can see an entry called "Beep" device.
That is it. You can now select the beast, disable and also deinstall it if you wish. Nasty think is it!

This post was written and tested on Windows XP Home.

How to make Windows display and react faster?

I always found Windows a bit slow. Actually it get slower and slower over time. That is because of the applications installed (nasty services) and the defragmentation of the drives. This time we are not going to talk about such complicated things. Maybe in a following session.

There is an easy way to make Windows user interface goes faster without forking out money for a CPU or memory upgrade: get rid of some of the snazzy but useless visual effect of Windows:

  • go on "My Conmputer" and select "View system information",
  • go on "Advance" tab and "Performance / Settings",
  • finally select for "Adjust for best performance",
  • Ok and you are done.
Windows will start looking funny, that is fine, just go back in the same panel and adjust the settings manually.

This is post was written and tested on a Windows XP Home.

Have fun.


Notes on how to install VSTS eval

First of all, you need to be aware that the VSTS evaluation are time bombed: you cannot upgrade it to the real deal by entering a new key, you must deinstall the evaluation software and install the full version instead. Also from the posts I found in the MS forums, this process does not work well at all! You better keep the evaluation for what it is i.e. "an evaluation" and blow it when you are finished.

The officially supported operating systems are: Windows 2000; Windows Server 2003; Windows XP Windows Server 2003 Standard (or Enterprise) Edition.

I looked for but suprisingly could not find any simple shrink wrap installer for the all lot (see list below). I believe VSTS evaluation comes in multiple parts and that is the way you have to install it (sadly).

On the server side the main part is obsiously Team Foundation Server which requires:

  • SharePoint Service 2.0 with SP2,
  • MS SQL Server with Hotfix or better SP1,
  • .Net 2.0 Framework plus Hotfix KB913363.

On the client side, it is obviously Visual Studio Team System which I believe is merely Visual Studio plus the Team Explorer plug-in coming with the Team Foundation evaluation installer.


The Team Foundation installer run checks and will tell you have a patch or update to install. It directed me to install a hotfix for MS SQL server and one ASP.Net. The information displayed for the ASP.Net patch was incorrect, it is actually located on the Team Foundation media (see MS forums). You can download the patch for MS SQL server here.


Process:

I roughly followed Cliff notes. Check it out if you want to short cut the process (for instance to create a quick install for evaluation) however you should read the official installation guide for TFS if you are building a development install.

Where to find the software:

  • eval download for Visual Studio Team Suite lasting 180 days,
  • eval download for Team System Foundation lasting 180 days,
  • eval download for SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Evaluation Edition,
  • download of SharePoint with SP2.

Documentation:

  • Visual Studio Team Foundation Installation Guide,
  • Introduction to Visual Studio 2005 Team System Guide.

Resources:

  • Cliff notes on VSTS install (Vertigo Software),
  • Steven Smith notes in VSTS install (ASP Advice).

How to install Caliber for VSTS

This document is a basically a simplified version of the official installation instructions coming with the product download (Caliber VSTS). It should give you a good idea of the work needed. However if you are familiar with Caliber and at ease with installing software, it will get you there much faster, perfect for a quick evaluation or look around. If you are not too confident or are implementing this on a production system, I suggest reading the full notes (see Caliber VSTS installation guide, run the installer select "Documentation / Installation Guide").

Prerequisites:
This post assumes that you have already installed Caliber (client and server). You need at least version 2005 R2 SP1. It will NOT work with a previous version of Caliber (for instance Caliber 2005 R2 or Caliber 2005 will not work this software) as there is a hard dependency on this specific version. Of course you need Visual Studio and note that it does not work with the Express version.
There is 2 main parts in the Caliber VSTS integration:
  • One goes on the server side on the same machine as the VSTS server (this is a requirement).
  • Then there is 2 other pieces on the "client" side.
    • One - the real client side piece - add inside Visual Studio Team Explorer a Caliber folder where your requirements will appear,
    • The other one add a new type of trace (*) to VSTS Work and Test items.


Installation:

  • Install the server part of the Caliber for VSTS (you will find it in the Caliber VSTS installer under "Server components / Server"), you must install it where the TFS application is installed (not where the database is). It cannot be installed anywhere else (if not it won't work),
  • then on each client machines where Visual Studio is running install the Visual Studio integration (under "Client components / Client"),
  • now install on each client machine where the Caliber client is running the traceability add-in (under "Client components / Traceability Add-in"),
  • finally setup the traceability add-in, follow the setup instructions below.

Traceability add-in setup:
This add-in enables the creation of traces (*) from requirements to Work and Test items in VSTS. It must be installed by the Caliber administrator. Note that the add-in is installed automatically with the CaliberRM Client for Visual Studio Team System (so you don't need to do it wherever Visual Studio is setup with the Caliber VSTS integration). Now go in the Framework administrator and follows these steps:
To trace requirements to Visual Studio Team System work items, you must enable the add-in as follows:
  1. In the Framework Administrator, select the project in which you want to enable the integration.
  2. Select the External Traceability tab.
  3. Click the New button.
  4. In the New Integration dialog box, enter a Vendor Name. This name will appear as a tab in the Traceability Modification window. "VSTS Work Items", for example.
  5. In the Library Name box, enter VSTS (exact match required).
  6. Click the Change Icon... button and select the icon you would like to associate with the integration.
  7. Click OK.
  8. In the Disabled section, select the new integration and click the Move Left button (<).
  9. Click the Save button to save the project.

To trace requirements to Visual Studio Team System tests, you must enable the add-in as follows:

  1. In the Framework Administrator, select the project in which you want to enable the integration.
  2. Select the External Traceability tab.
  3. Click the New button.
  4. In the New Integration dialog box, enter a Vendor Name. This name will appear as a tab in the Traceability Modification window. "VSTS Tests", for example.
  5. In the Library Name box, enter VSTSTests (exact match required) .
  6. Click the Change Icon... button and select the icon you would like to associate with the integration.
  7. Click OK.
  8. In the Disabled section, select the new integration and click the Move Left button (<).
  9. Click the Save button to save the project.
Troubleshooting:
  • If you see an error message containing the text "Requested registry access is not allowed" when expanding the Caliber node in Visual Studio Team Explorer you are good to follow the steps documented in this page.
  • Following this if you see an error message containing the text "Database 'Caliber' already exists", you are good to follow the steps documented in the page.
(*) these are links between requirements or to external artifacts.
Good luck!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

What to do after I exhausted my ten attempts at login into my BlackBerry?

Vodaphone surprisingly concluded that they needed to send me a new phone to replace this one as the error message indicated a fatal problem...



I have failed to remember the password on my new BlackBerry 7100 and after 10 attempts it locked up. I was not able to use the phone anymore except for emergency calls.

I therefore attempted to reset the phone pressing on the reset button at the back under the cover. Sadly that unsettled the phone which displayed a blank screen with a “501” error message refusing to start normally ever again.

I then decided to contact my phone provider to see what I could do next. Vodaphone surprisingly concluded that they needed to send me a new phone to replace this one as the error message indicated a fatal problem.

I was very keen to get it fixed instead of requested my manager for a brand new phone (this is a company phone). I explained the situation and eventually Vodaphone agreed to send instructions as to how to rebuild the phone operating system.

I thereafter received a very clear email from them explaining the steps to follow.

Basically I had to download an installer which unzipped and installed was then loaded by the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. This software was eventually loaded on the device and the latest available BlackBerry 7100 operating system was reinstalled on the phone.

The whole operation took 30 to 40 minutes. A good 15 to 20 was the operating system being installed. Eventually the installer appeared to have stopped while nothing happened and at the end I decided to stop the device and restarted it.

Luckily it restarted fine, asked to set the phone password and so far all is ok!