My window to the world


Access Netfront 3.3 Beta for Windows Mobile is out

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-May-2006 18:29

The best web browser for Windows Mobile is now compatible with Windows Mobile 5.0. Access Netfront 3.3 is available as a trial (limited to 45 days) and the full version should be out by the end of May.


This browser is really nice. It supports Javascript, Java, Macromedia Flash, and a lot of other functions, including tabbed browsing.

Highly recommended if you are into browsing on your Windows Mobile device.



Managing Multi OS (Windows XP and Windows Vista) Boot: VistaBootPRO

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-May-2006 09:19

Microsoft Windows Vista introduces a new way of managing booting multiple OS platforms on a single computer. While Microsoft Windows XP (and earlier versions) relied on a file called BOOT.INI, Microsoft Windows Vista introduces the BCD registry concept.

The problem is that editing the BCD through BCDEDIT.EXE is a pain: it's a command line utility and with plenty of switches and options.

To help make life easier on this matter, the guys at Pro-networks released a small program called VistaBootPro, that brings a GUI to this program.


It runs on Windows Vista and Windows XP Pro (in which case you must have .Net Framework 2.0 installed).



Windows Vista Defrag: dumbed-down interface

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-May-2006 19:05

This is what you see on Windows Vista Ultimate (build 5381) when you start the Disk Defragmentation utility:


Like it or not, Windows Vista Ultimate or not, this is all you get. There's no progress bar, no indication of elapsed time, or remaining time. There's no information on how fragmented the disc is, what files are fragmented, or options to exclude some files from the defragmentation process. 

I want to be in control, I want to know what and why and most importantly how long it will take to do it.

Please, at least bring back the Windows XP interface, or give me more information. I just want a progress indicator!

In the meantime, I've found Diskeeper to be a great solution.

UPDATE: Diskeeper has just released Diskeeper 2009... Recommended!



I am not going to Microsoft Australia MEDC 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-May-2006 21:10

I was quite happy I could be attending both the I Microsoft Australia MEDC 2006 (Mobile and Embedded Developers Conference) in Melbourne and the Windows Vista Lab happening in Singapore, 26 - 27 May 2006.

But the airline companies don't want it to happen like this. I was planning to fly from Wellington to Melbourne on 24 May, attend the MEDC 2006 25 May, flying to Singapore 26 May at 1am. My fligh back would be on 28 May, Singapore to Wellington with a stop in Auckland.

But Air New Zealand can't issue tickets from Melbourne to Singapore, even though these are on a Star Alliance airline partner, Singapore Airlines. Their suggestion was to purchase Wellington to Melbourne one-way on Air New Zealand, Melbourne to Singapore one-way on Singapore Airlines, and Singapore to Wellington one-way on Air New Zealand. Yeah, right...

The total cost for this would be 100% over my budget for the air part of this trip.

A cheaper option would be to get a return ticket Wellington to Melbourne, and a return ticket from Melbourne to Singapore. It would add a stop in Melbourne on the way back though plus the accommodation costs there.

I think I will have to leave the MEDC 2006 out of my plans this year. Shame...





Running Microsoft Windows Vista (build 5381) on my Tablet PC

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-May-2006 20:52

I have Microsoft Windows Vista running on my desktop, as a second boot option. I wasn’t completely convinced to  have the new OS as my primary boot on the desktop, which I use for my everyday work on Geekzone.

But seeing that soon I will be flying to Singapore for the Windows Vista Lab2, I thought it would be a good time to adopt it as the primary boot, at least in one of my machines.

I have  a Toshiba Portege M205 Tablet PC, with 1GB RAM (up from the original 512MB). This would be a great opportunity to refresh its OS, seeing I am running the same original install, from two years ago.

First I thought I would give the new Windows Vista upgrade option a try. But it didn’t work quite well, thanks to DaemonTools. Even after uninstalling the software there was a piece of driver lurking around and causing problems. I then proceeded with a fresh install. Not before performing a full HDD image backup to my external Maxtor OneTouch 1GB  drive, with Norton Ghost, just in case I needed to restore my Tablet PC.

The fresh install was not a problem. Build 5381 install Vista Ultimate, one of the various SKU planned for this OS, and as the name implies, the top of range, including everything from the home and business editions, plus Tablet PC and Media Center functionalities.



What a terrible rating, right? But remember this is an old hardware, but surprisingly it performs quite fast. Of course I am not gaming or doing anything out of the normal with this Tablet PC.

If you have a Toshiba M200 series Tablet PC I recommend you upgrade the BIOS to version 1.8. The download is small, and it comes with a ISO bootable CD image file, so if you are like me and don’t have a FDD you  can still flash the Tablet PC.

The first boot was a pain, with CPU usage pegged to 100% and not leaving space for anything else. I soon found out about the default video driver being the culprit, and started investigating options. NVIDIA offers a (alpha) video driver for Windows Vista. It works with the Tablet PC, but it won’t offer screen rotation functionality, and the Aero Glass effect works (and it is pretty cool), but leaves a horrible trail on the screen.

Next I tried the original Toshiba video driver. This worked fine, with good performance,  and screen rotation. But no Aero Glass effect.

Anyway, now that I settled with the original driver, I proceeded to install Microsoft Office 2007 Beta and Microsoft OneNote 2007 Beta I decided to have a up-to-date machine, with the latest OS and Office package. Installation was painless and everything worked fine. Indeed I am writing this on Word 2007 as you can see in the screenshot below:



Connecting to my network at home, both wired and wireless, worked well on the first attempt. However, using a cellular connection is not that easy. First I tried using a USB driver  which allowed me to connect my Pocket PC via USB and use it as a CDMA EVDO modem. This didn’t work, even though I was able to add the modem to the system. Weird, the Properties button for this modem in the Control Panel  is greyed out.

If you want to try to install the Pocket PC USB Modem driver, download it from here, unzip the contents to a temporary folder, but do not install it. On your Pocket PC run WMODEM, tap the [START] button and plug it into your computer. When asked for drivers, point to the temporary folder. The driver will be installed, a new USB modem will show up in the Control Panel, but it won't work (or it didn't for me).

Next I tried to use Bluetooth for the data connection. I plugged a USB adapter, and it was immediately recognised. Since I only wanted to use DUN (dial-up network profile) I don’t mind using the  limited Microsoft Bluetooth stack.  The stack was correctly installed , with the serial profile ready to use. But it failed to install the HID profile (used for mouse and keyboard) and the one I really wanted to use, the DUN profile.

It actually installed it, but again the Properties button in the modem applet in Control Panel was greyed out, and trying to create network connection failed .

Ok, it seems I am limited to using Ethernet or Wi-Fi wherever I go, at home, in a café, or Singapore providing it is available of course. This is not a big deal when overseas because I wouldn’t use cellular data roaming , but it reduces my mobility while in the country since I can’t connect via cellular networks (UMTS or CDMA).

I know I can’t complain too much. After all the Toshiba  M200 series is at least two years old, and seeing that it can actually run Aero Glass (the problems are related to the driver, not OS) and run the OS quite smoothly is nice.

Of all Toshiba software for Tablet PC, the only one I found works fine is the Toshiba Tablet PC Button Driver. Everything else will install but not work, or not install at all. Also, an unknown device was found when I first booted. Since I didn’t have anything else plugged into the Tablet PC I can only believe it was the Accelerometer, which does not show in the Device Manager list now, since no driver was available to load.

Other hardware that works well is the built in SD card reader. Windows Vista had no problem using this out-of-the-box.

The installation program correctly detected this as a Tablet PC and installed the appropriate drivers and software including Control Panel applets and an introduction to Tablet PC Ink.

Ink works really well, out of the box. The TIP easily recognised strange characters I entered and the user interface is now extended. It shows where on the screen you  tap with the digitiser pen,  plus the Pen Flicks:



As for security, Windows Vista comes with Windows Defender, and I installed Avast anti-virus. This worked ok, integrating correctly with the Security Center, but causing an annoying authorisation dialog to pop-up in every boot. Currently you can change this behaviour by editing the Security Policies, but I only recommend changing this if you know what you are doing.

Internet Explorer 7 is the default installation, and since it’s a public beta I will not write much about it.
Not much use in trying the Media Center functionality, seeing that I don’t have a high end video card, but I will try this to manage music and photos.  Windows Media Player 11 is installed and worked as expected. It also automatically connected to my server running Windows Media Connect on the same network.

Overall I am impressed with stability, easy to use and speed, even on a two year old Tablet PC. The lack of drivers is a problem though, but these will come with time. And I am now ready for the Vista Lab2.



Downloading Microsoft Windows Vista: Tablet PC install

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-May-2006 11:18

After two months since my last Microsoft Windows Vista download, I have decided to grab the latest build (5381) and try it on my Tablet PC (Toshiba M205).



I know it probably won't show the funky Aero interface on this Tablet PC, but this is the first build that allows update from Windows XP, so I am ok to test this and see how it works.

Next step is to burn a DVD with this ISO, install Norton Ghost on the Tablet PC and backup a full disc image to my Maxtor OneTouch III 1TB external drive (of course, just in case)...

I am already running Office 207 Beta on this Tablet PC, so it should be nice to see both beta running. And it should be good to have it up by the time I am in Singapore for the Vista Lab.





Xbox 360 Gift Box

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2006 14:14

The Courier just left a parcel here with a very nice gift box wrapped in Xbox 360 tape, with a chocolate cigar and a promo CD.

The CD contains high resolution product pictures, E3 pictures, press information about new and upcoming games and most importantly, high resolution trailers (Windows Media and Quicktime) for some of the new games.

I have to say the Halo 3 trailer is impressive. As Fable 2. I have Fable PC Game and it is a very interesting environment. Other trailers in the CD are Gears of War, Alan Wake, Lost Planet, Moto GP 2006, Call of Duty 3, Lord of the Rings - Battle for Middle Earth 2, Brothers in Arms and Sonic The Hedgegog.

I am not a big fan of console games, but Hadley seems to enjoy these and wrote our Xbox 360 review.



Windows Server Patch fails to apply: Microsoft charges for support

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-May-2006 11:27

A few Linux people here will probably comment on the lines of "You should be running Linux". But the reality is I feel comfortable with Microsoft Windows Server 2003. Or used to.

You see, in one of the last Automatic Updates one specific patch, classified as "High Priority Security Update" failed to install. I tried to manually download the patch and apply and it again failed to install.

Looking at the logs, what do I see?

2.547: 2006/05/10 11:56:51.859 (local)
2.547: \43f998869285ff556064\update\update.exe (version 6.2.29.0)
2.547: Hotfix started with following command line:
2.594: Microsoft Windows is Not Present
2.594: Condition Check for Line 1 of PreRequisite returned FALSE
2.594: ReadStringFromInf: UpdSpGetLineText failed: 0xe0000102
2.594: KB908981 Setup encountered an error:  Setup cannot continue because one or more prerequisites required to install KB908981 failed. For More details check the Log File
2.609: ReadStringFromInf: UpdSpGetLineText failed: 0xe0000102

Oh, yes. A pre-requisite to install this patch is to have Windows Server running. It looks like the patch doesn't think I have a Windows Server running, right?

Next I tried to apply for e-mail support. Easy, go to Microsoft Support, and start entering the details for e-mail support. When it asked if this is the server where the problem is happening, I click yes and it can not identify the Product ID. No problem, I can manually enter it, but wait there's more:

The Microsoft PSS site tells me that my Product ID, which I copied from the System Properties is not that of a Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, but of a Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition.

So I am stuck and can't use the on-line support.

Next I try calling Microsoft PSS, and after answering a few questions I am set back with the following:

- We have to charge you $350 for this call.
- But this is a high priority security update that failed to install!
- Yes, but Windows Server is a business software and there's no free support for it.

No wonder there are insecure servers connected to the Internet and being used around the world. Microsoft fails to deliver the patches and then try charging for a fix!

UPDATE: As you may see in the comments I was contacted by someone in the Windows Server team through this blog entry. I also received an e-mail from other team member. I got a confirmation that PSS should not have indicated this would be a charged support service since this is a security patch, regardless of being home or commercial use. Currently I have someone from Microsoft looking at this problem but since it is already Satudary here in New Zealand I will not expect a status update until Monday at least.

UPDATE: The Microsoft rep had visited my server, confirmed it is a Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition and confirmed the patch fails to install. He's looking into the patch configuration now.

UPDATE (FIX):

1. Run REGEDIT
2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server
Extensions\5.0\Setup Packages
3. Created a new String Value of "Microsoft Windows" and set the
Data Value as 5.0.2.6738



Microsoft Connect (Wellington) 2006

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-May-2006 08:17

Last night we had dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel with some Microsoft folks, MSDN Connection Platinum members and Microsoft MVPs.

After dinner some of the guys had to stay here for a reharsal of their presentations and demos for the Mirosoft Connect event.

The technical part is happening today from 9am and one of the tracks will cover how to prepare the IT infrastructure for the deployment of Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. The other track covers development under this new framework.

I will be here at the Intercontinental Hotel for the day, so if you are here too come and greet me!

PS: Posted from my Pocket PC...

PPS: At the start of the "Microsoft Office 2007 Deployment" session the audience was asked how many are runnng the Office 2007 Beta. Out of 100 and some IT professionals here, only one hand: mine...






Microsoft Windows Vista Lab - Asia Edition

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-May-2006 23:33

I just received the e-mail with an invitation to participate in the Windows Vista Lab happening in Singapore, 26 - 27 May 2006. I hope to stop in Melbourne for the Microsoft Australia MEDC 2006 (Mobile and Embedded Developers Conference).

The Vista Lab will be a two day, full on contact with the Microsoft Windows Vista Team. It's part of the Microsoft MVP programme and The Hive community initiatives. The Hive is a Microsoft sponsored community for website owners.

I've been to Redmond and Las Vegas (CES) before with The Hive, but this is the first time coming to Singapore.

By the way, according to Darryl, participating in the MEDC 2006 has some benefits too: if you are enrolled in the Windows Mobile track you will receive an i-mate SP5 Windows Mobile Smartphone, and if enrolled in the Windows CE track you will get a Via EPIA CN13000 computer.

I just have to see if I can arrange some good flight schedules - it's going to be full steam for three days.



freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

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If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

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