Quiet for a bit

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 11:38
You may have noticed this week has been exceptionally quiet, well thats been for two reasons. This past weekend I fell horribly ill. Ill like I actually went to a doctor (only the second time in 6 years) and was flat on my back in bed for all of the weekend and haven't really felt myself until Tuesday night. In addition to that I hit my cap on the MTN 3G the company provides so not quick posts from work have been possible. Anyway things should get back to normal next week.

Vista Service Pack 1

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 21:49

All the shiny details on whats in it at http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/pages/windows-vista-service-pack-1-beta-whitepaper.aspx

Some highlights:

  • DirectX 10.1 support
  • Bitlock any drive
  • Approx 1Gb in file size!
  • New file system support for flash drives (exFat)
  • Lots and lots of performance improvements
    • For the MSCRM followers a big one is improvements in JavaScript speed in IE 7 on Vista Cool
  • Reliability (improved can't really be used here Wink)

 All this goodness Q1 2008 (According to the team blog )

Embrace your inner boredom

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Wed, 08/29/2007 - 11:43

Being bored is part of life, and as people we try our best to avoid it. When bored we do things like play Solitaire, send gifts on facebook, or blog Wink to try avoid it. Well I say no more, from now on embrace boredom, make it a part of your life, when bored tell the world your bored, and do it with Twitter.

Twitter is a smart and simple idea: Simply put, in a 140 letters or less, answer the question: What are you doing right now?

It's great fun, and easy to do, and makes you really transparent (more so than boggling can).

If you feel like following me, you can at http://twitter.com/rmaclean

Office could not create the work file error

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Mon, 08/27/2007 - 15:32

Suddenly today both outlook and word decided to start giving a new error message when I tried to launch: "could not create the work file. check the temp environment variable". After hitting OK it would launch. This is an odd one, and I am not sure of the cause (I have a theory I'll ponder below) but the solution was to run a check disk (chkdsk c: /F). Which fixed it nicely. I saw a number of security descriptor (AFAIK it was that, not an MCSE here) issues during the chkdsk, so I suspect something got corrupted.

The cause of the corruption may have been that over the weekend the IT team where I worked migrated everyone to a new domain via profile copy (doubt thats it) and deactivated UAC on the Vista users (think thats it). I am a UAC fan and turned it on again (using the msconfig tool) this morning and I think somewhere between being non-UAC admin and UAC admin the security catalog got confused causing the error. Just my pondering and I have no proof or way to test it (or interest in trying to get it to happen again) so take it with the pinch (handful, bucket, truck) of salt as needed.

Congrats on the award!

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Mon, 08/27/2007 - 12:17

My employer, the i5 Group (www.i5.co.za), won the Microsoft ISV partner of the year at Saturdays gala event

This was for the work done around the Rezonance product brand which I have had significant interaction with, so this means a lot for me. It's also a huge surprise for me since the South African ISV market is very strong (thinking of the K2 guys).

Well done to everyone involved!!

Looking Good

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 08/24/2007 - 12:36

Through my experiences with software development a lot of time how good (polished) a software looks is almost as important as if it works well. It seems easier to get people to grant an extension on that deadline if the software looks good. A key point for any development on Windows (and in my main area Microsoft CRM) is icons. Be them for tool bars, menus, start menus or (in MSCRM) entities and ISV.Config changes good icons are a must.

To date I've collected around 11000 and sometimes never have the right one but it's a good collection to have and build from. I do share these with my coworkers but a lot of the time they ask me where I get them from so I have decided to share some of the places I got them from.

This is all inspired by the great set of 105 icons released today Sekkyumu so the first item is hers, but these are in no real order. If I can think of anything special about the site I will put it in but some places I just found some icons there. All these sites have free icons available and most also have paid for icons. I do recommend supporting these guys by buying (or getting your customers) to buy icons from them if you use them alot.

  • Developper Icons by Sekkyumu - DeviantArt is also a great place in general to search.
  • IconKits - These guys have some great free ones and there is a points system (each month you get a point and if you recommend someone you get points) which enables access to more icons.
  • Evraldo.com
  • GlyphLab - I got exposed to these guys when they bundled their icons with Delphi 2005, which still beats the pants off of the ones that ship with Visual Studio.
  • FastIcon
  • Icon Experience
  • FamFamFam - Of all the icons I have their Silk ones (and there is over a thousand in the set) have graced more MSCRM deployments than any others.

Why the website move

Submitted by Robert MacLean on Fri, 08/24/2007 - 12:00

If you are a regular to the site, you may know that I have had some great service from my previous hosting provider, Hetzner. Which may make you wonder why I decided I needed to move the site. Well the reality is it is about the money at the end of the day. When I joined Hetzner earlier in the year I took their Basic package since it met my needs, and I was able to sign up get sorted etc.... very quickly. Plus they are a South African company so getting help over the phone wasn't hard. What I didn't realize what how much space I got from my previous provider.

So I ended up with tight limits on what I could upload. Eventually I exceeded it (mostly with the photos) and started paying extra per month. Now based on how many photos I had sitting to upload I realized that this would get expensive and put a hold on uploading them (until today). Interestingly enough I hardly used any of the other services on the packages (bandwidth never exceeded, no mailboxes used, I have one forward to GMail etc...) so all I needed was disk space. I had thought of using sites like Flickr but it didn't appeal to me too much, and when my wife decided to start her own part time business and she needed a site I decided to look around again for something which would meet both our needs, as with Hetzner I would need another package.

Browsing the Drupal site (which I use for my CMS) I found a list of recommended hosting providers and started to go through that. I found Web Hosting Buzz  through that and was very impressed, and the fact there is a 30 day money back guarantee put me at ease. I signed up for my wifes site first and got that setup and once that was on moved my site across.

To give you an idea of differences:

   Hetzner WebHostingBuzz 
 Cost per month  R99

 R36 ($54 per year  * R8 exchange rate)

 Disk Space  100Mb  300Gb
 Transfer  1.5Gb  2000Gb
 Number of websites on package  1  Unlimited

It's kind of a no brainer for me ;) And I have put WHB to the test already with some interesting support calls and they have come through each time. One such example is I saw SSH access listed on their site (which Hetzner didn't provide) and when I inquired it was setup in minutes for me.

Would I recommend Hetzner still? Definitely but you need to be the right type of customer, the type who needs South African hosting and (ideally) has their own server. Nowadays for personal sites the options (free or paid) overseas are too good to compare.