Previewing files and attachments in Microsoft Outlook 2007 is one of the new killer features that makes my, and hopefully yours, life easier. When installing Outlook 2007 you will get preview functionality for the standard Microsoft applications and images. Previewing files is also integrated into the Windows Vista Explorer.
Go get it!
If you check the versions of the files you can see that it's some kind of update:
- Hold Em Poker Game
- New version: 6.0.6000.17034
- Previous version: 6.0.6000.17015
But the BitLocker secure key backup utility have the same version, 6.0.6000.16442, but have a different size on the file 1.11 Mb (updated) vs 1.10 Mb (previous).
As of now I have no idea why these Extras are updated, first release of these two were january 30th, or if they contain anything new and there are still no information from Microsoft on these updates.
The last few days I've had trouble with the Windows RSS platform and Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista Ultimate. The feeds are updating fine but the notification has been troublesome, for example the feed folders never updated the number of unread items in the folder even though there were unread items in feeds in the folder, look at the image below.
This also caused some trouble in the msfeedicon utility, the Windows RSS Platform notification application, which threw an exception for this. So I made some tests and using the Windows RSS Platform API's. These test showed the exact same problems and; a manual count of the feeds for each folder resulted in the correct number of unread items but the TotalUnreadItemCount on the IFeedFolder interface threw an exception.
So I exported all my feeds to an .opml file and then manually removed all feeds (it's a shame that you only can remove one feed or folder at a time in IE7, maybe that's something for an upcoming version of msfeedicon?).
As you can see from the screenshot above the feed icon still has that small star on which shows that there are unread items - but there are no feeds!
Then I imported the .opml file, refreshed all feeds and marked all as read (using msfeedicon) and the folder now reported four unread items - and all feeds beneath was marked as read. I waited a few minutes and restarted IE a few times to be sure that it was a problem.
So I had to dig deeper!
I browsed to the %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Feeds\, this is where the Windows RSS platform stores the current subscribed feeds, and took a quick look at the files. One file, FeedsStore.feedsdb-ms, had an older date than all the imported feeds files. So I shut down all IE7 instances (as well as msfeedicon) and removed that file. Fired up msfeedicon and IE7 and refreshed all feeds - and voila everything was fine again.
It feels like there was som unstable state in the Windows RSS Platform feeds database. I don't know why it happened and how, but it's now gone on my PC.
Anyone else experienced the same or similar problems?
Here is a list of cheat sheets for the Windows and .NET platform that I frequently use and I think are of great interest.
Visual Studio 2005 Keyboard Shortcut References
- Visual C# 2005 - PDF grayscale | PDF color
- Visual C++ 2005 - PDF grayscale | PDF color
- Visual Basic 2005 - PDF grayscale | PDF color
SharePoint and Office stuff
- CSS Reference Chart for SharePoint 2007 (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services v3)
- CSS Reference Chart for SharePoint 2003
- New Office 2007 User Interface - Word | PDF
Web and ASP.NET stuff
Aaron Brethorst has written a nice tutorial on how to create an UAC aware manifest for you Windows Vista applications by creating a .manifest file. He will follow up this article with information on how to embedd the manifest into a managed executable file.
Yesterday I was happy to see that the Virtual PC site contained a Technical Overview document available for download in XPS format, of course with references to the XPS viewer download and a "What is XPS?" link, and there are no PDF download available.
I decided to check back on the some other pages on microsoft.com and found out that there are now not only PDF downloads but also XPS downloads on some. For example the Desktop Optimization Pack page, which previously only had a PDF data sheet download now also have an alternative XPS download.
I guess we will see more of XPS documents and less of PDF from Microsoft, so if you haven't downloaded the XPS Essentials Pack which includes an XPS viewer get it here, if you are running Windows Vista you are safe since it's already included in the OS.
I have for a while thought about why are there no standard in Microsoft applications on how a MDI interface should look like, why do the document tabs look different in (almost) all applications.
Below are some examples taken from recent Microsoft applications.
Microsoft Visual Studio 2005
Nice and clean layout, the cross to the right closes the current open document. The down-arrow displays a drop-down of all open documents.
Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
The same as above (screenshot from Microsoft Windows 2003 instead of Microsoft Vista). The down-arrow has a horizontal bar indicating that there are more documents open than tabs shown, which I never reflected over before I started writing this article.
Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer
This one is all different with left and right arrows to scroll between the open documents.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 7
Internet Explorer 7 tabs. Scroll left and right using the double-arrow-tabs and close the tabs by clicking on the cross in the right-side of the tab.
Classic Tab Control
The classic Tab Control, seen in lot of applications.
Microsoft OneNote 2007
OneNote uses their own tabbing design, in this case I think it's legal due to the kind of application.
How it should be!
I think it's really strange that the different product teams create their own MDI/tabbing interfaces, and none of the above is ultimate. There are several things that could be improved in the tab interfaces which could lead to better usability and recognition between applications.
This is how I think it could be improved:
- The left and right arrows used in the SharePoint Designer example above is great, they are close to eachother which reduces the mouse movements, combine them with the down arrow to be able to quick navigate to documents.
- The cross icon to close the tab, located on the tab as in the Internet Explorer sample, is great. But all tabs should have one, so you don't have to click twice; first to select the document and then close it. You have to sacrifice some text for this, but I think it's worth it.
Don't forget to reinstall the Virtual Machine Additions if you are upgrading from earlier versions or betas.
The Snap Preview Anywhere (SPA), as I earlier removed from this site, has been updated with some new functionality to make it better for site owners who don't want their homepages cluttered with previews or users that do not want to see the previews.
As a site owner you can now put up an option for your users to turn on or off the SPA:
And there is also an option to have the preview to trigger on an icon instead of the whole link:
One step forward, and I really like that the SPA team has listened to the community. Maybe the SPA will be back on my site in the future...
When you have an SQL Server which has been installed on a different port than the standard 1433 you might have trouble connecting to it if you don't specify the port in your connection string or connection settings. This is how the syntax is, which was new to me until today. The server name (or IP) is separated using a comma sign instead of the standard colon, which are standard in URL's and others.
So this is how you specify it:
Robert Scoble is writing about that the analog TV will be turned off (Turn off analog TV? It’ll never happen) in two years and that he thinks this is not going to happen. This is exactly what's happening in Sweden right now, by the next few months the last analog terrestrial broadcast is turned off. I think this is great except for that almost every TV has analog recievers and you therefore have to buy another box, with a new remote etc etc. Thank god I'm using a Media Center computer :-), anyone have any suggestions for a good HD Ready dual digital-TV tuner card compatible with Windows Vista?
I also think it's sad that the digital-tv broadcasted here in Sweden is not HDTV, it's still plain old PAL. The last few months have been great for the flat-screen market and almost every screen sold is HDTV ready, so a lot of people will be dissapointed when they are watching TV and doesn't experience the HDTV feeling. So when HDTV is coming most people have to buy new boxes, once again...
NVIDIA has released a new beta of the ForceWare Graphics Drivers Release 100 (100.64) for Windows Vista (32 bit and 64 bit), which is one step forward in their new official plans for a functional Windows Vista driver.
If you experience any kind of problems please go to the newly established Vista Quality Assurance program by NVIDIA and report any problems with the NVIDIA drivers. Please submit any kind of NVIDIA related problems you have on Windows Vista so we can get working drivers for Windows Vista.
To enable the animated background Personalize your Desktop Background and in the Location drop-down choose Windows DreamScene Content or any other folder that contains your animated backgrounds, see image below. The Location drop-down even contains, by default, your Videos folders so you can test one of the Sample Videos provided with Windows Vista.
A warning to all laptop users, and users with an older CPU; the CPU usage will be a lot more heavier when DreamScene is enabled. Look at the CPU Usage History below; first DreamScene is enabled and then a normal desktop background image is used. So I recommend not using DreamScene if your laptop tends to be hot or you have to use the cycles for other stuff.
But it looks cool!
NVIDIA has been struggling with the drivers for Windows Vista and this has not gone unnoticable and they are even facing a possible class action. NVIDIA has now publicly released their plans for the ForceWare drivers for Vista.
In short here is what we can expect:
- February - new WHQL certified drivers, probably not anything fancy or new about this one, big thing is that they will probably work fine
- March - new drivers with new features. TV output and HDTV support including overscan - finally!!!
- April - new drivers that targets DirectX 10 SLI support and support for H.264 decoding.
- May - new drivers again, what will be in them is not announced
Let's hope they can keep this time schedule - they are already late...
Windows Vista contains a performance booster functionality called ReadyBoost which really can improve the performance of your Windows Vista system. In fact, ReadyBoost, is one of the top five Windows Vista features according to Ed Bott.
In short ReadyBoost caches programs on a flash drive to speed up your Vista, reports are that a program that previously started in 10 seconds will now start in 2-4 seconds.
Almost all articles I have read on this subject says that you should use an USB-stick as your ReadyBoost flash drive, but it will work with any kind of flash drive, like an SD-card.
Using an SD card is for me much more better since I have an Dell XPS m1210 laptop. Having an USB-stick pointing out will almost certainly destroy the stick or the USB port (done it before...) but the built-in SD-card reader on the laptop allows me to have the SD card in the reader all the time without worrying to destroy it.
Microsoft Windows Vista contains new common dialogs, such as the Save As and Open dialogs, which have a new sidebar navigation to the left. The navigation can show the folder tree or your Favorite Links. Windows XP had a similar concept, but not as customizable as in Windows Vista.
If you are like me and like to have your files organized and have easy access to them you can customize the Favorite Links really easy. All the links in the Favorite Links sidebar is plain old shortcuts (.lnk files) which are located in the Links folder of the Users directory, to be precise: %USERPROFILE%\Links\, for example c:\Users\wictor\Links\.
In this Links folder you can place any shortcut to any folder you like. You can have a shortcut to your temporary download folder, a link to a SharePoint site or a network location. Since the links are all shortcut files you can change the icon on them to get just the look and feel that you like.
If you watch the Favorite Links part of the screenshot below, taken from notepad, you can see that I have added a shortcut to my Temp directory and to a custom folder and a SharePoint site (the one called Projects on Portal).
In this screenshot, taken from Microsoft Office Word 2007, you see the Open file dialog and the Favorite Links.
Virtual PC and Virtual Server uses Virtual Hard Disk which may be dynamically sized, that is they don't occupy the whole size of the disk on the host system. But they may take up much more than the guest operating system reports.
I will show you how to reduce the size of you dynamically expanding virtual disk, using the tools provided with Virtual PC 2007 beta 2 (it's the same on VPC 2004).
I just created a VHD containing Windows XP SP2 and Visual Studio .NET 2003 SP1 and some other dev. tools so I can switch my main laptop to Windows Vista. As you know VS.NET 2003 does not run on Vista but I still have to do some .NET 1.1 development so a VPC will be just perfect. I also wanted this image to fit on a DVD and this is how I did it. I went from a VHD file size from 6.7 GB to 4.0 GB.
1. Prepare the guest OS
First of all I did a Disk Cleanup and removed all unnecessary files.
And to save me some more space I cleaned up the System Restore an removed all the backups of Windows Update (only do this if you are sure on how to do it!).
2. Defragment the guest OS
To get an effective compact of your VHD you must defragment the guest hard disk.
4. Run the Virtual Disk Pre-Compactor
Virtual PC contains a utility to prepare the disk before compacting it, called the Virtual Disk Pre-Compactor. This is run by mounting the Virtual Disk Precompactor.iso on the guest OS, found in the Virtual Macine Additions directory where Virtual PC is installed. Follow the instructions and wait while th VHD is being prepared...
5. Compact the Virtual Disc
Shut down your guest OS and launch the Virtual Disk Wizard from the Virtual PC Console. Follow the instructions;
a) choose to edit a diskb) choose your VHDc) hoose to compact itd) optionally choose to create a new one (I normally choose this in case of any trouble - I'm using VPC 2007 beta here)
Then wait while the disc is compacted...
6. You're done
Now you are all set and done and you should have saved a lot of space.
You can sometime save some more space doing it all over again once again, at least I did.
The Release 100 contains an updated NVIDIA Control Panel which contains new functions for scaling the display so finally I can use 100% of my plasma screen. So far it has been working fine, except for when you once have made your settings do not enter the Control Panel again cause it will the revert to default or faulty settings!
Why NVIDIA has decided to only let us control the NVIDIA properties using the Control Panel is a mystery, I think it has bad usability and navigation. The result is just a bunch of happy programmers dreaming on making their own control panel application.
The NVIDIA Control Panel should instead take a look on the Windows Control Panel (Vista version preferred) and use that concept, which has a better navigation, a quick search etc etc. The Control Panel as it is today is difficult to use, gives you a bad overview of the settings and is impossible to navigate without a mouse. Shape up NVIDIA!
Microsoft just released the first RC of the Microsoft XML Paper Specification (XPS) Essentials Pack. Download it here.
What do you think and do you have any suggestions for improvements? I would love to hear why the different product teams at Microsoft choosen different alternatives to the tabs.