Archives / 2008 / April
  • Unboxing of Belkin N1 Vision wireless router

    Tags: Network, Hardware

    I am really keen on gadgets and devices and have for some time had troubles with my current wireless routers so today I acquired a brand new Belkin N1 Vision wireless router. The reason for choosing this one was many but one of the most important ones was the WAF, Wife Acceptance Factor. Since it is placed central in our home the router must be good looking and that is exactly was Belkin N1 Vision is.

    I thought I should share the unboxing of this sweet device. The N1 Vision is not just a high-end wireless router it comes in a nice package and has the most compelling design of a wireless router I've ever seen.

    belkin1 belkin2 belkin3

    Wrapped and sealed in a nice package and when you open it you feel and see that Belkin has put a lot of effort into making this a high-end product.


    Everything is nicely packaged. The Ethernet cable and AC adapter comes in small boxes, with numbers corresponding to the setup steps, more about that later.

    belkin5 belkin6 belkin8

    The router itself has the standard plastic foil for protection and when you peel it off you can see how shiny it is (the wife can nearly use it as a mirror, WAF++...). The back of the router is simple, and you can see the numbers here relating to the setup.


    The box contains the router, an Ethernet cable (for setup), an AC adapter, a thin setup manual, a warranty and a CD-ROM with the manuals.

    The setup of the router is really easy, and the instructions are made for non-technical installers. Everything is numbered and color coded, I could trust my wife with installing this one (WAF++). When everything is plugged in you just direct your browser to http://routersetup/. First time I've seen this, you normally enter an IP-address to configure the router. The setup is done through a wizard (you can do it manually also, which I of course did in the end) and the display of the N1 follows the setup. I was up and running within no time. Everything is done through the web interface - you can even configure it to update itself (not seen that either on a router before).


    If you have a router at home you sure would like it look like this.


    Just take a look at the N1 and compare it to the last three ones I have used - no competition!

    The display of the N1 Vision is the most notable feature and it's fun to have. Yes, mostly fun, I guess I won't be running down to the router all the time checking how much I have downloaded etc. I will use it as a clock in the hallway! I guess the display will come handy when something messes up.

    belkin11 belkin13 belkin12

    Through the display and the buttons on the router you can do some basic settings such as enable Guest mode and

    The technical specifications are impressive and this piece of electronics will for sure stay for a long time in our home. It even has lifetime warranty. So if you are ready spend three or four times more bucks on a router that looks this nice you should head over to the nearest electronics store...

  • Microsoft Office Labs launched

    Tags: Microsoft Office

    The Microsoft Office Labs team have now launched their own web site/community at This is a site dedicated to "Concept testing". This means that we can expect to see some nice productivity enhancements to the Office family and get a chance to take them for a test-drive. image

    The aim of the site is for the Office Labs team to gather information from their "tools" and evaluate the usage of them and get a discussion started. So when you download and install the tools from then make sure to participate in the Usage Metrics.

    First of all the long anticipated Search Commands is now available. Search Commands is an addition to the Office 2007 ribbon and contains a search function for commands. Just enter the command you would like to find and use it through the result.

    A search for 'certificate'...

    This is a great add-on and should be valuable for all new Office 2007 users.


  • New Vista Ultimate Extras available

    Tags: Windows Vista

    Two new sound schemes (glass and pearl)...c'mon you could do better than this in a year and a half...

    Extras available...

    And a whole bunch of language packs. This time not announced as an extra but the details still tags them as Vista Ultimate content (but just not extra...)

    Language packs...

  • Official ISO FAQ on OOXML

    Tags: Office Open XML

    ISO has published an official FAQ on ISO/IEC 29500 aka Office Open XML. The FAQ contains official answers from ISO to common questions such as:

    Why two standards?

    The ICT industry has a long history of developing multiple standards providing similar functionalities. After a period of co-existence, it is basically the market that decides which survives...

    What about contradictions?

    ...but these can be taken care of during the maintenance of the standard.

    Via Doug Mahugh.

  • Creating custom 3D models with Virtual Earth

    Tags: Windows Live

    During the Virtual Earth that I attended yesterday we were shown a really nice beta in which you easily can create your custom 3D Models for Virtual Earth called 3DVIA.

    Add a 3D Model The tool is a browser plugin which will open when you, from the Virtual Earth 3D mode right-click where you want to insert a new model and select Add a 3D Model. Since this is a beta it will take a while until the 3DVIA interface opens up. In my case I had to retry about 10 times due to some unexpected errors. It is also really slow and hogs your CPU.

    When the interface is up you just have to align the map and then start drawing rectangles, lines or arcs. If you ever tried Google Sketchup you will immediately find yourself content with the functionality, otherwise use the tutorial. All actions such as modifying objects feels like a rip-off from Sketchup. Nothing bad about that since I really like it. Sketchup has been my family's favorite tool when we are redecorating our house.

    Virtual Earth - 3DVIA (Beta)The screen shot to the right shows a really fast created model of our house and garage done in just a few minutes.

    When done you can publish the model(s) to Virtual Earth and the model is added to your VE collection and you can view it using VE 3D and share it with your friends.

    3D model in VE

  • Virtual Earth event and Microsoft licensing issues

    Tags: SQL Server, Windows Live

    Today I attended a really interesting event at the Microsoft Stockholm location about the Microsoft Virtual Earth Platform. The event was a result of large amount of questions from partners and customers and the bi-weekly webcasts by the VE team. During the day the team from UK presented the Virtual Earth platform including the Virtual Earth AJAX controls and the MapPoint web services as well as SQL Server 2008, which contains impressive spatial data management.

    I was there to hear what the Virtual Earth platform could do for my customers and our solutions and during the day I noted down some really interesting ideas and pitches that I will try on them, but...

    Unfortunately the licensing model behind Virtual Earth is really bad and expensive and it currently only suits large customers who can earn/save large amounts of money using the services. Many of my clients are small or medium businesses which I think would place Virtual Earth in the nice-to-have slot on their investment strategy and as soon as they will see the licensing fees they will place it in the bottom of the stack of feature requests.

    Let's assume that you would like to use some Virtual Earth functions in an application for your clients which will not be your main income channel, but more aimed at making you application going that extra mile. Then you immediately have to throw up the big bucks to Microsoft. Of course, if this part of the application eventually becomes something extra and you make heavy usage of it, you can justify the current licensing prices.

    I think that Microsoft currently have a licensing issue when it comes to small and medium sized businesses who want to use these nice products and features that Microsoft have. I would like to see some more starting licenses for customers who would like to start out using the features. Microsoft, the Microsoft partners and the customers will gain on this;

    1. Customers can start out using these features, without a huge investment and risk. More customers - more licenses
    2. Microsoft Partners can get more consulting in this area. More partners - more customers.
    3. Microsoft will get more VE implementations and eventually get even more licensed applications

    Do you have any thoughts on this issue, please drop me a line...

    If you take a look at Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, there are the same issues right now. For small businesses it's not justifiable to invest in a SharePoint site, especially when it's Internet facing...

  • Smooth upgrade of .NET XSL transformations from 1.1 to 2.0 or higher

    Tags: .NET, C#, XML, WinFX

    When .NET 2.0 was introduced, quite a long time ago, the whole System.Xml namespace was re-written, due to the poor performance of the System.Xml implementation. Despite the fact that the CLR 2.0 has been around for a few years there are still implementations using CLR 1.x and especially the XSL transformation bits, since that part is completely re-written and marked as obsolete.

    But note that they are only being marked as obsolete! You can still compile and run most of the code with just a compiler warning. The old .NET 1.1 classes are still in the CLR 2.0, so you can convert your XSL transformations piece by piece and start using .NET 2.0 or even .NET 3.5 since it is based on .CLR 2.0 (read this post by Scott Hanselman to get a better understanding).

    Just make sure that you test everything really thoroughly before putting it in production, since it is not supported.

    I am currently moving one of our large applications to .NET 3.5, which has been working really smooth using .NET 1.1, but now I want to use Visual Studio 2008 and C# 3.0 in the upcoming versions. We will eventually upgrade the XSL transformation parts to use the XslCompiledTransform class, but until then we have to stick with the .NET 1.1 classes.

    I have stumbled upon a few weird things that stopped working after making the upgrade, not all XSL transformations work out fine. The XSLT not() function stopped working in several XSLT files. This is due to that Microsoft has re-written even these old obsolete classes, not just moved them to a new namespace.

    For example I have this XSL snippet, which works fine under a .NET 1.1 compiled environment, which I use to mark alternating lines in different colors.

    xsl:if test="not(position() mod 2)">...

    In .NET 2.0+ I get an System.InvalidCastException when transforming the XSLT, using the old XSLT transformation classes.

    A quick look using the Reflector tool shows us that they have changed the Not function in the BooleanFunctions class (MS.Internal.Xml.XPath.BooleanFunctions in .NET 2.0 and System.Xml.XPath.BooleanFunctions in .NET 1.1). The .NET 1.1 converts the result of the inner expression using the safe Convert.ToBoolean while the .NET 2.0 implementation uses an explicit cast (bool) to convert the result.

    The result of the mod operation is a double according to the MS.Internal.Xml.XPath.NumericExpr.GetValue method in .NET 2.0 and System.Xml.XPath.NumericExpr.getValue in .NET 1.1. Both of them are implicitly casted to objects before casted to booleans.

    // .NET 2.0 not() implementation
    !((bool) query);
    // .NET 1.1 not() implementation

    The same is for all numeric operations (plus, minus, multiplication, division, modulus and negate) inside the not() XSLT function.

    I guess we can't expect a fix for this, even if it would be welcome. But now you know it!

    The problem above was solved with this expression instead:

    xsl:if test="(position() mod 2) = 0">

    P.S. To get rid of the compiler warnings, insert these pragma directives in your C# code:

    #pragma warning disable 0618 // Disable warning CS0618 from here
    // your code goes here
    #pragma warning restore 0618 

  • Office Open XML now approved as ISO/IEC standard IS29500

    Tags: Microsoft Office, Office Open XML

    Thumbs up! After a lot of turmoil the ECMA Office Open XML document format has been approved as an ISO/IEC standard - IS 29500. The news came out a day earlier than stated, due to a leak which made ISO to go public with the news.

    The process has not been easy for any part in the process and it has for sure made footprints in the standardization history. A lot of lobbying money as been spent (Politics matter) and a lot of committed people has engaged in verbal and written battles.

    Now it is time to look forward, once again. Microsoft has to make sure that their Office suite adopts to the IS 29500 specification (once it published and in print), the anti-OOXML campaigners has an obligation to help out in the ISO-process to make IS 29500 even better and to make OOXML, ODF and other formats interoperable.

    My only fears is that some greedy lawyers are trying to make some (more) money from this by suing national-bodies or even ISO itself or trying to delay it all by throwing more monkey wrenches in the process.

    More reading

About Wictor...

Wictor Wilén is the Nordic Digital Workplace Lead working at Avanade. Wictor has achieved the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) - SharePoint  and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) - SharePoint 2010 certifications. He has also been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for seven consecutive years.

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