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Microsoft releases new WP7 Tools & IE9 RC!

February 11th, 2011 No comments

I’m a little late on this one, but Microsoft has released Windows Phone Developer Tools January 2011 update recently. From their own list

The Windows Phone Developer Tools January 2011 Update includes:

  • Windows Phone Emulator Update – Exposes copy/paste functionality in the Windows Phone 7 emulator. For more information, see How to: Test Copy and Paste in Windows Phone Emulator. End users can use the copy and paste functionality only after receiving the corresponding update to the Windows Phone 7 operating system.
  • Windows Phone Developer Resources Update – Fixes a text selection bug in pivot and panorama controls. In applications that have pivot or panorama controls that contain text boxes, users can unintentionally change panes when trying to copy text. To prevent this problem, open your application, recompile it, and then resubmit it to the Windows Phone Marketplace.
  • Windows Phone Capability Detection Tool – Detects the phone capabilities used by your application. When you submit your application to Windows Phone Marketplace , Microsoft performs a code analysis to detect the phone capabilities required by your application and then replaces the list of capabilities in the application manifest with the result of this detection process. This tool performs the same detection process and allows you to test your application using the same list of phone capabilities generated during the certification process. For more information, see How to: Use the Capability Detection Tool.
  • Windows Phone Connect Tool – Allows you to connect your phone to a PC when Zune® software is not running and debug applications that use media APIs. For more information, see How to: Use the Connect Tool.
  • Updated Bing Maps Silverlight Control – Includes improvements to gesture performance when using Bing™ Maps Silverlight® Control.

WPDT Fix includes:

  • Windows Phone Developer Tools Fix allowing deployment of XAP files over 64 MB in size to physical phone devices for testing and debugging.

The BingMap updates were quite welcome too! There are two bits to this update, first grab the Windows Phone 7 January Patch, then install the Visual Studio 2010 tooling update.

Today also marked the release of Internet Explorer 9 Release Candidate which brings a nice bunch of (much needed) updates to IE9 and standards in general with a cool smooth UI.  Ars has a great write up on IE9 RC too which will be far better than what I can write up.

Windows 7 x86 | x64 for the lazy few!

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Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 free ebook!

September 15th, 2010 No comments

Microsoft Press - Moving to Microsoft Visual Studio 2010Free ebook compliments of Microsoft Press, you can download a PDF. or an XPS of the book and grab the book’s sample code.

The book is broken down into these parts  catering for the following audiences:

  • Part I – for those moving from Visual Studio 2003 to Visual Studio 2010.
  • Part II – for developers moving from Visual Studio 2005.
  • Part III – for developers moving from Visual Studio 2008.

See the blog post about the target audience for this ebook too.

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Oracle releases VirtualBox 3.2

May 20th, 2010 1 comment

With the Sun now set, Oracle has released VirtualBox 3.2 finally 🙂 In particular some lovely optimisations for the newer Intel Core i5/i7 processors, Large  Page support (which helps significantly on Windows x64 and Linux) as well as a very welcome optimisation on the networking in VirtualBox as well as multi-monitor support for Windows Guests. Whats more RDP sessions are now accelerated (VRDP).

Amongst the changes from the changelog:

This version is a major update. The following major new features were added:

  • Following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corporation, the product is now called Oracle VM VirtualBox and all references were changed without impacting compatibility
  • Experimental support for Mac OS X guests (see the manual for more information)
  • Memory ballooning to dynamically in- or decrease the amount of RAM used by a VM (64-bit hosts only) (see the manual for more information)
  • Page Fusion automatically de-duplicates RAM when running similar VMs thereby increasing capacity. Currently supported for Windows guests on 64-bit hosts (see the manual for more information)
  • CPU hot-plugging for Linux (hot-add and hot-remove) and certain Windows guests (hot-add only) (see the manual for more information)
  • New Hypervisor features: with both VT-x/AMD-V on 64-bit hosts, using large pages can improve performance (see the manual for more information); also, on VT-x, unrestricted guest execution is now supported (if nested paging is enabled with VT-x, real mode and protected mode without paging code runs faster, which mainly speeds up guest OS booting)
  • Support for deleting snapshots while the VM is running
  • Support for multi-monitor guest setups in the GUI for Windows guests (see the manual for more information)
  • USB tablet/keyboard emulation for improved user experience if no Guest Additions are available (see the manual for more information).
  • LsiLogic SAS controller emulation (see the manual for more information)
  • RDP video acceleration (see the manual for more information)
  • NAT engine configuration via API and VBoxManage
  • Use of host I/O cache is now configurable (see the manual for more information)
  • Guest Additions: added support for executing guest applications from the host system (replaces the automatic system presimparation feature; see the manual for more information)

Download from VirtualBox or get the Windows build. I’m really hoping the good Oracle keeps VirtualBox open, this is one kickass bit of kit.

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Google opens up VP8 with WebM Project

May 20th, 2010 2 comments

You kind of knew it was going to happen but the mighty Google has open-sourced On2’s VP8 codec and set it free (in the form of a BSD-style license). Don’t forget to read an intro to the WebM VP8 SDK and get the code (the files). Some of the companies backing it and the ideas behind WebM are posted on the first blog entry.

So what is WebM?

WebM includes:

  • VP8, a high-quality video codec we are releasing today under a BSD-style, royalty-free license
  • Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec
  • a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container

Wonder what MSFT and Apple are going to do? In either case, interesting times ahead for video.

Oh hai, I almost forgot, from their FAQ, some interesting points – besides the Licensing bits.

If I have a video card that accelerates video playback, will it accelerate VP8?

The performance of VP8 is very good in software, and we’re working closely with many video card and silicon vendors to add VP8 hardware acceleration to their chips.

Will WebM files play on my TV, set-top box, PVR, etc.?

Stay tuned! The WebM community is working with hardware manufacturers to bring WebM support to a wide range of devices.

When will other Google products support WebM and VP8?

WebM support in Android is expected in the Gingerbread release (currently planned for Q4, 2010). We expect many other Google products to adopt WebM and VP8 as they prioritize it with their other product requirements. Keep an eye on the WebM blog for announcements.

Man, Google rocks!

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VirtualBox 3.2.0 Beta 1 Released!

May 3rd, 2010 No comments

Finally downloaded the latest 3.2.0 release of VirtualBox today and gave it ago!

From the forum post for this pre-release.

VirtualBox Version 3.2.0 is a major update. The following major new features were added:

  • Following the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle Corporation, the product is now called Oracle VM VirtualBox and all references were changed without impacting compatibility.
  • Experimental support for Mac OS X guests
  • Memory ballooning to dynamically in- or decrease the amount of RAM used by a VM (64-bit hosts only) (see the manual for more information)
  • CPU hot-plugging for Linux (hot-add and hot-remove) and certain Windows guests (hot-add only) (see the manual for more information)
  • New Hypervisor features: with both VT-x/AMD-V on 64-bit hosts, using large pages can improve performance (see the manual for more information); also, on VT-x, unrestricted guest execution is now supported (if nested paging is enabled with VT-x, real mode and protected mode without paging code runs faster, which mainly speeds up guest OS booting)
  • Support for deleting snapshots while the VM is running
  • Support for multi-monitor guest setups in the GUI (see the manual for more information)
  • USB tablet/keyboard emulation for improved user experience if no Guest Additions are available
  • LsiLogic SAS controller emulation
  • RDP video acceleration
  • NAT engine configuration via API and VBoxManage
  • Guest Additions: added support for executing guest applications from the host system
  • OVF: enhanced OVF support with custom namespace to preserve settings that are not part of the base OVF standard

In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:

  • VMM: fixed crash with the OpenSUSE 11.3 milestone kernel during early boot (software virtualization only)
  • VMM: fixed OS/2 guest crash with nested paging enabled
  • VMM: fixed Windows 2000 guest crash when configured with a large amount of RAM (bug 5800)
  • VMM: fixed massive display performance loss (AMD-V with nested paging only)
  • Linux/Solaris guests: PAM module for automatic logons added
  • GUI: guess the OS type from the OS name when creating a new VM
  • GUI: added VM setting for passing the time in UTC instead of passing the local host time to the guest (bug 1310)
  • GUI: fixed seamless mode on secondary monitors (bugs 1322 and 1669)
  • GUI: added –seamless and –fullscreen command line switches (bug 4220)
  • Settings: be more robust when saving the XML settings files
  • Mac OS X: rewrite of the CoreAudio driver and added support for audio input (bug 5869)
  • Mac OS X: external VRDP authentication module support (bug 3106)
  • Mac OS X: Moved the realtime dock preview settings to the VM settings (no global option anymore). Use the dock menu to configure it.
  • Mac OS X: added the VM menu to the dock menu
  • 3D support: fixed corrupted surface rendering (bug 5695)
  • 3D support: fixed VM crashes when using ARB_IMAGING (bug 6014)
  • 3D support: fixed assertion when guest applications uses several windows with single OpenGL context (bug 4598)
  • 3D support: added GL_ARB_pixel_buffer_object support
  • 3D support: added OpenGL 2.1 support
  • 3D support: fixed Final frame of Compiz animation not updated to the screen (Mac OS X only) (bug 4653)
  • Added support for virtual high precision event timer (HPET)
  • LsiLogic: Fixed detection of hard disks attached to port 0 when using the drivers from LSI
  • NAT: fixed ICMP latency (non-Windows hosts only; bug 6427)
  • Keyboard/Mouse emulation: fixed handling of simultaneous mouse/keyboard events under certain circumstances (bug 5375)
  • Shared folders: fixed issue with copying read-only files (Linux guests only; bug 4890)
  • OVF: fixed mapping between two IDE channels in OVF and the one IDE controller in VirtualBox

Bootilicious! Download links are on the site (updated for BETA2).

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FIX: WordPress Older Posts not working in IIS with Permalinks

April 28th, 2010 2 comments

I spent some time tweaking my blog today after moving it to some fresh hardware. You may find that everything is loading much faster now which can be attributed to two plugins in addition to the hardware upgrade – wp-super-cache and wp-widget-cache.

I’ve also fixed a long standing bug with my particular configuration of WordPress that runs on IIS which causes the “Older posts” link at the bottom does not function for the second page. The WordPress generated URL for this is

http://www.thushanfernando.com/index.php/Index.php/page/2

Which is a bit problematic, this ofcourse can be reproduced only on IIS from my musings (serves me right eh?). There are a couple of suggestions by people on the forums already, but I wasn’t too keen on them as they seemed too high-level fixes.

I’ve enabled Permalinks with this format:

http://www.thushanfernando.com/index.php/2010/04/28/sample-post/

So I looked through the sources to see why this was happening. After a bit of snooping about I got to the get_pagenum_link function in wp-includes/link-template.php file.

Heres a bit of source for reference – this is with WordPress 2.9.2:

function get_pagenum_link($pagenum = 1) {
	global $wp_rewrite;

	$pagenum = (int) $pagenum;

	$request = remove_query_arg( 'paged' );

	$home_root = parse_url(get_option('home'));
	$home_root = ( isset($home_root['path']) ) ? $home_root['path'] : '';
	$home_root = preg_quote( trailingslashit( $home_root ), '|' );

	$request = preg_replace('|^'. $home_root . '|', '', $request);
	$request = preg_replace('|^/+|', '', $request);

	if ( !$wp_rewrite->using_permalinks() || is_admin() ) {
		$base = trailingslashit( get_bloginfo( 'home' ) );

		if ( $pagenum > 1 ) {
			$result = add_query_arg( 'paged', $pagenum, $base . $request );
		} else {
			$result = $base . $request;
		}
	} else {
		$qs_regex = '|\?.*?$|';
		preg_match( $qs_regex, $request, $qs_match );

		if ( !empty( $qs_match[0] ) ) {
			$query_string = $qs_match[0];
			$request = preg_replace( $qs_regex, '', $request );
		} else {
			$query_string = '';
		}

		$request = preg_replace( '|page/\d+/?$|', '', $request);
		$request = preg_replace( '|^index\.php|', '', $request);
		$request = ltrim($request, '/');

		$base = trailingslashit( get_bloginfo( 'url' ) );

	if ( $wp_rewrite->using_index_permalinks() && ( $pagenum > 1 || '' != $request ) )
		$base .= 'index.php/';

		if ( $pagenum > 1 ) {
			$request = ( ( !empty( $request ) ) ? trailingslashit( $request ) : $request ) . user_trailingslashit( 'page/' . $pagenum, 'paged' );
		}

		$result = $base . $request . $query_string;
	}

	$result = apply_filters('get_pagenum_link', $result);

	return $result;
}

This function (from reading through) essentially generates the links for the page numbers & page navigation taking into account Permalinks if configured. This is all fine and dandy for Unix hosts but for Windows, unfortunately this bit of code fails us.

...
$request = preg_replace( '|page/\d+/?$|', '', $request);
$request = preg_replace( '|^index\.php|', '', $request);
$request = ltrim($request, '/');
...

As the preg_replace is case sensitive, it will not replace the invalid Index.php that is seen on IIS. So the easiest fix is to tweak the regex pattern a little bit and tell it be case insensitive.

...
$request = preg_replace( '|page/\d+/?$|', '', $request);
$request = preg_replace( '/|^index\.php|/i', '', $request);
$request = ltrim($request, '/');
...

This will then generate the (invalid) urls and the preg_replace will remove any additional Index.php’s from the request URL as its already mentioned in the $base variable a few lines below:

...
if ( $wp_rewrite->using_index_permalinks() && ( $pagenum > 1 || '' != $request ) )
$base .= 'index.php/';
...

Once you make the change and upload the files, your “Older posts” will start working again. I’ll submit a patch to WordPress I’ve submitted a patch to WordPress Trac, now its just a wait and see what they say, in the meantime here’s a patch file if you don’t want to modify sources manually. If there any issues, post a comment 🙂

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The move to Android from WinMo and Android 2.2 (aka Froyo) coming soon!

April 26th, 2010 1 comment

I switched from using Windows Mobile Phone devices to the Android platform a couple of months back with the Google Nexus One. With Microsoft following the lead of Apple in closing everything they’ve kept open for so long, there wasn’t much to look forward to with Windows Phone 7 (I was almost going to work on that team had I moved to the US a couple of years ago). Though, I’ve started writing for the new WP7 series via work, I’ve felt it was time to move on. Android is a breath of fresh air, I’ve toyed around with the G1 but the Nexus (whilst still a HTC device) is a joy to use as is the operating system. I actually have two Nexus’s these days, one is kept stock as my primary phone, whilst the other is using the Cyanogen mod.

Windows Mobile was never touch friendly – and rightfully so, as the operating system was written for stylus usage as a primary goal,  then later HTC (via TouchFlo3D) bolted on a new UI to bring touch friendly UI candy for Windows Mobile. Though Windows Phone 7 brings this to the table (with touch being a primary design goal), I’m ashamed to say they’ve taken what WinMo was good for – being easy to customise and cook ROMs for and turned it to the Apple-esque closed ecosystem and Jobs likes being in control of his herd.

The great thing about the Android is that its got potential and its constant source of updates are very welcome (probably the fastest growth for a platform thus far!), the AppStore has increased exponentially the past few months (which is good and bad – useless app count increases) as users begin to crawl out of the rotting Apples and the stained Windows phones. Another key is that all your Google services are integrated nicely. I’ve given up most of my daily things to Google – email, calendar, contacts… They’re all “in the cloud” and (for now) synchronisable and safe (not that you couldn’t do this with the iPhone or Windows Mobile).

The next release of Android (2.2) is dubbed Froyo and brings some very funky new updates.

JIT Compiler

Probably the biggest addition in this release but first and foremost, the design and architecture of the Android platform is a bit different to others. Forgetting the native development paradigm for Android, you write applications utilising the Java language.

From the Android Developer Guide:

Android applications are written in the Java programming language. The compiled Java code — along with any data and resource files required by the application — is bundled by the aapt tool into an Android package, an archive file marked by an .apk suffix. This file is the vehicle for distributing the application and installing it on mobile devices; it’s the file users download to their devices. All the code in a single .apk file is considered to be one application.

In many ways, each Android application lives in its own world:

  • By default, every application runs in its own Linux process. Android starts the process when any of the application’s code needs to be executed, and shuts down the process when it’s no longer needed and system resources are required by other applications.
  • Each process has its own virtual machine (VM), so application code runs in isolation from the code of all other applications.
  • By default, each application is assigned a unique Linux user ID. Permissions are set so that the application’s files are visible only that user, only to the application itself — although there are ways to export them to other applications as well.

It’s possible to arrange for two applications to share the same user ID, in which case they will be able to see each other’s files. To conserve system resources, applications with the same ID can also arrange to run in the same Linux process, sharing the same VM.

In order to achieve this, the Android platform uses the Dalvik Virtual Machine (which is register based as opposed to the more common stack based machines) suited for embedded devices – low memory footprint, run multiple VMs by offloading the process isolation, memory, threading and IO management to the operating system (Android).

The caveat with the Dalvik VM is that the performance is not ideal (it has no JIT compiler) and (by the looks of it) needs to improve garbage collection process (fragmentation is a concern currently). If you’re keen on understanding more about the Dalvik VM, checkout a talk from 2008’s Google I/O about Davik VM Internals (1:01:34). They also realise the performance implications of the runtime.

However, back in November 2009, Bill Buzbee commited the Dalvik JIT code to the Android platform bringing JIT compilation which (if you’ve been using any of the CyanogenMod’s lately) makes a very noticeable and welcome performance boost to all applications.

The (trace-based JIT) compiler detects frequently executed traces (hot paths & loops) and emits optimised code for the platform as necessary, ensuring that minimal heap memory is utilised without the use of any persistence storage – which is what you want in an mobile device!  Trace based JIT compilers are very common today, the TraceMonkey engine in Firefox is an example where dynamic languages (like Javascript) have had a boost through their use. Take a look at SPUR which is a Microsoft research project to bring trace-based JIT Compiler for CIL.

Whilst included in Android 2 it was never enabled, and by the looks of it, Android 2.2 will see this being enabled and stable 🙂

Linux Kernel update 2.6.32

The upgrade from 2.6.29 to 2.6.32 should bring a trimmed memory foot print and some performance tweaks as well as 802.11n support on devices such as the Google Nexus (yay!)

Flash 10.1 Support

There’s lots of hoo-haa about Flash support on iP*’s and other devices, I’m not too concerned about having it on my phone (less annoying ads browsing the interwebs) but it seems Google will bring Adobe Flash 10.1 support to Android. For some, it was a deal breaker when it came for choosing a phone. I guess now its a matter of ooh-ah!

Automatic application updates

Currently, updating Android applications is quite tedious – updating one application at a time, but it seems a newer update will automatically ensure that your applications are up to date – which is good and bad, I’d like to control when and where it decides to eat up my 3G data for updates (Eg. Update when on wireless)

Hopefully a rollback feature will also be implemented in case the newer versions break things.

Other updates

  • OpenGL ES 2.0 enhancements which game developers will find enticing.
  • The ability to control the color of the trackball (which currently flashes white)
  • Enabling of FM Radio
  • Fixes for resolution and “crazy screen” woes.

When will we be getting this? No-one knows, but suggestions are around the time for the Google I/O event on May 19th.

Next up, I’ll write about some of the applications that I’ve come to use daily, in the meantime you can see the apps running on my Android by checking my AppBrain account. Later some development articles on Android too 🙂

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Office 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2 (soon) available on MSDN!

April 26th, 2010 No comments

If you haven’t heard already, Microsoft have RTM’d both Office 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2 and Office is already available for MSDN Subscribers with SQL Server 2008 R2 arriving soonishly – you can look at the download page for SQL Server 2008 R2 and download it from MSDN now (03/05/2010). There’s also a great ebook titled “Introducing SQL Server 2008 R2” available in XPS and PDF format 🙂

I’m one of those who love the ribbon UI, its made things easier for me (helps that I really wasn’t a heavy MSFT Office user back in the days). Now everyone’s getting on board the ribbon train, even the beloved WinZip!

Don’t forget the Office 2010 Movie from last year.

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Visual Studio 2010 & Resharper 5 hit the interwebs.

April 13th, 2010 No comments

A little late on this one, but MSFT have released the long awaited Visual Studio 2010 release and JetBrains have also released ReSharper 5.

A full breakdown of Visual Studios are also available, not a huge fan of all these different SKUs to be honest. You can download a copy from your MSDN subscriptions now, or download the trial version (direct download), buy an upgrade from VS2008 or just download the .NET 4.0 runtime (48Mb).

I’ve spent the past 3 hours downloading from MSDN and its been crawling.

MUST.HAVE.PLINQ.FIX.

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Ninject 2.0 is out, now with more ninja!

February 27th, 2010 1 comment

Nate Kohari (the head Ninja of Ninject) has announced the availability of Ninject 2.0 which has been a long time coming – being a complete rewrite. The sources are on  github repository. Oh and checkout the new website, its got more ninja references that you can poke a ninja with!

As for .NET 4.0 compatibility,  whilst not officially announced, we’ve been using Ninject 2.0 (betas) and now just moving to the final release with .NET 4.0 without issues. All documentation and material are available on the wiki however.

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