But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

I want a TFS 64bit API

The lack of 64Bit TFS API DLLs is becoming a real pain for me. We have committed to a 64Bit server architecture for all our IIS and hence MOSS servers; both of these seem unable to WOW64 the 32bit TFS DLLs (though Cassini can!) so I cannot load any web front ends that use TFS such as eScrum or anything home grown on my main servers.

My only option is to run 32it servers as well for the primary systems. This is not too bad for IIS/ASP.NET bits, but it is not recommended to have a mixed 32/64bit frontend for MOSS.

I have to ask why is there no 64bit version of these TFS DLLs,  what the hell do they do that is processor type related?

If my understanding is correct they are just a set of wrappers that make the TFS WebServices easier to use. The TFS WebServices are not designed for third party access and I was strongly warned off trying to use them by Martin Wooward at IMTC and he should know as he is part of the team that wrote the Java/Eclipse client for TFS. He said the webservices do not provided atomic functions, so the API does a lot of work to make sure you don't corrupt the TFS system. However as it in the end the API uses the TFS WebServices it must just be making SOAP calls so why can't we have a 64Bit set of DLLs?

So is this a problem for just me? Has anyone else got interesting workarounds?

First Release of BlogWriter for Smart Devices

I have just uploaded the first release of my BlogWriter for Smart Devices which allows you to post new messages to blog servers that uses the MetaBlog API. My aim was to provide a LiveWriter like application for devices like my HTC PDA.

In the zip file you will find these instructions and a .CAB file. The installation process is as follows:

  • Make sure you Smart Device has .NET Compact Framework 3.5 installed
  • Copy the the CAB file to your smart device 
  • On the smart device double click on the CAB – you will get a message about unknown publisher, say OK. The EXE and the CAB are digitally signed but Black Marble is not a known publisher (we don't have Mobile2Market certificate which is the only type that the installer can check publishers against).
  • Answer the questions as to where you want to install the application.
  • Once the program has been installed there should be a icon on program menu for Blog Writer, click it to run
  • You see a splash screen, this should disappear after a short while and leave an empty page (this is because the blog server has not been configured yet)

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  • On the tools menu select Options
  • Enter the URL of the community server's MetaBlog page (or any other type of blog server that support MetaBlog). In the case of CS it will be something like http://www.mydomain.co.uk/blogs/metablog.ashx
  • Enter the blog name. In CS it is what is after the /blogs/ in the URL, so mine is rfennell
  • Enter your login and password.
  • Finally you can set if the application should auto-connect to the server on start-up. I would suggest not to auto refresh until you are happy it is working, there is a manual refresh option on the tools menu.
  • Once all is setup and saved use tools/refresh option and you should see a list of your last 20 posts.

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  • To view a post click on it or click new post button to create a new one

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  • On the details page you get a browser preview, and a text editor. As I have not found a good html editor for .NET Compact framework I just use a textbox and replace a newline with a <p> when you save.
  • You also get a categories list which is pulled from the server. You can assign a post to any category you want.
  • When you are happy use the publish option on the post actions menu.
  • Note: you also have an option to delete a post if you want.

So what is missing?

  • A better HTML editor is the critical thing, I might have to write one!
  • No context menus or help.
  • The ability to add new categories.
  • Image support - maybe linked to the PDA camera to you can blog a photo in one step.

Enigma &amp; Friends

I went to very interesting IET meeting last night entitled 'Enigma & Friends' given by John Alexander. He is a private collector of encryption machines; the bulk of his collection is currently house in the Block-B exhibit at Bletchley Park and is open to the public.

The difference between going to the museum and seeing his presentation is threefold. Firstly the you get his extensive knowledge of the subject, but I think even more interestingly hear of the adventures it takes to obtain what must be remembered were (or still are) top secret machines. And finally you get a chance to handle  the machines, probably something I will not get the chance to do again.

So what did I learn - Russian cold war cypher machines are improbably heavy, and you can buy anything on eBay!

Smart Device Blog Writer

This post has been written with a blog writer (same idea as Live Writer) that I have written for a Smart Device using the .NET Compact Framework 3.5

The reason I wrote it was I find Community Server a bit awkward to use in a web browser on a small form factor device like my HTC Cruise phone. Being able to create a post offiline just seemed an easier option.

Lets see if that is true.

Outlook Mobile Sync Issues over 3G

I posted a while ago about my new HTC Cruise, well I am still really happy with it but I have come across a problem. I have found that from time to time I get problems trying to do a Send/Receive in Outlook Mobile via the 3G mobile phone network. Well today after a chat with Tom I spotted the pattern.

If I boot the phone I can pickup email via 3G/Internet no problems. However, if I USB active-sync the phone any further attempt to pickup email via 3G just gets a 'Connecting' status message then nothing.

It seems that the active-sync (which also does an update of the email) leaves Outlook mobile in such a state that it cannot connect via 3G, maybe URL/IP Address cache issue? Interestingly a Web Browser has no problem getting to the mail server's URL via 3G so it looks to be a problem in Outlook Mobile and not the operating system.

So the simple fix is just reboot the phone, something I have not had to do much with the HTC running Windows Mobile 6.0. My old QTek had to be rebooted a on regular basis

Community Launch Events

A busy time in the next few weeks for free community launch events for Windows 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL 2008.

This week we at Black Marble are hosting a series of three evening events (See online booking) where you can see virtually the whole set of Black Marble speakers.

On the 30th of April there will be a VBug hosted launch event in Newcastle where I, Rik and Iain will be speaking.

Hope to see you one or more of these events.

Back home from the IMTC

After an uneventful journey I have got home from the IMTC conference in Dublin. Thanks to the organiser for running the event, it seemed to go well.

I hope I managed to answer any question my sessions on SQL BI and Scrum raised, if not send a message via this blog. I suspect there might be a few from the Scrum session as it seems the cinema (where the conference was held) had a movie scheduled to start at 6pm, the same time I was scheduled to finish so not much chance to stand around for a Q&A and chat.

Keep an eye on the IMTC conference web site for webcasts of the sessions and other materials. Also I am sure photo's and video will appear on other speakers blogs.

The youth of today

It is the school holidays, so I am sitting in a children's indoor jungle gym sorting out my slides for Ireland while my son rushes around.

Having someone working on a laptop here seems to be a bit of novelty. I have had a number of children rush over to see what I am doing. They don't stay watching long when they spot the VPC of SQL 2008 and a PowerPoint stack.

What does it take to excite the youth of today? I despair if data structures does not interest them; whatever will - compiler theory?