But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

Problems connecting a Netgear WG111 USB Wifi Dongle to a Netgear DG834GT router

Just spent an interesting hour trying to connect a Netgear WG111v2 USB WiFi Dongle to Netgear (Sky Branded) DG834GT router. They are both from the same manufacturer so you would they would work together!

This router was setup with its default Sky settings so WiFi was setup as WPA.

I installed the WG111 onto an XP laptop installed the newly downloaded V 5.1.1308 (26 Dec 2007) drivers and tried to connect. The router was spotted without problems and I was prompted to enter my WPA password, which was printed onto the bottom of the router (I had logged in to router via the web admin console to check this was correct). After what seemed like a long delay I was left not corrected to the router, but with no obvious error.

I fired up my work laptop which has built-in Wifi, this saw the router and connected as soon as the password as entered. Strange I thought, is this an XP or a WG111 problem?

I did a bit of searching and saw this was not an uncommon problem, the WG111 seems a troublesome child. In the end I got it working, this was the process I followed:

  • Via the network connection window in XP I looked at the properties of the WG111
  • On the wireless tab I switched of ‘Use windows to configure my wireless network setting’.

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  • This allowed me to open the Netgear Wireless Assistance tools to get more diagnostics. I saw that the router was running on the same channel as another local router.
  • Via the web based admin console of the router I changed the channel to a free one, in my case 10 – However, I don’t think this actually fixed the problem.
  • Via the web based admin console of the router I changed the WiFi mode from ‘b and g’ to ‘g only’ – This is the important one I think
  • I saved the changes and rebooted the router and it all worked
  • Just to tidy up, via the network connection window in XP I went back into the properties of the WG111 and on the wireless tab I switched on ‘Use windows to configure my wireless network setting’
  • Finally rebooted the laptop just to check it all worked, it did

I suspect the issue here is the WG111 getting confused if it is in 802.11b or 802.11g network, so removing the confusion fixed the problem

Gojko Adzic is presenting at the next Agile Yorkshire meeting on acceptance tests

February’s Agile Yorkshire is on the 8th. The session will be given by Gojko Adzic on ’Long term value of acceptance tests’ I have seen Gojko speak at a number of events, including Agile Yorkshire, he is always an engaging speaker so well worth the effort to attend. I know I am going to give it a go, but have been really struggling to make Agile Yorkshire as Tuesday nights are a bit busy of late. My diary is just too full!

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Not made it to DDD9

I was busy for the few minutes that the DDD9 registration was open, so did not manage to get on the attendee list, but I have been try to keep an eye on that is going on at Twitter.

The good news is that there are more DDD events on the way

Session submissions are open for Scotland, I have submitted on writing custom build activities for TFS 2010. It is great experience presenting and attending at these events, I really recommend you give both a try.

Also it was announced today there will be a DDD North East in Sep/Oct in Newcastle, keep and eye on the DDD site. This event is being initially co-ordinated by the NEBytes user group so keep an eye on their twitter feed, also Black Marble will be helping out so information will be on our site and twitter feed

Follow up to yesterdays events on ‘enabling agile development with cool tools’

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterdays Black Marble event ‘Enabling agile development with cool tools’, both Gary Short’s and my sessions seemed well received. I was asked if my slides would be available anywhere, well the answer is no. The reason for this is that my session was mostly demo driven, so the slides just set the scene. After a bit of thought, a quick blog post seems a better option;  so this post covers the same basic points as the session. If you are interested in any of the products I would urge you to download them and give them a go. Many are free and all have at least a free fully functional evaluation edition.

So the essence of my session was on the project management/administrative side of agile projects. The key here is communication both inside and outside of the immediate project team. How to we capture and distribute information so it assists the project not hampers it?

Traditionally the physical taskboard, with moving moving some form of postcards around has been the answer. This is a great solution as long as the team is co-located and that there is no need for a detailed on going record of the historic state of the tasks (maybe a requirement for legal reasons, but then maybe a daily digital photo would do?). Anyway many teams find they need to capture this information in some electronic form. In my session I looked at some of the options with TFS2010

What is built into TFS2010?

As TFS has a single work item store you can edit work items with a wide variety of clients. In the box you have tools to edit work items via Visual Studio, SharePoint, Team Web Access as well as the ability to manage work items in Excel and Project.

What if I live in Outlook?

If you want to do all you work item management in Outlook then have a look at Ekobit’s TeamCompanion. This in effect allows you to treat work items in a similar manner to email, and cross between the two. So you can create a work item from an email and vice versa; it also allows the managing work items in batches. This product strikes me was very well suited to an email based support desk or project manager that is meeting or email orientated, maybe dealing with people who do not themselves have access to TFS, just email.

How can I replicate my physical taskboard?

For many teams the capture of the physical taskboard information is the key. I have always found a good way to make sure TFS work items are up to date is to have all the work items associated with the tasks on the taskboard returned via a TFS query and then in Excel, as the daily stand up is done, make sure each task is up to date.

However, some people like to work more visually than that, so in the session I looked at a couple of desktop applications that allow work item management both in a form editing manner and via taskboard like drag and drop operations. These were Telerik’s Work Item Manager and EMC’s TFS Work Bench.

However for many companies adding another desktop application to a controlled IT PC can be a problem so I also had a look at Urban Turtle an add-in to Team Web Access that allows a more visual taskboard approach with in a browser by adding a couple of tabs to those  in the standard Team Web Access product.

But what about outside the team?

All the products I showed in the first half of the session were in essence work item editors, a team could choose to use any or all of them. This does not however really help with getting information out to interested parties beyond the team; for this we need publically accessible Information Radiators. The information on these needs to change over time and be easy to understand.

The output of the team focused tools may be just what you need here, maybe a chart printed out and stuck to a notice board will do, but there are some other options.

The first is that there are a rich set of reports in TFS, available both as Reporting Services reports and Excel charts. Reporting Services is particularity interesting as it can deliver reports to interested parties on a scheduled e.g. the CTO get the project burn down emailed as a PDF every Monday morning. There is also the option to deliver reports to central information sites such as Intranet SharePoint servers for everyone to see.

But what do you do if you want something a bit more striking, something that does not require a person to look on a web site or open their email? Maybe a big screen showing what is going on in the project? I showed two products to do this one was Telerik’s Project Dashboard and the other a version our Black Marble internal BuildWallboard, written using the TFS API.

So in summary, in my opinion the key differentiator for TFS over ALM solutions built for a set of different vendors products is that there is a single store for all work items so a wide range of editing an reporting tools can be bought to bear without having to worry over whether the information you are working with is the going to be passed correctly between the various components of the system.

So again I would urge you that if you use TFS have a look at these product, and the many others that are out there, given them a go and see which ones may assist your process. Remember agile is all about continuous improved isn’t it, so give it a try

At last my creature it lives – adventures with Lab Management and VLAN tags

After much delay I have at last got our internal Lab Management running on ‘real’ hardware as opposed to it’s initial home on a demo rig PC. We have just been too busy to find the time to reconfigure and redeploy our own kit! You know how it is ‘a plumber’s house is full of drippy taps’. That said I of course still want more hardware, as soon as you start to build up test environments you eat Hyper-V server resources very quickly; memory seems to be my most pressing current limitation on how much I can run at the same time.

You also have to be patient with Lab Management, though it provides many features to ease the life of the test team it cannot work magic. It still takes a while to copy tens of Gigabytes around the network. Though when you rollback an environment to reset a test, though it can take a few minutes you realise how that is much better that is than the older disk imaging techniques you would have to have used. You realise all the time you spend getting the base environment snapshots right is a great investment in time.

The one thing that caused me a few problems was that we use VLAN tagging on our switches. This means that Hyper-V hosted VMs need to have a suitable VLAN tag assigned, else they cannot see the resources on our LAN. This becomes a problem when using network isolation in Lab Management as when the new environment is created the extra adaptor that is automatically added has no VLAN tag, so does not work. However, luckily the fix is simple, you do have to manually set the tag on the VMs network settings via Hyper-V Manager or SCVMM (as far as I can see you cannot do it MTM)

So now I am off to run some test in my nice new environments, what fun.

Updated 29th Jan 2011: I can now confirm that VLAN tags are not support (see http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/vslab/thread/2fad399b-01fa-4001-b369-ecb7d1b071e6). My workaround will work, but it does require whoever deploys a lab has SCVMM access or Hyper-V manager access to the Hyper-V hosts to make the manual edits to the network adaptor settings. So not a solution that scales well.

Preparing for my session next week on ‘enabling agile development with cool tools’

I have spent today preparing my presentation and demos for the Black Marble event next week Enabling Agile Development with Cool Tools. I will be presenting with Gary Short of DevExpress. He is going to be talking about refactoring under the intriguing title ‘How to Eat an Elephant’.

My session will be on the tools to aid the project management side of the ALM process. Specifically the tools available for TFS 2010 both those ‘out the box’ and from third party vendors. I only have a hour slot, so I have had to be selective as there are may ‘cool tools’ to choose from. So after some thought I have chosen

Urban Turtle 
Telerik Work Item Manager and Project Dashboard
Ekobit TeamCompanion
EMC TFS Work Bench

Should be a good session, there are certainly some great tools in this list.

TF215097 error when using a custom build activity

Whist trying to make use of a custom build activity I got the error

TF215097: An error occurred while initializing a build for build definition \Tfsdemo1\Candy: Cannot create unknown type '{clr-namespace:TfsBuildExtensions.Activities.CodeQuality;assembly=TfsBuildExtensions.Activities.StyleCop}StyleCop'

This occurred when the TFS 2010 build controller tried to parse the build process .XAML at the start of the build process. A check of all the logs gave no other information other than this error message, nothing else appeared to have occurred.

If I removed the custom activity from the build process all was OK and the build worked fine.

So my initial though was that the required assembly was not loaded into source control and the ‘version control path to custom assemblies’ set. However on checking the file was there and the path set.

What I had forgotten was that this custom activity assembly had a reference to a TfsBuildExtensions.Activities assembly that contained a base class. It was not that the named assembly was missing but that it could not be loaded because a required assembly was missing. Unfortunately there was no clue to this in the error message or logs.

So if you see this problem check for references you might have forgotten and make sure ALL the required assemblies are loaded into source control on the control path for custom assemblies used by the build controller

Kindle on the Phone 7

I asked the question a while ago if I should buy a Kindle? I still think that new books are too expensive, but as there are loads of out of copyright books available for the platform so I did not hesitate to download the Windows Phone 7 Kindle app today. You never know when you need something to read and what could be better to dip into than a bit of Sherlock Holmes?

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Ok the experience on a phone is never going to be a good as on the Kindle hardware, but first impressions are good. It is nice and clear to read, much like the experience on the older Microsoft Reader on my old Windows Mobile 6.x, but with far easier navigation.

I am sure it will help we pass time when waiting at airports, train stations etc.

DDD9 Sessions announced

Seems yet again my sessions for a DDD event did not excite the voting public; the selected sessions for DDD9 are out and I am not on the list. Again it does look a nice varied selection of sessions. I have tried to see if I can see a trend in what is being selected, but it seems a fair mix between language feature introductions, web technologies, tools and architecture/process/patterns – so something for everyone.

So if you plan to go be quick, the timeline says registration opens later today at 1:37pm