Upgrade of our Blog server to Community Server 2007

As any of you who are regular readers of BM-Bloggers may have noticed, our blog server structure had become a little confused over the years. We started BM-Bloggers as a single blog hosted using .Text, we then moved it to a multi blog server hosted on Community Server 2.0, then started adding other blogs and mirrors as the volume of posts from our development team grew. This ended up finally being hosted on CS2.1.

We have today upgraded our blog server from CS2.1 to CS2007 and taken the chance to restructure it slightly, making far better use of the aggregation features of CS.

This may mean that some of you will need to change RSS feeds URLs, but we hope we have minimized the number of people this effects. So the revised links are:

A list of all the blogs we host (the CS2007 home page) – http://blogs.blackmarble.co.uk/
The aggregate of all the post made by Black Marble staff in any blog we host (equiv. to the old BM Bloggers mirror) – http://blogs.blackmarble.co.uk/blogs/default.aspx?GroupID=2
This aggregate can also be accessed by our original blog link – http://blogs.blackmarble.co.uk/bm-bloggers
There is also an RSS feed for BM-Bloggers aggregate – http://blogs.blackmarble.co.uk/blogs/MainFeed.aspx?GroupID=2&Type=AllBlogs

I hope you all continue to find our blog postings interesting and useful, and we look forward to reading any comments.


Getting HTC Phonepad to work on an Orange SPV M700

Some time ago I upgraded my Orange mobile to an M700.  It’s a very nice phone indeed, and the ability to be able to use TomTom 6 on it as well saves me having to varry around yet another electronic device.

One thing about it did however annoy me – there was no equivalent of the T9 text input that I had on my old phone.  I wasn’t keen on getting the stylus out to tap away at the tiny keyboard shown on the screen when I wanted to write a text message.  I tried getting a copy of HTC phonepad working on the phone, but to no avail.

After some research, I’ve managed to get it to work okay.  Here’s what I had to do:

  • Install ‘G4 SIP Tweak.cab’ – links to this are available in a number of places, try forum.xda-developers.com
  • Install ‘HTC_SIPsettings.cab’ – links to this are available in a number of places, try forum.xda-developers.com
  • Install Phonepad – again, there are plenty of links to the application out there

The phone needed a soft reset between installing each of these items.

Once installed, I can now switch between the standard keyboard and Phonepad as I like!


The World Bank backing Board Games to fight poverty

It may surprise some but I am a huge fan of board games, I feel that they can provide a great social event and some of the newer games produced over the last 10 years, are truly sublime.

However I did not expect to see the World bank trying to fight poverty by producing board games, especially commissioning a game around the subject of street addressing.

In November 2006, they called for game proposals on this topic: β€œDesigning and Developing an Educational Game on Street Addressing.”

I wondered about the issues that the Bank were addressing, but after some reading and some thought realized that they are trying to get people to look at economic growth of poorer countries and address key issues which will affect growing business such as being able to have post/supplies delivered reliably and well you can work the rest out.

so my deepest congratulations and in fact my heartfelt thanks go out to the winners 1) I Need A Sign by Ariel Seoane from Uruguay, and 2) URBS & CIVITAS by John Baluci from USA

I think if I had known such a challenge had been put forward and the impact could be as great as it seems , I would have put a lot of effort into helping out. Maybe next time πŸ™‚

if you would like to know more about the importance of street addressing the World Bank has produced a Report



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Vista Media Center problems and a solution

I’ve been meaning to build a Media Center PC for a while and have finally bitten the bullet and bought some components to add to a fairly old socket A Shuttle, which I happened to have lurking around.  I bought a Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1300 TV card and an ATI X1550 AGP graphics card to add to the machine, along with a copy of Vista Home Premium to provide me with Media Center.

Unfortunately I’ve been having some fairly serious problems getting the machine to run.  After assembling it and installing Vista on the machine, I found that loading the Hauppauge drivers for the TV card would cause the machine to hang (either immediately I started Media Center to try and set it up, or when the machine rebooted), or the device would not start (shown as a yellow triangle next to the component listed in Device Manager).  Which of these it did depended upon whether I had loaded the Via chipset drivers, ATI graphics card drivers etc.  Ultimately however, after more hours of mucking around with it than I had ever thought possible and installation of far more versions of the various drivers for the components within the machine than I have ever tried before I resigned myself to it being something of a lost cause.

I went back to have another look at the problem yesterday and borrowed an nVidia graphics card to try instead of the ATI one I had been using.  Following a rebuild of Vista, I installed the Via drivers for the motherboard, the graphics card drivers and then the Hauppauge drivers and the whole lot fired immediately into life with no problems.

So, it would appear that the ATI card I bought for the PC was causing the problems I was experiencing!

I’m not at all sure why I’ve had so many problems with this machine.  Installing the same components into an nForce2 based board for trial purposes seemed to work, so I guess that it might be a Via/ATI clash.

Visual Studio 2008

Well it is out (the name at least) thanks to Daniel Moth a DPE here in the UK. I haven’t heard the information else where but Daniel is very reliable. it must be said that everybody had already guessed , but it is nice to know.


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A New Version of Live Writer is out

For any of you out there currently using Live Writer, check out the New Version. If you aren’t using Live Writer for blogging , I would recommend you at least look at it.

Some of the nice features

Direct Add a Plugin ( there are some great code formatting ones )

Inline spell checking ( a must for me )

it supports Sharepoint

Snazzy new look and feel ( it now has one )

Plugin’s work on the fly after installation ( just playing with the insert from visual studio πŸ™‚ )

Did I mention it supports Sharepoint?



update – Rik excitedly informed me yesterday that there is a new version of live writer ( the one mentioned above ) was out , neither Richard or I had the heart to tell him to pay more attention to our combined blogs πŸ™‚

New Office

Black Marble has moved to bigger offices, don’t worry we are in the same building so we are easy to find. The building management company has refurbished the conference center for us. The new offices are three times bigger than the old ones and wait for it , we are nearly full again πŸ™‚

Rik , Richard and Andy had a fun packed day of server moving and other nice adminy type things in preparation of Rik spending more of my money on more servers ( I think he eats them or something , we always need a new one ).

I must say that the move would have been hard if it hadn’t been been for the help of Owen and Ivan , thanks guys. I have to be nice as they are finishing the office kitchen on Monday πŸ™‚


Security Mini Tour

I have finished a mini 3 day tour of York , Hull and Manchester Universities with Ed Gibson Microsoft’s Chief Security Advisor (CSA) for the UK. I was the opening act for Ed and provided the context for his talk, hopefully we will be revising the event in the Autumn for other universities as well as a Secure coding event for the universities that we have already visited. The reaction from the audiences was great and I think that in most case people got a lot more than the bargained for and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

I would like to thank York , Hull and Manchester all for having us and making us very welcome.


Murder most not here

I have just watched an episode of “Lewis” with Caitlin and she was getting quite concerned that a murder hadn’t occurred within the first few minutes and I started to speculate on the formula for occurrence of deaths in detective dramas. Having had some thought, the area around Midsummer seems to have a shocking body count followed by Morse, with Lewis topping up the Oxford and Thames valley body count. Although for awhile we did have a problem in the Leeds area with frost but that seems to have cleared up now.

I do like living in the north


Who stole Microsoft Marketing and where are they?

Microsoft marketing have as of today vanished and are presumed missing. They normally show themselves sometime at the end of the product cycle to replace cool and interesting project names with irrelevant and confusing messages about the product. Without the Microsoft marketing department’s intervention a large proportion of the work I do explaining the Microsoft developer story might not be needed.

So what is the evidence that these mysterious people and oft not seen people, In the last year great products Avalon became WPF , Indigo became WCF , WF became WF (mmm) , Longhorn became Vista. So Soma (VP Developer Division at Microsoft) announced that WPF/e ( WPF everywhere ) is going to be called wait for it , wait for it Silverlight,



WOW a really cool name , a bit too cool if you ask me, too close to Straylight from Neuromancer , are they planning something?, a lead in for conspiracy theorists maybe.