I have had a ThinkPad Active Pen (model SD60G957200) ever since I got my Lenovo X1 Carbon Extreme.
The pen, when it works, has worked well. However, the problem has been that whether the pen and PC detected each other seemed very hit and miss.
Today I found the root cause. It was not drivers or dodgy Bluetooth as I had thought, but a weak spring inside the pen. It was not so weak that the battery rattled, but weak enough that the electrical circuit was not being closed reliably on the battery.
The fix was to replace the weak spring with new one out of an old ball point pen. Once this was done the pen became instantly reliable.
Wish I had spotted that sooner.
Updated 11 Nov 2020: I may have spoken too soon, it is back to it’s old behaviour today 🙁
However, I think it could just be the AAAA battery. Seems it is not a good idea to leave a battery in when the pen is not is use given the pen has no power switch.
The Black Live Matter movement has engendered many conversations, hopefully starting changes for the good. Often these changes involve the use of language. One such change has been the move to stop using the name master and switching to the name main for the trunk/default branch in Git repos. This change is moving apace driven by tools such as GitHub and Azure DevOps .
I have recently had need, for the first time since swapping my default branch name in new repos to main, to use Semantic Version and the GitVersion tool.
‘Out of the box’ I hit a problem. The current shipping version of GitVersion (5.3.2) by default makes the assumption that’s the trunk branch is called master. Hence, throws an exception if this branch cannot be found.
Looking at the project’s repo you can find PRs, tagged for a future release, that address this constraint. However, you don’t have to wait for a new version to ship to use this excellent tool in repos with other branch naming conventions.
The solution is to create an override file GitVersion.yml in the root of your repo with the following content to alter the Regex used to find branches. Note that the content below is as a minimum, you can override any other default configuration values in this file as needed.
branches: master: regex: ^master$|^main$
With this override file the default branch can be either master or main.
You can of course use a different name or limit the Regex to a single name as you need.
Azure DevOps YAML base pipelines allow the pipeline definitions to be treated like any other code. So you make changes in a branch and PR them into the main/trunk when they are approved.
This works well if all the YAML files are in the same repo, but not so well if you are using YAML templates and the templated YAML is stored in a different repo. This is because an Azure DevOps PR is limited to a single repo. So testing a change to a YAML template in a different repo needs a bit of thought.
Say for example you have a template called core.yml in a repo called YAMLTemplates and you make a change to it and start a PR. Unless you have a test YAML pipeline in that repo, which is not a stupid idea, but not always possible depending on the complexity of your build process, there is no way to test the change inside that repo.
The answer is to create a temporary branch in a repo that consumes the shared YAML template. In this temporary branch make an edit to the repository setting that references the shared YAML repo to point to the update branch contain the PR
A question I am often asked when consulting on Azure DevOps is ‘how can I automatically create release notes and how can I publish them?’.
Well it is for just this requirement that I have written a set of Azure DevOps Pipeline Tasks
Release Note Generator – to generate release notes. I strongly recommend this Cross-platform Node-based version. I plan to deprecate my older PowerShell version in the not too distant future as it uses ‘homegrown logic’, as opposed to standard Azure DevOps API calls, to get associated items.
Once the document has been generated there is a need for a decision as to how to publish it. TThere are a few options
Attach the markdown file as an artefact to the Build or Pipeline. Note you can’t do this with a UI based Releases as they have no concept of artefacts, but this is becoming less of a concern as people move to multistage YAML.
Save in some other location e.g Azure Storage or if on-premises a UNC file share
Convert the markdown release note document, or the whole WIKI, to a PDF and use any of the above options using first my WIKI PDF Exporter Task then another task.
I personally favour the 1st and 4th options used together. Attachment to the pipeline and then upload the document to a WIKI
A sample of suitable YAML is shown below, uploading the document to an Azure DevOps WIKI. Please note that the repo URL and authentication can trip you up here so have a good read of the provided documentation before you use this task.
- task: richardfennellBM.BM-VSTS-WIKIUpdater-Tasks.WikiUpdaterTask.WikiUpdaterTask@1
displayName: 'Git based WIKI Updater'
message: 'Update from Build'
But when do I generate the release notes?
I would suggest you always generate release notes every build/pipeline i.e. a document of the changes since the last successful build/pipeline of that build definition. This should be attached as an artefact.
However, this per build document will usually too granular for use as ‘true’ release notes i.e. something to hand to a QA team, auditor or client.
To address this second use case I suggest, within a multistage YAML pipeline (or a UI based release), having a stage specifically for generating release notes.
My task has a feature that it will check for the last successful release of a pipeline/release to the stage it is defined in, so will base the release note on the last successful release to that given stage. If this ‘documentation’ stage is only run when you are doing a ‘formal’ release, the release note generated will be since the last formal release. Exactly what a QA team or auditor or client might want.
So I hope that this post provides some ideas as to how you can use my tasks generate some useful release notes.
I have an Azure DevOps multi-stage YAML pipeline that started giving the error `The pipeline is not valid error: Unable to resolve latest version for pipeline templates: this could be due to inaccessible pipeline or no version is available` and failing instantly.
This is not the most helpful message, but after some digging I found the problem.
In the past, the answer was that I did not know of any easy way. However, I have recently come across a command line tool by Max Melcher called AzureDevOps.WikiPDFExport that allows you to export a whole WIKI (or a single file) as a PDF. Its basic usage is
Clone a WIKI Repo
Run the command line tool passing in a path to the root of the cloned repo
The .order file is read
A PDF is generated
This is a nice and simple process, but it would be nice to be able to automate this process as part of a build pipeline.
After a bit of thought, I realised I had much of the code I needed to automated the process in my WIKIUpdater extension as these tasks are based around cloning repos.
Disks filling up on our private Azure DevOps agents is a constant battle. We have maintenance jobs setup on the agent pools, to clean out old build working folders nightly, but these don’t run often enough. We need a clean out more than once a day due to the number and size of our builds.
To address this, with UI based builds, we successfully used the Post Build Cleanup Extension. However since we have moved many of our builds to YAML we found it not working so well. Turned out the problem was due to the way got source code.
The Post Build Cleanup task is intelligent, it does not just delete folders on demand. It check to see what the Get Source ‘Clean’ setting was when the repo was cloned and bases what it deletes on this value e.g. nothing, source, or everything. This behaviour is not that obvious.
In a UI based builds it is easy to check this setting. You are always in the UI when editing the build. However, in YAML it is easy to forget the setting, as it is one of those few values that cannot be set in YAML.
To make the post build cleanup task actually delete folders in a YAML pipeline you need to
Edit the pipeline
Click the ellipse menu top right
Pick YAML and select the ‘Get Source’ block
Make sure the ‘Clean’ setting is set to ‘true’ and the right set of items to delete are selected – if this is not done the post clean up task does nothing
You can then add the post build cleanup task the end of the steps
- script: echo This where you do stuff
- task: mspremier.PostBuildCleanup.PostBuildCleanup-task.PostBuildCleanup@3
displayName: 'Clean Agent Directories'
My local wireless environment is now very congested, I assume as more people are working from home.
Both the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz network were on the same channels as other strong signals.
Also they were using the same SSID, which is meant to provide seamless swap-over between 2.4 and 5Ghz. But, in reality this meant there were connection problems as a connection flipped between frequencies.
This explained other problems I had seem
The Microsoft Direct Access VPN I use to connect to the office failing intermittently. Obviously, any problems I have connecting to the office to do work is far less important than Zwift connection issues.
My Samsung phone would drop calls for no reason. I now think this was when it had decided to use Wifi calling and got confused over networks. Note: I had fixed this by switching off Wifi calling.
To address the problems I changed the SSIDs so that my 2.4 and 5Ghz networks had different names, so that I know which one I was using. Also I moved the channels to ones not used by my neighbours
Put the phone and the PC on the 2.4Ghz network
No improvement, app did not work and PC slow to save
Put the phone and the PC on 5Ghz
Small improvement, app still did not work but at least tried to show the in game view before it dropped out. The PC was still slow to save
So it seems the problem was upload speed from my PC all along. Strange as I would have expected the 5Ghz network to be fine, even if the 2.4Ghz was not. The 5Ghz Wifi seems to perform OK on a speed test.
Anyway it is working now, but maybe it is time to consider a proper mesh network?
This is one of those blog posts I write to remind my future self how I fixed a problem.
I have a release that installs VSTest and runs some integration tests that target .NET 4.6 x64. All these tests worked fine in Visual Studio. However, I got the following errors for all tests when they were run in a release
2020-04-23T09:30:39.2634578Z Starting test execution, please wait...
2020-04-23T09:30:39.4783658Z A total of 1 test files matched the specified pattern.
2020-04-23T09:30:40.8660112Z X Can_Get_MIDs [521ms]
2020-04-23T09:30:40.8684249Z Error Message:
2020-04-23T09:30:40.8684441Z Test method PaymentServices.IntegrationTests.ControllerMIDTests.Can_Get_MIDs threw exception:
2020-04-23T09:30:40.8684574Z System.BadImageFormatException: Could not load file or assembly 'PaymentServices, Version=220.127.116.11, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null' or one of its dependencies. An attempt was made to load a program with an incorrect format.
2020-04-23T09:30:40.8684766Z Stack Trace:
2020-04-23T09:30:40.8684881Z at PaymentServices.IntegrationTests.ControllerMIDTests.Can_Get_MIDs()