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Windows 7 on the MSI Wind



For the record, I like Windows Vista.  However, for those of us who remember the Vista beta program and even early days of running Windows Vista it wasn't always fun - largely due to the driver support but there were plenty of bugs to avoid even in the later betas. When I purchased my MSI Wind (OEM rebadged as an Advent 4211 here in the UK) XP was pre-installed.  I remember when I picked up my Wind from the local computer store the salesman tried to sell me on the fact that it came with XP rather than Vista which is not a good sign of Vista's reputation with consumers.  That said, XP didn't last long on my Wind before Vista replaced it.  The stock Wind runs a 1.6 Ghz Intel Atom processor on the Intel 945GSE chipset.  As part of the initial batch of Winds, mine happily has the Synaptics touchpad.  One of the many things I like about the Wind is that it is end-user upgradeable, but the only addition I have made was to upgrade it to 2Gb RAM as the stock Western Digital Scorpio 120GB hard drive is a pretty good one for a budget netbook.

Remembering the early days of the Vista beta program, I had to contrast this with the absolute delight that installing and running the PDC build (build 6801) of Windows 7 has been on this diminutive device.  For a start stable drivers for the Wind were all available from Windows Update.  To get them I first had to install the Realtek WiFi driver for Vista by changing the compatibility settings to trick the installer into thinking I was running Vista RTM.  But once I had an internet connection, Windows Update found updated drivers for the graphics card, Wifi, Ethernet and even the SD card reader.  Everything on the device appears to be working, including bluetooth and the built in webcam.

I then ran the "blue-badge" unlock hack from Rafael Rivera Jr because I wanted some of the shiny eye-candy showed off on stage at PDC2008 that is not active in the standard 6801 build.  Note that after running the hack, I had to manually set the security permissions on the following files that the tool modifies to grant the "Users" group read permissions - but this was just because of my hackery and because I want the device to support multiple users, not something that a normal user would have to do.

  • \Windows\Explorer.exe
  • \Windows\System32\wisptis.exe
  • \Windows\System32\ieframe.dll
  • \Windows\System32\shell32.dll
  • \Windows\System32\stobject.dll
  • \Windows\System32\TabletPC.cpl
  • \Windows\System32\themecpl.dll
  • \Windows\System32\themeui.dll
  • \Windows\System32\powercfg.cpl

Then I was up and running, and ready for the ultimate test - leaving the laptop on the kitchen table for my wife to pick up and use.  I warned her that I'd been "messing about" with the laptop - but she logged in, checked her mail (using the shortcut to the Windows Live Mail application in the fancy new taskbar) and did her online banking using IE8 (again from the pinned shortcut in the new taskbar).  All without issues.  Windows 7 = Passed. It is now the official operating system on my netbook.

Resume from standby is noticeably faster in Windows 7, and general system usage is also a lot snappier than Vista on this underpowered device.  Not sure what I think to the new "Libraries" but at first pass I class them as "not too annoying". 

I am liking many of the new features in Windows 7.  "Aero snaps" (where you can drag a window to the top of the screen to maximize or to the left and right) is good, the new magnification tool (press Win and "+" to zoom in, Win and "-" to zoom out) will replace ZoomIt as the tool I use during on-stage demos and it was nice to see that the calculator has had a revamp (programmer mode will now be my personal mode of choice for it).

Despite all the additional stuff, what is really nice about Windows 7 is what they have taken away.  The overall experience is just less noisy than before.

I am very excited to see how useable this very early build is and what the later builds, betas and eventual release of Windows 7 will bring.  Windows 7 is looking to be exactly what Microsoft need - it will probably be known as "the release that Vista should have been" which is a little unfair as Vista obviously laid down a lot of the ground work in terms of architecture.  That said, at this early stage it looks like Windows 7 is going to be a very popular release.

Update (5 Jan 2009): The new version of the Blue Badge unlock tool doesn't require system files to be modifed so hopefully it will be easier to run. Also from what I read on the internet this tool will not be necessary from Windows 7 beta 1 (build 7000) onwards as the features will be enabled by default.

Thomson Reuters I am proud to announce that Microsoft have just published a joint case study with us on the success Thomson Reuters have had using Team Foundation Server in a mixed development shop.  This customer is particularly interesting, not just because they keep giving us great feedback on our product that we have been incorporating into Teamprise, or because they are a large, well know and well respected brand.  From the case study;

"The Online Services group at Thomson Reuters is responsible for the storage and retrieval of online assets. Of the 220-member team, approximately 150 are development engineers or quality engineers. Although the team does some programming using the Microsoft® .NET Framework, the group primarily develops in Java on computers that run a variety of operating systems, including Linux, Linux 64, UNIX, Macintosh, and Windows®. About 90 percent of the programmers in Online Services work in Eclipse or Rational Application Developer (RAD), and up to 50 percent of the testers work in Eclipse. All of the team’s build computers run UNIX or Linux."

Anyway, thanks to Mac and the people at Thomson Reuters for agreeing to share their experiences.  Hopefully other organizations considering Team Foundation Server to manage the whole software development process will find the case study interesting.

To read the case study in full, see Microsoft Case Studies: Thomson Reuters Unify Development Processes with Team Foundation Server and Teamprise.  I've also got a PDF version available here.

Brian the Build Bunny Wallpaper It turns out that the little video I posted yesterday has taken on a bit of a life of it's own.  Last time I checked, it was in the top 10 Science and Technology posts for YouTube in Ireland.  It's funny how it is always the posts that you do more for your own entertainment that take off. 

Anyway, there is no doubting that Brian is a bit of a character, he's already recorded his first TV appearance as a guest on this weeks, "This Week in Channel 9" (to be broadcast soon).  I wish that Nabaztag had an affiliate program as it sounds like I may have sold a few rabbits for them. 

Anyway, if you can't afford your own bunny, then you can have the next best thing for free.  Your very own Brian the Build Bunny Background on the desktop of a computer near you (standard and widescreen versions available).  Click here to chose a image size that suits you.

Brian the Build Bunny


I'm always keen try new and novel ways to keep in touch with the status of my software projects.  Fortunately, Team Foundation Server provides many ways to do this.  While the Build Wallboard is fun if you have a spare monitor and machine lying around, I wanted to experiment with some inexpensive dedicated devices, and so Brian the Build Bunny was born.

Brian is a Nabaztag smart rabbit.  He reads out details of check-ins and builds.  If a build has failed then his ears go down to show how sad he feels, but if you fix the build his ears will soon pick up again.

I've had Brian for about a year now waiting to do this project, but when I tried it in the past I always found the response times from the rabbit to be too slow.  However earlier this year, the Nabaztag developers updated the code running the rabbits so that they are now using the XMPP (Jabber) protocol to receive updates and the service now seems pretty good.

Brian is now sitting on my desk chattering away and letting me know what is happening in TFS.  If you want to find out more about how he works and see him in action then take a look at the video. If your company blocks YouTube but you have Silverlight installed then you can view a higher quality version of the video courtesy of the Windows Live Streaming service.  I'll go through the code behind Brian in a later post if there is any interest, but it is pretty much a standard TFS event listener that then sends text to the rabbit using the Nabaztag API.

radiotfs I've just posted the latest installment of Radio TFS.  I'm actually a show behind on editing so expect to see episode 6 up soon.  However, in episode 5 Paul, Mickey and I attempt to answer some of the common questions we hear people ask about Team System including:

  • What is Team System?
  • Which edition is right for me?
  • Why can't I find Team Foundation Server on MSDN?
  • What is Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition?
  • Is VSTS 2005 compatible with TFS 2008?
  • Why can't I see Team Foundation Server when I install Team Suite?
  • What are my options for migrating from my old system(s) to TFS?
  • Can I use TFS with VB6, .NET 1.1, Eclipse etc?
  • What is a Team Project - how should it be scoped?
  • I deleted a file locally, I do a "Get Latest" and TFS doesn't download it - why?

As well as the usual sprinkling of tangents along the way.

Click here for a direct link to this episode.

If you have any questions that you would like answered, or if you have any comments and feedback about the show then please contact us at or visit the website at for quick links to subscribe to the feed in iTunes, Zune etc.

Didigo_usb_keyOk, I’ll admit it.  My name is Martin Woodward and I am a gadgetaholic.  I have a few USB memory keys and a couple of external USB hard-drives.  However, I’ve been thinking about getting a new memory key for a while because my other ones are either too small or are a bit battered looking.  I was looking to spend £3 yesterday on a UK to US phone adapter and ended up getting myself a new 512Mb memory stick manufactured by Didigo so I would qualify for free shipping on my order.  I’ve been wanting to have a play with TrueCrypt for a while and I think I might create a hidden partition on the device and give it a try.

What’s the big deal you may ask?  Well this model has an integrated ePaper display (or Bistable Reflective Cholesteric Display to give it the proper name).  It shows you the free capacity and also the volume name on a little display that stays visible even when the power source is removed.  If you rename the FAT32 volume (in Windows, Mac or Linux) the display updates to show the new name.

I’ve been a keen follower of electronic paper technology for a while and this is the first time a device with it has come into a price range that I can justify and I have a need for.  We’ll soon probably have these displays built in to all sorts of devices but for now I was willing to pay a little over the odds (£42) for a memory stick so I could see it working for myself.  I’m sure it will give me endless hours of fun demonstrating it to anyone unluckily enough to comment on the display.  If you are coming to TechEd this year be sure not to comment on it or I’ll bore you for hours.  Watching the display work reminds me of the feeling I got when I saw my first pocket calculator, the Sinclair Cambridge, with it’s mesmorizing LED display.

L.E.D. Cats Eyes

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As I may have mentioned to anyone that will listen to me - I am currently getting up at a daft time of the morning to beat the traffic into work. On my journeys I have noticed a completely new invention that I have never noticed before but one that is such a good idea.

On certain high speed bends on the un-lit road, there are now LED Cats Eyes lighting the way. I first noticed them when I was coming out of a junction and looked to my left to see the cats eyes were lit even though my headlights were not on them. They had a slight stobe to them bit were perfectly clear lighting the road ahead. What a great idea, just an incremental improvement on Percy Shaw's original idea, but what a good one.

Found a bit more about them at a company called Relfecto, along with some interesting toys...


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