Friday, 29 February 2008

Change Management update

This afternoon, there's a meeting of all staff from the Flexible Learning Centre to discuss the plan for restructuring the unit. If there are no major stumbling blocks then the final plan will be published next week and the changes will start after that.

If there's been one positive thing to come out of this whole "managing change" process, I think it has brought us closer together as a team (specifically the Online Services and IT teams). We've been having more lunches, morning teas, and spontaneous chats about how we are going. As well as wanting to know colleague's plans for the future, I sense there's also a bit more caring going on - making sure people are ok (or as ok as you can be).

Unfortunately for me, I've ended up missing most of this week being sick with a really nasty throat infection. It was good enough that the Doctor decided antibiotics might be helpful. One strange side-effect of being sick at home for a few days is I now have Justine Clarke's "Watermelon" song running around in my head, due to watching too much ABC Kids TV programmes :-)

Monday, 25 February 2008

Broadband for your parents

Dad finally took the plunge a few weeks ago and signed up with Adam Internet to get ADSL2+. They've had dialup for years, and I think Mum will really appreciate the extra speed as she does a lot of family history searches online. I would have recommended Internode (which is who I use), but Adam's cheaper plans couldn't be argued with.

Provisioning only took a few days, and fortunately for them I had a spare Netgear DG834Gv2 modem that they could use. I'd bought it a few years ago to help out my brother-inlaw connect two machines in his house wirelessly (it was configured as an access point, as they had problems getting the individual wireless cards to talk to each other directly). When my brother-inlaw got broadband he got his own modem, so I got mine back.

The new connection came up fine, but only at 3Mbit which was a lot slower than I was expecting (they're only about 2.2km from the exchange). They also noticed their voice calls were a bit noisier.

So Saturday I spend most of the day crawling around inside their ceiling installing a new Cat5 cable (from MIMP) to run from an Advanced Circuits 921E2+ central splitter (from MATS Systems - I bought a C10100E from them, but Mark says the 921E2+ is even better) out to the back room where the modem and computer are.

The trickiest thing (apart from all the physical gymnastics of navigating 195cm/6' 5" body a around the ceiling space) was pulling the cable down the gyprock wall cavity. After several failed attempts trying to drop a weighted string down, we realised there was enough slack in the existing phone cable that we could use that to pull a string back up the wall, then pull the Cat5 cable back down again.

The good news is that their speed as jumped up to 8Mbit! I'll have to check to see if they think the voice quality has improved at all.

We noticed that the little junction box (official name "Network Termination Device") mounted on the fascia is missing its cover (possibly broken when some maintenance was done to the electricity wire not so long ago). I suspect if Telstra repaired or replaced this, it could bump them up a bit higher still.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Weird Visual Studio 2008 error of the day

Unexpected error encountered. It is recommended that you restart the application as soon as possible.

Error: The parameter is incorrect.

File: vsee\lib\shelutil\rdtutil.cpp

Line number: 182

A strange error, and it won't let me close Visual Studio, so I'm going to have to kill it. No idea what triggered this.

Friday, 15 February 2008

The wait is over..

At 11.13am, the discussion paper was sent out to all FLC staff. That would be the time that our printer ran out of paper!

Anyway, the impact for our team is as follows:

  • All developer positions are moved to a new team in ISTS.
  • Only one graphic designer position (currently two)
  • Only two audio/video postions (currently three)

I'm not interested in moving to ISTS, and I don't think I'm alone there. Interesting times ahead.

Now we're off to have a team lunch - a chance to chat and get out of the office for a little while.

The waiting is the hardest part..

Today is the day that the "Managing Change Discussion Document" is published for the Flexible Learning Centre. It's the plan of how the University intends to change our unit, and more importantly what is happening to the positions (and by extension, the people) who currently work in this unit.

The next step is two weeks for feedback, followed by big meeting for everyone in the FLC to discuss the changes.

I don't like the suspense of waiting, and I think everyone in the building is a bit nervous at the moment :-(

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Nhibernate 1.2.1 with ActiveRecord RC3?

As has been pointed out elsewhere, ActiveRecord RC3 was compiled against NHibernate 1.2.

I can confirm from personal experience that it isn't a great idea to try and swap in NHibernate 1.2.1 and assume everything will continue to function.

While it is true that you can using binding redirects to get most of the way there, dont' forget that some tools like FxCop don't respect these.

    <assemblyBinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
        <assemblyIdentity name="NHibernate" publicKeyToken="aa95f207798dfdb4" culture="neutral" />
        <bindingRedirect oldVersion="" newVersion="" />


I'm listening and watching the apology to the Stolen Generations from Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on behalf of the Australian Parliament.

I teach my children that when they've done the wrong thing, when they've hurt someone, that they should say sorry.

I think it is right and proper that this standard should also apply at the highest levels.

This is an incredibly significant day. I hope it goes some way to helping those affected directly and indirectly.

 The Aboriginal Flag Torres Strait Islander Flag Australian National Flag

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

"The item does not exist at the specified version"

If you ever get this error from TFS, then double-check that the item you're requesting does actually exist in the repository. I was having this problem with one of our projects, where I was asking TFS for the latest version of this item:

$/Online Services Solution Template/Main/Source

But after much investigation (including querying the TFS SQL database directly) I discovered that the correct item name was in fact:

$/Online Services Solution Templates/Main/Source

So another way to read that error message would be as "I can't find an item with that name, are you sure you typed it correctly?"

Monday, 11 February 2008

Listening to PodCasts on your Windows Mobile device

Over the last couple of years, I've had access to Windows Mobile devices suitable for listening to podcasts, however one thing I've struggled to find is decent podcast software.

There are two kinds - ones that just run on the PC, and have the ability to copy or sync with the device, and ones that just run on the device. Most of the PC-side applications tend to just add the downloaded audio file to Windows Media Player, and you then use WMP to synch with the device. One problem I've noticed is that the COM interface that WMP provides to these applications can be fussy about funny characters in playlist names (eg. ".NET Rocks!").

Windows Desktop

  • One of the first I tried was Nimiq which is pretty good, though there hasn't been any development since January 2006. As I've commented on their blog, it also has problems when it creates items for Windows Media Player to sync with the device.
  • Juice Receiver is one of the original podcast receiver apps, but I could never get it to work well on Vista. The last major release was July 2006.
  • Doppler also has issues with Vista and proxies. Version 2.0 is also from ~2006. They were working on version 3.0 for ages, and then moved over to CodePlex where there does seem to be some activity but no new releases yet.
  • It turns out Winamp also has some support for downloading podcasts and copying them to a device, but it isn't very stable (it always crashes the first time I go to sync the feeds), so I gave up on it after a while.
  • Newsgater have made FeedDemon free for personal use. This worked ok, but sometimes choked on some of the feeds (being a bit fussier than some about the XML validity). Newsgator Go! is Newsgator's mobile version but unless I'm missing something, it doesn't appear to support enclosures at all.
  • RssBandit is written in .NET, but while I tried it for a while, the podcast stuff really feels bolted on the side, and didn't work that well for me.

Windows Mobile

  • FeederReeder looks interesting, but you need to register in their forums to download, and just at the moment their forums hare having DNS issues.
  • Pocket Podcasts is a very simple open-source app. It refused to let me add the .NET Rocks feed, and the PC-side app doesn't understand ActiveSync so it couldn't see my device. No updates for around 12 months.
  • Hubdog looked promising. The app can use a local list of feeds or you can register on the site and store the list there (note, that this makes them public). There's a few bugs in it (eg. I couldn't delete an existing feed) and instead of just getting the latest 4 items (as I'd specified), it insisted on downloading every enclosure for the feed.
  • Podcastready has a mobile client, but it doesn't seem to work with proxies.

So as unbelievable as it sounds, I haven't actually found any decent podcatching software. I might have to get around to writing my own (though I'd prefer not to).

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Installing Moodle on Windows Server 2003 with SQL Server

To get started, there's some excellent instructions available for download as a PDF.

Additional things I did:

I tried to set up the FastCGI extension for IIS, but after getting some weird errors, decided to leave it for another time.

This did end up taking a lot longer that I'd hoped. But at least it is working now.

Mobile browsing

Microsoft claimed that Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile 6 was a big improvement on previous versions. That wouldn't be hard, seeing as earlier versions were roughly equivalent to most of IE3/4.

Unfortunately, IE for WM6 isn't that much better. Quite a few websites I visit render poorly on it.

I'm a big fan of Mozilla, and they've produced Minimo. This runs like a very slow dog and seems to crash more often than not. Hopefully it will improve over time, but I'm not sure that there's much (if any) further development going on.

I tried Opera's mobile browser, which looked really good. It costs money however, and I'd prefer not to pay for a web browser.

Today I came across Skyfire. It's a free browser, initially for Windows Mobile 5 & 6. It's still in Beta, and for some weird reason, while you can sign up for the beta, if you don't have a US telephone number, you can't get it at the moment. A bit strange as they do say it will work over WiFi too.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Windows Server 2008 released and Vista SP1 (almost)

I see that Windows Server 2008 has been released, and downloads are now on the Connect site.

Vista Service Pack 1 as also been finalised, but it appears it won't be available for download until Mid-March.

Looks like we need to be a bit more patient, unless they do make it available on the Connect site prior to the regular public Microsoft Downloads site.

Monday, 4 February 2008

What password?

Why did my phone's alarm either not go off or wake me up on time this morning?

And more importantly, when I turned it on, why was it asking me for a password? (I have a PIN on my SIM card, but this wasn't prompting me for that)

After trying every password it could possibly be, I did a reset, and fortunately, the password prompt went away.

So either there's a weird bug in Windows Mobile 6, I set a password on it in my sleep (unlikely), or someone else did this (also unlikely).

The last thing I did before I turned out the light was to confirm that the alarm was set (so there wasn't a password set then), so this is very odd.