December 2007 Blog Posts

After evaluating the latest version of VMware Workstation 6 for my free month, I got out my credit card and bought a copy over the weekend.

I was last a VMware customer for Workstation 4 so I didn't qualify for a discount on moving to 6 but, despite the $200 price tag, I think it's money well spent. Microsoft's recent virtualisation investment is going into the server platform, specifically Hyper-V for Windows 2008. As a consequence, desktop virtualisation has been somewhat abandoned for the time being at least. There's really no comparison between Virtual PC and VMware Workstation.

There are a couple of features that make it compelling beyond what Virtual PC provides. The first is that I can run 32-bit Windows Vista as my host operating system, which gives me the best compatibility with drivers, etc. but I can experiment with 64-bit by running 64-bit guests. This means I can set-up 64-bit server environments to play with and also test application compatibility in 64-bit XP or Vista.

The second thing that I like, and that VMware has always been better at handling, is snapshots. In Workstation 6, there is a great dialog that allows you to keep a hierarchy of snapshots and to branch and prune just as you like. Here is an example of an XP VM that I've set-up to allow testing of both IE6 and IE7:

VMware Workstation 6 - Snapshot Manager

Scott Hanselman is working on a series of screencasts demonstrating the new features of the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions. I watched his How-To Screencast on the MVC Framework a couple of weeks ago and marvelled at the quality of the experience that Scott has created. Very professionally done, at least I think so. Your view counts too, though, and Scott has requested feedback on his screencast style.

I bought Don Syme's Expert F# book a couple of weeks ago. This is the definitive guide to a language that's going to become an officially supported part of the Visual Studio family in the coming year or so. Amazon UK don't seem to have it yet so I bought from Computer Manuals and received a very speedy service.

I've seen quite a few rave reviews of Advanced Windows Debugging including from Raymond Chen and also from Mike. I think this one will make my wish list. :)

Last week there was an issue with the FolderShare service, which may have inadvertently moved original files to the FolderShare Trash folder. This is detailed on the FolderShare site:

December 7, 2007
-- Urgent FolderShare User Notification --

Dear FolderShare friends,

This message is to alert you to a potential issue with the data you have saved with FolderShare.

Please do NOT delete files from your FolderShare Trash folder until you have verified that you were not affected by this situation.

From 12/3/07 to 12/6/07, some files may have been accidentally moved from their original folders into the FolderShare Trash folder. The bug that caused this problem has been fixed.

The only files affected are ones with names containing certain characters, such as accents, trademark signs, etc. For example, “España.jpg.”

If you were impacted, your files should still be recoverable. They can be found and restored from the FolderShare Trash.

The actions to take if this has affected you are on the FolderShare home page.

I've been having increasing problems with my Sky+ box over recent weeks culminating in programmes that would just hang during play back. I tried reinitialising the hard disk using the built-in firmware but this didn't solve the problem and I figured it was actually a hardware issue with the disk.

Today, I replaced the disk with one that has been sitting on a shelf for a while looking for a home. I have a Pace 3100 (second generation) Sky+ box which came with a 40GB Maxtor drive and I've replaced it with a 300GB Maxtor. While I apparently won't get all that space available to record on, I should expect a much increased capacity. Frankly, though, if it just recorded reliably with the same capacity I'd be happy.

There are a number of web sites that describe the process of replacing the disk and it's relatively straightforward. So far, touch wood, the new disk appears to be working fine and the few programmes I've tested certainly claim a much lower percentage for the disk space requirement.

The Pace Sky+ box requires a Torx T10 driver to remove the screws both for the case and for the hard drive brackets inside. The FAQ above points to Maplin and Screwfix Direct for this. I managed to get one from my local B&Q.