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Code Camp in Christchurch, New Zealand in November 2007

I see that there is now offical talk of a Code Camp in Christchurch, New Zealand in November 2007 which is good to see. I hope for some confirmed dates soon.

This is great news as the Mainland as we call it (the South Island of New Zealand) has never had a Code Camp before.

For pre-registrations and more details see 

The theme of the code camp is Next generation, back to basics. 

New releases of C#, VB, .Net, ASP and SQL are iminent.  This code camp will focus on getting up to speed with all of this, plus cover migration stratigies and many non-technology specific topics such as Architecture and Development Life Cycle.  Hopefully something for everyone - noobs, gurus, youg and old.

I have been asked to speak on IIS 7 and will be providing a session on this somewhere over the two day event.

I also spoke to Daniel Wissa ( at TechEd 2007) who runs the Christchurch .NET user group with Peter Jones [MVP] about running a shared session some time this year on Windows Vista Gadget Development. The code camp may be a good time for this session as well.

 I am trying to get some sponser support as well - but I will keep it quiet until I know the result.

Windows Vista Ultimate Extras - What a wasted concept

How many of you who have forked out the extra bucks for the Windows Vista Ultimate version of Windows have got very use to seeing the following image?

I thought that I have only seen this message for ages so I took a look and this is the last ultimate extra I got:

Checkout that date - March 21, 2007

Well today is August 25, 2007 so that is only 5 months with no updates.

What a complete and utter waste of time Microsoft for wasting everyones time with this package of nothing!

When are you going to realise that people get pissed this with this stupid policy that you run, as if you don't have simple tools you could just throw in each week or two to keep people happy who paid the extra $

Quote from Paul Thurrott back in Febraury 2007 -

Given the paucity of Extras, and the overwhelming feeling that some of these should have simply been included in more Vista versions, the Windows Ultimate Extras aren't exactly a slam dunk: I don't see anything absolutely essential here, though the BitLocker Drive Preparation Tool is certainly useful (and GroupShot is, of course, a winner, assuming it's ever released - not yet Paul). We'll see if anything more compelling turns up over time, as Microsoft has pledged to ship more Extras in the months ahead. Let's hope some of them help justify Vista Ultimate's high price: Until then, this package of Extras is decidedly mediocre. What a disappointing start.

Paul Thurrott
January 17, 2007 & February 14, 2007

Disapointing start, well add 6 months to that statement Paul and there is nothing new going on, infact nothing really since you posted your comments.

I saw a very interesting Key Note speech while at TechEd 2007 - and

The main thing that Lou Carbone shared with the audience was leaving indeliable marks that make a difference in the world we live in.  The main topic what Lou was wanting to get across was we should move from making and selling to sensing and responding.

So what does this mean - well it means understanding your customers and not just selling to them, we are all customers at the end of the day, and we all want to be treated with respect and dignity.

Come on Microsoft, play the game and sort this program out for your customers, remember those little people who actually pay your wages!


What platform does Microsoft want us to use to develop code on?

I am working on some Active Directory tools for work so we can automate account creation, home directories, exchange mailboxes and other things.

As part of this I needed to create Exchange Mail boxes.

Now Microsoft has this article that is titled "How to create a mailbox-enabled recipient by using Visual C#" perfect, exactly what I needed.

But the article is a bit old but in general it is OK, the requirement is that the following must be installed.

Microsoft Exchange 2000 System Management Tools on the computer on which this code runs

We can assume that this also can mean the Microsoft Exchange 2003 System Management Tools?

I am trying to develop my code on Windows Vista Ultimate 64 Bit.

So I need the Exchange Management tools, so I go and find the Exchange Server CD and pop it in the drive, but when I want to install the tools I get a message saying it is not compatible with Windows Vista and I can not install, I can't even ignore the message and continue.

So Vista has been as far as I am concerned out since November 2006 ( to the coporate community at least), it is now almost September 2007.

So I should go back to Windows XP - wasn't that released in 2002, or maybe 2003 Server or 2003 Server R2 to do my development work?

This is a stupid problem for Microsoft - how hard is it to make their own products Vista Compatible or should I just want until we install Exchange 2007 at work and tell them no go until then!

No wonder the driver support from 3rd party vendors is so terrible when Microsoft do not even make their management tools compatible with Windows Vista.

Reproducable bugs in Windows Vista Sidebar RTM

I came across a forum that has a special topic on reproducable bugs in the Windows Vista Sidebar.

Most of the bugs have a work around so well worth a look if you are experiencing some strange issues with Vista Gadget development.

Here is a current list of bugs

Bug# 1: The bottom and right are incorrectly cropped when rotation is applied to <g:background>
Bug# 2: <g:background> and addImageObject incorrectly place the image, by (originalImageWidth-scaledImageWidth)/2, (originalImageHeight-scaledImageHeight)/2
Bug# 3: Image exploded beyond belief. Sidebar cannot resize an image smaller than 50% of it's original size
Bug# 4: Gadgets will not install if they contain blank directories in the Gadget package.
Bug# 5: Changing <g:text>.value doesn't update <g:text>.width or <g:text>.height - the text is stretched, or you get an invalid result when trying to reference it.
Bug# 6: Settings page is limited to 300x400. The Settings page on this gadget should be 1000x1000
Bug# 7: Sidebar crashes when trying to use addImageObject or addTextObject in the BODY section.
Bug# 8: Aliased surround is incorrectly placed if image is rotated and body margin is not 0.
Bug# 9: The three (or two if you have no settings) icons that appear when you hover over a Gadget are incorrectly placed for detached Gadgets after Sidebar is reloaded. They're shifted left 6 pixels.
Bug# 10: If you manually Exit Sidebar, the X position of all detached Gadgets is decreased by 6.
Bug# 11: System.* namespace goes missing after "window.location.reload(true);"
Bug# 12: Focus is lost on the Flyout if you change System.Gadget.Flyout.file whilst a Flyout is open
Bug# 13: Setting "System.Gadget.Flyout.onShow = null;" generates an error. This goes for all other Gadget settings that are set to a function.
Bug# 14: Partially transparent surround is scaled incorrectly when setting System.Gadget.background, if the image is larger than the Gadget
Bug# 15: Background image doesn't change if it's changed through a stylesheet
Bug# 16: addImageObject holds the image open. If you're developing a Gadget and want to change one of the images, you can't overwrite it.
Bug# 17: Images are cached. If you remove all instances of a Gadget, change the images within it and then re-add it to Sidebar, the old images still show.
Bug# 18: If a Gadget is partially off screen, Sidebar shifts it so it's completely on screen on loading.
Bug# 19: <g:background>.blur / <g:background>.softEdge effect is positioned incorrectly. It doesn't take account of the top and left parameters.
Bug# 20: When digitally signing a Gadget, if the filename is long the signature is corrupt:
Bug# 21: The GPO Policy setting ""Turn Off User Installed Windows Sidebar Gadgets"", also stops users from adding Gadgets in the "Shared Gagets" folder:
Bug# 22: <BODY onunload> doesn't fire during logout and shutdown.
Bug# 23: Flyout background colour cannot be set from a stylesheet.
Bug# 24: Gadget may never appear on the sidebar if you have overlayed RGB transparent images and are updating the screen too often.
Bug #25: Flyout will only show if Sidebar has focus. If you show the Flyout via " = true" and Sidebar doesn't have focus, the "System.Gadget.Flyout.onHide" event immediately fires.
Bug #26 System.Shell.saveFileDialog(strPath, strFilter) filter string doesn't work as expected
Bug #27 System.Gadget.begin/endTransition corrupts g:background. It happens regardless of what transition type you use, or if you use an image or not. In the following Repro, Left click to see the problem. Right click to see, with the workaround.
Bug #28 g:background becomes corrupt if you change In the following Repro, Left click to see the problem. Right click to turn on the workaround.
Bug #29 If the g:background image is set to a percentage of the Gadget size, it's not rescaled when the Gadget body size changes. In the following Repro, Left click to see the problem. Right click to turn on the workaround.
Bug #30 begin/endTransition can hang a Gadget, if the body size isn't changed. In the following Repro, the image should toggle between two images. Right click to toggle with the workaround, Left click to recreate the problem.
Bug #31 System.Gadget.background="..." will corrupt the image if it's height is less than 57 pixels. If you set a Gadget background via System.Gadget.Background = "..." to an image that is less than 57 pixels in height that has partially transparent pixels, the background becomes corrupt. Sidebar stretches the transparent pixels to 57 pixels in height, but leaves the opaque pixels their original size.
Bug #32 g:background "blur" and "softEdge" cause the partially transparent background pixels to overlay the Gadget when focus is lost. In the Repro, move the Gadget to reproduce the problem.


How to play a .ASX stream from a gadget

Here is a very simple gadget that shows how to play a stream from an ASX file that is in the Gadget folder for the current gadget.

It is very basic

CSS File

    font-family: Segoe UI, Tahoma, Sans-Serif;
    background-color: white;
    border: ridge 2px
    font-size: 8pt;


<title>ASX Playertitle>\
<link href="css/Radio.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />
<script language="javascript" src="js/Radio.js" type="text/javascript">script>

This is a simple sample of how to play an ASX file
<a href="javascript:void" onclick="startStream()">click here to start streama>

<OBJECT id="mediaPlayer" width="0" height="0" style="position:absolute; left:0;top:0;" CLASSID="CLSID:6BF52A52-394A-11d3-B153-00C04F79FAA6"
<PARAM NAME="SendPlayStateChangeEvents" VALUE="True">
<PARAM NAME="AutoStart" VALUE="False">
<PARAM name="uiMode" value="invisible">


Javascript File

function startStream()
    mediaPlayer.url = System.Gadget.path+


<asx version="3.0">
ref href="" />

Basically this gadget just loads Windows Media Player and when you click on the link in the html file it will start streaming.

The reason this was written was to help answer a forum question

Click here to download this as a gadget

Another Windows Vista Gadget - Air New Zealand - Grab a seat


AIR NEW ZEALAND have made their RSS feed unusable as it contains no details any more of the prices, flights etc and hence this gadgetno longer has any value unless you want to see the source code!


I have written another Windows Vista Gadget, this time at the request of Darryl Burling who works for Microsoft New Zealand. He asked if I could turn the RSS feed on the Grab A Seat site into a gadget. The gadget I have written requests the feed every 5 minutes and just displays what is available, never actually storing the feed but just consuming it. The items in the list are removed when no seats remain for that promotion.

You need to be quick as there have been some fares from Auckland to Los Angeles for $498 return and the also Auckland - Shanghai return for $498.

Domestic fares don't run out as fast as the international, but I did notice the other day that the fares had changed by 2am so the early bird will get the seat in this case.

So what is Grab A Seat?, well as far as Air New Zealand is concerned it is this “Ludicrously low fares up for grabs“

To learn more about the Air New Zealand promotion see

What the gadget looks like:

With the flyout open it looks like this:

You can download it from my Windows Live Gallery profile:

What you need to know: These fares are only available online for one day only or until sold out. Seats are strictly limited - see the online 'counter' for the number of seats left. Travel periods are strictly limited and fares may not be available on all flights or days during stated travel period. Flight restrictions and routing restrictions apply. Prices are per person, child discounts do not apply. General terms and conditions and Smart Saver and/or Global Saver Max terms and conditions apply.

Running NTBackup on Windows VISTA

I came across an interesting message in a forum and tried it out and it works.

I was very annoyed that NTBackup was removed from Vista. The new backup solution just does not give me flexibility I want. So I went and figured what files you need from XP to run NTBackup on Vista. Turns out that you need the following files which all exist in c:\windows\system32


You do get a popup when starting it still, but it all works. You can then also associate BKF files with ntbackup.exe to give them the NTBackup icon and there you go!

On your vista machine create a folder and place all files in there.

Note: When you use the NTBackup to schedule a task it just called NTBACKUP.EXE so if it is not part of your path you will need to edit the scheduled job otherwise it won't run.


Windows Vista Gagdet - Example of talking to SQL Server

I have created a simple example of a Windows Vista Gadget that will talk to SQL Server using OLEDB with ADO.

This code is very similar to code that one would have used in the past with writing code for ASP pages.

The code is written in Javascript and DHTML.

Basicall the code works like this:

The gadget has an HTML body tag and we assign an onload event to it to trigger our Javascript code which will talk to SQL Server and render all the categories from the Northwind database.

<body scroll="no" onload="loadMain()">

Our simple code in the loadMain event is as follows:

function loadMain()
serverName = "server";
var database = "northwind";
var username = "sa";
var password = "-";

if (password == "-")
data =
"this is a sample - please configure the servername, database, username and password variables in \\js\\sql.js";
    var oSqlConnection = new ActiveXObject("adodb.connection");
"Provider=sqloledb;Data Source=" + serverName + ";Initial Catalog="+database+";User Id="+username+";Password="+password+";");
   var oRecordSet = oSqlConnection.Execute("SELECT CategoryID, CategoryName from Categories");  
   var data = "";
   while (oRecordSet.eof == false)
        data = data + oRecordSet(1) +
"data").innerHTML = data;|

This code shows a simple way to to talk to SQL Server, run a query and then render the results to an HTML tag.

You can download this code from here

For you to run this code there are a few things you will need to do first.

  1. Have a SQL Server available which has the Northwind database ( you can change the connection string and query )
  2. Change the server variable to the server that is running SQL Server
  3. Change the database if required
  4. Chnage the username if required
  5. Change the password

This is just an example and is really up to you how you may use it. I hope it helps with your gadget development.

Windows Vista Gadgets

I have been playing aroung with Windows Vista Gagets lately and have currently written about 10. Some are for my work - simple things like who is on Helpdesk duty today, and another for our IS Severity system that will show up planned outages and unplanned outages, colour coded based on the rating of the problem. This is similar to an RSS feed except the data is always live and not cached so that when a job is closed it is removed from the list.

Another is the Weather Gadget for, a collegue at works owns the site and I have written the Web Site UI and a few tools. This has become quite popular in the last few days since it was uploaded to

Another 5 are simple radio station gadgets for New Zealand radio stations News Talk ZB, Radio Pacific, MoreFM, ZM, and RDU.

 The weather and the radio station gadgets are all available from and clicking on my profile link will take you to a page where they all are.

My Gadgets

For those looking into writing your own gadgets see these resources

Hint: If you want to see the source for any gadget, download it, and then rename from .gadget to .zip and you have all the source code.

FAILED REQ TRACING: Provider Not Showing
I came accross this posting on this morning and thought I should post it here as it could be relevant to someone in the near future.


When using Failed Request Tracing, you are unable to configure or use the ASP.Net trace provider (it does not show up in the list of providers to select when creating a new trace rule) even after ensuring that & .Net extensibility are installed. 

This is a known setup timing issue that causes the provider definition to get accidentally deleted.  It has been fixed in current Longhorn Server & Vista SP1 builds.

Workaround is to do the following:
  1. Open %windir%\system32\inetsrv\config\applicationHost.config in your favourite xml editor (such as NOTEPAD).
  2. Add the following to <traceProviderDefinitions>


           …other providers defined…


                    <add name="ASPNET" guid="{AFF081FE-0247-4275-9C4E-021F3DC1DA35}">


                            <add name="Infrastructure" value="1" />

                            <add name="Module" value="2" />

                            <add name="Page" value="4" />

                            <add name="AppServices" value="8" />




Hope this helps you out in the mean time. 


    Program Manager - IIS
    Release/Proj Mgmt & Support/Health/Instr/Tracing/Logging

    New IIS 7 Videos that may help you decide if IIS 7 is the way you should be thinking....

    Eric Woersching, the IIS Product Manager, had the wild idea of putting these together as a way to get the message out about IIS7.  Developer Evangelist Asli Bilgin stepped up to do the presentation and the rest is history.  If you want to learn more about IIS7, check out these cool videos:

    Developer's introduction to IIS7

    IIS7 in Windows Vista integration in IIS7

    Extensibility in IIS7

    What ever happened to the IIS Evangelist Brett Hill?, he keeps pretty quiet for an Evangelist!

    Windows Vista Gadget for Weather

    We all know there is a lot of Weather Gadgets out there for Windows Vista Side Bar. Well I have written one as well and it utilizes the data from Weather Display users. These users are mainly private indiviuals who have an interest in Weather and provide this data to users on the Internet through there web sites.

    The Vista Gadget that I have written reads a file that these Weather Display users expose to the Internet called clientraw.txt and clientrawextra.txt.

    Some of the features of my gadget is:

    • The background changes based on the current weather conditions and time of day.
    • It supports displaying data in a rotating fashion so the display is small and not too cluttered.
    • It supports a flyout window showing more details including graphs of temperature, barometric pressure and rainfall.

    The gadget is obviously free and includes like most gadgets the full source code in HTML & Javascript.

    I would be interested in any comments anyone has on the gadget.....

    The gadget can be downloaded from my friends web site

    The list of sites that you can display the weather from is limited at this time as we want each site owner to add them selves to the list. We expect the list to grow when the gadget is known to more people.

    It was only released last week and we are currently at version

    Here is a couple of screen snaps of the gadget...

    Downloading Microsoft Vista gadgets on Windows 2003 IIS 6

    When you try to download a Microsoft Vista Gadget on IIS 6 you will by default get a 404 error if you have not configured a mime type for .gadget

    The correct mime type is:

    Extension  :  .gadget
    Mimetype  :  application/x-windows-gadget


    Note: There is a “.” before the gadget above in the extension

    My Vista Issues - #2 - Mobile Device Support (Response from Microsoft)

    Well not the best outcome - so I wonder how many people are going to have this issue?

    I found this little page on Microsoft's site

    I highlighted the interesting section!

    Keep it longer but for what reason when I need to throw it away since it won't play with Vista!


    My Vista Issues - #1 - Product Activiation

    I have a problem with Microsoft Vista Ultimate. I have been running the RTM version for a couple of months now.

    I am going to create a set of blog entries for everything that is causing me a headacke or just simply something I do not like.

    #1 - Product Activiation

    Normally product activation is a simple process, and since I have a MSDN Team System subscription I am allowed to install 10 copies of Microsoft Vista and most products on different computers for test and development.

    I installed Vista Ultimate on an old computer that I have, I installed it in its new mode where you do not give it a key during setup and you can install basically any version for 30 days. So I installed Ultimate and did nothing for the 30 days. On the 30th day where it told me it was going to stop working if I did not activate it.

    I then decided I better activate it so I logged on to MSDN Subscriber Downloads and got my activiation key.

    I entered the key and set to activate over the Internet and got an error saying that my key had already been used. I thought this odd since I can have 10 activations and I only previously had used one. I tried again and got the same error.

    I then telephoned the Microsoft product activation people ( 5:30 am in New Zealand ) and got a nice friendly Indian lady... she said that I needed to read the 90 digit key to her and then she would give me the activation key. OK I thought not too bad, so I gave here the 90 digits and she tried to activate it only to get an error that she could not activate it.

    She left to discuss this issue with her manager and came back to me and said I would have to re-install the Operating System and then activate it again. You can guess I said no way - I had it installed for 30 days and had installed a number of apps including Visual Studio 2005 + Office 2007.

    She was adamint that I must reinstall and I continued to say no way. I thought I would try to activate it over the Internet again and guess what - it worked!

    So is this an issue for MSDN subscribers or maybe all people who will activate their OS? Who knows if you will have a problem or not!