Monad – what is it?

Recently there has been a lot of hype and talk about Monad Shell (a.k.a MSH), not sure why, but such are the state of things.

What is Monad? Simply it is the new command line interface to the Windows Server OS and is code named Monad Shell. It is fairly powerful and has its roots set in VMS and AS400 environments. I would check out the quick demo (15 mins) thats shows the power of the shell – very exciting and interesting.

What all does it do? Well for one you can check out the home page (unofficial of course), the FAQ and the Wiki. Make sure to read the online chat with the architect.

How do I get it? You can sign up for the Beta program and install it on Windows XP or 2003.

Can I play with it? Absolutely, to get the full “power” of it, make sure you check out the demo first and then read up on the adventures in Monad after which you can take a crack at writing some new extensions in .NET.

Tor: Anonymous Internet Communication – Feedback?

Well I have been thinking of something like this and stumbled across Tor: An anonymous Internet communication system via /. Has anyone used this? What do they think?

What is it? Tor is a toolset for a wide range of organizations and people that want to improve their safety and security on the Internet. Using Tor can help you anonymize web browsing and publishing, instant messaging, IRC, SSH, and more. Tor also provides a platform on which software developers can build new applications with built-in anonymity, safety, and privacy features.

Your traffic is safer when you use Tor, because communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers, called onion routers. Instead of taking a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network take a random pathway through several servers that cover your tracks so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it’s going. This makes it hard for recipients, observers, and even the onion routers themselves to figure out who and where you are. Tor’s technology aims to provide Internet users with protection against “traffic analysis,” a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.

How does it work? The solution: a distributed, anonymous network. Tor helps to reduce the risks of both simple and sophisticated traffic analysis by distributing your transactions over several places on the Internet, so no single point can link you to your destination. The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you—and then periodically erasing your footprints. Instead of taking a direct route from source to destination, data packets on the Tor network take a random pathway through several servers that cover your tracks so no observer at any single point can tell where the data came from or where it’s going.

Input Alternatives

If you are worried about repetitive-strain injuries, then check out a few alternative devices that you might find more comfortable.

Feedback on Yahoo! Music Unlimited?

I am thinking of joining up Yahoo! Music Unlimited – quickly while they still have the promotional price – and its cheaper than Napster and Raphsbody, has anyone signed up? What is your feedback?

Update on ClickOnce

Well it seems I stand corrected (sort of), and these are rare moments so enjoy it.. *grin*, seems like it was a user error (again sort of – in a minute on that) when I talked about the issues with ClickOnce earlier. The problem there was that the installation can only be supported via http and not using ftp (which I have chosen), once you change it to http you are golden. Moving on, why do I say a user error (sort of)? Well mainly because the Publish Wizard as far as I can see is not very explicit about this and unless you know (which now you do), you will get into this issue.

So my recommendation is not to use the wizard at all but instead go straight to the options page, which not only has more features but also gives you more control. How do you get there? Thought you would never ask. Right-click on your project name in the Solution Explorer and select properties. In the new window select the second last tab on the left called Publish – voila you are there. If you see the screen shot you will notice I have highlighted the urls you need to be careful of. This is where you can add other external dependencies, called Prerequisites (which were not automatically picked up as they are not referenced at design time). Most of the other options are self explanatory.

Also, if you go over the Sandbox to check out the Clock v2.0 (which was recompiled for Beta 2 – no new features other than to get it compiling), and try to install it, you will notice you cannot; instead you would see a funky looking xml (ain’t that funky btw). Well that is because the “.application” MIME type is not registered on the server that hosts this site. Since this is not a dedicated server, I don’t have any control over it and cannot just “switch it on” – I need to open a ticket for that and not sure how that will go. But, till then if you do look at the xml you can find out some of what is under the skin of ClickOnce.

Google changing their login

Google it seems since yesterday changed their login screen and you need to validate – is there some phishing stuff going on which is why they introduced this? Also I had to clear out my cookie before I could login to gmail, as it did not like it. Check out the screen shot.

DBCS attachment file names are not displayed in Rich Text e-mail messages after you install security update MS05-012

Meenakshi encountered this on her laptop at home and had to install the hotfix. Be aware that after you install security update 873333 (MS05-012), you may find out that DBCS attachment file names are not displayed in Rich Text e-mail messages and you may receive a “Generic Host Process” error message (if you are on XP sp2).

You may also find that File names are not displayed in e-mail messages (where the format is Rich-Text) that include file attachments when the following conditions are true:

  • The file name contains double-byte character set (DBCS) characters.
  • The file name is longer than 42 characters.
  • An application that implements the IMallocSpy debugging interface may experience heap corruption after you install security update 873333

A supported hotfix is now available from Microsoft, but it is only intended to correct the problem that is described in this article. Only apply it to systems that are experiencing this specific problem. This hotfix may receive additional testing. Microsoft recommends, to install this only if it affects you, I say go ahead and install it nevertheless. You can get more details including the hotfix itself from here.

ClickOnce Bug (in Beta 2 of Whidbey)?

Last few days I have been messing around with the Beta 2 edition of Whidbey (now its called VS.NET 2005, but I still prefer Whidbey).  If you recall my previous post about ClickOnce, my experience so far has not been good. I imported my clock applicaton (more on the issues importing it at another time) to Whidbey and tried to deploy it but for some reason it did not work and get a non descriptive error saying:

System.ArgumentException: This method is not supported.
Parameter name: value
   at System.Net.FtpWebRequest.set_Method(String value)
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.Publish.BaseProvider.PathUtil.UrlExists(String url)
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.Publish.ClickOnceProvider.BuildManager.OpenBrowser()
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.Publish.ClickOnceProvider.BuildManager.Publish()
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.Publish.BaseProvider.BuildManager.InvokePublish()

Here is the  full log in its glory, other than a few warnings everything is pretty straight forward so it should not be as bad. Please note this is using the GUI (so goto Build => Publish {Project Name}). I am sure there is a command line thing as well which is the next step to explore, but this does seem to be like a bug.

Also the tmp file below is basically the exception above.

—— Build started: Project: Clock, Configuration: Debug Any CPU ——

Csc.exe /noconfig /unsafe+ /checked- /nowarn:”1701;1702″ /nostdlib- /warn:4 /baseaddress:285212672 /define:DEBUG;TRACE /reference:bin\Debug\Microsoft.Practices.EnterpriseLibrary.Configuration.dll /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50215\System.Data.dll /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50215\System.dll /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50215\System.Drawing.dll /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50215\System.Windows.Forms.dll /reference:C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50215\System.Xml.dll /debug+ /filealign:4096 /optimize- /out:obj\Debug\Clock.exe /resource:obj\Debug\TheClock.formOptions.resources /resource:obj\Debug\TheClock.WorldClock.resources /target:winexe /warnaserror- AssemblyInfo.cs Clock.cs ClockOptions.cs ConfigSettings.cs Options.cs Properties\Settings.Designer.cs TimeZoneInformation.cs WorldClock.cs

Compile complete — 0 errors, 0 warnings

Clock -> C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents\Visual Studio 2005\Projects\Clock 2.0\Clock\bin\Debug\Clock.exe.manifest

Clock -> C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents\Visual Studio 2005\Projects\Clock 2.0\Clock\bin\Debug\Clock.application

Clock -> C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents\Visual Studio 2005\Projects\Clock 2.0\Clock\bin\Debug\Clock.exe

Building Clock…

C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50215\Microsoft.Common.targets : warning : Could not find resources for culture ‘en-US’. Using culture ‘en’ instead.

C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50215\Microsoft.Common.targets : warning : Could not match culture ‘en-US’ for item ‘.NET Framework 2.0 Beta’. Using culture ‘en’ instead.

Done building project “Clock.csproj”.

—— Publish started: Project: Clock, Configuration: Debug Any CPU ——

Connecting to ‘ftp://desigeek.com/sandbox/worldclock/clock2.0/’…

Publishing files…

Publish success.

Error: Publish failed with the following error: This method is not supported.

Parameter name: value

Publish failed.

Click for log: “file:///C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Temp\tmpAA.tmp”

========== Build: 1 succeeded or up-to-date, 0 failed, 0 skipped ==========

========== Publish: 0 succeeded, 1 failed, 0 skipped ==========

Storage storage storage

Storage is one thing which is never enough, yes even that terabyte of space you have sitting at home! (You do have that much right?). Anyways, all is not lost. Check out the Silicon Image/Hitachi Storage demo which puts 2.5TB of storage in a tiny package, connected to the system by SATA 2.0 interfaces capable of 300MB/sec transfer rate.

Or how about Sapphire Technologies Blizzard, which is a liquid metal cooled X850 XT using technology developed by Nanocooling. Based on technology developed to cool nuclear reactors, the liquid metal cooler used in the Blizzard is completely sealed and uses a pump with no moving parts. Even if the metal does ever leak out, it’s non-toxic and environmentally safe. It remains to be seen if the new cooling technology enables quieter fans, but it’s certainly the most interesting new tech for cooling to come along in awhile.

Or how about MSI’s Universal Graphics Card which you can use as an AGP card, then flip it over to use it as a PCI Express card. It’s based on the ATI X800 XL chipset. The display connectors are on a second expansion slot connector, so they can be easily re-oriented.

You can check out more interesting things coming out at the Best of Computex.

Update on Screamer Radio

If you saw my previous post about good free software one feature of Screamer Radio I forgot to mention is that is can save your stream you are listening to as MP3’s – and you have full control over the bit rate, file names, etc. Want to check out some samples? Well I recorded two songs from the Australian Station called Nova at 256 kbps; you can download the mp3s from here (6.4 mb).

Excellent free Software – PDFWriter and Internet Radio

These two choices for creating PDF’s and listening to Internet Radio are interesting because they are pretty good at what they do without all the bloatware from some of their competition and equally important – they are free!

If you wanted to create PDF’s for your own personal use, now you can at an amazing price of free! CutePDF is a program which you can use for free for your personal use without any ads, popups, etc. Everyone cannot afford Acrobat Professional (but if you can its worth every penny), but this is pretty cool too.

If you have been fed up with all the bloatware and spyware and popups recently with all the internet radio then check out Screamer Radio – a simple app (which does not even need to be installed – just download it, and run it). It works over all the firewall configurations I have tested it so far. Very clean, simple, fast and a gem of a program if you want to listen to the radio over the internet.

XML Based file formats in Office 12

CNet is reporting that Microsoft said Thursday that it will introduce new XML-based file formats for its Excel, PowerPoint and Word applications when the company launches its Office 12 software package next year. Company officials said the move to replace Microsoft”s traditional binary file formats with open-standards-based XML versions will allow companies using Office 12 to more easily access data across XML”s various applications. Microsoft pledged that the shift to XML, also known as Extensible Markup Language, will decrease the size of many individual files and make documents created in its Office products more resistant to corruption. While Microsoft”s Excel and Word programs already offer some XML compatibility, the new formats will bring those applications, and PowerPoint, into a “full fidelity” version of the standard, said Takeshi Numoto, senior director for the Microsoft Office System. The biggest advantage of the new formats, Numoto said, will be their capacity to allow workers to access data from various documents without opening individual files, and to allow workers to use that information in new ways.

CLR: Under the Hood

The CLR team has a couple of slides from their roadshow where they talk about two tracks, one discusses what happens insight the CLR, if you have some of the books recommended in the presentation, none of this would be new to you. It covers things like the IL which is the abstract representation of an execution semantic and how that is represented using an abstract stack machine, where we consecutively execute each instruction, using the stack as the evaluation of that execution and how this stack abstraction works. And two, there is a discussion on perf engineering including the GC, costs and pitfalls, etc.

On a different note, been out and about on a few days of holiday with family visiting, but its good to be back now. 🙂