Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Workrave

September 20, 2006

I was looking around our wiki the other day and Gang had a link to this little guy: http://www.workrave.org/welcome/ It’s a little app for notifying you when you should take a break from the computer. Pretty cool – non intrusive but does an awesome job. Its amazing how often you should actually just take a little break and chill out 🙂 Definitelly worth checking out!

NVidia drivers and Vista

September 14, 2006

Once again time has flown and there’s been lots I should have been posting about – general stuff here and there, lots of cool stuff at tech ed, the XNA Beta 1 release etc etc. Yet too much work/playing not enough time for posting 🙂

One thing I decided to wack up is a little post about getting vista and all it’s glassy effects (Aero) to work on an nvidia graphics card. Mine is a 6150 GO version running on a laptop (ATI cards seem to be way better with running Vista as far as my playing as gone – seem to just work) so it might not work for all cards but it seems to have worked for mine. Firstly you need to get Vista on your box and then download the RC1 drivers from nvidia. Run those and it will extract the contents out to something like C:\NVIDIA\WinVista\96.33. When it runs up it will undoubtly crash out and say it can’t find a driver for your card… so

Go to that folder and find the file nv_disp file. Now you will need a program to find out the device id for your card. A program which can do this (free trial download) is EVEREST Ultimate Edition by Lavalys. For my 6150 GO card it’s PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0244

Now that you have the device id – add two lines into the nv_disp file (look in the file and you will see where to add these lines – just follow the same pattern):

%NVIDIA_C51.DEV_0244.1%  = nv_NV3x,      PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0244

and:

NVIDIA_C51.DEV_0244.1  = “NVIDIA GeForce 6150 GO”

Save the file, go to device manager, goto update driver and then browse to this folder. It will give you a warning about non-signing but just go install anyway. After a reboot you should have all the glassy effects – ye-yah 🙂

gentoo

July 21, 2006

I’ve been trying to write some drivers lately (using Linux) – the problem has never really been understanding the code – its more been setting up a build environemment (pretty stupid huh)… Not really ever having been forced to use Linux I found it a bit of a mission – I’ve normally just used it for pretty standard stuff and only just to play with. Anyway, I tried setting up a few environments using various distributions (they worked fine – just not for making my own drivers – there was obviously something I was missing but I couldnt seem to get them to work…) but I seemed to find 1) they were bulky, and 2) even running make at the source tree level would cause it to blow up/would blow up when I tried to run the module build which I needed for making v2.6 kernel drivers. Finally I gave up and ran with gentoo.

I set this up inside a vm following the online instructions and it all went pretty smoothly. The only problem I had is that when I tried to compile the kernel using my own build options I wasnt sure what drivers the vmware’s virtual hardware needed – resulting in a little bit of a headache – although I learnt lots on the way which I was stoked about 🙂 – finally after a few builds I just went with the full blown build – but even that didnt work – grrr – after adding the flag “doscsi” (im running on sata drives) to the grub kernel boot line I managed to get it to kick off 😀 (I now need to go back and try this with my original “slim” buid)…

 Anyway – I’m now loving gentoo – straight off the bat everything compiled fine and the first driver I wrote worked first time – Yee yeeah! The only extra bit I chucked on there was the “vim” editor – just so that I could get some color syntax going on… the problem was that the vim package I emerged in using emerge didnt ship with the c and c++ syntax files 😦 – So I grabbed the main vim source (which has them :-)) and just manually copied them on… good times!

 So – anyone thats trying to write some drivers and is struggling a little off the bat – maybe this is the way to go 🙂 gentoo seems a little daunting at first (just because you configure everything) but honesly – just follow the online help and you cant go wrong 🙂

VMware – Browser Appliance, IE6

April 13, 2006

I was reading Aprils atomic magazine the other day and spotted a small piece on vmware and there Browser Applicance – basically its a vm download of around 250M with Ubuntu and Mozilla installed. The idea is to run your browser inside the vm to keep your main machine all nice and clean – good idea – but nothing you couldn't setup yourself. The cool thing is it is all done and just seems to work – run the vm up, it connects to the network and away you go. (It also lets you have a look at Ubuntu as well if you haven't already done that – the version is a little old now though – the current Browser Appliance download uses version 5.10)

After I grabbed the download I decided to chuck on ies4linux (installed wine and cabextract first – follow the instructions here: http://www.tatanka.com.br/ies4linux/en/instructions/ ). This is very easy to do – tick a couple of boxes, double click a script, it does some downloads and its done – installing on linux has never been easier :-). Bascially I wanted to see how wine was going since I haven't used it for a while and I also find things like web outlook etc need IE. Anyway – it seems to all work and layout pretty nicelly (may need some font packs) – so could be something to give a try – considering everything (even vmware) is free you can't really go wrong 🙂

log4net – Logging for your .Net Apps!

April 10, 2006

Ok I’m no log4net expert but it is a very cool package that everyone should use – believe me – it’s very quick to chuck in and will save you mountains of time and make you look like a pro without even really trying 🙂 It’s been around for along time (google for lots of tutorials etc) but I thought I’d put up my most basic x step guide to get running with log4net (this is once again so I can remember too 🙂 ):

1) Grab the log4net dll and register it in the project you want to use it in. (http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=31983&release_id=171808)

2) Make up a static class / singleton and chuck something like this in it:

private static ILog _log;

….

XmlConfigurator.Configure();
_log = LogManager.GetLogger(“GlobalLogging”);

…..

public static ILog Log
{
     get { return _log; }
}

3) Chuck a section like this in your main app.config:

<configSections>
 <section name=”log4net” type=”log4net.Config.Log4NetConfigurationSectionHandler, log4net” />
</configSections>

<log4net>
 <appender name=”FileAppender” type=”log4net.Appender.FileAppender”>
  <file value=”Log.txt” />
  <appendToFile value=”true” />
  <layout type=”log4net.Layout.PatternLayout”>
   <conversionPattern value=”%date [%thread] %-5level %logger – %message%newline” />
  </layout>
 </appender>

 <appender name=”ConsoleAppender” type=”log4net.Appender.ConsoleAppender” >
  <layout type=”log4net.Layout.PatternLayout”>
   <conversionPattern value=”%date [%thread] %-5level %logger – %message%newline” />
  </layout>
 </appender>

 <root>
  <level value=”INFO” />
  <appender-ref ref=”FileAppender” />
  <appender-ref ref=”ConsoleAppender” />
 </root>

<logger name=”GlobalLogging”>
 <level value=”INFO” />
 <appender-ref ref=”FileAppender” />
</logger>
</log4net>

Note: Get rid of the console appender if you just want to chuck the logs to a file.

4) Use your logger: Helper.Log.Info(“This is a log message”);

Now there are different types of messages (warn, info, debug etc) so these types need to be specified in the config – just add <level /> nodes in for the ones you want to log – if they arent in there then they get ignored and wont be written to the file 🙂 That’s how you can say do logging on development (debug) and then turn those off on production without changing your code! Just remove your setting from the config!

Another trick is to use logger sections with named loggers (note the “GlobalLogging”). By getting rid of the <root /> node and only having the logger node you can filter the messages down. This is useful if other components also perform logging but you dont want there messages to come through i.e. it can be used as a filter 🙂

Anyway, its really easy to use and you will get the hang of it “just like that” 🙂 – definitelly worth much more than the 2 minutes it takes to chuck in!

Kororaa – Prepacked XGL

April 10, 2006

If you want to play around with Linux (or get an install an up and running quickly) then you can't go past Kororaa (http://kororaa.org/) – Just download the iso, burn a bootable image, boot from the cd and away you go! This guy comes prepacked with all the stuff for Xgl and "just works" straight out of the box – check out the screenshots if you havent seen xgl running – this is very cool! The linux system you have always wanted 🙂 Bascially its a prepacked gentoo install (with xgl) just to get you up and running really quickly.

The part I liked most is that I could have a play with xgl without prep'ing my machine and then spending a week downloading packages and trying to get it all setup – it just worked 🙂  I run an ATI 9800 and it had no problems – came up first time – all the effects worked! Ye-yah! The only issue I found (which they already had logged in the known issues) was that the terminal doesnt work under gnome with an ATI card (how an issue like that comes about I dont know!) but in KDE it was away 🙂 I'm thinking this is cool enough to do a full install which also is just a click away 🙂 If you are thinking that you wouldn't mind checking out xgl then this is definitelly the way to go 🙂 

 Top marks to the Kororaa team – this is awesome! 😀

Xbox360 and DivX (VLC360)

March 30, 2006

So the Xbox360 got released here on the 23rd of March and for a start I wasn't really planning on getting one (go the ps3 in November 😀 ) but then we decided to go for a little "look". Well….. yeah….. it was raining so the weekend was going to be an inside one…. and November is a long time away…… so yup – before we knew it we were on a mission to Johnsonville (town had sold out) to get one and a couple of hours later we were back getting it all fired up!

I wont go into a talk on the console but my briefest discussion on it is: games are cool, wireless controllers are awesome, os/user interface is very easy to use/well put together, the unit does get hot so dont stand/lie in on the carpet (i got some graphics glitches after about 4 hours of game time – PGR3 – don't know how hard this drives the unit it but it looks like it would be a good test?), its a shame it doesnt support more codecs etc out of the box… but anyway read on 🙂 (/\ndrew sent me a link today of a guy with some water cooling 😀 pretty cool but I think I'll stick with the fans).

Ok so the xbox is running but now I wanted to play my videos, music etc etc. Ah – you need a Windows Media PC (or do you? 😛 ) I couldnt really afford a media pc so I decided to try out the old virtual machine – and it worked! 😀 First I stopped off at www.vmware.com and got a free download of VMware Server – very easy to use, performant, and has just become free (or for a time? I'm not to sure on this one), installed Windows XP into a virtual machine with SP2 and then put the Windows Media Center install over the top.

Then I connected up the xbox to the lan and it game me a code when I fired up Media Center on the remote, went to the website and did the 80M download (dont do the small one – 7M one – this will install the software but doesnt ask for the xbox code and it doesnt want to work). All cool – the xbox was now talking to my VM 🙂 I shared up my music and the xbox was away – Now for the video…

First I tried this one http://www.mperfect.net/mceDivX360/ (and yeah it does look like it would work – but it didnt want to for me – I'm not sure if the video wasnt supported (Media Encoder loved it, along with Media Player) or maybe I just didnt set something up right….(btw good work to all the guys out there working on all of this stuff – its really cool! – more and more seems to be popping up everyday) ) so I then went on a scout  and found a version of our friend VLC for the 360 here 🙂 http://jortega74.free.fr/error.html .

Its called VLC360 and it just works! Map your network drives (so it can see them and you are away!) My videos are now streaming from my VM pc down to the 360 through a network share off my normal pc – No extra pc needed! 🙂 Its just like I was playing the videos on my pc and seems to be really good quality. I have a 64 bit 3200+ with 2G of RAM and it seems to sit at about 35% CPU utalization – the network traffic is pretty much nil – no hanging, glitching or anything. Really cool – If you have a 360/planning on getting one and you need divx then this install comes highly recommended – and yep – the VM's are a cheap/good option too 🙂

Ruby Books

March 30, 2006

Ok so I havent read all of these yet (see the post above any you'll work it out 😉 – there has been lots of other work in there as well) but from what I have read they seem to answer a lot of what I need to know about Ruby / RoR and are really well put together. These are the books "Agile Web Development with Rails" and "Programming Ruby".

The second book explains the syntax – heavy in a way but good – and the first book is really a leap into Ruby on Rails and a lot of the bits that put it together. It expains things simply and clearly and takes you through a RoR solution from the standard layout right through to deployment and the things you will come across along the way. It is far from a 10 step tutorial but is a really good book to get running with 🙂 I would highly recommend both of these books to anyone that wants to dive in and have a party with Ruby / RoR 🙂

Active Directory dropping groups? .Net 1.1

March 11, 2006

Recently I had a project that the tech boys moved from 1 server to another after some server problems – at first it seemed to be running well but then an AD nightmare unfolded! The AD component runs nightly and puts various users into different groups. One of these groups is quite large and we found that after adding a user almost 70,000 other users would get kicked from the group – what was going on? It had been working fine for a long time – why it would it decide to die now? There’s a few components to the system and we knew we were only ever adding users to groups – how could they ever be removed? After trying a whole heap of different things we decided to scrap through the source – this lead one of the guys to finding this article:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/839424

Arrrhhh – because the box was setup quickly to get the site back up running some critical patches had been overlooked – but what a poor bug! Watch out for that one! Lucky 2.0 is in full flight now a 🙂

Post it up – Coding Environments

March 4, 2006

I thought I better say sorry for not posting for a while – as a dedicated coder it has been hurting not being at my pc lately 😀 After a few big coding sessions and a bit of stuff at work I noticed my arm was getting a bit sore – didn’t improve – got worse and seems to just be coming right now only after giving it a solid rest for a week or so (no after hours coding 😦 ). I always thought OOS etc was not something to really worry about – I havent had any issues before and dont think anythings wrong now (more just a strain) but it did make me think about making sure you have your coding environment setup correctly and taking little breaks is probibly something that everyone (yes – including the hardcore coders) should do. I found one of those little mouse wrist rests from 3M seem to be pretty good (annoying at first – but really good on your arm). I dont know too much about it but its really worth the time to do a bit of a google search and find out what you should be doing to make sure you can code until the bitter end – dont want to have to call it quits early! Oh – and the stretches – do them gently – they arent supposed to hurt – can’t listen to what everyone tells you first off 😛