New Mobile Development Community Site

New Mobile Development Community Site

From the makers of the “Smart Devices Framework” the team at OpenNETCF Consulting have launched a new community website, http://community.opennetcf.com.  This follows a long trend of these guys supporting the mobile development community. 

In a previous post I talked about a Skype chat that Neil Cowburn frequently hosts.  This chat is something you can join and opt to never leave.  The benefit with this is that whenever someone asks a question you can be sure to see it, and normally an answer or two, whiz past – this is a great way to learn about mobile development.  Another benefit is that because there are people from all over the world on the chat there is likely to be someone connected when you have a question to ask!

Speaking of community sites, don’t forget that http://www.sqlserverce.org is available for the community surrounding the SQL Server Compact Edition product.  Unfortunately I have let the site slip a little due to other time commitments but with my recent shift back into mobile development I am keen to get it back up and running.  If you have any suggestions for the site, please feel free to drop me a line.

Windows Update on Vista – Error 779

Windows Update on Vista – Error 779

This is one of those posts where I complain about Microsoft and Windows Update (of which there seems to be a large number of people complaining recently, specifically on Vista with regards to updates released last week). For the last couple of months I’ve been ignoring a “Security Update for Excel 2003 (KB905756)” which has been failing with the ever useful Error Code 779.  When I first came across this error I rebooted a couple of times and tried a couple of things but didn’t have the time or patience to investigate it further.  Following a couple of complaints by others about Windows Update on Vista last week I decided enough was enough and that I’d sort it out this morning.

Turns out that 2 hours later I was able to get the update to install.  This involved a certain amount of trawling of the Windows Update newsgroup followed by a bit more Googling. The things to try are:

  • Disabling firewall and anti-virus software (never a big fan of this but tried it anyhow to no avail)
  • Try downloading the update and installing it manually (didn’t work)
  • Try running msiexec /p c:<updatename>.msp /l*v c:Update.txt /qn from an elevated command prompt (didn’t work since this update was an executable.  Even after hacking around to get at the contents of the exe I still could get it to install)
  • Try renaming the %windir%SoftwareDistribution directory (this is not a good idea is it effectively resets Windows Update and requires a reboot before the computer will again talk with the update service – and still didn’t work)
  • Running the update manually was coming up against “Error 1913: Setup cannot update file C:WIndowssystem32mapisvc.inf. Verify that the file exists in your system and that you have sufficient permissions to update it.” After searching on this error I decided to take ownership of this file (again not something I like doing with system files) with the Administrators group on the local computer.  I then granted the Administrators group full access to the file and retried the installation – finally it gave one last error about not being able to locate an application file with the typical “please insert the product installation disc” prompt.  I inserted the disc and hey presto it installed (perhaps all I needed to do was to have the disc in the drive while the update was installing?)

Honestly what a painful process – I really pity the average user who comes across these issues and I can see why I often see computers with the red security shield in their taskbar! 

Advice for Morts: go buy a Mac – they seem to have fewer issues.

Advice for Microsoft: sort out your flag ship products.  Vista and Office 2007 are so bloated they struggle to get up in the morning.  We could do with less features and more stability!

Entity Framework – Something I can ignore for the time being

Entity Framework – Something I can ignore for the time being

Well, when I say “can” ignore I actually mean I can’t work with it at the moment using Sql Server CE. Apparently, according to Danny who has been great at posting an update regarding the decisions that have been made, the Sql Server CE made the decision to focus their attention on other aspects of the product in the lead up to the launch of Visual Studio 2008.  This will mean that we should expect another release shortly afterwards (most likely in line with Sql Server 2008 and the Entity Framework) which will ensure Sql CE users can work with the Entity Framework.

What this means for us product developers (ie ISVs) is yet another round of software updates, yet another round of compatibility testing and yes, you guessed it, yet another round of bug fixes ;-).  I’m not going to comment on whether Sql CE should be released in line with VS2008 or Sql Server 2008 but I think that it would be good to have slightly less frequent releases of this product in favour of product stability.  In particular getting setup to work with Sql CE and Merge replication (with the most recent bits) is a bit of a pig’s breakfast.  Although this article does help considerably in understanding the various bits and pieces.