Clip, a little utility for the command line.

Included in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is a little command line utility called Clip.

It's very simple: it pipes the output of your command to the clipboard.

Here's how you might use it:

c:\Users\Jon>dir | Clip

It can also be used as a command with a file as an argument, to place the contents of the file in the clipboard:

c:\Users\Jon>Clip < foo.txt

Then just ctrl+v to your heart's content.

Technology Predictions and Trends for 2009

I’m sure we’re going to look back at 2009 and say “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ and it will no doubt be interesting. Here’s my predictions….

Social Networking Everywhere

Although online social networking companies are already struggling with diminished valuations, in 2009 we’ll see social networks break out of their silos and become essential platform elements that see their way into other online applications such as travel, e-commerce, job-posting boards, online dating services, CRM services, web based email systems, etc. Blogging is also changing, slowing down in fact. Micro-blogging with status update-esque features in FaceBook, Windows Live, and of course the explosion of Twitter will take on even larger roles. It’s as true today as it was back in 1964 when fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan wrote “The Medium Is The Message”.

The Death of Optical Media

Okay, so you’ll still be able to walk into a video store to rent a DVD or buy a spindle of blanks at your grocery store but make no mistake about it – the death march is on, and that includes you too Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray will never see the adoption curve that DVD’s had. They thought they won when HD-DVD died, but if winning means dying last, then sure, you won. We’ll increasingly be renting our movies on-demand through our cable boxes, on our converged PC’s and XBOX 360’s via services like Netflix. Along with this, the rest of us will start to realize we don’t really need to own our libraries of movies. With IPod penetration as high as it is, it may take longer to realize we don’t need to own our music either – frankly we don’t own it anyway even though the pricing models try to convince us we do. I won’t go out and predict the death of DRM, frankly, I think 2009 maybe the year where DRM starts to get more tolerable once we are clearly renting our music and movies. The Zune Pass is making some inroads here but until Apple starts offering a similar subscription pricing, this may take a bit longer.

The Mac Air may have been a bit ahead of the curve with dropping the optical drive, but get used to it. Expect more vendors to do the same as they reduce size or cram in additional batteries or hard drives.

The Rise of the NetBook

If 2009 is the year of doing more with less, then this will surely be the NetBook’s year. Mainstream hardware manufacturers hate these and their small profit margins, but Acer and Intel will be raking it in building market share if not large bottom lines. Who knows, MS may learn to love the NetBook if they can get Acer to start shipping Windows 7 on them this year as well. Be prepared to see these everywhere in 2009, but don’t expect to see Apple make one (ever).

Zune Phone

The big story at the end of 2008 has been the global suicide of the original Zune 30s. I predict that tomorrow they’ll be they shall rise from the dead but it might take until the 2nd for everybody to figure out that they need to entirely drain the battery. The big news is that there won’t be a Zune phone with the MS brand name on it, but the Zune UI will come to Windows Mobile (6.5?) turning legions of touch based smart phones into music players almost as good as an IPhone. The bad news is that without an App Store to vet software quality, crapware will continue to be the source of reliability issues for the Windows Mobile platform. The good news is that without an App Store, Windows Mobile users will have lots of choice in the software for their devices, not to mention lots of choice in devices, carriers and plans. The battle between Good and Evil may morph into the battle between Reliability and Choice.

Touch Everywhere

Get your head out of the gutter, that’s not what I meant. What I did mean is that 12-24 months from now, it will be difficult to purchase a digital frame, LCD monitor or phone without an onscreen touch capability. Windows 7 will light these devices up and we’ll start to not think about the differences between Tablet PC’s and Notebooks as they just converge into a single device. With the advent of Silverlight, WPF and Surface computing, MS has been banging the “user experience” drum for a while now but when touch starts to be the expectation and not the exception, we’ll have to re-engineer our applications to optimize for the touch experience. This may turn out to be bigger than the mouse or even a windowed operation system.

Flush with Flash

In 2008 we’ve been teased with sold state hard drives but with less than stellar performance at outrageous prices, they’ve been on the fringe. In 2009 prices and read/write times will both come down in solid state drives, but with the increased capacity of USB memory sticks 32gb, 64gb +, we likely won’t see SSD drives hitting mainstream this year. Instead I think we’ll see an increase in the behavior of people keeping their entire lives on USB flash memory sticks. Hopefully we’ll see sync & backup software such as Windows Live Sync, Active Sync, Windows Home Server, etc. become more aware of these portable memory devices that may get synced from any device in your mesh. 

Camera flash will have to have a new format as SDHC currently is maxed at 32gb. With the increase in demand for HD video recording on still and video cameras, we’ll need a new format. As such we’re seeing rock bottom prices on 2gb chips now. Maybe somebody will come out with a SD Raid device that lets us plug in a bank of 2GB SD Cards.

Growing up in the Cloud

Cloud computing is going to be a very long term trend. I think we’ll only see baby steps in 2009 towards this goal. In the consumer space we’ll see more storage of digital media in the cloud, online backup services and the move of many applications to the cloud. Perfect for your Touch Zune Phone and Touch NetBook without an optical drive eh? IT shops will take a bit longer to embrace the cloud. Although many IT Data centers are largely virtualized already, applications are not all that virtual today and that doesn’t seem to be changing soon as developers have not whole-heartedly adopted SOA practices, addressed scalability and session management issues nor adopted concepts such as multi-tenancy. As we do more with less in 2009, we won’t see that changing much as a lot of software out there will be in “maintenance mode” during the recession.

Maybe, Just Maybe, this is the year of the Conveniently Connected Smart Client

Adobe Air & Silverlight are mainstreaming web deployed and updated rich client desktop apps. It’s hard to take advantage of touch interfaces and massive portable flash storage within a browser. All of these other trends can influence Smart Client applications, potentially to a tipping point. We’ll hopefully see out of browser, cross-platform Silverlight applications in 2009 to make this an easy reality on the MS Stack.

Incremental, Value-Based and Agile Software Development

Many of my customers began large-scale re-writes of their key software assets in 2008, many of them against my recommendations. For most of my key customers in 2008 and into 2009 I’m an advocate of providing incremental value in short iterative releases, not major re-writes that take 6+ months to develop. Even if your application is written in PowerBuilder 6 or Classic ASP, avoid the temptation to rewrite any code that won’t see production for 4 months or longer. We can work towards componentized software by refactoring legacy assets and providing key integration points so that we can release updated modules towards gradual migration. It is difficult for software teams in this economy to produce big-bang, “boil the ocean”, build cathedral type projects. We simply can’t predict what our project’s funding will be in 4 months from now, or if we’ll be owned by another company, scaled down, out sourced or just plain laid off. That is of course unless you work for the government. Government spending will continue if not increase in 2009, but still, try to spend our taxpayer money wisely by delivering short incremental software releases. It allows you to build trust with your customers, mark a line in the sand and move onward and upward, and let’s you move quickly in times of fluid business requirements and funding issues.

Incremental, Value-Based software development isn’t easy. It takes lots of work, creative thinking, and much interop and integration work than one would prefer. It might easily seem like an approach that costs more in the long term, and in some cases you could be right. But if a company has to throw out work in progress after 6-8 months or never sees the value of it because of other changing business conditions, then what have you saved? Probably not your job anyway.

SharePoint and Vista: a problem with “Explorer View” and “Create list from spreadsheet”

We have recently encountered a problem with some of the SharePoint (WSS or MOSS) features not working properly in Windows Vista:

  • When users attempt to display a document library in the Explorer view within the web application that uses Kerberos authentication, nothing happens: Explorer view never comes up and no errors displayed either
  • Or, when users attempt to display a document library within the web application that uses NTLM authentication, they get "Your client does not support opening this list with Windows Explorer" error;
  • When users attempt to create list from Excel spreadsheet they get "Method 'Post' of object 'IOWSPostData' failed" error

After a lot of research and many unsuccessful attempts to fix these problems using various solutions found on the web, I have finally able to find a workaround that have worked on Windows Vista 32-bit.

Solutions that did not work in our situation:

  • Installing and enabling WebDav on IIS 7
  • Installing Desktop Experience on Windows 2008 server 64 bit
  • Modifying EXPTOOWS.XLA macro file to force using a different version number
  • Etc…

The workaround that worked:

  • Install hotfix KB945015 on the client machine to fix a bug caused by an extra forward slash mark (/)appended to the query path of a WebDAV PROPFIND request
  • Install Web folder hotfix on the client machine to get Vista map a drive to a web location on SharePoint
  • Map a "Web Network Location" on your PC to the root of the SharePoint site in question and ensure that you save the credentials

This workaround only worked for Windows Vista 32-bit.

Related resources:

Essential MS Subscription for Mac-aphile Designers

Are you a design & mac user in a Windows Development Shop? Are they eyeing your Mac and measuring your desk to outfit you with a new PC? Over your cold dead corpse I bet. No worries. You owe it to yourself to check out the Microsoft Expression Professional Subscription.  Yeah, you could run Bootcamp but then you'd loose the OS X & Quicksilver goodness while you paid the bills.

This annual subscription's most important piece of software isn't made by MS: Parallels Desktop for Mac. Parallels will let you run Windows Vista or Windows XP (also included with the subscription) without leaving OS X - better yet with Expose, your desktop will be unified. And with the SmartSelect feature, you'll be opening Mac or Windows files in the OS of your choice automatically. Edit XAML files in Expression Blend (also include) in Windows, but open JPEG's in Photoshop in OS X - regardless from which OS you launched the file from. Very cool.

Here's the complete list of included software

                • Expression® Studio
                  Which includes Expression Web for aspx/css/html stuff, Blend for WPF/Silverlight/XAML stuff,  Expression Design for illustrations & graphics, Expression Encoder for media encoding, and Expression Media for asset management.
                • Visual Studio® Standard
                  Just in case the .NET guys make you check stuff into source control.
                • Office Standard
                • Office Visio® Professional
                  For those workflow diagrams and ugly mock ups that the dev guys send you.
                • Windows® XP
                • Windows Vista® Business Edition
                • Virtual PC
                • Parallels Desktop for Mac

And just to make things even easier, they've already included some pre-configured virtualized servers in the box as well - that will save you some time. Current pricing is about $1000 USD for the first year. This won't be available for a few weeks, but visit here to learn more.

And if you're trying to learn more about WPF and Silverlight, check out our new Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) for Developers & Designers course. Rob Burke, our User Experience (UX) practice lead talks more about this course here. And finally, check out Rob Windsor's post on our Summer Seat Sale to learn how to save up to $500 on our training this summer.

Status Update on Toshiba Portege M400 Tablet + Vista

It's been awhile since I've posted any updates on my Toshiba M400. Over the past year, my experience running Vista has improved greatly and I've been surprised with my efforts on extending the useful life of this machine. For the record, it's > 2 years old for me now which is starting to breaking records for me now - I normally can't go much more than a year without an upgrade. The bottom line is with things the way they are now - I'm quite happy with the machine and haven't really envied anything on the market.

  • I'm running the latest 3.60 bios which is pretty stable now, having not been updated since it's release in July 2007. Although I can't get to page 3 in the bios settings  (it locks up when I do that) things are working quite well.
  • I upgraded to 4Gb of Ram. A little over a year ago I looked into this and it was going to set me back $1500+. This past march, it only cost $100. This probably had the single biggest improvement on usability in Vista. I was surprised that going into vista's Computer properties screen - it actually showed 4gb - and yes, running under 32-bit. I could tell in Task Manager that I was only getting 3.25 - but I was still surprised. At some point a windows update came through and now it only shows, correctly, 3.24gb. The bottom line here though is that for $99 - nobody should hesitate - the pay back was huge in terms of responsiveness.
  • I also upgraded the internal wifi from 802.11g to 802.11n. This installation is not much more difficult than replacing the Ram and involves removing the keyboard which is quite simple. The only tricky part is getting those bloody antennae wire's snapped onto the circuit board. This upgrade cost $40 for the intel 802.11n card and installed in less than 30 minutes. I also upgraded my home router in conjunction with this upgrade. The throughput improvement was huge. My signal strength also improved greatly. My home office is in the basement (where my router is) and when I'm not in there, our family room is 1 floor up and somewhat diagonal from the home office. There are 2 or 3 walls through a stairway and a floor between where I normally sit and the router so signal strength was always marginal. No problems now and speed is at least doubled.
  • I had purchased 2 100gb sata drives (7200rpm) to replace the internal drive and to put in the HDD Adapter tray. This is great for running VPCs. I've just ordered a new 7200rpm 320gb drive since I was finding 100gb a bit tight. I was hoping that performance of SSD would have come along faster (and the price too) but I'll have to wait for that. New drive is still a week or two away.
  • I had my two laptop batteries refurbished at Ink Jet Sales. They take your batteries - put in new cells, for $85 and a 1 week wait. I wouldn't say they are as good as when I first bought them, but they are pretty darn close. Compared to the $200 Toshiba wants for new ones, this was a good deal. I also purchased an external toshiba charger that can charge 2 batteries externally from the laptop.
  • As you may have recalled, my CMOS battery had mysteriously died and my clock was never right. This happened around the upgrade to Vista so I was a bit suspicious. It's amazing how many bad things happen when your clock is a day or two old. Many servers won't let you connect to them, VPCs get all wonky, etc. It was really hard to find a replacement battery - and this being a US laptop, living in Canada - the warranty fix was going to take close to a week. I could never do without my laptop for that long. Yesterday however, a battery showed up and our trusty IT magician, Max, took apart the laptop and got it back together. The RTC battery is nestled under the motherboard so he literally had to take apart everything. The step-by-step instructions here were invaluable. It took him about an hour and all things went smooth. I wasn't 100% convinced it was the battery that was causing the clock issues - but 24 hours later and it seems to have been the fix that was required. A nice side effect is that this repair requires the LCD and the hinge to be disconnected. After reassembly - the hinge is now as tight and firm as it was the day I bought it. It had become a bit loose over the past couple of years.
  • I picked up a new 28" monitor a few weeks ago for the home office and had not stopped to think if the M400 could drive the 1920 x 1200 resolution until I started unpacking it. I hadn't used an external monitor for over a year and the last time - I couldn't get it to drive the 1600x1200 resolution of the monitor I had at that time. A bios update fixed that - but I still couldn't run Vista with Aero Glass when both displays were active. Much to my surprise however is that it has no problems with the full 1920x1200 resolution with Aero Glass. I suspect that new graphics drivers from Intel + the left over ram between the 3.25gb used by Vista and the 4Gb available has something to do with that.

All in, I'm very content with this laptop these days. Performance is great and you can't beat the package size. I still have troubles finding a 12.1" laptop with 1400x1050 resolution these days. Heck, I have troubles finding this in 13 and 14 inch models as well.

I use just about all of the features of this machine on a day to day basis including the tablet functionality and I've fallen in back in love with this machine.

My only complaint - and it's my fault, is that the screen is quite scratched up and pitted these days. If somebody has a M400 with the 1400x1050 laptop that isn't working (but the screen is in good shape) I'd love to buy it off you. I know a lot of MS employees have (or had) this machine - so if any of you have one lying around and they want to get rid of it - drop me a note at

Installing SQL Server 2005 on Windows Vista or Windows 2008: IIS 7.0 problem

Recently I tried to install SQL Server 2005 on Windows Vista and I have received a warning message for IIS Feature requirement on the System Configuration Check page of the SQL Server 2005 Setup program. This means that you won’t be able to install SQL Server components, requiring IIS, such as Reporting Services. The problems occurs because IIS 7.0 is much more customizable and has much more components, so some of the components required for RS installation are missing from the default IIS 7.0 install. Here is the list of the IIS components required for Reporting Services:



Static Content

Common HTTP Features

Default Document

Common HTTP Features

HTTP Redirection

Common HTTP Features

Directory Browsing

Common HTTP Features


Application Development

ISAPI Extension

Application Development

ISAPI Filters

Application Development

Windows Authentication


IIS Metabase

Management Tools


Management Tools


For instructions on how to install missing IIS components in Windows Vista, go to: (

For instructions on how to install missing IIS components in a Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008, go to:

The solution is also explained in Microsoft KB920201.


Editing SharePoint documents (WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007) in Microsoft Windows Vista/Office 2007

Users of Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007 might have encountered an error "Unknown error trying to lock file" when they click Edit Document. This error however didn't occur for users of Microsoft XP with Office 2007. As far as I know the problem occurred because of the changes made in the Web Client service in Vista and the way Office was communicating with Sharepoint. Installing Microsoft hotfix 943280 and patching your Web Folders with 907306 didn't resolve the problem. Trying numerous workarounds described on the web didn't resolve the problem either. The only workaround that worked setting the office applications to run in "Windows XP SP2 compatibility mode", but then why would you run Windows Vista. You could say this is another reason to go back old Windows XP.

Luckily with the release of SP1 for Vista this problem disappears! So, thank you Microsoft for solving this problem, although I hope such problems will be resolved faster and more efficiently. I would wish that those problems will not exist in the first place, but then I start thinking that if all software would run smoothly, it will make a life of IT guys pretty boring. So, thank you Microsoft for keeping IT guys busy/employed! J

Note: Don't forget to upgrade your SharePoint servers to SP1.

Related resources:

Congratulations to Tony Cavaliere, Gadget Guru and Agenda Junkie

Congratulations are in order for Tony Cavaliere, a fellow ObjectSharp Consultant. 

Tony is a self confessed addict of the TVO show The Agenda and when Microsoft Canada announced the competition for building Vista sidebar gadgets, Tony jumped on the chance to show off his sidebar gadget building skills while building something useful for fans of the show.

Tony finished third in the competition, but more importantly is now up to date on all the happenings with the show without having to leave his desktop.

IT Business Canada featured Tony's work in a recent article that the discusses the merits of building vista gadgets to deliver a powerful marketing punch.

You can download Tony's gadget on his blog.

Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack(s) 1


As an early Christmas present, Microsoft released a welcome service pack for Visual Studio 2005 last week. There's downloads available for each appropriate edition including the team foundation server. Check the download pages for releases notes as well.

There is still another service pack/update in the wings to provider greater facilities for integration with Windows Vista. It is supposed to be available in the first quarter of 2007, but you can download the beta of that service pack now.

For sometime now, I've done almost all of my development exclusively in virtual machines such as VPC and VMWare. This has been the only sane way to minimize disruption with the transition from Windows XP to Vista on my primary notebook.

As an aside, I heard a rumour that the VMWare Workstation 6.0 beta now supports the option to run your IDE on your host OS, and then to deploy, run & debug inside a virtual machine. That is certainly going to open some interesting scenarios. I can see that being very helpful for automated unit testing on via a build server, testing out on multiple configurations, environments, operating systems, etc.

.NET Applications on a Mac with WPF/E

As you might be aware, in sequence with Vista, Microsoft released .NET 3.0. This is an addtional set of libraries on top of .NET 2.0 - so your existing apps continue to work and the runtime CLR is otherwise unaffected.

This incremental set of .NET 3.0 libraries include usful parts for building distributed applications in new ways:

  • Windows Communication Foundation
  • Windows Workflow
  • Windows Presentation foundation

It should be noted that although these are released and pre-deployed with Vista - they are backward compatible to run on XP and 2003.

Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is for building very rich (i.e. 2D, 3D, animation, video & audio) client side applications and includes a markup language (XAML) to help out with that.

MS is already at work on a new derivative of WPF, namely WPF/E - E = Everywhere. Everywhere is a bit of a stretch - but it will include other browsers (Firefox, Safari, etc..) and other platform(s) - namely the Mac. Not clear if this is going to run on my J2ME, blackberry or Mobile Framework yet.

So with WPF/E we have this new thing that can make rich multimedia content and run in any browser, any platform - some would say a Flash Killer. With that in mind there are a few interesting tidbits I find interesting.

  1. You can script with JavaScript, like flash. Here's a nice demo on the where a cityscape is split in half - one side Flash, the other side WPF/E and a blue disc is scripted to bounce from one side to the other using JavaScript glue.
  2. The source code - and what's published to the browser - is Markup language - namely XAML.
  3. One of the reasons we like HTML so much is that search engines can parse and index i. That makes it's easy to find stuff. Anybody who has built a fancy front end to their website in Flash knows however that this content that is pushed to the browser is binary format to be executed by the flash runtime. Therefore it is a black box and can't be indexed by search engines.

    Remember I said WPF/E uses XAML - a markup language. Well the cool part is that this is pushed out to the browser so indeed it can be indexed. No reason why a rich WPF/E document couldn't be searched by Google & Live. It should be interesting to see what happens and how engines like Google, Live, Yahoo, etc. crawl, rank, search & render results of XAML content. Hmmm, search engine wars aren't over yet.
  4. CLR Integration is one of the tricker features that Mike Harsh says they are currently scoping. Being able to use the CLR with WPF is of course a key feature, so is this going to run on the Mac? I've expected to a commercially supported CLR for the Mac for sometime, well since, the Rotor project and more recently since this Mix 06 demo of the MiniCLR.. I've seen a lot of folks excited about the possibility of cross-platform .NET development. There are obviously technical and commercial hurdles to overcome. I suspect the technical hurdles to be no less challenging than any other attempts at cross platform support.

I think if we keep our perspective on on WPF/E in the same context of Flash, we'll find good uses for this technology and enjoy a more consistent development platform from CLR in our SQL Database right through to our browsers and devices.

WPF/E is expected to ship in the first half of 2007, but the December Community Technology Preview (CTP) is downloadable now.