Windows Skydrive to upgrade to 25gig online storage!

If you don’t know, Windows Skydrive is Microsoft’s offering of free online storage – previously it was only 5gig but now they are upping this limit to 25gig, more than likely to bring them in line with other free online storage providers out there (me cynical, nah!)

Anyways I played about with it a few months ago and promptly left it dead for the following reasons:

  • You can only upload a max file size of 50 meg, pretty useless nowadays
  • There are no tools to bulk upload many files so if you have 1000 files to upload, you had to use their upload form which if I recall only allowed 5 files at a time!!!
  • There is no way to map the service to a drive on your system
  • I’m going to keep an eye on this as it’s something I’m looking at seriously as online backup, I’d like the following features implementing which I feel are definitely required in order for it to be taken seriously by users:

  • Remove the max file size restrictions or at least increase it to something usable
  • Provide an API so that developers like us can write upload tools that actually do what we want them to do
  • Give us a better bulk upload experience
  • Automatic sync would be great
  • Possibly built in encryption (although I would encrypt anything I upload to there anyway) – not that I don’t trust you Microsoft, but I don’t!
  • You can read more at the Windows Team Blog HERE

    I’ve also just discovered Windows Live FolderShare – don’t know anything about it yet apart from the fact it’s about to be replaced by Windows Live Sync in December but i’m going to check it out and see how these services complement SkyDrive………………

    Microsoft to offer free malware and other security offerings!!!

    Techradar.com has pointed out that Microsoft are to offer free Malware tools to comabat the increasing problem of botnets etc on users PC’s

    Microsoft is getting serious about global security, offering a free anti-malware package code-named Morro that has been specially designed for low cost PCs in developing nations.

    The software will be available in the second half of 2009 and will provide ‘comprehensive protection’ from ‘the majority of online threats’, including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans.

    Morro is based on – and will replace – the current Windows Live OneCare subscription service, although it has been architected to use fewer computing resources, making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs.

    Also destined for the chop is Equipt, Microsoft’s shortlived excursion into consumer software-as-a-service, offering cloud storage of files, updates to Microsoft Office packages and Windows Live OneCare, for an annual cost of £59. Microsoft Equipt launched just one month ago.

    Microsoft vs malware

    Amy Barzdukas, Senior Director at Microsoft, said: “This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware.”

    Morro will deliver the same core protection against malware as Microsoft’s enterprise solutions, but without the additional non-security features found in many consumer security suites, which probably means password managers, identity protection software and online secure storage.

    “By offering basic protection at no charge to the consumer, Microsoft is promoting a safer environment for PCs, service providers and e-commerce itself, since it is through unprotected PCs that the worst threats are introduced to the system as a whole,” said Roger Kay, Founder of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

    Cross-platform support

    Morro will be available as a stand-alone download for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. Windows Live OneCare will continue to be sold until June 30, 2009, and all existing subscriptions to it will be honoured.

    Microsoft will end retail sales of Equipt within the next 90 days and halt subscription services in the first half of 2009. The company says that customers who subscribed to this service continue ‘to get value from it’ until the end of their subscription period – October 2009 – and will provide detailed information about ‘customer options’ early next year.

    If those ‘options’ are the same as US users of Equipt received, UK purchasers can expect a free license key to Microsoft Office Home and Student (worth about £70) and possibly even a pro-rated refund, which isn’t a bad deal.

    About time they took it seriously, mind you nowadays i’m using a Mac 🙂

    How to programmatically turn on the Numlock Key

    The following code will allow you to turn on the numlock key upon startup. Can’t credit anyone as i’m not sure where it came from but it does work 100%

    using System;
    using System.Runtime.InteropServices;

    class SetNumlockKeyOn
    {
    [StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential)]
    public struct INPUT
    {
    internal int type;
    internal short wVk;
    internal short wScan;
    internal int dwFlags;
    internal int time;
    internal IntPtr dwExtraInfo;
    int dummy1;
    int dummy2;
    internal int type1;
    internal short wVk1;
    internal short wScan1;
    internal int dwFlags1;
    internal int time1;
    internal IntPtr dwExtraInfo1;
    int dummy3;
    int dummy4;
    }
    [DllImport(“user32.dll”)]
    static extern int SendInput(uint nInputs, IntPtr pInputs, int cbSize);

    public static void SetNumlockOn()
    {
    const int mouseInpSize = 28;//Hardcoded size of the MOUSEINPUT tag !!!
    INPUT input = new INPUT();
    input.type = 0x01; //INPUT_KEYBOARD
    input.wVk = 0x90; //VK_NUMLOCK
    input.wScan = 0;
    input.dwFlags = 0; //key-down
    input.time = 0;
    input.dwExtraInfo = IntPtr.Zero;

    input.type1 = 0x01;
    input.wVk1 = 0x90;
    input.wScan1 = 0;
    input.dwFlags1 = 2; //key-up
    input.time1 = 0;
    input.dwExtraInfo1 = IntPtr.Zero;

    IntPtr pI = Marshal.AllocHGlobal(mouseInpSize * 2);
    Marshal.StructureToPtr(input, pI, false);
    int result = SendInput(2, pI, mouseInpSize); //Hardcoded size of the MOUSEINPUT tag !!!

    //if (result == 0 || Marshal.GetLastWin32Error() != 0)
    // Console.WriteLine(Marshal.GetLastWin32Error());
    Marshal.FreeHGlobal(pI);
    }
    }

    Deleting elements from XML Documents

    If you need to delete either a Node, Element or Attribute from your XML document, try the following code as it actually works!!!

    XML Document Structure

    <?xml version=1.0encoding=utf-8standalone=yes?>
    <!–
    XML Config file–>
    <Tests
    >
    <
    Test>
    <
    ID>47d272cd-877d-4d0f-ad4a-cfa31200d966</ID>
    <
    Object>Obj1</Object>
    <
    TestType>Fail Yes</TestType>
    <
    Command>fail yes</Command>
    <
    Time>202</Time>
    <
    Expiry>0</Expiry>
    </
    Test>
    <
    Test>
    <
    ID>71b211a7-99e4-4041-ada7-2925b6aff46f</ID>
    <
    Object>Obj2</Object>
    <
    TestType>Fail No</TestType>
    <
    Command>fail no</Command>
    <
    Time>243</Time>
    <
    Expiry>0</Expiry>
    </
    Test>
    </
    Tests>

    To delete the element based on the GUID I Use:

    ///
    /// Allows you to delete an element from the XML File
    ///
    /// String GUID ID to remove from the config file
    /// Name of the element to delete
    public void RemoveElement(string elementName, string id)
    {
    System
    .Xml.XmlDocument doc = new System.Xml.XmlDocument();

    doc.Load(filename);

    System.Xml.XmlNodeList list = doc.GetElementsByTagName(Test);

    for (int i = 0; i < list.Count; i++)
    {

    int j = 0;
    for (j = 0; j < list[i].ChildNodes.Count; j++)
    {

    if (list[i].ChildNodes[j].Name.ToUpper() == “ID”)
    break;
    }

    if (j < list[i].ChildNodes.Count && list[i].ChildNodes[0].InnerText == id)
    {
    System
    .Xml.XmlNode parent = list[i].ParentNode;
    parent
    .RemoveChild(list[i]);
    }
    }
    doc
    .Save(filename);
    }

    Another way that i’ve not got around to testing (but which I like) is to use a DataView to suck the XML in, parse using the filter property and then after deleting, re-export as XML:

    DataSet ds = new DataSet();
    ds
    .ReadXml(“xmlAdd file as above”);
    if (ds != null && ds.Tables.Contains(“stickies”))
    {

    DataView dv = new DataView(ds.Tables[“stickies”]);
    dv
    .RowFilter = “id=1”;
    if (dv.Count >= 1)
    {
    dv[
    0].Delete();
    ds
    .AcceptChanges();
    ds
    .WriteXml(“updated.xml”);
    }
    }

    Using Regular Expressions to see if string validates as a numeric or number value

    The following method will take in a string and return a bool value if it’s a valid number:

    ///         
    /// Uses Regular expressions to see if we are a number        
    ///         
    ///         
    ///         
    static bool IsNumeric(string inputString)
    {

    return System.Text.RegularExpressions.Regex.IsMatch(inputString, “^[0-9]+$”);
    }

    The end of an era – Windows 3.x

    Windows 3 splash screen, Microsoft

    Windows 3.x established the look of the operating system.

    An application has expectedly quit.

    Windows 3.x has come to the closing moments of its long life.

    On 1 November Microsoft stopped issuing licences for the software that made its debut in May 1990 in the US.

    The various versions of Windows 3.x (including 3.11) released in the early 1990s, were the first of Microsoft’s graphical user interfaces to win huge worldwide success.

    They helped Microsoft establish itself and set the trend for how it makes its revenues, and what drives the company until the present day.

    High flyer

    For many computer users 3.x was the first Windows-based operating system they used, and the software established the iconography of Microsoft’s flagship product.

    As it was updated the software started to make PCs a serious rival to Apple machines, as it could take advantage of much improved graphics, had a broader colour palette, and could use multimedia extras such as sound cards and CD Rom drives.

    Microsoft maintained support for Windows 3.x until the end of 2001, and it has lived on as an embedded operating system until 1 November 2008.

    Virgin Atlantic jet, Virgin

    Windows 3.x has found a role onboard some long-haul jet aircraft.

    As an embedded system, it was used to power such things as cash tills in large stores and ticketing systems.

    One of its more glamorous uses as an embedded operating system is to power the in-flight entertainment systems on some Virgin and Qantas long-haul jets.

    Tech specs

    Stefan Berka, who runs the GUI Documentation Project, said the important technical innovations in the software were its extended memory that could address more than 640KB and the improvements to hardware support.

    The fact that it was 100% compatible with older MSDOS applications helped too.

    Windows 3.x required an 8086/8088 processor or better that had a clock speed of up to 10MHz. It needed at least 640KB of RAM, seven megabytes of hard drive space, and a graphics card that supported CGA, EGA and VGA graphics.

    By comparison, the Home Basic version of Windows Vista requires a 32-bit 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 20GB of hard drive space, and a graphics card with at least 32MB of memory.

    Windws 98 on production line, AP

    Many people still rely on older operating systems.

    “I haven’t received an e-mail about Windows 3.11 for a long time,” said Andy Rathbone, author of a Dummies guide to the software. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if some people still use it.”

    Sales of the software still pop up on eBay, he said, but not at a price that would tempt him to part with his unopened copy of Windows 3.1.

    Agent Quang from home IT support firm The Geek Squad, said he regularly encountered venerable operating systems in customer’s homes but it had been a long time since he saw Windows 3.x.

    “The majority of machines we run see are running XP,” he said, “Vista is still a bit flaky here and there and people are not comfortable with it.”

    But, he said, Windows 95 and 98 were still popular with some customers.

    “We see them on laptops and people are unwilling to let them go,” he said. “It’s perhaps because in the early days laptops cost a lot more money they do now, and there’s much more perceived value there.”

    Agent Quang’s personal favourite operating system was Windows 98 because, by the end of its life, the software was so solid.

    Old Iron

    He said anyone running an ageing operating system might face problems as they try to find a web browser that could run on it and display the latest online innovations.

    “We had a case a while ago a customer with a Windows 98 machine trying to view her website and the pictures were just not coming up,” he said. “Eventually we had to install Netscape Navigator to get it working.”

    Stefan Berka said he had recently re-installed Windows 3.11 on a computer and was surprised at the results.

    “Personally, I had fun at my last Windows 3.11 test installation to make it a useful desktop operating system again,” he said.

    “With patched SVGA driver for 1024×768 resolution, Internet Explorer 5, WinZIP, VfW and Video Player, it was still useful,” he said. “The desktop was ready after a few seconds loading time.”

    Said Mr Rathbone: “Windows 3.11 would still work reasonably well today, provided it only ran software released around the same time.”

    He cautioned against anyone considering returning to the olden days and using it as their mainstay operating system.

    He said: “I wouldn’t connect it to the internet, though, as it’s not sophisticated enough to ward off attackers.”

    Original article from BBC News Website : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7707016.stm