Oh, it’s the 29th!

Which means I was going to go buy GTA IV today!

GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas absolutely blew me away with the quality of the narrative and distinctive and unique open worlds. Best of all, guilty pleasures all in a consequence-free environment! I mean, I could jump buildings on a motorcycle! I can’t do that in real life!

GTA IV, though, apparently got edited to appease the crazy "games are not for adults" censorship laws we have here in Oz.

I trust Rockstar to have produced the best story, characters and content possible, and while I’m sure it’ll be great anyway, I’ll have no idea what I’m missing out on.

And unfortunately if I buy a console version, I’m almost certainly not going to be able to mod it back to its original state later.

At least noises are being made about rescinding this sad, inexplicable state of affairs.

Might pick up a copy from Europe…

Generic Troubleshooting: “Is it still a problem?”

I’ve been doing this support thing for a while now.

Frequently, the basics are what get overlooked when troubleshooting an issue, particularly an issue that seems complex on the surface.

Often, though, you’ll find that the detailed techniques lead you back to a fairly basic set of rules, the most basic of which is:

Everything’s either a file issue, or a settings issue, or just how the software works (by bug or by design).

If something seems unlikely to be a file (corrupted or incorrect file) or settings issue, it could easily be a bug (that is, given the same conditions, you’ll be able to reach the same outcome). But if you think you might have hit a bug, what’s the most efficient way of addressing it?

Obviously, to find someone else has addressed it already!

So, the Temporal rule of Troubleshooting: try it with the most recent version available.

(this doesn’t necessarily mean "try Word 2007 if 2003 doesn’t work", I mean "within the same major version").

 

Today, for example, I was looking at a memory dump (which you usually tend to do at the pointy end of a troubleshooting process, and I’m not going to show working or why these two are relevant), and found these *cough* classics:

0:000> lmvmurlmon
    Loaded symbol image file: urlmon.dll
    Image path: C:\WINNT\system32\urlmon.dll
    Image name: urlmon.dll
    Timestamp:        Wed Aug 04 17:56:37 2004 (411096B5)
    File version:     6.0.2900.2180
    Product version:  6.0.2900.2180

    CompanyName:      Microsoft Corporation
    ProductName:      Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
    InternalName:     UrlMon.dll
    OriginalFilename: UrlMon.dll
    ProductVersion:   6.00.2900.2180
    FileVersion:      6.00.2900.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)
    FileDescription:  OLE32 Extensions for Win32
    LegalCopyright:   © Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

0:000> lmvmmsxml3
start    end        module name
    Loaded symbol image file: msxml3.dll
    Image path: C:\WINNT\system32\msxml3.dll
    Image name: msxml3.dll
    Timestamp:        Wed Aug 04 17:59:24 2004 (4110975C)
    CheckSum:         00138815
    ImageSize:        00130000
    File version:     8.50.2162.0
    Product version:  8.50.2162.0

    CompanyName:      Microsoft Corporation
    ProductName:      Microsoft(R) MSXML 3.0 SP 5
    InternalName:     MSXML3.dll
    OriginalFilename: MSXML3.dll
    ProductVersion:   8.50.2162.0
    FileVersion:      8.50.2162.0
    FileDescription:  MSXML 3.0 SP 5
    LegalCopyright:   Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. 1981-2003

 

What does that tell me? Well, lots! Like: this particular machine isn’t up to date on IE and XML security patches. Internet Explorer security patches are cumulative, so installing one tends to refresh the majority of the browser software (side bonus: this can also resolve file-level issues, like a corrupted or incorrect DLL).

From that, you can infer that it’s probably not up to date on a bunch of stuff. We make it pretty easy to apply security updates these days, and if the security patches aren’t up to date, chances are there are non-security patches missing too, and so on.

So: My standard response to any binary implicated in a reproducible problem is to look for and then apply the latest version available (from memory, urlmon was updated this month, and msxml3 sometime since mid-2007).

Once we’ve applied the latest updates, we’ll know whether we actually have more work to do, or whether we’re just covering old ground.

So, short version: Try the latest version first.

See the big potential time saving there?

Can Bluetooth Shut My Phone Up?

I love my Touch Dual, but I’m one of those people that constantly forgets to shut it up when I’m at my desk. (This is a plea for help, rather than an apology to my coworkers, who deserve everything they get.)

But anyway: my utopian vision is that of having a USB Bluetooth dongle in my work monitor, that I can allow to set my phone to vibration- or silent-only mode.

When I wander away, it’d switch back to "normal".

 

I couldn’t find such a thing from a web search (a mention of a Norwegian company back in 2001 that built something to turn them off in airports).

I imagine it’d have to be key-based to prevent abuse, but it sounds do-able… am I just not finding it because it’s a bad idea?

It’s A Saving, not A Savings!

Yes Atwood, it was you that drove me to this.

"This power savings is achieved by dropping the CPU multiplier…"

Gish! So I did a little digging to see whether I was alone in having the (vast unkempt) tufts of hair on my (manly) back try to punch their way through my shirt:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/saving

b. savings (used with a sing. verb) Usage Problem An amount of money saved: a rebate that yielded a savings of $50.

…In the United States the plural form a savings is widely used with a singular verb (as in A savings of $50 is most welcome); nonetheless, 57 percent of the Usage Panel find it unacceptable

Not alone! This sounds like pure marketingspeak that happened to catch on. Using the plural makes it sound(s!) like you’re getting(s!) two (or more!) of something(s!).

Sure, usage is possession and all that, but really, it’s distasteful(s)!

The Cat’s Out Of The Bag: ISA Server will become ForeFront TMG

So, we all know that ISA 2006 doesn’t work on Windows Server 2008. Massive architectural changes to the IP stack, blah blah, etc, etc.

People (uh, yeah, just "people") have been asking about what’s to become of ISA Server for a while:

"There’s no ISA 2008 announced!" they’d scream.

"This surely means the end of one of the best product lines Microsoft has produced!" might have also been heard (in a somewhat muffled way).

"Won’t Tristan be out of a job?" one person wailed, unconvincingly.

Well, that’s right – the plan at this point is that there is no ISA Server 2008.

(pause for effect, teeth-gnashing, gasping, horror to subside)

As of the next version, Internet Security and Acceleration Server is ForeFront Threat Management Gateway!

(Now you’re going to tell me that ISA was a perfectly good name and not at all unwieldy…)

See our well-formed Press Release for details!

Microsoft also today announced the name of its next-generation network edge security product, Forefront Threat Management Gateway. Forefront Threat Management Gateway is the future version of Microsoft ISA Server and will extend the capabilities of ISA Server 2006 with new features and security technologies, designed to help provide multiple-threat protection, simplified management and secure connectivity, and will be built on Windows Server 2008. More details about Forefront Threat Management Gateway will be available later this year.

Excellent! So, key takeaway: we are working on a successor. The product isn’t going away!

There’s an early beta available from here, though it’s downloading at a slow trickle for me right now (got excitement?).

So, go forth and, you know, Manage Threats! In the future!