Mike Swanson

August, 2004

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    Windows XP Service Pack 2 RTM Available to MSDN Subscribers

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    The release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows XP Service Pack 2 is now available for download via MSDN Subscriber Downloads. The CD ISO image weighs in at 475.35MB.

    If you’d rather let Windows Update automatically install it, visit this page to ensure that your Internet Connection Firewall and Automatic Update settings are configured correctly. I don’t think it’s available through Windows Update quite yet, but enabling these features will allow your computer to download it as soon as it’s posted.

    This is a fantastic release with a lot of new security features. I’ve been running various builds of SP2 over the past few months, and I’ve loved every minute of it. The pop-up blocker is a very welcome addition, the much improved firewall is easy to configure, and I find that I don’t have nearly as much spyware finding its way onto my computer. Some of the areas that have been improved are: network protection, memory protection, safer e-mail handling, enhanced browsing security, and improved computer maintenance.

    From a customer-ready e-mail that is being sent out:

    I am pleased to inform you that Windows XP Service Pack 2 released to manufacturing on Friday August 6, 2004. Windows XP Service Pack 2 contains major security improvements designed to provide better protection against hackers, viruses, and worms.  Windows XP Service Pack 2 also improves the manageability of the security features in Windows XP and provides more and better information to help users make decisions that may potentially affect their security and privacy. 

    On Monday, August 9, 2004, the full network installation package for Windows XP Server Pack 2 will be posted on the Windows XP Service Pack 2 site on Microsoft TechNet (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/winxpsp2).  This site is also the best resource for accessing the most up-to-date technical information regarding Windows XP Service Pack 2. 

    On-line distribution will be the primary distribution vehicle for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and below is a summary of the key milestones of the distribution plan:

    8/6  Release to manufacturing
    8/9  Release to Microsoft Download Center (network installation package)
    8/9  Release to MSDN subscription site (CD ISO image)
    8/10  Release to Automatic Updates (for machines running pre-release versions of Windows XP Service Pack 2 only)
    8/16  Release to Automatic Updates (for machines NOT running pre-releases versions of Windows XP Service Pack 2)
    8/16  Release to Software Update Services
    Later in August Release to Windows Update for interactive user installations

    Because of the significant security improvements outlined above, Microsoft views Windows XP Service Pack 2 as an essential security update and is therefore distributing it as a “critical update” via Windows Update (WU) and the Automatic Updates (AU) delivery mechanism in Windows. Microsoft is strongly urging customers with Windows XP and Windows XP Service Pack 1-based systems to upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2 as soon as possible.

    Update: I've posted another blog entry with More Windows XP Service Pack 2 Information.

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    Free PSS Support for Technical Issues

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    Have one of those technical questions that you can’t find an answer to in the Microsoft Knowledge Base on through Google? Well, if you have an active MSDN Subscription, you can now get answers from PSS by posting your question or issue to the MSDN Managed Newsgroups. A response is assured within two business days. From the site:

    Unlimited free support is available now to MSDN subscribers via the MSDN Managed Newsgroups. In over 200 developer newsgroups, Microsoft will assure that you receive a response to your posts within 2 business days. This service is included as a benefit of your active subscription. You can get started by registering here

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    Doom 3 is Fantastic

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    I’ve been both a game developer and a game player for a long time now, and like the rest of the world, I’ve been looking forward to the release of Doom 3. It went on sale today in the United States, and I picked up my copy at Best Buy.

    I’ve needed a new computer for about six months now, and I had decided to make my purchase contingent on one of two triggers: either the release of Doom 3 or Half-Life 2…whichever came first. Well, although I’ve looked and looked, I can’t find that sweet machine that marries all of the technologies I’m ready to invest in. Specifically, I think it’s worth waiting another couple of weeks for PCI Express, but none of the manufacturers have the PCI Express video cards in stock, so I’m forced to wait. In the meantime, I decided to install Doom 3 on my current computer, an older P4 1.8GHz Dell Dimension 8100 with 512MB of memory and a NVIDIA GeForce 3 AGP 4x graphics card. I didn’t expect much, but I’ve found the game to be surprisingly playable. I’m only running at 800 x 600 at the lower quality settings, but it still looks and plays extremely well. There’s hope for those of you who don’t have cutting-edge machines.

    Regarding the game, it is very dark. The flashlight that you carry will become your friend (although switching it back and forth with your weapon can get old). If you’re used to fighting an army of monsters, Doom 3 will be a change of pace. It’s very rare that you ever have more than a couple monsters attacking at the same time. Creatures like to jump out of the shadows or drop from the ceiling. It’s a very moody environment, and the production quality of the graphics, textures, voice acting, and machinery do a great job of bringing you into the story. Expect to be surprised more than a few times (even though you’re expecting it). I’ve really enjoyed watching the little promotional videos that show on the monitors throughout the base on Mars. It just goes to show you the attention to detail that id Software has put into this game.

    I’ve only played for about four or five hours, but so far, I’d say that it was definitely worth the purchase, and I’m happy to be able to play it on my existing hardware. If you’re a fan of first-person shooters, this is a title you should check out.

     

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    The .NET Show: Introduction to Visual Studio 2005

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    There’s a new episode of The .NET Show that is an Introduction to Visual Studio 2005. From the summary:

    In this episode we talk with Jason Zander and Amnon Horowitz about the important improvements that have been added not only to Visual Studio 2005, but also to ASP.NET and the .NET Framework (v2.0) as well. Later, Rick LaPlante and Shanku Niyogi give us some hands-on examples of how these improvements can aid in the productivity of developing various styles of applications.

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    Microsoft Employee Sighting?

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    An unidentified creature was sighted in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week at the offices of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Sagestone Consulting, Inc. The creature, unofficially logged as a Microsoft employee, was witnessed by dozens of people during its brief visit. Lee VanWagner, Vice President of Product Development for the Robertson Research Institute, said that he and several other RRI employees had seen an average height, slightly intelligent, but otherwise overconfident pale-colored male lurking in the corner of a meeting room.

    "It startled all of us. We were in the middle of a presentation when we noticed it out of the corner of our eyes. It had a very distinct grunt and seemed to be mumbling something about 'web services,'” recalled VanWagner. Fellow attendee, Rob Cecil, noted that he had seen the creature for only a few seconds before it stood up and bolted from the room: "I'm just glad that it didn't turn violent. I think it was overwhelmed by the lack of technical content during the meeting and looked for the quickest means of escape." Fortunately, Dr. Mark Bates of RRI was able to snap a photo before it scurried off.

    Police and other officials say that they have no plans to search for the creature. A department spokesman reported that there were no unexplained blips on local radar screens nor abnormal electrical activity in the area. He said that the department would investigate, but he knew only what had been reported. He said he was curious about a witness who described the creature as looking like a Microsoft employee. However, on further observation by industry experts, it was noted that the creature was wearing a suit and tie, a fact that all but eliminates this remote possibility.

    If anyone has any information about the identity or whereabouts of the creature in the photograph, please contact your local authorities. If approached, use technical terms to calm it down and begin talking about .NET or C#.

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