Installing Zune software without internet connection

Last week I bought myself a zune, and since my main computer during the day is my company laptop, I wanted to install it on that one. Unfortunately, going to zune.net didn;t help because the first thing the installer does is to check if Windows Update is enabled. And if it isn’t, it aborts. Of course, if you don;t have an internet connection at all, it aborts as well.


My laptop is ruled by company policies, and security is not a laughing matter here. Regardless of what my opinions are, I am not going to tamper with that, since that would be very much a ‘Bad Thing ™’.


After a lof of googling I discovered that a lot of people have this problem, and the folks at Zune.net seem to think that this situation needs no special attention. Luckily I found the solution on a zune forum. There are lot of alternate approches, but they require some degree of hacking with settings, which I do not want to do.


  1. Download the client package which contains all the files, and not the setup shim you can find on Zune.net
  2. Extract the files
  3. Navigate to the packages folder in x86 folder.
  4. Install wmfdist11-windowsxp-x86-enu.exe
  5. Install windowsxp-kb915865-v11-x86-enu.exe
  6. Install zune-x86.msi
  7. Restart the computer
  8. Connect your Zune and wait for the driver isntallation and device detection

For x64 the setup will be similar, but you won’t need the kb patch. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which files to install if you have an x64 system.


I have to admit I am a bit disappointed by Microsoft and the Zune folks for not explaining this in the FAQ on Zune.net or somewhere else where you can easily find it.

I am not the only one with a corporate laptop and a zune, and many people seem to have had this problem, judging by the number of hits I got.

It seems the Zune decision makers want to force people to be online.

My 2 new kitchen knives

This has been sitting in my drafts folder for a long time, but I finally got around to finishing this blog post. The knife shop in a nearby city held a firesale, and my wife told me I could go and have a look and see if there was anything worth having… I don’t what I did to earn this but I wasn’t about to complain.


So after some consideration I decided to buy 2 kitchen knives with a 20% discount. Still nowhere near cheap, but not a bad price, and I had wanted to buy good knives for a long time already. The knives we had up until now are cheap made in china items, made from crappy steel, and way to soft to hold a decent edge. These are the kind of knives found in the average household. Honing, hones and staight razors are my main non-programming hobbies, but up until now, good kitchen knives were not on the household priorities list. Blessings be on my wife for being this generous :) 


The first one I picked was the Kai Shun dm-0701 general purpose kitchen knife. It’s edge is 6 inches long, and it is made from pattern welded steel which was hammered and folded 5 times to end up with 32 layers of steel. Despite being stainless its Rockwell hardness is 61 +-1, which means that it should take and hold a near-razorsharp edge.


The second knife was the Wusthof 4972 Japanese style vegetable knife. It’s edge is also 6 inches long, and it is made from high quality stainless steel. It has a Rockwell hardness of 58, which should make it a bit easier to hone. I don’t know hat to expect of the edge retention qualities, though they should be OK.


The Kai, with the belgian blue whetstone on the background



The Wusthof, with the yellow coticule in the background.



The good


Both knives are of a very good quality despite being stainless. The Kai factory edge was sharp enough for my taste, which is rare enough. Factory edges cannot be trusted. They might be sharp enough, but there is a variation, and the factory edge is in no way indicative of the quality of the blade.


I already used both knives, and the balance and the feel of them are excellent. I have already fallen in love with the Japanese knife after I used it to cut meat, and I didn’t feel any resistance from the meat. I am still undecided on the Wusthof. I have never used that blade style and I still have to get used to it. Atm my bias is positive.


The bad


Not much bad to speak of yet, except that the knives come without detailed information about the steel, and without honing guidelines. To be honest, this is a bit like complaining that the average car does not come with tuning instructions. 99% of the people wouldn’t know true sharpness or quality steel if it hit them in the face (it would be a brief experience :D).


Of the remaining 1% who do care, 99% think that honing a knife is no more complicated that drawing it through some e-z-sharp applicance with ceramic discs (shudder…) or whacking it against a steel ‘like they do in the movies’.


Only people with a passion for honing or knives will generally really care about the things I mentioned, so I don’t hold it against the manufacturers that they don’t supply it with the knives. The information was easily accessible on the internet on various kitchen knife blogs.


The ugly


I was pretty disappointed with the sales pitch I got at the shop where I bought those knives. I quickly discovered that I knew more about knives than the sales woman when I asked questions about the steel that was used in the different knives.


Me: Hi, could you tell me a bit about the different types of steel that is used in these knives? Which kinds do you sell?
Her: Huh ????????
Me: Do you have any Japanese carbon steel knives?
Her: Huh ????????
Me: Ok do you have any knives that would rust if I let them stay wet for too long?
Her: Oh no. We don’t sell those. Why would anyone want to have such knives. That would be very unhiegenic I would think.


Now, while it is true that carbon steel knives will rust if you leave them wet, they will not do so if you care for them. Stainless steel lets you get away with a lot of abuse, but carbon steel doesn’t. A professional chef told me that I’d be appalled at how a lot of restaurants store their knives. Carbon knives can generally take better edges, and force you to care for them.


The verdict


I’ve had these knives for a couple of months now. After honing them by hand (took awhile to find the best stone and technique to sharpen the wusthof) they are now very sharp, and excellent cutters. Both knives are superb, and welcome additions to my kitchen.


They are different though. The Kai takes the sharpest edge, and is a great pull cutter (i.e. you slice by pulling the knive across or through something) while the Wusthof -due to its shape- is a great push cutter.


Both knives are a joy to use once they are sharp (the wusthof was finicky to get right) and as with all sharp things: keep them safely away from curious kids :)

Windows Instant On

Something I picked up on slashdot today: Microsoft is checking if people would want an ‘instant on’ version of Windows.


As compelling as it sounds, I don’t think it is that big a deal, and they shouldn’t waste their time with it. These days, evey computer and laptop supports Standby or Hibernation. Between the 2 of those, there is no reason why Microsoft should invent an ‘Instant On’ option that is limited in what you can do, if it is perfectly possible to resume from hibernation or standby in the same amount of time and have a fully functional system at your fingertips.


But let’s for the moment assume that my computer support neither of those options.


My home laptop is an old P3 1GHz with 700 MB RAM. It is not part of a domain , and is fully usable 15 – 20 seconds after I touch the power button. Instant enough for me. My workstations are the same, only it takes 20 seconds or something like that for the system to POST. So even the instant on feature would not save me from having to wait.


Then there are my machines at work. They are part of an enterprise domain. Booting windows takes a relatively short time. It’s only when I log in that the wait begins. The delay before I can actually use my laptop is long enough that I can go to the coffee machine, get hot water and brew my own coffee by manually pouring hot water over a drip filter with hand ground beans. By the time my cup of coffee is full, it can happen that I can access the start menu, though that is not a given. Usually it takes another 5 – 10 minutes before the system has finished doing whatever it needs to do.


The reason of course is that -as in a typical enterprise- there are so many group policies which are refreshed. Then there is the virus scanner that is starting its scan, remote management software (sms) that is started, system checks that are performed, services that are started, …


So Instant On wouldn’t help me much there, because the amount of stuff that is going on would be the same. Of course they could prevent this prom happening, but I am pretty sure that no domain admin wants to allow a computer on the network if it hasn’t jumped through all the hoops to make sure that it is compliant with all the policies and limitations that are required by the corporate policies.


It would probably best if they ditch Instant On right now, and start focusing on Windows 7, making it robust and responsive.

Documentation and paperwork

I haven’t had the time to write up anything interesting this week because I had to replace a fileserver on my network. Rplacing the server itself and restoring the data took only a couple of hours, but I am still working on the paperwork. You see, working in the pharmaceutical industry means paperwork and bureaucracy. Lotas and los of both.


By the time I am ready I am ready with everything, I will have wasted a square meter of rainforest worth of paper, AND those trees will have had the time to grow back. Installing new equipment is certainly a challenge. Let’s see if I can give a short overview:


  1. I need to write a formal functional requirements spec.
  2. Said spec needs to survive the approval challenge.
  3. I need to buy the new server
    1. Initiate purchase request
    2. have purchase request approved by several people
    3. wait until budget allocation has been done
    4. wait until order is ready for ordering
    5. get someone to initiate the order
    6. wait until the actual order has been approved at several levels. this depends on the total price. For anything more expensive than a ham sandwich, this road can be long and treacherous.
    7. wait for delivery. During this process, the supplier calls every now and again to see if something is wrong because it is taking so long.
  4. Initiate a change request, discuss the proposal with change request committee (with a detailed action list) and get approval for change.
  5. server arrives, I have to figure out how to install and configure it, and how to perform all normal maintenance. This includes backup and recovery, user management, …
  6. write down detailed installation manuals that explain exactly how end up with a fully configured system, and how to configure and perform backup, recovery, management, … And by ‘detailed’ I mean that every single mouseclick or checkbox selection has to be written down.
  7. Initiate document review workflows to let different deparments review said documents.
  8. Validate those documents with a witness, by reinstalling and reconfiguring said server according to the instructions written down in the manuals.
  9. Perform actual installation on the production network, fill in all the manuals as proof of execution.
  10. Have validation perform a funtional validation, based on the initial requirments.
  11. Update the network drawings
  12. Gather all the evidence and documentation of everything that was changed, scan it, and attach it to the change request workflow
  13. Have change request appected and signed.

Working on a pharmaceutical process control network, I understand that there is no other option but to do things formally at every level. But this sadly also means that ‘just installing a fileserver’ is something that cannot be done.

Installing a service pack: how much space do you need.

Yesterday I had to install VS2008 SP1 on a computer with limited disk space on C:\


Even though VS2008 itself was installed on D:\ the installer (which is 800MB) still required 3.3 GB of space on C:\


I molested C: until I had enough space to perform the upgrade, but I felt something was wrong. After some searching it turns out that due to various issues, the rule of thumb for Microsoft issued service packs is that you should have approximately 4 times the size of the service pack itself as free space.


So for VS2008 SP1 update, you need 4 x 800MB == 3.2GB of free space on C:\
It might be possible to manipulate it a bit by setting %temp% to another drive or so. Whatever.

How not to ask question on a forum

Here is another person who needs to learn some netiquette (emphasis mine).


Hey,
well, I will not describe my situation because it is not part of my question and has nothing directly to do with it and would only lead to false assumptions as it already did…
My question is … <snip>
Not that I am implying anything, but seeing that the discussion may drift to an entirely different topic directly, please do not return the question of why I am wanting to do this. I do know what I am doing and why I would need this.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Regards,
pd


His question would have a much better chance of being answered if he’d recognised that the people answering questions are actual people. We are volunteers, doing this to help and because some questions are actually very interesting. Treating us like helpdesk personnel is not something that we generally appreciate.


We sometimes spend a lot of effort to answer a complex question if the situation is very interesting. Or perhaps because the issue is something advanced that might be helpful to ourselves one day. Denying us the interesting bits and treating us like a bad manager treats his serfs is more likely to cause the reaction ‘well, in that case figure it out on your own’.


And apart from the fact that the motivation to answer has left me already, the thing with complex questions is that the devil is in the details. If you don’t tell us exactly what you are trying to do, and which problem you are trying to solve, then how are we supposed to know a) what causes the problem, and b) how to solve it.


EDIT: I discovered after some digging that he had asked this question before, and the original thread was closed by a moderator because it could be useful to malware authors. Personally I don’t agree with this decision. But the OP should have mentioned this in his new thread. That way we would have known something more. And it doesn’t change the fact that he should have described his problem more clearly.

The sadness of waste

One of the downsides of working for a big corporation is that there are strict rules for dealing with obsolete equipment.


We have 3 DELL 2600 servers with Dual CPU Xeon cpu, SCSI raid5, 4GB RAM ready to make their final trip to the dumpster.
We cannot use them anymore for plant systems because they are obsolete and out of support. Also the hdds are ultrawide, ultrafast SCSI (which cost $$$ to replace)
Aside from that, they have the usual old age problem: no DVD (only CD-Rom) no USB2.
And they are too big and noisy to use as test systems (as opposed to the 2U 2650s that we are going to keep just for that).


I would love to have even one of those machines in my basement as a home server, but it is not going to happen.
Corporate policy forbids employees from taking or even buying obsolete equipment.
In the beginning (long before my time) it was allowed, but at a certain point there were problems, so now there has to be a documented paper trail for the destruction of all things going to the digital eternity, or a documented sign over to a charity or school.


We are going to try and give them away to a charity or school because it hurts to see those perfectly usable machines (except for the disks, which are shot) destroyed. But if that fails for one reason or other, they will be destroyed. :(