Monday, February 27, 2006

Google Got Me!

I just did my weekly check of Google search to see if I have been indexed by Google, and it turns out that this week is the week that Google has indexed my site! Now I will get lots of visitors! Hopefully this blog will continue for a while.... I hope to review Vista Feb. 2006 CTP if I would get an invite from Microsoft.... I already submitted to Microsoft's Betaplace, and I wish they would tell me if I am rejected or accepted.... I like doing all sorts of stuff with Windows, and hopefully Sonic the Hedgehog CD (one of my favorite games) will work on Windows Vista... I know that it is not very likely.... But let me dream....

Monday, February 20, 2006

Feeds are up!

I have made my feeds available to everyone! For those unfortunate enough to use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and below, my web-based feed is sufficient unless you have a feed reader... If you have a feed reader, then you can use my new feeds... Firefox shows a feed icon in the browser, IE7 displays it in the bottom left corner.... The icon for my feed is this:
This icon is noticable and shows people that my feed is available (for those who do not see their respective notifications) and is usable in any form, as long as the reader is Atom XML compliant....
To have your choice of news readers, click on my web based feed link, which will show you some readers compatible with my feed.. I highly suggest you look there before trying to use it with your reader, unless you are using Mozilla Firefox, which works perfectly with the feed.... Just click on the feed icon in the address bar to add a Live Bookmark in Mozilla Firefox...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Making Installation Programs in Windows

Many of you know that Windows Installer is the preferred method of distributing software, according to Microsoft. However, Windows Installer has the serious flaw of requiring the OS to support the Windows Installer Runtime. This can be a problem on older operating systems, such as Windows 95 Gold and Windows NT SP0-SP3. Making new versions of Windows Installer has caused a bigger problem. Windows Installer 2.0 runs only on Windows 98, Windows NT SP6a, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Windows Installer 3.1 only runs on Windows XP SP2. Windows Installer 4.0 is currently planned to only be released to Vista because it has Vista-specific features in it, however all packages written for 4.0 automatically backport to 2.0 and 3.1.

This system is similar to the .NET framework, but that is in reverse. Anything written for .NET Framework 1.0 works on all versions, while those written for .NET Framework 1.1 only work on 1.1 and 2.0, and finally, those written for 2.0 work only on 2.0. For .NET Framework, nothing is wrong, because most libraries needed to allow programs to function can be redistributed individually, without failure or royalties. But, Windows Installer is a more difficult problem. If your program is designed to work on all Win32 systems, then you cannot use Windows Installer. You could use something such as Inno Setup or Nullsoft Scriptable Install System. Both are very good, but I believe that NSIS is much more versatile and expandable, due to its widespread support and many various plugins to make it more professional. The only thing NSIS is missing is Visual Studio plugins. 

At least for VS6 it would be good, since the InstallShield for VC++6 is very bad. Also, many installers that I built with that version of InstallShield do not work on XP due to the old structure of the installer. If you do not want to shell out $300+ for a good installer with universal support and still have a professional look, I recommend three things in combination: NSIS, HM NIS Edit, and ExperienceUI SDK. All three together allow you to build installers that look as good as the latest InstallShield installers, but with smaller overhead and much more flexibility. I see more good coming from open-source each day. NSIS is currently at 2.14 release, HM NIS Edit is at 2.0.3, and ExperienceUI SDK is at 1.1 release. The major advances in all three make things easier for the lower budgeted programmers to make nice installers for their projects. 

I think that Inno Setup should get its fair end of praise. Inno Setup is designed to be very similar in style to InstallShield, and does a good job of it. I am not sure if NSIS has a silent mode, but Inno Setup's ability to go silent install is very useful for automated runtime installs, making it as good as an automated Windows Installer installation. Inno Setup already has 64-bit installations, while most others do not yet have this capability. 

InstallShield has one advantage that would make someone who needs this feature to shell out for it: The ability to make cross-platform installers. InstallShield can make RPMs for Linux apps and binary installers for Windows, MSI files for Windows Installer, and more. That would be the only reason I would shell out for it, if I had a program developed cross platform and need easy installer development. However, recently I came across another installer: InstallerBuilder Enterprise... This version does the one thing that would have tied me to InstallShield, albeit I really do not have anything of the sort...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview

Most of you are aware that Internet Explorer, the world's most popular and insecure browser is getting a huge makeover with IE7. Also, you may know that IE7 was only available to developers with TechNet or MSDN subscriptions, along with Microsoft Windows Vista CTPs. Well, that changed on January 31, when the IE Team decided to release the Internet Explorer Beta 2 Preview. Well, I tested the program and I am happy to say that the program has finally been separated from the OS, however, the engine is not. What this means is that the program has no access to local hard drive, but through some strange DLL file coding, it is still the explorer shell by means of a "classic mode" that keeps the exact look and styles of the older IE6. It also means the older engine is most likely used. Of course, to most people, it looks as if the program was not separated from the shell at all.... It is kind of true, yet it is not. But, it is as close as you will get to splitting IE from Windows until someone comes up with something for Vista, which from what I have seen requires IE for much more than any other OS I have seen, of course, that is M$ trend...