Over the past few months, several people has posted some dark themes for Visual Studio, most notably Rob Conery, Scott Hanselman and Jeff Atwood. There’s even a community on Ning now for VS theme settings. There’s a lot to be said for working light on dark rather than the other way around, so why not try setting up Windows that way too?
Standard Vista and Aero themes don’t really support this inversion of colour, but the windows classic theme does. Once you’ve switched your desktop theme to Windows Classic you can switch settings for menu bars, standard text, hyperlinks and so on. Indeed, you’ve been able to do so since Windows 3.1/95.
BUT - and it’s quite a large but - no matter what settings you give your theme, the applications you run simply do not behave consistently under theming. Indeed, it’s apparent that there are some display settings that you simply cannot access from the control panel. Let’s take an example. I’ve created two custom windows themes with the same settings with one derived from the Windows Classic theme and the other from the High Contrast theme. (You can download them here to try this out yourself.)
I use Virtual PCs a lot. In general, I create a single slimmed down base image of an operating system, mark it read only and create differencing disks off that image to test software. There are a lot of partial guides out there to creating a speedy slimmed down base image and several more for simply speeding up XP but nothing all together. Thus I present, a near-as-dammit guide to really slimming down and speeding up your VPC.
Full credit to the following sites and people who originally wrote \ helped me write pieces of this.
A couple of notes also in the guide but worth mentioning explicitly here for 64bit users.
- The 64 bit version of Virtual PC 2007 is not a pure 64bit application so it installs in c:\Program Files (x86) rather than c:\Program Files. DO double check you have downloaded VPC2007 64bit but don’t panic when the installer puts it in the ‘wrong place’ for 64bit apps.
- There is no 64bit version of Invirtus’ VM optimizer yet. You could run it from a 32bit VPC of course, but that’s getting a bit perverse.
- There seems to be an issue in some BIOSes (BIOSii?) where hardware virtualization becomes disabled when Vista reawakens from sleep even if the BIOS has it enabled. This thread mentions it in relation to a HP\Compaq box, but not the motherboard type. I’ve got an Abit FP-IN9 with BIOS rev14 installed and experience the same problem, so it might just be Abit, might not. Let me know if you have this problem as well.
One other note on using differencing disks off a base image. Always remember what’s on the base image. Or rather what isn’t. Case in point, the MbUnit team is preparing to release v2.4.1 so I’m testing the installer, uninstaller and the new start menu entries. And the GUI just crashes whenever I try to run it with a not very helpful error. It takes two hours to realize its because I haven’t installed .NET onto the test virtual PC yet. Doh! Am muppet, but not quite as literally as this.
Jason Haley style, a rough guide to creating a development and blogging suite on Windows XP Professional x64.
Interesting how some apps have the x64 tag appended to them but are just 32 bit apps which will run on XP x64. Also how some apps seem to be 32-bit but then generate a 64-bit process (well that’s at least how Process Explorer appears to work) and my AV program runs as both 32-bit and 64-bit at the same time.
You know that cliché of the empty street in a western outpost just before a climactic shoot out where a solitary bell rings high noon and a slow wind blows a ball of tangleweed and dust around the near-cavernous seeming road? That’s what Microsoft Update reminds me of for Windows XP x64. Install XP x86 with SP2 fresh on a box and there are some 70 or so critical updates to download and watch tick by. For x64, there are five. It’s spooky. The main reason would seem to be XP x64 Service Pack 2 which came out last week on March 13.
I seem to have lucked out on XP64. Aside from the reasonably few updates, I read in SP2’s release notes that
The x64-based versions of Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition are based on the Windows Server 2003 code tree. Service and support activities for Windows XP Professional x64 Edition use the Windows Server 2003 tree and do not use the Windows XP client tree.
Sure enough, this means I’ve got IIS 6.0 running on my machine which is priceless for me. I’m curious exactly how user roles are split now though. I’m running as administrator for the time being while installing everything, but does the admin vs standard user separation work the same way as in Vista but without UAC butting in? Or rather, is it worth the effort to use only a standard user account here in XP 64 or will I end up running as admin every five minutes anyway? Anyone use this who knows?
Thomas Williams pointed out a really nice little extension for Windows Explorer that adds a "Folder Size" column into the explorer Details View. It's one of things you never realise you'll use until you do and it's a Sourceforge project too so you can even suggest new features of the authors. Nice..
[Update: Looks like this extension only works in XP. The Vista API removes the IColumnProvider interface that this uses. sigh...]