i-think Twenty-Two

Now with more coherency.

Disabling the debug trace output in Coded UI Tests

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The Coded UI tests in Visual Studio 2010 are pretty cool. For the last few months I’ve been using the framework to completely automate a sophisticated web application, with lots of drag and drop and crazy design surfaces.

But the test details page has always looked a little verbose. The default Debug trace is full of so much stuff that I find it completely unusable, and what it does have is barely legible anyway. So usually I just collapse the section and move on to my own less verbose logging and the stack trace.

Unfortunately all this information comes at a bit of a price and I have seen machines run into the good ol' OutOfMemoryException more than once while working with the log. So to eliminate that cause from the list of possible culprits I hit the net and went searching for how to disable the debug trace in Coded UI Tests.

Unfortunately I didn’t find much (other than how to enable, and usually by editing the test agent configuration). I wanted to find a solution that I could add to my solution (damn overloaded words) that would just work no matter what machine I ran the tests on. Fortunately it was really easy. I just added an App.config file with the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
      <add name="EqtTraceLevel" value="0" />

It did the trick and it is making my life a whole lot easier. Hopefully it helps someone else too. (You could also try other values for the level, but I’m an all or nothing kind of guy).

I don't need no stinking third dimension

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They are all the rage these days. Movies in 3D. Soon it will be hard to see a movie at a cinema without having to wear those silly glasses. It’s also a new excuse to add to the ticket price. But in reality it is all just a gimmick, yes, even for those ultra-gimicky movies like Avatar.

That’s right. I’ve said it. I didn’t really enjoy Avatar. It went on and on and frankly I’m kind of annoyed that the humans didn’t wipe out the blue guys. Sure the movie was visually very fancy and there were lots of ooing and ahing about the 3D visuals (which I agree were spectacular), but in adding the third dimension to the visuals the movie lost one of the most important dimensions, substance.

And that’s where the problem really lies. The addition of 3D to the movie world has just given the movie makers of today yet another distraction from actually making a good movie. You know, one where you actually care about the characters.

The other thing that bugs me about movies in 3D is that it can make it very difficult to focus on what is going on. Although I will give credit to The Last Airbender which made only very subtle use of 3D and I could actually read the text when it appeared without straining. Piranha on the other hand made the text almost impossible to read.

I seriously question the need for presenting films in three dimensions. Movie makers have been using a simple two dimensional screen for years and doing just fine. They use lighting, shadows and other fancy tricks to provide the illusion of depth and when you are caught up in the movie you don’t even really notice. So I think that’s where the problem really is. In 3D movies all I notice is that it is in 3D and it becomes harder to recognise and interpret the story that is actually happening on the screen. It sounds odd, but I find it harder to actually immerse myself in a 3D film.

I suppose one big reason the studios might be pushing for more 3D film releases apart from the increased ticket prices is that it might be a way to thwart some camcorder piracy of their movies. Although It would probably be fairly simple to put a filter on the camera so that’s probably a stupid reason.

And if the kids out there want to really play with the whole three dimensional thing, I suggest placing two objects one behind the other. Close one eye and line up your sight so that the back object is obscured. Now alternately close and open each eye. It’s like magic.

Photo courtesy of William Denniss. Used with permission.

On Google Chrome omitting the http:// from the Omnibox

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Recently a Google Chrome update removed the ‘http://’ from the Omnibox (aka the address/search bar). When the change was originally introduced in the development branch of Google Chrome in April this year there was massive backlash (~150 comments on a bug, specifically Bug 41467). Of course within about 5 days the comments died down and everyone moved on with their lives. The Chromium team have marked the ‘bug’ as ‘Won’t fix’.

Now the feature has hit the main release. If you still aren’t sure what I’m talking about, here’s a screenshot:

The Omnibox sans 'http://'

Personally I like the change, and here’s why:

  • Copy and Paste use cases still work (at least they do on my machine).
  • Because I read left to right I don’t have to skip 7 characters to get to the domain name.
  • I consider my browser to be primarily an HTTP client. I expect HTTP to be the default protocol and don’t need this information exposed.
  • My own personal biases.

Of course, HTTPS urls display differently.

Omnibox with https://

So this could be a little confusing, but it does further highlight the fact that the connection is secured.

Nevertheless one of the reasons I do include Chrome as part of my browser cycle is because it is different. This change is different from the other browsers, but it is exactly this difference that I like.

VSMDI Normalizer

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Have you noticed that your Visual Studio test lists always seem to get re- ordered? Make sense of this randomness with the VSMDI Normalizer.

It works by sorting your test lists and tests by name, creating a consistent ordering, allowing better merging and comparison of test lists. It’s a command line tool so it can integrate with automated processes really well.

It works in two modes:

  1. Target Mode: Specify the VSMDI file as the first argument and the target output file as the second. If the target exists it will be overwritten. This is ideal if not everyone is using VSMDI Normalizer. Some file comparison tools accept external converter tools (such as Beyond Compare).
  2. In Place Mode: The VSMDI file will be normalized in place. This would be a good operation to run prior to check in. Just specify the VSMDI file as the first and only argument at the command line.

Download VSMDI Normalizer

For support, visit our support page.

VSMDI Normalizer is free for personal and commercial use. It comes with no warranty, explicit or implicit.

To use VSMDI Normalizer with Beyond Compare:

  1. Open Beyond Compare
  2. Select Tools > File Formats
  3. Click New
  4. Enter *.vsmdi as the mask
  5. In the Conversion Tab, select “External program (Unicode filenames)”.
  6. Browse for the VSMDI Normalizer tool (for the Loading field).
  7. Append the following to the Loading path: “ %s %t” (without the quotes).
  8. Check Disable editing
  9. Click Save and Close

Windows Easy Transfer: Easy when you know how

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I recently installed Windows 7 RTM on my laptop. Knowing that Asus didn’t supply 64-bit drivers for my laptop I installed the 32-bit version. After all, I only had 2GiB of RAM anyway.

Working from home the last few weeks has put more stress on my laptop than it has previously and I was constantly hitting my 2GiB limit leaving my hard drive thrashing as Windows struggled to swap pages in and out of memory.

I was surprised when I installed Windows 7 that I didn’t need to download any drivers from my manufacturer (Asus). My graphics drivers were installed through Windows Update and everything else worked out of the box. ((Unfortunately this didn’t include my Bluetooth drivers, but as I am now using the Microsoft Explorer Mouse this doesn’t seem like such a loss.))

So, after some encouragement from a friend on twitter I decided to try installing the 64-bit version of Windows 7 and if it worked, move up to 4GiB of RAM.

I already had the 64-bit image ready to go on Windows Deployment Services, but I had just recently finished setting up my machine perfectly. I was particularly worried about having to reconfigure Outlook and set up new PST file. Now I could have tried copying my user profile and transferring that way, but instead I figured that I’d give Windows Easy Transfer a try. Once I passed the initial welcome screen I was confronted with the following options:

An Easy Transfer cable

I guess this is a good idea for people who don’t have a wired home network. I didn’t have one of these cables (and I don’t think looping it back to the same computer would work right) so I moved to the next option.

A network

Surely this was the option I wanted. After all, I wanted to copy the files to my network server. Unfortunately, no. This option migrates directly to the new computer. This wasn’t right either.


An external hard disk or USB flash drive? That sounds very specific. Fortunately this includes network drives too. In fact, it just brings up a standard file dialog so you could likely store the migration file anywhere you want.

Then it was just a case of following the on-screen directions. It not only backed up the Documents folder, but it grabbed other folders on the disk and on different partitions. Unfortunately it doesn’t grab the settings for all applications, but it covered enough for my needs.

Once you’ve migrated back you get this handy migration report which you can use as a guide to see what applications you still have to install:

Previously Installed Applications