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How to Enable the Preview of PDF Files in 64-bit Windows September 11, 2013

Posted by Bilal in Windows.
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I am currently using a x64 machine running Windows 8. For opening the PDF file I had been using Adobe Reader. Later, I shifted to PDF-XChange Viewer by Tracker Software, mainly for its light weight and tabbed interface. This light weight  Installing PDF-XChange Viewer disabled the thumbnail view of the PDF files in the windows explorer. Things went on until I got stuck in a situation where I have to search for a PDF file. I had no clue about the file name; all I had was the idea about the thumbnail of the file, it was a colored document.

At this point, it became a requirement to re-generate the thumbnails for the PDF file. I tried the plain old trick; make Adobe Reader the default program for PDF file. But it did not helped …

I searched for different options but no result. Based on the search result, it seems that this issue is mostly appearing on x64 machines and running 64bit version of Windows 7 (and 8). In the meanwhile, I came to notice that if I change the folder view to Medium icons, the thumbnail of PDF file appears. If the icon size is increased by just a single unit (Crtl + Mouse Scroll Up), the thumbnail reverts back to the icon.

On further exploring, I came across a post on Adobe Forum about the same issue. The Adobe support engineer gave a workaround to check the thumbnail

1. Run Acrobat Reader. In Reader, click File > Open and navigate to the folder(s) containing your PDF file(s). If necessary, move the slider to show all your PDF files.

2. Cancel out of Open and exit Reader.

3. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folders(s) containing your PDF file(s).

4. Click Views and move the slider until you see PDF thumbnails

It was okay to get the thumbnail for a certain folder but u need to repeat the same process for each and every folder.  So, its also not a permanent solution.

On the same page, another user has shared his own solution blaming the Adobe for being too lazy to fix the issue. The comment is dated more than a year ago (Apr 15, 2012) and I am still facing the issue. A side question, does it mean Adobe is more busy in the {newly} purchased products than its own products ??

I simply tried the solution offered (link below) which is in the form of installer and it worked like a charm.

The solution, made by an individual and available for free can be downloaded from the link:

Thumbnail for PDF on x64

Additional Notes:

I tried to make the XChange Viewer back as default but doing so again shifted the thumbnails to icons. Well it was not a good change. I tried to make Adobe Reader back as default and the thumbnails were restored. It seems that the XChange Viewer does not support this feature. So after installing the fix, if you need the thumbnail, Adobe Reader should be made the default; else you can continue with the tabbed browsing of XChange Viewer with no thumbnails.

Another option is to give other PDF viewers a try e.g. Foxit PDF Viewer, also a freeware.

Trigger a Timer Event at the Specific time of the Day in a Windows Service June 7, 2012

Posted by Bilal in .NET, C#, Programming.
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5 comments

I have used timer many times in Windows Form Application. It’s a simple control that is easy to use and implement. Lately, I was working on a Windows Service where there was a requirement of implementing a periodic job. The timer available in Windows Form is located in System.Windows.Form namespace which is definitely not available (by default) in a Windows Service. I tried to dig into the matter and I came to know that there are three types of timers available in .NET:

  • A server-based timer, which you can add to the Toolbox
  • A Windows-based timer, which is always in the Toolbox
  • A thread timer, which is available programmatically

You can find the details about these on this MSDN Link. I shall not be going into the details of implementing each and every timer, I will just try to focus on the subject. By the way, it is very much confusing for a general user to choose the best timer. Each timer is more suitable in certain circumstances. Here is an old article (since 2004) from MSDN Magazine that will give you a great insight on these timers and their differences and usage. The source code is also available there. I would highly recommend checking the page.

After a lot of tests and search I got this Stack Overflow page which was close to my requirements.

private System.Threading.Timer myTimer;
private void SetTimerValue ()
{
   // trigger the event at 7 AM. For 7 PM use 19 i.e. 24 hour format
   DateTime requiredTime = DateTime.Today.AddHours(7).AddMinutes(00);
   DateTime currentTime = DateTime.Now;
   if (currentTime > requiredTime)
   {
      requiredTime = requiredTime.AddDays(1);
   }
   // interval between the timer events is set 10 min
   TimeSpan periodTS = DateTime.Now.AddMinutes(10) - DateTime.Now;
   myTimer = new System.Threading.Timer(new TimerCallback(TimerAction), null, (requiredTime - DateTime.Now), periodTS );
}

private void TimerAction (object e)
{
   // do some work
}

This piece of code completed the initial requirement to trigger the timer at the specific time of the day but with the passage of time, the event trigger time started decreasing by 1 second after 10 hours, with the interval of 10 min. If the interval is decreased the error will propagate upward much quickly.

I revised the code and made some modifications:

private System.Threading.Timer myTimer;
private void SetTimerValue ()
{
   // trigger the event at 7 AM. For 7 PM use 19 i.e. 24 hour format
   DateTime requiredTime = DateTime.Today.AddHours(7).AddMinutes(00);
   if (DateTime.Now > requiredTime)
   {
      requiredTime = requiredTime.AddDays(1);
   }

   // initialize timer only, do not specify the start time or the interval
   myTimer = new System.Threading.Timer(new TimerCallback(TimerAction));
   // first parameter is the start time and the second parameter is the interval
   // Timeout.Infinite means do not repeat the interval, only start the timer
   myTimer.Change((int)(requiredTime - DateTime.Now).TotalMilliseconds, Timeout.Infinite);
}

private void TimerAction(object e)
{
   // do some work
   // now, call the set timer method to reset its next call time
   SetTimerValue();
}

Microsoft Developer Camp – Jeddah – Building Windows 8 Apps May 12, 2012

Posted by Bilal in Events, Jeddah.
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On Thursday, May 10, 2012, an event has been managed by Microsoft which is 3rd and last for this title. It has been held in Riyadh, Dammam and finally in Jeddah. It was conducted in the King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdul Aziz University Jeddah. The main feature of Windows 8 is its revamped user interface (UI), the Metro UI. This new UI has been mainly aimed for touch devices although it can be used for regular devices also. To attract the developer community, Microsoft has gone extremely forward and provided a wide range of development languages ranging from C#/VB .NET , XAML, HTML5, JavaScript up to classic C/C++.

The main focus of this developer camp was to introduce the basics of this new Metro UI to the developers. The agenda of the event:

09:30 am – 10:15 am The Windows 8 Platform for Metro style app

10:15 am – 11:00 am Designing Apps with Metro Principles and the Windows Personality

11:00 am – 11:15 am Break

11:15 am – 11:45 am Everything Web Developers Must Know to Build Metro Style Apps

11:45 am – 12:15 pm Building Metro Style Apps : What .NET Developers Need to Know

12:15 pm – 01:15 pm Lunch

01:15 pm – 02:15 pm Building Windows 8 Metro Style UIs

02:15 pm – 02:45 pm Integrating with the Windows 8 Experiences

02:45 pm – 03:15 pm Bring Your Apps to Life with Tile and Notifications

03:15 pm – 03:30 pm Break

03:30 pm – 04:15 pm How and when Metro style apps run

04:15 pm – 05:00 pm Building Metro style apps that take advantage of modern hardware

05:00 pm – 05:30 pm The Developer Opportunity: Introducing the Windows Store

05:30 pm – 06:00 pm Closing

The event was conducted by Fauzan Khan from Microsoft Saudi Community. The first session was about the introduction of metro UI, what it is, what is the idea behind it, how it works etc. In next sessions the technical concepts of developing metro apps were explained. It also included the new and revised concepts in Windows 8.

Some of the concepts mentioned in brief or details are listed below:

  • Windows Run Time (WINRT)
  • Windows Library for JavaScript
  • Roaming profiles linked with Live Id
  • Semantic Zoom
  • Design Mode (Adaptive & Fixed)
  • Contracts (Search, Share, …)
  • Application Life Cycle
  • Background Application API
  • Live Tiles
  • Toast notifications; last not the least
  • Windows Store

If you are planning to proceed with Metro App development, along with many other new ideas & features, at-least you must go through these initial concepts.

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Windows8 KeyNote – Build Event September 14, 2011

Posted by Bilal in Events, Jeddah.
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Windows 7 is generally available for retail since 22nd October, 2009. Many things have been changed and many more have been arrived after that. The main focus from desktop has already shifted towards laptop/net-book. These days the trend has greatly diverted towards touch pads and slates.  The main pioneer was Apple’s iPad followed by similar products from Samsung, Asus, Motorola etc. Generally these pads uses iOS, WebOS or Andriod. There are some windows based (Windows 7) options available but they are more powerful and hence more expensive than others e.g. Asus Eee Slate.

build_logoMicrosoft has announced the Build Windows event to be conducted on 13-16 September 2011, to officially announce the next version of Windows i.e. Windows 8. To keep the local community up-to-date and introduce them to the latest development architecture & tools, Microsoft Saudi Community arranged the live webcast of the keynotes in 3 cities of the Kingdom: Riyadh, Jeddah and Al-Khobar. The tag line for new Windows 8 is:

In 1995, Windows changed PC. BUILD will show you that Windows 8 changes everything

In Jeddah, the event was planned at Dar Al-Hekma College. The keynote was supposed to start at 7 PM (Makkah Time). As per the agenda, the registration was planned to start at 5:30. A welcome note was given by Mr. Adel Al-Massarani, The Developer & Platform Group Lead, Microsoft, KSA. He explained about the technical communities and user groups operating in the Kingdom. He mentioned that Microsoft Arabia is interested in improving its collaboration with the technical community of Western Region. Microsoft is also planning to increase the frequency of the Sponsored Programs and events to help the users to adopt the new technologies.

It was followed by a short refreshment and prayer break.

The keynote was kicked off by Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, in a some-how Steve Job inspired style. He explained the new and cool features of Windows 8. Contrary to  previous pattern of Microsoft, Windows 8 does not have any new hardware requirements, any PC that is fulfilling the requirements of Windows 7 is fully acceptable for Windows 8. The main trend building thing in Windows8 is the Metro style UI. Along with the traditional mouse based approach, this Metro style is Touch Oriented. In previous years, Office 2007 introduced a new ribbon based look and feel. Although it was taken as a new standard by many other applications (web  applications as well) but it was not ported to Windows itself. But in case of Windows8, this metro style is highly dominant and the next release of Office is also expected to adopt it. Microsoft has been wise enough to provide simple and easy upgrade of classic applications to Metro style with minimum code.

During the keynote a lot of features + updates were described ranging from a daily user’s interest to the developers extent. This post is not intended to explain the keynotes in details. Below is JUST the list of some of the noticeable features:

  • Extremely fast start up (8 sec in the demo)
  • Infected USB boot protection
  • Picture Password for Login
  • ARM based architecture now supported
  • Support for a wide range of programming languages, ranging from Win32 API, C++, VB, C# and even Javascript.
  • Spell Checker available throughout the System
  • User Profile Sync across multiple machines (based on Live Id)
  • Javascript based templates for application development in Visual Studio
  • Microsoft Application Store linked with Visual Studio with Live status display of the application
  • New low power state: Connected Standby
  • Support up to 256 TB of hard disk
  • Simple Refresh or Reset to factory setting feature
  • Improved file copy with visual progress and better speed
  • Fully loaded Control Panel and Task Manager
  • Up Button is finally back in the Windows explorer with a new bar similar to Office Quick Launch bar
  • Built in support for multiple monitors, ISO mounting and burning etc.
  • Touch Enabled Internet Explorer 10 with extreme hardware acceleration
  • Option to switch between Metro and classic Desktop style
  • Browse SkyDrivesimilar to a native folder
  • Tap to share available for NFC for supported hardware
  • Different keyboards with emotions natively available. Split keyboard also available for thumb typing

Towards the end of the presentation, it was announced that 5000 Intel i5 based, 11 ” tablets made by Samsung will be given to the audience. This tablet, called Developer PC, is preloaded with Windows8 and other required tools for developing and debugging applications.

The keynote session last for about 2 and a half hour.  It seems that Microsoft is planning to go far ahead with its new Metro styles Windows with full support for desktop machines up to the new touch centric tablets with extra slim sizes and increasing processing power. We can clearly expect to see Windows based tablets available for general users in the 1st half of 2012.

One more good thing is Windows8 can easily be downloaded (legally) from the following link:

http://dev.windows.com

The local attendees of the webcast were given a short survey by Microsoft Arabia to know about their interest which will help in understanding the needs and requirement of local market.

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Jeddah Community Summit – May 2011 May 31, 2011

Posted by Bilal in Events, Jeddah.
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Yesterday, on 30th May, Jeddah Community Summit was arranged by the Microsoft Saudi Community, the central hub of all the regional communities of the Kingdom. The purpose of these communities is to bring the people of a region closer, to share their experience, expertise and help other fellows of the same field in their work and knowledge gathering. These communities conduct sessions/workshops for a wide spectrum ranging from a single topic to multiple tools and topics for one workshop. These communities are very much active in other cities specially in Riyadh and Eastern Region. This event was arranged by the cooperation of the Effat University and Microsoft Saudi Arabia.

The introductory Session was conducted by Mr. Adel Al-Massarani, Developer & Platform Group Lead, Microsoft, KSA. He talked about DreamSpark, WebSiteSpark & BizSpark. He mentioned that how Microsoft provide software and hardware support for the early startup/students for first 3 Years. The provided software can be used freely after that period with some conditions. They provide a combination of free/subsidized licenses and Web Hosting. The business studies have shown that majority of IT based startups failed in first 2 years. The aim of these is to help companies to stand on Firm grounds. Currently, 45 startups have been approved in the Kingdom out of which 20 are active.

The next session by Fauzan Khan, a Microsoft Certified Trainer, was about the new and advanced features of Visual Studio 2010. He discussed about a lot of features including but not limited to:

  • Virtual Test Environment
  • Proactive Project Management
  • Architecture Validation
  • Dependency Validation
  • Code Analysis & Metrics
  • Intelli-Trace & Test Manager

All of these features are available in the Ultimate version of Visual Studio 2010. By using these tools we can clearly explain/understand the architecture of the application, validate the separation between different layers (data layer, business layer etc), trace out the bug by checking the variable values even in the deep nested calls, automate the advanced testing etc.

This was followed by the session about Windows Azure, also by Fauzan Khan. Windows Azure is the most latest, state of the art technology by Microsoft for cloud computing. With the combination of SQL Azure, it helps organization to dynamically, on the go, scale their infrastructure by cloud hosting. Instead of Software as a Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), it is a complete Platform as a Service (PaaS). It automatically manages a lot of things using Content Delivery Network (CDN), Traffic Managers etc with full support for customization. A complete list of Windows Azure features can be seen HERE. Azure Applications can easily be developed and tested in Visual Studio 2010 by downloading the Azure SDK. Recently, ebay, the world’s one of the most famous shopping site, has shifted to the Azure Platform.

It was followed by a light lunch and the prayer break. Refreshment was available all the time.

The next session about Building Windows Phone 7 Application was conducted by Adel Al-Zubeir, Sr. System Analyst and Windows Phone MVP. He demonstrated the currently and the recently added main features of Windows Phone. After that he described the complete development process of Windows Phone 7 application, starting with a simple Visual Studio project to a full fledge application working with web-services. Later, the publishing/marketing process was also described. Developers in ME (and some other regions with no direct access) can submit their apps to Windows MarketPlce with the help of Yalla Apps. Windows Phone Application can be developed in Visual Studio 2010 by downloading the developer tools. These applications are written in Silverlight. Any desktop application written in Silverlight can easily be transferred to Windows Phone. The current version of Windows Phone is Arabic enabled i.e. u can read the Arabic pages. Full Arabic support is expected in future. The switch by Nokia towards Windows Phone will help to reduce this time to market.

The last session was about the Microsoft Web Matrix. It is a collection of different tools (WordPress, Joomla, DotNetNuke etc) with easy/semi-automated installation process. It helps to create, customize and publish your website with a wizard based interface. It is mainly targeted towards the students.

In the last, there was a lucky draw for some books to be distributed among the attendee. Shirts with Microsoft branding were given to each attendant. The attendees were from different local companies. A few students were also present. The event ended at about 4 PM. We are thankful to Microsoft and Effat University for their support and co-operation, with a hope to have more session in the coming month with higher number of participants.


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Microsoft OpenDoor Expo Jeddah 2010 November 13, 2010

Posted by Bilal in .NET, General, Microsoft, Tech News, Tips & Tricks, Updates, Windows.
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Microsoft OpenDoor 2010 Saudi Arabia took place in two cities Riyadh (2nd and 3rd Nov) and Jeddah (7th Nov) at Intercontinental Hotel. It was the first time that Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer visited KSA and delivered the Key Note but his visit was limited to one day and it was in Riyadh only.

The registration was web based and no registration fee was mentioned. I happen to know about Professional Developer Conference (PDC) that used to have separate registration fee for students and professionals. Anyhow, for this expo, a bar code was issued to each participant against his Windows Live ID.

The Expo started with the keynote of Developer & Platform group Manager
Adel Al-Massarani about Cloud Computing and Abdurrahman Al-Qahtani
Manager Windows Phone Group, about the new Windows Phone 7. It was followed by the presentation of the Platinum Sponsors

Mobily was also a platinum sponsor but they are already making too much advertisement through different mediums. No time was given to the Gold Sponsors. All of the sponsors have their stalls in the lobby where attendees can easily get their information.

After that there were three options to go:

  • Track A for IT Professional
  • Track B for Developers
  • Track C for Technical Managers

Each track was taking place in separate hall. Attendees had full choice to attend any of the tracks at any time as per their taste.

I joined the Track B (Developers). It started with a presentation of Mohamad Halbi about Windows Azure Platform, the cloud service operating system. It was a brief but comprehensive overview of the Azure Platform right from the start to a live working demo. He showed how windows Cloud could be utilized to get a cost effective and reliable performance.

It was followed by lunch and prayer break.

The next session was about Microsoft Web platform by Abdurrahman Al-Qahtani. He demonstrated about the new Web Platform and also gave some working demonstrations.

After a break of about 15 min, the stage was conquered by Jerry Yasir about the advanced features in Microsoft Excel 2010 and its interaction with Microsoft Sharepoint 2010. He showed how we can get the graphical representation of data and its distribution/sharing with other people through SharePoint.

Then there was prayer break. Refreshment was available in the side room that can be utilized by anybody at any time.

Last session of the track was about Visual Studio 2010 from Architecture Point of view by Abdurrahman Al-Qahtani. He should that how the advanced tools in VS 2010 can help in understanding/designing the architecture of a system graphically using UML.

In the last, there was a combined closing session of all the tracks in which winners were selected through a lucky draw. Gifts include 3 web-cameras and 1 XBOX 360 and another set of 2 web-cameras and 1 Xbox360 for the female participants.

And so, a wonderful Expo by Microsoft came to an end. We wish to see more such events in the near future by international companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc… Also, we expect to see Steve Ballmer in Jeddah next year.

 

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Windows XP SP3, Delayed again May 8, 2008

Posted by Bilal in Tech News, Updates.
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Microsoft has decided not to release Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 to Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center as planned on April 29. The reason? A last-minute compatibility issue with a Microsoft application — Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS).

Here’s the latest from a company spokesperson:

“I wanted to update you on today’s planned release to web (RTW) (of XP SP3). In the last few days, we have uncovered a compatibility issue between Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) and Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1).

“In order to make sure customers have the best possible experience we have decided to delay releasing Windows XP SP3 to Windows Update and Microsoft Download Center.

“To help protect our customers, we plan to put filtering in place shortly to prevent Windows Update from offering both service packs to systems running Microsoft Dynamics RMS. Once filtering is in place, we expect to release Windows XP SP3 to Windows Update and Download Center.

“Until we have published a fix for this issue, we advise Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers to not install either service pack. Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers running Windows XP SP3 or Windows Vista SP1 should contact Microsoft Customer Support Services for additional information.

“The fix is currently in testing and will be available as soon as that process is complete.”

That’s all we know so far. No new date as to when Microsoft will release XP SP3 to the Web. Microsoft released to manufacturing XP SP3 last week — and after outcry for its paying TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers — released the update to them shortly thereafter.

Update No. 1: One reader noted that he downloaded SP3 today via a direct link to the executable (which my ZDNet blogging colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes pointed to earlier today). A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company is advising users against doing this. The official response:

“Customers should not download Microsoft software from links posted on non-Microsoft websites, when those links point directly to the executable as is the case here. Customers should always download from a page on Microsoft.com that provides all relevant download details, installation instructions, and release notes. In this particular case, it’s possible that some 3rd party websites are linking to the Windows XP SP3 software that we have published for MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Since we cannot confirm the source of every link that 3rd parties provide, out recommendation is that customers wait until we’ve published Windows XP SP3 to Windows Update and the Download Center.”

I have to admit: I’m somewhat surprised Microsoft decided to delay the release of SP3 for RMS. RMS is a retail-chain-management app for small/midsize users. I know very few customers who are using it.

Update No. 2: As a result of this RMS glitch, Microsoft also is temporarily halting the Automatic Download of Vista SP1, as it is affected, as well. But Microsoft is not pulling Vista SP1 from the Download Center or Windows Update.

From a Microsoft spokeswoman:

“Microsoft is temporarily holding any additional automatic distribution of Windows Vista SP1. However, they continue to offer Windows Vista SP1 via Windows Update for interactive installation. While we are recommending that customers running Microsoft Dynamics RMS should not install SP1, there are many other customers who can benefit from installing Windows Vista SP1 immediately, so we are maintaining availability via WU.”

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has temporarily halted distribution of Vista SP1 via Automatic Updates; it did so earlier this year when a pre-requisite for the service pack resulted in problems for some Vista users.

Source: Skill Master