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Preview: Riko Eksteen's Blog

Riko Eksteen's Blog

My experiences with life and code

Copyright: Riko Eksteen

License Agreement FINALLY away

Thu, 03 Feb 2005 10:31:00 GMT

Originally posted on:

Boy, oh boy. Do I feel like a shmuck or something. I sort of “extracted” myself from the WiX community, basically just because I felt so bad about my apparent slovenliness with this whole tallow extensions thing. Well, yesterday I finally posted the license agreement to Microsoft, signed by myself (about October 2004) and by our company's techinical director - at the end of January 2005 (!!!!), many, many months after I fist spoke about my extensions! Hopefully the letter will arrive in the States soon.

When I wrote my previous post, I was quite determined to get the license agreement away on that very day, but alas, that was not to be. I took the license agreement to my manager to sign, and where he, at our previous discussion, seemed more than willing to sign it, I suddenly ran head-on into a brick wall, and got the “yes, but what do we get out of it”-response. I'm not a big fan of that, especially since I feel that for everything a profit-making company gets for free from the open source community, it can at least give a few crumbs back - much in the same way that Microsoft has been doing recently.

Anyway, this led to a whole new research-initiative about our involvement with the project and open source in general.The end-result, although long-overdue, I can happily to say was a signature from our Technical Director on the license agreement, and I could post it yesterday.

While I am still working with the WiX toolset every day, I have now “released myself” to participate in the WiX newsgroups again. I'm behind about 285 posts (at last count) so I better catch up sometime. See you all on the flipside. (Whatever that means).


Tallow, where art thou

Tue, 28 Dec 2004 11:37:00 GMT

Originally posted on:

Okay, I just got back from holiday (much needed), and found that all sorts of happenings were happening with the WiX toolset (here, here and on the mailing list). Sad I missed all the excitement .

Anyway, the discussions about COM Advertising, and the way that both Windows Installer and the WiX toolset toolset handles them, have prompted some renewed queries about when, oh when, am I going to submit the code for my extensions to tallow? I have sent the executable to one or two people who've asked for it, and they have mostly found it useful (I think). I certainly find it useful. Especially the feature that sends self-registration entries to , , and elements instead of elements. In fact, this was the main reason I felt the need to extend tallow, and it seems to be the main complaint against the WiX toolset version.

Well, Microsoft kindly sent me the email with the license agreement I have to sign to contribute to the toolset, (as I pointed out in a previous blog entry) and I have done so. I really don't have any problem with doing so, found the license agreement to be straightforward and easy to understand etc. So the (signed) license agreement has been lying on my desk (wait, let me just check...) since 28 October when I signed it. I still have to do two things:

  1. Take it to my superiors to sign as well. I did some of my work during company time, in my research on adapting WiX for company use. I just want to make sure I cover all the bases.

  2. Go to the logistics department, get an envelope, write down the mailing address, get some stamps and add the damned thing to the outgoing mail pile. All of which I'm hoping they'll let me do seeing as it's not exactly company business. Heck, I don't even know what it costs to mail a letter from South Africa to the States.

I promise to try and do all of this today. I'll try my best. Really. It seems to be one of my personality quirks (I'm an ENFP) to quickly lose interest or forget about something once something else more interesting or important comes along. Sigh.


Windows Installer 3.0 Redist Live - Where is Darwin going?

Wed, 10 Nov 2004 11:20:00 GMT

Originally posted on: I was just notified that the Windows Installer 3.0 redistributable has been posted live. 1. The redistributable package can be obtained from: 2. There is also a Knowledgebase article about this release available at: 3. Finally, the SDK documentation and tools are part of the Windows XP Service Pack 2 platform SDK and are available by clicking the "Windows XP SP2 SDK" link from: I know a number of you were waiting for this release, so here we go. On with better patching and command-line typing in Darwin.[Via Rob Mensching] On the one hand this is very exciting, and on the other hand very disconcerting. Windows Installer (via WiX) is my setup technology of choice, and the new improvements and bug fixes offer new opportunities, especially with regards to patching, but one has to ask what the future holds for Darwin, where exactly it is going. What is particularly important for me are two things: The requirements and the redistributable size. The requirements for Windows Installer 3.0 are: Windows 2000 SP3 or Windows 2000 SP4 Windows 2003 Windows XP or Windows XP SP1 (MSI 3.0 is already included with SP2) The size of the redistributable is 2025 KB (1.97 MB), which, depending on how you look at it, is either an improvement or not. For Windows Installer 2.0 there were two redistributables both about 1.7 MB in size. So at least there is only one redistributable to include now and effectively the download size is down by 1.5 MB (from 3.5 to 2). Of course, if you shipped only one redistributable, you have to account for an additional 200 KB or so, which isn't bad, really. When we decided to adopt MSI on a company-wide basis I had countless complaints about the download size for the redistributables, because a large part of our South-African subscription base still has Windows 95/98 and dial-up connections (which makes “download-on-demand” redistributables problematic). The argument can always be used that the redistributables only have to be used once, and many users might have them already. But truthfully, how many users out there have already got Windows XP SP2? With Longhorn on the horizon, continuing to use new Windows Installer features (and let's be frank, some of them are much needed) will probably always be a catch-up game. In that sense, something like the Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS) becomes very tempting. It works on any Windows version, and has an overhead of only 34 KB (according to their website), it's free and, more importantly, the editors for it are free as well. Make no mistake, after my experiences with InstallScript I much prefer a declarative setup technology over a scriptable one, but sometimes the reality of the setup domain can be daunting. I suspect we'll stick to MSI, because it's the “official Microsoft way” and because of great advantages like rollback, upgrades etc. But we'll have to stick to MSI 2.0 for now and for a while to come, I expect. I'm hoping for ClickOnce to improve things drastically in terms of smaller web-based installs, but I still don't know how I'm going to get the 20MB .NET framework 2.0 requirement past the product managers . [...]

The realities of (Microsoft) Open Source

Mon, 01 Nov 2004 14:09:00 GMT

Originally posted on:'s been quite a while since I've blogged, and I decided to return to the fray today... I've been quite busy at work, and since I don't have a connection at home I can't blog from there. I found myself spending most of my time at work doing work (as it should be I suppose), and not finding lots of time to post blog entries. And that's a real pity because I have an ever growing list of blog ideas queuing up. Today I want to write about the WiX toolset. Most of my working life currently revolves around WiX, as we are trying to deploy it at Korbitec (my company). I actually have a blog entry long overdue about why I love WiX so much, but let's wait on that. Apart from working towards using WiX around here, I also add my own bits and pieces to the WiX source code, mostly to see how we can adopt it easily around here (people are fairly hesitant to "code in XML", which is a pity really). I've mostly made additions to tallow, the toolset's code generation tool, and other people have shown interest in them as well. So logically I wanted to submit my changes to the project. As the first open source project I've wanted to contribute to, I thought it would be simple to achieve. But unfortunately I find my progress halted by having to sign a license agreement! Microsoft sent me a (fairly straightforward) license agreement to sign and paper post to them before I can submit my code for review to the WiX community. Being the open source newbie that I am, I of course thought it was a simple case of "it's open, just add your code!", but it actually makes sense that I would have to sign some kind of agreement. I mean, I'm not one of those Microsoft-bashing types - I admire Bill Gates & Co. for what they've contributed to the computer arena in terms of novelty, usability and quality over the years (I'm not saying they're perfect, but neither is my company or any other company I know of). And I can imagine that as much as people enjoy suing them over any old thing, they'd want to protect themselves legally, even on an open source project. That's fine and dandy, except it leaves me in the unfortunate situation of having to paper post the signed license agreement to America from South Africa, so I've got to sort out the posting and such (not being in the habit of regularly sending stuff to the US of A). I suppose I just have to get round and do it. I haven't yet. And once I do, it'll probably take a while to get there still. Oh well. Such is the realities of open source it seems. Microsoft's way anyway. I'm writing this post with Sauce Reader, an RSS aggregator that I've been trying out for a while now. It's got a built-in blog editor that can send my posts to the dotText server. Which is nice. A reader and editor in one. My blog reader and editor wars is something I want to blog about as well in the near future. Stay tuned... [...]

Comparing .Text with Blogger

Fri, 15 Oct 2004 10:52:00 GMT

Originally posted on:'ve recently migrated from my blog on Blogger to this one here. That set me thinking about the difference between the two, or what I've lost and what I've gained. So here goes... What I've Lost: My cool URL. I prefer over Of course this is a site issue, and not a .Text one as such, but still. On Blogger I could dream up any number of catchy URLs for as many blogs as I liked! Configurable themes. This is not a biggie, but on Blogger there really were some beautiful theme templates that were configurable to my heart's content. Here there are only a few themes that I can select from, and while they're nice too, I can't play around that much. My user profile (with photo). I liked the nice user profile that Blogger puts in all my blogs. I'm sure there's some trick to accomplish the same thing with .Text, but it just doesn't feel the same. Posting in my own time zone - this is a big one! If I post at 10 AM in South Africa then I wouldn't like my post to say 12 PM when it's published. I did configure my time zone in .Text, but my first blog didn't post with the correct time. Maybe it was a once-off thing. But I'll struggle to make peace with this one if it's true! Design mode in any browser I choose, for compiling my posts. Blogger's post fromatter works in Firefox, .Text doesn't. That sucks. Saving a draft of my post for later completion. I only have “Post“ and “Cancel“ options now. Preview mode. I could look at my posts as they would be before publishing them. What I've Gained: Categories. The big reason I switched. Couldn't live without 'em, glad I have 'em. I like the “Edit Categories“ interface I get. Keywords. This is also very cool. The ability to turn certain words into links automatically? Bring it on! Stats. Very nice. It sucked quite a bit that Blogger couldn't show me stats about my blog. The only thing I could do was add a custom hit counter. Now, not only do I have statistics, but I also have trackbacks to see who referenced my blog! Articles. I'm not exactly sure what the usefulness of this is yet, or the exact difference between posts and articles. Galleries. I can't see myself using this very often, but hey, it's another feature. Configurable Links. I like the way .Text works with “Link categories“ - I can group my links quite easily and it incorporates well into the overall interface. With Blogger, I had to go and edit my template to accomplish this. Post Design View. Apart from it not working in Firefox, the design mode of .Text is a lot better than Blogger's equivalent. Blogger did have a “blockquote“ button though... A certain something... that I can't quite define. I just like the overall feel of it, both the blog and admin mode. Speed - last but certainly not least, this site is a lot faster than Blogger! So all in all, migrating to .Text has made my life a whole lot easier (apart from one or two detractors). It's interesting to see that .Text has now become Community Server::Blogs - I wonder what will happen with it now? Will it become a commercial product and how will it affect sites like this one? We'll just have to wait and see... [...]

"Resources and Data" article reposted

Fri, 15 Oct 2004 11:17:00 GMT

Originally posted on:

I have decided to repost my earlier entry about Resources and Data (from my old setup blog) here as an article. I think it is a good candidate for an article as it is quite long, but the main reason is so that I can check out the difference between an article and a post (in practice).

Look for my follow-up article “Resources and Data: What's the Point?” to be posted soon...


At last - a blog with categories!

Mon, 11 Oct 2004 11:08:00 GMT

Originally posted on:

As I posted in my old blog I was a bit frustrated by the lack of categories in Blogger. In fact, this led to me starting up quite a few different blogs (here, here and here). Now Jeff (the owner) has sportingly enough allowed me to host a blog on

This will mean that I can consolidate all my posts under one blog with different categories, which is just a whole lot more convenient. Of course, this has the spinoff that I may be labelled as a “geek with blog”, but it is a risk I am willing to take :-), incidentally, is based on .Text, which is an ASP.NET blogging server, and I really like it. I got used to this style reading blogs on MSDN, and copycat that I am, wanted something just like it.

And now I have - thanks Jeff!