3/19/2009

Windows Live Messenger: Unable to Connect Error 80040200 Fix

 

I stumbled across this fix via a web search in the Live Messenger Blog about a different error code. It worked for me on Windows Vista.

1.) Close Messenger. Go into Task Manager and ensure that the “msnmsgr.exe” process is not there. If it is, kill the process.

2.) Navigate to C:\Users\<YourUserName>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Contacts and delete the entire contents of the folder.

3.) Restart Windows Live Messenger. Voila!

There is another issue I found where the standalone installer for Messenger fails with a message like “could not open key…”. One fix for this is to navigate to the C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Messenger folder and DELETE the msnmsgr.exe executable if it is there.

ReallyReallyDumb Exception Messages Department

 

I think it was Donn Felker who first tweeted about this, but I didn’t believe it until I got one myself:

 

NullableObject

Go Figure!

3/15/2009

How NOT to create user-friendly application installers

Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's St. Matthew's Passion on a ukulele.  - Bagdikian's Observation

This is an issue I've come up against enough times to feel the need to gripe about it. You get the Windows Live installer to install the "new" Windows Live family of products (Messenger, Live Writer, Mail, Photo Gallery, etc.) and it fails. That's after you wait for everything to download (because the web installer is just a wrapper over what it downloads after you select which programs you want).

So then you use the "Try Again" button which downloads a 135 MB WLSETUP_ALL.EXE installer. Boy, I sure hope you’ve got a high speed connection. So you run that and once again, after you've waited for it to go all the way through to the end, only then does it proceed to "roll back" everything - which takes almost as long as the supposed installation did!

Now you’ve gone through maybe a half hour or more of pure frustration, and you’re left with – NADA.

Now you’ve  got some cryptic error messages to work with, and a link to a "Help" web page that turns out to be next to useless. Not only that, but the WLSETUP_ALL deal cannot be opened as an archive to extract individual .MSI installers, so you cannot even try to run individual ones in the hopes that they might work that way.

Yikes! I’ve always believed in “less is more” –- this is an example of “more is less!”--now there are a couple of ways to fix this issue, I'll detail the two most popular: If you just want Windows Live Messenger, the kind folks at Softpedia have a page from which you can download the latest 24 MB standalone installer (Feb. 6 2009 is the latest build I found):

http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/Windows-Live-Messenger-9-Download-89148.html

Apparently Microsoft no longer makes the standalone installers publicly available, they seem to be too wrapped up in their new hotshot “packaging” single installer fa├žade scheme.

The second method (and it may not always work) is to locate the cached .MSI Installers that have been deposited on your hard drive. These should be located at C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Windows Live\.cache. The (x86) is for 64-bit OS installations – you can remove that from the path if you’re a 32-bit person. In that folder there is a cache.ini file you can load in Notepad and see the actual paths to each installer in those wacko cryptic Microsoft  subfolders. Or you can just search for *.msi in windows explorer.

Once you have located the correct Messenger.msi installer, you can try installing with that. Oh, and did I mention --you probably will want to run the Contacts.msi installer first to avoid install errors. So go find that one, too.

This brings me to another annoyance: Do you remember when software installed itself and that is all it installed? I mean, if you needed to do a repair or a reinstall you would need the original media, right? Now it seems that every installer creates copies of itself all over your fyookin’ hard drive, taking up all kinds of space, having squatter’s rights, and leaving you the poor user, with no recourse.  There’s no fact disclosure at all. Have you ever wondered why your available disk space keeps declining over time, even though you use disk space cleaner-uppers regularly? This is why! It’s a conspiracy to eat up our hard drives!

If you haven’t gone through this little escapade with Windows Live, consider yourself lucky – there are a variety of reasons why this kind of “Multiple” Setup installer can fail, you probably just don’t have any of them --yet. But the fact of the matter is, you can get them, and it can cause real frustration because of the way everything is “un-bundleable” with this scheme. I’ve seen installers that fail because the Error Reporting Service is disabled, or if the Windows Firewall is turned off. Lots of antivirus programs have their own firewalls – you don’t need two of them running. But an installer program should not fail because of this – that’s just plain bad design.

This “entire Family only” install scheme is in my opinion a very non-user-friendly approach that I believe comes from marketing (e.g. "Let’s promote the "Windows Live Family”) rather than common sense about making it easier on users when something goes wrong. Not being able to load the EXE in say, WinRar and be able to extract individual MSI installer files is just adding insult to injury. I know I’m not alone in this gripe – because I’ve heard from friends with similar issues.

If you are still having problems with Windows Live Messenger or related proggies, try using the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility. This is a Microsoft product that removes all registry installer information for a selected program, making it easier to fool a new MSI installer that the program it’s trying to install is not there already. It’s unfortunate that we actually have to create new products just to clean up the buggy crap we’ve already produced, but – hey – that’s progress!

BTW – if you want to get Messenger to show up in the Notification Area on Windows 7 instead of the Taskbar, just set it’s Compatibility Mode to “Windows Vista”.

3/06/2009

ASP.NET MVC RC2

“Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.” -- Unknown

ASP.NET MVC Release Candidate 2 is out; it has no major identifiable changes in  features or in Visual Studio 2008 tooling from RC1.  That’s a good thing – it means it’s pretty much “baked”.

There are changes to the installer in that it doesn't ship the System.Web.Routing.dll and System.Web.Abstractions.dll assemblies now since they are a part of  .NET 3.5 SP1. Consequently, set-up requires  .NET 3.5 SP1 to be installed.

There is also a "server-only" install mode to install the MVC Framework. This is useful for hosted installations which install the MVC Framework on servers that do not have Visual Studio 2008 installed. There are also some deployment techniques that do not require the MVC assemblies in the GAC, making it easier to deploy an MVC application to a remote machine.

Phil Haack has a good post on the release. You can download the installer here. Be sure to uninstall any previous installations first. There is also a growing number of Codeplex.com contributions for ASP.NET MVC. In addition, they’ve managed to include JQuery 1.3.1 in this install.

The ASP.NET MVC framework defines a specific pattern to the Web Application folder structure and provides a controller base-class to handle and process requests for “actions”. Developers can take advantage of the specific Visual Studio 2008 MVC templates within this release to create their Web applications, which includes the ability to select a specific Unit Test structure to accompany their Web Application development.

The MVC framework is fully extensible at all points, allowing developers to create sophisticated structures that meet their needs, including Dependency Injection (DI) techniques, new view rendering engines or specialized controllers. You can freely use StructureMap, Castle.Validation, MOQ and much more.

As the ASP.NET MVC framework is built on ASP.NET 3.5, developers can take advantage of many existing ASP.NET 3.5 features, such as localization, authorization, Profile etc.

I’m currently working on a Mobile web extension to a client’s MVC web application so I’m gradually getting into the paradigm shift for ASP.NET MVC. There are a lot of things I like about it; and there are some things (like the “learning curve” for classic WebForms developers) that I’m not particularly enthused about. 

However, I’m getting a lot of positive  peer pressure from my Twitter MVP and developer friends, so it looks like I’ve officially gotten the ASP.NET MVC “throw him in the pool and say ‘swim’” directive.  The folks I follow are mostly pretty smart people, so if they tell me it’s good, I have a high degree of trust that they are right!

Full source code for ASP.NET MVC RC2 along with source for the Futures is available at Codeplex.com here. Don’t complain about lack of documentation because all the XML documentation comments are in the source and you’re welcome to do a build and compile your own help file in your desired format. If you don’t have the time or don’t know how, here is a standard CHM format help file I’ve created.

Item of Note

IttyUrl.net, my “social tagging and short urls” web site, has just passed the 1500 link mark for Silverlight links. More searchable Silverlight links than anywhere on earth!