Bluetooth driver nightmare

Another post around bluetooth – one I wanted to do for quite some time now, but I have not come around to yet.

As you know, Microsoft will bring its own Bluetooth-Implementation to Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (this and the better WLAN support are two strong reasons for me wanting to install it, but the current RC1 does not work with Delphi’s debugger – I hear, this is fixed in RC2 to be released somewhere in June). What you may not know is that there is some Post-SP1-Fixup floating around that already has rudimentary BT support. I think, it initially came with Microsofts Bluetooth Accessories (Keyboards and Mice).

The Problem with this rudimentary support is that it is not compatible at all with the WIDCOMM-Stack, which provides far more functionality that this MS-thingy does.

The problem gets even worse because this Fixup pack seems to be integrated in quite some OEM preinstallations these days, even if the devices themselfes come with a WIDCOMM stack

I came across this problem with two thinkpads: Initially they have BT disabled. The official way to get it enabled is to first install the Drivers provided by IBM (the WIDCOMM-Stack) and then Press Fn-F5 and click on “Enable” in the bluetooth section. What then happens is that Windows detects the (USB-, though it’s internal hardware, it’s still USB) device and installs its rudimentary support.

The Widcomm-Tools never get to recognize the Bluetooth device – the Icon in the tray stays red. You are locked down to the limited (limited as in virtually no functionality at all) functionality of this Microsoft upgrade

The clou: I did not know this and the IBM-Support I’ve called could not help me either.

So, what’s the solution? How to recognize this problem when it happened?

Recognizing is simple: If the BT-Icon is red despite bluetooth being enabled, this may be the problem. If you want to be sure, open Control Panel / System / Hardware / Device Manager and right-click on the BT-Drvice. Select properties. If Manufacturer is Microsoft, you ran into the trap.

So… how to fix it then?

In the window described above, go to the drivers-Tab, select Update Driver. Then follow these steps:

  1. Install from a list or specific location
  2. Don’t search.
  3. Have Disk
  4. Enter c:Program Files<WIDCOMM Installation dir>bin
  5. OK
  6. Ignore the warning about drivers not being signed
  7. Complete the installation.

Sometimes you must reboot, sometimes not. But now the Widcomm software will recognize the drvice and you will have access to the full functionality

Quite simple – as soon as you have found out what the problem is

pilif.ch SPFed…

I’m quite proud to announce that as of now, pilif.ch (my personal webpage – in contrast to gnegg.ch, my blog) has a TXT record that follows the SPF specification. If you already use SPF on your mailserver, you can now be sure whether mail seemingly coming for pilif.ch is legit or not.</p

But there’s another thing. While I was quite impressed from the simplicity and the good protection from SPAM, SPF could provide, I had some thoughts about how to circumvent SPF based filters and I found that it’s disturbingly easy…

The problem lies in the fact that any SPAMMer can just buy himself a nice new domain, use it for this one session of SPAM, while adding a nice SPF record. It’s even possible to still use cracked zombie systems when the SPF-entry is “wisely” chosen (like adding 0.0.0.0 to the permitted senders).

But even if that’s going to happen, there are some drawbacks for the spammer:

  • Trackability: If I have to buy myself my very own domain, I become trackable. If SPAMMing is not allowed in my country, it’s possible that I’m facing some kind of punishment for my acts
  • Price: As the actual executor of the SPAMing action has to actually buy a domain, face legal problems and more, the price for each message will rise. Maybe siginificantly enough so that conventional marketing may get more worthwile.

Read this FAQ entry to get some thoughts about this problem from the creators of the standard. While I don’t like the solutions provided there, i hope my above points will solve the problem in time. And if not, someone else will have another idea to stop the flood once more… For the time being SPF is a nice solution to a big problem. Simple, nice and very pragamtic

Cashpoint software for Geeks

I’m currently working on a WinCE based POS-System for unexpirienced users in low-profile stores (I took the liberty to black-out the logo at the top as it’s not official).

The Screen on this shot shows you the manual price entry screen. The problem: It seems like the values seem to get interpreted as HEX values… (see arrow). This is the optimal piece of software for geeky hardware stores ;-)

PS: Of course I fixed this. Actually it never even was a bug as it was wrong on purpose to give me reason for another blog entry

.Python

This Paper was featured on Slashdot today. It’s about an implementation of Python based on Microsofts CLR. The following quote speaks for itself:

I wanted to pinpoint the fatal flaw in the design of the CLR that made it so bad at implementing dynamic languages. My plan was to write a short pithy article called, “Why .NET is a terrible platform for dynamic languages”.

Unfortunately, as I carried out my experiments I found the CLR to be a surprisingly good target for dynamic languages, or at least for the highly dynamic specific case of Python. This was unfortunate because it meant that instead of writing a short pithy paper I had to build a full Python implementation for this new platform […]

This is very interesting. Imagine having access to all the Tools, Components around .NET from a wonderful language like Python. But it does not end here: As your Python code in the end gets compiled to MSIL, you can even create libraries in Python and share them with users of languages like C#. This is nice!

Too bad I don’t speek Python. But then again: If it’s working with python: What about Perl? PHP? Unix Shell [;-)]?

Van Helsing

Van Helsing is maybe the worst movie I’ve ever seen. My girlfriend and I have some sort of qualification for movies. The really bad ones are sarcastically called BME (best movie ever) and for Van Helsing we had to create a new category “BME plus” (or BME+)…

The silliest thing about the movie are the stupid dialogs. I mean phrases like “I’ve never been to the sea…. it must be beautiful” – and such a thing completly out of context after being nearly killed by vampires. Really nice.

The worst thing is the pseudo-romantic ending. I will not lose any more words about that. It’s just bad.

And then there’s the soundtrack…

This is quite a different thing: It’s just great. When I heard it in the movie I took a mental note to get the CD and today I did. Great! If only it was longer than those 40 minutes…

MovableType

You may know that I’m using MovableType for this blog. Now they have announced the Version 3.0 and unlike the previous versions they put a hefty price tag on it: What once was available at no cost, now requires you to pay $70 and more. Not only that: Where you was quite free in adding users and blogs to your installation, this is now limited too – even the most expensive edition allows only for 15 Weblogs.

I have no problem with paying for (really good) software (I actually use) – I even donated $45 for this installation you are seing here, but $70 is much – even more so that you don’t get something you can thinker with, but some restricted proprietary piece of software that is quite against what blogging is about.

For now I’ll be staying with what I’m currently running, but I’m certainly looking for alternatives. Too bad that another company went from developer- and community-friendly to just making profits with it’s good name.

Update: Actually they do still have a free personal edition, but this green box at the right side is so badly layouted that I’ve just overlooked it. Additionally you still have to pay the full price if you want to see the “updated”-feature. And it’s much more than what was required previously