Saturday, March 08, 2008

Election Day 2008

Election Day 2008, Sect 17 PJ school.

Came across this couple who took time off to vote, on their wedding day. Certainly a day to remember.

If you didn't vote, what is YOUR excuse?

I didn't get their names because I was shooed out not long after by the cops. Apparently, you need a permit to shoot pix within a polling station!

Anyway, best wishes to the new couple, and I hope they have a great future. I'm hoping too, for a great future for Malaysia.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Windows Vista: Don't buy yet, price cuts announced

If you're planning to buy Windows Vista, wait a while more because Microsoft recently said it would slash prices on retail boxed copies of Windows Vista. No word yet on Malaysian prices.

Here's a sample of pricing I got from Thundermatch on March 29:

All prices in RM. Some of those prices are eye-popping, especially for Vista Ultimate. Who pays RM1,295 just for an OS?

Analysts are already saying the price cuts won't solve Vista's problems and slow uptake:

Price cuts don't get to heart of Vista's problems
Microsoft's Cheaper Vista: Don't Bother
Vista price cuts show how much trouble Microsoft is in

My hope is that Vista price cuts will also force down the price for Windows XP. So even if you're not buying Vista, you might still want to wait. Another thing to look out for is the prices for OEM (system builder) versions of XP and Vista, which are already lower than the retail boxed versions.

Direct link to Windows Live Messenger

Lately, Microsoft has gone the way of Adobe, and has implemented annoying installer stubs for their downloads. For example, if you want to obtain Windows Live Messenger 8.5 aka WLM 2008, there is no direct download link from Microsoft. Instead, you first need to download something called Windows Live Installer, which will attempt to install toolbars and enable other "please send me spam" options.

I really don't understand why companies try to alienate users like this. It's such a clear indication that they want to serve the interests of their advertisers, and their own interests before yours. Plus, it is also a waste of bandwidth and time.

But fear not, I'm going to show you how to bypass this Windows Live Installer rubbish, and get your own standalone WLM installer:

1. Download the WLM .exe file from Microsoft's Windows Update servers via this link. The version listed here is Windows Live Messenger (8.5.1302.1018). You can save it with any name you like, but retain the .Exe extension. This Exe file does not work; if you launch it, nothing will happen.

2. You will now need to extract the MSI (Microsoft Installer) file from that Exe file. You can do this with XN Resource Editor, a free program. It's just a quick download, about 1.2MB. You can either choose the installer version, or not. The program doesn't care where it is installed, and it can just be run as is.

3. Launch XN, and load the .Exe file using File->Open . Expand the BootStrapPayload tree, then expand the MSNMsg.Msi tree. You should see only one entry - Language Neutral. Right-click on Language Neutral and click on "Export Resource". XN will ask you for a filename. On my system, it suggested "MSNMSGS.MSI", which was fine by me. You can save it with any name you like, but retain the .MSI extension.
4. And voila! you now have your very own WLM 8.5 standalone installer. Just double-click on the MSI file to launch, and it'll work just like earlier installer versions. If you have problems launching MSI files, you may need to download and install Windows Installer 3.1 first. lists a slightly different method for getting a standalone installer. Basically, it's the time-honoured tactic of fishing out .Msi files from the Common Files folder. However, his method involves running Windows Live Installer, which I am trying to avoid. On the other hand, Raymond's method saves you from mucking around with XN Resource Editor, or any other util. But I like mucking around with XN Resource Editor.

Anyway, there you have it, not one, but two methods for obtaining a standalone installer for WLM.

Note: I got the direct WLM link from another site, but the page has been listed by TrendProtect as "may be unsafe", so I'm not going to link to it.

Update, Aug 18, 2008: In certain cases under Windows Vista, the installer does not display any dialog boxes or provide any other indication that it has worked properly. Don't worry though, WLM has probably been installed correctly. Just check under Start->All Programs->Windows Live.

Direct link to Adobe Reader (Acrobat Reader)
Block Ads in Windows Live Messenger

See also:
Windows Live Messenger ports and URLS