Sunday, November 30, 2008

Text to Speech options in 3.4 Beta 8

I have completed a round of changes for Weather Message 3.4 beta 8 that will allow the clients to use the text-to-speech processor in XP and Vista. The alarm settings in the clients will now allow you to select Read Short or Read Text.

The Read Short message will read brief information about the received product. The Read Text will read the entire message.

You need a good quality voice to use these options.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weather Message 3.4 Beta 7 Changes

Weather Message 3.4 Beta 7 will fully support Microsoft 64 bit operating systems. I thought all of this worked in the past, but that was not the case. Just looking back at the blog will reveal the kind of issues involved.

I believe I have addressed all of the issues. I have compiled the programs to run as 32 bit applications on 32 bit operating system and 64 bit applications on 64 bit operating systems. There are only two programs that will run as 32 bit applications on 64 bit computer due to dependencies. I don't think that will cause anyone a problem.

I had to make quite a few changes in the installer to address the differences in the 64 bit and 32 bit registry. There were also some changes to the native image generation routines to use the 64 bit Microsoft.Net framework.

While I was testing it appears that I found a bug in the installer. It did not appear to be testing for the .Net framework and installing it properly. I had two users report a problem - that should now be corrected.

Existing 64 bit user Warning
I will be uploading these betas on Sunday. If you are presently using Weather Message on a 64 bit computer, you may have to enter your registration code and some settings after this update. I recommend that you export your registry settings using Weather Message Server Setup's File, Export Registry option before installing the beta. If you run into a problem, drop me an email and I will restore your settings.

One Other Thought
During all of my research on 64 bit systems, I discovered several things that had not occurred to me. One was that 64 bit programs will use more memory than 32 bit programs. That occurs naturally because memory pointers in 64 bit systems are twice the size of 32 bit pointers. The advantage of 64 bit systems is the ability to address a large amount of memory. If you have a 64 bit system, make sure you have plenty of memory installed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

x64 to x86 Symbolic Registry Link

After 16 hours of research and testing, I discovered that a symbolic link can be created between two registry keys. This helps to solve the issue with having some x64 and x32 bit programs that need to share the same registry keys.

A symbolic link can be created between HKLM\Software\Weather Message Net and HKLM\Software\WOW6432Node\Weather Message Net

This symbolic link means that x64 programs will see the settings in "WOW6432Node" and x86 programs will see the settings in the regular key.

This is a great find is was not too difficult to implement. I now need to update the installers with the code necessary to create the link. (The code is now written and tested. I just need to update the installers.)

Once the installer is working, I can go back and recompile the programs as x64 or x86 as appropriate and they will work properly on a x64 system. This will allow the x64 programs to run as native x64 applications.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Running as a 64 bit application

This year I have worked with three different users that have 64 bit windows operating systems. In the end, I have had to change most of the programs back to 32 bit applications to make everything work properly.

64 bit Windows operating system maintains two independent registry locations for 32 bit and 64 bit applications. Because of that, the programs that ran in 64 bit mode wrote to one location, while the 32 bit wrote to another area. Neither could see what the other one wrote. That makes it difficult when the setup program is 64 bit and the server is 32 bit.

The last beta on the website sets most of the programs back to 32 bit (x86) mode. This was necessary to get everything working for these users and allow me time to investigate further.

Some of the programs could not run in 64 bit mode because they needed to use some dlls or ocx files that are 32 bit. I worked for the past several days removing some of these dependencies. This work also made some of the programs run faster, as the new code used is .Net code and runs faster.

There are only three programs now that must run in 32 bit mode; WxMcli (message client), WxMap (WxMapNet runs in 64 bit mode), and WxRadar. The other 21 programs could run in 64 bit mode. Notice that I said could. WxRadar does use some of the common registry settings, so it remains a hold out.

I am working now to see what I can do to make WxRadar access the 64 bit registry. The 32 bit dependency cannot be removed at this time. The image viewer used in WxMcli and WxRadar uses one 32 bit dll that has not been updated by my viewer vendor.

I have a 64 bit windows server 2008 available now for testing, so I hope to have a beta available soon that will allow the core programs to run as native 64 bit applications.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

64-bit Registry Issue

I have been working with a user that has a 64-bit operating system. Weather Message Server will not register properly due to the way that the registry is handled for 32-bit and 64-bit applications. Some of the Weather Message programs will run as 64-bit applications, while others need to run as 32-bit applications.

I am currently working with the user to resolve this problem. I now have a local 64-bit Windows Server 2008 that I can use for testing. I hope to have this issue resolved soon.


Weather Message 3.4 Beta 6 has been posted with changes to address this issue.