The next Learning Gateway: Client Summary

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Over the last 2 blog posts we have looked at the client side of the next Microsoft Learning Gateway.

Since the posts Windows 7 has hit yet another milestone and the final one before general release on the 22nd October.  Windows 7 RTM (Release To Manufactories) is the full version of the operating system and has been given to the likes of Samsung and HP for them to prepare for general release on their hardware.

If you are MSDN or TechNet subscriber you will already have access to Windows 7 RTM.  Schools should also be able to download Windows 7 from Volume Licensing as well.

I have installed both 32bit and 64bit versions onto my computers and netbooks.  My work desktop runs a 64bit version while my Samsung N120 runs the 32bit version.  My home PC is now also running Windows 7 64bit which I am delighted about as this has made the machine even quicker as it was Windows Vista 32bit and I can run more virtual machines now for testing the new software for the next Learning Gateway.

Here are a few links that you might find useful

Windows 7
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/

Office 2010
http://www.microsoft.com/office/2010/

Microsoft Semblio
http://www.microsoft.com/learningspace/Semblio/

Following this post we’ll start looking at some of the server based programs such as Windows Server 2008 R2, Exchange 2010, Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and SharePoint 2010.

The next Learning Gateway: Windows 7

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I first got to play with the next Microsoft operating system a few days before BETT (January 2009) when the public beta was made available.

Windows 7 is a vast improvement over Vista, improved speed, file transfer and other new features.

Speed
As my mobile laptop I have a HP Mininote 2133 with Windows 7.  When I brought it, it came with a Vista Business and I hate to say it – but I had to downgrade to Windows XP.  I was finding really bad performance on Vista when doing general day to day work in Outlook, Word and browsing the internet.  I installed Windows 7 beta and found that it was faster than Windows XP. When Windows 7 RC was released I installed this again and still running it now.  I also have Office 2010 Technical Preview and it still runs great.

My Windows Experience Index is 1.0

  • Processor: 1.2 – VIA C7-M Processor 1.2GHz
  • Memory (RAM): 3.4 – I have 2GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1.0
  • Gaming graphics: 1.0
  • Primary hard disk: 5.1 – 120GB

Not the best but this doesn’t matter any more in Windows 7 – its fast enough for me.

Networking Speed
I remember watching a few videos over at http://us.gizmodo.com where they showed the difference between transferring files over the next.  Microsoft have reported that this is again quicker in Windows 7

Paint
There is a new version of Microsoft Paint.  In Office 2007 Microsoft released the new ribbon.  I personally like it but a lot of people I have spoken to about it don’t.  Well the good news for me anyway is that they have started to include the ribbon in some of the Windows 7 apps.  Paint is one and so is WordPad.  We’ll talk more about the Ribbon when we have a look at Office 2010.

image

WordPad
Again WordPad has the ribbon

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So what is the latest regarding Windows 7? Well the good news is that it going to RTM (Release to Manufactures) which kind of means it done, finished and full release is on the 22nd October 2009.  Keep an eye on your MSDNs, TechNets and Licensing pages with Microsoft as you will see it appear during August for you to implement into your school.

Alan Richards over at Westhatch school in Essex is doing some great work with his IT infrastructure.  Alan has been keeping an blog about some of his work and will also deploying Windows 7.  Keep an eye on his blog – I’m sure he will be doing a post or two about his work.
http://eportal.westhatch.essex.sch.uk/CServer/blogs/

BETT09 – Loads of SharePoint and Windows 7 demos

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So I’m here at BETT (British Education Teachers and Technology Show – Largest Education Technology show in the World)  at Olympia, London and it’s another great event.  This year its a lot busier than last year with lots being shown around the event and on the Microsoft Stand.

This year I’m in a blue Microsoft Rugby shirt sitting on the TechDesk answer technical questions that people have mostly on Windows 7 and SharePoint.

With Windows7 Beta out at the beginning of the week there are lots on ICT and Network Managers asking how it can help them, what does it look like, where to get a copy from etc  Some are asking for it to be released now as they can already see the benefits to their school and don’t want to upgrade to Vista.

Sometimes schools can be the most innovative areas to work but other schools can have the oldest machines around and are now looking whether to go to Vista or WIndows7.  So they are asking the question whether to wait – hard one to answer really as they want to know the release date for it as they will buy new computers in the August summer holidays.

On the SharePoint side of things many people already have SharePoint 2007 installed in their school but its more about getting people to use it. They have created all their departmental sites but nobody is using it.  I guess this could be a good post to do in the near future – How to let your Educational SharePoint Mature.

So come along to the stand – not long until the doors closes

Silverlight 2 Application to enable/disable your proxy server in IE

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I’ve been playing around a lot with Silverlight 2 recently, I’m find it a lot easier to code than version 1.

In many of the schools I have been to, they have had a proxy server for all their internet traffic.  I created a bat script that wrote to the registry and asked the user to either type 1 to turn the proxy on or 0 for off.  It worked great but wasn’t easy on the eye and one network I went to it stopped the users from using command lines.

@echo off

Echo.
echo.
Echo                     Please type the following
echo.
echo —————————————————————-
echo —————————————————————-
Echo —      Proxy server must be enabled to work in school      —
echo — Type ‘1’ if you wish to enable internet access in school —
echo —————————————————————-
Echo —       Proxy server must be disabled to work at home      —
Echo —     Type ‘0’ If you wish to disable the proxy server     —
echo —————————————————————-
echo —————————————————————-
Echo.
Echo.
Set /p inet=   Type ‘Number 1’ or ‘Number 0’ here:

reg add "HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings" /t REG_DWORD /v ProxyEnable /d %inet% /f
pause

So I thought it was time to create something that was more graphical.  It would also solve the issue of a user typing 2 on the above script and causing errors in the registry.

So this is what we are going to create

 Proxy1

Download the Microsoft Expression Blend 2.5 March Preview (available at time of writing this post).

Create a WPF Application and call it ProxyEnableDisable

Add 2 buttons and name one Proxy On and the other Proxy Off

 proxy2

Now we want to let our users know what this silverlight application can do so we’ll provide them with some instructions

 Proxy3

We’ve done everything we need to now in Expression Blend so we need to move the project over to Visual Studio.  Make sure you save your project.

Over on the write hand side you will see Solution ‘ProxyEnableDisable’. Right click here and click on Edit in Visual Studio.

 proxy4

This should have now opened up Visual Studio.  You will see the same layout above, down the right hand side.  Double click on Windows1.xaml.  This is the silverlight coding.  If your using Visual Studio 2008 you will see the xaml code and a graphical view of our project.

We need to start adding come code to the buttons.  We’ll give it a x:name and then add a click handler for both of the buttons.

Find the line of code for the button with the content that is equal to Proxy On and add x:name="On".  Also type click and click on <NewEventHandler>.  This will allow us to add come C# handling code to this button.

Your line of code should now read

<Button HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="105,201,0,193" Width="150" Content="Proxy On" x:Name="On" Click="On_Click" />

Do the same for the Proxy Off button but instead of giving the x:name the value of On – call it off

This is the last bit of XAML coding for this project.  The window1.xaml should now read

<Window
    xmlns="
http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
    x:Class="Proxy_Enable.Window1"
    x:Name="Window"
    Title="Window1"
    Width="640" Height="480">

    <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot">
        <Button HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="105,201,0,193" Width="150" Content="Proxy On" x:Name="On" Click="On_Click" />
        <Button HorizontalAlignment="Right" Margin="0,201,145,193" Width="150" Content="Proxy Off" x:Name="Off" Click="Off_Click" />
        <TextBox Margin="105,78,145,0" VerticalAlignment="Top" Height="101" Text="For you to use your laptop away from school you require the proxy server to be turned off.  Click on Proxy Off.&#xd;&#xa;&#xd;&#xa;For you to use your laptop at school you require the proxy server to be turned on.  Click on Proxy On." TextWrapping="Wrap"/>
    </Grid>
</Window>

Expand the Windows1.xaml and click on windows1.xaml.cs

We’re now going to add some C# coding that will write to our registry to either add turn the proxy on or off depending on which bu
tton the user clicks on.

 prox5

We need to add a reference to our C# code.  At the top add Using Microsoft.Win32;

The below code will turn the proxy server on.  The 4th line down is where you are telling the registry to either have the proxy server enable or disabled.  The value of 1 will turn the proxy on where 0 will disable it.  Add the line of code to both of your button event handlers remembering to change that 1 to 0 for proxy off.

RegistryKey RegKeyWrite = Registry.CurrentUser;
           RegKeyWrite = RegKeyWrite.CreateSubKey("SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings");
           RegKeyWrite.SetValue("ProxyEnableScript", "TRUE");
           RegKeyWrite.SetValue("ProxyEnable", 1);
           RegKeyWrite.Close();

           RegistryKey RegKeyRead = Registry.CurrentUser;
           RegKeyRead = RegKeyRead.OpenSubKey("SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings");
           Object regSuccessful = RegKeyRead.GetValue("ProxyEnableScript");
           Object regAttemptNumber = RegKeyRead.GetValue("ProxyEnable");
           RegKeyRead.Close();

           if ((string)regSuccessful == "TRUE")
               Console.WriteLine("Succeeded on attempt # {0}", regAttemptNumber);

If you press F5 now you will be able to turn your proxy server on and off with a simple application

 proxy6

Now its all yours to be customised.

Don’t forget to install Silverlight 2 on your clients before rolling it out.

Click here to download the bat file

Click here to download the application

Click here to download the source code

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