Cool feature: Balsamiq’s auto ‘lorem ipsum’ generator

Every now and then I stumble across a feature in an application or web site that is just too good not to mention. Today, it happened when using Balsamiq Mockups.

Like many people, I use lorem ipsum placeholder text. When I want large, random blocks of ‘lorem ipsum’ text, I use the Lipsum Generator; today, I only needed a few words, so I figured I’d just type it.

As soon as I finished typing the word “Lorem,” Balsamiq sprang into action and populated my text box with the following text: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Now that is an awesome, useful feature. Hats off to whoever thought of adding it!

You know there’s a shortage of 64-bit software when…

You know there’s a shortage of 64-bit software when…

Of course, the lack of 64-bit software is not the fault of the proprietors of this web site (which is, of its own admission, a beta, and from the looks of things, not heavily monitored or maintained), but it is telling of the state of native 64-bit software.

Of course, all is not lost: one of the first programs I install on my computer is 7-zip, and it has a native 64-bit version.

Can’t install TFS, or the .Net Framework, or almost anything? Check your security policies!

On a newly-rebuild Windows 2003 server, I set out to install TFS 2008. After installing SQL 2005, and SQL Reporting Services, and SQL Analysis Services, and SQL 2005 Service Pack 3, I fired up the TFS installer, only to ultimately get the dreaded “Send Report/Don’t Send Report” dialog box.

Team Foundation Server encountered a problem during setup

Nice! Looking at the install log was so much more revealing.

[09/14/09,13:33:33] Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5: ***ERRORLOG EVENT*** : Error code 1603 for this component means "Fatal error during installation."
[09/14/09,13:33:33] Setup.exe: AddGlobalCustomProperty
[09/14/09,13:33:33] Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5: ***ERRORLOG EVENT*** : Setup Failed on component Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5

Odd, why won’t the .Net Framework 3.5 install? Shouldn’t be hard to fix by downloading the .Net 3.5 installer and installing it manually. Or should it? That didn’t work, either. Again from the install log.

[09/14/09,13:42:31] WIC Installer: [2] Error code 1603 for this component means "Fatal error during installation."
[09/14/09,13:42:31] WIC Installer: [2] Setup Failed on component WIC Installer
[09/14/09,13:42:33] WapUI: [2] DepCheck indicates WIC Installer is not installed.

What does Windows Imaging Component have to do with anything? Probably nothing, but Windows Installer does, so let’s take that route. I download the latest Windows Installer installer (!) and attempt to install (!!) manually. Too bad that didn’t help, either — but at least this time I got an error message seemed to point me in the right direction.

Setup Error: You do not have permissions to update Windows Server 2003.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Googling that exact error message brought me to a Microsoft knowledge base article (KB888791) which told me:

Update.exe version and later versions require that the user who installs the software update is an administrator with certain user rights.

A quick look at the policy settings on the server showed me that the Administrators group didn’t have the “Back up files and directories” right, as shown below.

A quick request to IT to grant the Administrators group the missing right, and viola! TFS, and other software, is finally installing.

Apparently, this may have been the root cause issue for software not installing or uninstalling properly a week or so ago, when I put in the original request to have the server rebuilt, which leads me to wonder. If Update.exe knows what rights it requires, why doesn’t it check for them, why doesn’t it provide a clear error message indicating what is missing, and why doesn’t this information bubble up appropriately to MSI installers that use Update.exe?

The world may never know.