REXX, SPF, Internet drafts

2011-06-25

Firefox 5 in W2K under windows 7 x64

Now that is really something new (for me) in Windows 7 x64:

What you see is the bottom of a 1152×768 virtual Windows 2000 SP4 desktop with quick links for Firefox 5, IE6, KeditW 1.6, etc.  The host system is a Windows 7 x64 SP1 home premium Sony VAIO (1600×900, ATI mobile Radeon catalyst 11.6).  Sadly XP mode is not supported for home premium, or rather, I couldn't test a manual XP activation, because I have no XP license key.

Some invisible details:

  • VPC does not really work for guests older than XP SP3, you have to install the virtual machine additions 2004.
  • Virtual PC guy posted a picture of the real network card virtualized in VPC for up to four networks.  For my purposes "internal NAT" allows me to share an existing mobile broadband WWAN connection.  This is not the VPC default, change it in the VM settings while the VM is not running — hibernating might be good enough.
  • Without the VPC integration features I found yet no simple way to exchange guest and host files (including simple things like the clipboard), WebDAV on a remote hoster clearly doesn't qualify as simple.
  • Using virtual floppies (VFD) is a major pain with Windows 7 VPC, but once you have attached a VFD to a VM it sticks.  You can even format the VFD.
  • I didn't know how to "capture" (if that's the correct term) a W2K VHD from a genuine system, and used a public VHD.  That beast required a lot of work (tons of missing updates, removal of obscure "bars" installed by the publisher, adding A/V-software, full scan with the latest MSRT, Firefox, Flash, Silverlight, 7Zip, XnView, DirectX, Secunia PSI 1.5x, etc.).
  • Just in case: Yes, WU still works for W2K — only up to June, 2010 for OS + IE6 updates, but still for any MS Office stuff.  Sadly the still working monthly MSRT requires manual downloads.  Avira announced that they'll stop to support Avira A/V Personal 10 under W2K in July 2011, which is kind of stupid: Anything better than W2K can and IMO should use MSE.
  • Somewhat unrelated, normally you cannot get ATI Catalyst 11.6 for Sony VAIO from AMD, but I found an unrestricted official download link in an obscure forum.  Same procedure as for direct Flash AX downloads without Adobe's GetPlusPlus malAdware.
  • The latest Intel PIU fails to install under W2K, and an older version (working for W2K) died with an obscure error in VPC.  FWIW installing DirectX 9 in the virtual W2K worked, but of course there isn't much to accelerate in a VPC.  My real W2K is far slower than the virtual W2K: The real box has 256 MB RAM, the virtual box has 512 MB, and the windows 7 host has about 3950 MB.
  • Sometimes the virtual W2K hangs and needs a hard reset (= close VM).  I'm not sure when this started, among my suspects are Firefox 5, Avira Personal 10, and Secunia PSI 1.5x.  It's also possible that my (failed) attempts to install the VPC integration features, or my inconclusive attempts to install the VPC 2007 VMA screwed up the VHD.  There is a suspicious unknown device in the device manager, claiming to be working, and using IRQ7 — is this some kind of time synchronization?  To break out of a restart hanging VM loop modify the VM settings to "unconditional close" or "always ask".  Normally I'd prefer "auto-hibernate on close", but that doesn't help if the VM hangs.
  • While a VHD is not running or hibernating it is relatively simple to mount it as a virtual disk in Windows 7.  Unmounting can be slightly tricky, but it's necessary to start any VM using the VHD.
  • Having fun with VMs I stumbled over a simple VFD-driver and virtual CD control panel for Windows x86 platforms.  Check out Elby Clonedrive for serious virtual CD applications.  Apparently the MS XP virtual CD controlpanel 21 works also under W2K.
  • At some point in time I'll have to grok the diskpart manual — it would be nice to associate .vhd with a simple attach/detach (mount or unmount) script without going to a command line or the device manager.

2011-06-06

Shortcut icon mysteries

Tweak My Blogger proposes to use three link relations to replace the default Blogger favicon with a custom favicon. Historical background:

There can be various link relations in the <head> element of HTML or XHTML pages, e.g., <link rel="search" … /> for OpenSearch descriptions. For favicons IE originally used the old Windows .ico format. That's a kind of container for related Windows .bmp images in various sizes and with different numbers of colours. A favicon .ico should include an image with size 16×16 and up to 256 colours, and it is not required to offer other sizes. If compatibility with say IE5 is not your main problem 32×32 or 64×64, and more than 256 colours, might also work: Applications are supposed to pick the best image offered in an .ico for their needs, and scale it up or down if necessary. If an automatically scaled down image does not work for your icon the .ico format allows to include optimized smaller versions, notably 16×16.

Years ago there was no proper MIME type for these beasts, but type="image/x-icon" was widely supported. Later Microsoft registered type="image/vnd.microsoft.icon for this purpose, and modern browsers are supposed to know this type as far as they support the odd .ico format at all.

Web servers might be still configured to associate .ico with image/x-icon, but that does not affect a correct image/vnd.microsoft.icon in the <head> of pages. Without a link relation IE simply tried to fetch a file favicon.ico from the relevant directory. For various reasons that was a bad idea, and modern browsers rely on explicit link relations instead of default locations for favicons and other purposes.

Other browsers and other platforms were not eager to support the odd Microsoft .ico format, but liked the idea of shortcut icons. A much better format is .png, but some old browsers including IE did not support it, or had issues with certain PNG-features. Somehow these differences resulted in two link relations, rel="icon" and rel="shortcut", for in essence the same purpose. Only rel="link" is registered at the moment. It is possible to list more than one relation as in rel="shortcut icon", and today that should be good enough if the favicon is an .ico.

If you seriously hate this image format try rel="icon" type="image/png". GIF instead of PNG is also okay, of course excluding animated GIFs. Other formats are either unsuited for a favicon, e.g., JPEG and WebP, or still less widely supported, e.g., SVG, which will be an ideal solution for most kinds of icons.

So far for the theory of the favicon business. The practice on Blogger and other sites can be slightly more complex. IIRC you can't use the name favicon.ico, just pick something else, e.g., href="http://example.org/my-icon.ico" if this really is an .ico with MIME type="image/vnd.microsoft.icon". Whatever Blogger does, the type="icon/ico" recommended in Tweak My Blogger makes no sense, and at least in theory (not tested) more than one link relation is unnecessary. My Blogger template contains the following line immediately before the <title>:

<link href='http://purl.net/xyzzy/xyzzy.ico' rel='shortcut icon' type='image/vnd.microsoft.icon' />

Sadly Google reader still shows the Blogger icon for the feed, and unsurprisingly a Google profile still shows the Blogger icon for a Blogger profile, but otherwise it works as expected. Maybe create a 57×57 PNG for I-Phones and I-Pads, and use the (unregistered) link relation rel="apple-touch-icon", it can't get odder. I have no I‑Panything to test this.

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