Friday, September 17, 2004

Robothon - SRS Mini Challenge

Here's a cool website for Robothon - SRS Mini Challenge, a robotics challenge.  One of our internal partners has built a robot based on XPE for this - here are the details he's given me (with personally identifying info removed, of course):

It's built around a Via EPIA 5000 motherboard running XP Embedded with .NET Framework 2.0 Beta 1 off a Compact Flash card.  It can be remote controlled over 802.11b as well as running .NET applications locally.

Its I/O device is an Acroname Brainstem (5 A/D ports, 5 Digital I/O ports, 4 PWM ports, 2 I2C ports).  Its sensors include GPS with WAAS & Logitech QuickCam for image processing.  I'll be adding additional sensors such as a digital compass, MEMS accelerometer, MEMS gyroscope, temperature sensor, and Sharp IR object detectors.  Unfortunately time is short (1 week left) before the Seattle Robotics Society contest, so I'm not such how many of these other sensors I'll get integrated before the contest.

As soon as I get more info, I'll pass it along...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Sean Liming starts XP Embedded Center

Sean Liming, author of the books "Windows XP Embedded Advanced" and "Windows NT Embedded Step-By-Step" has opened the XP Embedded Center, a new web site around XPE.  If you have need of an experienced consultant with tons of embedded experience, drop by Sean's site and see what he can do for you.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sygate press release

From Sygate:

Sygate Technologies introduced today version 4.0 of Sygate Security Agent for Windows XP Embedded, expanding its market leadership position by offering the most advanced security solution for Microsoft Windows XP Embedded devices. In addition to enhanced virus protection and anti-application hijacking, other key enhancements increase performance and manageability of the solution. These include a dramatically reduced, single-agent footprint, seamless integration with Microsoft’s Target Designer and the availability of a run-time version of the agent. Sygate Security Agent 4.0 for Windows XP Embedded is the second in a series of releases that began in May. Sygate will continue to roll out new releases in an aggressive strategy to protect solutions built on Windows XP Embedded. Sygate Security Agent 4.0 for Windows XP Embedded will be available to OEM vendors, financial institutions, major retailers and other end-user customers deploying Windows XP Embedded devices, by September 30, 2004.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

WE-DIG Inaugural Meeting Summary

The first meeting of the Windows Embedded Developer's Interest Group (WE-DIG) was last Wednesday evening.  I would have posted a summary sooner, but shortly after the meeting, I was on vacation...

Anyway, the first meeting was focussed on Windows CE 5.0 - not exactly prime subject material for this blog.   We had Mark Miller (CE Architect) and Chip Schnarel (CE Group Program Manager) available for a Q&A session at the start of the meeting.  They were able to answer a lot of questions from the floor as well as some scripted interview questions.

The second half of the meeting was broken into a few sections.  First, we had some show and tell of some cool embedded devices (all CE based, I'm afraid), and some cool tools from Entrek.  We also had an open Q&A session where people brought up problems that had been plaguing them and we brainstormed some possible solutions.

At the very end (and here's the reason to show up if you're in Seattle) we had a drawing for some cool prizes.  The featured giveaways here were an HP 2210 iPaq and a Motorola 220 Smartphone, but there were t-shirts, hats, and some books being given away as well.  The meeting ran long, but there was pizza half way through, so it wasn't too bad.

Next months focus is on XPE, and if you're in Seattle, stop by - we'll be talking about XPE SP2, showing off some demos and hopefully making announcements about availability (hopefully).

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Some info on SDI and Remote Boot

I've been doing some work for a customer or two involving Remote Boot Services (RBS) and SDI, and have found a few things of interest.

First, SDIMGR.WSF does run under XPE runtimes.  As with most everything XPE-related, however, there are a few caveats:

  • You need to add SDIMGR.WSF and SDIAUT.DLL to the runtime (either manually or in a custom component you create - we don't have an SDI component).
  • You need to register SDIAUT.DLL before proceeding (manually on the runtime using regsvr32, or as an FBA resource in a custom component).
  • The runtime has to have the Windows Script Engines component in it (this is a "duh" info point).
  • The runtime has to have the Primitive: Mlang component in it (this was new, and has been bugged).

Second, you can use RBS and SDIMGR.WSF as a deployment mechanism.  Basically, this involved remote booting your device with the media you intend to ship in the device (use the workaround posted earlier), then use SDIMGR.WSF to write the image you wish to ship onto that media.  Note that this means you need two SDI images - one to Remote Boot from, and one to write to the underlying media.  There are some things to be careful of:

  • If you use /WRITEDISK, the size of the disk you created the deployment image from will be reflected on the shipping media.  For example, if you created the SDI from a 128Mb flash drive using /READDISK, you will have a 128Mb partition on whatever flash you deploy to, even if it's much larger.  The rest of the space will be unused.
  • If you use /WRITEPART to overwrite an existing partition, there will be a disconnect between the partition table and the BIOS parameter block (BPB).  Because /WRITEPART doesn't overwrite the partition table, it will still have the original partition size, but the BPB will have the partition size from the SDI file.  Using the above example, if you use /READPART to create a 192Mb SDI, then use /WRITEPART to write it over an existing 256Mb partition, you should still have a 256Mb partition when you're done.  This doesn't seem to affect the runtime, although CHKDSK may complain about it.  To be honest, I haven't tested it yet.

That's about it, although there is one benefit that is strictly personal.  By engaging in these recent RBS issues, I reconfigured the test machines in my office a little - I now have a private network with a Win2K3 server acting as my remote boot server, one machine acting as a gateway straddling the private and corporate networks, and have trashed an older test machine and replaced it with a better one from the lab (actually, it's an XBox Development Kit machine).  In short, I'm in a much better testing position than I was a month ago, and even have a private network to play around with - no more explaining to our IT department why I need rogue DHCP server on the corporate net!