Suggest a topic for me to write about

I have been keeping a folder on my computer where I drop emails that I send myself with ideas for future blog posts.  However, I was browsing for some information yesterday and stumbled across Michael Kaplan‘s blog.  I really liked how he had a set of articles called “administrivia” where he outlined his editorial, comment and contact policies and also provided a way for readers to suggest interesting topics for the future.  So I decided to add a similar section to my blog.  I am starting out by creating a post where you can suggest topics and also where I’ll keep the list of topics I’ve got in my queue for the future.  I’ll try this out for a while and see how it goes – it has to be better than my current method of scanning a folder and re-reading emails I’ve sent to myself…


Comments (7)

  1. Marv Fenner says:

    Hi Aaron.

    I’m a new reader to these various Blogs, so first let me say THANKS for sharing such useful information.

    This is perhaps a topic that is too far outside of what you guys are doing here… I have started designing our next gen setup (product is a server based app; we bootstrap and then chain about 25 msiexecs, similar to what is described in a post here). We currently use a MSI package as the "top level" installer, and try to live within its limits for GUI support, event handling, etc.. This has become more difficult as our setup now supports installing on MS Cluster. (Say… that would also make a good topic.)

    At any rate, I have about a year to implement this, and I’m looking at perhaps using VS2005, .NET 2, to create a Windows Forms app as the new bootstrap (top level) installer. Any user input from folks doing something similar would be great.


    Marv Fenner, HP (layoff survivor… for now)

  2. Mike says:

    I was going to ask a question, but I dug and found the answer myself. I was going to ask how a game I was installed (Half-Life 2) did the progress bar on their Windows Installer based setup. It wasn’t the standard ProgressBar control. It was some animated custom one that doesn’t really show you any progress, sort of like Windows XP boot screen

    As I said, I dug and found the answer myself. What is still unclear is if this is something that they wrote themselves, or if the 3rd party MSI authoring tool provided this out of the box? It was a EXE in the binary stream that appears to enumerate all the windows & controls, and somehow replaces the standard progress bar with their custom animated progress bar. If I end-task their CA exe, the standard progress bar does not re-appear.

    CustomAction type 194:

    2 = msidbCustomActionTypeExe + msidbCustomActionTypeBinaryData

    64 = msidbCustomActionTypeContinue

    128 = msidbCustomActionTypeAsync

    Do you have any thoughts on all this? Too much work? Counter productive? I suppose one could do something similar with maybe a Flash control, or a MediaPlayer control. I wish I knew how to dig deeper to see what exactly this CA is doing, but I don’t, so I will leave it to the experts to tackle if they so choose. 🙂

  3. Mike says:

    I would recommend the approach you described. I wrote a similar setup for a client that chained together about 15 setups (some of which were MSI based, and some were not). It turned out well. It wasn’t perfect, but given the circumstances, it worked very well.

    Figuring out how to uninstall all of these was a problem. I’m not sure if that is a requirement for you, but I’d recommend figuring that out early enough to account for. And maybe plan for it even if the powers that be say it isn’t be needed. 😉

    If you really want to get fancy in your app (I didn’t because some of the setups I had to run were non-MSI based), you could use the external UI API’s to get progress bar messages in your front end app. See MsiSetExternalUI.

  4. Marco Wagner says:


    the DUAScriptGen tool is nice.

    Is it right that the most (recent?) QFE files since 2005 (e.g WindowsXP-KB901214-x86-ENU.exe, … , WindowsXP-KB914388-x86-ENU.exe , WindowsXP-KB917537-x86-ENU.exe ) have no .rtf files ?

    I have downloaded the QFE files from the Windows XP Embedded restricted access OEM site :

    But there are no .rtf files.

    Where can i find the description of these hotfixes or better where can i find the .rtf files for these updates?

    Thanks & Greetings


  5. Hi Marco – I asked Jon Fincher ( about this scenario since he does the publishing of these hotfixes here at Microsoft.  Here is what he told me:

    You are referring to the Windows XP Professional updates, which the embedded team just re-releases on the OEM site.  There is not an RTF file generated for them.  The RTF files are generated only for updates that are unique to Windows XP Embedded.

    Thank you for your feedback on DUAScriptGen, I’m glad you are finding it useful.

  6. Spock2007 says:

    Please Aaron, make some comments about how to Fix Error Code 21 in Windows media Center(File Validation Error, Mismateched Guide Package….) The Guide can’t be downloaded.

    It looks that there is not a place in Internet where the mistery has been solved


  7. Hi Spock2007 – All of the information I know of regarding this error code and other guide download error codes is located in the "Guide Download Errors" section of the blog article at  If you cannot find any solutions in those posts, I’d suggest posting a question at one of the following locations:

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