The Easter weekend is still not finished here in Italy (the Easter Monday is a holiday), but as I spent some time on my PC, I wanted to blog about two different things I did.

Vista Service Pack

On Saturday I installed the Vista Service Pack. I didn't originally plan doing it, but it was an emergency. On Friday, I bought an external Iomega disk drive, a nice little (2+1/2'') and lightweight, but large (320GB) drive. As I first plugged it into my Vista laptop, it didn't work. The Disk Management console didn't help. Eventually I found out this was pre-formatted for the Mac. Before doing that, though, I followed some advice (form a Iomega forum and another Vista forum), upgraded some Intel USB drivers, managed to completely "dis-configure" the entire set of USB posts, loosing my memory stick first, my mouse and the fingerprint thing. Anything I tried failed. As it all works automatically, there is no driver for the Iomega disk. But when it doesn't work, you're in trouble.

After a lot of tribulation, I though the Vista Service Pack I had received on DVD could help. The DVD, though, was suggesting me to do a full reinstall, which scared me. So I used a good amount of bandwidth to download the 434 MB of the complete SP1, installed it, and after a lot of time and several automatic reboots (going through countless "phases"... what good it is to tell you the update is at 34% of Phase 2 of 3, when the three phases are only a portion of the install?), Vista announced the update was successful. And it seems to work fine. Now, since I had remvoed all USB-related drivers, it asked me to activate my new hardware and everything got back working. Amusing.

My take on the Vista service pack? I'm noticing very few differences. I had a network disconnection while on wifi (it happened to me only in my office, so it seems to be worse), the stand-by behavior is slightly different (maybe different settings), I haven't tried copying large files yet.

Amazon Web Service 4

I have a "bookstore" page on my web site with a list of books and the classic Amazon-buy links. I wrote the page several years ago. To be more precise, I wrote an Amazon Web Service client application that every now and than asks for information about several books, parses the resulting XML, and produces an HTML page with the result. The HTML is saved to a static file that's served to users of the web site. In fact, recalculating the page dynamically every time would be very slow with no real advantage.

Over a year ago, Amazon sent me an email to inform that I had about one year to migrate to the updated API. Now one week before they'll pull the plug I've resolved to do the migration. The program does the same call asking for data of a single book over and over, applies an XSL transformation to each book data, and finally merges then in a single HTML string. Luckily enough, the application uses the REST interface provided by Amazon (they have also a corresponding SOAP interface), so the migration was actually easier. I had to change the URL for the request, with new parameters, apply for a new developer token, and was soon able to retrieve a proper XML page. The format of the XML is quite different from the past, so I had to work for some time on the XSLT file (which is external to the application) and even introduce namespece support in it, and in a couple of hours I had the program working in Windows and in Linux (where it is deployed).

The result is a slightly updated bookstore page (the list of books is terribly old), I might decide to improve a little bit, although I'm not getting much money from Amazon these days as in the past... I never discussed the program source code in public, might blog about its internals if people are interested in it.