Using Microsoft’s VPC Images with VMWare Fusion

We all know the sinking feeling when we have to test a website in Internet Explorer. You built the site, it looks beautiful in Firefox and maybe Safari too, but now you have to open up Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8, and make sure it plays nice with all three of them. Even better, Microsoft has made it so that you can only have one version of IE installed on a computer at a time. True, you can use things like Multiple IEs or other similar products, but they never play quite right.

Fortunately, Microsoft has supplied us with Virtual PC images of Windows with Internet Explorer installed. Unfortunately, Virtual PC is a Windows-only program so you need a PC to run them on. Or do you?

You don’t! If you’re using OS X you can use VMWare Fusion to run those Microsoft VPC images, after a little tweaking. It is much easier if you have a copy of Windows available to you during the install process, (that’s how I did it), but I don’t believe this is an absolute necessity. Here’s how it works:

Basically, you need to download the VPC images, extract them, and convert them into VMWare Fusion virtual machines. It sounds trickier than it is.

First, download and extract the VPC images. If you can use Windows to do this it’s easy, (the images have self-extractors), if not try p7zip, (see instructions in this forum thread).

[edit: July 15, 2009]: Then, somehow, you have to convert your VHD files into VMC files. The easiest way to do this is to use Microsoft’s VPC to make a new virtual machine from the VHD files, but you do need windows to do that. You will be converting these .VMC files into VMWare native virtual machines.

To convert the VPC images to something else, use VMWare vCenter Converter. It’s a stand-alone program for Windows or Linux that easily converts VPC images to VMWare Fusion virtual machines, as well as several other formats. You can even choose between Fusion 1.x and Fusion 2.x. It will even install the VMWare tools pagkage for you. I did the conversion under Windows, but there’s probably a way to get the linux version to run under OS X, at least hopefully.

Once the conversion is complete, fire up OS X & VMWare Fusion and open your new Virtual PC image. There are some things that run on the first startup of each machine, give it a few minutes then hit cancel on all of the “Please insert the XP SP3 CD” messages that remain, it doesn’t seem to hurt Windows. I think it’s looking for a battery driver in my case, (maybe I should try to install the Bootcamp battery driver?).

That’s it, enjoy testing. I am able to run, slowly, all 3 IE versions with the Windows XP images, and my computer isn’t as slow as when I run only my Bootcamp Vista install under VMWare Fusion. I’m thrilled to have these 3 new debugging tools at my disposal.

MyMap Explorer 1.2

Last night I updated MyMap Explorer for Google Maps to make it more future-proof and improve KML support. The most recent version is available on the project website.

The most important changes that were made are:

  • MyMap Explorer is now locked to Google Maps API version 2.150, so version 1.2 will not break on July 1 when API versions prior to 2.140 are depreciated
  • MyMap Explorer now supports area overlays on the maps, not simply points as before
  • There is some improved error-checking

This update was initiated by a fellow named Joel asking questions and reporting bugs. Thanks Joel!

TechCrunch is a Blog – Let’s Treat it like one

I read TechCrunch almost every day, doing so is one of the best ways to keep tabs on what companies are starting, (and stopping), and general trends in the tech industry.

I don’t always read the comments on TechCrunch, there are a lot of articles every day and I have to work sometime, however, in the comments that I have read recently I’ve noticed a theme emerging. Roughly, the theme is to say something like “This isn’t what your blog is about, so you shouldn’t have written this post” or they say something like “I don’t want to hear about this company.”

For example, last week, Mike Arrington posted Handshaking is so Medieval. Let’s end it. Mike doesn’t like shaking hands. He feels that it spreads germs and feels that we no longer need to show the people that we meet that we are not carrying a weapon. He followed it up yesterday by posting A Revolution Begins: OpenCandy has a Board Meeting and Nobody Shakes Hands, the title pretty much says it all.

After a healthy discussion got going on the original post there started to be some comments like “Geyt over it you stupid queer.” The comments on the follow-up post include things like this:

So the author was thinking “Hmm, slow news day. What should I write about? I know! I’ll write about myself.”

I’ve unsubscribed from your RSS feed. (source)

The editors at TechCrunch also post very frequently about Twitter. This should be no surprise as Twitter is one of the fastest growing companies out there right now, (By the way, you can follow me at @johnbeales on Twitter). With 17 million visitors from the US alone in April, if Twitter does something it’s worth reporting. Again, I find the comment section filled with comments such as:

This just in…TC is still all over Twitters nuts…(source)

ANOTHER twitter story? are you kidding me? What a joke… (source)

And again, we don’t care… (source)

My mother told me on several occasions that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then I shouldn’t say anything at all, and I am going to paraphrase that for blog discussions: If you don’t have anything constructive to say, don’t say anything at all.

TechCrunch is Mike’s blog, so he can post what he wants, and if he, (or his editors), feels that Twitter is worth posting about, then so be it. He has found a place reporting tech news, but please remember that TechCrunch is a blog, not the technology section of a newspaper, and if Mike wants to have fun once in a while with a handshake revolution, or anything else, it’s his blog. For what it’s worth, I think we all need a little fun & distraction every once in a while.