Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 Missing or Hidden Dialog Controls on VMWare

This is an oddity with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 installed on the a virtual machine that I’ve run into that perhaps one in a hundred other VMWare Workstation users might run into. I’m running VMWare Workstation 6.5.3 on a Windows 7 x64 box with 8GB of RAM. In turn, I’m spinning up a Windows 7 x64 virtual machine with 3GB of RAM and two cores (a primary reason for buying the VMWare license over Virtual PC). And of course, I had 3D graphics acceleration turned on, because who wouldn’t want some acceleration, right?

But here’s what the New Project dialog and other “add” dialogs looked like (note: I’ve reduced the size of these as the nitty gritty details are not as important as the visualization of the controls, here you don’t see them and later you will):


Note the black (or rather dark blue) abyss at the bottom of the dialog. As near as I can tell, the normally light blue section was gone and inaccessible visually. I’m not certain, but I surmised that it was still there as I was able to tab into the darkness and then out of it again.

After trying various Windows 7 video personalization settings, I then tried increasing video memory in the VMX file, but that was a non-starter. Then an odd hunch led me to try this:


Once I saved that 3D graphics setting unchecked and spun up the virtual machine, I noticed two things. First, the virtual machine seemed more responsive. Second, and more importantly, controls were back in sight. This pleasing view is now what I see (minus my crudely drawn red circle of course):


There was a moment when I thought to blame Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 for this anomaly but of course some brief thought and sparing a brain cell or two for reasoning and cognitive function resulted in the conclusion that something with video driver and perhaps Windows 7 or Windows in general or just my machine did not like some video setting. Happily, the 3D graphics checkbox was the first thing I tried to disable on the VMWare settings and shazam, it worked.

If you run VMWare Workstation and have problems with Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 in your virtual machine with missing or invisible controls in certain dialogs and other UI elements, try disabling the 3D graphics option. I still highly recommend VMWare Workstation over Virtual PC, though I must admit that I have not tried Windows Virtual PC in its latest incarnation for Windows 7. The last time I tried it was in the VPC 2007 edition. If you believe the latest version has come up to par with VMWare, I’d love to hear from you.

Computer Models – Magical Scripture of the Climate Change Disciples

I’ve not used this blog for politics in the past, but I’m going to start making some exceptions where I think there is a technology tie-in. George Will’s piece on the Copenhagen summit was very interesting. I recommend that you read it. I am not a climatologist but I am a skeptic of all science based on computer models, especially models that cannot accurately predict the present observable state of a system.

The recently hacked emails of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Britain reveal a pattern of behavior that would be more consistent with the corrupt leaders of a cult whose proclaimed tomes of divinely inspired scripture cannot withstand scrutiny should certain facts be revealed. In the minds of the true believing disciples or the corrupt leadership of the cult, the ends justify the means. And truth is not a consideration.  

The software models and data upon which all climate change disciples rely are written by flawed human beings. Whether a software engineer expertly writes the software to implement his best understanding of the requirements of the scientist or the real scientist writes the software with a less than perfect knowledge of software engineering and design, the outcome is the same. (Hey, not even a PhD can know everything.) All software is flawed. It is the nature of our art.

Can computer models be a good thing? Sure. Especially when they work. Can they be a bad thing? Well, consider that a climate model must model the entire earth and its atmosphere. That’s a few million data points (colossal understatement). These models must have historical data. And there’s the rub. It’s not there. Not really. So we extrapolate the data using tree cores and ice cores and, wait for it, more computer models.

Any software engineer knows that such a model will be inherently complex and that complex systems are inherently flawed and that very complex systems are inherently very flawed. No software engineer will declare her (or his) faith in such a model or its output, but more importantly, they would never bet a week’s salary on it’s accuracy without full testing and confirmation against known observable data and repeatable tests. Yet, we are preparing to bet trillions of tax payer dollars on these flawed models. “Hey, Sam, keep your hands out of my pocket!”

The problem we have is that scientists have put their faith in software models and data produced by software models as the magical source of all truth and knowledge. They are either the corrupt leaders of a cult (see the CRU emails) or its blind disciples insisting on the truth of their models even when observable facts contradict and invalidate those assertions.

The climate change models and extrapolated data have become scripture. The scientists who preach daily from the pages of that holy writ are held in prophetic awe and reverence by the ignorant masses of well intentioned politicians and citizens of the earth. Except for software engineers and the “deniers” of course.

So back to the question. Can computer models be a bad thing? Yes, when the ignorant or the corrupt use them as an unquestionable, magical affirmation of their own political agenda or emotional response to the idea that man is killing the planet and that unless we do something about it, we will all die. Well nobody wants that.

Oddly, we ridicule and persecute religious nuts who do the same thing. I guess they just weren’t smart enough to get a PhD and call themselves scientists rather than prophets. Stupid nuts.