Crash when trying to open VS2010 Beta 2 Help: MSHelpListener.exe has stopped working

Update: There is a Microsoft Connect bug logged for this here.
Update 2: “R0b0tz” has got the workaround for this on his blog. As always it pays to RTFM :) It’s still definitely a bug though…

One big change in Visual Studio 2010 is Microsoft Help version 3. It’s all based on HTML, and when you install the help locally it does a smart trick and installs its own web server (MSHelpListener.exe), allowing the pages to be accessed via the url

The problem was the first time I ran the help after installing VS2010 I was getting the following crash…

MSHelpListener.exe has stopped working dialog

If you check the Windows Application event logs you will see the following error:

The port is already in use please select a different port

For some reason, MSHelpListener is unable to bind to port 80 (even though I believe HTTP.sys does allow multiple applications to bind to the same port).

If you go to the command line and run

netsh http show urlacl

You can see that it has also reserved the following url, although it appears this does not help at all in guaranteeing access to the port…

netsh showing urlacl reservation for MS Help 3

I had a quick look in Resource Monitor and this is what I saw:

Resource Monitor showing Skype listening on port 80

You can see Skype was listening on port 80.

It turns out the solution was as simple as quitting Skype!

After I quit Skype I was able to load up the help…

HelpListener.exe successfully running

Once HelpListener.exe is running it is safe to start Skype up again. I have yet to work out why Skype is using port 80, or what circumstances cause one process to block another’s use of a port, given the fact HTTP.sys is supposed to let multiple process share the same port. If you know please leave a comment.

If you find yourself having problems getting the local help working after installing it using “Find content on disk”, the trick that worked for me is to switch to online help and then back to local help.

Help Library Manager screen in VS2010 Beta 2

MS Help 3 Find Content Online

Overall, MS Help v3 looks very nice and works as we probably wished it always had! What is very cool is you can “Find” content either online, or from your installation media. Best of all it just works – getting content from the web is straight forward, and so is installing it from media. Either way the help files can be kept up-to-date easily using “Check for updates online”. Nice

Workaround for VisualStateManager.GoToState not working on Window

I am not sure if this is a bug or what, but I’ve had an annoying problem today whereby it seems you are unable to switch states procedurally using code like this:

VisualStateManager.GoToState(this, "MyState", true);

when your control (the first parameter) is not a UserControl. In my case that control was the top level Window of my WPF application.

The strange thing is the state switching works fine when I use the GoToStateAction.

After pouring over the code in Reflector it strikes me that something I don’t yet understand is happening with CustomVisualStateManager which Blend actually sets to be ExtendedVisualStateManager.

It seems ExtendedVisualStateManager has a method called GoToElementState which allows you to pass in a FrameworkElement, whereas GotToState only allows a Control.

By trial and error I found that the following code works:

ExtendedVisualStateManager.GoToElementState(this.LayoutRoot as FrameworkElement, "MyState", true);

where Layroot root is a Grid and is the first child of my Window, and is where the actual VisualStateGroups are defined.

If anyone has an idea what is going on here, and why the GoToState doesn’t work as expected for a Window, please let me know.

Update: According to a comment from Steve at Microsoft, this issue will be fixed when the Visual State Manager gets integrated into .NET Base Class Libraries (BCL) e.g. when WPF 4.0 is released.

Update: Ericsson F3507g Mobile Broadband on Windows 7 with Lenovo Thinkpad

It’s become clear from comments on my previous article, that Lenovo have released a new Windows 7 driver for the Ericsson F3507g Mobile Broadband card.

You would never know from glancing at the downloads page because it doesn’t list versions numbers or publish dates…Screenshot of F3507g driver on Lenovo downloads page

The driver is now listed under Vodafone and AT&T Wireless WAN (HSPA) Driver. Just to make things extra confusing (and harder to find) they removed the actual card model number from the description. The new filename  is (direct download link), and comes in at 40MB (10 MB smaller than the last driver). It comes as a Setup.exe, including both 32-bit and 64-bit drivers.

After installing the new driver (no need to uninstall the previous one), you will have the following new devices in device manager:

  • F3507g Mobile Broadband Driver (Network Adapters)
  • F3507g Mobile Broadband Device Management (COM3)
  • F3507g Mobile Broadband GPS Port (COM6)
  • F3507g Mobile Broadband Device

The crucial thing about the new driver is the change in version from (dated 16/12/2008) to 4.54.7103.1 (dated 26/06/2009). The drivers are also HCL certified by Microsoft. Some devices are dated 29/07/2009 and version Either way, all the drivers are much newer :)


This driver is radically different from the previous one. The previous driver installs your broadband card as an old school modem (with COM ports et al). This is what made it particularly tricky to setup.

The new driver actually gets the broadband card to show up as… (drum roll)… a Mobile Broadband Connection!

Ericsson F3507G showing as Mobile Broadband  in Network Connections

The upshot of this is that, after installing these drivers you don’t need any third party software to get online!

I am not sure if this device type was available in Vista, but I have certainly never seen it before. It integrates with Windows differently to a dialup modem. One obvious change is that it shows up in the networks list accessed via the system tray like so:

Available connections

You can set it to automatically connect when there is no other connection available, which is quite handy and works quite well.

There is only one trick you may need for setting the APN. To do this you need to go to the networks list and right click, show properties. Note: This is completely different than if you select properties in the Network Connections windows. You should see the following:

Mobile Broadband connection properties under Windows 7, showing APN setting

Here you can enter the APN and username/password if required by your ISP.

There are only a couple of negatives I have discovered so far:

  • Using Wireless Manager it was possible to force the connection to only use HSDPA etc. I can’t find a way to do this with the new setup
  • There is not as much status information available as when using Wireless Manager. For instance, when I am connected, it ALWAYS seems to display UMTS as the connection type, even though I know I am on HSDPA. This may or may not be a bug.

One very exciting feature that I just stumbled upon when researching this article is the Windows 7 Sensor compatible GPS Location driver that gets installed.

F3507g GPS Location Sensor driver for Windows 7!

This new feature for Windows 7 allows applications to access your GPS data through a standard API, for example Google Chrome can use this to position you on Google maps! I have not got this to work so far but I am hoping that’s because I have no GPS signal indoors.

Overall I am happy with the new drivers – it’s certainly a better way to integrate with Windows, and the connection seems to be much more reliable.

Staff Directory makes it onto Microsoft Surface “Killer Apps” Guide

imageThe Amnesia Razorfish Business Card / Staff Directory application I built while at Amnesia has made it onto the Fast Company Killer Apps For Microsoft Surface: The Complete Guide.

Not sure how much of an achievement that is considering almost every Surface App ever made is on the list 😉

You can read more about the application on my About Me page.