Tidbits

This is just my normal user blog for things that don't fit in the other blogs, but are tailored for the open source C/C++/C# and .NET communities.
Microsoft removes SQL Server Configuration Manager link from installation

That's right, Microsoft in it's infinite wisdom has for some unknown reason, removed the link to open the SQL Server Configuration Manager from the installation sequence. The .msc file is installed on the file system, but the link to use it is no longer added to the Start Menu. Here is a link that contains the information that you will need to find this file:

SQL Server Configuration Manager

Open File - Security Warning: Shortcuts

I've had this issue under 2 slightly different scenarios.  The first being a strange bug that causes Windows to believe that it is under attack, and it locks down your desktop.  The second being the way that processes zone web site lists.

Due to a network failure, I encountered the first scenario.  After starting my computer and attempting to log into my domain account, it appears that Windows will change the permissions on certain items when it thinks that it is under attack.  So, Windows changed the permissions on my desktop, but nothing that I could see in the UI.  Some, but not all, links on my desktop started to exhibit this issue and it only affected links on my desktop.

So, after doing quite a few searches I came across the following article, which turned me in the correct direction:

Fix Start Menu Shortcuts Open File Security Warning in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

 All I had to do was change the path to my desktop (see below):

ICACLS "C:\Users\<username>\Desktop" /Setintegritylevel (OI)(CI)M

 and everything was back to normal again.  For the second scenario I was attempting to execute a link that I had placed on my desktop, which was using a .msc file to start an MMC instance.  For some yet unknown reason, the default windows settings were not recognizing my local network configuration, so I had to add the following entries into the registry of my domain policy:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\ZoneMap
    • AutoDetect
      • REG_DWORD (1)
    • IntranetName
      • REG_DWORD (1)
    • ProxyBypass
      • REG_DWORD (1)
    • UNCAsIntranet
      • REG_DWORD (1)

This is the area where the Tools / Internet Options / Security / Sites settings are defined.  For more information on them, go to:

Internet Explorer security zones registry entries for advanced users

 

Windows 8 SUCKS!

That's right, Windows 8 is by far the absolute worst version of Windows that Microsoft has released to date.  If you are using a tablet with a multi-touch display (not a stylus) then you might like it, but how many PCs out there are tablets with multi-touch displays?  0.001%?  I have no idea, but it certainly is much less than 1% of all the PCs out there.  Now some of you might be asking why I didn't include other types of PCs that have a multi-touch display.  Well, think about it.  You will now need to constantly move your hands between your keyboard, mouse, AND multi-touch display.

I've been using Windows 8 for a little over a month now in an enterprise environment on a very powerful machine.  My workstation has a Windows Experience Index of 8.0 excluding hard drives, and 6.8 including hard drives, and I can tell you that Windows 8 is extremely unfriendly to mouse users.  On top of that, it gets worse with the number of monitors that you are using, flattening out at 3+ monitors.  Don't get me wrong, there are some AWESOME features in Windows 8, including fixes for issues that have been around for years, but at what price?  Extreme loss of productivity for the overwhelming majority of users.

At this point you are probably thinking, "How can it be all that bad?"  Well, first off, the days of the Start button are no more.  You can get to a pseudo-version of the Start button display in a few different ways, but it is nothing like what we used to get.  If you have a keyboard, the easiest way to get to it is by pressing the Windows button.  To use a touch display or mouse, you need to touch or hover over the top or bottom right corner of any display, wait for the menu to display, and then click Start.

You will immediately notice that this is the display that you get when you log in.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that you no longer log into a desktop.  When you log in, you log into this pseudo-Start display which is full of Metro Icons.  Every time you install an app, it's icons are added to right side of display, eventually scrolling off the display, unless you periodically do some pruning.  This page looks exactly like a Windows Phone, and guess what?  It is.  With a bunch of flat squares and rectangles that look like they were designed by some strung out Hippy from the 60s, who made it to the 70s, with a slight flourish.

By now, you're probably asking, "Is there a Start button as we know it today?"  The simple answer is, "No."  The more complicated answer is, "Sort of."  However, it is automagically created under the C:\ProgramData folders, but I think that the actual structure is stored in the registry.  To get to the "Sort of" answer, from the pseudo-Start display, right click on an empty portion of the display.  A menu bar will display at the bottom of the screen with a single icon on the right side titled "All Apps".  Click it.  You now see something similar to the Programs tree under the Start Menu, but it's all flat icons and the structure is extremely difficult to read.

I also uncovered some issues related to the UAC changes, some of which interact with IE 10, and screw it up as well.  I filed bug reports, but Microsoft responds with their normal response, "Unable to Reproduce.", and immediately closes the incident.  I tried to customize Windows 8 to look and work like Windows 7 as best I could, but its truly a lost cause unless Microsoft adds back the Start Menu.  Which reminds me of something else that non-touch screen users will absolutely hate.  By default, EVERYTHING opens full screen.  Nothing opens in separate windows, and it's a bear to switch things over.  I can guarantee you that the average user will not be able to get any application to open in anything other than full screen mode, without some serious help.

Just recently, Microsoft again changed the name of Metro Style apps (a.k.a. Active Desktop apps) to WinRT, which BTW do not function if you are logged is an Administrator and truly have the UAC turned off.  You will get this very blue ribbon in the middle of your screen that says, "This app can't open", "<app name> can't open while User Account Control is turned off."  It is so very nice to know that Microsoft trusts their "WinRT" and Windows Store models so well, that they won't let you run any WinRT app if the UAC is off.  Not even the apps that come with Windows 8 and are written by Microsoft themselves.  So much for signing your work.

And I saved the best for last.  Try to find the Log Out, Shutdown, or Sleep button.  Go ahead, I'll give you a couple hours to find them.  Do you remember how to find the Start button when using a touch screen display or mouse?  Instead of touching or clicking Start, touch or click Settings, and then touch or click Power.  If Microsoft has ergonomic UI designers on its staff, where the hell are they?  There is no way in hell that anyone can tell me that any ergonomic UI designer had anything to do with this design.

The bottom line is, the things that Microsoft FINALLY fixed are AWESOME!  However, everything else is so bad that I'll be spending the next week wyping out this system and reinstalling Windows 7 Ultimate, which BTW has an internal Windows version of 6.1, and Windows 8 has an internal Windows version of 6.2.

Blog Change, and new name.

I decided to change the name of this blog to Tidbits, and it has a new URL as well:

http://www.opensourcec.org/blogs/tidbits/default.aspx

All future posts will be to the new URL.

Social Forums: The 3 Taboo Topics

Recently, some one asked me about what I meant by "the 3 taboos".  10 years ago everyone would have known exactly what I meant, but in today's world with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc., the Internet has become extremely large with only a very small percentage knowing anything about it's past.  It used to be that Politics, Sexual Orientation, and Religion were taboo topics on almost every site.  The main reason for these taboos was to ensure that discussions did not get out of hand in what used to be very tight communities.  Any discussion in any of these taboo topics could lead to the breakup of a community; therefore, it became a standard rule (many times unwritten) on all sites.

Politics is not always an easy one for people to understand, even in today's world where almost all employers do not allow political discussions at the work place.  There is nothing black and white about it either, just varying shades of gray that range to both extremes.  A simple example is when people start talking about the "Death Penalty", which obviously leads to discussions on killing and people confusing it with murder.  I won't go into the differences, as that is not the purpose of this post, but killing and murder have 2 completely different meanings.  The only commonality between the 2 is death, but just thinking about this you can see how the discussion of politics can get way out of hand.

As for Sexual Orientation, this is now a no brainer.  The Federal Government has declared derogatories against Sexual Orientation as hate, which can land you a very long sentence in a Federal Prison.  This topic is still taboo today, on almost every site, with the exception of sites dedicated to the topic.  One thing that I should say is that jokes qualify as a discussion and are included in all of the taboos.  There is an exception here as well, but it only covers those who are a part of the topic that they are making fun of (i.e. making fun of themselves).  There are extreme limitations though, as those who are not covered by the topic, are not allowed to participate in the discussions on the topic.  This alienates many users, and alienation is generally not allowed in any forum.

Our final topic of the 3 taboos is Religion.  This is probably the most controversial topic of all as the United States Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights give Freedom of Religion even more status than Freedom of Speech due to the Separation of Church and State.  There is no right and wrong, black and white, or even shades of gray.  Either you believe in religion, a religion, or you don't.  The only thing that may even come close to shades of gray is whether or not you agree that what is being called a religion, is actually a religion.  Coming from a Catholic high school (I consider myself an Agnostic Atheist) where I was forced to take non-denominational studies (heavily influenced by the Catholic Church).  I learned quite a bit about the Catholic Church and "The Bible" that I doubt the majority of you are aware and the rest of this post will better explain why religion is one of the taboos.

Did you know that if you were to add up all of the deaths due to wars that are based on religious beliefs and compare that to all of the deaths due to war that have nothing to do with religion at all, that the deaths due to religious beliefs far out numbers the others?  It's not 2:1, 3:1, 5:1, or 10:1.  It's not even 100:1.  The number exceeds 1,000:1.  For those who don't know what that means, it means that less than one death out of every 1,000 deaths due to war is from a war that is not in any way related to religious beliefs and that more than 999 of those deaths are related to religous beliefs.  From a Catholic point of view that is rather disturbing as "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the Ten Commandments, and other religions have similar ideologies; however, that hasn't stopped religious wars.

So, what are all these people fighting over?  For Catholics, it's a book whos title simply means "the book", "The Bible".  Most people know that "The Bible" is not an exact accounting of history.  Many know that it is at best an accounting of revisionist history, but very few people truly know what this means.  The Catholic church acknowledges that it destroyed more than 90% of all the documents that were found while compiling "The Bible", and reworded many of those that they included.  The documents that were found were written by many different people, but it is unknown for what purpose that each document was written.  The church did not keep any records of what was destroyed, or reworded.  Shortly before "The Bible" was completed, there was a fire that destroyed the entire monestary and almost all of the remaining documents. Only a very few exist to this date.

"The Bible" is not chronologically written either.  Some of the books are, some are not, but the over all layout of "The Bible" is a disjointed accounting of events and stories.  Many of its books overlap the time frames of others.  You might be asking, 'Why am I saying so much about Religion, when I didn't say all that much for the other topics?"  It is not simple to explain why Religion has been a taboo topic, unless you understand the background for the item that almost all of the discussions would be based, but is usually never discussed.  Knowing what you now know about "The Bible", can you see how ridiculous it is to have a discussion about it?  Even if you can't see this, you should at least understand that your lack of understanding is a reason for not discussing it.

Those are the "3 Taboo Topics" in a nut shell.  There have been many debates on the issues created by allowing them to be discussed, but for most communities it is best to not allow the discussions in the first place.  I'm going to leave the comments open, but with moderation.  I will make sure that all comments stay on topic, and I will not allow the comments on any specifics of any of the topics.

Visual Studio 2010: Should I use it?

This is a question that I've been pondering over for quite some time.  The only reason for using VS over any other editor, is the help system.  But wait, what help system?  My point exactly.  The help system that comes with Visual Studio 2010 is a very small subset of what the full MSDN Library used to be.  You might be asking, "What do you mean by 'MSDN Library used to be'?"  Well, somewhere around the time that Visual Studio 2010 was released, Microsoft decided to make changes to the Online MSDN Library, which is now our only source for the MSDN Library.  There is no offline version of the MSDN Library anymore.  On top of that, a very HUGE portion of what was in the MSDN Library, is no longer available online.

What does this mean?  Well, it pretty much means that we are all screwed until Microsoft decides on what they are going to do.  The Microsoft Help Viewer 1.1 works for the most part, but has serious issues when dealing with mutliple release versions.  Additionally, only a fraction of the Online MSDN Library is available through it.  If you switch Visual Studio 2010 to online help, the context sensative system is limited to the exact same items that are available offline, even though the Online MSDN Library does have more content, limited though it is.  The easiest way to see how limited it is, is to press F1 on an HTML element while editting an HTML document.  Very helpful isn't it?  NOT!

The bottom line is that there is no compelling reason to use Visual Studio 2010.  The context sentative help system, tied to a FULLY populated MSDN Library, was the ONLY reason for using it.  If you haven't started using it, I would say, "Save yourself the $5K+, per developer, per year, license and use something else."  I haven't looked for alternatives to Visual Studio in quite some time, but it's time that I do.  If you find any really good options, please post them here.  But please don't post stupid little editors that aren't fully integrated and don't fully support TFS.

openSourceC.WorldOfWarcraft library is live on CodePlex

Well, I'm starting to make all of these open source projects available on CodePlexopenSourceC.WorldOfWarcraft is the first of many projects that will be made available over the coming weeks.  I have created 3 other projects on CodePlex as well, but they require more setup before they can be published.  If you are a WoW player/developer, have FUN!  For the rest, I have until September 5th to publish the projects before Microsoft deletes them.  This site will be changing to a different platform once I figure out which platform to go with, as sticking with Community Server is not a viable solution moving forward.

Hyper-V: Loss of network connectivity

Many people have been reporting network connectivity issues once a Hyper-V Virtual Network Switch is created, but the symptoms vary so widely that it can be tough to find a solution.  There are issues like:

  • A few packets getting lost every 6-8 hours.
  • Complete loss of connectivity on the host operating system.
  • VMs work for 3-4 days, then a complete loss of connectivity to the VMs.

This list goes on and on.  I've been using Microsoft's Virtualization Technologies since before Virtual Server was first released, and network connectivity has been an issue with every build.  Every time Microsoft thinks that they've fixed the issues, they creep right back in.  Microsoft has been known to respond with their normal, "We can't reproduce the issue." response, as well.  That being said, I think that I've finally found a solution that works for me in each and every case, turning off the "offload" setting(s) of anything IPv4 related within the properties of the driver itself.

If you are using Intel network controllers, then you will most likely not have any issues, as Microsoft does the majority of their testing with intel network controllers.  If you are using some other make like Broadcom or Marvell (these 2 in particular), you will most likely run into issues, some of which may even occur without Hyper-V being installed.  People using HP servers have also been reporting a large number of issues, but I don't know what chipsets they use.  If you are having connectivity issues, turn off all the IPv4 offload settings and see if that fixes your issues.  If doing that fixes your issues, or makes a dent, you've found the source.

You can keep disabling properties until you find a combination that works best in your situation, or you can disable/remove the network controller and replace it with a different make and model that is known to be free of issues.  The number of features that have been disabled, and the impact that it has on system performance, should determine whether or not disabling features is preferable to replacing the controller altogether.  Microsoft needs to get together with these chip manufactures and figure out what the problem is.  This is like the old days of DOS, SCSI, and no real standard.

Visual Studio 2010: The developers equivalent to Windows Vista!

If you are not aware, Visual Studio 2010 (VS) is a complete rewrite of Microsoft's previously popular integrated development system.  Previous versions were all written using the Microsoft Foundation Class Library (MFC) and the Win32 API, so Microsoft decided to use their latest technology, Windows Presentation Foundation (WFP), and rewrite the entire UI.  It has some very nice new features, but several of the core features that have been around since day one, are not currently available unless you or some one else decides to write an add-on for it.

One small example is the customization of the toolbar.  While there is a partial API to work with it, there is virtually no functionality built into the UI.  If you want to add Rebuild Selection and Rebuild Solution buttons to the Build toolbar, you can, but you will be stuck with buttons that spell out the entire functionality and will not be able to replace the text with a custom icon.  There is an Extension Manager tool called CommandingImage in the Visual Studio Gallery, but it only works if you make all of your changes within a single VS session.  If you close VS and then reopen the tool in a new VS session, all previous changes will be overwritten/deleted. Many of you will say that you can live with that, it's just some silly UI customization.  Well, that may be so, but that silly UI customization saves me from having to navigate through the menu bar or a context menu every time I want to rebuild something.  I rarely ever use the normal Build due to the way it works.

However, this issue is peanuts compared to the real issue, the Offline Help System.  With SP1 installed, you can now use it without it hijacking your browser, but over 90% of the MSDN Library still can't, yes CAN'T, be accessed by it.  Why?  Because Microsoft has not made the packages available for installation, expects everyone to work on-line, and expects everyone to use the web for all of their help requests.  I don't know about you, but I only go to the web as a last resort when all else (i.e. local help) fails.  They do not care that the on-line help system is significantly inferior (i.e. slower, more difficult to use, and doesn't save your settings) to a local, built-in, help system.

This is not the first time that the help system has changed either.  Over the past 13+ years, the help system has been rewritten at least 4 times, and it takes a minimum of 2-3 years for the new system to achieve a level that is equal to the previous system.  Of all the previous systems, WinHelp32 was the most reliable, fast, and had the most fully populated reference catalog to date.  Unfortunately, that was over 10 years ago.  The current help system in VS is barely usable for many tasks, and completely unusable for most tasks (i.e. web development).  Try opening a web page with markup, place the cursor over a tag, press F1, and see what comes up.  A completely useless HTML Designer page.

As far as I'm concerned, VS 2010 was released at least 2 years early, and as of the date of this post, is missing several core features that have existed since the first release of the integrated development system.  If you are thinking about using VS 2010, make sure that you spend at least 3-4 months heavily evaluating it before you make a final decision.  If you are only doing Windows Desktop or general library development you may not run into very many issues.  But if you are doing any kind of web development, you will be forced to do it without a useful help system.  The sad fact is that it is now over a year since VS 2010 was released, and none of these issues have been corrected.  Visual Studio 2010 is the developers equivalent to Windows Vista when it comes to development tools.  ENJOY!

FQDN & CNames cause local access failures

This is one hell of a bug, that was created by a feature change in 3.51 .NET Framework SP1, Changes to NTLM authentication for HTTPWebRequest in Version 3.5 SP1.  The full resolution can be found in KB896861.  To make things worse, there isn't a UI to fix the problem.  You are required to make registry entries for each of the aliases that you wish to use.  If you are tyring to access a local web service using NTLM, you may run into this issue.

While setting up SSRS 2008 R2 for a new TFS 2010 Server, I wasted about 6 hours trying to figure out why the old TFS 2008 server was working, and the new TFS 2010 Server wasn't.  the old server wasn't correctly setup and left us unable to create any new projects, so we decided to create a new server to replace it, and ended up with this problem.  Fortunately we were able to resolve this issue, unlike the issues on the old server, but this was just a complete waste of time.  Microsoft could have easily patched SSRS to automatically make these changes for you when you add additional URLs.

Anywho, as with most of these posts, it's here to ensure that I don't waste all this time again the next time I run into this issue.  It applies to IIS, SSRS, and anything else that uses HTTPWebRequest.

VMRC: "Connection to server has been lost"

If you are running Virtual Server 2005 R2 on a server, you were probably forced to install an earlier version of the Virtual Machine Remote Control Client (VMRC) as the R2 version will not allow itself to be installed on Windows 7.  The problem is that the earlier clients are not compatible with the R2 server version, thus you see "Connection to server has been lost".  To fix this, simply copy the vmrc.exe file on the server to your client.  If you are running a different bit width than the server (32 vs 64), create a dummy installation with the version that you need to get the file.  The 32-bit client will run on a 64-bit machine, but the 64-bit client will not work on a 32-bit machine.

iPhone & iPod Touch Multitasking: How to close an App

In case you didn't know, the apps on your iPhone and iPod Touch never close unless they crash, are shutdown due to your device running out of memory, or you manually close them.  The problem is that there isn't a close app button for any app that is inside of the application.  Pressing the Home button and switching to another app doesn't close the app that you were in, so how do you close them?

Well, after doing a search on Apple's Support site I found 2 solutions, either power down the unit (press and hold the Sleep/Wake button on top of device for a few seconds until a red slider appears, and then slide the slider), and the other solution is missing a critical step.  First off, you must be running iOS 4 or later for the second solution.  If you are, then do the following:

  1. Double-tap the Home button to display a menu of recent applications.
  2. Touch and hold one of the running application icons at the bottom of the screen, until they begin to shake.
  3. Click the red minus on the icon for each application you wish to close.
  4. Press the Home button to return to the recent applications menu.

Steps 2 and 4 are missing from Apple's directions at iPhone and iPod touch: What to do when applications close unexpectedly while in use.  It would be nice if Apple allowed comments on their Troubleshooting articles like Microsoft does, even if they are only viewable by Apple, but they unfortunately don't.  BTW, the reason that I needed to figure this out is because iTunes would not let me do a sync with my mailbox because the Mail application was running.  I hope this helps anyone else who runs into a similar problem.

QuickBooks & Quicken 2009 or earlier and the latest Windows Live updates

If you have QuickBooks 2009 (or earlier) and/or Quicken 2009 (or earlier) installed on Windows Vista (or later) and have installed the latest updates to Windows Live Essentials 2011, you may be in for a surprise.  First off, I will say this it is all fixable and that you do not need to upgrade either of your Intuit product installations to the latest version, but it may scare you to find out that QuickBooks and/or Quicken are broken.  To top it all off, after you fix both of those installations, they will break your Windows Live Messenger installation, but that too can be easily fixed and it hasn't broken anything that I have noticed.

I didn't put the whole thing together until today, but when I spoke with a guy at Intuit a few days ago, to re-register QuickBooks after a reinstall, he mentioned something about QuickBooks defaulting to using Windows Live if you are running Windows 7 and tried a hard core sell for me to update to QuickBooks 2010 (which will be obsolete and replaced later this month).  After you install the updates for Windows Live Essentials 2011, your QuickBooks and/or Quicken installations may become corrupted due to several reasons, including a change in key encryption that was made in another Windows patch.

If you get an error message stating that your QuickBooks installation is corrupted, you will need to remove your current installation and reinstall (hopefully from your server installation).  If you have moved (my case), or can't remember your old licensing information, you may need to call Intuit to re-register and update your contact information.  After fixing that, my Quicken installation failed, but I was able to recover by doing a re-installation over the current installation.  However, both of those re-installations broke Windows Live Messenger.  You can fix your Windows Live Messenger installation by doing a full repair of Windows Live Essentials 2011 from Control Panel / Programs and Features.  After doing all the above, I'm back to normal and running Windows Live Essentials 2011, something that the Intuit guy said could not be done.

I wish I remember more of what the Intuit guy had said, but he was trying to blame Microsoft for something that he said that they had broken.  However, the truth is that Intuit incorrectly coded their products to use settings that were designed only to be used by Windows and not by applications.  If you run into the same issues, I hope that this helps.

New Contract: Local.com

Well, I finally got a new contract.  I started with Local.com on October 5th and am working on an internal administration web application.  This is my first time using SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), and I'm luvin' it so far.  It kicks Crystal Reports in the ass.  I should be here until the end of the year, but I'll try to get the next beta release of JawberDoo out soon.  I didn't realize how much time was being wasted on getting the Telerik controls to work until now.  I definitely would not recommend its use to anyone, unless you have huge amounts of time and money to waste.

I'm also still working on the changes to expand the abilities of agencies, which will greatly increase the usefulness of the site.  With the number of calls that I have been getting from head hunters, I'm beginning to think that they'll be using the site more than job applicants.  Averaging 5 calls/day from headhunters when there aren't even that many new positions/day is just crazy.

For those of you with PS3s, I just upgraded my original PS3 from 80GB to 640GB for $75 (the cost of the new drive).  Sony has made it pretty easy to upgrade, just backup to a USB drive, replace the HD, and restore.  As long as you restore to the same PS3, it will restore everything and you won't lose anything.  Vertigo (friend of mine) will probably be interested in this.  My 80GB drive was completely full and I couldn't download any new games or demos, until I upgraded.  Anywho, time to get back to work.

TRS-80 Day!

Yes, TRS-80 Day!

I spent most of my time yesterday in building a system that can read my old TRS-80 disks.  It's much more difficult than it sounds as the floppy controllers prior to the early 90's worked differently than those of today.  Western Digital had the most popular chips (yes chips, not chipsets).  Their first chip line (FD177x) only supported single density floppies, and their second chip line (FD179x) supported single and double density.  These were not smart chips either.  When you formatted a diskette, you wrote the entire track including the filler bytes, and had full control over the sector header to sector data separation.

On top of all that, the TRS-80 used 256 byte sectors like almost all of the other personal computers at the time.  When working with an 8 bit microprocessor, 256 byte sectors are much easier to process, thus the reason it was used.  None of computers that were purchased in the last 10 years were able to read any of the disks, so I rebuilt an old 486 machine and was able to get it working.  The biggest problem I had was creating a set of MS-DOS 6.22 disks.  The disk writer that comes packaged with the MSDN download only works from DOS.  It will not work from a DOS window or Command Prompt window.

You might be asking, "Why the hell is this guy trying to read those damn old TRASH-80 disks?"  For those who don't know, TRASH-80 was the affectionate name given to us by Apple users.  Well, here are some links to tell you why:

I started with a TRS-80 Model I with 4K RAM and Level I BASIC, went through quite a few upgrades and in the end had a Model 4 with 128K RAM.  I probably spent 90% of my free time from 1978 through 1979 (sophomore and junior years in high school) at the local Radio Shack until I got my first computer.  I went to OCTUG (Orange County TRS-80 Users Group) every month and showed off my latest wares.  If you saw a 6'3", 136#, blond haired, blue eyed guy there, that was me.  Do any of you remember BBGS, KEY-80 or SYS29 for NEWDOS80?  Well, I wrote them.  I also made my own Orchestra 80/85 boards, CPU accelerators, Floppy Controller, and Clock card.

Anywho, I need to get back to extracting all of my disks, but I wanted to get this posted while I had a few minutes.  I spent a lot of time on some algorithms way back then, which I want to convert to C# and reuse.  If I'm successful, I'll post more about.

New blog for JawberDoo

JawberDoo.com now has it's own blog on the WGB Enterprises web site:

JawberDoo Blog

This blog will also replace the status messages that were appearing on the home page of the site itself.

Dropping the use and support of all Telerik products

A little over a year ago we decided to give Telerik's products a try as their products seemed to have finally matured to a point where we wouldn't need to worry about incompatibilities with other systems, mainly AJAX.NET.  However, about 2 weeks after all the documents had been signed and development had actually been under way for about 6 weeks, Telerik decided to embed all of the web support files into their web DLL and broke the ASP.NET UI Control model.  The Appearance attributes of all controls no longer work and the only way to control the appearance of controls is by overriding the attributes in CSS.  There is very little documentation on the CSS and it requires a great deal of man-hours to complete.  Additionally, if you need to make changes to the UI, you will most likely need to redo this all over again and waste even more man-hours.

About 8 weeks ago we decided to drop all use of Telerik products as their use was doubling the amount of time that it takes to develop a page.  This meant that we needed to find a replacement.  We looked at Component One and ComponentArt before deciding to go with ComponentArt.  They have been very consistent with their products and we have used their products in the past when working with Community Server.  The current controls appear to work just like the ones we used 4 years ago, and they are also 100% AJAX.NET compatible.  The only control that they don't have is a CAPTCHA control, so we need to find a replacement for it.

We were really looking forward to a very long relationship with Telerik, and their Sitefinity product showed great promise, but they appear to be taking their own road (similar to what Borland did with it's C compiler) and have completely moved away from the direction that AJAX.NET is taking.  Several of our projects were using the Telerik controls and it will take quite a significant effort to replace them with the ComponentArt controls.  JawberDoo.com will be the first project that we convert, as it is the project that is closest to completion.  We'll try to keep you up-to-date on the progress, but this is going to be a major effort and will take a great deal of time, so please bear with us.

Sony: Playstation Network: Credit card entry issues

If you have tried to enter your credit card information into their system on the "Edit Billing Information" page and it fails with "The credit card information is not valid." OR "The credit card information cannot be updated.", you are not alone.  Even after trying all of the mangled ways that Sony tells you to enter your address, thousands of people are not able to get anywhere and Sony will blame everything on your bank, even if your bank is Bank of America or HSBC.

If you aren't getting anywhere, you need to call 800-345-7669 (800-345-SONY) or 877-971-7669 (the number reported to your bank that shows on your account history) to report the issue.  Sony very conveniently does not provide any contact information on the web site where you enter your information, nor do they in the PS3 itself.  They do a very good job of hiding this number with hopes that you will just give up and not report the issue.  This has been an issue for several years and Sony needs to fix it.

If you have a blog of your own, write about your own experiences and add a link to this post.  If enough people call and create their own blog posts, Sony may actually fix the issue. 

UPDATE 05/29/2010:
With the exception of military and Indian reservation addresses, the United States Postal Service defines the standards for all mailing addresses.  If you type in your address at USPS - Zip Code Lookup, it will correct any formatting errors and give you your full standardized mailing address with ZIP + 4.  They also provide CDs and a list of companies that provide software that works with those CDs to allow anyone to do the same thing.  Apparently, Sony believes that they do not need to adhere to these standards, thus their system fails.

Posted: Mon, May 24 2010 04:01 PM by Will Bosacker | with no comments
Filed under:
Generic Issues with Windows

This is one of those posts to just keep a personal record of things that popup and are difficult to find answers to.  As items are added, the date of this post will also be updated.  Issues:

  • CTRL + SHIFT + 0 (zero) not working under Vista & Windows 7.  While it's not easy to find this answer, Microsoft did write KB967893 to address the issue.
TFS Red "X"s on Reports

This is mostly a reference for the next time that I need to rebuild my workstation, but one of the causes for this is a bug in the Visual Studio 2008 SP1 service pack.  You need to run the service pack installation twice in order for it to correctly update all of the TFS client files.  If you don't, you may see red "X"s on Reports and/or Documents.

Posted: Tue, Jan 5 2010 11:40 AM by Will Bosacker | with no comments
Filed under:
AT&T up to it's old tricks again

Hey All,

48 hours later and we're back online.  AT&T disconnected our DSL service, AGAIN!  Fortunately, this time I was able to get new lines installed within 48 hours of the disconnect.  Some lacky at AT&T didn't read his email, which lead to the disconnect.  The good thing is that I got a free hardware (routers) upgrade to replace the semi-faulty hardware that they originally sold me.  It will take a few days to configure the new hardware, but it shouldn't affect you as the site will only be offline for a couple minutes during the switch over.  I took the time to reconfigure the network layout as well, and it appears that the new configuration is much more efficient (meaning that it took a few miliseconds off the latency).

Enjoy the site...

Posted: Wed, Dec 23 2009 05:30 PM by Will Bosacker | with no comments
Filed under:
Update: October 2, 2009

Hey Everyone,

It's been a while since I've blogged at all as there have been quite a few things going on lately.  First off, the JawberDoo.com site is almost complete.  The basic jawb searching is working and allows you to search by Jawb Industry, Jawb Category, Jawb Occupation,Jawb Requirements, and by the jawb location distance from a zip code.  Something that Monster is not capable of, plus we don't have all the widgets that slow the site down to a crawl.  After I rework some of the jawb provider pages and ensure that everything else is still working, we'll roll out the grand opening.

The major work of late has been for the BeHeard.com site.  We are currently in talks with the news provider for the site to work out mutually beneficial options.  If all goes well, we'll be providing a WCF 3.51 open source library to access the providers news API from a .NET application.  In return, we are seeking a free subscription to their news services.  We've already built the library, we just need to work out the details.  The development of this site will be going full speed in the next couple of weeks.

Also, I have been neglecting the .NET Tweeks blog, which is going to change soon.  Once things quiet down a bit, I'll have plenty of content for the blog.  The first release of JawberDoo.com will be in production and it will be the basis for several posts.  The work on BeHeard.com will contribute to posts on WCF, so there is quite a lot to blog about.

Take it easy,
Bill Bosacker

Umbraco: The not so friendly (anti-Karma) community

UPDATE 07/26/2009: Thanks to the comment posted by Gabe Sumners, this week of loss due to Umbraco was not in vein.  Sitefinity is an AWESOME product.  It only took about 5 hours to integrate the entire project with Sitefinity, and for about 1/5 ($899) the licensing cost of Umbraco ($4,300-$5,800).

Recently, a client of mine had been pushing the use of a CMS for his project, with Umbraco being his choice.  The original plan was to wait about a year or two before switching over, but he had been rather persistent, so I told him that I'd look into it.  About every 6 months I evaluate what is out there, but it had been a little longer than that for Umbraco as it was one of the absolute worst CMS's out there when I evaluated it 2 years ago.  Now, it is no longer 100% XSLT based and the user side now partially supports the ASP.NET Membership System (what they call members).

I spent a couple days looking at the product and was pleasantly surprised to see how far it had come, but there are still a few quirks.  The separation of back office users and application users (members) is not a very good security model.  I discussed it in their forums with a few people and we all agreed that their current model does need some work.  I provided them with an example of how to accomplish it with a single membership store, something that had never occurred to them. and they appeared to be rather interested in the idea, so everything was good.  After fixing a few bugs in the installer that were related to their implementation of the membership system, I was able to get it to install.

The first order of business was to get the existing master pages, style sheets, and images into the system.  Our master pages have custom code behinds, so we opted to create an empty Web Application Project (WAP) at the root of the site for our custom code.  All of the binaries used and created by Umbraco, were added to the project's references.  After adding the master pages to Umbraco, they were included in the project along with their code behind.  This allowed us to build and test from a single location and works rather well.  In order for it to work though, you need to ensure that the master pages are always writable/checked out.  Otherwise, the Umbraco window will not act properly and you won't know why.

After a little bit of coding and moving things around, we were able to get the site running, though we hadn't updated the style sheet and image references yet.  The current site uses the ASP.NET Theming System as there is a requirement to provide special themes for holidays and special events.  We also used it because the skinning (.skin file) system makes it extremely easy to duplicate a look and feel for controls across the entire site.  The style sheet references were rather straight forward as all style sheets exist in the ~/css/ folder, which is rather standard for basic web sites.  Media is uploaded through the Umbraco window (see below) and made available through the ~/Media/ folder.  It is placed in a sub-folder with the name of the node Id where the object is stored in the database, but there is nothing in the window that tells you how to reference the image.

So, I search the Umbraco forums to figure out how to reference these images.  What I initially learn is that there is nothing built into Umbraco to help you access these media objects.  There are several posts on the subject and the result of every one is that you must either write a custom XSLT script and create a macro, or use a 3rd party tool to reference the object.  At this point I'm thinking, "Are you kidding me?"  Why in the world would you have a media section at all, if there isn't an easy method to access the media that it contains.  So, I create another post in the forums asking if what was previously posted is true.  After 8 replies, everyone confirmed the information and said that I should not be using the Media section for background images.

They say that I should upload the images to an image folder via FTP and then use those images.  They don't even consider the fact that businesses who have an SDLC and operate under CMMI or SOX requirements, do not allow anyone other than IT technicians to access production files or databases.  These people obviously don't know how real world business works, or what a true CMS is, and Umbraco is starting to look like a DMS/CMS hybrid with a flashy UI.  Additionally, every single reply is either a personal attack on me, or an attack on my development background of 30 years.  At this point my client decided to drop Umbraco as he was extremely dissatisfied with the forum community, so I posted that the use of Umbraco had been dropped.

Then there is a reply from a very nice guy, Peter Dijksterhuis, who doesn't come up with the answer, but his question does give me an idea for a work-around.  Thanks Peter.  The work-around consisted of going to the media section, clicking on the object, right clicking on the thumbnail, selecting properties, copying the URL, pasting the URL, and then removing "_thumb" from the URL.  A lot of clicks, but it does work.  I posted this and then all hell broke loose, due to my prior post that we had decided to drop Umbraco.  People start saying that I don't know how to use a CMS, that I shouldn't be allowing web designers to edit style sheets or master pages (their primary job), some one even thinks that I am "...a fictional character designed as flame bait for the other members of this forum..", and the bashing is pretty sad.

On top of this, their silly forum design allows users to give a thumbs up/down for each post/reply, which relates to Karma, and everyone immediately rates every single one of my posts with a thumbs down.  While I do believe that this is the most ridiculous feature that I have ever seen in a forum, I am extremely glad that they have it.  Why?  On a social site this would create unrest and inevitably causes users to leave, which is the effect it is having on my client and myself.  It has saved my client, and myself, from making a huge mistake that could have cost us thousands of dollars in wasted development time and software licensing.  I would like to thank the Umbraco forum users for showing their true colors.

Lets see how many negative Karma votes this post gets...

On a good note, Telligent is under a lot of pressure to release Graffiti CMS 2.0, which hasn't been worked on since December 2008.  While Telligent had originally decided against releasing it to the open source community, the serious drop of activity in their forums may force them to revisit this.  Scott Watermasysk is supposed to post something very soon about the future of Graffiti as the What is the future of Graffiti? post by Rob Howard (ex-CEO of Telligent) is almost 4 months old now, and nothing has been done.

.NET Tweeks

The latest .NET Tweeks post is now out and is the first of a multi-part series of Tweeks that developers can use in their everyday development of ASP.NET applications.  This week it covers the PageBase idea and how to integrate it with master pages.  Next week will cover an abstract method of accessing the business tier from a static class as opposed to directly accessing the business tier.

.NET Tweeks

SPAM HELL!!!

Over the past few months it appears that a few of the DNSBLs that I had been using, decided to go offline.  Hundreds of SPAM messages were getting through.  Outlook picked up many of them, but it also has a lot of false positives, so I needed to go through each SPAM message to ensure that valid mail wasn't being flagged.  This is a major PITA and completely makes the filtering useless.  So today, I did a search for some new DNSBLs.

I already had bl.spamcop.net, which picks up quite a few, but when I added zen.spamhaus.org (the top rated list), the SPAM STOPPED!  It was like night and day and I'm very happy thus far.  We'll see how well it works over the next few days.  I also added lists for Brazil (BR), China (CN), and Russia (RU) from countries.nerd.dk and country.georbl.info as they are the top 3 SPAM countries that I receive SPAM from.

My mail server logs which DNSBL the incoming connections are listed on, so I'll be monitoring them.  So far, zen.spamhaus.org hasn't let anything pass that the country lists would pickup, so I'm a happy happy camper.  If you've been seeing an increase in SPAM lately, you might want to check these out.

More Posts Next page »