Stop SOPA NOW

by fwhagen Wed, 18 January 2012

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The most dangerous threat to the 1st Amendment being pushed by RIAA/MPAA through massive contributions on the order of $94Million. Much of the Internet community is protesting. Not that I am a big player at all, but I AM TOO!

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Use Multiple Versions of Visual Studio and Want Pinned Solutions?

by fwhagen Fri, 13 January 2012

I need to have VS2005 and VS2008 installed for support of one of my clients, and of course I use VS2010 for my own development.  And I love the pinned list of solutions that VS10 offers.   In the past, I used a folder Toolbar in the Taskbar for listing solutions for easy access, but that was a maintenance task. 

TaskbarPinIn Windows 7, you can pin the Visual Studio Version Selector to the taskbar and pin items from Recent to Pinned (or do it manually as any other Win 7 file can be).  This has enhanced my productivity for the client without cluttering my taskbar or desktop at all.  Windows 7 continues to be the most useful environment I’ve ever use. 

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Filed Under: Programming | System | Work

Fixing Open Transaction Blocks in SQL 2005

by fwhagen Wed, 13 July 2011

Sometimes, when developing in SQL, a transaction will be left open.  Performance will fall through the floor, which can sometimes be the first sign that it happened.  If you cannot close the transaction properly, the following command will show the oldest, and probably orphaned, on the server:

DBCC OPENTRAN

The transaction can easily be termed by issuing a kill on the PID:

KILL 52

That should do it. 

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Filed Under: Programming | SQL

Book Review: Freehold - Michael Z. Williamson (2004)

by fwhagen Mon, 21 December 2009

Well, I am not afraid to admit that the only reason I picked up this book was because it was a free ebook on Baen’s website.  I think.  It was a long time ago.  I read a recommendation of it somewhere, probably on John Scalzi’s Whatever weblog site, and decided I had nothing to lose.  Besides, I was looking for a well-formatted ebook to try out on my PDA using MobiReader.

Freehold is old-school Science Fiction in the vein of Heinlein and Drake.  It follows the desperate escape from Earth of Sergeant Kendra Pacelli of the UN Military after being framed in an embezzlement scheme.  She finds herself on Freehold after seeking asylum at their Earth-side embassy and is overwhelmed by extreme culture shock.  What seems to me to be the ultimate Libertarian Utopia, is a unrestricted nightmare for someone who grew up in the authoritarian, politically correct, dystopian future that the modern world seems to be trending toward.  We get to follow her adjustment to a personally responsible, high-technology life on a world devoted to the freedom of the individual. 

It is difficult to preview this book without giving much away, so I won’t go into it much.  While it seems that it could be rather proselytizing, it really is able to keep it down to a minimum.  As I am a big fan of smaller government, the concept of Freehold, an individuals’ liberty and government minimization greatly appealed to me, and was essential to the storyline, but only was used that far and not to bludgeon the reader with political badgering.  The only major problem I had with the book was its length.  Because it was so long, it took awhile for anything to really get going.  I read this on my PDA, but read something on the order of 10 other books in the meantime, going back over a year.  Not that it was boring, but just a bit slow in the beginning.  But not to worry, it really picks up at the end and I ended up with a few really late nights to finish it.  A good read made great by its availability, and it served it’s purpose:  I will pick up more from this author in the future.

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Filed Under: Books

XP Mode and MS VPN Problems

by fwhagen Thu, 12 November 2009

Windows 7 XP Mode is probably the best feature added to Windows in a long time.  I won’t go into how awesome here, but this is the compatibility measure Microsoft should have pursued years ago.  That said, the main use I have for it is to VPN into my office network. 

The client site I am working at is using normal MS VPN connections which are easy to setup and use.  Their parent company, however, insists on the Cisco VPN client, which I am loathe to install on my clean Win7 installation.  So I have both setup in XP Mode and can use them interchangeably. 

Getting the initial setup was a little tricky:  First you must shutdown the VirtualPC then switch the network setting from “Shared Network (NAT)” to a named network card.  The funny thing is, the only symptom is the connection is made but times out on authentication.  weird.

However, I ran into a problem where I could no longer get the built in Windows VPN client to connect.  It couldn’t find the address.  Then browsing stopped working, even the Cisco VPN client failed.  After 2 re-installs (of XP Mode) I finally found a post that recommends removing the Virtual PC Network Filter Driver from the NIC, rebooting and re-installing.  Like magic, everything works.  Evidently a patch to XP Mode or Virtualization knocked it out.  (I did start with the RC of XP Mode 64-bit, maybe the reason…)  The blog was the Virtual PC Guy but the instructions were for XP and Vista, not 7.  The 7 instructions are below:

1.  Click on the network icon in the tray and Open Network and Sharing Center (or from the Start menu)
2.  Click on the active connection (Mine is Local Area Connection 2)
3.  In the Properties dialog, highlight the Virtual PC Network Filter Driver and Uninstall  (I deselected IPv6 while I was there; it’s not needed yet)
4.  Click OKs back to desktop and Reboot (evidently a critical step)
5.  repeat 1 & 2 and click Install in the Properties dialog
6.  Select Service and Add; the Virtual PC Network Filter Driver should still be there, select it and click OKs out to the desktop.

Fire up XPMode VPC and you should be good to go.  I was.

UPDATE:  I am still having this problem.  I have found a reboot is usually enough to reset it, but I am still looking for a way to reset just the VPN driver without a reboot.  I've found nothing, yet....

UPDATE 2:  Microsoft seems to have issued a Windows7 x64 hotfix for this issue quietly.  I am no longer having this problem, unless the system goes to sleep mode while VPC is running.  Then it's a reboot of the physical host to reset.

UPDATE 3: Turns out, a simple disable/enable cycle on the NIC is all that is needed. Still annoying enough that I have switched completely to the free VMWare client for work-related VPN sessions.

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Filed Under: System

Windows Sidebar on XP

by fwhagen Thu, 15 October 2009

 

Dashboard-40 One of my favorite features in Vista is the Sidebar.  I have been using precursors of it since Windows 3.11.  Anyone remember HP’s Dashboard?  I bought and used that app every day on every system I used until Windows 98.  Since then, I’ve used Konfabulator, Stardock’s DesktopX and many others.  When Microsoft came out with Vista’s sidebar, it quickly became one of my favorite features.  In fact, it remains my sole disappointment with 7 so far; it just doesn’t work quite as well.

At work, I am forced to use a 32-bit XP system.  I miss many of the sidebar elements while working.  CPU, memory and network metering are part of my dev cycle.  And there are decent enough widgets that come close.  Clocks, calendars and other items are very useful.  But the sidebar wasn’t portable to XP.

Until, that is, I found a patched/hacked version on DeviantART that seems to work very well.  Called simply Windows Sidebar, Real One, Pack, it comes bundled with the Alky for Windows library that allows it to run within XP (you don’t need to supply a Vista key when it asks, by the way).  So with a couple of useful gadgets, especially the ones from Orb2k, I can have all of my monitoring loaded in one extensible process.  Very nice, and thanks to ~joshoon of DeviantART.com.

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Filed Under: System

Windows 7 + x64 + 8GB RAM + VS08 = AWESOME

by fwhagen Thu, 15 October 2009

Windows_7_Logo Well I finally bought 8GB DDR2 for The Beast.  Before I installed it, however, I went ahead and installed Windows 7, in 64-bit mode, of course.  While I was a fan of Vista, I am very impressed with 7, though I still feel it to be a better chromed version of Vista.  But the 8 gigs is awesome!  NO more memory issues, pagefile thrashing, or even a need for ReadyBoost.  And I haven’t run into a limit of Visual Studios open at one time.  Now I can finish my micro netcast receiver project….  (Ok, I probably didn’t need 8G for that.)

And the frosting?  XP Mode.  My client site has switched to Cisco VPN from whatever they were using that was MS compatible.  I hate the Cisco VPN client.  And of course, it won’t work on a 64-bit OS.  So I downloaded the RC version of XP Mode, fired it right up, installed the VPN and was connected to their network in under 5 minutes.  I’m gonna love that feature!

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Filed Under: System

Simple C# Command-Line Compiles

by fwhagen Tue, 29 September 2009

In the category of “So I don’t forget again”, here is how to compile a simple code.cs file to a console executable:

csc /t:exe NetDir.cs

Very simple, very easy.  To make it a Windows exe (console app with no console window, very useful for scheduled or batch processing), change the target (/t == /target) to winexe.

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Filed Under: .NET

Book Review: Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank (1959)

by fwhagen Fri, 25 September 2009

Ok, last review was a little over the top.  I should have called it:  The 21st Century's Alas, Babylon.  This book is credited as inspiration to One Second After and with good reason.  Having never read it, I thought it was time.

"The Day" is the one when the bombs fall.  Although we meet our hero Randy Bragg, native of Central Florida (just north of Orlando), and his brother Mark, who serves in Intelligence for SAC, a few weeks before.  Mark warns Randy of an impending attack and sends his wife and kids to stay with him to weather the threat, giving them all some time to prepare.  The threat is realized when the morning skies are lit up in the direction of Tampa, then less so from Daytona and Miami.  And all doubt is erased when the nuclear strike on Orlando itself and the resulting mushroom cloud is unmistakable.  The rest of the book is the story of a small community fighting for survival in the Florida "Contaminated Zone".

Set in the late '50s, it has an interesting perspective for me, knowing Orlando 30 years later.  The references to McCoy Air Force Base (now Orlando International Airport), Pinecastle and the St. John's River are enjoyable and interesting landmarks.  This is also a well thought out and written book, although not as grim as One Second After, and the characters seemed a bit flat to me as well.  Both these comments, though, are to be expected for a book written 50 years ago.  I found some details, such as the abundance of food, and the town rallying behind the leadership of a man all felt previously to be a amusing playboy, to be disappointing.  But it was a very enjoyable read and was significant for its times, if not so much today.

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Filed Under: Books

Book Review: One Second After - William R. Forstchen (2009)

by fwhagen Thu, 24 September 2009

And now, the book heralded across the Internet as a must read.  One that eclipses most other novels, and tainted my perception of previous reads (Sorry J.F.Lewis).  It was referenced by Techo-geeks, Military writers and SciFi fans.  How could I not read it?  I ended up getting a copy from the local library and consumed it in little over a week.

One Second After actually starts a couple days before.  Then suddenly, the power goes out, most cars stop, and all electronics go dead. And nobody knows why.  Retired USArmy Colonel John Matherson has a pretty good suspicion having to do with high-altitude EMP burst attacks over the United States, but with no communications with anyone in earshot, who can tell?  What follows is a chillingly realistic look at how devastating the total disruption of electricity would be to our country.  The entire novel is set around the people in a small North Carolina community struggling to survive in conditions 100 years gone.

This is one of the most disturbing book I have ever read.  At the same time, it was very well written and executed.  I felt for the characters, identified with them, feared for them.  I will be buying this book for myself later, it was so good.  I have recommended it to everyone into technology and anyone who feels "safe" from foreign threats.  This is "Red Dawn" of the 21st Century.

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Filed Under: Books

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