Amazon Cloud Services support Oracle

Interesting to see how Amazon Web Services (AWS) has expanded; in addition to SimpleDB now they support Oracle and mySQL – this certainly ups the ante and will make it more enticing for Enterprises to hop onto this. I have been using S3 for a some time now where my WHS is backing up and have been quite pleased.

It will be interesting to see how Zurich responds with SQL Server. I wish I could say more. Smile

Avoid using “using()”

The using statement in C#, seems to be quite useful especially to a developer as theoretically, you not have to do anything to release any memory you might have used and the CLR automatically frees up this memory for you.

However, over time, I have had so many issues with it and subtle problems (in certain situations) I am starting to avoid it now.

The two best examples that I can think of are database connection pools and WCF connections. You might think that a “using” statement would close the connection and free up the resources when the scope finishes – but it does not. If you are thinking that a “Close()” is called for you automatically, you might be surprised to know that it is not.

For example if you are using a connection pool, over time you will get timeout errors (which are quite difficult to track down if you got some intelligent tool creating your DALs for you). This of course is because the connections are not closed and overtime you end up exhausting your pool. To avoid this you should explicitly call a “close()” method.

Similar story with WCF. If you find that after a few calls (or over some longer period of time), if you start seeing some degradation in performance and your response times taking a long time, then you need to explicitly close the connection as the using statement will not do it for you.

Also, if you are testing your WCF service on XP/Vista you might hit the built-in limit that limits the number of concurrent connections that XP/Vista allow.

Lastly, if you are using WCF, if possible then upgrade to .NET 3.5 as there are a lot of benefits which can get out of the box.

OneNote Screen Clipping

I have been using the Screen Clipping functionality for years in OneNote (if you don’t know what I am talking about then press the Win + S key – of course you need OneNote installed). It always copied it to OneNote, from where I would copy the image and paste it wherever needed. I did not know until today there is an option where you can select it to go to the clipboard as well. Duh! Why did I not think of checking this out sooner – bets me.

Right click on the OneNote tracy icon, select Options => Screen Clipping defaults as shown below.


Does the world end today?

As the Large Hadron Collider is switched on today, the Guardian has a story saying that there are many people calling the CERN to find out if the world ends today? Apparently is completely safe and will not be doing anything that has not happened '100,000 times over' in nature since the earth has existed.

If you see another post here after today, I guess the mini-black holes did not suck in everything! Big Smile

Interesting Find #16

  1. Crime Mapping for London – cool.
  2. EnvMan – easier way of managing environment variables.
  3. Hit Me Later – snooze your email – pretty cool idea; not sure of privacy related issues though.
  4. SimplyNoise – white noise generator which helps you find the comfort Zen and either work (blocking distractions), aid sleep, soothe migraines, etc.
  5. Pushing the limits of Windows – with 2 TB of RAM running on a 64 proc machine – sweet! I wonder what would the size of Minidump will be on that?
  6. Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT) – allows you to capture and analyse traces and state transitions to help improve the performance of Windows. I personally am quite interesting in making my tablet boot faster.
  7. Cuil – new search engine; though Google might be safe (for now). Not sure how it searches but searching for this blog interestingly does pick it up, but also picks up some obscure links such as my Oxford page.
  8. London Free School – hmm … weird! {via Karan}
  9. AutoCollage 2008 – MSR project which helps celebrate important events and themes. Pick a folder, press a button, and in a few minutes this presents you with a unique memento to print or email to your family and friends.
  10. Moonsus – cool laptop bags – is it good enough to make the wife forget the stupid bags? Wink
  11. Full of Kittens – showing off how to use Silverlight and DeepZoom – if you not sure what you are looking at double click on the image and shift-click to zoom out.
  12. Midori – a componentized non-Windows Microsoft OS; quite interesting reading talking about a asynchronous-only architecture that is built for task concurrency and parallel use of local and distributed resources, with a distributed component-based and data-driven application model, and dynamic management of power and other resources.

Chrome? Nah, I’ll pass

You must have heard of Chrome by now – the brand spanking new browser from Google. If you think it was the best thing since sliced bread you need to wake up and smell the fish.

For me the main deal breaker is the EULA they have for Chrome. As per the EULA anything you use to upload, browse, etc using Chrome you are giving Google the right a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services.

This means anything work related I do – something as simple as searching the intranet to something more sensitive as responding to an RFP can be posted or displayed by Google. Needless to say most of us won’t be using this at work. Here is the full Section 11 from the EULA:

11. Content licence from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights that you already hold in Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content, you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content that you submit, post or display on or through the Services. This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organisations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this licence shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above licence.

So whenever Google releases the new-uber-cool hammer, this is what it will look like:

google hammer

Of course, there is a big backlash on this and there is some talk from Google on changing this. I wonder how quickly they forgot their “Don’t do Evil” mantra?

My second beef was when this is installed why is it in some obscure location such as AppData\Local\Global (e.g. on Vista this will be installed at C:\Users\%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application) – what is wrong with something like %SYSTEM%\Google\Chrome? Of course this causes more interesting issues if more than one users use the same computer.

The third issue while is related to installation and is a little different. Why does this bypass the Windows UAC? No matter what the negative press on UAC, it is good and should not be bypassed. Maybe this is some new bug on UAC? (I am speculating at this point mind you, I have not had time to check it out in detail).

Security is the next problem. Apparently there is an automatic file download exploit and a carpet bombing flaw. For example the file download exploit can look something like:

<script> document.write(‘<iframe src=”” frameborder=”0″ width=”0″ height=”0″>’); </script>

On the positive sides, there are some cool features such as the hidden features where you can see some interesting things such as dns details, histograms, network diags, etc. Here is a list of some of the commands available:

  • about:histograms
  • about:dns
  • about:stats
  • about:network
  • about:plugins

Lastly, try typing “evil:%” (without quotes) and see what happens! Smile

Interesting Find #15

  1. Shared View from Microsoft – a fast, easy way to share documents and screen views with small groups anytime, anywhere and works across physical boundaries, through firewalls, and down to the smallest details.
  2. Switcher – gets Expose (from Mac) on Windows very cool! (you need Vista + Aero)
  3. VS.NET 2008 SP1 likely to come later this year adds a lot of new stuff.
  4. SMS things (only if you are in the US)
    • SMS411 – helps you send SMS to phone's on specific carriers in the US.
    • Teleflip – goes a step further and automatically figures out the carrier (also only for the US).
  5. TFS Admin – seems to do a few interesting things if you admin TFS (I have not used it first hand so can't say).
  6. Many Books – offers thoughts of free eBooks in many formats for your PDA, iPod, or eBook reader.
  7. Hadoop – is a framework for running applications on large clusters built of commodity hardware; it is effectively a grid application which under the covers uses a DFS and can supposedly scale up to reliably store and process petabytes.
  8. Invisible Computing – research prototype for making small devices part of the seamless computing world. It consists of compact middleware for constructing embedded web services applications and a small component based Real-Time Operating System with TCP/IP networking to make middleware run straight on the metal on several embedded processors.
  9. Chumby – seems interesting concept – but I get all that on my phone and will it work in the uk?
  10. Delta Copy -  robocopy on steroids; this on copies the sectors that have changed. So if you have a 2 gb PST file – only the new sectors are copied instead of the whole file. Note – there as issues with Vista!
  11. pptPlex – allows you to present PowerPoint using a zoomable canvas instead of slides – quite interesting.

Tried and failed to upgrade to CS 2008

As some of you noticed my blog either looked different for at some point recently or for a while it was not even available and it was all a terrible mess. As you might know I am running this on Community Server 2007 (CS 2007); CS 2008 was released some time back I thought maybe it is about time that I upgrade to that. Now you would think that it should be a painless process – boy how wrong one can be!

After weeks of trying (whenever I could take out time from a very hectic work schedule) I just could not get it to work. Even though the upgrade was “supposedly” successful (as shown by the screen shot below) nothing was working. After some digging it seems the Themes were the main culprit; Telligent has completely re-worked the theme engine from CS 2007 to CS 2008 and in the process anything (including the Default theme in CS 2007) breaks.

I have to admit I am not loving CS anymore. At one point, the idea of running a .NET based blogging service (.dotText if anyone remembers) was a cool idea. The geek in me could customize it to my hearts content. But since the release of CS and the whole commercialisation of it; the product just seems to have gone off on a tangent and more geared to the corporate world and they don’t seem to be interested in individuals like me. Now, don’t get me wrong I am not against commercialisation (hey we all need to pay our bills), I am all for the fact that this this scales up very well and someone like Avanade would probably use this for their “blogging engine” (actually being the geeks that we are, we might end up building one in our spare time). Smile

But for me it now has lost it magic! So, I am interested in knowing what other options are there if any? I would like it to be open source and I would like to host it on my own domain. Any ideas?


CS 2008 Upgrade1




Here is one of the many errors that I was getting:


25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Updating posts for reindexing and search
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Upgrading role icons
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Moved 0 of 1 role icons into centralized storage
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Upgrading rank icons
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Moved 0 of 0 rank icons into centralized storage
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Upgrading user avatars
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Moved 0 of 0 avatars into centralized storage
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — cs_UserAvatar table truncated
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — Upgrading user files
25/07/2008 17:05:13 — EXCEPTION: Could not find a part of the path 'C:\AltooFaltoo\temp\blogbackup\weblog\filestorage'.
   at System.IO.__Error.WinIOError(Int32 errorCode, String maybeFullPath)
   at System.IO.Directory.InternalGetFileDirectoryNames(String path, String userPathOriginal, String searchPattern, Boolean includeFiles, Boolean includeDirs, SearchOption searchOption)
   at System.IO.Directory.GetDirectories(String path, String searchPattern, SearchOption searchOption)
   at System.IO.Directory.GetDirectories(String path)
   at CommunityServer.Upgrader.FileUpgrader.UpgradeUserFiles()
   at CommunityServer.Upgrader.Part4.MoveFilesToCfs()