Thursday, December 08, 2005

WinZip ends free upgrades

I was surprised to learn that the new version 10.0 of WinZip will not be a free upgrade. Apparently they sent emails to their registered users offering a reduced price; I missed it the first time around because they had an old CompuServe address for me, but luckily they were able to find me in their user database. I first registered back around version 6.

If you haven't downloaded a prior version yet AFAIK the 9.x versions are no longer available from their web site.

That being said, I have to wonder about the decision to end the free upgrades. Maybe there were too many people using it but not paying for it? Am I the only one who sent them the $29 to register ;-) On the other hand, how could WinZip afford to continue developing improvements & continue to offer free upgrades? Tough call. And tough competition from Microsoft Windows XP with the built-in compressed folders that are quite usable, if not as full-featured as a stand-alone utility.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Oracle came and went. . .

Wanting to keep my options open, I'm investigating other database products besides my two specialties, Microsoft Access and SQL Server.

So I registered at Oracle and downloaded the Oracle 10g database, technically it was the I unzipped it, and found autorun info -- so I burned it to a CD and then ran the install from there.

The install process was quite uneventful. Other than the fact that it told me it was installing 114 products (!) and that it needed a fixed IP address. I run DHCP on my network, but the install instructions included how to set up a "Microsoft loopback adapter" so that also went well.

However, in the cold light of day, this product is definitely intended to run solo on some serious server hardware -- I was running it on a PC-class Pentium 4 with HT at 2.8 GHz with 1 GB of RAM on Windows XP Pro SP-2 -- the Windows Task Manager shows the database itself consumes 200-250 Megs of memory, java.exe another 45 Megs, and a half-dozen other services; the paging file hovered around 500 Megs with a gig of installed RAM! And this was with the database idle. On this same machine, SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition consumes around 25 Megs in the background, growing to 200-250 Megs under very heavy usage.

Luckily, the Oracle Universal Installer was able to deinstall all of the products without any intervention, after which I removed the loopback adapter; and back to normal paging.

Next -- waiting for SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition, scheduled to arrive around December 19. Just in time for Christmas :-)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Printing from DOS to a shared Windows printer

Microsoft's KB article 314499, How to print to a network printer from an MS-DOS-based program in Windows XP has the whole story. Here are the basics:

Windows computer "A" has a printer connected to LPT1, and is shared as HPLJ.

Windows computer "B" is running a DOS program that prints to the parallel port LPT1.

On computer "B" open a command window (cmd) and use this statement:

net use LPT1 \\ComputerA\HPLJ

...and now computer "B" can print to LPT1 from DOS. Amazing :-o

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Printing from Linux

Today's project was to figure out how to print from my newly-installed Suse Linux 9.2 with the KDE 3.3, to my shared Windows printer. After losing track of all the things I tried that did NOT work, I found everything I needed from here:

...this was actually part II of the article by Drew Robb, but it contained the meat of what had to happen.

As a side note, I have all my networked PC's running DHCP but that may need to change - setting up the Samba Server & Client on the Linux side required a hard IP address to the Windows share, so I just ran ipconfig /all to get the current address of the Windows PC, which happened to be which on my network means that it was the first that powered up and it received the .100 address. But of course that needs to be revisited in the future. In a future blog, I'll cover the installation of Oracle 10g on Windows XP Pro which by coincidence also needed a hard IP address.

Now that we're printing, it is time to get down to business. The next task on the Linux list is to download and install MySQL.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fun with Linux

I have an old PC that I refer to as "the beast" that's been my test-bed for new and beta software. It's a CTX brand from the dark days when Windows 98 ruled the desktop.

I re-formatted the disk, installed Windows 2000, added a 2nd disk, a NIC, more memory, swapped the CD for a DVD in order to install Visual Studio .NET 2002. Oh, and replaced the power supply I blew out in the process...

After a while, I realized that the only time I would power it up would be to get the weekly Windows Update patches, so it needed to be re-purposed. I had attempted to install the SQL Server 2005 CTP but it just didn't have the CPU power.

Enter Suse Linux 9.2

I was very impressed with the installation. I accepted most of the defaults. I liked the way it showed enough details about what it was doing. The YaST installer recognized all of my hardware, including a UPS connected via USB, and a legacy sound card. It configured the NIC, got a DHCP IP address from the router, and connected to the Internet. The only uncomfortable spot was when I went online for updates - which took almost as long as the original install.

My next task is to connect to a shared printer on my Windows workgroup...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Classic VB versus VB.NET

There has been a lot of discussion in the developer community lately about the fact that Microsoft abandoned so-called Classic VB (Visual Basic 6.0 and its predecessors) in favor of the .NET version. In fact, even the Microsoft MVP's are divided on the subject.

One group thinks that Classic VB should be re-introduced into the Visual Studio .NET IDE; another says that the architectures are too different. Plus, managed code is the new paradigm; the non-managed VB6 world is being left behind.

However, Classic VB still lives on in the form of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) which lurks behind every Microsoft Office application. In fact, MS has even licensed VBA to other software companies.

I've worked with Visual Studio .NET since the betas of the 2002 version, and C# made much more sense to me than VB.NET. I had worked with C and JavaScript before, so I was accustomed to the language elements, semicolons and curly braces; the object orientation took longer to understand, but once I "got it" then things started happening for me.

On the other hand, VB.NET is so utterly different from Classic VB that it looks and feels like a new language. The original concept of what "BASIC" stands for - the Beginner's All-Symbolic Instruction Code - is lost forever.