Thursday, August 31, 2006

The World of Oracle

If you've been following this blog, you know that I had previously tested the Oracle developer edition product. I had only given it a cursory examination, since running it on a PC-class computer (not a server) was using a huge amount of resources (that I wasn't willing to part with for some basic familiarity testing).

Still wanting to keep my options open, I recently subscribed to Oracle Magazine. The first issue brought me a fresh viewpoint - the Oracle paradigm is more focused on results and business processes, as opposed to the MS obsession with "you can do this, and you can do this..." technical nitty-gritty.

The emphasis on security in the world of Oracle is also dramatically different from the SQL Server approach. These developers are definitely serious about keeping data safe and intact. Nowadays you can't be too careful.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Internet Explorer 6 Window Title

The title of the IE window, by default, looks something like this:

Google - Microsoft Internet Explorer

MS KB article 176497 describes how to change the window title by adding an entry to the registry. For example, you can create the following .reg file and right-click to add to the registry:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]

"Window Title"="wvmitchell"

Caution - editing the registry can result in a non-working system!

The result will be that the new window title will look like this:

Google - wvmitchell

. . .note that there is a minor error in the KB article - it states that the new title will be:

Page title - Microsoft Internet Explorer provided by Custom title

Friday, August 25, 2006

No means No

What's wrong with this picture?

"You have been unsubscribed from our newsletters and you will receive confirmation by email soon."

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Never-Ending Update

This weekend (which spilled over to Monday) I continued to extend the usefulness of my "personal" PC. As reported previously, loading Windows 2000 in a dual-boot configuration gave this machine a new lease on life. . .

Wanting to install my copy of Visual Studio .NET 2002 Professional, I needed additional hard drive space so I shopped online & purchased a Western Digital 80 GB EIDE drive from Circuit City for $65 including tax. That was the smallest desktop drive I found in-stock. Unfortunately my BIOS did not recognize the drive (exceeding the so-called 32 GB boundary), so I rummaged thru my shelf-ware and found an 8 GB Maxtor drive that I had removed from "the beast" PC and installed it as the master on the secondary IDE channel (with CD as slave) and that became my E: drive. So far so good.

I should point out that this machine already had the .NET Framework 1.1 installed, which I needed to run the vncviewer utility for remote access to my Linux machine; but the VS component installer gave me a fresh copy of Framework 1.0 thank you very much.

Installed VS .NET - which apparently un-did something in the machine, so Windows Update said hey - you need the Windows 2000 SP4 rollup and an MDAC update. Fine.

Rebooting after that update, Windows Update said hey - you need VS .NET Service Pack 1. OK, fine. But guess what - Windows Update said hey - you need the Windows 2000 SP4 rollup and an MDAC update (am I repeating myself?).

Instead of using MSDE, I wanted to install SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition and after I did - Windows Update said hey - you need the Windows 2000 SP4 rollup and an MDAC update (yes, I am repeating myself).

Knowing the importance of SQL Server 2000 SP3, I loaded that from CD and then - you guessed it - Windows Update said hey - you need the Windows 2000 SP4 rollup and an MDAC update.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dumb Web Sites

HTML was originally supposed to be a universal language (just like XML, but don't get me started). But now that there are so many platform-specific extensions, quite a few Web sites just plain don't work (or furnish bad advice).

This morning I'm using Firefox running under Ubuntu Linux 6.06, and my attempt to view some videos at KPNX-TV's site ended abruptly when it told me that I don't have either Real Player or Windows Media Player installed, and it offered links so I could "change my preference" and install one or the other. Not a good idea ;-) . . . I have a perfectly fine video player in Totem, but that wasn't an option.

The CBS-TV site requires Flash to be installed, not a big deal really; but what about the zillions of people around the world that are still on dial-up? A few local homebuilders have sites that open with Flash, but do not offer a non-flash alternative. What's wrong with this picture?

Companies can get caught up in the latest and greatest technology, but then unknowingly limit their viewership with dumb choices. Maybe it is only the non-technology companies who make these kinds of mistakes - take note of Microsoft's sites, for example - the much-ballyhooed .NET platform works on just about any system. Isn't that something.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Office 2007: Get Serious

There has been a lot of hype describing the upcoming MS-Office 2007 as a "serious development platform" and it gets pretty tiring after a while. A quick visit to the Office 2007 pages yields numerous articles about how great the new system will be.

Quoting from the MSDN Windows Vista and Microsoft Office Beta Experience Newsletter No.5,

"Office has evolved from a traditional suite of client-side applications to a framework of applications, server-side solutions, and technologies that allow you to design and build applications."

. . . is that what users really want? I think not.

Even developer-centric publications like Redmond Magazine and MCP Magazine have recently published comments from readers that many shops are still on pre-2003 versions of Office, and a few of the "dinosaurs" are still on Office 97.

When the time comes, I will of course get into lockstep with the Microsoft Office machine, since developing and supporting Microsoft applications is my core business.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ubuntu Linux 6.06

Continuing my explorations of Ubuntu Linux, so far the look and feel is very comfortable using the GNOME desktop; much more so than Suse 9.2 which used KDE. Furthermore, it just feels like a smaller OS - running on the old AMD K6/2 at 400 MHz with 384 Meg RAM and 30 G HD - less cluttered, more responsive.

Let us not forget that, open-source or not, Linux is still a big OS, no doubt about it - but it seems that the difference between Linux and Windows is that Linux will actually run with slower CPU and smaller memory, unlike Windows which can wind up in a forever swap-to-disk loop. But I digress. . .

Setting up the connections to shared Windows printers on the network took almost no effort, simply reading & clicking the menus. Suse made me deal with Samba to hook to a printer.

Next - remote control of Linux from Windows. A quick Google search revealed plenty of options, and I selected the .NET VNC Viewer which is basically one EXE that you don't have to install, just run it as-is. It has options to save the connect info as a .vncxml file, so I just set Windows to "Open With" the vncviewer and set the icon to be the same as the normal Windows Remote Desktop (I found the icon in C:\WINDOWS\system32\mstsc.exe).

The vncviewer requires the .NET Framework 1.1 to be installed, so it worked right away on Win XP Pro SP2 but for Win 2000 SP4, I installed the Framework by visiting Windows Update and selecting from the "optional" updates. And what do you know, it works the same.

In the future, I still want to 1) be able to run a DOS program and 2) be able to serve files to my Windows PC's. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Patch Wednesday

My trial version of Windows 2003 Server is coming to its end. How do I know? because every time I power it up and log on, Windows tells me that I have xx days remaining, please "upgrade to the retail product". Even though I also installed the trial version of R2 which supposedly expires in December. Oh well. Easy come, easy go...

I attempted to re-load Windows 98, which is what my test machine came with. I lost the 25-character key, but a quick visit to the 'Net revealed dozens of keys, the first of which worked. Amazingly insecure security. But Windows did not recognize lots of stuff, most importantly the NIC which is an ordinary Linksys PCI card, and kept asking for this VXD and that DLL, so I pulled the plug.

Since this disk was formatted by Win98 to FAT32, I ran my GPartEd partition editor to erase the disk in preparation for Linux.

Once again, enter Linux; this time Ubuntu Linux 5.04 which I had downloaded & burned to a CD. This was a "live CD" which means you can boot from it to try it out, then install to the hard disk if you so desire. ("oo-bun'-too")

I decided to hit and get a copy of the latest file, the current one was version 6.06 and came out within the past week. After burning the 700 Meg ISO image to a CD, I launched and then installed Ubuntu 6.06 to the hard drive.

When the install was finished, I rebooted and a little message said that there were updates available - surprising since my download was date-stamped Aug 5 and this was only the 9th. Turns out there were 161 (one hundred sixty-one) updates available. Wow. Even MS doesn't turn out that many updates (at least, not all at once).

My bottom-line objective here is to set up a file server using Linux. The Windows Server 2003 was nice to have as a central file storage vehicle, but hard to justify the cost. OTOH the cost of Linux is the download & install time.