Friday, December 15, 2006

My Evil Fishing Scheme

In the spirit of my last post, I have decided I am going to set up an automated stupid-recruiter fishing scheme. I need some help tho. Here is the plan:
  1. Create a resume that has unreal qualifications. Something like "3 years experience deploying Windows Vista in production environments". You get the point. This is where help is requested, I need some good but not too retarded qualifications of this nature.
  2. Create a gmail account that will be the contact email on the resume.
  3. Create a blog dedicated to this project. Enable email blogging.
  4. Set up forwarding from the gmail address to the blog email address.
  5. Place resume on Monster and other job sites.
  6. Optional: Put an auto responder on the gmail address such that it sends a nice message with a blog link back to the recruiter.
  7. Watch the blog, point and laugh.

Put the suggestions in the comments for this post (or email me) and stay tuned for the link to the blog.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stupidity makes me laugh

I receive a number of contract notifications throughout a normal week due to all the websites and agencies that I have sent my resume to. Sometimes they are legit and I would consider them if I was available. Sometimes they are outright retarded. I got one today that had the following requirement:

Description: 1. At least 3 to 4 years experience in Biztalk 2005

Do the math. I swear I am not making this up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Could this be an evil strategy?

Reading slashdot today I saw that there is a new attack on Microsoft Word. The quote was:

"Simply opening a word document will launch the exploit. There are no pre-patch workarounds or anti-virus signatures available. Microsoft suggests that users 'not open or save Word files,' even from trusted sources."

Ok, attacks happen and this is nothing to blog about. What was interesting however was that this attack has no fix and that it effects every version of word except the brand new one. I wonder, will MS be inclined to provide fixes for something like this? Is this sort of attack not the perfect catalyst for user adoption of the new Office 2007 suite?

After that idea crossed my mind, I had a more sinister thought. I wonder if any software companies are using the following strategy:

1. Release version X of your product
3. Release version X+1
4. If X+1 is not being adopted fast enough, secretly release a virus/attack/worm that makes version X of your product less usable while ensuring that X+1 is not effected.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Virtual Currency and its Importance in the Real World

My friend and fellow blogger Mr. Locoweed has a post about the taxation of virtual currency. Lately I have been giving virtual currency some thought and his post drove me to put my thoughts down.

Virtual currency such as World of Warcraft Gold or Linden Dollars from Second Life was created to enable trade in its respective virtual world. Each virtual currency was irrelevant to the outside world until the moment that players started to trade it outside of the system. At that instance, the virtual currency was valuated against some real currency and an exchange rate was set.

Today there are exchange rates being kept for most of these currencies, and some such as the Linden Dollar even have dedicates exchanges running online. The volume on one such exchange reached in excess of USD 100,000 for certain days in December. While that's not monumental, it is certainly significant.

What are people buying when they buy a virtual currency? This is the scary part. When you buy Linden Dollars, you are essentially giving your money to Linden Labs and buying a currency that is not backed by any bank, it is not backed by any tangible assets, and in essence it is not much different than monopoly money. If Linden Labs went under tomorrow, I suspect all those Linden Dollars would be worthless. And yet it doesn't feel like that. It feels like there is some real value there.

I think it will help to think of Linden Labs as an independent country that has a certain currency, and the stability of that currency depends on the government of that country. This means that Linden Labs has in essence created an economy governed by a corporation.

If Linden Dollars are starting to look and act like real money, what can you do with them and what's coming? As Mr Locoweed mentioned, governments are seeing the value being created in these virtual environments as their real currencies are being sold for virtual ones. They are afraid that people are going to be spending (and making) more and more of their disposable income in these environments and they are afraid of losing their slice. After all, there are many things that people already buy online - so why not move it into the virtual world where you can buy it tax free. An mp3 store would work just fine. Thus taxation is an issue that has recently started getting some attention. It will be interesting to see the various schemes tried by various governments, and the reactions from users. I can imagine people who make their living in Second Life moving to countries with better taxation laws. As long as they have an internet connection those people will be able to live anywhere. This is not some far away future by the way. There has already been a USD millionaire from earnings in Second Life.

Another thing that I believe will become much more prominent in the near future will be banking in the virtual worlds. There are already banks in World of Warcraft and Second Life, but these don't offer financial services as we think of them. There is some lending in Second Life but it is at a very high interest rate and from a 'Bank' that is not controlled in any sense. It has been described as banking in the wild west. Wells Fargo has already made a venture into Second Life, although only to promote their brand and educate their customers. I think it will not be long before a bank from the real world decides it is worth their while to set up shop in Second Life. Real estate is a big deal in Second Life and it would only seem natural that real banks realize there is a money lending market in the virtual world. It will be interesting to see what position Linden Labs takes in this since they are essentially the central bank of that virtual world.

As with any new financial instrument, there will be opportunities for criminal activities of all sorts. Surely there will be plenty of scams , cons and other conventional crimes happening within these virtual worlds. This is not what I am talking about however. Since the Linden Dollar is something that one can buy and sell with real currency, it offers a means to transfer value from the real world to the virtual world and back. Money launderers will surely be some of the first to exploit this system. Moving money from one country to another via banks leaves a paper trail. A money Launderer can use Second Life as a tunnel to send money anywhere they choose. Sometimes it is very difficult to send money via the banking system. Think of 'terror harboring countries' moving money to the US. Again, Second life can potentially be used to tunnel money around such a barrier. Bribes are another thing that can be done nicely using virtual currencies.

I expect that I have not even scratched the surface of how virtual worlds and their economies will influence our lives in the next few years. I wonder how long before I am working for a virtual client.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Power of the (IT) people

Related to my last post, I wanted to explore the power that IT people wield over society today. There has been a dramatic power shift over the last few decades and no one seems to have noticed or care. What am I talking about? Think of what is run by computers these days. Everything from our financial to health to transportation systems has a vital dependence on some sort of computer system. Now ask yourself who holds the power over that system. Legally it is the management of whatever company we look at, but practially it is the IT folks.
Now why do I bring this up? Consider the consequence of an IT strike or even more unlikely an IT coup. If the geeks wanted, we can just turn off a significant portion of civilization. Now I don't expect anytjing like this to happen, but it's something to think about.

IT Culture and Politics

A friend and I were discussing politics over a few pints last night, and a few neat ideas came out of that discussion. At one point we were talking about the many positive aspects of IT culture, and how it's a shame that the world of politics is not somewhat similar. Here are some of those:

* Most IT people get a kick out of achievement. There is an obvious necessity for financial reward, but there is a financial comfort level above which there are other more powerful incentives driving the IT folks. Creating something new, something better often carries an intrinsic reward that outweighs financial rewards. This is rarely seen in politics where greed seems to have no limit.

* Skills are by far the number one factor on which IT people judge one another. No-one cares what sexual orientation an IT guy is, whether he smoked dope in university (or last weekend) or the fact that he passed out under the table at the last company Christmas party. Some of these may generate some good 'point-n-laugh' material but don't influence how that person is viewed professionally. That's cause who you sleep with generally has little effect on your code. It's irrelevant. We all remember the fiasco Clinton went through when he had some oval office Oh-face fun. I think his wife should have given him shit and that's that. It had nothing to do with how well he could do his job. Sadly it's just the thing that the political system loves to judge individuals by.

* It's very rare that an individual IT person takes the heat for a mistake. There is a general understanding that mistakes just as successes are owned by the entire team. Everyone makes mistakes. The idea is that other team members catch them and fix them asap. Politicians don't seem to be able to do this too well. It's more common to finger point and scream about how someone screwed up. Shut up and fix it.

* Good ideas are accepted regardless of who came up with them. At least in the IT world. Even companies who are rivals will copy good ideas from one another. It's very rare in the world of politics to see two rivals discuss something, and to hear one of them say "You know, that's a really good idea. I have to put that in my policies."

I'm sure there are many reasons for this, but one that we found interesting is that a large number of politicians are ex-lawyers. Anyone trust lawyers?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cool project

Digg had a story about a cool project that I want to spread the word about. It's called Local Cooling
and while the app doesn't do anything you can't already do, it makes it easier. It lets you set some power saving settings very easily and you get to see how much power you save. Small steps for a big result. Spread the word.

Freedom 2.0

We all know that the whole 'freedom' thing in the US is a farce, but I was shocked to read this today. It really makes me wonder what's next. I am glad I left that police state. Now I can just point and laugh.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Global Warming, Rain Dances and the Hippie Mafia

After a brief discussion with my brother I have come to quite a realization. I think it's important to share this with the world so here goes:

1. Greenpeace and all the tree-huggers have been getting increasingly frustrated with their lack of success.

2. Many scientists are green friendly and have ties with the above mentioned tree hugger groups (THGs).

3. Science has been moving at a rapid pace lately with new developments springing up 'overnight'.

4. Combining 1,2 and 3 it's not a far stretch to realize that the THGs have realized there are scientific advancements they can use for their cause.

5. THGs have many members who currently are, or have been at one point flower loving, dancing hippies. Note the dancing.

6. Rain dances have been used for centuries to affect the weather, but like any other unrefined technology they have not been very successful.

7. Combining 4,5 and 6 it is evident that there is a good chance the THGs have used the science available to them to perfect the rain-dancing technology.

8. The last few years have seen devastating weather conditions all over the world including tsunami's, landslides and of course hurricanes.

9. These devastating weather effects have been blamed on Global Warming which is controversial issue that no one can prove.

Conclusion: Combining 7, 8 and 9 it is clear that Global Warming is just a cover the THG mafia has been spinning for years while they perfected the rain dancing technology. Last year they nearly struck a deadly blow by wiping Texas off the map but suffered a glitch and sent Katrina to Louisiana instead. They will not make this mistake again..... We must act now and fight the THGs.

Q.E.D.

I was watching Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" the other day and it got me thinking about Global Warming and the way we treat our planet. He makes a good point and I have trouble believing he is bullshitting. For those who need an alternate explanation however, I was kind to provide the above proof.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Countdown

I figured it was time for an update of the old blog. The last few months have been quite uneventful. I've been working on a BizTalk project in the Hague which has kept me pretty busy. I've got three weeks to go before the contract is over. I'm counting the days cause I've decided to take a bit of a break durring the winter. Last year I spent quite some time at my parents' cottage in the czech rep. and I want to do the same this year. I don't want another contract until march. I made good money this year and one of the reasons I went freelance is so I can take more time off. This means I'm getting the old snowboard ready for a busy season.
One other reason I want to take some time off is to do some thinking and planning. A friend put it really well recently: "it's really hard to figure out how not to work 9 to 5 when you have to work 9 to 5". I really want to try hiring someone next year and I want to go over the math in detail. I've also got a few pet projects I'd like to spend a bit of time on.
So for now I count the days and look forward to a good winter.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Got my BlackBerry, broke it....

So I got my new BlackBerry last week and I've managed to break it already. I think it should be fixable, but I'll probably have to deal with vodafone again. I thought it would be cool to be able to use Google Maps Mobile on my device and since I was getting some weird error, I decided to follow the advice of the GMM FAQ. This said to delete a certain service book entry (IPPP fopr Click 5) and things would work OK. Seemed a bit strange but Google usually has their shit together so to speak. Well I deleted the service book in question but not without doing a backup first.

After doing the delete, my device seemed to work just as well as before but still was receiving errors when trying to run GMM. So no change that I could tell, except that the icon for the shortcut to the web page where I can configure BIS had disappeared from my device and was replaced with the enterprise activation icon. I didn't like that since I don't need the ent. activation icon and I the other one is kind of useful. So why not restore the backup I had so wisely made?

After I restored the backup, my device was royally F-ed. I couldn't send email and receiving email was shaky. I then logged into the web interface for BIS and sent myself a new service book which has restored my email functionality. I am now without a browser and am not sure how to get one back. I also remember having many more service books before than I do now. I wish I knew what the hell a service book was.....

I guess the lesson learned here is that I should not mess with stuff I don't understand. Then again, what better way to learn?

Update: I've got my browser back - some further reading online revealed that I had to register my device again.

All seems to be working for now but I am still somewhat disappointed that I can't get GMM to work. It appears that there is no TCP support for the 8707v device that I have, and without it GMM doesn't want to work. On the upside I'll save some $$ on my data plan, but it sucks that I can't play with the cool new stuff just cause RIM decided to scrap a feature.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

When am I?

"Is it Tuesday or Wednesday?" - This is a common theme in the office today. We've been releasing / replacing a whole whackload (that's the official term) of new systems and that means a lot of pressure, a lot of stress and long hours. I'm on day 10 and counting of working long hours and I am one of the lucky ones. There are guys here that have called October 'Groundhog day' since they've been working straight all month. My team is in very good shape and so we are mainly monitoring our solution and doing a small bug fix here and there. Its nice to be ahead for once. Today we did some real production runs and things look good. I'm hoping that life is back to normal soon, but for now it's one of those days. Even in Europe we work hard from time to time.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I wish I could buy a BlackBerry (ie Vodafone NL sucks)

I have been trying to buy a BlackBerry from Vodafone Netherlands for two weeks now, and I can't seem to pull it off. I initially placed my order online and that was a mistake. The website crashed when I submitted the order, and I've been calling customer service since trying to figure out what is going on. I've been promised everything from callbacks to an actual courier delivering the thing, but I've seen or heard diddly squat. I really wanted to go with Vodafone because of the romaing deal they have with other Vodafone carriers worldwide but I'm on the verge of giving up. I mean, how hard should buying a BlackBerry be?

I have to say that Vodafone customer service has been noting but awful, taking two days to answer emails and playing some of the most impressive pass-the-buck games when I have them on the phone. It seems that they are one of those departments that works really hard at getting nothing done. It's sad to see since the phone service Vodafone provides is actually quite good. Signing up is the problem.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Biztalk 2006 and Visual Studio 2005 disappointment

I've been working with BizTalk 2006 and Visual Studio 2005 daily for the last few months and have to say I am severely disappointed. The UI crashes at least a few times a day, and there are a number of gotchyas that can really steal a LOT of time from you.

One such gotchya is related to the BizTalk mapper. It seems that if you add any type of project to your solution that is not a BizTalk type, you run the risk of breaking your mapper. Not that VS tells you this. You get a cryptic message saying 'Failed to load source schema'. Luckily there is a newsgroup thread somewhere out there that has some relevant discussion on this.

If you are building a BizTalk solution, I recommend you keep all your other types of projects (Database, C#, Reports, etc) in another solution.

I'm hoping that the Visual Studio service pack will solve some of these issues, but only time will tell.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Long Weekends

I learned something new today. I though to myself - It's been a long time since I've had a long weekend. I wonder when the next one will be? So I did some searching and found out that the Netherlands have 3, maybe 4 long weekends per year. That sort of sucks to be honest. I remember Canadians being upset when we had one of those months without a long weekend. (There are two if I remember correctly.)
I know we get far more vacation in Holland so I can't really complain. There is however a difference between taking a day off and having a day off along with everyone else. Think about it - can you have a may two-four without the official day off?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back from Canada

It's been a while since my last post. I came back from a relaxing 2 week trip to Canada on Monday and have been struggling with jetlag plus having to go to work this week. My trip consisted of seeing a good friend get married, hanging out with folks I haven't seen in a year and going fishing. There are some folks I didn't get to see which is a pity, but I guess that happens. Maybe next time.

Some things I realized while in Canada:
* Beer is really cheap in Holland. Or perhaps it is really expensive in Ontario.
* Canadians don't know how to drive on highways. Everyone thinks they belong in the fast lane.
* I miss Canadian nature. Even southern Ontario has so much to offer in this respect.
* My friends are quickly settling down and I'm quite sure I'm not ready yet. I had a few great evenings with friends reminiscing about some of our adventures, and I still look forward to new adventures in the future.
* The dutch climate will eventually drive me nuts (or out of Holland).
* I miss the freedom of having a car (note that's not the same as the costs and responsibilities).
* My life would be a lot more enjoyable if a method of transport were invented that cut the trip between Toronto and Amsterdam down to an hour or two. I'd like to spend more time out there.
* Waterloo as I remeber it is no longer. This includes the city but mainly the people.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Toronto and KW in less than 2 weeks

A quick reminder that I'll be in the Toronto / KW area from September 1st to 18th. Although I posted this a long time ago, people keep asking me so here it is again. Email me your phone nr and I'll do my best to get in touch.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

File not found error when assigning a document schema in a pipeline

I was having a bit of trouble today with Visual Studio that took a good deal of investigating to figure out so I thought I'd drop a note here. I was building a simple BizTalk receive pipeline that used the default XmlDisassembler and I wanted to add a document schema as well as an envelope schema to the disassembler. When I clicked on the ellipsis button (the three dots) I got a popup from Visual Studio saying "File not found" and some other stuff with an HRESULT= *********. I'd put the error down but I can't reproduce it now. I thought something was wrong with my Visual Studio install but it turns out one of the dlls that my custom schemas are defined in, was missing from the bin folder of the project. Since I have the reference set to 'copy local =true' it didn't matter that I had the dll in the bin folder of the source project. It took me FileMon to figure this one out. Thanks VS for the insightful message.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

BizTalk, SQL linked servers and DTC

Recently a colleague of mine and I spent a significant amount of time trying to use the SQL Adapter wizard in BizTalk 2006 to generate schemas corresponding to views in SQL 2005 that were really views on data that exists in a Oracle database seen in SQL as a linked server. Ok, that's a mouthful so let me chop that up a bit.

1) Oracle database has data in table A
2) SQL 2005 has a linked server defined which points to the Oracle database.
3) View VA in SQL 2005 uses OPENQUERY to get data from Oracle table A
4) Stored Procedure SPA does a select * from VA
5) BizTalk SQL Adapter Wizard in Visual Studio 2005 tries to create a schema for data coming from SPA.
6) BizTalk SQL Adapter Wizard returns back error saying 'Failed to execute SQL Statement. Please ensure that the supplied syntax is correct.'

Now I have seen this error message before, and if you look back a few posts you'll see that there are some keywords (for xml auto, xmldata) that need to be placed at the end of a stored proc for the wizard to work. This wasn't the problem.

After many days of hunting things down, we realized that our problem lay in the DTC settings between the SQL server and the Oracle server. We could run the wizard against local SQL tables just fine, but the linked stuff would fail. Using the SQL profiler helped here as well, since we could see a much better error message than the one stated above. We then tried to turn off DTC between our SQL box and the oracle box, but this didn't seem to be helping. Actually it wasn't working is what we realized. It seems that you can't turn off DTC if you are using the MS OLE DB provider for Oracle.

Our solution ended ended up being the installation of the Oracle OLE DB provider for Oracle (ie the one downloaded from Oracle.com) and then turning off the DTC on that. This magic is achieved by dropping DistribTX=0 in the provider string for the linked server. Now we can use the wizard to our heart's content.

There are plenty of gotchyas to deal with when setting up this scenario but most are well documented. This one wasn't so enjoy.

How lame is this:

Since I have started working as an independent contractor in the IT business I have been contacted many times by various companies and recruiters. The primary channel of communication is the phone with email coming in a close second. Today was the first time I got an SMS from a recruiter. This is not someone I have been in touch with before. I feel that SMS is not a communication medium suitable for initiating business contact. I just can't see the 160 characters of unformatted text being a good way to introduce yourself. As a result, this particular recruiter gets a big thumbs down.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sql 2005 Web Services are driving me nuts


Today I have been trying to coax Sql 2005 to do something that I think is fairly reasonable. It seems to disagree. Sql 2005 has the ability to expose stored procs as web services. Cool. This means that I can consume the web service in BizTalk (for certain reasons I can't use the SQL adapter). So far so good. Let's look at the schema that BizTalk generates from the WSDL.
This is where things go terribly wrong for me. The schema tells me that sql returns one element, and digging into the WSDL tells me that it's of type SqlRowSet. This sucks since I can't exaclty fire up a new mapper in BizTalk and start creating records. What I wonder is how are people who are not from the .NET world supposed to make use of these Web Services? When I'm not doing BizTalk I write code in .NET so I'd be fine with this, but do all languages know what a SqlRowSet is?

I know there are ways to customize the WSDL that sql returns but this requires code. My client has a no in-house code policy so this is not an option. If I find a way to get sql to spit out a wsdl that is a bit more informative, I'll post an update. For now I'm stuck.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This is a new one...


I got an amusing error message in the event log on one of my development servers today. Have a look for yourself. I swear I did not photoshop this together, I just added the red box and removed the computer name.

Surprise from Lenovo

This is interesting, I truly didn't suspect that Lenovo folks would read my blog. (See comment two posts back.)

I have to say that I've made my intial call to customer support and so far the experience has been fine. I was a little disappointed to learn that Lenovo can't fix a ThinkPad in the Netherlands but has to ship it to the UK thus adding a few days to the return time. I'm not sure why there isn't a repair center here in the Netherlands since I see folks with ThinkPads all the time and know there has to be enough work to keep at least one guy busy.

I now have to find time to get to a post office so I can send my laptop to a TNT distribution center in Amsterdam that then sends it on to the UK. Since the post office is open durring business hours and I work at a place that also operates durring business hours, I think I'll have to wait until Saturday to send my PC in. I'm really looking forward to mailing my $3000 computer. I'll have to package that sucker well. Let's see where this goes.

Miro's Blog

Looks like my brother decided to start blogging. See http://mirocapka.blogspot.com/ for more.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Preparing for war with Lenovo customer support

Yesterday my Thinkpad T43p started to act up. The display looked like someone gave the videocard a bad calculator. Nothing seemed to be missing from the screen, but things were certainly not in the right places. It had done this a little bit once before, but a re-boot fixed it. This time however, I did a number of re-boots and still same or worse. I realized it's not a driver issue when I pulled the hard drive out and saw that the very first splash screen was all screwed up. 'Pixels on vacation' is what I'd call it if it were art. The shitty thing is that I don't know how to reproduce the error. I have tried this morning but can't get the thing to screw up. I can just see what will happen if I send it off to cusstomer support: "Sir, there is nothing wrong with this PC." Still, I need my laptop to be reliable and so I am preparing my strategy for a drawn out cold war with the customer support guys at Lenovo. I am hoping they are as nice as Dell, but I expect this is not the case. This is their chance to prove me wrong.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Livin it up in the Hague

I found a temporary home in the Hague. I decided to go somewhere between the two options I listed before, it's neither a student dorm nor a place of my own. I found someone who has a very nice apartment but needs a room-mate to help pay the rent. Here's the kicker tho: My room-mate / land-lord is a chick. This is something new for me, and I've seen it backfire big time with some of my friends. It's only for a few months so I figured I'd give it a shot. I'll keep you posted.

I haven't had much time to check out the city yet, I've been trying to hunt down a new bed. I know what I want but I don't want to wait 6 to 8 weeks for it. When the guy at the store told me that's how long it takes for them to get the matress (that's right - just the matress) I almost burst out "Are you fucking kidding?". I mean : ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING? I think I could make a matress in that time. Some places have some stuff in stock, but usually it's the cheap shit. The hunt is on.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

BizTalk2006.Assembly.Deploy MsBuild Task

Today I realized how useful documentation is. I'm writing an MsBuild script to do an automated build and deploy of our BizTalk 2006 solution and I am using the Microsoft Services (UK) Enterprise Solutions Build Framework (SBF)

I had successfully deployed assemblies into BizTalk using the BizTalk2006.Assembly.Deploy class, but only into the defualt BizTalk application. I could not deploy my assemblies into a non-default application. I thought binding files may help, but they didn't. So as a last resort, I fired up the .NET reflector and had a look at the class I was using.

It turns out that the MsBuild task takes an Application attribute. Simple as that. It's just not in the documentation.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Small world

I had a really neat experience today. I was waiting at the front desk at work this morning and I see a girl walk into the building whom I thought I recognized. I call out her name, she looks at me and has a priceless look of "WTF?" on her face. I hadn't seen her since highschool and the chances of us working in the same building are pretty slim. Had lucnh with her and caught up a little, noodle salad*. It did remind me of how fast time flies. It's been 9 years since highschool. Damn that flew by.


* Inside joke

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

VPC Copying results in ASP.NET 2 memory limit error

Today I found the following error in the event log of one of my virtual servers (Win2k3 Sp1):

Unable to get the private bytes memory limit for the W3WP process. The ASP.NET cache will be unable to limit its memory use, which may lead to a process restart. Error: 0x80070005

I had created this VPC by copying the virtual hard disk from another VPC and running NewSID on it. I was under the impression that this fixed any issues regarding SIDs from the old machine conflicting with SIDs on the new one. Not quite, it turns out.

The IIS_WPG group from the old box is on the ACL of the app pools in the metabase, not IIS_WPG of the new box. Use metaacl.vbs (download from MS) to check. Use the command:

MetaAcl.vbs "IIS://localhost/W3SVC/AppPools"

One of the entries will be an SID, not a user/group name. This is the IIS_WPG from the old box.

To fix this, add the IIS_WPG group of the new box to the ACL in question using the command:

MetaAcl.vbs "IIS://localhost/W3SVC/AppPools" IIS_WPG U

's Gravenhage

To those who don't know, the title of this post is the Dutch name for The Hague. I started a new contract there this week, and I agreed to work at the company for a few months. I'm back in the financial industry, this time doing a BizTalk 2k6 deployment from the ground up. Should be interesting enough and a good chance to make some new contacts.

Currently I am commuting from Arnhem, but it's a 2 hour trip door to door which is not that much fun. Ergo I am looking for a place to live in the Hague for the next 4 months. I can't decide whether I want to rent an apartment or just get a room in a student/roommate house. Getting an apartment would be the sensible grown up thing to do. Moving in with roommates seems like the fun thing to do, especially since it's temporary. I'll have to wait and see how things work out. (I know what some of my friends would recommend.)

I am still going to Canada in September, but other than that it looks like I will be working Mon-Fri 9-5 until December. I must say that I was getting used to working part time so to speak, but this will allow me to save up some coin and maybe buy a place in A'dam next year.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BizTalk 2006 SQL Schema Generation Wizard Error


Today I got this strange error when I was trying to use the SQL Transport Schema Generation Wizard. The error is "Failed to execute SQL Statement. Please ensure that the supplied syntax is correct." I was trying to call a stored proc that runs a simple SELECT statement. The stored proc worked fine elsewhere. What was going on? Well it turns out that you have to add some magic words at the end of your stored proc for this to work. Just paste the following at the end of your SQL code:

for xml auto, xmldata

I found this tidbit of info on this blog

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Feeling better


I have mostly recovered from my bike accident although there are still some issues with chewing hard food. I'm back to work although it has been a little slow lately. I've had a number of meetings about potential jobs and there seems to be more than enough work coming up so I'm not worried.

Last Wednesday I went to Utrecht to see the Tragically Hip and had a great time. I went on my own but met a few Canadians there so it was a good time. The pic with this post is a futile attempt to capture the atmosphere with my cell phone camera.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cycling back from the bar can be dangerous


So I was heading home from the bar yesterday on my bike, not too sober, and I wiped out good. I've fallen off my bike before, but this was a first. I was spitting blood and dripping blood all over my shirt and realized something wasn't right. It seems I landed square on my chin and busted it open. I also managed to bite my tongue and chip a tooth. There were people walking by who saw me and decided it was a good idea to call an ambulance. After a quick visit to the emergency room I went home with four stitches. Fun day.

Update: I feel like crap. My jaw feels like I went 12 rounds against Mike Tyson. Worst of all I have to cancel a few meetings that could have proved very prosperous. I'm glad those people called the amulance, I was thninking of just going home and that would have been a mistake.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I feel kind of evil


Today I helped one of my clients complete a project that results in the mass mailing of 300 000 emails. They are targeted emails so it's not quite spam, but it is definitely some sort of junk mail. Yes it's only to people that have signed up for some newsletter, but I'm still not too proud of being part of a junk mail operation.

Luckily I have been talking to a few other clients, some of whom I found directly (no agent means better money and nicer contract) so business is growing. My goal now is to be able to start hiring in Q1 or Q2 of next year.

The pic is of what my bro convinced me to try after about 6 pints. He went to circus school for a while and I was right impressed that he could balance me like that.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Image.FromFile gives "Out of Memory" exception

It took me a few minutes to find the solution to this so I thought I'd post it on the web for others to find.

If you use the System.Drawing.Image.FromFile method on a file that you do not have sufficient permission to, you will get a "Out of memory" exception. That's right, you would expect a security exception here but that's not the case.

I wish I could remember the forum where I saw this solution so I could give credit. In any case, create a FileStream object from your file and then use the FromStream method on the Image object. This will give you much more intelligent exceptions.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A few books

I'm working in Amsterdam again this week and so I used the opportunity to duck into the American book store a few days ago. The selection of English language books in Arnhem is pretty minimal so I like to pick up a few when I am in Amsterdam.

The first book I read is called Blink and is an eye opener. It's basically a whole book about 'gut feeling'. I have to say I didn't expect it to be as good as it was. It's a relatively short read but well worth it. I highly recommend it.


The book I am reading now is the autobiography of Richard Branson, the guy that owns and runs Virgin. I've read a few autobiographies and this is one of my favourites. It's very honest and open and very entertaining. I also find it quite inspiring.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Canada Trip

I booked my ticket the other day - I'm going to Canada to see a friend get married and to visit some other folks. I'll be in Waterloo and area from September 1st to September 17th so drop me a line if you want to meet up!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Drew Moments

Here are a few good moments that I recall from Drew's visit to Holland:

* We are at a pretty empty bar in the afternoon. Drew needs to piss so he goes to the pisser. Comes back a few seconds later - both pissers are taken. 5 minutes go by and no one has exited the pisser. I decide that something is off, so I go to check the pisser myself. As I am getting up, Drew says something along the lines of "They are locked, but if you figure out the secret - let me know". I go to the pisser, notice 2 huge signs that say "Key to toilet at the bar". I do a quick 180 and see Drew with a "Told you so" look on his face. I walk right by him and get the keys to the pisser. At this point, Drew is looking a little less victorious, and asks how I knew to get the key? The two signs I tell him. "Well, I don't read Dutch!" says Andrew. At this point the barkeep decides to let him in on the secret that both the very large signs were in english. I had to rub that one in a bit as you can imagine.

* "Oh my god, they actually sell peyote here? How is this legal? This place is crazy!"

* After two nights of heavy drinking, we decide to hop on a train to Texel. Texel is a vacation island that had potential for good fun so we gave it a shot. We were in a rush the whole way there, just catching the train and bus which resulted in neither of us having time to go to a bank machine. We get off the ferry at a very abandoned terminal and look for a bank machine. We find one, but the lady working at the snack bar tells us they closed it for the night. WTF? Why would you close a bank machine? So we are SOL with no cash. This means we have no way to pay for the bus to town and are left with no choice but to walk the 6km. Not cool since it starts to rain. After getting soaked, hearing some cow sex and walking about 1km, I manage to flag down a car. The guy happened to be from the town that our hotel was in which was 10km away, so we got a lift all the way there. That was sweet. We figured our bad luck had been used up for the night, but not really. Check in, clean up and hit the strip. Well the kitchen of EVERY restaurant closed at 10pm, and it's 10:05. Shwarma it is. Fuck I hate that crap. Then we decide to check out the only place on the strip that seems to have any life left to it, some "Apres Ski" bar. Weird but whatever. Walking into the place reminds both of us of highschool dances in the gym, and when we actually get through the hallways into the 'dance' we quickly realize that the instinct was right. A quick 180 is in order and we bolt. Off for one uphill pint and bed. I felt like puking up the shwarma but at least the double bed was actually 2 beds with separate sheets so no spooning was necessary. The next day we pick up some supplies (read liquor) and attempt to get the fuck off the island. The bus screwed us a bit since the schedule had some fine print that I initially missed, but we eventually managed to get to the ferry and off the island. As the boat pushes off, Drew proclaims "See you in Hell, Hell Island!". That is the new name for Texel, Hell Island.

* And of course "I need to steal a fiets!"

I live in a wind tunnel

I normally would not be posting about the weather - how lame is that? - but this is just ridiculous. For the last 2 weeks, the weather in the Netherlands has been nothing other than rain/hail and a whopping 8 to 12 degrees Celsius. To make it all better, there has been a gale force wind blowing most of the time. WTF? Did I miss the memo about summer being canceled and us going directly to November? I've been sitting indoors waiting for a half decent day so I can hop on my bike or go rollerblading. Today I caved and put on plenty of layers under my raincoat and went out for a ride. Even though its all flat around here, that wind made me feel like I was going uphill most of the time. Those guys that were in Algonquin with me will know the kind of wind I'm talking about, the same as the day we fought the whitecaps.

Otherwise things have been good, I had a new client and spent 7 days fighting with BizTalk. Good experience plus they paid well. Now I've got a few days off, but I'm sure something new will come up soon.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

MIA

I am writing this blog entry the morning after a three day trip my buddy and I took to Texel and then Amsterdam. It was a long three days with much partying involved. We did a few cultural things in Amsterdam, but it seems the main attraction for my Canadian friends is not the Rijksmuseum.
Last night we caught the last train from Amsterdam back to Arnhem and went to the city here. We closed one bar, and felt the need to go to the after-hours place. After running out of money, I decided to go to an ATM and get some for a cab home. My freind decides he is in Holland and he needs to steal a bike. Lovely. He wouldn't get in the cab since he claimed to know where I live, and wanted to experience Holland on a stolen bike. After a while I just gave up and went home. He's a big boy and there is only so much I can do.
This happened at about 3am this morning and was also the last time I saw him. It's now 11am and I can't get a hold of him. I did get a voicemail at 6am from him, something about waking up in an alley and not having his backpack. He sounded pretty rough. I have to say I didn't expect this level of riddiculous when we set out three days ago. I hope my buddy had a good sleep in an alley somewhere, and I hope he shows up soon.

Update 3:20pm: No sign of my friend. Called the cops, called the local hospital, neither knows him so I take that as a good sign. Now I just wonder where the hell he is and why he won't pick up his phone.

Update 4:40pm: I get the following email "You fucking idiot!! I'm at a hotel in arnhem!! I was asleep until now!!" I'm glad he's ok, but I'm not sure who the "fucking idiot" is.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Setting css styles on an individual MenuItem

It's been a while since I've written a tech post, but I think it's that time again. I've been working on a website for a potential client and came across an interesting problem with .NET 2.0 MenuItems (System.Web.UI.WebControls.MenuItem). Basically the website has a menu that displays a number of items, and one of the items should be bold. Now if you've played with the Menu control in .NET 2.0, you'll know that there are a lot of options for setting styles on menu items. However, I have yet to figure out a nice clean way to set a particular css style on only one item in the same level of a menu. Here is what I did do that seems to work, but I'd prefer a cleaner way so I'm all ears.

I started by defining my SiteMapNodes in the web.sitemap file, and was pleased to find out that I could add a custom attribute to the node that I could then call from code:

web.sitemap:

<sitemapnode title="My Page" description="" url="mypage.aspx" displaybold="true">


In the code I hooked into the MenuItemDataBound event of the Menu control, and added the following code:


SiteMapNode s = (SiteMapNode)e.Item.DataItem;
string displayBold = s["displaybold"];
if (displayBold != null && Convert.ToBoolean(displayBold) == true)
{
  e.Item.Text = "<div class=mycssclass>" + e.Item.Text + "</div>";
}

Now there are a few things to notice here. First of all, there is a nice clean way to fetch the custom attribute I added in the web.sitemap file. Using this I was hoping to selectively apply a css style to the menu items that corresponded to site map nodes with the displaybold=true attribute. Now this is where I ran into trouble. There is no class or style property on a MenuItem control. I did a fair amount of reading and research but could not find any mention about this. So I tried the code that is listed above, and to my surprise it works like a charm. All I needed to do now was hook up a stylesheet to the page this control rendered itself on, and ensure there was a class called mycssclass in there.

Like I said, I'd prefer to know of a cleaner way of doing this if there is one, since I particularly hate hard coding html into my codebehind files.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What a week

This post is a bit delayed since I actually worked a 5 day week last week and wasn't in the mood to blog when I got home in the evening.

So I had Ryan over here for a week, and what a week it was. I think Ryan will at one point post a good entry about the week, but here are some of my favourite moments:

* Ryan:"Is that a urinal?" - Joe:"Yep, try it!" - Both pissing in the middle of the street.
* My Mom:"Is he going to kill himself?" - After Ryan's third 'morning smoke'.
* "Hi my name is Ryan!" as Ryan introduces himself to my Dad wearing the tight orange shirt he bought for Alex to wear on Queensday.
* "Tactical error.." - Ryan's experiment with amsterdam snacks.
* "If we pool our money, I know a guy that will give us a good deal on weed" - said about 100 times by this guy named Mike in the span of 30 minutes. That was incidentally the lenght of time it took us to meet and promptly ditch Mike. Hustling weed in Amsterdam just won't work...
* "What were we thinking, it's not like we're poor" - Ryan and Joe after spending the first night in the hostel.
* Ryan: "This is a weird place..." - commenting on the "opium den" in the hostel. No good photos online, I'll have to duck in there with Drew next week and get a pic. We spent a few hours in there chillin.

Suffice to say I had a good time but it took me a few days to recover from it. Drew is on his way here in a few days, but I have a feeling that will be more tame. Maybe not. His blog seems to indicate some heavy partying in the last little while.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Love the WiFi

I just have to say I LOVE the spread of WiFi in big cities combined with the generosity (read ignorance) of people that buy access points. I am in an Irish pub in Amsterdam as I write this, hooked up to someone's open WiFi. If someone told me a few years ago that this would be possible, I would have been skeptical.

Collect those points

Today I registered XComplica as a Microsoft Partner. Now I have to collect those partner points to become a certified partner. I've got 1 and I need 49 more. I guess all those "collect points and win...." things we all remember from childhood were useful for something. :-)

The Hip in Holland

I just bought a ticket to go see the Tragically Hip in July. They are going to be in Holland and since their fan base here is relatively small, they are going to be playing a small venue (1000 people). I'd be happy to see the Hip at a huge concert in Toronto, so to get to see them in such a small place should be amazing. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Thanks Revenue Canada

Wow is Revenue Canada ever a bunch of retards.... So I finally figured out why I keep getting charged interest on owing Canada taxes for 2004, even though I payed them. Well it turns out that Revenue Canada thought I was sending them money in advance for the 2005 tax year, and so they credited me X dollars for that year. They didn't think that maybe, just maybe I was paying my taxes for 2004 seeing as the X dollars I sent them was the EXACT amount I owed for 2004. These geniuses deserve a swift kick in the ass and not my tax money.

I can just imagine how intelligently my tax dollars will be spent by these financially savvy folks.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New MSN

So I thought I'd update my MSN Passport with my new email address. Well it worked except it seem that none of my MSN contacts work anymore. Feel free to re-add me as jcapka@xcomplica.remove.com

I should have remembered that Nick tried the same thing and told me it sucked. Sorry folks.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Company website

So I finally finished the first version of my company web site. It's nothing too stellar, but it's up there. I learned quite a bit about ASP.NET 2.0 and CSS while building the site. Too bad almost none of the ASP.NET 2.0 features made it into the final version. :-) I realized that web parts were probably overkill for what I needed to do, and since I only have one employee (me) at this time I don't expect the login feature to be too useful.

So go and have a look at www.xcomplica.com and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Working in Amsterdam

So I'm starting a 2 month contract in Amsterdam tomorrow. Should be interesting. The company has issues with MCMS and from the very informal interview I had with them, I think I'll be able to help them out quite a bit. They wanted me to sign up for as long as possible, but to their surprise I am not willing to do long term projects at this point. I need to get a good network of clients and I can't do that working for one place for 8 months. Most people I talk to are surprised that I don't want the job stability, but if I wanted a well paid stable job I would have stayed at Infusion.

Another year older

Thanks to all those that remembered my b-day. 27 - I'm getting old. I didn't even really celebrate this one, I had a few drinks with my bro and a friend of mine on Saturday but it's not quite the keg party that I've done in the past. I guess that's all part of growing older and I'll have to deal with it.... FUCK THAT! I'll write this b-day off as a loss due to the recent move across the ocean, and next year it best be back to the usual party ritual. Look out for 28...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Olympic Hockey Pissed Me Off Today

A short post today. The two teams I had hoped would do well at the Olympics both went home today. Canada and Slovakia both got eliminated, and now I don't have anyone to cheer for. I was specifically pissed since Slovakia was doing so well, and played the worst game they could. I guess the Czechs really are Slovakia's Achilles heel.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Snow, snow and more snow!

This week I've been slacking off. Since we've been getting so much snow lately, I've been out snowboarding almost every day since I came to the cottage on Saturday. Sunday morning was the best day of boarding I have had in a long time. The slopes were covered with a minimum of 30cm of fresh powder. Some sections had over a half meter of powder on them. It was carve-a-licious. That didn't last too long, but the woods are still full of spots that have plenty of fresh powder. I've discovered that fallen trees make amazing launch platforms, and have been getting some sweet air in the woods. The trick is to make sure there aren't any trees in the landing zone. I've also discovered that having 2 beers takes away just enough coordination that I think I can pull something off, but end up buried in a snowbank somewhere cause I just misjudged my landing, etc. A good wipe-out in powder can mean 20 minutes of digging yourself out. The only thing that would make this snowboarding better would be someone to ride with. My bro is back at school and everyone I know is responsible and has jobs, etc.

The disadvantage to all this snow is that it also falls onto and around the cottage. This means that I am out with a shovel almost daily. The roof can only hold so much snow, and there is always some path that needs to be cleared. I can't say I'm not getting any exercise this winter.

I've been doing some professional work, mainly reading and learning new stuff. It can get frustrating however since the Internet connection I have here is very flaky. It's one of those PCMCIA cards that connects via the cellular network. These work great in the city, but I barely get any signal here so the quality of my connection ranges anywhere from crap to none at all. I'm hoping an external antenna for this thing will make a difference. Posting this entry was a fucking nightmare....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I've been busy .. sort of

A few folks have wondered what I've been up to lately. It's a mix between trying to settle in somewhere, and enjoy not having to work the 9-5 thing. I've been going up to the cottage with my parents and doing some snowboarding, which I have to admit is not exactly productive. I have been in touch with a number of job hunters / agents who have a fair amount of work in England or on Holland, but I've been picky. I'm not too keen on taking an 11 month contract for instance, since to me that's not much different from a full time job. I'm also not too keen on working through these agents since they take a significant chunk of the profits and they take the fun out of negotiating a contract with a client.

My biggest focus right now is trying to put together a quality image for my company. This means naming it, building a website, etc. This will allow me to do some direct sales to potential clients without using the above described agents. The work is out there, so it's a matter of finding it. I'm hoping for a few subcontracts from bigger companies at first. I'm also trying to figure out a good base of operations. It's looking like I may call my parents' cottage home for the next while since my cousin and I decided to get internet up there. I'm kind of looking forward to having my home office 5 minutes from a ski lift.

I've got almost all my paperwork in order at this point, I have a business registered in Slovakia as well as another in Holland. It took a fair amount of effort to get all this sorted out which is making me very excited about tax season. Oh well, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. First I need some income.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Paperwork

I'm back in Holland from a nice Christmas vacation with the family. It was probably the tamest New Years ever, but that's ok. I'll step it up next year.

I've started to do some hunting for new clients, but mainly I have been a student of paperwork. I managed to get through the necessary obstacles in Slovakia such that I am now self employed over there and have my tax number. My current challenge is figuring out the exact legalities that surround me working under my slovak company for clients in various countries. The countries that joined the EU in May 2004 don't enjoy the same benefits as other member states just yet. Even though it's against European law, some countries still require work permits for citizens from the new EU countries. That doesn't apply for self employed people however. How do you know you are self employed? Well the government of each country has their own definition, and it's been fun trying to get that definition out of them. Simply put, it's still a bit of a mess.

I can't say I didn't expect there to be issues like this. Every time I get frustrated I have to remind myself that if I want to be one of the first Slovak consulting firms that does business all over Europe, I have to get through this stuff now and not wait until it's all cleared up and easy.

I'm also trying to sort out tax issues, and since there will be multiple gov'ts that will want to tax me, I will be needing a good accountant very soon.

The hardest thing so far however has been naming my company. I thought it would be a bit of an exercise, but it's been a right pain in the ass. Everything I think of has already been taken. Back to the drawing board.