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Archive for October 2010

Live Mesh beta is closing down

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Microsoft has announced that it’s closing down Live Mesh beta and replacing it with an improved service integrated with Windows Live called Windows Live Mesh 2011.

While this might sound like good news there’s a caveat that will adversely affect many users including myself: the new service does not support Windows XP.

It’s obvious why Microsoft has done this and it provides a graphic indication of exactly where Microsoft’s priorities and sympathies lie. It’s actively decided to make life difficult for Windows XP users in an effort to encourage sales of Windows 7.

It’s a crass decision because the usefulness of Live Mesh is that it syncs files between a number of PCs and most users will have a mix of old and new, i.e. Windows XP and Windows Vista/7.

I have some PCs running Windows XP that can’t be upgraded because Windows 7 drivers are not available. That hasn’t stopped me buying new PCs with Windows Vista and Windows 7 installed. So, having Live Mesh beta support Windows XP hasn’t hurt Microsoft’s sales of new versions of Windows but dropping this support in Windows Live Mesh 2011 means that it’s now almost useless to me.

I’ve started using Dropbox.

Arguably, the people behind Dropbox understand the Live Mesh concept better than Microsoft. If the goal is to share files amongst computers and devices then why is Microsoft  dropping support for its own operating systems while Dropbox now supports Windows, Linux, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android.

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Written by Sea Monkey

October 29, 2010 at 8:00 am

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KindleGen: NCX file must be non-UNICODE

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I’ve been experimenting with creating ebooks using Amazon’s KindleGen. However, everytime I tried to use an NCX file KindleGen (version 1.1) would fail without displaying an error message. If I commented out the reference to the .ncx file in the .opf file then KindleGen successfully created the output file. I tried eveything I could think of with no success and after a couple of hours I gave up.

After sleeping on it I realised that just about the only thing I hadn’t considered was that it might be the file encoding that was causing the problem. So, I opened the .ncx file in Notepad++, set the encoding to UTF-8, and saved it. I edited the .opf file, uncommented the reference to the .ncx file, and then ran KindleGen again. This time it worked!

So, it looks like the .ncx has to be in UTF-8 (or at least in non-UNICODE) format for KindleGen to process it successfully.

Update 30/09/2014

A correction to this post is needed as, as Tom Savage comments below, UTF-8 is UNICODE. The issue is that the NCX file must be a single byte encoding such as UTF-8 rather than a multi-byte encoding such as UTF-16 or UTF-32.

Written by Sea Monkey

October 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Debugging, General

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MySQL: stored procedure not found

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Some more MySQL weirdness while using the MySQL Connector/Net and MySQL 5.1…

If the ConnectionString doesn’t specify the database name with the correct casing then, even though the database can be successfully connected to, an attempt to execute a stored procedure in the database may fail with a MySqlException and the message:

Procedure or function '<procedure-name>' cannot be found in database '<database-name>'

 
As an example, my connection string was:

Database=Vitality;Data Source=server350;User Id=vuser;Password=vuser

 
When my application tried to execute a stored procedure a MySqlException was thrown with this message:

Procedure or function 'sp_hl7_get_data_item_mapping' cannot be found in database 'Vitality'.

 
I vaguely remembered a previous problem with database access that was resolved by changing the casing of the database name in the ConnectionString so that it exactly matched the casing of the database name as defined on the MySQL server. I checked the database name using MySQL Administrator and noted that it was all lowercase, i.e. ‘vitality’ rather than ‘Vitality’. So, I changed the ConnectionString to:

Database=vitality;Data Source=server350;User Id=vuser;Password=vuser

 
and I re-ran my application – it worked.

Written by Sea Monkey

October 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Debugging, Development

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Windows Server 2008 activation failed, error code = 0x800705B4

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I recently rebuilt a test server and re-installed Windows Server 2008 on it. I used the DVD that I’d previously used some time ago. The following day I noticed, in the Control Panel System applet, that it was not activated and clicked the link to activate it. After about 10 seconds an error message was displayed indicating that the activation had failed with an error code of 0x800705B4. I clicked the link for more information and the associated error message text was displayed: “The operation returned because the timeout period expired.” It took me a while to even guess what the problem might be and it’s still just a suspicion.

The DVD I had been created from an .ISO image downloaded from the subscribers section of the MSDN website. It was preconfigured with a product key and should have successfully activated. Except… it was associated with a subscription for 2008. I’m guessing that Microsoft configures KMS servers for current MSDN subscriptions and at the end of the subscription period a new set of .ISO images are made available and the KMS servers are updated to support these. I’d guess that the product keys associated with the earlier subscription are supported for a while (i.e. a grace period) but are removed from the KMS server at some point.

Because the MSDN subscription I was using only had access to the .ISO images with preconfigured product ids and did not have any MAK keys, the only solution was to re-install Windows Server 2008 all over again using the .ISO image for the current subscription. There may be a way of working around this but none of the things I tried worked.

Written by Sea Monkey

October 11, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Environments

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Problems with Adaptec 2405 and MS Virtual Server

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Yesterday my virtual machine (VM) host server froze. I was running a VM that was being used as a test environment and there was a lot of SQL Server activity which in turn causes a lot of disk activity. Suddenly, the VM stopped responding and appeared to have died. I was accessing the server via RDP at the time and it responded very slowly but the Virtual Server Administration web site showed that the VM was still running. I tried shutting down the VM and then the server but the server just hung and after an hour I powered it off.

The server started up OK this morning but, because this is probably about the third time this has happened in the past year, I decided to try to find out exactly what the cause was.

The System event log shows a stream of warnings being issued by the Adaptec 2405 RAID controller driver at about the time the trouble started:

EventID: 129
Source: arcsas
Level: Warning
Message: Reset to device, \Device\RaidPort0, was issued

These messages appear every 30 seconds for half an hour up until I tried to shut the server down. The event log shows that the server had completed at least some of the shutdown tasks and the last message indicates that the Event log service had stopped.

The virtual machine configuration files (.vmc) and hard disk files (.vhd) reside on the disks attached to the RAID controller.  The messages in the event log pointed towards the RAID controller being the problem and a quick search for ‘arcsas reset to device raidport0’ showed that other people have experienced similar problems with the controller driver when there is very high disk activity.

I checked for a new driver on the Adaptec web site and found that I was running a very back level version of the firmware and the driver and a newer version of the Storage Manage software was also available.

After installing the newer versions this morning, I’ve been running the same tests that caused the RAID controller to fail yesterday and there’s no sign of any problems or the EventID 129 messages in the System event long.

Written by Sea Monkey

October 7, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in Environments, Hardware

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Problems with Dell Backup and Recover Manager

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I spent several hours and wasted three DVD discs before coming to the conclusion that the Dell Backup and Recovery Manager (DBRM) that shipped with the Vostro 3700 laptop I bought last month simply didn’t work.

The Vostro came with version 1.2.3. pre-installed. It seems to work OK if the backup created doesn’t require more than one disc. However, if the backup spans discs then the DBRM application either never completes writing the first disc or ejects it but then displays the error message ‘Another application is using the drive’ when the second blank DVD is inserted.

Dell released version 1.3 in June 2010 that resolves this problem. I uninstalled version 1.2.3 and installed 1.3. It created the two disc backup successfully.

It’s disappointing that Dell is shipping laptops in September with an obsolete version of DBRM with known defects when a fixed version was available in June.

Written by Sea Monkey

October 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm

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