An Architect's View

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An Architect's View

Entries Tagged as microsoft

SQL Server Express and Remote Access

August 07, 2007 ·

What a pain in the ass this has been! I've never dealt with Microsoft SQL Server before but now that Vista runs acceptably on VMware Fusion, I figured that it would be a good opportunity to install SQL Server Express as a test database. The download / install process was not bad but of course the default is that remote access is not allowed. After much Googling and much messing around, I finally got everything working but I feel inclined to comment on some of the web pages out there that provide instructions on how to do this... The correct, detailed instructions were on Microsoft's Support Site but that was not the first result in Google by a long way. All of the top results seemed to have missing or incorrect steps. A couple focused on opening up port 1433 in Windows Firewall. The correct approach is to add sqlservr.exe and sqlbrowser.exe to the Exceptions pane. At least one page focused on enabling access for a specific IP Address (and the instructions surrounding that were very complex!). The key - from Microsoft's own support page - is to use the SQL Server Surface Area Configuration tool which makes life much, much simpler (although certainly not intuitive). If I'd found that page first, I would not have wasted a couple of hours messing with a variety of control panels and utilities. I so wanted to just open up a text file in an editor and fix things - this is exactly why I find Windows so frustrating and like Unix (and Mac OS X) so much better! At the end of the day, however, I have a data source in ColdFusion 8 on Mac OS X which hits SQL Server on VMware! Yay!

Tags: coldfusion · microsoft

Silverlight?

April 17, 2007 ·

So, Microsoft has released Silverlight? WPF/E renamed. What is it really like for a non-Windows user? I went to the MS Silverlight page and it wanted to show me a video - but I have to "click here to download" so I clicked and got a blank screen. I waited. Nothing. Hmm. So I refreshed the browser and got my installation instructions. Five steps. Step 1. Verify System Requirements. "Make sure you have a Silverlight compatible Macintosh operating system and browser." How? It doesn't tell me. So let's assume I'm compatible. Step 2. Download Silverlight. Click. A new page. Click "Download" button. Thank you page. WPFe.dmg downloads in the background. At this point, there is no call to action. I downloaded something and the page I'm on says nothing about what to do next. Fortunately, I'm smart, so I click the browser back button twice to get back to the page that listed the five steps. OK, so now I need to go to my desktop and double-click WPFe.dmg and see what happens... It just mounts the disk image. Now I have to click on the mounted disk and then double-click on the WPFe.pkg file. Click Continue. Click Continue. Click Continue. Click Agree. Click Continue. Click Install. Enter my password and click OK. Click Close. Close and restart my browser. Go back to Microsoft's Silverlight page. There's a big blank space where the video should be... I wait... and wait... OK, so it isn't going to load anything. So, let me see if I got this right... I downloaded a 3.5Mb disk image and installed the application (after lots of clicks) and... nothing! No errors, nothing. Just a big white space. Maybe one of the other demos will work? I click the Page Turn demo and wait while it loads 14 page and then wait and wait and wait while it does... something... with a spinning beachball locking up the entire browser... finally it runs again... A red page. There's a turned up "tab" on the bottom right of the page. I click it. Nothing happens. I click it again, several times. Nothing. I notice a small icon below the page so I click on that. I get a row of thumbnails. I mouse over the first one and the whole row jumps away. It's like one of those terrible click-on-the-monkey ads on the web! I finally manage to click on a thumbnail and I'm rewarded with a full-size picture. I finally try to click and drag on the "tab" on the page and it actually turns like a magazine. Wow! I'm sooooo impressed. No tooltips, no mouseover hints. It's supposed to be intuitive. I have to wonder if Microsoft has actually tried installing and using Adobe's Flash Player...

Tags: adobe · microsoft

AOL, Google and Yahoo say Yes, Microsoft says No

February 15, 2007 ·

IMified is a great service - they just added the ability to have text reminders sent to your cell phone if you're not on IM - but Microsoft won't allow them to have more than 1,000 people registered. AOL, Yahoo and Google have no problem with this - and AOL even contacted them proactively to help. There's an email address in that blog entry you can use to tell Microsoft what you think of this and you can also "Digg" the article to raise its profile on the web.

Tags: coldfusion · microsoft

IE Update and ColdFusion MX 7

April 04, 2006 ·

In light of the chatter on some ColdFusion mailing lists about the IE Update, I thought that rather than believe what I was reading, I would try it out for myself. I have Windows XP running (on Virtual PC, for testing) so I installed the IE Update per Microsoft's instructions and then started visiting some sites with Flash content. My first stop was Matt Woodward's "Flex your CF muscles" Macrochat recording. This rendered just fine in the updated Internet Explorer, playing audio and video as expected. When I moved my mouse over the movie, a tooltip appeared indicating I needed to click to activate it - while the movie played happily in the background. I clicked and then I was able to interact with the pause/play/other controls. My next site was a Flash form generated by ColdFusion 7. The form rendered just fine and, again, moving my mouse over the form showed the tooltip so I clicked and was then able to interact with the form. Interestingly, activating the "control" caused the page to scroll up so the form was centered on the page (vertically) which actually made it easier to interact with the form (half of it was below the "fold" when I first loaded the page). Finally I went to look at some Flash charts generated by ColdFusion 7. Again, the charts rendered just fine, with all the introductory animations - bar charts growing up to their necessary height, ribbons floating into place and so on. The initial mouseover showed the "click to activate" tooltip and, after clicking once, I was able to see the usual tooltips on the charts and graphs and click on hyperlinked elements within the charts. I just wanted to share that as a 'sanity check' against some of the misinformation I'm seeing out there. I'd heartily suggest that anyone has concerns about the IE Update actually try it out (on a testing server!) to find out what the real impact to your applications and users might be. For more official information, check out the Adobe Active Content Developer Center.

Tags: coldfusion · microsoft

Living Without the Desktop?

December 17, 2005 ·

An interesting article on the Living Without Microsoft site asks how close are we to being able to work without desktop applications? The article offers suggestions for web-based applicatioons that perform email (duh!), word processing, spreadsheets, database as well as photo sharing, news aggregation, bookmark management etc. (I'm putting this in the Open Source Software category because if offers free alternatives to proprietary desktop software - even tho' the services aren't actually "open source")

Tags: hosted · microsoft · oss

Integrate with Microsoft Exchange Server?

December 09, 2005 ·

Ben Forta asks what that integration means for you? Pop on over to his blog and tell him what you'd like to see as he gathers feedback for potential features in 'Scorpio' (the next major release of ColdFusion MX).

Tags: coldfusion · microsoft

Windows Live? What?

November 01, 2005 ·

So there's some buzz out there about something called Windows Live. Click. Wait. Hmm, a search bar. And? Nothing. No message, no other text - just a white screen with a search bar. I type something in and click "Search" and get an MSN search results page. So this is some minimalist interface to the MSN search engine? I check the activity window on Safari. 220Kb of JavaScript ("atlas") was downloaded to no avail. Wonder what it does? Open the page in IE for Mac. Same search bar, same blank page. OK, so whatever Microsoft are up to doesn't even work in their own browser. Let's try Opera 8.5. At least it's consistent: search bar, white screen. No messaging. Finally I try Firefox and get a pretty messed up looking screen and a pathetic message saying "Firefox support is coming soon. Please be patient :-)" Oh, you could be bothered to sniff for Firefox but none of the other browsers? Not even your own Mac browser? How amateur. Hey, Microsoft, why don't you check out Google's personalized home page to see how cross-browser drag'n'drop HTML / JavaScript stuff should be done?

Tags: microsoft · personal

Microsoft Recruitment Follow-Up

September 19, 2005 ·

Leslie O'Connor emailed me back today and confirmed that, yes, the positions that they are looking to fill would require relocation to Redmond. I wonder what Microsoft's disaster contingency plans look like with all of their key staff (and systems, perhaps) in one location? Leslie did note that MSN Search is based in Mountain View (the nearest MS campus to me, I guess). Leslie also apologized for the "calendar glitch" and directed me to a different appointment system that is powered by Microsoft bCentral Appointment Manager. Leslie did not address the issue of whether they are targeting outspoken critics, however...

Tags: microsoft · personal

Microsoft Recruitment

September 18, 2005 ·

Eric S Raymond - long-time champion of open source - relates Microsoft's attempt to recruit him (well, actually the form letter they send to all sorts of people - and his responses). It's an entertaining read, as are the 300+ comments from his readers. I received almost the exact same email from Microsoft (but from a Leslie O'Connor) a few weeks ago. It's the third or fourth time Microsoft recruiters have approached me over the last few years. I was more polite in my response this time than I have been in the past but I made two specific points in my response:
  • My understanding is that Microsoft pretty much require staff to relocate to the Redmond area
  • I've been a long-time critic of Microsoft and its products
I'll be curious if the recruiter responds. I've heard the first point from a number of sources and I'd be interested to know how true it is. Some companies require their staff to be local, some don't. I think it says something about the company culture and how much they trust their staff to work remotely (or not). On the second point, they clearly approach a number of outspoken critics and it's not clear whether it's through a genuine lack of research on behalf of their HR folks (as Eric suggests, somewhat tongue-in-cheek) or whether they want their supporters close and their enemies closer, so to speak. I'll post about any response I get from Microsoft but in the mean time I'd be interested to hear your stories of Microsoft's recruitment machine...
p.s. I meant to mention that the links in the email to the AppointmentQuest system ("100% pure Microsoft-free") just brought up blank pages on every browser I tried...

Tags: microsoft · personal

Windows Update

May 06, 2005 ·

I wanted to play with the updated Breeze Presenter plugin for PowerPoint now that Breeze 5 is out. It's for the Windows version of PowerPoint but since I've got Connectix Virtual PC with Windows 2000, that wouldn't be a big deal. Microsoft Office 2003 won't install on Windows 2000 unless you have Service Pack 3 or later installed. OK, I'll just hop on over to the Windows Update web site and get my system up to date. Visit #1. 34 critical updates. One must be installed separately (IE6SP1) so I select that and install it. And reboot. Visit #2. There are now 35 critical updates and two must be installed separately (so installing IE6SP1 introduced new problems that needed critical fixes?!?). Sigh. Select a "separate" update, install it, reboot. Visit #3. Now there are 41 critical updates but, strangely, none of them need to be installed separately (so what happened to the other "separate" update?!?). Fine. I select all of them, install them, reboot. Visit #4. No more critical updates. Good! 9 recommended updates tho'. Two of them are separate installs again. I decide to pick the 7 that can be installed together. Install, reboot. Visit #5. A new critical update. For a newly installed recommended update. Good grief! OK, select it, install it, reboot. Visit #6. Guess what? Yes, another critical update. This time for the critical update I just applied - really! Haven't Microsoft ever heard of culmulative updates? Whatever. I select the critical update, install it and reboot. Visit #7. Back to my two remaining recommended updates. Select one, install it, reboot. Visit #8. Two more critical updates. Grrr! Select them both, install them, reboot. At this point I'd run out of daylight and decided to start again the next day. Visit #9. Just my one remaining recommended update. Select it, install it, reboot. Visit #10. No critical or recommended updates! Hurray! Time to install Microsoft Office 2003. That went smoothly (and surprisingly quickly). Then it immediately suggested I look for updates to Office itself. OK, I'll play along. It offers me a 22Mb update. The update takes a very long time to apply itself. And then suggests I check for more updates. Well, at least it didn't want me to reboot I suppose. And, sure enough, there are indeed more updates to install. Another 7.6Mb. And no reboot either. Done! Now, what was I doing at the beginning of all this? Oh yes, installing the Breeze Presenter plugin! That was nice and easy and it fired up a readonly PowerPoint presentation introducing all the features: presenter profile, audio track, quiz manager (for making interactive presentations - very cool!) and a bunch of other stuff. Nor sure how well the audio will work on Virtual PC but I'll give it a go at some point.

Tags: microsoft · personal