Archive for October, 2004

Someone is getting paid way too much at Target

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Ever wondered why you can’t find a bloody thing at Target?
Good luck trying to find stationery at Target Westfield Chatswood.
Doesn’t it seem strange that you can’t look down any aisles for stuff, as they are always curved around, hiding stuff from view.
Well now we have the answer. The store layout is in the shape of a target. Geddit? A target. Yep, some dickhead with way too much time on their hands is getting paid way too much to come up with dumb gimmicky ideas like this.
They obviously haven’t ever worked in retail.

So if you think you’re walking around in circles trying to find stuff – you are!
Try K-Mart instead.

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IE blocks graphics

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

So here’s a funny thing.
I updated the OzFox home and sponsors pages with some sponsor’s images.
Works fine on our Windows 2003 server. Works fine on my wife’s notebook. Doesn’t display the images on my notebook.
I tried everything to find out why, including differnet browsers, Norton Internet Security settings, even changing the HTML coding from tables to paragraphs.
To cut a long story short it turns out that the images were in a \sponsors\ folder on our web server. By moving the images to the \images\ folder every thing worked fine. No code chages or anything.
So why?
The only thing I can think of is that with SP2 installed on my machine (it’s not on my wife’s) it is automatically removing images based on keywords in image locations. Sounds crazy. Any ideas?

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Latest Scotch purchases

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

A while back I mentioned my new Scotch drinking hobby.
My latest purchases are The Macallan (only a 12 year old but very smooth – my favourite so far) and The Glenlivet (finished in French Oak).
I reckon The Macallan has to be one of the nicest scotches I’ve tasted (but lets be clear, I haven’t tasted that many). Very smooth and clean. Avoid this if you go for the more peaty, smoky scotches though. You’d be wanting a Lagavulin in that case (but Sydney is still in short supply on these sadly). The Macallan was only $60 coming through customs.

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OzFox and SVFPUG sites updated

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

The OzFox site has been updated with X-Box room details, 4 for 5 registration deal
The Sydney VFP User Group site has details of the upcoming October meeting and a new jobs page

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Someone is getting paid way too much at Target

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Ever wondered why you can’t find a bloody thing at Target?

Good luck trying to find stationery at Target Westfield Chatswood.

Doesn’t it seem strange that you can’t look down any aisles for stuff, as they are always curved around, hiding stuff from view.

Well now we have the answer. The store layout is in the shape of a target. Geddit? A target. Yep, some dickhead with way too much time on their hands is getting paid way too much to come up with dumb gimmicky ideas like this.

They obviously haven’t ever worked in retail.



So if you think you’re walking around in circles trying to find stuff – you are!

Try K-Mart instead.

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IE blocks graphics

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

So here’s a funny thing.

I updated the OzFox home and sponsors pages with some sponsor’s images.

Works fine on our Windows 2003 server. Works fine on my wife’s notebook. Doesn’t display the images on my notebook.

I tried everything to find out why, including differnet browsers, Norton Internet Security settings, even changing the HTML coding from tables to paragraphs.

To cut a long story short it turns out that the images were in a \sponsors\ folder on our web server. By moving the images to the \images\ folder every thing worked fine. No code chages or anything.

So why?

The only thing I can think of is that with SP2 installed on my machine (it’s not on my wife’s) it is automatically removing images based on keywords in image locations. Sounds crazy. Any ideas?

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Latest Scotch purchases

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

A while back I mentioned my new Scotch drinking hobby.

My latest purchases are The Macallan (only a 12 year old but very smooth – my favourite so far) and The Glenlivet (finished in French Oak).

I reckon The Macallan has to be one of the nicest scotches I’ve tasted (but lets be clear, I haven’t tasted that many). Very smooth and clean. Avoid this if you go for the more peaty, smoky scotches though. You’d be wanting a Lagavulin in that case (but Sydney is still in short supply on these sadly). The Macallan was only $60 coming through customs.

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OzFox and SVFPUG sites updated

Posted on October 23, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

The OzFox site has been updated with X-Box room details, 4 for 5 registration deal

The Sydney VFP User Group site has details of the upcoming October meeting and a new jobs page

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COM+ and Terminal Server

Posted on October 22, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

We are big fans of COM+ here, and use it a lot for projects that have desktop and web components. You probably don’t need convincing of its merits, so I’ll hold off on that.We are also big fans of Terminal Services. Many of our clients are going for the Terminal Server option as it allows them to log in from home etc. OK, you don’t need convincing of its merits either.

Sometimes however we get problems combining the two. That is, we have many clients using Terminal Server and we host our COM objects on that same server in Component Services.

Last night a client rang me to say that one of our apps had stopped working. Turns out they had updated Terminal Services on the server and added a new user. The new user wasn’t working at all. The COM object just plain failed to load. I went down the security and authentication path, thinking that the COM+ service might running under an expired account etc. But it wasn’t that.

So then the question becomes: how do you debug COM+ issues over the phone with the client. And most clients don’t have a lot of expertise with COM+ after all (why should they, that’s our job right). So after trying a few things I finally call Scott (he’s our Chief Software Architect) and ask his advice. He dictates a simple vbs script to me which I relay onto the client. It is really simple, just asking them to open notepad and type in the following:

dim o
set o = createobject(“TechSeller.Application”)
msgbox o.versionnoset
o = nothing

You can change the appropriate COM+ name (in this case ours was TechSeller) and you may change the property you display. We have a versionno parameter on our application object.

OK, so the client saves this on the desktop as test.vbs, double-clicks and whammo, a really obscure error comes up. This script is actually pretty helpful, because the error message is a good guide. If it is permissions it will give you a reasonably helpful pointer to the problem. In this case the message was really weird, and looked like the logged in user couldn’t even call COM+ services.
Next step, yep delete the COM+ package and reinstall it. Worked like a charm. Ran the script again and got our version number.

So, what is the problem then? And here’s where it gets a little grey. We’ve found from time to time that Terminal Server has conflicts with COM+, usually when remote users log in under a different name to the user the COM+ package was installed under. COM+ has settings for impersonation which should take care of all this, but sometimes, it gets a little flaky.

To be fair to Terminal Services, when the client had updated Terminal Services it had warned them that some installed app may not work. Perhaps we should have reinstalled the COM+ package and programs as a rule.
I’ll know for next time.

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COM+ and Terminal Server

Posted on October 21, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

We are big fans of COM+ here, and use it a lot for projects that have desktop and web components. You probably don’t need convincing of its merits, so I’ll hold off on that.We are also big fans of Terminal Services. Many of our clients are going for the Terminal Server option as it allows them to log in from home etc. OK, you don’t need convincing of its merits either.



Sometimes however we get problems combining the two. That is, we have many clients using Terminal Server and we host our COM objects on that same server in Component Services.



Last night a client rang me to say that one of our apps had stopped working. Turns out they had updated Terminal Services on the server and added a new user. The new user wasn’t working at all. The COM object just plain failed to load. I went down the security and authentication path, thinking that the COM+ service might running under an expired account etc. But it wasn’t that.



So then the question becomes: how do you debug COM+ issues over the phone with the client. And most clients don’t have a lot of expertise with COM+ after all (why should they, that’s our job right). So after trying a few things I finally call Scott (he’s our Chief Software Architect) and ask his advice. He dictates a simple vbs script to me which I relay onto the client. It is really simple, just asking them to open notepad and type in the following:

dim o

set o = createobject(“TechSeller.Application”)

msgbox o.versionnoset

o = nothing



You can change the appropriate COM+ name (in this case ours was TechSeller) and you may change the property you display. We have a versionno parameter on our application object.



OK, so the client saves this on the desktop as test.vbs, double-clicks and whammo, a really obscure error comes up. This script is actually pretty helpful, because the error message is a good guide. If it is permissions it will give you a reasonably helpful pointer to the problem. In this case the message was really weird, and looked like the logged in user couldn’t even call COM+ services.

Next step, yep delete the COM+ package and reinstall it. Worked like a charm. Ran the script again and got our version number.

So, what is the problem then? And here’s where it gets a little grey. We’ve found from time to time that Terminal Server has conflicts with COM+, usually when remote users log in under a different name to the user the COM+ package was installed under. COM+ has settings for impersonation which should take care of all this, but sometimes, it gets a little flaky.

To be fair to Terminal Services, when the client had updated Terminal Services it had warned them that some installed app may not work. Perhaps we should have reinstalled the COM+ package and programs as a rule.

I’ll know for next time.

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Internet access cost

Posted on October 21, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Reading Rick’s rant about phone companies reminds me of the situation I’m having providing wireless internet access at OzFox. The venue want to charge $25 for a 2 hour wireless card or $44 for a 12 hour card per attendee. Hello! This is a developer conference. You know, geeks with notebooks who like to check the web from time to time. Hi, welcome to the conference, now bend over… Who actually forks out the bucks and pays this kind of thing?

Or how about if you want to connect to the net in your hotel room. Try 55c a minute. Yep. But don’t despair – they generously cap this at $29 a day. What a joke. Why are we so far behind the rest of the world? Surely the internet is common place now, even in this little country at the bottom of the world. No wonder Bill Gates sniggered few years back and gave us a pounding about our dinosour attitude to the net.

Here’s what I want. Every hotel or business of reasonable size should just provide wireless internet access at fair prices. I’m thinking $1 an hour is reasonable, capped at $5 a day. At these rates you’d pay approx $150 if you stayed for a whole month. That’s atleast twice as much as most of the main broadband plans on the market, so the hotel would easily cover its costs. Even Telstra can’t charge that much for personal plans (ok, I’m not talking about business plans here). And don’t tell me wireless should cost more – it so bloody easy to set up a wireless hub.
How about this for an idea. Maybe I should head down around the venue and see how many wireless access points are freely available (you know, all those people who don’t even put a key on their hubs). Perhaps I can just jack into some poor bloke’s hub and provide it for free. Yes, ofcourse I’m joking.

Or if you want to really get my support then provide the wireless internet access free to hotel guests and conference attendees. I’d be promoting you all over the place. You’d soon have people lining up to do business with you.

But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Hotels have been doing this kind of thing for years. Ever made a long distance phone call from your hotel room? Yep, you an easily be charged more on a 30 minute phone call than your daily room rate. It is a disgrace.

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Internet access cost

Posted on October 21, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

Reading Rick’s rant about phone companies reminds me of the situation I’m having providing wireless internet access at OzFox. The venue want to charge $25 for a 2 hour wireless card or $44 for a 12 hour card per attendee. Hello! This is a developer conference. You know, geeks with notebooks who like to check the web from time to time. Hi, welcome to the conference, now bend over… Who actually forks out the bucks and pays this kind of thing?



Or how about if you want to connect to the net in your hotel room. Try 55c a minute. Yep. But don’t despair – they generously cap this at $29 a day. What a joke. Why are we so far behind the rest of the world? Surely the internet is common place now, even in this little country at the bottom of the world. No wonder Bill Gates sniggered few years back and gave us a pounding about our dinosour attitude to the net.

Here’s what I want. Every hotel or business of reasonable size should just provide wireless internet access at fair prices. I’m thinking $1 an hour is reasonable, capped at $5 a day. At these rates you’d pay approx $150 if you stayed for a whole month. That’s atleast twice as much as most of the main broadband plans on the market, so the hotel would easily cover its costs. Even Telstra can’t charge that much for personal plans (ok, I’m not talking about business plans here). And don’t tell me wireless should cost more – it so bloody easy to set up a wireless hub.

How about this for an idea. Maybe I should head down around the venue and see how many wireless access points are freely available (you know, all those people who don’t even put a key on their hubs). Perhaps I can just jack into some poor bloke’s hub and provide it for free. Yes, ofcourse I’m joking.



Or if you want to really get my support then provide the wireless internet access free to hotel guests and conference attendees. I’d be promoting you all over the place. You’d soon have people lining up to do business with you.



But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Hotels have been doing this kind of thing for years. Ever made a long distance phone call from your hotel room? Yep, you an easily be charged more on a 30 minute phone call than your daily room rate. It is a disgrace.

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Promoting OzFox

Posted on October 14, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m trying to promote OzFox to people – it has come as shock to me that when I finally contact some hard to find Foxies they haven’t even heard of OzFox. I’d hate people to miss out because I couldn’t reach them.
Please help me to promote OzFox to everyone in Australia and further abroad. If you’ve got any ideas on how to reach people please let me know. Send me a note at cb@talman.com.au

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Promoting OzFox

Posted on October 14, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m trying to promote OzFox to people – it has come as shock to me that when I finally contact some hard to find Foxies they haven’t even heard of OzFox. I’d hate people to miss out because I couldn’t reach them.

Please help me to promote OzFox to everyone in Australia and further abroad. If you’ve got any ideas on how to reach people please let me know. Send me a note at cb@talman.com.au


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Giving up coffee

Posted on October 2, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

You know, we Aussies can learn a lot from the Americans when it comes to service – everything here in the hotel is organised well, and the staff are all polite and keen to help. I haven’t come across a grumpy person yet.
But when it comes to coffee they don’t have a clue. We’ve had coffee at a number of places now and it has all been terrible. They even have a Starbucks in the hotel, and after 4 coffees over different days they are consistently bad (consistency is actually a good thing).
So, that would mean I am only having the coffee to keep away the withdrawal. I don’t enjoy the coffee, it has a bad aftertaste, and it costs me money. Sounds dumb. So, I’m giving it up. What’s the use of a habit if it doesn’t bring any pleasure. I’m bracing for the withdrawal headache…
If anyone can point me in the direction of a good coffee though, I’m all ears…

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Las Vegas Sunrise

Posted on October 2, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |


Vegas sunrise – taken from my hotel room at the JW Marriott

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Giving up coffee

Posted on October 1, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

You know, we Aussies can learn a lot from the Americans when it comes to service – everything here in the hotel is organised well, and the staff are all polite and keen to help. I haven’t come across a grumpy person yet.

But when it comes to coffee they don’t have a clue. We’ve had coffee at a number of places now and it has all been terrible. They even have a Starbucks in the hotel, and after 4 coffees over different days they are consistently bad (consistency is actually a good thing).

So, that would mean I am only having the coffee to keep away the withdrawal. I don’t enjoy the coffee, it has a bad aftertaste, and it costs me money. Sounds dumb. So, I’m giving it up. What’s the use of a habit if it doesn’t bring any pleasure. I’m bracing for the withdrawal headache…

If anyone can point me in the direction of a good coffee though, I’m all ears…

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Las Vegas Sunrise

Posted on October 1, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |



Vegas sunrise – taken from my hotel room at the JW Marriott

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FoxPro Devcon

Posted on October 1, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m having a ball at Devcon, and here’s my thoughts so far…
Wednesday I was so wasted from the flights and late night that I barely made it to the pre-conference venue. I gave up and crashed back in my room until housekeeping woke me up at 2pm. Speaking of housekeeping, they came into my room on Tuesday morning just after I came out of the shower. Yep, walked right in and saw me in my full glory. As I stared in disbelief the lady (she was staring too ) said I should put up the privacy sign on my door. Come on! its only 9am, surely you can expect people to be still in their room – maybe they do it differently here.
But I digress.
Anyway I felt great that afternoon and was in high spirits for the opening keynote on Tuesday night. As I mentioned yesterday it was a fantastic opening, over 2 hours of demos and features in VFP9. The content has been covered well by other bloggers (see Andrew MacNeil for example). The highlight was meeting Lisa Slator Nicholls, Doug Hennig, Ken Levy, David Stevenson and Rick Strahl.
Today (Thursday) started with a continental breakfast – just think sugar. Danishes, sugar snacks, jam, other sugary things. Where’s some cereal dudes? I need my carbs.
First session was Rick talking about using IE in VFP. An older talk but non then less very useful. Plenty of content, good pace, easy to listen to. I was very happy with this one.
The next few sessions weren’t so good. I’m not going to mention names here (unless they were good), but suffice to say my main gripes was lack of preparation by some speakers. I can always tell a speaker hasn’t prepared well because they run out of time with a stack of the presentation to go. The less prepared a speaker is, the more they woffle on during the talk, and hence run out of time. To me it just smacks of lack of respect for the audience. We are all busy people, time is money, don’t go wasting our time with your woffle please.
Also, the tendency to over explain. A few speakers were prone to this. Lesson: don’t assume we are basic idiots. OK, we may not have used a particular feature before (ever!) but that doesn’t mean you need to explain it to us 3 times in nauseating detail. We are not children! Oh, and one final thing. Please start on time. You only have an hour and 15 to present, don’t sit around chatting waiting for more people to turn up (they didn’t). One session started atleast 10 minutes late.
OK, with that off my chest, let me praise some of the great sessions I went to. Andrew MacNeil had a great session on the developer toolbox – plenty of tips and tricks there. I love coming out of a session feeling compelled to run back to my notebook and start coding, and I did this after his session. Nice work.
But the stand out was Doug Hennig. This man is the consumate professional. Prepared completely. He started on time, sped through the content at a good pace, had plenty of examples. There was no stuff ups and missing code, or overexplaining. He took questions well, but didn’t let them distract from the session. His content was superb, another case of ‘let me get to my notebook now’ and he finished on time. Excellent work. All other speakers should have to attend a Doug Hennig session to see how it is done.
We are going to be very well looked after at OzFox with Doug and Rick along. I’m sure the other speakers are going to be great (I haven’t heard them yet, except for Ken during the keynote which was very good).

So, my summary thus far is: I’m learning heaps of useful things, but am a bit disappointed about some of the speakers being underprepared. My point of comparison is TechEd which I went to in August. I came home absolutely raving about that event. Every session (except one) was excellent. Thoroughly prepared and professionally presented. My expectations of conferences are quite high now. So, this first day has brought me down a little. Is it worth coming to then? A definate yes to that. The stuff I’m learnging and thinking about is definately worth the time and money. And there’s still two more days. Yee hah. And… I got to meet Rick!

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FoxPro Devcon

Posted on October 1, 2004. Filed under: Visual FoxPro |

I’m having a ball at Devcon, and here’s my thoughts so far…

Wednesday I was so wasted from the flights and late night that I barely made it to the pre-conference venue. I gave up and crashed back in my room until housekeeping woke me up at 2pm. Speaking of housekeeping, they came into my room on Tuesday morning just after I came out of the shower. Yep, walked right in and saw me in my full glory. As I stared in disbelief the lady (she was staring too ) said I should put up the privacy sign on my door. Come on! its only 9am, surely you can expect people to be still in their room – maybe they do it differently here.

But I digress.

Anyway I felt great that afternoon and was in high spirits for the opening keynote on Tuesday night. As I mentioned yesterday it was a fantastic opening, over 2 hours of demos and features in VFP9. The content has been covered well by other bloggers (see Andrew MacNeil for example). The highlight was meeting Lisa Slator Nicholls, Doug Hennig, Ken Levy, David Stevenson and Rick Strahl.

Today (Thursday) started with a continental breakfast – just think sugar. Danishes, sugar snacks, jam, other sugary things. Where’s some cereal dudes? I need my carbs.


First session was Rick talking about using IE in VFP. An older talk but non then less very useful. Plenty of content, good pace, easy to listen to. I was very happy with this one.

The next few sessions weren’t so good. I’m not going to mention names here (unless they were good), but suffice to say my main gripes was lack of preparation by some speakers. I can always tell a speaker hasn’t prepared well because they run out of time with a stack of the presentation to go. The less prepared a speaker is, the more they woffle on during the talk, and hence run out of time. To me it just smacks of lack of respect for the audience. We are all busy people, time is money, don’t go wasting our time with your woffle please.

Also, the tendency to over explain. A few speakers were prone to this. Lesson: don’t assume we are basic idiots. OK, we may not have used a particular feature before (ever!) but that doesn’t mean you need to explain it to us 3 times in nauseating detail. We are not children! Oh, and one final thing. Please start on time. You only have an hour and 15 to present, don’t sit around chatting waiting for more people to turn up (they didn’t). One session started atleast 10 minutes late.

OK, with that off my chest, let me praise some of the great sessions I went to. Andrew MacNeil had a great session on the developer toolbox – plenty of tips and tricks there. I love coming out of a session feeling compelled to run back to my notebook and start coding, and I did this after his session. Nice work.


But the stand out was Doug Hennig. This man is the consumate professional. Prepared completely. He started on time, sped through the content at a good pace, had plenty of examples. There was no stuff ups and missing code, or overexplaining. He took questions well, but didn’t let them distract from the session. His content was superb, another case of ‘let me get to my notebook now’ and he finished on time. Excellent work. All other speakers should have to attend a Doug Hennig session to see how it is done.

We are going to be very well looked after at OzFox with Doug and Rick along. I’m sure the other speakers are going to be great (I haven’t heard them yet, except for Ken during the keynote which was very good).



So, my summary thus far is: I’m learning heaps of useful things, but am a bit disappointed about some of the speakers being underprepared. My point of comparison is TechEd which I went to in August. I came home absolutely raving about that event. Every session (except one) was excellent. Thoroughly prepared and professionally presented. My expectations of conferences are quite high now. So, this first day has brought me down a little. Is it worth coming to then? A definate yes to that. The stuff I’m learnging and thinking about is definately worth the time and money. And there’s still two more days. Yee hah. And… I got to meet Rick!

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