All things tech.

HttpContext.Current.Profile is null in iis7 (Vista, Windows 7, 2008 Server)

Took an ASP.NET app to an IIS7 and suddenly lost access to Profile. After much trial, error, and Googling, found that the following attribute must be present on the <modules> element inside the <system.webserver> element: <modules runAllManagedModulesForAllRequests="true"> Hope I saved you some time.

Enable network drive support in Windows Live Movie Maker

Via here and here: If you'd like to be able to add pictures or video to Windows Live Movie Maker from a network drive without having to copy files over to your local machine, here's a quick registry hack: Run regedit.exe Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Movie Maker Add DWORD key named AllowNetworkFiles Open the key and switch the value to 1 Now you should be able to open Movie Maker and add a source file from a network location.  

Zenfolio review update

A while back, I posted a review of Zenfolio service, comparing it to Sony ImageStation. I was quite happy with Zenfolio then, and even happier when Sony left thousands of people out in the cold by shutting down its service. Time passed, Zenfolio matured and added features, and I figured it was appropriate to update my review. To recap, in my original review I dinged Zenfolio for its lack of an address book for photo sharing, missing a way to track visitors, or for visitors to leave feedback, and finally the ability to print. I am happy to say that most of these...

Another problem with Mozy restore

I wrote a few days ago about my experience with Mozy after my main system drive crashed. I have a small update: after finally getting whatever little they had back from Mozy, I was determined not to let this happen again and so I went through and re-configured the MozyHome client to backup every folder I thought I might ever need. That should have added a couple of gigs to over 60Gb already on Mozy (from *other* hard drives). Yes, you guessed it. Mozy did not recognize the fact that it already has 95% of my data on their servers...

Mozy review: the restore horror story

Mozy is an online backup service with an attractive pricing model. It competes with the likes or carbonite and offers a range of plans to suit any budget (even no budget). I have been using the MozyHome plan for the past year and today got to test what Mozy is like in disaster recovery mode. Two days ago I restarted Windows to apply some updates, and when I returned, the computer was stuck at the boot screen complaining about a missing system file. The following evening, when I returned from work, things were worse, the drive would no spin up, and was...

An error occurred while using the BCP utility

If you are installing Microsoft Dynamics GP on Windows Vista, you may run into this error after starting GP Utilities: An error occurred while using the BCP utility--data was not correctly copied to the server. Please verify your ODBC settings and that BCP has been correctly installed. Microsoft Dynamics GP Utilities will now exit. It took quite a while, but I finally got this resolved. The solution is simple: run GP Utilities as Administrator.

How to re-enable Hibernate on Windows Vista

Windows Vista allows you to reclaim some hard drive space by removing the hibernation system file via the Disc Cleanup Wizard. What happens though is that once you do that, the option to hibernate is gone. Its not in the shutdown options, its not in the power options, its just gone. Here's how you get it back: Open an elevated CMD prompt (type in "cmd" into the windows search box, right click on "cmd" in search results, and click "Run as administrator") type in "powercfg -h on" and hit the ENTER key Voila, you've got Hibernate...

Photosharing service comparison and review: Zenfolio vs. ImageStation

Zenfolio is a new photo sharing website that aims to position itself one step above the first gen sites and looks to attract a more serious photographer. I was recommended this website by a friend and this is my review. I think I fall right smack in the middle of the target audience. I would classify myself as an aspiring amateur. My first camera was an SLR, my current camera is a DSLR and is a third digital camera I’ve owned. I have a handful of lenses, a dedicated flash, and probably know how to make use of about 25% of...

Google hiring strategy

Peter Norvig, Director of Google Research recently described the "Lake Wobegon" hiring strategy and contrasted it with two other strategies he dubbed "dot-com boom" and "hiring manager centric". The data is compelling and is worth considering, however I question the claim that Google hires people at the company level and then assigns them to projects (rather than hiring into project groups). That's just not been my experience (disclaimer: I don't work for Google so "my experience" is conjecture based on hearsay and public job descriptions).

Goodbye .Text, Hello SubText

Mr. Haack and crew finally made a public release of SubText available and I jumped at the opportunity to upgrade from .Text. My impressions thus far: they really nailed the install and migration experience, kudos! I like the new skins, I wish there were more The admin interface got a patchy here-and-there facelift, but the layout is messed up in IE, bummer. Its still not the engine for blog monetization (admittedly, that isn't a project goal) I was hoping to see verbose URL's but its pretty far off on the roadmap, not sure why (doesnt seem like a complex feature). It would be very helpful...

Table Planning Software

Back in the day when I ran (don't click!) one of the features I planned to add was the ability for users (engaged couples) to have a nice interface for pre-arranging guests at tables. I never got around to implementing it, but ran into a program today that claims to do just that. The screenshots look on target.

Try Google Pages, get spam

Last week Google unleashed another innovative service onto the world in the form of Google Pages (*cough* Geocities *cough* 1999 *cough*). Now anyone can easily put together a nice looking web site. Google supplies a whole bunch of professional looking templates, script is not allowed, editing is WYSIWYG, and there are no popups. In a word, brilliant. Except for one little tiny thing: your website address is, which just happens to correspond to your GMail address Now I am willing to bet there are already multiple trivial spiders running around looking for links to *, assembling the lists. I won't jump and...

Google Sitemaps robots.txt tool fixed!

A few days ago I wrote about an issue with Google's new sitemaps robots.txt checker. I am happy to report they've appeared to address the problem. I suspect a possible catalyst for the fix was my comment on Matt Cutts' blog reporting this issue (of course I am assuming I was the only one to notice this!). The odd thing is that Matt had since deleted my comment, but as long as the fix is in I'm not complaining.

Google Sitemaps robots.txt tool lies

[Update 2/14/06: checked again today and problem appears fixed. Score one for Google.] Last week, Google released an update to Google Sitemaps that added a robots.txt checker tool. I started experimenting with it today and found a rather odd behavior: the tool reports access allowed for terms that clearly should not be. I think I've got this boiled down to the simplest case, which appears to have to do with terms starting with “Web” (”W” has to be capitalized). I don't know whether this is domain specific, so I'd love to hear back whether you are able to reproduce this or not....

Aaron Wall posts some more SEO Buttons for Google toolbar

So, naturally the idea of using the new Google toolbar for SEO is not unique. Here are some more buttons from Aaron Wall of the SEO Book fame. I will say though that where applicable my buttons are better because they work both on the selected text and the page domain if no text is selected. But, no doubt Aaron will fix that in no time. ;-)

SEO Buttons for your Google Toolbar

I posted previously that Google Toolbar 4 is worth a try. I've since added a couple of custom buttons that I think would be of interest to SEO's. Grab them here: Yahoo! Site Explorer ButtonInternet Archive Button  Also be sure to grab Matt's Whois Button USAGE: - select the domain name in question on the web page you are viewing and hit the button- just hit the button to analyze the domain of the page you are viewing   What custom buttons have you added? Drop me a line.

Google Toolbar 4 -- Custom buttons make it worth the switch

Matt just sold me on Google Toolbar 4 with his writeup on custom buttons. I do still think that Google Toolbar's Popup Blocker is EVIL. I wonder where this bug (and it IS a bug) rates on the EvilRank scale?


I have set up to send me an email any time the site throws an error (including 404's). Its a great way to ensure that users receive a quality experience with the site, but its also quite informative. For example, you learn quite a bit about search engines by watching the behavior of their spiders. Yahoo! has been notoriosly slow about getting changes propagated through their system. We've moved some content around almost a year ago and set up 301 (permanent) redirects. While the Yahoo! slurp spider comes over frequently, on occasion it still requests old URL's. What prompted...

SEO resources and

I am relying more and more on Delicious as a personal info aggregator. If you'd like to follow along, here's what I have been reading on the topic of search engine optimization: You can even grab the RSS feed.

SEO Black Hat

I have recently been reading up on SEO, a dynamic and fascinating component of marketing on the Internet. SEO, for the uninitiated, stands for Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, its all about keeping up with the latest developments in search technologies and search engines with the intent to optimize your site to show up high in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). There are a number of techniques, constantly evolving, and they break down into “white hat” and “black hat” where the former represents reasonable efforts that will both help your visitors and the search engines locate the right content, and...

Custom HTTP error pages tip

Just a small reminder: if you are creating a customized page for a specific HTTP error, be sure to include code in the page to set the response error code appropriately. For reference, see this and this. For example, if you are using ASP.Net and are creating a custom 404 page, add this line to your Page_Load method: Response.StatusCode = 404;

How to write a unit test

Jason Diamond comments on Brad Wilson's post about unit tests' SetUp and TearDown methods. In the process, he lists some excellent general guidelines on how to structure your unit tests and fixtures. Definitely worth a read. Jason concludes: These days, I write a lot more fixtures. Each fixture has a unique SetUp method and the test cases usually contain nothing more than a single method call and one or two assertions. To figure out what the entire test case does, all I have to do is look at the SetUp method which, itself, is usually just a few lines of code....

Seeing /MSOffice/cltreq.asp in your logs?

As any good web developer should, I have all errors generated by my websites logged and emailed to me. I've been seeing a number of 404's lately with the following request:/MSOffice/cltreq.asp?UL=1&ACT=4&BUILD=5606&STRMVER=4&CAPREQ=0 If you are seeing this in your web logs, its because your users have Microsoft Office installed, and the discussion bar turned on in IE. IE is querying the server to see whether it supports web discussions.

Why Outlook support for IMAP is so poor

Jan Miksovsky, whose blog I discovered this week and would very highly recommend gripes about the poor IMAP support in Microsoft Outlook. As someone who's gotten fed up with it enough to open up an Exchange mail account just this week, all I can say is “Hear, hear!!!”. Sadly, I am not holding my breath for Office 12 either...

Refactoring under VS 2005 (Whidbey) and ASP.Net

Surely I am not alone out there developing ASP.Net applications under VS 2005 who would like to be able to use the new refactoring features. If you, like me, find the performance abysmal, please vote for this bug!

ICallbackEventHandler changes again

I reported on the change from Beta2 of Visual Studio 2005 to the July CTP in a previous post. According to latest information from Microsoft, the interface will undergo another change for RTM. Here it is from the horse's mouth: Callbacks enable ASP.NET controls to request data from the server using client script instead of posting back the page. For example, the TreeView control uses callbacks to populate child nodes when the parent node is expanded; this avoids the need to render the complete data hierarchy to the client on the initial page request. Controls will typically retrieve data from a...

Page update frequency affects PageRank

No surprise but the frequency of updates to a site/page affects Google PageRank. This blog's rank used to be 4 but since I have had less time to post, it has dropped to 3. Oh well.

WinDiff, WinMerge, and other usual suspects

If you are looking for a place to download WinDiff or just a list of diff/merge solutions for windows, take a look at Brad's post and comments...

Lorem Ipsum

Anyone who is in any way connected with graphic design and layout will invariably run into text that starts out with “Lorem ipsum...”. So what is this cryptic prose? If you guessed “latin”, give yourself a star. But what does it mean? This will give you a good start: Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also...

More free ASP.Net controls

In the department of link propagation. found these via Mike Gunderloy: Morrison Schwartz products.

Preview RAW camera files in Microsoft Picture and Fax Viewer

Via Shahine Omar, at $9.95 this dpMagic product is tempting. See screenshots.

Simple .Net screen ruler (awesome!)

Jeff Key posted a simple screen ruler he wrote in .Net (source included). Grab it today!

Will Visual Studio .Net 2005 be delayed into 2006?

Microsoft announced this week that it will pare down the planned feature set for Longhorn in order to be able to deliver the new OS in 2006. This caused big waves on the net and in the blogosphere with all sorts of speculation flying about. One take on the announcement places the Lognhorn release date in early 2006. If this is true (and that's a huge “if”), I am starting to wonder about the release schedule for Visual Studio .Net 2005. For those who haven't been following the development of the next version of Visual Studio, we were first expecting the...

Help Make Blogs More Visible!

There are by some estimates more than a million weblogs. But most of them get no visibility in search engines. Only a few "A-List" blogs get into the top search engine results for a given topic, while the majority of blogs just don't get noticed. The reason is that the smaller blogs don't have enough links pointing to them. But this posting could solve that. Let's help the smaller blogs get more visibility! This posting is GoMeme 4.0. It is part of an experiment to see if we can create a blog posting that helps 1000's of blogs get higher rankings...

WindowsXP needs a new SKU

I blogged yesterday about the affect of the WindowsXP service pack 2 on filesharing applications. Apparently, there is more fallout as reported by Dana Epp, Ian Griffiths, and Dominick Baier. I understand that the motivation for these changes was to make the WindowsXP platform less appealing to viruses and hacker tools, and I also understand that the reason there aren't easy overrides for the new limits is so that the aforementioned malware can't just flip the functionality back on. But, at the same time, the changes are detrimental to some legitimate applications. Microsoft could just cede those users to OSX...

WindowsXP sp2 slows down p2p apps

One of the security improvements in WindowsXP sp2 is a limit placed on the number of simultaneous incomplete outbound TCP connection attempts. This limit happens to be 10 connection per second, which just happens to adversely affect a number of p2p applications. To find out whether you are affected by this, check your System Event Log for Tcpip warnings with the event number 4226. Its won't be a surprise to anyone that the community came up with a “fix”, a patch actually, that changes some bits in the tcpip.sys file. This is not something I would condone, so I won't link to it. My...

Microsoft Visual J# .NET Redistributable Package 1.1

My primary hard drive crashed and I found myself in an unenviable position of having to reinstall the OS and a crapload of applications. Spare me the backup sermon please, the data was backed up. I didn't feel it was worth doing full backups because I haven't found a good (inexpensive) way to take them off-line and because sad as it is, it is still fairly healthy to repave a Microsoft OS once in a while. That's not the point of this post though. Reinstalling VS.Net 2003, I watched yet again as it installed the Microsoft Visual J# .NET Redistributable Package 1.1...

Fun with Iterators

Wesner digs into iterators in his new blog post. Its fascinating stuff and a lot to chew on. Its not clear to me though, in what way is his iterator-based chess game example better than code like the bit below? public class Game{   public static void Main()   {       bool gameOver = false;       while (! gameOver)       {          gameOver = DoWhiteMove();          if (! gameOver) gameOver = DoBlackMove();        }     }} (sorry about lack of proper formatting).

Troubleshooting Windows Firewall in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2

Another MSDN reference: Troubleshooting Windows Firewall in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2.

Message patterns in SOA

MSDN published a great overview of message patterns that one might encounter in the course of implementing a Service Oriented Architecture. The article also gives a quick overview of SOA and touches on the benefits of message rather than method centric approach.

LookOut available for download from Microsoft

Another Microsoft conspiracy theory down the drain: LookOut is available for download. Update: download moved, updated link.

Once upon a time in Mexico, a quick review

The movie sucked. The featurettes are really really interesting (and worth the rental), especially if you have any sort of interest in film-making or the application of technology to the creative process.

Missing VSS menus in VS.NET 2003

I opened up VS.NET 2003 today and realized that the Source Control menus were nowhere in sight. So if that happens to you, quick tip: register the SSSCC.dll and everything will be OK again. First, locate SSSCC.dll on your machine, typically located in the win32 folder of your Visual SourceSafe installation. Then open a command prompt in that folder and run the following command “regsvr32 ssscc.dll”. Restart VS.NET and all should be well. Good luck!

Googe (Toolbar) does evil, customer blames Microsoft

The customer in this case is me. You can catch all the gory technical details in my previous post. The gist of the issue is that the popup blocker that is part of the Google Toolbar has a nasty way of silently defeating certain Internet Explorer functionality that may have absolutely nothing to do with popping up an annoying ad. The worst part about it is that Google Toolbar is otherwise a fine piece of software that does give you both visual and sound cues when it catches and stops popups. This started two days ago when I discovered that part of...

JavaScript OnUnload event broken in IE6

[Update: This blog post sets up the problem, though it appears I was pointing the finger the wrong way. It turns out the problem was caused by Google Toolbar. See my followup post for more details.] The JavaScript / JScript onunload event is notoriously unreliable from browser to browser. Reading though various USENET posts leads me to believe that the behaviour is slightly different between Mozilla derivatives, Opera, and IE. That sucks but is nothing new. What is, however, annoying is that behaviour differs on the same browser. A few months ago I coded up some functionality that persisted state back to...

Enable Remote Desktop remotely (via registry)

A great tip from Tony Schreiner on how to remotely enable Remote Desktop. I wish I had known this earlier. Make sure to look in the comments for a tip on doing this straight through registry.

Google mystery solved... or is it?

I belive I solved the mystery presented in my previous blog entry. I believe the link that ties my sites to my name is, in fact, this very blog. Its still odd though that both sites appeared higher in rank than the blog itself... Hmm...

Another Google Mystery

So I thought I understood the magic that is Google but clearly I was wrong. A few weeks ago I signed up for Google Web Alerts and recently got a few emails with hits on my name. This prompted me to wonder what someone would see if they tried to google me. The result was not at all what I expected. Although both and are my creations, neither has ever had my name on any of its pages. In fact, to the best of my recollection, the only places my name could ever have surfaced in association with those...

DevDays 2004: attendee demographics.

One more comment on DevDays: is it just me or are developers getting older? Looking around, it appeared to me like the average age of attendees was pushing high thirties. Made me feel decidedly young. Is it that there is no fresh blood in Valley? Was this event marketed only to the “senior” people? Should I remove the quotes? Or have all the younger devs defected to the OSS side? On the other hand, there was much comfort (yes, I am being sarcastic) in there being only 2.35 women in the audience. It looks like on that front things haven't changed at all....

Explosive News: RFID's in cash

Via Raymond Chen, apparently the new US dollar bills have built-in RFID's (that explode, sort of). So pretty soon a technologically inclined thief will be able to discriminate his victims by the amount of cash they carry. Not likely? How about if I substitute “casino” for “thief”? [Update: see my previous post on the subject.]

RFID's and your privacy wrt libraries

This afternoon I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman on a train. He started it with a simple question: “What can you tell me about R.F.I.D. in 25 words or less?”. It turned out that my answer contained just the things he was looking for. I was able to define RFID, name the first big implementer, and mention the fact that there are privacy issues surrounding the technology. The rest of the time he spent trying to convince me that RFID's are particularly dangerous in the context of a public library. The gist of his argument was that RFIDs tied to...