As if Microsoft could not shoot themselves in the foot even MORE…

Ok, the words "absolutely scary" come to mind with this Excel 2007 bug.  Serious doesn’t even BEGIN to describe this problem.  Ok, so putting in numbers that evaluate to 65535 get an incorrect return value.  It’s specific, why should anyone worry?  Weellll… That’s because now no one know what ELSE will evaluate incorrectly.  What other number combinations will screw up?  Could you imagine saying to a CEO that the company balances are wrong because of Excel is buggy?

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A walk down memory lane…

Steve Patrick wrote up a nice little Monday morning blog about the Commodore 64.  Ah, that brings back LOTS of memories.  My C64 was my ONLY computer for close to 5 years.  My parents, too, believed that game systems rot the brain (and I can’t disagree too much 🙂 ).  Fortunately, the computer at the time was FAR more understandable than what we have now.  Heck, the user’s manual included a schematic of the computer’s logic board.  Try THAT nowadays!  I remember learning the PEEKs and POKEs for the ROM table, and could usually figure out most of the programs that were typed in.  It was a wonderful machine to learn on.  Plus, the games were cool.  I remember spending a summer playing Elite against my step sister, and building tracks with my friends with Racing Destruction Set.  The first ever D&D games were amazing on the C64, and mapping out the dungeons in the Bard’s Tales was really cool.  For productivity, there were two word processors that I cut my teeth on, one being the free one from Compute! (or Compute’s Gazette!) and then one which I can’t remember the name, but it did some AMAZING stuff.  I made a good deal of money typing up papers, printing certificates, and generally doing computer stuff all the time. 

What a great machine, and what great memories…

So, what REALLY changed?

Hmmm, I don’t really know how to write this post…  Last weekend’s monumental heady-ness has been rolling around in my head all this week.  I had taken three days off, and over those 72 hours time spent something like 18 hours driving, 2 hours dancing, 7 hours walking, and maybe 10 hours sleeping.  Very little of the time was actual ‘thinking’.  And, I had a blast.  A LOT went on that is STILL rolling around in my mind.

One of the things that really struck me was how nice and friendly people were.  People said ‘Hello’, ‘Hi’, ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘Excuse me’.  There were fireworks at my cousin’s wedding (yes, real fireworks, not some metaphor for people in love or fighting, or both 🙂 ).  My cousin, my grandmother, my aunt, and I were talking about it on the way to check out.  A lady with a couple of children asked us if that was something that happened on a regular basis, or if we knew anything about it.  We proceeded to explain about the wedding, and that it wasn’t a normal occurrence (as least, as far as we knew).  What struck me was how well behaved the children were, they didn’t interrupt at all, and how easy it was to talk to a perfect stranger.  The lady didn’t complain, she thought they were really cool.  In South Florida, all you would have heard is someone grousing about how the fireworks kept them up.  Plus, the children would have been running around like wild things.  Maybe that was an isolated incident, but when we walked around the old city, one did not see the kind of bedlam that one sees on a regular basis here.

The other thing was the drivers.  I was speaking with my cousin who lives in the area, and he said, "we have terrible drivers here".  I replied, "If terrible means that they use their signals, don’t go flying by you on the right hand side of the road at 100 mph, and actually wait for you to get out of their way, and they actually get out of the way if you are in a hurry, sign me up!"  He was shocked at what I described as routine traffic.

I guess I’m just a little tired of inconsiderate behavior.  For some reason, in South Florida, being rude and obnoxious is the standard behavior, expected even.  I’ve made a conscious effort to calm my driving down.  Heck, I’ve even considered changing cars.

Oh well… as someone I know said, "Such is the price for living in paradise."  I’m beginning to wonder…

How to fix the error ‘The following Web Projects must be converted to the new Web Site format’ message when the project is already converted

Oh boy, this one has been *killing* me and my team.  In Visual Studio 2005 SP 1, we converted a couple of old VS 2003 projects into the new Visual Studio web projects.  After conversion, though, we continued to get the following error:

The following Web projects must be converted to the new Web Site format. The conversion process will remove all source control bindings and the project will not be under source control after migration.

xxxxx.csproj

Source Control Error message

It turns out that there are 2 files that need to change to fix this little error.  The first is the Project_Name.csproj.vspscc file (*.vspscc).  This file will look something like this:

""
{
"FILE_VERSION" = "9237"
"ENLISTMENT_CHOICE" = "COMPULSORY"
"PROJECT_FILE_RELATIVE_PATH" = ""
"NUMBER_OF_EXCLUDED_FILES" = "0"
"ORIGINAL_PROJECT_FILE_PATH" = "http://localhost/WebApplication1/WebApplication1.csproj"
"NUMBER_OF_NESTED_PROJECTS" = "0"
"SOURCE_CONTROL_SETTINGS_PROVIDER" = "PROVIDER"
}

Change the line ENLISTMENT_CHOICE from COMPULSORY to NEVER, and remove the value from inside of the ORIGINAL_PROJECT_FILE_PATH variable.  The new file will look like this:

""
{
"FILE_VERSION" = "9237"
"ENLISTMENT_CHOICE" = "NEVER"
"PROJECT_FILE_RELATIVE_PATH" = ""
"NUMBER_OF_EXCLUDED_FILES" = "0"
"ORIGINAL_PROJECT_FILE_PATH" = ""
"NUMBER_OF_NESTED_PROJECTS" = "0"
"SOURCE_CONTROL_SETTINGS_PROVIDER" = "PROVIDER"
}

Next, open the .sln file in a text editor.  Look for the following line:

SccProjectEnlistmentChoicexx = 2

Where xx is the project number.  One only needs to search for the text SccProjectEnlistmentChoice to find the line(s) in the solution file.  Now, remove the entire line that contains the SccProjectEnlistmentChoice text.

Save both files, and re-open the solution.  That should clear out that pesky error message!

A weekend I’ll never forget

How do I put into words one of the most amazing weekends I’ve ever had?  I’ll try, so bear with me…

It all started with the fact that my cousin was getting married this weekend in Charleston, SC.  I didn’t know if my schedule was going to permit me to go or now until last Friday.  At that point, I was not able to schedule a flight for a reasonable rate.  Also, my other cousin who lives in the area wanted to go.  So, she and I decided to rent a car and drive up to the wedding.

The first incredible thing was that we sort of had an unspoken ban on all gadgets, excepting a couple of cell phones.  No laptop computer, no iPod, no TVs nor portable DVD players were brought along.  In fact, I think I had a TV on for a grand total of 10 minutes since Thursday, and that was just to find out how horribly UT was beaten by Florida.  😦  It was amazing how nice it was to not have to be checking the computer in the morning and the evening, or listening for an instant messenger noise.  For the most part, my quiet cousin and I ended up talking almost the entire time.  We didn’t even listen to the radio or CDs in the car for the over 16 hours of driving!

The second thing was the wedding itself.  At the last minute, my cousin asked me run a camera to video tape the wedding.  Hey, since she asked I certainly couldn’t say no.  So, I ended up running around the ceremony with a camera, trying to get some good footage.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of video sense, and the bugs from outside were trying to eat everyone alive, so I make no promises on the quality of the tape.  I did try my best 🙂  What did make it special was that my cousin came up to me and said how important the tape was going to be to her.  I hope she is happy with the result, it was a beautiful ceremony, and the reception was cool…

Speaking of the reception…  Talk about a total blast.  What really topped the evening off, and made it very special was that my grandmother was out on the dance floor.  This is a lady who’s had surgeries on her knees and walks with a cane sometimes.  Well, on the wedding night, she was really into the band and the music, and ended up out dancing!  I’ll post photos as soon as I get them.

It was a wonderful weekend.  I was able to catch up with many members of the family that I don’t normally get to talk to very often.

I’ll have more to write about this weekend, but for now, I’ve got to crash…

RIP Robert Jordan

Oh my god…  One of my favorite authors died today.  James Rigney, better know as Robert Jordan, passed away today.  I’m incredibly stunned.  In an incredible coincidence, I was in Charleston, SC this weekend, just leaving this very morning.

Rest In Peace James… you will be sorely missed.  May the Creator’s light shine upon you for all time…

Hangin’ with the (Garage) band…

Yesterday, Apple announced Logic 8 for the Mac.  Looking over the new Logic Studio package, I couldn’t help but think that I am one step closer to never using Windows at home.  Even though Cakewalk’s Sonar has a new version coming out fairly soon, I’m still very interested in Logic.  The leaked feature list for Sonar 7 looks like they are addressing their customer’s concerns very nicely.  (No, I’m not going publish it.  I respect that the list is not complete, nor approved.  Cakewalk has already pulled it, but confirmed that the leaked feature list is part of the upgrade. ) 

Back on subject… Before going out and spending ANY money on new toys, I decided that maybe I should try out what I already own on the Mac, which is GarageBand.  I’ve played with Garageband a couple of times before, as it makes it easy to set up a drum loop for practicing.  This time, though, I sat down with it with and paid a little more attention to what I was doing.  I set up a couple of drum loops, played some guitar over it, added a bass line, and very quickly had a working song sketch.  I threw it away, as I wasn’t really happy with the results, but I was happy with how easy it was to get the stuff going.  I even went and watched the Garageband video tutorials.  There’s some interesting stuff there.  I still have some digging, but I’ll be writing some blog entries on my experiences with Garageband!

As a final aside…  I found out that my GuitarPro tab software doesn’t work with the M-Audio firewire drivers on the Mac.  GuitarPro says it will be fixed in a future release, but gave no time frame on the release date.  Honestly, though, I don’t care.  My M-Audio device is gonna be history next week.  I’m tired of the incompatibilities, problems, and general aggravation this thing has put me through.  Looks like it’s time for either a Presonus or MOTU interface!

I will never use Windows Vista again, if I can help it…

Today was ANOTHER final straw…  I had unplugged my Windows Vista machine about a month ago (coincidentally the same time the Mac Pro came home), and it hasn’t been on since. 

This weekend, though, I needed to get something off of the Vista machine.  Never has a more painful experience been had. 

First up, everything screamed that updates had not been done since 8/15.  Ok, fair enough.  Well, the first thing that had to be updated was the updater itself.  Ok.  Wait a sec, it requires a REBOOT after the updater updated?  WHY!?!  So, reboot.  Then 4 updates to install.  Another reboot.  Grr… Video card update.  Another reboot.  Tried updating the audio interface drivers.  Well, I utterly failed at that.  Did I mention that each reboot took close to 5 minutes EACH!?!  So, instead of a simple 10 minute process, I ended up spending almost AN HOUR futzing with the computer.

Again, I’m not an average user.  I have a LOT of patience when it comes to dealing with computers.  And, I’m now at my wit’s end.  Fortunately, it’s just time lost, not data.  Still, I wouldn’t recommend Vista to ANYONE, and have been working on getting my customers over to OS X.

MacPro update

One of the big features of the new Intel Macs is Boot Camp.  In fact, that was one of the reasons that I bought my MacPro was because if I *REALLY* needed Windows and the compatibility, I could always boot into boot camp.

Well, it’s been a month, and I have no desire to even THINK about Boot Camp!  VMWare Fusion is more than enough to run the few Windows programs that I still need.  The only two things I really need on Windows is Windows Live Writer and Microsoft Money.  (Grrr, Quicken LEARN TO IMPORT MONEY FILES!)  Fusion really helps wean one away from Windows.  If it wasn’t for some development I’m doing, I really wouldn’t even be using Fusion.

So far, so good, so long Windows!

Creating line numbers for SQL Server 2005 tables

Sometimes, being under a deadline can lead to creative solutions…  Take for example the problem of Line Numbers for an Order Detail type table.  Today, I was working on crossing data from a non-numbered table to a table that contained line numbers.  Oh boy.  Stored Procedure time!  Ack!  Lot’s o’ loops and counters.  Bleech.  Time for some Googling.

After searching for about 10 minutes, I happened across this article about sequential numbering in SQL 2005.  Hey!  That’s exactly what I needed!  SQL Server’s Row_Number() function was perfect!  Saved me a day of coding, thinking and debugging.

Moral of this story…  Look before leaping and Research is GOOD!  It only takes 10 – 15 minutes of research time to cut off hours and days of development time!

UPDATE:  My friend Rick asked how to do this in SQL 2000 and Oracle.  SQL 2000 doesn’t support the Row_Number function, but ORACLE does!  Here’s an article about Row_Number and Oracle.

A question of gear

Today, a new reader to the blog (Hi Guitar Dad!) asked about a good recording interface for the guitar and/or vocals.  I would have loved to answer out of personal experience, but I don’t have a lot of different interfaces.  I’ve used two or three different interfaces over the course of 10 years, mainly some variation of an M-Audio product.  (Delta 66, Delta RBus, and FW-1814)  And, after M-Audio’s hi-jinx with their drivers, I’m planning on staying away from them in the future.  My friend Rick got a Toneport and ran it with the Mac.  It seems like a good little guitar / vocal interface, but it does take a bit of setup and understanding.

Lately, Edirol has been producing some nice drivers for their FireWire and USB devices.  Very straightforward and relatively inexpensive.

MOTU has finally stepped up to producing some nice drivers to go along with their devices.  All of their audio capture devices are high quality, even if they are on the more expensive side of basic.

Presonus has the Firepod, which always gets spoken of highly on the newsgroups.  Also, they have a little tutorial on computer recording.

Now, from what I’ve seen, they all have their little gotchas.  If you want to read up on the different interfaces (and their problems with Sonar) check out the Cakewalk Sonar user’s forum.  Search for an interface you are interested in, and you’ll find someone having problems with it.  I guess the best thing is to read what issues are popping up, and decide if they will affect you.  At that point, go for it!  Good thing that Guitar Center and Sam Ash have 30 day refunds…

I think I know why so much has leaked from Apple lately…

Well, today we saw the release of a refresh of the entire Apple iPod line.  What made it VERY interesting was that almost nothing that was announced was a surprise.  (Well the Starbucks thing was, but that wasn’t even remotely interesting).  For Apple, this is very strange behavior, as most announcements Steve likes to have total secrecy.  I still remember when the new iMacs were announced, and ATI had posted the specs an hour early by accident.  Don’t see too many ATI cards for Apple, do ya?

What’s interesting is that I believe the leaks are being at least partially sanctioned.  Too many places have been right for it not to be a controlled in some way shape or form.  And, almost every bit of the rumors before the last two press releases have been right, even down to the odd day (Wednesday) that it was held on.

I have a theory as to why this is happening…  The hype couldn’t continue.  After last years WWDC conference, the entire Mac line had transitioned to Intel.  The iPod got updated a couple of weeks later.  Apple had released almost all of the big new stuff for the holiday season.  There was nothing new, nothing really ready for the Macworld presentation in ’07.  In fact, nothing for the Mac AT ALL was announced at Macworld.  The rumor sites had churned out some crazy rumors about different products.  No one really believed the iPhone rumor, instead focusing on the possibility of new iPods, iMacs, minis, and a possible early Leopard release.  When the dust settled with the keynote, most Apple enthusiasts were left rather empty and/or upset.  The same thing happened at this year’s WWDC.  The final ‘secret features’ were revealed for Leopard, and that was about it.  Again, the enthusiasts were upset.  And, because we are a vocal group, we let Apple know we were displeased!  So, I they started ‘leaking’ information to prepare everyone for the announcements.  That way, there’d be no surprises, no let-downs.  We’d still be excited to see what’s released, but there wouldn’t be any unrealistic expectations.

Not a bad idea, really.

The first spinning beach ball of death (sorta)

So, today my Mac had the first spinning beach ball of death.  What was interesting about this was that I was in iTunes, a notoriously stable app…  What was truly wonderful was that I was able to click on the icon of the stalled app in the dock bar, right click for a context menu, and select ‘Force Quit’, and the application disappeared.  No fuss, no muss, no unstable system.  Try THAT on a Windows box!  In fact, this process was the most usable system hang process I’ve ever seen.

Now, *why* did iTunes hang, you ask?  Dirty (as in dusty and figerprinty!) CDs.  Seems that the CD/DVD reader is a little bit picky on how dirty the disk can be.  Simple wipe down to remove the dust and fingerprints, and voila! working iTunes import.