Mary Jo Foley is All About Microsoft

Ed Bott posts the feed URL for Mary Jo Foley's new blog All About Microsoft. Glad to see Mary Jo back online so soon. Both her blog and Ed Bott's Windows Expertise are on my required reading list.

One request, Mary Jo: please publish the full text of your articles in the feed. Judging by your first two posts, the feed has only summary descriptions. Those of us who read news feeds in a feed reader usually don't want to switch to a browser to get the full article.

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Southwest Fox 2006 is only a month away


The Southwest Fox 2006 conference in Phoenix, Arizona is only a month away. Conference organizer Bob Kocher says the hotel is filling up fast, but there's still time to sign up and attend what promises to be another outstanding event. I'm a speaker again this year, but I'm also an attendee and I'm not exaggerating when I say I'm really pumped about the sessions I'll be able to attend when I'm not doing one of my own. The depth and breadth of technical content at this conference looks to be outstanding.

If you need incentives to attend -- besides the benefits of getting together with other VFP developers, immersing yourself in high-level technical information for three days, hanging out with friends and colleagues in after-hours bull sessions, etc. -- there are some great prizes to be given away. Bob announced earlier today that Craig Boyd, head honcho at SweetPotato Software, Inc., will give away a Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite with MSDN Premium Subscription during the Keynote Address on Thursday evening, Oct. 19th. And in connection with my session on Automating the Build, VSoft Technologies has donated a copy of FinalBuilder 4 Professional, a $499 value, to be given away during the conference. I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there are going to be other goodies, too.

If I'm reading the registration form correctly, you can still save $25 on the cost of registration if three or more members of your FoxPro Users Group are attending. If you have a user group meeting between now and October 19th, be sure to let your members know about this.

In case you can't tell, I'm really looking forward to Southwest Fox 2006! Hope to see you there.

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Truncated descriptions in feed

I discovered yesterday that the descriptions in my last seven posts were truncated in the feed. This means if you were viewing the posts in a feed reader you saw only about the first 255 characters of the post. If you were viewing the blog as a web page you saw the full post.

This isn't the first time Blogger.com has done this to me, and I'm not the only one it's done it to. I rechecked my settings, which haven't changed (Settings | Site Feed | Description | Full). I have no idea what's causing this to happen, but it's annoying.

This morning I republished the truncated posts and confirmed the feed now has full descriptions. They were reposted with the same date, time, and title as the originals, so this shouldn't cause duplicates in your reader.

If anybody knows why this happens, please leave a comment.

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Inno Setup #include directive

I just discovered the #include directive in Inno Setup is case sensitive. If you use #INCLUDE you get an error that says, in part:
To be able to use directives other than '#include'
you need to install the Inno Setup Preprocessor (ISPP)
As a VFP developer I'm accustomed to case insensitive syntax, so I had to read the error message a couple of times and double check my script before I understood that #INCLUDE is not the same as #include. The #include directive is a native part of Inno Setup and does not require the ISPP.

I checked a couple of other directives in Inno Setup and found they are not case sensitive. For example, the compiler accepts APPID and SOURCEDIR in the Setup section as well as the more conventional AppID and SourceDir, and in the Files section parameters such as Source and DestDir are not case sensitive either. I'm not sure why #include should be different, but it is.




IIS Admin service - problem and solution

I ran into a problem with the IIS Admin service on my Windows XP SP2 laptop PC yesterday. After some digging, I found the solution. If you run into the same problem, maybe this information will be helpful.

The first sign of a problem was localhost not responding. I checked to see if the web publishing service was running, which it wasn't. When I tried to start it I got
Error 1068, dependency service or group failed to start.
I checked the IIS Admin service and found it wasn't running, either. When I tried to start that service I got:
Error 13, the data is invalid.
I checked the system event log and found IIS Admin has been failing to start for several reboots. I don't access localhost on this machine very often so I'm not surprised I didn't notice this sooner.

Running sc query iisadmin from the command prompt showed the service stopped with an exit code of 0x8007000d.
SERVICE_EXIT_CODE: -2147024883 (0x8007000d)
A search of the Web for some reference to that exit code turned up a suggestion the problem might be related to the metabase file in windows\system32\inetsrv. I found two files on my machine: MetaBase.bin.beforexmlupg, at about 225KB, and MetaBase.bin at over 2.5MB. A clue was the date stamp on MetaBase.bin was about the same as the date the event log showed the IIS Admin service began failing to run. The other file, MetaBase.bin.beforexmlupg, had an earlier date.

I don't know what MetaBase.bin.beforexmlupg is. I checked another Win XP SP2 machine and it didn't have that file. From its name and date stamp I figured it might be related to a security update I applied on or about that date, but that's pure speculation on my part. A search for that file name on MSDN and TechNet turns up no hits.

I'm no IIS expert, but assuming MetaBase.bin was invalid I moved it to a temporary directory (in case I needed it again) and copied MetaBase.bin.beforexmlupg back to MetaBase.bin. I figured this was risky, but I didn't have a lot to lose at that point. I then started the IIS Admin service: success. I started the web publishing service: success. And of course, localhost was back in business, too.

I certainly can't guarantee this solution will work on other machines or in other situations, but it did work in this case. I'm still searching for more information to find out what caused this problem in the first place.

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Fox Sighting

[set humor on]

What's the most recommended database development tool from Microsoft? According to the Recommended Downloads that showed up at the bottom of the page when I downloaded Internet Explorer 7 RC1 a couple of days ago, it's Visual FoxPro! VFP comes in at number 2 on the list, just edging out SQL Server 2005.

[set humor off]

The image below is split for size considerations. The highlighting is mine, but the image is real.

I don't know how Microsoft generates that list but I have to believe it's dynamic. I wonder if anyone who doesn't already have VFP installed would ever get this same list? But anyway it's always nice to see the Fox show up in unexpected places.

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It's all about imagination

Rod Paddock hits the nail on the head in his Axes and Imagination editorial for the Sept/Oct issue of CoDe Magazine. Writing about software development and the need to stay sharp, he reminds us that "...the main ingredient in [our] profession is imagination." Absolutely right, Rod.

Without question, software development is a creative process. Sure, there are mechanical and technical aspects to it as well, but at its core being able to design and develop good software depends on being able to imagine it first. Solutions flow from our minds to our keyboards. As I've often said, "You've got to create it here (pointing to head) before you can create it there (pointing to computer)."

I liked this editorial because I think it's important to be reminded about the creative aspect of our profession from time to time. Software development requires a good deal of mental energy and sustained concentration, and sometimes it's easy to get overwhelmed by the details. Being reminded that it's a fundamentally creative process helps us recognize and avoid burnout. When the creative energy isn't flowing, Rod says it's probably time for an "imagination refill." Translation: take a break, do something different for a little while, go have some fun!

If you don't subscribe to CoDe Magazine, you can read Rod's editorial online at www.code-magazine.com/Article.aspx?quickid=0609011. Be sure to check out the cool photo of Rod with his "imaginary" friends from Family Guy, too. Looks like fun. < s >

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