Sunday, July 30, 2006

Troubleshooting / debugging IIS

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/07/30/86630.aspx

This is more of a memory post for me to remember locations of important KB items, the source for this info is Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.0\r\n
Some info on how to use this great new utility from Microsoft called DebugDiag (or IIS Diagnostics), I have already used this on at least two occasions to locate problems with IIS hangs, and to find places to improve performance, some of the information that this tool gives can not be found any other way - and is a great timesaver- like showing exactly what files are included in an ASP file (include tree).

Debugdiag - KB Articles

Microsoft has published few KBs on How to use DebugDiag tool.

Memory dump -
How to use the Debug Diagnostics 1.0 tool to analyze a memory dump file

Hang -
How to use the Debug Diagnostics tool to troubleshoot a process that has stopped responding in IIS

Crash -
How to use the IIS Debug Diagnostics Tool to troubleshoot an IIS process that stops unexpectedly

High CPU Usage -
How to use the Debug Diagnostics Tool to troubleshoot high CPU usage by a process in IIS

High Memory Usage -
How to troubleshoot an IIS process that consumes lots of memory by using the IIS Debug Diagnostics tool

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Small inline commercial... To help me make a few pennies :-) Manage projects, create an intranet, collaborate on documents, and more with the JotSpot wiki. Start a free trial today. This is a nice service. Does not require any commitment or Credit card for trying it out - pretty neat, I have a trial account there myself.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A few amazing things done with Web 2.0 - Flickr Example

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/07/18/85541.aspx

Innovation keeps on hitting me in the face, amazing ideas I wish I had thought of first.

Comes a company called Flickr of which I'm sure you all heard about already, many times - and offers a great product, mostly for free. I will not go in to what they offer - its pretty simple and everyone knows about it. In addition to their "main" offering - they also created an open, free API to access all that, along with a scheme to allow other entities to authenticate for you (only if you allow them).

Since the service is so popular a host of applications that integrate with it through this API has grown, and many of them offer the user so much more than the original offer by adding another layer over it.

I will give just a few of the examples here - these are just a few examples out of tons! you can see more here:

  1. Flappr - this is an application that allows you to view public Flickr images through a Flash interface the querying and information displayed are realy nice, you can lose yourself for hours in the contextual thread you weave for yourself...
  2. retrievr - This one is special. You get to draw something on a small whiteboard, the application then searches for pictures on Flickr (again public only) that fit that drawing. I don't know how they do it, but it is amazing. Try it
  3. Cropper + SendToFlickr plugin - This is not a full featured app, just a plugin for Cropper a desktop screen catpure utility, that allows you to take screen shots directly to Flickr (useful only if you take screenshots and use Cropper to do so). This example is here to show simple stuff....
  4. preloadr - Now this is neat. After you upload your picture to Flickr you often want to manipulate it (rotate, resize, crop) Flickr allows you to do some of the things but not all (and some would argue not enough). In comes preloader - a virtual image editor. You supply your login to Flickr and it loads you images and allows you to edit them and save them directly back to Flickr. It is so seemlessly integrated with Flickr that after two times you use it, you will no longer know the difference and you will think it is part of Flickr (maybe that's the goal of the company)

There are more of these out there...

********************************
Small inline commercial... To help me make a few pennies :-) Manage projects, create an intranet, collaborate on documents, and more with the JotSpot wiki. Start a free trial today. This is a nice service. Does not require any commitment or Credit card for trying it out - pretty neat, I have a trial account there myself.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My new machine...

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/07/17/85424.aspx

As I mentioned in a previous post, I got me a new machine - it is working fine.

Being a new windows 2003 machine, It downloaded some windows updates that the service thought are good for me. There where quite a few in the list, I just went ahead and installed, I didn't follow the process since in the past I have had good experience with everything just working...

The update finished, and the machine requested to restart, which is anoying but understandable... minus the nagging (see here how to avoid that)

When the machine restarted, it again showed the update icon - and asked me to update again - the list seemed long, but I thought there were less items, so I did it again (and again). By this time I figured something was wrong - so I went to the "Custom" option, and tried installing the less frightening ones first - These successfuly installed with no request for restart, then the next and the one after (working from bottom to top). All installed successfully and only the last one required restart.... It seems that there was some prior requirement for this patch to succeed, and that the update service did not run the updates in the correct order...

********************************
Small inline commercial... To help me make a few pennies :-) Manage projects, create an intranet, collaborate on documents, and more with the JotSpot wiki. Start a free trial today. This is a nice service. Does not require any commitment or Credit card for trying it out - pretty neat, I have a trial account there myself.

Nice article on embedding Video in a web page (the Standard way)

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/07/17/85425.aspx

This is a great article on how to embedd video in a web page, including concrete examples on how to do it and information on which browser supports what and how to do it in a way that all browsers will use the same tag with (almost) no browser specific code.

********************************
Small inline commercial... To help me make a few pennies :-) Manage projects, create an intranet, collaborate on documents, and more with the JotSpot wiki. Start a free trial today. This is a nice service. Does not require any commitment or Credit card for trying it out - pretty neat, I have a trial account there myself.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A new service I'm trying out - Jot Wiki

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/07/11/84720.aspx

In my effort to document / preserve / collect / take your choice the family information, I'm constantly on the lookout for new web sites/services that will allow me to do one or more of these activities, in hope of finding the ultimate application.

Up to today I have tried doing this with several different applications blog, web site, picture site, (my hard drive) - this is because I do not want to save this information for myself - I want to share it with the world/family...

These services are nice, but they are not meant for this, the order and usabilty of the information relies solely on the creator - they are general applications. I need something more.

There are also several offline utilities that allow to publish to the web. not good enough either:

  1. They cost money
  2. Though it is easier to backup the database that they run on, this is propriety format, and not easily shared (changes can only be made with the software and not on the website)

Now it's time for the next try, a supposedly designed Wiki to do this Jot Spot, allows you a free trial with no apparent limits.

I just started out, it's nice and geared for family, including a nice family tree, family calendar with birthday application, family directory, photos and more... AJAX based and pretty easy to use, still working it out for what is good for me.

It seems that I will eventualy have to build it, if I want to be completely happy with it. Can anyone recommend a web site that does what I need (even if it charges a moderate fee for it, as long as there is a trial version)?

(Disclaimer: The link above is a link that will give me something if you decide to join too, and especialy if you join as a paying customer. So I have some sort of interest in you trying them :-)

Microsoft Customer Experience Improvement Program

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/07/11/84701.aspx

My current rant... Skip if you're not interested in hearing me whine...

I just moved to the new machine, it took some time to set up but seems to have been worth it. I already saved the time instead of waiting for the previous machine to un-hang...

Anyway, I opened MS Outlook, and was greeted by this dialog asking me (and encouraging me) to join the MCEIP, and the recommended option is to join. Why is it recommended? I couldn't figure it out, so I went and read the information provided by MS, and it says many things “It isn't recording personal information” “It isn't spyware” (when you open your information to someone he isn't spying, he has gained authorized access...., “You can't see the information you are sending - trust us! we are part of this and that alliance” “We will not spam you” (as if this isn't a sort of spam)...

I looked and I looked and couldn't find a reason why to donate my computer resources for the benefit of Microsoft. You want user data? pay some users to give it. You want user feedback? ask for feedback.

When google tries the same trick, it at least offers some “advanced features” that will be enabled only if you agree... In this case we are talking about software that cost the user (or the company he works for - in this case) quite a lot of money. You got to give some benefit for the choice.

Anyway - I said no.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Really annoying - my work machine

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/07/10/84589.aspx

My machine has been a loyal servant for the few last years, got it new, and it was fine. last couple of months it is giving me hell. long hangs with no apparent reason (I run AV, and constantly scan my computer for evil beings - not spyware).

The only indication for anything is given by the wonderfull Process Explorer which points that “Hardware Interrupts” are the ones giving me the grief. However, I have no special hardware connected anywhere, and no change has been made to my configuration before this horrible behavior begun.

Today it took me over 15 minutes just to restart my machine (after trying to get windows to even show the restart dialog).

I'm switching machines! a slightly newer with more and faster memory.

P.S. if anyone has an idea on those hardware interrupts, I'll be glad to investigate, as I'm keeping the old one “as is” for now.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The coming USA DST Change...

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/06/11/81456.aspx

I've recently been assigned the task of preparing our software to the DST (Daylight Saving Time) that is going to be implemented in the USA beginning March 2007. (link that explains the exact changes: http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html)

 

Our system (http://www.interwise.com) deals with event scheduling, so obviously such a change matters to us, and we have to at least asses what will happen when this change comes into effect.

 

As you probably already know, DST is a method in which during “summertime” the clock is moved ahead. This is done to “catch-up” with the sun, so that say 7:00 AM will always be in daylight. The main advantage of this system is that there are major energy savings, and that workers do not have to leave there house when it is still dark (biological clock is synchronized). This is good!

 

As you can guess there is also some bad news... like many other systems out there, everyone implements differently in this case each country (and sometimes each county/region) decides for itself, as with time-zone. And no one does it the same way. As far as I can tell the winners in the bizarre competitions (and it's almost tied) are Israel and Brazil where the system is completely abused. In Israel a law was recently passed that declares that DST begin and end time is controlled by TWO different calendars, the beginning is based on the Gregorian calendar and the ending is based on the Jewish calendar (until this law was passed every year saw a different definition of DST based on a government minister good only for that year and depending on his sole judgment)... In Brazil the system appears sane until you understand that it depends on a local holiday that doesn't have a stable date (and apparently relies on a different calendar as well). There are more oddities around the world - Australia with the Olympic Games specific change, USA with the state of Indiana in which different counties had there own definitions on both time-zone and DST.

 

This situation causes headaches for developers and vendors who have a reliance on this data (almost all software relies on TIME, although it is not always critical). I will not detail all the problems but you can guess that no software deals well with situations that the developer could not predict / pre-plan for. This situation practically forces patches being released. And currently it is causing me headache  L

 

The funny thing for us (in us I mean vendors who are not Microsoft) is that Microsoft and such vendors (Oracle, SAP), are not releasing any information about what they are planning to do about DST changes in the USA in 2007, so we are kind of left in the dark. Obviously any change we make or not make is based on the platform we are using, and if we don’t know how the platform will deal with the situation – we can not plan ahead. So what is going on? Will anyone from MS please step up?

 

Some links that shed light on previous solutions for DST on Microsoft products:

http://www.petri.co.il/summer_clock_in_israel_for_2006.htm

http://support.microsoft.com/?id=317211

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/909915

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/timezone.mspx

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=909933

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/832869 (side effect on older data, search behaves differently than expected)

Update (21/06/2006): I have been informed that the Microsoft solution will be the standard one (a patch that updates the time zone information in the registry), also Sun has already issued an OS patch for the issue here: http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/telecom?entry=new_dates_for_daylight_savings and here:http://sunsolve.sun.com/search/document.do?assetkey=1-26-102178-1

 

Monday, June 5, 2006

Congradulations to me! Mia has arrived!

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/06/05/80750.aspx

It takes me time, but usualy I get to updating you guys about what is hapening with me in life. I guess I'm just not a real blogger :-) I get to it when I do, and not before...

Well the news is out, I am now a proud father! We now have a daughter. Was born on May 23rd Weighing 3,290 Grams (around 7 pounds for those in the US). I'm happy to say my wife Tili who did all the work is now feeling much better.

We are slowly getting to know her, and I guess the same goes for Mia (our daughters name) who is also developing nicely and is realy cute (I am being objective here :-)).

I don't realy know what to add, I hope we manage to be good parents to her and take good care of her. It is something we will probably be learning as we go - and we will do mistakes, I hope that not many.

You can see some pictures here: http://meshel.googlepages.com/mia (the page and site will continue to be updated as it goes)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Google Notebook - amazing!!!

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/05/17/78670.aspx

I'm sure this is all over the place by now - I'm probably not saying anything new here - but I just have to say it.

My Information Dream App has arrived. This is not to say that it is my perfect dream app yet - I need much more than what is there already but still this is the way to start.

Consider. The Browser is the main information gateway today - meaning that almost all the information I aquire is displayed there - the ability to easily save that information to my personal storage, and have it organized my way (not saying my way is that good :-)) and searchable. Any thing that you can cut and paste - you can put it there... + the floating notebook icon is cool!

There seem to be some limitations though, first, and this is not surprising, it seems like images and such are not stored in the notebook itself but on the original site - if that site goes, or is down - I lose some of my content... Saving pics on the server is a must for me - I can live without video and audio.

Now all they need to do, is fix that image storage thing, add tagging/labeling, add export functionality (so I can have this on my machine), add integration to google toolbar (note this! button), google desktop, google bookmarks, search history, calendar, email a note or notebook content to my friend (or send them a link to a notebook item), and the list goes on... I'm sure the google engineers are working on it as we speak.

Enjoy

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

I was mentioned by Scott, or XmlReader vs. Others...

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/03/07/71593.aspx

I encountered this post by Scott Hanselman (whom I of course read regularly), and was mentioned in his after-post - WoooHooo!!! I love attention, even got a link back... Just kidding, I feel unworthy, I just tried putting in my two cents, and didn't think it was such a contribution.

To the point, of course Scott is right, XmlReader is much more efficient than XmlDocument (I'm not going into this read his post), also I agree about the Nametable usage, I also wondered but I answered myself (and Scott explains it better) obviously comaring pointers is faster than comparing strings and pointers... By creating a dummy object with the needed information and comparing that - you let the faster comparison to work.

Anyway obviously using XmlReader correctly (as Scott suggests) is probably faster and more efficient than using XPathReader (since XPathReader is a wrapper around XmlReader, and it is not optimized for your query).

As usual it burns down to what you need your application to do, in the case described XmlReader is probably the best option.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shameless try

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/02/28/70884.aspx

I recieved an email saying I could win a prize by just bloging about it... so here it is:
http://www.thinktecture.com/WSCF

Now seriously, I'm not intimate with the product itself, nor have I done much WS developement in a long time. I have, however, done web services programming some time ago, and read a lot of info about it. and it seemed and still seems logical to me to first define the contract - i.e. the interface, and go from there to defining and coding the actual implementation. This seems the closest to OO design, where the internals don't matter as much as what is public.

I won't blabber to much about it, go and check it out, if you like it - buy it keep it - it's free! (thanks for the reminder I missed that)

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Non Techie but still a little geeky Post

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/meshel/archive/2006/02/02/67949.aspx

I haven't posted in a long time, I can't really say why exactly, I've been blogging for a few years now (mostly in other places and on different subjects), and I noticed that it comes in waves.

There are no definite clues to when an additional wave will come. Suddenly I feel the urge to write to the world (even though not that many people read what I write), but it feels good to let it out even if it's not steam. So I'm back for now.

What I'm writing about today is my semi-new hobby, wood-working, and the more recent addition wood-turning. just last year I got interested in the subject and took a course with one of the leading turners in Israel - Eli Avisera (the site is about to go through an upgrade I hope). He was excellent at passing knowledge and sense of the art, and tought us all the basics. You would not believe how much there is to learn in this profesion. What I trully like about it is that it allows you to create without being overly creative. I can't explain that realy, you have to experience it. Since the work is mostly freehand, and not limited by any rigid constraints (you hold the chisel/gauge/... in your hands and it is not attached to any mechanical holder), the work does require some physical effort but not much since the actuall grunt work is done by the lathe (spining the wood for you) - you get to focus on the shape and character of what you are trying to do - obviously there is technique involved but it doesn't usualy inhibit you from doing what you want - and the sky is the limit for what you can do and achieve. I'm still begining at this so I won't claim to be anyting - just having a lot of fun in my little plastic shed.

One thing I can say, I did delay finding an active hobby (as opposed to passive hobbies such as reading and listening to music). I always knew what I wanted (wood, working with my hands) but never went ahead and actually did it. Now I'm happy that I finally did go and actively worked at it. I recommend to everyone to find yourself such a hobby - it is the best way to spend your money :-) but mostly it is a retreat from the absorbing life of software - something real that you can touch (unless you are in robotics). BTW turning can be an expensive or a very cheap hobby - depending on many factors of course, and your specific flavor.

The things you really need are a lathe, and some tools, a basic set of three will do for most needs - all the rest is optional but could come in very handy. Why is it for geeks? well like almost any not completly explored subject, there is a lot to improve on and to invent - and always learn something new. Not to mention that once you get into woodturning most people almost immediately start to dabble in metal-turning and metal-spining and other close areas.

If I interested you here are a few links, I hope you'll find usefull:
http://www.woodturner.org - the american association of woodturners
http://www.woodturningcenter.org/

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.crafts.woodturning

http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com - Craft Supplies - a big online store (Has the most stuff)