SQL 2008 RC0 misery

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

On my old (and slow) work PC I had installed SQL 2008 RC0 and it worked fine.

I tried to install it on the new box and it has ended up causing me grief. The first indication that all was not well was when I tried to launch Visual Studio 2008 after SQL installation had completed. I was greeted with the following error:

"Package 'Microsoft.VisualStudio.Xaml' has failed to load properly"

Googling this error unfortunately didn’t give any ways to fix it, apart from reinstalling VS 2008.

So that’s what I did. I got rid of all the Visual Studio and SQL products using Add/Remove.

I then also fired up RegEdit and deleted their registry settings and clobbered their Program Files directories just to make sure. Reinstalling took a few hours, but was uneventful.

I then fired up Visual Studio again, only to see this new error when I tried to run our project

Unable to load DLL 'wpfgfx.dll'

It appears this is caused by some remnants of .NET 3.5 SP1 beta not being removed.

Rather than repeat the whole install process again, this time I just uninstalled all the .NET frameworks, used this tool to make sure, then finally clobbered the c:\windows\assembly and c:\windows\microsoft.net folders, before re-installing .NET 3.5 again.

Because some of Visual Studio’s assemblies would also have been clobbered, I then did a Repair.

All seemed ok, until I tried to use SQL Management Studio. Of course it had some managed assemblies too, but unfortunately I couldn’t see a way to repair it. Instead I uninstalled all the SQL bits again and reinstalled them.

Now everything appears to be back to “normal”.

SQL Express user instance failing when using RDP

Friday, 1 August 2008

I thought I’d log in via Remote Desktop to do some extra work from home. I attempted to run the database unit test project only for all the test to fail with the following error:

“Failed to generate a user instance of SQL Server due to a failure in starting the process for the user instance. The connection will be closed.”

Turns out this is a bug in Windows XP SP2.

I installed the hotfix using Microsoft’s new Hotfix request service, and the problem is fixed.

Improving my PageRank

Monday, 28 July 2008

Last last year, I decided I would make use of Google’s Webmaster tools to indicate that my blog nominally resides in Australia. Of course because it is hosted on Blogger, Google wouldn't otherwise guess this from the domain name. At the time I was curious as to what effect this would have on my PageRank.

Entering "David Gardiner" into Google does bring back lots of matches, and I'd managed to be on the first page which I was pretty happy about. I'd been quite diligent in always linking back to http://davidgardiner.blogspot.com when ever I was asked to enter website details on other sites. My UniSA staff homepage also featured prominently, so it would be interesting to see what happened after I left there and that page ceased to exist.

Things didn't seem to go well though. I'd heard Google changed their algorithms around the same time, and I noticed my blog was dropping further and further down, until it was somewhere on the third page of results.

The crazy thing through all this was that my profile on the Australian Broadband site Whirlpool always rated very high. That must show an indication of how PageRank has changed - inbound links to your page don't seem to count as much now as the significance of the site as a whole. I'm pretty sure no one is linking to my Whirlpool profile, but obviously heaps of sites link to Whirlpool in general.

So last week I thought I'd try to make some changes:

First off, I removed the "Australia" designation. Even though I liked having my blog come up in the "pages from Australia" search, I wondered if this might be counting against me?

Secondly, I modified the blog title to include my full name. It is a little bit more wordy, but hopefully it helps Google out a bit.

Finally, I reviewed the template for my blog, and found some embarrassing errors. I'd added some <meta> tags for keywords and description, but for some reason had used a 'value' instead of 'content' attribute.

I then ran the page through the W3C Validator a few times and fixed some of the errors and warnings. After all, you figure if the markup is well formed, then the search engines are going to have an easier time indexing your content. One thing this did show was that Blogger is generating some invalid markup (eg. not properly encoding ampersands in URLs). It would be nice if they would fix that.

So with those changes done I thought I'd do another search today and see how I'm doing... Not too bad it seems - I'm now back on the first page of results - currently coming in 6th (with my Whirlpool profile 1st!)

Maybe as a further experiment, I'll go back and add back "Australia" as a geographic target in a few months, to see if that really did make a difference.

Note, other search engines also offer similar webmaster tools - eg. Live.com and Yahoo.com

Embedding a Silverlight video in a webpage

Sunday, 27 July 2008

When most people link to YouTube videos, it ends up embedding a still image of the first frame of the video. You can then click on it to start playing.

I linked to my demo video in my demo competition entry post, but I couldn’t figure out how to do the same thing. I personally prefer not to force someone to start downloading a video if they didn’t want it. Is there a simple way to do this? (Apart from having to manually save the first frame out as a jpeg).

Passed 70-561

Friday, 25 July 2008

To be honest, I didn’t expect this!

I just found out I’ve also passed Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ADO.NET Applications.

I remember I was pretty tired, and was still a bit exhausted after taking 70-562 the previous day. About 3/4 through I noticed the tiredness was catching up on me as I was having trouble focusing (Excom’s crumby old test computer doesn’t help – nothing like a CRT monitor with the refresh frequency set way to low to wear you out quicker). The thought even crossed my mind that maybe I should give up and leave. But then I figured, no, I won’t get this opportunity again so try and give it my best shot. Looks like it was a good thing I stuck it out :-)