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 :-)

Heroes Happen 2008 Demo Competition entry

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Rob should be happy, I’ve finally got around to recording my entry for Microsoft’s demo competition!

I demonstrated this earlier this month at the Adelaide SQL Server User Group, and then did a slightly longer version at CodeCampSA.