Monthly Archives: October 2007

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On Leopard,Part 4

OK, the first of the Leopard How-To”s is now posted: Connecting a Macintosh running Mac OS 10.5 to an SBS 2003 Server is now online. There are some key differences between this version of the Mac OS and previous versions, but nothing really earth-shattering. In fact, it”s quite a bit easier to get the Mac connected. In fact, if it weren”t for SMB signing, it would really be a piece of cake. Oh well.


I”ve run into a couple of other interesting hiccups related to Leopard installation, and I”ll be posting about those as well when I get more concrete information about the issues.


In the meantime, as I did when Vista came out, I”m recommending that people hold off from installing Leopard on their exsting systems, especially on a business-critical machine. Give the bleeding edge folks a little time to ferret out some of the issues that didn”t come up in beta testing and get fixes or workarounds before trying to install. I”m probably going to stick with my recommendation that a clean install is a good install for Leopard as well. More on that as information becomes available.

On Leopard, Part 3

A Saturday morning trip to the area Apple Store finally got me my very own copy of Leopard. I would rather have had the media in my hands on Friday as indicated with the initial order, but I need to get outside sometimes, or so people keep telling me.


At any rate, I”ve now done two Leopard installs as tests, and so far, so good. One clean install on my non-Intel Powerbook took about an hour. I had a couple of issues with kernel panics on startup, but I”m not certain that it wasn”t because of an issue with the external hard drive I was using for the install. The other was an upgrade to a clean build of Tiger on an external drive, and that went well.


I”m working today to get several Mac connectivity docs updated with Leopard info. Those docs will be posted at my Lessons Learned blog, and I”ll be putting together a version with screen shots that will be available over at smallbizserver.net.


From a feature set point of view, I”m very pleased with what I”ve seen thus far with Leopard. Screens is a practical virtual desktop tool that I”ve been missing for a long, long time. Time Machine looks like a very capable backup tool, which can hopefully be used to back up to a network device in addition to local disk. Safari launches and runs much faster than before. I really think that Mac users have a lot to be happy about with this version of the OS. I”ll be interested to see how it fares with Parallels and Fusion and some of the other tools that I use in my business daily,but initially I”m on board with the new OS,now that I finally have my hands on it.

Hebrew and Arabic Silverlight support

Justin-Josef has built a new codeplex project that aims to support Hebrew and Arabic text rendering on Silverlight. There are already some support materials over Justin”s site that will help you get started:

Nice work Justin!

On Leopard, Part 2

Strike one for Apple. Late Friday afternoon I knew that my copy of Leopard wasn”t going to arrive on the 26th as stated on the sales order, so I decided it was time to try and get as much detail as I could. When I had spoken with a sales rep fromt eh Apple Store online earlier in the day, they didn”t know what the status on the order was, just that it hadn”t been prepared for processing yet. Since the order page still had not been updated, I decided to call in again. The Agent I spoke with this time was clearly a little more flustered than the Agent I spoke with in the morning, and after talking with her for a few minutes, it became clear why.


I was definitely NOT the only person calling about the status of the order.


Unfortunatly, this second Agent had no better information to give other than “it hasn”t shipped and I cannot tell you why, but we”re working as fast as we can to rectify the problem and get the product shipped.” Not being satisfied with this response, I asked who I could speak with to try to get more information. The Agent transferred me to Corporate Customer Relations and gave me the number. After about 10 minutes on hold, I finally spoke with the CR Agent and took a little different tactic with my concern. Honestly, I wasn”t terribly put out that I wouldn”t get my copy of Leopard on the 26th as advertised,but I was a little more than frustrated that the party line was “we don”t know what”s going on.” I explained to the CR Agent that if I had been able to get some concrete information about the order the first time I called,I could have A) altered my schedule so I wasn”t sitting at the office all day waiting on a package that was not coming, and B) made arrangements to head down to an Apple Store locally to be ready for the Launch Party that started at 6pm and get my copy of Leopard there. But knowing at 4pm that the product wasn”t going to even ship by the 26th didn”t help at all. All in all, I waited aout 30 minutes on hold with the CR Agent as he dug around trying to get any information that he could. That”s when I knew for sure that it wasn”t a party line I was being fed. No one had any clue what was going on. Finally, the CR Agent came back and said that he was able to find someone who would be able to get me some additional information, and ironically it was someone within the Apple Busines Agent program. So I hung up with the CR Agent and called my ABA contact who, I was told, would be able to provide additional information.


She did.


She was able to tell me definitively that my order, along with a number of others, was not going to ship in time to arrive on the 26th or even ship on the 26th. But that was it. Nothing like “we didn”t have enough product to cover the number of orders that came in through the online store” or “we put all the media in the retail outlets and online orders will get shipped when additional stock arrives.” In fact, other than confirming that my order wasn”t going to ship on the 26th, she was as in the dark as anyone else. I reiterated my main concern, which was that the lack of information kept me from being able to make necessary business decisions (like passing on a couple of local support jobs because I couldn”t leave the office in case the package had actually been shipped), and that if Apple is going to make claims about product being delivered on the day of the launch to users who placed orders on the site, that they really better be able to stand behind those claims. She got the message.


Now I have to say that ay no point in any of these calls did I ever lose my temper or even raise my voice. I”ve worked on the other end of support lines for too long to “lose it” with any phone agent. My years in support management have taught me that receiving negative feedback in a constructive manner is just as important as receiving positive feedback, and since most of the time people who are unhappy with a service provider will tell everyone they know EXCEPT the service provider, when I have an opportunity to share negative feedback, I not only do so, but I try to get to someone at the management level and deliver the info in the same way I wanted to receive it myself.


When I did finally get home last night (I did work a few remote calls before leaving the office), I checked my order status at the Apple Store again. Still says “Delivers on October 26th.” This morning I got up and, out of curiosity, checked the order status again. And it”s been updated! Now instead of a status of “Not Shipped” and “Delivers on October 26th” I have a status of “Prepared for shipment” and “Ships by October 29 – October 30.” Now that”s useful information. That tells me that if I wait for the online order to process, I won”t get Leopard until at least mid-week. So now I have the opportunity to try to find a copy at the local Fry”s or the Apple Store that”s closest to the house. CompUSA is already sold out of their stock, and they were offering a $30 mail-in rebate. Fry”s is closer, and opens earlier, so I”ll try there first, and head to the Apple Store as the last resort. So there might be updated Mac Connectivity docs this weekend after all. then again, this might be a sign that I need to take the weekend off. We”ll see…

On Leopard, Part 1

Today is a big day for the Mac community – Apple is releasing Leopard, otherwise known as Mac OS X 10.5, at 6pm local time around the globe. Apple Stores around the world are putting on large showcases and thousands and thousands, if not millions, will be flocking in to pick up their very own copy of the OS. Unless you pre-ordered, that is.


Those who went to the Apple Store on-line on October 16, 2007, could pre-order Leopard (in the single-serving or family pack packages) to be delivered on October 26. So if you didn”t want to wait in line with the mobs who will be converging on the Apple Stores (and other places that sell Mac stuff, let”s not forget them) to get their copies, you could order on-line and get it shipped to your very own address, wherever that is.


So yours truly placed his order on October 16 and arranged his work days for October 26 and 27 to focus on Leopard. The plan is to have an updated “Connecting your Macintosh to SBS 2003 via SMB” document ready for publication by Monday so those who find themselves in that situation can get the Leopard Mac connected with minimal effort and hair pulling.


Only there”s one small flaw with that plan: the Store shows that my order has not shipped yet. Kind of hard to received something today that hasn”t been shipped yet.


Well, I”ve worked with a number of other vendors who have had issues getting shipping information updated in their on-line order systems. I can recall a number of times when tracking information was not available on the vendor web site until after the package arrived at its destination. So,I”m thinking (hoping) that”s the case with Apple. Still,it warrants a phone call.


Oops. Maybe I shouldn”t have called. Not only does Apple”s tracking system show that the product hasn”t shipped yet, it shows that it hasn”t even been prepped for shipment. So unless there”s a large quantity of Leopard boxes in a warehouse in the DFWD area (which wouldn”t surprise me, honestly) and they”re arranging for a same-day shipping process, I”m not hopeful that I”ll actually be removing the shrink wrap on Leopard today.


Still, this could be all of Apple”s plan for keeping control of when Leopard actually gets in the hands of the public. It wouldn”t surprise me a bit if the shipping information hasn”t been updated deliberately to keep the information under wraps. I think that”s giving Apple a little too much credit, though. I think I”m set up for a bit of a disappointment today and will have to wait until Monday (Lord, I hope it”s not later than that) to crack the case and start working on the docs.


In the meantime, I updated the “Connecting a Macintosh to SBS 2003 via SMB” document to address some of the user interface changes that both Apple and Microsoft have introduced into the various software pieces since the original posts were made almost three years ago. Hopefully that will be useful for someone…

Deployment problems with ASP.NET AJAX applications

In the last days I”ve seen several guys reporting problems while deploying ASP.NET AJAX applications to servers which only have  ASP.NET 2.0 + ASP.NET AJAX 1 installed. Generally, the error that has been reported is:

Could not load file or assembly ”System.Web.Extensions, Version=3.5.0.0…

One of the suggestions that I have seen is to add a redirect on the web.config app so that all requests made to the 3.0 dll are redirected to the 1.0 version of the dll. Even though most guys said that this worked, I didn”t though it was the correct thing to do since I was positive that if you specify the correct version of the ASP.NET Ajax dll on the config file and that file existed on the server then you should get that file and not the most recent version.

Today, I”ve  finally managed to get a repro web app from Johnson (thanks!).Since this kind of thing will only happen if you have the .Net 3.5 framework installed, I started by looking at the web.config file. I though that VS might have changed the dll version silently, but no, that was not the case. Then I asked Johnson how he was deploying the app and he told me that he was publishing the app from within the VS. Since I”m running VS 2008 standard, I don”t have that option here. So I asked him to publish the site and sent it to me by mail. This was really a simple site that only had one page with an UpdatePanel (or something simple like that)

After looking at the pre-compiled version, the problem was obvious: the assembly that was placed inside the /bin folder (built automatically  when you publish the web app form within VS ) had a dependency on the 3.5 version of the System.Web.Extensions assembly!

The moral of the story is simple: if you”re using VS 2008 and you want to build a 1.0 ASP.NET AJAX web app to deploy on a server which is running version 2.0, then don”t forget to set up the version you”re compiling against on the property pages of the web project. This is specially true when you”re using the publish option, since it”ll pre-compile the web app and this will create dependencies between the resulting dlls and the platform dlls (which might not be installed on the server where you”re deploying the app).

You should also pay attention to external dlls that are added to your project. For instance,if you”re using the AJAX Toolkit,then you should check its dependencies and make sure that it was built against the correct version of System.Web.Extensions.dll.

Updating Acer Ferrari x64 Ultimate with new BIOS

Acer refuses to provide a 64 bit winphlash. I finally figured out a quick and easy solution (not wanting to buy a USB floppy). Acer adamantly refuses to acknowledge that 64 bit users want to update their BIOS. And the Ferrari 4000 doesn”t support booting from a USB flash key.

So I figured it out. Ingredients, hardware, and instructions:

Hardware

1. Acer Ferrari 4000

2. USB Flash Drive

3. Vista 32 bit DVD

Instructions

1. download the BIOS from ftp://ftp.support.acer-euro.com/notebook/ferrari_4000/vista/BIOS/

2. Unzip to root of USB flash drive (mine was formatted as FAT32)

3. Unplug the USB flash drive and power down.

4. Insert the 32 bit Vista DVD and boot from it (you are not actually going to end up installing it or doing anything, this just gets you to the 32 bit WinPE environment)

5. Click through until you get to the screen with the activate online checkbox and uncheck it.

6. Connect the USB flash key to the computer

7. Press Shift-F10 to open a command prompt

8. Change to the correct drive for the USB flash drive

9. type winphlash and press enter

10. browse to the correct wph file and go for it!

11. after the flash is complete, before letting the machine restart, EJECT the DVD. (remember, nothing was installed and nothing really happened except you had access to a 32 bit WinPE environment which you needed to flash the BIOS).
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Clustering SQL Server Integration Services

Had the pleasure of clustering SSIS the other day and it was not as simple as a thought it should have been. Not that it was difficult it was just being tricky. To cluster a service like this you have to select the Generic Service resource type for the cluster resource. When I looked at the service name of SSIS I went to services.msc to find that service. On the General tab you can see the “Path to executable:” There the service executable name was listed as msdtssrvr. After putting that name into the Generic Service Parameters it gave me an error that this was not the name. After some digging on the file system I found that the actual name is MsDtsServer. Apparently the letter e was left out of the original entry I had. One other area that needs some attention is the Registry Replication page, here you must enter SOFTWAREMicrosoftMicrosoft SQL Server100SSISServiceConfigFile.

Hopefully that helps you.

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