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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Development History

Based on an interesting post with a link to styled résumés I got to wondering what my development history would look like if I plotted it out.

I pulled out my résumé and dumped my language experience into Excel.  While I have exposure to many technologies (Crystal Reports, ActiveReports, PHP, third party SDKs, IIS, Apache, Exchange, Squirrel, DNS), platforms (Windows, Mac, flavours of Linux), databases (Oracle, MySql) and Languages (Java, c++, Delphi) I found that it was most clear if I charted the top two languages at any time.

Excel 2010 quickly whipped up a series of charts for me.  I ‘capped them quickly and spent a couple of minutes styling it up in PhotoShop. It’s crude because I only spent about 20 minutes on it.

I tried to reflect that most languages built up as a primary, but in late 2005 I switched projects, started using C# and haven’t touched VB.NET much at all ever since (the exception being maintenance).

image (click chart to see a larger version)

As an overlay representing my time in SQL Server I’ve added a black shaded bar.  My responsibilities in SQL Server admin, stored proc development and the link have continued to grow and advance in complexity since 2000.  Today, however, where I spend a lot of time in SQL development is in the import/export scripts as we transition from the legacy system.

Below the timeline I added the language that I had been using the second most often.  After doing this it occurred to me that C# has graduated to my longest running language and will be, by next year, my longest running primary language as well.  Not counting T-SQL, of course.

At some point I would love to add to the chart my primary development environment as well.  …but that would take a bit of time and my break is over ;o).

What is not reflected on the chart is that prior to 1997 my primary development was non-MS based as I used Turbo Pascal and Delphi.  Loved the DOS, baby.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Visual Studio 2010 – My Thank-You Gift

I was pleased to get a package in the mail today with a token of appreciation from Microsoft.


It is a glass paperweight that came in a small cardboard box with the Visual Studio styling.  Even the box was pretty cool.  I like boxes. ;o)

It reads:

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

Thank you for the lasting contribution you have made to Microsoft Visual Studio.

S. Somasegar

I participated in several pre-release builds, submitted defect reports, helped run diagnostic analysis for performance-related issues and gave feedback on various Microsoftie blogs.  And, you might say that I weighed in a little on this blog, too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cannot Start Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook Window (Office 2010)

After fighting through the un-installation of the Technical Preview of Office 2010 and it’s related components I was unable to open Outlook.  I only get this far, then it errors out:


The first problem I actually ran into was that I couldn’t install Office 2010.  This was because I had a botched un-install that left several little bits of Office lying around.  I couldn’t remove Visio 14 and had to run Windows Installer Clean Up to get it off the system.  Send a Smile was also busted.  After cleaning off those bits and getting the suite finally installed, I was getting the following message when I tried to run Outlook 2010:

Cannot Start Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook Window.

I am running Office 2010 Professional Plus x64 on Windows 7 x64.

I ran through a number of steps to try to resolve the problem, including the following:


  1. I used the recommended approach where you Start –> Run –> outlook.exe /resetnavpane to try to fix some settings issues. This seems to work for a lot of folks.
  2. I checked the location of my PST files in Control Panel –> Mail to make sure that Outlook was looking in the right spot, i.e., my old PST file.  It was.
  3. I tried to correct a corrupt PST/OST file using ScanPST.exe (included with Office).  This has worked for folks, and I was very optimistic that it would work for me too as it corrected over 5,000 errors, but it did not.
  4. I then tried removing the old profile from my system, and recreating it, which left me with an unknown error (0x80070057) and unable to connect to Exchange altogether.image
  5. So, now, we’re back to uninstalling Office 2010 and every scrap bit we can find of it.  I’m going to pull down Office 2010 32bit and see if that helps re-establish my sanity.


    UPDATE: The 32bit version faired no better.  I’m going to uninstall and start removing SDKs and WinMo features/sync just in case something’s tripped with Office Connectivity.  I’ve removed the sync from my mobile device and unplugged my phone.  I’ve also un-installed any apps that at any point in time may have run at the same time as Office.  I don’t know why I did that, but I’m getting desperate.

    UPDATE 2: I’ve uninstalled the 32bit and will now try the 64 again. I’m going to see if I can prove Einstein’s definition of insanity.

    UPDATE 3: This is getting looney.  I’ve started this episode of debauchery by mutilating my registry and stripping out any folder in any kind of ‘data’ or ‘program files’ sort of directory.  Gonzo.  64bit uninstalled again and registry cleaned.  Folders nuked.  Profile zapped.  Here we go again…this time I will accept the defaults on the install and let it install the things I’ll never use (like Access).


    UPDATE 4: Now the install is failing, saying that I don’t have permission to modify keys in the registry.  Per instructions here, I’m off to do something to hundreds of thousands of registry entries…

    UPDATE 5: The nonsense continues. I am now hunting for registry keys by hand to try and grant myself permissions.  I have booted my computer in ‘clean boot’ mode so nothing else is running in the background, but I don’t think that was every the problem

    UPDATE 6 Next day: There are (so far) 10 keys and their subkeys that I have found that do not have any owners (and therefore the permissions are null).  I have to find each of the keys, one-by-one, after I get an error message from the installer as above.  The installer give me only one key at a time, then I have to go hunt for the offender.


    Then, drill into the permissions and owners for each of the parent and child keys.  As I have to wait for the registry key to error out from the Office 2010 installer, it can take up to 5 minutes before I know there’s an error, then another minute or two to assign the local administrators group full access and ownership.

    As I write this, number nine just came up (but at least the installer made it to 60% this time)…

    UPDATE 7: Another key, but we’re getting close to the 2/3 mark now…


    As a backup plan I’m pulling down a copy of DOS 6.22 and Word 1.0 from MSDN Subscriber Benefits.

    UPDATE #You’ve GOT to be Joking:


    So close…and yet, not so close.  I could almost taste PowerPoint…

    UPDATE 9:



    UPDATE 10:

    ….aaaaaaand we’re back where we started.  *sigh*

    It looks like everything else seems to be working (Excel, PowerPoint, Word) but I’m getting the “Cannot open the Outlook window.” message again.


    I’ll be in this weekend to format this beast and start over.

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Bing Maps Get Its Cool On

    The new thing in maps is here. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a great start and, I believe, a bit of innovation on the part of the world’s most criticized software company.

    Destination Maps


    A short wizard walks you through a simple process where you select a location (via Bing Maps search), identify a region of the map and then select a style to present the map.

    The result is a very clever, “accurate-enough” map of the selected area with an artistic representation of the major routes and landmarks.

    For instance, you can select “sketch” or “treasure map” styling in the last step.

    The whole process reduces an otherwise hard-to-read and at times confusing view of a city or area into a simple-to-navigate approximation of the same.


    There are two major things that would prevent me from using the tool for something like planning an event:

    1. Users who are not technically savvy cannot share the map easily. While there is a share button, it only generates a link to a file that’s uploaded. I would prefer to see Twitter/Facebook integration or similar. Planning an event on Facebook and using this as the map would be awesome.
    2. There is not enough detail in the generated view to use the service for something like event planning. The maps could help you get to a part of the city, but they can’t get you around a neighbourhood. This may be by design as there appears to be quite a bit of computational work involved in determining and simplifying the maps. This limitation could help them control processing costs and keep the tool usable.

    What I’d Like to See

    Firstly, I think there needs to be controls for levels of detail. In my hometown we mark everything by the two major bridges and the river. These don’t even appear on the map. In fact, in a town of 40,000 people, we all appear to live on one of three streets.

    Perhaps this could be resolved by adding either smarts to determine the level of zoom of a selection or a slider that controls the level of detail. Maybe even separate sliders for landmarks and street details would be a good idea. I think it’s perfectly fine to have the current setting as a default, but I want to be able to help my friends get to a dinner party in a confusing end of town.

    Secondly, I’d like to get a route marked out. I want to show everyone at the wedding how to get to the reception afterwards! By allowing me to mark out start and end points – even selecting from pre-determined markers – combined with a slightly better level of detail this next-step in online mapping would be…well, it would be fun to plan events!

    Well, fun that is if you’re into event planning. ;o)

    Lastly, some performance improvements would be nice as for wider selections it does take a bit of time. Again, I could see myself using this more as an ‘end-of-destination’ tool: my friends know how to get to the city, not the neighbourhood.

    Research Makes Cool Things

    This is one of the coolest v1.0 features in online mapping I’ve seen in a long time. I got just about as giddy using this as I did the first time I got Google Maps running.

    I hope they take this to the next level; definitely a home run, but three runners short of a grand slam.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    A “Super” Month

    Hello, blog readers!

    As some of you know my oldest son lives with Type 1 Diabetes. Here is a video my boys and I made to help raise funds for researching a cure:

    The video is called "Superhero." and is about the brother of a kid who lives with Juvenile Diabetes.

    To donate, please follow this link:

    DonorDrive web site.