Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The wonder of Patchs

Had a couple of problems with patches this week. The First was on a Windows2003 server that runs a Dcom based application. We put all the latest MS patches on last week, and for some reason it stopped working.
I re-built one from scratch today, trying to do the patches in batches, but surprise surprise I managed to install them all, and it worked fine!

The second problem I had was with one of my web based applications, and (I think) the patches that came out in January. Its an ASP.Net app written in VB.net. It uses the impersonation function so all users run as one user. This is done due it the application needing lots of file system access across Windows and Linux platforms.

Anyway, I installed the patches and all of a sudden the application could no longer see any remote unc paths. Every time it checked to make sure the unc was valid it failed, and took the path offline! As soon as I un-installed the batch of patches it started working again.
If anyone else has had this problem and sussed out what it is, let me know.

On another note, i've seen a lot about on the web about hacking PSP (Playstaion portable) consoles lately, and the on going battle between the hackers and Sony. Quite a good BBC artical about it is http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6397797.stm

So for I've not tried 'downgrading' my PSP, cos if it goes wrong you can end up turning it into an expensive looking brick. I am very tempted to give it a go though. Does anyone know if what the hackers are doing is legal?

Got a new 80gig drive for my laptop today. Over the next few days i'm going to blow it away and get it duel booting between Windows XP and Linux. If I find out anything interesting ill post it here.

Listening To: New album by the Kaiser Chiefs. Can't make my mind up about it yet.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More on RSS

As i discussed in my last posting, I have been doing some work with exposing pages/websites as RSS feeds.

In order to get a website to show the RSS icon (in the URL bar in Firefox, or to activate the feed option in IE7), you need to add the following code to the head tag in the web page:

link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS Feed" href="/RSSFeed.rss"


You can also download all the RSS icons from www.feedicons.com if you want to add any manual links to your pages.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Exposing Data as RSS feed

I blogged a week or so about wanting to create an RSS feed using Asp.Net from some stories we hold in a database. Well, today cos i'm off for a week and couldn't be bothered doing anything else I had a play about with it and managed to get it working.

I downloaded the example that's part of the Microsoft artical as a starting point (its here:http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa478968.aspx.). My first problem was the example is written in c#, and i've never used that before. Still I rolled up my sleeves and had a go.

The first thing I had to do was alter the SQL it was running, and the database it connected to. So I altered that in the code behind file and ran the page up expecting to be presented with a nice XML file. Of course it didn't work like that!

I was presented with one of the famous .net error pages, telling me that the Codebehind property of the page directive at the top of the page was no longer supported. I had a surf around and found that it was no longer supported in .Net2.0. I had to use the CodeFile and Inherits directive. So that page directive as a whole looked like this:

<%@ Page CodeFile="rss.aspx.cs" language="c#" ContentType="text/xml" AutoEventWireup="false" Inherits="SyndicationDemo.rss"%>

Once I did that, I started getting another error. This time it was down to me not being able to connect to the database. I checked my connection string and it looked ok. I then noticed there was a red error underline in the server name. The server was an instance so it was like news-db\newsdatabase. I remembered back to my limited C++ knowledge about escape character's, and that a forward slash was used to denote one. Once I put 2 forward slashes in, it started working!

I could now browse to the site, and out came my xml. Needles to say, I was most impressed. Before trying this I'd never programmed in C#, used a data repeater control or output a page in anything but html.

I still have some work to do on the project though. Sometimes there are characters in the story filed that the XML cant handle, I need to strip these out. I need to make it do something in case the page can't connect to the database or gets an error back when retrieving data. I also want to add one of those RSS icons to the normal PA web application, like the ones that appear in the address bar of other sites. When I get these working ill post anything useful here.

Anyway, I'm of to the dog racing now, hope I done lose to much money.

Listening To: Oasis, Definitely Maybe. What a suburb album, when you don't hear it for a while you forget how good it is.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Remote Access to Dell server

Just a quick post that might be of interest to anyone using Dell PowerEdge servers.

You might have noticed that quite a few of the rack mounted and stand alone models come with an extra ethernet port, with a spanner icon above them.
We had noticed these ages ago, but never really paid them much attention. We have recently started to look at them, and they are very useful indeed.

They have various name (ERA, DRAC, RAC) but basicly they give you bios level access to the machine, even when the OS has hung/crashed and you cant use normal remote access tools like VNC and Microsoft's in built remote desktop (when using remote desktop use a /console switch on windows 2003 to get to the servers console session).

You assign the RAC card an IP address (you can do this in the dell server assistant or when the servers booting), then connect to the ip address in a browser and you get low level access to reboot the server, power cycle it, turn it off etc without ever getting in the car and driving to the site!

It will also give you some server logs and other config options. The remote access tab should let you actually control the pc (even the POST screens) over a VNC like connection, but this doesn't always seam to work very well. Hopefully a new revision of the firmware will fix that.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Time to Learn

Not very much to post at the moment. In the middle of doing a big change to the infrastructure at work. We are moving to a completely new subnet range. Not very complex but taking a lot of planning.

Programming wise started to play about with the asp.net Ajax extensions. Get more info on them here at www.asp.net. The Ajax idea has been around for a while, it just takes existing technology (Java and xml) and puts them in a nice easy to use package. You can now develop very interactive web based applications very quickly. One you get your head round how it all works!!

Also looking at creating an rss feed using asp.net. Our newspaper is trying to get more into the 'digital' age, so are throwing around words like rss and pretending they've been using it for ages. I'm trying to create an rss feed from the PA (press association) stories we get. I might get some brownie points for it and its quite interesting. A walk though of creating one is at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa478968.aspx.

When I get more into both of these things ill post anything interesting on here

Listening to: Little man Tate. Very good and not played enough on the radio. Far better than the View who are getting raved about far to much