Friday, 30 September 2005

When two things are the same but not!!

Just wasted a few hours on a problem with parameters in SQL Reporting Services.

We have a report that take a date as one of the parameters. The list of values for this parameter is provided by a stored procedure that removes the time portion of the date and shows the date in the end-user recognisable format of dd MMM yyyy.

Now we also render this report via the web service in a regular batch using a little C# app that is quickly becoming my little pet hate. The list of recipients and parameters is provided by another stored procedure that puts the date in the same format. Matching the format is important because when you have a list of values for a parameter, the value you send via the web service has to match one of the values in the list or you get a error saying it's not a valid value.

Compare the following and tell me if you can detect the difference.

CONVERT(varchar(12), GetDate(), 106) as Date_106
, CONVERT(varchar(12), GetDate(), 113) as Date_113

Date_106 Date_113
------------ ------------
30 Sep 2005 30 Sep 2005

The difference surfaces when you use DATALENGTH to determine how many bytes are used. Converting to varchar(12) using date style 106 is 11 bytes, while date style 113 is 12 bytes. No trimming of the trailing whitespace.

Feeling just a slight bit of frustration ... why can't spaces be more visible [:$]

Secunia Weekly Advisory Summary

The Secunia Weekly Advisory Summary
2005-09-22 - 2005-09-29

This week : 67 advisories

Windows : 3 Vulnerabilities
Unix/Linux : 42 Vulnerabilities
Other : 4 Vulnerabilities
Cross Platform : 18 Vulnerabilities

Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is out

One of the fancier items ...

    Reuters - If that Hummer is draining your cash at the gas pump, Neiman Marcus Group Inc. has the perfect holiday gift: A fuel-efficient, $3.5 million "Skycar" that flies 350 miles per hour and burns environmentally friendly alcohol.

[Via Yahoo! News: Odd News]

Thursday, 29 September 2005

Warne and the media hounds

Interested to see this little article,
Shane Warne has returned to Australia to play in the ICC Super Series and sort out his family life.

[Via ABC Sport: Cricket (with Mpeg1)]

Even more interested when I got to the train station to see the MX screaming "Warnie's pitch to woo wife" across the front page. I mean geez guys ease up.

RE: New TPC-C Result for SQL Server 2005

A nice little US$38K system ... and it's 64bit as well ...

This is great news - congratulations are in order to Dell for being the first to beat the $1 per tpmC threshold for TPC-C price/performance. Yesterday Dell published a result of 38,622 tpmC with a price/performance of 0.99 $/tpmC. Dell used SQL Server 2005 x64 Standard Edition running on an Intel dual-core Xeon CPU (Paxville). This highlights both SQL Server 2005 performance and the TCO advantage of dual-core pricing model. The best results from Oracle and DB2 are 1.81 and 1.61 $/tpmC, respectively. (See the TPC-C Top Ten list

[Via Benjamin Jones]

Friday, 23 September 2005

Go Swans

Swans by less than 10 points

Sauce Reader on eBay ...

Just discovered this. As mentioned in my earlier post Synop have closed for business. Today I found that they've put the source code for Sauce Reader up on eBay!!

The Secunia Weekly Advisory

The Secunia Weekly Advisory Summary
2005-09-15 - 2005-09-22

This week : 58 advisories

Windows : 6 Vulnerabilities
Unix/Linux : 38 Vulnerabilities
Other : 4 Vulnerabilities
Cross Platform : 10 Vulnerabilities

Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Cross your fingers and try again ...

Gmail by Google
Server Error

Server Error

Gmail is temporarily unavailable. Cross your fingers and try again in a few minutes. We're sorry for the inconvenience.

Now that's what I call a comforting error message :) Why can't we have error messages like this in all applications ??

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Running Reporting Services Script from Visual Studio

Been playing around with Reporting services scripting a bit lately.
The one gaping flaw with the Report Project in Visual Studio is that it doesn't support multiple levels of folders. So if you have Report Manager organised with reports in different folders depending on the Department/Run Time/Category/etc... you'll to choose from some not so nice options,
1) For each folder in Report Manager that holds reports, create a corresponding Report Project in Visual Studio.
2) Create one Report Project in Visual Studio and after deployment use Report Manager to move the reports to the appropriate folder.

For some time I was thinking that the second option was pretty cool. I had a nice simple Report Project. All my datasources and report resources were located in one spot. However, now that I'm deploying and re-deploying reports on a day-to-day basis I've discovered that even this is a real drag.

So then I started looking into deploying the reports via script, it kinda works at the moment, but still needs some bugs ironed out. (I'll post it when it's ready). Then came the hassle of jumping from Visual Studio to the command prompt and back again. Trying to remember the correct syntax for the parameters, etc... It was quickly after this that I discovered the 'External Tools...' option in Visual Studio. Turned out to be a very, very simple to setup and is a joy to behold ;-)

Choose 'External Tools...' from the 'Tools' menu in Visual Studio then follow through the steps,
1. Click Add to create a new entry
2. Give it a name you'll recognise
3. Browse to the location of the RS.EXE application
4. Use the arguments to add the ItemPath for the -i parameter and include the URL for your Report Server for the -s parameter
5. Set the initial directory to the project directory, or whichever directory you choose.
6. Personally I keep the check box option off, but try the different options and see which works best for you.

Once everything has been setup click 'Apply' and you'll have a new option on the 'Tools' menu.
I have the RSS file included in my Reports solution under Miscellaneous files. When I want to deploy the reports I open the RSS file and choose the run the script via the newly menu option.

Monday, 19 September 2005

RSS Feeder a news reader and blogging tool

Since Synop has closed for business, I've been looking around for a new blogging tool.

Basically I'm looking for a News Reader/Aggregator that has blogging functionality built-in.

One such tool that hit my radar recently is RSS Feeder. This tool has a nice interface, can store feed items in Outlook, built-in blogging, pickup items from an Outlook folder and create weblog items and some other cool features. The author has also put together a comprehensive article over here

Friday, 16 September 2005

Talk like a pirate day

Dont forget ...

Talk Like A Pirate Day!!

Damn testing centres ...

Failed the exam today though not for the want of trying to finish the exam.

The building the testing centre was located at was having construction work done. So unbeknowns to me they have re-located their testing services to a different building across the road.

To cut along story short after much fussing around trying to find my test booking they eventually advised that I should go across the road. This made me arrive about 20 minutes later than the booked time. The lady at the front desk was most understanding and mentioned that they had quite a few problems due to the construction. She got me all set up in a cubicle and I proceeded to mow through the questions.

After completing 31 of 42 questions, another guy came up to my cubicle and told me I shouldn't be doing the test because I arrived late. He then proceeded to exit the test and log me out of the system. From the timer I could see that I still had over one hour and 40 minutes to complete the final 11 questions. Let me tell you I was not happy, but my remonstrations went un-heard. The end result is that I ended up with a final score of 674, 16 less than required for a pass with 11 questions unanswered. NOT HAPPY JAN!!!!

Needless to say I will be following this up with Prometric.

Of glacial progress and other joys ...

Been rather busy lately and have finally got a small respite to allow a breath or two.
Things that have been keeping me occupied,

    • Porting some of our reports from our current reporting product Cyberquery, over to SQL Reporting Services. A note to those of you wondering if Cyberquery is any good, it's one claim to fame that sets it apart from other reporting tools is that it natively connects to Progress databases. Other than that it is a very average offering in the reporting arena.

      I suppose it doesn't really help that the implementation that was provided to us consists of the Cyberquery report files, a bunch of Progress 4GL code, a small Progress database holding report batch details and summary data, some Windows batch files to manage the rendering of reports in batches and a Perl application to perform the email distribution.

      Thankfully this is all made vastly simpler with SQL Reporting Services. We just have a report on Reporting Services, a SQL Server database, (really just a collection of stored procedures to provide the report data ) and a single application that manages the rendering and distribution (see next point).
    • Writing a C# console application to render and distribute the reports as PDF files. What has been a great excursion into the world of Web Services and .Net
    • Fiddling with Reporting Services script files to automate the report deployment.
    • Studying my a** off for my Master of Systems Development, got an exam for my third of sixteen subjects later today.
    • Of course I always put in an appearence at my regular community haunts, the great and what will hopefully become the down-under equivalent Australian SQL Server User Group