Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

Weblog Move Successful!

Thanks to those of you who posted comments in response to my last post. I appreciate it. It appears that the blog has been successfully moved.

Do You See This Post?

By day, a mild mannered construction worker, by night&nbsp_place_holder;a man feverishly trying to get his Internet sites all moved to a new hosted server.

The basement is now essentially done. I threw in the towl and decided to pay someone to finish the tape and plaster for me. They should be done by Thursday, just in time for the carpet to be installed. Then I paint all weekend and fly out on the following Monday.

As for the web site stuff, I’ve been doing it slowly for the past few weeks. I’m now hosted at WebHost4Life after getting a recommendation from Brad Wilson.

So if you are reading this post, then you know you are on the new server. This post doesn’t exist on the old one. :)

What I would like, if you don’t mind, is for a few of you to please post a comment that you saw this post. I want to make sure it is all working fine for RSS people, web readers, comments, etc.


Comment Moderation in .TEXT Weblogs

It sounds like the new comment moderation feature in .TEXT is annoying some weblogs.asp.net users. If what I hear is correct, that doesn’t surprise me much.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I wonder if ScottW’s approach is in need of some work. I like the idea of comment moderation, but I think maybe there needs to be a better way to do it.

Having the blog owner “allow” every comment will get tedious. Especially for those bloggers who have lots of comments (like ericgu). How about a scheme where the blogger can “Allow comments from UserX.”

The problem with that approach is that for people to post comments that are “premoderated” they have to register with the blog and probably create a password or something. But honestly, that wouldn’t be that bad. I would register with weblogs.asp.net once and then all of the blogs there have the option of allowing me to have unmoderated comments.

This is how some of the mailing lists work and it seems to work well. When someone new posts you have to moderate them, but after a second good post, you open the door for them as an individual and you don’t have to deal with it anymore.

Or we could try something with public key/private keys or certificates, but I suspect that would be beyond the capabilities of non-tech users.


Now playing: Sloth - Myself

Geek Notes 2004-08-13

One more week. That’s right. One more week here at Interlink. Then we fly to Seattle for a week of house hunting before I start my new job on Aug 30.

I’m firmly convinced that I have forgotten to do something important… I hate that.

  • Amazon.com Contrarian Game - This was hiding in my Inbox on GMail. My good friend AaronX sent it to me. Good for a laugh!
  • BizTalk Server 2004 File Dump Utility - Wow. I wish I’d thought of this. It dumps the C# source code that is generated for a BizTalk Assembly during compilation. Very cool. Now I know how I’ll be spending the rest of my day.
  • Don’t Use BizTalk Mapper - Strange… I had just come to this conclusion myself. Call me a freak but I prefer good ol’ XSLT code. At least in there I know what’s gonna happen.
  • Disable Windows Messenger in XP&nbsp_place_holder;- I can’t remember if I’ve posted this before, but if you run an alternate IM client like Trillian, you may want to do this. I accidentally launched Outlook Express and Windows Messenger re-enabled itself. I’ll also add to the list of things to do, in Outlook 2003, go to Tools Options Other and uncheck “Enable the Person Names Smart Tag”.
  • C# 2.0 Specification - I think I saw a different form of this go by a while ago… can’t remember. [via Wes]
  • Open Intellectual Property - I’ve always thought that consulting firms really don’t have any IP per se that they should be protecting and should therefore participate aggresively in the open-source community. Thoughtworks has always been that way with projects like CruiseControl&nbsp_place_holder;and CruiseControl.NET.
  • Essential XML Quick Reference - I know I posted this before, but since I couldn’t find it I’ll post it again. If you work with XML, you should have the book on your shelf, and this PDF on your desktop.

BizTalk Visio Stencil SUCKS!

I am very very annoyed. I’m documenting some BizTalk stuff and so I went and downloaded the BizTalk Server 2004 Orchestration Designer for Business Analysts thinking that it would provide me with some nice BizTalk shapes to help.

After installing it, it added a new document type for BizTalk orchestrations.

So far so good.

So I opened it up and tried to work with it.

Not so good.

Here are my complaints:

  1. It completely removed a number of the Visio toolbars and menu items and then didn’t put them back! Most specifically, it removed the Actions toolbar and menu items, which I like to use for things like aligning shapes and distributing shapes. It even pulled the Center Drawing command from the menus and toolbars. The commands actually exist, but it pulls the toolbars and menus. WTFO?
  2. It doesn’t actually install a stencil file that you can use from other documents. It only lets you use the BTS shapes from within a BTS Orchestration Designer document template.
  3. It disables a lot of the right click menus, most notably the ones related to Protecting shapes. You can beat this by going to the shape sheet, but come on, that sucks

I suspect they did this because some of the tools that they disabled cause problems to the code generation and integration stuff in BizTalk/Visio. But what they effectively did was make Visio unusable for what I use it for… drawing pictures.

I tried reinstalling (not uninstalling and reinstalling, but using the “Reinstall” feature of the setup program) but that didn’t help. I guess I’ll have to try completely uninstalling, rebooting and reinstalling, but I don’t have time for that today. Ugh.

Cisco VPN and Windows XP SP2

I spent a couple of hours yesterday and today figuring out how to get the Cisco VPN client working with Windows XP SP2.

First of all, let me say that I have been unable to get it working over TCP, but I have been able to get it to work using UDP. Perhaps someone else can figure out the TCP stuff.

To start with, I already had the Cisco VPN Client v4.0.3(f) installed and working just fine when I installed SP2. And as expected (from when I tried it with RC2), the VPN now was unable to connect, either via TCP or UDP transport.

So I did some digging, specifically in the release notes for the client. It mentioned a number of ports and protocols that needed to be opened in a firewall for the client to work. Although the Cisco VPN is supposed to be IPSEC, according to a USENET post I found, they cheated a bit and used some non-standard stuff as well.

Anyway, the readme listed the following required firewall openings:

  • UDP port 500
  • UDP port 10000 (or any other port number being used for IPSec/UDP)
  • IP protocol 50 (ESP)
  • TCP port configured for IPSec/TCP
  • NAT-T (Standards-Based NAT Transparency) port 4500

Now for the long and short of it… you can do the 1st and 2nd, but as far as I can tell, you can’t do the rest from the configuration tools for the SP2 firewall.

So I went ahead and did the two that I could do. In case you don’t know how to do this, go to Control Panel -> Security Center -> Windows Firewall -> Exceptions and click Add Port. Fill out the dialog once for UDP 500 and once for UDP 10000.

But, unfortuantely, this didn’t work. So I tried something that was recommended by our internal support engineer. I uninstalled the 4.0.3(f) client (new as of a month or so ago) and installed the newest version, which is 4.0.5. One reboot for the uninstall, and another for the install.

And you know what? It just works. You do have to have those two UDP ports opened up and you can only connect using the UDP transport, but it does work. This makes me very happy because I was the one at our company who went ahead and installed SP2 RC2 and it completely killed my VPN. No amound of uninstalling (both Cisco and SP2) or reinstalling (Cisco) would fix it. I had to repave.

I’m very happy it worked this time. I think if someone can figure out how to open those remaining ports/protocols/etc, then we could probably get the TCP transport working.

Or we can just wait for Cisco to release a version that supports SP2.

Geek Notes 2004-08-11

So now you all know that I’m heading to PAG. I’ve had a few people around here ask me “So what’s the deal with the Application Blocks?”

Ummm… I’m sorry. We didn’t talk about that during my interview. :)

But yesterday Sandy Khaund posted a nice write up of how the App Blocks and Enterprise Library fit together, so maybe that will help explain.

  • Web Messenger - This looks like an interesting way for people to do MSN&nbsp_place_holder;IM when their employer foolishly bans IM. [via Denis Bauer]
  • Mafia: The Game - Last night at the Denver Pragmatic Programmers meeting, we finished a bit early and Keith Brown showed us how to play this game. It was a blast. Now Keith is trying to start a Mafia Club here in Denver. Too bad I’m moving…
  • BizTalk Documentation Update - Looks like they’ve updated the product docs again. (Also the Tutorials, IW Product Docs and the Installation Guide.) I wonder why this needs to be updated every month?
  • TiVo Saves Bomb Suspect - This guy was accused of having a bomb in his suitcase… until he showed the cops some video from his TiVo showing him using the device (a microphone) on the Craig Kilborn show. LOL
  • Windows XP SP2 on BitTorrent? - They’re gonna try to get it onto the big distributed file sharing network. Why not?
  • Werner Vogels Joins Amazon - The big Dutchman is leaving Cornell and headed to Amazon. Congrats Werner! Since he is moving to Seattle, maybe I’ll bump into him there. I hope so. He and I spent most of the 2004 PDC Party hanging out with Harry Pierson getting drunk. That was a blast.

Denver Pragmatic Practitioners, August Meeting Is TONIGHT!

Oops. With all the other crap in my life, I completely forgot to post this…

**Tuesday, August 10, 2004 5:30 PM-8:00 PM

Location: (map)
Interlink Group Offices
2nd Floor Conference Room
98 Inverness Drive East, Suite 150
Englewood CO 80112

Security vs. Agility

We all know security is important. It’s a process, not a product. But when faced with mantras about doing the simplest thing possible, how do you end up with an architecture that is both secure and malleable?

Can you, in a nutshell, be secure and agile?

The Denver Pragmatic Practitioners take an informal approach to meeting. We prefer conversations over pizza and beer, so come ready to make some new friends and have a great chat about interviewing! Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you there!

(Join the Denver Pragmatic Practitioners Mailing List at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pragprog-denver/)


Geek Notes 2004-08-10

Two more weeks and we’ll be in Seattle. We’re excited and exhausted at the same time. The house is almost ready to sell and I think I’ve got all the moving logistics taken care of. We’ll see, though… I’m sure I forgot something.

  • Flat File Disassembling - Bob Brumfield has written a nice piece showing some of the nasty details of flat file work in BizTalk 2004. I wish this stuff was better documented.
  • NUnit 2.2 Final Release - It is out. Here are some highlights: automatic framework detection (no custom config entries), mono support, array support in Assert.AreEqual, Assert.Ignore for programmatic test skipping, categories for grouping tests logically, detection of assemblies compiled against older NUnit frameworks, and a lightweight mock object framework. I wonder if the GUI is better… we’ll see.
  • Desktop Trebuchet - I love stuff like this… pelt your cube neighbor with wooden or steel spheres from up to 20 feet away. Oh yeah! [via ericgu]
  • Protect Your (Family’s) PC - I’m sure all the people who read this blog don’t need this, but your family does. Go to this site and it will automatically configure your XP Home machine to have Automatic Updates and Internet Connection Firewall configured. [via Scott Hanselman]
  • BizTalk Pipeline Components - Do I Want This Message? - Martijn Hoogendoorn explains the IProbeMessage interface that lets your component peek at the message to see if it wants to process it or not. Also, Martijn has updated his Pipeline Component Wizard.

Haiku - on Moving

There’s too much to do
And not nearly enough time
To get it all done