Sql 2008 Intellisense

February 2nd, 2010 Jeremy No comments

I’ve been using Sql 2008 fairly regularly lately with a couple of projects.  I realize there are far bigger features with this release, but Intellisense is great!  I love my Intellisense with Visual Studio, and now having it with Sql Server is nice.

I’m in the process of creating a new database, and therefore adding several tables and populating them with data.  It was frustrating to add a table, but it not appear with Intellisense when writing an insert statement.  Those red squiggly lines always jump out, and I think I’ve misspelled the table name yet the statement is correct.

The fix is simple, all you have to do is update the Local Cache one of 2 ways:

  • Edit -> Intellisense -> Refresh Local Cache
  • Control-Shift-R

Personally I am a fan of the second method, the more I can do without my mouse the faster I can go.  But either works fine.  Now, back to my database!

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No wait!

January 18th, 2010 Jeremy No comments

I am a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, they’re the home team and I enjoy watching football.  I was excited when they advanced to the NFC Divisional Playoffs…finally some post-season success!  Kick-off was at noon yesterday, and we are never home by then on a Sunday, so I setup our faithful DVR to record the game along with an extra hour (just in case…learned this one the hard way).  We were careful and didn’t turn on the radio, bypassed the electronics department during a quick shopping trip and did everything possible to ignore the outside world.

We finally sat down to watch the game about 3:00pm, looking forward to zipping through commercials!  Five minutes into the first quarter a couple of the neighbors’ kids came over to play with our kids.  They walked into the living room and asked who we were rooting for.  Before we could stop him, his next words were “Yea, we were rooting for the Cowboys, too.  They lost, though.  Oh well.”

Google Chrome put it best:  Aw, snap.

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Categories: Family, Personal Tags: ,

Merry Christmas!

December 24th, 2009 Jeremy No comments

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

This is one of my favorite times of the year.  There are so many ways to have fun during this season.  Spend time with your family!  Hug someone!  Make a surprise for a friend!  You don’t have to buy something to give a wonderful gift.

Since my favorite comic is Calvin and Hobbes, I wanted to share these winter-themed strips…I hope they make you laugh.  Thanks to Bill Watterson for coming up with such a wonderful cartoon.

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Adobe Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

December 23rd, 2009 Jeremy No comments

I have used several image editing applications over the years.  My favorite has been Paint Shop Pro, and more recently Paint.NET.  I haven’t done anything overly exotic in the past, and in fact I still have Paint Shop Pro version 7 (from when it was developed by Jasc).  Paint.NET is a completely free photo editing application, and is very impressive.  However, I am currently involved with a new opportunity and found myself diving headfirst into the power that is Adobe Photoshop.

I needed to display the copyright symbol in a footer, and I wanted to do so without digging through the character map.  I love keyboard shortcuts, so I set out to find one.  I found that you can fall back to the old “Alt-ASCII” standby!  Here are a few common ones:

  • € – euro – Alt-0128
  • ™ – trademark – Alt-0153
  • ¢ – cents – Alt-0162
  • £ – pound – Alt-0163
  • © – copyright symbol – Alt-0169
  • ® – registered trademark – Alt-0174
  • µ – micro – Alt-0181

To use any of the above while in text mode, simply hold down the Alt key, type the 4-digit code using your keypad and then release the Alt key.  The character will appear and behave just like regular text.

Do you have a symbol you can’t find?  Leave a comment and I’ll see if I can find it!

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All Star Conferencing? Try AccuConference…

December 15th, 2009 Jeremy 1 comment

I had a recent need for conference calling, and decided to sign up for several services to try them out.  Conference calling is a very hot commodity in today’s market, especially during these economic times.  You can reach out to so many people for such a small cost, it is logical for many businesses, freelancers and even personal calls.

I decided to investigate several options, beginning with the lowest price.  There are several free options available, the most notable being Free Conference.  How can you go wrong with free, right?  If you’re using a service for internal use within your company, a family gathering or some other instance where you don’t mind a stripped down service then go for it.  It’s simple to use, but very basic and you have to pay your own long distance.  If you want toll-free service it’s 10¢/minute per person, and you also gain access to several features such as call recording and playback.

The next option I tried was AccuConference.  I love their product and feature set, it really is a great deal.  They don’t have a free option, but have inexpensive flat rate plans (you pay long distance to connect) or their toll free plan is only 9.9¢/minute per person.  You have access to the same feature set regardless of your plan, which is great.  They also offer free call recording, desktop controls, pre-conference and a ton of other features.

My final option was Star Conferencing.  At 3.9¢/minute per person they were one of the cheapest toll-free option and seemed to still have a nice feature set.  I later found out that they are a marketing site forPremiere Global.  The rate is definitely great, but there is a catch.  You prepay for 500 minutes per month, which amounts to a $19.99 monthly fee whether you use it or not.

I found out about this “catch” when a $ 19.99 fee appeared on my credit card statement.  I emailed Star Conferencing right away about the charge, I was sure I had not signed up for a  plan with a monthly fee.  I received a quick response that my inquiry had been forwarded to their billing company.  This was the first bad sign because being forwarded is similar to being transferred within an IVR: you are the hot potato that no one wants.

After no response for 2 days, I again emailed Star Conferencing and finally heard from their “billing company” the next day.  I was told that they only offered one plan, it is $19.95 per month and I am free to cancel at anytime.  Since I had never used the service, I asked if the fee could be refunded.  The response was “Per our Terms and Conditions, the monthly fee of $19.99, which includes 500 minutes, will be automatically charged to the credit card on file regardless of the number of minutes used. Charges will be applied each month the account is active including the month cancelled.

Well, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  I canceled my account and responded that I had never used the service or cost them anything, and would they please credit this amount.  Their final response was that they made a “one-time exception” and credited ONE of my fees…but the second fee will still be charged because I canceled after my billing date.

At this point I give up.  I’ve wasted enough time and Internet bandwidth, and decided I would rather blog about it then ask for my other $20.  I’ll just keep my AccuConference account and be happy.  They don’t charge me anything if I don’t use the service.

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Categories: Personal, Travel Tags: ,

Google Maps Lost My Address!

December 11th, 2009 Jeremy No comments

wheres_waldoOne of my favorite online utilities is Google Maps.  They were one of the first to implement dynamic scrolling for maps (with the click-and-drag), and very nice piece of DHTML.  I enjoy smooth, feature rich browser interfaces, and theirs is a great one.  Their team created (yet again) a product that leads the market.

Prior to Google Maps, the best option was probably MapQuest.  They were ok, but became too commercialized…always suggesting a hotel, gas station or eatery along your route.  While that information may have been helpful, it cluttered up the screen and was a pain to work with.  Their scrolling consisted of clicking the edge of the screen to move the viewport, which was terribly inconvenient.

We bought a new house in a rural area just over a year ago, so I often map addresses I don’t recognize using Google Maps just to see how far away they are.  Yes, it’s a geeky thing to do, but I think it’s fun.  Because of that, my home address is my default location and always appears when I land on Google Maps.  Much to my surprise, I disappeared in early November!  My address was there in late October, but suddenly Google Maps couldn’t find me!  I searched for a few other streets in my neighborhood, and finally found a couple.  I panned around and found my street, but it was not labeled.  Then I checked Street View (another scary-but-cool feature of Google Maps) and found that data was still current.

So Google had Street View but no GIS data for my location.  A rather odd combination, since the converse seems more logical.  Who to ask in a situation like this?  None other than Google (the search engine, of course!).  After some research, it seems that Google has begun updating their map information to also include parcel data.  I couldn’t find much regarding their data source(s), but I did find an interesting blog post about it.

After panning around my subdivision, I did notice parcel lines but I cannot remember if they were there before.  I don’t think they were, which would make sense, but I just never noticed.  So what do do?  I love Google Maps and don’t want to use another provider, so I poked around and found this Google Maps help article on how to Report a Problem.  I followed the steps hoping for a resolution of some kind.

earthI am happy to report that, as of today, my street is back online!  My exact address isn’t pinpointed, but Google Maps drops a push pin on my street with a note stating that “Placement on map is approximate.”  Hey, I’ll take it!  It has been about 3 weeks since I reported the issue and, given the volume of reports Google is likely dealing with after this update, that’s not bad at all.  I received a confirmation email from them after my submission, but have not heard anything from them since.

Thanks to Google, I can finally find my way around again!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2009 Jeremy No comments

ThanksgivingTurkeyI would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

No matter where you are in life, there is always something to be thankful for.  Stop and count your blessings, you’ll be amazed what you find!

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Categories: Family Tags: ,

G2M3 Codec for Windows Media Player / GoToMeeting

November 24th, 2009 Jeremy No comments

codec_missingI tried to view a recorded webinar recently, but was unable to view it.  I was using my favorite browser, Google Chrome, and realized that the Windows Media Player plug-in was launching but the video was not playing.  My next step is always to try the site in Internet Explorer, since there are still websites that haven’t found the decency to create cross-browser content.

When I viewed the link with IE, it launched Media Player which tried to connect to the media source.  It failed after several seconds, and a popup appeared telling me:

A codec is required to play this file.  To determine if this codec is available to download from the web, click Web Help.

I was not very optimistic, but clicked the Web Help button anyway.  The information was somewhat helpful, informing me that I needed the G2M3 codec.  At least I had a name!  The link to WMPlugins.com was of no help, and using their site search returned no results.

So I turned to my trusted friend Google, and searched for “g2m3 codec“.  One of the first  links referenced a GoToMeeting plug-ing, and linked to www.gotomeeting.com:

I followed the link, installed the codec and presto!  I could now playback my media source!  It would have been nice if Windows Media Player would have downloaded the necessary codec automatically, but at least the help file referenced the name of the correct codec.  And as always, it’s Google to the rescue.  What did we ever do before Google?

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Netbook vs. Laptop

November 10th, 2009 Jeremy No comments

I had a good friend ask me the difference between a Netbook and a Laptop.  Her son is wanting a laptop for school (he is in 5th grade) and she had seen several articles about netbooks.

dell-netbookNetbook

  • Sometimes called a UMPC (Ultra Mobile Personal Computer).
  • Screen Size – Netbooks typically have a screen less than 10-inches diagonally.
  • Optical Drive – Netbooks lack an optical drive, so no playing CD’s or DVD’s without an external drive.
  • Graphics – No 3-D graphics card here, just a modest video player capable of playback and video sharing.
  • Peripherals – Netbooks have USB ports, and several have built-in webcams.  USB opens the world of peripherals…it allows you to connect a CD / DVD drive for installing software or burning files, printing and just about anything else imaginable.
  • Power – Battery life is typically longer than a laptop, partly due to the smaller screen size.  Some netbooks have an SSD (solid state drive) instead of an HDD (hard disk drive), which greatly reduces power consumption and moving parts.  You can reasonably expect 3 – 5 hours, some advertise in the 10 hour range.
  • Storage – Most netbooks come with a modest size drive, around 160GB.
  • Network – Netbooks have support for wireless networking (B and G) as well as Bluetooth.
  • Processor – Netbooks have a slower processor than most current laptops.  This is by design…they aren’t meant to play the latest 3-D games.  This also contributes to longer battery life.
  • Operating System – Netbooks (with a very rare exception) run Windows XP.  Some netbooks don’t even meet the minimum requirements for Vista, and those that do would surely choke while trying to run even the most basic version of Vista.  Did you ever try to run Vista on your old Windows XP machine?  Exactly.
  • General Use – Netbooks are designed for people on the go that don’t want to carry all the extra baggage of a laptop.  They’re great for reading email, using Office programs and surfing the Internet.

laptopLaptop

  • Screen Size – Laptops have a larger screen, several have 17 -inch widescreen displays.  There are even a few with 20-inch displays…which is huge for a laptop!
  • Optical Drive – Laptops typically have an optical drive.  Most have a DVD reader / writer, which can also read and write CDs.
  • Peripherals – Laptops have at least a handful of USB ports, some can be configured with a plethora of connections.  USB, FireWire, PCMCIA and even a serial port may be available.  Some include built-in media readers as well.
  • Graphics – Graphics capacity varies with the laptop, but you can buy a pretty mean video card for your laptop these days.  There are gaming groups that exclusively use laptops.
  • Power – Battery life greatly depends on your screen size, graphics card and usage patterns, but expect 1 1/2 to 3 hours.
  • Storage – Laptops can be configured with nice, large drives.  I have a 500GB drive in mine and it’s plenty.
  • Network – Laptops have support for both wired and wireless networking (B and G), and many support Bluetooth.
  • Processor – There are many processor options, and with recent advances in processor technology you can really get a lot of bang for your buck.  Faster is always better, provided it doesn’t break the bank.
  • Operating System – Laptops are sold with Vista, although that will change now that Windows 7 is available.  Windows 7 offers improvements for laptops, the increased battery life is particularly enticing.
  • General Use – Laptops are designed for mobile people that need the power and flexibility of a mobile PC.  While not always compact, they do offer more power and flexibility than netbooks.

In the end it really comes down to what your usage patterns will be and how much you want to spend.  Netbooks are great for young students, people always on the go or as an “emergency” connection to the Internet.  Laptops are great for those that need a more powerful platform, access to the latest operating systems and applications and don’t mind the increased size and decreased battery life.

A netbook works great for checking email while traveling or as a presentation device.  A laptop works great for someone who wants to take the office with them.  Which did you decide to purchase?  Are you happy with it?

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HallowThankMas

November 3rd, 2009 Jeremy No comments

time-remaining-till-christmasWell, we have officially entered into what I refer to as HallowThankMas.  Generally, once Halloween passes, time becomes a blur until after Christmas.  We are continually bombarded with commercials, ads, banners, emails and every form of communication possible promoting Christmas.  But no one wants to forget Thanksgiving, so we still see plenty of ads for that through the end of November.

Since retail stores want to begin promoting Christmas during October, let’s just roll it all into one massive holiday.  We already refer to it as the “Holiday Season”, and we can continue to do that.  It’ll simplify everything, and the actual celebration days are spread out enough to prevent a lopsided experience (I know Christmas is at the end, but still).

Last year was bad enough because we were finally learning that we were in a recession, so everyone wanted to start a price war.  This year will be worse…Wal-Mart has already started their screaming deal advertising and everyone is trying to leak their Black Friday advertisements.  Only time will tell how overstimulated we will be.

In the mean time, Happy HallowThankMas!

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Categories: Family Tags: ,