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I'm Back!

June 6, 2008

If you are (were?) a regular reader, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the site has been unavailable for a while. Long story short, our local power company decided to shut our power grid down one weekend for ‘upgrades’, and in the process my MySQL server suffered a catastrophic power spike. Both the power supply (easy to fix) and the mother board (not-so-easy and d*mned expensive to fix) were fried and the server never breathed again.

Are there a bunch of things I could have done to restore it? Yes. Did I want the site back? Mostly (more in a minute). Did I have the time to do it? No. Sort of like how the Contractor’s house is always in a state of disrepair, the developer’s site just wasn’t a priority. A friend of mine was messing around in here today and we were finally able to do the necessary work to get another install of MySQL running on a different server and import the database, and so as of today the site is back.

It’s hard to believe it, but it has been about 5 weeks since the site went down. I’ve had lots of adventures in that time, but most notably I’ve been very productive. I can only think that some of that was because I was not spending any time working on the site: no postings, no tracking, no blogging, etc. It was a nice little holiday, but I have to admit that I missed the outlet.

The Bad News

The bad news is that I know I lost some posts. Basically, anything written in April is gone. I think I had a couple of good posts about using Func<> to create local methods, but apparently my last backup was from before those were written. So if you find a bad link or can help me remember, maybe I’ll try to duplicate them.

ASP.NET MVC

My MVC adventures are moving on full bore. Preview 3 was released, and I am very happy with the updates. Last night I presented on MVC at RVNUG so I got to show off some of the recent goodies. I have two concurrent development efforts going on in MVC right now and will soon be adding a third. I’ve really been trying to dig into Routing, because I think my understanding of this core technology is lacking. I should be posting on this in the near future.

jQuery

I’ve done plenty of JavaScript in the past, but I’ve never employed a JavaScript library before now. I found out about jQuery while researching MVC and AJAX and let me tell you: I am WAY impressed! This is one awesome piece of software! I’ve spent a good bit of this week reading and playing with it and this is one tool that is definitely going in my bag of tricks.

I incorporated some of it into my presentation last night, which was part of a larger ASP.NET and AJAX group of presentations. What struck me most was that I actually find using jQuery for AJAX easier than the ASP.NET AJAX implementation. The code is certainly easier to read, and learning jQuery itself will add a lot more skill to my resume than just dropping an UpdatePanel. And we had a good discussion about how the term “AJAX” is frequently misapplied to more general DHTML rather than specific Server calls.

I’ll certainly be posting about using jQuery in MVC shortly.

My Laptop

I finally had a “Vista” moment, you know, the bad ones everyone talks about. I had previously installed the Beta of Vista SP1. Since the release version has been available for a while, on Friday I finally decided that I would upgrade. So I got on line, read the instructions, and followed the procedures. I uninstalled the beta (which took hours) and installed SP1. It cycled through all of its processes, the last of which is “Updating Configuration, Step 3 of 3″. This step completed and then entered Shut Down for like the 20th time. The problem is, it never came back.

I think now that this was because I was connected to my docking station and the prompts were sent to the wrong display – which was no longer visible – a mistake I’ll not repeat (more on this later). Since the machine would not come back, I restored the OS from a Rescue Disk. All seemed to be well, and I finished the week on a high note.

Unfortunately, Monday morning started on a low note: the machine would not start up. Instead, it was caught in some infinite loop between “updating configuration step 3 of 3″ and Shut Down. It simply toggled back and forth between these two steps ad infinitum. I finally got the rescue disk back out and tried it again, which worked. I did a few things I had to get done, and then I rebooted: same problem. This tune was getting old quickly. So I tried the rescue trick one more time, except now the backups were no longer available. I was stuck with the “Restore to Factory Settings” option, which meant losing all data and applications. Not catastrophic, because I had backups, but annoying and time consuming.

And then the kicker: the rescue disk installed XP instead of Vista even though the machine’s “factory settings” were OEM Vista Business. Fortunately, I had an upgrade disk to Ultimate available through my Microsoft Action Pack subscription, so I installed that. I then spent most of Tuesday reconfiguring my system. And this is where the display issue comes in: because I was connected to the docking station during all of this, the default display for my machine is now the monitor, which Vista incorrectly set to 800×600 (instead of its 1600×1050 default). Worse yet, it would not offer me the correct resolution and Vista refused to install the driver from the disk that came with the monitor. Several Windows Updates and reboots later, and the device was finally recognized. I have now finally managed to get the settings corrected, although for my presentation last night it caused some issues with the projector, but we got through it.

Two final notes: the upgrade from XP to Vista seems to have wiped out the OEM FingerPrint reader software, so my T61 FingerPrint reader will not function. Also, there is an update that refuses to install because the system is missing files. And I thought “Ultimate” had everything.

Windows Live OneCare

In all this hubub, I lost my Norton 360 software and information, so I installed Windows Live OneCare instead, and so far I like it. It appears to be less resource intensive than 360 was and less intrusive. As of yet, I’m not subscribing, but I probably will eventually do so. I’d be happy to hear any of your experiences with the product.

So in conclusion, I’ve been busy busy busy, but I’m glad to be back amongst the living.

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