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September 2007 - Posts

Happy Days

To be honest nothing truly extraordinary has happened in my life to warrant such a happy subject line for this post. I did turn 30 a few days ago though so something interesting has happened. I think I'm just happy because a lot of things are coming together for me. Not things as in physical things, more mental things. I'm understanding things! It is the neatest thing when you finally feel like you're beginning to understand things that have plagued you a long time.

But you know, I guess some physical things have been happening that have contributed to my happiness, small things really though. I just switched to a chemical-free deodorant from my aluminum-laden antiperspirant, I bought a PS3 just because I wanted to, I'm almost done organizing files on my computer so I can back everything up to 10 DVDs and switch to Linux. Yes, life is good in a sort of geeky kind of way. :) The comment above about things coming together is really just a feeling inside of coalescence. It's strange in a way, it really does just feel like things I've struggled with for a long time are resolving themselves. My changing to a deodorant is happy for me because I feel like I'm taking care of my body just a little bit better than before. Me buying a PS3 is happy for me because I actually spent a lot of money on something that I want, a big deal for me really. My organization of my computer files, well, that's more of a longtime task I've been engaged in for months that's almost over. Still, it's nice to complete things, to bring things to a resolution and move on.

An image I've had of myself lately is a planet leaving apogee. Apogee is when a planet is the farthest away from the sun in its orbit. In terms of the image in my head I feel it relates to me passing the dark moments in my life. For a good, oh I don't know, 7 years the world has really felt kind of dark and gray to me. If you've read this blog from the beginning no doubt you'll notice the bleakness. But lately I feel like I've found the bottom of a bottomless pit. First I learn it's not bottomless, and second...I've found what I've been looking for. I guess if I had to put my finger on it that thing would be myself. Traversing to the depths of your soul to find that spark of light within all. Not that I even knew I was doing this mind you; it's often only in retrospect that you can make sense of past actions.

Apogee is not perigee, the closest point to the sun, so I'm not saying I'm all perfect and fine and dandy and all that. It's just, when you've been traveling in a certain direction for a long time to finally be moving in the opposite direction is exciting -- so you make long posts about it. :) I feel like my latest posts have just been harping on happiness over and over, but I can't help it. I sincerely feel the source of true happiness comes in knowing yourself, however you might accomplish that. It's like a seed I feel though, knowing yourself. That's just a step. Once the seed has been found it has to be planted. That's the next step for me I feel, that opposite orbital direction I feel I'm on now. What might germinate from this newfound happiness.

Posted: Thu, Sep 27 2007 1:25 AM by Humpty
Filed under:
Database woes

Why oh why must Microsoft release such a shoddy management tool for SQL Server 2005? The tool I'm referring to is, of course, the "wonderful" SQL Server Management Studio. The first problem is that it's written in .NET. Now I love .NET, truly, it makes writing programs and web sites so much easier than other frameworks, and I love programming in C#. The problem really is the DataGridView control in .NET 2.0. It renders horribly slow so moving around data sets with it is a pain in the arse. Anyway, that's a small issue compared to my biggest gripe with Management Studio. The stoopid tool just cannot export or import data for anything but dead simple databases.

So here's my dilemma. Trying to move the Community Server database for this blog and my forums to a new web host. Management Studio offers Import / Export data, Copy Database, and Backup / Restore. None work but I'll take you through my ordeal as to why.

Import / Export Data

The first choice really for me because Enterprise Manager for SQL Server 2000 worked wonderfully doing this. Unfortunately Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, decided to remove the ability to transfer objects, you can only transfer tables and views. Who thought up this crap!? So to get around this deficiency you have to right-click your database, choose Tasks, and Generate Scripts to get a script that creates all the objects in your database sans any data. You run said script on your destination database and then you go ahead with the Import / Export operation.

Not so fast there partner. If you happen to have, say, 103 tables to copy that's a lot of data to move so the Import / Export wizard wisely advises you to check the "Optimize for many tables" checkbox. So you do and, and this is important, if this is not your first time moving data then your target database will already have data in it so you need to also check the option to delete all rows and enable identity insert. So you go ahead with the transfer and you get an error on the first table: cannot insert duplicate rows, violation of primary key. "What?", you say. "I thought I told you to delete all the rows first, if there's no data how can there be duplicates?", you think. No use getting angry cuz there's nothing you can do about it, the stoopid wizard is just not going to delete the rows first so it's always going to fail.

Okay, so after much much, and I mean much, swearing you calm down enough to realize you can just delete all the rows in the target database yourself since the wizard can't do it. I used this script for that, thanks to all newsgroup posters, you guys rock.

-- Disable all constraints
select 'alter table ' + table_schema + '.' + table_name + ' nocheck constraint all'
from information_schema.tables
where
  objectproperty(object_id(table_schema + '.' + table_name), 'IsMSShipped') = 0
  and table_type = 'BASE TABLE'

-- Generate delete all rows
select 'delete from ' + table_schema + '.' + table_name
from information_schema.tables
where
  objectproperty(object_id(table_schema + '.' + table_name), 'IsMSShipped') = 0
  and table_type = 'BASE TABLE'

-- Reenable all constraints
select 'alter table ' + table_schema + '.' + table_name + ' with check check constraint all'
from information_schema.tables
where
  objectproperty(object_id(table_schema + '.' + table_name), 'IsMSShipped') = 0
  and table_type = 'BASE TABLE'

This gives you a result set that you can just copy and paste into a new editor window and execute. First it disables all the constraints on your tables so you can actually delete all the rows in them without warnings and errors, secondly actually deletes them, and thirdly after your data is across reenables constraints. Neat, good. So now I can actually use the Import / Export wizard to transfer the rows and not worry about deleting all the rows first, but enabling identity insert is still important. So the wizard actually completes!! A fool and his elation are soon parted however when he realizes tables with identity columns have all new values in them... Sad Stoopid wizard didn't enable identity insert so now my site doesn't work anymore! Super Angry Upon further testing in transferring only one table with identity insert on reveals the wizard does actually do this, but apparently only if you transfer one table. It actually could be higher than that but no way was I going to transfer 103 tables one-by-one.

At this point I've spent damn near the entire day, literally, working on this before finally coming to the conclusion the Import / Export wizard is just useless. To make a long story short I ended up using xSQL Data Compare to get my data across, finally. Another tool of mention is SQL Manager 2005 because it can generate a script that will insert all your data for you! Both products have freeware lite editions but I used them in their trial periods to get full functionality, hehe.

Copy Database

This Management Studio option is just useless because you have to be in the sysadmin server role to use it. Next.

Backup / Restore

Sadly, the data transfer options of Management Studio are so poor that backing up and restoring your entire database on the web host has become the de facto standard for moving your data. This works but does require to coordinate with the web host. Unless you happen to be at one of the web hosts that offers this as an automated feature. Of course, if you're in my case and can't even get your web hosting company to even talk to you *cough ASPnix* then even this option is not for you.

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

Some people might want to chime in that the Enterprise Manager option of transferring objects is still there but just moved to SSIS. Well, yes, but it don't work. I tried everything I could think of to transfer data and I always had my transfer task highlight in yellow with some warning. I gave up.

Posted: Sun, Sep 16 2007 7:30 PM by Humpty | with 10 comment(s)
Filed under:
Web hosting woes

Oh what a weekend I've had. Let me just say that ASPnix sucks as a web host! They were the latest hoster that I've been with, 3 and counting. These guys were good when I first signed up with them last year and came with tons of recommendations from the Community Server forums. It turns out the reason they were so good is because of one guy and that guy left many months ago -- to work for Telligent no less, the makers of Community Server. What happened next was a customer service disaster. Not only was that one guy the best thing about the place but since he left there was apparently only ONE guy left! One guy left to handle the customer service needs of their entire customer base. Well, I think there was a sys admin too.

So April of this year their servers started having downtime issues. The only way you would know is by going to your site and seeing nothing. So when you submit a trouble ticket some many hours later you get a reply back saying nothing is wrong, and when you check your site to prove them wrong your site is up again. Yonkers! The fuckers are playing dumb! If that wasn't creepy enough, as the server issues became more frequent people couldn't stand just waiting for their trouble tickets to be answered so we all started posting on the forums. People bitching left and right, conspiracy theories running rampant, it was great. Until the servers came back up, and then, the forum threads are missing. Gone, phizt, into thin air. So not only were they denying their servers were even down when they replied to your tickets now they're deleting forum threads that are critical of the company.

That's when I lost it and decided I shouldn't stay with them. It's one thing to have server issues, sure, it happens to everyone, but to pull the stunts they were pulling on a repeated basis just showed they had little respect for their customers. My one year wasn't up until June so I stayed, grudgingly, until then. And since I'm rather lazy I actually stayed until just now, hahaha. While I was in this month-to-month billing limbo I got to observe even further sinking of their customer support. One, their forums have been temporarily down since July. Why? Ya got me, some supposed server upgrade. Two, they absolutely do not respond to any emails anymore. I've asked for backups of the database I'm using to host this blog and forums and they have not responded at all. (This led to further database woes which I'll save for another post.) I don't know if they're just tired of hearing from me but that's just ridiculous. They could at least just put the backups in my directory and not answer my emails... Third, their phones are down! Can you believe this!? They don't answer email and you can't even call them. So basically you just can't contact them anymore if anything goes wrong. Time to go.

 

I'm currently with JodoHost. They seem okay, they've been around for 5 years which is nice. The emails I've sent in my trial period have been answered by different people, which given the one-man show at ASPnix, is rather reassuring. They actually offer unlimited domains for only $6.95/month! Wow, couldn't believe that, most places give you only one for such a low price. I'm going to check out ReliableSite next though because they're even cheaper, offer more capacities, and have an a la carte system of paying for features: you only need 5 domain aliases, 10 cents please. They've only been around a year so I'm a bit leery. You know, you get what you pay for, if you're getting a lot for a little I'm learning something usually goes bad sooner rather than later.

Posted: Sun, Sep 16 2007 5:18 PM by Humpty
Filed under: