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Using an .ISO file without burning it to a CD

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Have you ever downloaded an .iso cdrom image of a program you want to use but don't want to waste a CD burning it?

Well asides from burning it to a CD-RW (which is typically slower than a CD-R) you can use the Microsoft Virtual CD tool for Windows XP. It lets you access the iso image as if it was a CD in your drive.

Its not an end-user tool with a pretty GUI but it is light and works well. After installing the driver you can add a virtual cdrom drive and mount the .iso files as if they were real CDs. Perfect for checking out a iso images contents or for use in a quality control environment.



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SQL Down Under Code Camp

General News

Look out Wagga Wagga! October 7th and 8th will see SQL Server developers and dba's of all levels gather for the first SQL Down Under Code Camp. If you're looking for an opporunity to meet some of the best SQL developers from across Australia, this is it.

This free event is being held at the Charles Sturt University together with PASS the Professional Association for SQL Server.

More details are available from the organisers.

And for those of you needing directions: remember its Wagga Wagga not Wagga.



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Return Codes, Exit Codes, and %errorlevel%

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Gah! The one thing that always gets me with working with so many different programming langauges (C#, T-SQL, Perl, VB, DOS) is that they each tend to refer to the same thing with a slightly different name. (If you read Perl: same foo, different bar).

Today when stepping out of T-SQL land and into DOS, I had a little trouble trying to track down the return codes exit codes for the windows XCOPY tool. In case you've had the same problem here are the:

Exit codes for xcopy, Return codes for xcopy, and %errorlevel% for xcopy

The following table lists each exit code for xcopy and a description.

Exit codeDescription
0Files were copied without error.
1No files were found to copy.
2The user pressed CTRL+C to terminate xcopy.
4Initialization error occurred. There is not enough memory or disk space, or you entered an invalid drive name or invalid syntax on the command line.
5Disk write error occurred.

See the MSDN Documentation.



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C# to VB.Net Syntax Comparison

General News

For those of us with a better background in C# programming than VB.Net, this website has a great page on the syntax differences.



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Getting Personal With Google

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I don't have an RSS Aggregate program. I don't think I need one. There are just so many blogs that I pass over in a week, and most of them don't update more than that (this one included at times).

I'm also a bit of a devourer of information. New anything is interesting to read, and helps keep my mind open, and thinking. Its strange, but often from reading unrelated topics I find the answer to a problem.

So what has this all got to do with Google? Well Google has had for some time now "Personalisation", where you can change the google homepage to include any RSS feed you like. Then when ever you are going to search with your favourite search engine, you'll also know if there's been any updates to the feeds.

There are a number of feeds from the most popular websites enabled by default. Things like BBC News, Slashdot, CNET News and Wired can be enabled at the click of a button. Any other RSS feeds you care to add can be put on your personalised home page as well, just by clicking the "Add Content" button at the top left of the page.

As always, google have strived to keep it simple, and useful. You can re-organise your feeds, just by dragging and dropping them on the page. Increasing or decreasing the number of displayed titles is also a simple task.

Getting started with your own personalised page is simple, goto http://www.google.com/ig and signup. You don't need a G-Mail account, any email address will do.

If you thought that wasn't enough, Google can also track you Search History for you. Now this is really useful to me. When looking for an answer, I might search on half a dozen different sets of keywords. Search History allows me to go back and search for the same thing a couple of days or months later. So helpful when you want to find articles for a subject you were doing a few weeks ago.

Oh and by the way, Happy 7th Birthday Google! And thanks for all the features!



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That warm fuzzy feeling

General News

While I find my full-time job constantly challenging, its also like any job: limited to the current projects and development. This is not a downside, just a fact that what you do in your job will be limited by the scope of your work. Sure there's daily study, and home projects, things you choose to challenge/entertain you. They keep your mind productive, and help you learn new skills.

Another thing I like to do is help other people with their SQL problems in online forums. Everyone is at a different level with SQL, and sometimes you'll be answering what to you is a simple question. Other times someone will have a question that will really stump you. Somethings you just wont be able to answer, and might watch to see if anyone else can answer.

I think probably the biggest reason to contribute to these forums is it constantly makes you think outside your own development world. There are senarios you will never see first-hand, problems you've already solved, and things that you're planning to implement in the future. For as much as I put in, I always feel I'm getting more out of it in terms of experience and knowledge.

There seems to be no end of places you can join online to help other SQL developers/dbas. Each of the websites have a slightly different focus. Most of them break down SQL into sub-forums like DTS, T-SQL, Analysis Services, etc.

If you're looking for a new way to challenge yourself, or some help from other developers/dbas, checkout some of these websites:

  • SQL Server Central: Focused on SQL Server, lots of forums and a daily digest email. Free to join and use.
  • Microsoft Technical Forums - SQL Server: This section is all about SQL Server, but most other Microsoft technologies have a forum on this site too. There's a lot more people here than in the newsgroups, plus you can recieve alerts to email / messenger when topics are updated. Free to join and use. You'll need a MS Passport, which is also free.
  • Lazy DBA: Email based, with a web archive. The name says it all really. Email your problem, and wait for other dbas to answer it. Oracle and DB2 lists are also available. Might require some sort of subscription.
  • Australian SQL Server Users Group: These ones are quiet, but if you're looking for local Aussie help, this is the place. Free to join and use. Don't forget to attend local meetings where you'll meet some MVPs.


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PromptSQL Intellisense for SQL Server user and system objects

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I don't know how long I've been waiting for this, but someone has finally built an Intellisense tool for SQL Server Management Studio & Query Analyzer. If you've been using Visual Studio.Net 2003 or 2005, you'll know how useful Intellisense is in other programming languages (it's like auto-complete in Word).

I don't know why it's not a standard feature of SQL Server 2005's Managment Studio, but Atadore have filled the void of an Intellisense tool with PromptSQL.

If you work with multiple databases, or lots of objects and don't want to be referring to your diagrams all the time, PromptSQL really helps.

Not only can it complete table, view and column names, but it works with stored procedures and parameters. Use a Ctrl-Space keystroke to activate a drop down list of objects or columns relative to your current t-sql command.

Table / View Selection

Hitting Ctrl-Space after JOIN will display related tables. Doing the same action after the ON will display the possible joins for your tables using foreign keys.

Join Related Table

On Clause Foreign Key Selection

If you are interested in trying it out, you can download PromptSQL here.



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About time!

General News

A long time coming, but finally I've gotten round to installing something I can post to from work and home without hassle.

Ugly, yes I know. (Where's the pink?) A new theme will come soon enough. Until I feel creative, you'll have to put up with articles, snippets and the occasional frustrated punishing post.

Till then, read something from the links

Julian



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