Going to Tech·Ed? Overwhelmed? Here are some helpful tips

Helpful tips for those attending Tech·Ed next week, whether you are a rookie or a veteran:

http://geekswithblogs.net/sdorman/archive/2007/05/19/TechmiddotEd-for-novices.aspx

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Live Search Macros: Create your own search engine

Microsoft’s Live Search team has developed a web app that lets you create your own search engine, letting you set up a macro that searches up to 30 web sites of your choosing. Very cool!  

I stumbled upon this tool while using the SQL Server 2005 Books Online Scoped Search–a very nice resource, in its own right.

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Helpful Visual Studio Keyboard Shortcut Reference Posters

Here are links to helpful posters for Visual Studio 2005–specifically, Visual Basic, Visual C#, and Visual C++. I stumbled upon these posters a few months ago, printed the VB and VC# versions, and have them taped to my wall. When a pleasant breeze blew them off the wall yesterday, I remembered that I never blogged about them.

The description for these posters reads: "Keyboard shortcuts can help increase productivity when performing certain tasks within the Visual Studio 2005 IDE (Integrated Development Environment). [These wall posters provide] the shortcut and associated description for the default key bindings setup in the [particular product’s] profile. The [posters are] provided here in both color and grayscale for you to print locally as a PDF file."

The posters are sized for A3 size paper–so you might have to adjust the print options a bit to make each image fill the page properly. Other than that, however, they are very useful. I hope you find them useful, too!

Visual Basic 2005 Keyboard Shortcut Reference Poster

Visual C# 2005 Keyboard Shortcut Reference Poster

Visual C++ 2005 Keyboard Shortcut Reference Poster

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Frustrating experience trying to get SQL Server Reporting Services to work on Windows XP

I’ve been working quite a bit lately with Reporting Services in SQL Server 2005 and wanted to see how much functionality the Express version has–so I installed it on my Windows XP Pro SP2 laptop. Although the installation proceeded without error, I kept getting the following error whenever I tried to browse to the Report Manager interface:

"The report server has encountered a configuration error. See the report server log files for more information. (rsServerConfigurationError)
Access to the path ‘Drive:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.2\Reporting Services\ReportServer\RSReportServer.config’ is denied.

I couldn’t find the ‘report server log files’ that the error message referred to–it would have been helpful if the error message included the path and filename!

I searched for this error message as well as for various portions of it. The only relevant match I could find was the Microsoft KB article 910023 – Error message when you use one application pool to run the Report Server Web service and another application pool to run Report Manager: "The report server has encountered a configuration error". The workaround, however, did not seem to apply when running SQL Server 2005 on Windows XP.

To make a long story short, I completely removed SQL Server 2005, re-booted, and then re-installed SQL Server 2005. After doing this, I could browse to the Report Manager interface without an error. So there must have been something amiss with my original installation. When in doubt, remove and re-install!

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Windows Vista ReadyBoost

There seems to be quite a few questions about Windows Vista ReadyBoost: What is it? How does it work? (at a general level and at a technical level) What devices are compatible with it?

Simply put, ReadyBoost is a new feature in Windows Vista that takes advantage of non-volatile flash memory to improve the operating system’s performance.

Windows Vista: Features Explained: Windows ReadyBoost provides a good general explanation of what ReadyBoost is, how it works, and how to use it. In particular, that reference states: "The flash memory device serves as an additional memory cache—that is, memory that the computer can access much more quickly than it can access data on the hard drive. Windows ReadyBoost relies on the intelligent memory management of Windows SuperFetch and can significantly improve system responsiveness."

Many of us have an increasing number of USB flash-drives, most of which we don’t even use. Every few months it seems that the capacity of these devices are doubling in size…and is the amount of space we need on them to back up our important data. So what do you do with an "old" USB flash-drive device? Why not use it as a ReadyBoost device with Windows Vista? With prices falling on 1GB, 2GB, and larger sizes–you might even want to invest in a new USB flash drive so as to get the best performance out of your new Windows Vista PC.

Caveats:

  • Before you think about using multiple ReadyBoost devices on your PC, note that the current implementation of ReadyBoost limits a PC to using only one device at a time.
  • Not all USB flash-drives are compatible with ReadyBoost. See Grant Gibson’s ReadyBoost Compatibility List for details.

So how does ReadyBoost work? Tom Archer, Program Manager for the Windows SDK Tools and Build Environment, has an excellent technical post about ReadyBoost on his blog.

I purchased a 2GB Sony MicroVault (on sale at Staples stores this week for $19.98) for use with my Windows Vista PC. I’m impressed with the performance improvement within Vista–especially when many applications are open concurrently.

So far, I haven’t found much information regarding the read/write speed of USB flash-drives and how this affects ReadyBoost’s performance. Obviously, the faster the device the better.

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RSS newsreaders

A work associate asked me for opinions on RSS readers. I get asked this question from associates every few weeks or so, and that invariably leads me to look around for any new readers on the market. In addition to replying to my work associate, I figured I’d paraphrase my reply here, too.
 
Over the last few years, I’ve spent way too many hours trying every RSS reader I could get my hands on–freeware, shareware, open-source, commercial, and beta. My hard drive is cluttered with the many remnants of these programs. Oh, the sacrifices I make in my quest to find the ultimate RSS reader!
 
In the free price range, Dare Obasanjo’s open-source, .NET-based, RSS Bandit (www.rssbandit.org) has a lot of potential, but has far too many quirks, IMO. Still, you can’t beat the price. Support is very good. I also tried Microsoft’s RSS reader add-in for the Windows Live Toolbar, as well as its counterpart in IE7; however, both have very bare-bones functionality. Only useful for the casual blog reader, IMO–at least, at this point.
 
In the non-free price range, I keep coming back to NewzCrawler ($24.95; www.newzcrawler.com). Most recently, I tried the Feed Demon / Newsgator Online combination ($29.95 and up); nice, especially the automatic synchronization between PCs. But it has limited features, in my opinion.
 
NewzCrawler has, for me, the most useful features with the least number of quirks. Perhaps all of its many features have spoiled and jaded me whenever I go to look at the alternatives. I just wish the NewzCrawler folks would re-code their app for .NET.
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Free download of “Visual Studio 2005: A Guided Tour”

A 92-page PDF containing the best MSDN Magazine Visual Studio 2005 coverage from the past two years, updated for the final release of the product. Find out what’s new in C#, C++, Visual Basic, Windows Forms, ASP.NET, Team System, security, and C++ generic types. Get your copy now!

http://www.sdmediagroup.com/msdnmag/specialedition.pdf

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