When Web UIs go bad

One of my clients has started using the Eloqua marketing platform and asked me to get involved to build some process around it. I’ve spent a few hours with it now and I have to say that the User Interface is one of the worst I have ever used. A good example is below, in this case I want to import some contacts, so I must first get in to “Database Management”, which if you can’t guess is under the “Evaluate” (wtf!?) menu at the top.

Just look at the number of tabs on that screen, did someone seriously design this? So now where do I find upload? It’s not in that big area in the middle…

No it’s under the contacts ‘menu’ bar. Each menu/drop-down doesn’t have many options under it, many in fact only have one so why aren’t they just visible?

Two of us spent nearly three hours yesterday trying to decipher this along with the program builder. The program builder would be 5 posts on its own! I think one of the issues with this Eloqua system is that on the surface it looks good, and this is bought by marketing people who, let’s be fair like ‘bling’. Unfortunately the system hasn’t been designed for usability and I think it really suffers for it. From what I have seen it is a very powerful system just not an accessible one.

Brilliant Blog on Microsoft Licensing with real-world examples

I stumbled across Lady Licensing’s blog at http://ladylicensing.spaces.live.com/ which is absolutely full of useful information about how to license various Microsoft products with real-world examples including development environments. It also answers that every popular question – am I better off with a per-processor or per-cal license? Why can’t I find an x64 license for SQL Server 2008?

IMHO all of this information should be on Microsoft.com and should be really well linked and indexed, they do a good job of promoting the use of their products especially to developers however in describing how to buy them they are sadly lacking!

Unfortunately I was unable to attend Emma’s licensing event at Thames Valley Park but will try to get to the next one.

MS Dynamics CRM 4.0 Client Configuration Wizard fails with “Outlook is not set as the default mail client” on Windows Server 2008 x64

Whilst trying to install the MS CRM 4.0 client on my laptop today I received the following error:

Microsoft Outlook is not set as the default mail client. Please set Microsoft Outlook as the default mail client from Control Panel\Internet Options\Programs, and then re-run the check.”

Luckily this was fairly easy to diagnose with the help of the excellent Process Monitor utility. All I had to do was setup a filter to only capture events for the “Microsoft.Crm.Client.Config.exe” process by going to Filter->Filter and selecting Process Name is Microsoft.Crm.Client.exe as an inclusion filter. Then using the toolbar deselect the file events and run through the wizard again until I got an output like this:

Here we can see that the registry key [HKLM]\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Clients\Mail\(Default) key is being interrogated, a quick look at this in Registry Editor shows that the default is “Windows Mail” for some reason as shown below:

All we need to do is change this value from “Windows Mail” to “Microsoft Outlook”:

Then the wizard will run through fine!

Summary

I am unsure if this is a Windows Server 2008 issue or a general x64 issue, however to resolve it change
[HKLM]\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Clients\Mail\(Default)
from “Windows Mail” to “Microsoft Outlook”

I am unsure if the Wow6432 key is unique to my machine / configuration.

How to go up a directory in Vista/2008 using the keyboard (not back)

I posted a gripe I had with explorer http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/28/windows_search_engine_4/comments/ where the backspace key in explorer used to be “Up a directory” in XP and earlier.

However in Vista and Server 2008 they’ve decided that the backspace should be ‘back’ ala Internet Explorer. This was really annoying me, luckily someone posted at the end of that thread that there is a key combination to do it:

CTRL+UP – Up a directory
CTRL+LEFT – Go back
CTRL+RIGHT – Go forward

Useful!

Joel Mansford.

New utility to shutdown your network PCs at Night

We’re just about to launch a new product called NightlyShutdown which is a utility that runs as a Windows service and can be configured to shutdown a PC at a given time.

What’s different about NightlyShutdown is that it is designed to be deployed and configured via Active Directory Domain and as such comes as an MSI and with a Group Policy Template (ADM).

This means that it’s easy to only deploy it to a certain group of PCs and, using the per-user settings only have it shutdown if certain users are or are not logged on.

Please head over to http://www.nightlyshutdown.com where there’s a completely free version for use on 10 PCs or less.

Joel Mansford

Surprising SQL String comparison with untrimmed string

I’m a bit big-headed about my SQL abilities generally, and must admit that when it came to doing straight string equality comparisons in T-SQL I thought that LIKE and = were identical (ok, I should have really read BOL). Thus which of the following would you expect to return a row and which wouldn’t?

select 'Oh yeah' where 'a' = 'a  '           -- Statement 1

select 'Oh yeah' where 'a' = RTRIM('a  ')    -- Statement 2

select 'Oh yeah' where 'a' LIKE 'a  '        -- Statement 3

select 'Oh yeah' where 'a' LIKE RTRIM('a  ') -- Statement 4

-- 

select 'Oh yeah' where 'a' = 'a'             -- Statement 5

select 'Oh yeah' where 'a' LIKE 'a'          -- Statement 6

Give it a try, I’m not going to spoil it for you…I’ve included statements 5 & 6 so that you can look at the execution plan and relative costs, I never thought that LIKE could be less expensive than =. Learn some new SQL every day…

Taking Screenshots in Windows Server 2008 / OneNote 2007

I was reading about the ‘Snipping Tool’ which is available as part of the Tablet PC tools in Vista.  However there doesn’t appear to be a way to get this on Windows Server 2008.

Happily, and rather surprisingly there actuall IS a use for OneNote which is part of Office 2007.  Simple do WindowsKey+S and you can cut-out a section of the screen which will promptly go in to OneNote from where you can then copy+paste it elsewhere.  Admittedly not as slick as the Vista tool but useful none the less.

Scripting SQL Server diagrams to files for source control

We have recently started storing our SQL Server 2005 database schema and test data in a SubVersion repository but have an issue that diagrams are not supported by any of the commercial products out there that we’ve found.

I came across some code on CodeProject by Craig Dunn at http://www.codeproject.com/KB/database/ScriptDiagram2005.aspx. Which in turn was based on some SQL Server 2000 code by Clay Beatty.

However I found some issues with this, the first was that the output SQL script was piped to the SQL messages (e.g. PRINT rather than SELECT) which I couldn’t work out how to get at using .NET.  If anyone knows how to get at the messages I would be most interested!  The second issue was that it only worked for a single diagram per-call.

Thus I’ve tweaked it to output a two column table with the first column storing the diagram name and the second column the SQL script to generate the diagram.  The Stored Procedure can take a @name parameter if you wish to script a single diagram in which case you’ll only get one row in the resultset.

Included is a PowerShell script which then puts each row in to its own file which should be somewhat suitable for inclusion in Source Control.  I would like to say this is my first ever PowerShell script and all of this was done in a hurry.  Edit the PowerShell script to specify your database connection string and the path you want the SQL scripts placed in.  To run the PowerShell script you must allow unsigned code (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/topics/winpsh/manual/run.mspx) e.g.

 Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Code is at: http://www.provenworks.com/Blogs/Joel/ScriptDBDiagrams.zip 

If you find it useful please comment below!

Vista & Windows Server 2008 give “Access Denied” when adding a TCP/IP printer with UAC enabled

I have an HP Photosmart C5180 connected to my home LAN via ethernet, I’ve been unable to connect with Vista installed, and then after rebuilding with Windows Server 2008 Standard noticed the same error. Basically I’d go to:

  1. “Add Printer”
  2. “The Printer I wanted isn’t listed”
  3. Select “Add a printer using TCP/IP address or hostname”
  4. Put the IP Address in the field, click Next
  5. Get the error

Access Denied adding TCP/IP printer in Vista and Windows Server 2003

Solution is to either logon as an Administrator (Win2008) and create the port, or in Vista switch off UAC whilst you add the port.

Clearly MS didn’t implement UAC properly on the print dialogs

Vista gives “The folder you entered does not appear to be valid” connecting to WebDAV share

I run a Windows Home Server (WHS) for general file sharing and have an add-on which exposes some shares via WebDAV, this all works fine when accessing them under XP other than a certificate warning (my certs are self-signed and thus I have to OK it before proceeding).

However, under Vista when connecting by right-clicking in My Computer and doing “Add a Network Location” (rant – MS have really stuffed the UI for this) I input my URL – https://myserv.mansford.net/WebDav – I can verify this is correct as I can access it in Firefox & IE7. When clicking Next I get the error:

---------------------------
Add Network Location
---------------------------
The folder you entered does not appear to be valid.  Please choose another.
---------------------------
OK
---------------------------

The URL is valid and so there’s clearly an issue in Vista’s WebDAV client, anyway after much searching about I found a download for KB907306 – http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=17C36612-632E-4C04-9382-987622ED1D64&displaylang=en

This makes the problem go away, I should note I had this issue in Vista Ultimate SP1, thus the update isn’t inside SP1 – helpful!

——– UPDATE ———
This no longer seems to resolve this issue, it certainly did once, but after rebooting I still can’t get on to the WebDAV share. This only affects Vista, I must percevere.

——– UPDATE 9 Mar 2008 ——–
Got fed up with  Vista (long story) and so have installed Windows Server 2008 on my Latitude D620 instead.  So far so good except I got exactly the same error. I searched about and ended up here.  This referred to Windows Server 2003 which led me back to the download for KB907306.  Immediately after installing this update (and without rebooting) it started working – I guess now I have to see if it stays that way!