Archive for August, 2010

Microsoft SSRS (vs Crystal Reports)

I started using SSRS yesterday and am already growing to love it (i’ve been using Crystal Reports for about 3years!).

Top points to note so far:

-Dynamic sorting is handled within SSRS (requires manual work-around in Crystal Reports, although i believe a dynamic sort control is being delivered in Crystal Reports 2010)
-Dynamic grouping appears to be simpler
-Multiple datasets can be used within the same report (Crystal requires a single dataset per report/sub-report)
-Dynamic Parameters can have “complex” queries to return the list of values (CR only allows you to pick a field from the main report’s datasource)
-Parameter Default values can be calculated using a formula or SQL statement (this is a god send- allows you to default start/end dates for monthly reports for example to the 1st/last of the month- not possible in CR)
-Collapsable groupings (i’ve not used drill-down sub-reports in CR- these may offer “similar” functionality, but  i don’t think on the same level)

There’s more that i’ve forgotten or not yet realized :) I think a lot of it boils down to SSRS being part of Visual Studio and being able to harness a lot of it’s capabilities… that’s all for now.

On a different note: I finally jumped on the Skype bandwagon- search: leetickett



Damn- i’ve already got lazy and not been updating regularly as i told myself i would. A few bits i remember since last time…

-New fileserver arrived and i have now realised the 2 raid cards i have are useless (i need SATA non-raid cards) for ZFS with FreeNAS. Currently hunting on eBay for something else!
-My rack tft/lcd keyboard/mouse thing packed up- so i need to look for a new one of those too!
-LINQ to SQL: I got hooked a while back but didn’t like the way it interprets some manipulation and couldn’t cope with bulk updates. But now i figured i can simply do db.executecommand() i’m happy!
-I got trixbox working nicely with the Cisco Wireless 7920 IP Phone i bagged cheap off eBay (using SCCP):
setup static ip/dns (system-config-network)
create some extensions?
yum install asterisk16-devel gcc
yum update
wget Chan_SCCP V3.tar.gz
tar -zxvf Chan_SCCP…
make install
copy sccp.conf (from /root/Chan… to /etc/asterisk) + edit
edit /etc/asterisk/modules.conf (add:
noload =>
load =>

-Communicating between multiple forms in vb.NET: I was struggling to figure how to pass information to another form without storing it in a control. I ended up doing something like:
Public Class Form2
Dim edit_acct_row as Int32
Public Sub New(ByVal row_index As Int32)
edit_acct_row = row_index
End Sub

then calling the form like:
Dim f_pick_acct = New Form2(edit_acct_row)

-Checking/Ticking a checkbox in a DataGridView with vb.NET: When simply manipulating the dgv.rows(r).cells(c).value the state of the checkbox was not updating! I ended up having to:
Form1.dgv_preview.Rows(r).Cells(c).Value = True

-My Simpsons Kesha (Ke$ha) Tick Tock Intro Video on youtube has had over 10,000 hits! I’m not working on another video which will take quite some time but i hope will attract quite a lot of attention once complete :)

Wow- a lot squeezed into a small space + tons i’m sure i’ve learnt and forgotten!


It was delivered a few days back but i had no idea what the management interface IP address was to get going!

I found my USB-to-Serial cable and serial console cable and tried to connect- the best i got was some corrupt looking characters scrolling across hyperterminal. After a bit of a googling i found which helped me to start getting readable output with settings:

9600 baud
8 bits
no parity
one stop bit

But i couldn’t enter commands (like a read only connection). At first i thought it could’ve been my cable but eventually sussed it. There was one setting which wasn’t mentioned on experts-exchange: the “flow control” setting. Changing this to Xon\Xoff fixed everything!

I logged in with default username admin/password and issued the commands to determine the current management interface IP and change it:


I’ve not really had time to get it all up and running with the servers etc, but wanted to post before i forgot how i got it working!


Been waiting for this since the day I got my phone (the day it was released!). Finally… the first iPhone jailbreak you don’t need a computer for (goto the website in safari on your iPhone/iPad). Cydia is up and running- let’s get installing!

I recommend adding the hackulo repo and installing install0us to get access to the best apps/games:

– in cydia click manage, sources, edit, add (enter
– now search cydia for: install0us (once you find it, install it)
– now launch install0us from the home screen

Big thanks to comex!


SQL Problem

I have written quite a few feeds/interfaces over the last few years which i’m now trying to “tighten up”. There’s one in particular which i’ve been struggling with- this is essentially all it does:

– Download and rename a bunch of files from an FTP
– Manipulate these files a little
– Execute a 3rd party application to import the files

There are 2 problems:

– No applications can be run n the SQL server
– The 3rd party application cannot import files from a network location (so they must be copied to a local area imported then the output files copied back to the network location)

This particular feed  is a SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). The package needs to be executed on demand and passed some variables.

Here’s how I achieved my goal (i don’t remember the details of all the problems i encountered trying to get this working, but there were a lot!):

– Created an .asp page which collects the variables and executes a stored procedure
– The stored procedure:
— creates a sql job with the SSIS package and relevant variables
— executes the sql job and waits for it to complete

 WAITFOR DELAY '000:00:02'
  SELECT * FROM OPENROWSET('sqloledb','server=servername;trusted_connection=yes','exec msdb.dbo.sp_help_job @job_name=N''job name''') WHERE current_execution_status = 1

— deletes the sql job

The SSIS package contains a script task which takes care of the “copy files to local area”, “import files” and “copy files back to network location (one of the tricky bits here was getting my code to wait for the remote process to complete:

Dim path As New System.Management.ManagementPath("\\" & strMachineName &"\root\cimv2:Win32_Process")
Dim scope As New System.Management.ManagementScope(path)
Dim opt As New System.Management.ObjectGetOptions()
Dim classInstance As New System.Management.ManagementClass(scope, path, opt)
Dim inParams As System.Management.ManagementBaseObject = classInstance.GetMethodParameters("Create")
inParams("CommandLine") = strCommand
Dim outParams As System.Management.ManagementBaseObject = classInstance.InvokeMethod("Create", inParams, Nothing)
 Do While Process.GetProcessById(CInt(outParams("processId")), strMachineName).ProcessName.Length > 0
Catch ex As Exception
End Try



Got the fiber HBAs, SFPs and cables. Still waiting for the fiber router, wireless IP phone & the new fileserver bits detailed below :)

New Fileserver

Ended up going with a 3U Supermicro server w/ 2x Dual Core Opterons, 8Gb ram, 2x 8-Port LSI raid cards and 15x hot swap SATA bays. I’ve initially ordered 8x 1.5TB Samsung Ecogreen SATA disks to go in it.

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