“It’s running at 50% of CPU.”

‘That will be because you have two processors’, was my first response.
Your application is stuck on one processor.  Either by a single thread looping, or Processor Affinity has been set.

Knowledge is knowing just a little more than the next guy/girl.

Which is why I read “The Old New Thing”.  I don’t understand it all, but I store the information away in case someone asks

Why is my application running at 50%?

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Programming Lotus Notes with Visual Basic – much is wrong.

Much of what is out there is plain wrong, which is not surprising.  Of the stuff which does work, it’s poorly documented.  That does not surprise either.

Here are a couple of pointers for novice Lotus Notes/Visual Basic programmers.

Lotus Notes and Domino 6 Programming Bible Lotus Notes and Domino 6 Programming Bible
Get a copy of the Lotus Notes and Domino 6 Programming Bible.  It is considered a good source for Lotus Notes programming.  And if you want to do Lotus Script or JavaScript programming, it’s really helpful.  After having done some Notes related programming, I’m going to re-read it to pick up what I missed the first time around.

notespeek I spent plenty of time peering at NSF files using NotesPeek.  NotesPeek let you look into the structure of Notes’ database files.  A much simpler way of working things out, then the “French Cafe” technique.
I’ve also used NotesPeek allowed me to identify an issue with a popular Notes <-> Windows Mobile synchronisation product.
I’m very grateful that Ned Batchelder wrote it.  You can download it here.

Some websites/articles
Lotus Notes Ninjas
OpenNTF – Detach files using COM
Language differences between LotusScript and Visual Basic
Common ground- COM access to Domino objects
Calling Notes CAPI from C#/Visual Studio


Creating a bootable USB key under Vista

Every Man + Dog has blogged about this, and since I used the technique to install the Windows 7 Beta on my diskless TC1100 tablet, I’d might as well post it as well:

For those that don’t know how to make a bootable USB key, here is the recipe:

Creating a bootable USB device (via Will Craddock’s Technology Adventure in Ireland TechNet Blog):


DISKPART> list disk

Select the USB device from the list and substitute the disk number below

     when necessary

DISKPART> select disk 1


DISKPART> create partition primary

DISKPART> select partition 1

DISKPART> active

DISKPART> format fs=fat32

DISKPART> assign


xcopy X:\*.* /s/e/f Y:\

where X:\ is your mounted image or physical DVD and Y:\ is your USB device

Now all you need to do is plug the device into your target box’s USB slot and boot it. This may require hitting F12 to load the one-time boot menu and selecting the USB Key.

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Should I compress my SQL Database when backing up? – Maybe …

SQL Server 2008 Backup Compression
– by Varun Dhawan, over at MSDN blogs.

It’s a useful option for saving space with backing up to disk, but I would disagree with the guy over tape backup savings.

Some tape units have built-in hardware compression which already compresses the data being stored on tape.
Which means there is no advantage in compressing data if you are going to be writing it straight to tape.

As I found when testing compressing large ISAM databases back in the 90’s.  The data was already compressed so the tape drive couldn’t compress any further.

So the answer is:
Yes, if backing up to disk.
No, if backing up straight to tape.

Details on tape compression from an old Sony FAQ:

Q: What is the tape capacity of the SDT- 5000/5200 tape drive?

A: With the SDT-5000, tape capacity will vary depending on the length of the tape and whether hardware compression is enabled as follows:

Tape Native Capacity Typical Capacity with Compression
60m 1.3 GB 2.6 GB
90m 2.0 GB 4.0 GB
120m 4.0 GB 8.0 GB

NOTE: The SDT-5200 supports native capacity only.
The typical performance of the compression IC in the SDT-5000 drive is shown in the following table:

Data Type Compression
Bitmaps 6.9 to 1
Database 3.9 to 1
CAD 3.8 to 1
English 2.9 to 1
Source 2.9 to 1
Spreadsheet 2.5 to 1
Desktop Pubs 2.5 to 1
Binary 1.7 to 1

As the table indicates, the more random the data is, the less compression is possible. This is due to the fact that data compression operates on the principle of reducing the redundancy in the date string and random data has very little redundancy.

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(Not) IT stuff seen during December 2008

Travelling to the United States of America after 11th January 2009?
Then you need to fill in an electronic Visa Waiver application here
Reference: STA Authorization Required for All Visa Waiver Program Countries Beginning January 12

The Day I Shot Myself Down
From the Ejection Site, the story of the F-14 pilot who shot himself down with a AIM-7 Sparrow missile.

mind.Depositor Index Card Template
Getting Things Done paper templates

“Booko is a site with a very simple goal – to find the cheapest place to buy books in Australia. This site started out as a personal itch and has slowly grown into a very handy site, slowly adding more shops for comparison and more features to make it easier to use. You can read more about Booko at the Blogo.”

Shopping trolley on board
”What’s the difference between a non-executive director and a shopping trolley? You can fill them both full of grog and shove them around but you can never make a shopping trolley go where you want.”

The Box O’ Truth
Question :”If we engage a bad guy (BG), we will shoot him until he STOPS what ever he is doing that threatens our life.  If he continues to threaten us after being shot, what do we do?
Answer: Shoot him some more.”
The Box O’ Truth is a firearms education site.

iStockphoto.com- royalty free stock photography


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IT stuff seen during December 2008

List of IT things I’ve seen over the last week* that I like:

Working with Office 2007 from the Command Line
(via Another day in the Office)

Tracking down a bug in VB6 that only shows in the compiled EXE and not from inside the IDE – Use OutputDebugString
(via Goto 100 – Development with Visual Basic)

Green IT and adding up the numbers
(via James O’Neill’s blog)

2 real case studies for lower power consumption
(via Little Miss Enviro Geek)

 Cool Trick- Making Miniature Calendars
(via Microsoft Office Outlook Team Blog)

Shimming Applications on Windows Vista 64-Bit
(via Chris Jackson’s Semantic Consonance)

Setting up Verbose Logging in Windows Mobile and Parsing Logs
(via Is that Windows Mobile in your pocket?)

Protecting Documents with Word 2007
(via JohnR’s TechNet Blog)
… or how to restrict document protection down to document paragraphs.

Filling up Active Directory (AD) with some test data
(via Keith Combs’ Blahg)

* a week in this case might be a bit more flexible, I’ve been clearing out my blogging folder 🙂

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“I don’t care about PLATFORMS, Dammit!”

My current business card is far too busy:
Exit Stage Left Business Card




The replacement:

Gapingvoid.com : How to tell when your techie's been smoking crack ... I don't care about PLATFORMS, Dammit!  I care about THE USER!! Business card back

“Platforms don’t mean crap.  It’s all about getting the customer working again, and they shouldn’t be thinking about IT at all.”

Other images which didn’t make the cut (I was tempted):

Gapingvoid.com : ... businesses are run by people who hire and fire I.T. departments. 
“A fact often forgotten by people who work in IT.”

Gapingvoid.com : ... permanent state of re-invention
“Often introduced by bungy bosses …”

Gapingvoid.com : The problem with being in tech marketing: Ok, everybody who wants to talk about Tech RAISE THEIR HAND!!  Note, not original the artwork 
“Outside of work, I don’t want to talk about tech either.”

The back?  I was going to run with this quote, but decided not:
I expect to pass through this world but once;
any good thing therefore that I can do, or
any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature,
let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.

All the artwork here, apart from the first card, is by artiste extraordinaire Hugh Macleod, over at Gapingvoid.com.  You can buy his own designed business cards right here: Street Cards – Gapingvoid (bit expensive if you’re not in the UK).

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Short collection of interesting things

Cat playing with TV cables "WAIT!  I'll fix it" The Three Laws Of Consulting, via Alik Levin’s MSDN BLog

  1. “In spite of what your client may tell you, there’s always a problem.”
  2. “No Matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem.”
  3. “Never forget they’re paying you by the hour, not by the solution”.


Stop stealing my blog posts…..

There has been some discussion recently on some DL’s here at Microsoft about sites that re-post blog posts without permission. I will call it what it is which is the theft of copyrighted materials for the purpose of monetary gain. I don’t like saying copyrighted because copyrights get a bad rap these days depending on who you speak to, but from the perspective that *I* sat down and *I* wrote the blog post, the work does belong to me.
Stop stealing my blog posts (Chris E. Avis)

This sort of thing REALLY annoys me.
I wrote about ideas theft here: “I came up with it all by myself.” – on theft of ideas in corporate life

Five Tibetan Rituals

How to get my job – the secret of becoming a professional writer, by Jerry Pournelle

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Lessons from Scoble – why PodTech failed.

I used to think Robert Scoble SUCKED.  I found his work at Microsoft Channel 9 sucked because it was all Microsoft-centric.  Gee, what a surprise eh?  Bloke works for Microsoft, so OF COURSE he’s going to be all "Hoo Rah Microsoft".

Glad I’ve changed my mind (ie. I was wrong) and now have him on my RSS feed list.

Saw this over at FriendFeed, and some of Robert’s learnings are worth noting.  DO READ the whole feed to get the context.  My comments in BLUE.

I sure learned a lot about how a company can screw up big time.

Brother, I know how you feel.

Major learning’s for me?

  1. Have a story.
  2. Have everyone on board with that story.
  3. If anyone goes off of that story, make sure they get on board immediately or fire them.

Other things I learned:

  1. Make sure people are judged by the revenues they bring in. Those that bring in revenues should get to run the place. People who don’t bring in revenues should get fewer and fewer responsibilities, not more and more.
  2. Work ONLY for a leader who will make the tough decisions (see above).
  3. Build a place where excellence is expected, allowed, and is enabled.
  4. Fire idiots quickly (didn’t happen at PodTech — even if you count me as one of the idiots).

Working for people incapable of making a decision SUCKS. Learn to manage your boss in that case. Or leave.

Failures of companies often happen around failures at the leadership level.

Particularly when they say one thing, and then demonstrate something else.

We never played together as a team. It is why entrepreneurs need different skills after they start their companies. It is not enough to sell people on a dream. You must coach your way to it too.

I have been thinking about what Furrier said about me not having a full picture of what went wrong. First of all I don’t think he is right, but if he is I will add one last learning: never work in a VP position when those above you don’t share a complete picture of the business with you. Especially when that business is a social media one that was pushing transparency and community values.

Never worked as a VP, but that seems right. If you can’t be informed at the VP level, there is no hope for the company.

FastCompanyTV is making our bosses happy (we’re bringing in more revenue than is being spent) but we’re a private company so we don’t discuss our finances in public. About our audience. I’d argue that I know more about our audience than any TV show does and we’re soon going to require logging into FastCompanyTV to comment. Who is making tough decisions? I have a boss and he has a boss but the community is really our ultimate boss.

Listen to your audience. Your audience is the customer and your bosses.

Some Scoble links:
Scoble’s Google Reader Shared Items
IBM unveils nano-projector based VirtuaHuman with 1TB of memory

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