Archive for January, 2009

Bisbee’s Master Chocolatiers

January 30th, 2009

Nested a bit uphill from the main set of shops in Bisbee is a real gem. Gordon and Kim Terpening have brought with them the results of globe trotting in the name of the fine Cacao bean. The super obvious name for the shop “Chocolate” will be easy enough to google. Lots and lots of results!

Chocolate as an art is not cliché in this case. I consider myself a candy expert and it turns out I knew nothing about just how intense and vibrant chocolate can be. Like a well mastered coffee bean, the chocolate must be treated with masterful oversight. We were fortunate to arrive at an off time when we could see individual processes and sample Cacao beans from each region of the world. The rare offering from Madagascar has hints of lingering strawberry and Venezuela seems warm and very mature.

Kim adds the artistic flair to their recipe creations. You will find chocolates of unique shapes that have been masterfully sculpted. You will see ornate edible prints made with the pure cacao butter. You will see the glints of fine edible fairy dust sprinkled on.

You owe it to yourself to seek out this rare talent near Castle Rock in Bisbee and sample. Make it a point to investigate the process and be sure to eat a roasted Cacao bean. We found a need to cleanse our palettes between each regional bean. Bring something to sip and accomplish this. As an added benefit you may not be able to eat Hersheys, Nestle, or any of that plastic stuff made with alkali and soy lecithin again!


Fire and forget methods for SQL

January 28th, 2009

So you need to automate some long SQL crunching process in the background? You don’t want slow code and you do not want the browser tied up. You need a fire and forget method. There are several interesting ways to accomplish this. Using ColdFusion 8 you can create a CFthread to hold the process, but we are not at that version yet. We also do not have permission to create CF schedules. I did not want to attempt to consume a webservice from SQL or do anything risky from a security point of view.

My first solution involved scheduling a SQL Job that checks every now and then in a table and fires off based on the values stored there. The problem with this is notifications of when the Job finishes.

Another solid method was to build an AJAX loading screen and use a CFFlush to give most of the page back but leave the long running process as a background part of the page. This also was painful, creating timed out pages and locked tables. More details on this solution at

The final solution I built is similar to the above, but with one interesting difference. I still populate the queue table with the variables I want processed. I still have the stored procedure set up to look in the table and do the work. The trick is to launch a Stored Procedure using the sp_start_job in a table trigger. Sp_start_job has a special quality that it does not need to return a status. Here is what the actual trigger looks like. Simple!

CREATE TRIGGER [dbo].[DoThisLongThing]
ON [dbo].[DBQueueTable]

EXECUTE msdb..sp_start_job N’LongRunningJobName’ ;


I ran into two gotchas. They both relate to sp_start_job living in another db (msdb). The first error below is an indicator that the job or a child job does not have proper permissions. The database cannot see the job even though it exists and you get something like:

“The specified job_name (‘Your_Job_Here’) does not exist.”

And the other frustratingly cryptic problem:

“The EXECUTE permission was denied on the object ‘sp_start_job’, database ‘msdb’, schema ‘dbo’.”

To solve these, first attempt to authenticate as the web db account using Microsoft SQL Management Studio and perform an insert. This should narrow the problem down. If the web insert fails to fire the trigger with the above errors, here is a path to investigate:

  1. SQL Agent must be running

  2. The target db account needs the ‘SQLAgentUserRole’

  3. Make the target db account owner of the job

If you still end up with errors look into the following:

  1. Explicitly grant the EXEC permission to the target account

  2. Set the target database as trustworthy from msdb

  3. Verify the current version of MDAC on SQL and on CF server


Buzz words and Power Phrases

January 26th, 2009

The IT world seems to regurgitate catch phrases and “power words”. This leaves us meager developers with the need to build a list of these things for future reference:

Robust dynamic feature-rich flexible architectures with stylized integrated automated procedure-driven enterprise-wide application-specific configurable intuitive modular adaptive beneficial structures.

This post should get edited frequently with generic phrase banter upon occasion. Feel free to submit more for when creative juices are not flowing.


Physics not just for kiddos.

January 25th, 2009

Two well-crafted physics games have surfaced. Many of the new flash engine type games are based on gravity, inertia, and object linking. Crayon Physics and World of Goo stand out above the rest. I find myself feeling bad for the little squeaky goos when they plummet into the blackness.

Crayon Physics is soothing like nap time at Kindergarten. Experiment with many ways to solve each puzzle.

Crayon Physics

Gaming, Pointless

Chrome Please.

January 23rd, 2009

Google’s Chrome is digital butter and some fresh apricot preserves on artisan 12-grain bread. My screen realestate is now a wide open meadow, full of stark internet and little else. Pages load quicker than the next simile. (Yes, I know the last two were metaphors.)

Microsoft insults the browser world with every visit:

Use our site quickly? No way.

They wanted to change this message to read, “How dare you use another browser than the Viral one we embedded in your computers? Now go back to your sleepy IE before anyone sees how fast the internet really can be.”

Computers, Pointless

Casio Phone Attacks MP3s.

January 22nd, 2009

Since I am new to the whole cellular scam (phone) industry, I was not prepared for how hokey cell phones are. I got a Casio Boulder G’z One. It was expensive and sounded rugged. Throw a few folders of music on it, and nothing happens! It turns out that many phones can not recurse directories. I had to dump my naked songs in the root music directory. Then the phone decided my file names were just too long with all that useless info like title and author.

Just look at what it did to my poor filenames:

My poor music

How can we be such a powerful nation and limit ourselves so severely on technology? Please move my player’s marker further into the no-cell-phone camp.

Computers, Pointless, Synthpop Music

Popsynth gets hacked (again)

January 20th, 2009

The site was attacked again, this time a Phishing netbank login screen was posted in one of my upload folders. So much for Dynamic content! The IP addresses of the attacker are in New Dehli, India. Suspiciously that is exactly where my horrible hosting service Powweb is located. The day before the attack I had complained to them about the poor service and price hikes.

Powweb has a statement “One plan, One price” of 7.77 monthly on their main page. I had been paying that times seven for the sites I host. This year they decided since selling out to India and outsourcing that a 20 percent price increase was justified. After a horrible email battle the final reply from customer service was this: “We are sorry to inform you that we are unable to honor the rates that we have posted on our website.”

The previous successful hack was in May 2006.


Yay for Obama.

January 20th, 2009

Share your thoughts on the President’s Inaugural Address. Yay for America, we have a truly African-American president! He even mentioned his African small village roots. I was also very thankful that he stuttered through the repeat-after-me bit. It makes him more human and indicates that he has at least some respect or nervousness about the responsibility. (Or he had a earphone prompter failure.)

Minor gripes: Tree hugging and global warming are the new missile? We will see how that works.


New laptops with Vista

January 19th, 2009

Needed a powerful laptop to take to Africa for photo storage and presentation. I settled on ASUS G1sn. It was loaded with Vista64 but I figured I could wipe it clean and upgrade to XP. No Drivers! I wanted to list some of the neat features about Vista that make it tempting to keep:


After heavy research and in some cases hacking drivers to make them fit, I have XP running! It is more than twice as fast for some things, and all games run FPS better.

A friend needed a laptop and insisted on XP. I found that Newegg sells XP laptops, but no retail stores do! Walmart has a nice basic Toshiba for a great price, so I figured that they would have drivers out there. No such banana. Same hammering procedure will be needed to get XP running.

Update: The business model is now to charge extra for the option to be “XP compatible.” Toshibas L series actually got off their butts long enough to write XP drivers. No such luck for my Psycho ASUS gaming laptop or any of the Vista Toshibas I have the pleasure of tech supporting constantly. How much would computers cost without operating systems being forced down their throats?


Mythos is down T__T

January 19th, 2009

I have never experienced a beta that did not move on to a final production. Mythos has shut down their servers. We all gathered in the town hall and had a big fireworks and special powers party on Friday night until midnight. Even then there were beggars. “Give us a rare item.” What are they going to do with it for the last fifteen minutes? The unable to connect message I encounter now breaks my heart.

My gremlin sharpshooter could unload explosive stun rounds for twelve seconds without running out of mana. My giant Cyclops Mage had psycho meteoric fury and waddled like a duck.

Update: Try out the game Fate. The first one, not the Unleashed/Unplugged version with bug stuff. Fate is like a watery Mythos without being able to join anyone. Yeah.. Fun like that. I like to play Fate and fondly pretend it is Mythos.