Many Pies

Many Pies

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You do know how to backup and restore your software don't you?

Based on a not-very-representative sample of the software we use I have concluded that people like to build stuff on the Microsoft platform. So that means SQLServer and IIS (and .net, though that's not relevant here). I have also concluded that for understandable reasons the companies that sell you stuff on those platforms don't support the Microsoft bits. This is because they could get sucked into all sorts of issues that aren't related to their software, but are very much to do with, say, tuning your IIS setup.

So whilst they make sure that it's all up and running when they first install you might find that you need to at least know a bit about SQLServer and IIS. So here's a checklist:

  • Do you know how to backup your database?
  • Is there more than one database?
  • Have you tried restoring the database onto another machine? This is crucial, because a good backup is no use if you can't restore it.
  • Do you know how to back up your IIS settings? iisback is the key to this
  • Do you know how the application software interacts with IIS?
  • Again, have you tried restoring your IIS setup on another machine? Web deploy for IIS 6 and 7 looks like a good (if not straightforward) way of having a standby server.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What would I do if I were working with Lord Sugar?

BBC's The Apprentice is now rapidly fading from our corporate memories, but as I was watching the last episode it did make me wonder what I might do if I were to win. I've never really had any ambition to run my own business - I've always preferred someone else giving me work and a salary. However if Lord Sugar did come to me and say "what area should we go into business together?" I'm not sure what I'd say. (Given that he thinks no engineer can make a good businessman I think the odds are pretty non-existent.)

I'd want to do something online, as that's where the most (but by no means all) the interesting stuff is happening. I think music and books is too fast changing and unsettled to try and get anywhere with. It would be good to be the first to fix a big problem, and make a business out of that. Having multiple logins was a Big Problem for ages and then finally OpenID came along, and whilst it's not ideal, it's getting there. The dominance of a couple of big sites, and the ability to use those logins also helps, even though I think we're going to pay a price for that down the line.

I think the other Big Problem is comments. There's no good, easy way to keep track of all the comments you make on blogs. With services like Wordpress and Disqus doing well there are few engines powering those comments than there used to be, but everything still isn't unified. I'm not sure how you'd make money out of it though.

If he ever calls, I'll make sure I update this blog.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


I recently got a Kindle. I send an email to the kindle-feedback email address. I got an email in reply asking for feedback.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Using a digital photo frame as a secondary screen.

Inspired by Russell Davies' post about second screens I decided to some research on an idea I've actually had for a while. It would be nice to be able to plug a PC into a digital photo frame we've got and make the photo frame display a picture from the PC. (Seeing as you don't have comments on your blog Russell, if you read this perhaps you could give me some ideas.)

That picture could be, for example, a picture based on the weather forecast for today. I did a bit of search and found out that via that I need to use USB On The Go (OTG). A bit more digging makes me think this isn't possible because it seems that the USB port on the PC needs to physically support this new protocol. I couldn't find any Windows XP drivers anyway.

Another alternative is to plug something into the SD card slot which looks like an SD card, but which is actually a USB cable. However that's probably going to cost more than the price of a wireless photo frame.

So I'm stuck. Unless anyone else has any ideas?