Friday, December 18, 2009

Catalyst Install Manager has Failed


Dear lord, what a struggle this was. I was trying to install the ATI drivers for my HP Compaq 6910p laptop at work and all it kept giving me was "Catalyst Install Manager has Failed". It didn't matter if it was the drivers I downloaded from HP or the two different versions I got from the ATI web site, same thing.

After trying numerous supposed fixes found via Google I finally found one buried in the AMD Game Forums. Thank you IgorHW!! According to the link he provided there is something wrong with the Visual C++ redistributable that blows up when an installer package installs a different version. The fix is to update the Visual C++ redistributable via the KB961894 – VC++ Post 2005 SP1 Redistributable page.

Monday, December 7, 2009

0 != 0.0000 = true (really!)

For some reason, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) likes to convert blank values in text files to 0 for NUMERIC fields. Please note that the value is 0 and not 0.0000. This is really important because when you perform logical operations on these values 0 is not equal to 0.0000.

In most cases, one would expect a blank value in a NUMERIC field to be translated to NULL. In my case, I didn't care. That is until comparing the 0 to 0.0000 and wasn't getting any matches. My solutions was simple but it took me a while to figure out and I still feel a little soiled for having to do it in the first place. Replacing the 0 with a value of 0.0000 using a conditional statement in a Derived Column did the trick.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Camping Merit Badge - Requirement 6

I just got "recruited" to cover requirement #6 for the Boy Scout Camping Merit Badge with my son's troop. Normally I would bring up MS Word on the PC and start researching and writing. Unfortunately, I have recently rebuilt the OS on my home PC (due to hardware trouble) and my work laptop (upgrade to Windows 7 for testing) and neither have Office installed yet. I figured that the blog would be a good place to make my notes and leave them for posterity (or maybe just for the rest of the Troop).

The post got lengthy so it's broken into five parts (kind of like the requirement itself):

Camping Merit Badge - Requirement 6e - Sleeping Bags

Discuss the types of sleeping bags and what kind would be suitable for different conditions. Explain the proper care of your sleeping bag and how to keep it dry. Make a comfortable ground bed.
  • Shape
    • Mummy
      • Form-fitting to lock in warmth (the more snug the better)
      • Require sleeping on the back
      • Best option for cold conditions
    • Rectangular
      • Allows more movement
      • More comfortable
  • Fill
    • Down
      • Goose down is the best material as it compresses easily and has excellent insulation characteristics
    • Synthetic
      • Cheaper than down
      • Some synthetic materials work better than down in wet conditions
  • Other considerations
    • Temperature Rating
    • Weight
    • Size (for sleeping and when compressed)
    • Shell and liner materials (good weather protection, breathable, durable)
    • Stitching (potential heat loss)
    • Zippers (waterproof, draft flaps)
    • Hoods (some are detachable)
    • Collars (fixed, built-in collars only needed for extremely cold weather)
    • Pillow pockets (for comfort)
    • Sleeping pad connections (if you wiggle around a lot)
    • Color (darker colors sun-dry faster)

Camping Merit Badge - Requirement 6d - Internal vs. External Frame Packs

Tell the difference between internal and external-frame packs. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

External FrameInternal Frame
Lower CostHigher Cost
"Best choice if you’ll be hiking mostly on groomed trails carrying lots of weight.""More form-fitting, so they are better for guys who’ll be hiking rugged trails that require freedom of movement and balance."
"Usually have lots of smaller compartments that make organization easier." Can tie additional gear to the frame (some consider this a disadvantage since the extra gear tends to get caught on branches)."Most ... have one huge compartment with a couple of zippered access points."
Frame sometimes catches on branches and suchMore streamlined for less snagging on branches (some even have extra straps to compress the contents even further)
Less padding of the hard metal frameFrame has more padding

Camping Merit Badge - Requirement 6c - Tent Location

Describe the factors to be considered in deciding where to pitch your tent.
  • Flat spot on a slight incline but not in natural drainage site
  • Wind protection (face front door away from wind)
  • Align vents with the wind for best ventilation and minimum condensation
  • Special considerations for adverse conditions:
    • Wind
      • Find natural shelter or create temporary shelter
      • Use teammates to act as weights
      • Place heavy objects on tent components
      • Double-check all tent pegs
      • Avoid digging drainage moats (Leave No Trace!)
    • Snow
      • Be aware of potential avalanche paths and avoid them
      • Find a level site to avoid a lot of extra work leveling later
      • Make sure entrance is dug out to prevent getting snowed in
      • Use special snow pegs or snow anchors
    • Difficult Surfaces
      • Anticipate terrain conditions so you have the right equipment (sand pegs, snow pegs, etc.)
      • Soft surfaces: bury guy line with peg (can tie guy line to branch and bury that too)
      • Tie down to trees or bushes
      • Use large logs or rocks to secure tent pegs

Camping Merit Badge - Requirement 6b - Camp Sanitation

Discuss the importance of camp sanitation and why water treatment is essential. Then demonstrate two ways to treat water.
Personal Cleanliness
  • Soap and water scrubbing is important before cooking, handling of eating utensils, eating, and after using toilets.
  • A lightweight plastic washbasin should be standard personal equipment.
  • Streams and lakes should never be used for soap washing.
  • Dry aired-out sleeping gear aids a warm night's sleep. Turn bedding inside out and air daily weather permitting.
Safe Drinking Water
  • You must know the water to be safe or take necessary steps to make it safe to drink.
  • All water should be considered unsafe for drinking, unless it comes from a recognized or tested water system.
  • If there is any question, boil or treat it with water purification tablets to be sure.
  • BOILING - bring water to a rolling boil and maintain the boil for five minutes and aerate to improve taste
  • PURIFYING - tablets should be fresh, follow directions on container.
Food Handlers and Storage
  • Cooks must always wash hands before starting meal preparation and during cooking if hands get soiled.
  • Always wash hands after using the latrine.
  • Prevent food contamination. Protect foods from dirt, water, tainting from soap, oils, and odoriferous foods.
  • Never save leftovers, eat it up when served or throw it away.
  • Avoid using foods needing refrigeration. If perishables are used; buy as late as possible and use them up quickly.
  • Animal and insect foragers can be problems. Avoid feeding them intentionally or accidentally. Maintain clean camp.
  • Keep all foodstuffs out of tents and packs. Even if packed in original wrappers.
  • Dishwashing is a four-part operation.
  • SCRAPING - scrape dishes thoroughly. Use napkin from meal to wipe plate and utensils after scraping.
  • WASH - wash with good detergent in clean hot water (112° F). Hot water is needed to break down the grease.
  • RINSE - in clean warm water. Main purpose is to remove the soap or detergent.
  • SANITIZE - Immerse utensils for several seconds in boiling water or for 30 seconds in hot water (180° F)
  • Allow dishes and utensils to air-dry. If sanitized at prescribed temperature they will dry in about a minute.
  • Dishwashing sanitizing tablets may be used, follow package directions.
  • If cooking on open fire, soap outside of pots prior to use; it makes the clean up easier.
  • Store all cooking and eating gear in a fly proof place; bag, box or plastic bags after each use.
  • Clean up fireplaces, stoves, and police the area.
  • Clean and put away all dishwashing equipment in a place where it will dry out thoroughly.
Garbage and Trash Disposal
  • In developed camps use disposal systems provided after every meal.
  • In back woods camps you have to haul it out. DO NOT BURY any trash.
  • You can burn everything that will burn to reduce the hauling.
Waste Water Disposal
  • Carefully screen out all food particles before disposing of the dishwater.
  • Use trash disposal system provided or in the backwoods burn or haul out these particles.
  • After the screening, wash water should be scattered evenly across the ground.
  • Never pour wash water in streams or lakes
  • In developed camps use the facilities provided
  • Latrines should be the only hole you make at a campsite. They should be limited to long-term camps.
  • Should be at least 100 feet from campsite away from streams, springs, or lakes to avoid drainage pollution.
  • When breaking camp, close with subsoil from fireplace hearth and also ashes and charred wood to fill trench.
  • Replace original topsoil and leave trench slightly mounded.

Camping Merit Badge - Requirement 6a - Tents

Describe the features of four types of tents, when and where they could be used, and how to care for tents. Working with another scout, pitch a tent.
  • Ridge Tent/A-Frame
    • Pole across the top
    • Single upright pole or two sloping poles at each end
    • Typically has sewn-in ground sheet
    • Lightweight nylon so good for backpacking
  • Patrol Tent (specialized type of Ridge Tent)
    • No ground sheet
    • Sleeps up to six
    • Made of heavy canvas and usually requires three people to put up
    • Good for base camp but not for backpacking
  • Bell Tent
    • Single upright pole in center
    • Roof guyed out from center pole
    • Usually no ground sheet
    • Pretty much replaced by dome tents
  • Tunnel Tent
    • Two or more hoops of equal size along the length of the tent
    • Lightweight
    • Large working area inside
  • Hoop Tent
    • Cross between tunnel and ridge tents
    • Hoop at one end and upright pole at the other
    • Takes up less space than a Ridge Tent but is less rigid
    • Less wind resistance than Ridge Tent
    • Good entry/exit access
  • Dome Tent
    • Bubble shape consisting of several crossed hoops
    • No flat surfaces so they withstand high winds and shed water well
    • Usually made of lightweight materials
  • Frame Tent
    • Larger "family" tent
    • Frame erected and covered with canvas
    • Bulky when packed (not good for backpacking)
    • Could be used as a patrol tent

Install Updates and Shut Down? Idiocy!

I would like to know who the idiot was that added the Install updates and shut down option to the Shut Down Windows dialog on Windows Server 2003. Why would I want to power down the server just because I applied some Windows updates? The smart option would be to install updates and restart. The only time a server should be powered off if for hardware changes and physical moves, neither of which have anything to do with updating the OS. To increase the aggravation, there is not apparent way to install the updates without the shut down.


12/6/2009 - the stupidity continues in Windows 7, dear lord!

$10 USB power outlet leaves no plug behind -- Engadget

$10 USB power outlet leaves no plug behind -- Engadget

I can't wait to get a few of these. Which reminds me, I need to get a new power supply for my wife's laptop since the ground prong is stuck in the bedroom outlet. (I suppose that's what I get for letting her buy season one of True Blood! [True Blood on Wikipedia | True Blood on HBO])