Monthly Archives: July 2008

Downloading Stuff from MSDN subscription onto Win2003

Was having trouble downloading stuff from our MSDN subscription…  Solution?  Install FTM:

You also should add the site to trusted, but, if you do that, shouldbe smooth sailing.

Now, since I am with the MSDN concierge, might as well find out:

Q:  How do I mount the ISO files without downloading 3rd party packages or burning discs.  Since MSDN is all ISOs…

And download it from its home page:

Q: Why is my outlook atrociously slow, locking up my computer for minutes at a time and, occasionally freezing?

Q: My outlook indexing is broken – doesn’t find what I need when I do search.  How do I fix this?

A: Of no help.  Suggested I contact support:

Q: I can’t install SQL Server SP2 on my laptop.  Why?

A: Try downloading manually from  Have I tried it?  Not yet.


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So now I am trying to come up with ideas for the new UI for JoVE and it dawned on me that we need to enable people to skim content.  What does that mean?  Let’s define skimming as:

Skimming – quickly looking over content with the possibility of slowing down for things that are identified as interesting.

What does this mean?  This means we need to know:

How we skim: From personal experience, skimming for me is when I relax the eye and simply move it over the page.  A bit like being on the train and letting the surroundings fly by you.  This means that the “modality” of whatever you are looking at is important.  That is:

  • If you skim text and images, the content may be mixed without hurting the skimming process (provided distraction is not taken into account
  • Images might have lower energy of activation as they are easier to ingest

Arrangement: It is easier to skim structured content than unstructured.  That is – tabular presentation is better then freeform.

It is easier to skim content that is concentrated in the same area than spread out.  For example: consider you are looking for salt and you have 100 spices.  How would you rather perform your selection?  By:

  1. Spreading them on the table in random form
  2. arranging them in one line or
  3. by grouping them into a 10×10 grid

Frankly, I am not sure whether 1) random placement or 3) grouping into grid would be better, but I suspect 3 would perform best as the eye quickly becomes accustomed to the structure of items on the page.

Next Step: when skimming, it is good to have an ability to see an elaboration on the content that may seem interesting.  That is, you might want to see an abstract.

Another aspect is that, when skimming, we want to be able to define what we would like to skim.  Are we looking to skim titles, keywords, authors, comments, etc.?

So, conclusions:

  • Need to include pictures (they can shift to videos when the mouse is over them)
  • Items need to be grouped into a grid
  • No need to show abstracts when presenting for skimming (although option should remain available)
  • Best to limit amount of information per item and make it customizable

Now I should run some mock-ups to see what works and what doesn’t…

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Tagging, Ruminations on Blogs

OK, so FTP sorta works.  I still want to get passive FTP up.  And now I think I figured out how to add my own tags by hand.  Since I am adding them like this, I think it might make sense to create an aggregated blog and tag-search site that would enable me to blog independently of the platform that I want to use.  A sort of reader of all of my blogs and I will use whoever the hell I want.

So the biggest problem it seems with blogs is the fact that you can’t really skim them.  Why do I like books?  Because I can touch them, I can scroll through them (bah, what a word!), and yet…  The feel is different, it’s messy, it’s disorganized, it’s not as simple as pen an paper.

So the solution should be:

  • Effortless to use
  • Include free-form entry
  • Allow rapid tagging of content for semantic searching

It all points to a really simple, really eloquent blogging application combined with a good archiving tool.  So far, this is the direction MSFT seems to be moving with the LiveWriter and OneNote, but both are still much too clunky.

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Windows 2008 Woes

OK, so we got the new Dell box…  at something like $600 I think it’s pretty awesome to have that.  Since we became part of the Empower program, we slapped a copy of Windows Server 2008 onto it and let the fun begin.


First of all, FTP is NOT installed by default.  So you need to add FTP as a role.  Second, if you are looking for FTP under IIS, you are not going to find it.  Load up IIS 6.0 where it is in stopped mode (along with SMTP).

Now this is when confusion begins.  Having set up a folder, I am trying to access its contents.  Now, with anonymous access turned on, I can use cmd to connect (i.e. run cmd, then work with FTP by way of console), but I can’t connect through file explorer.  Very strange.

This, by the way is a decent video on setting up FTP…  not very exaustive, but decent.

Still doesn’t work…  I can connect through console, but not through File Explorer.  Must be something with the firewall…

  • Turned off Firewall – FTP worked.  So it’s a firewall issue.

Did a bit of reading.  Looks like Windows 2008 uses IIS6 for FTP.  Now the problem is that Windows File explorer uses passive FTP, which is not allowed through the default firewall policy (which seems rather stupid, if you ask me).  Now it is possible to add a range, but figuring out how to do that is more than I have the mental capacity for tonight.  Besides, got a crapload of other stuff that needs to be taken care of.

MSFT…  sometimes I love ya.  Sometimes…  not so much.

And, btw, WHY DON’T I HAVE TAGGIN AVAILABLE IN LIVE WRITER for my LJ blog?!?!?!!?!?  It was there before!!!

OK, resetting the LJ seems to have fixed that problem.  I think getting the styles is what kills the tags.  Oh, wait.  Crap.  Still on tags.  Only category?  WTF?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  It’s not the style…  my mistake. 

Temporary solution: in IE it’s possible to turn off passive FTP for connection.  IE -> Tools -> Options…

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The only true measurement of code quality: WTF/minute


This picture is so true…  so true…


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Windows 2003 – Changing Ownership

Changing ownership for 400 files is not fun.  Which is why there is a tool called "InSubAcl.EXE", which you can get here.  Then, to run it on a whole bunch of files:

subinacl.exe /subdirectories d:\ftp\CDNSource\*.* /setowner=Administrators

Started using LiveWriter.  Extremely useful to blog… 

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NOVA | scienceNOW | Of Mice and Memory | PBS

This is very very cool – moral of the story: we should all have a lot of fun and then we’ll be smarter 🙂

NOVA | scienceNOW | Of Mice and Memory | PBS

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Regular Expressions and Generating XML

OK, I’ve been away for a while. Time to return. Although the reason I am here is more to explore what is new around here.

Latest task that I am working on at JoVE is trying to parse out citations. So, I am forced to recall what I know about Regular Expressions and application thereof by way of VBScript to parsing.

So…  first, what resources are there?

WTF?  Why is it impossible to find good resources?

OK, this one covers some ground, but, for the life of me, can’t figure out how to use submatches.  You know, the ones with parantheses.

<figuring out>

Here is the basic code:

    Dim re
    Set re = new RegExp

    with re
    .Global = True
    .IgnoreCase = True
    .Pattern = my_pattern
    end with

    Set res = re.Execute( my_citation_string )

    Dim author_str, title, source, pages, year

    for each r in res
        Result.value = Result.value & r & ”  “
        for each s in r.SubMatches
            SubRes.value = SubRes.value & “Matched: ” & s & VbCrLf
        author_str = r.SubMatches(0)
        title = r.SubMatches(1)
        source = r.SubMatches(2)
        pages = r.SubMatches(3)
        year = r.SubMatches(4)

So this seems to work fairly well

Now it’s a question of parsing sub-sections, which is the same as above and depositing the results into XML.  Now, usually in such circumstances, I would just output strings, but, frankly, I think this is a bad idea.  So it is time to switch to XML DOM.  Again, looking around I had trouble getting documentation, but finally came across this:

So, to add a child, it looks like the code would be something like this:

Dim xmlDoc
Set xmlDoc = CreateObject( “Microsoft.XMLDOM” )
xmlDoc.loadXML( “<root></root>” )
Dim root
Set root = xmlDoc.documentElement
root.appendChild xmlDoc.createElement( “test” )
Target.Message root.xml


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