14 Jun 2007

Differential Diagnosis Lists for IT

One of the method of diagnosing illnesses and diseases in medicine is differential diagnosis (DDx), which is the method of creating lists of symptoms and cross referencing that with diseases and then testing or eliminating possible diseases from the list. For example: Patient pX shows symptoms sA and sB. The doctor then draws up a list of all diseases which have sA and sB as symptons as follows:
Disease Symptons
dA sA sB sE  
dB sA sB    
dC sA sB sF  
dD sA sB sE sG
  The doctor then tests for sE which either confirms or eliminates dA and dD and so on until one disease is confirmed to be the cause. This method has gotten more attention in the last few years thanks to the TV show House, where they use it extensively and it is actually through the House Wikipedia article that I stumbled onto the Wikipedia article on DDx (never say that TV doesn’t enrich). Going through the article references to various studies of how the use of general search engines like Google and specialised search engines on sites like Pubmed are being increasingly used to generate the lists and with greater accuracy as opposed to existing methods such as learning them or building up their own list. This instantly reminded me of the days gone past when I did technical work and did searches high and low for various problems I encountered, and how the process of determining a problem was very similar. What were lacking were the lists for no other reason that I have never seen any compiled or never tried to compile such a list. So how do we go about building a list to handle this? Well we need a format which contains this sort of information. Not another format! Actually yes, another lightweight format is needed. See if the point was to provide a list of information I could do that in the way I did the example above, by simply providing a table. But the point is to share this information out, so we need a format that is not only human readable within reason, but also machine readable. Before you run off thinking thoughts of irrelevance, think of the way formats like ATOM and RSS allowed content to be syndicated. Now think if you could have a similar tool to your RSS reader, except it allowed you to subscribe to these types of lists? Or think if Google could do a special search bot just for this information and expose it in some funky way? The true power then becomes apparent for all. So far I have been playing around with the idea for the format and come up with the template below. There is some things which I should borrow from RSS/ATOM which would be good to include, but this is a start. If you have suggestions to the format please email me around them <?xml version="1.0"encoding="utf-8"?> <ddx> <cause name="Active Directory Authentication Configured Incorrectly" moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" causeId="{A498231B-C651-4779-9FC8-43044598E795}" extendedSolution="Configure the active directory authentication."> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> </cause> <cause name="Active Directory Authentication Configured Incorrectly" moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" causeId="{A498231B-C651-4779-9FC8-43044598E795}" extendedSolution="Configure the active directory authentication."> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> </cause> <cause name="Active Directory Authentication Configured Incorrectly" moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" causeId="{A498231B-C651-4779-9FC8-43044598E795}" extendedSolution="Configure the active directory authentication."> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> <symptom description="User can not login on desktop." moreInfo="http://www.sadev.co.za" symptomId="{F1565DE1-6F4A-4734-8BAE-B5E6D9680FEB}"/> </cause> </ddx>
14 Jun 2007

A time honoured event

Leave requested for and approved. See you there :)

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14 Jun 2007

Do your bit for better SSIS

One of my favorite features of SQL 2005 is SSIS. It actually is usable (compared to it's old dumber brother DTS). One thing I have had the priviledge of working on is a component which Bruce mentioned on the newsgroups which allows SSIS and MSCRM to work together.

One of the worst points of the SSIS development is the error messages that SSIS throws back. Well there a place you can vote for actually providing some feedback to MS around pushing/advising them to help correct this. So go out and vote for better error messages and SSIS!!!

https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/ViewFeedback.aspx?Feedb...

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14 Jun 2007

Best news since sliced bread

Ok, maybe not the absolute best news but it is a long time coming and needed. Finally there are CCF virtual labs available. This should help break the massive barrier of entry to this power house technology.
The labs available are:
Win32 automation
Web Automation
Winform automation
SSO

Thanks to Yves for breaking this news and the updated links.

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28 May 2007

Why so quiet?

Why has this and my other blog been so quiet for so long? The answer is that I got married on the 19th of May :) and have had crazy stuff to do before that and have been on honeymoon since then (back at work on the 30th though).

So hopefully it should take me a few days to get back into it and running again.

In the mean time there are a few changes, one is that comments are disabled. I have been getting hundreds of comment spam for ages and just can't care enough. If you want to post a comment, until I get something to help deal with it, email me and I will create a login for you.

Lastly the gallery is finally getting some pictures in it :) (You may need to hit Ctrl+F5 to force a refresh to see some of it).
Been a long time getting round to it, but with the wedding pictures and honeymoon pictures (which is all Namibia and Botswana) going up its a good incentive to get it going!

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29 Mar 2007

Why being a new adopter is rewarding

I had the experience that only new adopters get yesterday with my fresh Vista install. I tried to see this Ultimate Extra's content and received an error 8024402C. Somehow in Vista help isn't the requiem of the weak minded so I hit the “Get Help” with the knowledge no one would take away my manhood. So it comes up with a paragraph on making changes to IE settings which I try with no luck and decide to look into it that night. While at home I decide to try it again, and same error, I clicked help again for some reason beyond reason and no longer did I see one paragraph by a lovely three paragraphs around it. The experience of actually seeing online help update, and contain something useful now was one that only the strong and brave will ever get to see, but I hope I am wrong. I hope that this is not something after a 6 months, or a year or even 2 years stops. I hope this updating of help only stops when the product comes to end of life, but previous experience paints a different tail.

26 Mar 2007

Made the jump to Vista

This past weekend I spent at a management session at the wonderful Crocodile Kruger Lodge. It really is an amazingly beautiful place with the best food I have ever had at a hotel/lodge/guest house. I also had the chance to feed a zebra (as they literally walked right up to the place). While not enjoying that I got to spend considerable time indoors discussing all kinds of things (many hurt my head) that will benefit the company I work for in amazing ways and I am slowly beginning to understand things that don't fit neatly into a try..catch..finally block.

So during this time I took the chance to reinstall my laptop and get Vista on it. First thing I did was pop the DVD into the machine and looked for a way to run the Vista File and Settings Transfer Wizard (assuming it would run on XP and be better than XP's) and easily enough I found it on the splash screen. Interestingly enough it is now call Windows Easy Transfer, which I laughed at since we have moved from FAST to WET ;) (if you didn't get the fact that I'm geeky from the try..catch in the first paragraph, hopefully you are getting it now).

I then ran the XP backup to backup my files (just incase WET has a problem) and dumped it all to an external drive. Next I rebooted and went through the process of installing Vista (complete with formatting hard drive). Once done the machine rebooted and I was greated by the wonderful sight of Vista loading fine.

Now one thing I didn't take was the driver CD for my HP nx8220 laptop so I was a little worried it wouldn't work without it, but it worked perfectly, with the only items not having drivers being the sound card and the smart card reader. Those were easily sorted by using the search online for drivers feature (which never worked in XP, so +1 to Vista).

I then installed all the usual requirements (Office 2007, VS etc...) and realised I need to join to the work domain to get my email. The problem was I was using a wireless network to connect to a co-workers laptop which was sharing a GPRS internet connection (no 3G or ADSL where we were). So I tried the idea of connecting via VPN, and joining the machine to the domain (crazy I know), and it worked! Now to log in, and damn "No logon servers available".

So I logged back into the local account, connected the VPN again, and used the runas command line tool with the /profile option to launch notepad under my domain account (phew thats a long idea), but it means the profile gets copied down to the local machine even under a different account, which meant when I logged out and I could log back in.

And now to restore my profile using WET, and OMG what a better tool. It copied my RSS feeds (Outlook/Windows/IE ones), my Office preferred theme, my custom search providers for IE 7 (and kept Google as my default) and even the command line colours I use! What it didn't copy (which FAST used to) was all my internet and VPN connections, but it is a simple job to do those.

All in all it was an amazingly pleasant and easy to do install.

07 Mar 2007

Visual Studio support for Vista available

One more step for me to get to vista (since I still haven't done it) is that Visual Studio 2005 is now officially supported on Vista thanks to the special Service Pack 1 being released for it. You can grab it at
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=90E2942D-3AD1-4...

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