Random Thoughts for a Friday

Well today’s a Friday and of course, I’m a happy camper. I have some observations and experiences this week that have been piling up and  I thought they might be worth sharing before Alzheimer’s disease kicks in full blast. If you’ve come here looking for some bleeding edge WPS tech today to go with your morning Qwiki-mart Egg-a-muffin, you’re a little out of luck.

VirtualBox

If you do a lot of WPS/SAS development and are jumping between computers and operating systems, do yourself a favor and download a copy of VirtualBox. I’ve now replaced my VMware infrastructure on my desktops and notebooks with VirtualBox. I find VirtualBox is much faster than VMware’s Workstation product or it’s stripped down cousin, VMPlayer. I’ve had exactly one problem with VirtualBox since I started using it and that’s an issue of trying to run a webcam inside a VM. Other than that one problem, it’s been a great ride.

I use Windows 7 and Vista 64 in native mode and also use these 64-bit platforms as hosts for the virtual machines. I use VirtualBox for testing and developing my Linux and XP based software that runs as clients. VirtualBox has what is called seamless mode which allows you to integrate your client with your host session. It’s almost as if you were running one operating system. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?

I was looking at the notes for the 3.1 Beta release of VirtualBox and it’s pretty exciting. With this beta, you can do teleportation… really. Beam me up Scotty!

UltraEdit for Linux

I downloaded and installed a copy of UltraEdit for Linux on Wednesday. I’m still getting my chops with this whole Linux/Unix thing and the editors I’ve had to use so far are pretty anemic. UEX just came out of beta and this editor is pretty darn good! If you’ve used UltraEdit on Windows, you will be comfortable and cranking out code in no time with UEX.

uex

I’m using UEX for my WPS development on Fedora (see screen shot above – click to enlarge) and this is what I’m going to use from here on out as my Linux editor. At least until something better comes along. The price is only $50 and it’s paid for itself the first day I had it. I’ll write more on UEX and WPS at a later date, but I just wanted some of the Unix zealots to know what is available and that I won’t be torturing myself having to learn vim, vi, Emacs or some other crippled software that they like to use.

Remote Desktop Connection

We used to run Microsoft’s Small Business Server here at the office. It’s a lot of bang for the buck, but for the type of work we do here, it was overkill. It seemed like there was always an issue on connectivity or security because of the firewall/proxy/router. I’ll just say that there was a significant investment of time to keep it going.

We dropped SBS and decided to just go with a workgroup setup. We removed the SBS client software from the workstations and flattened the domain. That was easy enough. We then allowed the router to supply DHCP addresses and installed Windows Server 2003 on the former SBS box.

Everything seemed to work fine and all the workstations could talk to each other. Heck, we could even use Windows Live Messenger and get video and sound across it! That’s something we couldn’t do before because of the proxy server. However, one problem that just bugged the hell out of me was not being able to RDC into our analytics server running Win2003. No longer could we use the servers name to RDC into and we could not find a reason for this. The analytics server is running Windows 2003 EE and we have a database server running Windows 2000. Confusingly, I could RDC into the database server without issue. The analytics server was proving to be impossible. Finally, I was told by a colleague that the only way I’ll ever be able to RDC into the analytics server is by using the IP address instead of the computer name. Even with a fixed/static IP, the name resolution would never work. So, I typed in the servers IP address and chanted “Nancy Pelosi is the devil” three times for good luck and pressed enter. Voila! Instant connection.

And that’s the real reason I’m a happy camper on this Friday. Now I don’t need to get up from my chair and walk down the hall to administer that server!

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC. and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and a reseller of WPS in North America.

About Phil Rack

Phil Rack, Owner of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC. Grand Rapids, MI USA For more than twenty years, I've worked as a SAS Consultant, specializing in the financial industry. My motives for this blog are to inform and educate other consultants as well as clients who use SAS or other BI tools on how they can more effectively use technology to further their business objectives.
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