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Tech News

Fixing Windows Update Failure - Error Code 0x643

By hagrin - Posted on 04 August 2008

Today, as I was patching my machine, I noticed that I still had not installed the Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 on my work development machine (a Windows Server 2003 R2 box). I loaded up Windows Update, selected the VS 2005 SP1 checkbox, let the update download and chose to install. After what seemed like 10 minutes of hanging and nothingness, the update installation failed. Huh? I went to "Review Your Update History" and clicked on the question mark next to the failure icon and the resulting pop-up simply stated Error Code: 0x643 and with 3 very useless links to find out more information.

To save everyone time, the fix can be found here and this link will ask you to download a patch that fixes the insufficient contiguous virtual memory problem that prevents you from installing certain .msi or .msp files. Run the executable after it has finished downloading and then return to Windows Update to finish patching your software. Good luck!

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2: Fixing the "An error occurred accessing the website application data folder" Error

By hagrin - Posted on 05 June 2008

Recently, while trying to work on simultaneous consulting projects, I had the need to install and run multiple VPN clients on my development machine. What was the result of trying to actually do this? Blue screened. I pretty much had figured something nasty was going to happen, but curiosity killed the server. Therefore, I figured I would finally turn to virtualization to solve my dilemma. I recently received my MSDN Universal disks and decided to install Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 on my Windows 2003 Server development box. The install is quick and painless and the initial post-installation documents states that a web site was created to administer your Virtual Server. I loaded up the URL and received the following error -

An error occurred accessing the website application data folder.

Just to give you an idea what type of environment I was working in, I was trying to set this up using -

  • Workstation: Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition
  • My workstation was part of a Windows 2003 Domain
  • I was signed into my workstation with my own account which is a Domain Admin

As a Domain Admin, I would have assumed that I had the proper credentials; however that didn't seem the case. To resolve this problem, I had to create (or use an existing) local administrator account and when presented with a login box, to use the local login and not your domain login. In addition, if the issue persists, open up IIS and under the Authentication options for the Virtual Server site, make sure that anonymous logins is unchecked. Those two options should resolve any initial security issues that you may have after first installing Virtual Server 2005 R2.

Early phpBB 3 Impressions

By hagrin - Posted on 30 May 2007

Although there are numerous free bulletin board software packages available, ever since Hagrin.com was registered I made phpBB my board of choice. Recently, phpBB announced their version 3 Release Candidate 1 package and I decided that I would give the new version a test run and see how the package is shaping up. Since barring any major bugs this RC would be made the final release, I felt comfortable evaluating the package in a production environment and to evaluate it under the same careful eye I would any production application.

The one area that I will cut them some slack is in the documentation department. Unfortunately, when you're installing and setting up a piece of brand new software you rely on the documentation heavily sometimes - especially, like in my case, where you are upgrading an older system and your main concern is data preservation. Problems started immediately when I went to read the upgrade instructions from the phpBB website and found limited "just point and click" instructions to perform the conversion. What this page fails to tell you is that it's the furthest thing from the truth for completing a sucessful 2.0 to 3.0 upgrade. To actually successfully upgrade, you need to:

  • Do not, I repeat not overwrite your phpBB 2.0 files. You need to keep these in place.
  • Copy phpbb 3.0 files onto your webserver into a directory different than your current forums directory.
  • When creating the database tables, you need to make the new phpBB 3.0 tables in the same database/schema as your old 2.0 tables, but remember to use a different table name prefix.
  • Complete the installation process.
  • Complete the conversion process (the point and click interface mentioned in the link posted above).
  • Move your old phpBB 2.0 files out and move your new phpBB 3.0 files into your old forums directory.

Not so point aned click huh? However, I'll cut them some slack because I was able to find the documentation somewhere eventually and documentation usually catches up over time. Oh, and don't forget to clean out your database of the old phpBB 2.0 tables that are still there.

Once the board is up and running, you do have to marvel out how things have progressed for phpBB over time. Most of the changes you see are on the backend; however, the default prosilver theme definitely gives users a brand new experience when using phpBB 3.0. First, in the prosilver theme, user information for a post is located on the right hand side as opposed to the traditional left hand side. New user options such as reporting posts and being able to grab in-depth information about a poster/poster in a single click proves a worthwhile feature. A "Friends & Foes" option was introduced to give users the ability to create a more social networking/Slashdot like feel to their forums where having friends and foes allows users to filter through data easily. On the admin side of things, phpBB did tremendously great work when handling how bots are able to crawl your site by not assigning them a SID or session ID so that your URLs remain consistent and void of any long, always changing querystrings. phpBB developers also improved the caching system which should help server load in times like the "Digg Effect" and other large sites picking up your site's content. Finally, phpBB finally gave admins the ability to edit templates through the Admin Control Panel as opposed ot having to edit files manually.

However, there are a few missing features from the newest phpBB version which disappointed me. The lack of a RSS feed for the user's board really seems the biggest missing feature especially with the advent of iGoogle, Netvibes, RSS readers, etc. In addition, especially with the explosion of CSS layouts, I'm surprised that users do not have the ability to move poster information from the right to left side in the default prosilver theme and that type of functionality isn't introduced.

Overall, I give phpBB a thumb up on their newest release, but would still like to see some very rudimentary improvements and features added to bring the board more inline with how users are using the web these days.

Drupal 5, META tags and SEO

By hagrin - Posted on 29 May 2007

After a long overdue hiatus from writing in my Search Engine Optimization Guide, I have finally added a new entry in a series of hopefully many new articles covering SEO issues raised on today's Internet. Today, I added an entry concerning Drupal 5 and assigning unique META tags to help differentiate your content. Check back for more SEO articles as I can crank them out (hopefully one a day for a while).

SEO: Drupal 5 - Adding Unique META Tags

By hagrin - Posted on 29 May 2007

SEO: Drupal 5 - Adding Unique META Tags

Posted By: hagrin
Date: 30 May 2007

Overview:
While pre-packaged software can save a lot of time in development costs, if not properly configured, a webmaster could potentially cripple their site's search engine rankings if certain search optimization techniques and guidelines are not followed. Drupal is a content management system that is extremely feature rich through it's module system and community support; however, search engine optimization isn't an extreme focal point for their developers. Therefore, out of the box, Drupal does fail at being 100% SEO friendly. Fortunately, due to Drupal's strong community, SEO friendly modules have been developed. One such module, META Tags (also known as nodewords), closes a major SEO deficiency extremely well and provides Drupal site owners the flexibility to create high ranking sites.

Aren't META tags Outdated?
Now, I know what you're all about to say - META tags don't work anymore and are so "1990s". While it's true that they aren't as influential as they once were, META tags still help identify content to search engines, especially the minor search engines. In addition, unique META description tags help prevent your pages from being put into "supplemental hell" and help users get a better idea of what your content actually contains. Even if the benefits aren't immediately realized through search engines weighting META tags heavily, including unique keyword and description information can only serve to help users find your content and differentiate the content across your site.

How Does it Work?
Installing the META tags module is extremely easy and works exactly like every other module installation. Once installed site admins can go to the Content Management section and click on the newly created Meta tags link. Here, you can set all the options you need including a global copyright, a GeoURL, global keywords, robots values and other settings. In addition, if you are utilizing categories or taxonomy, you can set keywords based on the tags you select which provides you flexibility at every level. I would suggest using some standard keywords that apply based on the tags you select and then add content specific keywords at the page/story level for the best performance.

If you plan on using Drupal to power your site, installing the Meta tags module is a search engine optimization must.

Resources

  1. Drupal META Tags/nodewords Module

Version Control

  1. Version 1.0 - 30 May 2007 - Original Article

Akismet Causing More Spam?

By hagrin - Posted on 10 May 2007

Recently, due to a few spam messgaes I would get every once in a while (no more than 5 a day with most days receiving no spam messages), I finally decided to install the Akismet here to curtail even the slightest amounts of spam to make managing Hagrin.com even easier. What has happened since can only be described as the exact opposite of my intent as spam has increased, bot registration has increased and it has increased over 1000%.

First, let me provide you with some metrics. As stated before, on Hagrin.com's worst day, I would receive about 5 spam messages, but most days saw no comment activity. Since installing the Akismet module 1.5 days ago, I have seen 65 new spam messages and almost as many bot registrations. While Akismet is definitely filtering out spam properly, the amount of spam traffic has increased at an alarming rate while site traffic hasn't increased at all. Now, I'm not exactly sure what this can be contributed to, but the timing of the module installation and the corresponding spam increase is undeniable. I'm going to continue to monitor the situation and maybe even disable the Akismet module to see if there is a spam drop off, but would like to hear from someone else who may have experienced this "problem".

Search Engine Ranking Factors

By hagrin - Posted on 08 May 2007

Although this article is already a month old, I have to applaud everyone involved at SEOmoz who created an extremely comprehensive list of Search Engine Ranking Factors. They provide you a great checklist of search engine optimzation factors to keep in mind and rank them according to what some of the more respected voices in the SEO industry deem as "important".

There isn't much "new" content here as much of what is covered should be pretty basic to the seasoned SEO, but it does provide a prioritized checklist for SEOs to follow and use to review client sites. Keywords in TITLE tags, inbound links, domain age and other factors are noted (obviously) as major factors contributing to SEO success. This SEO checklist provided me a valuable tool for performing site evaluations.

The PayPal Security Key

By hagrin - Posted on 03 March 2007

Recently, when I heard that PayPal would be offering additional security through a keychain security key (or key fob), I immediately signed up that day even though I rarely use PayPal and Ebay. For me, I want to be an early adopter of two form authentication since most Internet users really should be protecting themselves in every available manner (from themselves in many cases). I applaud PayPal and Ebay for implementing this additional layer of security before any of my banks have and I hope that more institutions follow suit.

First, I paid $5 USD to get the security key. I ordered the security key over a month ago and was surprised when it came today in the mail. If you haven't seen an image of the key yet, I've included one below -

Activating your security key is extremely easy. All that you need to do is browse to PayPal's security key page, enter in the serial number on the back of your key fob, press the key's button to generate a 6 digit number, wait 30 seconds and then retrieve a second number. If successfully activated, your security key will be attached to your account. I logged out and logged back in to test the new system and loved the simplicity. After successfully entering in my email address and password, I was now presented with an additional screen asking for my 6 digit number instead of my normal Account status screen.

It's that simple.

With all of the talk of Ebay hackings and PayPal insecurity, any user that relies on either of these services would be foolish to not spend the 5 dollars to add yet another level of security. This security key provides protection against those phishing attempts that are lucky enough to catch you with your guard down since even if they sniff out your email and password, the 6 digit security code will prevent them from fully accessing your account. You'd have to say - PayPal is definitely on the right track and got "it" right this time.

Microsoft Releases Live Search SOAP API 1.0

By hagrin - Posted on 06 February 2007

Microsoft announced their Live Search SOAP API 1.0 is out of beta and has been rebranded to reflect the name of their search engine. The Live Search SOAP API excites programmers like me because, while Google has removed any future access to their SOAP API, Microsoft is enhancing theirs and providing more power to the programmers of the world. A quick comparison of the Google SOAP API and the Live Search SOAP API shows the following:

  • The Live Search SOAP API is still being actively developed by Microsoft while Google has stopped releasing SOAP API keys and support to the servers handling the API requests.
  • The Google SOAP API allows for 1,000 queries per day where the Live Search SOAP API allows for up to 10,000 queries per day. The higher number of maximum daily queries would allow for companies to more accurately track their performance and track more keywords and phrases.
  • The Google SOAP API allows you to only pull the first 100 results for a particular search phrase while the Live Search SOAP API can return up to the first 1,000 results for a term.

In addition to the comparison with Google, the Live Search SOAP API has added features such as additional language support, enhancing search tag results, improving local search, phone book results and improved their documentation with additional code samples. Remember, you will Visual Studio 2005 and the .Net 2.0 Framework to utilize this API.

The only problem I see with the new Live Search SOAP API? It can't query the Google index.

Search Hagrin.com

By hagrin - Posted on 04 February 2007