29 July, 2011

What's been happening lately, July 2011

Computers on desktopImage by jepoirrier via FlickrI have been tied up lately doing a number of things, and fixing a couple of things at work, and at home.

At the work front, I thought I'm done experimenting with ODP.NET 11g, but I was not!

And what could be worse, our old desktop PC broke down, and kept on flasing the blue screen of death, with a very consistent message that says:


And the other newer machine, a laptop, stopped recognizing my wife's iPhone 4 device.

To which, when I was looking up some help in the web's wealth of stored information, I came upon a 1-liner, attributed to a man (whom you will find out if you look up the line below):

iTunes ain't done 'til  Windows won't run.

How about that?

At Work

I look after 3 PCs, with one machine as my primary platform for developing applications and designing systems, reading mails, looking up the web, etc., etc. This runs on XP, and I have installed VS2005 and lately, VS2010. I was originally running oracle 8i, and in the past couple of weeks, when I attempted to install ODPwithODAC112021, my system crashed, leaving me no other choice but to do a full, forced uninstall of all Oracle client installations. This I did, and after a thorough clean-up, I managed to reinstall 3 sets: Oracle Instant Client, ODAC92070, and finally, ODAC112021, xcopy version.

I left all the other 2 PCs alone - or so I thought.

I couldn't rest. The curiosity in me kept on brewing, until it burst into a continued attempt, which I picked up again, and this time, on the other 2 PCs (small server PCs, which are actually normal desktop PCs, but which we use to house our small applications and batch jobs).

I've installed VS2005 and VS2010, if I havent' done so, and tried to install ODAC112021 using xcopy version on both machines.

And while I attempted to fit all three into the same mould, to the end of making my applications and programs run virtually in any of the 3, my attempts failed. Then I tried again. Which still failed. Then I tried again. Still failed. In fact, I've lost count of how many times I've been trying and failing, attempting and not succeeding... and now, I have stopped, but only temporarily.

I will keep on trying, and I will continue testing, until I succeed. I am learing a lot in the process, and I am very sure, sooner or later, I would just be surprised that things are working as I expected them to work.

Isn't that a sweet victory?

At Home

At the home front, my 2003 desktop PC is acting up lately, until it stared me in the face with the sullen and unrelenting blue screen of death: UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME is all that it keeps on saying.

I tried to do a repait, using my laptop to fetch help from the mighty web wizard, but whatever I find, and whatever is suggested by completely anonymous nerds and wizards, it didn't help me to do the recover.

I guess my C: drive was really that corrupted. I did find that somehow, this would be cause by power shutdown without a proper PC shutdown (caused by kids who has no cares in the world, huh! other than their playing activities - which includes flicking the switch on or off).

After several attempts to repairing, I had to do a reinstallation of my XP OS, and since this is not the first time, I already had my installer disc ready.

Tooks hours, to days, to install back the softwares needed by my older kids who use that PC, not to mention the updates that should be installed from time to time, and with time being measured by hours, I've been sleeping late this week and in the past, but I am able to catch some 15- to 30-minutes of shuteye during lunchbreak, so that ain't so bad after all.

My wife has been rearranging the plants in and out of the house as well, and laying them out anew at the front corridor, to keep insects (hazardous, that is) and mosquitoes at bay.

And after all the caring and tending, one of the orchids (the pink one) is starting to shoot out some buds from the stalks where flowers used to bloom. Yes, the stalks are still alive, and in one of the tips, some buds are getting a bigger bump from day to day.

This is the first flowering after they were brought home. Can't wait to see them open up!

At church

And last Saturday, 23rd July, I was able to complete a 3-hour session with a small team on basic music lessons, primarily focused on vocals, and a little bit on keyboard-playing. Of course, a lot of music theory has to be injected, and a lot of practicums has to be carried out, for what use is head knowledge, if it ain't gonna be applied.

At least we know that we don't know yet while we learn it, and we know there's a lot of ground to be covered, and we're not stopping now till we're up to some heights.

Now, isn't that some ambitious target? It should be. And we are getting all the help that we can.

3 sessions more, and there will be some flowers budding up. Expecting to sea and hear the team do well as we all give our best.

Till then!

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18 July, 2011

Hijacked proxy

HijackThisImage via WikipediaWhile I was having the ODP.NET and VS2010 installation issues at work, I experienced some problem with my internet explorer at home. I cannot connect to any website.

The behaviour is the same with Firefox, Flock 3x, and Maxthon.

The only exception is flock 2.xxx. This is what I used to troubleshoot the problem.

It was also a long and arduous troubleshooting scheme, making much use of web articles and downloadable fixes. But I did find some help that really helped me.

Malwarebyte's antimalware

These are the 2 applications that helped me clean up my infected laptop. Why infected? My wife was asking why there suddenly is a song being played, and it is in Spanish.

I also did notice that when I am rebooting the machine, I would get a flash of ads - every time.

SUPERAntiSpyware Professional Edition 4.50 2-user License Lifetime SubscriptionBut I didn't know that it was that bad. To me, I deemed it something intermittent, for why would I be able to access internet using Flock 2.xxx version, and not the others?

I also did find HijackThis software, which I run to remove the registry entry of the proxy server, which I don't have, since I am directly connected to the internet. (Hey, this is home network, not office, no).

This is a couple of days only, since I am also quite in a hurry to fix this.

The web that introduced HijackThis software is where I found the inetcpl.cpl procedure that I followed. It is Internet Options in XP, but in Windows 7, you type it is the Start box. It leads you to the IE settings, Connections, LAN Settings, and this is where you untick the 'Use a proxy server..." selection (below), and tick the "Automatically detect settings" selection (above).

So it was a handful of steps that I followed, and it got me back my internet connection:

1. Run Antispyware softwares (Malwarebyte's Antimalware and SUPERAntiSpyware).
2. Run HijackThis, and removed the registry setting that is identified as hijacked proxy.
3. Correct my IE LAN settings.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware LifetimeAnd with that, all things are back to normal. I should say that it got me worried at the time I was  hit, because there were critical updates for Windows that I know are coming, but they fail to be downloaded, so that actually added on to the pressure of me getting back my home internet connection (on my laptop, that is).

Till then!
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ODP.NET and VS2010

Pro ODP.NET for Oracle Database 11g (Expert's Voice in Oracle)For the past couple of weeks, I have been struggling with the usage of ODP.NET 11g version, together with VS2010.

I currently have Oracle 8i installed on my machine, and this is running TOAD v9.xxx, and also PL/SQL Developer, with VS2005.

All things are working fine.

I have actually been trying out VS2008 and VS2010 Express editions for quite sometime, but I have never ventured into the use of ODP.NET 11g.

Then about a month ago, I was able to get the installer for VS2010 Premium from our IT folks, and that is when my nightmares began.

Database Normalization eBook

Conflict of (OraHome) Interests

I didn't know it, but right on top of my working environment, I installed immediately, without trying out the earlier versions (ODAC ver9, ver10), ODTwithODAC112021. Well, I was able to run VS2010 codes using ODP.NET, and I was actually able to note that it is fast. I managed to create a simple code that lets me use stored procedures, which I immediately progressed to REF_CURSOR, as is the offered advantage when using ODP.NET, which is able to fetch multiple rows and multiple columns data set, which can be easily accessed as per normal (hasRows, etc., etc.).

ODP.NET Developer's Guide: Oracle Database 10g Development with Visual Studio 2005 and the Oracle Data Provider for .NET: A practical guide for ... Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2005But that is in exchange for a non-functioning TOAD, which is now unable to access some 'older' systems. 8i, 9i, etc. The error messages I got, which when I googled out to see if anything can be of help, did not help my situation. Yes, there are a ton of articles that should help me out, but to my situation, no help from the web was of help.

I got these: ORA-12541, TNS no listener, ORA-31xxx something, something, xxx is no longer accessible xxx, etc.

The thing is, when I run into these problems, that is when I found out that there is the known problem of versioning issues with Oracle clients, where the Home is switched from here to there with each installation, or that even when it didn't, a new conflict arises between the different Ora versions.

So I uninstalled ODTwithODAC112021, but that didn't restore my system to its working condition.

Thus began my half-month experimentation - mind you, I am not able to work during these times!

When one fails, will the others succeed?

I now tried installing Oracle 9i, which installed correctly, but TOAD can't perform login. Uninstalled.

Pro .NET Oracle ProgrammingI tried back ODTwithODAC112021, which resulted to the error: "OCI version product is not supported", and when I googled this error msg, I found that TOAD has to be upgraded to version 10. Money?

Uninstalled ODTwithODAC112021, but still TOAD can't do login.

I now tried installing ODAC92070, but the setup was terminated without any error msg at all. It just quit on me!

I now tried to install back Oracle 8i client, but this one also throws out an error msg now, and can't be installed anymore.

Have I cracked my PC's nervous system? It is so confused now!

I attempted installation of Oracle 9i client, and while it installed correctly, TOAD still can't run. Uninstalled.

At this time, I looked at ODAC101040, installed it, and voila! TOAD runs. But wait a minute, VS2010 now throws out some error. Version problem? Unfortunately, I didn't capture the error message details. Somehow it has got to do with some service that isn't running. However, I did check that  OracleMTSRecoveryService is running from the Services view. Uninstalled.

As I am getting tired now, and running out of options, I planned to just make VS2010 run, declare that this is more the important thing, and call it a day. I installed ODTwithODAC112021, but at this time, even this one now throws out an error during installation. I can't proceed to install it!

Pro .NET Oracle ProgrammingI find that this is due to my home being selected as DEFAULT_HOME1, which is the very first home that was created with my old configuration when Oracle 8i was installed.

I changed that to OraClient11g_home1, and I was able to install ODTwithODAC112021, and then I was able to run VS2010 okay, but not TOAD (at least, some newer systems I can connect to, but not all, esp those running on old servers).

I went to sleep.

A new day

I thought that I would be okay with what I now have, but I was wrong. I can't rest until everything works the same, as when I started, and yet I wanted to work with the latest versions. I repeated the whole exercise the whole day, again, but still ended up with either the VS2010 working, and TOAD not working, or the other way around.

Did I mention it took me half a month doing this? I did. A couple of days. But it is good that my boss never asked me on what I have produced within those 2 weeks while attempting to make things work on ODT.NET and VS2010.

Revo Uninstaller to the rescue (or so I thought)

Professional Visual Studio 2010 (Wrox Programmer to Programmer)After so many days doing install and uninstall actions, my system seems to have been corrupted. I can't even unstall the 8i, 9i clients completely, and also the ODAC 9, 10, and 11 versions. They remain in the system even after I have performed uninstallation. What's worse, my system doesn't work as before.

I have Revo on my system, so I went to 'Forced uninstall' mode, and I was glad I did. I cleaned up my system, even to the last bit of these Ora creatures - completely!

And right after the last clean-up, I'm not able to access internet, or even our intranet applications! I must have uninstalled some fundamental services when I did the clean-up! I did!

My TCP/IP was deleted together with the items when I did the forced uninstall!

So not only do I have a system that doesn't run TOAD, or VS2010. I now have a system that can't do network connections! And in a company that relies on networks for applications to run, my system has become useless altogether now!

A help from our User Support Team.

Visual Studio 2010 All-in-One For DummiesI quickly went to our User Support group, and I told him what happened. You see, I have other PCs at work that I used to google possible fixes when TCP/IP is broke, and I did all those things. Yes, there is help all over the web, but unfortunately, none of these, though helpful, helped my situation.

So I went over to the 'nut-and-bolt' guys, and I was advised to see if I can do it by system restore. So I grab that flicker of hope, immediately proceeded to do a system restore, and my PC was back! Now I only have those duplicates to deal with.

I now cautiously performed the uninstallation of the Oracle products. (You have to get burned before you become cautious and careful sometimes...) I checked, and I found that there was an article somewhere in the OracleForums, about manually uninstalling Oracle 8i, 9i, etc. I followed that to the letter after doing the OUI uninstallation actions. I edited the registry, removed the folders, delete the files in the Temp\ folder, emptied my Recycle bin, with the reboot after the registry edit and after emptying the bin.

At this point, I now have a 'clean' system.

Instant Client, ODAC92070 and ODAC112021 (XCopy version) - the three muskeeters

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010: A Beginner's GuideI was getting curious if Oracle Instant Client works, for me, I should say, since many do vouch for it. So as part of my curiosity, and with my exhausted energy that I can only do little and quickly at that, I now tested Instant Client, especially that the procedure is fast and simple.

Copy zip file, unzip, rename, define Path, and copy over my TNSNAMES.ORA, SQLNET.ORA and LISTENER.ORA. I was careful to put these in the correct folder.

Did my TOAD 9.xxx work? You bet it did!

However, as I have said, some older systems I still am not able to connect to. We're not done yet...

I now installed ODAC92070, taking note of any error messages that might get thrown during installation. Well, there was none.

Does TOAD still work? You bet it does!

And now, I am able to access the old Oracle server. Last hurdle, VS2010.

Visual Studio 2010 Professional UpgradeWith all hopes dashed with the failed attempts on ODTwithODAC112021, I switched to ODAC112021, which is basically the same as the former, but is just different in the manner of installation, I tried the XCOPY version.

Finally, the system variable TNS_ADMIN was set to the final folder/directory, and testing was done:

TOAD - it works!
VS2010 - it works!

Victory, at last!

Boy, I still got what I wanted, and although I didn't get it so easily, there is prize for the persistent and diligent.

Till then!

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