Archive for January, 2007

Australia Day Pool Party / BBQ - Updated

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Flag In Pool

As I wrote the previous post, there was an enormous Australia Day Pool Party/BBQ going on in my back yard.  #1 Son, Peter, has organised an Australia Day BBQ each year for several years now.  This year it was bigger than ever as both Andy and Robbie were here with their mates as well.

Sundry Aussies in the pool! Sundry Aussies in the pool! Sundry Aussies in the pool!
Sundry Aussies in the pool!

Triple-J’s countdown of the Hottest 100 provided the music.

Mike washing lettuce! Troy and Andy! Steve impresses the ladies with his Australia Day hat!

I got to wash lettuce, slice tomato and onion etc for hamburgers and, later on, fill two wheelie bins with empties.

What's wrong with this picture? Too calm? Nothing a well co-ordinated bomb dive cannot fix!
What’s wrong with this picture?  Too calm?  A well co-ordinated bomb dive will fix it!

Update: 28-Jan-07
And speaking of Australia Day, you’ve just gotta love Sam…

Update: 1-Feb-07
Peter took a gazillion more great photos, Andy uploaded some to a flickr photo set, and John Blade recounts how much fun it all was

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Warren Schaefer tagged me with this “Things You Didn’t Know About Me” meme.  He copped it from Jeff Wharton who, in turn, copped it from Mitch Denny, who copped it from Hugo Ortega, and so on.

My response turned out a bit long, so here’s the summary:
1: I was once a cavalry troop leader.
2: I was once a member of the Cape York Motorcycle Club.
3: Only twice have I waded into knee-deep crocodile-infested water.
4: Only once have I been trapped for a week by floodwaters between Winton & Boulia.
5: This last item is rated [MA15+].

1: I was once a cavalry troop leader.

OK, I did mention it once before, but it’s not widely known.  I thought I’d raise it again because Jeff Wharton revealed that he also drove armoured vehicles.

2: I was once a member of the Cape York Motorcycle Club.

While working in Weipa; bush-bash every second week-end, race meeting on the other week-ends.  I didn’t join in the race meetings, but my Honda XL150 trail bike was well suited to the bush bash.  When we came to a swollen stream, a mate and I could just pick it up and carry it across.  Some streams you wouldn’t, because…

3: Only twice have I waded into knee-deep crocodile-infested water.

The first time was to leave my family to go and get help.  The kids were screaming “Don’t go Daddy! Don’t go!“  We were stuck half way across Jim Jim creek on the way to Twin Falls in Kakadu.  There was the usual sign warning about estuarine crocodiles, plus another which said “Fatalities have occurred at this location. Parents are advised to keep children away from the water.”   The water was muddy and I had driven over a submerged log and down into a deep hole.  I couldn’t reverse back over the log.

The second time was a couple of hours later when a tour operator came along in a vehicle with a winch.  I asked him for a tow.  “Sure. But I’m not going in there with it“, he said, pointing at my 4WD in the creek.  He thought it was a great lark.  He could justify to his passengers why he was charging them $450 for the day trip, “Otherwise you’d end up like this clown.

4: Only once have I been trapped for a week by floodwaters between Winton & Boulia.

November ‘73.  The wet season started early.  Chemical engineer mate Don Borchert and I were supposed to be working in Mount Isa.  (Where are you these days, Don?) Being city-slickers with city-slicker tyres we spent a couple of days spinning our wheels in the mud and consequently ran out of fuel.  Then we ran out of food.  Ran out of water.  Ran out of BEER!

On the road to Mt Isa... we got stuck in the mud!
On the road to Mt Isa…     we got stuck for a week…               in the mud!

I did a dangerous thing and left the vehicle and walked 12km to the Middleton Hotel.  When I got there, their generator had broken down and the beer was getting hot.  Of course, I had to help them drink it in a hurry.

Eventually, Don and I made it to Boulia at about 8pm one evening.  After a week’s lost wages, there was only about 200km of bitumen road between us and starting back at work in the morning.  We set out ignoring the dangers of travelling at night.  At about 8:20pm we hit a roo and were immobilised again. “Oh what jolly bad luck”, we said, or words to that effect.  Maybe we used just one word, but it rhymed with “Luck”.

5: This last item is rated [MA15+].
DO NOT READ ON, if you are squeamish.

In 2001 and after many years of problems with ulcerative colitis, including a toxic megacolon, I had a total proctocolectomy and now have a permanent ileostomy.

In layman terms, I have no backside, no colon and my small intestine comes out through an opening (a stoma) in my abdomen.  I wear a fitting against my skin and a plastic bag.  This fitting gets changed twice a week.  Because I lose a lot of fluid out the stoma, I need to drink slightly more than the average Joe or I get dehydrated.

I wasn’t going to blog about this (coz it’s a bit yucky) but I’m thinking back to the time I was making the decision whether to go with the surgical option.  I had tried all sorts of diet modifications.  I had even volunteered for trials of yet-to-be-released drugs.  Surgery really was the last option.  I umm’d and ahh’d for a long time.

… the internet was full of people in my situation …

However the decision to proceed with surgery was made a lot easier when I realised that the internet was full of people in my situation, eg, Shaz from Perth, Western Australia.  Just knowing that there was a ready-made support network out there made the decision so much easier.

Now life after surgery is not entirely without its difficulties, and over the past few months I’ve had to cope with an unfortunate complication, (have you noticed the slow-down in blogging lately?) but I don’t regret for a second the choice I made.  Wearing a bag is nothing compared to the difficulties I faced on the 45km drive to work in the years before surgery.

Plus! I never have to worry about putting my backside near any strange porcelain when travelling in SE Asia.  Plus! You can be damned sure it wasn’t me who passed wind in the lift that time.

So I’m putting my hand up.  If anyone in a similar situation wants to talk about it, just contact me.

Thanks to Gough Whitlam
On a side note, every day I have occasion to give thanks to Gough Whitlam.  It was his government which in 1974 instigated the Stoma Appliance Scheme.  This provides stoma appliances free of charge to ostomates through volunteer organisations.  My local association is the Queensland Colostomy Association at Moorooka.  (Thanks for all the hard work, folks!)

We all live in fear of on-going reviews of the scheme by the Howard government with its leanings towards “user-pays”.  Why do I get the feeling the cost of the scheme is constantly being weighed up against ostomates’ voting power?

If you have read this far, congratulations and “Tag! You’re It!”  Tell us 5 things about yourself that we didn’t know and put a link to your post here in the comments.

Debugging Access “Permission Denied” Errors

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

One of my clients had a customer with server somewhere in rural Victoria.  A user (let’s call her Sue) had been running an MS Access 2003 application for years when it suddenly started throwing “Permission Denied” errors.

The Problem

Most of the application worked just fine.  On each form, Sue could navigate through the underlying recordset via the navigation keys; so there was no problem accessing the data.  However, when she tried to select a record via a combobox, she received the “Permission Denied” error.

Typical Access form equipped with a combobox to quickly select a record.
Typical Access form equipped with a combobox to quickly select a record.

My client had checked all obvious user login and file access permisssions.  All seemed in order.  He then asked me to have a look at it.


My first check was the Access database permisssions. Nothing fancy there.  Any strange record locks? Nope.  Concurrency issues? Nope.

Interestingly, the application worked just fine when logged in as an administrator.  It was only when Sue tried to navigate via the combobox that there was a problem.

Debugging through the code revealed this in the combobox’s AfterUpdate event handler…

Private Sub cboSelect_AfterUpdate()

    ' Find the record that matches the control.
    Dim rs As Object

    Set rs = Me.Recordset.Clone
    rs.FindFirst "[CustomerId] = " & Str(Nz(Me![cboSelect], 0))
    If Not rs.EOF Then Me.Bookmark = rs.Bookmark

End Sub

There must be 60 million copies of this code spread around the planet.  It is generated by the combobox wizard whenever a new combobox is dropped on a form and the developer selects the “Find a record…” option.  There can NOT be anything wrong with this code.  Each of us has done this about a thousand times.

This looks like a job for FileMon !

At this point, we started using FileMon to see which files were being accessed at the time the error occurred.  FileMon monitors and displays file system activity on a system in real-time.

We discovered that the Permission Denied error happened exactly when Access tried to read the DAO360.DLL.   In the code above, rs could be either a DAO or an ADO recordset, depending on which libraries are referenced.  In Sue’s application, DAO was used.

Normally, DAO360.DLL is stored in some common location where it is readable by all users.  Typically, C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\DAO\DAO360.DLL.  However, on this server it was stored in C:\Documents and Settings\Tom\...

The Cause

Now we could see what had happened to “break” Sue’s application.  Tom had recently installed a new Access application which required an upgraded DAO.  Not being a system administrator, he had installed the DAO360.DLL in his own Documents and Settings folder.  Not surprisingly, Sue didn’t have permission to access anything in Tom’s Documents and Settings.

And when we checked with both Tom and Sue, the date of Tom’s installation was around the time Sue first noticed her problem.

The Solution

The solution was to use regsvr32 /u to unregister the DAO360.DLL.  We then moved it to a more accessible location and re-registered it (again, with regsvr32.)

Process Monitor

Note that on recent versions of Windows (Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows Vista), Filemon and Regmon have been replaced by Process Monitor.  This was released in November 2006.

Modern dance? - No chance!

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

South Aussie journalist and blogger, Redcap started the new year by sticking her neck out and taking a broad swipe at a long list of sacred cows.  James Joyce, Stanley Kubrick and Bono all copped a serve.  And then there’s opera, musicals, ballet and “modern dance”.

I read through her list, saying to myself, “Yep, nope, yep, yep, nope”, agreeing or disagreeing slightly with each of her choices.  But “Modern Dance” really set me off.  MODERN DANCE!  Strike me pink, I’ve never been so upset by a performance in all my life!  Here’s the story…

A favourite piece of music …

One of my favourite pieces of music is Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps or The Rite of Spring.  Working in IT as I do, I’m inspired by innovation and Stravinsky was so innovative that his first-night audience in Paris in 1913 actually rioted.

… I’m inspired by innovation …

All these toffy-nosed twits had taken their wives, girlfriends and mistresses to see a ballet by a Russian composer.  Think Tchaikovsky.  Think Swan Lake.  Think delicate little ballerinas in tutus.  Instead, they were confronted with previously unheard-of discordant notes and driving chords accompanied by a line of Zulu warriors stamping their feet.  The effect must have been similar to a Maori haka.  All those wives, girlfriends and mistresses were terrified.  No hanky-panky tonight.  Hence the riot.  There were fist fights in the aisles between supporters and detractors.

But it’s a remarkable piece of music. Disney used it in the original Fantasia in 1940 and more recently, it has inspired movie themes such as Jaws and Star Wars.

Anyhow, fast-forward to 1999 when a Canadian dance troupe offers a performance of The Rite of Spring in Brisbane.  I’m working in Sydney but I knock off an hour early, fly home to Brisbane, pick up #2 Son (aged 15 at the time) and #3 Son who, although only 10, has shown an aptitude towards composing music.  We head off to the Cultural Centre for a performance of my favourite ballet.

… murdered!

Well, what a disappointment!  It turned out to be a performance by a solo female dancer.  And pre-recorded music - no live orchestra.  Where was my line of Zulu warriors?  Where was the stamping of feet?  I’d been ripped-off!  And to make matters worse, the “modern dance” interpretation was almost obscene, not unlike a pole dancer’s performance.  And I had taken a 10-year old.  I felt sick.

I’d been ripped-off! … I certainly wanted to riot!

At least the 1913 opening-night sensation had been recreated.  I certainly wanted to riot!  But worst of all, I cannot now mention Stravinsky to my sons without being reminded of that awful night.

That was the last time I attended a modern dance performance.  I’m with Redcap on this one.  It will even be a long time before I see the inside of a Cirque du Soleil tent.