Friday, July 28, 2006

20,000 Hits

I just checked my stats, and realized that I crossed the 20,000 pageload mark earlier today. Sure, people like Scoble, Scott, or Jim Holmes probably get this many hits in any one day, but at least my readership is growing! These website hits are primarily from Google searches.

Just for fun, the stats about that milestone hit:

Date/Time: July 28, 2006 3:20:48 AM


Referrer: plugins&btnG=Search&hs=03L&hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial

Client: A Penteledata Inc. - Cable user in Lititz, PA (USA) using Firefox 1.5 on Windows XP and a screen resolution of 1280 x 1024.

(Stats provided by StatCounter)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Guitar Tabs Are Now Illegal?

So I went to one of my favorite guitar tablature repositories [] tonight hoping to continue practicing a song that I've been working on, and discovered that the Fair Use nature of the site is currently in dispute. Now, as a background, the majority of these tabs have been created by people who "reverse engineer" songs and then transcribed their results for public consumption. Some tabs have even been on Usenet since the early 1990's (you can use Google Groups to prove that).

The search by Song Title and/or Author still works, but individual tabs have been removed from the site (replaced with a 'Download of this file has been disabled' image).

The note on the homepage reads:

July 17, 2006

To all "Guitar Tab Universe" visitors:

The company which owns this website has been indirectly threatened (via our
ISP) with legal action by the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) as
well as the Music Publishers' Association (MPA) on the basis that sharing
tablature constitutes copyright infringement. At what point does describing how
one plays a song on guitar become an issue of copyright infringment? This
website, among other things, helps users teach eachother how they play guitar
parts for many different songs. This is the way music teachers have behaved
since the first music was ever created. The difference here is that the
information is shared by way of a new technology: the Internet.

When you are jamming with a friend and you show him/her the chords for a
song you heard on the radio, is that copyright infringement? What about if you
helped him/her remember the chord progression or riff by writing it down on,
say, a napkin... infringement? If he/she calls you later that night on the phone
or e-mails you and you respond via one of those methods, are you infringing? I
don't know... but I would really like to know. If anyone has information on
this, please email

Apparently, the NMPA/MPA believes that the Internet may be on the foul side
of the legality line they would like to draw here. For me, I see no difference.
It's teachers educating students and covered as a 'fair use' of the tablature.
The teachers here don't even get paid nor do the students have to pay this
website to access the lessons.

An attack on this website is really an attack on every one of you who have
told someone (in person, or via the written word, telephone, or e-mail) how you
play a song on guitar. And who, especially among small websites, has the deep
pockets to fight the NMPA/MPA? They use scare tactics while there is, in fact,
no legal precedent on this matter (to the best of our knowledge). If you are
interested in expressing your opinion to the NMPA/MPA, contact them via their
respective websites. Please do not resort to vulgar language or insults.

Millions of people use the Internet to learn guitar, in one form or
another. It appears the NMPA/MPA and their members do not want to support us and
help us further our education. To you visitors from outside the USA or UK, can
you find your favorite artists' "official sheet music" at your local music
store? Even in the United States and United Kingdom, we often can not. The
NMPA/MPA have a choice to make: either they support us as aspiring guitarists,
or they choose to alienate their customer base. To date, not one sheet music
publisher has contacted this website to either inquire as to our activities or
to express interest in any type of dialogue or collaboration whatsoever. All we
deserve is a cold, indirect, impersonal threat without any explanation? They
should embrace new technologies or else become relics of the old economy.

Since I'm now 'worried' about working around tabs at all, I'm in a tough
situation! Luckily, I'm fairly confident that if I alone listen to a song and
then figure out how to play it by ear, I will then be able to enjoy using that
knowledge to practice and improve my guitar playing skills. Is that what is
necessary for everyone to do? Work these things out alone? What a sad situation.


Rob Balch
Manager of "Guitar Tab Universe"

If you would like to help out and join the effort to fight for our freedom
to tab and share, please check out MuSATO. You can comment on this
statement and/or situation here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New Air Filter Does Wonders

Of everything that I replaced on the motorcycle, I let the air filter go. It's not a part that you can just pick up at the local auto parts store, so it has to be mail ordered, and I just never got around to it. Besides, the one that came with the bike looked clean enough to me!

Well, on Friday, I decided to finally clean the filter (which uses a reusable foam element). As soon as I applied any pressure to the foam with my fingers, it just crumbled! Uh, oh!

That motivated me to order a new one (cheap replacement, nothing fancy), which arrived last night. I oiled it and installed it this morning, and then rode into work.

WOW! What a difference that made. I could instantly tell that the engine sounded different, I got even more horsepower (which there was already more than I was ever used to), and the idle smoothed out. The new filter even fixed a flat spot/stutter in the revs between 2000 and 3500 RPMs! It's like I have a totally different bike, just by installing a $20 part.

Now the only remaining defect is something that developed about 200 miles ago: leaky fork oil seals. I guess I didn't polish up the forks well enough, and the light rust/pitting that was present was enough to roughen the seal. They're leaky now, but due to how involved the repair is, I will likely wait until after the riding season.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I regularly use a half-dozen different email addresses, so it's not obvious to people which ones are tied to some form of instant messaging. Well, do not fret any longer: if you need to IM me (or if you just want me in your contact list), here's what you can try:

Windows Live Messenger (MSN): firstname nospace lastname at hotmail dot com
Yahoo: firstinitial nospace lastname

BTW: With the new Windows Live Messenger client, there's a new XBOX tab that will show your XBox Friends (if you're using the same "passport" for IM that you use for your XBox ID).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Don't Forget Those Domain Accounts

I got a call today stating that one of the reporting servers at my client's location was down (SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services). We haven't touched anything on that machine for a few days, so I was pretty sure that it wasn't anything with the server itself.

When I finally arrived onsite, I opened a web browser to the URL: http://server/reports

The response was simply a generic "Server Application Unavailable" message. Ok, time to troubleshoot.

I first looked at the Application Event Log. There was a message logged, but didn't tell me anything special:

aspnet_wp.exe could not be started. The error code for the failure is 80004005. This error can be caused when the worker process account has insufficient rights to read the .NET Framework files. Please ensure that the .NET Framework is correctly installed and that the ACLs on the installation directory allow access to the configured account.

Ok, so it did tell me that the problem likely involved the worker account. Now, normally, the ASP.NET worker account is the ASPNET user on Windows XP and the NETWORK SERVICE account on Windows 2003. However, just to make sure, I took a peek at the Machine.config file, and discovered that in this case, my client changed the ASP.NET worker account to a domain account instead. It was a good thing that I double checked: there's nothing worse than spinning your wheels trying to fix a problem using the wrong user ID.

Out of curiosity, I also took a peek at the Security Event Log since the client has auditing enabled on all of their servers. I found some failures logged:

Logon Failure:
Reason: Account currently disabled
User Name: someuser
Domain: somedomain
Logon Type: 8
Logon Process: Advapi

Wouldn't you know it: the same domain account that was specified as the ASP.NET worker account (SOMEDOMAIN\SomeUser in this case) was disabled, per this Login Failure event message. Well, that would explain why the ASP.NET process could not start!

In this enterprise, domain accounts are set to automatically disable after a set time period. This is done in order to help prevent an unused account from remaining active, and potentially becoming a security exploit. There is normally a process to renew an account before it becomes inactive, but sometimes, one will slip through the process, as happened this time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Upcoming Book: Windows Developer Power Tools

Jim Holmes just announced the project that he and James Avery have been collaborating on. It's going to be one monster of a boat anchor book (1100 pages) all about tools that Windows Developers can use to make their work easier (think something along the lines of Scott Hanselman's Ultimate Tools list, but with a detailed article about each tool).

Check out Jim's announcement:

Disclosure: As a Tech Reviewer, I've gotten to see early drafts of the chapters that they have completed.

UPDATE 2006-08-02: I see that Amazon is taking pre-orders. Reserve your copy today! (link below)

Windows Developer Power Tools: Turbocharge Windows Development with More Than 140 Free and Open Source Tools (Paperback)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Defining Web 2.0 to a Layman

Somebody asked me the other day what the term "Web 2.0" meant. This is a topic that has been debated to death on the blogosphere, since there is no standard or official definition. (Think of this post as being my contribution to that old debate).

Some people will say "It's the next generation of the World Wide Web", but that doesn't tell me anything. I mean, how do you distinguish Web 1.0 content currently on the web from Web 2.0 stuff? For instance, I would consider Google Maps as a Web 2.0 application, while Mapquest is a Web 1.0 site. The distinguishing factor to me: the level of interactivity within the user interface that does not require a complete postback.

Wikipedia has an entry discussing Web 2.0 here:

After thinking for a while, I simply told this person that Web 2.0 refers to thick-client functionality that is built using thin-client technologies. IOW, it's a Winforms-level of application running within a web browser.

This isn't a perfect definition, but it did get the point across in this case. Are there any better/more concise definitions available?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

ISS and STS-121: Visible from North America

About 5 minutes after the local fireworks show concluded this evening, we watched STS-121 (Space Shuttle Discovery) make a flyover. It is currently racing to catch up with ISS, which passed over almost an hour beforehand.

At least in my neck of the woods, Discovery and ISS will both be visible in the evening sky over the next few days. Check out Heavens Above for your local times and flight paths. Be aware that the orbit for STS-121 will change as the shuttle makes maneuvers to intercept the space station, so any passes listed today can and will change as new orbital data is published. It's best to check the site in the early evening before dusk in order to get the most accurate flyover estimations.

Maybe you'll get lucky and see both satellites fly in tandem just before they dock--it's quite a sight to see.