I recently setup a computer for a user who likes to store a lot of files on their desktop. However, this is bad if those files aren’t being backed up. I’m a big proponent of using OneDrive, especially since my organization uses Office 365 and they give you 1TB of storage for free for each user license you purchase.
I suggested the user move their desktop files to OneDrive to give them a backup and access from other places, and they mentioned how they are more comfortable with the desktop because they get used to where certain folders and files are organized visually.
It turns out that you can map any folder to the desktop, and it’s easy:
- Open Windows Explorer (Win + e)
- Right-Click Desktop and choose “Properties”
- Click the “Location” tab
- Type the location of the directory you want to be the “Desktop” (or click “Move” and browse to the folder)
- Click OK
For the user I mentioned above, I created a folder called “Desktop” in their OneDrive for Business folder and mapped the Desktop to that location. Now there are backups and they can use the desktop as they always have.
H/T to this post for the knowledge: Can you change the location of the Desktop folder in Windows?
One issue I’ve come across lately while working with Entity Framework Migrations has to do with foreign key relationships. If you’ve ever done any reconfiguration of your schema, you know you probably need to update your migration files to get all the data loaded correctly. Let’s take a simple example:
Let’s say you have an Order model for all of your orders defined as such:
This is obviously a very contrived example and a real order would have a lot of other information, but it works for this example.
Now let’s say you add a new ordering customer and you want to distinguish orders by Customer (probably a good thing to do!). Here is the Customer object:
Now we need to modify our order by adding a CustomerID column. The result looks as you’d expect:
You’ll need to properly set up your mapping where ever you have that defined. There are multiple ways to do this, but the approach I prefer is to have mapping files defined separate from my POCOs (Plain old C# objects, the classes defined above) and then add them in the OnModelCreating function of my Context class like this:
Inside the constructor of my OrderMap class, this line of code will add the relationship between Customer and Order:
Now, with all that setup, if you add a migration, Entity Framework will scaffold the changes required to make all this happen.
You’ll probably want to modify a couple of things, though.
For starters, you’ll want to setup your customers and set all of your existing orders to use the Customer ID associated with the orders that already exist in the system. Also, you have to do this before adding the Foreign Key between Order and Customer because after you add the new column (it is non-nullable), all CustomerID fields will be “0” in your Orders table.
Your migration might look something like this (EF will also add some indexes, I am showing this for the sake of brevity):
You’ll need to add code to update those customers. I usually write a line of Sql like the following, and place it after the create table but before the AddForeignKey call:
This will then get everything in your database ready to add that foreign key constraint. Of course, if you don’t like hardcoding company information into your migrations (not a great practice, really), you can do this after the fact, but sometimes you already have all the data in your database and just need to move it around due to a schema change. This is, again, a bit of a contrived example.
Now, to the tricky part I really want to highlight: you have to be really consistent in the way you add foreign keys.
For example, these two lines are slightly different – the first one uses the schema name in both the dependent and principal tables, while the second only does in for the dependent table:
The foreign key names they generate are as follows:
If you later try to drop a foreign key and don’t use the same exact format as you did when setting it up, you will encounter errors – usually something like:
The object ‘FK_dbo.Orders_dbo.Customers_CustomerID’ is dependent on column ‘CustomerID’.
ALTER TABLE DROP COLUMN CustomerID failed because one or more objects access this column.
So the moral here is to be very consistent with your foreign key naming scheme. If you’ve got an old database that you’ve added code first to after the fact, you’ll probably have a lot of relationships that don’t use the schema name in the key name, so you’ll run into this frequently if you’re modifying your schema.
The title is a bit of a mouthful, but I’ve recently encountered a situation where I had multiple SSL certificates I wanted bound to two different domains being hosted on the same server with the same IP address.
Using IIS’s Internet Information Services Manager UI application in IIS 7 (not sure if this applies to newer versions), you can assign a binding for an SSL certificate to port 443, but you can only enter an IP address and not the host-header information:
In order to accomplish this, you have to use command line tools. Below is a great resource I found that helped me solve this problem. I’ll pull out the most relevant command:
appcmd set site /site.name:”MySubDomainSite” /+bindings.[protocol=’https’,bindingInformation=’*:443:mysubdomain.mysite.com’]
In this example, “MySubDomainSite” is the site you have defined in IIS for the subdomain (or domain) where you are trying to assign the second certificate.
I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s Office 365 offerings, and one of my favorite components of that is the OneDrive storage that comes with each user. It’s a great way to make sure files are always backed up and available anywhere you have an internet connection.
One of the challenges you can encounter when using OneDrive for Business is that not all characters that are valid for filenames in a Windows environment are valid for use in OneDrive (and Sharepoint Online files for that matter). According to this article, the list of invalid characters are: \ / : * ? ” < > | # %.
There are several other restrictions (such as file size and name length), but the invalid characters issue is the one I encounter the most frequently, especially when I migrate a user who has a lot of files to OneDrive for Business. In one case, there were over 1,000 files with invalid characters, and I wasn’t about to rename those by hand.
Looking online, there are several great resources for Powershell scripts to solve this problem, although some were out of date and did not accurately reflect the current restrictions of the files files. In the end, there were two sources I liked a lot and I combined them into a single script and modified that. It’s not a perfect or complete script, and I don’t consider myself even proficient with Powershell. However, this script has worked well for me.
First, the sources:
Use PowerShell to check for illegal characters before uploading multiple files into SharePoint
Fix file names for Skydrive Pro syncing
I liked that the second one outputs to a TSV file that you can open with Excel and review. The first source just prints to the console, and when you have a ton of files, that isn’t very useful. Because of the output to the file, I was able to tweak things a little more, adding in a few additional things, such as searching for files with “%20” in the name (html encoded space).
I noticed that I ran into some errors when files were deeply nested – for example if you have to rename a file in a folder that also was renamed. Re-running the script a few times fixed that problem for me (each time it would fix one more layer of folders – so if you had a file inside 3 levels of folders that also needed renaming, it would take four passes in order to complete everything.
Every once in a while I need to get a list of just the file names in a directory. Sometimes there are a LOT of files and it would be a pain in the ass to type them out or write a program to manipulate them in some way.
The quick way to do this in Windows (images below are for Windows 10) is as follows:
- Open a windows explorer window (shortcut: hit Win + e, where “Win” is the Windows key) and navigate to the folder containing the files you want to print out
- Hold the Shift key and right-click in the folder (don’t click on any actual files) and choose the option “Open Powershell Window here”
- In the powershell window that opens, type
That’s it! now it prints a list of file names that you can copy/paste from the powershell window into something else (Excel, notepad, word, whatever)
Alternate method: command prompt
- Open a command prompt (Hit the Windows key, type “cmd” and hit enter)
- Navigate to the folder containing the images (type cd “<your file path>”, for example: “C:\Users\Public\Public Pictures\Sample Pictures”)
- Type the command below:
- If you’re using Windows 10, you can simply copy/paste from the command prompt. With an older version of windows, you need to:
- Right click in the command window and choose “Select All”
- Hit the Enter key. This will copy the contents of the command prompt to your paste buffer so you can paste using ctrl + v or right-click -> Paste
I’ve owned a small Synology Diskstation for a few years and really love its features and capabilities, especially considering its cost. One of the primary roles of my DiskStation is to backup my home computers. After recently purchasing a Surface Pro 4 and applying the Creators’ update, I was having trouble connecting to my DiskStation running DiskStation 6.1. After reading quite a few posts online about different problems, it seems the solution I needed was really quite basic.
What was most curious about this problem was that I could not see my DiskStation appear under “Network” under Windows explorer, and I received error code 53 (system error 53 has occurred. The network path was not found) when I tried to map the network drive using the command prompt like so:
net use T: \\DiskStation
Performing nbtstat -c from the command line and net view both listed my DiskStation with the UNC I was expecting, and the correct IP (I have mine configured as a static) in the case of the nbtstat command.
First, I made sure the SMB settings on the DiskStation were set to allow from SMB 1.0 to SMB 3.0 (DiskStation Control Panel -> File Services -> SMB -> Advanced Settings -> Maximum/Minimum SMB Protocol Settings).
Then, in Windows, if I opened Explorer and navigated to the IP address or the UNC sharename (\\DiskStation, for example), it would prompt me for a password. This was the primary point of failure for me earlier – I had forgotten that when logging into another server, whether it’s a Synology DiskStation or a Windows Server, you have to provide the server name AND the account name (or domain name/Account name, in the even that you’re connected to a domain).
So the Username wasn’t just “MyUsername” it was “DiskStation\MyUserName”. Once I did that, my DiskStation appeared under Network.
One issue I’ve run across frequently during development is restoring a database to a newer state. Often, when I want perform the restore, there are active connections to my development database, so restoring will fail.
Of course, StackOverflow had the answer to this, but I’ve searched for the solution to this problem enough times where it made sense for me to finally write it down.
Script to kill all connections to a database (More than RESTRICTED_USER ROLLBACK)
User AlexK posted this excellent solution:
For MS SQL Server 2012 and above
DECLARE @kill varchar(8000) = '';
SELECT @kill = @kill + 'kill ' + CONVERT(varchar(5), session_id) + ';'
WHERE database_id = db_id('MyDB')
For MS SQL Server 2000, 2005, 2008
DECLARE @kill varchar(8000); SET @kill = '';
SELECT @kill = @kill + 'kill ' + CONVERT(varchar(5), spid) + ';'
WHERE dbid = db_id('MyDB')
After installing Visual Studio 2017 a few months back, I noticed that some projects were loading strangely, while others loaded just fine. The two main issues I experienced were:
- Documents I had open on my previous run of VS wouldn’t load upon running the Visual Studio 2017 application
- Windows I had arranged in my multi-monitor layout were not loading where I expected them
A quick Stack Overflow search led me to the answer regarding the first: the .suo file had become corrupt and needed to be deleted. Once I knew that, the trick was finding the .suo file:
- From the directory containing your solution file (.sln), open the folder named “.vs”.
- In the “.vs” folder, open the folder that has a name matching your solution name.
- Inside the solution folder, there may be multiple folders, one for each version of Visual Studio
- v14 is for Visual Studio 2015
- v15 is for Visual Studio 2017
These folders will contain your .suo file, which is hidden by default in Windows, so you need to enable “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” in your Folder options in order to see it. For instructions on that (Win 7,8, or 10), see the following article: https://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/show-hidden-files-and-folders-in-windows-vista/
After you’ve found the .suo, go ahead and delete it (make sure Visual studio is not running with the solution open). A new one will be created for you when you open the solution file the next time.
I still haven’t found a solution to my second issue (I will definitely write about it if I find one).
What the SUO (Solution User Options) file controls
After solving my problem, I decided to take a look at the responsibilities of the .suo file. Microsoft’s documentation (VS 2015 version – 2017 isn’t available at the time of this writing) isn’t very forthcoming in detailing what exactly the SUO is doing. Based on digging around on the web, it seems that the following are its responsibilities (among others):
- Remembers last open files
- Remembers breakpoints
- Remembers expanded nodes in solution explorer
- Remembers startup project
- Remembers last open tool windows and their positions
- Remembers watch window contents
The file is encoded and not human-readable, so it’s not something you can simply hack around with like you can a solution (.sln) or project (.xxproj) file. It should not be added to version control.
A while back, I posted about setting up SSL encryption for free with Azure and Let’s Encrypt: Let’s Encrypt + Azure = Win!
This has been working smoothly for me since I set it up, but I noticed that errors started popping up in the log recently. Here is part of the stack trace:
Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs.Host.FunctionInvocationException: Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs.Host.FunctionInvocationException: Exception while executing function: Functions.RenewCertificate —> Microsoft.IdentityModel.Clients.ActiveDirectory.AdalServiceException: AADSTS70002: Error validating credentials. AADSTS50012: Invalid client secret is provided. Trace ID: 958b11ab-839d-4a8d-97e6-fad1c3df0300 Correlation ID: e3f7c035-8978-4aa2-b01a-5c8fc74661ac Timestamp: 2017-05-31 14:14:26Z —> System.Net.WebException: The remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized. at System.Net.HttpWebRequest.GetResponse() at Microsoft.IdentityModel.Clients.ActiveDirectory.HttpWebRequestWrapper.
It turns out that the API Key I had setup for my application registration had expired. I had to create a new key with no expiration and then update my Web Applications’ settings with the new Client secret. The exact steps I took are listed below:
- Login to Azure
- Navigate to “App Registrations”
- Choose the Registration you need to update
- Click the “settings” icon (or “All Settings” button)
- Choose “Keys” under API Access
- Type a description into the new row, choose “Never” under the duration drop down and then hit “Save” above.
- Once saved, copy the value (it won’t be visible again if you don’t copy it now)
- (Optional) delete your old key
- Navigate to the Azure App Service that has the web job that registers your SSL certificate
- Choose “Application Settings” from the menu
- Scrolling down to where you have a setting titled something like “letsencrypt:ClientSecret” (assuming you did the setup as in the article linked at the top) and paste the value you copied into the second text box
- Click “Save” above
Once you’re done, the web job should work the next time it runs. For another explanation with some pictures of the process, check out this blog post here: Let’s Encrypt on Azure Web Apps – Key Expiration Issue.
About 7 years ago, I was in the market for a new lawn mower. Looking at all the options at the time, I decided to go with an electric 24v, 20 amp-hour lawn mower sold under a brand called Earthwise. Here is the lawn mower in all its glory, model 60120:
I loved this mower from the get-go. It was extremely quiet, could mow my entire 1/4″ acre lawn in a single charge, and didn’t require gas, oil, spark plugs, etc. The only maintenance to do was charge the battery and sharpen the blade.
That entire first season was great, but it wouldn’t hold a charge for nearly as long the second season. I started having to charge it two times to finish my lawn by the fall. The third season was even worse. It wouldn’t hold a charge for more than a few minutes.
Opening the battery compartment on the lawn mower. 2, 12 volt batteries are wired in series to produce the 24 volts that power the mower.
I knew the batteries needed to be replaced, but I had no idea how much they would cost. I think I paid something like $150 for a replacement set, which is a pretty steep price. A few years later, those batteries were dead too. I gave up on it and bought a cheap used gas mower last year, but I hated using it. The pull starter was finicky, it would occasionally expel clouds of black smoke, and I would forget to buy gas for it from time to time.
I decided to look around and see if other people had found solutions, and sure enough they had. With the proliferation of lithium-ion batteries, it isn’t hard to find the batteries needed or to perform the upgrade.
What I needed to Do
In a nutshell, the task was simple. I had to do the following:
- Buy lithium batteries to replace the lead-acid batteries
- Cut the ends off of the black and white wires coming from the top of the battery case.
- Solder new connectors to the black and white wires (whatever connectors matched the batteries I would buy)
It’s really that simple – just a few tasks and I would be on my way. A little research was required to figure out what batteries to buy, however.
Lithium Polymer (aka Li-Po, LiPo, or Li-Poly) Batteries
Lithium Polymer is a bit of a misnomer, since Lithium Polymer batteries are technically just lithium-ion batteries in a polymer casing (check out this excellent article for a good explanation on the difference between lithium-ion and lithium-polymer: Lithium Polymer vs Lithium-Ion batteries: What’s the deal?), but they came highly recommended as the battery of choice for this project. These batteries are being used all over the hobby world today, with drones leading the way. Lithium Polymer batteries are also used in many computers and cellphones.
Lithium Polymer batteries have a few important pieces of information written on them:
- Voltage: You need a voltage that closely matches the mower. Since my lawn mower’s voltage is 24 volts, a 22.2v li-po battery is the best fit. Lithium polymer cells have a “nominal” voltage of 3.7v. Lithium polymer battery voltages are just multiples of 3.7v because they run multiple cells together to form a single battery. Therefore a 22.2v battery is really made up of 6 3.7v cells. Nominal voltage means the mid-range voltage because the cells run at 4.2v when fully charged and 3.2v when fully discharged. That means a 22.2v battery will output somewhere between 19.2v and 25.2v during the course of its run
- Number of cells: Batteries will often have something like “6S” or “3S” printed on them. This corresponds to the number of cells in the battery. 6S = 6 cells = 22.2v. 3S = 3 cells = 11.1v.
- Capacity/Runtime/Amp hours: Runtime is measured in mAh aka milliamp hours. A battery that has 5000 mAh has a runtime of 5 amp hours. Considering my mower had 20 amp hours, I want my batteries to try and match that if I want the same amount of runtime.
- “C” Rating/Capacity Rating/Discharge rating: Batteries also list a C rating, which is used to determine the maximum load that a battery can safely sustain. 1C = the capacity of the battery. Therefore if a battery has 5 amp hours/5000mAh, 1C = 5amps. If a battery’s C rating is 40C, then the max is 200amps.
All of this is explained in much greater detail by this excellent article: A Guide to Understanding LiPo Batteries
Based on all this information, I knew I needed 22.2v batteries, and I wanted to get somewhere around 20 amp hours. I read from another resource that 20C was sufficient for others who did this project, so I figured I could do that or above. Looking online, I found the batteries to be fairly expensive. I settled on 2 pairs of these batteries (sold as 2 each): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AW7CKLW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 (22.2v, 4500mAh, 6S, 45C, Deans connector). Note that it says they come with XT-60 connectors, but the picture shows Deans connectors, which is what I received.
Deans connectors are apparently very common in the hobby world. I bought a pack of male plugs and a few splitters:
Soldering the ends was a little bit tricky as the connectors from the battery were fairly thick. I eventually got it right though, and the connections work fine.
Charging the Batteries
You also need a charger for these batteries. Unfortunately, you have to charge them one at a time, so if you want 4 batteries like I have, you either want a multi-battery charger or you have to be a little patient.
Knowing when to Charge
It’s a good idea to get low-voltage indicators: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Y6E6IE/ref=od_aui_detailpages01?ie=UTF8&psc=1. If you put these on your batteries when you use them, they make a rather annoying sound when the voltage drops to the low threshold. This is important because your mower’s meter isn’t going to tell you when your charge is low. If you push a li-po battery too much, you can cause damage to the battery or it could explode. These things are loud enough that I can hear them while running the lawn mower.
Safely Storing and Transporting
Li-Pos are very flammable and difficult to put out. It is advised to buy a (relatively cheap) fireproof bag for storage and charging and that you charge using the “Storage” setting when you aren’t going to use them for a week or more. You should store them at room temperatures and it is advised you are present while charging due to the fire hazards. The fireproof bag I purchased is here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01H4QCZ4G/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
The mower now holds a charge that is easily long enough to mow my entire lawn again. Li-Po batteries are supposed to last for 200-300 charges in good conditions, so I’m hoping to get several years out of this setup. Charging is a bit of a pain, but I tend to mow on the weekends, so I’m usually around long enough to charge all 4 of them (It takes a couple of hours to fully charge each battery).
The mower has enough power to mow at most of the height settings, but it struggles to mow at the lowest levels. This is fairly consistent with how the lead acid batteries performed as well – there just isn’t enough output to chew up thick grass that is significantly lower than the current height.
It turned out that doing this conversion was fairly easy, but not particularly cheap. All told, I bought the following:
- 2 sets of 2 x 22.2v 4500mAh, 45C batteries – $110 each set ($220 total)
- 2 battery low-voltage indicators – $5 each ($10 total)
- Li-Po battery charger/balancer – $55
- Fireproof bag (holds 4 batteries, came with 2 more low-voltage indicators) – $15
Together, that’s $300, which could buy a decent gas mower. However, I’m a nerd so I enjoyed the project.