confidence in your Bing
Thursday, June 17 2010
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
I continued work today on helping Kim get her ancient Bathtubgirl.com site live again on Godaddy.com. I was dealing with a number of problems, including a jumbled backup of the site that left out some important libraries (all of them written in ASP VBScript, the first backend web language I mastered). One amusing problem concerned the inability for the site to set cookies after authenticating a user. It turned out that I'd written the script to set those cookies to expire in 2004, a date far enough into the future that I must have thought it would never come.
But then after I had the site working, it turned out that none of the scripts that save new information to the database were working. Why? Because all the columns with the identity trait had lost this trait (and, as mentioned in yesterday's entry, this cannot be changed on an existing table when using Godaddy.com's cheap charlie shared hosting plan. I had to blow all those tables away and start again from scratch. It was depressing, and it certainly didn't dispose me kindly to making the switch from Google to Bing for all my web searching needs.
In the end, the key to a successful migration was doing things in the most MySQL (least Microsofty) way possible. I did use the Script Wizard, but it was merely to script out the database (both schema and data). It came to about 14 megabytes of data. Then I used a command line tool called sqlcmd, as in:
sqlcmd -U user -P password -S server -d database -i path
This made it log in remotely to the godaddy server and run all those thousands of lines of exported SQL script. Amazingly, the thing cranked through for about a half hour and ended without throwing any errors. And there it was, the copied database, completely moved and without my having had to do anything manually to the data. The only caveat was that sqlcmd was broken on Woodchuck (my main rig), so I had to install it on one of my other computers, a cranky old machine running Windows Server 2003 on a Pentium IV. With Microsoft crapware, you can never just install what you want. I had to install all of SQL Server 2005, a process that took well over an hour and whose progress was impossible to gauge based on its useless spectacle of progress bars (one after another after another). Brilliant user interface guys! It really gives me confidence in your Bing search results!
At some point this evening Gretchen and I watched The Informant!, a somewhat wacky and anachronistic take on the ADM ("Supermarket to the World") price fixing scandal and Mark Whitacre, the highly-placed mole who exposed it. Whitacre is a complicated and semi-delusional character, and one has difficulty sorting out his truths from his lies. And then there's his own involvement in various frauds and money-laundering schemes. I'd first heard a straight account of this story in an episode of This American Life, and had found it fascinating and disturbing. The take in The Informant! was more comic, mostly due to the heavy use of 1950s-era sitcom music. I have to say that the movie left me a bit confused about what actually had happened, whereas things had been perfectly clear to me after hearing the episode on This American Life. That's the power of radio.
I stayed up very late tonight trying to work on a vexing and difficult programming job that I've been alternately procrastinating and being confused by over the past month. I ended up making some real progress, but I also made some mis-steps, like when I accidentally deleted a big directory from the TortoiseSVN repository and then had to restore it (a process that isn't anywhere near as easy as it should be).
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