Excel Export to CSV Missing Last/Trailing Empty Columns

My god how I hate Excel. Often it’s because people use it for some purpose it’s not really suitable for, where a relational database (even Access!) would be much better because (they think) they know how to use Excel and god forbid anyone take the time to learn to do something properly. Sometimes however, Excel is just plain fucking stupid. This is one of those times.

Recently I was trying to save an Excel spreadsheet as a CSV, to import into SQL Server (importing direct from Excel without converting to CSV gives other problems, like the Excel driver ‘helping’ you by detecting the wrong column types).

It was during this apparently innocuous task that I discovered a massive fail in Excel, which resulted in the import failing because some columns were missing. SQL Server’s helpful error message read:

Data conversion failed when converting column x to column y. The conversion returned status value 2 and status text “The value could not be converted because of a potential loss of data.”

Trying the same thing using BULK INSERT gave the error:

Bulk load data conversion error (type mismatch or invalid character for the specified codepage) for row 17

followed by the same message for a number of other rows.

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Windows 7 Starter – Black Desktop Background after Activation

I purchased a netbook about 4-5 months back that came with a Windows 7 Starter licence key but no software. I managed to get a copy of Windows 7 Starter installed and all was running fine – though it never asked me to enter the product key!

But all was running fine until a few months later when I’d decided to sell the netbook. When I powered it up I got a message telling me that my copy of Windows was not “genuine” and that I may be a victim of software piracy. It had also turned off the desktop background, so my desktop was now a rather boring, plain black! Based on the fact the netbook had the product key on a sticker attached to it, I was pretty sure this was just another case of Microsoft’s draconian steps being a bit, shall we say, WRONG!

So I opened up the activation screen, activated the software. It took about 5-10 minutes (and I’ve no idea why, presumably it sends a little information to Microsoft, which says yay or nay, amirite?). Now the activation went fine, eventually, but while the message telling me the software wasn’t genuine was gone, my desktop was still black. And as we all know, Windows 7 Crippled Edition Starter doesn’t allow you to change your desktop.

Uh-oh – a buyer might not be best pleased by this, especially as I’d just taken a photo to list showing the nice pretty blue Windows 7 background.

Anyway, I Googled a bit and after a while I came across the solution. it’s actually fairly straightforward but just tricky to find – nobody at Microsoft Answers seemed to have an answer, but here it is:

  1. Open the Registry Editor (by opening the Start menu and typing “regedit” in the search/run box)
  2. Find the key under /HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/Desktop called Wallpaper.  This should be empty (hence the plain background, presumably).
  3. Right-click this key and Modify the value to the location of the image (e.g. C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg )

Now I did this to restore the original image after Microsoft ballsed it up, but it did get me wondering if the same technique could be used to change your Windows 7 Starter background to any image you wanted and thus overcome the stupid restriction impost by Microsoft. To be continued…

Change Windows Startup/Logon Background

Today I got a bargain netbook in the Carphone Warehouse clearance sale – I’d ordered one yesterday online within minutes of the sale starting to be told they were out of stock and were cancelling my order a few hours later. Gutted. So I trapsed round their shops today and eventually picked up a brand new Toshiba NB250 “half-price” for just £120! Bargain!

But it seems Toshiba netbooks have a disgustingly garish OEM/branded background screen that’s displayed during startup and logon (though Win 7 starter still has the standard Windows 7 desktop background).  Turns out this isn’t too tricky to get rid of (and yes, it works on Windows 7 Starter).

Just head on into the registry and find the key called: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background – change the value from 1 to 0 and you’re back to the default Windows background.

You can apparently also change the background to any picture you want if you’re so inclined, but I just want something slightly less distasteful than Toshiba’s background so I’m done there.  Hope this helps someone.

Why is Windows being such a dick?

I recently bought a netbook on eBay that had come with Windows 7 starter but the owner had wiped this and replaced it with Linux.  I needed a new netbook and figured the fact this one came without Windows would keep the price down.  I was right and I purchased a netbook for £68, now all I had to do was get a copy of Windows 7 to install using the product-key which was still stuck underneath.

In the mean time I installed the new Ubuntu 11.04 and set up a number of partitions to get it ready. I set up a /boot partition of about 500MB (for Grub etc.?), a / partition for Ubuntu and a /home partition for my documents.  I also set up a “Win” partition to leave a space for Windows and a final NTFS partition to use for documents etc. when I was booted into Windows or to share across to Linux.  Linux seemed to be working fine and I got on the internet etc.  It was all very smooth, much more so than when I installed Ubuntu 9.10 or whatever it was back in the day.

I got hold of a copy of Windows and began trying to install it from SD card.  When it came to selecting a partition for Windows to live on, I picked my 40GB Win partition but Windows started throwing a strop and told me something it seems to have told a few others before me:

Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.

Not impressed, I booted into Linux and tried to set a boot flag on this partition.  That took it off my original boot partition though, as a hard drive can only have one boot partition.

In the end I gave up and wiped all the partitions using the Windows installer.  I then created a 40GB partition for Windows, which proceeded to also create a 100MB “system” partition at the start of the drive.  I’m wondering if I’d left my room for Windows at the start of the drive in the first place if maybe I would have avoided this, but as it is – I now have to install Ubuntu all over again.  Fail!!  Thanks Micro$oft!

Solved?: Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun on Windows 7

For some reason, already having downloaded Command and Conquer and the follow-up, C&C: Red Alert [free download], I thought I’d check out on my new laptop if there were any special Christmas freebies from EA this year.  It turns out there weren’t, but that they have subsequently released the third C&C game (Tiberian Sun) as a free download so I went ahead and downloaded it.

Of course once I’d done that and spent hours trying to make it work, I realised the download wasn’t compatible with my shiny new laptop because it’s running Windows 7, and Windows 7 doesn’t like old games or something.  Even when I tried following the instructions, it ran (which was more than I’d managed to get it to do myself) but when the main menu loaded, none of the menus would display properly. Fail!

Enter CnCsector.net, who have packaged the game up into a nice installer package that they assure us works with Windows 7 (including Win7 64-bit!). It took 4-5 hours to download all the files (and there doesn’t seem to be any way to skip this – not good!)… though 99% of that is for the movie files for the cut-scenes, which are optional.

Sadly, the same thing happened again – I never did get it working entirely properly, though I did find a semi-solution.  Firstly I noticed that if I hit the Windows key to go back to Windows, then opened the game again the menu was there on screen.  Actually I noticed this when I tried to find out if the menu showed up if I did a Print Screen (it did), but the menu was there when I came back.


Some while later I noticed that if I put the mouse cursor over where the menu should be and scrolled (e.g. using the scroll wheel, or the side of the laptop trackpad), it would appear (without exiting to Windows).  It’s not ideal but it’ll do me for now.  Thanks to all the guys at CnC Comm who tried to help.

nerd. links – LDAP Browser

Had a bitch of a day today in work, with an application I was playing with refusing to play with Active Directory (largely because I’ve never used LDAP before and couldn’t figure out the weird bloody syntax).

So I’d really like to offer a quick thank you to Jarek Gawor for developing (and releasing) his LDAP Browser/Editor which let me double check that I was connecting to the right server/port and play with the settings enough that I eventually got it sussed. Great wee Java tool.

Screenshot of LDAP Browser/Editor

Solved: New WAMP Install Won’t Parse PHP

I spent ages trying to figure out why my new installation of WAMP Server 2 wouldn’t parse my PHP and was spitting it out exactly as-is in the source file. I hoked around in the VirtualHost configuration, because the PHPMyAdmin that comes with WAMP Server was working fine so it had to be something wrong in the VirtualHost that I just configured that was stopping .php files being sent to the PHP parser, yes? No.

As it turns out, it’s much simpler than that. Apache was sending the file to PHP to be parsed, but PHP was ignoring my code. Why? WAMP Server 2 comes with “short open tags” turned off (this may be a general PHP or PHP 5 thing, though not sure). Click WAMP -> PHP -> php.ini to edit the aforementioned file and find the line:

short_open_tag = Off

Replace Off with On et voila.

The ‘more correct’ though long-winded solution is to replace all your <? opening tags with <?php if you’re really keen (though that’ll also mean replacing <?= with <? echo). Me, I think I like my short tags.

What’re you lookin’ at?

Well I thought it was interesting so here’s the top 10 posts on nerd. by number of views (based on the last 500 page hits courtesy of Statcounter.com).

  1. Review: Why the Netgear WG311 v3 Sucks (72)
    Slightly dodgy network card that Netgear don’t seem that fussed about fixing.

    Bad on XP, it got worse on Vista (see number 4).

  2. Playing iPod Video on Your TV (45)
    Seems to be a lot of people looking for instructions for the iPod Classic. Here’s a tip: sell it.
  3. Server application unavailable: installing IIS on .NET 2.0 (44)
    Seems to be a common problem. Sadly Microsoft’s error message is about as relevant as ever.
  4. Installing Vista (AKA More Netgear WG311 Misery) (31)
    Even more messed up. Thank goodness for Linksys!
  5. Thunderbird/Outlook/Google Calendar Integration (25)
    How to integrate your Thunderbird calendar at home with your Outlook in work, via Google Calendar.
  6. Orange Answerphone (Voicemail) Number for PAYG (23)
    Such a simple problem. Who knew it would be so hard to find?
  7. Stop Monitor.exe Hogging CPU (20)
    Why can’t people just give you a standard installation instead of trying to do everything for you? Help sounds good, until their useful tools start killing your PC.
  8. How to run IIS Web Server in Windows XP Home (20)
    Microsoft’s official line is it can’t be done, but it’s not that tricky.
  9. Making Firefox Scroll With Syanptics TouchPad (19)
    Discovering the solution to making Firefox scroll on my Acer Aspire laptop.
  10. NAS or Home Server (17)
    I deliberate over whether I can justify spending the extra to build or buy a home server before eventually deciding that a Linkstation Live will meet my needs for less than half the price.

I Can Has Vista Sidebar Gadget?

O hai!

I hart lolcatz.

I hart lolcatz so much dat wun dai I thoughted “I can has lolcatz wen I makes teh pooter turn on?” So I maded a Vista gadjit an now I has new lolcatz every dai.

If u hart lolcatz liek mee an wants lolcatz in ur pooter makin u laff, downlodes mah gadjit. I has tested it 4 liek rly long time. It rly works, srsly.

An evry1 needses moar lolcatz.


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