Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm realizing that my blog is redundant now that I'm using Google+.  I recommend if you are following my blog, please go to my Google+ profile and follow me there.

I may come back to the blog, but for now it just doesn't make sense to use both.

I should note that I will be keeping the blog up for as long as Google/Blogger allows, there is a lot of history on this blog and I'd hate to just throw it away.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Removing a NULL from the Results Grid

Here is my scenario. (Yours may very, but when I tried to find help on this issue I found the specifics difficult to locate.)
I had written a query in Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 2008 to create a data file to be imported via a custom app.  The reason for this is that the new data repository requires the data to be input using it's specific tools.  There are a number of apps like this.

Prior to working in MS SQL I had begun the project in Access. The project was simpler then and there was a chance that some of my coworkers, who didn't have SQL Server, might need to access it.  When exporting my data from Access the NULL values exported as blanks in my spreadsheet.  This is exactly what I needed.

After migrating to MS SQL though the NULLs show up as NULL in the spreadsheet.  This caused a lot of havoc to the import program.  I could have had the programmer change the program to deal with the NULLs, and I may for the next version, we are too far along in the testing phase to change that now.

So, here is the part you have been waiting for, how do you get rid of the NULL values in a SQL export?

Your needs may vary but, use:
Where column_name is the name of the data column you are checking and replacement_value is what you want in the field instead of "NULL" 
In my case my replacement_value was simply: '' (two single quotes)  I didn't want any value in the field, not a space, not a "NULL", nothing.  While NULL IS nothing to MS SQL, to a CSV file, NULL and '' are the same. Since I am exporting to CSV, I need the '' rather than the NULL.

This may be elementary for some SQL query writers out there, it was important for me to find and use. Unfortunately there was little to point me in the right direction.  My hope is that this post will save others who are running into this issue some time.

If you are a SQL guru and there is an even better way to address this problem, please leave a comment below and I'll edit as necessary.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Google+ Status Report

This is my last post about Google+ for awhile, promise.

I experimented using only Google+ for a week.  I stayed off Twitter the entire time. I didn't even read it.  I wanted to see if Google+ could replace Twitter for me.  What I found was that too many people have not really migrated to G+.  They may not ever.

It's not Twitter. The posting people put up are long form and encourage long comments.  In a way it's almost like Google took Blogger and then added circles, but then removed all the formatting. So there, I said it, G+ is just a weak Blogger with some social functions added.

Google has had most of these features in it's various products for a long time. It just took Circles to bring them together.  I don't think that's a bad thing and if you are a long time Google user this brings the tools together cohesively.  What about for everyone else?

Microsoft has a lot of these same features in it's Live environment but you don't hear about it much do you?  Does what G+ do really all that much more compelling that it's going to draw large numbers of Facebook and Twitter users away?  Right now I have to say no.  

That doesn't mean that there aren't users who have dived into G+.  I would put myself in that camp.  It also doesn't mean that G+ is a failure or that we won't see more awesome features added.  I'm sure Gmail looked weak compared to other webmail services when it first came out too. 

So for now Twitter will still exist for me.  It doesn't try to do a million things.  What it does it does well.  What it doesn't do G+ will pick-up nicely.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Google+ vs. everything else

Since Google+ has come put I've been trying to figure out where it sits in my Internet usage world.  I never used Facebook so that's out of the equation.  I do use Twitter and Blogger (obviously) though.  I'm trying to go without any Twitter all this week to see if Google+ can fill that void.  We'll see. G+ isn't quite as far along as Twitter so there are still a lot more people missing.

Blogger is another question mark.  Google+ is setup to protect your posts if you wish, so I could write something for family only and they would be the only ones able to see it.  That's pretty cool.  On the other hand many of my blog posts are written for the world to see.  Google+ allows for this as well, but is it as easy?

Additionally Blogger has additional formatting options that Google+ doesnt have (yet).

I already know one person who has given up everything for Google+. I commend his commitment. I suspect that for the time being that I'll continue to use all three services, but Twitter and Blogger could be in trouble.  It just depends on where Google+ goes in the future.

Here is my Google+ profile:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Samsung BD-D5700 Blu-ray player

This weekend we bought a Samsung BD-D5700 Blu-ray player.  So far I've been pretty happy with it.  The online reviews are kinda mixed though.  It seems like most that are rating it poorly have defective units though.  No issues of that sort with ours but it's only been a couple days.

Our TV is only 720p, but I still see a good improvement in image quality. I only had one movie to test with though. We have the TRON Legacy combo pack so I could try each movie and see the differences.  It was a bit subtle, but there.

The load times of the BR vs the DVD were noticeably longer, but not terrible. It was something I was expecting too.  Though without a reference point I can't say if those BR load times are slower, faster, or normal.

I've not tried any of the streaming video options (Hulu+, Netflix, Blockbuster) just because we are not members of any of those services.  That's partly due to me being a A/V quality snob, but mostly because there has been so much shake-up in availability that you pretty much can't stick to just one for everything and even with all of them there is still a lot of content that isn't available streaming.  That said, now that we have the interfaces, we now have the opportunity to try them.

So far the biggest feature we've used is the digital media streaming (DLNA) from my PC and USB thumb drive.  They both use the same interface and it's pretty straight forward.  The image quality was really nice. Part of that is the source material but I think it's doing it's best to upconvert the lower resolution videos too.  It supported all but some MOV files. I can live with that.

The one weird thing was that occasionally the DLNA video stream would get slightly out of sync.  We thought it was my computer going to sleep or something but that didnt appear to be the problem. The first time it happened was about 12 minutes into a video.  The next time it was 14 minutes...but we'd been watching nearly 3 hours of video from the same source.  Both times I switched to the thumb drive and it worked fine from there.

I had copied the media to the thumb drive first because I didn't know about the DLNA option. Even when I did I was worried that the WiFi connection might not be strong enough.  It was a backup.

Another oddity that I never did figure out. The video via the network wouldn't allow me to fast forward.  Via the USB it wasn't a problem.  Is this something in the way DLNA streams the video? It was kinda a pain.

So, thus far I'm pleased with the purchase. It's a nice machine, especially for the money.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Government Spending

2010 US Spending:

So we want the government to do all kinds of things for us. All kinds of great services. And there isn't anything wrong with that, but how are they going to be paid for? The middle and lower classes are paying a lot and keep paying more due to raising food and fuel prices. Additional taxes keep being tacked on by local/state governments to help pay for their deficits.

Pretty soon we simple wont have the money left to pay for anything. Who pays then? Businesses? The Wealthy? Every time someone suggests they should pay more we hear, "Why are you wanting to punish their success?" and "If you tax us we can't create more jobs" or "They'll just pass the costs to the consumers"

So again I ask...who is going to pay for our government?

We can reduce spending on the military and social security sure. Both those take a huge chunk of our tax dollars but who has the guts to try to do that? Career politicians sure aren't going to do that. They'd lose too many votes!

I fear we are in a downward spiral...and I'm an optimist normally.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 2011, Pt 3

The Amazing Spider-Man. I wonder if he got tired hanging around for four days.
Movies are frequently a part of the Comic-Con experience now, for better or worse. Part of me wanted to get into the Hall H Friday to see the movie panels, it would have been a very long line to wait in and I would have been in there all day. Not that it would be so bad, but these movie sneak peaks are always posted to the Internet shortly after they are shown at Comic-Con so I didn't personally see the value in sitting there all day.

The movies they were teasing were:

Captain America was also being marketed with a large banner being pulled by a plane overhead. The first time I noticed it I was standing outside waiting in line. I had to laugh and said to my line neighbors, "Given the demographic here at Comic-Con isn't that a bit like preaching to the choir? It's not like I saw that banner and thought, 'OMG! I had no idea there was a Captain America movie coming out this week!'"

The Cowboys and Aliens marketing was a bit cooler.  Jon Favreau tweeted earlier in the week about some 'gold bars' that would be given out at different locations around Comic-Con that might get you into the Premier, which they chose to do in San Diego as part of Comic-Con.  That was pretty cool. I didnt manage to get a 'brick', which was a small card board box. I saw some that did. None that won, but they got t-shirts. Decent marketing. A few hundred got tickets to the movie premier.

There were other movie's trying to make their presence known as well. The next Twilight movie as well as what will likely be a craptacular movie, Shark Night 3D. Though the Shark Night people did have a cool mechanical shark you could ride, as you would a mechanical bull.

While there WAS a large Avengers booth on the show floor, there was no sneak peaks at the Avengers movie, though I heard Chris Evans was around. There wasn't a panel or anything official shown.

Lucas Films was heavily promoting both the Clone Wars season 4 and the upcoming release of the Star Wars movies on Blu-Ray. Lucas even partnered up with Volkswagen to create an Imperial Jetta. I still don't like the new Jetta design but adding Star Wars helps a bit. 
Yes I am sun burned.

I'm sure I'm missing some smaller movies, but well they didnt hit my radar. Below are some pictures:

Total Recall robot (?) and car.

Another robot (maybe it's a suit), a bit more close-up.

Almost thought they gave up on Ghost Rider until we saw this.