All posts by Peter Fitzgibbons

Bell’s Palsy — the onset

I experienced the onset of Bell’s Palsy over the past two days.

I will blog this experience as time goes on. Here is the timeline of my onset, which as it happens is rather textbook.

Tue. 4/8

Metra commuter service business blocked me from my daily bike-train ride to work, so I chose to ride the bike all the way in, 14 mi. This was a cold, windy day, about 40F & 15mph N wind, for my due-N ride.

By bedtime Tue night I developed a ringing in my ear.

Wed. 4/16 11:00 pm

A “midnight snack” of strawberry icecream tasted awful. I commented to my wife that it tasted awful, like there was lard in it or something. This from the same tub of icecream I’ve been dipping tastes from for a week or more.

Thu. 4/17 5:00 am

Can’t easily clear the “blearyness” from my right eye. Didn’t think much of it, just was annoying.

Thu. 4/17 8:00 am

Begin drive to work. In the next 25 minutes, progression of paralysis began with both lips on right side, then moved to cheek, then inability to blink properly.   This was fast and scary.  Directly detoured to the local ER, who promptly diagnosed Bell’s Palsy.  Follow up appt w/ ENT for Tues.

Thu. 4/17 9:00 pm

Paula (dear wife) noted that my right-side paralysis was more pronounced than mid-morning.

Fri. 4/18 5:00 am

I’ve slept about 2 hours last night.  Standard-issue pirate-style eye patch is colossally uncomfortable.  I’m depending upon my brain getting used to this, as it did actually do it’s job and keep my eye from drying out.

Fri. 4/18 10:00 am

ENT  gives me a  surprise  follow-up call and asks to see me  “today”,  that he’ll  arrange his schedule for any time I can arrive.  WOW!   Turns out  he wants to document presence/absence of shingles-lesions in my ear or mouth (found none).  So, with no shingles, the already prescribed steroidal-anti-inflammatory and anti-viral are “all we can do for now”.

In the mean time, I’ve found that citrus still tastes good (I think I can taste bitter on the right), and for some reason… chocolate.   Many things still trip-out my tounge and  I end up tasting “paint”, or that metallic-I’m-so-scared taste.

More as time goes on.

FUD all over again… This time with Testing!

Well, Jamie Cansdale has been getting heat over time from M$ over TestDriven.Net, formerly NUnitAddin.

M$ turned up the heat over the last week, and seemingly put it to HIGH yesterday.

Ian Ringrose simplified the discussion :

“Is it safe for me as a developer without a large legal department to work with Microsoft technology? “

FransBouma says : “Nail on the head.”

Yes… Nail on the head.

Pros & Cons – Rails vs. .NET Study

I’m debating between moving my career in one of two ways :


Study ruby on rails, leave Microsoft development, move my career in a new direction. I feel immediate happiness in this endeavor.


  • Test-driven development “baked in” to the development software
  • Installation and environment setup is free. No extra computer is required.
  • Ruby language contains “best-practices” of multiple languages and is “modern”. Ruby applies “LOLA” (Law of least astonishment), which makes it easier to apply “best-practices” to written code.
  • Community is VERY robust. Meetings are regular. IRC and listservs have heavy message traffic
  • My current skills apply to Ruby/Rails, even when from a different language/framework (IE Microsoft)
  • Best practices of Ruby/Rails align with current software-development industry research on best way to structure project management, design software, and build maintainable large-scale web systems.
  • By writing code in a system that aligns with best practices, I feel like I’m doing “the right thing” when I’m writing software.


  • Job Market is “currently” limited.
  • I need time to develop the skills/experience to support current income
  • Achieving experience appears to be a catch-22


Study Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) / .NET 2.0. Give in to “the state”, admit that a governmentally structured certification machine also has a thriving job market. Join a Microsoft Consulting Firm full time and be a valuable contributor to their technologies.


  • Easy Job Market
  • I have valued skills (according to last job-seeking process)


  • Cost of Entry (Need new computer ($1000) + Software + Certification Testing $)
  • I don’t agree with Microsoft attitude toward developer community
  • I don’t agree with Microsoft attitude toward open-source / linux
  • Developer community is not robust (Few user group meetings in Chi, Forums/Elists don’t answer questions)
  • Microsoft web-development software (ASP.NET 2.0) does not support test-driven development
  • Microsoft development software is often confusing to read and confusing to use. Microsoft does not apply “LOLA” (Law of least astonishment).

Updated: 20 June 2007 12:35:00. This rounds out the pro/con list to more clearly present my perspective on what direction to take my career.

SSIS Package Loader – MSDB Folders and Configuration Adherence

Here is a 1-2-3 for building your own VB.NET 2.0 Console application that will allow the upload of SSIS packages to SQL Server storage in the MSDB folder of your choice. The process also allows correct operation of XML Configurations on the packages (other configurations should work too, not tested by me in production though).

Here goes!

  1. Launch VS.2005. Start a new VB Windows Console Application project.
  2. Add Microsoft.SQLServer.ManagedDTS library to References
  3. Paste this into Module 1.vb
    Module Module1
        Sub Main()
            Dim packages As System.Collections.Specialized.StringCollection = My.Settings.packageManifest
            Dim pkgName As String
            Dim fileName As String
            Dim processContinue As Boolean = True
            For Each pkgName In packages
                Dim pkgFilePath As String = My.Application.Info.DirectoryPath + "" + pkgName + ".dtsx"
                If Not System.IO.File.Exists(pkgFilePath) Then
                    Console.WriteLine("Package " + pkgName + ".dtsx is not found on the local file folder.")
                    processContinue = False
                End If
            For Each fileName In System.IO.Directory.GetFiles(My.Application.Info.DirectoryPath, "*.dtsx")
                pkgName = System.IO.Path.GetFileNameWithoutExtension(fileName)
                If Not packages.Contains(pkgName) Then
                    Console.WriteLine("File " + pkgName + ".dtsx is found on the local file folder but is not included in the .config  section.")
                    processContinue = False
                End If
            If Not processContinue Then
                Console.WriteLine("Please verify that all files in the .config  section are on the local folder.")
                Console.WriteLine("Please verify that all files in the local folder are listed in the .config  section.")
                For Each pkgName In packages
            End If
            Console.Write("Press Any Key ...")
        End Sub
    End Module
  4. Create a new class PackageHelper.vb and paste this code

    Imports Microsoft.SqlServer

    Public Class PackageHelper

    Private Shared Function loadSSISPackage(ByVal pkgName As String) As Dts.Runtime.Package
    Dim dtsapp As Dts.Runtime.Application = New Dts.Runtime.Application

    Dim pkg As Dts.Runtime.Package = dtsapp.LoadPackage(pkgName, Nothing)

    Return pkg

    End Function

    Public Shared Sub SaveToSQL(ByVal pkgName As String)
    Dim dtsapp As Dts.Runtime.Application = New Dts.Runtime.Application
    Dim pkgFilePath As String = My.Application.Info.DirectoryPath + “” + pkgName + “.dtsx”
    Dim ssisFolder As String = “\” + My.Settings.targetSSISMSDBfolderName
    Dim ssisServer As String = My.Settings.targetSSISserver
    Dim ssisPackagePath As String = ssisFolder + “” + pkgName

    If Not dtsapp.FolderExistsOnSqlServer(ssisFolder, ssisServer, Nothing, Nothing) Then
    Console.WriteLine(“Server:” + ssisServer + ” Folder:” + ssisFolder + ” SSIS Msdb Folder is not found on server. Check Project Settings (Settings.settings).”)
    ElseIf Not System.IO.File.Exists(pkgFilePath) Then
    Console.WriteLine(“Package: ” + pkgFilePath + ” The file specified is not found in the ” + My.Application.Info.ProductName + ” current directory.”)
    Console.WriteLine(“Saving package to SQL (” + ssisServer + “) ” + ssisPackagePath + ” Starting …”)

    Dim pkg As Dts.Runtime.Package = PackageHelper.loadSSISPackage(pkgFilePath)

    If dtsapp.ExistsOnSqlServer(ssisPackagePath, ssisServer, Nothing, Nothing) Then
    Console.WriteLine(“Saving package to SQL (” + ssisServer + “) ” + ssisPackagePath + ” Removing Previous Instance …”)

    dtsapp.RemoveFromSqlServer(ssisPackagePath, ssisServer, Nothing, Nothing)

    End If
    Console.WriteLine(“Saving package to SQL (” + ssisServer + “) ” + ssisPackagePath + ” …”)

    dtsapp.SaveToSqlServerAs(pkg, Nothing, ssisPackagePath, ssisServer, Nothing, Nothing)

    Console.WriteLine(“Saving package to SQL (” + ssisServer + “) ” + ssisPackagePath + ” Complete”)
    End If
    End Sub
    End Class

  5. Add Settings.Settings to the project to create the XML configuration file for the installer.Name: targetSSISserver
    Type: String
    Value: your server nameName: targetSSISMSDBfolderName
    Type: String
    Value: Your MSDB Folder Name – This must pre-exist on the target SSIS ServerName: packageManifest
    Type: System.Collections.Specialized.StringCollection
    Value: newline-delimited list of package names. This will be an element list in the XML Config file.An example resulting app.config :

                    Deployment Test
  6. Build the console app. Copy the SSISPackageUploader.exe and SSISPackageUploader.exe.config to a new folder along with the packages you intend to upload.
  7. Modify the SSISPackageUploader.exe.config to contain the intended targetSSISserver, targetSSISMSDBfolderName, and packageManifest

SSIS IsBig… Really Big… I mean HUGE!

I’ll be blogging some on SSIS as I now have a new gig slinging data hither and yon. Duck, you don’t want to get a DT_I8 in the face.

So, today I was bitten by the IsBig flag on DataFlow Aggregate Transformation. This flag is notated in the BOL:

A column may contain numeric values that require special consideration because of their large value or precision requirements. The Aggregation transformation includes the IsBig property, which you can set on output columns to invoke special handling of big or high-precision numbers. If a column value may exceed 4 billion or a precision beyond a float data type is required, IsBig should be set to 1.

So, the result here is a column that is Input to the Aggregate Transformation as DT_I4 and has IsBig = 1 WILL be Output DT_I8, and the IDE will not allow the otuput datatype to be changed with Advanced Editor!

This bit me with one column in a large Aggregate somehow getting set IsBig and messing up the downstream metadata. Several different looks at the issue were all proving dead ends.

Next time you run into a metadata mismatch, especially if its a DT_I4 or DT_R4 turning into their 8-byte counterparts, remember, you need to tap your inner IsBig and see the light!

New world, new information

Well, after a 20 year separation from teh Cult of Mac, I have finally returned. It is nice to see the tight tight integration of EVERYTHING on the Mac.

While all things round and sweet are looking chipper, my former web hosting is dead and gone. I recovered a few posts, all others are basically lost forever. (Well, at least until I can manually rebuild the posts from MySql backup).

Happy New Year anyway!