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BizTalk Party ResolutionMonday 29th June 2009
I've been implementing roles and parties in BizTalk Server 2006 R2 and have had to use a custom party resolver pipeline.

Fortunately Microsoft provide a sample in the SDK. Although for the party resolver component to work you need to ensure that you've applied the correct permissions to SQL.

First is to the stored proc that does the lookup:

GRANT EXECUTE ON [BizTalkMgmtDb].[dbo].[admsvr_GetPartyByAliasNameValue] to BTS_HOST_USERS

This will allow the BizTalk host account to run this proc (which by default doesn't give anybody access to it).

Then the next step is to avoid the WMI WinMgmt error "Syntax error or access violation" -2147467259. This happens on the search.Get() code for the ManagementObjectSearcher.

Again, it's a proc permission (not a WMI permission):

GRANT EXECUTE ON [BizTalkMgmtDb].[dbo].[adm_Group_Load] to BTS_HOST_USERS

Windows 7 network librariesThursday 18th June 2009
Windows 7 comes with a few subtle but significant changes. Libraries is a method for grouping together logical containers of files under a common topic.

So if you've got your documents scattered across your hard drive, then they all appear in one easy to view place.

Most people though, keep their documents in one place on their computer. It's more likely that they will need to use libraries if their documents are - like mine - scattered across a network.

Alas, in the RC of Windows 7, you cannot add network locations, unc paths or mapped drives to a Windows 7 Library. You will be presented with the error "This network location can't be included because it is not indexed."

Brilliant, so just add it to the indexer? No, there doesn't appear to be a way of doing that either. Microsoft help suggests you make the files available for offline use - what this does is takes a copy of all the files and keeps them on your local computer. Defeating the point of you putting them on your NAS etc.

Not to worry, you can still put them in libraries!

I created a new library, by right clicking on Libraries and clicking new (clever eh?). I've called it "Software" as it's going to be for all the masses of files and ISO images I have scattered around the place.

Note: You'll want to add a local directory in order to give you an example to work against later.

First step is to navigate to:

This contains the actual data files for your libraries.

Simply drag one of the libraries into Notepad (or your preferred text-editor) and you will be presented with an XML document.

The schema for this file can be found on the MSDN for reference.

If you've added in an existing folder you should see a node called <searchConnectorDescription>. This will have the details of your previously added local directory.

All you need to do is simply change the URL to your destination path. UNC paths work fine here too.

Delete the serialized node (this contains a Base64 encoded shortcut). A new one will be generated when you refresh the library view.

You can then copy and past as many of these nodes in to add however many remote directories you wish.

Note: These directories will not be indexed.

FarCry 2Tuesday 16th June 2009
I've just finished this game, which I've been wanting to play for ages.

Boy. What a load of rubbish. The world is very pretty. Would be an excellent world if it didn't suffer from the 90's "Oh, it seems I cannot climb over this pebble" syndrome. The mappers have had a field day with a clipping brush to stop you from exploring the hills.

Which means you have to go through check-points all the time. This is very dull. It's full of AI, no matter how many times you clear them out. The AI will spot you from a mile off, and open fire on you - whether you're working for them or not.

The missions have little variety, and generally require trekking across the map. Although there are a multitude of weapons, including silenced ones, the missions rarely require anything more than an assault rifle. Assassinations are always in a wooden hut - impervious to explosions. So no sniping from a distance. You have to get through the stacks of AI in front of you.

I found the simplest way to play the game was to get a sniper rifle and a light machine gun. Take out as many as the baddies as you can see from a distance, then mop up with the machine gun. Rarely any injury to yourself, and rarely a challenge.

Ubisoft have done their usual treat of a shockingly poor publishing company, putting a rubbish UI to the game, and even force you to sit through 15 minutes of credits at the end - unless you want to kill the game (I went to make a cuppa).

This game could have been stunning. Instead it was just a big waste of time.

Car stuffMonday 15th June 2009
Another year, another massive expenditure on keeping my car on the road.

Insurance. I'm currently with an insurer that cannot be found on any price comparison site. Going direct, they say, is cheaper. Still - I thought I'd give a couple of the more prominent price comparison sites a whirl and see what they could churn up.

None of them could come close to my existing insurance, and most of the policies returned were a good 300 more! Not entirely sure the point in these sites if they are unable to compare the decent priced policies.

It still helps to shop around. In the end, I've had my excess halved, and my premium cut by 100, plus some extra addons I didn't have before. By going through an old-fashioned broker.

A colleague at work also pointed me toward Auto Aid. A pay-as-you-go roadside breakdown assistance. They use local garages (like Green Flag, and as I've found more recently, the RAC). The difference is, you pay for any work etc., and then claim it back. Not ideal for everybody, but my car is reasonably reliable (i.e. it's never not worked, yet) and I'm rarely completely skint. It's 37, and compares to a product that would cost you over 100 with the AA or RAC.

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