Tag Archives: software

The Search for a SQL Azure UI Administration Tool

After messing around with a few side projects built on SQL 2008 R2 hosted on DiscountASP, I moved to SQL Azure to test out our new cloud platform.  On DiscountASP, I was spoiled by the fact screenshot_01[1]that they had licenses for myLittleAdmin, which is a web-based UI for SQL server administration. Sure, SQL Management Studio will work, but sometimes it’s great to just have a UI table view to view and edit a single value without writing a SQL statement. Smile

I searched high and low for an alternative that would work against SQL Azure, and found some potential candidates like SQL Maestro but none of them worked against Azure. I kept getting all sorts of random errors.

Microsoft’s own SQL Server 2008 Management Studio is an excellent product that fully supports SQL Azure and has infinite flexibility to create and design tables and stored procedures, but it lacks a good visual way to view and edit table data. Sure, I could write my own SQL queries, but it’s far simpler and faster to edit it in a data-grid like view.

Thanks to Robert McLaws on Twitter, I found out that Microsoft has a community preview of a Silverlight-based admin tool called Project Houston.

The UI is written entirely in Silverlight very slick and easy to use, but the designers definitely went a little overboard with the gratuitous the Silverlight animation effects (ugly cubes that pivot anyone?).  Other than that, it does everything I need from some basic table and stored procedures creation and administration, to browsing and editing data.  For example, I can quickly jump in, view and edit a single value in a specific table or change the properties on a column of a table.

Here are some videos about Project Houston:

Create and modifying tables:

Create, modify, execute, save and open a T-SQL query:

You can read about Project Houston on the SQL Azure team blog or just jump in and try it out if you already have a SQL Azure account.

Applying ReplayGain more easily with Foobar2000 and MP3Tag

I previously wrote about applying ReplayGain to MP3 files with a combination of Foobar2000 and MP3Tag.  I’ve come up with a slightly easier way to reduce some of the manual steps.

I found out that both Foobar2000 and MP3Tag both supports some limited command line operations, and with a tiny bit of legwork, you can add a right-click (context menu) way of making this process easier.

With this approach, you can now right-click songs, select a context menu option and Foobar2000 will automatically apply ReplayGain at the track-level then MP3Tag will automatically open up and add the songs ready for you to apply the custom Action we previously created.

First, make sure you have Foobar2000 and MP3Tag installed.

Second, copy the following script and put it in a batch file and save it somewhere you can remember. I put mine in E:\Documents\ReplayGainScripts\ReplayGain.bat.  I’m on an x64 system, so notice the environment variables highlighted in red which will need to be changed to %PROGRAMFILES% if you are on x86 (32-bit).

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Microsoft Store Australia and Italy have opened

Over the past several months, the Microsoft Store team has been working hard at improving our stores.  2 notable areas we’re working on is getting ready for the big launch of image Windows 7 as well as expanding our global footprint. 

As we all anticipate Windows 7’s launch on October 22, we have some great news to share in the meantime.

Today, we opened up 2 new additional international stores – Microsoft Store Italy and Microsoft Store Australia!

Both of these new stores are currently offering Microsoft software by download, or download + backup media.  We are continually looking to expand our catalog in each of our international stores, so be patient with us 🙂

The past year has seen us open up several international stores, and with these 2 new stores, we now have presence in 12 countries world-wide.

If you’re a customer of one of our new stores, drop us a comment here, or on Twitter and let us know what you think!

Correcting date and time of photos with Exifer

I frequently forget to change the date and time on my camera’s when I travel so the timestamps in all the photos I take are incorrect. Even worse is when I bring multiple cameras and only 1 of them, since this causes photos taken on the same date and time have EXIF data that is in conflict with each other depending on which camera I used.

Most photo editing applications don’t make it easy to edit the timestamp in the EXIF data of your photos. I have no idea why, but for some reason they felt fit to prevent us from doing it. (Adobe Lightroom allows you to edit the “capture time” but for most people, buying Lightroom just to edit EXIF info is a little overkill 🙂 )

There are a lot of apps out there for Windows that will edit EXIF data, but many of them are overkill or way overpriced. Fortunately, a long time ago I stumbled upon a free app to do this called Exifer.

Exifer is a nearly free software (you only should send me a postcard if you’re using Exifer frequently) with which you can manage the metadata (EXIF/IPTC) of pictures taken by digital cameras. Because many image processing software destroys this metadata when saving such files, the idea was to create a backup of the metadata before editing it in any software, and then, after that to restore it back into the processed file. With Exifer you can do this very easily.

The last update to Exifer was in 2002, but it still does exactly what it needs to do (edit EXIF data) and it compatible as far back as Windows 98 and even runs perfectly on Windows 7. Although I don’t use Exifer too often, when I do, it’s a life saver