2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 8 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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XLStyles Tool for Win8.1 (release 4) submitted to the app store

Why and what is in this release? A user from Norway mentioned that he can’t see XLStyles Tool in the app store. This was weird because all apps are always published for all markets. App store tech support took about 10 days to get back to me. The issue was on their end and required re-publishing of the app package. It is in the certification process now. I will update this post on the results. If you are in a recently added to the MS App Store market and didn’t see the app, this release should take care of it. I really appreciate the user bringing the issue to my attention. If I hear about a problem I can fix it. Considering I’ve been to Norway only once in 2005 (beautiful place, but a glass of beer is about $12) and not for the purpose of downloading my own app chances of me ever learning about this situation on my own were very slim.

UPDATE [11/28/14]: App update passed certification today. I had hard time getting the update to show up on my machine. Here are the manual steps to get the updates right away. Win8.1 version should be available in all markets now. Please let me know if there are any issues. I already spent 2+ hours with support reps to resolve reported issues and I will gladly continue to work with them more if necessary. Grand irony: there was no need for code changes. I put some small layout tweaks in just because I had to go through the updates. I’m not sure I like this new centrally controlled app world because it is not productive use of my or anyone else’s time for that matter. Central planning and excessive control led to the eventual demise of the USSR.

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XLStyles Tool on Windows 10 Technical Preview

Happy to report that Windows App Store version of the XLStyles Tool app successfully tested on the latest version of Windows 10 technical preview. The builds before 9840 had an issue in full screen mode: file picker would remain hidden (new “windowed” mode worked just fine). Latest update has a fix for that. The issue wasn’t XLStyles Tool specific. File picker was hidden for all modern apps (e.g., Adobe Reader) when launched in full screen mode which I personally prefer for modern apps.

UPDATE [11/25/14]: Windows 10 build 9879 has new file picker dialog for modern apps that run windowed desktop mode. This change breaks all modern apps that use file picker when the user clicks cancel (i.e., user decided not to pick a file). If it doesn’t get fixed by RTM I may have to publish an update. Please report any other issues if you are using Windows 10 Technical Preview.

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Creating Rolling Periods Dimension in PowerPivot or Tabular models

If you created trend reports in Power View and then created some more and then when the next month came you cursed at yourself for being so prolific, then you will really benefit from the latest article I co-authored with Derek Daniels: Benefits of Dynamic Rolling Twelve Month Dimension in Tabular Models. The article talks about how you can have fully automatic update of the rolling periods (i.e., no manual update steps). Derek is the primary author of this really cool time saving concept.

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Windows XP is no Longer Supported

As of today Windows XP won’t be getting any updates or security patches. If you didn’t upgrade because you didn’t want to move your files here is free Windows XP data migration tool.

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MS Switch to OneDrive from SkyDrive Caused Download Disruptions

If you tried to download any of my apps in the last couple of days you may have received an error message for some older links that the service was temporarily unavailable. This happened because Microsoft was in the middle of converting SkyDrive to OneDrive

I really appreciate the comments made by Ken and James that alerted me. I immediately went in and fixed all broken links. Please report broken links or any other issues when you see them. I always keep an eye on the comments. All apps here are free. I put my time in to make sure they work well. They solve pretty serious problems for thousands of people. Please contribute by commenting and reporting issues when you see them.

Also, stay away from the download links from other sites. My tools gained a lot of popularity, name recognition and credibility. If you are not getting your download link from this site there is no guarantee that you are getting my unaltered code. Do not take that chance. You have been warned.

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Analysis Services Session Terminator App

I ran into a situation where the users of the SQL 2012 tabular cube started running extremely large queries that began to interfere with our weekly PowerPivot model refresh. The user queries were so CPU and RAM intensive that they pushed individual table refreshes from ~30 min to over 60 min which is the hard programmatic single query timeout in PowerPivot. I searched the web assuming that I’m not the only one with the need to cancel user sessions during maintenance time window and surprisingly all I was able to find were XMLA queries to cancel individual sessions based on SPID. I wanted an app where I could:

  • Monitor who is using the server without the overhead of the SQL Profiler
  • Select users that should be allowed to run queries
  • Set a threshold to allow normal users that don’t abuse the server to continue to run their queries and refresh their reports 
  • Schedule it to run for the amount of time necessary to finish highest priority queries

I ended up writing AS Server Session Terminator app that you can download should you find yourself in a similar situation and be blessed with the AS instance administrator privileges. Requires .Net4.51.

The app is pretty much self-explanatory: just enter your AS server name and fill out the Filter input field which is just a standard WHERE clause. Never delete the clause that excludes your session from being on the list. You can add more user aliases to exclude from the “to be terminated” list and you can adjust the level of the CPU usage for the queries that you are willing to tolerate.

UPDATE [1/29/14]: added right-click context menu to the session data grid. This update was based on the first round of feedback from the users inside my company. The context menu provides mouse click copy of the content selected in the grid cells (original version supported only keyboard shortcuts), single click delete of the selected sessions (the ones you want to keep alive when you hit the “Terminate Session(s)” button) or lets you cancel just the selected sessions (you don’t need to hit “Terminate Session(s)” button in this case). It is great to have feedback coming in. The app has been out for only 10 days.

UPDATE [2/4/14]: added status bar by popular demand that shows session count. Also moved “working state” progress notification to the status bar. Layout has been updated to group buttons and increase the size of the filter text box. Button captions have been shortened.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 150,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Sharing Simplest WinForms Timer App

A while ago when I worked on a complex ASP.NET app I created the simplest performance timer that operates on just mouse clicks: left-click to start/stop and right-click to reset to zero. Today I had to use it myself and share it with a colleague. After I saw my colleague’s reaction to this app I decided to publish it more broadly. You can get it here if you want to try it. There are similar apps out there, but I really wanted something that was super simple and absolutely minimalistic. I think I got the size and click target area just right.

This timer app becomes particularly useful when Excel, Excel Services, PowerPivot or Power View based reports seem to take forever to refresh. Also known as the effect of “watching a pot boil”. It can help prove to the business user that the “eternity” lasted for only 20-30 sec.

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XLStyles Tool updated for Windows 8.1 is in the App Store

I submitted Windows 8.1 update (Release 3) to the App store on Friday afternoon and received notification at 11PM PST on Sunday that it is published. Windows 8.1 version of the executable is to differentiate it from Windows 8 version Variable grid control behavior was the only thing that really had to be updated. I didn’t have any time to add new features or code around deprecated in Windows 8.1 runtime features.

Windows 8.1 feels like a really solid product: noticeably faster, takes up less space on the hard drive, desktop experience is back as the primary environment with modern UI now blending in. I set the same background for both the Start screen and the desktop. Now it feels like there is no split personality effect any more (well, at least the human perception part is taken care of). I really like new support for multiple resizable windows in the modern UI part of the “split personality”. VS2013 is another excellent product that came out. Just try Alt+F12 for code peek and you will be hooked. No more losing where you were when jumping around solution. These things make huge difference. .Net4.5.1 cold assembly startup is noticeably faster too. I updated my USB drive with “Windows 8.1 To Go”. App store is no longer blocked (that was really annoying in “Windows 8 To Go”). Overall this OS upgrade is a huge step forward. Perfect timing too since XP is coming to the end of its life support.

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