UPDATED – My New Top Ten 10 Free Android Applications

Many people have posted top [whatever] lists of their favorite Android applications, and I threw my top seven out there as well about 2 years ago. A lot of time has passed, and what it’s worth, I have felt the need to update my choices with my experiences over the past 2+ years. Note that my phone is a Verizon Sony xPeria Play R800X running Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread), but I have also obtained a Asus Google Nexus tablet running Android 4.3:

1.) MyPhoneExplorer – [ http://www.fjsoft.at/en/ ]  This one is a carry-over from the previous list for obvious reasons. A free and easy way for me to sync my phone contacts with my Outlook Explorer at work & home!

Connect your phone via cable, Bluetooth or infrared and you’ll be surprised how easy and efficient you can manage your phone with this compact software. Since it’s first appearance MyPhoneExplorer evolved into the most popular freeware tool for SE-phones and is constantly extended by new features. Since version 1.8 MyPhoneExplorer also supports Android-based phones (connected via WiFi, USB cable or Bluetooth)

Features:

  • Address book – with direct sync to Outlook, GMail, Windows contacts, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Lotus Notes and Tobit David
  • Organizer with calendar view and direct sync to Outlook, Google, Sunbird, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Windows calendar(Vista), Rainlendar, Lotus Notes, Tobit David and net shared calendars (WebDAV, FTP, local)
  • SMS – archive, export, import, excessive messages,…
  • File-browser with cache system to minimize data transfer, automatic photo-sync…
  • Set phone clock based on atomic time
  • and much more. f.e.: call lists, edit profiles, control phone, memory status, phone monitor,…

2.) Walgreens – [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.usablenet.mobile.walgreen&hl=en ] Again – a carry-over from the previous top 7 for obvious reasons. For the quick prescription refill alone [by bottle scan with your camera] this app is well worth the download! I don’t have any prescription medication needs, but my dog is on seizure medication. 😦

Pharmacy Features
• Refill Rx by Scan: Just scan the bar-code on your Walgreens prescription bottle for instant refills
• Or manually enter a prescription number for refills
• You can also order refills from your account history
• Secure access to your prescription history from the palm of your hand
• Set up your account to receive Rx notification reminders when your prescriptions are ready to be refilled and when they are ready for pick-up
• Easily transfer prescriptions to Walgreens by scanning your current Rx bottle, entering patient information and selecting your desired Walgreens for pick-up

Photo Features
• Introducing Quick Prints! Select pictures from your Android albums to print and pick up at your local Walgreens in about an hour. No Walgreens log-in or account required.
• Easily share pictures to Walgreens and Facebook

Shopping Features
• View your local Weekly Ad
• Use our scanner to scan bar-codes of Walgreens.com items and add to your shopping list
• Scan QR codes to view additional product or promotional information when available
• Conveniently find one of our many stores using the store locator
• Browse and redeem multiple coupons every week

3.) Endomondo – [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.endomondo.android&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5lbmRvbW9uZG8uYW5kcm9pZCJd ] Carry over. For any outdoor sports enthusiast, this application will be a joy! Track your walk/run/cycling trips and keep statistics online, and optionally share them out on your social networks like Facebook or Twitter!
FREE features:
* Track any outdoor sport including duration, distance, speed and calories
* Enter a workout manually, e.g., a treadmill run or weight training
* Get audio feedback for every mile or km while exercising
* Get live pep-talks from friends – they write a short text on our website which is then read out loud to you seconds later
* See your route on a map
* Track your heart rate (works with Polar Wearlink® + transmitter with Bluetooth® and Zephyr heart rate monitor, more info at http://store.endomondo.com)
* View history of workouts and study split times per km or mile
* Set a distance goal and have the audio coach speak to that as your target
* Sync workouts across multiple platforms (web entry, certain watches, file import – signup required)
* Post workouts to Facebook Timeline
* See your friends’ latest workouts in real-time
* Race against a friend’s time and have the audio coach help you perform better
* Compete on a specific route nearby and race against the route champion
* Follow your friends’ latest activities with the social widget on your phone’s home screen
* Keep a log of your music playlist for each workout
* Study routes nearby and use the map to navigate your way around
* Set the app to pause automatically when you are not moving
* Enable countdown
* Customize the main screen to show the information that you find most valuable
* Get instant feedback by tapping your (wired) headset’s media button
* Pause and resume a workout by long pressing your (wired) headset’s media button
* Integrate with bike speed & cadence and heart rate monitor sensors using ANT+
* Integrate with Sony Ericsson’s SmartWatch as a SmartExtra
* Access all your online settings: Profile, sharing, privacy, workout, audio & accessories

4.) Wireless Tether (For Rooted Phone) – [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=android.tether&hl=en] a FREE app which enables WiFi AND Bluetooth-tethering (PAN) for “rooted” handsets.

Clients (your laptop for example) can connect via WiFi or Bluetooth and get access to the internet using the mobile connection (4G, 3G, 2G) or (in case you are using Bluetooth) the WiFi connection which is established by the handset.

WiFi-tethering creates a so called adhoc (peer-to-peer) network on most devices. Infrastructure-mode is supported for some devices – including the HTC Evo for instance.

5.) Call Blocker – [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.netqin.mm&feature=search_result ] Carryover. A simple application which allows you to block those annoying @#% who persist in calling/texting your phone. Quickly add them to a ‘black-list’ which sends them to voice-mail or auto-deletes the text/SMS message.
Have you ever wondered how to block those annoying phone calls, or quickly back up your massive contact lists or just protect your privacy by not letting others see your phone call history or SMS? Now Call Blocker Can Help!
Feature List:

Black List
–Block unwanted calls (Reject calls, forward or reply with an auto-SMS)
–Block spam SMS (accept phone-book only or simply block black list)

Contact Backup
–Back up contacts to a server, so you never lose them!
–Transfer data to new phone (available cross-platform to Symbian / Android / BlackBerry device)

Privacy Eraser
–Quickly and easily erase the call history, delete SMS messages between your phone and individual contacts permanently to protect private data.

Private Space (Premium)
–Automatically move private contacts’ messages and call logs to a Private Space so that they don’t appear in the phone’s regular SMS and call logs
–Keep secrets by hiding the icon as displayed on the main screen, so that nobody knows you are using Private Space.
-Protect your REAL space by creating one or more fake spaces. If anyone wants your password, show her/him the fake one!

6.) Time Warner Cable TV: [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.TWCableTV&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5UV0NhYmxlVFYiXQ.. ] Carryover. This, of course, only applies if you are a cable customer with Time Warner, but as they are a huge provider, I will list it here. This application allows you to schedule and manage your DVRs remotely via their application, AND if you have Android 4.0 or higher, you can WATCH LIVE TV ON THE PHONE/TABLET!! Note that only a portion of channels are available on external (non-TWC) internet.

Now you can watch your favorite shows* and control your TV using your Android smartphone or tablet.

Turn any room into a TV room*
– If you are a Time Warner Cable video subscriber, the FREE TWC TV™ app turns your Android 4.0 smartphone or tablet into another TV screen and lets you watch selected live cable channels while in your home, through your wireless home network. Watch Bravo from your bedroom, take Food Network with you to the kitchen or catch up on CNBC news from the breakfast table.

Find your favorite shows
– Browse the interactive program guide with up to 7 days of TV listings
– Search for shows by title or episode name, and filter the results by genre
– Set favorite channels to create a personalized program guide
– View detailed program descriptions with color photos and cast information

Program your DVR or change channels from anywhere*
– Schedule one-time or series recordings and change settings on compatible DVRs
– Change channels using your Android smartphone or tablet and compatible DVR or cable box

Parental Controls
TWC TV offers channel blocking. To learn how to activate parental controls, tap “settings,” then parental control. To restrict all access to TWC TV, please remember to sign out by tapping “settings”, then sign out.

7.)  Gas Buddy: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gbis.gbandroid&hl=en ]
Carryover. Uses your GPS to quickly locate gas stations and display them in order of best price or distance. The prices are updated regularly by the user community [YOU included!] to keep you informed with every price change as quickly as possible. I absolutely LOVE this app!
GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas prices in your area.
Find the cheapest gas on the go – for free! Gas prices for USA and Canada only. In one click, locate gas stations near you and see their current gas prices. Never overpay for gas again. For every gas price reported, you’ll earn points toward prize give-away entries. We give away a $250 gas gift card every week. Reporting gas prices is even more fun with awards! GasBuddy is a community of users working together to update gas prices – help everyone save on gas!

8.)  VLC Player: https://carlupq.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/how-to-play-divxxvid-on-android-4-2-2-on-google-nexus-7-tablet-vlc-media-player-for-android-in-us-united-states-north-america/ ]
This application allows you to watch nearly every popular video format [ divx, mp4, etc ] on your Android device. Coupled with the free app at number 9, this opens up a WORLD of entertainment possibilities to your home network!
While not yet available through the Google Play Store to USA customers, see the above link for how to obtain VLC Player for free.

9.)  MediaHouse UPnP / DLNA Browser: [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dbapp.android.mediahouse&hl=en ]
This will allow you to stream content from any device on your home network that is set up to share. Works beautifully! And with VLC Player on your Android, it should play virtually everything now!

Stream music, videos, movies and pictures from PC, NAS or any other device running UPnP/DLNA compliant media server. MediaHouse powers your device i.e. phone, tablets or Google TVs with the following capabilities:

1. Automatic scan of your home network over Ethernet or WiFi to identify PC, NAS or any other device running UPnP/DLNA media server.
2. Shows capabilities of the scanned servers by dividing them into two categories, one from which you can serve content i.e. called Play From and others to which you can play that content i.e. called Play To.
3. Use MediaHouse as a browser, player or controller.
4. MediaHouse can control playback of content from a Media Server (called – Play From) to a Media renderer (called – Play To).
5. Favorites – Save albums and folders from multiple media servers while browsing
6. Play lists – add, delete, rename music play lists. Last played audio tracks are automatically saved.
7. Search your big server libraries for albums, artists, video, images by their title
8. Remembers your server selection and uses it in subsequent runs.
9. Built in music player with options to seek, pause, play, loop, shuffle and repeat.
10. Build in photo viewer with slideshow option.

10. Titanium Backup Free ( for ROOTed phone ): [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.keramidas.TitaniumBackup&feature=search_result ] Requires ROOT access. An absolute MUST for cleaning up and managing your phone! My favorite feature – moving an app from the phone internal storage to the SD card for freeing up space on old crappy phones like mine.
Titanium Backup is the most powerful backup tool on Android, and then some.
You can backup, restore, freeze (with Pro) your apps + data + Market links. This includes all protected apps & system apps, plus external data on your SD card. You can do 0ne-click batch & scheduled backups. Backups will operate without closing any apps (with Pro). You can move any app (or app data) to/from the SD card. You can browse any app’s data and even query the Market to see detailed information about the app.

Honorable mentions:
– Barcode Scanner: [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.zxing.client.android ] Quickly scan smart tags on advertisements, bar-codes on store products/documents, etc. Virtually all scannable codes will translate.
Scan bar-codes on products then look up prices and reviews. You can also scan Data Matrix and QR Codes containing URLs, contact info, etc.

– aScreenShot Free: [ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.longxk.ascreenshot&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5sb25neGsuYXNjcmVlbnNob3QiXQ.. ] Only necessary for older Androind versions as 4.0> has screen shot built in now. Will usually require ROOT access, allows you to take a screenshot/picture of your phone’s active display screen with the push of a configurable button. aScreenshot, as its name implies, is a screenshot app, which captures your device’s current screen display and saves it as a PNG or JPEG image file.
You can take a screenshot with aScreenshot using following methods:
*Set a delay time
*Shake your device
*Tap notification
*Long-press search button
*Camera button
Also share your contacts, apps, and bookmarks via QR Code.

===============

Of course, there are the usual other applications I would recommend (some only if they apply):
– Skype/Oovoo: make or receive video calls on your phone
– YouTube: easily search and watch public videos streamed over the internet on the popular YouTube video website
– Pandora: free almost-commercial-free music streamed over the internet, pipe it into your car or home stereo via a earphone pass-through plug!
– IMDB (Internet Movie Database) : I always forget names, but with this app I can easily look up a movie by actor/actress or vice-versa, and share out a movie I am watching quickly over a social network site like Facebook.
– Facebook/Twitter: social networking clients for your smartphone/tablet
– Yahoo!Mail/GMail: Yahoo!Mail and GMail client for easily accessing your respective email account via your phone

Enjoy!

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Visual Studio 2012 Update Today – Extensions For Windows Library For JavaScript 1.0.9200.20789

I received a notification today of an update available for Visual Studio 2012. It was for an updated version of the Windows Library JavaScript Extensions:
Image

The issues that are fixed in each version of the Windows Library for JavaScript:

‘Microsoft.WinJS.1.0’ version 1.0.9200.20789 (August 8, 2013)

  • When the screen resolution is higher than 1920 x 1080, the WinJS FlipView control has an overflow issue in calculating item coordinates.
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SSRS SQL Server Reporting Services – SOLUTION – Error Message: The permissions granted to user are insufficient for performing this operation. (rsAccessDenied)

The aforementioned error may come up in several different circumstances:
– Deploying / Running your Report Project From Visual Studio or Report Designer
– Browsing to your Report Server URL http://servername/ReportServer
– Browsing to your Report Manager URL http://servername/Reports

In each case, the solution may be one, or a combination, of the following:
– Especially If you are running SSRS on a development non-server platform, make sure you have turned off UAC (User Account Control) on the OS Login (Control Panel>User Accounts And Family Safety>User Accounts>User Account Control Settings). The slider should be dropped to the bottom-most setting.

– Using your web browser, browse to http://servername/reports, click the properties tab (SSRS 2008) or click the SITE SETTINGS link in upper right (SSRS 2012), click SECURITY, select NEW ROLE ASSIGNMENT (toolbar button SSRS 2012), enter DOMAIN\USERNAME or DOMAIN\USERGROUP and check ‘Report Builder’, ‘Browser’, ‘Content Manager’, ‘My Reports’, ‘Publisher’, ‘System User’ and/or ‘System Administrator’ roles as appropriate for your situation.

– Add the [Domain\User] to Administrator and SQLReportingUser groups by right-clicking on COMPUTER and selecting MANAGE, then go to local users/groups and either select the aforementioned groups and ADD the user, or select the user and ADD the groups.

Good luck!

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How To Play DIVX / XVID On Android 4.3 / 4.2.2 On Google Nexus 7 Tablet – VLC Media Player For Android In US United States North America – MediaHouse UPNP DLNA Browser

VLC Media Player is currently one of the most popular and versatile media players on many platforms, and now that includes Android 4.2 or less (your results may vary with Android 4.3, although VLC v1.3 seems to be working acceptably now). Just be aware these releases are in BETA, and can be obtained via the Google Play Store. That is, with one caveat – you can’t get it in North America (Canada, United States, Mexico, etc).

However, if you are willing to risk a potentially less stable build, and are handy enough to understand how to change a security setting temporarily, you can manually download one of VideoLan’s “Nightly Build” copies of VLC Media Player for Android.

To do this, you must perform the following steps:
1) First you must go to your Android device’s SETTINGS>SECURITY(‘Personal’ group)>UNKNOWN SOURCES option and turn it on. security-nexus-7
2) Open your Android device’s browser, and browse to  http://nightlies.videolan.org/build/armv7-android/  NOTE:  the Google Nexus 7 has an ARM7 instruction set NVidia Tegra 3 processor – other devices may require the ARM6 package!
3) Select one of the build entries – generally the most recent one will be at the bottom of the list, for example today’s most recent is named VLC-debug-20130726-1426.apk. It will download the file, but not install it. Select your downloaded file from the status panel when it completes.
4) If prompted for the application to use against the file, select the Google Package Installer, click the JUST ONCE button, and let it install.
5) If prompted, decide if you want to let Google ‘periodically check your files’ for suspicious activity or something like that.
6) Lastly, you must go back to your Android device’s SETTINGS>SECURITY(‘Personal’ group)>UNKNOWN SOURCES option and turn it back off.

Once installed, you can find the VLC player icon in the main icons screen, but it did not load onto the home screen for me. Also, when playing video files from the file explorer or from launcher applications, it may now prompt you to select between the Android Video Player or VLC – I suggest using the JUST ONCE option for VLC until it comes out of Beta testing.

Also – another fun App to install is the DLNA on Android application MediaHouse UPnP / DLNA Browser found here:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dbapp.android.mediahouse&hl=enMediahouseDLNAAndroid
This will allow you to stream content from any device on your home network that is set up to share. Works beautifully! And with VLC on your Android, it should play virtually everything now!

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Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Update 3 Is Out!

Update 3 is provided as Knowledge Base item KB2835600.
Link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2835600

What’s in this update:
Improvements –
Team Foundation Server

    • Build settings can be preserved when you upgrade a TFS 2012 instance.
    • Improvements are made in the New Build Definition UI for the Continuous Integration (CI) build in Git-based team projects.

Issue Fixes in categories –

Windows 8.1 compatibility issues
Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2013 Preview roundtrip
Debugger
Visual Studio IDE
Windows Form
C++
LightSwitch
Visual Studio Test
F#
Team Foundation Server
Web Tools
Office Collaboration
Team Explorer
Windows and Connected Application Tools
Portable Library
Profiler
Help Viewer

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Solutions To Two Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Errors: (1) This version of SQL Server Data Tools is not compatible with the database runtime components installed on this computer. An incompatible DacFx version is installed. – and – (2) WebForms UnobtrusiveValidationMode requires a ScriptResourceMapping for ‘jquery’. Please add a ScriptResourceMapping named jquery(case-sensitive).

I wanted to share the solutions to two frequently encountered errors for ASP.Net developers using the Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 development environment:

Error 1:
This version of SQL Server Data Tools is not compatible with the database runtime components installed on this computer
[followed by]
An incompatible DacFx version is installed

Solution 1:
The only way I was able to resolve this was by upgrading to the latest version of both Sql Server Data Tools (SSDT) and DACFx via the following links (the main MSDN links didn’t fix it for me – same problem persisted):
SSDT: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/data/hh297027
DacFx: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35756

Error 2:
WebForms UnobtrusiveValidationMode requires a ScriptResourceMapping for ‘jquery’. Please add a ScriptResourceMapping named jquery(case-sensitive).

Solution 2:
First, understand that  UnobtrusiveValidationMode means that the scripting logic for the validation controls is utilized from the server versus in-page scripting. This means you must have the server side script paths defined within your Web application.
However, there are two ways to fix this. Either add the server side script paths, or you can simply turn off unobtrusive validation and utilize the all-client-side in-page (obtrusive) validation scripting.
(1) Adding the jquery script path:
Add the following (Visual Basic .Net code) to your application’s Global.asax class/file (if missing, right-click your web project in Solution Explorer and select ADD>NEW ITEM>select WEB>select GLOBAL APPLICATION CLASS to add it) in the Application_Start event handler:
C#:
ScriptManager.ScriptResourceMapping.AddDefinition(“jquery”, new ScriptResourceDefinition
{
     Path = “~/scripts/jquery-1.7.2.min.js”,
     DebugPath = “~/scripts/jquery-1.7.2.min.js”,
     CdnPath = “http://ajax.aspnetcdn.com/ajax/jQuery/jquery-1.4.1.min.js”,
     CdnDebugPath = “http://ajax.aspnetcdn.com/ajax/jQuery/jquery-1.4.1.js”
});
VB:
Dim oSRD As New ScriptResourceDefinition
With oSRD
     .Path = “~/scripts/jquery-1.7.2.min.js”
     .DebugPath = “~/scripts/jquery-1.7.2.min.js”
     .CdnPath = “http://ajax.aspnetcdn.com/ajax/jQuery/jquery-1.4.1.min.js”
     .CdnDebugPath = “http://ajax.aspnetcdn.com/ajax/jQuery/jquery-1.4.1.js”
End With
ScriptManager.ScriptResourceMapping.AddDefinition(“jquery”, oSRD)

(2) Disable UnobtrusiveValidationMode –
Add the following to your application’s Web.Config file:
<add key=”ValidationSettings:UnobtrusiveValidationMode” value=”None” />

Happy coding!

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Access & Format EXT2 or EXT3 File System From Windows (XP Vista 7 8) Directly – Free & WITHOUT Using a Boot Disc! (For USB Flash Drive On Asus RT-N56U)

Those of you utilizing Asus‘ fantastic RT-N56U wireless router for a file / media  server via the 2 USB ports and flash drives are aware that you have few options if your flash drives are >32gb and you run Windows 7 as your primary OS on your main PC or laptop.

While the Asus router does recognize the NTFS file system, I’ve found it to be a VERY buggy experience with files frequently becoming corrupt and the media server often failing to index newly added files. Windows 7 GUI does not provide the FAT32 file system as another drive format option, opting instead for the exFAT file format (enhanced / extended FAT file system not subject to the FAT32 32gb limitation). But the exFAT file system is apparently not supported or recognized by the Asus router as of firmware version 3.0.0.4.360.

So what to do? Well, since the kernel of the Asus router OS is a flavor of Unix, it will recognize the EXT2 and EXT3 file systems without a hitch. But Windows does not have built-in support for the file system, and cannot read, write or format the implementation. This is where 2 products come in to save the day!

The first – a free open-source EXT2 / EXT3 Windows driver for reading these file systems like any other NTFS or FAT drive you add to your Windows machine – EXT2FSD ( http://www.ext2fsd.com/ ). With this driver added, and after a reboot, you can plug in an EXT2 or EXT3 formatted flash drive and start reading / writing files straight away. However, the ability to format a flash drive – WITHOUT EXITING WINDOWS AND USING A BOOT DISC – comes from a second product. EaseUS‘s Partition Master software ( http://www.partition-tool.com/personal.htm ) performs the EXT2/3 formatting right from the Windows application, and the functionality exists in their Freeware version too!

Between these two free tools, you can quickly get your >32gb drives (or smaller too for that matter) formatted to the best file system for your Asus RT-N56U router. Good luck!

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Microsoft SQL Server 2008 SQL Quirk – When Using TOP 1 In Query With Correlated Subquery

I found this quirk in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 T-SQL tonight – thought I’d pass it along to spare you the grief it gave me for nearly 2 hours:

SELECT TOP 1 CAST(ad.id_acct_biztax_detail AS INTEGER) AS id_acct_biztax_detail

      ,ad.dte_due_taxes

      ,ad.dte_received

      ,(SELECT SUM((ad2.amt_due_regular_tax + ad2.amt_due_excess_tax) (ad2.amt_paid_regular_tax + ad2.amt_paid_excess_tax))

                  FROM tb_acct_biztax_detail ad2

                  WHERE ad.id_acct_biztax_detail IN(ad2.id_acct_biztax_detail, ad2.num_return)) AS amt_bal_tax1

FROM tb_acct_biztax_detail ad

WHERE ad.id_acct_biztax_detail = @id_acct_biztax_detail

I was expecting the inner subquery to return 600 (amt_bal_tax1) for ID 1027409, but it was returning 0.
What I found was the TOP 1 limiter on the outer query was also limiting the inner query by default.
To get around it, you can tack on your own arbitrary TOP [n] to the inner correlated subquery:
,(SELEC TOP 50 SUM((ad2.amt_due_regular_tax + ad2.amt_due_excess_tax) (ad2.amt_paid_regular_tax + ad2.amt_paid_excess_tax))

                  FROM tb_acct_biztax_detail ad2

                  WHERE ad.id_acct_biztax_detail IN(ad2.id_acct_biztax_detail, ad2.num_return)) AS amt_bal_tax1

There is probably a better way to approach the issue – maybe a server variable setting or something – but for the moment I’ve burned out on the issue and haven’t the energy to go through MSDN or Google right now.

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Java Update 21 For Version 7 SE Breaks Palo Alto / Cisco Network Systems Net Connect / NetConnect & Global Desktop / GlobalDesktop VPN Products With Unknown Compatibility Issue | UPDATE: Fixed With Java 7 Update 25!

UPDATE 7/6/2013: This issue has been resolved with Java 7 update 25!

The recent Java 7 Update 21 has some form of change that interferes with the functioning of Palo Alto / Cisco Systems NetConnect & GlobalDesktop products.

I had uninstalled all previous versions of Java and also uninstalled NetConnect, which removes the PAN Service and the desktop shortcut. When I updated the Java Virtual Machine to version 7 Update 21 Build 11 ( B11 ), the installer .msi would no longer extract properly (would create the installer msi but with a file size of 0kb) and an error “could not extract installer msi: null” would pop up.

The only way around this was to remove update 21 and go back to the previous public Java 7 release of update 17, which Oracle foolishly removed from their website but is thankfully still available from OldApps.Com:

Java 7 update 17 32-bit (x86 / i586): http://www.oldapps.com/java.php?old_java=11930
Java 7 Update 17 64-bit (x64): http://www.oldapps.com/java.php?old_java=11931

Hopefully either Oracle or Palo Alto will identify what the compatibility issue is and get it resolved soon.

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Visual Source Safe VSS ‘ Show Differences ‘ Function Not Work – Says ” Binary Files Differ “

This “Binary Files Differ” error/message was annoying the heck out of me, but I had been able to fix it by checking out the the offending file, opening it in TEXTPAD and saving it as format PC / ANSI, then checking it back in.

Even this work-around, however, had failed to fix one file this past week so I had to dig further. I’ve finally located an answer / fix:

“Visual source safe doesn’t always recognize text file types properly. when checking-in files using ‘auto‘ type — it treats them as binary.

“So when you compare two .sql files you might see ‘binary files differ‘ — and nothing more. (that’s how vss treats binary files).

The binary file differ
“The solution is to change the file type using the properties context menu for the file in source safe. Change the type to text, you should be able to perform the visual comparison. You can also click on the ‘advanced’ option when checking-in the file, and manually change the selection to ‘text‘ then.

“To avoid in the future – you can add file type settings under the options menu in visual source safe, to set the default behavior for various file types there.”

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