Systems Engineering and RDBMS

Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Difference between UNICODE and UTF-8 files in Windows Notepad

Posted by decipherinfosys on February 25, 2013

While generating flat files through SSIS for a feed process at a client site, we noticed that the developer had left the file encoding to be UNICODE with the thought that it would be the best practice and the consumption of the file will not be an issue at the receiving system.  The file was being opened up in Notepad.

When generating a flat file in Windows, you have the option (just like you would when you are using Notepad) to use the encoding of ANSI, UNICODE, UTF-8 or Unicode big-endian.  What is important to understand is that in case you are using UNICODE, it is essentially UTF-16 little-endian and if you are using ANSI, it is Code Page 1252.

Microsoft’s Notepad writes UTF-16 with a Byte Order Mark (BOM) and also looks for that BOM when reading the file.  If you are un-aware of what a BOM is, read this entry in Wikipedia – here.  So, in the case of a UNICODE file, the BOM is what helps in determining whether the file is UTF-16 big-endian or little-endian. Now, if Notepad is not able to find the BOM, then it calls a library function called isTextUnicode and it looks at the data and attempts to determine the encoding.  If the interpretation of this function comes out wrongly, it will cause it to display wrong glyphs.

Best approach in our opinion is to use UTF-8 everywhere.  It is a universally accepted encoding and even if you are sharing files across different operating systems, you would still be assured of providing proper data.

Posted in Windows | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Learning Hadoop

Posted by decipherinfosys on March 20, 2012

In a recently concluded project, we had the opportunity to work on Hadoop.  There was a learning curve since none of us had worked in Hadoop before.  Here are some URLs to help you get started with your learning process in this regard:

Basics of Hadoop:

The article on gigaom or the series of articles on cloudera’s site will get your started:

Sign up with Cloudera and you will have access to a lot of very good learning material on Hadoop, example:  is a good starter’s video on MapReduce and HDFS.

or this one: for understanding the Hadoop ecosystem.

And this whitepaper from Gartner on Hadoop and MapReduce for Big Data Analytics:

If you like to have text available for your learning purposes rather than video tutorials, here is a good chapter on HDFS:

Setting up Hadoop cluster:

And once you are ready to jump in, there are some excellent tutorials by Michael G. Noll to guide you:

To set up your first Hadoop node:

And then multiple node cluster:

And here are some additional good tutorial references:

Microsoft and BigData

Recently, MSFT also announced their support for Apache Hadoop.  You can read more on MSFT’s big data solution from here:

and the work done by HortonWorks for extending Apache Hadoop to Windows:

Posted in Big Data, Linux, SQL Server, Unix, Windows | 1 Comment »

Installing/Enabling .Net 3.5 SP1 on Windows 2008 R2 for SQL Server 2008 R2/SQL Server 2012 RC0 Install

Posted by decipherinfosys on February 24, 2012

A junior team member ran into this issue so thought it was worth a post.  While installing SQL Server 2012 RC0 on a new VM of Windows Server 2008 R2, it complained about installing or enabling .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 which is a pre-requisite for the SQL Server install.  Here are the steps to validate whether it is installed and how to enable it and if it is not installed, how to go about installing it.

  1. Under Administrative Tools, Select Server Manager and click on Features.
  2. All the installed Features are displayed in the right side pane where you can validate if .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 (3.5.1) is installed or not.
  3. If it is not installed, then click on “Add Features” and expand “.Net Framework 3.5.1 Features”.
  4. Check the check box for “.Net Framework 3.5.1 Features” and click on Next and then Install.

5.  Once the installation is complete, click on close and you are done.

Now, you can move on with your SQL Server 2012 RC0 install on Windows Server 2008 R2.  Have fun.

Posted in .Net Development, SQL Server, Windows | Leave a Comment »

Cloud Computing- The future of computing? – Part I

Posted by decipherinfosys on July 10, 2009

Cloud Computing – A buzz word that is frequently murmured everywhere by the IT folks or even by the non-IT people recently. This post describes what it really means to the beginners those who are interested or looking into cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a computing model where the infrastructure and the application (even the platform) is offered as a service over the Internet. The infrastructure cloud could include servers and storage and the application cloud includes various applications.  This is a major shift in the industry in the way that software and services are going to be delivered in the future.  At the center of cloud computing is the virtualization technology which we have talked about a lot in the past.  Virtualization technology through resource pooling provides the engine that drives much of the cloud.  Companies such as Google, Amazon have already started using their server farms and offering services and Microsoft is not far behind with their Azure service.

Even though cloud computing can be classified into many different types, the major ones are Public clouds, Private clouds, Hybrid clouds and Community Clouds.

Public clouds – As the name suggests, it is usually offered by a company who has invested a lot building their datacenter and offering a part of its infrastructure and platform for a monthly fee. Amazon, Terremark, RackSpace and Google are great examples of public clouds. And Microsoft is joining the game as well with their Azure services platform.

Private clouds – This is something that enterprises build by themselves to be utilized across their organization. This allows them to consolidate their servers (and storage) as a single entity that can be offered to their different business units as needed. There is an interesting article from Network World can be found here.

Hybrid clouds – This is an emerging area of cloud computing where the private and public clouds can be integrated. There are many factors such as security and application compatibility needs to be considered in this model.

Community clouds – These are clouds that are shared by organizations having common interests.  This is similar to the IT-SSO post that we had done a couple of days ago.

Driving factors for moving towards cloud omputing:

The recent developments in the virtualization technology gave a big boost to cloud computing. There are many reasons that drive the cloud computing. Some of them are:

•    Rapid deployment of servers and applications
•    Easier scalability
•    Allowing IT to run as a cost center by running multiple datacenters as single entity which can be shared and charged back based on usage
•    Cost efficient “pay as you go/use” pricing model
•    Greener initiative due to less power consumption since the shared capacity of a virtualized cloud data center reduces the power consumption for everyone.

Apart from its benefits, there are still few concerns about the security, compliance, performance and the application compatibility with cloud computing. However, they are being addressed by the cloud vendors.

We will look into some of the cloud services in-depth in Part II

Posted in Cloud Computing, Hyper-V, Technology, VMWare, Windows | 5 Comments »

Exporting Windows Event Viewer data for compliance

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 26, 2009

The companies that are subjected to regulatory compliance are often required to store and archive the logs from various part of their infrastructure such as applications, firewalls, VPN and servers. Most of the network devices support Syslog and if you have any syslog server in your environment you should be able to view, collect and archive the syslog data. Kiwi Syslog server is one of the best tools available in the market.

Windows servers do not have a syslog client by default and usually all the system related warnings, alerts and information are stored and displayed in the Windows Event Viewer. Event viewer allows exporting of data locally in different formats for review. However, in an enterprise environment, there is no tool exists to automate the collection of event viewer from a centralized location.

One great solution for this is using software called ‘winlogd’. Winlogd converts the windows event viewer logs into syslog and send it to the syslog server. Winlogd installs itself as a windows service and requires a registry edit to specify the syslog server IP.
It can be easily pushed to all the servers in an enterprise environment using a .reg file.
Once the syslog server can receive the data from servers, it can be viewed and archived for compliance purposes.

One limitation of Winlogd is it doesn’t allow filtering the window event viewer logs. So, all the data that is going to Windows Event Viewer (including ‘information’) will be sent to syslog server. If you have many chatty servers that would cause lot of informational event logs, it may generate tons of syslog data and network traffic. I’m hoping that winlogd community will fix this in their next release. Nevertheless winlogd is a great tool!

More information on ‘winlogd’ can be found here:

Posted in Windows | Leave a Comment »

Some more free training materials from MSFT

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 19, 2009

Windows 7 Introduction – here.

This is an older one but a very good one for those looking for an introduction to SSIS 2008 – here.

Windows 2008 Fundamentals – here.

Silverlight Fundamentals – here.

Windows Server 2008 R2, new features – here.

Posted in .Net Development, SQL Server, Technology, Windows | Leave a Comment »

Using SCCM for unattended Deployments

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 5, 2009

In case you have not started using SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) from Microsoft, we would strongly encourage you to take a look.  MSFT also has two virtual labs to help you become familiar with it – one an introduction to SCCM and the other one deals with upgrading from Systems Management Server 2003 to SCCM 2007.

SCCM can also be used to create fully managed, totally un-attended deployments to remote machines.  We have a client who has offices in 3 cities with their IT department in one central location.  They had a need to deploy Windows Server 2008 across the offices.  Using SCCM 2007, they were able to identify the machines that met the hardware requirements, distributed the OS source files to all the computers, did the installation and did the monitoring and troubleshooting – all remotely.

Microsoft TechNet has excellent set of posts regarding SCCM that you can access over here:

Posted in Windows | Leave a Comment »

Configuring SSRS 2005 on Windows Server 2008

Posted by decipherinfosys on March 19, 2009

I was running into a couple of issues while trying to install & configure SSRS 2005 on Windows Server 2008.  There is an excellent KB article on this topic from MSFT which helped out a lot – you can access it here:

Everything is laid out in a step by step fashion.

Posted in SQL Server, Windows | Leave a Comment »

SQL Server 2008 Clustering

Posted by decipherinfosys on March 10, 2009

Did my very first installation of SQL Server 2008 with an active/passive cluster.  Wanted to share the resources that I used for making this happen so that you also have these handy in case you need to install a cluster.  This was a SQL Server 2008 install on Windows 2008.

BOL: Getting Started, installing a cluster. articles: Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Yan Pan’s articles – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.


Ross Mistry and Hilary Cotter’s book – here.

These books are not yet released but are on my list to purchase – both are being written by Industry experts and Microsoft MVP’s – having read Allan’s previous books on this topic, am sure that this one will be a great one as well : Allan Hirt’s SQL Server 2008 Failover Clustering book and Michael Otey’s book on Clustering and Database Mirroring.

Posted in SQL Server, Windows | 1 Comment »

Windows – using Terminal Services from command line

Posted by decipherinfosys on March 2, 2009

Almost everyone who has worked on windows for some time has used Terminal Services and Terminal Services Manager at some time in their work.  Instead of always using the GUI in order to terminal serve into machines, one can create rdp extension files in order to store that information or one can also make use of the command line in order to make those connections.  In this post, we will show how to do both.

The command to invoke the terminal services connection is by using mstsc (Microsoft Terminal Services Commands) from the command prompt.  So, Start/Run and type: cmd and then enter.  On the command prompt, enter: mstsc /? and you will get this help menu:


All the options are pretty much self explanatory. The most useful ones that we have found are the connection file, console and the /v:<server[:port]> options.

Let’s look at how we can create a *.rdp extension file that we can use with this command.  This time, just enter mstsc and press enter and you will get the remote desktop connection screen:


You can click on options and then you will see the options of saving the connection settings as an rdp extension file.  But before we do that, ensure that you have the rest of the options set up properly.  The second tab will allow you to set up the display properties for the terminal services window, the Local Resources tab is something that we have used quite often – you can share your local resources like disk drives (available after clicking on the more button), printers, clipboard with your remote session:


Once you have made all the necessary changes, you can then go back to the General tab and click on Edit to edit the credentials that are needed for connectivity for that RDP file or you can choose to always prompt for credentials.  The advantage of having the RDP files is to ensure that everyone uses the same settings and the files can be shared across team members.  Using the command line also allows more flexibility by making use of options like /admin or /console etc.


  • Download Remote Desktop Connection for Windows XP x64 Edition – here.
  • Technet Performance Team blog post – here.  It explains that as of Vista SP1 and Windows 2008 also, the /console switch no longer gets you to the console session – you need to use the /admin switch instead.  Shijaz Abdulla has also covered this in his post here.

Posted in Windows | 2 Comments »