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Not really an update

I just moved hosting providers and haven't bothered to upload everything here. All of the articles still exist, but many downloads are no longer available. Given that I rarely use this blog for anything it'll probably stay that way for some time.

For some months now, I've not been able to use Microsoft Terminal Server to connect from my laptop to my work desktop. Oh, I could connect just fine, but then immediately (or very shortly) after logging in I'd be disconnected with the unhelpful error, "Because of a protocol error, this session will be disconnected. Please try connecting to the remote computer again." What does that mean, and what do I do if the error happens again when I try to reconnect as it says? off to search for an answer. Nothing useful there, and Microsoft's help for this message is complete useless. "Try connecting to the remote computer again. If you receive the same message, contact the server administrator." Reconnecting caused the same problem, and I'm the administrator. I tried contacting myself, but I couldn't get through. Now what?

Today I finally found the solution. First let me say that this problem is not with a Windows CE machine, nor is it with the web interface to Remote Desktop. This is a Windows XP to Windows XP session. Anyway, on to the answer.

I had already ruled out bad patches, bad software installations, and even went through a series of troubleshooting steps to "reset" terminal server. Out of the blue today, I got the idea that maybe the visual style I was using could cause this problem, as it might be a drawing issue that TS can't handle. I was using the "sgnome" style (don't remember where I got it but I think it was from deviantART originally), so I swapped back to the default Luna style and tried a TS connection.


It worked! Okay, verify it. Previously, the act of opening an email in Outlook could cause the error, so I tried that. It still works. Tried replying to an email, still worked. Now my TS sessions are rock solid, I'm not getting kicked with a "protocol error", and all I did was change my style back to Luna. WTF? Well, I can't live with Luna as it's too boring, so I went searching for a different style. I settled on Reluna, after verifying that it didn't break anything else.

Why did I think of visual styles? In the past I've had bad styles that broke other things. Most notably, I've had some styles that caused really bad rendering problems when opening a scheduled meeting request from Outlook. If a style can screw that up, it certainly can screw up Terminal Server. The moral of the story is to be careful when using user-created visual styles. They're not certified by Microsoft in any way (in fact, you will generally have to hack uxtheme.dll or pay for something like StyleXP to use non-Microsoft styles at all), and can do some nasty stuff. If you do run into random problems that you've never experienced with a previous style, switch back to Classic or Luna as part of your troubleshooting steps, and see if that solves it.

Get your TiVO ready!

The first two hours of season 4 of 24 air on Sunday night, January 9th, at 8pm PST. The next two hours air on the following Monday. At 9pm on Sunday night, the second season of Carnivale starts up as well. Thankfully, HBO likes to rebroadcast episodes througout the week, so I'll be able to catch Carnivale without having to sacrifice hour two of 24. Now if only The Sopranos would get going with season 6, I'd be a very satisfied television viewer.

Somewhat related, I am now a "digital crack" dealer. I loaned out my DVDs of seasons one and two of 24 to my manager, and now she's complaining about lack of sleep. Just one more hour! As with any drug dealer, I held off on giving her season three at the same time, so she'll be coming back for more.


Since it's that time of year again, I figured I'd post a link to my mom's eggnog recipe. Enjoy!

With the launch of MSN Spaces, I figured I'd give it a try. My first impression is that it appears to be based off of SharePoint, which can be both good and bad. Good, because SharePoint is extremely configurable and powerful. Bad, because my past experiences with SharePoint have been poor with respect to speed and responsiveness. The fact that Spaces just launched and everybody's jumping on doesn't help, either. It takes forever to load up a member's page, and forget about trying to configure your own or add any content. I'm on a fairly fast cable connection, and things are slow as molasses. I shudder to think what the experience is like for dialup users.

Technical issues aside, Spaces seems to be targetted very much at the novice user. You have a very limited set of themes and layouts to choose from. The module selection is pretty good, but I don't really find much value in the "New Spaces" and "Updated Spaces" modules. Those belong on the Spaces home page, and not on a member's page. The "Updated Spaces" module would be very useful if you could give it a number of feeds to watch, but I don't believe that's possible.

As for the small number of themes, I think that conflicts with the personalization aspect. Themes are bad for personalization, you say? In this case, yes. Spaces only has some 24 themes to choose from, for a user base that likely already counts in the thousands if not tens of thousands. How many other people are using your theme? Worse, a large portion of them are "novelty" themes (flowers, frogs, rainbows, butterflies). There's a very small percentage of available themes I could actually live with for any period of time. I guess the ease of theming will make it easy to change when you get tired of a certain look, but you'll run through all of the themes fairly quickly and end up choosing from a handful with long-term staying power (that doubtless thousands of other people will be using, too). I don't know what Spaces' long-term plans are, but finer-grained theme customization really should be high on the list in my opinion.

For me, MSN Spaces is little more than a novelty, and I'll stick with Movable Type. It's not as new-user-friendly as Spaces, but it's infinitely more powerful. In time, Spaces could be good competition for Blogger or LiveJournal, but it's got some growing up to do first.

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