Arjan's World: February 2005
You are now being redirected to the new housing of Arjan's World. Click here in case nothing happens

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Invalid procedure call or argument: 'Mid'

Just, all of a sudden got the following error message in several asp pages at once:

Microsoft VBScript runtime error '800a0005'
Invalid procedure call or argument: 'Mid'

It seemed that from one moment to the other, IIS did not understand the straightforward VBSCRIPT function Mid anymore. Googled around a little bit, and found lots of others also had this problem. Not only with Mid, but also other statements like Left and Instr. The point is, between a working state of all my pages and this error message, I've only been doing some database updates, and no changes to asp files whatsoever.

It could only mean I had something else going that Mid being an unknown function. At the end it turned out there was a problem in one of the database fields Mid was referring to: a field supposed to show a link to some document contained the document link without the extension .htm added. Now this Mid was starting it's work. However, inside the Mid there's something like Instr(dbfield, ".htm") searching for ... of course an htm not being there.

Other than complaining about this, or some other error the only thing the engine could come up with was this invalid procedure call... at least, I'm happy not to be the only one around with this problem

You are now being redirected to the new housing of Arjan's World. Click here in case nothing happens

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Coping With My Reading Addiction

An addiction is to my opinion something that doesn't give you more satisfaction when you get more of it. For me, this means I'm addicted to tech-reading / learning. Every day I try to cope with 100+ Blog feeds, and several technical articles from MSDN, ASP.NET sites and interesting stuff arriving at my inbox. Well, with the limited amount of time this is undoable. There are of course several solutions to choose from:

  • Give up learning alltogether (*not* a good idea)

  • Go on like this, with more and more items piling up in my to-read directory and Bloglines

  • Acquire a more effective way of reading - e.g. read more in less time

Well, you already guessed I'd like to go for the last solution, didn't you? As a fellow programmer you are hopefully also aware of the necessity of constant learning, just to keep your market value. For me, having received no formal programming curriculum, it's even more important I notice; otherwise it would even be quite impossible to keep up with the rest of the programming world.

So, the urge to keep on reading all kind of different stuff remains. What I'm really trying to accomplish is not to try to read every article and blog items that seems interesting, but to make a trade-off: what will reading this specific piece of information get me in terms of improved knowledge, compared to the time it takes to read it. This means that especially longer articles, taking a vast investment of time (for me vast means more than 30 minutes of reading...), receive a more critical afterthought before they’re being read. Apart from that, the important thing when starting a new article is to come to the point quickly: this normally means quickly discover the introductory elevator pitch, skip it, and get to the interesting things. When after reading for 5 minutes, I have the slightest idea that this won't buy me much, I lay the article aside and go on reading something else.

Another thing I noticed: when I've downloaded something to read it afterwards, I feel more compelled to read it, than when I'm skimming through the article online to see if it's interesting enough to read completely. The best time-saver for me of course is immediately deciding that reading is not worth it, closing the browser window quickly. Furthermore, when something *is* interesting, you can sometimes just skip parts of the article without loosing the pointe. All these measures really help me in reading more in less time.

The whole point in the end is: decide quickly what is interesting, save it, print it out and read it later. Well for me that is.... have another opinion, feel free to tell the other lost soul reading my blog what works for you.

You are now being redirected to the new housing of Arjan's World. Click here in case nothing happens

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Ask Jeeves acquires Bloglines

O my, I do hope this is good news. Found this via Adam Curry's site, guess there will be lots of talking about what this means for the future of Bloglines...

Ask Jeeves acquires Bloglines (via)

You are now being redirected to the new housing of Arjan's World. Click here in case nothing happens

Friday, February 04, 2005

Spam Rises To Extreme Levels: End Of Email Near?

Recently a New trojan infecting massive numbers of home users PC's, turning them into zombies has been discovered, according to the Spamhaus organisation. This network is supposed to order ISP's email servers te send their bunch of litter into the world. This way, email seems to originate from ISPs of significant size, making it infeasible to put IP-filters in use as a way of blocking them. The article even speaks about the decline and fall of email as we know it. Personally I don't think it will go that fast. The spamwar is a continuous fighting between spammers and organisations like spamhaus, ISP's, and copanies implementing better spamfilters. I must say, the filter we use at work (GFI's Mail Essentials works quite satisfactory. Every now and then an abvious spammessage gets through, but overall I guess about 97-98 % of spam is blocked.

On the other side, of course, we all know of the new systems that are coming of age (RSS/feeds, IM, Skype etc.) that could have their share of the email market. While it will not be the end of email itself, I think what spam does hamper considerably are the oldfashioned emaillists. I see lots of these listmessages getting stuck in our spamfilter. Maybe it's because of the software, but in my opinion spamfilters will always have a hard time telling newletters from spam, especially now that spam is getting smarter and smarter (recently I had to forward a message that got stuck in our spamfilter, which I really couldn't categorise as either spam of legitimate).

Conclusion: Email will not cease to exist in the next few years, but there is a bright future for RSS and the rest. You alreaydy see lots of mainstream companies embracing it - not as a replacement for email, but as an alternative e.g. for their newsletters. At least with RSS you'll be guaranteed that you receive new messages posted to the list, something you can not say from newsletters sent to your mailaccount.

You are now being redirected to the new housing of Arjan's World. Click here in case nothing happens


If you find yourself following URLs that have fragment identifiers (you know, the part after the "#" hash mark), and they take you to the right page, but not the right place on the page, then most likely the page you've landed on has images without width and height attributes. Taken from Misaligned fragment URLs by Ned Batchelder.

For a long time I wondered why, on my favorite Dutch tech forum I - whilst arriving on the right page - I was never taken was never taken to the right comment in a long page. No this might be the solution. Thanks Ned

You are now being redirected to the new housing of Arjan's World. Click here in case nothing happens

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Bloglines Disaster

Man, I just pressed the '101 feeds' button in Bloglines. This means I just lost track of the status of all blogfeeds with no way to put the situation back to one minute ago :) Normally, I don't keep up with everything from day to day, meaning there's some blogs which a queue of maybe one or two weeks waiting for me. The terrific thing of an RSS reader is that normally you don't have any problem here. Until you press that 'all feeds' button, that is.
This means I will really miss a lot of maybe interesting stuff. Or, I have to load all blogs in Bloglines again, and read loads of stuff I already read some time ago...

You are now being redirected to the new housing of Arjan's World. Click here in case nothing happens


There's always people who are making a living on someone else's expense.
I don't hink it's a problem having interviews with these kind of guys. You should not ignore them, but it's better to know what to expect of them. They are adversaries that are not easy to defeat. In this case the guy is totally at home in scripting (PHP, Perl among others), and spams to tens of thousands of blogs at the same time. He's so smart as to use open proxies i.s.o. his own IP etc.etc. Lucky me has never had the problem of comment spamming - so far... :) - but I see the problem mentioned so often, that it must be huge

Interview with a Spammer via