MySQL Install Hangs

I’m in the process of setting up WordPress on another server running Windows Server 2008 R2 following the same instructions I published for installing on Windows Server 2003 (see the series of articles here).  I ran into some trouble with the step to install phpMyAdmin so I tried to uninstall everything, including PHP and MySQL.  When I went to install MySQL again, it hung at the second step on the Ready to execute page, after the Write configuration file step was checked.

There is a question about this up at the MySQL forums, but the answers didn’t help me.

The one difference I found between the first install and subsequent installs was that the the reinstall asked for the current root password.  This told me that the uninstall program didn’t uninstall everything.  Here are the steps that worked for me on Windows Server 2008 R2.  These steps will probably work on Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 as well.  The steps will be slightly different on Windows Server 2003 or WIndows XP.

  1. Stop the MySQL service.  Not sure why the uninstall program doesn’t offer to do this, but it doesn’t, so you have to do it manually.
  2. Uninstall MySQL.
  3. Delete the following folders:
    1. MySQL program files folder.  For me this was C:\Program Files\MySQL.
    2. MySQL database folder.  For me this was C:\MySQL Datafiles.
    3. MySQL application data folder.  For me this was C:\ProgramData\MySQL.  On a pre-Vista operating system, this will likely be C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\MySQL or some such.
      (If someone tries this procedure on a pre-Vista operating system, let me know and I’ll update this info.)
  4. Reinstall MySQL.

The key steps are deleting the above-mentioned folders.  After doing that, MySQL should install just fine.  Hope this helps you out.

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Transferring iPhone applications to another computer

Apple iPhone I turned to the dark side at the end of February and purchased an iPhone.  I am so very impressed with it!  Since then I have moved to a new computer (a laptop) and reinstalled the operating system (Windows 7).  That means I have had to move what I sync my iPhone with twice ,and both times have been a little less than seamless; no data was lost but I expected it to be easier than it was.

Authorized Computers

Before abandoning the former computer, you need to deauthorize it.  You only get to authorize 5 computers on the same iTunes account, and there is no central way to manage authorizations.  To deauthorize a computer:

  1. Click on the Store menu.
  2. Select Deauthorize Computer.
  3. Type your iTunes password and continue.

Authorizing the new computer is just as easy.

  1. Click on the Store menu.
  2. Select Authorize Computer.
  3. Type your iTunes password and continue.

If you haven’t already authorized 5 computers, you can do this in any order.  Once you’ve reached 5 authorized computers, you can deauthorize all computers so you can start over.  You will want to be careful about managing your authorizations as it is possible to get orphaned authorizations.

Transferring Purchases

I didn’t realize that I had to perform a manual step to do this.  Fortunately, it’s a simple step.  There are two ways.

Transferring Purchases From Menu Bar From the menu bar:

  1. Click on the device under the Devices heading.
  2. Click on the File menu.
  3. Select Transfer Purchases from “yourdevicename.

Transferring Purchases From Device From the device:

  1. Right-click on the device under the Devices heading.
  2. Select Transfer Purchases.

Transferring purchases could take awhile depending on how many applications or songs you have purchased. Once they have been transferred, you can then set up iTunes to sync applications with your iPhone:

  1. Click the device under the Devices heading.
  2. Click the Applications tab.
  3. Check the Sync Applications checkbox.
  4. VERY IMPORTANT! Since the transfer didn’t preserve the layout of the applications, rearrange them as they appear on your phone.
  5. Click the Apply button.

I failed to do step #4 above and as a result I’m left with deciding again how I want all my apps to be laid out – a real pain in the neck.


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Including FLV files in Windows Media Player 12 Video Library

My son has downloaded a variety of instructional FLV (Flash video) files that he wants to have available in Windows Media Player.  Since we just installed Windows 7, he was having trouble figuring out how to make it work.  He’d already installed the correct codec (ffdshow) so he was able to play the videos, but when he attempted to create a playlist of several of the videos, WMP wasn’t being cooperative.  Gone is the Monitor Folder interface from previous versions an in its place is a dependence on Libraries in Windows 7.  Sounds like a cool idea, but how do you get files to show up in WMP that show up in those folders?

It turns out Windows Media Player relies on some voodoo in the registry to get it to recognize FLV and MP4 files as video files.  Copy the following text to a .reg file (e.g. ShowFlvInWmp.reg) and open it from Windows Explorer.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



Note: If you are having trouble with MP4 files, you can modify the above registry file to replace flv with mp4.

Once you’ve done this, you need to kick Windows Media Player to rescan the folders.

  1. Right-click on Videos and select Manage video library.
  2. Select the folder to remove and click the Remove button.
  3. Click the OK button.
  4. Right-click on Videos and select Manage video library.
  5. Click the Add button.
  6. Select the folder you want to add and click the Include folder button.
  7. Click the OK button.

Doing this will cause Windows Media Player to rescan folders.  Here’s another way to force a rescan:

  1. Press the Alt key to bring up the menu.
  2. Select Tools –> Apply Media Information Changes.
  3. You can close the dialog box by clicking the X in the upper right corner (don’t click the Cancel button) and it will run in the background.


Windows Media Player hides a LOT of functionality from people who don’t fit into their “core usage scenarios.”  It’s quite frustrating, in fact, as this kind of thing is a lot more common than Microsoft allows for.  It’s issues like this that cause people to flee from WMP to other players.  I tend to prefer WMP, but when I have to work so hard to get it to do what I need, I’m much more willing to try other solutions.  Something for the folks at Microsoft to consider.


ZachD from Microsoft makes the following statement:

Please don’t ever set UserApprovedOwning. That’s extremely reserved for my usage only.

It’s unsupported and deprecated. Please please do not set it. It’s not going to do anything “bad”, but :: that’s a user only setting that nobody but the WMP interfaces should be setting. Please.

WMP plays nice. =)

The problem is that if you don’t set that registry value, none of this works.  If someone can show me a way to get Windows Media Player to show FLV files without setting that registry value, I’d sure appreciate it.


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Windows 7 120-Day Trial

In previous versions of Windows (e.g. Windows Vista and Windows XP), you were required to enter a valid product key before getting too far into the installation.  With Windows 7, Microsoft has changed to a trial-friendly approach.  You can choose not to enter a product key until later and then you’ll be able to use Windows 7 for up to 30 days before activating it with a valid product key.

But what if you need more than 30 days to evaluate it?  There is tool that ships with the operating system that allows you to extend the trial period up to three times, for a total of 120 days.  Apparently this tool was also available in Windows Vista.  Here are the steps to extend you trial:

  1. Start a command prompt as an administrator
    1. Click Start, All Programs, Accessories.
    2. Right-click Command Prompt and choose Run As Administrator.
    3. Enter your administrator password if prompted.
  2. Type the following command and press Enter:

    slmgr -rearm

    Note the space after slmgr and the hyphen in front of rearm.

  3. Restart Windows 7.

For more details, check out these articles:

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PFMAP – ISO Browser and a Lot More

1I was looking for a Windows Explorer extension that would allow me to browse ISO files as if they were simply a folder, similar to how Windows exposes that support for ZIP files.  What I found is WAY better than what Windows providers.

Pismo Technic Inc. provides a tool called Pismo File Mount Audit Package.  This package allows you to easily mount and unmount files with extensions such as ZIP, ISO, CISO, ICZ, DAA, and CFS.  The reason I am raving over this tool are two-fold:

  • It works from within Windows Explorer AND from the command line.  It works from everywhere in the entire operating system.  Most tools of this sort that extend Windows Explorer only provide support from within Windows Explorer.
  • Unlike the built-in ZIP support in Windows, it provides the full features of Windows Explorer on all files in the resulting folder.  By that I mean all the options are present on context menus, not just the ones that Microsoft saw fit to expose.

2 Of course, it isn’t quite as seamless as the built-in ZIP support.  You must still mount and unmount the file.  However, the result is so much better, for me it is an acceptable trade-off.

Now if we can just get the browser features for file attachments in Outlook, I’ll be very happy.

This tool is supported on all 32- and 64-bit Windows NT-based operating systems since Windows 2000, including:

  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows 7 (that’s what I’m using it on)

Here’s a rundown of the features from the website:

  • ZIP Reader – Supports read-only access to ZIP files.
  • CD/DVD Image File Reader – Images of CDs and DVDs, typically in ISO or other formats, can be mounted in place as a read-only folder.  Includes the ability to execute contained applications.
  • Compact File Set Reader – CFS files can be mounted in-place, including the ability to execute contained applications.
  • Private Folders – You can create a container file to act as a folder of files, allowing you to password protect and/or encrypt the container file.
  • Explorer Integration – As already mentioned, this tool integrates seamlessly into Windows Explorer, supporting the full range of standard context menus and drag-and-drop operations.
  • Full File System Support – All built-in Windows file systems and 3rd party file systems are supported, including local, removable, and network devices.
  • Command Line Interface – All functionality is available through the command line.  All mounted files appear as directories at the command line, just like they do from Windows Explorer.

3 I plan to install this utility on all machines in my household.  It just makes managing container files so much simpler.  Now, even though I’ve been gushing over it, the utility isn’t without its blemishes.  There are a few things that could be done to improve it.

  • When mounting a container file using the Mount… option on the context menu, the Mount Options dialog box is displayed.  This dialog box allows you to specify a combination of options that may or may not be supported for the specified container file.  For example, I selected the Read and write option for an ISO file and when I clicked the Mount button it happily mounted the file.  However, it didn’t warn me that write access would not be available.  I’d like to see some validation of the options added.
  • As already mentioned, there is no write support for ISO files.  This really isn’t surprising since this isn’t an ISO file maker, but it would be useful to be able to create an ISO like you can a Private Folder (e.g. New > ISO or New > Compact ISO).
    • A workaround for this is to create a Compact File Set (CFS) and then convert it to an ISO.  When you install PF-MAP, shortcuts are added to your Start Menu to create a CFS and to convert convert a CD or DVD image (aka an ISO).  This worked well, but was cumbersome.

I love finding tools like this – useful, feature-rich, well thought out.  Kudos to Joe Lowe and Pismo Technic Inc. for providing great value.


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7stacks – A Terrific Stacks Feature Similar to Mac OS X

7stacksScreenshot I installed Windows 7 on my laptop a couple weeks ago and have been really enjoying it.  I had Vista installed before and had very few problems, but Windows 7 is a nice improvement.

One of the bright features of Windows 7 is the new taskbar, also known as the Superbar.  A nice add-on to the superbar is a Mac OS X stacks-like utility called 7stacks from Alastria Software.

The 7stacks utility allows you to create a shortcut on your desktop which can be pinned to your taskbar.  When you run the shortcut, it pops up a “stack” showing the contents of the folder.  It provides three different ways to view the contents:

  • Stacks or Vertical Lists (shown)
  • Grid
  • Menu

This little utility is likely to become a permanent part of my stable of utilities.  There are a few improvements I’d like to see made, however.

  1. Context menus – I’d like to be able to right-click on items in the stack and see the same context menu that appears in any other view.  With v1.2, right-clicking does nothing. (verified implemented in v1.5)
  2. Support for Windows 7 libraries – You can create a stack for your desktop, but it doesn’t include the contents of the public desktop.  You can also create a stack for the “Common Desktop” (aka the public desktop) but it won’t show items that are only on your desktop, not on the public desktop.
  3. It’s too easy to make changes and then click the Close button on the dialog box that is displayed when you create or edit a stack, thus losing your changes.  I would recommend having OK and Cancel buttons and make the user launch the dialog box again to create more stacks or to make more changes.
  4. Creating a stack requires that you create it on the desktop.  Sure, you could move it to another location before pinning it to your taskbar, but it would be a lot more convenient to be able to specify where it goes.
  5. The application allows you to specify whether you want to close the stack by clicking anywhere outside the stack or by clicking the stack’s icon again (like Mac OS X).  I’d like both behaviors.  I find myself clicking it again like a menu and then realizing that I have to click somewhere else.  I tried setting it to close when I click on the icon, but then found it stuck around too long when I clicked on it and decided to do something else.

Bugs I’ve Found in v1.2

  • Shortcuts for documents launch the application but the document is not loaded. (verified fixed in v1.5)
  • The icon for the stack cannot be changed using the Edit Stack dialog box.  Instead you must either recreate the stack or modify the icon for the shortcut on the desktop and then repin it to your taskbar.
  • Renaming the folder to which a stack shortcut refers causes the stack to no longer work.  To rename the folder, you must unpin and then repin the stack shortcut.  Note that doing this will reset the stack type.
  • Changing properties on the stack pinned to the taskbar, such as icon size, stack type, etc., only seems to apply when click the taskbar icon. Those changes don’t apply when double-clicking the icon on the desktop.

New Features in v1.5 (beta)

Derek at Alastria has been hard at work on v1.5 and he’s added some really nice new features.

  • You can now right-click on an item in a jumplist, whether in a vertical list, a grid, or a menu, and view the standard Windows Explorer properties.
  • You can show a vertical list or a grid without text.
  • You can specify the icon and font size for the vertical list and the grid stack types.

All in all, however, this is a terrific utility, and I recommend it whole-heartedly.


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Useful Utility – Visual Subst

I like to copy important installation CDs to a server so when I set up a new machine it is easy for me to install them again.  In some cases, such as the software for my Canon EOS 20D DSLR, the setup program on the CD expects to be at the root of the drive.  This is very inconvenient when I am trying to install the software on a new machine (as I did today on Windows 7).

Typically I resort to running the subst command from a command prompt window.  This command works perfectly well, but is not very convenient.  I always forget the syntax and I have to type in most of the path.

Today I found a solution to this problem:  Visual Subst by ntwind software.  From the product page:

Visual Subst is a small tool that allows you to associate the most accessed directories with virtual drives.  It uses the same API similar to the consol ‘subst’ utility, but makes it easier to create and remove virtual drives in a GUI way.

Terrific utility!  The only thing it is missing is to add an entry to the context menu in Windows Explorer.  That would make it complete.

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Problem solved: Visual Studio stealing focus when breakpoint is hit

How many times have you been debugging and while you waited for a breakpoint to hit you switched to another application.  Then, while you were typing, the breakpoint hits and focus is ripped from the application your were typing into and set to Visual Studio.  In most cases the breakpoint is in code you have checked out so the worst thing that happens is that you overwrote some of your code, which can be easily remedied with the use of the Undo function.

I find this behavior to be very frustrating.  Why did the Visual Studio team at Microsoft decide to do this?  At a minimum they could have provided an option to turn it off.

I posted a request to a solution for this on my Twitter/Facebook status recently and a friend replied with a workaround – Tracepoints.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Set your breakpoint at the desired location.
  2. Right-click on the red breakpoint dot icon and select “When Hit…
  3. Select “Print a message”.
  4. Uncheck “Continue execution”.

You have effectively created a breakpoint that prints out the current function name and thread ID and name and then stops.  Tracepoints don’t steal focus like normal breakpoints do.

This isn’t an ideal solution, but at least it’s a workaround that works.

Message to Microsoft:  Please provide an option to turn off focus stealing in Visual Studio.

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Viewing Distance Chart

I found a terrific chart published at It is an exhaustive table that includes the following information:

  • 16×9 diagonal measurement (the measurement of your screen or the screen you are considering).
  • Width of the 16×9 screen.
  • Height of the 16×9 screen.
  • Optimum viewing distance for 1080p/i material.
  • Optimum viewing distance for 720p material.
  • Width of 4×3 material on the 16×9 screen.
  • Diagonal measurement of 4×3 material on the 16×9 screen.

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Microsoft SharedView

There are quite a few screen sharing applications available, most of which are only available for a monthly fee.  Microsoft has released another one beyond Remote Desktop Connection that comes with their business and ultimate editions called SharedView.  This is a free sharing application that should make it easier to do the one-off sharing to use for helping someone out with a problem they are having with a specific application.  It also allows you to share the entire desktop if you want.

I tested it out briefly between two computers in my house and found it to be functional but sluggish.  I’d still recommend it for customer support-type sharing and for document collaboration.

Update 7/30/2009:
Apparently SharedView supports only the primary monitor, which means you can’t share anything on a 2nd or 3rd monitor. I was hoping to use it as a replacement for the solution our company uses, but I can’t do that now.


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