Picking Alchemy Databases on a Server

Earlier today I had a need to choose databases from a server to show up in Alchemy Administrator. The problem was that the server wasn’t on a domain (its my development server which is running in a VirtualPC vm). I couldn’t find the server easily, so I thought there had to be a better way. So I created a tool to make it easier. When you first launch it, you get this:

Enter a server and press Enter to get a list of databases from the server:

If you already have any databases loaded in Alchemy Administrator, they are already selected. Make changes to you selections and click Save. The changes will be persisted to your Alchemy.ini file.

To build this, I had to add a reference to both the Alchemy Object Library 2.0 and the Alchemy Server API and then make the call to load the local options file. Then I populate an ArrayList with the databases that are currently loaded in the ini:



AuDb is a simple class I created that parses out the server, port, and database from the URL based on some regular expressions. Next I populate the list box with the databases under server control:

I want the items that are currently in the ini to be selected on the list, so that explains the last two lines. Now I can go through each item in the list box, see if it is selected, and then either add the database or remove it from the Applications databases. Finally, call SaveOptionsFile to save it.

Pretty cool little tool and will definitely save me some time in the future.

Getting the best seat possible

As someone who spends way too much time thinking about how I can get the most bang for my time spent on airplanes, I was excited to find a few new tools to help me out. When I fly, I want to find a flight with the best, most comfortable seat at the lowest rate. After learning that partner airlines don’t all give full credit I also want to get everything I can from the deal (I once flew a KLM flight operated by Malaysia Air from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam and got 0 credit). Here is my current process:

  • www.seatguru.com – Find the best seats on the plane, see if they are still available. If the agent can’t book it, get on the phone to the airline soon after ticketing to get the seat. You could also use SeatExpert.com or SkyTrax
  • www.seatcounter.com – See how many seats are available for each of the classes. This will help determine how likely an upgrade is.
  • www.MileCalc.com – See how many miles you will earn versus how much you know it will cost to upgrade. You could also download FlyingFish for an offline solution to this.
  • www.MileMaven.com – Are there any additional bonus miles you can earn for this trip. This links to deals from each airline.

From all this, I made sure that I got an upgradeable fare (didn’t cost any more), got full credit on the Lufthansa leg, confirmed an upgrade to Business Class most of the way to Melbourne, am waitlisted for an upgrade for the second half but my chances are pretty good, have great economy seats where I have no upgrade (exits with no blocking doors or bulkheads, etc). And I got all that while saving the company 8000 euros on the entire route. It takes a little bit of effort, but nothing sucks more than being cramped in a middle seat for 20 hours!!!

The accomplishment I was really proud of last year was earning 55000 flight miles (the kind that qualify you for elite status) for one round trip to Auckland. That was enough for Premier Exec. And I saved the company a few thousand euros by taking that route.

Getting the Time Right

Yeah, sure I am a frequent world traveler, but I am a complete moron when it comes to figuring out what time it is where ever I am about to go. Tomorrow I go to London and thats easy because its one hour behind Amsterdam. But in a few weeks I go to Singapore, then Melbourne, then Sydney, then Dubai in a single trip. While I can look up the timezones in the Windows Time dialog, its too easy to change my time zone right then. Right now to help me along I use three tools, and none are really easy to configure. The first is on my desktop. I use Samurize and have a config that shows me time in Seattle, Miami, Amsterdam, Singapore, and Sydney, along with current CPU utilization, ip addresses, and disk space.

I split it across four pieces so it would fit on one screen. Another tool I use is a simple web page that shows the same time zones that I can access on my blackberry. The third tool is my Seiko Sporturaworld time watch which shows me two time zones at a time. These do an adequate job of showing time zones so I don’t call someone at 4am though they take a bit of time to use. The Samurize and web page configs are tough to edit. My parents sold my childhood home off the coast of Miami and have moved full time to Bainbridge Island near Seattle, but both still show Miami. And I can’t change the names of time zones on the watch. For local time I am stuck with it saying Paris.

But I just found out about a new utility from Microsoft to ease my pain a bit.

Microsoft Time Zone is a cool tool for WinXP that shows a small popup of up to 5 time zones. Any one of them can easily become your current time zone. And configuring them is braindead easy and a right click away. I’ll keep this running for a while to see if it fits for me…..