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How-To: Tutorials and Walkthroughs

Crystal Reports: Calculating the Median Value

Crystal Reports 9 [CR9] allows you to create a median summary field, but not to get the median for an array. Sure, you can get an average, or a mean, but not a median. If you want the median of a list of values, they must first be in order, which is outside the scope of this document (but there are other documents on sorting arrays.)

Crystal Reports: Alternating Line Colors

Crystal reports is lacking a great deal of functionality which seems like an obviously desirable addition. One of these items is the ability to display report results with lines whose background colors alternate, much like the fanfold computer paper of old, or for that matter a check register or just about any other traditional method of rendering data in rows. Business Objects provides a document that tells you how to go about this (C2014182) but for some report types, especially those with nested groups, this doesn't necessarily work properly.

Crystal Reports: Selection Criteria

When writing a report, the first thing to consider is what you're trying to report on. That tells you what tables you will need to include in your report. The Second thing is to figure out what to filter. Sometimes the answer is nothing, when you want to work with all records. Usually, though, you want to filter out some records. Maybe you only want to look at records pertaining to this year - this would typically require only a single item.

HOWTO: Transfer thunderbird mail to Outlook (or Outlook Express)

Outlook, in typical Microsoft head-in-the-sand fashion, does not import mail from thunderbird. This is particularly pathetic because Thunderbird uses the Unix mbox format with only minor modifications which are limited to additional headers that Thunderbird uses to keep track of message status. Yes, it is a sad day when you are importing mail from an Open standards-based file (Mozilla-based mail programs have always used mbox format with an additional status header) to a proprietary Microsoft format. I had to do it, and if you are reading this, you probably have to do it too.

Bluetooth and Windows XP SP2

If you have a Bluetooth device which is not supported directly in Windows XP and which was not designed explicitly for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) then you are likely having problems. One such is the ISSC IS1002N "Horus" bluetooth module, one of the smallest bluetooth reference designs around and thus a fairly popular candidate for super-cheap bluetooth dongles.

Unfortunately, installing a unit based on the reference design (and driver) results in a failure to install the Microsoft bluetooth stack, and necessitating the use of a third-party stack. This is a highly unsatisfactory solution as many third-party stacks will not work properly with third-party applications. A little creative googling allowed me to find a working solution.

Creating an ADO Connection String

Until recently, Microsoft's primary web development environment was called "ASP", for Active Server Pages. Aside from the fact that it's designed by Microsoft and runs on their Internet Information Server (IIS) it's actually a fairly high quality environment. Out of the box it allows you to script in either VBscript or Jscript (AKA ECMAscript or JavaScript) and you can add many other languages including python and perl through "ISAPI" filters.

One of the more frustrating elements of trying to use anything Microsoft is the documentation, which is always crap. The documentation for ADO, or ActiveX Data Objects is no exception. ADO is the latest way to do database access in ASP, replacing Data Access Objects (DAO) which itself replaced something else previously. In particular, one tricky part of the equation is construction a Connection String.

Installing OpenGroupware.org 1.1 on Debian Linux

The first and most important thing to know about OpenGroupware.org is that the documentation is absolute crap. It is clear that first and foremost, the goal is to sell the complete server distribution that works from install. The system has become much more work-at-first than it used to be, but the install is still pretty lumpy. This document will tell you how I managed to install the latest (as of 20060530) version of OpenGroupware.org (OGo) on a fairly plain Debian sarge (currently the stable release) installation.

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