The importance of a clean machine

Years ago, I was hired by Microsoft to support Visual Basic, and I spent nearly 4 years on the phones, taking calls from (sometimes) angry and frustrated Developers and trying to help them accomplish tasks using this technology. I learned a lot of things there, and I thoroughly enjoyed the job - one of the things I learned was that I loved helping people out, you get a great sense of accomplishment when you can solve someone's issue - I suppose that is how I gravitated to working with the MVPs for so long, I fully understand the mindset there. Another thing that I learned was that problems with a project were directly proportional to how “clean“ a machine was. The people with the worst issues usually had installed and uninstalled several Beta versions of the development tools, operating systems, trials of freeware, etc. You would think that out of anyone, I should know this lesson.

In my convoluted way, this sets up today’s blog post – I was supposed to be writing about how to install SQL Server Express, any unintuitive steps, and how I got my first database going, etc. Instead, that post lies shattered, unfinished due to a nasty error message that happens every time I try to connect to anything. Why did this happen? Well, the step immediately prior to installing SQL Express was uninstalling a full version of SQL Server 2008, and the discovery that this machine has not been rebuilt in over 2 years. To put it this way – I am still running Vista on this machine! Now, this does not mean that every time you want to install something, you should rebuild your machine, but you should be aware of the overall “health” of the machine, and that has been poor recently. You can tell it is time to do this when apps start running noticeably slower, things will freeze for a while several times a day, etc.

So, instead of my normally scheduled blog post, you get this one, and tomorrow morning, I begin the task of flattening this box and reinstalling the OS, Office, etc. It should be pretty easy, actually, as I keep all my important files under a folder called “Ed Stuff”. So, I copy off that folder, the contents of the desktop, my Internet Explorer favorites, and one other file, the .nk2 file. Nobody knows what the .nk2 file is by name, but it is a handy one to have – it is the file that keeps all the names in autocomplete for Outlook. Very handy for someone who uses e-mail as much as I do! The article that shows how to do this is here:

Look for the SQL Express install post next week…