30 August 2008

NetBeans 'Main Project' Configuration Hack

I had an old folder of C++ exercises, containing a Makefile and some source files. Each source file would compile to one executable. I imported that folder into NetBeans then wondered how to run and debug each executable as a different 'Main Project'. After some twiddling, the solution (hack?) is to define different configurations for the project, one for each executable.

  1. Select your project's context menu item Set Configuration / Manage Configurations….
  2. In the Project Properties dialog, press the Manage Configurations button (I know that's rather confusing).
  3. In the Configurations dialog, create a new configuration with the target executable file name.
  4. Press the OK button to close the Configurations dialog.
  5. In the Project Properties dialog, select the Categories / Build / Make node.
  6. Select your configuration from the Configuration: drop down list. Note that you have to select any node other than General otherwise the Configuration: drop down list is disabled.
  7. In the Makefile panel:
    • Working Directory = . (current directory)
    • Build Command = ${MAKE} -f Makefile <file.exe>
    • Clean Command = ${MAKE} -f Makefile clean
    • Build Result = <file.exe>
  8. Press the OK button

Now, to run or debug a different executable, I just change the project's Active Configuration.

27 August 2008

What's the time?

14 quick ways to find the current time on your computer.

Cmd.exe has two built-in commands for the date and time. You have to add the /t option when calling these commands otherwise you are prompted to set the system time:

> date /t
Wed 27/08/2008
> time /t
07:42 PM

GnuWin's date command prints the date, time and time zone:

> date
Wed Aug 27 19:43:23 AUS Eastern Standard Time 2008

You can use the POSIX module in Perl to get the current date and time:

> perl -e "use POSIX; print asctime(localtime());"
Wed Aug 27 19:44:21 2008

Python has a time module similar to Perl's:

> python -c "import time; print time.asctime()"
Wed Aug 27 19:48:07 2008

PHP's time and date functions return an array, which you can dump using the print_r() function:

> php -r "print_r(get_date());"
    [seconds] => 49
    [minutes] => 34
    [hours] => 14
    [mday] => 30
    [wday] => 6
    [mon] => 8
    [year] => 2008
    [yday] => 242
    [weekday] => Saturday
    [month] => August
    [0] => 1220070889

Ruby has a Time class:

> ruby -e "print Time.now"
Wed Aug 27 19:45:32 +1000 2008

PowerShell has a get-date cmdlet:

> get-date
Wednesday, 27 August 2008 7:50:13 PM

Or use the .Net System.DateTime.Now property in PowerShell:

> [System.DateTime]::Now
Thursday, 28 August 2008 9:53:21 AM

Firefox can tell you the time using the Javascript Date() object. Enter the following statement in your browser's address bar:

Wed Aug 27 2008 20:11:27 GMT+1000 (AUS Eastern Standard Time)

MSIE6 has a similar object but the output is different from Firefox's:

Thu Aug 28 10:06:59 2008

Groovy (and Java) has a java.util.Date object which defaults to the current time:

new java.util.Date()
Result: Thu Aug 28 09:58:45 EST 2008

24 August 2008

MinGW and Gdb in NetBeans

I configured NetBeans to use MinGW (Minimalist GNU for Windows), but when trying to debug an old C++ program, NetBeans kept displaying this error message: Gdb could not load your program. Terminating debug session. The version of gdb matched the MinGW distribution, so that wasn't the problem. After the usual bit of head-scratching, I ran gdb in a console and got this message: Reading symbols from <file>...(no debugging symbols found)...done. I manually compiled the source using g++ and found that my program was 3 times bigger than the NetBeans compiled version. So, the source of the problem is in the Makefile.

It turned out that when I imported my project into NetBeans, I forgot that my Makefile had this rule: $(CXX) -Wall -ggdb -s. The command-line option -s told the linker to strip all symbols, so gdb couldn't debug my program. Duh.

15 August 2008

Firefox Unexpectedly Popular

Falls in the use of older versions of MSIE are always offset by rises in use of newer versions and some rise in the use for other browsers. The July 08 browser statistics for W3 Schools show that the use of all versions of MSIE fell 2.0% while use of Firefox rose 1.6% (and Opera gains 0.2%). Has the use of MSIE7 peaked? (Insert usual caveats about selective audience of this site, monthly fluctuations, rounding errors, yada yada.)

05 August 2008

Change Default for Show Markup in MS-Word 2003

An annoying feature in Microsoft Word 2003 is that the default setting for the Reviewing toolbar is Final Showing Markup, so that all changes in your documents are highlighted when you open it, even after you accept all changes and saved the document previously. The solution is to unset your Security option Make hidden markup visible when opening or saving.. See How to turn off annoying MS Word Features, 'Change Default for "Show Markup" Box' for this and other solutions to Word annoyances.

04 August 2008

List Empty Access Tables using Perl

A port of my Python DBI program to Perl. Note that you have to install package DBD-ODBC for the ODBC driver.

use warnings;
use strict;
use DBI;

use constant MDB_PATH => '<path>';

my $dbh = DBI->connect('DBI:ODBC:DRIVER=Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb);Dbq=' . MDB_PATH);

my $sth = $dbh->prepare(
my $ref = $sth->fetchall_arrayref();

for my $row ( @{$ref} )  {
  my $table_name = @$row[0];
  my $sth = $dbh->prepare("SELECT COUNT(*) FROM [$table_name]");
  my @data = $sth->fetchrow_array();
  if ($data[0] == 0) {
    print "$table_name is empty\n";


See Also


2008-08-08: Replaced sprintf("SELECT COUNT(*) FROM [%s]", $table_name) with "SELECT COUNT(*) FROM [$table_name]" since Perl can evaluate variables in a string.

Added empty parentheses when calling functions to be consistent.

01 August 2008

List Empty Access Tables using Python

We wanted to find empty tables in a Microsoft Access database. Below is a Python script that uses the PythonWin odbc module to find empty tables in an MS-Access database. Edit the required path to your database file by modifying the MDB_PATH variable.

Follow the note at the start of the script to configure your MS-Access database security if you get the following message: dbi.program-error: [Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Record(s) cannot be read; no read permission on 'MSYSOBJECTS'. in EXEC.

# List empty tables in an Access database by Kam-Hung Soh 2008.
# Before using this script, you have to allow User and Group Permissions in Access.
# 1. Open database.
# 2. Select menu item Tools / Security / User and Workgroup Permissions.
# 3. In 'User and Group Permissions' dialog:
# 3.1. Select User/Group Name = Admin.
# 3.2. Select Object Name = MSysObjects.
# 3.3. Check 'Read Data' check box.
# 3.4. Press OK button to close dialog box.

import odbc

MDB_PATH = r'<path>'

conn = odbc.odbc(r"DRIVER={Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb)}; Dbq=%s;" % MDB_PATH)
cur = conn.cursor()
cur.execute(r"SELECT name from MSYSOBJECTS WHERE name NOT LIKE 'MSYS%' AND type = 1")
for x in cur.fetchall():
    table_name = x[0]
    cur.execute(r'SELECT COUNT(*) FROM [%s]' % table_name)
    row = cur.fetchone()
    if row[0] == 0:
        print table_name + ' is empty'

Script Notes

MS-Access stores object metadata in a system table called MSysObjects. In this table, a user table object has a type value of '1' and its name doesn't start with 'MSys'. This script first gets a list of all user tables from MSysObjects, then counts the number of rows in those tables. If a table has no rows, the script prints the table name and a message.

The fetchall() function always returns a list of tuples even if only one column is selected, so you have to extract the required column data using an array operator (e.g. x[0]).

The table name in the second cur.execute() SQL statement is delimited by square brackets in case the table name has whitespaces. Without these delimiters, you may see the following message: dbi.program-error: [Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Syntax error in WITH OWNERACCESS OPTION declaration. in EXEC.

See Also