Technology Lessons Learned: About this blog

An attempt to give back to the programming community; this is my way to share knowledge.

As you search for similar issues, I'm hoping that my posts will come up in the search results - thereby allowing you to learn from my mistakes, and see the solutions that I chose to implement.

This blog focuses on coding issues, however there will occasionally be other topics (specifically: entrepreneurship and non-programming app development issues).

My personal website can be found at .

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 time play bug

I was a big fan of Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii.  I just started playing the sequel for Switch.  But there was an error in the “how much time was played” when I saved my game the second day.

The issue was that the console was in “sleep mode,” and the timer in the game was still going.  While I read one solution is to pause the game before going into sleep mode, I just close the software (home screen, press “x”).

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PST file won’t open when working remotely (from home)

This probably pertains only to my company

 I have a saved .PST file that has emails from MS Outlook.  It’s stored on a shared network drive (as opposed to my local computer; if my computer crashes, it’ll be unharmed).  Whenever I work from home and I open MS Outlook, it can’t find the PST file though.


After logging into the VPN, do NOT immediately open MS Outlook.  Instead, in Windows Explorer, open up any folder on that same shared network drive.  THEN open MS Outlook.  Hopefully my IT department will find a permanent fix; but at least I have a work-around.

 Related: My MS Outlook was crashing daily

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SSRS report permission error – rsAccessDenied

One of my users couldn’t get to an SSRS report.  I thought I had given permissions correctly to the parent folder it was in, but they got the error “An error has occurred during the report processing. (rsProcessingAborted) … the permissions granted to user [user-here] are insufficient for performing this operation (rsAccessDenied)”

The solution

This particular report was using a “Shared Dataset”.  In the Shared Dataset folder, I had to grant the same permissions – even though the report folder already had the required permissions.

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mouse pad not working orange light

On my work laptop, I was asked about the mouse pad not working.  There’s an orange light at the top left of it (I guess indicating it was “off”).

Double tapping the orange light (with my finger) activated it.

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MS Outlook keeps crashing

I’m sure this is related specifically to how the computer was set up through my company, but ever since I got a new computer (upgraded to MS Office 2013), my MS Outlook crashes at least once a day.

 The issue was that I have a PST file stored on a network drive (as opposed to my local drive).  Removing this PST file coincidentally solved the issue of my MS Outlook crashing daily.

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mysql update field to random string

I needed to update all fields in my database to a random value.
RAND() returns a random number between 0 and 1
MD5() creates an alpha-numeric hash, that is 32 characters.
I ended up with:

select MD5(RAND())

…You can add a SUBSTRING() on there to ensure you get only a certain number of characters.

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Error notifications for users who cannot log in to a site

I recently read an article about notifying users when they have an invalid username/email or password.

The thinking is, if there’s an invalid username/email or password, you shouldn’t even acknowledge that the username/email was correct.  This will confirm to a hacker that the username/email does exist, thus they have part of the credentials needed to log in.  I even mentioned this as a “best practice” in my PHP book.

The article I just read though is against this concept, thinking that most hackers can already determine the username/email just by trying to sign up with that same entry.  When they find that they cannot, they will have confirmation that the username/email is in use.  As such, the article suggests you should be more explicit in your reasons for not being able to log in.

However I recently found another alternative for this.  There was a service that I wanted to sign up for, and I not only didn’t know my password, but I didn’t know if I had an account.  Upon signing up, I received the following text (on the website).

“Your request has been processed. In order to maintain the security of your account, you will receive an email containing a verification code and a link that will allow you to set a new password. You must follow the instructions in the email in order to set a new password.”

Then in the email I received, I was told that I never had an account!  Yes, the original article had some other tips, but I thought this was a clever work-around for that specific point.

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Word Press homepage to display latest blog posts and introduction

On this very blog you’re reading, I wanted the homepage to have a description of what it was about; basically, the contents found in the “About” section. I tried changing the “appearance” of the Word Press theme to have a specific “static” page as the homepage, but then I needed to add in the latest blog posts (dynamically).  I was able to do that, but then I couldn’t have the pagination.

This article started me off, but I ended up doing everything in PHP code.


Appearance >> Editor.  Edit the “Main Index Template (index.php)”

Check to see if you’re on that page AND you’re on “page 0”, then you display the desired content (lines 4 – 13):

By the way: if you thought this blog post was helpful, check out the book I wrote on PHP, geared toward intermediate web developers.

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  • 01.07.2018
  • PHP

Design Tips for a web developer

I recently had the opportunity to work with a web designer, and I was able to see his screen as he worked.

During our session, I saw him to go to the following sites that seemed pretty helpful:

  • – reduce the file size of images without reducing the quality
  • – gives the CSS of a color-fading gradient (where you specify the colors)
  • – color scheme generator
  • FreePik – free art/stock images

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Excel REF error

I recently received an email:

i’m trying to combine 2 files i received and everytime i delete a row i don’t need it messes up the calculations. what did you do that time to keep the numbers and not have them change to REF…….?

The data happened to be filtered, and there were some calculations; and my coworker had issues.   The solution was to copy and paste special >> values.  Doing this preserves the “values”, and even if you delete other rows/columns (that a formula would have relied upon), the values will remain intact.

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