Post mortem ColdFusion Issue Analysis

Here's a typical type of ColdFusion support ticket that we get in Macromedia Support. In this case, the server stopped responding or crashed over a weekend, and I was sent the log files and server settings to review for clues about what happened.

I'm providing this just an example of how I go about drawing conclusions and reconstructing the events that transpired. Maybe it will help you when thinking about troubleshooting your own CF servers if needed. This case isn't complete, so when further progress is made, I'll try to update the critical info here. Names and private info have been removed.

Background, this is ColdFusion MX 6.1 Updater 1 server configuration on Windows 2000 and IIS 5:

Problem Report

We had one of our CF sites go down this weekend and we dont know why the services were simply offline. Id like some help doing a post-mortem analysis to figure out why the services stopped.


Take Action to Save PBS

A message from Robert Cringely:

Dear Readers,

The Internet is a global medium, so probably a third of you don't live in the United States. Those who do live in the U.S. may know that PBS, which pays me to write these columns, is facing a potential 46 percent reduction in Federal funding. If I, Cringely, or indeed any other part of, is of value to you, please consider contacting your Congressional representative to make sure he or she knows how you feel. I'd like to keep my job.

All the best,



The House Appropriations committee is proposing more than $220 million in funding cuts for public broadcasting, effectively a 46 percent reduction of public broadcasting's federal financial support.

To preserve the programs you know and trust, the shows that teach our children and the services that support our educators, PBS is urgently asking all Americans who value public broadcasting to call, fax, or e-mail Congress. For details on how you can help, visit

I, CRINGELY: What does Adobe's purchase of Macromedia mean? Bob explains

The title and topic of this week's I CRINGELY column are as follows:

"A Flash in the Pan"

This message is being sent to inform you that Robert X. Cringely's latest column is now available online

What does Adobe's purchase of Macromedia mean? Bob explains, and talks about NeuStar, the VoiP company worth banking on.

"Of course, Adobe gets a lot more than Flash from its $3.4 billion (all stock, no cash) purchase. It gets Codeweaver and ColdFusion,"...

"Macromedia, in contrast, has great customer support and very good developer relations. Let's hope some of that stays." ...

"So it is a good deal all around, especially if Adobe can learn from Macromedia how to have fun."

See also: What Drove the Adobe Systems-Macromedia Merger?
"Assuming that happens, the new Adobe Systems will emerge as a powerful software company with an array of products including applications such Photoshop and Illustrator - which are commonly used in publishing content in the print and web worlds - as well as Macromedia's Dreamweaver and ColdFusion products, which are essential elements to building web sites."

A Beer and a Bushel at CFUNITED

There's really only one true reason I return to Maryland every year,... Steamed Crabs (apologies to Michael Smith ;) You've never had'em until you've had'em in Maryland. Get your hands all , pry open the backfin, whack on the table to crack open the claws, suck out the "mustard", and wash it back with a cold one. That's the way to do it. All your CFUNITED buddies will go insane when they smell the aroma wafting off you as you head back for more ColdFusion talks!

plotted a course from the CFUNITED Marriott Hotel to Joe's Crab Shack up the road in Gaithersburg off the Rockville Pike. I plan to memorize the route in case of lunchtime craving. The website looks a little too glitzy for my taste, as I usually prefer the little mom & pop shops where they sell'em by the dozen or by the bushel out the back door.

When I'm in Dundalk east of Baltimore, my favorite crab place is Ross's Crab House on Merritt Boulevard, and on the Eastern Shore I like to stop by Harrisons on Tilghman Island. Here's a long listing of Crab Houses closer to the Chesapeake.

The veterans out there will manage, but if you don't even know what a Jimmy is then you're gonna need some help:

How To Eat Maryland Steamed Crabs

If you know of a small crab house near Rockville, please drop a line!

Creating an ODBC Datasource to a remote MS Access DSN in CFMX

When configuring ColdFusion MX server on Windows to connect to a MS Access datasource that resides on a mapped drive or elsewhere on the network, the ColdFusion MX ODBC Server Service must be set to run as a domain user account, not the default System Account. The ODBC Server Service establishes the connection to remote .mdb file, so it needs to have permission to access the domain and the remote Access dsn. The ODBC Services act as middleware between ColdFusion and the database. The ColdFusion server process never touches the remote Access database.

The ColdFusion MX Application Server Service does not need to run as a domain account. Earlier versions of ColdFusion, i.e. CF5, didn't use the intermediate ODBC Services so for those versions it was the ColdFusion Application Server Service itself that needed to be configured to run as the domain account. This confusion arises from time to time when CF5 users move to CFMX.

New Macromedia Blog on CFCHART Tips and Tricks

Prayank Swaroop, Macromedia engineer in Bangalore, has started a blog dedicated to CFCHART.

Looking for help with CFCHART?

Don't forget, Mike Nimer, the Macromedia CF engineer behind the new CFFORM in ColdFusion MX 7, has a blog dedicated to just that...

And is another great resource for those looking to push the edge on what can be done with the new Flash forms in MX 7.

as fusion

CFUNITED ColdFusion Bloggers BOF Session

The idea first proposed by Joe Rinehart as a bloggers get-together for CFUNITED is officially penciled in for Thursday June 30th at 7:20 to 8:00 pm on the schedule.

For whatever reason, the ColdFusion Bloggers BOF (Birds of a Feather) session is curiously listed as "blog readers/writes", don't ask me why, but that's it :)

The previous session that evening is the CFDJ Panel discussion which runs 6:00 to 6:40. The Blogger BOF is set to begin 7:20, but given the 40 minute limitation I plan to show up ASAP to try to extend it earlier should the room be free. I believe there is to be a very interesting networking event starting at 8:00 PM, so we'll have to be sure to wrap on time so we don't miss out.

Given the communal nature of blogging in general and the altruistic openness of ColdFusion bloggers in particular, I suggest that this BOF not be an event led by any specific individual, but rather a campy, group introduction and discussion. Bring your own marshmallows!

Perhaps there should be a few key questions to catalyze discussion, so please post a comment suggesting a topic or two to get things started.

I'll throw out a few basic topics:

  • Why do you blog? Do you blog for Google? Do you blog for notoriety? Do you blog to relieve stress?
  • Are blogs an effective educational resource, or better suited for spreading news and/or industry gossip?
  • What new features would you like to see added exiting blog software solutions?

A French Asylum on the Susquehanna River in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania

Wyalusing Asylum Panorama over Susquehanna River

ASYLUM: A settlement of French Royalists who fled the French Revolution in 1793, was established in the valley directly opposite this marker. It was laid out and settled under the direction of Viscount de Noailles and Marquis Antoine Omer Talon. It was hoped that Queen Marie Antoinette might here find safety. Among many distinguished visitors to this place were Louis Phillipe, Duke of Orleans, later King of France, Prince de Talleyrand, Duke de Montpensier and the Duke de la Rochefoucauld Liancourt.


Movie Meme

Taking a clue from Leslee, here's my own take on the Movie Meme...

Total number of films I own on DVD and video:
Looking at the two bookshelves on either side of the living room TV, Id say there must be over 200 DVDs right there. This includes perhaps 100 movies from the states, and 50 foreign films including mostly Almodovar and Amenabar films, but theres the odd French films in there too including almost all of the Audrey Tautou films and an old favorite Betty Blue. The other 50 DVDs are of the educational variety such as the Carl Sagan series Cosmos, the PBS series on String Theory called The Elegant Universe by Brian Green, a whole bunch of Nova episodes, the 2001 PBS 6 hour series on Evolution, the 4 hour Ken Burns special on Lewis and Clark, several NASA/Space Travel type shows like Origins, and the Revolution OS flick which traces the development of Linux and includes curious interviews with Richard Stallman, Bruce Perens, and of course Linus Torvalds. Among the VHS tapes, I still have my very first VHS purchase, Jeremiah Johnson, and my most recent VHS purchase, the Ernest Shackleton 6 part series starring Kenneth Brannigan(?).

Last film I bought:
Just this week the most recent addition to our DVD collection came in from Amazon... Northern Exposure, Season 3. This television series was a centerpiece to my twenties. The story as a whole further compelled me to travel to Alaska several times, although the filming was done in Roslyn, Washington outside Seattle where I had to stop and have a beer in The Brick,and I did manage to spend a couple days in Talkeetna, AK where the series was supposedly based on. Check out my photos. Only this past year has the NX series been available on DVD. Previously, while fearing that I would never obtain a video archive of the series, I bought a few key episodes that were available on VHS from independent vendors on Amazon. I paid $20-45 for individual episodes that I felt were most memorable, including "Northern Lights" from season 1 and "Thanksgiving" from series 3. The most inspiring character to me was Chris Stevens, the self-taught, quasi-hippi/biker from a wrecked home in West Virginia that elevated himself to the Cicelys poet laureate, DJ, lay philosopher. I remember frantically writing down and later researching all the literary fragments that were used by the Chris Stevens role. There was even a book published containing only the musings, quips, and quotes of Chris Stevens, : Chris in the Morning: Love, Life, and the Whole Karmic Enchilada. By season 5 the NX writers were jumping the shark, and as much as I loved the series I could hardly bring myself to watch with the new doctor and all. I missed the final episode Tranquility Base, which ended with the folky Our Town by Iris Dement, so I guess it will be a year or so before its available on DVD.


Graphics Fun with Orb Weavers

This probably guarantees my place in the Nerd Hall of Fame on the basis of not only spending so much time with a spider, but then spending so much time making graphic art from a spider.

Out of the series of photos taken of this spider, only 2 of them turned out somewhat ok. This view is looking downwards, and since the spider was clinging upside down from the web, this is the underside.

I was trying to use my Kodak digital camera with two magnifying filters attached, from a range of about 2-3 centimeters away from the subject. Apparently, just a millimeter or so throws off the focus, and on a sunny day its quite difficult to determine the image quality by looking at the LCD because of too much glare.

Once I touched them up in Adobe Photoshop, I couldn't help from trying out some of the filters such as the Stylize > Glowing filter which produced the multicolor effect, and also trying create a green glowing outline that might be used as a desktop background by first desaturating, selecting just the light areas, then adjusting the color balance and hue.

To the best I can determine from my Audubon guide to North American spiders, this is one of the Large Jawed Orb Weavers, perhaps the Venusta Orchard Spider, part of the family Tetragnathidae. The guide says:

These orb weavers are easily recognized by their unusually large, powerful jaws, or chelicerae. Like Orb Weavers, they have 8 eyes, and 3 claws on each foot or tarsus. Many species spin orb webs although in some species only spiderlings produce webs. There are about 25 species in North America

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