Weight Loss Recap for 2011 - and Why I Won't Write a Book

One of my favorite comic strips is Pearls Before Swine, and the comic from September 30th, 2011, sums up why I would never be able to write a book about weight loss:


If you had read my blog post entitled The Geek's Guide to Weight Loss, you would have noticed that all I did to lose 50 pounds in six months was to eat less calories each day than my body uses on a daily basis. In the following six months, I've kept off the weight by making sure that I eat only as many calories as my body actually needs.

As a year-end recap, here's my average weight month-by-month for 2011:

Month Average
January 203
February 190
March 178
April 171
May 166
June 164
July 160
August 160
September 159
October 159
November 160
December 161

My day-to-day chart for the entire year looks like the following:

Weight Tracking

I had a spike of a pound or two at Christmas - nobody's perfect. Winking smile

Storing IIS 7.5 WebDAV Properties in NTFS Alternate Data Streams

Two months ago Microsoft published an update for the WebDAV module that shipped with IIS 7.5 in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and this update is documented in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article ID 2593591:

FIX: A hotfix is available that enables WebDAV to store the properties of file resources by using NTFS alternate data streams in IIS 7.5

This update enables administrators to configure the IIS 7.5 WebDAV module to store WebDAV-based properties in NTFS alternate data streams instead of properties.dav files. By way of explanation, WebDAV has two HTTP methods - PROPFIND and PROPPATCH - which enable WebDAV clients to store custom properties on a WebDAV server. These properties may contain anything that makes sense to the WebDAV client. For example, if you were creating a WebDAV client that stored Microsoft Office documents on a WebDAV server, you could store metadata in WebDAV properties for each document, like the author's name, document abstract, etc.

By default, the IIS 7.5 WebDAV module stores properties in system files in each folder of a website that are called properties.dav. These files are essentially text-based INI files that contain the encoded WebDAV properties for the various files in each folder. In contrast, the WebDAV functionality in IIS 6 had used NTFS alternate data streams to store WebDAV properties, which are described in the following Microsoft TechNet article:

The NTFS File System

After we shipped IIS 6, we received a lot of complaints from customers who were losing their WebDAV properties when they were copying their website files between NTFS and FAT file systems. This was expected behavior - NTFS alternate data streams will be removed when you copy files from NTFS to FAT. To remedy this situation, in IIS 7.0 we decided to switch to using INI-based functionality in order to prevent losing custom WebDAV properties when files are copied between disparate file systems.

When we were designing IIS 7.5, we wanted to add optional support for storing WebDAV properties in NTFS alternate data streams, and we wanted to do so because NTFS alternate data streams might perform faster when you are working with larger websites; however, we ran out of time to implement that functionality before we shipped Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. That being said, we still wanted to implement the feature, and the update that I listed at the beginning of this blog contains the functionality that is required to enable storing WebDAV properties in NTFS alternate data streams.

Enabling Alternate Data Streams for WebDAV Properties

The above information is good news for anyone who is storing large quantities of WebDAV properties, so your next logical question might be: "How do I enable NTFS alternate data streams for WebDAV properties ?"

Actually, it's really simple. In the KB article that I listed in the beginning of this blog, I documented two methods that show you how to enable storing WebDAV properties in NTFS alternate data streams:

  1. By modifying your applicationHost.config file
  2. By using AppCmd.exe

For the sake of completeness, I will repost some of the information here. ;-)

Method #1: Modifying your applicationHost.config file

You can enable storing WebDAV properties in alternate data streams for the simple property provider by adding a "useAlternateDataStreams" attribute to the property provider’s registration settings in your applicationHost.config file, which is highlighted in the following global configuration snippet:

      <add name="webdav_simple_prop"
        useAlternateDataStreams="true" />
      <add name="webdav_simple_lock"
        image32="%windir%\syswow64\inetsrv\webdav_simple_lock.dll" />
    <locks enabled="true" lockStore="webdav_simple_lock" />
      <clear />
      <add xmlNamespace="*" propertyStore="webdav_simple_prop" />
  <authoringRules />

Once you have enabled the feature, you have to restart IIS in order for it to take effect.

Method #2: Using AppCmd.exe

I wrote the following batch file for the KB article, which uses AppCmd.exe to enable the NTFS alternate data streams functionality, and it automatically restarts IIS for you:

pushd "%SystemRoot%\System32\Inetsrv"

iisreset /stop

appcmd.exe set config -section:system.webServer/webdav/globalSettings -propertyStores.[name='webdav_simple_prop'].useAlternateDataStreams:true /commit:apphost

iisreset /start


Migrating IIS 7 WebDAV Properties into Alternate Data Streams

Once you've enabled storing WebDAV properties in alternate data streams, you are presented with a new challenge: "How do I migrate my existing WebDAV properties?"

Here's the situation, once you have enabled the alternate data streams feature, the WebDAV property provider is going to ignore any properties that have already been set in properties.dav files. With this in mind, I wrote a script that will migrate all of the WebDAV properties from all of the properties.dav files in a website into their corresponding per-file NTFS alternate data streams.

To use the following script, you will need to update the folder path in the third line of the script with the path to your website. Once you have done that, you can run the script to migrate your existing WebDAV properties.

NOTE: You need to run this script as an administrator!

Option Explicit

Dim arrFolderTree, intFolderCount

arrFolderTree = BuildFolderTree("C:\inetpub\wwwroot")

For intFolderCount = 1 To UBound(arrFolderTree)
  MigratePropertiesToADS arrFolderTree(intFolderCount)

Sub MigratePropertiesToADS(strFolderPath)
  On Error Resume Next
  ' Declare all our variables
  Dim objTempFSO, objTempFolder
  Dim objTempPropertiesFile, objTempAlternateDataStream
  Dim strTempLine, strTempObjectName, blnTempOpenStream
  Const strTempPropertiesDAV = "\properties.dav"
  Const strTempAlternateDataStream = ":properties.dav:$DATA"

  ' Create a file system object.
  Set objTempFSO = WScript.CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")

  ' Flag the function as having a closed output stream.
  blnTempOpenStream = False

  ' Retrieve a folder object for the path.
  Set objTempFolder = objTempFSO.GetFolder(strFolderPath)

  ' Check for a properties.dav file in the current folder.
  If objTempFSO.FileExists(objTempFolder.Path & strTempPropertiesDAV) Then
    ' Open the properties.dav file for the current folder.
    Set objTempPropertiesFile = objTempFSO.OpenTextFile(objTempFolder.Path & _
    ' Loop through the properties.dav file.
    Do While Not objTempPropertiesFile.AtEndOfStream
      ' Retrieve a line from the properties.dav file.
      strTempLine = Trim(objTempPropertiesFile.ReadLine)
      ' Check if it's a section heading.
      If Left(strTempLine,1) = "[" And Right(strTempLine,1) = "]" Then
        ' Parse the name of the object (file/folder).
        strTempObjectName = Replace(Trim(Mid(strTempLine,2,Len(strTempLine)-2)),"/","\")
        ' Strip off a backslash from the parent folder.
        If Len(strTempObjectName) = 1 Then strTempObjectName = ""
        ' Check to see if the file/folder exists.
        If objTempFSO.FileExists(objTempFolder.Path & _
             strTempObjectName) Or objTempFSO.FolderExists(objTempFolder.Path & _
             strTempObjectName) Then
          ' Create a file object for the alternate data stream.
          Set objTempAlternateDataStream = objTempFSO.CreateTextFile(objTempFolder.Path & _
             strTempObjectName & _
          ' Write the WebDAV section header.
          objTempAlternateDataStream.WriteLine "[WebDAV]"
          ' Flag the function as having an open output stream.
          blnTempOpenStream = True
          ' Flag the function as having a closed output stream.
          blnTempOpenStream = False
        End If
        ' Check if we have an open output stream.
        If blnTempOpenStream = True Then
          ' Output a property.
          objTempAlternateDataStream.WriteLine strTempLine
        End If
      End If
    ' Close the properties.dav file.
  End If
  Set objTempFSO = Nothing
End Sub

Function BuildFolderTree(strTempBaseFolder)
  On Error Resume Next

  ' Declare all our variables
  Dim objTempFSO
  Dim objTempFolder
  Dim objTempSubFolder
  Dim lngTempFolderCount
  Dim lngTempBaseCount

  ' Create our file system object.
  Set objTempFSO = WScript.CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
  ' Define the initial values for our folder counters.
  lngTempFolderCount = 1
  lngTempBaseCount = 0
  ' Dimension an array to hold the folder names.
  ReDim strTempFolders(1)
  ' Store the root folder in our array.
  strTempFolders(lngTempFolderCount) = strTempBaseFolder
  ' Loop while we still have folders to process.
  While lngTempFolderCount <> lngTempBaseCount
    ' Set up a folder object to a base folder.
    Set objTempFolder = objTempFSO.GetFolder(strTempFolders(lngTempBaseCount+1))
    ' Loop through the collection of subfolders for the base folder.
    For Each objTempSubFolder In objTempFolder.SubFolders
      ' Increment our folder count.
      lngTempFolderCount = lngTempFolderCount + 1
      ' Increase our array size
      ReDim Preserve strTempFolders(lngTempFolderCount)
      ' Store the folder name in our array.
      strTempFolders(lngTempFolderCount) = objTempSubFolder.Path
    ' Increment the base folder counter.
    lngTempBaseCount = lngTempBaseCount + 1

  ' Return the array of folder names.
  BuildFolderTree = strTempFolders

End Function

In Closing

I have a couple final notes for you to consider:

  • Enabling NTFS alternate data streams is a global WebDAV setting; you cannot do this on a per-site basis.
  • As with IIS 6, once you enable storing WebDAV properties in NTFS alternate data streams, you will lose your WebDAV properties if you copy your files between NTFS and FAT file systems.

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/

A Few Thoughts on my 27th Anniversary

When I was a child, there was an excitement that preceded Christmas as it approached each year. I am sure that most everyone knows what I mean by that statement; whether you are longing for Christmas, Hanukah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, or even if you are an atheist that participates in some form of secularized holiday celebration. There is a sense of childhood excitement that surrounds the season; it could be the gifts, the decorations, the music, or a host of other contributing factors.

In a small way, I experience something like that feeling each week of the year; every Wednesday night for the past decade or so, my wife and I have had "Date Night." I do my best to never schedule anything that conflicts with this tradition; and as each Wednesday comes around, I look forward to going out to dinner or a movie with my wife in something of that same good-natured attitude of child-like expectation that I used to have at Christmas.

Date Night is a recent endeavor for us; which is unfortunate, but somewhat unavoidable. Both Kathleen and I went directly from living at home to being young, married, and poor; and soon after that we became parents. We were great friends in High School and our first year of college, but we jumped forward several years almost overnight; and as a result, we went from being children to being parents with barely a chance to discover who the other person really was.

Please don't misunderstand me - parenthood was a mixed blessing of training and teething, schooldays and sporting events, chaos and concerts, happiness and heartaches; and I would not trade a moment of my joys or sorrows as a parent. (Well, maybe I could do without the memories from one of my daughter's first boyfriends - and he knows who he is. Angry smile ) But that being said, Kathleen and I missed out on the opportunity to explore who we were as a couple all those years ago; which is why I enjoy each week's rediscovery that long before I loved my wife, I actually liked my wife.

There is a wonderful scene in the musical Fiddler on the Roof where the main character, Tevye, asks Golde, his wife of twenty-five years, "Do you love me?" I didn't fully understand this scene when I was younger; I simply thought that it was amusing.

<br /><a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/h_y9F5St4j0">Fiddler on the Roof - Do you love me?</a>

But in recent years, Golde's responses to Tevye's simple questions have impacted me differently.

"For 25 years I've washed your clothes,
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house,
Given you children, milked your cow.
After 25 years, why talk about love right now?

"For 25 years I've lived with him,
Fought him, starved with him.
25 years my bed is his;
If that's not love, what is?

I truly loved my wife on the day that we exchanged rings and we both said "I do" before our friends and family. The reasons why I loved my wife on that day are still there: she has an odd sense of humor, we complement each other well, and she is my best friend. But the trials and tribulations that we have endured together over the past twenty-seven years have changed the dynamics of that relationship.

In our marriage vows Kathleen and I promised to love each other for richer or poorer, for better or worse, and in sickness or in health; and we have endured each of those seasons in due course over our many years of marriage. It is precisely that collection of experiences that has bonded us together in ways for which a night out every week could never substitute; in much the same way that veterans of a war are bonded together in a way that supersedes the love between the closest of siblings.

Two years ago, on our twenty-fifth anniversary, I gave Kathleen a framed portrait that contains our wedding photos and the following quote from Mark Twain:

"Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century."

In many ways that sums up my feelings: I loved my wife when I was nineteen for as much as I understood that concept at the time; but now that I am somewhat older, and perhaps somewhat wiser, I love my wife in ways that I couldn't possibly have understood back then. I tell Kathleen every day that she is my favorite person; and because of that, every week may not be Christmas, but just the same - I look forward to spending each week with her all the more.

Changing the Identity of the FTP 7 Extensibility Process

Many IIS 7 FTP developers may not have noticed, but all custom FTP 7 extensibility providers execute through COM+ in a DLLHOST.exe process, which runs as NETWORK SERVICE by default. That being said, NETWORK SERVICE does not always have the right permissions to access some of the areas on your system where you may be attempting to implement custom functionality. What this means is, some of the custom features that you try to implement may not work as expected.

For example, if you look at the custom FTP logging provider in following walkthrough, the provider may not have sufficient permissions to create log files in the folder that you specify:

How to Use Managed Code (C#) to Create a Simple FTP Logging Provider

There are a couple of ways that you can resolve this issue:

  1. First of all, you could grant NETWORK SERVICE permissions to the destination folder.
  2. Second, you could change the identity of the FTP extensibility process so that it runs as a user that has permissions for the destination folder.

For what it's worth, I usually change the identity of the FTP 7 extensibility process on my servers so that I can set custom permissions for situations like this.

Here's how you do that:

  • Create a user account that is only a member of the built-in Guests group, that way you're always using an extremely low-privileged account on your system. (You can also set custom security policies for that account, but that's outside the cope of this blog.)
  • Open Administrative Tools on your Windows system and double-click Component Services.

  • Expand Component Services, then expand Computers, then My Computer, and then highlight COM+ Applications.

  • Right-click Microsoft FTP Publishing Service Extensibility Host and then click Properties.

  • Click the Identity tab, and then click the This userradio button.

  • Enter the credentials for the low-privileged user account that you created earlier, and then click OK.

Once you have done this, you can set permissions for this account whenever you need to specify permissions for situations like I described earlier.

Personally, I prefer to change the identity of the FTP 7 extensibility process instead of granting NETWORK SERVICE more permissions than it probably needs.

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/