October 2008 - Posts

Missing (Hidden) ODBC Data Sources

Have you ever created an ODBC System DSN, only to watch as it doesn't appear in the list in the ODBC Data Source Administrator control panel? I recently used a PC (Windows XP SP2) where the registry showed that new DSNs were being successfully created, but the dialog refused to display them.

The real problem was that I was creating the DSNs for use in a Crystal report, and they weren't showing up in the list of available DSNs in the Crystal designer either.

This doesn't seem to be a very common problem, but I did eventually find evidence that other people had suffered from and fixed the same issue.

Under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ODBC\ODBC.INI\ODBC Data Sources key there's a string value called (Default), which should be be empty: it will display as (value not set) in the list view:

Default shown in a list

or as a blank string if you open up the dialog to modify the data:

Default shown in a dialog

The key point here is that the data is not a blank string, and is not the text "(value no set)" which one blogger found! It must be set to the registry equivalent of NULL.

The problem can easily be recreated by clicking OK on the above dialog, rather than cancel. If you do this you'll notice that (value not set) disappears from the list view, as the empty value is replaced by a blank string:


Any new ODBC System DSNs will now fail to appear in the Administrator dialog, even though they are stored in the registry.

To fix the problem, simply delete the (Default) value. It will be instantly recreated as (value not set), and if you re-open the Administrator dialog then all of your DSNs will now be visible. They will also show up in other applications like the Crystal designer.

MobileMe and Outlook contacts: Invalid ENTRYID

Apple's MobileMe service has been through some troubled times since its launch in July, but they seem to have finally fixed a nasty problem which corrupted the Outlook address book.

Following the very first sync, Outlook contacts became unusable in emails. Hitting ctrl-k didn't autocomplete the names as you'd expect, and clicking on the To button brought up a list of names but no email addresses. Worst of all, right-clicking and requesting the properties of a contact from this list gave the following message:

 An invalid ENTRYID was passed in

 Recently a new version of the MobileMe control panel has been released, and the online support chat advice was as follows:

  • Install iTunes 8.0.1
  • Install new MobileMe control panel (this happened automatically on one of my PCs)
  • Reboot
  • Sign out of MobileMe
  • Sign back in

At this point all sync settings had been reset and the control panel showed that syncing wasn't enabled, so I would add a few extra steps:

  • Enable automatic syncing
  • Enable contacts
Control panel settings

There seemed to be some confusion about whether the computer could really have the same name as one already in use with this account:

 Computer Name Already Registered

I chose Use same name. Once this was dealt with and I hit Apply, there was a further question about how the sync should work. I selected replacing the data on the PC to get rid of all the broken ENTRYIDs (this choice only affects the first sync, not the regular merging which works in both directions):

 First Sync Alert

The Outlook contacts were then all wiped out, and the new ones now work perfectly in emails, in the To dialog, etc.

Despite all the criticism of MobileMe, the contacts sync now seems to work perfectly and, to me, will be well worth £59 a year when the perpetually-extending trial period finally ends in a few month's time.

I've never tried the calendar sync on MobileMe as I prefer the sharing functionality of Google Calendar - to sync this I use the completely awesome NuevaSync, which is totally free and highly recommended.