Some answers.

MySQL connection problems.

If you try to connect to MySQL, and you get an error, such as:

"Access denied for user 'root'@'localhost' (using password: YES)", or:

"Format of the initialization string does not conform to specification starting at index 49.", try this:

First of all, verify that you are indeed using the correct password.

Next, check if your password contains any non-alphanumeric characters, and if it does, change the password, so it contains only alphanumeric characters.

Why this might work:

It appears that if you put the password inside a connectionstring and then store it in "web.config", several so-called "special characters" (i.e. non-alphanumeric characters, such as &, the dollar sign, etc.) will cause the password to not be correctly parsed.

For more on MySQL security on Windows, see Secure MySQL.

The GDI+ tool mystery file

This is in response to some questions I have received about this phenomenon.

Whenever my computer does something unexpected, I try to follow a rather simple set of guidelines for how to deal with it.

Number One is: Don't tune anything out! Make at least some minimal effort to resolve it.

Number Two is: Curiosity killed the cat. Don't pursue it regardless of where the trail leads you.

The bad guys announce their presence in two fundamentally different ways. The first one is unintentional, especially if they are not very good, or if they are in over their heads with what they are trying to do. Perhaps they slow down your computer, or they cause it to crash. They probably did not mean to do that.

The other one is intentional, not unlike any action movie where a guy is guarding something and another guy throws a stone to make some noise to make the first guy investigate. When he does, he is lured into an ambush.

When you follow a trail, you need to have some idea why you think it will be safe to do so, or why you think you are going to be able to deal with anything you come across.

It is best to pursue trails suggesting a harmless explanation for the phenomenon. Those sites are less likely to contain anything harmful. Harmless explanations are also more likely to be the cause of unexpected behaviors by your computer.

In my experience, user action is the most common cause of computer problems. People do things on or with their computers that has effects they did not anticipate.

As computers become more capable and software more sophisticated, even experienced users can have a hard time figuring out what is going on.

There are several problems with pursuing leads suggesting a virus or a trojan or other malware. These explanations are always offered, regardless of the problem. The people offering them are rarely very knowledgeable. It is a cheap way of getting attention and they may thank you for your attention by providing you with some malware of their own, so you end up with a different problem without having gotten any wiser about the original problem, which in most cases, was probably harmless anyway.

Curiosity may not kill you, but it can cause more problems than it is worth.

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