All posts by Jim

Software engineer from Crete living in Switzerland; C# & Azure paladin; economics hobbyist; firearm enthusiast; perpetually tormented by 3 beautiful women :-)

SQL Server: How to allow access to a Windows service without a password

Let us start by stating the obvious: password management for programs and services is a huge pain for developers.

It’s one of the things that is always overlooked during development, where you’re just trying to make the thing work. It’s even not given much attention during testing, where people are usually focused on whether it works correctly on normal uses and edge cases, they look for the UI and usability etc etc.

But come deployment time and the admins start complaining. Storing passwords in plain text files is, how to put it mildly, BLOODY HORRIBLE from a security perspective. And storing them in better ways takes a surprising amount of time –just when the devs thought they’re almost finished.

So having less passwords to store and secure is very helpful for everyone. And one thing many applications need is the credentials to a database.

Fortunately, if your application is running as a Windows service and your database is SQL server, you don’t need a password. You can use integrated security. All you need is to allow (grant) access for the service user to read data from SQL server.

Now here’s the thing: if you’re using a domain user to run the server, that’s obvious. You just create the user in SQL and grant access as needed (you can even use the script below and change the user). But what happens when, as is very common, the application is running under the Local System account?

Turns out, fortunately, there’s a solution for that as well. Every computer’s Local System account exists in Active Directory as “hostname$”. E.g. if the hostname of the application server is MYSERVER, the user name will be MYDOMAIN\MYSERVER$.

So you can run the following SQL to grant access:

Source: DotJim blog (
Jim Andrakakis, April 2023

-- suppose you work on domain MYDOMAIN
-- and the server that hosts the Windows
-- service is MYSERVER
-- this is the name given by the hostname command

USE mydatabase;

/* db_datareader grants read-only access */
/* if you want to insert, update or delete, add db_datawriter */

That done, you can use the following connection string to connect to the database:


or if you’re running a named instance:


RabbitMQ: list queues and exchanges with Powershell

As I haven’t yet had the time to set up a proper devops deployment pipeline from my development RabbitMQ to UAT and then to production (don’t yell at me, I know, I’ll get to it… eventually), I find myself comparing instances in order not to forget adding a queue or an exchange.

So I wrote this script, that produces a diff-friendly text file that I can use to compare instances and see what’s missing:

# Source: DotJim blog (
# Jim Andrakakis, April 2023
# ===== Parameters =====
    [string]$rqServer = 'http://myServer:15672', # better use HTTPS though
    [string]$rqVhostName = 'myVhost',
    [string]$rqUsername = 'myUsername', # this user needs at least 'Management' permissions to post to the REST API
    [string]$rqPassword = 'myPassword',
    [string]$outDir = 'C:\temp'
# ======================
$ErrorActionPreference = 'Stop'
$WarningPreference = 'Continue'

$plainCredentials = "$($rqUsername):$($rqPassword)"
$encodedCredentials = [Convert]::ToBase64String([System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes($plainCredentials))
$authHeader = "Basic " + $encodedCredentials

[string]$rqUrlQueues = "$rqServer/api/queues/$rqVhostName/"
[string]$rqUrlExchanges = "$rqServer/api/exchanges/$rqVhostName/"

[string]$filename = [System.IO.Path]::Combine($outDir, [guid]::NewGuid().ToString().Split('-')[0] + ".txt")
Out-File -FilePath $filename -Encoding utf8 -Append -InputObject "Server : $rqServer"
Out-File -FilePath $filename -Encoding utf8 -Append -InputObject "VHost : $rqVhostName"
$respQueues = Invoke-WebRequest -Method Get -Uri $rqUrlQueues -Headers @{'Authorization'= $authHeader} 
$respExchanges = Invoke-WebRequest -Method Get -Uri $rqUrlExchanges -Headers @{'Authorization'= $authHeader} 

$queuesJson = ConvertFrom-Json $respQueues.Content
$queuesJson | Sort-Object -Property name | % { Out-File -FilePath $filename -Encoding utf8 -Append -InputObject  "Queue : $($" }

$exchangesJson = ConvertFrom-Json $respExchanges.Content
$exchangesJson | Sort-Object -Property name | % { Out-File -FilePath $filename -Encoding utf8 -Append -InputObject  "Exchange : $($" }

Write-Host "Finished, output written to $filename"

Jams Scheduler: Get info about the currently running job in Powershell

When writing jobs in JAMS Scheduler it’s very common to need info about the job that’s currently running. Logging is an obvious need but it’s not the only one.

You’d think the way to do this should be prominently displayed in their otherwise very good documentation, but for whatever reason it’s not. I couldn’t find this anywhere.

Fortunately their support is beyond excellent -it’s hands down the best support I’ve ever worked with- and they gave me the answer as soon as I asked:

Import-Module JAMS
$currentJobEntry = Get-JAMSEntry <<JAMS.JAMSEntry>>

That’s it! It’s really as simple as that. That’s a sample that you can use to see what properties you get:

Import-Module JAMS
$currentJobEntry = Get-JAMSEntry <<JAMS.JAMSEntry>>

# to print all info
$currentJobEntry | select *

# or to get individual info
$jobId = $currentJobEntry.JAMSEntry
$jobName = $currentJobEntry.Name
$jobError = $currentJobEntry.Error

Write-Host "Job $jobId [$jobName]"
Write-Host "Error (if any): $jobError"

# === all properties with example values ===
#Entry               : 21760
#ExtensionData       : System.Runtime.Serialization.ExtensionDataObject
#JAMSEntry           : 21760
#RON                 : 3565757
#AvgElapsedTime      : 
#TodaysDate          : 2/17/2023 12:00:00 AM
#ScheduledTime       : 2/17/2023 10:35:40 AM
#ScheduledTimeUTC    : 2/17/2023 9:35:40 AM
#OriginalHoldTime    : 2/17/2023 10:35:39 AM
#OriginalHoldTimeUTC : 2/17/2023 9:35:39 AM
#HoldTime            : 2/17/2023 10:35:39 AM
#HoldTimeUTC         : 2/17/2023 9:35:39 AM
#StartTime           : 2/17/2023 10:35:40 AM
#StartTimeUTC        : 2/17/2023 9:35:40 AM
#CompletionTime      : 1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
#CompletionTimeUTC   : 1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
#MethodId            : 16
#MethodName          : PowerShell
#ParentFolderID      : 96
#ParentFolderName    : \el\MyFolder\Test
#JobID               : 1747
#ExecutingAgentID    : 1
#ExecutingAgentName  : Agent JAMS App-Server
#InitiatorType       : ManualSubmit
#InitiatorID         : 0
#InitiatorUid        : 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000
#ProcessID           : 5408
#SchedulingPriority  : 0
#ExecutionPriority   : 0
#FinalStatusCode     : 0
#FinalSeverity       : Success
#RetainOption        : Default
#RetainTime          : 
#RestartCount        : 0
#CurrentState        : Executing
#Tags                : 
#Debug               : False
#Held                : False
#Icon                : Default
#IconPermanent       : False
#IconMessage         : 
#LogFilename         : D:\JAMS\Logs\Logs\test-jobinfo_003668BD.log
#TempFilename        : D:\JAMS\Temp\test-jobinfo_003668BD.ps1
#SubmittedBy         : MYDOMAIN\myuser
#Name                : test-jobinfo
#JobName             : test-jobinfo
#DisplayName         : test-jobinfo
#FinalStatus         : 
#Note                : 
#JobStatus           : 
#ReconnectAgentName  : MYSERVER
#Source              : 
#JAMSId              : 939fb4c8-ce31-4e1a-8704-10258e85c003
#WFNextTimer         : 1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
#WFState             : 0
#WFInstance          : 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000
#AuditTrail          : {}
#WFTracking          : {}
#Parameters          : {[JAMSTraceLevel, MVPSI.JAMS.EntryParam], [PSExecutionPolicyPreference, MVPSI.JAMS.EntryParam], 
#                      [ErrorActionPreference, MVPSI.JAMS.EntryParam]}
#Elements            : {MaintenanceWindow, SendEMail, SendEMail}
#SourceElements      : {}
#Properties          : {ExecuteAs: JAMS, HomeDirectory: C:\JamsWorkingFolder, SingleInstanceAction: AllowMultiple, 
#                      NotifyEMail: ...}
#ExecuteAsName       : JAMS
#ExecuteAsID         : 1
#LoadedFrom          : Server: MYSERVER.mycompany.local/Default
#BatchQueue          : Queue: 
#BatchQueueName      : 
#BatchQueueID        : 0
#Calendar            : Calendar: 
#CalendarName        : 
#CalendarID          : 0
#Agent               : Agent: Agent JAMS App-Server
#AgentID             : 1
#AgentName           : Agent JAMS App-Server
#MinimumSeverity     : Warning
#Job                 : Job: test-jobinfo
#LogFile             : System.ServiceModel.Dispatcher.StreamFormatter+MessageBodyStream
#Modified            : False
#NewObject           : False
#Validated           : False
#InEdit              : False
#HasErrors           : False
#Error               : 

SQL Server: How to backup all databases with a timestamp

I hate, hate, hate clicking and clicking again, especially for tasks that can be automated. And one of these tasks is doing DB backups, which I have to do every time before starting a deployment.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. This generates a backup for every database except the system ones (see line 20) as databasename_yyyymmdd.bak, e.g. ERP-UAT-DB_20230321.bak.

Source: DotJim blog (
Jim Andrakakis, March 2023

DECLARE @name NVARCHAR(256) -- database name  
DECLARE @path NVARCHAR(512) -- path for backup files  
DECLARE @fileName NVARCHAR(512) -- filename for backup  
DECLARE @fileDate NVARCHAR(40) -- used for file name

/* specify database backup directory */
SET @path = 'D:\myBackups\'  
/* get date as yyyyMMdd */
SELECT name 
FROM master.sys.databases 
WHERE name NOT IN ('master','model','msdb','tempdb')  -- exclude these databases
AND state = 0 -- database is online
AND is_in_standby = 0 -- database is not read only for log shipping

OPEN db_cursor   
FETCH NEXT FROM db_cursor INTO @name   
   SET @fileName = @path + @name + '_' + @fileDate + '.BAK'  
   BACKUP DATABASE @name TO DISK = @fileName  
   FETCH NEXT FROM db_cursor INTO @name   
CLOSE db_cursor   
DEALLOCATE db_cursor

Change the path, obviously, and you can also change the WHERE name NOT IN (‘master’,’model’,’msdb’,’tempdb’). E.g. you can do something like WHERE name LIKE ‘%_PRODUCTION’ to suit your scenario.

RabbitMQ: How to publish (upload) a file to a queue via Powershell using REST

As part of my job, this is something I use a lot. And the thing is, it’s quite easy, it’s just an Invoke-WebRequest. Here’s how I do it:

# Source: DotJim blog (
# Jim Andrakakis, January 2023

# ===== Parameters =====

    [string]$fileName = 'C:\temp\uploadinfo.json',
    [string]$rqServer = 'http://myServer:15672', # better use HTTPS though
    [string]$rqVhostName = 'myVhost',
    [string]$rqQueueName = 'myQueue',
    [string]$rqExchangeName = 'amq.default', # or your exchange name
    [string]$rqUsername = 'myUser', # this user needs at least 'Management' permissions to post to the REST API
    [string]$rqPassword = 'myPass',
	# RabbitMQ has a recommended message size limit of 128 MB
    # See
    # But of course depending on your app you might want to set it lower
	[int]$rqMessageLimitMB = 128		

# ======================

$ErrorActionPreference = 'Stop'
$WarningPreference = 'Continue'

[string]$rqUrl = "$rqServer/api/exchanges/$rqVhostName/$rqExchangeName/publish"

# Sanity check
if (-not (Test-Path $fileName)) {
    Write-Error "File $fileName was not found"

# Check RabbitMQ size limit
[int]$rqMessageLimit = $rqMessageLimitMB * 1024 * 1024 
[long]$fileSize = (Get-Item -Path $fileName).Length
if ($fileSize -gt $rqMessageLimit) {
    Write-Error "File $fileName is bigger that the maximum size allowed by RabbitMQ ($rqMessageLimitMB MB)"

$plainCredentials = "$($rqUsername):$($rqPassword)"
$encodedCredentials = [Convert]::ToBase64String([System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes($plainCredentials))
$authHeader = "Basic " + $encodedCredentials

[string]$content = Get-Content -Path $fileName -Encoding UTF8
$msgBase64 = [Convert]::ToBase64String([System.Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes($content))
$json = "{`"properties`":{`"content_type`":`"application/json`",`"delivery_mode`":2},`"routing_key`":`"$rqQueueName`",`"payload`":`"$msgBase64`",`"payload_encoding`":`"base64`"}"
$resp = Invoke-WebRequest -Method Post -Uri $rqUrl -Headers @{'Authorization'= $authHeader} -Body $json
if([math]::Floor($resp.StatusCode/100) -ne 2) {
    Write-Error "File $fileName could not be posted, error $($resp.BaseResponse)"

Write-Host "File $fileName was posted to $rqUrl"

New version of XMLSlurper: 2.0

I just published a new version of my open source C# Dandraka.Slurper library in Github and

The new version, 2.0, implements the existing XML functionality but, additionally, for Json. And because it’s not just about XML anymore, I had to rename it from Dandraka.XmlUtilities (which, if I’m being honest, sounded bad anyway) to Dandraka.Slurper. It also targets .Net Standard 2.1.

Here’s a quick usage example:

using Dandraka.Slurper;

public void PrintJsonContents1_Simple()
	string json = 
  'id': 'bk101',
  'isbn': '123456789',
  'author': 'Gambardella, Matthew',
  'title': 'XML Developer Guide'
}".Replace("'", "\"");
	var book = JsonSlurper.ParseText(json);

	// that's it, now we have everything            
	Console.WriteLine("id = " +;
	Console.WriteLine("isbn = " + book.isbn);
	Console.WriteLine("author = " +;
	Console.WriteLine("title = " + book.title);

Separately, there are a couple of changes that don’t impact the users of the library:

  1. A Github Codespace configuration was added to the repository (in case I want to fix a bug on my iPad while traveling 😊).
  2. The test project was migrated from DotNet Core 3.1 to 6.0.

The new version is backwards compatible with all previous versions. So if you use it, updating your projects is effortless and strongly recommended.

Signs that you need coffee, #8

You wake up on a rainy Saturday morning and desperately need a cappuccino.

You take the milk out of the fridge.

You start the milk frother without actually pouring milk into it .

You put the coffee cup under the espresso machine and press the coffee button without having turned it on.

You see the milk out of the fridge, wonder who forgot it there, and put it back in.

You stare at the coffee cup trying to understand why it’s empty.

You peek at the milk frother and are perplexed to discover it too is empty.

In this state, it will probably take a miracle for me to get the coffee I so obviously need.