July 2004 - Posts - Jon Galloway

July 2004 - Posts

MSNBC News Aggregator

Check out the MSNBC Beta News Aggregator page: Newsbot. Similar to Google News - which, interestingly enough, is still in beta. 

From the Newsbot about page:

The MSNBC Newsbot (beta), powered by MSN Search Technology, is an experimental, automated news service. Newsbot gathers news from over 4,800 sources on the Internet to speed your discovery of the information you care about most. Enter a topic, interest, or news story you want to learn more about and MSNBC Newsbot will bring you up-to-the-minute coverage from around the Internet. Newsbot is built on advanced computer algorithms to determine which stories and photos are most relevant, most popular, and to recommend stories to individual readers based on their interests.

Newsbot clusters related news headlines and photos to allow you to compare coverage from multiple sources. Each story links to the publisher's site where you can read the article in full. As news changes, Newsbot continuously updates to keep you current on what stories are being reported around the world. You can search to find news related to particular topics, or browse the sections to find news in Sports, Business, Technology, or World News.

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[OT] A real education - in 4th grade

I just heard about a cool idea a local 4th grade teacher is using to teach kids a lesson most folks don't learn until after college.

Here are the rules:
Each week, you get a salary of funny money (I think it can vary depending on grades and behavior, but the details aren't important). There are cheap, flashy toys you can buy with your funny money.

Catch number one: You must pay rent on your desk. The rent turns out to be a significant amount of the funny money.

Catch number two: You can save up and buy your desk. This takes several weeks of saving. After you've bought your desk, you no longer pay rent, so you've got more money each week.

Catch number three (my favorite): After you've bought your desk, you can buy another student's desk. They must pay you rent (unless they save up and buy the desk).

What's funny is that the same thing happens every year - the boys blow all their money on the flashy toys, while the girls all save up and buy their desks. Then the girls buy the boys' desks. Then the girls buy all the best goodies. The boys get outraged at having to pay rent to a girl, and that the girls have all the money.

Posted by Jon Galloway | 1 comment(s)
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[Funny] Fun With C# and HP Laserjets

I just recently stumled across Ode To Code. Good stuff.

Just saw this article about how to write messages on a networked HP Printer's LCD readout in C#. It even supplies random messages if you can't think of one - I think these are pretty funny:

    public static string GetRandomMessage()
    {
      string [] Messages = { 
                             "BUZZ OFF", 
                             "TOUCH ME",
                             "STEP AWAY",
                             "SET TO STUN",
                             "SCORE = 3413",
                             "PAT EATS MICE",
                             "FEED ME",
                             "GO AWAY",
                             "NEED MORE SPACE",
                             "POUR ME A DRINK",
                             "IN DISTRESS",
                             "NICE SHIRT",
                             "GO AWAY",
                             "NO PRINT FOR YOU",
                             "RADIATION LEAK",
                             "HANDS UP",
                             "PRESS MY BUTTON",
                             "TAKE ME HOME",
                             "LOOKS LIKE RAIN",
                             "HELLO WORLD",
                             "NICE HAIR",
                             "NEED A MINT?",
                             "BE GENTLE",
                             "BE KIND",
                             "INSERT DISK",
                             "BUY ME LUNCH",
                             "DONT STOP",
                             "COME CLOSER",
                             "TAKE A BREAK",
                             "INSERT QUARTER",
                             "BLACK SABBATH"
      };

Hot damn, computers are fun.

UPDATE: I compiled it so you can give it a whirl. [download]. You have to run it from the command line, so if you save it right on the C:\ drive, you can do Start->Run->“cmd“->“c:\hpMessages {PRINTERNAME} “HELLO”

You have to replace {PRINTERNAME} with the network name or the IP of the printer. I used IP and it worked fine.

Requires .NET Framework 1.1.

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[HTML] FIELDSET and LEGEND tags

I'd been styling my forms with divs and CSS - this should simplify things quite a bit:

...one of my co-workers who is something of a css junkie showed me some tags I was not aware of before, and how they can be nicely styled up to give some interesting form effects. The tags are the “fieldset” and “legend” tags which can enclose one or more “form” elements (I won't try to post the html here for fear of skrewing up other dotnetjunkies weblogs). They render quite nicely in IE without styling (see below, I like the rounded corners). And you can style them up with colour (see here towards the bottom). They also display quite nicely in mozilla (albeit without the rounded corners). They are in the HTML 4.01 standard so you have a fighting chance of them working in older browsers too.

[Via WebLogs @ DotNetJunkies.com]
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[Funny] Steve Ballmer TV Ad for Windows 1.0

Ballmer Selling Windows 1.0 circa 1986.

Only plays in IE. Now how much would you pay?

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Server.Transfer vs. Response.Redirect

Server.Transfer is often a better choice than Response.Redirect.

Example:Let's say you're on A.aspx and you want to send the user to B.aspx.

Response.Redirect flow
A.aspx calls Response.Redirect("B.aspx",false); which sends a 302 redirect header down to the client browser, telling it that the asset it has requested (A.aspx) has moved to B.aspx, and the web application terminates. The client browser then sends a request to the webserver for B.aspx. IIS tells asp_wp.exe to process the request. asp_wp.exe (after checking authentication and doing all the other setup stuff it needs to do when a new request comes in) instantiates the appropriate class for B.aspx, processes the request, sends the result to the browser, and shuts down.

Server.Transfer flow
A.aspx calls Server.Transfer("B.aspx");. ASP.NET instantiates the appropriate class for B.aspx, processes the request, sends the result to the browser, and shuts down.

Note that Server.Transfer cuts the load on the client and the server.

Server.Transfer is easier to code for, too, since you maintain your state. Information can be passed through the HTTP Context object between the pages, eliminating the need to pass information in the querystring or reload it from the database.

More info here and here.

Posted by Jon Galloway | 14 comment(s)
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[FIX] Outlook Web Access (OWA) shows installer dialog on message edit screen

OWA 2000 and 2003 have an annoying bug that shows an Office Installer dialog when you bring up a message edit screen (new message or reply to message).

Support articles 257886 and 298110 discuss the issue.

This reg file entry fixes it:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{438DA5E0-F171-11D0-984E-0000F80270F8}\InprocServer32] "InprocServer32"=-

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{010E6CBE-FE2B-11D0-B079-006008058A0E}\InprocServer32] "InprocServer32"=-

Instructions:
(1) Highlight the blue text
(2) Open notepad
(3) Paste
(4) "File / Save As" Desktop / FixOWA.reg
(5) Double click file.
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[OT] Vinyl Data

One strategy that major record companies have been employing lately to deter downloading is adding bonus computer content to new CD releases. I recently discovered that this technique is not unique to CD's, but had in fact been practiced in the vinyl era as well. That's right: there were a handful of records released in the late 70's and early 80's that contained computer programs as part of the audio...

...good article with screenshots here... very thorough history software included in audio format on music releases. you can even play some of them online, and i suggest you do - the thompson twins need your help:

you can even see some funny code comments:

via Viva Voce news (shoutouts to Kevin, Anita, and Rollie Fingers)

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[Tip] Use IE for FTP, even if it's no longer your default browser

[Update: There's a decent FTP client for Firefox now: FireFTP. I recommend that instead of this registry hack.]

IE's got a pretty good FTP browser - sure, it's not a full featured client, but it's handy for a quick drag and drop file up / down. It makes the Firefox FTP view look downright quaint (hello, Netscape 2.0).

So, after setting whatever browser as your new default, merge this reg file into your registry to associate only ftp:// links with IE. You'll probably need to right click / "save link as..." in Firefox.

Or if you'd rather do this manually (copy the blue text, paste into notepad, save as IE_FTP.reg, and double-click on the reg file), here it is:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

;This assumes IE is installed in its default location
;c:\Program Files\Internet Explorer

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp]
@="
URL:File Transfer Protocol"
"EditFlags"=dword:00000002
"ShellFolder"="{63da6ec0-2e98-11cf-8d82-444553540000}"
"Source Filter"="{E436EBB6-524F-11CE-9F53-0020AF0BA770}"
"URL Protocol"=""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\DefaultIcon]
@="C:\\PROGRA~1\\INTERN~1\\IEXPLORE.EXE,0"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\Extensions]
".IVF"="{C69E8F40-D5C8-11D0-A520-145405C10000}"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\shell]
@="open"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\shell\open]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\shell\open\command]
@="C:\\PROGRA~1\\INTERN~1\\IEXPLORE.EXE \"%1\""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\shell\open\ddeexec]
@="\"%1\",,-1,0,,,,"
"NoActivateHandler"=""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\shell\open\ddeexec\Application]
@="IExplore"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\shell\open\ddeexec\ifExec]
@="*"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ftp\shell\open\ddeexec\Topic]
@="WWW_OpenURL"

 

RE: Why is IE going down so much?

I don't think IE usage is still in the 90% range. Stats in my previous post on this topic, IE Market Share... and Why It Matters, show it in the low 80's and dropping - the July numbers show this trend is continuing. Remember that "alternative" browsers often report themselves as IE so they don't get "downlevel" HTML.

I think the decision that IE isn't a profit center outside of Windows releases was probably short sighted. Many things in software and technology are important for credibility (think Java for Sun, IBM nano research, etc.), and credibility is very important when it comes to technology purchases. For example, a small design (primarily Mac users) which has to deal with IE quirks all the time is unlikely to want to set up a W2K3 / Exchange mail system when they need e-mail, or go to IIS6 when they need a web server, etc. Don't just write that market segment off as a lost cause, because it wasn't a few years ago.

I probably wouldn't recommend that Microsoft get into the browser market right now if they weren't, but since they got in several years ago they don't have this luxury. Like it or not, Internet Explorer is part of Microsoft's brand identity. Business managers often approve technology purchases based on how they feel about a company, and bad feelings about IE for the non Windows XP crowd (including Windows 2000, for example) will cost sales of Microsoft products.

I don't see this changing either - see the July 6 IE chat transcript from aebrahim's blog. There's a lot of "we understand what you're asking for, we appreciate your feedback, we are evaluating this (but don't expect anything besides XP SP2 and Longhorn)". That's how I've been taught to politely tell someone no in the business software world. I empathize with the IE team, I just don't think they have the high level support they need to compete here.

Having enough of problems with IE, I'm switching to Mozilla Firefox today.

...To summarize: IE guys, you have to get out of year 1999 as soon as possible. When people say Microsoft, they think Windows and IE. This is the most common. Losing IE for Mozilla or Opera you are giving away a lot more than some small percent of users - you're giving away a lot of brand recognition. How can anybody forget about the first and most used application of his clients? Is this arrogant or just overlooking? How can you say you want to provide the very best experience to users when the most important tool, an icon of our times, browser which is the very first computing experience of many people, is so broken?

So, make me come back to IE. Or maybe nobody cares?

[Via 24/7/dev&coffee]
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