Posts for #Software

Well, I don’t. I never switch off my computer and I never quit the utilities that are running on it all the time. There may be better reasons for this than I have, but these are mine: I use it 14 hours a day anyway, and to boot my 3.4 GHz Athlon 64 system from a cold state into Windows XP, with all the tools running, it takes 19 minutes, that’s no exaggeration. In this context, there’s something I absolutely hate: most applications, even small ones, have routines these days that run “regularly”. Many do automatic update checking, some do automatic backups, whatever. And guess what those brainy developers do? They run those processes at startup, somehow assuming that a satisfying regularity will come automatically that way.

Great. Crap, of course. Guys, don’t do that! It’s useless! Many people don’t restart your application all the time, so it just doesn’t work! And I’m sure those apps take their share of the 19 minutes boot time, because once they are actually restarted it’s something that happens only every few weeks, so all the update checks/backup/whatever take place at the same time. Who comes up with such an idiotic idea?

How do you do screenshots? Is there anybody who doesn’t do them these days? It just occurred to me that I never wrote about my program of choice for this task, SnagIt.

As of today, Skype have launched a beta for their new SkypeIn service. Currently it’s possible to get numbers in four regions (France, Hong Kong/China, United Kingdom and United States), regardless of where you yourself live, that allow people to dial in to your Skype using “normal” telephone systems. For a year, the subscription costs 30€, 10€ for 3 months. A subscription for the Skype VoiceMail system, that’s also been in beta test for a while now, is included in that price. To use the new features, you’ll need a newly released beta version of the Skype Client.

A OneNote notebook is comprised of separate files, which may be stored in different locations. Sure, if you first create a new “Section” in OneNote itself, the application will create the new file in the default path (which can be customised via Tools/Options/Open and Save). But you can easily move that file elsewhere once it’s been created. Just create a normal Windows link to the file in your notebook folder and OneNote will show the tab with a small symbol on it, so you know that file is not physically part of your default notebook.

Chris Sano has made a fix for his ColorPicker.NET available, a tool I wrote about earlier. This update fixes the problems related to multi-monitor setups, where the mouse pointer wouldn’t want to leave the primary screen after dragging the mouse in the color area. His announcement of the fix is here.

In Chris Pratley’s article The best ways to show OneNote to others, I found the idea of storing blog articles in OneNote. Somehow that never occurred to me 😃 So I thought I’d employ the IE2OneNote power toy to copy all my current articles to OneNote to start with. Several problems with this: first, the format of a web page is completely lost when doing that. The power toy simply dumps the textual context of a page, plus the images, into a OneNote page sequentially. Sometimes, I do use tables in my blog articles and I also use formatting for my code samples, so that’s really ugly. The second thing is, IE2OneNote hangs up Internet Explorer reliably when trying to send my article Simulating object properties with ITypedList and custom PropertyDescriptors to OneNote. Most other articles I tried don’t show that problem, I have no idea why this happens… Now, the question is, are there alternatives? Maybe even for Firefox instead of IE?

Update: I just found that part of the reason I’m losing formatting is that OneNote doesn’t support tables at all. Chris Kunicki has that on his list of 8 things he doesn’t like about OneNote.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Copernic Desktop Search 1.5 beta is currently available to the public. One of the most important new features was for me the introduction of an extensibility API. When I wrote that first announcement, I hadn’t had a close look at the API. By now I’ve found out that it’s about extracting data from new file types, nothing more or less than that. I’d wish, and maybe I should add that to my list of things I’d like to see in CDS, they would extend that extensibility support to other areas, like creating plugins for file type preview, or even introducing completely new ranges of searchable objects. Well, maybe that’s in the future. For now, I’ve taken the plunge and tried to implement a custom extractor for CDS. And while I was at it, I wanted to do it in in C#. I succeeded and these are the results, maybe somebody will find this useful to implement a custom extractor that really does something worthwhile 😃

The interface

I’ve been using Copernic Desktop Search for several months now and I think it’s really a great program, especially as it is free. I’ve recently tried X1, to see if I’m missing anything, but I decided that for the steep price there’s not enough X1 can offer me. This is even more true for the new (beta) version 1.5 of CDS, where a lot of features have been added. Although things have been extended a lot, there are still a lot of features that are restricted for no apparent reason. Here’s my list of things I’d like to see implemented/changed in CDS. In case anybody at Copernic reads this… personally, I’d be willing to pay a price for CDS, it doesn’t have to be free. I also have licenses for Agent Professional, Tracker and Summarizer. Just don’t make it as expensive as X1 😃

  • Search overall. Why do I always have to specify first which kind of file I’m searching for?
  • For Thunderbird, index at least all locally stored folders, including offline folders. I’m using Thunderbird with IMAP, and apart from several weirdly named folders (like 02c67ac5), I can only select my RSS folders for indexing, nothing else. Some of my IMAP and news group folders are offline folders and could be indexed as such.
  • For Outlook, index appointments and notes. I don’t use Outlook for mail or contacts, so that support is useless for me.
  • Index favourites and history for more than one browser. Who uses just one browser these days? Why does there have to be a restriction to only one browser?
  • Indexing of OneNote data. At least this could be added by a custom extractor (I have an upcoming post on that) in the future.
  • Indexing of IMAP mail servers.
  • Configuration for the allowance of system load. Currently I can’t influence when CDS thinks my system’s resources are highly used, and therefore stops indexing. There are often very many processes running on my system and CDS stops indexing much too often. Nevertheless, generally the Copernic implementation of unintrusive background indexing works great, compared with X1 again.

Yesterday, I moved my blog over to the new release 1.5 of WordPress. I had been using version 1.2.2 of WordPress previously, as packaged in Debian unstable. Now I wanted to use the downloadable version, to be more flexible in the future to do experiments. The first problem I faced was that I didn’t want to have any downtime while I was playing around with the new version, porting my theme and everything. So I started off by cloning my complete WordPress database in MySql by dumping it to an SQL file (I do that every night for backup purposes anyway) and using that file to create an exact copy of the database. I also had to grant the database user I’m using for WordPress the same rights on that new database that he has on the old one.

I untared the new distribution into its own folder and created a wp-config that used the new database with the old user account. I created a new alias in my Apache config to access the new installation in its path, leaving the old alias untouched. I accessed the new URL and I could immediately see my old blog content in the new theme! The main problem was that all the links were still wrong because I hadn’t yet changed the WordPress and blog address configuration settings, plus my old permalink structure wasn’t there anymore. After a little bit of fiddling, I managed to access the management frontend of the new installation to change the settings and recreate the permalink structure (or rather the correct .htaccess file). Now I created a new theme by copying the Classic theme folder to a new name. I copied my own style sheet to the new theme folder (calling it style.css) and added a header to it:

Copernic Desktop Search v1.5 Beta has been announced, here’s the What’s New page with the download link. The most important thing is right at the bottom:

API for adding custom file indexers
New COM API allowing third-party developers to create plug-ins enabling new file type indexing (view PDF documentation) That’s a feature that’ll really set them apart from other products, plus it proves to me they are really listening to their customers: I’m one of those who requested that feature in the past. I’ll be sure to have a very close look at that thing.