Posts for #Software

I just read a very interesting article in Chris Pratley’s OneNote blog, titled OneNote Shared Sessions. Although I’ve been using OneNote for a long time (and lately even more on my Motion Computing M1400 Tablet PC), I had never had a close look at that feature. Now I tried it, I find it fantastic! Not only does it simply work very well, it’s really easy to use (there’s a nice introduction at OneNoteAnswers) and it tries to be easily compatible with your network setup by using only one UDP port that can be fixed or changed through the options dialog. A fantastic accomplishment for a piece of Microsoft software! Performance seems to be absolutely acceptable, I tried it with three systems on a local network, two of which use WLAN, and also through a VPN tunnel over the internet. I found two usage issues while playing around with it that one should be aware of:

  1. When systems (or users) join a shared session, they get a copy of the shared pages created in their own notebooks. Under specific circumstances it’s obviously possible that the page is already on that system, like from an earlier session. In this case OneNote creates an additional copy of the page, which even has the exact same name and creation timestamp as the first copy. I find it hard to think of a much better solution, but still the user has to work out which page is which and where the various copies came from. Maybe using an additional copy timestamp would have been a solution?
  2. When using Ink (also from non-tablet system) to draw into or over text fields, like when using a markup pen, the ink strokes don’t always have the exact same location, relative to the text, as they have on the other systems. So marking up some text to say “look here, that’s what I mean” is virtually impossible.

This is obviously not new, but I didn’t know it yet: ILIDE#

I was just writing a utility assembly for the startup handling of my applications. That thing is called ...Startup.dll, which kind of made sense to me and resides within a folder called Startup in my source code hierarchy. No problem that far. Things started to behave weirdly when I created a small test app, a separate project in a subfolder of the Startup folder. Suddenly I got an error from Visual Studio: CS0016, … can’t write to file ...\test.startup.exe: access denied.

Usually this kind of problem has something to do with the funny methods that VS uses to access IntelliSense information for the IDE. That’s been a known problem in VS.NET 2003 for a long time and although I was using v2005, I thought maybe it had to do with that. Restarted, looked around… no change. I tried to create another project in another place and found out bit by bit that actually the path where the project was stored was the issue here. To make a long story short: I found that McAfee VirusScan was the source of the problem. I’m using the Enterprise 8 version, no idea about others. That thing has a feature called “Access protection”, which performs some port blocking and others functions. Under the option name Prevent access to suspicious startup items (.exe) it implements a protection for the Startup folder… but not only for the Startup folder, but for all folders that are called Startup. Wow. By configuring the access protection via the VirusScan Console, it’s possible to switch that option off and everything’s back to normal. Now back to my startup utility 😃

I don’t know about other people, but for a calculator I still swear by my old HP48SX or my newer HP49G. Using RPN, of course… never seen anybody give up using that once he really digs it. On the PC, I’ve been experimenting with all kinds or replacements, but they all had drawbacks. I’ve been trying to use HP emulators, which were difficult to use because of the funny keyboard mappings, plus you needed ROM images for them and that didn’t always seem to work either. There are of course RPN calculators for Windows (and Linux, my other platform) out there, but I never found one that offered the flexibility I admired in the HP calculators. Most aren’t programmable, to start with. Today, out of the blue (I wasn’t even looking for something like that), I found what seems like a fantastic solution: the C# Programmable Calculator. It’s RPN, it has a lot of features out of the box, and it’s very easily programmable in the language I’m using most these days: C#. Supposedly, I can even create graphics from the calculator, but I haven’t tried that yet. Looks like a perfect solution for me, and it’s Open Source, so go get it! I guess it’s difficult to extend it with an equation editor like the HP has, but then sometimes you lose 😃

I just came across this very useful tool: ColorPicker.NET. It’s a color picker, nothing else. But I guess I’m hardly the only one who’s thought about writing something similar himself… it certainly does the job nicely.

Carrier Devices have announced their PDA2 and PDA2K handsets of the i-mate brand will come preloaded with Skype software. These devices apparently come with wireless LAN anyway, so this should work just as well as the PocketPC version of Skype does on my iPAQ – which is very well. But even if you can do it yourself: I think this is a great effort to integrate technologies… I wonder what the mobile phone companies will have to say about this. I should mention that this story is reported at Geekzone, as for some reason the Carrier Devices Press Room pages don’t have this information (yet?).

There’s a new independent (and inofficial, AFAIK) web site at www.skypetips.com which lists news, a FAQ, ratings on addon hard- and software for Skype and many other things. Looks to me like they might be sponsored by somebody, but then it’s the only site I know of which offers this combination of information relating to Skype. Check it out!

UPDATE: Right after writing this, I found another site that accumulates information on news about Skype: http://skypecentral.jyve.com/. It seems to employ several automatic mechanisms to search news sites, blogs and other sources for Skype related information, so it’s probably quite current but not moderated. Will have to watch that for a while.

I just stumbled upon a very useful free tool that I didn’t know yet: Wink. Their own description from the website says:

Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots of your software, use images that you already have, type-in explanations for each step, create a navigation sequence complete with buttons, delays, titles etc and create a highly effective tutorial for your users.

Connectotel has introduced a service (currently in beta test) where mobile phones can be used to send messages to Skype users. If you use Skype and you want to be able to receive messages sent to you by SMS, all you have to do is add a pseudo user to your contact list. In short, this is what you do:

  • Register a Skype contact called “smsgateway”.
  • Send an SMS message with your mobile phone to the number +447747782320, formatted like this: