Archive for March 2006
Creating dynamic Favorite ICONs for your webpage online...
FAVICONs are very common and are excellent resources since they indicate a tangible symbol on the web browser's address bar as they visit your website and also when they bookmark your website.
For a complete explanation of FAVICON, check out this link from SiteWizard. For those people, creating personal webpages in GeoCities etc. creating FAVICONs dynamically is pretty simple. Check out this simple online applet tool from Favicon.co.uk But in case you have a more complex logo, then the best solution would be to use a full fledged image management software, resize it and then save it as an ICOn file. For freeware, check out Irfanview, which could help you out to quickly create a FAVICON for your images.
Personal Protection Software
Sometime back, we were discussing about Naviscope, a personal desktop proxy server. Proxy Servers are not just enough. To take it further and give your system, a complete protection, we also need Personal Firewalls and Antivirus softwares that can give you complete protection against harmful content from external media like Internet or any removable storage that you would insert into your system.
I would like to list you a couple of freeware that would assist you in this regard:
Naviscope -- Good Personal Proxy Server for home desktops
With broadband and DSLs getting the common thing of the day, accessing the Internet is a breeze. However, with the ease of access to the Internet, it also brings in a lot of junk stuff into our systems. Here comes the resources like Personal Proxy Servers, Firewalls, Antivirus softwares to protect your desktops and workstations.
There has been a tool called Naviscope and its homepage http://www.naviscope.com/. I don't think, this URL is available now but the download sites do offer Naviscope 8.71 as a free download.
It is a free personal proxy server, that can be configured to run from the system tray and with a variety of features, a partial list of which, I would like to give here:
- Prefetching the links as you search in Google or your favorite search engine.
- DNS Caching to prevent superflous lookups to your nameserver.
- Persistent HTTP Connections.
- MTU/RWin (Windows Internet Capability) Optimizations.
- Junk Content Blockers
- Ad Blocker
- Popup Blocker
- Cookie Blocker
- Embedded Sound/Video Blocker
- Blinking Text Blocker
The interesting feature of Naviscope is that, it shows a floating toolbar with the progress of requests that are going through it. Say if a webpage is downloading a big EXE file in the background, Naviscope would show the download progress in the toolbar.
Towards the system perspective, Naviscope does also provide a system clock synchronization with NIST Atomic clock. It also does not logging capabilities to log all Internet activities on the system.
Get your copy of Naviscope from PCWorld website.
Jana Server -- a small-scale server suite for small enterprises
Small enterprises can now also use full-fledged server applications from thier own infrastructure rather than depending on third parties and/or upstream providers. I came across a nice server suide tool called Jana Server, which is freely downloadable from its website.
It ships with an elegant set of features like the following:
- Http (Web) Server. Capable of supporting even PHP and CGI applications
- FTP Server
- FTP Gateway
- Email Server (SMTP, POP3 and IMAP)
- News (NNTP) Server
- Name Server (DNS)
- Caching Proxy Server
- Http Proxy
- Socks 4/5 Proxy
- Telnet Proxy
- RTSP (Real Player) Proxy
- Custom Gateway Configurations
Effective FTP Management of your website
FTP, which is an abbreviation of File Transfer Protocol is a very effective and inevitable tool for webmasters and even casual web surfers. Webmasters use this tool for day-to-day publishing and updates of their websites' content. Web Surfers find it a very useful tool to download software, where FTP is supported.
Compared to HTTP download/upload, since technically FTP supports dedicated connection, it is more effective in upload and download. Don't worry. I am not going to bore you with the technical internals of FTP. For those, interested thereto, check out the FTP RFC over here: http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc959.html
I thought of sharing some nice, useful client applications that would be useful for webmasters and websurfers using FTP.
FileZilla FTP Client and Server are available even with source code from SourceForge webservers. It also supports Secure FTP.
Leech FTP webserver says that the ftp application is no longer supported or is being upgraded. But it is really an excellent tool and some of the salient features that it supports are:
- Multithreaded FTP downloads
- Protected Bookmarks
- Minimize the application (while it downloads) to a system tray and optional password protection.
- Update check. But I think this feature does not work now, since updates are no longer supported.
- Http URL Clipboard monitor.
Some strange phishing emails were there in my Rediff Webmail. Should I just delete it? No. I just thought I would do some sort of recycling and find if something useful was there.
And the email was faithful to give the following details. Of course, some of the links I had to ensure that should not be clicked by copy pasted to a Google Toolbar to get the actual victimized website which has been phished.
- The site URL was Barclays Bank, based in UK. It seems to be a really an impressive and premiere banking website based in UK. There are useful tips and tricks besides interactive tools like Mortgage Calculator, Map and Area locator etc.
- Obscured URLs. The URL was really strange it was like http://0xC18003C6. For security reasons, I am not giving the phished URL rather tiving the URL of the bank itself in hexa decimal format.
- A search in Google revealed a lot of things. Actually, hexadecimal URLs are supported by the web browser for security reasons since some confidential transactions can be safely sent using encoded and encrypted URLs. However, phishers seem to use this maliciously like this.
- Technical Knowhow:
- We can study the anatomy of the URL like this: http://0xC18003C6
- http:// stands for the standard HTTP protocol.
- 0x prefix indicates that the string literal, if convertible, is a valid hexadecimal number.
- Every two digit then on would the IP address part. In this case, C1 80 03 C6 would resolve to 193 128 3 198. In the decimal notation, we need to use dot between the individual entities.
- You can simple use the Windows Calculator in View -> Scientific mode to get conversions from Decimal to Hexadecimal and vice-versa.
Elegant Data Access Strategies in .NET
Thanks to ADO.NET, database access and management has never been easy and a breeze. We have high speed managed providers without much of resource consumption. All resource management are being managed by CLR.
The default support of database access in .NET is like
- Generic OLEDB
- Generic ODBC
But it would be a better strategy for us to have a Data Access Layer, which is shortly known as DAL in programming world, which would have the complete onus in talking to the database and returning the results, instead of having each of our modules talk to the database. This way, in future,if wanted to make some performance improvements to the database access, the changes are restricted to one particular area instead of having this spill out through out the application.
Perhaps, I would like to recommend to the readers, the following URLs which we researched upon in Database Access Layers. We also have our own GDN (GotDotNet) Workspace. If you are interested to contribute some effort, please do drop in.
Managing ConnectionStrings (Securely)
Database driven webapplications and windows applications normally store the connection related info (which is often called as ConnectionStrings), into some standard INI or registry entries. .NET applications have an edge since they have a predefined configuration file like web.config or app.config for web or windows application respectively.
But the following daunting questions appear to the user:
- How to build a connectionstring easily?
- How to securely store the connectionstring since it has username, password and other sensitive info?
Here is a humble attempt to answer the queries to the user.
How to build a connectionstring easily
- If you know the provider or driver you are going to use, you can hand-prepare the connectionstring based on the manual and/or documentation or samples in hand.
- Check out http://www.connectionstrings.com/. For any connectionstrings, this, I guess would be a very useful resource for developers worldwide.
- You can easily build a simple connectionstring editor using a simple editor like using a tool like DanMeyar has given.
How to secure the connectionstrings
- Securing a connectionstring is a debated question. Perhaps my other article in CodeProject also attempts to explain this. Check it out here.
- Trusted Connections You can enable Trusted Connection for the account running your webapplication to the database of the application. Like ASPNET account in SQLServer for your database. Or you can use impersonation. Even Oracle now supports OS Integrated Authentication. This way, you can avoid storing passwords n web.config
- ASPNET_SetReg.exe: You can use this Microsoft provided tool to encrypt and store credentials in the registry. Check out more details from Microsoft Support Article 329290.
I hope these would be very useful for developers of web applications and windows applications.
Website Precompiler for ASP.NET
The most elegant feature of ASP.NET is the JIT compilation and caching of the pages once served, so that the second time, the users would get the most fastest response. However, the very first user to request the page has to wait a while, as the pages are JITted.
ASP.NET 2.0 has a compile website option, I guess. However, for websites running on .NET framework 1.1 this is still an issue. I have been looking out for some solutions and I came across the following article, which I think would be helpful to other users too and would like to share the same.
I hope these would be very useful for ASP.NET development fraternity worldwide.
Websites which offer a dynamic interaction from the people have always been successful with more number of returning visitors. A very static webpage always invites only a few visitors who need the information for that point of time.
So what are the ways in which a webuser can register his opinion with the website? The sky is the limit for the channels that can be opened up for the same.
Traditionally, guestbooks have been the most preferred choice for webmasters, be it big websites or little personal hobby pages.
There is nothing in the world that claims a hundred percent perfection. There always remains a scope for further improvement and development. A good guestbook for a website can invite comments on a particular thought expressed in the website, get attention on a failing component of a website or a suggestion towards a better enhancement of the same.
Is it too difficult to configure a guestbook for a website. Not at all. Creating, Configuring and Maintaining a guestbook had and would never be a pain but rather a pleasure. When your kid gets comments from his teacher on getting first rank in his class subjects in the examinations, you would be happy right. It is quite similar to that, when your visitors leave suggestions for your website.
To start with, you can check out a lot of open source implementation of guestbooks, which you can download, configure and use them on your website. However, if you are afraid of technical configuration, there are a lot of remotely hosted guestbook solutions too.
We would like to summarize a few of them for your convenience.
- Flash GuestBook from PepFx Design
Tutorial of creating a Guestbook (in ASP)
- Guestbook Tutorial from Joshua Bengal.
Tips on Maintaining Guestbooks
- Check out administrative control panel of the guestbook once in a while to ensure that no unrelated or junk messages are posted to guestbooks.
- To prevent spammers and spam robots from posting junk comments to your guestbooks, you can make use of CAPTCHA trick. Integrating a CAPTCHA trick is very easy in any of the solution. For more information on CAPTCHA, check out this post.
- It would also be better to have a Private Message checkbox so that some users can send a message to you and then later you can edit and with the consent of the user make it appear in the Guestbook. The concept of Private Messages is in fact a debated issue. Some consider that these are like Contact Forms but their significance is always come to stay.
If you have observed Windows has a couple of nice elegant cames like Cards, MineSweeper etc in its default installation. These make Windows very interactive and lovely to work and even during a casual snacks or lunch hour or a weekend, we can keep playing in the laptop.
Just imagine, how cool it would be to play the game over the web browser too.
ScreenRuler -- Measuring Screen Widths Effectively
Homepages and blogs are so common. Have you wondered and longed for a simple tool that can help you measure the screen widths quickly and effectively. I was having a similar requirement and a search revealed a simple freeware called ScreenRuler, which is downloadable from Spadix Software.
Now you can rule the screen with the ScreenRuler!
Free Indian Language Word Processing Application
It is now history to have webpages in Indian Languages that need costly Java Applets, untrusted ActiveX Controls, heavy flash movies and slow images. Perhaps if you check out Google Tamil or Google Hindi, the most elegant way could be to make use of Unicode UTF-8 standard to acheive this.
Towards this, I needed a software that could make up Hindi/Tamil versions of webpages for a friend of mine and came across this freeware editor called Baraha. Baraha in Kannada means writing.
It has a lot of features and supports a lot of Indian languages and export capability to Unicode. If you still need TTF type, Baraha has its own font for each of the Indian language to support that too.
Check out Baraha and/or Baraha SDK from http://www.baraha.com/index.htm