Archive for March 2007
Quick Fast Review on Email Services
With a plethora of email websites on the Internet, getting a free email is so easy and you have so much of choices available in front of you. Not only that you can customize your cyber identity but also get whopping space for everything that you need to store under the sun. I would like to share a few websites that would help you to choose a better email address for long run. Perhaps this post is a review of these review websites.
- EmailAddresses.com (Besides email addresses, you also get to know about other services like Autoresponders, Online storage etc)
- About.com Review Page
Also check out Free Email/Website hosting from Microsoft OfficeLive. However, this signup is currently restricted to a free countries only.
Comprehensive Code Samples in C# and VB.NET
At least for beginners who would need a guiding hand to take them through thier journey in .NET, there are a plenty of websites to help. I came across this download in Microsoft Download Center which says '101 Code Samples in VB and C#'. You can download the samples from here.
Colloborative Computing and Project/Team Management
These days with the power of communication lines, geographical distance does not matter. That is why it is said that the world has shrunk into a global village. With enterprises distributed across diversified continents, the actual problem is bringing in and streamlining the communication processes among the teams scattered across the globe. In my previous organization, we have been using a service from QuickBase. It has end to end workflow management for an enterprise application management. But this one is not free and is a premium service.
I would also like to share a couple of free workflow management applications that I came across:
For those of us with tight schedules and a lot of activities lined up, remembering them and tracking them would be an ardous ordeal. Any simple little tool which organizes tasks for them and reminds them would be thanked by them greatly. I came across this tool called Stickies. This is a very small download and a freeware.
A few good things about this application are:
- Smaller download
- Low memory footprint
- Place anywhere on the screen.
- SMTP capability to transfer notes across to any system.
- Palm/Handheld device support
- International language support
Steganography -- An Art of Protection of Text through Images
While casually surfing the Internet, I came across something called Steganography. First I got confused with Stenography. But carefully check the spelling. And there is some elegant explanation in Wikipedia to this here. In a way, I think this is similar to CAPTCHA project that is currently being used across all the web applications to prevent automated robots and spam spiders from creating havoc on the websites.
Something new that I learnt over the weekend and do a bit of research upon.
[Review] DotProject -- Opensource Project Management Tool
We have been discussing about a few hosted project management solutions over here. But nothing comes closer to having an installed dedicated application running right from our desktop. And no doubt, Microsoft Project is unbeatable. But for small organizations the license and cost of these tools would be prohibitive.
I came across a tool called DotProject which is an open source project management suite. Check out DotProject from here.
You can have your own HTTP Server (at code level)
Are you just going crazy about having your own webserver instead of just using IIS or Apache. Now with easy to use APIs like System.Web.Hosting in C#, writing the webserver has become like having a piece of cake. Besides these, there are a lot of webserver downloads that help you out. Here are a few samples:
Besides these, I came across this page too.
[Review] Java 2 Enterprise Edition by Vijay Mukhi
Java had been the most promising language on par .NET. Even now there are large scale enterprise applications having strong demand for Java. College students and aspirants into IT field try to get strong foothold into these technologies. With so many software training institutes in Chennai, I strongly feel that a good book choice can never be supplanted by anything else. Under these circumstances, I would like to introduce and write a note on Java 2 Enterprise Edition book by Vijay Mukhi.
- I came across this eBook edition from here.
- Vijay Mukhi's books follow a very simple, pleasant, elegant and easy reading style.
- They provide a lot of easy-to-follow examples for a beginner to grasp the concepts and code without much difficulties.
- Now from the provided website at http://www.vijaymukhi.com/ his books have a cyber companion besides quick and easy bookshops available all over the country.
Check out the book now.
Learn more about this contest >>
Debugging and troubleshooting webservices particularly after our website/application has gone live is always a nightmarish experience. This had been the case even in my previous organization. For a while then, I remember using this simple tool called WebService Studio by Sowmy (sowmys (at) microsoft.com). It is a pleasant and easy to use GUI which would manage invoking the WebMethods besides giving you comprehensive details on the various parameters that it takes.
I guess, it is open source too and hosted with GotDotNet workspaces over here. And I am sure this would greatly help developers worldwide to manage webservices easily.
Dwight Schrute Bobblehead Petition
There is something interesting for Dwight's fans from the makers of Community-Credit. The comment post blog description is currently locked for new entries but for sure the existing comments does make an interesting read.
Perhaps for the weekend, it makes a very interesting read schedule.
Win Free iPods, Movie Tickets or 1GB of Storage
Your desk, Your cubicle now becomes smarter with this Easy StupidCubicle.com
No more is your workstation cubicle looks dull and old. Spice it up with latest gadgets be it utility or attractions from this simple browse-pick-and-shop store at StupidCubicle. It is one more innovative website from the home of Community Credit. You can pay off for the merchandise at these store through a variety of different credit cards.
Check it now.
Saluting "Real Technology Heroes"
Real Technology Heroes comes from the makers of Community-Credit.com. It is another innovative website from them to honor technology geeks who provide value added additions to technology be it SQLServer, ASP.NET on par the development teams at Microsoft.
You spread the word about it and there is a chance that you stand to win too. Check it out now.
Free Remote Logon Service
Inclement weather conditions, Geographical distributions and long distance travels no longer disturbs normal course of work. I came across a website called LogMeIn, which seems to be a free service that offers FREE Remote Access to PCs. You can install a simple software on your work computer. From your home, you can access LogMeIn and access your system at work.
Check out LogMeIn from here.
Real Alternative -- Elegant Alternative for RealPlayer
To listen to streaming audio files, Real Media, powered by Real Networks has been an elegant choice for ages. But for sometime since, RealPlayer has become too bulky and a lot of features demanding for premium upgradation. To add fuel to the already burning fire, each instance of RealPlayer tries to add a RealSched.exe which connects to Internet and checks for upgrades and downloads. This application is added to Windows startup.
I always hate programs starting up along with Windows other than critically significant applications like Antivirus, Firewall and Security Solutions. Furthermore, RealPlayer does not have an option to turn off this automatic start on Windows. And each instance tries to add and intimidate my WinPatrol Scotty. I was quite frustrated and added a thread in 'Hall of Shame' in CodeProject over here. dighn was kind enough to suggest a very good alternative lightweight software called RealAlternative which does the same RealMedia playing but it has lesser memory footprint and smaller download size.
I just thought I would like to share this information with other users as well.
HassleFree PDF Viewer
Adobe PDF is very well known as a cross platform and universal document system with availability of readers in all platforms. However, the latest versions of PDF readers, I felt had a lot of negative points. A few of the observations are:
- Heavier and Bulkier download
- Unwanted Update Manager bundled with the Reader
- Often connects to Internet with a buggy messagebox asking whether to abort but hangs the system.
Fortunately in a discussion forum, I came across a free and light PDF Reader called FoxIT Reader which is just about 2 MB with no heavy Internet pipeline needs. You can download a free copy of FoxIT PDF Reader from here.
Learn more about this contest >>
Save and Enhance your Windows XP
The Operating System that you work with on a everyday basis is Windows XP. You use it for Work, Internet, Personal and for anything and everything under the sun. Just like we taking precautions against health hazards and other things, we need to take care of our OS too. Should something gets affected, we should be aware of correcting it.
I would like to share a few URLs that share very articles to resurrect it from the perils and a few tips serve to enhance user experience also. Here are a few URLs that I discovered while casually surfing the Internet:
I am sure that these websites are sure tools for our Internet Explorer favorites all the time.
[Review] Easy Clipboard Managers
A few of the most heavily used keystroke combinations in Windows are CTRL+C (for Copy) and CTRL+V (for Paste). Perhaps sometimes we used to wonder if there was an option to have multiple items in the Clipboard instead of the default one of Windows Clipboard Viewer. Here is some good news I found while searching for the same.
Microsoft Word already has a Extended Clipboard within its suite of applications and I guess upto 12 or 24 items. A few of the third party applications which help us in this directions are:
Items in list (2) above make our applications clipboard friendly since quite a lot of them are open source.
Win Free iPods, Movie Tickets or 1GB of Storage
Turn off Windows with a Timer
Our home computers are not empowered for longer uptimes. It is better to turn them off over prolonged inactivity like night durations. Perhaps you can hear some sweet music and then after the playlist completes, you can configure it to auto shutdown. Similarly, you would be opting for Autoshutdown of PC after a download completes.
I found a few tools which helps us in these requirements.
- Autoshutdown by Ali Keshavarz : This is a freeware download from download.com.
- For shutdown after download complete, you can check out GetRight Download Manager.
In a way, this is similar to our TV Remote Timers which have Sleep abilility. Isn't it?
I am Featured in Community Credit March 28th NewsLetter
I am happy to share the joyous moments that I am currently featured in March 28th weekly of CommunityCredit Newsletter. Here is the March 28th version of Community Newsletter.
We are proud to highlight some of the folks that are making notable contributions to the development community. We will start off this first newsletter with a mention of a few folks and try to highlight different folks each time. You will also notice that we are now displaying different members of our development community on each page of the website.
Lorenzo is an MVP in Windows-Virtual Machines, the INETA lead South Europe and moderator of the www.WindowServer.it Virtual Machines forum. Normally that would be enough for anyone to handle, but he has quite a number of distinguished accomplishments that could take up an entire newsletter on their own.
Keith has been developing Microsoft based solutions since DOS 2.x was released. He has been active with the communities starting in the 80s with BBS User groups, through the introduction of the Internet and into the modern day community. Keith, along with 14 others, was chosen by Microsoft to create the group known as the ASPInsiders. In the 1st quarter of 2004 he was also added to the ASP.NET MVP roles. A wife, 3 kids, 1 grandson, 3 cats and 2 dogs round out his family.
Jeff Barnes is a Senior Software Engineer for Softech Development based in Birmingham, AL. He has been involved with software development since 1998 and holds an MCSD.NET (C#) certification. His passion for software development is deeply rooted in engineering solutions for the unique challenges often found within the development of distributed systems. He spends a great deal of his spare time reading and experimenting with related technologies and
Peter has been working professionally in software development for over 16 years. He's been working with computer software far longer; since his first computer, an Atari 800.
Starting in C, Peter progressed to C++ not too long after its adoption by the major compilers. With a strong background in C++, Peter has been writing, designing, and architecting Windows-based software and solutions for over 13 years.
Most recently, Peter has gotten involved in the .NET movement, c
ORCA MSI Editor
Those of us who have managed to package MSI projects would have confronted a daunting task of tweaking some of the attributes. Fortunately, I came across a tool called ORCA editor which gives the flexibility of editing the tables.
ORCA is a free SDK download from Microsoft website. You can check out this from here.
I have been trying and using a lot of toolbars like one from Google, Windows Live and a host of other ones. Of late, I gave a try to Inbox.com Toolbar, which is a close companion of the email website, http://www.inbox.com/ . I wanted to give a brief review of Crawler Toolbar at Inbox.com:
- Search dispatcher is customizable and you can customize the search engine you would like to use for Toobar searches.
- Quick Browser Clear History which includes the following:
- Internet Explorer Cache
- Internet Explorer Cookies
- Recycle Bin
- System Temporary Files
- Recent Documents
- A Quick and Easy Download Manager
- Desktop shortcut of Inbox Notes
- Desktop Email Notifier
- Quick Photo Wizard to manage albums hosted with Inbox.com
- Popup Blocker
- Spyware Terminator
- Automatic Form Filler
- Quick and Pleasant Web Browser Skins to enrich your web browser.
Web Site Tools
The GoLive for any website makes the development team, project management and others keep them always on toes. i would like to share a few applications that help us streamline our website for better performance:
SWF to XAML Convertor
If you one of them who is crazy behind having XAML presentation against the non-Microsoft Flash one, there is some good news for you. There is a easy-to-go convertor from SWF to XAML that Michael Swanson has created. You can download the utility from here.
You need Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 to run this utility. If you are using Windows Vista, then you most probably have .NET Framework 3.0 installed.
Microsoft PhotoInfo -- Ease of Changing Digital Image Data at a Click
Heavy digital camera users transferring thier files to websites would love changing the meta information of the images in thier systems. Now, Microsoft has released an easy tool to change these info right from within Windows Explorer using a simple tool called 'Microsoft PhotoInfo'.
You can download this from here. (This download is available for Genuine Windows Users only)
Newer Windows Help for Vista
Windows Vista gets something more new. The Windows Help which has been remaining the same old one for so many versions of Windows has finally seen some light at the end of its tunnel and a good facelift. Microsoft has released the new Windows Help program (winhlp32.exe) is required to view HLP files on Windows Vista.
You can download the new Windows Help for Vista here. This download is available only for Genuine Windows users.
Office Automation for ASP.NET
There is a tremendous potention unleashed by having Office Automation from within an ASP.NET web application. With a lot of avenues open, we also need to exercise extreme caution on several fronts as it poses itself as a cruelly kind double-edged sword. A few of the issues that keep haunting the scenario are:
- Heavy performance degradation
- Difference between passive ASP.NET application and Interactive Word application architectures.
- Following from (2), security settings.
Check out this article ("Considerations for server-side Automation of Office")
Helpful Aide to Remember and Recall ConnectionStrings
For most of us who are developing enterprise database applications, toggling between databases and/or different database servers is a day-to-day task. With meteors striking often, we do forget a word or two in the ConnectionString and then trying to Google for the same at least half a day.
I came across a nice reference website called ConnectionStrings.com, which provides elegant assistance to remember connectionstrings for a diversified spectrum of databases.
Mozilla Browsers can now run ActiveX Controls
It is some good news for web developers. There is a plugin for Mozilla Firefox which would enable it to run ActiveX Controls. The catch is that it runs for Mozilla FireFox on Windows using Internet Explorer API. Though only a negligible advantage, it does make a significant step in making cross browser compatible applications.
You can check out the ActiveX Control Plugin for Mozilla FireFox from here.
HTML-Kit -- Quick and Free Editor for Web-Development
Perhaps we would have discussed and touched base on the name of HTML-Kit on the following URLs:
We would here provide a short review on HTML-Kit itself. I learnt of Html-Kit, which is a comprehensive IDE from Chami.com. It has a very lot of good features that any webdeveloper would like to have it as an essential tool in his toolkit. A few of the good features are:
- Smaller memory footprint
- Easy and Quick Installation
- Small download
- Workspace support
- Full PHP Support
- Syntax Colorization
- Context-Sensitive link to PHP.NET Manual
- HtmlTidy Integration
- Extensible via Html-Kit Plugins
- Check out the full list here.
GMail Theater -- Why Use Gmail?
Google Mail or shortly known as GMail, has been a great renaissance in the email sky of the Internet. There are new sweet pluses with respect to GMail. A few of them are:
- Say 'NO' to spam with very powerful Spam Control procedures.
- Quick fast loading webpages.
- Highest User Responsive webpages, using the most friendly AJAX technologies.
- Quick chatting with your friends right from your email account.
- Almost unlimited storage. Currently ticking at 2.4 GB
- New way of organizing emails -- Labels and Conversations.
Cost-Effective Internet Telephony
Travelling to countries near and far, and where the enviroments which cost dearer and dearer is not becoming uncommon. There are simple ways of keeping in touch with each other. The Internet lends a great helping hands. Unlike PSTN which has a dedicated circult that is established, it is better to make the best use of Voice Over IP technology or Packet Switched Networks.
Telephone companies worldwide have started to make use of Voice Over iP as a cost-effective medium. I saw in a local TV advertisement, during my current stay in Dallas about cheap Internet Telephone calls from Vonage. If you are a person, glued to Instant Messaging services then the embedded voice chat in the application should help you out calling the other persons' computer for free.
Most of the Instant Messaging services offer free calling other parties computer running the same brand instant messaging application. A few of them are:
But if you still prefer calling a telephone of the intended party then these instant messaging helps you too.
The other good option is to make use of Calling Cards. These calling card operators make of Voice Over Technology but allow you to call from a normal telephone other than a computer. A few good calling card companies (from US to India) are:
So get connected to your near and dear ones through Internet Telephony.
[Review] WinRAR -- Ultimate Archiving Tool
Sometime back we were discussing about a good freeware zipping utility called UltimateZip. Unlike WinZip, this is also available under free license. This week we would discuss about another encryption algorithm and an utility called WinRAR. However note that WinRAR is not a free software. There is, I guess, a 40 day or a similar evaluation time period; and any usage beyond that should take either of the following routes:
Some of the good features I like in WinRAR are:
- High speed Zip/Unzip
- Corrupt Zip files are also displayed of its contents as far as what contents could be displayed and unpacked.
- Seamless and easy drag and drop of files to Windows Explorer, avoiding confusing and time-consuming menu/UI operations.
Check out WinRAR now from here.
[REVIEW] Scotty helps Windows to be safe against lurking perils
Go online and in a very short while you would be ending up piling up a lot of rubbish on your Windows system not excluding dangerous goods like Trojans, Spyware, Bots and keep adding to the list from the lexical spectrum. I think sometime back we were discussing about WinPatrol as a tool introduction.
Today, I found my system too be crawling and just thought I would use WinPatrol. The moment I installed it and ran, Scotty terrified all the evil applications, which we kicked from the startup. The most ugly programs I hate are those related to Adobe Updater. I think that should be one of the most sick program set designed without any performance consideration in its design and architecture.
There is another feature called Delayed Startup wherein the programs are prevented from starting immediately on Windows startup, which would compete for CPU time and thus presenting a bottleneck.
Taking it still further, WinPatrol also keeps monitoring your Internet Explorer and HOSTS file which are more common vulnerabilities that are targetted by malware applications.
We would hence recommend at least WinPatrol installation for every desktop and the cute little Scotty (watchdog) to sit near the system tray and bark and bite at the perils that threaten the integrity of the system.
[Review] Irfanview -- Quick Fast Windows Media Tool
Just wanted to share a very nice tool called Irfanview. This is a very excellent quick tool without much of DLL dependencies. Though it has an installer, you can even pick the iview32.exe alone in your mailbox along with you wherever you go. It has a lot of features of converting images from a lot of formats that are listed in the dropdowns.
Extending its rudimentary image editing capabilities are the video/audio handling features that are empowered by plugins. For personal use, Irfanview is free and for other users, please check out the license from the website.
Nudge and Buzz
After really really long time, today I sneaked into Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. There has been a lot of things that have changed in both over the course of time When I mean a lot of things, I really did mean a hill and valley difference. When I was casually playing around these instant messengers, I found a real good feature called 'Nudge' in Windows Live Messenger which corresponds to 'Buzz' (CTRL+G) in Yahoo Messenger.
Basically it jolts or shakes the instant messenger window and plays a buzz sound on the speaker to attract the user's attention. Good that Windows Live Messenger has brought the Nudge feature based on the classic buzz feature of Yahoo Messenger. Similarly, now Yahoo Messenger seems to be a comprehensive Instant Messaging platform in that you can use it to chat with Windows Live Messenger buddies also.
QueryExpress -- Quick and Small SQL Query Tool
I just needed a quick SQL connectivity tool and I was searching the internet. Just fondly met my old friend-tool, whom I had been knowing since the tenure in my previous organization. His name is called QueryExpress and you can get a copy from his home here. The following are the very good points and/or testimonials on QueryExpress.
- .NET 1.1 and/or .NET 2.0 compatible code base.
- Opensource. In fact, myself and a couple of my friends, remember researching into it and including a ODBC Tab also. It is so simple.
- Threaded Query Execution
- Gives query response times.
- Gives query in Grid/Text format like QueryAnalyzer.
- Unlike QueryAnalyzer which is very bulky installation, this is just a 100K download.
- Interested developers can now contribute their snippets at Sourceforge.
- Quick Example application to learn WinForms/ADO.NET
SMS-enabling the applications
Every application currently strives to provide worldclass features for its users. The most common trend amongst all applications is to provide up-to-date data and access to users who are on the move. Towards achieving this mission, the most common strategy is to make use of Text messaging, commonly known as SMS (Short Messaging Service).
SMS enabling the applications involving a subscription plan from the local cellular operator who service SMS requests. Fortunately there are also third-party service providers who provide cost-effective SMS services (API) for the applications. I have compiled a few of URLs for the benefit of readers:
[Review] Wimpy Flash Player
Sometime back w have been discussing about Flash Video and Flash Video Players over here. I would like to personally review on Wimpy Flash Player, which is about 2 MB download compact and standalone. A few good observations on Wimpy Flash Player are as below:
- Zip Archive Download. So your Winzip or favorite archive manager can scan before use.
- Compact 2+ MB download without pricking your Internet Bandwidth pipeline.
- Standalone and avoiding any sort of dependancies.
- Installation-Free. You can also opt to doubleclick the EXE from your Winzip or favorite archive manager to run.
- Easy use. Drag and drop your FLV file or click Open from canvas open button or open button in toolbar.
- Cross-platform Availability. Available both on Windows and Mac OS.
Free Flash Video Files
Be it a web-based training programme or a quick musical or online entertainment, Flash Video has started lending a very valuable and helping hand to us these days. YouTube has been pioneering in bringing in this FLV file usage for streaming flash videos. Redhy has explained a couple of ways of downloading videos (subject to copyright restrictions; check website and video page for details) from YouTube. For interested readers, the links are:
Once you have saved these files to your system, your system needs to be empowered in viewing documents of type "FLV". Here goes an explanation of filetype FLV. The following tools can be used to view FLV files.
[Book Review] BDOTNET UG Book Feb 2007
BDOTNET, the most happening technology discussion group of India, has released its February edition of UG Book. The book is downloadable from the following locations:
The book has a comprehensive coverage on the following topics at the starter level:
- WSS 3.0
- Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)
- Workflow Foundation
- Infopath and BizTalk
It provides an elegant introduction of the authors of the group who are either premiere contributors to the discussion group or managers of the group. Download your copy today from the links provided.
[Review] MeadCo ScriptX
I have been facing this issue while developing an enterprise application in my previous organization. After brief search, I found an ActiveX Solution called ScriptX from MeadCo. The basic version is free and supports unattended printing. The advanced version has a lot of features for margin control, page breaks and more. Check it out.
[Review] Persits ASPEmail
Just while discussing about Email facilities in .NET, I just thought I would write about Persits ASPEmail. I have been using this since my first organization (3rdAgenda). There are a lot of good words to say about ASPEmail from Persits. The first one is it is quite fast. It does not take much of server resources. It takes the messages and vanishes from ASP.NET sky and then slowly works in coordination with the SMTP server to deliver the message.
Now, you can also use Interop to use with .NET. I have been using this in one of my previous organizations (Synaptris Decisions). Furthermore, there are very good premium features like SendToQueue and Control Panel applet management.
Popup Blocker Detection
Many a times our webpage would be needing to open some information in child popup windows. And hence due to the large amount of pop up window nuisances, we have a lot of popup blockers (free and shareware) in the market. Hence it has become mandatory for us to have a code that detects and advises the user regarding the significance of our website to allow having the ability to open popup windows.
var objTestPopupWindow = window.open('about:blank', '', 'width=0,height=0");
alert ("Whoosh! There is an active popup blocker in this web browser. Please consult your browser or popup helper documentation on how to allow this site to use popups");
Comprehensive Email Troubleshooting Aide for .NET
Using email functionality in .NET is a breeze. Unlike ASP, where you had to depend on third party components, now you have built in support with the base classes. But the downside is that these managed code is a wrapper on the COM counterparts that are shipped with Windows. Hence there is a merging point between the ASP and ASP.NET. With two ways of sending email with .NET 1.1 ad .NET 2.0, using System.Web.Mail namespace and System.Net.Mail namespace respectively, there are two very useful websites that aide troubleshooting. Check out:
Besides, you have free third party components too. A few of them are:
Visit http://www.inbox.com/notifier and check it out!
Microsoft Learning Website for Beginners to Programming
I came across this website in MSDN, which aims to serve as beginner-developer learning center for aspiring persons entering into programming. There are two tracks that have been earmarked -- Web and Windows programming. Alongside, it provides a free download of Visual Studio Express besides a step-by-step learning material for beginners.
Bookmark the website and visit now.
Windows Vista API Competition
The Wow can now help you to win a lot of cool prizes too. While casually browsing through CodeProject, I found they are organizing cool Windows Vista API competition. The contest is simple. Write code which uses Vista API and then register it here.
So good luck for aspiring paricipants!
Check it out at http://www.inbox.com/marineaquarium