Friday, October 29, 2004

This is my clone

Strangely enough, my t-shirt has ended up being prophetic: there's a clone of me. Watch this:

My clone

The guy is in an alternative band called Iron and Wine, which I've never had the pleasure to listen to. This has been discovered by the funny guys of my co-workers at ITunes.

Friday's silliness


i don't care if monday's blue
tuesday's grey and wednesday too
thursday i don't care about you
it's friday i'm in love

monday you can fall apart
tuesday wednesday break my heart
thursday doesn't even start
it's friday i'm in love

saturday wait
and sunday always comes too late
but friday never hesitate...

i don't care if monday's black
tuesday wednesday heart attack
thursday never looking back
it's friday i'm in love

monday you can hold your head
tuesday wednesday stay in bed
or thursday watch the walls instead
it's friday i'm in love

saturday wait
and sunday always comes too late
but friday never hesitate...

dressed up to the eyes
it's a wonderful surprise
to see your shoes and your spirits rise
throwing out your frown
and just smiling at the sound
and as sleek as a shriek
spinning round and round
always take a big bite
it's such a gorgeous sight
to see you in the middle of the night
you can never get enough
enough of this stuff
it's friday...
I'M IN LOVE!!


Friday I'm in love, by The Cure

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Omea Reader



You should download this news and XML syndication reader (and some more features) before it stops being free, on its personal release. On the website they say the license key you get now (and until January 1st) is valid forever, so now it's the time to get one for free. It's very good. Made with .NET, of course, and with a really clear, intuitive and yet powerful and complete interface.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Assembler with ASP .NET?!?!?!?!

Yep. Thanks to Dino Esposito's web (you have the link right there on the links section), I've found out that a .NET übergeek has made possible to write assembler code and compile it to MSIL, so you can make ASP .NET web pages in assembler. D'uh!

Amazing.

If you look closely the URL, by the way, you'll see it's the same guy I've linked some posts ago about GMail Virtual Drive.

I'm completely out of words.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Hardware problems

I recently bought a 3Com wireless router and a D-LINK DWL-G650+ PCMCIA WiFi card for my laptop. After installing and configuring a mini-network in my room (and I say mini because right now my laptop is the only computer in the network) and making as sure as possible that no neighbour enters my network, I began testing and everything was okay. Internet working, mail working, instant messaging and chat programs working. But when I ran Azureus the problems started.

Azureus is (IMHO) the best software for using BitTorrent's P2P network. It's done in Java, and despite that big handicap, it doesn't eat up too many system resources and has a very good graphic interface. Besides, it's one of the best clients when it comes to update the uploading and downloading statistics, which is a very important feature because some of the trackers I use ban the leechers without remorse.

The problem was that whenever I ran Azureus the program got the torrents I was downloading, connected with seeds and started downloading and uploading without the slightest problem. During five minutes, max. Five minutes or so after starting Azureus, my laptop was completely locked up. Frozen. The mouse was not moving, the keyboard not responding, no CTRL+ALT+DEL, no nothing. Dead. And it did the same everytime I ran Azureus.

OK, some software or hardware error was afoot, and I had to find the culprit(s). Making a Sherlock detective work, I began to determine the suspects and to search for alibis:


  • Azureus.- The most obvious suspect was the P2P software I was using. I downloaded and installed another program for the BitTorrent P2P network, called BitComet, and after running it I saw it produced exactly the same results. Azureus was innocent.

  • BitTorrent.- Maybe the culprit was the very BitTorrent P2P network. Something on their protocols or whatever. I tested with eMule and WinMX, which are completely different programs for connecting with completely different networks, and the results were exactly the same. If no P2P network worked, that wasn't the problem. BitTorrent was innocent.

  • Router.- Maybe the problem was with the router. I brought my laptop to my office, where we have a US Robotics WiFi router not generally in use, and I configured everything to connect thru it. Internet OK, email OK, Azureus crashing my computer after more or less five minutes of use. My 3Com router was innocent.

  • Firewall.- Maybe the built-in firewall was causing me trouble. Instead of trying finesse such as port forwarding, I opted for a more gordian approach of the situation: I completely disabled my router's firewall. Again, the same results: the firewall was innocent.

  • WiFi Card.- The card started to reveal itself as the main suspect. I asked a colleague to lend me a WiFi card from another company (a Conceptronics) and I installed it and configure it against my firm's router and, for my desperation, I got the same results: the D-Link WiFi card was innocent.



What can you do in an scenario where all suspects seemed innocent? Ask Google, of course. And after much looking and reading, I find this wonderful forum: Broadband Reports. Thanks to it I found out that the D-Link official drivers suck, quite literally. After some more reading and some more tries, I downloaded and installed the US Robotics drivers for my D-Link card and now I'm a happy client of the BitTorrent community, again. Fucking amazing.


IMPORTANT NOTE.- Not only the D-LINK drivers are shit: their customer support SUCKS too. I sent an email to their Spanish customer support some two weeks ago and I'm still waiting for a reply, even an automated reply stating they've received my mail and are processing my request. I called them the last week, every single day, at least three times a day. The NEVER picked up the phone, not once. In more than fifteen calls, they were always occupied. Amazing. Their US customer support at least has vital signs: I sent them an email stating my problem and I got a reply after fifteen minutes, but sadly it was to tell me that my problem seemed quite complex and they couldn't solve it using mail (?). I called them and the guy who got my call told me he couldn't help me, that I was a non-US customer so I was to be helped by my local customer support. I explained to him that my local customer support was dead or at a non-stop frat party and he told me he was very sorry, but that was the firm's policy. Anyway.

As usual, if you want something done, do it yourself.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Multi-threading in C#

A good tutorial about multi-thread programming in C#: Multi-Threading in C#, by Jon Skeet. In fact, all the tutorials from Jon'ssite are really good.

Eureka!!

Yesterday, after several attempts over the years I finally did it, bwa-ha-ha-ha.

Do you remember Master of Orion?

That game (IMNSHO the best space strategy game of all time), published by Microprose in 1993, has always been able to keep me awake at night much better than Coca-Cola, much better than coffe and much better than Jolt Cola. Fuck next-day's high-school, I was busy planning interstellar wars.

The game had two sequels and a lot of imitators, neither of them remotely as funny.

And since Windows is not a shell over MS-DOS I haven't been able to play MoO. Until now.

Steps for conquering the galaxy:

  1. Download the game for free (it's abandonware) from Underdogs. In the same page you have a link for downloading the game's manual, you have to download because the copy protection is in the manual. Don't forget.


  2. Next, download DOSBox, a DOS emulator avaliable for a lot of operative systems.


  3. DOSBox has no GUI, so get this frontend: D-Fend. Besides, Además, here you'll find some people's impressions about DOSBox and the game.



Setting up the frontend and everything else is relatively simple, so I won't keep posting detailed instructions about how to do it,... unless you ask for it. :)

Mr. Postman

A short post, only to bring you the link that Carlos gave us yesterday, very useful for GMail: Mr. Postman. MrPostman is a Java-coded program, which emules a POP3 program on you local adress 127.0.0.1 for accesing to your GMail account. You have to have Mr. Postman running and then run your favourite email reader, any email reader or so they promise. The link posted contains simple for dummies instructions for installing and running it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Matrix Online

Yesterday I finally did it. I was thinking about it for some time now, about buying and playing a MMORPG (or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), but there were some cons that made me delay the decision.

First I tell you what they are (just in case you don't know), and then I'll tell you the disadvantages, in my humble opinion. MMORPGs are computer role-playing games (like Diablo or Neverwinter Nights) but played exclusively online. I've never been a great fan of computer RPGs (I'm a more traditionally sort of role-player, I need paper, dice and above all friends to play); but the online version of the computer RPGs supplies the missing friends to the equation. In pure theory, I've never really played one, you keep accomplishing missions or quests while you're character keeps growing and developing, while you (the real you) makes some (virtual) friends and enemies.

As we've seen, it adds a human component to computer RPGs; and it adds a persistence value to online games (which games like Counter Strike, for example, lack); another form of telling stories.

There are a lot of MMORPGs: Star Wars Galaxies (with a new expansion for starships just out), The Sims Online (with its added scandal), Everquest, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, etc.

The reasons why I've never played before? Several: first and foremost, because in this damn country of ours, as usual, we just don't get it. None of the aforementioned games are published in Spain. None. And I just don't understand it, because both The Sims and Warcraft, have sold plenty in Spain. Not to talk about anything sporting the Star Wars trademarks. But it seems that in this country of ours we feel satisfied having FIFAs and Pro Evolution Soccers.

The second but of these games is the price: logically, this games need an enormous hardware infrastructure, and they charge you for it. Besides paying the average price for a recently released game (around $60), 99% of them charge you a monthly cuota for playing.

The third but is time: the more you play, the more powerful your character becomes. People (like me) who has to work eight hours a day (that being lucky), not to take into account the three aditional commuting hours (again, being lucky); it all results in not having enough time to play and reach the power levels easily reached by other not-so-burdened people. And that's kinda frustrating.

The fourth but is the addiction factor: if besides having little free time left I spend it on this kind of games, I'm lost. I know this games are quite addictive: to the usual addiction factor of any (good) game you have to add the playing community, plus the competition factor. Way too much.

Pros? In my case, curiosity: I'm just dying to try one, what the heck.

Just for finishing, 'cause this is taking too damn long: taking into careful consideration all thos buts and the quite feeble excuse of a pro I have in mind, I drawed the Visa (damn thing) and I got a pre-order of The Matrix Online, a MMORPG on which, of course, I'll be able to emule Neo, Trinity and company being just the coolest killer with my virtual sunglasses and my virtual trenchcoat. The game is not yet published and EA keeps promising it's going to be published in Spain, but I'm not gonna wait and see if they're right: I've pre-ordered it and it'll arrive at home when it is published. I'll tell you about it, promised.

As we've seen, curiosity killed the cat and mauled the Visa. Let's see if satisfaction brings the cat back.

PS.- And it's a proven thing we won't play a decent MMORPG in this country until we do it ourselves: let's hope my arrogant upstairs neighbours, Pyro Studios, just get to it. God, what a country.

Monday, October 18, 2004

VB .NET PowerPack

I've always though that I had already blogged this set of utilities for .NET; but I needed the other day and I wasn't able to find them, so I guess I've dreamed about blogging them and finally I didn't. Anyway.

In the end I've used Google (d'oh!) and after some working dodging Amazon and ISBN references (there's a book by almost the same title) I found them. It's a GotDotNet workspace, which comes to be the .NET equivalent to SourceForge.

The thing is that the VB PowerPack is a group of controls REALLY useful, which I don't know why are not avaliable from .NET out-of-the-box (Folder and File viewers come to mind). This is the full list:

  • BlendPanel Control

  • UtilityToolbar Control

  • ImageButton Control

  • NotificationWindow Control

  • TaskPane Control

  • FolderViewer and FileViewer Controls



And just in case, here you have a quite complete MSDN white paper explaining them.

Enjoy.

Friday, October 15, 2004

More about GMail...

... and we found this: GMail Drive.

It's a shell extension (for those of you who don't know, it's a little piece of code that aggregates itself to Windows OS, in this case the File Explorer), and its function is to transform your GMail account on a 1,000 Mbs virtual drive. Logically, we'll have to have the shell extension installed and running on every machine from which we want to enter our Google hard drive.

Esentially it sends an email to our GMail account with the file(s) we want to copy or move there as an attachment.

Thanks to this little (in size) program we've found another interesting blog: Aimless Words, dedicated entirely to GMail.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

GMail

At last, I finally got my GMail account. I've been surfing the web searching for some interesting tools and tips for it, and I've found a good deal of them, from a new mail notifier (but finally I've installed the GMail notifier the same Google offers on the web-page, as it strikes me as the best) up to some Firefox plugins. No, I'm not gonna publish links for those things here, you terminally-lazy people: a search for "GMail tools" on Google and you'll get a ton of results.

Much more interesting is this link: a GMail API for accesing GMail capabilities and program you own applications. Here you are.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bloggar

OK, so maybe I'm not inventing the wheel here, but I just wanted you to know I'm posting this using w.bloggar, a nifty program. Quite simple to use, quite a friendly interface and quite fast in retrieving and writing new comments.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Googledorks

Impressive. I can't think of another way of defining some people's idiocy level. Please take a look here: johnny.ihackstuff.com.

Yes, it is what it says: the Google Hacking Database, or how to hack web sites, or finding PDF or DOC files full of sensible for-your-eyes-only commercial information, o database connection strings and/or parameters, or access to external devices connected to the Internet, or vulnerable servers,... all of them found thanks to Google's searching power and the sheer idiocy of those system's administrators, truth to be told.

My God.

Monday, October 04, 2004

IDEs

As you all should know by now, IDE is an acronym meaning Integrated Development Environment. Visual Studio's IDE is an IDE RAD too, which means is an Integrated Development Environment for Rapid Application Development. Jeez, I wonder why americans love acronyms so much.

Let's focus. I firmly believe that the best IDE I've ever layed my mouse on is Visual Studio from Microsoft. Even the one shipped with VS 6 (just before .NET,... and don't tell me you don't remember, it isn't that old) was spectacularly good, but with the arrival of .NET the environment was on the up and up. And the next one, 2005, it's going to be amazing. Then again, if you don't believe me you can use an scientific approach on this one: download for free the Express versions of your .NET language of choice and see for yourself.

To be honest, the best Java IDE I've tasted (and although I'm a simple beginner with the language I've tasted a lot of them, maybe compelled by the wishful thinking of finding something remotely similar to the IDE I'm forced to leave); only one gets somewhere near .NET in terms of usability, interface and everything else. And no, it's not precisely Eclipse.

I have to thank Eclipse for the easiness to install and configure plugins. and that's it. Being made with Java, and being multi-platform is slooooow: you'll bore to the verge to tears just waiting for it to open. And try writing some stuff on it and wait for its version of Intellisense to appear: you'll grow a beard. It has a ton of configuration options, each and everyone of them equally confusing, disordered and sometimes I suspect, random.

At least you got to thank the developers the effort of making the IDE ignoring the AWT and using a platform-specific Swing, so at least Eclipse is not as hideously ugly as NetBeans (Eclipse is lightning quick compared to this, by the way), JBuilder or BlueJ.

My favourite Java IDE is IntelliJ Idea,
which is really, really good. It's a drag having to configure it after installing, and stating where do you have all the Java libraries and so on,... but that's not a fault of the IDE, that's a Java fault. It's equivalent to Intellisense is quick, intuitive, plenty of information; its online help is quite good, its configuration panels are understandable (and they aren't hideously ugly),... All in all, a very, very good IDE. In other words, the next best thing to .NET IDE on Java I've been able to find.

It has only a little problem: it costs $500.

Maybe all the good thing sin this life cost money, even when you're Thinking in Java.

Oh, no!! Not everything: C# Express is totally free. Gratis.

Ironic, ain't it?