I’ve started work on an Outlook plugin to convert the mailbox to various other formats. In my case to mbox so I can import my mails in Apple Mail. The library will be able to be used in other applications as well, but that won’t be the main goal. The source code is hosted at Google and can be found here. Project progress will be reported on this blog.
Using the MacBook
While delving through the Monodevelop bug tracking pages, one submitter stated that while the control + click combination didn’t work to get the appropriate context menu you could work around it by using a two button mouse. Why didn’t I think of that? I plugged the mouse of my other laptop in and boom, I had context menus in Monodevelop. Technology of two competitors working together ;).
I took the picture with my iPhone and was able to convert it with iPhoto. One shortcoming however was that when you export a photo it allows you to change the size to small, medium, large and full size. I was missing the size in pixels here, the only way to find out what the program does is to do the export and look at the new file.
The new thumbnail now had to move to the blog, so where’s the ftp program? Well there isn’t, you can connect Finder to an ftp server but that only allows one way traffic. I could have used the terminal and start ftp from the command prompt but who wants to use that. On the Apple site I found a link to Transmit which has an idiot proof interface, perfect for me.
Monodevelop on Leopard
Since last week I’m the proud owner of a MacBook and I’m exploring this new world. I want to try out Mono with Monodevelop, since I’m a .net developer, but their Mac support seems to be lacking. I’m using the latest version of Mono (1.9.1_3) and Monodevelop (1.0) and am unable to add any projects to a solution. The documentation states I need to right click (control click on a Mac right ?) the solution and then select Add > new Project, but I don’t get any context menu.
I’m guessing it’s my own fault and not theirs. Where’s my menu!?
Edit: after going through the MD bug tracking pages I found several issues related to this behaviour: bug 359734 and bug 367055
HTPC, high definition for the masses
…or well at least for me.
Two months ago I finally decided to build a home theater pc. I had been playing with the idea for quite some time, mostly looking for something which offered all I needed in a small compact device, but which went furhter than playing back movies. The end result was either a Mac Mini , an Apple TV or a home build system. The Mac Mini offered a computer in a very small size, I could use the internet to look something up, check my mails etc. . The Apple TV is more of a consumer electronic retail system, it can play back movies or music, rent the latest blockbuster online, shop on iTunes etc. A home build system on the other hand, can do whatever you want it to do.
So I waited on Macworld in January, hoping for an Apple TV update which had an optical drive and the introduction of iTunes rentals in Europe. Alas Steve didn’t bring anything for me, well there was an Apple TV upgrade but that only affected the US market.
With the Apple idea now abandoned I looked to small form factor, mini-itx to be precise, because that’s what appealed me the most in the two Mac systems. This site proved to be very useful, it offers reviews, shows what fits together and what not, user projects and has an online shop. If I had more experience in this matter and money was not a problem then I would probably have bought my parts here. The absence of any helpful guides and how-to’s related with playing back HD content on any mini-itx based system scared me. I also didn’t find any case which would take two 3.5″ devices (DVD/BD-ROM and hard disk) and two full sized expansion cards.
So I just went for micro-atx, the path others had taken before me. These sites proved to be very informative:
I read through the links above, googled, asked my colleagues and compiled my final list of components.
- Case: Antec NSK2480 Black
- Motherboard: Asus P5B-MX
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4600
- RAM: 2GB Kingston 667 Mhz
- Harddisk: Samsung HD SpinPoint T133/500GB SATA II 7200
- Optical Drive: Pioneer BDC-202BK
- Wlan: DLink DWL-G122
- GPU: Asus Radeon 3450 256 MB
Let me comment on these. I did not want the case to look like a computer, this one has more of a HIFI look and it comes at a reasonable price. The only thing I feared was that the front panel is silver while my optical drive is black. The two did, however, fit together. For the motherboard I went for the most basic around with enough connection abilities. Asus has a variant of this one with onboard wifi, but since I’ve had problems in the past with wireless products of different manufactures working together I chose this one and added a wifi dongle to the shopping list. I maxed out the RAM since memory these days has never had such low prices. The hard disk, with 500GB, is more than enough. I don’t plan to use it to store data indefinitely, but you can never have enough space. The graphics card had to be able to play back high-definition content, but nothing more. I was not going to play games or do any photo editing on this machine. Now the only thing left was an affordable optical drive, the Pioneer BDC-202BK was just what I needed. It can play Blu-Rays, DVDs and CDs and burn DVDs and CDs. Perfect! As operating system I chose Windows Vista Home Premium, since that’s the model that comes with Media Center.
The end result is actually quite a powerful device which can play high-definition content (up to 1080p), from it’s hard drive, the internet or from it’s optical drive. It can do all I that I was looking for and more. The only improvement you can make on this build, in my opinion, is removing the CPU cooling unit that comes with the processor and place either the Antec board that controls the airflow (for more information go to the product page) or use a more silent cooler from Zalman or Scythe since the only noise that comes from the machine is the standard Intel cooler. But I only hear it when no movie is playing, so it’s not that big of an issue for me.
Should you use this as reference for your own build, don’t forget to make sure you have the correct cables etc. for your tv. Mine has a dvi port and a 3.5mm audio port so I could use the cables I already had.
Today arrived the final pièce de résistance of my HTPC, a diNovo Mini keyboard. When I assembled my mediacenter a couple of months ago I was looking for something to control it but I did not really want a full fledged keyboard and also didn't want an average remote.
The diNovo Mini is the perfect balance between the two. It's small enough to be stored in a drawer or to lie on a table like your normal remote would, but still has the power of a full keyboard. Granted, typing with ten fingers is faster but this keyboard did not require any getting used to, in fact I'm typing this blog entry with it! If you've had a pda or smartphone with a keyboard you'll feel right at home . The best feature I've discovered, until now, is the ok button which you can press with your left thumb, while your scrolling with your other hand. Very ergonomic. The keyboard is also backlit, orange meaning normal and green media center style. It would appear that there is a light sensor on it so if there's enough light in the room the battery will be saved. The lights of the keyboard and the clickpad also work seperately, meaning that the keyboard lights only go on when you use it, again to prevent waisting power.
The battery is a cell phone like model, a charger is included as well as a cleaning aid to remove any fingerprints on the cover. There's also a cd included, haven't used it though I read that it comes with a program to bind key combinations to actions.
The clickpad however will need some time to grow on you since sometimes it's very sensitive and the other minute it's not very responsive, this is the only negative remark I have for the moment. I'll conclude with some picture, my apologies for the bad quality, you can click on them to see a bigger picture.
Ms Sql 2000 script for BlogEngine.NET
For those interested, I've edited the default script that comes with BlogEngine.NET (22.214.171.124) so that it runs on MS SQL Server 2000 instead of 2005. You can download it here (14,23 kb). If there are any issues, feel free to contact me.
The iPhone has landed
Last week, through a series of events, an iPhone ended up on my desk. I was not planning on getting one, since I really liked my HTC s710 . But if I hated the new phone, I could allways sell it on ebay and make a profit.
The phone has a very nice design, everything just looks good. The box it comes in, the housing, the screen,… it just breathes quality. Now I’m not going to write an in detail review about it, but the most important improvement, if I compare it to my previous phone, is the web surfing. No longer is the layout of any site screwed up, you can zoom in and out on any site. Turn the phone on its side and you get a panoramic view, it’s just amazing, boom! This is significantly better than on the htc, but webmasters should still think about the footprint of their site on smartphones. I read the news on the mobile version of tweakers and while I could use their normal version, I still prefer the lighter one. It loads faster, has less graphical content,… just because the iPhone can display a full web page in all its glory doesn’t mean you can forget people are using other devices to visit your site.
The Youtube integration is a cool feature as well. I was able to get youtube content on my htc with vTap, but no way near the sound and video quality I now have.
Sending mail, nothing special here. Except ofcourse the touchscreen enables the nice scrolling feature which you have in all iPhone applications. There is integration with for instance, google mail, and you get imap integration if supported by the mail provider. But I just stick to the regular pop3.
Music playback, the iPhone is an iPod so you get all of the features they have and more. Most notably is the coverflow which is a visual representation of your music albums. So instead of moving through the folders on the disk you get more of a real life experience of going through your cd collection.
There is plenty more I could talk about but you’ll be able to find all of it on the internet, a good place to start is the Apple site. So what’s my advice on this new toy? Great device, it has a nice user interface, is more stable than my Windows Mobile device, doesn’t hang as much as the htc but it isn’t perfect. There are improvements that should be taken care of, for instance the keyboard doesn’t follow the rotation of your iPhone in all applications. Also I don’t think the device is for everyone, while I enjoy having my mails with me all the time and have the capability to go online everywhere anytime, I’m not Mr. everyday consumer. Most people will settle for a simple cell phone and MP3 player which you can both get for 1/4th of the price. But hey, don’t listen to me, you won’t regret having the device and the Apple marketing machine will probably do it’s best to convince you it’s the next best thing ;).
Below is a side by side comparison for the size.From left to right: a Nokia 5510, a HTC s710, an iPhone. There’s a screen protector with some air between it and the screen on the htc and some fingerprints on the iPhone 🙂 All can be removed easily.
Windows update problem
For some reason, if you’ve studied informatics, people tend to believe you can fix their computers. I really don’t like cleaning up the mess other people create, since most of the time it’s a trivial task.Just read the error message or go to the all mighty google and you’ll be able to fix most problems.
However the latest problem I encountered was more of a challenge. After formatting the hard disk and installing a fresh copy of Windows XP I let it update itself, leading from one error to the next. So I turned off automatic updates, went to the update site myself, selected all the available updates, crash… Although some updates were installed successful some kept on crashing the windows update process. After trying several things the solution that worked in the end was to create two folders ( c:temp and c:wutemp) and clear all the contents of the folder SoftwareDistribution which is under the root directory of where you installed Windows. Note that for this last step you need to turn off the running Automatic Update service. To do this go to control panel, select computer management, select services, then select automatic updates and press the stop button. After you’ve deleted the contents of the SoftwareDistribution folder you can turn this service on again.
So, no more Windows Update crashes, hurrah! The update process continued now peacefully, and the list kept getting smaller until there were 4 updates remaining. These last kept returning in the list of essential updates, even though every time I installed them it was reported as a successful update. I resolved this by turning on automatic updates again (which I wanted to do when no more updates where available),now Windows installed them when I turned off the system. Powered the machine back on, went to the windows update site and saw that there were no more essential updates. Victory!