Joshua

Well my baby boy finally made it into this world exactly two weeks ago. Life has been pretty hectic since then with many a sleepless nights.

Although tiring, I’m loving every single moment with Joshua and his new Baby crib!

I love the Vista unzip

I love the Vista unzip dialog. Just two steps to unzip a file. Although XP first added the unzip to Windows, it was crudely done. It always went through the wizard which had three pages to add to the misery the check setting to ‘Show extracted files’ never remembered its previous state.

<IMG alt=VistaUnzip src="http://www.merill.net/VistaUnzip_small.jpg" border=0>

[UPDATE] I've been getting quite a lot of hits from Google with people searching on "How to unzip files in Vista". You basically need just two steps.

1. Right click on the zip file.

2. Click on 'Extract All...' to get the dialog box shown above.

3. That's all!

Microsoft Innovations

Is Microsoft Innovative? A fun debate between Robert Scoble and Dave Winer on the Wall Street Journal online.

What’s even more interesting is this comment left by a guy called Stan on Scobles blog.

Winer is either completely ignorant or is just playing the “MS just copies” role for effect.

Here are some MS innovations off the top of my head (some big, some small, some built on top of previous work, but lots of “innovations” in tech build on previous work):
* AJAX
* Web browser component usable by any app
* OLE
* Spreadsheet Pivot Tables
* Tabbed spreadheets (since then, copied by other apps such as browsers)
* On-the-fly spell check in word processors
* LINQ (the upcoming tech that will be in C# 3.0 and VB9)
* Video codec innovations that have led to VC-1 being the premier codec for HD-DVD and BR discs.
* Mouse scroll wheels
* Mouse GoForward/GoBack buttons
* Ergonomic mice (I recall the days where you had to press down on a mouse while moving it in order to move the cursor; Microsoft ended that nonsense).
* Ergonomic keyboards
* Office 2007 UI
* Mac Office floating palette UI
* TerraServer (precursor of Virtual Earth, NASA WorldWind, Google Earth)
* Ability to alter compiled code while debugging it
* User Agents
* Wizards
* Intellisense
* Answer Wizard technology in Office Help
* ClearType
* TrueType (collaboration with Apple)
* Bob (yeah, it failed in the marketplace, but it was innovative (too much for its own good))
* Dynamic HTML desktops
* Taskbar
* Alt-Tab to switch apps
* Lots of small innovations in .NET that when combined equal large cumulative innovation.
* ActiveX (yes, it had security issues, particularly before XP SP2, but is great in an intranet setting)
* Net-DDE, the first tech to allow clipboard functionality over LAN
* Singularity
* Combining the Back and Forward history buttons into one navigation stack control in IE7
* Photosynth
* XPS (does everything that PDF does, adds graphical effects that PDF lacks, does it in a smaller file size, and does it using XML so the files can be manipulated via XML parsers)
* Windows Live Contacts (being developed by Danny Thorpe (legendary programmer at Borland, who jumped to Google, then 4 months later went to Microsoft))
* A bunch of little stuff in IM via MSN Messenger
* OneNote (I don’t think there’s any other app really like it (and those that try to be like it aren’t anywhere near as good), particuarly when used on a Tablet PC)
* Mac Word 2004’s notebook layout and microphone support
* Zune’s WiFi (yes, the RIAA only allowed 3play/3day sharing, but its use will grow into other areas)
* First console to have a harddrive (Xbox)
* Browser runs in a sandbox (IE7 on Vista)
* First browser with anti-phishing tech
* Multi-core/CPU calculations in Excel 2007
* XNA
* Vista’s ability to allow the user to increase RAM simply by plugging in a USB 2.0 flash drive
* First OS to support delayed clipboard rendering
* First OS to have a 3D Sound api for games
* Shadow Copy
* Media Center Extenders (which iTV looks to be a copy of)

Manage your passwords

Another program from my ‘Must Have’ folder. KeePass stores all my privata logins in a safe, secure encrypted file. It’s open-source, so it’s free as well. The features I love the most are the quick search text box as well as the macro play-back. For example I simply need to navigate to my VSS entry on KeePass and press Ctrl+V to have it run a macro that starts VSS Admin and logs me into the server. This is how the macro looks:

Auto-Type:@r{DELAY 500}{APPACTIVATE Run}{URL}{ENTER}{DELAY 1000}{APPACTIVATE Log On To Visual SourceSafe Database}{PASSWORD}{ENTER}

KeePass

KeePass is very secure, even when the data is loaded into memory it is kept encrypted. Read all about it and get it from here.

Office 2007 UI Licensing

Microsoft this week announced the licensing of the Office 2007 User Interface (i.e. the Ribbon bar) to the partner community. The licensing is royalty free, anyone who wants to develop an application with the new UI needs to sign up on the web.

I didn’t really believe that Microsoft would let every Tom, Dick and Harry copy their new patented UI. Reading into the article you find the catch though ‘The license is available for applications on any platform, except for applications that compete directly with the five Office applications’. There you have it. The master stroke. The Open Office guys who have been aping Microsoft Office for so long are stuck in an island now. Unless they can out-innovate on the user interface these guys are pretty much stuck in the 1990’s UI world.

XML Notepad 2007

Have I been living under a rock? This is one heck of a tool. No more XML Spy for me.

XML Notepad 2007

  • Incremental search (CTRL+I) in both tree and text views, so that as you type it navigates to the most matched node.
  • Cut/copy/paste with full namespace support in a simple interoperable XML format.
  • Drag/drop support for easy manipulation of the tree, even across different instances of XML Notepad and from the file system.
  • Infinite undo/redo for all edit operations.
  • In-place, pop-up, multi-line editing of large text node values and IntelliSense based on expected elements and attributes.
  • Configurable fonts and colors via the options dialog.
  • Full find/replace dialog with support for regex and XPath expressions.
  • Good performance on large XML documents (loading a 3 MB document in about one second).
  • Instant XML schema validation while you edit with errors and warnings shown in the task list window.
  • Support for custom editors for date, dateTime, time, and color datatypes.
  • HTML viewer for displaying XSLT transformation results.
  • Built-in XML Diff tool.

[Article] [Download]

One tool to bind them all

Or just two on this occassion. But man what a tool, Filemon and Regmon have been mashed-up into one. Better yet not just a mashup it has been written from the ground up and includes a number of enhancements.

Procmon-main

Procmon-proc

One less .exe on my Must Have program folder under SysInternals.

Download Process Monitor from here.

Gmail Mobile

GmailMobile1

Google has released Gmail Mobile, a new cell phone client application, for everyone's favorite web-based email service, Gmail.

GmailMobile2

In general the new Gmail Mobile promises to let you do nearly everything with Gmail that you can do from your computer. To install Gmail Mobile, direct your mobile web browser to www.gmail.com/app. [TechCrunch]