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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Why are car stereos so flimsy? on: April 02, 2015, 12:59:03 PM
Thanks for the replies everybody! Yeah, wasn't looking especially for "buy this model" kind of advice. Just some perspective on why the build quality of these units seems to have suffered. Although as Curt's beautiful post shows, there ARE alternatives.

And I know this is a software forum, but I've never known DC users to be shy about offering their opinions on other topics as well, given the chance.  Wink

app103, I appreciate the offer, and that IS a cool gizmo. The current Pioneer unit in my car is radio / CD only though, so I'm afraid I can't take you up on it.

For those who are interested, CWuestefeld gets at an important point. A lot of the interaction with the unit is no longer ON the unit. I'm looking at stereos that feature the new Android Open Accessory protocol which essentially turns the head unit into a remote control / speaker system for an Android phone. You can use the controls on the head unit to pause, skip ahead, adjust volume, etc. but you can also do these things right on the phone. Good for when the flimsy plastic knob breaks off I guess?

I'm going to repeat Curt's query though, and do some digging. I still think a car stereo ought to look like you could accidentally bang your toolbox against it and still work the knobs.

Plus, the dual-knob volume+tuning design is one of the most elegant and intuitive UIs ever designed, and I'm tending to stick with it just on principle. So this is not quite software related, but it is User Experience related, which I think gets me a pass for posting it on DC.  tongue
2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Why are car stereos so flimsy? on: March 31, 2015, 11:11:03 AM
I've been thinking about getting a new car stereo, but in looking around I'm kind of dismayed to find how cheaply made they all seem. The knobs and buttons seem to be made out of the same plastic they use for the toys that come out of gumball machines. None of them looks like they were built to stand up to years of use the way my factory radio / CD player is.

Also, it just seems like there's a lot of needless complexity. I realize they do a lot more than just station presets and equalizer settings these days, but holy cow, the faceplates are chockablock with info overload. I'd have thought with the advances in usability brought about by web apps and smartphones, car stereos would be not only more capable but also more intuitive than ever. But it seems like they been racing in the opposite direction.

Any recommendations? I'm not a big-time audiophile, I just want a new unit that can play the songs stored on my smartphone!
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Anyone getting a Pebble Time? on: March 31, 2015, 11:02:46 AM
I was also thinking the Pebble Time might be the one to get. I like that they are using e-ink for the display to prolong battery life.

They also seem to be outdoing Apple in considering the user experience with their "it's not a tiny smartphone" timeline approach. I think if Steve Jobs had seen the current state Apple Smartwatch he'd have rebooted the project and sent them back to the drawing board at least once already...

But I don't know - after seeing that comic I may have to reconsider.  undecided I've done without a watch for years, so I don't really need one. But new toys are fun!  Cool
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: 10th Anniversary - long time member check-in thread on: March 25, 2015, 02:21:03 PM
Wow, hadn't been here in a long time and just decided to start checking back again! Ten years already? How'd that happen?

I remember when Mouser first floated this site as a kind of experiment to test out his unique approach to the freeware / shareware divide. Now it's so much easier for developers to make money. The only problem is, as soon as they make it they have to give it to Apple!  cheesy

I'm still using OneNote and still a big fan of the kind of freeware gems this site has always been able to ferret out of the wild Internet. So some things have not changed all that much.

Congratulations on 10 awesome years, Mouser! And a heartfelt thanks as well. Whenever I have some weird software issue nobody else around me even understands, I know I can always post about it at DonationCoder!
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Remove Embedded Watermarks in Videos on: March 20, 2015, 10:42:23 AM
So glad to see we have threads about pirating content now! Maybe we can get some threads going on the best way to pirate software as well. Roll Eyes
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Can anyone help break "router block"? on: January 06, 2015, 07:17:07 PM
Thanks for the tips and feedback, everyone! @SeraphimLabs, special thanks for your mini run down of OpenWRT, DD-WRT and Tomato!

The idea to download the manual for any one I'm considering was a great suggestion, too. Should have thought of that!
7  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Can anyone help break "router block"? on: January 05, 2015, 11:07:31 AM
I am being paralyzed by a case of "router block" and hoping some of you kind DC souls can help me out.

I'm WAY overdue for an upgrade to my wireless router. I know enough about this subject that I'm not going to just go down to Best Buy and pick between the 3 boxes they have on display. But I'm not enough into the "hack your router" space to make a clear, informed choice either.

My problem is, my main need for the router is the ability to set up sophisticated site filtering rules, based on MAC addresses, on a schedule.

The routers that seem to do this the best are the Netgear routers with Live Parental controls, which is actually integrated with OpenDNS.
All reports I've read say this is the most reliable way to set up site filtering on a schedule. (Although info about routers is plentiful online if you are interested in speed, throughput, etc. it's MUCH harder to find objective or even descriptive info about the less-techie features like parental controls / filtering.)

But the Amazon reviews of the mid-priced (~$100) Netgear routers I'm interested in are full of horror stories of devices that don't work terribly well, and that tend to fail on the day their 1-year warranty expires. Also Netgear appears to have an expensive, convoluted support process to get service on defective units, which seems to be based on a "soak the dummies" philosophy.

So all things being equal, I'd avoid Netgear, but they seem to be the ONLY ones with the kind of filtering controls I need. (Both powerful AND easy to use)

I've read that on routers that are running some form of Linux like OpenWRT, you can use Linux's IPTABLES to do sophisticated filtering. But I don't know Linux, and I don't want to have to climb over its substantial learning curve just to set up a new router and filter some websites.

Anyway, sorry for the long message, but I've been trying to get this decision made for weeks, and everything new I learn just makes the problem seem deeper.

Has anyone had an luck with setting up filtering on Netgear routers? If so, have you been running the router for more than a year? How is the reliability?

Alternately, are their other routers I should be looking at that implement this feature in a way that's both powerful and easy-to-use?
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Looking for a minimalist Desktop Calendar Application.. on: March 26, 2013, 04:38:08 PM
Years ago, I signed up for a calendar program called Scrybe, which was one of the easiest-to-use calendars I'd ever found. You can still visit the site at Apparently, it's now in permanent beta, but you can still get an invitation.

At the time, Google Calendar had just come out, and the openness of the calendar data and the ability to access it from different places tipped the scales enough that I adopted it for my personal calendaring, even though Scrybe was far and away the better product.

I'm posting this not to suggest anyone use it (although my account is still active and so I can still theoretically invite new users, if anyone's curious.) The point is, anyone looking to build a lightweight, intuitive, usable calendar app would do well to at least look at the demo video and see how Scrybe handled the UI.

I think if someone re-imagined Scrybe as a pure HTML calendar with hooks to Google Calendar data, I'd just about be in web calendar heaven!  Kiss Kiss Kiss
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: I need your help... on: December 07, 2012, 10:37:16 AM
I'm so sorry to hear you're having so much trouble. Just sent you some goodies for the holidays. Hope things turn around for you in the new year.
10  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: removing all the touch-oriented features of Windows 8 on: November 29, 2012, 04:45:57 PM
Well, Stardock has already come out with an add on that brings back the Start Menu to Win 8...
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Convenience and reality on: November 06, 2012, 05:18:28 PM
Almost all of us receive our first acquired communications training - spoken language - at a very early age. Soon after, but while still quite young, we acquire our second type of communications training - reading. The age at which we are taught these activities is when our brains are most primed for learning, but no so much for remembering. We don't recall how "hard" it was to learn to speak, and people who don't have learning disabilities usually forget how "hard" it was to learn to read, as well.

Also, speaking and reading (more or less) are not optional in our world. You MUST learn to do both to function in society.

People typically used to begin learning to use a keyboard much later - I learned in high school - when learning comes a little harder and our memories of difficulty and frustration are more acute. Also, some people are never formally taught typing and get by with hunt-and-peck. Even those who are don't necessarily get it exactly right - I still "cheat" and look at my fingers sometimes when I type.

The point is, we perceive the need to use a keyboard as less than desirable compared to our more "natural" (acquired earlier) modes of communication. And wish that using a computer could be as easy as speaking to another human - that is, virtually effortless, as long as they speak our language.  Grin

Consumer goods cannot make people happy. That said, I am often happy when I have a nice consumer good that works well and makes my life better in ways that are obvious to me. I don't have a problem with new tools that help us connect and communicate. It's the ones that cut us off from one another and the world we live in that worry me. The world has been on a path to massive destruction for decades now. Technology may be accelerating this trend, but it's also helping bring together people who care about the solutions.
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / The smoking ruins of Office Labs... on: October 16, 2012, 12:13:42 PM
I played with a cool add-on for OneNote a while ago called Canvas.

It was from Office Labs, which also made other cool, funky enhancements to MS Office like PPTPlex which turned PowerPoint into a zooming presentation tool.

Anyway, I quickly found a link to the tool I wanted - which dead-ended at the "new" office labs front page - which is the only page left.
They had a designer make it look cool and all, but make no mistake - it's a board nailed over the door.

tellme tellme tellme Office Labs is gone! rip rip rip

I guess this happened a few months ago? It wasn't a site I visited on a regular basis.

Did anyone else notice when this happened?

And more importantly, does anyone still have the downloaded file for Canvas for OneNote 2010?
I've looked through my most of my stored downloads, but since I didn't have ON 2010 at the time I don't think I grabbed it.
Never expected the whole site to go up in smoke.  onfire
13  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: database program needed (CRM?) on: October 15, 2012, 04:59:34 PM
This is a little like saying "My friend just wants to go into space. Maybe leave a satellite up there or something. Is there an easy way for him to do this?"  tongue OK, not quite that complicated, but what seems like a simple question is probably not going to have a simple answer.

The place to start is That's what "everyone uses". He should check out the features & prices & see if it's a good fit. (The Group plan @ $15 per user per month probably does everything he needs.) If so, he can save himself (you?) a lot of time looking for alternatives.

Then there's "free" open source software. Your friend will pay for CRM one way or another. Free or low-cost options will cost him in the time it takes to set them up and get them working, provided he has the skills, which it sounds like he doesn't. (People who build software that businesses will use to make more money expect to get money for their effort. They don't have a very charitable spirit towards other people's profits.  undecided )

Sugar CRM is the king of the open source packages. Sugar is big and complex enough to run a huge business, but even though you can download the community edition for free, getting it all setup and running without help is going to be almost impossible. (Even the download page places the CE as something for developers to play with - not something for business owners to try and get running on their own.)

Fortunately, they offer paid options too that can make the process easier. Competitive with Salesforce? Your friend's call.

Another contender is VTiger. It is hosted with a free trial.

Also check out OpenCRX and Hipergate. These are true open source packages that are free to downlaod and use, but again setup is on you.

Finally, there are lots of "10 best CRM tools" articles in the Googleverse, which means very little since what's best for a huge company with 1000 branch offices can't possibly be best for your friend's tiny business. But this one is pretty good. The links are worth following up, as they seem to be tools more focused on small businesses and less on large ones.

Or if your friend really can just make up the budget himself, he can call up Microsoft or IBM and have them fly in an army of CRM consultants to speak with him. In German, of course.  Grin
14 Software / Timns Apps / Re: Auspex on: October 15, 2012, 04:04:19 PM
Hi Timns! I've got another quick request for the next version of Auspex, when you get time.

Actually, it's a two-fer:
  • Use the delete key on the keyboard when in the tree view to delete items.
  • A way to disble the "Are You Sure" box when deleting items.

I end up doing a lot of manual maintenance on my list, mostly deleting incorrect entries, and boy does that confirm dialog get old fast.  Grin

I can't quite figure out how Auspex decides when to capture punctuation and when to ignore it. A lot of the items I am deleting are of this variety:
  • designs
  • designs,
  • designs.
  • designs?
I find the punctuated entries just slow me down, and make the popup bubble too long, so I periodically go through and clear them out. (I also clear out common mis-typings.)

Auspex continues to be a great tool that I use every day. Thanks again!
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Fast Network Notetaking... on: July 20, 2012, 04:34:11 PM
OneNote does something very similar (I think) to what you want. Windows-N brings up a new "side note" which is a small, sticky-note style view of a standard OneNote page. OneNote's tags are completely customizable, and the CTRL 1-9 keys will automatically apply the first 9 in your list. Then you can filter by tags, organize, etc.

All new notes created this way go into an "unfiled notes" section which defaults to local but could be placed on a net share. You then organize them later into notebooks and tabbed sections. OneNote's synching cabailities are 2nd to none as well - peer-to-peer, real-time synching over a LAN, with disconnected changes synching on reconnect.
16  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Opinions sought: should I open source Auspex? on: May 15, 2012, 11:14:05 AM
Looks like that did the trick! Muchos gracias!
17  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Opinions sought: should I open source Auspex? on: May 14, 2012, 08:50:02 AM
My file looks much like that, except that the color values are negative:


I'm using system colors from the dropdown when selecting my colors.
(Specifically "ActiveCaption" and "InfoBk".)

Funny thing is the black shows up even when the values in the Options file have not changed. I'm not seeing them get reset to "0" when I exit Auspex or re-open it.

Could it be reading the negative values and just seeing them as zero?
18  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Opinions sought: should I open source Auspex? on: May 11, 2012, 08:13:05 AM
I tried running it as administrator, making my changes, exiting and re-running. That didn't work.
I tried Windows 7's Compatibility wizard, doing the same thing. Also didn't work.
Black on black always comes up when I run the program.

Is this stored in the registry somewhere? Couldn't find an entry for it under HKCU/Software...
19  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Opinions sought: should I open source Auspex? on: May 10, 2012, 09:19:17 AM
Every time I restart my PC, it resets the colors used for the popup text tips - and it resets them to black text, black background! For both selected and unselected. So if I forget to change it, I get little black boxes popping up as I type.

I've tried setting the values, exiting out of Auspex & re-running it, but the result is the same - black on black popups.

Not sure where it stores these settings, why it is forgetting them or why it is using default values that make the popups useless. I'm just hoping I can get away form having to reset the colors every time I reboot.
20  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Opinions sought: should I open source Auspex? on: May 09, 2012, 09:17:03 AM
I was wondering if this means you're stepping away from development of Auspex.

I was in the other thread where the last comment is about a year old. There's a fairly minor bug that I was hoping to get on the radar to be fixed in an upcoming release.

I just discovered Auspex and I've really been enjoying it! Seems like I'm always late to these parties. :-P Will there be a next release? Any idea when?
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: GUI automation on: October 13, 2011, 03:54:49 PM
So Sikuli did not work? Seems from the description like it should wok on any visible screen element. What was the problem?

I'd like to try Sikuli out, but if it doesn't work as advertised, I won't waste my time.
22  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: EXCEL grid in another GUI on: October 13, 2011, 03:18:53 PM
Recommendation #1 - Don't try to re-write Excel from the ground up!  Grin

Most of what Excel gives you falls into two categories: calculation engine (using formulas to calculate the value of cells based on the values of other cells) and data presentation (sorting data, filtering it, color coding certain values, etc.)

Do you need both of these feature sets? It's not common for a database app to need the calculation engine features, since you can usually do those kinds of things in the app's code.

First of all, can you just use Excel itself? With it's data access features, programmability via VBA, and its presence on many Windows computers, maybe you can just base your app directly in Excel.

You don't say what language you will be developing in. That makes a big difference. If you are using a .NET language such as C#, VB.NET or ASP.NET, there are some very full-featured components you can use. Check out http://www.infragistics.c...age/winforms/wingrid.aspx

That gives you a lot of data presentation ability, but if all you really need the full range of Excel functionality, you'll need something like

There are probably similar components for other languages, depending on how well supported they are. These may not be free, though. (The Infragisitcs one sure aren't.)

Maybe if you gave us some more background on what you are trying to do we could offer more options.
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Suggestions for maximum-lockdown XP system on: October 12, 2011, 01:23:13 PM
Microsoft used to have a free program called SteadyState for Windows XP that let you set up an XP system to work the way it would in a cyber cafe, where you'd basically want the machine reset back to a default state after someone's browsing session was over.

They have discontinued it (not compatible with Vista/Win7) but you may still be able to find it for download somewhere.

If not, check out the wikipedia article for SteadyState that lists some alternatives that do the same thing.
24  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Using a digital tablet with OneNote on: September 22, 2011, 06:54:43 PM
And you've been trying for six months! :-)

Try this one:

I don't know if it's the same thread, but it's related. Maybe they deleted the old one?  ohmy I used the site's search to find this one. You can try Google too, adding "" to your search. Good luck!
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Why 2012 may finally be The Year of the Linux Desktop (courtesy of Microsoft) on: September 21, 2011, 03:43:53 PM
"Developers! Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers...

Actually, just developers, developers, developers. The rest of you guys can go pound sand. Go on, get out! SECURITY!"
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