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Messages - timns [ switch to compact view ]

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N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: Pledge: Fentwiss (a simple calculator / converter)
« on: November 15, 2011, 09:30 PM »
The only thing i would suggest is have a look at something like Wolfram Alpha -- it sure seems like it is designed to do this kind of thing and more -- in fact it handles many of your example queries right out of the box.

And there is already a good alias for it for FARR.

Story of my fracking life - never heard of Wolfram Alpha till now. That'll teach me to be away from DC for so long then come mincing back into a NANY without some up-front research.

But having said that, Stoic Joker's keen eye is correct - I want something I can just pop-up almost inside whatever-it-is that I'm currently running. Which is why Fentwiss is toggled in and out by hotkey, and is tiny and doesn't *need* an internet connection (although it likes one)

Update - I just tried 45cm->in in WA. It took almost 2 seconds and returned a page of crud  :'(

This is a classic example of the bloat I keep wibbling about - I honestly don't give a flying toss that 45cm is 6.3 times the width of an average credit card.  ;D

N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Release: Fentwiss (a simple calculator / converter)
« on: November 15, 2011, 01:34 PM »
NANY 2012 Entry Information

Application NameFentwiss
Short DescriptionSimple keyboard-centric calculator and converter
Supported OSesAnything that runs Java
Suggested Donation49 cents. Donations will be divided up in support of Donation Coder itself, and two of my favourite charities.
System RequirementsJava runtime environment - which most of you will have already
Author Infotimns
DescriptionTwo things drove this NANY submission:

1. Me not really finding a tiny converting calculator that suited my own needs. During my working day, I deal with quite a few measurements and volumes in varying units, as well as a number of currencies and of course timezones. I wanted a very light application that would let me do quick arithmetic and quick conversions with a minimum of clicking and selecting. I've tried quite a few, and they all suffer from bloat and too much mousing around. (The closest I can get is 'Frink' which I do really like, but it does have limitations from my point of view)

2. Me wanting another NANY mug.

So my criteria were:
  • Easy conversion without using the mouse
  • Ability to see and edit several calculations for comparison
  • Accurate currency conversion
  • Always available
  • Keyboard-centric
  • Simple and natural syntax for fast calculation and conversion: e.g. "32 miles as km" or "4 1|2ft->cm"
  • Tries to present the results in a human-friendly way (mixed units, fractions)
  • Very accurate conversions
  • Online currency look up for correct exchange rates
  • Fractions
  • Mixed conversions and calculations
  • Available under a hotkey
InstallationFentwiss will be provided as a Java Web Start link

You may see the following message - this is because I have signed the jar file using a self-generated key and certificate. Since this key, certificate and signature is not issued by any CA, webstart displays it as "Publisher: UNKNOWN"

If the "More Information" indicates the file is from DonationCoder and signed by the author, you may trust it and run:


Using the applicationFentwiss tries to be intuitive: it will attempt to recognise the calculation or conversion you are keying in, and will evaluate it on the fly. There is no "=" button to press.

In addition, you can tell Fentwiss your preferred units and formats to save extra typing. For example: if you tell it you like to think in metres, length conversions are automatically shown in metres unless you say otherwise:

Default: 15ft = 4.57
Override: 15ft->cm = 457.20

Examples of use

Simple arthimetic:
11+22*33-44/55 ( = 19 )

8 1|2 + 9 3|4 ( = 18.25 or 18 1|4)

Math functions:
sin(0.7)*cos(0.9) ( = 0.4 )

Hex / Bin / Programmer functions:
2^64 ( = 18,446,744,073,709,552,000.00 )
12245589->hex ( = BADA55 )
0b101010 ( = 42 decimal)

1271 cm -> ft ( = 41.70, or 41 128/183rds, or 41ft 8.39inches)
2400usd->gbp ( = 1516.08 at today's rate)

There is very little error checking. If you want to do something silly, no-one minds. For example, my height in Canadian dollars is $2.79. I will not be sharing my weight in British pounds ;)

UninstallingDelete any shortcuts you may have created
Known IssuesOh well just start playing with it, no doubt there are some beauties in there.

What I do want to hear about:
  • crashes,
  • errors in results,
  • errors in understanding your syntax

What I do not want to hear:
  • missing units (yet - I am still adding them, and only have a small subset so far)
  • any suggestions about using online resources for conversion :P - I do not live in a browser

Timns Apps / Re: Auspex
« on: March 28, 2011, 10:11 PM »
There will be a new build over the first weekend in April...

Oh no! That means you'll be working on it on the 1st. One can only guess what might ensue…
-cranioscopical (March 28, 2011, 08:26 PM)

Well at the very least I'll add an Easter Egg for you guys.  :Thmbsup:

Timns Apps / Re: Auspex
« on: March 28, 2011, 06:38 PM »
Hey there, sorry about the lack of response - been away for a week.

There will be a new build over the first weekend in April... I'll roll as much stuff in there as possible.

Found Deals and Discounts / GoDaddy $1 domain sale
« on: March 18, 2011, 09:38 AM »
Register your com, us, mobi, biz, net, org, ca, for a buck, apparently...

Wow - surely some record for fastest-ever review? Thanks Paul.

I'm hoping they'll address some of your concerns - it does still appear to be in beta, so maybe they're still gathering and improving requirements. The developers seem active on GetSatisfaction, so now may be the time to speak up.

I agree on regexes being an elegant solution to many problems, that would otherwise could be difficult to solve.

ppl scared of any regex, posted their opinion, that I quoted (without the quotes, sorry) above, that's the pessimistic group. I'm not in the pessimistic group...

It did occur to me afterward that it didn't really sound like your normal 'tone'  :)

Anyone played with this:

I think it has some real potential. We should probably let Paul Keith loose on it for a start.


in one elegant expression
Agreed, but the pessimistic still complaint that: You have a problem, you apply/throw a regex at it, then you have 2 problems...

Not following you. We use RegEx to solve problems. Agreed bad regexes could cause problems, but so do a million other things... bad drivers, bad coders, out-of-date chicken...

Now, I agree that a lot of people are scared of RegEx, but it's like a lot of things: take a bit of time to learn it and it'll repay you many times over  :Thmbsup:

That's why you have RegEx... you can create a nice pattern match to catch a huge variation of names in one hit.

e.g. to{1,2}mor{1,2}ow
Catches: tomorow, tommorow, tommorrow in one elegant expression

General Software Discussion / Re: Lyx is the answer
« on: March 16, 2011, 04:41 PM »
Oh don't get me wrong - I was making a general statement about folks tinkering with layouts and styles and peppering it with my own personal opinion that different != better in many cases.

Of course not everyone is a programmer, nor has the time or inclination to create nice styles. But it may be that if you are able to exemplify exactly what you needed, some kind soul would step up to the plate and help you. Either here or on the Lyx site.

Or are you saying that you need a different style every time?

General Software Discussion / Re: Lyx is the answer
« on: March 16, 2011, 04:22 PM »
It's like a lot of rewarding things - you can't just dip your toe in, so yes I agree it's got a learning curve. Maybe it's just that I'm wired in the right way - I got on with TeX and LaTeX very well. To my eye it's a lot easier to comprehend than, say, perl.

I suppose the main question is just how much does one really need to fart around with those style files. 90% of the time, those predefined styles are going to work just fine. I do feel there's quite a lot of customize for customization's sake going on.

Skwire Empire / Re: Birthdays (simple birthday tracking app)
« on: March 16, 2011, 04:16 PM »
Actually, their last name is Peterson, hence, the Grandma and Grandpa Pete.   :P

Damn, I hate those perfectly reasonable explanations  ;)

Skwire Empire / Re: Birthdays (simple birthday tracking app)
« on: March 16, 2011, 03:56 PM »
I wanna be like Granpa Pete and have 2 birthdays a year!  :'( Also, I see the sex-change went well for him. Her.

General Software Discussion / Re: Lyx is the answer
« on: March 16, 2011, 03:55 PM »
Please... don't "link" me to that quote... :) LyX is effectively perfect for that type of stuff.
(And I agree : not that complicated. The main matter here IMO isn't "complication" per se but needs and workflow.)

Nevah! I had a feeling it was a quote from someone with quite limited experience  :)

General Software Discussion / Re: Lyx is the answer
« on: March 16, 2011, 03:35 PM »
I agree, Armando.  I've been looking into it a little more and I think I have to stick to Indesign.  I found this quote:
The learning curve for LaTeX is both deep and broad. In my opinion it's harder to learn than C, C++, Java, Perl and the like. But learn it you must, unless you're willing to accept every LyX default for the document class you've chosen.

And I find this quote... a load of baloney. I have just been getting misty-eyed over some old TeX and LaTeX documents I wrote way back when, it's not hard at all. Maybe the person who wrote that quote has not done much programming.

        \frac{d}{dx}\left( \int_{0}^{x} f(u)\,du\right)=f(x).


Does that look so hard? 10 minutes with a tutorial.

Finished Programs / Re: DONE: Regex Sorter
« on: March 16, 2011, 02:49 PM »
skwire, is it a general solution? Since I can think of a couple of uses for this sort of sorting. If it's specific to sorting URLs I may still have a crack at it later.

General Software Discussion / Re: The best RSS reader?
« on: March 16, 2011, 01:54 PM »
and un-installed all the other RSS readers except for Desktop Ticker from Mike Batt.

Nice to know he's still active. I remember his song "Remember You're a Womble" very fondly  :Thmbsup:

Finished Programs / Re: DONE: Regex Sorter
« on: March 16, 2011, 11:57 AM »
Doesn't sound too bad at all - if no-one picks this up by March 28th, I'll do this one.

How I would do this: a bit of Java that reads a file and applies a regex to find the sort criteria in each line.

Say something like the following: ^.*?=thread\](.*?)\[.*?$

Sort on \1


This would actually be very easy to make configurable, possibly quite handy for other uses.

General Software Discussion / Re: Lyx is the answer
« on: March 16, 2011, 11:29 AM »
What we need is for someone to try out Lyx and then write a review. I used to use LaTeX all the time back in the early 90's and loved it. Even now, those documents look damn good.

Thank you - and I wish I'd thought of adding the comparison table  :-[

I just posted my 'something' for the 16th here. To wit: a mini-review.

Basic Info

App NameClock-on-Desktop from Positbolt Software
App Version ReviewedExtended Edition
Test System SpecsHigh-spec home-built PC running Vista 32
Supported OSesWindows only: XP and newer
Support MethodsForum, email, FAQ
Upgrade PolicyLifetime updates and support
Trial Version Available?Yes, runs for 30 days
Pricing SchemeLite: $9.95, Standard $19.95, Pro $29.95, Extended $39.95
DC Donation LinkDonate to Site here
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and ProductJust a satisfied user of the product


Clock-on-Desktop is a pretty good name for this product really, since that's exactly what this software does: it provides you with any number of very elegant-looking clocks that sit right on your desktop. The software comes bundled with over 50 skins which means you'll probably find several that are to your personal taste.

I chose it since I'm always on the lookout for ways to make my desktop 'just so' and I am a fussy old stoat. The clocks are skinnable, scalable and support any timezone. I have ended up with a fairly plain, very clear skin that complements my rainmeter theme nicely. This in itself is quite surprising since I am a terrible one for fiddling with the desktop.

Anyway, initial impressions are good: the interface is very nicely designed, with smooth-looking icons and a reasonably intuitive GUI for setting up the basics. The guys clearly have a pretty talented artist working with them, and it's this that makes the software quite appealing. It's verging on the slightly-chubby, soft, Mac-like look and feel. Luckily we stay just on the safe side of twee.


Who is this app designed for:

I suggest this software is really for an enthusiastic PC user who would like to have their desktop look just that bit nicer while offering a fairly practical piece of software.

dcpic2.jpg  pbclock1.png  pbclock2.png

To be fair, the Extended edition comes with a few other features which could potentially be quite useful, and make you feel a lot better about spending a few bucks on what is otherwise essentially a cosmetic feature for your PC.

This is the complete feature list from their site:

  • Amazing and beautiful clock on your desktop             
  • Great skins pack sorted by types: analog, digital and mixed (more than 50 skins)             
  • Smooth animation and ability to drop shadow for clock and hands             
  • Multilanguage suport             
  • Tit-tac and cuckoo sounds             
  • Multiple clocks with different timezones on your desktop             
  • Effective alarm system that support various alarm types             
  • Easy-to-use reminders             
  • Birthday reminders with support of avatars and Gravatars             
  • Synchronization with any NTP server             
  • Replace default Windows screensaver with Clock-on-Desktop fully configurable screensaver             
  • Todo manager             
  • Colorful notes to pin to your desktop             
  • Personal dairy (I'm thinking they mean diary)

In practice these guys are offering a surprisingly good todo list, on-screen post-its and a personal diary. If I had not already commited to some pretty heavy-duty CRM software I do believe I would probably get some solid use from these features.

The Good

  • As many clocks as you like on the desktop
  • Pro and above gives you multiple clocks with different timezones
  • Very pretty skins and smooth interface
  • Clocks scale very well
  • Reasonably low impact on PC resources

The needs improvement section

For some reason I was required to re-submit my registration a couple of times after the clocks went forward. Luckily it was just a case of a couple of clicks and everything is now smooth again.

I also get the feeling that the forum will not really take off. I posted a couple of messages on there, and it's clearly checked by the developers, but there's no real feeling of activity.

The software is stable enough that there is unlikely to be many new releases. This is both good and bad of course!

You may feel it's too much to spend on 'fluff' software.

Why I think you should use this product

If you're in the market for a nice desktop enhancement, definitely take the 30 day trial and put it up against the many other clocks out there. If you have a hankering for a pleasing-looking piece of software that does just a couple of things, and does them well, this could be for you.

How does it compare to similar apps

Boy, have I tried a lot of world clocks in my time. I picked this one mainly because when I installed the trial, it looked good, was very easy to set up the clocks how I wanted, and then it just sat there and worked. I usually install then remove software like this because there's always something thing that bugs me just a little too much. Among the issues I've bumped into with other software:

  • Does not 'stick' to the location I place it
  • Uses too many resources
  • Has intrusuve UI
  • Clocks do not scale well and look all jaggy
  • ... or just look plain lousy


I'm happy with this software. It starts up when my PC boots and shows me my little list of key timezones. I deal with folks from all around the world from morning to night. It's really nice to get local time for them at-a-glance without having to do advanced mental arithmetic while still smacking my lips and blinking gummily at my first coffee of the morning.

Timns Apps / Re: March Fundraiser Pledge: teaser
« on: March 14, 2011, 01:28 PM »
I just decided to pick this up again next month. I trialled the other forum readers out there and they're not too good. The nicer one (forum pilot) appears to be abandoned and is pretty bad at picking up new posts.

1Topic crashes with "failed to register resource" and again the site has not been touched since '08.

Web Forum reader is a disaster to set up. It cannot seem to get the hang of the DC layout at all.

So: all-in-all, I think it IS time for a nice DoCo reader. I have the boring invisible stuff in place (download, threading, database) so it's now the fun things to be done: how to best present the messages, filtering, searching, sorting.

^@timns- that would be for your "entertaining hobby" you have so much "enthusiasm" for and which deserves to be applauded?  :-\  ;)

Hooray, someone noticed  ;D  ;D  ;D

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