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Messages - johnfdeluca [ switch to compact view ]

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Developer's Corner / Re: Database Application IDE
« on: October 31, 2007, 01:15 PM »
I hadn't considered an online/web-based app but I like the simplicity of the idea.  I am somewhat familiar with php and mysql since I have had previous experience hacking a very nice PHP/My SQL app called Mantis Bug Tracker.  I'll need to dust off some brain cells and will likely have an inital learning curve since building from scratch is a big difference than hacking an existing codebase/app....but certainly no worse than a desktop app learning curve.

Developer's Corner / Database Application IDE
« on: October 31, 2007, 10:38 AM »
I am not really a programmer but I am familiar with programming concepts and I use javascript a lot.  I'm frustrated with shareware apps that don't quite meet my needs for simple applications which typically involve a database of user-supplied data (recipe apps, home inventory apps, etc.).  I'd like to learn how to build a custom app to meet my database-like needs.  Now I considered MS Access but I really want to build without requiring purchase of a separate app for development.  I also attempted Tiddy Wikki and have a very good working model but it's very slow b/c it's all javascript driven in a single file and uses no db.  Is there a development environment that would be well suited for this sort of thing?  A form which collects data, breaks it out into db tables and can be joined together.  For example, I imagine a form which allows user to define ingredients, prices, grocery stores and aisles, can associate those ingredients with the store ailses and prices and can build recipes from those ingredients.  Things like that. 

I've heard a lot about AutoHotKey here and I've previously used AutoIt3 to make simple script-driven functions but I'm not sure if it is well suited for this sort of thing.  When I set my mind to something, I can be like a sponge in that I learn a lot fast (else I just drop it--lol) perhaps I can learn to program.  Any ideas on what development software would be well suited for this sort of thing?

General Software Discussion / Re: IBM Lotus Symphony
« on: September 19, 2007, 09:11 PM »
johnfdeluca, nice knowing about this.. maybe i will have a go.. anyway, some screenshots would be nice.. :)
I posted a pic but there are many other pics via the link

General Software Discussion / IBM Lotus Symphony
« on: September 19, 2007, 11:44 AM »
Disclaimer:  I work for IBM so I may be biased but:

IBM just released Lotus Symphony a free office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program) which handles Open Document Format and compatible with M$oft products.  Although in beta, it's very polished and professional.  I've been using Microsoft products for years and this is the first free alternative that I can actually see myself using (even if I didn't work for IBM).  Having opened may presentation and spreadsheets files created in Microsoft (with formulas and extensive formatting), it seems to work just as if opened in MS.


You must register first to download but's free.


There is an encryption plug-in (AES256) for TiddlyWiki that leaves the html file encrypted. I use this to ensure data is kept private and safe:

Guess we didn't get the copyrighter's use blessing.  A shame because I have a pretty powerful TiddyWiki which utilizes built in forms to input and store the information and include views.  Things like personal information, bank accounts, assets, insurance, home inventory, investments, annuities,   legal docs (wills, trusts, power of attorney, etc.), affiliations (work, military, church, school), web/software accounts (urls, userids, passwords, keys), and final directives (who to notify, special music or readings at funeral, etc.).  I'm quite impressed with the TiddlyWiki capabilities.....the forms plug-in make the data entry very intuitive and the encryption plug-in ensures it stays completely secure. 

I'm now looking to change the structure/content to alleviate the copyright so I can make it available for others to use.

I have a pretty good TiddlyWiki shell for this.  I am utilizing a the  MonkeyPirateTiddlyWiki distribution, featuring "TagglyTagging".  If/When we have permission to make it available here (as it contains some copyrighted info, I will do so.

I've actually just started with TiddlyWiki.....brand new to it before this effort.  It seems quite capable for this and many other of my Organization Obsessions.  I especially like:
  • open source standard
  • easy and intuitive to use yet highly powerful configurations/extensions
  • lends itself well USB pen drive (for protection) and single file approach for easy transfer to others
  • has tons of plug-ins, themes, macros, variants, distributions
  • active and helpful community
  • perfect for misc bits of information that are somewhat apples and oranges

I could see TiddlyWiki being one of my new must-have software apps, easily replacing M$ OneNote.  Right now, I'm playing with themes, plug-ins, macros and the like to get the exact customized TiddlyWiki I want.  For example, I find it very easy to get overwhelmed with all the tiddys open (even with the close others/all macro)....but there are some great plug-ins that address this like the breadcrumbs plugin, singlepagemode plugin, and tiddlersbar plug-in.  Once I get it the way I want, I'll then focus on content and layout.

My concern about making a distribution is if we use some of the copyrighted material referenced in above posts.....despite my sarcasm, I would definately want to ensure we obtain permission before including any copyrighted material.

Not as far as I understand internet copyright (which is precious little, but I do belong to a group of artists, and the topic is raised repeatedly.)

Wow, so just posting a link or URL to a website which contains copywrited material is a voilation of the copyright?  I would think Google among others is in major trouble as well.  It would violate copyright if you attached a copy or content from the copyrighted material without permission.  I would argue it does not violate copyright to point to the location where the author stores the material for public availability.

Posting the link to the website where the form is wouldn't violate copyright rules, no?

Disclaimer:  I work for IBM that used to make ThinkPads before it sold that business to Lenovo.  So I am biased but I swear by ThinkPads. 

That said, you should be able to replace the hard drive easily....Ive done it many times to start from scratch.  The "proprietary" stuff is just partition for Rescue & Recovery, and the "Airbag" like feature....perhaps some others but neither are necessary for operation (though they have saved my butt on more than one occasion).  Check carefully as many ThinkPads still have IDE 2.5" HDD (though I know X series now have SATA).

An interesting thought....yes, I am mainly looking for an outline more than a program.  Perhaps it can be as simple as a "website" that exists not on the internet but rather on a local network.  That would of course be the most flexible in terms of layout and organization.  It would also allow for file attachments such as bills, scans of important docs, etc.  Even on a local network, any method that compiles such sensitive info would need to be secure (encryption and access control perhaps).

I'm looking for an application which helps me organize a whole bunch of misc information which might fall into the category of "if I fall ill or die" such as:
  • Personal details
  • Health History
  • Financial Infromation (account numbers, balances, urls, account access passwords, etc.)
  • Safe Deposit boxes, info
  • Safe Location/combo
  • Insurance Policy Details
  • Mortgage Details
  • Ongoing Bills
  • home asset inventory (pics, serials)
  • Passwords
  • Diary, wishes

I'm thinking the scope is simply too broad for any single software but I'd like to have everything in one place.  I suppose I can use something like MS OneNote (I have inventory already in Excel) but thought perhaps someone might know of something that might fit the bill.

Thanks Mouser.....I've used Mantis Bug Tracker which is on the list and found it to be an excellent full featured app and has an incredibly easy set-up. 

Excellent Blog....thanks.  I'm an external drive back-up person so I thought I'd make a couple points regarding that:

I also did not want a thing hanging off my computer (especially since I have a laptop) so I opted instead of a firewire or USB drive, I chose a network attached external drive.  This works great as it sits in the room where my router is and connects to my network via ethernet.  It also allows all my computers to back up to it since it's on the network.  The drive enclosure I chose was Synology Diskstation DS-106e http://www.synology....S106serise/index.php which I chose after a lot of thought and seemed to be the best rated and most versatile system, and has never disappointed me yet....but that's another post.  So I think an external solution is an option even with your pet peeves about them.

As far as backup software goes.....the Diskstation comes with some excellent backup software which I don't use only because I already am experienced with, IBM's Tivoli Continuous Data Protection  Note:  I DO work for IBM, so I get this software for free vs the $36 USD normal price.  If I had to pay for the Tivoli software, I'd likely just use the free software that came with my Diskstation....not because Tivoli software is impression is it is top notch but I am just cheap and typically lean towards freeware if available.  Be it Tivoli or Diskstation software....they both use the same approach....a real time data copy based on a set of rules.  So I tell it what files to copy (be it filename matches, filetype matches or folder matches) and as soon as I save a file which meets the criteria, it copies it to a backup.  It also can save multiple versions and target files require no special software to open.....meaning the files are not imaged but real file copies.  I prefer this real-time backup as opposed to a scheduled backup simply due to the fact that I know should drive failure or corruption occur in the orig, my backup version is not limited to the last time I ran a's always backing up.  Again, I could write a whole review/post on just this software but again, I do work for the company that makes it, and it is not free.

So my backup solution has been around for roughly a year and although I haven't had a hard drive failure, I have often needed to go to the back up.  The fact that I don't need any restore process is a blessing....I just goto the backup (which is a network drive in "My Computer") and copy the backed up file to my laptop.  The most common reason I've needed to go to the backup is to get an "old" version of a file....because I've screwed up my current one with bad edits.

If you are interested in Diskstation, check out reviews....I'm not sure if it's still the "top pick" in reviews as when I purchased it.  Here's one review at:


General Software Discussion / Re: envelope printing freeware?
« on: April 26, 2007, 01:01 PM »
Only drawback I have in printing envelopes (regardless of app I use) is that the envelope gets "emossed" with the "V" from the back flaps when going thru my laser printer.  Not a showstopper, but I prefer to use window envelopes and I print the address on a piece of paper which carefully folded (got it down to a science) shows thru the envelope window.  If I had the need more frequently, I'd likely just get one of those little address label printers but I may do this once every month of so.

I use (Comcast supplied) Motorola Cable Box DVR, Series 2 Tivo, and have used both (free/open source) MythTV and ($) Snapstream's Beyond TV.  While I like the free and open source nature of Myth, I must admit it was no small undertaking to build the machine.  It was one of my first Linux experiences so everything came with a significant learning curve.  After running with MythTV for several months, I ended up reverting back to Snapstream.  But when the machine crashed, I just decided for rock-solid stability, Tivo and Motorola DVR beat software based solutions.  I think this is due to the fact that a set-top box like the Tivo or Moto have custom configured hardware/firmware.  With a computer, the software has to accomodate a wide variety of CPUs, OS versions, video capture cards, etc.  The biggest feature I miss from the software based solutions is the commercial detection and auto-skipping....while not always perfect, it was a lot better than FF.  Should anyone have any questions about my MythTV experience, let me know.  Also, if you are going to venture into MythTV and are new to Linux, you might consider one of the LiveCD options like KnoppMyth which make installation and configuration of Myth as trivial as possible

Edit:  I should also add that I stuck with the Comcast primarily due to the fact that it is the only solution (aside from buying a new Tivo series 3) that allows me to record Cable Hi Def.  And it will record two shows at one.  It requires no tinkering and rarely suffers from performance problems.  Also, it cost $10/month for the box and the TV Guide service is built in for free (unlike Tivo).  If the box fails (because they do get very hot in my AV cabinet), I can just call comcast and they replace it free.

Roboform (one of my must-have apps) has quick seach as well.  I use it instead of bookmarks because of the quick seach.  It works not just for password protected sites, but any site.  The seach as you type feature is in my opinion one of the strongest draws for me.

Roboform is the top-rated Password Manager and Web Form Filler that completely automates password entering and form filling.
For information about the seach:  http://www.roboform....m/manual.html#search

General Software Discussion / Re: Grocery Shopping Software
« on: January 23, 2007, 08:28 AM »
I don't actually own a PDA so while those apps sound like possible matches for my needs, I won't be able to use them.  The recipe program seems similar to many I've seen in that it is primarily a recipie app so falls short of my needs in the grocery list area which is really where the rubber meets the road.

I would love it if someone with programming skills saw this as an opportunity / challenge.

And although no relation, I love :-* Dean & DeLuca (I used to live in NY)!

General Software Discussion / Grocery Shopping Software
« on: January 22, 2007, 04:51 PM »
    I always seem to make multiple trips to the supermarket because I forgot an item or two.  So I decided I was going to get organzied and make a list.  So of couse I thought there should be a simple app which allows me to do this.  But as I searched and thought about it, my "simple" requirement grew in complexity.  So here's what it grew to:

    Create database of all items I usually buy which allow the capture of:
    • Product Info (product, size, brand)
    • Supermarket-specific Info (std price, unit price, best sale price, supermarket aisle)
    • Ability to create mini-lists (like for a meal or a recipe) which can be used to build a shopping list
    • Print list in aisle order to maximize my shopping
    • Ability to support multiple supermarkets so if I decide to shop at Kroger vs Shop-Rite, it creates my list sorted with the items in the right ailses.

    This way, just once, I could go thru the pain of entering everything I regularly buy, prices, aisles, etc, then I could simply build a shopping list by telling it what I am making (via mini lists I previously set up) and staples like milk, bread (via a staples list) and add any items not in those lists (like ketchup when I am out).  When printing, it would ask me which supermarket I am going to and then print the list by aisle with prices.

    I actually found something that does most of this at  The software though is a bit funky in that it is very hard (for me) to grasp and has some oddities in how it operates (its sense of what product is currently active is often cludgey).  So I am looking to see if there is something else out there.  Anybody know of anything?

I use Mantis BugTracker  The reason I first looked into this was because it's what is used at donation coder.  After giving it a whirl, I tried many others and came back to Mantis.  It's Server based and meets the needs quite well.

Many Many Features are here:  http://www.mantisbt....hp/mantisbt:features

I used it to manage inquiries, bugs, enhancements, etc.  I use it with very little customization.  It took all of 10 mins to set up.  I can provide more info if you have questions.

I really like WinFuture's xp-iso builder at  It allows you to slipstream service packs and a whole lot more:

Here's what xp-Iso-Builder has to offer:

  • Integrate Service Packs & Updates
  • Integrate user accounts
  • Change registry settings
  • Unattended (automatic) installation incl. registration key and creation of user data
  • Change paths of different system folders
  • Change launch modes of system services
  • Defining pagefiles
  • Integrate user-defined desktop theme
  • Integrate your own fonts
  • Integrate controller drivers for SATA, RAID, etc.
  • Integrate device drivers for graphics, sound, network, etc.
  • Integrate service and security updates
  • Integrate applications
  • Remove unnecessary folders
  • Integrate your own folders
  • Convert Recovery-CDs
  • Enable usage of unauthorized visual styles
  • Speed up internet after installation of SP2 (TCP/IP patch)
  • Includes profile management for easy recovery of different settings made
  • Languages: German, Englisch
  • Clarifications concerning every action
  • Create bootable CD/DVD-ISO-Image

Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Simple GUI to manage virtual drives
« on: December 20, 2006, 10:14 AM »
Collaboration is a great thing.  Thanks so much for pointing these out.  They both seem spot-on for what I need. 

Post New Requests Here / IDEA: Simple GUI to manage virtual drives
« on: December 19, 2006, 10:55 PM »
I have a simple batch file which is launched when my windows launches which creates "virtual" drives via two methods (1) net use dos command for network drive and (b) substr dos command for local folders.  Here's an example of a couple lines:

net use Z: \\diskstation\john password user:john
subst J: "C:\Documents and Settings\John\My Documents"

I really live to use these drive letters as fast access to common folders (be it local or network directory).  I think it would be cool to have a simple GUI that allows me to do this.  A bit of searching on the internet got me close as I found a GUI app (autoit script) to issue the subst command.  What's missing though are the following features:
  • ability to save it into a batch file in a startup directory so I dont need to keep issuing it every time I reboot.
  • ability to handle network shares

I'd like to have the app handle the network shares as well and write it all to a batch file in the startup directory.  I'd also like the ability to load the contents of an existing batch file (from a previous use of the app) to manage it (remove drives etc.).

Here's the autoit scipt which may serve as a starting point (though it doesnt need to be in auto it):
#include <GUIConstants.au3>
; == GUI generated with Koda ==
$Form1 = GUICreate("SUBST Command Utility", 258, 282, 192, 125)
$Group1 = GUICtrlCreateGroup("Set a Drive", 8, 8, 241, 105)
$Input1 = GUICtrlCreateInput("", 72, 24, 25, 21, "M2", $WS_EX_CLIENTEDGE)
GUICtrlCreateLabel("Drive letter", 16, 27, 55, 17)
$Input2 = GUICtrlCreateInput("", 16, 56, 225, 21, -1, $WS_EX_CLIENTEDGE)
$Button1 = GUICtrlCreateButton("Browse", 184, 24, 57, 25)
GUICtrlCreateLabel("Set Drive to =>", 104, 27, 75, 17)
$Button2 = GUICtrlCreateButton("Set Now", 80, 80, 97, 25)
GUICtrlCreateGroup("", -99, -99, 1, 1)
$Group2 = GUICtrlCreateGroup("Current Drives", 8, 128, 241, 145)
$List1 = GUICtrlCreateList("", 24, 144, 25, 123, -1, $WS_EX_CLIENTEDGE)
$Button3 = GUICtrlCreateButton("Delete Selected", 72, 152, 153, 33)
$Button4 = GUICtrlCreateButton("Delete All Subst Drives", 72, 192, 153, 33)
$Button5 = GUICtrlCreateButton("Refresh Drives", 72, 232, 153, 33)
GUICtrlCreateGroup("", -99, -99, 1, 1)
While 1
    $msg = GuiGetMsg()
    Case $msg = $GUI_EVENT_CLOSE
    Case $msg = $Button1
        $dir = FileSelectFolder ( "Select Folder to SUBST to.", "", 4 , "C:" )
        If $dir <> "" Then GUICtrlSetData( $Input2, $dir )
    Case $msg = $Button2
        If StringIsAlpha ( GUICtrlRead($Input1) ) And FileExists ( GUICtrlRead($Input2) ) Then
            $command = "subst /d " & GUICtrlRead($Input1) & ": "
            Run(@ComSpec & " /c " & $command, "", @SW_HIDE)
            $command = "subst " & GUICtrlRead($Input1) & ": " & '"' & GUICtrlRead($Input2) & '"'
            Run(@ComSpec & " /c " & $command, "", @SW_HIDE)
        Case $msg = $Button3
            $command = "subst /d " & GUICtrlRead($List1)
            Run(@ComSpec & " /c " & $command, "", @SW_HIDE)
        Case $msg = $Button4
            ProgressOn( "SUBST Delete", "Deleting drives" )
            For $i = 97 To 122
            ProgressSet( (100/26)*($i-97), "Drive " & Chr($i) & " deleted" )
            $command = "subst /d " & Chr($i) & ":"
            Run(@ComSpec & " /c " & $command, "", @SW_HIDE)
        Case $msg = $Button5
    Case Else
Func getdrives()
;GUICtrlSetData ( $List1, "" )
$drives = DriveGetDrive ( "ALL" )
$drivelist = ""
For $i = 1 to $drives[0]
    $drivelist = $drivelist & "|" & $drives[$i]
GUICtrlSetData ( $List1, $drivelist )

Here's my two cents:

Almost a year ago, I was reading an issue of CPU magazine where they gave kudos to a screen capture program called "Screenshot Captor".  In my job, I support a reporting portal application for IBM and use screenshots extensively in on-line help and documentation, so although I was pretty happy with HandySnap (for which I paid), I figured I'd give Screenshot Captor a try.  Thus I was introduced to Donation Coder and your very interesting method for obtaining the software.  I was annoyed with the hoops I needed to jump thru (getting a key to last for a period and then renewing in x months).  I certainly had no interest in yet another forum on the web.  But I signed up anyway because at the time, I think I could get a permanent key for all software regardless of the amount of my donation.  So I gave very little and got the permanent key so I didnt have to be bothered in x months to renew the key. 

I've used Screenshot Captor a lot and liked it...much more than anything else I had used.  So I came back to get updates.  It was then I noticed you had done reviews of commercial/freeware/shareware software.  That interested me, especially since I was looking for a screencasting tool to further my documentation on our application.  Your very thorough review, recommendations and discounts was compelling.  As a result, I purchased BBExpress (a great deal even without the 50% discount I received as a member).  My screencastings of our reporting portal were used in education as we deployed our portal to a major new audience within IBM.  They received rave reviews.

Finally, I recently started poking about in the other forums and periodically find myself very interested in the discussions, tips, and findings on the DC Forums.  I've even posted a message or reply here and there.  So while I initially found your method rather annoying....I now have DC as one of my daily reads.  Six things converted me (I stated writing this with three but it grew as I thought about it):

  • The quality of the software (in this case Screenshot Captor)
  • The well thought out and thorough content on your site (particularly the software reviews)
  • The discounts you offer (especially where they pertain to software you've reviewed)
  • The varied but interesting content on your site (in software discussion particularly)
  • The lack of flaming in the forums/open arms approach to newbies who may not know all the "rules"
  • The quality and quantity of leadership involvement in the site and fora both from official leaders like mouser as well as from regular participants

So I guess you can add me to the list of converts.  While your tactics seemed annoying at first, they allowed me the opportunity to find a real gem on the web.

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