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Messages - tranglos [ switch to compact view ]

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N.A.N.Y. 2009 / NANY 2009 TEASER: SQLite Scrub
« on: December 10, 2008, 08:14 AM »
NANY 2009 Entry Information

Application Name SQLite Scrub
Version not released yet
Short Description Erase sensitive information from FireFox3 form, cookies and history or any other application using SQLite database for storage
Supported OSes all win32 (I hope)
Web Page none yet
Download Link watch this space...
  • None, really. The program is only useful if you are using Firefox3 or other applications that store data in an SQLite databse, e.g. Ditto (clipboard extender)
  • In order to browse an SQLite database to see what it contains and what you would rather get rid of, you need a suitable utility. There are many; I recommend SQLite Spy (freeware).
  • No need to speak SQL :)


Firefox lets you fine-tune which passwords you want it to remember, but this flexibility does not extend to other historical data it stores, such as form history. If you choose to let Firefox remember the forms you fill out, it will remember them all, even those on secure (https) websites. For example, if you've ever entered your bank account or credit card numbers on a form, Firefox remembers them. This may or may not be a concern, but I *am* paranoid about a rogue extension that could access FF's form data and deliver it to its maker.

There was once a Firefox extension to browse and edit form data, but it's defunct now and has not been updated for Firefox 3. My NANY 2009 entry is not an extension (I could never figure out how to write one!), but the upside is twofold:

- In Firefox, it can also be used to scrub data from the cookie file and (later) the history file.

- It can work with any application that uses the popular SQLite database for storing session data. One such application is the clipboard extender Ditto, which offers no way to block certain strings from being stored.

Of course, the same effect could be achieved by installing the free SQLite commandline client and writing a few simple scripts. However, that requires some familiarity with writing SQL statements. With SQLite Scrub you don't need to know any SQL, just tell it what pieces of text you want removed from the database.

Attentive readers will have noticed (I hate that phrase, don't you?) that there's a catch: you don't want your CC number stored in Firefox database, but you have to store it in SQL Scrub's configuration of elements to delete. So isn't it rather self-defeating?

It isn't, because you don't have to store the complete string. If your CC number is 12345678, you can configure it as "delete any string that ends with 78" or "delete any string that contains 456". This is much safer.

The idea is that SQLite Scrub will run at Windows startup and perform the cleanup. (It's very fast.) You can run it manually too, but in that case you need to watch for Firefox (or other supported apps) already running, since they will lock their databases and SQLite Scrub will not be able to modify them. I'm planning to add a feature to automatically close the suported application, perform the scrubbing, then restart the app.That would help, but still be suboptimal, because for example in Firefox you would lose your open tabs, etc.


Only a UI mockup for now, but it gives a good idea of what the finished application should look like, as well as the command set. And no, it doesn't seem to need a menu or a toolbar :) (Right-click menus though, yes.)


  • Currently, it's strictly a manual configuration deal. There is an xml file where you specify what you want deleted from the database. It's easy though and there will be a step by step guidance.
  • At the monent two applications are supported: Firefox3 and Ditto.

Planned Features
  • Log and report the number of entries found and scrubbed
  • Automatically close and restart supported applications to avoid locking conflicts
  • A nice GUI for configuring the items to delete from various databases.
  • I can add support for other applications - tell me what you need. (You can use SQLite Spy, the freeware utility mentioned above, to check if a particular application uses an SQLite database.)
  • It's possible to add generic support for any sqlite database, but that would require a little more user involvement (you'd have to specify detailed information about the database: table and field names, for example. If you can do this, you can probably write your own SQL scripts, so SQLite Scrub may not be for you.)

Interested? Let me know. I probably won't be adding a GUI unless anyone wants to use it besides myself :)


Found Deals and Discounts / Re: TuneUp Utilities 2009 for $9.99.
« on: December 08, 2008, 11:20 AM »
TuneUp Utilities 2009 are already released.

Thanks, Roland!

Looks like another update I'll skip :) Nothing new this time, just vague improvements to already existing tools, and a redesigned UI (matter of taste).

Found Deals and Discounts / Re: TuneUp Utilities 2009 for $9.99.
« on: December 08, 2008, 09:36 AM »
I registered TuneUp Utilities 2006, then upgraded to 2007 and balked this year, because the upgrade price is steep and the only thing they've added in a disk defragmenter. But I haven't received a word from TuneUp about a $10 upgrade.

If it's true, my guess it they are about to release version 2009 rather soon. This looks like a ruse to sucker customers into paying the 10 bucks plus the upgrade price to 2009 (those customers who have refused to buy the 2008 upgrade, anyway).

If you like TuneUp Utilities (I do!), my advice would be to skip this one and upgrade to version 2009 when it's out.

Living Room / Re: Funny, Strange, and Confusing Error Messages
« on: December 07, 2008, 10:00 AM »
Also, for an endless supply of wacky error messages, check out the Error'd section from The Daily WTF blog:

(Make sure to navigate to previous months, there's years of material there)

Living Room / Re: Funny, Strange, and Confusing Error Messages
« on: December 07, 2008, 09:55 AM »
An earlier version of Windows (could be 95) would sometimes display an error message when shutting down, to the effect of "The system cannot close, because [...] is still working". In place of [...] you would see the name of the process that was refusing to close. Sometimes though it was as if the system could not even obtain the name of the process, in which case the error message read "...because Unknown is still working".

This is still fairly innocuous in English, but in the Polish version of Windows the message gained a bit of chlling ambiguity. "Unknown" was translated as an adjective in masculine form, which could also be a noun (just like "rich" or "blind" in English), so at first sight you would interpret it as referring to a person. Efectively, the message read "The system cannot close, because the Stranger is still working".

It was a major ROTFL every time.

I've been using USBSafelyRemove for a few months now, really nice if you swap thumbdrives often. Love being able to disconnect drives via a hotkey. The lifetime license for multiple machines is icing on the cake.

(Zaine wanted fanboyish reviews... well I have yet to find a fault in USBSafelyRemove. It's not exactly the kind of software you interact with much, but it *is* nice to have it running if you like to save two seconds here and there, or avoid stretching your arm much to reach for the mouse :)

General Review Discussion / Re: In praise of opinionated reviews
« on: November 24, 2008, 12:01 PM »
Here's a thought. Why not — once a year — consider highly opinionated reviews?

How about opinionated critical reviews?

I've refrained from posting reviews a few times, since what I'm good at is fault-finding, and I can berate software to no end, including some DC favorites, which I think suffer from major, major flaws (hello UltraEdit, hello PowerGrep you awful, misshapen critters...) If a piece of software deserves a good dressing down, I can deliver that in spades :)

As for fanboyish reviews, I don't think I've been sufficiently awed by any new program in a long time. Other than Total Commander, which is pure perfection of course!

Find And Run Robot / Re: Unicode??
« on: November 22, 2008, 03:13 PM »
Yes, but what if you have Chinese version of Windows? Or in my case(i am from Croatia) when you have filenames with special characters like "šđčćž" which are quite often in filenames around here.

That makes sense, thanks :) Although I'm in a very similar position (Poland) and I've seen no problems using FARR with Polish diacritic characters, with one exception, but it's unrelated to the codepage.

I wonder though how adding Unicode support to FARR would help in situations such as "X language filename on Y language system", since as far as I know filenames are not stored in Unicode on Windows - or are they? I've seen "unicode filenames" mentioned here and there, but Windows APIs return ANSI filenames, at least on XP.

Now the the exception (hope mouser sees it :) FARR uses Ctrl+Alt+O to trigger the Options dialog box. This blocks me from entering the "ó" character, a Polish diacritic. More precisely, the character does appear correctly in the search box, but the Options dialog box pops up as well, preventing me from typing any further until I dismiss it. It's a frequent gotcha when assigning Ctrl+Alt combinations, since the right Alt key (AltGR) on many country-specific keyboard maps to Ctrl+Alt. So for example any program that swallows Ctrl+Alt plus a, c, e, l, n, o, x or z prevents me from typing in Polish.

Find And Run Robot / Re: Unicode??
« on: November 22, 2008, 11:58 AM »
echo: yes, UNICODE means - basically - "foreign characters". SOME already work in FARR, but it's limited to the codepage you're running. Ie., with a Danish codepage I can enter "æøåÆØÅäëöüï" and stuff like that without problems, but FARR fails miserably for Chinese, Russian, etc.

This is something I don't quite get. Assuming FARR is used in its basic function of looking up files, do you need Unicode to enter the name of any file in your filesystem? I can't quite imagine having files named using Chinese characters on a Central European version of Windows, for example. How is this useful (or even possible) in practice?

(It is of course another thing when using FARR with plugins, search Google or Firefox bookmarks etc. I'm not negating the usefulness of Unicode in general, just wondering about the filesystems.)

What I did was create bookmarks (in both Winamp and AIMP) for all the stations listed at It takes a couple of clicks to get to a bookmark, but it's still pretty quick.

An easy solution using FARR would be to right-click and save-as all the links to the stations listed on that SkyFM page, each with a unique name, e.g. "salsa.pls", and put those files where FARR can find them. FARR would then launch whatever player is registered for handling pls playlist fles.

(I love Sky.FM!)

Thanks blackcat and lanux! Meanwhile, I've also found this - rather basic and I'm not sure if it can be automated (other than with a macro program):

N.A.N.Y. 2009 / Re: NANY 2009 Intro
« on: November 19, 2008, 01:47 PM »
I'd like to pledge the project described here. A basic alpha might be ready by Jan 1st, but at the moment it's still vaporware, as described in that post :)

On edit: I don't have a name for this yet and could certainly use some suggestions. Obvious names like "filebox", "fileset" etc are taken, and it's not exactly "virtual folders", though it's in the ballpark.

I'll piggyback on your post, because I've been meaning to ask something very similar. Not necessarily a commandline tool, but one that could be described as "TimeSnapper for the Web" (i.e. WebSnapper, if anyone needs a snappy name :) Ideally, a program that would take automated screenshots of websites at predefined intervals - be it once a week, or once an hour.

(There are of course very nice Firefox add-ons to take website screenshots, such as Abduction, but AFAIK they can't be automated, and even if they could, that task would effectively hijack the browser as long as the "WebSnapper" would be running.)

Coding Snacks / Re: Global Hotkey Management
« on: November 06, 2008, 12:55 PM »
I'd like to have some kind of utility that would tell me which hotkeys are currently assigned on my XP system, so I could avoid conflicts between different applications.  Thanks !

As far as I know, it is possible to check programmatically whether a particular hotkey is assigned only by trying to register it (and getting an error value in return, if the hotkey is already taken). This can be done. However, I don't think Windows will tell you which process has a hold on any particular hotkey.

General Software Discussion / Re: Best Python IDE
« on: October 27, 2008, 03:54 PM »
If you're learning something, about the only thing you really want is syntax highlighting. Go beyond that and you run the risk of "throwing out the baby with the bathwater."

That would be more like throwing into the tub: the baby, the bathwater, some soap, some rubber duckies, a teddy bear and a LEGO set :)

That said, I disagree - just a little. Syntax highlighting is very helpful for spotting syntax errors, which abound when you begin learning a language. But for me, the lack of IDE (or using a weak IDE) becomes a showstopper for another reason: no code insight. For me, the hardest thing is figuring out what I can do with the language, i.e. the capabilities of the library.

A few times I've tried learning Python by attempting to write what should normally be much simpler/faster to do in Python than in Delphi. Of course, while I knew exactly how to do it in Delphi, but in Pyton I had no idea where to begin. Every time, with only one exception, I went back to Delphi, having to write more glue code and create throw-away classes, but I worked fast because I already knew how to do it. In Python, without an IDE capable of code insight, searching in the documentation ended up taking enough time to become a tedium.

If I can type objectinstance - dot - Ctrl+Space and have a list of methods and their signatures, I'm happy, and I can try things out in no time and actually get results. Without it, a new language appears impenetrable.

That, and I don't think I'd ever attempt to create a GUI in a scripting language by typing... control such-and-such, top=10, left=5, width=100, etc, for dozens and dozens of controls. It just doesn't seem to make sense, as long as you have an option of using a visual designer.

I saw a post on a blog for a new open source synchronization program -
May be worth checking out.

Here's a writeup at DownloadSquad:

...and screenshots:

I cannot use "kk `" combination at all... Maybe it has something to do with non-English version of Windows (I've got Polish one...).

Same here. On a PL version of XP, the backtick has no effect. (Note that the backtick is not used as a compose character on default PL keyboard.)

I think you are trying to use MF to do versioned backups (at least that's what fileHamster does). And my guess is that MF is designed for synch'ing not for versioned backups (although most of these programs can be used for both see e.g., the very name of synchBack).

Well, that's true. MF does versioned backups though, it just does them poorly IMO. It's excellent if you need the real-time copy, but for anything else there are better implementations.

If MirrorFolder can match its sync abilities and is faster then I might switch.

In the filter driver mode MirrorFolder is instantaneous. This one feature is fantastic, but there were too many things I didn't like about MF. I finally chose FileHamster for real-tome backup, even though I don't like .Net apps in general. From my notes, these are the issues I had with MirrorFolder:

  • No option to enforce a minimal delay between backups
  • No option to archive files without zipping them. This makes file comparison awkward.
  • When archiving, each modified file is saved to a separate zip file, which is not named after the file, but has a name like ""; so finding, comparing and restoring archives is awfully inconvenient.
  • Very hard to restore, since one has to manually select individual files, and the dialog boxes don't even open in the defined backup location. Quite inconvenient in comparison to FileHamster. Hard (or impossible) to see which files have how many archived versions.
  • No option to specify the number of archived versions to keep (there IS an option to delete archived versions older than n days though)
  • Never received a reply to a support question I asked during the trial period

Am I missing something or none of this programs support Firefox 3.0 new bookmarks storage architecture?

They switched from a simple HTML file to an SQLite database. For any developer who has not worked with databases before, this is going to be a hurdle, though thankfully SQLite is one of the simplest db engines. Still, you first need to research what you can use to operate on FF's database files; there are free bindings for most programming languages (typically talking to SQLite via a DLL, which may have some performance implications), as well as commercial solutions. For example, there's a very good one for Delphi that sells for 90 or 270 Euro, depending on whether you want full source code. So finding a way to talk to SQLite is another hurdle.

Then you have to figure out the schema of FF's "places" database, which is simple if you just want to pull out the URLs, but gets somewhat convoluted if you need to do more. For anyone interested, here's the schema of the places database. The nice thing about the db is that you can get not only bookmarks, but the entire FF history from the same db.

Many bookmark programs will catch up eventually, but it may take some time.

Announce Your Software/Service/Product / Re: Backup4all 4 BETA released
« on: September 25, 2008, 05:40 AM »
Very nice, thank you for posting. I especially welcome the ability to pause jobs while they're running.

Is this a free or paid upgrade for 3.x users, please? (The upgrade page on your site says to visit tomorrow, the same it said yesterday :) Naturally, I wouldn't like my registered version to revert to a 30-day trial.)

I settled on Backup4All abut two years ago, having tested most if not all of the alternatives discussed here on DC, and it has not failed me once. I still have a wishlist though - is it OK to post feature suggestions here?

Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: Passwords
« on: September 24, 2008, 06:08 PM »
Very nice tranglos, i will support it.

Great! This is one of those really neat and simple ideas that should spread far and wide.

Clipboard Help+Spell / Re: Passwords
« on: September 24, 2008, 05:47 PM »
Mouser, please have a look at this article (by the author of ClipMate) if you haven't already:

Clipboard Extender Dot Com » Ignoring Clipboard Updates with the CF_CLIPBOARD_VIEWER_IGNORE Clipboard Format

It's a simple and effective idea that eliminates the problem entirely, though it requires cooperation from vendors of password managers and such apps. I implemented it in my Oubliette at the time. Most clipboard managers don't hold up their part of the deal though.

General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 7 -- ribbons for everyone!
« on: September 21, 2008, 01:47 PM »
For me, the ribbon carries several disadvantages:

  • it's too 1st grade-looking, as if I'm too stupid to use a menu;
  • eats up a ridiculous amount of valuable screen space (float this thing as a sidebar since we're all using WIDEscreens now);
  • it diminishes the role -- and efficiency -- of keyboard shortcuts.

Completely agreed on points 2 & 3. Especially about the keyboard. Menus are dicoverable - you can browse them and find out the keyboard shortcuts. The ribbon has accelerators overlaid on its icons, so that the labels obscure the icons they are meant to describe, how silly is that?

On point 1 though - I agree too, but something like 90% users don't. Microsoft has collected a massive amount of raw data on how often which command is used and how it is accessed. Seems this is the information Office 2003 sends them when you check the option that says "Help improve Office by sending anonymous usage data" blah blah* - that data was used as a starting point when they were designing the ribbon. They know exactly how many people clicked the Save button in Word vs how many people used File->Save, or how many pressed Ctrl+S. Turns out very few people press Ctrl+S, and almost nobody uses the menus. Most people just click what's available on the two standard toolbars. And only 4% of users ever customize Word, and of those most just add a button or two.

I have no idea why that is, but it seems true from my experience also that many people faced with a program will just sit there and look, and it doesn't occur to them to click a menu here or check out what a command does there. They just don't do it. So the ribbon does a better job perhaps of letting people see what's available.

* I wonder though how many people un-check that box and if that number is high enough to skew the results. I think the option is checked by default, meaning that those "unadventurous" users would be more likely to leave it on, while control freaks like myself will tend to uncheck it. As a result, the data MS collects might be biased toward less experienced users.

General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 7 -- ribbons for everyone!
« on: September 19, 2008, 11:02 AM »
Very good piont, gothi[c]!
I wonder how no expert in usability at MS thought about that  :huh:

It seems the usability experts at MS are aware of this. In this case they were probably overridden by the marketing dept.

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