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Messages - tranglos [ switch to compact view ]

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General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 7 -- ribbons for everyone!
« on: September 19, 2008, 10:30 AM »
I think this new type of interface is a waste of screen real-estate.
Classically these tool bars were on the side of the screen, which makes more sense imo, because a monitor is typically more wide than it is tall.

In the presentation of the ribbon design process (see my post above) the designer said they prototyped the ribbon as a sidebar, but abandoned it for two reasons. One, he says users felt more confident with commands at the top. Two - he was afraid if they placed the ribbon at the side, the ribbon would quickly develop a scrollbar, since vertical scrolling is such a common UI construct. But horizontal scrolling isn't so convenient, so placing the ribbon at the top ensured that no-one would try to do that.

General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 7 -- ribbons for everyone!
« on: September 19, 2008, 10:24 AM »
Well... I love it in Office, but using it on wordpad seems like a bit of overkill, there's only one "tab"! (or whatever its name it)

There's an interesting presentation by the UI designer who was in charge of the ribbon, over 90 minutes long:

He makes a lot of good points, made me appreciate the ribbon a little more, though I still don't use Office 2007. His narrative of gathering usage data and the prototyping process is intriguing. Near the end, during Q&A, he says exactly what you're saying: the ribbon is meant for applications with hundreds of commands and otherwise "busy" UIs. It was not intended for simpler programs due to the various trade-offs involved and the screen estate it takes. (And the idea I get from the presentation is that the ribbon was certainly not invented just to look pretty.)

General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 7 -- ribbons for everyone!
« on: September 19, 2008, 10:18 AM »
The office ribbon confuses me. I'm using Softmaker office at home, but Office2007 at work. There's no way to turn the damn thing off is there?

You can minimize it, but there's no way to go back to the old menus and toolbars. There is a paid third-party add-on that restores the old-style interface in Office 2007, but I'm afraid I can't recall its name.

He didn't design the UI they outsourced it (can't find the entry on the codinghorror blog about it)

I was at fault anyway, because I was referring to text entry pop-up boxes at the support/bug reporting site at, which has an almost identical look to the stackoverflow site but is in fact a different host.

But... he outsourced the UI? For what seems to be a personal pet project? This is so wrong!  :o

Does anyone have problems logging in with FireFox 3 via myOpenID? Irony of the day: IE7 works.

(And once a guy writes a UI design book, never let him design an actual UI people will be using. Those modal-looking text entry "dialog boxes" that dim the rest of the browser window are soooo inconvenient and un-Web-like, I think. But maybe I'm just irritated bacause I can't log in :) )

- Prohibit assigning drive letters (like network drives)
- Global hotkeys for each drive
- Re-enable removed devices

I  bought Safely Remove recently for these specific features. I love having a single global hotkey to pop up a menu of connected devices and eject them by hitting Enter.

But I particularly wanted feature #1 above. I have a NAS drive mapped as D: on my system. For some reason whenever I atach as USB drive, Windows insists on setting it up as D: even though that letter is already taken. To use the USB drive I had to open Computer Management console and manually  change the letter. Windows would remember that for a while, until I plugged the drive into a different USB socket. Now I have Safely Remove block the letter D, and it also remembers letters assigned to previously  used devices.

Feature #3 is also nice to have when needed. Plus, as has been mentioned in this thread, free updates for life and you can use the program on all your personal machines. That's licensing I can believe in! :)

General Software Discussion / Re: Forum 2.0 Suggestion
« on: September 12, 2008, 01:22 PM »
You are NOT stuck with the default theme of any page on the web. You can change it all to suit your tastes and needs.

I know, app, but in practice it's way too much work, unless one regularly visits no more than two or three sites. The most I occasionally do is pick "No style" in Firefox, for a nauseatingly bland but readable content.

General Software Discussion / Re: Forum 2.0 Suggestion
« on: September 12, 2008, 10:57 AM »
Not to defend all gamers but we love Gamefaqs blue and white theme before CNN ruined it for us with their own take on the whole thing man. You're not going to see many people yearning for the old green and black theme that's for sure.

Heck I'm a gamer myself (don't tell my wife! Is FarCry 2 out already?). I just run away from gamer forums :)

General Software Discussion / Re: Forum 2.0 Suggestion
« on: September 12, 2008, 10:33 AM »
Please have a look at the comparison screenshot (click on the thumbnail). On a much thinner slice of my screen (room for expansion?) I immediately get an overview over twice as many threads and immediately recognize which threads I have visited before, which posts have not been answered - all I need to know, while enjoying a much cleaner interface.

May I register a shrill cry of protest!

Colors. Without arguing aesthetics, I couldn't read a forum that uses yellow (ack!) on black background. And red. Such color schemes are truly, physically unreadable to me, so much that it hurts my eyes and the tiny print appears to flutter like in those optical illusions. There's way too much contrast, and the colors are all glaring neon at me.

I realize this is the preferred color scheme for most gaming sites, for example - perhaps to do with the cool grungey feel they like to elicit, so maybe it's culture-bound to a degree, no matter. I know for certain that if I open up a forum that looks like the left-hand part of your screenshot, I close it immediately and never return unless by mistake. I would never read DC that way.

(One solution for when I really want the content is to read such sites via Google RSS readers, which imposes its own default black-on-white style.)

The same goes for dpreview, incidentally. I've used it when I really wanted to read the reviews before purchasing cameras, but it is painful.

Then there's the layout. Why do books waste paper on margins? Because white space helps readability. It is true that the "dark" forum in your screenshot packs more information into a single screen, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. There are certain things that need to look like an Airbus cockpit, and most of them are Airbuses :) To put that much info on a page you need that small font and narrow line spacing, which to me produces clutter. It's hard to keep eyesight focused on a single topic line, because the neighboring lines intrude.

I'm not saying my way is better than yours, only that there are certain designs that put me off to the point of physical inability to read a site. I've nothing against custom themes - I just never needed them at DC, since the current layout and color scheme are about perfect to me. It's clear, clean and eminently legible. The amount of white space seems to be just about right. I don't even mind the profile icons, since I hardly notice them at all. The only clutter I see comes from personal signatures and avatars (I'm guilty myself).

(There was once a highly informative thread on light vs dark backgrounds - interesting to see how widely basic preferences differ.)


PS. What I'd like to have would be a configurable number of posts per page. I'd set it to something large, like 500, to reduce the number of times I need to click the index numbers at bottom to read a whole thread.

General Software Discussion / Re: Forum 2.0 Suggestion
« on: September 10, 2008, 03:52 PM »
Another suggestion, probably easy to implement but a big usability step. Whenever a thread is split into several pages, the page navigation requires accurately clicking these smallish numbers:


It would be easier to have Previous / Next page links to the left (or on either side of) the page numbers. Mostly because it's so much easier to click a word than a one- or two-digit number; also because when following a thread I don't really care which page I'm looking at, my intent is simply to move forward.

Initially at DC I thought these links would do the job:


But they move between threads instead. Are they used often? (I.e., how often do people go to whatever thread is next, without seeing the title first?) In any case, it might be useful to rename them to "Previous thread" and "Next thread", to make their funvtion more obvious.


A huge compliment to Blueberry software, the makers of BB Flashback. I originally bought it in December 2006, almost two years ago, at a 50% (or so) Donationcoder discount.  :-* That was version 1.5.

Version 2.0 has been out for a while, with cool new features (scroll down the page for what's new). The full price is rather steep, at $225. Registered 1.5 users can upgrade for $99 - fair enough, but still costly. Click the Upgrade link, and you're taken to a page with several upgrade options, one of which reads I had an educational or charity discount when I purchased BB FlashBack. Do I get a discount on the upgrade?. Answer: Heck yeah! :up:

Enter your existing license number, and if you originally bought at a discount, the same discount percentage is applied to your purchase of 2.0! I have to use all thse exclamation points, because I could hardly believe it. So it's not $225, and not $99 either - I upgraded to version 2.0 for $49.50.

...and before I finished downloading the new version I already had an email with the new registration code.

Really impressive. Thank you, Donationcoder, and thank you Blueberry Software. A major win.

General Software Discussion / Re: What Microsoft does right
« on: September 09, 2008, 09:13 AM »
  • incredible apps like OneNote, and for me, Expression Web;

Say more about Expression Web, please? I've been considering it just recently, but the price for European customers is outrageous - not $299 (the US pricetag), but a little over $516 (at Google's exchange rate today). And the website is all clobbered in Firefox 3. Just to make sure the thread isn't unduly smothered in lucre :)

Good things? Localization is one of the things MS gets right. It took them a few years, early versions of Windows and Office had awful, side-splittingly funny translation errors, but they really put a lot of effort into establishing a reliable process. As a translator / proofreader, MS projects are the nicest to work on. They test stringently and evaluate almost every completed project, to keep you on your toes, but they also provide all the tools and all the linguistic resources to do the job right. Most large software makers don't know the first thing about localization or can't be bothered to manage it properly. (Adobe, Apple, I'm looking at you!)

Oh, and keyboards. Give me a Logitech mouse and an MS keyboard any time.

Living Room / Re: How many countries represented here on DC ?
« on: September 09, 2008, 08:57 AM »
Poland. Don't forget Poland :)

FARR Plugins and Aliases / Re: KlipKeeper (A FARR2 Plugin by hamradio)
« on: September 07, 2008, 11:10 AM »
Fantastic plugin, thanks a lot ham!

And here's a request (of course!): can you please make permanent storage of the clips optional? I often copy passwords and don't want them lying around.

As a workaround, I've tried making klipkeeper_data.dat and .bak read-only / hidden. However, I cannot do the same to klipkeeper_data.dat.tmp, because it crashes FARR on exit when that file is unwriteable. Just a little checkbox to never write items do disk, please? :)

What we need is an OS that doesn't include anything except for the absolute bare bones and is lightening fast.

Speaking of duck and cover... while going head-on against the entire thread...

My ideal OS is much more than the bare-bones kernel and abstraction layers. I can't say I care about the kernel one way or another, as long as it is rock-stable, except to say that from a user's point of view the Windows way (install driver, reboot) is preferable to the Linux way (to install driver, recompile kernel). Maybe Linux doesn't do it this way anymore; I only have un-fond memories of playing with RedHat a long time ago. But this isn't what's bothering me.

What's bothering me is the humongous proliferation of redundant, incompatible solutions to the same common tasks, repeated over and over. Quick check: how many applications do you have installed that carry their own independent spellchecker?

It's a waste of developers' efforts, since each vendor reinvents the wheel; it's waste of disk and RAM, since each implementation takes up some; it's a waste of my money, since I end up paying for that whenever I buy software; and it's a waste of my time, since each solution is subtly different, with its own shortcuts, features, etc. How many "user glossaries" do you have on your machine?

Examples abound. There's no shortage of good email clients, newsreaders, PIMs, password managers, notetakers, addressbooks... the choice is awesome, and the quality of these apps is steadily growing. The problem is that once you choose a product, you're pretty much stuck with it, or face painful and often lossy conversion process. That's wrong.

It's not just the spellcheckers, of course. Every mature ftp-capable application is going to have some kind of a uswer-defined server directory, with hosts, usernames, passwords and associated options. I have a number of such definitions in TotalCommander. Now why must I re-enter them all in FileZilla, and then again in every html editor with an ftp publishing feature? *And* in my backup application? Give me a nice clean, extensible database of my ftp connections, which applications could read and write (with my permission - there are security implications here).

Now for a counter-example. Windows has a single clipboard. All apps can use it and all apps do. Consistent features, consistent shortcuts, works everywhere in the same way, and it may well be Windows' single best usability feature ever. Developers can still extend the clipboard, hence all the, well, clipboard extenders, or apps that add their own multiple clipboards - but these are optional, and they come on top of the system functionality rather than replace it.

A counter-counter example of how to do things the wrong way: skinning. Instead of the consistent, well-tested UI that the OS provides, you have Winamp, which doesn't work well with window enhancement programs, and doesn't even change the color of the titlebar depending on whether it's active or not. So just by looking at Winamp I cannot tell if it's ready for keyboard input - to be certain, I must click it first. This is a major WTF.

Come to think of it, each application having its own spell-checker and its own addressbook built in is not unlike the skinning scenario, except that they have no choice, since the OS doesn't provide those.

So for my ideal OS, I want a well-defined database backend and a set of standard APIs for all, yes *all* these common tasks. One spellchecker. One database for addresses. One for bookmarks, one for to-dos, one for multimedia metadata, one for my email archive, and so on. No matter what email program I use, it should store the email and the addresses in the same one place, so that I can swap clients easily without affecting the data. And all browsers shouls share the same database of bookmarks. And each applications should be able to easily look up phone numbers in a system-wide database. And each application could spellcheck each and every little textbox by hooking up to the integrated spellchecker.

Now, developers would still have a choice: use the built-in database layer of build your own. But when building their own, they would have to ensure they're providing some truly exceptional, unhead-of functionality to make up for the loss of integration. Most apps would probably use the built-ins, so that developers could concentrate on stability, features and UI instead.

And oh yes, metadata for absolutely everything.

(I've typed it in EmEditor and only now noticed it doesn't have a spellchecker. Been using it for two years. How much did I pay for it again? Check the help - ah, I need to download a plugin. See what I mean?)

I'm looking for a simple little program that allows for the organisation of document shortcuts from disparate folders into projects.

Interesting idea, mnemonic. I don't know of a program that does what you need, but for quite a while I've been carrying a project in my head that would accommodate that. I'll probably never write it myself, so this is an [IDEA] post really - but I'd like to see if anyone would be interested in using (or writing) such a program.

The codename is Hunter-Gatherer, or Hunt & Gather (HG for short, and you can already see I've taken tips on naming projects from Mouser :) The basic idea is to allow users to create filesets - arbitrary lists of files, named and stored in a lightweight db. Your lists could contain shortcuts and/or any other files. You would be able to create aliases - which meets your requirement to be able to rename files in the list only, without affecting the targets.

Two main modes of operation: manual and auto. In the manual mode you create a fileset by adding files manually to the list: by click and drag, by pasting filenames or by the usual Windows file selector dialog. In the auto mode you would specify one or more rules, and the program would automatically build and refresh your filelist based on the conditions in the rules. The simplest rule could be something like  "find *.doc *.xls in c:\docs", but the rule syntax could be quite powerful to allow including or excluding files on a number of properties.

So in a way this is a "virtual folder" program, akin to the file collections in Directory Opus. (And oh by-the-way! Directory Opus does collections, which might do what you need. Have you considered that? I don't use DOpus, I'm TotalCommander all the way, so all I know is that DOpus has this feature.) But this is only the first half of the program.

Because here's the quandary: once you can build the filelists, what can you do with them? What good are they? This is the second half, and I haven't quite figured that out. Originally my idea was to have a plugin-based program, so that users could write plugins to do things with the collected files: zip them up, encrypt them, convert to mp3, burn to CD, etc. Or the program could serve as a multipurpose front-end to various commandline tools (to do all these and other tasks). However, this approach is impractical; it seems like a lost cause to try to create a generic interface to work with any and all commandline tools. And often it wouldn't work for the simple reason that you cannot feed dozens or hundreds of filenames to a program via the command line, since there is a max length for command line arguments in Windows. So, no good.

Also, it's no good to have the file lists available only in a single, special program. What's the point of collecting files, naming them and all, if you cannot access those lists anywhere else?

Solution: This should really be written as an Explorer shell extension -  a so-called namespace extension. There would be a single root folder in Explorer, on the same level as My Computer or directly below My Computer, which you would double-click to display a list of your file collections. Then your collections would be available wherever the shell is accessible, i.e. in practically every application. *And* in Directory Opus, *and* in Total Commander... so that's the way to do it.

But I've never written a shell extension in Delphi and don't know where to begin; this would be a fairly involved project. There's a component that supposedly makes it easy, called ShellPlus, but it has a nasty pricetag. So my idea is merely vaporware, but I still think it's kind of neat, and I certainly would find plenty of uses for such a program.

Meanwhile, you may want to try Directory Opus :)

General Software Discussion / Re: In search of ideal backup utility
« on: August 30, 2008, 01:43 PM »
Actual Window Manager Ver 5.1 (
A must for whom who likes to open window after window until getting lost in the sea of windows.

That would be me. Thanks a lot!

General Software Discussion / Re: In search of ideal backup utility
« on: August 30, 2008, 12:52 PM »
Completely unrelated, but what do you use to get this, tslim?



Living Room / Re: What do you usually forget to backup?
« on: August 30, 2008, 10:46 AM »
Customized Windows fonts and colors (Desktop -> Properties). Then I can never remember whether I was using Verdana or Tahoma, 8 or 9 pt, or exactly what RGB values I was using for window background, and whatever I try, it doesn't look right anymore until I get used to it again :)

And I always zip up the whole Windows and Program Files folders to keep for a while in case an application decides it's missing a DLL. Doesn't happen nearly as often as it used to under Win95, but I still keep those zip files for a few months after a reinstall.

Oh, and a manual backup of selected registry keys, to easily restore licenses and settings for various apps.

Other than that, nothing really. It usually takes me the better part of the day to make a manual backup of everything I need to keep, on top of the automated backup archives. Reinstall comes on the following day.

General Software Discussion / Re: Computer Forensics Application
« on: August 28, 2008, 09:18 PM »
Tranglos, I've used WinHex before, and I have to say I seem to miss what all the fuss is about. IMO, as a hex editor there are plenty better alternatives, and I can't seem to see what features are so coveted by its users.

I don't use it, never bought it, because it's too expensive for something I don't really need. But the geeky side of me finds a couple of things very neat. Like the ability to dump a program's memory space to disk - for example, I'd use it to see if my own and other apps "leak" passwords (in my password manager Oubliette I tried to erase the typed password as soon as possible, and only keep the hashed value in memory - but I'd like to make sure it works that way). I would also use it to dump a dictionary I use daily - which has no expoer feature - to convert it to another format, omcpatible with some other tools I use. I don't know if this feature is unique to WinHex - probably not, but it's where I found it :)

General Software Discussion / Re: Computer Forensics Application
« on: August 28, 2008, 08:34 PM »
Are you looking for tools like ESET SysInspector, SIV, SIW, WITS (Windows Inspection Tool Set), WinAudit, HWiNFO?

So this isn't what Ehtyar needs, but for anyone who may come across this thread looking for actual computer forensics apps, another one to add to your list is WinHex: . Quite pricey, but has an awesome featureset. (Though I don't know the ones you listed, so I can't compare).

Ehtyar - it seems you have what you need, though you didn't mention a good AV program. Avira ( is pretty good and free. Your users will need that, and a firewall as well, if they don't have one yet. I'm using ESET Smart Security, which is a firewall and an AV (a repackaged nod32), but for AV alone I think Avira was better (certainly its scanner is faster).

For other tasks, I don't think you can do much better than Process Explorer. WinHex and the other forensics apps will do all PE does and more, but they are complex and really expensive, and probably won't do much for weeding out spyware and such. WinHex is intended for post-mortem analysis; I'm not sure it will monitor processes/files in real time (it may though, I wouldn't be surprised).

For real-time spyware (and suspicious-ware) monitoring I thougt ThreatFire was pretty neat ( It used to be free, but now costs 30 Euro for 3 machines. I used to run it on my laptop, but it never detected anything so I decided I didn't need it and can't really comment on its efficacy :)

(correction: Threatfire is still free for personal use, but you need to check the feature matrix to see that. The 30 Euro license is for commercial use and apparently easier updates)

The description is silly -- watch the video demo on that page to learn what it is..  after a few minutes they will get passed the "adding pictures to email" which i find kind of useless.. then they get to the part where they do basically what FARR and other keyboard launchers do.

True, but I like how you can create functions, not just use one-word or one-line commands. One nifty thing springs to mind: every time I install a new FF release, I hunt through its .jar libs for a specific file containing a function that returns the filename used with "Save As". I want the saved file to use the title of the page or current selection instead of the original document filename (which is often 'index.php' or something similarly useless). So it's tedious to do it every time. Now it looks like I just might be able to do the same with Ubiquity, as long as it provides access to the DOM and FF's internal JS goodies (not sure about the former yet).

it's especially annoying given that 90% of what they are doing is what Find+Run Robot and other keyboard-based launchers do.. Of course it would kind of step on their narrative if they acknowledged that, so instead we are treated to a discussion of something that purports to be a totally new concept.

Oh, but this is just classic product-launch thing. When MS delivered OneNote, didn't they sound like nobody had ever written notes on the computer before? Now the Mozilla folks have just discovered the commandline. Whatever! I just skip past that.

I can't imagine how years of ignorance becomes "overnight". At the very least it's taken them 2 years, given that their last release was 2 years ago.

Well, I meant "overnight" figuratively - from one version to another. People had been clamoring for Unicode support for years on Borland newsgroups. And native support certainly beats having to use third-party libraries, each with its own implementation of Unicode classes and conversions.

New bugs in the runtimes? Goodness, people can barely keep up with the pre-existing ones, I hope they have a good internet updating mechanism :P

That's been different with different releases. D6 was pretty tight, and I understand so is the 2007 version. Pre-2007 versions seem to have been plagued by IDE issues/crashes and overall slowness more than library bugs, at least that was my impression from reading the newsgroups.

Robust Unicode support is one of the big things
It's amazing it's taken them until 2009 to do this, though? :-s
If it weren't a proprietary language it wouldn't have.

Being proprietary may not have been the issue. After all, they now have moved to Unicode practically overnight. The problem is that this change will potentially break any Delphi code that declares anything as String (rather than Ansistring). Which is probably something like 98% of existing code. And since string handling has always been one of Delphi's strong points, and string has always been pretty much equivalent to array of char, where sizeof(char) has always been 1, you have lots and lots and lots of code that relies on that and will have to be thrown away.

If I upgrade, I can throw away all my personal libraries and all the 3rd party components I've bought over the years, or wait until they are upgraded, then buy those upgrades. It may be a necessary change, but it's also a major pain.

I also wonder what Unicodeization of Delphi is going to do to performance. There's a number of incredibly fast string handling libraries for Delphi, but not for widestrings. Oh, and since Codegear must have had to overhaul all their RTL and VCL, wonder what new bugs will start cropping up there.

General Software Discussion / Re: BeyondCompare 3 Beta released
« on: April 21, 2008, 04:06 PM »
Looks like they've copied some of Araxis Merge's best features:

# Full in-pane editor with dynamic re-comparisons
# Adaptive gutter buttons for copying sections
# 3-way text merge


(Many more additions listed here: http://www.scooterso...o.php?zz=newfeatures )

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