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Topics - Tuxman [ switch to compact view ]

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76
Living Room / Leave me in the clouds
« on: March 17, 2011, 09:40 PM »
It took me a while to get there, but now I made it:
I'm in the Cloud.

Some time during Summer of 2010 I bought some Android smartphone, just for teh lulz. I didn't really need it, I already had two mobiles (one with a flatrate, one with a pre-paid SIM), but I had too much free time on my hands, so I needed some new toy. I could not imagine what that would mean for me.

I did all of my "home office" stuff with pen&paper and a laptop before I made the decision. However, it took me a couple of months to understand what is wrong with writing short memos into an "analog" notebook and copy them into a note-taking and another todo list managing application on my laptop later.

As some of you might already have noticed, I am a paranoid person. I try to avoid using software that stores stuff about me on a server I can not control. (No Google-Anything, that is.) However, while I sat on a raw draft of a web service for an AIR-based todo application I wrote a while ago and tried to manage that draft in my local Keynote-NF database (great application BTW), I stumbled upon "wunderlist", some free todo web service with Windows and Android clients, in a German magazine article about the Cloud. (Now that's ironic.) This moment was the moment I decided to give the Cloud a try. (Having to pay before actually having tested the particular product for a couple of weeks is not my preferred attitude.)

Long story short: My Dropbox account, used as an emergency backup fallback, is now in a row with my wunderlist todo list and my - also new - Evernote notes storage. Being able to share my thoughts with all of my devices is just great. (Although I still prefer to use a classic notebook for blog posting drafts. Typing long texts on a smartphone sucks.) I never wanted to do that (you know, paranoia and stuff), but it has got me. I walk the clouds.

Any discussion? Or sympathy at least?


Topic title taken from here:


77
Marco Arment wrote:

Now, massive amounts of technically-not-spam sites are generated by penny-hungry affiliate marketers and sleazy web “content” startups to target long-tail Google queries en masse, scraping content from others or paying low-wage workers to churn out formulaic, minimally nutritious pages to answer them.

Searching Google is now like asking a question in a crowded flea market of hungry, desperate, sleazy salesmen who all claim to have the answer to every question you ask.

(...)

And none of them actually know a damn thing about what you’re asking, of course — they’re just offering meaningless, valueless words that seem to form sentences until you actually try to make use of them.

They call this “content”. But it’s not, really — it’s filler. And by a more common-sense definition, it’s spam. But Google either doesn’t think so, or is so overwhelmed by its volume that it has seemingly stopped trying to keep it under control.

Well, thank you, Web 2.0 with your "user-generated" mindfuck.

Although I wonder why other search engines (cough, Yippy, cough) don't have such a massive spam problem, in fact we should all consider the consequences. What could be an efficient way to filter our very own web experience?

Just a thought.

78
Developer's Corner / Tabbed Plaintext: Good or not-so-good idea?
« on: December 13, 2010, 09:27 AM »
Sometimes I need the same text a few times with only a few modifications, like: for posting in my WordPress and in discussion boards. As I found it pointless to have one separate text file per format, I usually write it pseudo-formatted and do some regex search and replace on the fly.

Some days ago I had an idea how to optimize handling such things:
"Multi-paged" plaintext.

My approach:
I define a "separator" as a page-break symbol and split the text into multiple tabs then.

Raw draft:

This is text on page 1. Some more text. Yay!

==========================

This is text on page 2. Look how funny it is. Dance, joy.

--->

________________________________________
| Tabbed Plaintext Editor            |_|X|
|________________________________________|
|        |________                       |
| Page 1 | Page 2 |                      |
|________|________|______________________|
|                                        |
| This is text on page 1. (...)          |
|                                        |
|________________________________________|

Pro:
* The "tabbed" text files are still plaintext, so they can be edited even with Notepad.
* No bells & whistles, only splitting.

Con:
Well, name them. I wanted to start coding it in January or something, so if there is something wrong with my thoughts, it would be fine if I knew it in time.

 :)

79
Mini-Reviews by Members / Stylizer 5.1 - a sophisticated CSS editor
« on: December 07, 2010, 07:04 AM »
Basic Info

App NameStylizer
App URLhttp://www.skybound.ca
App Version Reviewed5.1.10.1119
Test System SpecsWindows 7 on a Dell Vostro 1510, 3 GB RAM, about 13 GB free hard disk space
Supported OSsMicrosoft Windows, Mac OS X
Support MethodsE-mail, forum (while e-mails are answered rather fast)
Upgrade PolicyPay per upgrade to a new major version (next would be 6.x): C$ 29.99
Trial Version Available?Free trial version for both OSs available, it does not support multiple browsers though
Pricing SchemeC$ 79.99 per license (includes 1 laptop and 1 desktop)
(A "desktop" is a system without a battery attached during the activation process, so if you only own two laptops, feel free to remove the battery for a few moments.)
Screencast Video URLhttp://www.skybound.ca/stylizer/videos/

Stylizer_5-2010-12-07_13.30.49.png

As I don't have a Mac OS X machine here, I'll describe the Windows version, so if anything's different, don't blame me.

Intro:

Stylizer is probably the most advanced CSS editor I have ever stumbled upon. As it lacks a way to edit local CSS files, it follows a completely different approach than Rapid CSS, CSSEdit and all those "alternatives". Basically, you take a website and do some WYSIWYG modifications without having to type everything into a boring text editor window.

After startup, you only have some kind of a browser window with (modifiable) toolbar buttons and (not modifiable) menus. Enter a website or a local HTML page there to make Stylizer parse the included style sheets and the Stylizer controls appear. See the screenshot above to get a clue how it actually looks.

(Stylizer comes with two built-in styles, the default one is black, but I prefer the greyish look.)

Who is this app designed for:

I bought a license for my job as a webworker. Things that were done with Firebug (CSS debugging) can be done better with Stylizer. Also, it is not limited to one browser engine, switching it only takes one click when added to the toolbar.

The Good

You can control Stylizer entirely by keyboard, but using the mouse to control the buttons is also rather fine, especially as you see all changes directly. You can't make CSS errors without noticing it using Stylizer, as you can't type anything into a boring white window here. It forces you to focus on the actual design.

Stylizer comes with a built-in CSS check that tries to find errors when parsing the page's CSS files initially or when it is called manually. Below is a screen shot of the Cleanser dialog that came up when opening DC for the screen shots:

Cleanser-2010-12-07_13.05.40.png

You can easily fix the shown errors (the bottom part of the window is a simple text editor window with direct links to the erroneous lines) and upload the changes automatically if Stylizer knows the FTP login data, so you don't have to upload it manually again.

The main thing other CSS editors are missing is the possibility to preview changes directly in several browsers. The default engine is Webkit. An activated Stylizer can also download Firefox 2, 3, 3.5, 3.6 and several Internet Explorer engines (including IE6) and switch them immediately. Anyway, Firefox 4 support is missing yet. I assume it will come in a later version when it's done.

Stylizer supports proprietary "pseudo-styles" for CSS3 (-moz-* and -webkit-*) and displays them in its auto-completion popup when adding a new style. You can set the different CSS3 approaches with shortcuts like +opacity (for the various opacity implementations).
IE-specific styles are possible by initialization commands and so-called Browser Filters.

Other goodies are the "bullseye" (by pressing the Space bar) that works like element selection in Firebug and enables you to add CSS classes for any single element on the site, a "ruler" which helps you measure (do tell...), a "lens", and "stakeout" which highlights all elements matched by a selected CSS rule.

Activating a licensed Stylizer is rather unobtrusive: Once it can connect to the internet, it determines what kind of machine you are on (see the Basic Info table) and gives you a trial activation so the Skybound guys can give your money back easier if you decide that you don't like it within the first few weeks after you bought a license. If you change your hardware equipment later, you'll only need to send an e-mail to Skybound; they'll disable your previous activation then and you can activate again.

The help and FAQ on the website are not really long but helpful for new users as they describe everything related to hotkeys, shortcuts and stuff.

The Bad, The Ugly

The only real "con" I found is that the UI takes a bit to load and (sometimes) feels sluggish. That might be because the devs do not follow "design rules" which makes Stylizer a really flexible GUI anyway. Probably new users might also wonder why there is no way to open a CSS file directly, but that is not Stylizer's main goal either. CSS files without a HTML structure are rather unlikely to be out there anyway, so probably Stylizer teaches those users to do it all in the correct order.

C$ 79.99 might seem like a high price, but if you earn your money with CSS stuff, it is well worth it as you save a lot of time during development process.

Why I think you should use this product

The only reason to use a separate CSS editor is not to waste time for typing and testing styles you can only guess and see if they work. Stylizer automates that for you. People working in the web design business know: Time is money. That said, Stylizer effectively saves money.

Home users who do CSS for the thrill of it might consider sticking with their preferred text editor, but the Stylizer trial could convince them, too.

How does it compare to similar apps

There is no similar app I know about. :)
Probably there is Firebug which also does some kind of WYSIWYG modification but it does not have Stylizer's CSS controls. You can't switch the browser engine on-the-fly with it either, so Firebug is rather different.

Conclusions

Stylizer might look odd, but it feels alright. The time it takes to learn to know all of its features can be minimized watching the great video tutorials. If there was a rating for Stylizer-like applications, I would give it quite 100%. Too bad there is none yet.

80
General Software Discussion / RSSOwl Alternative?
« on: November 29, 2010, 03:13 PM »
During the past few years I have tested quite a lot of RSS reader software. Online RSS readers are ridiculous, I use RSS because I don't want to visit a website for everything.

Currently I am stuck to RSSOwl for one simple reason:
I am stuck to subfolders.  :D

I have quite many RSS feeds (> 100) in my list, and I sorted them into subfolders just because I had the chance to do so. Now RSSOwl is not really resource-friendly (Java...), so I wonder if there is a decent alternative with subfolders support.

FeedDemon does not.  :(

81
Developer's Corner / How to move initialWindow in AIR?
« on: August 01, 2010, 08:23 PM »
I am currently trying to build my first (HTML/JavaScript-based) AIR application. But I actually fail in many ways b/c the AIR documentation is rather confusing and incomplete.

Anyone got an idea how I can access and set the initialWindow's x/y values with JavaScript? window.moveTo() does not actually seem to have any effect.

82
Mini-Reviews by Members / Proto, another approach to file managing
« on: March 28, 2010, 12:06 AM »
Basic Info

App NameProto
App URLhttp://miechu.pl/proto/
App Version Reviewed0.6.9 RC1
Test System SpecsWindows Vista on a laptop, 3 GB RAM, no Aero bloat
Supported OSes.NET 3.5 SP1 (thus: recent Windows versions)
Support MethodsTwitter or e-mail
Upgrade PolicyFree upgrades for a lifetime. (That's what he says now.)
Pricing Scheme"Proto is priceless (for any use)", the website claims.
Author Donation LinkDonations are welcome via PayPal
Screencast Video URLhttp://miechu.pl/proto/protoCinema.aspx



Intro:

Proto is a new kind of file manager, following design ideas by Jef Raskin. It is based on type-and-find technologies. While it is surely not the mightiest file manager available, it might still be the most intuitive one.

Who is this app designed for:

The author says, programmers and computer geeks will love it. Myself I guess actual "computer geeks" already have their FM of choice. However, keyboard fanatics like me will love the minimalistic approach once they understood how it all works. Of course, it still takes some time to get to know every single feature, but it is worth the effort IMO.

The Good

Unlike Directory Opus or similar products, Proto has a very lightweight attitude. You won't even notice that it is developed using the .NET bloatframework; running in the background, it takes only ~ 27K of RAM. Proto is ready right after the start, there are no config dialogs or similar things that might pop up first. It's just you and the cursor.

Unless you want to do something exotic, you don't even have to know any special keystrokes besides the usual Ctrl-C and so on. Enter a path (with a closing \), and Proto will open it; type characters, and Proto will hide everything that does not contain them. Simple as that.

Proto also contains things like bookmarks, 7-zip support, a registry browser and a Scintilla-based text editor, so, while it can not "replace" usual file managers completely, it still contains the basics (and some more things). Under the hood, it is a very mighty application, it even has regex support for renaming files. A complete list of features is available on the website.



However, you'll still have to know about these abilities; so we are at:

The needs improvement section

There is no actual documentation. To be actually able to use Proto, you'll have to watch the author's screencasts. I hope there will be a better documentation with a later version, so Proto becomes more attractive for rather lazy users who want to RTFM, not WTFV (watch that fine video).
To me, as a non-native speaker, the author's pronounciation is quite difficult, too. (But hey, it is fun to find out myself how everything works.)

Why I think you should use this product

I don't actually recommend this software to everyone; you'll need to spend some time to figure out how it all works, and you'll need to teach your fingers to press the correct keys at a time, but once you managed to do that, Proto can help you in your daily work because navigating through your folders does not need any special key strokes or even mouse clicks. Effectively you will save some time with it; or maybe even more.

How does it compare to similar apps

There are no actual "similar apps" I would know of; but, given that Proto is just another file manager, working with it is most likely the fastest way of managing your files and folders. Unlike all the other file managers reviewed here, Proto is a file manager, no handyman, and it does its job very well.

Conclusions

Proto is not just another NC clone, Proto is something very special. It might be tricky in a way, but it is, at least, worth a try.

83
Hmm, I hope someone here has a clue:
I usually download archive files into a certain directory. Now it is quite much work to unpack them manually and delete the archive files. What would be the easiest way to automate this?

84
I just thought it would be nice to be able to define a few apps that "disable" FARR while they are running, like a game that uses keys associated with FARR or something. As it does not seem that there is an option to do that, I post it as a suggestion here.  :D

85
Developer's Corner / Wanted: Comparison of code beautifiers
« on: November 15, 2009, 08:37 AM »
I am currently digging through stuff like astyle, but I don't really have the time and knowledge to see which of the several code beautifiers does the most interesting stuff. Is there some kind of a comparison?

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