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Messages - johnk [ switch to compact view ]

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General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 7 evaluation
« on: July 02, 2009, 12:02 PM »
johnk, moving to the classic theme negates a big speed advantage of Win7 if you have decent graphics cards in your PCs as the new Aero theme harnesses the unused power of your graphics cards to dramatically speed up the UI.
I'm trialling Win7 on a modest, four-year-old laptop (the Win7 installation said Aero would not be possible on the machine). So maybe I need to try it out on my desktop.

I mean absolutely no dis respect towards you at all.
Likewise, Loki. No disrespect intended to you either. I think this thread has actually been in the best DC traditions -- posters have been polite and respectful to other members.

Just quickly, I don't appreciate the hijacking of this thread, nor do I imagine anyone else does. Unless your replies directly relate to the subject of this thread, please take them elsewhere.

With respect to Loki15 and Ehtyar, I don't think the thread was hijacked -- I think all posts were on topic.

Loki15's original post was about TPB "going legal", and how sad that was because it is the best torrent site.

Some of us disagree, and will be glad when all the torrent sites go legal. Perhaps the most worrying thing about the internet (for me) is the fact that millions of young people now seem to think that stealing is acceptable. It's not, and never will be. Stealing films is not acceptable, stealing Photoshop is not acceptable. It is a crime. That needs to be said every time someone defends torrent sites (excluding the small percentage of people who only use torrent sites for legal purposes)

I think I'll bow out of this thread now.

The whole business of paying artists for their work is totally bogus - the music industry has ceased to employ musicians or anyone with talent precisely because that can get talentless bimbos and himbos to perform like trained monkeys, pay them peanuts until the end of their shelf life (usually 2 weeks) and then screw massive amounts of money out idiots who are prepared to buy the crap.
-Carol Haynes (July 01, 2009, 05:37 PM)

But this is not an argument for TPB. Idiots buy lots of idiotic things, and businesses queue up to sell rubbish to idiots. That's capitalism, folks. Those of us who are not idiots exercise our awesome right not to buy rubbish, or to refuse to buy products that we cannot "try before we buy". The power of capitalism cuts both ways.

I really didn't want to start yet another debate about whether torrent sites are a good thing, I was just surprised to see DC members supporting these sites (which also permit illegal software downloads, of course).

And I agree that there are reasonable uses for torrent sites. Downloading last night's EastEnders, while strictly speaking unlawful, seems reasonable to me, because (a) I can't imagine the BBC being able to demonstrate any "conseqential loss" and (b) there's an argument (yet to be tested in court) that it might fall under "fair use" -- the equivalent of swapping a video tape with your neighbour (presuming it is EastEnders or other similar free-to-air material we're talking about -- for all non-UK members, I should add that EastEnders is a soap opera made by the BBC).

But no, in general, I believe if you don't like the product on offer, don't buy it. Downloading it for free just because you don't like the way the industry works doesn't make it more noble or lawful.

I never understood what TPB crew believed in. Any time I saw them interviewed,  the argument seemed to be "everything should be free for everyone", or "it's there, I want it, I don't have to pay for it, I'll take it".

Which is, of course, no argument at all. Now on the other hand...


  • They had taken the trouble to validate the quality of every download made available, and
  • charged torrent users a "reasonable fee" (let's say 25c for the sake of argument) for each illegal film download, and
  • given every penny to the film companies, saying "this is what we think a film download is worth"....

then I might have had more time for them. I still wouldn't have agreed with what they do, but it would have been some form of argument, something to debate. And the film companies would have had some revenue stream for their product, however small. Instead, the torrent sites just facilitate theft. Where's the nobility in that?

And for the record, I find it very odd that many people is this thread seem to support TPB, whereas in other threads DC members always urge each other to support shareware developers by paying up. What's different?

General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 7 evaluation
« on: July 01, 2009, 11:38 AM »
I'm disappointed to say that I share the OP's opinion -- I'm still struggling to find any compelling reason to upgrade from XP.

Win7 is certainly no slower than XP SP3, and may even be a touch faster on my system (but only a touch). But I've yet to come across any function or set of functions that makes the upgrade worthwhile. Win7 may make some techie things easier, but I know my way around XP pretty well by now. And I find XP to be very stable.

My opinion may be coloured by the fact that our household has four PCs, so upgrading is not a £50 decision, it's a £200 decision (as household tech admin, I'm only willing to manage one OS at a time!).

That, and the fact that I'm an old-fashioned guy at heart. The first thing I did on Win7 was to use the Classic Theme and switch the desktop to a plain background colour, make the icons much smaller.... Pretty soon it was looking just like all my XP installations (which, come to think of it, look just like all my Win95 installations.....).

XP until 2014, then, I guess. Can't really see why not.

Another free word processor/spreadsheet: SoftMaker Office 2006 - this is the one I use and you have the option to make it portable.

I'm another fan of SoftMaker Office. Excellent software.

It seems to have the potential to change how we normally do a lot of things online.
Agreed. I think Wave has the potential to revolutionise online communication, particularly business communications. The potential for productivity improvements using the document collaboration features, for example, are amazing. does mean that everyone in the business (or everyone who needs to be involved in a conversation) needs a fairly high degree of computer literacy. And that's still a problem in a lot of businesses. There are still many employees who can just about manage to send and receive email, but that's it. And in a world where people just endlessly swap around Word documents for review, you can get away with that.

But using Wave requires a familiarity with the way computers work. All those employees who shrug their shoulders and say "I'm just not very good with computers" will find themselves under a lot of pressure to change their attitudes...

Living Room / Typewriter scrolling
« on: May 16, 2009, 01:07 PM »
Text editors are a perfect example of a software category where you can spend days and weeks of your life downloading and trialling dozens of programs, searching for the one program that includes everything from your personal list of "essential" features.

I have wasted countless hours in recent months trying to track down Windows editors that offer typewriter scrolling (where you set a fixed line for the cursor -- normally in the middle of the screen).

This is a common feature on Mac editors, and I am reliably informed that it was commonplace on text apps as far back as the BBC Micro.

I drew a blank. I did have one success however -- I succeeded in encouraging the ever-approachable developer of Writer's Cafe to include the feature. It was in the program within weeks of my request.

I have never understood why writers are happy to spend most of their time typing at the bottom of the screen (presuming they are typing a long document). I'd love to know why typewriter scrolling is not an everyday feature of all text apps. It can't be that difficult to include it. Mac apps as basic as WriteRoom offer it.


All a bit academic for me atm as I haven't had access to BdJ for a few days. I've assumed it was server problems/changes so it might be back soon.

Same for me. No access for the last few days. Getting a "Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)" message at the moment...

My preference (so far) is TreeDBNotes where the free version has most of the features. I have tried all the above, but can't clearly remember why I didn't choose The Journal at the time; maybe I'll try it again. I also have Scribe as part of Do-Organiser which I'm now using quite a lot because of its integration with the other components.

It's the combination of features and attention to detail that appeals in The Journal. As I mentioned before, the excellent export options. The fact that I can move between nodes (and move nodes) without ever leaving the editing window. The range of keyboard shortcuts appeals to the keyboard junkie in me. Powerful features such as "categories" (for automatically applying different formatting/security/templates to different content) and "topics" (a form of tagging). I tried and liked TreeDBNotes, but I do think The Journal is another step up.

It is a place to collect all of your writings and it does that better than anything else I have tried.

I agree, and I have tried countless similar programs. The Journal is good software.

As a warning to people like me (i.e. very superficial, prone to instant decisions on software based on the first screenshot) -- do not be put off by the initial appearance of the program. The menus don't use anti-aliased fonts (if you have ClearType enabled) , so they look like something from Windows 9x. It suggests the programs hasn't been updated in years. I almost stopped right there. See, I'm superficial (mind you, someone else has raised the issue in the program's forum, so I'm not the only one).

But I gave it a full trial and I'm glad I did. It's a great writing environment and, critically, the export functions are excellent. Version 5 is on the way, and the developer is friendly and approachable. I use it to draft long pieces of writing, before exporting the material to Word for final presentation work.

For me, the only other program that comes close is Whizfolders, but I think The Journal has the edge for now. PageFour is also nice, but not as powerful or flexible.

PS: For those looking for a journal program -- ignore my comments. I actually don't use the journal component at all, just the notebook part, for general non-journal writing. But for me it's good value even when you don't use its core (journal) component.

Living Room / Re: Recommend a keyboard
« on: November 13, 2008, 07:07 PM »
I'm very fond of the great clicky keyboards (have one from around 1991, still working great), but they are simply unusable at late hours, when others are sleeping! :)
Yes, the "clicky" (mechanical key-switch) keyboards are the only ones that give you a proper touch. Actually, I think Cherry still make them.  Not cheap - about £60. I have one, which is a joy to use. However, I work from home, and even during the day, the Cherry keyboard used to drive my wife mad. So I had to retire it (although when I'm alone in the house I sometimes sneak a few hours on it, just for the simple pleasure of using a well-built keyboard. Sad but true).

At the moment I am using an ancient Dell "Quiet Key", which is the only "soft" keyboard I have ever used with a decent touch and travel. I must have tried dozens of keyboards over the last few years, and 99 per cent of them are unbearable to use for more than a few minutes. No feel, spongey key travel. I also bought an IBM Thinkpad just because it is the only laptop with a decent keyboard. Why on earth is it so difficult to find a good keyboard? Have manufacturers just stopped trying?

General Software Discussion / Re: Plain text editor for writers
« on: November 03, 2008, 08:00 AM »
One of the nice things about Q10 and WriteMonkey (the subjects of the first post in this topic) is that they both allow you to set a bottom margin for text. I use this to set the "bottom of the page" halfway up the screen. I hate text falling off the bottom of the screen.

If none of that made sense, this full-screen grab from WriteMonkey might help:


The four dots around the text (if you can see them) mark the margins.

But this is just a poor man's version of what is called "typewriter scrolling" -- where you can set a fixed cursor position (say in the middle of the screen). The extra benefit of this compared to WriteMonkey is that you see any text below the cursor as well. The Mac-only editor Writeroom has typewriter scrolling. Does anyone know of any Windows text editors that have this feature?

In Archivarius, click "Switch list" at the bottom and the list will be changed into a style that shows a few lines of extract for each file.
That's very helpful. Many thanks.

Does anyone know of a desktop search program that will search a (Firefox) Scrapbook database in a user-friendly fashion? By which I mean...

Scrapbook simply saves html pages, so any search program will index them. But all the pages are named "index.html". Scrapbook's built-in (non-indexed) search returns page titles rather than file names, which is fine. But the search programs I use (Archivarius, WDS) don't offer this option, so every search of Scrapbook pages just brings back a list of "index.html" pages -- you have to view each one to find what you're looking for. I'd like to find a search program that offers the option to view page titles for HTML files rather than filenames.

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 19, 2008, 07:08 AM »
John, if I knew how to properly cerate the ini files, I would.  But Martin doesn't have any instructions for this on his web site.  I guess he designs purely for programmer-types.

Jim -- I can assure you, I'm no programmer. But I know my way around a computer by now and I'm familiar with writing keyboard macros (which is the most difficult bit in creating LWA ini files). The ini files are not too difficult to put together. If you'd like some help, I'm happy to do it by PM. But I agree, Martin should at least offer a wizard to guide people through setting up an ini file. The section on ini files in the LWA help file is, well, not very helpful.

The ini files are actually LWA's trump card. While LWA's direct rival, WebResearch Pro, is much more powerful and advanced in many ways, it doesn't have an equivalent of LWA's ini files, so you can't create your own import filter. So, for example, WebResearch doesn't support Thunderbird natively, so you have to export to eml, blah, blah. Swings and roundabouts...

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 18, 2008, 06:17 PM »
One thing about all of Martin's applications - he doesn't seem to like adding any niceties at all.  Most tasks have to be done the hard way or the long way. 
I know what you mean -- I was quite amazed when I started using AM-Notebook that there were no shortcut keys either to start a new note or to restore the program from the system tray  -- two of the most basic and most used functions (and this was version 4!). I had to use AutoHotkey to create the shortcuts (thank goodness for AHK). To be fair to Martin, he did add a global restore hotkey when the issue was raised in his forums.

There are two sides to this, though. On one level, I actually like the .ini file approach to capturing information in LWA. It means that you can generate semi-automated capture from all kinds of programs. In the last couple of days I've created ini files for Word and Thunderbird, and they work fine. At least "the hard way" is better than "no way".

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 16, 2008, 05:39 PM »
I'm not actually familiar with Ultra Recall but I'm wondering - seeing as it now has good web capture, is it simply a case of you looking for the best out there, or is there something in particular missing in UR?

Tying in with that question, I'm also curious what you mean by "information management" as said in first post

Good questions -- wish I could give a clear answer! I don't think my needs are very complicated. You're right -- now that Ultra Recall has sorted out web capture, it's a very strong contender. The only question mark over UR is speed, which I'd define here as "snappiness" (is that a word?). I used UR for quite a while in versions 1 and 2, and it always had niggling delays in data capture. Nothing horrendous, but saving web pages was a good example -- it would always take a few seconds longer than any other program to save a page.

I haven't used v3.5a long enough to make a decision, and I still have an open mind. But I have noticed, for example, that when you open some stored (archived) pages, loading them takes quite a few seconds. A little dialog pops up saying "please wait -- creating temporary item file". You have plenty of time to read it. Scrapbook or LWA load stored pages pretty much instantly (as they should).

I use information management as a slightly more elegant way of saying "data dump". Somewhere I can stick short, medium and long-term data, text and images, everything from project research to software registration data. I want that data indexed and tagged. I want the database to be scalable. Not industrial strength, but I want it to hold a normal person's data, work and personal, over several years without choking.

The more I search, the more I think that looking for one piece of software to do everything is silly, and maybe even counter-productive. When I think about the pieces of software I most enjoy using, they tend to do one simple task well.  AM-Notebook as my note-taker, for example. Not flawless, but a nice, small focused program (and interestingly, by the same person/team as LWA).

Slightly off the beaten track, but may be of interest to some following this thread: one program that has been a "slow burn" for me in this area is  Connected Text, a "personal wiki". That phrase alone will put some people off, and I know wiki-style editing is not for everyone. But it's a well-thought out piece of software. I've used it for some research on long-term writing projects, and it's been reliable, A good developer who fixes bugs quickly, and good forums.

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 16, 2008, 12:58 PM »
How about mirroring the entire site and then picking out the page/pages you want?

"HTTrack is a free (GPL, libre/free software) and easy-to-use offline browser utility...

If you're doing research on the web and darting around from site to site, mirroring entire sites isn't really practical. Take the sample page I used for the test in the first post -- I can't begin to imagine how many thousands of pages there are on the BBC News site.

No, for web research, grabbing single pages as you go is really the only efficient way to work.

Since doing the test, I've come at it from another angle -- I've been having a play with the web research "specialists", Local Website Archive (LWA) and WebResearch Pro (WRP) to see if they could compete with Ultra Recall and Surfulater as "data dumps".

WRP is the more fully-featured, and has the nicer, glossier UI. But it seems very low on the radar -- you see very little discussion about it on the web. And they don't have a user forum on their site, which always gets a black mark from me. One of the big features in the latest version is that its database format is supported by Windows Search, but I had problems getting the two to work reliably together. And my last two emails to their support department went unanswered...

LWA is a more spartan affair, but it does what it says on the tin. And with a bit of tweaking, you can add documents from a variety of sources including plain text and html, and edit them which makes it a possible all-round "data dump" for research purposes, on a small scale.

Of course LWA was never intended for such a purpose. It's a web page archive, pure and simple, and a good one. You can add notes to entries. The database is simply separate html and related files for each item. Files and content are not indexed for search. LWA doesn't have tags/categories (WRP does) so you're stuck with folders. And as LWA keeps file information (metadata) and file content in different places, it's problematic for desktop search programs to analyze it unless they know about the structure (I've already asked the Archivarius team if they'll support the LWA database structure).

LWA may be a keeper though...

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 16, 2008, 05:29 AM »
open source

cmpm -- Webswoon (and most of the other programs you have mentioned) are really completely different animals. They simply capture an image (picture) of the page. That obviously has some uses, but the programs I looked at in the first post have a different purpose. They actually capture all the page content from the web server (or local cache) and "re-build" the page locally. This has many advantages as I have mentioned before -- editing, printing, indexing, live (clickable) links, etc.

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 12, 2008, 12:35 PM »
Credit where it's due...

Kinook has just announced v3.5a of Ultra Recall. Fixes include "improved capturing of styles and formatting when storing web pages".  And they're as good as their word (repeat of test in first post):

UR-500x475.png  (Ultra Recall v3.5)   UR 3p5a-500x475.png  (Ultra Recall v3.5a)

This is why it's great to support the smaller software developers. They're far more likely to respond to requests for improvements. I mentioned this thread in the Kinook forums. The Kinook team obviously looked at the thread because they mentioned that v3.5a would solve the problems encountered on the page used in the test.

Ultra Recall version history:

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 12, 2008, 12:08 PM »
I would imagine that it's no small task to go out and grab all the related bits and pieces that determine how a page is rendered.

Perhaps. Yet Scrapbook does it perfectly, time after time. As I said above, WebResearch Pro (a commercial program) chooses to use the Scrapbook engine to save web pages, because it's so reliable. Presumably there's nothing to stop Ultra Recall doing the same thing.

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 12, 2008, 10:33 AM »
I keep finding more! Love the hunt when something is found.
cmpm -- glad you're enjoying the thread. However programs such as Webshot, Fireshot and Screenshot Capture are very different from the ones I discussed in the first thread.

Webshot, Fireshot etc just take images of the pages -- screen grabs. They don't actually copy the page contents (i.e. they don't make a copy of the text, images, css files etc from the web server).

Programs such as Local Website Archive and WebResearch Pro actually make full copies of the page content -- the page content is copied on to your hard drive. This is much more useful. You can cut and paste the content, print it properly, edit it and index it (although one or two programs now use OCR to index screen grabs).

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 11, 2008, 07:03 PM »
Zotero is certainly interesting. However, although I am a dedicated Firefox user, I am trying to make sure that my long-term home for web page clippings is independent of any browser.

Also with Zotero/Scrapbook etc, it's difficult to mix and match other types of data if you're putting together a research project. That's where programs such as Ultra Recall show their strength.

General Software Discussion / Re: Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 11, 2008, 01:22 PM »
Thanks for your response, cmpm, but that's not quite what I'm after. Fireshot is a screen capture add-on.

I'm perfectly happy with Scrapbook (or Local Website Archive) as a reliable web page capture program. What I want is for one of the heavyweight information managers (named in my first post) to improve their programs and start providing bullet-proof web page capture (which they should be doing already).

What sparked this post was a thread in the Kinook forums where I and others raised this issue about Ultra Recall:

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