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Messages - johnk [ switch to compact view ]

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General Software Discussion / Reliable web page capture...
« on: July 11, 2008, 12:53 PM »
In my endless quest/obsession to find the perfect information manager, I've decided that one of the key features for me is reliable web page capture. Not pixel perfect. But close enough. There are lots of other features I'm willing to compromise on, but not that one.

Now you wouldn't think that would be a problem. But it is. Most of the information managers we know and love just are not as reliable as they should be. I have licences for three of the best -- Ultra Recall, Surfulater and Evernote. All claim that web page capture is part of their feature set.

And yet compared to the free Firefox add-on Scrapbook, their performance is variable, to say the least. Pictures speak louder than words, so here's a comparison of the three programs I mention above with Scrapbook, and web capture specialists Local Website Archive and WebResearch Pro.

I took a page from a mainstream site (BBC News) that I knew would present a decent challenge.

Firefox-500x455.png (original page in Firefox)

Scrapbook-500x455.png (Scrapbook) LWA-500x443.png (Local Website Archive) WR-500x463.png (WebResearch Pro)

UR-500x475.png (Ultra Recall) Surf attach-500x455.png (Surfulater) Evernote-493x500.png (Evernote)

As you can see the three programs that major on web page capture do an excellent job. Scrapbook is faultless as ever.

Ultra Recall, Surfulater and Evernote are all ugly and broken. Yes, all the content is there, but it's not as pleasant or easy to read, and not recognizable as the original page.

If a free browser add-on can manage faultless web capture, I can't see why the power user information managers can't do the same. Web Research Pro takes a lazy (but very clever) route to perfect pages -- it uses the Scrapbook engine to capture pages. Why can't other programs do the same thing?

I'm trying to reduce the number of programs I use. I want to use one program for web capture and information management. Seems logical and should be achievable. But I'm still looking...

EDIT: A new version of Ultra Recall improves web page capture -- see further post below.

Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: List of disc catalogers
« on: June 17, 2008, 07:55 AM »
WinCatalog is featured on BitsDuJour today.

The free version of Netlimiter should do what you need (monitoring and a stats report).

The almost inevitable postscript to this thread:  Microsoft extends XP--for budget laptops only.

Curt: is there any real reason you want to replace notepad.exe , instead of simply changing .txt filetype association to use your other editor? That's a much simpler & cleaner way of handling things...

Changing the .txt file association will of course take care of most uses of Notepad.  The only problem is those programs that are hard-coded to call notepad.exe when they open a text file (there's a surprisingly large number -- that why I did exactly what the original poster is talking about and replaced notepad.exe with metapad.exe).

So, Curt, if you do really want to make sure that the original notepad.exe is never called by another program, then yes, there is no way around the long-winded technique described on Metapad's help pages. Or use a batch file as advised by edbro above.

I understand those who have given up trying manually to organise ever-growing numbers of emails.  Letting Gmail search take the strain is a logical approach.

It all depends how much control you want to maintain. Gmail is a step too far for me (in letting go), although I use a Gmail account for some unimportant stuff.

My main account is an IMAP account (using my own domain) through Fastmail. Solid performance and a slick, lean (if slightly old-school) web interface. Scripting allows me to do all my organising/filtering server-side, so email drops into Thunderbird already filtered by folder. Spam filters are so reliable I stopped checking my junk (after checking for several months without a single false positive). Terrible search, but...

Archivarius indexes IMAP accounts (i.e. it makes it own local, indexed text copy of the account). I'm sure it's not the only desktop search software to offer this feature.

But I agree with the original observation at the start of this thread about the slow development of email clients. I'm still looking for the perfect IMAP client. I swap between Thunderbird and Windows Live Mail...

An interesting Engadget article which backs up my previous post on the Eee.

Asus and Microsoft seem to agree that Vista is just a non-starter for machines like the Eee, but the Engadget article says that the Windows 7 kernel will make it easier to build an "Eee-friendly" version, and Asus and MS are already discussing this.

This also begs another question: if Windows 7 is due anytime between 2009 and 2011 (depending on which rumour you believe), how long will MS allow vendors to offer XP in Eee-style machines? If they withdraw XP as scheduled, that would just kill the Windows version of the Eee until Windows 7. And with the Eee predicted to ship 5m units this year (and many copycat products on the way), MS is hardly likely to reject the opportunity to sell millions of XP licences.

All of this suggests that XP will stick around for some time.

I agree that XP is here to stay for the foreseeable future.  Microsoft seemed delighted to be a supplier for the new version of the Eee (referred to by Lashiec above) which will have pre-installed XP as an option -- and that's not even due out for a month or two (I'll be first in the queue to buy one).  When a few mischief-making journalists asked why the Eee would not be using Vista, MS chose not to comment.

MS knows how unpopular Vista is in many quarters, and I think this goes above and beyond the normal moans and groans when a new OS appears.  In this month's Personal Computer World magazine (UK), columnist Guy Kewney urges readers to go out and buy a spare copy of XP to (a) make sure you never have to use Vista unless you want to and (b) to reinforce to MS that there is still a market for XP. But I think MS know that already.

However I was already planning to buy a spare copy of XP -- I don't intend upgrading to Vista. I know XP inside out, and I have no intention of losing the efficiency that brings.  I also find XP very stable. And Vista's only truly interesting and innovative feature (WinFS) was stripped out before release.

Living Room / Re: XP boot-up problem
« on: March 25, 2008, 02:53 PM »
I really like XP, but sometimes.....

Well, first of all, thank you to everyone who responded, particularly those who sent me back to the Event Viewer, even though I had claimed to have gone through all the error messages and ruled them out. Well, there's always one you ignored, because the message was so very, very unhelpful...

In my case it was "the Server service has not started". What?

Of course it turns out, that this was my problem. For anyone who cares:

Some time ago, I installed an HP network printer on my network. Apparently, the HP JetAdmin software (and some Lexmark drivers) can lead to a conflict between the Spooler Service and the "Server service" (which I now know looks after sharing). This can cause the "15 minute freeze" that I was experiencing.

The solution is to make the Spooler service a dependency of the Server service ("sc config spooler depend= LanmanServer" at the DOS prompt adds the necessary value to the registry). And that was it. Problem solved. But hardly intuitive.

It did make me wonder (not for the first time) how people with little knowledge of computers ever manage to keep their machines in working order.

PS: I had the registry open when running the above command, and noticed that the new dependency replaced an existing dependency (the Remote Procedure Call Services). I have no idea if this will have any consequence, but so far I have not noticed any new problems. Presumably I can add multiple/group dependencies, but that is well beyond my level of knowledge.

Living Room / Re: XP boot-up problem
« on: March 25, 2008, 08:46 AM »
try putting a shortcut to eventvwr.msc in your HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run key.
-Carol Haynes (March 23, 2008, 01:41 PM)


Sorry for the slow reply -- I've been in an internet-free zone for the last couple of days (never a pleasant experience). I have taken a glance at the event log from time to time, but I'd never thought of putting the event viewer in my startup folder. Thanks for the tip.

Living Room / Re: XP boot-up problem
« on: March 22, 2008, 06:07 PM »
Thanks for all the advice.  I did try booting without any AV installed at one stage, but it didn't help.  The only firewall I've ever used is Kerio 2. I really don't think that's causing it. I'll run chkdsk tonight. Hope the hard drive isn't a problem.  I cannot stand the thought of a reinstall -- my system is hyper-modified and it would take days to get it back to this state.

Living Room / Re: XP boot-up problem
« on: March 22, 2008, 12:18 PM »

Thanks for the (amazingly quick) responses.  Yes, I have plenty of free drive space. I have monitored activity during and after startup. There's certainly no AV scan at boot-up - I switched that off.

CPU activity is very low during the 10 or 15 minutes when the system is not functioning properly. And I certainly can't find any mystery process in the Task Manager. It's as if there's a little script somewhere that's saying "after boot-up, wait 15 minutes before allowing access to system files"...

Living Room / XP boot-up problem
« on: March 22, 2008, 12:05 PM »
My main PC (Windows XP SP2) behaves itself very well -- apart from when it boots up.

The desktop appears as normal.  However, for about 10 - 15 minutes after booting up, there are a lot of things the system won't do. Essentially, system files seem to be locked down.  The easiest thing is to give examples:

I cannot install programs (that write to the registry), or indeed edit the registry at all. I cannot use IE, or any program that uses the IE system files, but I can use Firefox. I can't access system management utilities (e.g. if I access Start Menu ->Settings->Network Connections, the menu will freeze on the screen until the system "unlocks").

So generally speaking after booting up I just leave the computer for a quarter of an hour or so. I know when it's ready to use, as my mail checker program bursts into life and all the shortcuts on the desktop "blink".

Obviously I've run plenty of virus/spyware checks. The Event Viewer doesn't seem to offer any obvious clues.

The only other odd system behaviour (not sure if it's a clue) is that, when copying/moving files, the system uses huge amounts of CPU activity, much more than other computers I use. In particular, when receiving files from other machines on my network, the system slows down badly and hits 100pc CPU activity, which is odd.  But this happens all the time, so I doubt it is related to my boot up problem.

To be honest I've been putting up with the boot-up glitch for many months because, apart form this, my system is amazingly stable.  I can (and do) leave the system running for days without any problem.  If I need to reboot, I just leave the computer and have a cup of coffee. So it's really not that big an issue. I'd just like to solve it....any ideas?

As I said elsewhere, I dislike Outlook 2007 with a passion. It's one thing producing a bad product, but it's even worse to take something decent (Outlook 2003) and then spend four years making it worse. Months later and I'm still annoyed (and using Windows Live Mail for email/contacts -- still the best IMAP client I've found).

As for Word, I switch between 2007 and 2003. I use 2003 most of the time as it's much quicker to load. No other reason really.

Best thing about Office 2007? The new font collection that came with it. In particular, Constantia and Consolas are superb, on screen and in print, and I use them all the time. I like Calibri too. But of course you don't need Office 2007 to get the fonts. If you have Vista, they're part of the package, and if you're on XP, I believe the latest version of the Powerpoint viewer will install the new font collection.

Living Room / Re: ASUS eee PC - Any owner?
« on: March 13, 2008, 06:37 PM »
anyone planning in getting the 9" screen version when it comes out. i was undecided about getting one of the current 7" screen version but i think the 9" one is a no brainer.

(those touch screen mods look pretty tempting also.)

Yes -- I've been waiting for "version 2" ever since the first eee was released.  At the time I thought "all this needs is a slightly bigger screen and XP installed and I have my perfect portable".  And it looks as if I'll get my wish in a few months...

However the first eee has been such a success that the market should be overflowing with me-too products any day now, so there's always the outside chance that someone else will come up with something better. Otherwise I'll be first in the queue for the new eee.

I know there's been quite a bit of chat in this thread about support for Outlook in desktop search programs, so some of you might be interested in news of the latest version of Archivarius (from the web site):

March 08, 2008 – Archivarius 3000 (Version 4.00)

    * Visio diagrams are now supported (.vsd).
    * TNEF messages are now supported (.tnef).
    * Search duplicate documents feature have been added.
    * Lotus Notes/Domino databases support was improved (.nsf).
    * Outlook mailboxes support was improved (.pst).
    * Minor changes.

I don't use Outlook these days, so I can't say if the improvements in PST support are significant.

I've been testing out Archivarius, and I was delighted to discover that it indexes IMAP accounts.

Is that a standard feature in search software these days? Last time I explored this area (which was admittedly a long time ago), I don't remember any software I tested offering to index my IMAP email.

I can't really offer a solution -- but I am looking forward to the responses. I use Ultra Recall and OneNote. I have bits of information in Surfulater, Evernote...

As I said in another thread, I have reached the conclusion that I am over-engineered for my needs (I am sure many people on this forum are in the same situation -- I imagine I'm not the only one who ends up using software because it's cutting edge stuff rather than based on a real need).

So I am trying to simplify. Find one quick, light, flexible, robust program to cater for all my information management needs. Easier said than done.

I thought that maybe I could live in a note-taking program (so long as it has a robust structure and global search). I am trying that out with AM-Notebook -- a nice program, there's lots I like about it, but I think if I'm going to limit myself to one program, a simple note-taker won't be the one.

My latest mad theory is that a powerful clipboard enhancer (with basic note-taking capability) such as ClipCache Pro or Clipmate might be the answer. I have used Clipcache for some time and it's become my default program for storing web snippets.  The latest versions of both Clipmate and Clipcache use a decent database to store data, so they should be robust enough for long-term storage.

I'm only starting to test this idea. Certainly Clipcache captures clipboard data reliably, and it's very easy and quick to create and edit new text notes. The text editors in both Clipcache Pro and Clipmate are both very basic, but this is all about simplification...However, no tags or categories in Clipcache. Maybe a simplification too far. Clipmate has virtual folders, which is a step in the right direction.  The search goes on...

Thanks Lashiec -- I had no idea that the viewers were separate apps (and freeware). Looks like they will work quite well to view other files as well, loads of plugins...

Finally, just in case anyone follows the same path (unlikely I know) --the RVF plugin (rvlister.wlx) won't install into the Lister viewer program in the normal way (the plugin is a few years old, so maybe there's a problem with it).

However I finally found a thread about the problem (in a German forum). A quick Google translation (where would we be without it) and I found that the only way to get this plugin working is to make a manual entry in Total Commander's ini file (wincmd.ini, normally in C:\Windows directory on XP). Editing the ini file is easy enough. Plugin works fine now.  Thanks again, Lashiec.

Thanks for the response, Lashiec. Unfortunately, I don't think there's any way of using that plugin without using Total Commander, and as I'm happy with Directory Opus as my file manager, I don't think I want to buy Total Commander just to view RVF files.

However I might just head over to the Directory Opus forums and see if anyone can take a look at the source code of the TC plugin...

Fairly specific this, but I have a feeling DC members might have an answer to this one...

I have recently started using AM-Notebook ( I don't think there's been a mini-review of this on DC yet, so hopefully I'll get around to doing one in the next few days.

It has features I have been looking for in a note-taker/note management program. I like the fact that it keeps each note in a separate file. It uses the TRichView components for display (, and saves files in TRichview's native (.rvf) format. I don't have a problem with that, as AM-Notebook can export to RTF or HTML. However I cannot find a way to preview RVF files in explorer. I can normally rely on Directory Opus to preview just about anything, but it doesn't handle RVF files. XP pleads ignorance.

In fact, the only file viewer I have found for RVF files is a plug-in for Total Commander, and I don't intend switching file managers just to preview one file format. All I'm looking for is a quick read-only preview in Explorer. At the moment I can only view RVF files by opening them in AM-Notebook.

I know the obvious place to raise this issue is the AM-Notebook forums, but for some reason they are closed at the moment. Any advice appreciated.

Coding Snacks / Re: structured plaintextfile based note taker
« on: February 11, 2008, 11:58 AM »
Just in case it helps, I'm using http://WikidPad now to keep my notes.

I did have a play with WikidPad. And while I would prefer an open source option, I want to be absolutely convinced that a program is solid before I trust it with big chunks of my data. And there are glitches in WikidPad which concern me. For example, when you alter the background colour in the editor, it doesn't work properly. It only adds colour to the lines containing text. Maybe that's not clear. A picture might help:


And you have to edit config files to change the default font size in the editor, for goodness sake...and this is version 1.8.

I still can't understand how SQLNotes work.

Neither can I.  And these days I am a bit unforgiving if I can't work out a program fairly quickly. I also think SQLNotes would just be another case of "over-engineering".

But the more I play with it the more I like the look of AM-Notebook. And just as the discount has expired...

Coding Snacks / Re: structured plaintextfile based note taker
« on: February 10, 2008, 06:58 PM »
I'm resurrecting this thread as it ties in with my own search for a text file "organiser".

Lately, I've come to the conclusion that I'm "over-engineered" when it comes to organising my data. I use OneNote and Ultra Recall. Both good applications.

But in reality...most of the data I want to keep track of is plain text. Probably 95 per cent of it. And good as those two applications are, they are slow compared to working with a good text editor.

So I'm also looking a lean, fast program that helps me work with plain text files in one place. It must have global search.

So far, MemPad (mentioned by AbteriX above) seems to be a reasonable option.  It works well and seems to have the required features. However, MemPad keeps all the data in its own database (which seems to be a plain text file that has been "tweaked" slightly), and I'm not sure about taking that route. I haven't ruled it out, I'm just wondering if separate text files per item is a better way to maintain speed and integrity as your database grows.

AM-Notebook is tempting. I had dismissed it because I had lazily assumed it used the MS richedit control to generate formatted text files (with all the associated bloat). But as the developer says above, it uses a different control, TRichview, which seems to generate sensibly-sized files.

AM-Notebook is now a contender, so I'll give it a thorough trial. Ultimately though, I'd prefer something strictly plain text, to keep things simple, small and, hopefully, speedy.

Any more suggestions on this question? I'm actually surprised there are so few programs in this space.

General Software Discussion / Re: Software licences
« on: February 06, 2008, 01:47 PM »
Credit where it's due....

I received this note today from the developer of PageFour ( -- see first post in this thread):

"There will be a minor beta release of PageFour within the next few days, which will also contain changes to the license - along the lines we discussed earlier."

It may be wishful thinking to imagine that we'll ever see a "universal licence" of the type I suggested in my first post. However, the quick and positive response from the PageFour developer shows that change is possible -- approaching developers one by one, and pointing out to them that a more flexible licence is likely to result in more sales.

And as soon as I see the new PageFour licence (so long as it is a single-user licence), I will be buying one. QED.

General Software Discussion / Re: Plain text editor for writers
« on: February 06, 2008, 06:46 AM »
I've been looking into this area for a while (text editors for writers, that is). If all you really want is a blank screen and the ability to type and save plain text, then Q10 is fine.

But to me a text editor for writers implies a bit more than a plain text editor. As a very minimum, the ability to help you organise your text files at a very basic level (e.g. by chapter/book etc). But you also don't want too much in the way of bells and whistles. You want it to be fast and lean (like any good text editor). For example, I don't want my writing program to become my research collection program, with folders of web snippets littering the interface.

With that in mind, my search lead me to PageFour ( It's not plain text -- it saves to RTF. That's fine by me. RTF is a good choice for making sure you're not trapped in the program, and does offer the option of basic formatting if you need it. Most importantly, I find the interface clean and easy to use:

PageFour (Small).png

And if you just want to concentrate on the text, you can remove the main toolbar, formatting toolbar, status bar, and the notebook tree and voila -- a text window. Drawbacks?  Only minor ones.  There's no real-time word count, which seems odd for a writer's text editor. And the word count comes up in a separate window, which is clumsy. I also don't like the fact that the licence is a single machine licence (an issue I raised in another thread: https://www.donation...ex.php?topic=12161.0) but the developer has promised to consider giving the option of a single user licence.

EDIT: Credit to the developer of PageFour. As of February 8 and the release of v1.67 (beta), the licence has been re-written, giving the option of a single user licence.

As an aside, many discussions on this subject around the webosphere seem to conclude that the best editor for writers is Scrivener ( for the Mac -- and that includes people who use both PCs and Macs. I don't have a Mac so I can't test it. I do love the idea of having a built-in "corkboard" (I'm considering SuperNotecard for that -

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