A blast from the past – Engadget 1985 BBS post

Check out this post over at engadget. It will bring you back to the days before Internet, when dialling up to a local BBS was the evening’s entertainment*. The excitement of choosing which piece of shareware to download, knowing that it would take an hour and would use up the daily 100Kb download limit.

*This is not sad. It is cool.

Google Talk: Day One

Google today released a beta of their IM applet, Google Talk. It is currently available for Windows 2000+ only and requires a gmail account. It is a thin client, offering only basic chatting and voice. It has a very clean interface, with no bells and whistles (unless you count the sounds as whistles, or bells).

Although many of my readers would think that Open Stndards are the best feature, for me it is the ability to put bold and italic words mid-sentence, by typing *bold* and _italic_. The worst feature would have to be that my computer loses the ability to display dialog boxes while GT is running. When I minimise GT to the tray, I get error messages instead of dialogs and as soon as I exit GT all of my dialogs work again. Do No Evil indeed.

If you do not have a gmail account, and want one, comment below and I will invite you. The GT software can be downloaded from Google Talk.

Anakin’s Father

I was watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith the other night and I came to a startling conclusion. It is my suspicion that Palpatine is Anakin’s father. It all comes together:

  1. Anakin was “spawned by the midichlorians”.
  2. Palpatine can use the Dark Side to influence the midichlorians to “create life”.
  3. Profit.

*In an earlier post at darryn.net, I wrote that my girlfriend came up with this theory. She has since corrected me. Her theory was that Darth Plagueis was Anakin’s father. So this one is my theory.

Applet to bypass Character Map for common symbols

I am an Australian who is currently working in Europe, and I brought my non-European laptop with me. This has caused a problem for me: I do not have a euro (€) key on my keyboard, and as it is a laptop I cannot use Alt combinations to enter this symbol. This means that if I want to use a euro symbol I have to open Character Map and copy it, or copy it from an existing document. This started pissing me off, so I decided to do something about it.

I have written a small system tray applet whose primary function is to copy the euro symbol into the clipboard with a single click. It did not take long to create and I learned a little bit along the way. The applet implements a system-wide hotkey to copy the euro symbol (Alt-4). Then I had an idea, at my old office I had, printed out, a small table with the keystroke codes for several different symbols, which I stuck to my monitor. Why not replicate this functionality in the applet? So I added support for:

  • € – euro
  • £ – UK pound
  • é – e acute
  • © – copyright
  • ® – registered trademark
  • ™ – trademark
  • ° – degrees
  • … – ellipsis (note that this is a single character, and is the ‘right way’ to do it)

The applet (called Pinkjoint.Euro) is written in C# and requires .net Framework 1.1, and has only been (vaguely) tested on Windows XP. Maybe it will work on other flavours of Windows, perhaps you can tell me in the comments below.

Pinkjoint.Euro can be downloaded here. It runs in the System tray and has no configuration options or installer. Just extract the file to a folder of your choice and run. You can drag it to your startup folder if you want to always have it available (and who wouldn’t).

Exporting all posts from a .Text (dottext) blog via RSS

I recently started moving my personal blog from .Text (dottext) to WordPress. WordPress has the ability to import from many other blogging systems, but .Text is not one of them. Luckily WordPress is able to import an RSS file. The only problem: .Text has a hard limit of the 10 most recent posts in the RSS feed. There is the option to change this number in the admin interface, but it does not work. I knew that what I needed was an RSS feed of all of my posts from the last 6 years, all at once. So I dug out the code.

It turns out that it was not very difficult to solve this problem, some minor changes and we have an unlimited* number of posts in the feed at the same time. As an extra bonus I turned off the aggbug, which is appended to every post in the RSS feed and is used to provide statistics to .Text. Below I have shown the 2 lines of code that have to be changed in order to get your super feed.

from Entries.cs

121: return GetConditionalEntries(99999999,PostType…etc);

from RssWriter.cs

42: this.UseAggBugs = false;

I appreciate that many of you are likely to be as lazy as me, so here are the pre-compiled DLL’s.

Method:

  1. Backup everything including database and DLL files
  2. Extract the 2 DLL files that you downloaded above and place them in the bin folder of your .Text folder on your webserver
  3. Open your RSS feed in your browser and save it as RSS.xml
  4. Overwrite the new DLL’s with the backed up originals
  5. Profit!

Disclaimer: Although I can’t imagine what would go wrong, something might. I am not responsible for any Bad Things that happen as a result of following the advice in this post including, but not limited to: explosions, fires and massive data loss. If any Good Things happen, then I am responsible. If you are afraid of my pre-compiled DLL’s, just compile your own.

If you need the .Text source code, it can be downloaded from the GDN workspace here.

In a future post I will cover exporting comments from .Text and importing them into WordPress.

*there is a limit, it is 99,999,999 posts. I figure you probably have less than that, but if you need more then just change the 99999999 in Entries.cs to a number of your choice.

Outlook feature request: children’s unread item count for folders

Artist's ImpressionI use NewsGator Outlook Edition as my RSS aggregator, which creates an Outlook message for every post of every feed to which I subscribe. My feeds are semi-organised into subfolders and there are a lot of them. When I have the tree fully expanded it is about a screen and a half high. This is unmanageable so I leave the folders collapsed and periodically expand them to see if there are any new posts. What I want is a way to know if there is a need to expand the folder. I want parent folders to tell me what their children are doing, like little yellow secret police. To illustrate this point I have had an artist compile a representation of what such a system might look like, which you should see to the right. I will leave it up to the Add-In developers / Microsoft to determine the final colours.

I did a bit of googling and couldn’t find anything that did this for me, but then I got bored. Maybe such a thing already exists. If so, please tell me in the comments. If you are a developer and make this, it was my idea so you have to give me a free copy.