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a Run Through the Jungle of Software Development and Unrelated Sagas

SEO is for emails too

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There’s a lot of hoo-ha going around about SEO and how to make Google your friend. This ain’t about that.

This is about making your email searchable. One thing that works really well in Outlook, particularly with version 2007 after SP2 is search. Search isn’t going to work if the keywords aren’t there to be found. So, if you’re writing an email and there are a few variations on some terms and keywords that come to mind, mix it up a little and put them in.

If you can’t make them fit in your narrative then go to the trouble of adding a “ps” after your email signature (fer instance) and list them. You could even say something like “I’ve included these keywords so you can find this email in a search later on: yada yada yaa…” or sumfin like that.

Forexampleinstance. The other day I was searching for an email about “WPF”. I didn’t find it under that – it was under “Windows Presentation Foundation”. Simply including both variations on that theme would have returned the email in a search first time around. I eventually found it but, hey, I’m lazy so I sincerely appreciate it every time you make life a little easier for me.



Written by CADbloke

May 27, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Rants

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CHM help files don’t display their content

with 2 comments

Trying to view a chm help file and getting something like “This program cannot display the webpage” or “Page Cannot Be Displayed”  or this sort of thing …

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

There are plenty of solutions on the web about unblocking chm files in Vista etc but here is a curly one that can catch you out – if the path or file name of the .chm contains the “#” character then you have a problem. The solution is to rename it, removing the # character.

See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319247 for details.

I hope this saves you the considerable amount of time it took me to find this.

Written by CADbloke

November 5, 2008 at 8:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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QuickBooks has encountered a problem and needs to close.

with 30 comments

If they keep this up it will apply to the whole company .image

This happened to me after successfully using it in Vista for almost a whole week. It was nigh-on impossible to find a solution to this so I hope Google has been kind to you today and this helps. If not, abuse them. It won’t fix anything but they thoroughly deserve it.

This is (if you’re lucky) an easy fix. It is all about how QuickBooks uses Internet Exploder, sorry – Internet Explorer as its internal browser. QB, apparently, is so shoddily coded that it expects IE’s security to grant permissions for all its hacks. Here’s how to let it do that…

  1. Open Internet Explorer
  2. Go to the Tools Menu
  3. Click Internet Options
  4. Click the Security tab
  5. In the Security level area, click on Custom Level
  6. I set the level to Medium-High (Default)
  7. Click on the Reset button on the bottom right
  8. Click ok on everything on your way out.

I have had QuickBooks working on windows XP, Vista, and even Windows Server 2008 with only the usual level of issues. It also seems to work ok with Internet Exploder 7 & 8 Beta 2. It uses Internet Exploder even if you have another browser set as the default. I use Firefox.

I have also heard reports that you need to turn the User Account Control off in Vista (in the Windows Security Center).

For the technically-minded – the shoddy code in QuickBooks generates an Access Violation Error which is the programming equivalent of a knockback. The implication there is that the program’s approach is also the equivalent of behavior that “had it coming”. When I searched the QuickBooks support (LOL) forum for "Access Violation" I get 9359 responses. I gave up in there before I looked elsewhere for this answer, ironically from a user in their forum. I think they might have big a problem there. If Google brought you here then QuickBooks is still living in denial. Personally I think they spend all of their money on marketing and bugger-all on development or User eXperience testing

I’m not a fan of QuickBooks but it seems like the lesser of many evils at the present time. Just remember – MYOB sucks worse and so does doing it all by hand.

Written by CADbloke

October 24, 2008 at 9:20 am

Windows Vista – Just do it

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I must admit that I was one of the skeptics. I’d heard the horror stories about Vista being balky and there being no drivers or software and all that muck. Well, maybe it had some truth in it then but time, and SP1 seem to have healed those wounds.

I’m happy to report that a recent repaving of my desktop and laptop has been faultless. Everything just worked as it should, right down to a Cardbus digital TV tuner that … just … worked in Media Center. The total number of drivers, including those for two Quadro video cards, that I had to go hunting for was a fat-and-happy zero. Yup, no extra effort effort required.

It could be just me but it seems quicker than XP, particularly on my laptop (a HP NW 9440 2.16 dual core 4GB 7200rpm blahblahblah). Firefox 3.03 sure starts a lot faster on both machines. The SuperDuperPrefetch seems to make quite a difference. It is certainly a nicer user experience.

I had previously run Windows Server 2008 on the laptop. It ran smoothly and most things installed and ran without fuss, notably AutoCAD 2009, QuickBooks (apart from my usual disdain for it), even most of Nokia PC Sync (no Bluetooth – too hard to butcher the installer to get it to run). Zone Alarm told me it wasn’t too happy about running on a server OS but installed and ran suspiciously smoothly, given its past history.

Windows Live Writer Beta wouldn’t install (someone on the WS2008 site has hacked the installer but I’m not keen on putting that sort of thing on a development machine). That was my tipping point. It’s a great tool & I’m using it now (as you can tell by all the fancy multimedia I chucked in). In then end I decided that the Maverick thing (WS2008) would just have to wait another day.

Update! – This post managed to cripple Live Writer Beta (instant crash every time) so I hosed it and installed the release version. I guess it serves me right for installing all those fancy plugins. The bonus was that it didn’t hose this post. Well, a bonus for me, perhaps not for you.

So, there you have it – Vista has a resounding thumbs up from me, which could be about as credible as a Top Gear road test by Tarzan. Nevermind – It’s not scary and it’s not hard – Just Do It.


Written by CADbloke

October 17, 2008 at 8:53 am

Posted in Wot I use

Tagged with , ,

Million-Dollar Idea – Quickbooks / MYOB for humans

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Disclosure: I hate Quickbooks – it takes control of my livelihood and obfuscates it. It literally makes me angry that I have to learn such a complicated error-prone system.I could (probably should) track my money in MS Excel just so I can understand what the hell is going on in there.

The only thing I hate more is MYOB. Go on, press the escape key just once too often and you’ll lose everything it took you so long to figure out in the data-entry page that just disappeared. These 2 piles of steaming shit are only written to keep accountants (big buddy customers of both these shysters) in easy money. This sort of trivial stuff is their version of Hello World. Surely it annoys them even more than it annoys me.

C’mon folks – this is a no-brainer. Tax works in a very predictable, rule-driven manner. All we need is someone who understands these rules and workflows to code them up into a workflow so I don’t have to do it step by bloody step.

User Requirement: I don’t want to learn a complicated mechanism for something that should take less than 1% of my time and headspace. I also want it to be transparent and tell me what it is doing in a simple, no accountancy degree required manner.

ForExampleInstance – I buy a laptop for $2000. I already told my software I’m on the Simplified Tax System / Small Business Entities Provisions so it knows how to deal with an assett.

  1. Ask me what percentage I use it for business. Why, all of it, Sir (wink)
  2. Apportion the GST as per my answer in step 1. Remember this for my BAS
  3. Add it to to my short-term asset pool because it cost me more than $1000. If it cost less than a grand the write the whole lot off right now – but you’ll still need to remember it’s an asset in case I sell it.
  4. Create a fixed-asset sub-account for the new asset to track its value
  5. Create a fixed asset sub-account to track the depreciation for both the business and personal portions.
  6. Do other weird bean-county shit
  7. Automagically create the depreciation transactions on the last day of the financial year for 15% for the 1st year and 30% every year thereafter. Set & forget.
  8. If I sell it, drop it or whatever, remove it from the asset account and record the income from the sale, or my misery at the pile of broken plastic.

For me, the user, all I want to do is click “I bought someting”, pick a category, type in a few details from the invoice / receipt and click ok. I don’t want to got to the Chart of Accounts and frig with registers or whatever the hell they call it. Can you guess how easy it is for me to totally fuck that up ?

I am not an accountant – I am a human being (in my best John Merrick voice with apologies to the accountants out there). I don’t want to be an accountant and I don’t want to pay an accountant to do such boring, trivial CRUD. Accountants should be paid for their expertise and advice, not for deciphering inevitable user-error in counter-intuitive, 3rd rate BookKeeping software. No, I don’t want to pay a bookkeeper for something that should be really easy to do myself … point and click.

So, here is your challenge today – Break the duopoly! Make bookkeeping a pleasant User eXperience. I will pay you. I’ll even pay every year. Tax rules change & so does your config file. That means a software assurance subscription. Just don’t try to extort hundreds of dollars for it – or not.

I already linked to it (duopoly) but this article is an interesting read too.

Somebody – Help!

Written by CADbloke

September 19, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Firefox Plugins That I use

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Firebox 3 Extensions that I’ve found handy … There’s a few …for Craig …

  • Adblock Plus – Ads were yesterday!
  • Browser View Plus – View Firefox pages in IE or other external browser
  • Close Button – Adds a Close Tab button to the toolbar
  • Cooliris – Cooliris transforms your browser into a full-screen 3D Wall for searching, viewing and sharing the Web.
  • Download Statusbar – View and manage downloads from a tidy statusbar
  • DownThemAll! – The mass downloader for Firefox.
  • English (Australian) Dictionary – I’m sick of all my favoUrite coloUrful language being marked incorrect.
  • Extension List Dumper – Dumps a list of the installed extensions.
  • Favicon Picker 3 – Replace bookmark icons from the bookmark properties dialog.
  • FaviconizeTab – The width of the specified tab becomes small up to the size of favicon.
  • FEBE – Backup your Firefox data
  • Fetch Text URL – Open text URLs from the context menu.
  • Firebug – Web Development Evolved.
  • FireFTP – FTP Client for Mozilla Firefox.
  • Flashblock – Replaces Flash objects with a button you can click to view them.
  • Google Gears – These are the gears that power the tubes! 🙂
  • IE View – (Disabled) – Open pages in IE via Firefox menus
  • Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant – Adds ClickOnce support and the ability to report installed .NET Framework versions to the web server.
  • NewTabURL – (Disabled) – Select default URL when new tabs are opened.
  • nURL Suffix – Change the prefixes and suffixes which are used to complete a URL.
  • OpenDownload – Extends the “Save” dialog by a button to open the file directly.
  • Pearl Crescent Page Saver Basic – Save an image of a web page to a file.
  • Prism for Firefox – Create Prism applications directly in Firefox
  • QuickRestart – Adds a “Restart Firefox” item to the “File” menu.
  • Smart Bookmarks Bar – Hides bookmarks’ names in the bookmarks bar.
  • SQLite Manager – Manage any SQLite database on your computer
  • Tab Mix Plus – Tab browsing with an added boost.
  • Tab Scope – Preview and navigate tab contents through popup.
  • Weave – (Disabled) – Weave is the Mozilla Labs prototype for online services. (Well, it would be if it worked, which it doesn’t).
  • Web Developer – Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools.
  • WebAii 2.0 Automation Infrastructure – Firefox Client – WebAii’s Firefox support client.
  • Xmarks – Bookmark Sync and Web Discovery

That’s just my list or part thereof that I’m using today. There’s plenty more out there and it is well worth exploring the gamut.


[edit – Sep 29 .09] Check these out too – http://designreviver.com/freebies/22-firefox-3-plugins-web-designers-cant-live-without/

Written by CADbloke

September 11, 2008 at 9:03 am

Posted in Wot I use

Tagged with ,

This Koolaid tastes good

Firstly dear reader welcome to my blog. Contained herein will be the rantings and ocassional observations of a born-again coder. My last big exercise in coding was a game called Meltdown that involved hunting around 9 mini-games looking for a few control rods to stop a nuclear reactor from doing its Chernobyl thing. I’ll claim foresight on that one cos I wrote it in 1983 on a Vic 20 – not just any Vic 20 … I had the Super-expander so I could spoil myself with 6-1/2 k of RAM. Them’s were the days.

Nowadays I return to the codeface for entirely different reasons but that’s another blog topic. Suffice to say that I am requirements- driven and I have a comprehensive list of requirements.

Koolaid ? This is a tongue-in-cheek reference to tendencies of cultism I have observed, ironically mostly in the ‘opposition’ to Microsoft (Open-source, Linux & Mac users). We all tend to be a little religious about our choices and I’ll probably rant on just like everybody else so don’t bother flaming me, I’m well-aware of my hypocracy.

I am writing this sitting in last presentation of day 1 of Tech.ed Australia 2008. It’s my 1st Tech.ed and I like it. Like most things Microsoft it costs not an insubstantial amount to partake and participate but like most things in life you get what you pay for. I remain convinced that the .NET platform is a homogenous and powerful platform that can straighforwardly accomplish anything I care to think of. I haven’t had any issue (yet) radily finding an aspect of the platform that can service the requirements that I can dream up.

So, if you’re interested at all in the ramblings of the journey of a re-noob into the world of .NET development, stick around. I plan to ramble on about my journey into .NET and how I managed to approach it. For those who can’t stand the suspense – MSDN & the local (human) .NET community, including user groups and events like Tech.ed make it a whole lot less scary. Thems what amde these things are right here in front of me telling me how it works and answering all my dumb questions with a straight face.

That’s alright, eh?

Written by CADbloke

September 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Posted in .NET

Tagged with , ,