# Sunday, 09 July 2006

Inspired by Scott Hanselman I bring you my own list of software I absolutely positively cannot live without. This list of software has taken years to compile: I didn’t start out with a list of software as a goal, I simply needed to get a job done. Every single time I need to get a new job done I go out and select the top ten pieces of software which solve a given problem. This list is narrowed down until I’m left with a single piece which will go into my tool box. I refine my tool box continually but some of the piece of software has lived in my tool box for many years, EditPlus is one such piece of software, WinRAR is another. Some categories are left out entirely as time moves on, examples of these would be FTP and IRC which I used religiously previously but have no need for recently.

My quest for an ever increasing level of quality in my tool box has even taken me so far as to consider an different platform than Windows altogether. I’ve yet to explore the Apple platform but I do find that some very interesting pieces of software live on that particular platform. Maybe in the future, for now I’m bound to the Windows platform.


Provides fast access to your start menu by popping up a window in which you type the name or part of the name of the program you wish to launch. No need to click on the start menu ever again. My thoughts on Launchy.

Allows for customization of a lot of Windows XP settings. I primarily use this tool to change the location of the “My” folders pointing to locations outside of the Documents and Settings folder in order to facilitate easy backup and faster access. I usually keep my folders on a separate drive than the Windows drive in a folder called Users. Also I point the My Documents folder to the root of my user folder instead of the documents folder which gives me quick access to all my files from the start menu,




Firefox needs no further introduction. I debated long and hard whether to include it or not. Since I use this browser pretty intensively I figured that I’d better put it on my list as it is usually the first piece of software to get installed. I like Internet Explorer 7 and I think that the user interface of that particular browser is better than what we get with Firefox, but Firefox brings lots and lots of plugins to the table which enables us to customize to our heart’s content. Specifically I enjoy TabMix Plus as it allows me to configure my tabs exactly the way I want them.

FeedDemon 2


The easy-to-use interface makes it a snap to stay informed with the latest news and information. You can completely customize the way feeds are organized and displayed and set up custom news watches based on keywords. You can even download podcasts and audio files and have them show up on your portable audio device. In addition, FeedDemon now synchronizes with NewsGator Online and the rest of the NewsGator RSS Suite. The software is pre-configured with dozens of feeds, so you can unleash the power of RSS right away. My thoughts on FeedDemon 2.

FeedDemon 2 replaces Omea Reader as my RSS reader recommendation due to persisting bugs in the Omea product.



BlogJet is a weblog client for Windows that allows you to manage your blog(s) without opening a browser. Those who are seriously concerned with blogging, cannot imagine their work without using this wonderful tool with elegant interface.

Notepad replacement supporting multiple documents in the same window. Automatically colors code with support for many languages.

A faster less cluttered PDF reader.

Nero 6


For burning CDROMs and DVDs. I’m not too fond of the latest version of this software so I may end up finding something better. If you have a suggestion please feel free to mail it me.


PureText is basically equivalent to opening Notepad, doing a PASTE, followed by a SELECT-ALL, and then a COPY.  The benefit of PureText is performing all these actions with a single Hot-Key and having the result pasted into the current window automatically. I use this tool all the time when copying snippets from sources around the web.


A visual text file differencing and merging tool. It is highly useful for determining what has changed between project versions, and then merging changes between versions.

JetBrains ReSharper is a Visual Studio .NET add-in that brings intelligent C# code editing and coding assistance features to VS.NET. By intelligent features we mean usage search, powerful refactorings, smart type completion, using assistant and more. In brief, ReSharper truly understands C# code. My thoughts on Resharper.

Consolas Font
The Microsoft Consolas Font Family is a set of highly legible fonts designed for ClearType. It is intended for use in programming environments and other circumstances where a monospaced font is specified. This installation package will set the default font for Visual Studio to Consolas. My thoughts on the Consolas Font.

An add-in for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 that allows you to copy source code, syntax highlighting, and line numbers as HTML. CSAH uses Visual Studio's syntax highlighting and font and color settings automatically. If Visual Studio can highlight it, CSAH can copy it, and your source should look the same in your browser as it does in your editor.

Cool Commands for Visual Studio 2005
Adds a couple of useful features to Visual Studio 2005: Open Containing Folder for Files,Copy Reference, Add Projects from Folder are the ones I use the most. My thoughts on Cool Commands.


An image and photo manipulation software It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. Covers the basic image editing needs. My thoughts on Paint.NET.

Picasa is a photo management tool from Google which provides a very nice interface for browsing your photos. Also includes basic photo editing tools such as red eye removal.

Cropper is a screen capture utility. It makes it fast and easy to grab parts of your screen. Use it to easily crop out sections of vector graphic files such as Fireworks without having to flatten the files or open in a new editor. Use it to easily capture parts of a web site, including text and images. It's also great for writing documentation that needs images of your application or web site. My thoughts on Cropper.

Image downloader for Canon digital cameras. It's small, quick and simple. It can download images, rotate them automatically and delete them from camera. If you hate the "designer" interface of Canon utilities and hate Windows messing with image filenames, this is the right tool for you.


iTunes doesn’t really need an introduction. I use this guy because of the very nice integration with the iPod and the sleek podcasting support.

Send any audio to the AirPort Express. My thoughts on AirFoil.



Archiver with support for almost all the archive formats out there. I use this one to avoid having multiple archivers installed and because it integrates nicely into the Windows shell.

Daemon Tools ISO Mounter


A tool for mounting ISO images as CDROM drives.



FolderShare is a service that allows you to securely keep files synchronized between your devices, share files with friends or colleagues, and remotely download your files from any web browser. I use this tool for both remote backup and synchronization between work and home.


Bittorrent is becoming a pervasive means of distribution on the internet and this client brings a whole lot of features to the table making it on par with clients such as Azureus and BitComet but at the same time being smaller and more importantly not a Java based piece of software

posted on Sunday, 09 July 2006 15:44:52 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [4] Trackback

VistaLogo2People have been whining excessively these pasts months about Vista, how it’s not ready, how it’s annoying with all the security popups, how it requires way to much in the way of hardware.

I’m here to tell you that the reports of the hardware requirements being overly needy are exaggerated to point of the ridiculous. I’ve been playing around with Windows Vista beta 2 these past couple of weeks, and have been installing on a variety of machine configurations. Not only did I have zero problems getting the beast to run, it ran without a hitch at all times. My biggest problem was with IE7 crashing time and time again but I’m guessing that the problem lies within IE7 itself and not in the OS, otherwise I would have seen this behavior from other programs as well but they have all behaved nicely, even Office 2007 beta 2 which I’m running exclusively at the moment.

Now what I’ve found on the hardware front is that most people will be able to benefit from the nice new Aero interface. Basically everyone will have a CPU and hard drive fast enough for Vista, the main problem lies with the graphics adapter and the RAM.

I’m glad to report that I’ve been successful in installing and running Aero on everything from a Radeon 9700 Mobility, Radeon 9550, to NVidia's nForce430 with integrated graphics. These adapters are either a couple of years old or very low spec so I don’t really see a huge problem in this department. If you’ve bought a computer within the last year I’d say that you are pretty much good to go. Also worth of note is that the UI team has a sleek alternative graphics mode ready for the users who don’t own a PC with the required hardware. You get something which looks more like Windows XP but still a bump up from what we’re used to. The one problem I foresee with Aero is that people who have the right hardware but are right on the border of what Vista requires will not have Aero enabled by default. A new hardware rating concept has been introduced and more other than not the rating doesn’t actually reflect what the machine is actually able to do so you need to enable glass yourself which I bet most regular users won’t be able to do. Of course the rating may be immature still and it needs some fine tuning as the rest of the OS, but Microsoft really need to get this right so the common folk can take full advantage of not only their shiny new OS but their hardware as well. It looks like Microsoft is aware of this though.

Memory is an area which people have largely ignored but I see this as being one of the areas which will really cause some havoc. In the past I’ve always equipped machines with 1 GB of memory but it looks like that won’t be enough for Vista. I’m typing this on my main Vista installation and have a gadget up in the sidebar which displays RAM usage. At the moment it shows 75% usage with only Outlook 2007 running in the background and the program that I’m typing this post in the foreground. To me this indicates that you will need 2 GB for regardless of how you use your computer. Windows XP is fine with 512 MB for the average user but it seems that Vista will need four times the memory to achieve the same level of responsiveness that we see in Windows XP. With that being said I am running with only a single GB of RAM and the experience is smooth but from time to time a lot of swapping will occur slowing the OS down to a crawl.

In conclusion you need to be aware of the fact the Windows Vista is still in beta. Yes the OS is feature complete but a lot is still happening in the fine tuning department. The number of security dialog popups is one area where the team is rethinking the way they go about authenticating that a real user is clicking the buttons. Another area is performance: You can be sure that we will see Vista performing better on lower end hardware by the time it ships due to optimizations done in this last phase of development. The difference in performance between build 5384 and 5456 is clear evidence of the fact.

posted on Sunday, 09 July 2006 14:17:32 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 07 July 2006

VistaLogo2One little gotcha I’ve noticed with Windows Vista is that you really want to install programs running as administrator. You do this by right-clicking the Windows Explorer icon in the start menu and clicking Run as administrator. From Windows Explorer you launch the installer you need to.

Simple stuff but Windows Vista’s security model is just different enough to confuse. Installed programs will works 90% but some areas won’t function properly unless installed using the method detailed above. Cases in point Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server Management Studio Express. I know I ended up with a couple of bad installs because of this little feature.

posted on Friday, 07 July 2006 22:25:20 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 30 June 2006

When I first took Vista for a spin months ago I needed a tool for mounting ISOs for installing various stuff. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find such a program at the time that would actually work without taking out my Vista installation.

Now however guidmaster has found a program to solve the problem: Virtual CloneDrive.

posted on Friday, 30 June 2006 12:41:16 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Thursday, 29 June 2006

SqlpromptI’m currently working on my zero day install list of software I cannot live without but I simply cannot wait to point out this nifty piece of software a colleague just showed me. The premise is simple: Intellisense for SQL Server. Red Gate delivers on this as they have done so many times before on other products for SQL Server, best of all, it’s free. Can you believe that?

Now on to the important stuff: SQL Prompt which is the name of this delicious tool. It’s a whole bag of tricks for your SQL statements:

  • Intellisense on tables, columns, and even joins.
  • Auto capitalization of keywords like SELECT, INSERT, and so on.
  • Keyword formatting, code snippet integration other extended features.
  • Works in SQL Management Studio, Query Analyser, Enterprise Manager, Visual Studio .NET 2003, Visual Studio 2005, UltraEdit, and surprisingly EditPlus 2 which is my text editor of choice.
  • It’s free for now. You can grab a copy for the price of nothing until September 1st.


I give this tool a solid ThumbupThumbupThumbupThumbupThumbupThumbupThumbupThumbupThumbupThumbupthumbs up.

Red Gate SQL Prompt.


posted on Thursday, 29 June 2006 09:36:52 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Nf500Anandtech has a first look at the nForce 5xx platform for Intel. Of course the nForce platform has been available for AMD forever and to some extent for the Intel platform as well. However I feel that the nForce 5xx is the first true NVidia SLI platform for Intel which is comparable on both the AMD and Intel sides of the fence. With this chipset the Core2 Duo gets what it deserves in terms of features and performance. The 975X went 90% of the way but with NVidia not wanting to approve it for SLI you’re only real choice was the AMD platform as NVidia IMO is the only way to go when it comes to SLI.

nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition: NVIDIA prepares an Intel 975X Killer


posted on Wednesday, 28 June 2006 15:38:31 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

CommerceServerI can never remember what the different class types in the catalog table means, and finding the information in the documentation takes forever, so here they are for my own benefit more than anything else:

  • i_classType 4 == Product
  • i_classType 8 == Product Family
  • i_classType 2 == Variant
posted on Wednesday, 28 June 2006 10:41:33 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Ted Neward has a great article on Object-Relational Mappers or the Vietnam of Computer Science as he calls it. He lists many alternative solutions to different problematic areas which we all to some extent know instinctively are there but can’t quite put our finger on. It’s a long read but definitely worth it. You’ll be much the wiser for it.

My favorite part is his code for QueryExecution engines.

The Vietnam of Computer Science

posted on Wednesday, 28 June 2006 09:47:30 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback

If you visit the site regularly you’ve probably noticed that Google ads have appeared at the top of the site. I figured that I’d give them a try and see what happens. I must say that I’m pretty impressed by the targeting at this point. For one thing one of the first ads I see is one for Vertica ApS and our Commerce Server consulting and hosting business. That’s pretty accurate if you ask me

Getting started was easy as one, two, three. Created an account, watched a video about optimizing the ads, and finally implemented a small piece of javascript on the site. A couple of hours later targeted ads started showing up, please note that a couple of hours need to pass before real ads start getting displayed. Until that time only informational ads are displayed, it had me scratching my head for a while.

posted on Wednesday, 28 June 2006 08:47:08 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 27 June 2006

CommerceServerJeff Lynch has some pretty sound advice for developing Commerce Server solutions, and I’d go as far as to say any solution which requires integration with some kind of backend system.

As many of you know, I develop business-to-business e-commerce solutions for the company I work for. These solutions are generally built using Microsoft's SQL Server, BizTalk Server and Commerce Server products. My overall goal when developing an e-commerce solution is to automate B2B transactions between trading partners in our supply chain. In doing this, I've found that "beginning with the end in mind" is the only way I know to ensure the success of our development projects. In Commerce Server 2007, following Stephen Covey's 2nd Habit has been absolutely vital to our success.

Commerce Server 2007: Begin with the End in Mind!

posted on Tuesday, 27 June 2006 20:40:55 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback




Finally something that looks like hard facts on how to create SO using .NET. At Vertica we’ve been working with this for a while now but I always feel that some kind of validation of our techniques would be nice. I can’t wait to dive into the guidance from the patterns and practices group.

For those who are new to the Service Factory, it's a collection of integrated guidance (including guidance packages, reference implementation and written guidance) to help you efficiently build consistent and high quality service-oriented applications on .NET Framework 2.0. Currently we are focusing most of our efforts on ASMX for the service interface, but we'll also be releasing guidance for WCF when this technology is released (and one of our older community drops includes an early version of our WCF guidance).

July Community Drop of Web Service Software Factory

posted on Tuesday, 27 June 2006 11:13:07 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 26 June 2006
Digg 3.0 has released moments ago introducing new categories and an updated user interface. Looks pretty neat.
posted on Monday, 26 June 2006 15:11:38 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
posted on Monday, 26 June 2006 14:50:08 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 22 June 2006

A customer needed Reporting Services 2005 but was running SQL Server 2000 and didn’t want to invest in a 2005 license as 2000 fits their needs just fine. Naturally I was exited to learn that Reporting Services would be available for SQL Express. That however was several months ago.

Now it seems the support has finally been released allowing us to use SQL Server 2000 as data backend and SQL Express as reporting frontend.

SQL Server Express with Advanced Services

posted on Thursday, 22 June 2006 13:40:33 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

CommerceServerThere have been a couple of questions about how to use and integrate MSCS Authentication with ASP.NET Authentication.  For those of you that don't know, MSCS Authentication is Microsoft Commerce Server's authentication cookie/ticket that is used to identify Commerce Server Profile users.  With Commerce Server 2007, we recommend you use the ASP.NET's membership provider but then the question arises, how does our web analytics use and decode this cookie? “

Read more on Commerce Server 2007 Authentication with ASP.NET Authentication.

posted on Thursday, 22 June 2006 13:37:26 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Visualstudio_logoEverybody should have a version control strategy so Roy Osherove’s post entitled A Simple Version Control Strategy Using Team System is basically a must read even if you don’t use Team System.

posted on Thursday, 22 June 2006 13:37:13 (Romance Daylight Time, UTC+02:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback