Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Window Control v1.1

A new version of Window Control (v1.1) has been released with improved handling of hidden windows. The context menu is more comprehensible and the hidden windows can now always be restored.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Introducing RSS Star

Microsoft is running a development competition at Made in Express Contest. The competition will run over the summer and the winner will receive a prize of $10,000.

I decided to sign up my new project RSS Star for the competition. Although the deadline is kind of tight, I plan to get v1.0 out the door by the time the competition closes on August 6, 2006.

So what is RSS Star you ask? Well, it's loosely based on the idea of RSS aggregators. Yeah, yeah, I know, there are 2,000 of them out there already... But this is not your average run-of-the-mill news reader. While I don't want to give away too much of the project details at this early stage, the basic idea is to use some advanced content filtering rules and in the end deliver a newspaper in PDF format which will be read just like your printed morning paper. The main advantages of using RSS Star over a normal newspaper will be the content customization, an the fact that you control the press deadlines yourself. I will post more news about this project as it progresses.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Window Control

At my latest work places I have gone under the epithet of "tool man" or "gadget guy". This has somewhat to do with the fact that I hate to use the mouse, and always look for ways of controlling my desktop environment with the keyboard.

One of the major issues when using the keyboard is that it is not easy to move around, resizing or minimizing windows without any serious customization. For this reason I wrote a small application "Window Control", based on AutoHotKey for performing common windows task with easy to remember keyboard shortcuts. The basic idea is that while holding the Windows-key pressed you can move, resize, minimize, maximize, restore, send to back, hide, or focus windows by using the numerical keypad. Window Control divides the screen area into 4 quadrants, so it is recommended to use a large monitor with a screen resolution of at least 1400x1050 to get full benefit from all its features. Give it a test drive and see how you like it!

Swedish Keyboard Layout

I have an obsession with optimizing or automating daily repetitive tasks. No matter if it is my calendar system, computer setup or the way I drive to work - you can bet I take it seriously. Some years back I realized that the Swedish keyboard is flawed in its design. Some of the characters (slash, backslash, the "at" sign, etc.) are very awkward to type, requiring some serious finger gymnastics.

Enter "US keyboard layout with Swedish characters", allowing Windows users to take the regular English keyboard layout and adding the specific Swedish characters å, ä and ö. I have been using the layout for close to five years now and swear by it. Before I emigrated from Sweden I used it as a tool to speed up my typing of URLs and programming source code. After my emigration it has proven invaluable as a way of adding the Swedish characters while keeping the original layout intact. This comes in handy when a co-worker or my wife wants to use the computer, they won't even notice the added extra characters.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Setting up this blog

Welcome to my blog! I looked around for some different options in getting this thing to run. My previous experiences are with Blogger and I did not feel like barking up that tree again for various reasons.

My requirements were that I wanted to integrate this blog with my web site that I am setting up at the same time. This web site is running on one of the free hosting services, so I am unable to install MovableType or any other blogging infrastructure there. That's when I found the wonderful open-source Java application called Thingamablog which allows you to keep your whole blog on a local database (or a USB flash drive as in my case) and then publish the whole blog including RSS feeds to any web server, only requiring an FTP connection.

I am also able to customize the HTML design exactly as I want it with Thingamablog. So far I am very impressed...