Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Attention FairFax, Page Overlay Ad's suck

<rant mode="on"/>

I am a regular reader of The Age, i used to be a subscriber, but i got sick of reading the same articles i read the night before on the way home in the Cheap and Cheerful free MX, combined with the waste of several trees in each edition, I decided to go online only.

I use firefox as my browser of choice, one of the nice addons is Adblock Plus. I understand that Ad's are a necessary evil online, and i tolerate them, but i draw the line at Full screen overlay ads.

They are super bloody annoying, so any site which uses them gets treated with a blanket ban on advertising. I just got a Huge Nokia overlay on The Age website, so I have enabled Adblock-ing for their site.

Fairfax have created a weird website for The Age, the front page focuses on fluff, the best articles are hidden in the opinion section several screens down! Arrghh...

I tend to reply on the top article side links because I can't be bothered scanning through the rubbish on the front page...

<rant mode="off"/>

Inserting New lines in Excel Cells

Just a quick tip, if you ever need to output data to excel and it's more than a few thousand rows (which means you can't just spit out a html table and save it as an .xls file) you will encounter a problem with new line characters being shown as little squares.

I am talking about exporting from a real database ( ie Oracle ) to Excel via ODBC

You can't just output ASCII 10 or 13 or combinations thereof, Excel is just too dumb to understand! ALT-ENTER works if you edit cells by hand but if your outputting a mailing list for a mailing company who want the data in excel format with 40k rows that's no going to be an option.

Solution: Output you new lines as a character like '|' or '~' and then once the excel file has been created, Open it, Select your data and do a 'Replace All' using your chosen character. For the replacement character hold down ALT and type 0010 on the numeric keypad!

Excel will flash and grind like your working off an old generator running out of petrol using a 386SX but it will work.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Really old Thunderbird bug finally fixed

I got some blast from the past bug mail from bugzilla today, it looks like one of those really old bugs (circa 2000) from way back has been finally fixed.

Bug 47838 – can't paste screen capture (bitmap, bmp image data) in composer or mail compose [print screen]

It involves the ability to paste an image into Thunderbird from the clipboard. It already works fine on Windows with, but should work on all platforms with Thunderbird 3.0.

This means you can hit print screen to capture the current screen and then press ctrl-v and paste a screen shot straight into an email. Keys will be different on the other platforms.

The real beauty of open source software development is the ability to track down or log a bug in software and then receive any updates as people discuss or resolve them.

I consider using this type of software for any IT project mandatory, your just wasting valuable time otherwise.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Facebook Event Guest list security

One of the difficult things with privacy is the need to offer functionality, but not to provide informatiom that otherwise isn't meant to be shared.

With Events on facebook, you can have a hidden guest list, however, on accepting the RSVP you can then view the guest list via the 'invite people to come' link.

Which can be seen as justifyable but is also a bit counter intuitive.

The guest list is hidden doesn't explain the concept very well, it is infact somewhat misleading, especially as after you can access the group list via the invite link.

The solution would to have a third privacy option like "Limited to Members & Invitees", if i have been invited i should be able to see the guestlist before I accept.

Forcing a user to RVSP maybe attend is 'counter-productive-action-coercion' which when combined with the lack of a Member List when the list is (only partially) hidden sucks...

It defeats the localised momentum building opportunity that Facebook could achieve and offer for Private Events... Google really did something amazing with the threaded conversations in Gmail, I remember the revival of the old massive thread party discussions once Gmail started... and then I shudder at how limited the Facebook version is (up there with using Outlook!).

Writing this made me thing about Corey

I guess I'm ranting :), Facebook is a scroll site. the Home page news page list is great. Most recent information is at the top of the page. Events would be vastly improved with more of a news feed interface.

Multiple 'content boxes' all sorted by date, and only with limited info, keeping track becomes is a very demanding exercise (or skipped) activity for the user. Just reading the Wall for an event, the area of most activity requires scrolling as depending on the content

Why not accept that we are living in a 16:9 world, screens are getting wider and unfortunately often shorter (1400x900) therefore we are back to content where, with start menus, browser chrome, etc we have less than 800 pixels of vertical visible browser content.

It means with it's 800px wide layout, Facebook is a 800 by 800px application.

Kinda explains why most apps are so crappy from an interface perspective! The viral invite friends to this application thing is tiresome, humans are organic creatures!

I reckon the inability to Trial an Application or Preview Application actually impedes uptake.

That said i enjoy really do enjoy Facebook and it's refreshing to see facebook sceptics give it a go and see what people enjoy about it.

In Australia, Facebook has spread like wildfire in the last 6 months and enjoys a very large user base which is the key to it's popularity...

Friday, January 18, 2008

My CF Oracle problem ORA-00933 was resolved

Adobe has produced a hotfix for the ORA-00933 bug I encountered a few months ago using the Oracle Thin JDBC Driver and CF,. The hotfix will be released as part of the next Cumulative Hotfix for CF 8. If your in desperate need of this fix, contact Adobe support.

It took a couple of goes to resolve the issue, as my simplified test case was initially just for unbound SQL, which was solved but the error re-appeared with bound SQL, which was then solved.

Thanks to Praveen & Adam from Adobe!