Tomer Gabel's annoying spot on the 'net RSS 2.0
# Sunday, July 31, 2005
  • Ever have someone ask you a question a question he could've easily answered by spending two seconds searching Google? If not, there must be something genuinely wrong with you. In any case, this is absolutely brilliant: just send him/her/it the appropriate link! That way you're bitch-slapping them for being stupid while still being helpful.
  • Old news but I haven't found the time to address this yet: an Australian citizen was judged guilty of copyright infringement for having direct links to downloadable MP3s (he wasn't hosting the files, mind you) on his website. I have a tendency to play devil's advocate in these matters, but in this case I can't understand the decision; merely linking to sites (illegal or otherwise) is, in my eyes, equivalent to saying "I don't employ whores, but if you want there's a pimp right around the corner". It might be morally questionable but it's certainly not in itself illegal.
  • Also old news but important never-the-less: the Wayback Machine has come under legal threat due to its use in a trademark dispute. Apparently the company that lost in said dispute was displeased with the Wayback Machine's involvement and filed a suit. What's really ironic is that they're claiming the Machine as well as lawyers making use of it were in violation of the DMCA, because they somehow circumvented the Machine's robot.txt mechanism (read more about it in the previous links). Needless to say, that claim is absolutely preposterous. What worries me is that, by the time this lawsuit is thrown out the door, lots of money will have been paid and the non-for-profit Internet Archive organization (which maintains the Wayback Machine) might be irrevocably damaged.
  • I wrote a review for Rez on MobyGames. Go have a look, then find a way and play the game.
  • I started playing Psychonauts yesterday and so far it seems to kick a whole lot of ass. I'll post a review when I finish it.
  • I also found the time to update my have list on MobyGames. It currently only contains 10-15 percent of the total amount of games I own, and missing a whole bunch of comments, but I'm getting there.
Sunday, July 31, 2005 4:08:19 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Scott Henselman has released dasBlog 1.8 RC1! Since dasBlog is one of the most impressive pieces of open-source software I've ever used (solid, stable, impressive codebase and very intuitive to boot) and seemed to be in hiatus for a while, this is some of the best news I've heard in a while.

I went ahead and upgraded, and the transition seems to be impressively smooth. Atom 1.0 is now fully supported, and having done some reading on it I think I will be evangelizing it a lot more in the coming weeks, since it seems to solve a lot of issues with RSS (not the least of which is a properly written schema).

dasBlog 1.8 also comes with a pretty nifty theme called BlogXP, which I intend to provide as an alternative theme as soon as I get around to reworking it a little bit. So far I'm very pleased with the performance and usability enhancements, and will report further.

Update (14:28 GMT+2):
I just spent the last couple of hours hunting down what I perceived was an output caching issue with either dasBlog or ASP.NET. I updated this entry with a trackback link to Scott's website, but it was not properly handled (no trackback, and the linked text did not show to boot). To make a very long story short, apparently dasBlog has several "content filters" enabled by default; these content filters are regular expressions which match, among other things, the strings dasBlog, Newtelligence and Clemens Vasters and replace them with the appropriate links. Aside from these default filters being horribly out of date (the current maintainers are Scott and Omar Shahine), implicit defaults such as these really annoy me because they cause unexpected behavior (in my case, the string dasBlog inside an <a> tag was replaced with a complete hyperlink) and the behavior in itself is not necessarily desirable.

Also, a bug I neglected to report is yet to be fixed (it's now reported), and there are several other minor issues (such as this). Otherwise, dasBlog is a very solid piece of work indeed.

Sunday, July 31, 2005 11:43:26 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Personal | Software
# Monday, July 25, 2005
I find that I keep reverting to MobyGames for game-related links, searches etc. Trixter's baby project is an awesome resource for the sort of info I often look for, and I figured that it would be really great if I could do a MobyGames search directly from Firefox (much like I constantly do with eBay, Amazon etc.). I spent a couple of minutes looking through MobyGames' prominent navigation links for a solution with none to be found, so I figured I'll just add it to Firefox myself.

The browser linked me to Firefox's "add engines" web page, but as luck would have it, the Mozilla servers were down at that exact moment. I figured that since I can't do it myself at the moment I might as well have a look if someone else'd already done it - which apparently they did; if you click through the Friends of Moby page in MobyGames you'd get a very improperly-positioned link to their Firefox search button. I happily clicked it, it works like a charm and dead useful.

This only goes to show that even the most useful tool, application or whatever will be completely ignored if it's not prominently showcased! I'll be sending an e-mail to the great guys at MobyGames about this.

Monday, July 25, 2005 1:23:05 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Gaming | Personal
# Sunday, July 24, 2005
New ReSharper 2.0 beta (via Roy Osherove), available via JetBrains early public access.

Will report on features, stability etc. soon.

Update (17:41 GMT+2): I've been using ReSharper 2.0 build 201 for a few hours now, and have come to the following conclusions:

  • It is drastically slower than 1.5 (build 162) I've been using for a while now.
  • Despite claims to the contrary, the preprocessor still sucks big-time; large parts of the codebase I'm currently working on heavily depend on preprocessor directives (mostly #if, #else, #elif) and ReSharper goes haywire parsing them. This also leads to:
  • Extremely buggy autocompletion behavior, to the point where it completely fails to display some superclass members, where in 1.5 (despite preprocessing issues) it worked perfectly.
  • Takes an inordinate amount of memory.
  • Crashes repeatedly.
  • Bottom line, removed in favor of 1.51 (beta build 165); I'll try updated builds as they come out and report.

Update (August 1st, 10:42 GMT+2): I've been using the newer build 202 for a few hours now, and it does seem quite a bit faster and certainly more stable; it's still not as fast as 165 (particularly as far as initialization time is concerned) and I've encountered a few quirks here and there (at one time ReSharper quite simply refused to recognize the referenced assemblies - even .NET-intrinsic ones) and some minor usability issues, but it's a major improvement over 202. Some of the improvements over 165 are also marked, in particular the 'error/warning bar' on the right feels more robust and the code formatting template is far more customizable (although admittedly I haven't looked at this since 152, I could be wrong - and anyway it's not yet as impressive as Eclipse's). Can't wait for 203, I've no idea where I would be without ReSharper...

Update (August 3rd, 17:43 GMT+2): Tried installing build 203; the RFE I filed has apparently been taken seriously and sorted out, however the new build completely screwed up the intrinsic Visual Studio shortcuts; Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+F4, for example, wouldn't work with 203. I tried removing ReSharper and installing anew, created a new keyboard profile from the defaults etc., but it was all in vain and the absolutely necessary shortcuts I mentioned would not function. Eventually in desperation I went back to 202 and filed a bug report (which doesn't seem to show up, but nevermind that). Hope this gets sorted out quickly. I've also found that the default Shift+F6 shortcut for renaming items has been changed to F2; I'm not sure which was the first version to feature this change (202 does though), but changing default key bindings suddenly after years of sticking with the same profile is a nasty thing to do.

Update (August 11th, 15:37 GMT+2): During the last few days I've been working intensely with three seperate development machines. The main machine at work had ReSharper build 202 on it, the other two build 165, so basically for a couple of days I went back to 1.5. My conclusions? 2.0 is much better feature-wise (better refactoring capabilities, improved UI, parsing and code reformatting), but it is currently dramatically slower in both boot and runtime performance. Also, at some point build 202 simply went haywire, refusing to recognize namespaces in referenced assemblies even for new Visual Studio-generated WinForm applications. In frustration I removed it and went back to 165. In the meanwhile the shortcut bug I reported for build 203 was fixed (although 204 isn't out yet...), and I've also reported a usability issue.

Update (August 12th, 15:21 GMT+2): I've been using build 204 for a couple of hours now. It seem to have solved the keyboard issue and is also a bit faster, however the problem I reported with 202 going haywire is even more pronounced in this build. I've filed a bug report and hope to see it resolved soon (because currently it's almost impossible to work with it for new projects where you keep adding/changing references).

Update (August 16th, 15:41 GMT+2): After using build 204 intensely for a couple of days I've come to the conclusion that it simply isn't fast/stable enough for proper development and am revering to 165. I'll keep testing 204 at home (and include, at JetBrains' request, Visual Studio 2005 in my tests), hopefully I'll be able to help them track down the external reference bug. That said, a usability bug I've filed a week or so ago remains open; if you have anything to add it might help the ReSharper guys reach a better/quicker decision about it.

Update (August 21st, 11:30 GMT+2): Build 205 is out. They've fixed a couple of bugs I filed (including public ovveride and immediate window autocompletion issues). No news about the external references issue (partially my fault because I still haven't tested VS2005, but I still don't see what 2005 has to do with it...). I'll try it out this morning and post updates.

Update (September 8th, 16:56 GMT+2): I've been testing build 206 for a few hours now. For the first couple of hours it felt a lot faster and more solid than any of the earlier builds, and the inclusion of a multiple-entry clipboard handler (Ilan Asayag's RFE) should be very useful although I haven't tested it; however, there is a major bug in the new parser which completely barfs on one of the projects I work on and simply hangs Visual Studio 2003 on 100% CPU utilization endlessly. I've filed a bug and we'll see what happens; in the meantime I'm reverting back to 165 (in whose parsing engine I've also found and filed a bug - it does not process lock statements properly).

Update (September 26th, 12:13 GMT+2): Initial impressions from build 207: it is a lot faster and a lot more robust than the previous builds, however it still barfs on the source file I mentioned on 206. I'll get in touch with JetBrains and try to find out what's up.

Update (November 2nd, 16:49 GMT+2): I've been working with 208 for a while now but couldn't find the time to post anything about it. Let's skip to 209 then: I've replaced 208 in a production environment with 209. Yes, 208 has already been stable enough to work on real code with; in fact it's so far been a pleasure. The guys at JetBrains are doing very impressive work on this product. Now that most of the bugs are squashed, though, they should get to work on optimizing the codebase a little bit; VS2003 startup times are noticeably slower with ReSharper 2.0 installed (not that they aren't horrible to begin with) but text editing can at times grind to a crawl even on a decent system. I'll try to find a way to shout out so that this request is heard. Please do the same; Eugene and the other guys at JetBrains really do listen to customers, so if enough people request it I reckon they'll get the hint.

Update (December 7th, 18:24 GMT+2): 210 has been out for a couple of weeks now and seems quite stable. I do have a couple of issues with it, though: first, performance hasn't improved at all since 208, and I have a bizarre issue where R# hogs the Ctrl+D shortcut (which I have permanently assigned to GhostDoc), and reassigning it to GhostDoc doesn't seem to work. R# is worth more to me (productivity-wise) than GhostDoc so I'm willing to suck it up for now in hopes that the guys at JetBrains sort it out by the next release.

Update (December 25th, 18:02 GMT+2): Skipped right to build 213. It seems that there are few differences between versions on VS2003, because although Ayende reports it to be horribly buggy with VB.NET (presumably with VS2005), I've encountered no new issues. R# doesn't seem to handle source control providers properly though - we use Vault at work and R# chokes whenever I edit a file that hasn't been checked out yet (update December 28th, 12:40: apparently JetBrains fixed the bug for build 214, I'm looking forward to it).

Update (January 3rd, 20:42 GMT+2): Lost some more work when my ISP went down and Firefox's bizarre clipboard issues popped up again. I'll have to file a bugreport on that as well. Anyways a quick recap of what was in the earlier (lost) update: bug #14980: Problematic integration with source-control not yet solved (was supposed to have been fixed but I reopened it). Bug #15702: Highlighting options not retained vanished in the new build, although it's not officially fixed. Bug #13866: ReSharper does not relinquish keyboard shortcuts? appears not to have been a bug (see link for explanation) but bug #10851: Can't use Enter on "override" autocomplete popped up again. The asynchronous startup doesn't seem to work (either that or it's not supported in VS2003) although I'm not sure what to look for, so it's not a bug per se. Finally I've filed a few feature requests, go ahead and vote.

Update (January 4th, 12:39 GMT+2): Build 214 is off my machine. It has way too many bugs to be really useful; at some point the project I was working on started exhibiting odd static code errors which didn't seem to make sense; after a while the build 214 parser went completely haywire and refused to recognize namespaces even local to the project. Deleting the caches etc. didn't do any good so I eventually reinstalled 213. Additionally I've finally started using VS2005 at work, hopefully I'll have more insight into R# now (I'll start a new post regarding R# on VS2005 when I have something to report).

Update (January 29th, 19:38 GMT+2): Been using build 215 for a little while now. It's a great deal more stable than 214 and also fixes a few bugs, but isn't nearly as stable as 213; exceptions are in abundance and sometimes it just seems to "flip out", requiring a restart of the IDE to return to normality. I'm not sure what's changed since 210, but since there are no major new features obviously some rewrite or another caused some severe regression issues. I'm this close to going back to 213, I'll give it a few more days and if 216 isn't out by then I'll do just that.

Update (February 12th, 16:42 GMT+2): Skipped 216 and went right to build 217. It fixes a lot of issues I had with 215 (far less exceptions, for starters, but there are still issues and bug #15702 still isn't fixed). It also feels a lot more responsive, but it's difficult to judge since I changed to a considerably faster workstation at work. I've also started using VS2005 along with VS2003, which makes these reports a little more useful (I think?).

Update (February 12th, 19:52 GMT+2): The initial impression of stability was apparently misplaced. A certain exception keeps popping up all over the place after an hour or so of use (a parser bug by the look of it); I would rate this as a show-stopper bug and recommend you keep away from this build. I'll try downgrading to 216, and if all else fails 215, but I do hope they fix this as soon as possible because this is an otherwise excellent version.

Update (March 2nd, 2006, 22:13 GMT+2): While builds 217 and 218 were disappointing, 219 is so far a pleasure to work with. It's very stable and seems to have got rid of most of the annoying bugs (in particular #14980). Also, feel free to vote or comment on any of the open issues I posted (#16662, #10855 , #18447, #18660, #12531).

Update (March 2nd, 2006, 22:23 GMT+2): Bah, as usual, I spoke to soon. Be very careful with 219 if you do any editing on XML schemas; for me it went haywire with exceptions all over the place and eventually crashed Visual Studio 2003 entirely.

Update (March 7th, 2006, 17:10 GMT+2): Tested build 220 for about two hours. It's riddled with bugs; I've filed at least four different exception reports in that period of time. Back to 219 for the moment.

Update (March 9th, 2006, 15:32 GMT+2): Build 221 is not perfect, but for the most part is very usable. I've encountered a couple of odd exceptions (in fringe cases); generally speaking it's not as stable nor as fast as 219, so if you have that installed I suggest you stick with it.

Update (March 12th, 2006, 14:46 GMT+2): I've been heavily developing with 222 for a few hours now and it's very buggy. I've been getting random exceptions (and even exceptions from the bug submission service!) and although it feels faster than 221 stability is lackluster. I would recommend to stick with 219 for now.

Update (March 14th, 2006, 11:39 GMT+2): Build 223 is quite usable, although a far cry from the stability of build 219. I've already encountered numerous exceptions and there's a certain source file which throws the parser into an infinite loop. JetBrains could use some more regression testing, but I guess that's what the EAP's all about.

Update (April 10th, 2006, 17:02 GMT+2): Been a while and ten builds since my last update. I'm happy to say that I've been working with 232 with both Visual Studio 2003 and 2005 and it's been almost rock stable so far (I've only encountered one bug with an intermittent "can't edit read-only file" issue I've already reported to JetBrains). I'll update to 233 and post my experiences with that build soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 11:49:19 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Tuesday, July 19, 2005
ToastyTech has images, descriptions and miscallenous trivia for most popular microcomputer GUIs. Seems to lack a few (NeXT etc.) but is still a really terrific read. Also, you can now read scans of the 1971 and 1979 versions of "'How It Works': The Computer" books, intended as an ease-into guide for the computer-illiterate.

As a history buff I've always found older computers fascinating, both the computers themselves and the social phenomena they represent. If you're also interested in such things, make sure to read Fire in the Valley: the making of the personal computer, which is an astounding read which delves (in interviews, pictures and background stories) into the various aspects of the early PC era. Another interesting read is Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (which my brother Mickey bought me as a birthday present couple of years back. Thanks, man!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 11:56:02 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Thursday, July 14, 2005
Usually I don't mind HTML one bit, but posting the code bits today made me realize something: HTML sucks for pre-indented text. Apparently there are only three options for white-space preservation in HTML/CSS: pre and nowrap:

This value directs user agents to collapse sequences of whitespace, and break lines as necessary to fill line boxes. Additional line breaks may be created by occurrences of "\A" in generated content (e.g., for the BR element in HTML).
This value prevents user agents from collapsing sequences of whitespace. Lines are only broken at newlines in the source, or at occurrences of "\A" in generated content.
This value collapses whitespace as for 'normal', but suppresses line breaks within text except for those created by "\A" in generated content (e.g., for the BR element in HTML).

normal certainly isn't appropriate, because that would not preserve the indentation. pre is almost appropriate, however it disallowes the rendering engine to insert line-breaks, which means the div section the code is in may extend in width arbitrarily. nowrap is obviously inappropriate as well.

What I really need is something close to pre but which allows automatic line-breaks; problem is, to my knowledge there simply isn't anything of the sort!

If anyone has some good advice on how to add indented, syntax-highlit code blocks to my blog painlessly I would be much obliged. I know there are tools out there - I've tried one or two - but none gave me the sort of flexibility I require. I may just break up and write a parser/colorizer with a bit more customizability than what Drazen did (impressive though it is).

Thursday, July 14, 2005 8:57:53 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
I was reading through a bunch of documents I had lying around, and found one that might be of interest to developers out there. A team in a previous workplace encountered a strange issue: they were trying to authenticate against a Windows domain (Active Directory-based domain server) using ADSI via .NET's System.DirectoryServices, and in some cases (particular users and particular machines) their login code would bomb with a "Domain Not Found" error or somesuch.

Turns out they were trying to bind to ldap://domain_name, where domain name was programmatically derived from System.Environment.UserDomainName; in some cases said property would return, instead of the logged on user's domain name, the local computer name. Thing is, you would expect a property in System.Environment to return the value of an evironment variable, presumably USERDOMAIN, which we verified contained the appropriate value.

Digging around in the documentation didn't help, so I turned to ye olde Reflector:

public static string get_UserDomainName() {
byte[] array1;
int num1;
StringBuilder builder1;
int num2;
int num3;
bool flag1;
int num4;

new EnvironmentPermission(1, "UserDomainName").Demand();
array1 = new byte[1024];
num1 = array1.Length;
builder1 = new StringBuilder(1024);
num2 = builder1.Capacity;
flag1 = Win32Native.LookupAccountName(null, Environment.UserName, array1, &(num1), builder1, &(num2), &(num3));
if (!flag1)
num4 = Marshal.GetLastWin32Error();
if (num4 == 120)
throw new PlatformNotSupportedException(Environment.GetResourceString("PlatformNotSupported_Win9x"));
throw new InvalidOperationException(Environment.GetResourceString("InvalidOperation_UserDomainName"));
return builder1.ToString();

Note the function call in bold; a quick look in MSDN revealed the following information:

BOOL LookupAccountName(
  LPCTSTR lpSystemName,
LPCTSTR lpAccountName,
LPTSTR ReferencedDomainName,
LPDWORD cchReferencedDomainName,


[in] Pointer to a null-terminated character string that specifies the name of the system. This string can be the name of a remote computer. If this string is NULL, the account name translation begins on the local system. If the name cannot be resolved on the local system, this function will try to resolve the name using domain controllers trusted by the local system. Generally, specify a value for lpSystemName only when the account is in an untrusted domain and the name of a computer in that domain is known.
[in] Pointer to a null-terminated string that specifies the account name.

Use a fully qualified string in the domain_name\user_name format to ensure that LookupAccountName finds the account in the desired domain.

Note the part marked in red: Environment.UserDomainName does indeed pass null for lpSystemName, so if the machine contains a local user by the same name as the domain user, the local machine name will be returned instead of the domain. This behavior is apparently by design, although I can't figure out how that makes any sense what-so-ever.

There are two easy ways to avoid this issue:

string userDomain = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable( "USERDOMAIN" );
string userDomain = System.Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent().Name.Split( @'\' )[ 0 ];

Have fun.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 8:34:12 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
I was reading some API documentation and came upon the following sentence: "... and is necessary to successfully login... before envoquing the other components.".

'nuff said.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 3:55:21 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Sunday, July 10, 2005
Damned if I know why, but the GTK+ installation that comes with the Win32 version of GAIM doesn't handle Hebrew properly (mismatched parentheses, problematic handling of hyphens etc.). I've already mentioned that installing the Glade compilation of GTK+ solves the issue, however I attributed it to a particular broken version of the GAIM installer, which seems not to be the case. I should probably file a bug report about this.
Sunday, July 10, 2005 3:12:31 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Senthil Kumar found out another interesting bit of C# trivia: apparently C# does not do compile-time type safetly checks for interface casts! C# is usually very strict in the kind of stuff it allows you to do (unless you use objects all the time, in which case you deserve to die anyway). This has to be one of the very few cases I've found C++ (as a language) to be superiour to C# - I prefer simplicity and strictness, and while C# certainly provides the former, C++ evidently provides better compile-time checks.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005 9:08:07 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
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