Tomer Gabel's annoying spot on the 'net RSS 2.0
# Thursday, 11 August 2005

I've converted. Three of what I considered the most useless Windows features have one me over. Specifically: large font sizes, large icons and ClearType.

Now let me make myself clear: for the vast majority of people on the vast majority of equipment, these features are indeed absolutely useless. Six months ago I bought an LG LM50 laptop (which is absolutely terrific, by the way) with an 1400x1050 SXGA+ display. I was stunned by the resolution, particularly the desktop real-estate and sharpness the new display provided, and never felt that the default font sizes were too small: they were certainly smaller, but the display was sharper and when typing on the laptop I was sitting much closer to the display than I was used to. Then I figured what the hell, I'll give it a try, enabled the three features and was absolutely stunned: I had (at worst) the same desktop real-estate I did on the old CRTs with much clearer fonts and icons. The whole experience is that much easier on the eyes, and I still get the added bonus of extra desktop real-estate (particularly when browsing) and much better resolution when displaying images etc.

I'm never moving back to CRTs!

Thursday, 11 August 2005 20:19:21 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
I had started to write an article about event shimming in .NET Remoting (yes, I know there are such articles already, but I couldn't find one that was easily accessible and understood) yesterday, but simply crashed and slept over 9 hours. Now I'm at work, so I guess it'll just have to wait until later today or tomorrow. That said, there's the usual variety of things of interest:
  • GuestMaps are a really awesome third party tool based on Google Maps; the idea is that you basically put a map on your site and it allows your readers to mark where in the world they are. I would've put one myself, but I'd rather save myself the embarresment of finding out how many readers I have :-)
  • China's on the news again, this time for putting a young man behind bars for political activies (posting "harmful" essays on the 'net). There are two things I find extremely worrying about this: the first is the way the Chinese propaganda machine operates, specifically the official reasons for incarcarating the man: "[he] jeopardised national unity and territorial sovereignty, spread lies and disturbed public order and social stability". There is also the reason given by the Chinese government for its attempts to monitor internet cafés: "[they] can affect the mental health of teenagers while spreading unhealthy information". The second is that any "western" country with its eyes on Chinese business is decidedly ignoring these increasingly dangerous signs of human rights violations, turning a blind eye to what will undoubtedly come back to bite everyone on the ass.
  • The Commentator is really funny. I'm very glad it is a joke, because after showing it to some of my colleagues I was a bit worried that they might actually use it.
  • There is this movie I was attempting to find for ages. I haven't seen it since I was 6 or so and only knew it by its Hebrew name, the direct translation being "hole in time". Well thanks to the wonders of the 'net I was finally able to find it: it's called Biggles: Adventures in Time, and according to one reviewer it sucks rather badly. Excellent! I'm waiting for my copy and will post my opinion when I have one.
  • Go play Psychonauts.
  • Here's an interesting article explaining why you must never use "double-checked locking", which is an (apparently broken) technique for saving some CPU cycles on synchronization checks. If you do any performance-savvy multithreading code it's an absolute must-read.
  • This is absolutely awful.

Things to expect in the (reasonably) near future:

  • The .NET Remoting vs Events article I was talking about
  • My experiences with Linux
  • Reviews for Psychonauts, Half Life 2, Chronicles of Riddick
Thursday, 11 August 2005 09:11:04 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Tuesday, 09 August 2005
A list of Gecko configuration options (accessible by entering about:config in any Gecko-enabled browser, such as Firefox) can be found in the knowledge base (via linmagazine).

I'll be listing interesting options here whenever I find them.

editor.singleLine.pasteNewlinesIntegerDetermines the behavior when pasting content containing newlines into single-line text boxes.
0: Paste content intact (include newlines)
1 (default): Paste the content only up to (but not including) the first newline
2: Replace each newline with a space
3: Remove all newlines from content
4: Substitute commas for newlines in text box
browser.urlbar.autoFillBooleanTrue: Enables inline autocomplete.
False (default): Opposite of above.
Tuesday, 09 August 2005 11:28:19 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Or to quote Penny Arcade from a while back:
Quit whatever you're doing, it's not important. Maybe you're performing a surgery. Put the scalpel down. Maybe you're holding a runaway car back from rolling over a carriage which contains an infant. There's no baby shortage, and even if there were, they're apparently a lot of fun to make. Run over the roof of the car, go home, and open up a browser.

It's rare that I encounter something which I can't find the proper amount of superlatives to describe. That something is Charly and the Chocolate Factory, the latest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie based on the famous novel by Roald Dahl (which I admit not to have read). I will not bother you with the list of superlatives I did manage to come up with, but trust me: you owe it to yourself to watch this movie. Just stop whatever it is you're doing and go.

Another recommendation that's bound to steal a few days of your life (and repay you by making the remaining days worth living) is the fantastic Psychonauts. It hardly matters what you're playing now, it can't compare. Remember Monkey Island? Day of the Tentacle? Grim Fandango? Same guy, and Psychonauts just might be his best work ever. You owe it to yourself to play this game. Just stop whatever it is you're doing and go.

Tuesday, 09 August 2005 08:30:11 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Gaming | Movies | Personal
# Monday, 08 August 2005
Mailinator's been down for a while, and also slow and quite limited. I've been looking for a replacement and was recommended DodgeIt, which hits the spot. Highly recommended!
Monday, 08 August 2005 16:21:09 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Saturday, 06 August 2005

I was rather surprised to find comment spam in my blog (considering it's new and relatively unknown), but then it was Outlook-specific spam and I did have some Outlook-related blogposts.

Anyway in an attempt to fight it off I've enabled Movable-Type Blacklists as well as CAPTCHA images in the comments. I hope this isn't too annoying for you; if it is let me know and I'll remove it.

Saturday, 06 August 2005 19:25:27 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Sunday, 31 July 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, 31 July 2005 16:08:19 (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, 31 July 2005 11:43:26 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Personal | Software
# Monday, 25 July 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, 25 July 2005 13:23:05 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Gaming | Personal
# Sunday, 24 July 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, 24 July 2005 11:49:19 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
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