Tim Murphy's .NET Software Architecture Blog

December 2007 Entries

Toshiba FlashCards Annoying

I have been dealing with an annoying feature with my Toshiba laptop since I got it back in October.  There is a drop down, auto-hide menu at the the top of the screen that doesn't seem to hide very well and covers up you title bar controls when it is active.  It didn't even give an indication of what it is called so it took a while to locate the way to turn it of.  It is call FlashCards and here is how to turn it off.

  1. Run msconfig
  2. On the startup tab deselct the Toshiba FlashCards application
  3. Click Ok.
  4. Restart you system

Yes it is just that easy.  Thank goodness.

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To Link List Or Not To Link List

In the past I have had an aversion to link list posts.  I have picked up a large number of blog subscriptions and most of these lists just contain what I have already seen.

Lately my opinion has changed slightly.  I am trying to evangelize within the company that I work for.  In order to grow awareness of what is going on in the community as a whole I have started sending out emails with a distilled list of blog links.  I figure if I have already found what I think are the jewels I can save others the time of filtering the noise.

To some extent I see those that are posting lists of links as trying to do the same thing.  The only problem is that if too many people do it the lists become noise themselves.

For my part I think I will just add a couple of the best list bloggers to my blog roll.  Look for them soon.

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Assumptions Kill Projects

Most people have heard the old saying about assumptions.  Something about making something out of you and me.  Well it is true.  I recently got into a crunch situation with a client and experienced this first hand.

It doesn't matter if it is requirement or team responsibilities.  Anything that is not recorded or communicated is a risk.  I know that different methodologies have differing opinions on documentation, but in the end all of them seem to agree that communication is the key.

It should be well understood what the client needs to accomplish, the systems involved, partners to the process, and who is responsible for which features.  Without these being communicated and understood by all stake holders the risk of something being missed or worse done incorrectly is almost 100%.

Communication also needs to happen early and often.  If your team has an issues or risk list, get things on it as soon as they appear.  Trying to work them first to full understanding only adds to the risk.

I am filing this under the lessons learned and don't let this happen to you categories.  Experience can be a brutal teacher.

Impressive Product Support

This has happened before with but it still impresses me when a company is scanning the blogosphere to see what is being said about there product and help out people with questions.  Today I got a comment from the Sr. Product Manager at Corel to give a tip on my previous post.  All I can say is that this is the way you gain and keep customers.  We can all learn from this example.

VS2008 Express Edition - Round 2

For those of you who read the previous post you will have noticed some of my questions were answered by helpful commenters.

The first thing that was mentioned is that you can install as many of the express versions as you wish.  What you really give up here is the ability to have just one Visual Studio environment that looks the same for all of your projects.  For the moment I can live with that.

So I installed the Web Edition and found a couple of surprising items.  The toolbox actually included AJAX Extensions by default.  There is still a lot more to investigate.  Look for more tidbits in upcoming weeks.

Deciding On Photo Editing Software

Ok, so if you didn't already know it I am a shutter bug.  Everyone who is into photography knows that the big dog on the block is Photoshop CS3.  Unfortunately if you don't get paid for your photography or get the "CEO's" approval for such an expenditure it is just way too expensive.  So lately I have been looking at alternatives.  This post will describe some of the plusses and minuses of a couple of editing packages.

So which applications did I look at: Paint.NET, Nikon Capture NX, Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, and Photoshop Elements.

Paint.NET has been my main editing tool for a while.  I was able to use it with a decent workflow based on the shortcut keys.  The other nice thing is that it has a .NET interface so that anyone can write effects.  The main drawback is that it doesn't have as many features as other packages.  In the future I suspect that it will probably have what I am looking for.

I have used Paint Shop Pro in the past.  It has all the features I am looking for, but it isn't organized very well.  Features such as curves don't have shortcut keys.  I did find some cool ways of doing things like graduated filters.

The most future package I have been evaluating is Elements.  It seems easy enough to learn.  The only feature that is missing that Photo Shop has is HDR.  It does how more support available than any other package.

In the end I think I will go with either Photo Shop or Elements.  None of them are that expensive so I can always change later.


How could I forget to put in Nikon Capture.  This was one of the first alternatives to Paint.NET that I tried out.  The features are really good and it is organized in a logical way.  Given that I shoot a Nikon camera it would be the logical choice.  It is just about as slick as Elements if not more.  It does allow the saving of actions and applying them in batch.  I may purchase this package in the future.

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