IE8 accelerators

Posted: October 5, 2008 in Computer and Internet

 

So IE8 has been out for awhile up to beta 2. Working quite nicely, still a bit sluggish at times, but at other times on par with for instance opera. I am happy to see that more and more pages render properly in the default mode in IE8 (which is standard sort of compliant). This will be a great benefit to all web page contributors out there that IE finally follows standards.

Anyhow I thought I would spread the word about accelerator in IE8, they are pretty cool and their use seems unlimited. It is an “open” standard such as that the XSD definition is open and IE8 allows you to plug in custom accelerators easily. It is all very simple, all you have to do is fill out the OpenService Accelerator Schema, more information can be found here Accelerators Development Guide.

I decided to put this to use as I have always wanted a quick way to search our internal wiki for keywords

   1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
   2: <os:openServiceDescription
   3:     xmlns:os="http://www.microsoft.com/schemas/openservicedescription/1.0">
   4:     <os:homepageUrl>http://merlin:8080/</os:homepageUrl>
   5:     <os:display>
   6:         <os:name>Search Consat Wiki</os:name>
   7:         <os:description>Search the Consat Confluence Wiki.</os:description>
   8:     </os:display>
   9:     <os:activity category="Consat">
  10:         <os:activityAction context="selection">
  11:           <os:preview action="http://merlin:8080/confluence/dosearchsite.action?where=conf_all&amp;queryString={selection}" />
  12:           <os:execute method="get"
  13:             action="http://merlin:8080/confluence/dosearchsite.action?where=conf_all&amp;queryString={selection}" />
  14:         </os:activityAction>
  15:     </os:activity>
  16: </os:openServiceDescription>

The only problem I had was that my IE8 just didn’t want to have anything to do with a & in the “action”, so beware you need to encode it as &amp;, perhaps obvious, but the error message I had was not obvious to me at the moment it happened.

Then all you have to do is host this XML file somewhere and give the user a possibility to install it easily, like so:

   1: <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
   2: <html>
   3:     <head>
   4:         <title>Confluence IE8 Accelerator</title>
   5:         <script>
   6:             window.onload = function() {
   7:                 if (window.external.IsServiceInstalled('http://merlin/apps/wikisearch/confluence_accelerator.xml','Consat')) {
   8:                     document.getElementById('myButton').disabled = true;
   9:                 }
  10:             }
  11:     </script>
  12:     </head>
  13:     <body>
  14:        <button id="myButton" onclick="window.external.AddService('http://merlin/apps/wikisearch/confluence_accelerator.xml')">
  15:           Add IE8 Confluence accelerator
  16:        </button>
  17:     </body>
  18: </html>

You can now easily search for Göteborgs bussar

image

Now I just have to figure out how to get confluence to send back a better formatted preview page!

Amazingly easy and very cool

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Google Chrome Web Browser

Posted: September 3, 2008 in Computer and Internet

I have been using it for a few hours now and it runs smoothly, although IE8 Beta 2 is running equally smoothly I must say. Chrome has "stolen" the IE8 interface where they try to make it as sleek as possible. I think they have done a better job as the search is integrated into the address bar nicely.

I had plentiful problems to get Visual Studio 2005 to work with the new Windows 2008 Server SDK that is needed to build the chromium browser, but I finally got that sorted out and it is now plunching away building occupying all my 4 cores as I type this.

The source code weighs in at a hefty 430MB with the SVN folders and encompasses 17000 folders with 110k files. SVN does a really decent job of updating the source tree as a fully sync take just about 30s on my machine and internet connection.

To read about how to get hacking on chrome take a look here

Now my friend Mattias Bergander managed to crash the entire browser not just a tab when browsing google analytics. My goal is to reproduce this and find the bug!

 

Had plentiful of problem to get the new SDK to integrate with Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and Visual Studio 2005 SP1. Apprently there is a bug in the 2008 SP1 that "corrupts" a few registry keys with version numbers the Windows SDK configuration tool cannot handle. Read about it here

After fixing those keys the tools still crashes on me, so I found this thread where they introduce an undocumented option like so:

WindowsSdkVer.exe  -version:v6.1 -legacy

And finally it integrates automatically without me having to do it manually, although I think it would have been faster for me to just do that as this took a good 30min.. Use your Windows update for some good please. if this has been discovered fix it or handle me the sources to the WindowsSdkVer programs so I can figure out why it is crashing!

Well what would you know, I actually won something, pretty neat, another copy of XP is always handy for older machines, although I much prefer Vista but I cannot draw :(. Thanks Redmond Pie!

Winners of Windows Vista Ultimate and XP Professional | Redmond Pie

If I could add one thing to the next version of Windows it would be, more than one thing, but in order I would love to have a properly built in Virtual Desktop Manager. sysinternals just released a first version of a manager. It seems to go about things very differently from other manager like cubedesktop or deskspace. Instead of using the ShowWindow API to hide and view windows this one actually seems to create desktops through the desktop API. It doesn’t work all that smoothly, or seems to break Aero, but the idea of using deeper integration appeals to me, one built into Vista would force a few new API:s to make this smooth. Smooth transition, no hanging windows, no windows popping up where they should etc.

Another thing I would like to see if a deep integration with Live Mesh (much as they are now integration all the other live services) and a better search function for searching normal files. Windows Search is great, but not when you want to search ordinary files, you can change the behavior but then you loose the speed so there is always a downside. It would be nice to have two different version of search handily available when you search.

A better license scheme where home users can buy a pack of licenses to run in there home, much like the Office Home licenses now available.

I also wish they would finally replace the task manager with sysinternals process explorer or at least integrate them together.

Integrate desktop sharing better so people can share certain applications on their desktop with their friends easily. Many such services exists and are even built into Vista, but I cannot make them work reliable over the internet with firewall inbetween. That said I would check out Microsoft SharedView

And on a side note, not really OS related, I wish they would bring Java back into Visual Studio under .Net as it is a pain to use eclipse at times.

And it would be nifty if they could actually make a console application (both command and powershell) that can resize/rescale the window by dragging on the corners…

I could go on and on with cool things to add and many pretty nifty things are coming in Windows 7, I suspect it will be a very nice OS, much like XP was after Windows 2000. All the ground work was done in Vista, from what you can see on the surface it seems to be a great starting platform at add value and performance without having to worry too much about security (relatively). They will have much more time to focus on performance and value this time around I think.

It is as many wise people say about software engineering, version 1 is good (XP), version 2 is over done (Vista) version 3 is excellent(Windows 7).

Defragmentation

Posted: August 31, 2008 in Computer and Internet

 

This weekend I thought I would have a look at the built in Vista defragment tool and see how well it is working as I have felt a slight performance loss while browsing my files at certain times. Vista has been coping much better than XP though.

Built in to Vista there is a lite version of Diskeeper, at least that is what most sources say as I cannot fully verify this take it with a grain of salt. To evaluate how well the built in Vista defragging tool worked I used a nifty little free tool called HDView, you can use it to view the fragmentation on your drive quickly, it works like the sysinternals version DiskView. I would also recommend another tool called NTFSniffer that you can use to very quickly find a file on your harddrive, especially since it caches everything so the search is fully indexed, no fuss and fast, good complement to Vistas search as you can control it better.

Either way, my harddrive was not as defragmented as I had hoped and even the page file was bogged down with fragmentation, so I decided to set out to find a better solution than the built in version. I found the following 4 tools that stuck with me

People also mentioned O&O Defrag as well as asuslogic but I didn’t try those out.

Defraggler is a neat tool, a one exe kind of program and you can keep dragging with you on your USB or mesh shared folder. JkDefrag is similar and slightly more powerful. However both this programs (as well as the built in Vista) does not defragment the system files including the page file. They are good considering they are free tools. Defraggler seems to have potential because their ccleaner tool is excellent.

I have now tried both Diskeeper and PerfectDisk for a couple of days and my winner is PerfectDisk. It is less bloated and has in my opinion a sleeker interface. Diskeeper had a cool interface showing a log of graphs, however they showed graphs of things I don’t like to see anyway. Diskeeper uses a process of constant monitoring to defragment the drive, I dislike this approach as it is like a antivirus program that runs all the time as well, the only good thing is that it uses up computer resources when you aren’t doing anything, the downside is that they use them up also when you are actually doing things. Diskeeper also refused to defragment in offline mode duing reboot (to defragment certain systemfiles). Diskeeper is also way more expensive and you get 3 licenses of PerfectDisk for a price lower than DiskKeeper.

PerfectDisk is a schedule only tool but it can monitor IO and CPU activity to minimize the impact when you do a defragmentation. It worked perfectly with VSS (so did diskeeper, but not Jk nor Defraggler) not botching up my restore points and previous versions. It handled offline defragmentation nicely and reorders my files in a recently used to rarely used sorting. It defragmented the MFT and the directory nicely, it also tried to but the MFT where statistics show a performance gain according to Microsoft studies.

All in all, cheap, easy and efficient.

Defraggler and Jk are a good replacements if you don’t want to spend money and want a better tool. Jk is OSS and uses the Windows defragmentation API so it is very likely compatible and safe.

Diskeeper, well I don’t see any benefits.

All in all, my computer feels swift as when it was newly installed again, go upgrade the Vista defragmentation tool and get your performance back.

I have been having troubles with the folder view changing in the Explorer every now and then. I have tried to clear out the Bags and BagsMRU keys, and it made it better for awhile and then it started back again.

I just read another tweak Vista Annoyances Resolved. You simple remove the keys, and back Bags\AllFolders\Shell->FolderType=Documents

Seems to work so far. This has been the most annoying bug (part from the Network card problem described before) I have had with Vista. Part from that it has run smoothly and is really a step up from XP, just the search function in the start menu is a feature useful enough to validate an upgrade in my opinion. (Part from a sometimes 50% increase in windowed mode gaming, which is useful when you play MMORPG and don’t want to go full screen)

The article above also hints about other useful tweaks. Vista has received a lot of bad press, most of it is simple false facts and general FUD, normally coming from those a bit upset with Microsoft or simple with a strong conviction that Bill Gates is evil. He may or may not be, but don’t let that stop you from trying out Vista and decide for yourself instead of listening to the popular opinion. You might end up distrusting popular opinions and certain prominent bloggers integrity or at least be more skeptic about them in the future, or perhaps it will strengthen the trust. Go find out, go get the facts it will benefit everyone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with XP nor Ubuntu/Linux it is just in my opinion much lesser of an experience (Vista is still missing virtual desktops built in though, but I can recommend trying out CubeDesktop – 3D realtime virtual desktop manager and task switcher or Otaku Software or if you like it open source this one has promise XP Virtual Desktop Manager – Home).

IE8 beta 2 out

Posted: August 29, 2008 in Computer and Internet

 

The new beta of IE is out. So far it is much faster and has incorporated a few useful feature such as better inpage searching, faster tabs, slightly better recovery. If they could just add a good session manager as the IE7Pro has.

Either way try it out, it has a good compatibility that will fake IE7 if you have problems.