29 July 2007

New Web Hosting Service

Transferred to a new hosting service. I kept running out of disk space on the old service and the new one has more space and is even cheaper. This is essentially a test post.

Notes to myself:

  • It takes some minutes before nameservers propagate the updated host address for a domain name. Check with the ISP's name server to see if the domain name has been redirected.
  • To test the new host, remember to flush the browser's cache.
  • Ack! Forgot to copy the PHP header files! Remember to run sync software and test on a second computer next time!

18 July 2007

Remove Word Drawing Canvas

When making a Microsoft Word Picture in Microsoft Word 2003, the drawing editor first adds a drawing canvas. Apparently, the canvas allows the user to keep shapes together when printing, so that the picture isn't split between two pages. While it might be useful for shapes inserted into a document, there's isn't much point having a canvas in a Word Picture object, because that's displayed in one page. To stop Word from automatically adding a drawing canvas, select Tools / Options / General and uncheck Automatically create drawing canvas when inserting Autoshapes.

16 July 2007

Outlook Change Email Address Type

Because I work on-site, sometimes I add a Outlook contact from the client's Exchange server. If I do that, I can only send e-mail to that person using Exchange, even though I enter what appears to be an SMTP address in that contact's e-mail field. When I try to send a message to that person using an SMTP server, Outlook produces this cryptic error:

Task 'xxx.com - Sending' reported error (0x80070057) : 'Could not complete the operation. One or more parameter values are not valid.'

When I look at the contact's e-mail fields (select the contact's All Fields tab, then choose E-mail fields in the Select from: field), I see that Email Address Type is EX instead of SMTP. I think this means that Outlook would use some Exchange-related protocol to send messages to this contact.

The hack to change Email Address Type is …

  1. Select the contact's details.
  2. In the General tab, replace the existing the e-mail address with a string starting with smtp:. For example, replace a.b@mail.x.com with smtp:a.b@mail.x.com. Note: you have to type in the new dummy address; if you use a suggestion from Outlook, the address type does not change.
  3. Select the Properties context menu item of the dummy e-mail address. Outlook should display the E-mail Properties dialog. Note that the E-mail type: field now has a value of SMTP.
  4. In this dialog, remove the smtp: prefix from the e-mail address.
  5. Press the OK button and the dialog should close.
  6. Initially, the Contact's e-mail address does not seem to have changed. If you click on the Display As: field, Outlook corrects the e-mail address.
  7. Delete the string in the Display As: field and press Enter. Outlook should refresh the Display As: field.
  8. Save the updated contact.

See also this description.

If you want to find out the address type of all your Contacts, just add the E-mail Address Type column to your list of contacts view.

14 July 2007

Vista Tablet Input Panel Revisited

Found some better ways to use Vista's Tablet Input Panel (TIP):
  • Activate TIP by wriggling the tablet's pen above the tablet's surface (in other words, don't press on the pen's tip). To turn on this feature, select checkbox Enable start Input Panel gesture in Pen and Input Devices / Start Input Panel Gesture Settings control panel. Aside: the instructions are in that dialog but it took a while to sink in that I had to avoid pressing on the pen's tip while moving the pen.
  • When using Flicks to navigate, set the sensitivity close to Relaxed otherwise you have to move the pen very fast for Vista to recognize a flick event.
  • Use Press and hold to generate a mouse-style Right-click event so that you can display a context menu. This action is useful for browsing (e.g. open URL in a another tab) but any selection (such as highlighted text) is de-selected.

08 July 2007

Vista Tablet Input Panel

Vista comes with a handwriting recognition system for tablet PCs, so if you have a tablet device, such as a Wacom graphics tablet, you can enter text using a pen interface. If you are used to pen interfaces on handheld devices, then the Vista version is - um - different. You can only write in a special dialog called the Tablet Input Panel (TIP), not anywhere on the screen and you have to insert the text into your text field or document window. The TIP takes some getting used to. It always appears on top of all windows if you float the window. If you dock it at the top or the bottom of the screen, it fills too much of the screen and you can't shrink it.

After some experimentation and practice here's some tips that may help you use it:

  • Use an extra-fine point (ink thickness) so that you can more easily read your own writing. The default point size just makes a smudge if your handwriting is small.
  • TIP can better guess your words if you have clear spacing between words and if you write on the horizontal guide with obvious descenders {e.g. g and y) and ascenders (e.g. d and h). After a while, you don't even have to cross your t's or dot your i's or even write every letter for the system to guess the right word.
  • After writing in TIP you can just tap your input field to enter your text instead of having to press the Insert button.
  • To cross out words, you should carefully draw a horizontal line through the middle of the entire word. If your stroke is drawn too quickly, TIP thinks that you are writing another letter and tries to guess what it is.
  • TIP's Writing Pad allows you to correct the guess for a word even if you are already writing another word. For example, if you started writing "XML lag are..." you can go back to cross the "t" and add an "s" in the second word to change it from "lag" to "tags".
  • If you want to enter special codes such as XML tags, use the Character Pad instead of the Writing Pad, and enter each character separately.

Some improvements to TIP (if any developers are reading this):

  • There should be a second horizontal guideline, like preschool writing exercise books to help TIP distinguish between capital and lowercase letters that have the same strokes, such as "x" and "X", and symbols such as "<" and "(".
  • It should be possible to make the TIP dialog smaller and semi-transparent so that you can see more of a document or input field. With all the eye-candy available in Vista, it's annoying that the user can't better configure this dialog.

This entry was mostly written using TIP and edited using the keyboard.

02 July 2007

Excel Fill Series

A consultant showed me a neat Excel feature today: filling rows or columns using a rule.

You might be familiar with the auto-fill feature where you enter part of a series, e.g. 1, 2, 3, into a sequence of cells, select the cells, then use the mouse pointer to grab a corner of the selection to extend the series. But if you want to extend dates monthly, e.g. starting with 1-Jan-07, 1-Feb-07, 1-Mar-07, you would end up with a repeating series of the same dates.

Excel has a function that lets you choose different rules for filling a series of cells. To create a monthly series in a row, enter a start date in a cell, select a group of cells to fill, then choose the Edit / Fill / Series to display the Series dialog. In this dialog, select the Rows radio button, then the Date radio button, then the Month radio button, then press the OK button.

If you want to create a quarterly series, repeat the steps above, but this time enter 3 in the Step value field. Now you will get a series such 1-Jan-07, 1-Apr-07, 1-Jul-07, 1-Oct-07, 1-Jan-08, 1-Apr-08, 1-Jul-08.

01 July 2007

Oracle Import and Export LOBs

After playing with PL/SQL, LOBs and writing files on Oracle, I wrote an article explaining how to import and export LOBs.