Weird tab bug in Firefox 2.0

In Firefox 2.0, with two or more tabs open, roll the mouse pointer over a tab caption and up into the Bookmarks Toolbar. Sometimes the icons and text from the Bookmarks Toolbar will overlay the tab caption (see image below). Doesn't always happen, but has happened several times. Looks like a bug?

Update: Another example, this one after Alt+Tab switching from another app back to Firefox.




FeedDemon 2.1 Beta

With my Southwest Fox conference presentations behind me, my laptop machine is once again fair game for fun new stuff including beta releases. At least, for beta releases of software I've grown to trust, which includes FeedDemon. Tonight I installed FeedDemon 2.1 Beta 3a, replacing the latest release version on this machine. My immediate first impression is that it's a lot faster, both at downloading feeds and at moving among them in the reader once the feed cache has been updated. Browsing feeds on this machine has always been a bit sluggish, which I've always attributed to a relatively slow processor (800 MHz) and a relatively large number of feeds (480, with a cache size somewhere north of 135MB). If the speed difference is real and not just a difference in my perception it'll be a welcome improvement. Release notes for v2.1 Beta 3 are here.




Southwest Fox 2006 Wrap-up

It's Monday morning and I'm back in the office again, a bit bleary-eyed after yesterday's return trip from the Southwest Fox conference in Phoenix. Getting up this morning to face 35° and overcast here in Illinois after leaving 85° and sunny in Phoenix was not easy, but living in the Midwest this time of year builds character (or at least that's what we tell ourselves).

Southwest Fox 2006 was a great conference. Organizer Bob Kocher put together a top-drawer lineup of speakers and sessions, and I got to see many of them when not doing one my own presentations. In addition to the speakers whom I always look forward to seeing at VFP conferences, this year saw the return of Jim Booth to the speakers circuit after a long hiatus, Mike and Toni Feltman were both there as speakers, and Christof Wollenhaupt came all the way from Germany to give two sessions. Unfortunately the schedule had me speaking during the same time slots as Christof for both of his Security Cookbook sessions, which I had really wanted to attend. I did get to see his session on Crashing VFP and Preventing Crashes, and Christof certainly lived up to his reputation as the "Foxpert". It's amazing what he's figured out about FoxPro internals. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet and get to know Christof in person for the first time. I hope he will come back to the U.S. and speak at a VFP conference again in the future.

Doug Hennig's sessions are always well attended, for good reasons, and this conference was no exception. I went first to his session on Inno Setup. I've been using Inno Setup for years, and have written and given presentations on using it with VFP myself, but I know I'll always learn something new from Doug and that was true here, too. His session on adding IntelliSense to an application was also full of cool ideas. Doug's point in that session was that we developers love the benefits of IntelliSense as we work in VFP, so why not deliver some of the same benefits to our customers in our own apps?

As already noted by many Fox bloggers, Ken Levy presented Doug with the FoxPro Community Lifetime Achievement Award at the opening session on Thursday evening. The quantity and quality of Doug's contributions to the FoxPro community over the years is truly astonishing -- there's a summary on the FoxPro Wiki -- and I think everyone agreed this is a well deserved award. Congratulations, Doug!

Rick Schummer did his usual excellent job in his sessions, too. I attended Fishing With a Project Hook, which explored how to -- and more importantly, why you would want to -- hook into the VFP project builder and access the project file. I've used Rick's Project Builder tool for a long time because it makes building the VFP EXE simpler and easier. His Project Builder is now part of the more comprehensive White Light Computing (WLC) Project Builder and ProjectHook tool, available (and still free) on his web site.

The way the speakers' schedule worked out, I got to sit in on both of Mike Feltman's sessions. In Where Do You Want to Go Today (Mike's comment: I want to go back to bed!) he discussed the pros and cons of several software development tools and presented some interesting statistics on the relative size of the job market for each one. Mike also mentioned some of the lesser known and newer development tools that bear watching, particularly in the area of Web development, such as Ruby and the Rails framework. Mike's other session on VFP and AJAX was also of considerable interest to me since I do a fair amount of Web development in conjunction with my VFP work. Judging by the overflow attendance in a very small room, so do a lot of other VFP developers.

The other session I was able to attend was Toni Feltman's Using Version Control with Visual FoxPro. Toni's been using version control software a lot longer than I have, so I was really interested in her take on ways to use it effectively with VFP. I took more than a page of notes in this session and came away with a lot of ideas and resources to follow up on.

As for the sessions I couldn't attend, I'm anxious to view the slides and read the papers. There's a ton of good material there.

The closing session featured the usual round of heartfelt thanks to all involved, some great prize drawings, and the presentation of a special gift from the FoxPro community to Mike and Toni Feltman, who are expecting to instantiate another little Feltman in the near future (whether it will be a sub-class of Mike or Toni was not revealed). Many speakers and others contributed to the gift basket of baby items and gift certificates, and I think Mike and Toni were truly surprised. Thanks to Cathy Pountney for her efforts in putting it all together.

An important benefit of any good conference like this is the chance to meet new friends or make face-to-face acquaintance with people you may have only known online. I enjoyed meeting Mike Lewis from the U.K. and Esparta Palma from Mexico, as well as seeing again several other friends and colleagues I've met before at other conferences.

As always, it's back to work now with renewed energy and appreciation for all the many ways VFP makes it possible for us to write great apps and deliver excellent solutions to our customers.

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Installing IE7 Release Version over RC1

I've been running IE7 RC1 since it was released, and have had no issues with it. In fact, it was stable enough that I felt confident basing a significant portion of a conference presentation about RSS on it ("RSS: Catch the Wave", presented at Southwest Fox 2006 in Phoenix over the weekend).

Naturally, I was anxious to see and show the final version of IE7, but in a case of ironic timing, the final version was released the day before the conference began. I always follow the rule never to install anything new on a presentation machine within a week of the conference, so I had to force myself to wait and do the presentation based on RC1 as planned, hoping that what I showed in RC1 would be substantially similar to what people would see in the final release version. Looks like it was.

Back from the conference today, I decided to install the IE7 release version on my presentation laptop machine. The release notes/FAQs for IE7 indicate it will automatically uninstall a pre-release version, so I simply downloaded the setup package and fired it off. As expected, it uninstalled IE7 RC1, and then asked for a reboot.

After the restart, the machine began automatically downloading "required updates for IE7". Huh? Didn't I just download the latest installer for IE7? This machine is running a fully patched version of Windows XP Pro SP2, so I'm not sure what updates it needed, but of course I let it continue. Eventually it finished downloading whatever it was (I'll have to investigate that later) and began installing IE7. This was followed by another reboot, after which the machine came up apparently as usual.

Upon first launch, IE7 wants to take you to a URL at go.microsoft.com. This page timed out, which wasn't entirely unexpected given the likely huge number of IE7 updates being done today, although to be fair I suspect I'm having DNS and firewall issues on this machine that are unrelated to IE7. I bookmarked the URL so I can go back later and see what it is. Probably just a welcome screen, but likely with some additional information and links that might be useful. [Update: After the IE7 install is complete, the browser opens a run-once page where you can customize your settings. Closing that page takes you to a welcome page with links for a tour of IE7, a page of add-ons, or your home page.]

The next site I tried is one of the localhost sites on my own machine from yesterday's conference presentation. A bit of a surprise here: IE7 popped up a phishing filter warning and asked if I want to turn it on before visiting this site. RC1 didn't do that. I guess localhost is an unknown site and therefore suspicious as far as the phishing filter is concerned. Hmmm... thanks for protecting me from my own machine, I guess.

I bring up my sample autodiscovery page in IE7. The RSS feed icon lights up as expected, so nothing's changed there. Clicking on the feed icon brings up the feed in IE7, also as expected. This particular sample feed (available online here) is a list of sessions at the Southwest Fox conference. It demonstrates the Simple List Extensions (SLE) extension to RSS, which is implemented in IE7. I find the feed looks and behaves the same in the IE7 release version as it did in RC1, so we're good there, too.

I'm not going to post any "first impressions of IE7" here because I already formed my first impressions based on RC1 a couple of months ago, and they're largely positive. IE7 of course comes with tabbed browsing, which is almost indispensable IMO and a big reason I use Firefox, so it's good to finally have it in Internet Explorer too. At first glance the IE7 release version interface looks just like RC1. If there are any significant visual changes I haven't spotted them yet.

The news here is that IE7 release version installed successfully over IE7 RC1, the interface looks the same as RC1, RSS and SLE work as they did in RC1, and you won't lose your favorites folder in the uninstall/reinstall process.

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SLE-enhanced session feed for Southwest Fox 2006

Only three days to go... Southwest Fox 2006 kicks off on Thursday! But you don't have to wait: if you're running IE7 RC1, you can get a sneak preview today of something I'll be talking about in my session on RSS, namely Simple List Extensions. SLE is a set of extensions to RSS created by Microsoft to provide sorting and grouping functionality for feeds that are intended to be used as lists. By way of example, I put together a list of all the Southwest Fox 2006 sessions in SLE-enhanced feed format. The feed is available online at www.ita-software.com/SWFox2006/Sessions.xml.

You'll need IE7 RC1 to see this feed the way it's intended, with sorting and filtering capabilities as shown in the screenshot below. Other browsers won't recognize the SLE extensions and will render the feed either as unformatted XML or as a regular RSS feed, depending on how you view it. FeedDemon and other feed readers should see it as a regular RSS feed, too, but the fun stuff is only available in IE7.

SLE is only one of many things I'll be talking about in my session on RSS. If you're coming to Southwest Fox, I hope you'll drop in.

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Inno Setup updated

Inno Setup gets an update to v5.1.8 with some enhancements for Windows Vista and (at last!) an HTML Help file to replace the old-school Help file. Read all about what's new in this version or go straight to the download link.




Keyword search feeds in FeedDemon

I've been using FeedDemon since its pre-release days, but only recently learned of its ability to create keyword search feeds. A keyword search feed is a subscription to a search engine feed that informs you when references a specified phrase or keyword show up.

For example, I created a keyword search feed to check Technorati for references to FoxPro. Presumably, whenever anybody tags something on Technorati as pertaining to FoxPro, it shows up in this feed. This is a very efficient way to keep up with what's being said about topics of interest.

Side note... Today my FoxPro search feed came up with the following: Request Error, no posts match "FoxPro". I guess knowing nothing was said is a form of information, too. < s >

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On the importance of trying

Seymour Cray, founder of Cray Research and architect of the Cray line of supercomputers, died ten years ago today on October 5, 1996. His was a well known name in computer science throughout the second half of the 20th century, and many industry publications noted his passing. Among them was Computerworld, whose article contained a quote from Cray that I clipped out and have had on my office wall ever since.

"You have to be prepared to fail, and I have failed about half the time, I guess. But you simply have to pick yourself up and go at it again with whatever insights you've gained from failure. If you do keep trying, you will occasionally do something worthwhile."

Good words to live by.

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