jlopez's blog

A software package a day: LINQ to Whatever

Microsoft’s LINQ isn’t a software package in the traditional sense, but instead a way to extend and enhance software that runs on the Common Language Runtime (more commonly known as “.NET”). I believe that it is one of the most important releases from Microsoft in a long time, despite not being traditional “software”. The reason that I believe this is simple: it puts the power of declarative and functional programming front and center in a highly popular programming environment.

A software package a day: UltraMon

Today’s item is a specialist utility like yesterday, but is much less of a “one trick” program. UltraMon improves multi-monitor setups in several ways that go beyond what most video card drivers or the built in management can handle. If you have two (or more) monitors and feel annoyed by the built in features, you might find what you are looking for in UltraMon.

A software package a day: JRuler

JRuler is a single task utility that does one thing, but does it well. Often when doing development you wonder how much room you have to work with on the screen, but unlike the bad old days when you could just estimate dots (320 x 200 displays are something I remember and don’t miss) this can be difficult if the software you are working in (say, a browser) doesn't provide rulers.

A software package a day. Day 7: Google Voice

Google Voice is an interesting sideline for Google. An acquisition made by Google, the product was originally called GrandCentral. I finally got my invitation and am pleased to report that it works like a champ.

A software package a day. Day 6: RedGate SQL Compare

If your team needs to deal with SQL Data (and I’m guessing you do) then you eventually will need to manage the database over time. For us, that means SQL Server and for the most part the tools provided get the job done. There are a couple of holes in the tools that are filled with third party tools and the biggest one is the ability to compare schema’s and data between instances of a database.

A software package a day. Day 5: Privoxy

I mentioned Privoxy earlier when talking about Google Chrome. As the homepage will attest, this is a very “bare bones” software package. However, proxy servers really don’t need many fancy features to be very useful, and all the real action with the program takes place in text files. Setup is a breeze as there really is little to configure during the installation. Once running, you can adjust your proxy settings in your browser of choice to use port 8118 (if you kept the default) on the “localhost” if you have set it up on the same machine.

A software package a day. Day 4: Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage Service)

As it has been mentioned repeatedly due to the project I was working on, I thought perhaps a more detailed examination of Amazon’s S3 and related services would make sense. Note really a “software package”, but I think that underlines an important feature of software today. The line between software packages and services is getting blurrier and blurrier. Components such as Google Gears makes such lines even harder to define, allowing websites to be accessed and the data manipulated so it can be later synchronized with the website.

A software package a day. Day 3: Adobe Flash CS4 as Movie Player

Yesterday I mentioned that we needed to put videos online for an indeterminate sized audience. These videos were in AVI Format, which is a pretty typical format to receive video in. Putting videos on the web can be done numerous ways, including using various hosting services. However, we needed the quality to remain high (higher than most hosting services permit) and we wanted good tracking of the distribution (to determine if the project was successful).

Useful Stored Procedure: sp_generate_inserts

There are many occasions when you need to populate a database with some initial data. Setting up a new database for a software package install or running unit tests are two of the reasons I need to do this frequently. I stumbled across this code: http://vyaskn.tripod.com/code/generate_inserts.txt which looks very promising. Unfortunately it is also unusable anyone who respects copyright due to this block:

A software package a day. Day 2: CloudBerry Explorer

I'm working on a project that requires distributing videos to an indeterminate size audience. We have a pretty robust server in place for the project, but media files are by far larger than the web pages that reference them. To avoid creating a denial of service attack on ourselves if the file becomes popular, we decided to host the videos using Amazon's S3 cloud file service. This required creating S3 buckets and files... so out comes CloudBerry Explorer.


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