Tag Archives: windows

Goodbye, Wireless!

I’m going to talk about a product today, and no, this post is not sponsored. This is just something I recently started using and it really worked out for me.

When we moved into our current home, I knew I wanted to setup a media center on our TV. It would incorporate Windows Media Center with the MediaBrowser plugin, an array of disks storing all of our house’s media (all legal of course!), a remote control, the NetFlix plugin, etc. The only weakness in the whole system was the network. I went through a couple of wireless card and antenna solutions, even upgrading our router to one that could do 5 ghz and dedicated that to just the Media Center.

It worked ok, but there were some downsides:

  • The wireless speed never quite lived up to what was advertised. Partly this is because of the configuration and placement of the TV/computer—5 ghz is far more directional than the standard 2.4 ghz–but I was also probably expecting too much.
  • Because of this, the disk array had to be physically plugged into the media center computer to be reliable. This increased the clutter of the living room–one more ugly box that wouldn’t fit inside the media cabinet—and made managing that storage space a pain.

I was starting to consider wiring our house for Ethernet when a friend mentioned this: the D-Link PowerLine AV 500. Power-line networking. The last I had heard about this was probably 10 years ago when it was first being introduced, and I haven’t given it a thought since. These adaptors are the epitome of ease. One of them goes into a socket near my router, with a network cable going from router to adapter. The other adapter goes next to my media center, with another connecting ethernet cable. There’s a simple software utility (or just push-button) to secure them to prevent others from leaching your Internet (if you have shared wiring).

It has made all of the difference. No more unsightly wireless antenna, the disk array has been moved upstairs to the office, and the speeds are MUCH faster than before. There is no issues whatsoever streaming high-def over this network. If you’ve got a media center that needs to be far away from your router, then this is the thing to get.

An easy stack layout panel for WinForms

This is a simple, but useful tip. Users of WPF are spoiled. They have all sorts of layout options. Those of us still working in WinForms have FlowLayoutPanel and TableLayoutPanel. That’s it. WPF has those and more.

For my current project, I needed a panel to layout controls vertically. The TableLayoutPanel can be awkward to work with, at least for what I need it to. At first glance, the FlowLayoutPanel looks it won’t work, since it produces something like this:


That’s with changing the FlowDirection to TopDown and putting AutoScroll to true.

But what I want is this:


To achieve this layout, merely set all the following properties on a FlowLayoutPanel:

  • AutoScroll = True
  • FlowDirection = TopDown
  • WrapContents = False

et voilà, Instant stack panel.

Girl from Mars – Magneta Lane

I first saw this video at the Microsoft Company Meeting 2008, and looked for the song everywhere, but couldn’t find the Magneta Lane version. They recorded it just for Microsoft. Nevertheless, the original Ash version is great too, so get that in the meantime.

Magneta’ Lane’s MySpace page does mention the song, and maybe a release is on the way.

Update: Forgot the music video from Ash. I like it.

Fixing Printing Problems with IE7 and Vista

If you are having problems printing from Internet Explorer 7 under Windows Vista, check to see if you have AVG 8.0 installed. If so, get the latest version from http://free.grisoft.com. I did have build 8.0.101 and upgraded to build 8.0.138–everything works fine now.

I’ve also seen reports that it could be an error while running IE7 in Protected Mode. There’s a thread in the Microsoft forums about this.

Good luck.

log4cxx + VS2005 + Windows SDK v6.0 = compile error

If you are following the instructions to build log4cxx 0.10 in Visual Studio 2005, and you have the Windows Platform SDK v6.0 installed, you may get errors compiling multicast.c in the apr project.

I found the solution, and it’s pretty easy. Open up multicast.c and edit the lines:



to be, instead:

136: #if defined(group_source_req)

148: #if defined(group_source_req)


e voilà! now it compiles.

Opening Visual Studio solutions from Explorer in Vista

You’ve installed Visual Studio 2005 on Vista and dutifully changed it to run as administrator, like you’re supposed to. And then…

Problem: Visual Studio 2005 solutions no longer open when you double-click them in Windows Vista. In fact, when you double-click nothing happens.

Solution: Change them to open with Visual Studio 2005 directly instead of the vslauncher.exe (which opens up the solution with the correct version of Visual Studio if you have more than one).

Caveat: Only makes sense if  you use only Visual Studio 2005.


  1. Right-click on a solution file.
  2. Choose “Open With…”
  3. Choose “Browse…”
  4. Browse to file “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe” (or wherever you installed Visual Studio)
  5. Click “Open” button
  6. Check “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file”


Now your solutions will load Visual Studio, bring up the UAC prompt, and it all works great.

Found via here and here.

GetTextExtent vs. DrawText (with DT_CALCRECT)

Working on an MFC app that has just been converted to Unicode (finally!), I noticed that one button (which is created dynamically) is too small to fit the text in Korean (and Russian and a few other languages).

The code was calling something like:

CSize sz = m_btAdjustColors.GetDC()->GetTextExtent(sCaption);

It seems correct, but these script languages are throwing it for a loop–the measured size is much smaller than it should be. The GetTextExtent documentation doesn’t shed any explicit light on this subject, but may hint at it.

The solution? DrawText. There is a flag you can pass to tell it to calculate the rectangle needed instead of drawing.

CRect rect(0,0,0,0);
m_btAdjustColors.GetDC()->DrawText(sCaption, &rect, DT_CALCRECT);

It’s important to initialize the rectangle to zeroes because, as the docs say, it only modifies the right and bottom members of the rectangle.

Installed Vista SP1 – no problems

I installed Windows Vista Service Pack 1 this morning. It took about 45 minutes, two reboots, and afterward I had no problems. It never showed up in Windows Update for me so I used the standalone installer (linked to above), fully prepared to reinstall some drivers. But afterwards, no drivers seemed to have any problems–Device Manager didn’t show any issues. So all is well and good.

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The Benefits of Having Too Much Processing Power

Do an experiment: keep Task Manager or any other CPU activity monitoring program up on your screen for a few hour or days, glancing at it every so often. Do you see it EVER above zero (other than momentary spikes)?

Here’s mine, from a Google sidebar gadget:


I’ve got a Dual Core and 2GB RAM. Currently I have open two copies of Visual Studio 2005, Word 2003, Outlook 2007, Paint.Net, RSS Bandit, Adobe Reader, IE, MSDN help, Windows Live Messenger, and Google Deskbar.

So that’s using just over 1 GB of RAM. And ZERO CPU. I’m watching this. The CPU meter goes up a little when I type, open a new program, compile my source code, etc., but most of the time it’s zero, even when I think I’m actually working.

I used to eschew running apps like Google Deskbar, wallpaper helpers like Display Fusion, or other system utilities that continually run. But I had a realization–it doesn’t matter! I could run many more utilities concurrently and still not come anywhere close to creating a slowdown on my computer.

Of course, I’m only talking about non-interfering/non-processor-intensive programs. This immediately excludes anti-virus programs, which interrupt every process to examine system behavior continually, or running video compression (duh) in the background.

But things like desktop searching, system monitoring (if it’s not too intrusive), utilities, and any other independent process–yeah, just throw them on. They won’t make a dent.

They key word in that last paragraph is independent. Independent means they don’t depend on or interfere with other processes.

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Software Spoilage

Jeff Atwood had an interesting post about software spoilage, in which he quotes PC World’s list of no-longer-good-too-bloated applications which includes Windows Media Player 11.

Are they kidding? WMP11 is a LOT better than WMP 9 and 10. It has better organization, and the fact that I can do instant filtering on albums, genres, artists, songs, and anything else is a killer feature. I’ve got about 16,000 tracks, mostly classical and soundtrack. I couldn’t live without WMP11’s organizational and filtering capabilities. Sure, it’s big, but I don’t notice a slowdown.

I do agree about other things in the list. Paint Shop Pro has definitely become much too big. What was attractive about it was its small size and lack of features, which made it approachable. Nowadays, I use Paint.Net. Simple, open-source, easy to use.

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