Cropper - Screen capture utility

I have always wanted a screen capture utility that would be really easy to use. My search was over when I downloaded Cropper. I think this is the ultimate screen capture utility. It is easy to use, you have tons of options and the best part for us geeks, it's written is C# and the entire source code is available. The highlight of the tool is, that you can select an area on the screen and double click to capture that area. You can choose from a number of output formats like jpeg, gif, png or the clipboard. All in all a very handy utility.

Men are from Mars, women from Venus?

Author: Lilly Wang

No, no, I am not talking about the different behavior, or habits, or thinking pattern between men and women, I am talking about the gender gaps when it comes to health.

I am reading an interesting article about the physical differences between men and women which can drastically affect the odds of getting a disease.  For that sake, men and women need to be treated differently - which is often referred to his and hers medicine.

Here are some facts of the gender gap listed in the article (written by Dawn MacKeen):

  • Heart disease - it strikes men at younger age but kills more women. 
  • Asthma - bulk of tthe patients are women;
  • Strokes - more men have strokes, yet 62% of the victims of fatal strokes are women;
  • Depression - before puberty, depression is about equally prevalent in boys and girls; by adulthood, however, depression is twice as common in females. Sad women are more likely to overeat and sleep too much, as well as ache from body pain.  But males are four times more likely to commit suicide;
  • Lung cancer - men suffer 60% of the death from it.  But the gender divide is shrinking (due to the fact that few men smoke these days)
  • Pain - males hold out pain longer than female; (hehe, we scream louder when pains come);
  • Rheumatoid arthristis - is twice as common in women as in men.
Well, looks like God is more in favor of men when it comes to health.  But women are better than men in other areas (oops, I start a war again...)

Vista UI sucks!!!

I think AERO just sucks and that is the only eye candy feature of Vista. First AERO implements something called a glass effect where windows now have glass title bar, status bar and borders. What that means is that the window is translucent, in that you can kinda see the what's behind the window. The biggest problem with this is, that if you have too many windows open (which is not uncommon for must users), it starts getting really ugly. The second problem is that when you maximize the window you loose the glass effect and your window borders, title bar and status bar turn black which really really looks bad.

All in all I think Vista has a ton of features which make it a better OS. I think developers are simply going to love it for it includes a lot of technologies on top of the .NET framework to make development easy, but when people walk into BestBuy to buy a new PC they not going to find those hidden jewels, the first impression they are going to make is based on what they see. Even if they like what they see, I think they will not like it once they start using it. Those are my feelings, it may so happen that I am totally wrong and Vista will sell like crazy, but this is surely one piece of software where I am not with Microsoft.

Sharepoint Portal Server 2007

Just downloaded Sharepoint Portal Server 2007. I am really looking forward to see how this works, after all it is the best example of how to build an enterprise level ASP.NET application. It uses most of the features of ASP.NET 2.0 and builds a lot more on top of it.

Over the next few days I am going to go deep and try and learn as much as possible from SPS 2007. I have created a mini web farm (two machines networked with Microsoft Network Load Balancing) and a third server that would host the data. I have read that sharepoint keeps all it's documents in SQL Server and hope to see what kind of indexing schemes they have applied to make it super efficient.

Right now I am making too many assumption and am expecting to see and understand at least some code from the SPS bits. Only time will tell as to how many of those assumptions stand true.

Migration to

It's been a long time since I started hosting this website on my home computer. I finally decided I wanted to go for a hosting solution. I mainly wanted to do this for better performance. I had noticed when accessing my website from work that it was a bit slow to respond. I did review my code multiple times to make sure that it did not have any big performance holes. I went ahead purchased a one month subscription which was suprisingly cheap at $6.99. Godaddy was very quick in responding and I was super excited to get access to the hosting server the very next day. I moved all the front-end code using ftp and started to port my backend (SQL Server 2005) to Godaddy's SQL Server 2000. Unfortunately this was a very bad experience for me. No 1. you cannot access the database server using a tool like enterprise manager (rightly so, they do not want any outside access for security reasons). I was impressed with the web based client that they had, but it would simply not do the job.

You can upload a csv file and import all the data from the file to your db. Unfortunately it was not as simple as it sounds. If you had foreign key constraints, obviously it would simply fail the insert statements. I tried a lot of different options, including generating dynamic insert statements (after removing all constraints, auto number on the primary key field) using custom queries that I wrote, but those kept getting complicated with every bug I fixed.

Some of the rows did get inserted into the Godaddy db, and I left the site hanging just to see what performance gains I had achieved. Interestingly it did not make all that big a difference and I decided that all that effort was simply not worth it.

In the end it may turn out that I did not know how to use the tool, or how to do a successful migration, but I think it does not have to be rocket science to migrate data from one machine to another. I have done many a conversion from different databases in the past but none were as painful as this one. This experience taught me a very useful lesson, no matter how powerful the web gets, the place for desktop applications will remain for a long time.

I still have the godaddy account, but I plan to cancel it within the next 10 days. Luckily I did not buy a whole year solutions (which I was planning to do intially), which left me this option of rolling back to my home computer.

Moral of the story for me was that if at all I had to port my solution to a hosting company, I would only do it if I had complete physical access to the machines even if it meant spending a lot more dollars. In this case as I said before it simply wasn't worth it.

When can life be perfect?

Author: Lilly Wang

All the past week including today, I have been working on the configuration of Windows Sharepoint Service (WSS).  I got it work last year.  But after one year of being idle, it does not work anymore (due to the server sp installation, the anti-virus upgrades, the change of IP address, etc etc).  So I thought it is not big deal to re-configure it since I have kept good documentation.  And here I am – a week of hard work, and still haven’t got it work fully as it is supposed to, sigh… 

So is it worth the efforts to set it up? You bet.  Just name some of the features: fine-tuned access control, freedom of creating folders and lists, online survey, full text search on word, excel, and pdf, and many many more.  It provides a generic solution to people’s document needs.

As much as we enjoy the fruits of the product, we have to put up with the great pain of  the installation and configuration.  This reminds me of the philosophy of life: no pain no gain.


So when you think of generalization, trying to provide a single answer for many problems, you better think carefully.  Just keep in mind, there is no perfect world…    

Google AJAX Toolkit

Google has released an AJAX development toolkit for the Java platform. You can read more about it here. Now we have toolkits from all three major companies, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. Let the war begin. In the mean time let me go ahead and dissect the source code to see if I find anything interesting. After all the underlying technology is still JavaScript that does the trick.

No iPod, my life is better

Author: Lilly Wang

Why?  Just imagine you just spent $300 to get a nano ($249 for the nano iPod + $50 for different accessories), and see what you get:

  • a proprietary file format.  Yes, you can convert regular mp3 to iTune.  But why the extra effort?
  • little tech support.  Yes, Apple does provide support, but not without a price. $49 or $59 service fee, you choose.
  • no backups, please.  ok, you now have 10,000 songs on your new iPod, you want to back them up in your PC. No way! Apple won't allow it.  Solution? download some third party software for a price (money, money... where is the end?)
  • pathetic battery.  life of battery?  what life? if you are lucky, the battery may be re-charged about 500 times lifetime.  after that? send me money to buy another one ($59+ $6.95 for s&h).
  • no use in the car.  ok, you can use your car speaker if you find the right radio frequency to tune it in.  but we live in Houston, no  readyily available frequency!  just this one, it is enough to kill all my desire to buy an iPod.  I spend the most time listening to music in a car.  If i can't use it the car, what's the use?
  • greddy Apple.  they charge you for everything, from wall charger to a dock, to a connector to TV, etc, you name it.  That proves one saying: there is no free lunch in the world.  well, i don't want free lunch, please just don't over-charge me.
I will stay away from iPod as long as I can.  And you can too.

WMP 11 vs iTunes

A lot of websites are calling WMP11 + URGE the iTunes killer. You can read the news here and here.Well, time will tell. One feature that really caught my eye was the fast search. If you have around 40,000 songs and you started to type in the search box, your songs would appear as you type. In fact MS claims that you would get good speed even with millions of songs. That is simply awesome and I would like to know the code behind the feature. Obviously they are running some kind of an indexing scheme for the instant search but I am sure the algorithm must be really tricky.


Author: Lilly Wang

I am reading an interesting article on how our lifestyle can add years of living:

  • Manage weight - potential longevity gain: 6 to 7 years
  • Lower blood pressure - potential longevity gain: 5 years
  • Exercise - potential longevity gain: 1.3 - 3.7 years
  • Quit smoking - potential longevity gain: 10 years
  • Think positive - potential longevity gain: 10 years (the winner!)

By the way, the once so favored green tea was recently annouced by FDA that it does not have all those fancy effects.  Truth or false? It's really hard to tell these days.  Just like one day it says coffer is the best antioxidants, while another day, it is claimed to be one of the main causes of heart disease.  For me? I only believe my own theory: balance diet, exercise, and positive thinking.

Happy living.