May 16, 2008
Why don't all cars have aux ports? Seriously, our car was made in 2004, I'm pretty sure that MP3 players were pretty standard back then. Why can't I plug anything into the car stereo? Something needed to be done. But first a bit of back-story. Our car's CD player is pretty much crap, and always has been. It's just a plain factory deck and has always struggled with burned CDs. So, my wife and I had two choices. We could either buy a new aftermarket deck with an aux port, or we could buy and iPod and a 3rd party aux port kit. We chose option number two. We recently purchased an iPod, and both of our kids have their own small MP3 players, so we thought it would be best for everyone if we could just add an aux port to the factory deck. After much too Googling I came across a company called "PIE" who specializes in aftermarket aux port kits. Perfect! The kit for my car cost around $50 and simply plugs into the CD changer port on the back of the deck.
It is such a simple idea, and the instruction page had just 6 steps. What could possible go wrong! Here's a quick picture of the Neon's factory deck.
I'm not sure what that gap below the deck is for, I'm assuming it's where the tape player would go if we had one. But, luckily for us, it's almost the perfect size to fit this aux port adapter. Step one was to pry the bezel off from around all the dials and knobs. I thought this would be easy until I discovered 2 hidden screws behind the 2 vent covers at the top. Once I discovered this (and luckily didn't break anything) it popped right off.
Once the bezel was off, the radio and the plugs below it came out very easily and I could see what I was up against. I discovered that I would need drill a big hole in the back of that little tray thing for the wires to feed through. Easy enough, and it worked like a champ.
Unfortunately the aux kit adapter (with it's big cable on the back) was a bit too big for this little tray thing, and it sticks out a bit. Not a big deal though, it's only out about 1cm.
Once everything was screwed back together and the wires were all connected it was time for a test drive.
Success! I'd like to thank my lovely hand model, Mrs. Wife. The sounds quality is as perfect as you can get from an iPod and I'll never have to fiddle around with any of those FM transmitters. I also got a 2m cable that stretches to the back seat for the kids to use. This will work well for road trips, as they will be able to control their own music without bugging us every two minutes. Win-win for everyone. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to install this kit. It only costs a little more than an FM transmitter but the price difference is well worth it. I can't wait for our road trip to Ottawa next weekend to give the whole system a try.
May 13, 2008
Do you love hashes? I do! Well, they're helpful when it comes to checking the integrity of a file. That's the reason I created HashTools back in January of 2007, over 1 year ago. This latest release clears up some long-standing issues and adds some much needed features. The new feature I find most useful is the ability to drag and drop files into the HashTools interface. Another new feature that I find myself using quite frequently is the ability for HashTools to automatically load and compare a hash when checking a file. For example, if you are generating an MD5 hash for a file called "MyFile.iso", HashTools will check for a file called "MyFile.md5". If this file exists, it will be loaded and HashTools will compare the hash contained in this file against the generated hash. Maybe this is a feature that only I will find useful, but I hope at least one other person will too.
Check out HashTools today!
May 13, 2008
I would like to send a big shout out to Ian for finding DisplayFusion in the May 2008 issue of PC Pro in the UK. It's always exciting to see my software being published, especially outside of North America. Ian was able to send me scans of the cover and article and for his effort I was more than happy to send a DisplayFusion Pro license his way. If you would like to find out how you can take advantage of this great offer, just visit the In the News page for more information.
Update: An observant reader (Keith) pointed out that this is the same article that appeared in the PC Authority magazine. I'm guessing that David has his column published in more than magazine. But, that's cool with me as it was published in the UK and Australia, both places I have never been published in.
May 10, 2008
Two savvy DisplayFusion users have informed me that they discovered DisplayFusion while reading the June 2008 issue of PC Authority in Australia. Both were able to send me copies of the article and both received free DisplayFusion Pro licenses. I'd like to send out a big thanks to Ian Neale and Tim Burns for making this discovery, and I hope both are enjoying their complimentary licenses. If you would like to find out how you can take advantage of this great offer, just visit the In the News page for more information.
May 8, 2008
Hey, that rhymes! Seriously though, how many of you have ever had to edit a file using Notepad? You know, that tiny little featureless text editor that comes with Windows? Don't get me wrong, it's super-fast and sometimes I'm glad that it's so lightweight. But what if you could replace the default Notepad application with one that is just as lightweight, but has syntax highlighting and a bucket-full of other features? Well, the future is now. Let me introduce you to Notepad2 by Florian Balmer. Notepad2 is pure gold. There is no installation - it's just 1 executable. Just rename "Notepad2.exe" to "Notepad.exe" and copy it overtop of the built-in Windows Notepad. Voila! Now you're rocking a slimmed down, feature rich text editing application. It handles the different line endings between Linux and Windows like a champ (unlike Notepad) and the syntax highlighting makes HTML, PHP, CSS or XML file editing seem less like work, and more like an adventure in fun-land. If you haven't replaced Notepad with one of the many great alternatives, what are you waiting for? Get editing!
May 7, 2008
It brings me great joy to announce that for the second month in a row iTunes Sync has been bundled with a major print magazine. This month, iTunes Sync has found it's way into the June 2008 issue of PC Praxis!
Special DisplayFusion Pro Offer
If you would like to receive a free DisplayFusion Pro license visit the In the News page to find out just how easy it is!
May 3, 2008
I'm happy to announce that FileSeek v1.3 was released this week. This new version adds sortable columns, the ability to copy selected results from the grid via the right-click menu and the number of characters displayed in the preview pane is now configurable in the options menu. Also, a number of bugs have been fixed as well, like the right-click "Open" command not working sometimes. This version of FileSeek and it's installer are also fully signed for full Vista compatibility.
I urge everyone who is running an older version of FileSeek to download the new version today, and if you haven't tried FileSeek why not give it a try. You can either download an installer or an archive with only the .exe if you want to take it for a test drive before installing. Happy searching!
April 27, 2008
After 2 months of coding and testing I am very pleased to announce the release of DisplayFusion v2.1! This version represents a lot of hard work by a lot of people. It has a substantial number of new features and bug fixes - more than any of the previous releases. The interface has been cleaned up in a number of key areas, it now has full Windows Vista compatibility and is fully signed for friendlier Windows Vista UAC prompts.
You can take a look at the change log for the complete list of changes, but here are some of the bigger new features:
We can't forget about bug fixes and little changes. There are a pile of those as well - here are some of the highlights:
I would encourage everyone to upgrade to the latest version by visiting the DisplayFusion download page. Also, for only $10 you can unlock the full set of Pro features. Visit the version comparison page for more information on included features and how to order. Help support future DisplayFusion by purchasing a Pro license today!
The beta testers and I have worked as hard as we can to ensure that this release is as polished as possible, but if you experience any issues at all please feel free to contact me or visit the DisplayFusion Online Support page.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this release the best one yet!
April 17, 2008
Are you using the free version of DisplayFusion and want to try out some of the Pro features? Well, now you can! Just head over to the DisplayFusion Trial License page and fill out the unbelievably short form. My hard-working server will email you a 15 day trial license, and presto, you'll be a Pro user for 2 weeks. For a complete list of the features that DisplayFusion Pro has, check out the handy version comparison page. If haven't tried DisplayFusion yet and you have more than one monitor, what are you waiting for? Get in on the action today and give DisplayFusion a try right now!
April 16, 2008
Flattery and Trickery... My good friend, Andy, has been working on me for at least a year now to move up to Ottawa. I have visited Ottawa a handful of times now, and it is a beautiful city with a ridiculous number of IT jobs. Jen and I have always said that if I lost my current job we would probably move to Ottawa, as the IT job situation in London (Canada) is pretty weak. Andy's latest (thinly veiled) attempt to trick me into moving up to Ottawa is to butter me up with compliments. Well, keep up the hard work Andy: it's going to take more than a blog post to get me to move up to Ottawa. Just kidding, I can't thank Andy enough for the kind words, and for the valuable things I've learned from him over the years.
Lessons Learned... When Andy lived in London we used to have "code-jams" where we would go to the bar and drink, play air hockey and occasionally some pool, then head back to his place for an evening of coding. Those were some good times, before I started coding professionally and before I started my current indie development. Back then we worked mostly on game development in C++ and it was tough, rewarding work. None of our projects ever saw the light of day, but we didn't care. We had big dreams and loved the purity of coding only for yourself. With Andy's departure to Ottawa more than 2 years ago things changed a bit, not for better or worse. I haven't done any solid game development since then, although I have done C++ coding off and on to keep my skills up, and I have played around with the Xbox 360's XNA game development framework. Andy taught me some very important things about software development, and none of the lessons involved an IDE or a compiler. "If you don't enjoy what you're coding, then why are you doing it?" This was the motive behind our work back then, and it has stuck with me ever since. I have never worked on an independent project unless I had an interest in it. If you look at all of the applications I have developed and released over the past year you'll see that they all fill a software gap that I had at the time. I wrote iTunes Sync when I couldn't find a good, reliable way to sync my cheap MP3 player with iTunes. I wrote Web Performance Monitor when I needed to monitor my hosted web server remotely. DisplayFusion was born out of a thirst for knowledge of the Win32 API, and because I had recently purchased a second monitor and was appalled at the support Windows has for dual monitors. I have enjoyed every single one of my projects, and I have always learned something.
The Future... Who knows what the future holds? Not me, that's for sure. I've got a great job in London right now that offers me lots of freedom and always keeps me up to date with the latest technology and tools. Most of my family and friends live in or around London, so leaving would be hard for both Jen and I, along with the kids. We have tossed around the idea of moving to England, as both of our families are originally from there, but that would be costly and I'm not sure how the kids would take it. So London it is, for now at least.