Monday, July 18, 2005

[TechTools] Sage: Feed Reader for Firefox

Sage: A feed reader for Firefox

Ah! Joys of blogging! :) With the recent digital publishing trend, it does seems that feeds are everywhere: From syndicated news, site updates, to blogs of your closest friends. (Especially blogs, it does seems like everybody is having one right now!)

I still remember that I used to visit these sites individually for the latest updates, as in your typical "Open bookmark and browse through the main page), but as I'm having more and more sites to visit, it does seems really tedious to even open bookmarks for a short article or site update which contains less than 200 words. Well... that doesn't mean that I don't like to visit sites, it's just that I just need some way to get the latest site update news so that I'm able to know what site is worth checking it out for the latest content.

So site feed technologies such as ATOM and RSS* seems to be a god send, and Firefox provide site feed support through the use of Live Bookmark capabilities, and the small, orange RSS logo at the lower right hand corner of Firefox window to subscribe these feeds in a few clicks.

However, this is still not good enough: checking new site feed still involves me clicking the Bookmark menu item, scroll through the Live Bookmarks, and clicking on the dynamic links if I wanted to read the content. Hmmm... I would prefer some faster and more informative way to read these feed updates.

One of the more useful way to read your feeds is to have a dedicated feed reader, and now I'm using Sage, which is a simple Firefox feed reader extention. The greatest thing I liked about it is its simplicity and ease of use: It basically create a pane on the left side of the window, and all your subscribe feeds will be on the top part of the pane, while the details and updates are just below it. Checking on the site updates is as easy as selecting the feed on the top, and the list of news items will be listed below. And as an option, it'll open a page where it'll format these news item into a new page in your browser. Neat huh? :)

Guess I might just as well click away and see what's cooking in my RSS feeds :).

* Note: For those who don't know what RSS is, Wikipedia has a good explanation about the technology here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

[Correction] Outlook 2003 Desktop Alert Problem

There's a correction being made to the previous post "Outlook 2003 Desktop Alert Problem" due to the incorrect solution that I have posted up yesterday. A correction has been ammended and any misinformation caused is greatly regretted.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

[Software Update] Firefox 1.0.5

Firefox 1.0.5 is now available, which fixes some security bugs as well as some improvements on stability.

[eBook] An Introduction to GCC

An Introduction to GCC by Brian Gough

Rating: 5/5
Level: Beginner-Intermediate
A superb introductory book about the GCC compiler, which teaches you step-by-step from simple compilation, a guide of useful tools to help in your programming and debugging tasks, to advanced compiling tips and tricks.

Brian explains the steps in a very clear and consise manner to ensure that you not only know how to do a task, he also explains why and why nots in a very easy to understood manner. Every single section is presented in chunk-sized bits which are easy to digest even for beginners which guides you through the path of becoming a seasoned programmer (who knows how to use his tools well).

Chapter 13: Common Error Messages is definitely a godsend, which focuses on the common error messages and an explanation on what does it means and the common symptoms that causes it. If I had known this much earlier during my beginning days of programming, I wouldn't have wasted agonizing hours to try to fit a square peg into a round hole.

By all means, this book is not only a good introductory manual, it also serves as a good reference as it structured the book nicely. So in case you want to find a common compiler command flag, or probably you want to find a good tool for your debugging task, all you need to do is to flip to the corresponding section and get your answers.

For those who would want to know the GCC compiler without all the steep learning curve and jargon should read this book :). (Hmm... probably I would want to get a paperback copy of it)

[TechTip] Outlook 2003 Desktop Alert Problem

It's been a week ever since the PC in my workplace has been installed with Microsoft Outlook 2003, and as far as everything goes, everything with Outlook 2003 looks so cool with the reading panes, cooler UI and mail organization, but one major problem: I don't receive any alerts when the new mail arrives! And saying that, I have make myself very sure that I have the mail arrival alert email options all switched on every single day ever since I got Outlook installed!

This has to be one of the most annoying thing that can happen in the office when you have no idea when any new email messages arrives (OK, probably to me as a worker who although receives less emails per day, but every single email has a lot of weight = work). So I have been getting the usual question "Haven't you received my email?"

So checking through the online resources, I finally found out what causes the problem: It has to do with Microsoft Exchange server and caching. Then I found out that in order to have the desktop alerts, you'd need to enable "Cached Exchange mode". This can be done by:
1. Go to Tools - E-mail Accounts
2. Select View or change e-mail existing accounts radio button under the E-mail group, then click Next
3. Select the MS Exchange Server email account that has been configured in your Outlook, then click the Change... button next to it
4. Tick the Use Cached Exchange Mode checkbox and click Next

[::Correction -- 14 July::]
After further fiddling with Outlook, I only notice that the real problem is actually the Tools - Rules and Alerts setting. Desktop alerts will only notify any new incoming mail that goes into the Inbox, but if you have set a rule which will move the message to a separate folder, you'd need to set the Display a desktop alert action to the rule.

After testing, I conclude that the Cached Exchange Mode does not contribute to this problem.

I'm sorry for the misinformation.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Learning PHP

Been staying at home reading a free ebook on PHP, A Programmer's Introduction to PHP 4.0 from Apress. It's really cool to have publishers putting up free ebooks for download :), which I'm planning to get one of those PHP books next month as reading ebooks doesn't quite feel the same as reading a REAL book. As much as it is an introductory book on PHP, it has all the beginning building blocks to build up a dynamic site. Interesting :).

Currently I'm drafting the basic architecture of Felix Leong: PEDAGOGIES, basically I'm planning to use PHP, XML and databases. It'll be a small site at first, but I'm planning to expand it to a personal web portal which I can put up all my stuff that I wanted to share :). Thinking of it... it might be a really big project for me to handle as I might have to learn about RSS (to syndicate all my blogs), portal management, database considerations and other stuff. Guess I'll take one baby step at a time ;).

Will post more details about the site design soon! :)

Friday, July 01, 2005 Up

I have just recovered my old 2002'ish content of my manga drawing tutorial site, Felix Leong: PEDAGOGIES, over So probably those interested can take a look at it ;).

Just to share some resources, for those people who dreadfully need FTP upload access through a company firewall, here's some good, free web-based FTP clients that you can use:
- net2ftp: Quite restrictive, but it's good for uploading small files for site. The best thing I like about it is that it supports Upload-and-Unzip, which means that you can upload a ZIP archive of the files you wanted to upload, then net2ftp will unzip and load it into your web space
- UnlimitedFTP: I recommend this one better due to it's features, but currently it's down so I suppose it's hard for me to elaborate much about it
[*Update: It's back up again :). Anyway, basically it's a free web-based FTP service with a very user-friendly Java applet client that you can use to upload files to the server. It doesn't have any file size upload limit restriction like net2ftp does, so it's much more useful]