Tap My Mind

A Blog by Scott Isaacs

Month: October 2005

I Got a New Phone

OK.  I don’t need a new phone anymore.  I got one today.  I got the Motorola V266 from US Cellular.  There’s nothing special about the phone (no Windows Mobile, Palm OS, QWERTY, etc.), but it does have one important feature:

  1. It works

Plus, it has a camera and voice commands, but I don’t know how often I’ll use those.  It was free (after rebate), and a friend works at US Cellular, so it made the decision easier — she even sent in the rebate form for me so I wouldn’t forget.

So now if I don’t answer your calls I’m either in a meeting or ignoring you.  😉

I Need a New Cell Phone and Plan

I’m using Verizon right now, but my plan expires in a few weeks.  Plus, my phone is just about shot.

Is anyone happy with their mobile provider?  Who do you like or not like?  I need to do something here pretty quick.  My phone “works”, but the screen does not.

E-mail me or leave a comment here.

Ready Launch Tour 2005

There is a lot going on locally in the MS community over the next couple weeks.  For starters, on November 7, Microsoft will be launching a new series of development packages: Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and Biztalk 2006.  The official launch will be happening in San Francisco, CA.

The WI .NET Users Group is having a Community Launch (aka, Ready Launch Tour 2005) on November 8.  It is a joint meeting with the WI SQL Server Users Group.  Because of the combined meeting, we will actually get started at 4:30.  You can register for either or both of the sessions (VS and SQL) on the UG site.  If you typically receive an e-mail newsletter, you can expect it today or tomorrow.

Then, just a few days later, Microsoft will be having a “local” launch in Chicago.  That will be at the McCormick Place on November 10.  Then in November in Madison and December in Milwaukee, MSDN and TechNet will be having “Best of the Launch”.  You can find links to those events on the UG site as well.

Not many of us in this area are going to be able to make it to the “official” launch in CA on November 7.  So make sure you get to at least one of these other events.  Our Community Launch will be filling up fast because we only have a limited number of seats (although we are meeting in a bigger facility than the Microsoft office where we normally meet). 

So pick one or more of these events and sign up today!!

This Is The Wrong Forest

A good manager will take you through the forest, no matter what.  A leader will climb a tree and may say, “This is the wrong forest.”

I saw this in the comments of an older blog post the other day, and it really stuck with me.  (Brian Tinkler just informed me that this is actually a Stephen Covey quote/paraphrase.)

Of course, a bad manager can’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ve had a number of good managers, and even more bad managers.  However, I have had very few leaders, and only one, so far, in a work setting.

It takes more than a vision to be a leader.  It also takes understanding — understanding the situation and the people that you are leading.  A “leader” with only vision is just a fanatic.  (I’ve had my share of those, too.)

Fortunately, I’ve had enough good leaders that I may become one someday.  In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with the good old-fashioned philosophy of “follow the leader”.  That’s what I’m planning to do.

Newsletter Sender

OK, so that’s a really lame name for a program, but I named it so I wouldn’t forget what it was.  I could have called it PhireFaacs, but really, do you think I would know what that was in two weeks?  Forget for a moment how much ridicule I would receive from my peers for choosing such a stupid name — that’s an even dumber name than “Newsletter Sender”.

Anyway, I wrote a simple little WinForms program last night (screenshots below) to help me send out the newsletter for the WI .NET Users Group.  (See how I decided on the name???)  In a nutshell it does a mail merge of some comma delimeted text datasource against an e-mail template.  “So what?”, you ask.  Yeah, I asked that, too, but it does make my newsletter sending a little easier.

Basic instructions (because there is no help file or tooltips):

  • Specify an SMTP mail server, and optional SMTP username and password.
  • Load a data file.  This can be any CSV formatted file, but there must be row headers.
  • Specify which field in the data file contains e-mail addresses.
  • Enter the “from” address.
  • Enter the message subject.
  • Enter the message body.
  • Specify a priority.
  • Click “Send”

The SMTP mail server, SMTP username, and from address can be stored in an XML file that gets created the first time you run the program (you have to edit it manually).  The subject and body can contain placeholders ({0}, {1}, etc.) that will be replaced with data from that column (note that this is zero-based index).

That’s basically it.

The ZIP download is available here.  Blah blah blah your own risk blah blah blah I’m not responsible blah blah blah.

Screenshots (also included in ZIP download)

The UI:

A Merged E-mail:

Cropper and TinyPic

By now you may have heard about Cropper by Brian Scott (I’ve even mentioned it before).  It’s a nifty screen capture utility that I originally found linked from Scott Hanselman’s Ultimate Tools list.  I’ve used it a few times, and it’s pretty cool.  You can optionally choose to create thumbnails of each screen capture.

Well, Patrick Altman is a self-proclaimed Cropper fan, and he has written a nice little plugin for it.  His plugin will take a standard Cropper screen capture in PNG format and upload it to TinyPic.  Then it places the URL of the image into the clipboard for easy pasting into blogs, etc.  You should try it!  (Note:  This image was added using this method.)

One important thing to note, though: Patrick’s plugin is compiled against a previous Cropper BETA.  I had to use Reflector to disassemble it and recompile it.  I didn’t have to change anything — just a recompile.  If you don’t want to go through that hassle (or don’t know how), send me a quick note and I’ll forward you my recompiled version.  I don’t want to post it here because it’s not my code to post, but until Patrick has a chance to update it, or tell me to stop, I’ll share.

I do also have a couple suggestions for Patrick (which I sent him via e-mail earlier today):

  1. Right now, if Cropper is configured to create a thumbnail image, that image does not get uploaded to TinyPic.  That would be a nice feature.
  2. Because I really love my clipboard, I have found that I might use the Cropper -> TinyPic option, and then copy some other text before I paste the TinyPic URL someplace meaningful.  So I have suggested that he consider some type of log file.

But don’t let those two things keep you from trying this out.  I know I’ll be using it for a while.

Update: Patrick Altman has e-mailed me and said that he doesn’t use this plugin anymore, and that he has no plans to update it.  He said that I should feel free to update my decompiled version and redistribute it.  Well, I don’t exactly have a lot of spare time right now myself (more on this later…), but now I feel comfortable posting my updated DLL.  So here it is.  It works with Cropper 1.6.  If anyone wants to make updates to it, knock yourself out — just let me know if you come up with something useful.  🙂

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