Monday, December 15, 2008

A Mobile Wikipedia

I missed completely this, but Wikipedia officially launched a mobile version, at

For me this is a great news, as the “standard” Wikipedia interface is difficult to handle on a mobile device, even with a good browser as SkyFire is (non-us residents read this). And I often look for info on Wikipedia, both english an italian versions, on my mobile device.

Tried it, and it’s good: fast and well-organized, all internal links point to “mobilized” versions of the pages, I like this.

Friend Connect here on Indialimaalpha

I added the friend connect gadget on this Blogger blog.

It was (obviously) easy: as Blogger is a Google platform, I did not have to upload any file on the hoster site, I simply had to fill up a form and copy the (customized) gadget html snippet on this page, using the standard tools offered.

So… let’s see how this FriendConnect works!



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Twitter: not only "What are you doing?"…

I’m amazed at seeing the tons of tweets that are flowing right now regarding the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

You can follow this flow using for example the service, here for the #mumbai tag: – but you can search other similar services on the web, that use Twitter as a source, filtering tweets with different technologies and scopes.

As you will see, and as you will see in any other similar occasion, the tweets that users are writing are very focused on giving other people real time news, and exchanging practical information: now I’m reading the phone number that you can try if you want to donate blood in Mumbai, to help the injured, but this is only an example.

This is a characteristic of Twitter that always surprises me.

On Twitter you have a list of “followers” and you “follow” other people. Normally the choice on who you’re going to follow is based on common interests, other times you decide to follow someone because in some tweets you see that one of your direct contacts are quoting some interesting tweets of other users that you go and follow directly… in this way the community network is linked in a previously unpredictable way, and the synapses create paths that permit an information flow that’s really new, and amazing.

I’m very happy to be a Twitter user, in this kind of situations. 

BTW, I’m

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Windows Mobile: Messaging not working, a solution

Sometimes in WM5 (but also in WM6, I’m sure) the messaging system stops working. You cannot even open the inbox, or send an SMS, nothing.

If you find yourself in this situation… try this:

- open your storage card file system
- look for a folder named Inbox.mst12345678 (the number here may change) 
- delete it and reboot your device.

This should work, hope this helps!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Shutdown! Now!!!

Sometimes I need to do a shutdown on computers thru command-line, and every time I need to look for the correct parameters list. So I decided today to write here some hints.

The command needed to force a restart on a windows vista computer is:

shutdown /t 0 /f /r

Btw you can force a shutdown or restart also on remote computers, and in this case the command is

shutdown /t 0 /f /r /m \\computername

I noticed that depending on the OS version you will be using “-“ instead of “/” to prefix commands. So for example on Win Server 2000 you could be using:

shutdown -t 0 -f -r

And finally here’s a complete parameters list:

Usage: shutdown [/i | /l | /s | /r | /g | /a | /p | /h | /e] [/f]
    [/m \\computer][/t xxx][/d [p|u:]xx:yy [/c "comment"]]

    No args    Display help. This is the same as typing /?.
    /?         Display help. This is the same as not typing any options.
    /i         Display the graphical user interface (GUI).
               This must be the first option.
    /l         Log off. This cannot be used with /m or /d options.
    /s         Shutdown the computer.
    /r         Shutdown and restart the computer.
    /g         Shutdown and restart the computer. After the system is
               rebooted, restart any registered applications.
    /a         Abort a system shutdown.
               This can only be used during the time-out period.
    /p         Turn off the local computer with no time-out or warning.
               Can be used with /d and /f options.
    /h         Hibernate the local computer.
               Can be used with the /f option.
    /e         Document the reason for an unexpected shutdown of a computer.
    /m \\computer Specify the target computer.
    /t xxx     Set the time-out period before shutdown to xxx seconds.
               The valid range is 0-600, with a default of 30.
               Using /t xxx implies the /f option.
    /c "comment" Comment on the reason for the restart or shutdown.
               Maximum of 512 characters allowed.
    /f         Force running applications to close without forewarning users.
               /f is automatically set when used in conjunction with /t xxx.
    /d [p|u:]xx:yy  Provide the reason for the restart or shutdown.
               p indicates that the restart or shutdown is planned.
               u indicates that the reason is user defined.
                 if neither p nor u is specified the restart or shutdown is unplanned.
               xx is the major reason number (positive integer less than 256).
               yy is the minor reason number (positive integer less than 65536).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Accessing web services from swf – never use virtual directories

Today I learned something, as usual the hard way :-(

We were deploying a “dynamic banner” developed in flash, and we were already late: this banner is going to access a web service (that we developed, .Net 2.0, Sql server-based) every time is loaded in a web page.

Now, to keep things easy, I decided to deploy the web service in a virtual directory in the production servers, such avoiding the need of updating DNS etc etc (the domain is maintained elsewhere, we are only host for this initiative).

Then when we switched in the production environment, the banner loaded from other domains… simply did not call anything but the web service WSDL.

After one “panic hour” without understanding where the problem was, and modifying in every known way the crossdomain.xml file, it came to my mind that maybe the problem was the virtual directory.

We moved as fast as possible everything in a new domain by itself and – MAGIC – now everything works.

So when dealing with swf that need to access server resources – never use virtual directories!!!


Monday, September 08, 2008

Networking and Volume Icons in notification area

Sometimes, for reasons that are obscure to me, the networking and volume icons in the notification area disappear, and there is no way to have them back, as the corresponding check boxes in the Notification Area panel are greyed out and not clickable. Note, I’m running Windows Vista Business edition, do not know if this solution applies to all Vista flavours.

There are different ways to solve this, through Policy editing, or through registry hacking.

I prefer the registry way, it’s simpler and faster: you only have to be careful.

The solution is simply to remove the registry keys named

- HideSCAVolume

- HideSCANetwork



Hope this helps!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the last weeks I found myself completely immersed in a new site in a way that didn’t happen to me in a very long time. And the site is about… development, computer languages, bugs, hints, programming. Wow.

This site is – I am one of the very lucky beta tester, and I cannot be happier: the site is interesting, addicting, you learn a lot of things and you can ask for help to an audience of experts.

The thing comes from a couple of very interesting guys: Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. This is in itself a guarantee of high-level content, and it’s true. If you’re curious, go here and browse a little, and listen to the podcasts.

In just few days I solved a couple of problems of mine, but the very interesting thing is what I learned, and what I decided to study, because of some answers I read, that stimulated my own curiosity. Down below you can have a look to the very last answers posted since 10 minutes ago.

A boost. A site in which you can learn and share your learning with other people. A place to go when google search didn’t bring you to the solution.

A place in which I’m wasting a huge lot of time… :-)


Friday, August 15, 2008

Top 50 – SQL

Some time ago I had to select the users from a table that reached the first 50 scores in a particular game. Not 50 users, but the users that made the first top 50 scores. Here’s my solution, for my future memory :-)

DECLARE @minscore int
    (userid INT PRIMARY KEY,
     score int)

INSERT INTO #top50 (userid, score)
    SELECT top 50 userid, TotalScore 
    FROM UserList 
    order by TotalScore desc

select @minscore = min(score) from #top50

delete from #top50 where score = @minscore

INSERT INTO #top50 (userid, score)
    SELECT userid, TotalScore 
    FROM UserList where TotalScore = @minscore

select * from UserList 
    where userid in (select userid from #top50)
    order by TotalScore desc

Hope this helps


EDIT: what about a simple one like

select userid, TotalScore
from UserList
where TotalScore in
(select distinct top 50 TotalScore from UserList order by TotalScore desc)

uff... :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Windows Mobile Notification Queue problems…

Just a quick note to record this link:

ScaryBear software offers (for free!!!) a couple of utilities to get rid of the recurring and annoying problems with notifications queue.

A couple of days ago I was working with my WM5-powered device, and an alarm came up. Clicking here and there and I manage to have a sort of "eternal alarm and I had no chance to remove it. Grumpf.

So I turned off the noisy phone and went googling around, and scary bear solution worked.

Be careful: they do not guarantee that their software will work on anything newer than Pocket Pc 2003; on the other hand on my windows mobile 5 phone it worked.

I Smell Alarm

Friday, July 04, 2008

last things i’m trying

Let’s see, what are my main addictions lately? I have to make choices here, as I’m one of those guys that sign on almost everything… :-) I’ll choose only a couple of tools, and talk about the last one registered.

First of all Twitter – yes, ok, I know everybody is upset with all the dontime and everything, but I really like it and find it useful.

Then: I’m using Evernote, and I think that it is a really great app. It has clients on web (ok, obvious), Windows desktop, and Windows Mobile. And this mix of supported platforms is perfect for me :-)

Latest thing: today I read a tweet about this Scoutle thing, and I decided to give it a try: as you can see here on the right column, i have my scoutle Badge… let’s see if it works!!!

and now… back to my last working day, tomorrow sardegna for two weeks!!! I’ll stay here, and be back @ work on july 23. Bye!!!

p.s.: the photo here is taken on the beach of the camping I’ll stay in from tomorrow :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

i-mate k-jam reset and reinstall

Today I decided to reset completely my K-Jam, and reinstall everything.

First of all: how to reset to the "factory" settings? Well, this is the procedure: while holding the Comm manager button and the Voice Command button, push in on the soft reset button (reset hole) once. Keep holding the Comm Manager and Voice Command buttons until there is a screen asking you if you want to clear all data. To commit, press the green send key.

So now I have in my hands an "empty" k-jam... really fast, I have to say, but almost useless: no mail, no apps, nothing installed.

Ok. After the first minimal setup I went on connecting the device to my pc (running Vista). The Mobile device center shows up, and from there I configure syncing of email, contacts, agenda.

First stop: my OWA connection requires a certificate, so before I can sync I have to install the certificate on the mobile device. Ok, I go thru file system and copy the certificate somewhere, then open it on the k-jam (to install it) and ok, now I can sync mail and everything...

Now I'd like to low-level format my storage card (2Gb) because in it I have some folders and file swith funky names that WM isn't able to delete. And before I reistall al my stuff I want to clean up everything. I decided to install and use StorageTools for WM5, 100kb, from here:

From now on I simply reinstall my list of "preferred" software. Time needed for all this, around 2 hours.

springtime in progress

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Service Control (sc.exe)

Today I had to remove a Windows service I'm writing from my Vista pc. I hoped that uninstalling it would be enough, bit no, the service was still there showing up in services.msc console.

So googling around I found that this can be easily done using a little known (or so I think) utility named sc.exe (sc is for Service Control, resides on System32 folder).

It has many flags and functions, but to go straight to my needs, to remove a service simply type at a command prompt (run it with "elevation", i.e. "as Administrator"):

sc.exe delete NameOfTheService

That's all. But try to run sc.exe with no parameters to have an idea of the many functionalities of the utility.


Discarded Stop

Monday, April 28, 2008

on Google "time-limited" searches

Maybe you already know about this, I discovered this only today (thanks Claudio).

Try this: go to, perform a search, then in the address bar add to the querystring the following:


you will obtain the same page, but with a new dropdown list right before the "Search" button. With this, you have the chance to restrict the time span of your query!

For example, you can have Google return results only from the last past week!!!

Now this is a great idea, for some kind of searches. 

How to capture the time

Friday, April 18, 2008

A couple of Sql Server (useful) things

1) Changing sa password

A couple of days ago I discovered with horror that I forgot my "sa" password, on my sql 2005 local instance.

To solve this, googling around I found this couple of methods:


ALTER LOGIN [sa] WITH PASSWORD=N'new_password'

or from a command prompt

    OSQL -S <server_name> -E
    1> EXEC sp_password NULL, 'new_password', 'sa'
    2> GO

2) Transact sql Split function

I needed a split function, and I fpound this good forum discussion exactly on this topic:

I used this one:

@RowData nvarchar(2000),
@SplitOn nvarchar(5)

RETURNS @RtnValue table
Id int identity(1,1),
Data nvarchar(100)
Declare @Cnt int
Set @Cnt = 1

While (Charindex(@SplitOn,@RowData)>0)
  Insert Into @RtnValue (data)
   Data = ltrim(rtrim(Substring(@RowData,1,Charindex(@SplitOn,@RowData)-1)))

  Set @RowData = Substring(@RowData,Charindex(@SplitOn,@RowData)+1,len(@RowData))
  Set @Cnt = @Cnt + 1
Insert Into @RtnValue (data)
Select Data = ltrim(rtrim(@RowData))


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Xobni, usage impressions

After some days after the first setup, I can report some impressions on this Xobni plugin (

First of all after the setup process Xobni took some time to initializa, but given my huge mailbox this time has been ridicolously short. A fake? No... Actually Xobni started working immediately, with no glitches.

I have to say that this piece of software is really well designed, and given its speed (awesome) also the code must be great code. Great quality.

In the Outlook interface Xobni lives as a single new sidebar, and everything happens in there. This is a completely different choice from (for example) ClearContext. Actually the functionality of Xobni and CliaerContext are different, so given this, both choices are correct.

What I like most in Xobni? Search, for start. Fast (really fast) and complete. Then the information visualization, that collects in a very little space a lot of very well organized information extracted from my mailbox, contact list, and attachment collection. Please go here and take a tour of the screenshots.

But also "people navigation", or email analytics, or the threaded conversations are good ideas!

So as you maybe understood... I really like Xobni !!! :-)


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Xobni - installed right now...

I just installed the Xobni Outlook plugin, that's now in public beta.

The Xobni claim is about "email happiness", and if it works like the video demonstrations say it will be actually a good product.

It works as a sidebar, every new functionality is there in the Xobni sidebar; a different approach from ClearContext, for example, that integrates its services in the standard Outlook menus and windows.

Just installed, let's see how it works... and let's see if ClearContext AND Xobni can live together!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

pBar, task manager, freeware

I'm trying this pBar task manager/switcher.

This is very good, I'm replacing the "Magic Button" task switcher I was using (I'm going to update my preferred windows mobile apps list).

What I like on this pBar? Weel, for exmple the possibility to have all the task managing functions AND a list of preferred shortcuts AND a list of common functions AND the chance to have both the battery level and curtrent time shown in the top right icon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My windows mobile 5 device apps list

Last week I had to reinstall everything from scratch on my k-jam, and this time I decided to write the list of apps that I reinstalled immediately, without any question.

Most of them are good freeware apps, with some exceptions. Maybe this list will be of some help for some. Here we go with the list (in no particular order):

cLaunch - - Configurable application launcher. Very good, I tried other choices but then I came back to this one. I briefly posted on it also here... Freeware.

pBar - - a very good freeware Task Manager, replacing Magic Button (described just below).

Magic Button - - Task Manager. A stable and fast app, small memory footprint. Really useful. Freeware. Replaced by pBar, but still worth a mention!

LVMTime - - today plugin and configurable clock app. I use this clock aplication for many reasons, the main one is that it offer a NNTP synchronization that works. Good, many configuration options. Freeware.

pRSSReader - - RSS reader. I tried many rss reader apps, but in the end I switched to this one, I think it's the best one in the freeware world.

Pocket Informant - - I wrote some time ago about this personal time manager app, that I find really good. And I still have to upgrade to the very last release (I still use P.I.2007). This is PayWare.

S2U2 - - "Slide To Unlock 2" is a freeware lock/unlock app that will show on the screen also the current time and date, the next agenda appointment, some icons showing the number of unread mail messages, not completed tasks, sms, missed calls... the background can be customized, and there are a lot of settings you can modify. Quite stable in the last release (I'm running 0.99c). Freeware.

PocketCM - - in this post I already wrote about this contact manager; this app now has completely replaced the standard WM5 contact manager on my device. Freeware, fast, stable, very good. 

PHM Registry Editor - - what can I say on this: it works. And well. Freeware.

ClearTemp - - a must have, it's a very good utility to clear temporary files (from many applications) in you device. Freeware.

Palringo - - I use a lot Instant Messaging services, and from different accounts: Microsoft Live, GTalk, ICQ, Yahoo!. So I need a single app that will connect me to all these networks. Here you have more choices, but in this moment I'm using and appreciating Palringo, for it's fast and reliable. I use it only for instant text messages. Freeware.

Total Commander - - Pocket windows explorer replacement. I think many people knows about this, I use it a lot. Fast, a lot of services offered. Freeware.

Then there are some other tools I use, like the Calilei Calculator, or Keepass for storing passwords, or OneNote Mobile for taking notes that activesync will synchronize with my work PC, and others... but the most important choices are those I listed.

Hope this helps!

Monday, January 21, 2008, impression of usage

Ok, using a "non-standard" method I managed to access

Today I browsed the titles for a while, then I decided to watch a Simpsons episode, exactly "E. Pluribus Wiggum", season 19, episode 10 (wow it's almost 20 years of Simpson's broadcast!) and an excerpt from a '76 Saturday Night Live... with Chevy Chase an John Belushi (I really like those old SNL clips, they're great!)

Well, the viewing experience is good, I have to say - only some glitch here and there in the few starting seconds, but I immedialtely learned that after a reposition at the start, then the playing is smooth and continuous.

In the longer clips you will find some ads, and you can "see when" they will arrive thanks to some marker in the timeline indicator. During these ad shorts you cannot skip forward or pause... but hey, that's fine for me :-). A curiosity: the Viewing applet has this ""lower light" function, that is a little but helpful function: it will darken (but not completely) everything in the browser window except the viewing area. Good idea.

I plan to access more content on Hulu asap, but in my opinion it's a really good service. Thanks, Hulu!!!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Survival: Sql Server, change ownership on stored procedures

Some time ago I wrote about a couple of methods to grant execution permission on stored procedures, on Sql Server 2000.

Now I had to write something similar, but the scope was to change ownership of the objects; after some googling I found this page on that lists a good way to do the job... but I modified slightly the code from MS, because I needed the possibility to decide to actually execute the commands or simply print them.

So I added a simple parameter (the third), datatype bit, default 0 (false). When set to 1 (true) will cause the execution of the commands.

Here's the code:

CREATE PROCEDURE [dbo].[chObjOwner]( @usrName varchar(20), @newUsrName varchar(50), @exec bit = 0)
-- @usrName is the current user
-- @newUsrName is the new user

set nocount on
declare @uid int                   -- UID of the user
declare @objName varchar(50)       -- Object name owned by user
declare @currObjName varchar(50)   -- Checks for existing object owned by new user
declare @outStr nvarchar(256)       -- SQL command with 'sp_changeobjectowner'
set @uid = user_id(@usrName)

declare chObjOwnerCur cursor static
select name from sysobjects
where 1=1
AND uid = @uid
AND xtype in ( 'P', 'U', 'V')
and name <> 'chObjOwner'
-- category: zero is valid for Stored Procedures... but not for tables
-- and category = 0

open chObjOwnerCur
if @@cursor_rows = 0
  print 'Error: No objects owned by ' + @usrName
  close chObjOwnerCur
  deallocate chObjOwnerCur
  return 1

fetch next from chObjOwnerCur into @objName

while @@fetch_status = 0
  set @currObjName = @newUsrName + '.' + @objName
  if (object_id(@currObjName) > 0)
    print 'WARNING *** ' + @currObjName + ' already exists ***'
  set @outStr = 'sp_changeobjectowner ''' + @usrName + '.' + @objName + ''',''' + @newUsrName + ''''
  print @outStr
  IF @exec = 1
    execute sp_executesql @outStr
  --print 'go'
  fetch next from chObjOwnerCur into @objName

close chObjOwnerCur
deallocate chObjOwnerCur
set nocount off
return 0

La Castro Taqueria is changing to Kasa Indian Eatery, it seems.

Monday, January 14, 2008

KeySwop and soft keys remapping

In a recent post, I showed how to modify the registry in order to change the left soft key standard assignment.

...and today I discover that there are some utilities, even freeware ones, that help you in this, so removing the need of manually change registry keys. For example, you can use KeySwop, a simple yet complete tool to remap soft keys from yourself!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

hulu - now I can reach it, thanks to AnchorFree

I installed AnchorFree Hotspot Shield, and thru this new VPN (ad supported) now I can access all the HULU content (but as far as I know also Pandora or any other service blocked to non-US people).

So now I'm looking at one Simpsons episode, and I just browsed some Saturday Night Live episodes... is great!!!

If you also want to try the Anchor Free app, please go here. And happy navigation :-)


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

PocketCM, a very good contact manager for Windows Mobile

I installed yesterday PocketCM, a freeware contact manager that you can find here.

And I have a really good impression on this, even if the release number is "0.18" - very low, but it doesn't correspond to the stability of the app, that is really good. It could easily win a place in my list of "never without" apps!

The interface is realized to allow for a "finger" use, and it works. The screenshots on the site do not show all the smooth transitions (scrolling, moving from a function to the other, and so on) that give a really good feeling. 

It's fast, and way better than the standard contact manager, at least if you compare to the WM5 one.

On the same site you can download a keyboard app replacement, that will be useful if you want to use the keyboard with your fingers. I installed also this one, but I have to say that it's a bit slow in starting; then it works, and offers some interesting functionalities; go to the site page to understand its use.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Windows Mobile 5 - Left Soft Key and PocketInformant

Just because I needed it and it's not so easy to find... If you need to remap the left soft key in Windows Mobile (the standard link is to "Calendar", \Windows\Calendar.exe) you have to modify the registry key:


There you have two string keys, Default and Open. Default contains the String you want to display in the menu, Open contains the path to the app you need to use for that.

For example I lost my PocketInformant Calendar link (due to the setup of another app that overwrote that voice) and I restored to my previous situation writing in the "Open" key the following:

Programmi\WebIS\PocketInformant\PITab.exe" 11

Blue Keys

Friday, January 04, 2008

Outlook 2007 (was) painfully slow!!!

I hope I managed to solve this issue, that was causing me a lot of trouble and of wasted time.

What I was experiencing: from a certain date on OL2007 was really slow in opening, then in updating headers, then it hanged for seconds while I( was composing new messages, then... in a word it was going to be completely un-usable.

After googling and discussing for days, trying different ways, that went from disabling RSS feeds to checking out encryption in transmission between OL and Exchange, finally I understood that my real problem was... the mailbox size. And the corresponding OST file size on my hard disk.

What i understand is that in OL2007 MS changed the underlying data structure of PST and PST files, in a way that requires a lot of disk access when the file size is big. So the solution for me has been "simply" to split my OST archiving some hundreds of messages in a new .pst file.

I think that I need some more archiving work, to really solve the issue; but even now OL reacts much better than before.

hope this helps... :-)

Butt Out