Andrej Tozon's blog

In the Attic


My new virtual pal

... I added Encarta® Instant Answers <> to my MSN contact list today. It's very smart and always willing to talk to you. It can tell you pretty much about anything. Just ask, when Napoleon was born or how big is Mexico. Ask it to do some math ("solve 2x^2+7x=5", "add 1 and 1")... It also has a sense of humor:

Andrej says: how are you?
Encarta® Instant Answers says: I'm doing great. You?
Andrej says: super
Encarta® Instant Answers says: Super, huh? OK, good.
Andrej says: how are you?
Encarta® Instant Answers says: I'm doing well.
Andrej says: how are you?
Encarta® Instant Answers says: I'm doing great. OK, should we get back to the kind of questions I was designed to answer? :) I'm sure you've heard about Uzbekistan... but do you know where it is? Just ask me and I'll show it to you on a map.

... ;)

Now seriously... this automated service agents are great, and because they live inside your IM client, they are always at hand when you need help with something. Until now, I used Google for my "define"s and "calculate"s, but now, Encarta agent is my new best schoolmate.

Imagine this kind of an agent as your 24/7 online product support technician. Users don't want to read through dull help files, they want to interact with a kind, supportive "person". And it shouldn't be difficult to program: add some human relation skills to your search engine, and you'll get a new, invaluable member of your team ;)

I want my MSDN agent! I'd ask it questions like "what is StringBuilder?",  "list XmlReader members", "tell me more about generics", "show me ExecuteNonQuery examples". We'd have so much fun together...



[Found Encarta agent through Chris Sells]

JetBrains Omea Reader

I've recently replaced my existing RSS feed reader with JetBrains Omea Reader 2.0, which offers everything I need while working with my feeds: categorization, aggregation, comment support, efficient search and custom views (search folders). It's fast, can read newsgroups, and you get a free license! Certainly worth a look.

Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite RC

New month, new release... I kept installing all to-date VS2005 Beta/CTPs on a fresh VPC, which costed me some extra time to set up the whole working environment. So, with the latest RC I decided to reuse the August CTP VPC, which I successfully cleaned using the latest version of VS2005 Beta uninstall tool. The process was quick and painless. As for the RC... VS appears to run a bit faster, but I haven't had time to check it out quite yet, since some control incompatibility issues keep me working on the July CTP :(

VS2005 RC was one of the many new tools/technologies presented on this year's PDC, including Atlas, Linq, C# 3.0, VB 9.0, Office 12, VSTA 2005, SQL2005 (VS2005 RC is compatible with SQL2005 Sept. CTP!), and my long time wish, which is now coming true. Busy week.

IM Madness

I installed not one, but two IM clients today. The first was MSN Messenger upgrade (7.5). Nothing radical here. Then I tried freshly baked Google Talk... Installation went smoothly and while installing, it detected existing installation of Gmail Notifier, unistalled it and replaced with new Google Talk client, also able to check my gmail. A fair trade... :)

Like the name suggests, Google Talk looks as it's primarily meant for voice conversation, although chatting works well too. Not much fancy stuff, basic iconography, but smileys are recognized and there are some neat text tricks like *emphasizing* text. The one thing that bugs me is the need to build another contact list. I'm using MSN Messenger, Skype, and now Google Talk, each with separate contact list. Also, currently Google Talk requires gmail account to use it, but that's going to change. All in all, a nice start.

On a side note: congratulations to Peter, for winning the C9 contest with this Outlook 2003 plugin! Way to go, man!

Few Friday links, Beta Wave ahead...

If you happened to miss any of these...

VS 2005 July CTP

I've been working with Visual Studio 2005 intensively for over a month now and one thing that annoyed me most was this bug, which caused certain keys to stop responding in VS IDE. It first happened during my VSTO presentation on NTK and its been haunting me ever since.
I downloaded and installed July CTP a few days back and after experimenting with it a bit, I decided to go with it completely. Keys dont seem to freeze anymore, IDE looks more responsive, there are a few new settings and some cosmetic changes (like tabs).
VS installation, however, indicated that SQL Server Express did not install correctly, but looks like its working anyway.
On top of all, WSE 3.0 July CTP, which goes along with VS2005 July CTP, was also released yesterday.
Busy summer

On a side note VS 2005 Beta 2 VPC image is also available for MSDN subscribers. Yes, the whole shebang (Windows 2003, Office 2003, VS 2005 Beta 2, SQL Server 2005 CTP) already installed and ready to use.

news:// in the Outlook Express

Wow, so long time and no posts…

Anyway, this one took me quite some time to figure it out: I use Outlook Express as a newsgroup reader and I was used to starting it by simply typing news:// in the command prompt. I don’t know, I’m just more of a keyboard guy and I liked this shortcut; I don’t really use desktop icons and, if possible, start Word by typing winword.exe.
So, invoking OE from the command prompt worked fine for me, until I installed XP SP2 on my machine. From that moment on, OE just wouldn’t  show me newsgroup posts anymore. All the newsgroups were there, the posts were retrieving from the server successfully, except when I clicked on one to see the whole post, this app just moved the selection focus to the newsgroup name again. Weird. I knew this was somehow connected to the security enhancement features of SP2, but I just couldn’t find any information about this issue anywhere on the net. Maybe because this wasn’t really an issue. After a month or two, I asked myself a question: how many people starts their OE the way I do? And I went and finally started it “the proper way” – by Start menu. Woohoo, works.

Google Desktop Search

Wow! When I installed Lookout a couple of months ago I thought it was great having all of my emails indexed for instant access. And now comes this great tool from Google. First, it installs as its own web server running on port 4664. After that, it indexes some of your office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Email (Outlook, Outlook Express), temporary internet pages and AOL IM conversations. It even integrates into your common Google search page ( by adding the Desktop option on the page and including your desktop hits among the web results. Searching speed is just amazing. Very useful also for searching for the files you know you once downloaded from the web but cant remember which folder you have put them in :) As this is a beta product, I am sure they will add indexing support for even more file types in the future. Cant wait.

Other news Im excited about: Looks like Visual Studio 2005 is going to support C# Edit and Continue feature after all. Yes!