Productivity Essentials: SimplyFile 4


I’ve decided that I’m going to write several blogs on the tools that I find indispensable. you’re a programmer or a knowledge worker you likely get inundated with email. I use Microsoft Outlook (I think we all do), and while it has some organizational features… it needs help. In come the SimplyFile add in from Techhit.

We all likely get several emails per day, some we care about, some we don’t. Some we’ll care about later… the biggest challenge for me, is organizing them. I’ve gone back and forth between using folders and using categories (Look for the upcoming post on SimplyTag). SimplyFile will add a new section to your Outlook Ribbon (Displayed below) that will allow you to quickly file messages right from your inbox .

SimplyFile will learn over time and begin suggesting the folder to file in based your habits. It really excels at this… especially with those of us who have tons of folders in our inbox.

For a complete list of the features check out TechHit’s SimplyFile page. This small tool has saved me hours making it so easy to keep my inbox clean. SimplyFile is one of the first applications that I install on my computer because, to me, it is essential. The best thing that I could possibly say about the company is that they actually listen to feedback… I was on the beta of SimplyTag (Similar to SimplyFile, but uses categories instead of folders) and sent some feedback… the feature I asked for, was added and included in the initial release!

Ratings (1-5: 1=Poor, 5=Excellent)

Usefulness Price License Support Overall






Another reason why I love Bing!

Technorati Tags: ,,,

I was perusing around bing and came upon, what I consider to be a phenomenal feature. It’s called mall maps and if you navigate to a mall* from bing maps you will be presented with just about everything you would want to know about the stores, ATMs, exits, bathrooms, including multiple floors.


I took the liberty of checking to see how the same experience is handled on Google: 


I think it goes without saying… Bing wins!

*At the time of this writing only a preview set of malls in Seattle, Boston, and NY metro areas. As stated on the bing blog they will continue adding new malls regularly.

Cross posted from

Software Subscriptions: Updates versus Features… a rant.


One of the things that perplex me is the implementation of software subscriptions and how it relates to updates. The first thing that you need to keep in mind, especially if you are a software developer, is that product updates should be separated into two types: service packs and feature packs. Service packs will contain only fixes to existing code in the product; it will not introduce new features. New features that aren’t considered new major versions of the software should be distributed separately via a feature pack, essentially a plug-in that adds new features to the product.

The benefits of this kind of delivery model are plenty not the least of which is the fact that as a customer of the software I can deploy fixes to the software without introducing the new features which are likely to contain their own set of bugs. Where the lack of this model makes me angry is demonstrated in the following scenario:

On February 18th, 2009 you purchase a 1-year subscription to a product named hubu. The version of the software at the time of purchase is 1.35. Throughout the year you have received updates to the product including new features and bug fixes and you are generally happy. The last version of the software you were eligible for was 1.75. It is now March 1st, 2010 and the current version of the software is 1.87; there were significant fixes rolled out on February 21st 2010. Based on the most of the subscription models you aren’t eligible for the latest updates unless you renew your subscription (Which may or not be the same price as buying the entire product again).

Do you see the problem with this? The quality of the product you purchased is at the mercy of when the developer discovered, fixed, and released the update. I understand upgrade protection but this is more like extortion. Imagine if the same behavior existed in other industries, or even if Microsoft provided service packs along these lines.

I understand the desire to make money but I believe if a customer purchases v1.x of a product they should get ALL fixes for v1.x. If a subscription model is to be used it only makes sense for new features and functionality that are distributed separately (plug-ins) and it is those that you would be subscribing to.

Just my two cents.

cross posted from

Track website changes automatically with UpdatePatrol


One of the things that I find myself doing on a regular basis is checking the same sites over and over again. There are several reasons for this, the most common is that it is a software company and when they release a new build of their software… I want to know right away. The other big benefit is when I’m tracking a solution to a problem that is listed on a site. I’ve played with several utilities to do this for me and my favorite, by far, is UpdatePatrol by Bitberry Software. The software is extremely flexible, providing support for regular expressions, custom schedules, tray or email notifications. This is one of those tools that you find yourself using several times a day and sure beats using a browser manually.

Short List:

UpdatePatrol by Bitberry Software.

WebSite-Watcher by Aignesberger Software

Copernic Tracker by Copernic Inc.

Next Review: MissionKit 2010

cross posted from

Product Reviews coming soon…


I’ve been out of the mix lately with an avalanche of health issues… the latest of which is a pinched sciatic nerve. Never the less I will be putting up some reviews of some of the coolest applications, tools, and visual studio add-ins and here is a partial list of what is to come:


Altova MissionKit 2010

JetBRAINS Resharper 4.5 & 5.0

PreEmptive Solutions dotFuscator

DevExpress DXperience v2009

and more…

crossposted from

Altova’s XMLSpy 2009 Released


This week Altova released the latest version of its flagship product, XmlSpy. I’ve previously blogged about it being the de facto tool when it comes to working with XML tools. In my opinion the coolest new feature is the auto-completion of XPath expressions. xpath_autocompletion[1]Most of the more technical features are only available in the professional and enterprise versions of XmlSpy (Not included in the standard version). I’d recommend purchasing the MissionKit which bundles several of Altova’s products into an affordable and complete suite of XML and related tools. My suggestion hasn’t changed: if you work with XML, this product, and if possible the full MissionKit, is a must-have. Additional benefits of the suite include other products: StyleVision a graphical stylesheet designer, DiffDog an XML-aware diff merge tool for file, folder, and directory differencing, DatabaseSpy – multi-database tool, SQL editor, query tool, database design tool, and database table comparison tool, UModel – UML tool for software modeling and application development, MapForce – graphical data mapping, conversion, and integration tool, SchemaAgent – Graphical XML Schema, XSLT, and WSDL file management and modeling tool, and more.

WebGuide – Streaming TV, Remote Scheduling and Media Sharing for Windows Vista and Media Center


I’ve been looking for a solution for a long time to be able to watch DirecTV when I’m not at home. I’ve tried many things and all with different pros and cons. Having just discovered a free way to host a small little web server from home and still be able to change the channel and stream to any internet connected device; namely my phone and my work pc. It’s still rough around the edges mind you but a wonderful start.

I’d previously purchased the Hava Titanium HD device, which is a competitor to the Slingbox HD. The Hava has a bunch of really awesome features but its blocker, at least for me, is the inability to connect directly to home Hava device without going through their peer to peer server. Among it’s most notable features:

I’m hopeful that Hava, released by Monsoon Software will update and modify their software even more to enhance its usefulness.

Cross-Posted from

WebGuide – Streaming TV, Remote Scheduling and Media Sharing for Windows Vista and Media Center

Altova Xmlspy – the de facto XML tool of choice


When it comes time to work with XML the first company that comes to mind is Altova. The Missionkit suite is to XML what Visual Studio is to C#. At the core of this suite: the hands down (imho) best XML IDE Altova’s XMLSpy. I’ve been planning this blog entry for some time now and the reason that I kept putting it off was because I honestly didn’t know where to start. I was going to list my favorite features, one by one, but when I was organizing my thoughts I had a list and didn’t seem to end… So in order to to prevent this from becoming like one of Holden Caulfield’s rants I will cut this short and simply make this statement: If you are working with XML, in any facet, you should be using XmlSpy, if you’re not, your wasting time.

Cross-Posted from



A very useful web 2.0 application/service that allows you to mark pages you’ve surfed past to read at a later time. This way from your mobile device or as your browser’s home page you can read the detailed content of the original page right from the page.


By clicking on the text button it will load the content of the page without leaving’s site… in addition you can subscribe to your list using any RSS reader.

Cross-Posted from

Customizing the Command Prompt

Having a meaningful command prompt can be incredibly helpful when working on several machines, remote computers, and using different credentials. So I use the following command prompt on all of my machines… this allows me to easily know who and how I connected to a remote share when I’m using the command line interface (cli).

My Custom Command Prompt 


You can create your own using the syntax defined here and make it always the use your prompt be defining an autorun command or script for your command prompt for any user who uses this computer or for the current user only by replacing HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE with HKEY_CURRENT_USER:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Command Processor]
"AutoRun"="prompt %userdomain%\\%username%$son$s%COMPUTERNAME%$s@$s$t$_[$p]$s$m$_$g$s"

You can save the text above into a text file and save it with the .reg extension and then you can apply it by double clicking on the file. Tags: ,, |
Technorati Tags: ,,
Cross Posted from

Skip to toolbar