Silicon Valley says: Do what Cognifide does!

There is a really heartwarming article (if you’re from Poland) on Silicon Valley Watcher about the skills of Polish engineers, the low turnover and the general satisfaction from Polish employees by international companies something that UK as a country discovered and Cognifide in particular have noticed quite a while ago.

And I really can fully relate to that, I would bet any money to stand the competency of any person in my crew against any of the top professionals out there. It definitely is a good time to be in the IT business in here. A small excerpt – worth noting:

Common cultural ties

Polish engineers are also very familiar with Western culture. Common cultural understanding is very important for any company. Poland is now part of the European Union, which gives US firms great access to huge markets, and rapidly developing markets in Poland and in Eastern Europe.

Quality not price

Mr Slawek pointed out that Polish engineers are not chosen because they are cheaper, companies choose them because of the quality of their work. And Polish teams are very good at thinking on their feet, as is shown by their numerous accomplishments in programming competitions, which are won by quickly finding solutions to complex problems.

Posted in Lifestyle, Software, Software Development
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The Wiki Family

Writing user documents for our company, I ‘ve been using our corporate wiki a lot recently.

Confluence is incredible. I can honestly say I’ve not been impressed by a piece of software to that degree for quite a while.

I really like how it provides me with the possibility for creating small pages like “format specifications” and “installation info” which I can then assemble into e.g. “User’s manual” simple and seamless:


It’s so neat, it’s actually a pleasure to work with it. Need a document to provide to your customer? No problem – it will create a PDF file from that page so that the customer can even print it out conveniently. Bliss…

So I’ve decided that I want to get a wiki for myself. I want to create a wiki with some of my code sippets for the everyday use, some small text handling utility classes, simple solutions, with some coding standards for myself to use, and for my family… to be able to share the family annual stuff like birthdays or important dates, phones, addresses, some basic photos, some experiences and some simple facts, like which pizzerias we consider good, where do we plan to perform our next family meeting and so on and so forth. Accessible for all of us online.

The hosting provider however does not allow me for shell access and java, so Confluence is out of the question (it has a free private license for 2 users which would otherwise be just fine).

I’ve asked around and it looked like mediaWiki might be the answer, so our MediaWiki seems to be up and running. I am not sure though if it’s just me being a noob, but the administering of it seems to be a major pain in the rare. Need permissions changed? Edit php. Add new user without enabling public access to the wiki? looks like you’re facing the the grief of dealing with myPHPAdmin.

And the editing support is almost as good as notepad… *sigh*. There is no way my dad is going to use it in its current state. We’re definitely in need of some nicer theme for it that won’t leave him running form it, screaming. Perhaps I can equip it with some plugins as well to make it bareable?

Short of that, I think I’m still in the market for another wiki engine.

I’ve also setup TikiWiki for testing, although it seems a bit overwhelming for a casual user. I’ll see about customizing it for the family.

I’ll also be looking at Twiki in the following days.

I’m sure soon enough the kids or at least Martuska will want to have access to it. Boy, would it be nice to have a global family wikipedia, or what!?

There seems to be a plethorea of them to the degree that there are sites and huge matrices comparing them point by point.

Wikipedia comparison
WikiMatrix comparing some of the wikis I’m considering

[update 27-01-2007]
I think I’ll settle with media wiki after all. It’s really tedious to administer, but I can handle it. While tiki seems a bit too complicated and I think the family could have had troubles using it.

Posted in Lifestyle, Rants, Software, Web applications
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Skype GeoLocation Tool

Download source files – 103 Kb
Download the Skype Geo Location tool – 52 Kb

Application GUI


It’s a real joy to work in a international company, the problem we face are hardly ever matched by some locally based endeavours…

As some of our friends here at work, you may choose to reveal your current location to your skype buddies. This is nice and easy since you can just put it in your name or description and everyone will see where you are.This poses a problem should you really travel frequently, it is more likely than not, that your location tag will be out of sync.

As this is a something that happens for them once in a while I found it an interesting concept, fun enough to be worth solving it :)

So how does one establish his location? Short of installing a GPS on your machine, I would suggest checking your IP address and translating it based on one of the available databases.

The thought process goes as follows… [Read about the technical guts of the application in my article at Code Project]

The Convergence – The Application

The application helps you maintain your location tag in your name so that whenever you travel to a different town your skype name/description will reflect it.

Disclaimer: The application uses GeoIPTool as its source of IP and geo-location. Visit GeoIPTool for a wide variety of web based geo-location tools.

It does not contain either any kind of tracking abilities other than it letting you to maintain your location tag. The application will not even change your location tag by itself but rather it will notify you that your location has changed and will allow you to change your tag with a simple press of a button.

In your skype account set your name or description so that it has [] in it or press “Add location tab to…” in the application. Whenever the application will find those it will check if the text in the parenthesis matches your current location., if it does not it will suggest a new one and will highlight the relevant field red. You may set for this operation to be performed on every boot, you will however only be notified when/if your location actually changed.

Posted in .Net Framework, C#, Downloadable, Lifestyle, Software, Software Development, Web applications
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New week, new toy

I’ve just found this cool app that allows you to post to blogs, including our own one.

go ahead and try it! I’m writing this article in it! As cool as WordPress is, it’s writing editor sucks. I don’t tend to write often, but when I start, my articles usually take more than a page and if in the process I accidentally press the shortcut for the browser go-back… I’m crying! I also wonder if you’ve ran into the 1000 miles long line bug in the WordPress editor? It seems to sometimes make all spaces in the line non breakable, there is a solution to this, which is to press enter and then go back to the line again and delete and re-insert all the spaces again… which makes me cry some more! I am also just not a big fan of Web interfaces for something so interactive as creating documents or calculations (hint, hint Google). I think Web is more suited for presentation whereas desktop is for creation.

It has a spell checker and all the cool stuff the app that I’m writing has, and it’s free. It’s in beta but seems to work pretty well so far.

As a side note… It’s written in .Net, which is soooo… expected (but nice).

ok so if you want to use it in our blog use this:

as your blog URL, naturally, replace adam with your blog name, fill in the user name and password and enjoy!

Last final test – let’s see how does it deal with images from disk…

(c) Mother Goose and Grimm by MIKE PETERS

Posted in Blogging, Lifestyle, Software, Web applications
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Is everything going to web based?

Yeah… Mr. Obvious, am I not?

Check out this web Word processor. Neat toy… not sure why would I use it but still…

One of the gazillion Google web apps.

Let me remain sceptic – editing belongs to desktop if you asked me.

Posted in Blogging, Software, Web applications
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Let me start by digressing… I’ve got this Desktop Sidebar installed (wich by the way seems to be one of those viral softwares since a lot of people in the team started using it upon looking at my screen) and on the daily comic roll I’ve got the Mother Goose & Grim displayed in it among others. And looking at todays comic made me roll on the floor laughing (not that it does not usually do it anyway) since I realized that I can totally relate to it in the sense how I feel when I log on to my computer at home.

Let me elaborate. I am someone that you could generally put in a drawer with a sticker “early adopter” attached to it. Being one and wanting to be able to write software for it and test my old wares, I signed up as a beta tester for the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista uperating system. Overall it’s been a really good experience with an examption of a few bugs that are inevitable for a beta, but as one of my friends say “Nothing on earth forces you to run beta software, for it may end up on the bleeding edge” so I’ll just ignore those.

The things that really is annoying there is not what is there by mistake, it’s what has been put there intentionally.

So this is basically how you will feel on Vista after the first 15 minutes…

Vista security?

The system goes out of its way to make your life miserable whenever you actually try to do anything other than write a mail or browse web a bit.

Whenever you run any installer, whenever you want to delete anything from desktop, or even purge your recycle bin, the screen goes dark and it pops up an administrative allert from User Account Protection allerting that there might be a problem. Riiiight… Fortunately you can disable that in msconfig.

Similarly if you want to enter “Documents and Files” folder, you will hit a wall on anything but the lowest level. Fortunately you can take ownership and take the control back.

“Program Files” folder virtualization is particularly interesting stuff. Aparently there is action going behind the scenes whenever a program wants to save anything to its folder in “Program Files” after it’s been installed. If you installed a 2P2 app that downloads to its folder, good luck finding the files after you’ve downloaded anything… the folder is buried within a new structure of folders. Aparently there is a new fiolder called “UserData” or something similar in the main folder on your %SystemDrive% (usually C:\), deep within the belly of that monster there is a Virtual folder that contains your precious new mp3 files you’ve just downloaded.

Registry Virtualization was particularly annoying to me since some of my apps set registry Associations for some file types, and guess what? No love for me. The app can save it, sure, but it will get fed its own little chunk of registry that only it will see whenever it wants to read it back, but no data that saves to HKLM or HKCR seems to be be handed to other apps. Now I realize that there probably are ways of circuimventing it although I’ve been told that this is not to be done in anything but the installer… oh well…

So Vista may be the best thing in security since the private firewalls (which I don’t really use any longer since I’m behind a NAT anyway and I tend to be careful about what sites I visit, not opening mail attachments and so on&#823 ;) for the general users like my dad which indeed need to be driven-by-wire, but power users will really generaly feel like Grim on this strip, till… they go and disable it wholesale, which I am pretty sure will be a standard practice after you install the system.

It’s just like in the above mentioned firewalls, you will always finally check the the “OK STOP BOTHERING ME ALREADY!” checkbox and be done with it.

Posted in Rants, Software
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Could we have some decency here?

Originally posted on

There’s a lot of noise in the news sites (, and about the Monday release of Konfabulator for Windows. But to be honest they just make me think that journalists today no longer care to be through and accurate and will chew in everything  that a PR department will send them. I do not personally rant about those kind of things, but this one got me going. Especially one thing Mr Alro said which is cited in about all of the sources:

‘When you have a great idea, you want more than 2 percent of the global market to have access to it.’

That’s just utter gibberish!

Unless you lived in a glass castle for the last 6 years or never been a part of the desktop customization community you know that there already is a pretty stiff competition in that area on Windows. He sounds as if some Macintosh saviours bring the desktop customization into the abandoned wasteland of Windows.

Hellooo! I have a news for you! DesktopX is at least a few years older than Konfabulator and it has always been a Windows application. And it just began from that. There are multiple desktop customizing apps epart from that, Kapsule and AveDesk to mention just a few of them.

Unfortunately this is not news for Mr Arlo Rose he is pretty aware of it as I’ve been reading his rhetoric after Apple anounced Dashboard in Tiger and that just makes me all much more astonished about this statement.

Posted in Desktop Customization, Rants, Software
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You thought you’ve tried them all already – now it’s time to try the ultimate experience!

Originally posted on

First of all let me express how excited I am about the release of Blog Navigator. I think we did a good job on it and I am trully amazed at our approach to its release. 

Let me explain why.  Mind that Stardock kept a guy :) ) on a payroll for a better part of a year to do this.

We’ve been discussing the Blog Navigator release yesterday and Brad actually decided to remove ALL the RSS related limitations from the free edition of Blog Navigator! What does that mean? It means there is no longer a limit of a single instance of Basket, Article Monitor and Web Search (Internet Article Monitor) in the free version! You get everything that makes it a great RSS reader and it’s NOT a trial or a shareware that will nag you in any way, neither you are limited at how you use it. You can use it at home, and you can use it at work (I would not however recommend taking it to the beach – notebooks don’t like the sand involved)!

Thank you Stardock!

If you’re into RSS/feeds/syndication and already have a reader – Blog Navigator comes with a handfull of importing filters – it’s very likely that you will be able to move all your feeds within a minute or even have them autodetected and done automatically. So if you want to be sure you never miss an article on your favorite sites, want to monitor for a specific topic or any set of them or just need a cool web browser that will get some more articles in the background for you while you read another one – give it a whirl, share it with a friend, tell a co-worker they can speed up and enrich their daily lecture.

We really tried to make it the best possible syndication experience out there – now you can see if we succeeded. Tell us if you like it. We will gladly hear what we can do to make it better. I would like to thank all beta testers withough which suggestions it would not be what it is now – stressing the enormous part of Brad Wardell and Kris Kwilas in shaping the product and Randy Cox whose suggestions and patience in testing the consecutive versions of betas went beyond all limits.

For the best possible experience read my series of articles on Blog Navigator features and how to make the best use of it

You will find the first part of the series of the articles here.

The Stardock Blog Navigator feature tour – Part IV

Blogging with Blog Navigator Professional – Creating a blog account

Originally posted on

The third part of the article already available here…

Reading blogs is one thing, and alot of programs allows you to do that with better or worse results. What makes Blog Navigator unique is among other features (like search article monitors, baskets and search blogs) its ability to both read and write blogs.

Let’s setup Blog Navigator Professional to use an account on JoeUser.

There’s not much to show really… I’m not sure it could actually be easier. Let me add my JoeUser account to Blog navigator as a first sample:

Adding account from main menu

Now I have the regular dialog like adding any other feed or folder type where you enter it’s name and various properties. The most insteresing tab that defines my account access info is the “Account” tab.

Blog account preferences dialog

I entered my username and the password and selected from the “Blog Service” combobox. If you do not have an account on a service you want to use, simply click the “Create your blog own here” link below the combo and Blog Navigator will take you to the blogging service site where you will be able to create one.

Now I press the OK button and… that’s it!

Newly added blog

Since I had articles on that account already Blog Navigator retrieved the last 20 posts and now allows me to edit them, delete and add new articles.

Blog Navigator comes with a handful of predefined list of popular blog services you may select from the list where i selecvted in my sample. Alternatively you can setup your own custom blog service. All you need to know (or ask the admin of your site for) is the URL (address) of the so called “RPC-XML end point”. If you do not know what to ask – just point your blog service admin ad this article and he/she will surely know what to give you.

Still most probably it will be your own service setup on your own server – in that case consult the documentation of the web application to obtain the entry point to the XML-RPC API and the API type the application supports.

Let’s setup my Joeuser account the harder way…

Setting up account the harder way - selecting custom service

I select the “Custom…” blog service from the combo box, which happens to be the defaulty one… but I digress…

Setting up account the harder way - selecting the API

I’ve read in the site documentation… well actually I helped designed it, but I digress again … that the api the web site supports is the API (which else!) so I select it from the combo box and…

Setting up account the harder way - setting up the endpoint

enter the XML-RPC end point I obtained from my admin – Pat. (actually we’ve came up with that address while designing the XML-RPC API, but let’s pretend I had to go through the pain of asking Pat for it :) ).


Setting up account the harder way - Two accounts?!?!

actually now I’m left with two Blogging accounts pointing to one account in a service – not very practical… but hey! It’s possible and Blog Navigator can handle it just fine, so why not.

Actually I can delete the other one – deleting an account does not delete it on server. That’s actually different than deleting your posts – Blog Navigator will also delete them on server. It will however inform you and make sure you are aware of the consequences and that this is what you really want to do.

In the next part I’ll show you how to write an article to our newly added account.

The fifth part of the article already available here…

Posted in Blog Navigator, Blogging, Software, Web applications
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