The miscellaneous ramblings and thoughts of Dan G. Switzer, II


On another blog, I found a link to a band called Skelkin. They seem to be a cross between an traditional Celtic band and a Flamenco band. Check out some of their music, especially Morisca (Flamenco-based) and Whisky Before Breakfast - Nine Point Of Roguery (Celtic-based.) Interesting blend of music, but they're both genre's I like.

RSS Sidebar Reader for Mozilla/Firefox...

For those of you who don't know, I've pretty much found that I've switched to Mozilla's Firefox v0.8 as my full time browser. For me that's a huge change. I've always hated Netscape v4.x—its was buggy as heck, yet people loved it cause it wasn't from Microsoft. I'm not saying IE is anywhere near perfect, but it certainly gave Web Developers a lot more flexibility to build web app that functioned like a traditional desktop app. I started using Firefox when it was known as Firefox and really started to fall in love with it. It loads super fast, has lightning fast rendering and is an all around great browser. If all you're looking for is a browser, I recommend checking out Firefox from Mozilla.org, it doesn't include all the extra fluff that Netscape v6 & 7 have or that the full blown Mozilla has.

Anyway, the main point of this entry was to point out a nice little extension I found for Firefox/Mozilla called RSS Reader Panel. All you need to do to set things up is install it and create a bookmark folder pointing to all the RSS feeds you follow. Next, just hit [ALT][R] (or go to "View > Sidebar > RSS Reader") to bring up your new RSS Sidebar. I like the fact that it pulls up the full URL page when you click on a link. I normally end up wanting to see the entire page anyway. The other thing I love about this plugin is that I no longer have to load another app to check what's new on my RSS feeds.

The only thing I would change would be to provide an option for an additional panel underneath the RSS thread panel for descriptions. Right now mousing over the thread will show the description, but a panel would be nice for those of us who use the keyboard to navigate. This isn't huge anyway since I like to just pull them all up anyway.


A Note From The Past...

I was searching through Google's Groups looking for threads containing my name (I get curious to see how my name is used from time to time.) Anyway, I came across an old thread of mine from when I worked for MidWest Micro (a now "extinct" computer mailing ordering company.)

That seems like a lifetime ago, it's funny when you find stuff you wrote that you have very little recollection of—actually, I remembered this thread after reading it, I just had forgotten I used to comb the newsgroups looking for people having problems with our products.

Locating Your CF4 Serial Number...

On a mailing list recently, someone asked where they could find their serial number for an installed copy of CF4. Fortunately I had a copy of CF4.01 where I could look up in the registry where the serial information is stored. If you're updating an old install of CF and need the original serial number for the software, try checking the server's registry branch of:


Update to Mask JSAPI...

I've posted an update to the Mask JavaScript API over at PengoWorks.com. The new update fixes some bugs in Mozilla and also makes sure that the keyboard events are added to the existing event handlers (and they don't replace already defined key events.)

CFML on the Xbox?!?

CFML on the XBox? Charlie Arehart blogged about a customer's note on the BlueDragon Mailing List who claims to have had success installing BlueDragon on his XBox—which is running the Debian build of Linux. Talk about an inexpensive server. :)

Amazon's New Search Engine: A9.com

As a bazillion blogs have already stated, Amazon's got a new search out called A9.com.

The one thing that appears that might set this search engine apart is that it will also search over any of the indexed books in Amazon's collection. This could be very useful for people doing research or homework.

They've still got a few issues they've got to tweak. I think they need to figure out a better way to page through results. It seems like you should have seperate paging for each type of search (although I can see while in split mode where have one paging mechanism would work well.) I also noticed that the same URL pulled up different descriptions depending on how the search was done. That didn't make sense to me. Try searching for the phrase "dan switzer" both with and without quotation marks around it and you'll see what I mean.

qForms v2.0 Preview Online...

Ok, I finally got the qForms v2.0 Preview uploaded. I had some problems with Camtasia on my laptop—the recording was fine, but I couldn't export to SWF—I finally got things working by installing Camtasia on one of my desktops. Here's a quick rundown on some of the things you'll see in the preview:

New Features

  • Support for internationalization (i18n.) The window.$language variable will allow you define a language pack to load.
  • Better support for add-on modules. The API has been re-written to easily allow add-on mods to the library. The previous version did a great job on allow allowing new validation method to be quickly added and to add custom functions, but it took a little too much work to change the default behavior or to add your own event hooks.
  • You can now overwrite the default methods used to output errors to the screen. The sample addon/dhtml mod shows an example of this.
  • Lots of new methods--such as the setMaxLength() method which can be used to automatically forward the user to another field after X number of characters are entered. This is great for times when you went to split input between multiple fields (such as the case in phone numbers, ssn, serial numbers, etc.)
  • You can now set dynamic masking for a field. When filling out fields such as phone numbers and ssn, masks can be applied to the field and qForms will automatically filter out invalid keystrokes and insert the required mask characters where appropriate.
  • A new "Group" object has been added. Groups allow you to take multiple fields and treat them as one. This feature will often be used in conjunction with the setMaxLength() method in order to break up a particular value into multiple fields.
  • The ability to delete validation rules from the queue on-the-fly.
  • Disable/enable validation for the entire form.
  • Much, much more.


Steelers 2004 Schedule Announced...

The Pittsburgh Steelers have announced their 2004 schedule

Date                Opponent                  Time/Network
-----------------   ------------------------  ----------------
Saturday, Aug. 14   at Detroit Lions          7:30 p.m. - KDKA
Saturday, Aug. 21   HOUSTON TEXANS            7:30 p.m. - KDKA
Thursday, Aug. 26   at Philadelphia Eagles    8:00 p.m. - ESPN
Thursday, Sept. 2   CAROLINA PANTHERS         7:00 p.m. - KDKA

Date                Opponent                  Time/Network
-----------------   ------------------------  ----------------
Sunday, Sept. 12    OAKLAND RAIDERS           1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Sept. 19    at Baltimore Raven        1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Sept. 26    at Miami Dolphins         1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Oct. 3      CINCINNATI BENGALS        1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Oct. 10     CLEVELAND BROWNS          1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Oct. 17     at Dallas Cowboys         4:15 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Oct. 24     BYE WEEK
Sunday, Oct. 31     NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS      4:15 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Nov. 7      PHILADELPHIA EAGLES       1:00 p.m. - FOX
Sunday, Nov. 14     at Cleveland Browns       1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Nov. 21     at Cincinnati Bengals     1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Nov. 28     WASHINGTON REDSKINS       1:00 p.m. - FOX
Sunday, Dec. 5      at Jacksonville Jaguars   8:30 p.m. - ESPN
Sunday, Dec. 12     NEW YORK JETS             4:05 p.m. - CBS
Saturday, Dec. 18   at New York Giants        1:30 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Dec. 26     BALTIMORE RAVENS          1:00 p.m. - CBS
Sunday, Jan. 2      at Buffalo Bills          1:00 p.m. - CBS

* All times are Eastern Time

Monster House & American Chopper

Two shows that I've really begun to enjoy watching are Monster House and American Chopper—both of which run on Discovery Channel on Monday nights.

Discovery Channel has several shows that carry the "Monster" title. These shows concentrate on doing something extreme that aren't normally seen every day. On "Monster House" they take a normal house and turn it in to something extreme. I've seen theme turn a couple's house into a Vegas-style casino/hotel, a house into a retro sci-fi house (complete w/crashed flying saucer,) and Medival house, a Icelandic/Nordic Viking house and many, many other interesting things. Each show features a new set of "builders". These are 5 local contractors who will have fie days to complete the transformation into a "monster" house. They're just normal everyday contractors. I'm not sure how you apply to be a contractor, 'cause they've had some really bad ones in the past. The bottom line is it's pretty fascinating what these folks will do with a house in just 5 days. Make sure to check out their best of gallery for pictures of some of the transformations.

On American Chopper, the show follows the Teutul family of Orange County Choppers (of Orange County, New York,) I think part of the reason I really enjoy the show is it reminds me at times of working for my family when I was younger. It's also pretty amazing how these guys fabricate these bikes. My favorites bikes were probably the NY Firefighters bike, Jet bike and the Snap-on Tool bike. Make sure to check out the photo gallery for pictures of all the bikes they've built on the show.


qForms v2.0 Demo Coming...

Ok, one of the most common question I've been asked over the past couple of years is "When's the next version of qForms coming out?" Well, I still don't have a definitive answer for that, but I am working on it in my free time. Since I know that isn't very helpful, one thing I thought might be helpful is put up a working demo. I'm wrapping up the demo and it should be posted in the next 24 hours, so be sure to check back soon!

Disabling Auto-Complete For Certain Fields

Have you ever wanted to turn off Internet Explorer's "auto-complete" feature for a specific form field? Well, there's a lesser known, IE-specific, attribute named "autocomplete" for the <input> tag which will disable the auto-complete drop down box from appearing. Why would you want to do that, well there's lots of reasons. Maybe your creating a site geared towards public computers that allow a user logon; in that case, you don't want user names appearing in the autocomplete box.

To disable the auto-complete feature, just add the "autocomplete" attribute to your form field tags with the value of "off". For example:

<input type="text" name="userId" autocomplete="off" />


A Few More Blog Changes...

I made a few additional changes to the blog site today. I added some more pictures to the Maddie & Nikki Trackers and I changed the layout a bit (I moved the "Dan's now listening to..." from the left-hand navigation bar to the top header.)

Ghost Town... A Trip Through Chernobyl

I came across the "Ghost Town" from a blog entry on Jarle Bergersen's blog site.

Ghost Town is an interesting exploration of Chernobyl area from Elana, a young woman who rides her motocycle through the area. She claims her father is a nuclear physicist who has worked in the "dead zone" area around Chernobyl for the last 20 years, so she knows enough about the area to know where it's safe to go and where it's not safe.

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting pictures and information on the site. It's definitely worth viewing. This one example of how powerful a tool the Internet can be—provided the information is accurate. Anyway, go check out this "Ghost Town."

Need A Windows Bootable CD?

I was watching the Thursday's episode of The Screen Saver that TiVo had kindly taped for me. One of the Patrick's featured segments was on PE Builder—a software package that will create a bootable Windows CD from your installed copy of Windows.

If you do a lot with Windows, you've probably run into a time when you needed a Windows bootable device and this looks like the perfect tool to help you do that. I remember running into this site a while back, but didn't mess around with it. Go read the full TechTV article for more information.