Posts categorised as "articles"

Visual Cues In OS X

After working on a Mac full time for almost a year, I've come to realise that OS X provides you with a lot of nice visual cues which greatly enhance the usability of the system. Here's a nice example I came across the other day; take a loook at this screen grab of a window.

A Window

Clearing Your Outlook Forms Cache

You're working in Outlook, minding your own business and someone sends you a meeting request; you check your schedule, you're free at the given date and time so you click on Accept only to see this:

The form required to view this message cannot be displayed. Contact your administrator.

Restarting Outlook doesn't help, nor does rebooting your machine; you've fallen victim to a corrupted forms cache. But don't fret, there's a straightforward, if not entirely intuitive, way of clearing the cache.

Standard disclaimer: YYMV, this worked for me, using Outlook 2003 on XP Professional Service Pack 2, it might work for you, it might not.

SSH Bits & Pieces

RTFM. Really.

Although this is free advertising, before you use SSH for anything other than a drop in replacement for telnet buy a copy of O'Reilly's SSH: The Definitive Guide, and then read it. It's a rare O'Reilly book which doesn't make you realise just how little you actually know about a subject and this one is no exception. To be honest, it was only after reading this book that I realised just why I shouldn't use SSH as a drop in replacement for telnet, which in turn proved how little I knew about SSH. Which kind of proves my point I guess.

What’s That Process?

When I'm working on a Windows machine I like to keep Task Manager running minimised in my task bar so I've got immediate visual feedback on how hard my system's working. That way, when I think my system's not running as fast as it should be I can immediately see if the system's maxed out at 100% CPU usage.

Essential Windows Apps

I've already written about my choice of essential apps on the Mac and so, in the spirit of cross platform-ness, I thought I'd do the same for Windows. It's proved a bit of an education. With one exception; the list of apps seems to fall into two distinct categories.

Firstly, there's those apps which are available on both Mac and Windows, so there's no surprise that both Firefox and iTunes make an appearance.

Secondly though, the remaining apps seem to be provide features which I'm used to on the Mac or on UNIX in general but which are missing from a stock Windows install.

It's probably due to my too many years of UNIX experience that I seem to automatically install apps which make Windows more UNIX like or maybe it's making Windows less Windows like?

Essential Mac Apps

What makes an essential app? One that you use every day? One that sits in your Dock and has the open at login flag set? One which will make your life just that little bit less difficult or consume a little bit less time? Probably; and I daresay a lot more besides. An essential app is a deeply personal choice.

These then, in no order other than the order I thought of them, are my essential apps for my Mac.

Windows RDP and the Network Swiss Army Knife

Consider the following scenario for a moment; you have a home network, hooked up to a broadband connection. You've done your homework and have a firewall with little or no inbound access. You're like thousands of other people and have a Windows PC running XP Home or XP Professional. You'd like to be able to get at your Windows PC when you're at work but you don't want to let all of those script kiddies at your network, and besides you've heard bad things about letting a Windows PC loose on the internet.

Enter the swiss army knife of the network; SSH. That's the Secure SHell, not a polite request to shut up. Here's what to do ...

Interview with

Some people are sufficiently well quoted that they have their very own press cuttings folder, some are not. I'm definately in the latter category but I have been interviewed by's Jay Lyman about cross platform development, as a result of my current employer's use of MainSoft's Visual MainWin.

Despite my involvement they actually published it in the IT Manager's Journal and it can be read in all of its' glory here with an unsanctioned mirror below.

The BSD on Alpha HOW-NOT-TO

New hardware, new operating system. I'd managed to get hold of a DEC Personal Workstation 433a, which housed a 433 MHz Alpha processor and decided that this was an ideal machine to test out the various flavours of BSD.

Both FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD support the Alpha chip in a variety of hardware configurations so I figured this would be a good learning opportunity.

The machine in question hails from the time when DEC were in a very tenous partnership with Microsoft and DEC produced 2 variants of the Personal Workstation (aka the PWS or the Miata). Each PWS was named according to the speed of the Alpha chip it contained and whether it was targeted at running Microsoft's 64-bit port of Windows NT on Alpha, or running DEC's own OpenVMS and Tru64 UNIX operating systems.

For example, the PWS 500au was a 500 MHz box designed for OpenVMS and Tru64, whilst the PWS 433a was a 433 MHz box destined for Windows NT.

One important thing to remember is that the PWS is most definately not a PC, however the external look may decieve you.