RecommendationsTips & Tricks
December 23, 2010

How Fear Can Keep You Writing

As I was searching for tools to help me with my general writing process, I found one that was particularly interesting, and worth sharing. Write or Die is an application that uses negative reinforcement to keep you typing. As long as you continue writing, you'll be fine... but if you stop, Write or Die starts to get aggressive. As a first step, it will start changing the background color of the window to red. As time passes, the red gets more intense. If you don't keep typing, and you let it get totally demonic, you will face one of three possible punishments, depending on your settings. The mildest of these punishments involves a simple pop-up, reminding you to type. Not really significant, as you just…
RecommendationsTips & Tricks
November 27, 2010

Comparing Files and Folders With WinMerge

Before I started working for my current employer, I hadn't yet discovered how useful differencing tools could be. As I began working regularly with Visual SourceSafe 6 at work, I grew to value the fact that I could check for differences before every file check in. It was a standard for my employer, but to me, it was a process I was getting used to. Eventually, I realized that I needed a stand-alone comparison tool, in case Visual SourceSafe wasn't around. This eventually lead me to a WinMerge, an open source differencing and merging tool. There are numerous reasons why I like WinMerge. Most of all, I really appreciate the contextual options. With files, I can select any difference within a file, and choose to…
DevelopmentRecommendationsTips & Tricks
November 21, 2010

Testing Web Performance by Throttling Bandwidth

In the past, I often found myself wondering how some of my websites would perform when accessed from a low bandwidth connection. Unfortunately, I had no convenient way to test such a scenario, so I usually just forgot about the idea. I recently found myself in a similar scenario at work, and my searches returned a useful tool,┬áSpeed Simulator, by Vikas Patial: Speed simulator is a simple throttling proxy which allows you to see how your site behaves under different connection speeds. It was written by me to test AJAX/Flash loaders and see how much my time took to load. You can simulate various speeds like that of a modem or a ADSL. A pre delay function is also there to help simulate delays due…
RecommendationsTips & Tricks
June 12, 2009

File Locking: Access Is Denied? Not Anymore.

I'm sure most of you have encountered this type of error, at one time or another, while using Windows: Cannot delete file: Access is denied. It appears when you try to delete a file or folder that is currently in use by an application. To be completely accurate, the file needs to be in use and locked by the application to prevent external edits - the lock is likely the reason we see the error message. Sometimes it is really obvious which application has a locked handle on the file - for example, if it is complaining about a Word document - perhaps the document is still open in Word. Personally, I consider scenarios like that acceptable because they can be solved easily; unfortunately, all…
RecommendationsTips & Tricks
April 27, 2009

Visualizing Disk Usage With Treemaps

Have you ever been in a situation where you're not sure why your hard drive is as full as it is, and you wonder what exactly what is taking up the most space? I'm pretty sure most computer users have encountered this before. What I used to do when I hit this problem was look around for big folders on my drive. This ultimately works, but it takes some searching to find the problematic folders - and you're likely to miss some stuff. Determined to find a better approach, I looked around for an application that could help me, and eventually found one called WinDirStat that utilized a method called treemapping to help users visualize their disk usage. I tried it out, and was immediately…