Tips & Tricks
January 23, 2010

Copying the Contents of Windows Dialogs

As a developer, I very often see error messages - some of those originate from the products I develop, and I have to report them as bugs. Whenever I get an error message in a dialog, I typically take a screenshot, and add that to the bug base issue. That's fine, but it means people can't search for that error message in the bug base - in order to enable that, I'd usually just manually type out the error message, rather than take a screenshot. That was before. Today, I'd just press CTRL+C to copy the error dialog contents. That's right, whenever you see a dialog in Windows, like this: You can press CTRL+C to copy, and then open up Notepad, and press CTRL+V to…
November 21, 2009

To Love and Hate NoScript

Mozilla Firefox has always been one of my favorite browsers. The only contender that was able to knock it from its #1 position was Google Chrome. Even though Chrome is still lacking in a few departments (extensions, bookmark management), I swear by it because of the overall performance. Plus, whenever they release a major version, I know they'll have further performance enhancements - that's just what they do. I also prefer the minimalistic nature of their user interface - which, as it turns out, also integrates beautifully with my operating system, Windows 7. Despite Firefox dropping to #2 in my list, I still use it regularly for web development. They have plenty of extensions to keep me coming back: Firebug, Web Developer, ColorZilla, HTML Validator, and... well,…
RecommendationsTips & Tricks
November 14, 2009

A Good Place to Find Free Loading Animations

As I was working on one of my personal web development projects today, I realized I would need a loading animation. Thankfully, I remembered a very useful web service I discovered a long time ago - The site is specifically designed to provide free, customizable loading animations - in GIF format.  They have at least 25 different types of loading animations - so if you're looking for one, I recommend you check what they have to offer. As for the "free" factor - in case you're wondering: there aren't any specific licenses associated with the images, but the front page clearly states that "generated gifs are totally free for use". That said, enjoy.
DevelopmentRecommendationsTips & Tricks
November 2, 2009

An Easier Way to Search for Domain Names

In the past, whenever I wanted to search for available domain names, I checked with individual domain registrars. While this worked, it really wasn't optimal- every time I wanted to check another domain's availability, I had to press Back in my browser, re-enter a domain, re-submit the request, and then I'd know. Most websites were set up like this, unfortunately. Furthermore, if I wanted to compare domain registration fees, I'd have to check multiple websites. I'm happy to say that these inconveniences are now no longer an issue. The solution lies in a site called Instant Domain Search. The webpage aims to facilitate the process of searching for a domain, and to do so, it: searches automatically as you type lists different rates from leading registrars lists domains names…
HumorPersonal Stories
October 31, 2009

The Wall of Cookies

Back in June 2008, I invited a friend of mine to an Iron Maiden concert here in Montreal. Since he lives in Nova Scotia, this meant that he'd be staying at my place for a few days. Over the years I've known him, it was very clear to me that he really enjoyed cookies... so I thought I should be equipped for his arrival: The cabinet was almost completely full - each package you see in the photo had another identical one right behind it. Needless to say, we didn't finish all the cookies - I had to give them away to friends and family.
Tips & Tricks
October 26, 2009

Blocking Websites with the Windows Hosts File

Sometimes I decide that I never want to re-visit a particular website ever again, and I want a way to block it indefinitely. Normally, I just learned to ignore a website simply out of self-discipline. Lately, I decided I wanted something more secure. After all, even with self-discpline, I could still accidentally visit said site from a link found on another unblocked site. I figured out a good solution: the Windows hosts file. Windows features a special file simply called "hosts", without an extension. This file allows users to map hostnames to IP addresses. More importantly, however, is that when Windows tries to locate nodes on any given network, it will take the hosts file into consideration. It will actually consider the hosts file prior to querying…
HumorPersonal Stories
October 13, 2009

Powerful Mail

A friend recently sent me a package - I couldn't help but laugh when I saw it: I wasn't home when this package arrived, and that meant the mailman had to leave note informing me that a package for "Refghi Power" would be waiting for me at the local post office. When I went to get it, I tried to contemplate how I would prove that I am "Refghi Power", as all my IDs claim I'm "Matt Refghi". Also, keep in mind that mostly everyone around here speaks French. Thankfully, the guy at the post office laughed and said he got it.
September 29, 2009

Yahoo! Answers: Suing Facebook

I was genuinely trying to find out if there was a way to have certain pictures of myself removed from Facebook, until I found this: Can I sue Facebook for putting my pictures on the Internet? I like how all the others answers were, for the most part, completely correct - and yet the chosen "best answer" is ridiculous. UPDATE January 19, 2013: Question was deleted, removed link.
Tips & Tricks
September 25, 2009

Reducing E-mail Spam by Eliminating Public Listings

I've been using Gmail as my e-mail service provider for a few years now, and due to their excellent spam filters, I've been able to ignore the continuous stream of junk mail hitting my mailbox every day. Despite their efficiency at identifying and hiding spam e-mails, I remain genuinely concerned about keeping my e-mail address hidden from the public view.  E-mails that are publicly available are easy targets for spambots, which are automated programs that scour the Internet for e-mail addresses. Once "harvested", these addresses are sent junk mail, spam. Photo by Allan Reyes Sometimes, however, it is desirable to have an e-mail address visible to the public - to do so, a special approach should be taken to protect it from spambots. For example, you can…
Tips & Tricks
August 14, 2009

Converting Formatted Text from the Clipboard to Plain Text

Usually when I copy text from web pages, I really don't want the formatting from the webpage to be kept. I  just want to have the text in the simplest format possible, and then I can set my own styles. Unfortunately, this isn't normally how it works. Typically, when copying from a web page in a browser, it may also copy any tables, images, and styles that are applied to or mixed with the text. This does depend on where you are pasting the text, though. In my case, I use Microsoft Word most of the time. Word supports a lot of web page elements, meaning they will likely appear in the Word document. Consider the following text: This is some example text. You'll notice that…
Tips & Tricks
August 8, 2009

Enabling Theme Support in Windows Server 2003

Microsoft's Server operating systems are specifically aligned to offer, above all, top reliability and performance. It is therefore no surprise that Windows Server 2003, at first glance, seems to lack the standard Luna desktop theme that XP users have been accustomed to. Here's the thing: The feature isn't missing, it's just "hidden" by default. Solution Here's how to enable it: 1) Open the Services Management Console by entering "services.msc" in the Run dialog. To open the Run dialog, click Start > Run, or press Windows Key + R. 2) Locate the Themes service, right-click it, and select Properties. 3) On the General tab, select the Startup Type dropdown, and choose Automatic. 4) Click Apply. 5) Click OK. 6) Right-click the Themes service again, and select Start.…
Tips & TricksTutorials
July 5, 2009

How to Learn More About the Background Pictures Featured on Bing

When Microsoft announced their new Bing search engine, I was immediately curious about how it compared to Google. I changed Bing to my default search engine, and tried using it daily. Ultimately, I returned to Google, which always seemed to have slightly better search results - in most cases. Despite this fact, I visit Bing it at least once a day  - but not to search. I visit it daily specifically to see the new background image they are using. They change this background image every day, and each one is usually impressive. In fact, in most cases, seeing it actually makes me want to find out more about what I'm seeing. As an example, consider the following screenshot: Great image - the type of image that…
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…
Personal Stories
April 30, 2009

How My First Appointment With a New Dentist Resulted In My Being Banned

There are times where I wonder what I'm going to write next for this blog, and then, there are times like today - something totally insane happens, and I have no doubt about what I'm going to write next. Still, I'm very picky about what I put on here - I refuse to post mundane details about my everyday life - one of my most important rules. The only exception to this rule occurs when I feel a particular story could be entertaining, and make people laugh. If I consider it a funny story, then I'll put it up. This is one of those stories. A few days ago, while eating supper, I felt a pain when closing my jaw - it originated from a…