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I have published my Flickr Metadata Synchr project on CodePlex that I talked about developing here. You can always find the latest information on the project's Wiki page on CodePlex.

The current version is 0.2.0.0. It's still far from complete, but it already contains some nice features and code that you might want to look into if you are developing a WPF app or an app that wants to connect to Flickr. For instance:

  • Remembering window position and state for an WPF application. Check out my blog entry about this.
  • A managed wrapper around the Select Folder dialog box in shell32.dll (SHBrowseForFolder API) that is more flexible than the standard wrapper FolderBrowserDialog in .NET 2.0 and exposes more of the underlying API.
  • A visually styled declaration for a WPF application, so you don't get an old-fashioned look for things like a FileOpenDialog on Windows XP and Vista. This requires you to embed a custom manifest in the executable. This proved to be a bit more challenging than just calling "EnableVisualStyles()" in your Main method as you can do in a WinForms 2.0 application. Check out this article which explains the visual styling problem.

The nice thing about developing on CodePlex is that you have access to a lot of the power of a hosted Team Foundation Server. You can potentially develop your project from any machine with Visual Studio 2005 and an Internet connection. Of course it also allows a team of people to work on the same application. At the moment it is just me.

The downside of developing on CodePlex is that the whole world can watch your code and all of your check-ins as you go. So you automatically become a bit more careful. In other words, it is not as quick as hacking up a closed source application just for yourself.

Here is a screenshot of version 0.2.0.0 of my app:

Since I don't feel like packing my moving boxes yet, I am trying out IE 7.0 RTM for Windows XP SP2 in a Virtual PC.

Moving boxes

Installation took about 5 minutes including a nag screen about running Windows Update first, which I had already done, and validating the Windows installation (WGA). After that I compared some features of IE7 and Mozilla Firefox.

IE7 vs Firefox

Tabbed browsing

I mainly use Firefox for browsing since I have become addicted to tabbed browsing. I don't like the default tabbed browsing experience in Firefox so I have tweaked it with the Tab Mix Plus extension.

How customizable is the tabbed browsing in IE7? Somewhat, but not as much as in Firefox with the Tab Mix Plus extension. This is the settings screen in IE7:

Tabbed Browsing Settings screen in IE7

I won't post a screenshot of the Tab Mix Plus settings because it has six tabs worth of tweaks and twiddles. Is Tab Mix Plus suitable for the average user? Probably not, but I am not an average user.

Points I like about tabbed browsing in IE7:

  • The tab bar clearly shows what the active tab is.
  • The quick tabs feature showing a thumbnail view of all tabs on a single page.
  • A dropdown which shows the titles of all tabs, allowing you to quickly choose a tab.

Points I dislike about tabbed browsing in IE7:

  • You can't close the last open tab. When I am done browsing for a moment, I like to have a big white open space instead of the last page I looked at.
  • No way to undo closing a tab.
  • No way to duplicate a tab. I regularly use this to fork my browsing history. In Firefox the duplicate tab inherits the browsing history of the original tab. In one tab I can move back and navigate in another direction.
  • You can't change the default behavior where a page should be opened if you type in a URL in the address bar. It always opens in the current tab, unless you press ALT + ENTER.
  • You have to switch to a tab before a close button appears by which you can close it.

RSS

One of the features in IE7 that rocks is the RSS and Atom support. It gives you a very nice view of an RSS feed with several options for sorting and filtering:

Security

One of the major areas of improvement in IE7 over IE6 is security. IE7 still supports ActiveX and Firefox doesn't. This probably means that Firefox remains less vulnerable.

On Windows Vista, it's a whole different ball game between IE7 and Firefox. IE7 can run in Protected Mode. This mitigates a whole slew of possible security vulnerabilities.

Firefox has its own set of security problems. That's why I run Firefox without administrative privileges on XP even though I am logged on as an administrator. I do this using the Drop My Rights tool. One of the things this tool does is to remove the administrative privileges and membership of the Administrators group from the security token of the process. This way malicious code injected into the Firefox process cannot write to system folders or the Program Files folder. It does have some side-effects. For example, when Firefox starts a Windows Media Player process, this process inherits the security settings of the Firefox process. WMP doesn't behave well with such low privileges. I have to remember to open up a WMP window before launching an mms:// link from Firefox.

Nevertheless malicious code injected into the Firefox process can still wreck My Documents folder, since it does run under my user account and that folder is owned by me. IE7 running in protected mode on Vista cannot do that since the user profile folder is virtualized.

Conclusion

Of course, IE 7.0 is a much improved browser over IE 6.0 SP2. But Microsoft hasn't won me over yet, so I will probably continue to use Firefox. At least on Windows XP.

[Updated 2006-10-19: IE7 does allow you to rearrange tabs by dragging-and-dropping.]

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I haven't had much time for blogging lately. The reason being that I have just bought an appartement in Amsterdam and I am selling my current appartment in Zeist. I will exchange a beautiful view over the woods from the 9th floor for a magnificent view over Amsterdam from the 15th floor.

But I had to blog that I just discovered my favorite feature in Outlook 2007.

Just as I was typing an e-mail message I hit a key combination that was formerly unknown to me. With previous Outlook versions it has happened to me several times that I sent unfinished e-mails while not being aware what I did wrong. Now I know.

Today I hit something on the keyboard and a dialog popped up that said something like:

You pressed CTRL + ENTER. Would you like to use this key combination in the future to send e-mail?

Of course, I answered: NO!

If you find want to prevent Ctrl + Enter from sending e-mail in older Outlook versions (2000, 2002/XP, 2003), check out this tip on adding a registry entry to prevent accidental sending.

Dennis has just upgraded
BloggingAbout.NET to use the Community Server 2.0 platform.

This post is to test to see if publishing a blog entry from Word 2007 has become easier. With CS 1.1 I had some problems with publishing a new entry.

Update: Publishing a new entry from Word 2007 now works just fine as does republishing. Another problem with CS 1.1 was that it resent all trackbacks after republishing an entry. Hopefully that problem is now gone as well.

As you may know the PNG file format for pictures has excellent support for alpha transparency. But you may also know that Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support alpha transparency for PNGs. You can notice this if you look at some of the PNGs I published in my image gallery.


The thumbnails really look bad! This has to do with how Community Server generates JPG thumbnails from the original PNGs.


If you view the original version (i.e. the unscaled version as published) you can sometimes see that the background color of the picture changes. In Internet Explorer 6.0 the outcome is unpredictable and the image generally still looks bad. But in FireFox (and presumably in Opera and Safari) they will look great. The pictures will blend in nicely with whatever background color you have set (default color is white).


Microsoft has confirmed that Internet Explorer 7.0 will finally support alpha transparency in PNGs. There is a blog entry that details how difficult it was to implement this.


What is really beyond me is why PowerPoint was able support this feature starting from version 2000, yet IE 6.0 released in 2001 did not support alpha transparency! Couldn't the IE guys have borrowed the code from the PowerPoint guys?!


To show off that the alpha transparency really works in PowerPoint, I created a overlay picture of three PNGs and a background picture and made a screenshot. This image also shows that the three PNGs have a proper alpha channel.


PNG overlay