Friday, March 28, 2008

Loosen Up: Tame Your Software Dependencies for More Flexible Apps

A good article that goes into the basics of how one can go about achieving a loosely coupled design. In addition it talks about how a loosely coupled design is good for testing.

Tame Your Software Dependencies for More Flexible Apps by James Kovacs (MSDN Magazine - March 2008)

This article discusses:

  • What's wrong with tightly coupled architectures
  • Testing and dependency woes
  • Dependency inversion
  • Dependency injection

Loosen Up: Tame Your Software Dependencies for More Flexible Apps

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Recycling Bin Locations in Denver City

View Larger Map


This map contains only 82 of the recycling bins in the Denver area. These bins are run by the Shriners (

For the complete list of bins in and around Denver (Denver Metro area) check out my other map - (Takes a while to load and move around as it has over 200 locations).

Also a list of acceptable items in these single stream bins is available here:


Here is some info about the Shriners who maintain this valuable resource for the community:


Monday, March 17, 2008

LASIK - Week 1

When I started writing about my LASIK experience - I wanted to write my daily experiences for the first week. But I didn't - because the first week was hard and I didn't want to write a post when I had some doubts about the entire procedure.

imagesSo first with the good news - its been 10 days - and I am feeling great about my repaired set of eye balls!

Monday to Friday of the first week was really the hardest set of days. As I had to work during the week - I think that viewing the computer screen for hours on end, definitely added to the strain I was putting on my eyes. 

  • Mornings - it was hard to even open my eyes. IMG_5423
  • The night before - I would have to put some funky eye shields to protect the flaps as I slept. This by far was the most irritating part of recovery. The shields went on with tape. They felt awkward while I slept. And when I woke up it was hard to take them off - as the tape really sticks to your skin!
  • I had to remember to put 2 sets of medicated eye drops into my eyes every four hours.
  • My eyes felt gritty and dry.
  • Sometimes I almost felt like poking them out - as the dryness would get really troubling. 
  • In the mornings - my computer screen felt a little blurred.
  • I would get head-aches off and on - I think caused by the strain of working continuously for 9+ hours everyday.
  • During night time driving - street lights and on coming head-lights would have a halo/star burst around them.
  • Driving in the sun - needed sun-glasses otherwise my eyes would hurt.

That as you can see is a long list of post-operative problems that I had. And when the pain or dry-ness in my eyes would reach the highest level - many times I wondered if I really should have gone for the LASIK treatment. Also - many times - I felt as though I couldn't see as well as I could with my glasses. (Remember - to begin with I had a pretty low prescription for my eyes. I am sure if you had 1.5 or over in your eyes - you would see a change almost immediately and it would all feel worth it from day one).

Even on the day of my one week appointment - I did not feel as though I was able to see as well as I could with my glasses on pre-LASIK.

But I can drive around without my glasses - what a relief. I can buy any damn sun-glasses that I want - no more prescription based ones - that I have to be extremely careful with - least I forget them - especially on a trip. All these small things are what makes LASIK so worth-while.  14a-10000bc-promo-1

Finally yesterday I decided to go to the theatre to watch 10,000 B.C. Now before - whenever I went to watch a movie - I had to remember to take my glasses. If I forgot them - it was not going to be fun. The movie would be a blur, I would have to trouble somebody near me to read off text on the screen - which my friends hated - especially in a crucial scene in a movie. Many times, when I forgot my glasses, I would turn back home to get my glasses - again not a very popular move with my friends.


But this Sunday - I intentionally went to the movies without my glasses. Really had no idea of what to expect. Now, 10,000 B.C is a movie that is set in - you guessed it right - 10,000 B.C. So obviously the actors speak in some 10,000 B.C. language and hence the movie was peppered with sub-titles. Sub-titles that if I had missed - then the movie would have probably been a truly boring movie (Not that it wasn't as is - again - that's another post). I was able read each and every one of the sub-titles. No problems at all. (This after 3 glasses of Irish beer - it was St. Patty's day after all). No head-aches after the movie.... no irritated family or friends. Proof that indeed the LASIK procedure had made my life better. smile_teeth 


What helped through this first week were preservative free eye drops. I used them almost every hour or as soon as I felt my eyes dry up. (The times I felt like pulling out my eyes - were when I got too caught up with work and would skip the artificial tears). So here is my advice for the first week:

  • Be patient - your eyes are healing - and you might not get to 20/20 right off the bat.
  • If you work with a computer a lot - try and get a timer going - that reminds you to look away every 20 minutes at something at least 20 feet away.
  • If possible try and get a few minutes of shut eye after 4 hours of work.
  • Use preservative free tears as often as you need.
  • Don't let your eyes dry out - as that hurts and probably adds to the strain on your eyes.
  • Speak to your doctor - he is your best resource. Any time you feel pain in your eyes - or your eyes begin to feel strange - it probably is a good idea to talk to your doctor. And if he is not around - or doesn't take your call - then obviously you chose the wrong doc and he definitely is not from Icon Lasik of Denver. smile_tongue

As I go forward - I only expect my eyesight to get better. My next appointment with the doctor is in 6 weeks.

Friday, March 14, 2008

GeoEye 1 - How It Works


Popular Science has an excellent animated article on the features of GeoEye 1. GeoEye 1 should be in orbit later this year.

How It Works: The Best View From Space Yet | Popular Science

Here are some of the features about this system:

  • First non-military satellite that uses military grade GPS.
  • Has a star-tracker system - that is used in addition to the GPS units to determine its position more accurately. This translates to 1.5 times higher accuracy in determining the position of a pixel on the ground.
    The star-tracker system observes stars and uses them to determine the satellites position in relation to our planet.
    Any object on the planet's surface can be mapped to within 3 meters of its actual location.
  • When the satellite is over a location where it needs to start performing a capture - it turns the "Reaction wheels". This puts a spin on the satellite and help orient the satellite so as to be pointing correctly to take its image. (The reaction wheels spin in reverse to bring the satellite to a halt!)
  • The satellite scans in strips. The strips are 37,500 pixels long (1 pixel wide). The camera can capture 20,000 such strips in 2 seconds.
  • Each pixel can have a resolution of up to 16 inches on the ground - black and white. In color the resolution drops down to 5.5 feet.
    • The high resolution imagery is available only to the US government (and possibly countries that the US designates as ok to receive this higher resolution imagery).
    • All other countries will get data that has been re-sampled down to 20 inch resolution.
  • The satellite can capture approximately 270,000 sq. miles of data per day (700,000 sq. kms)
  • GeoEye will be able to sell the data commercially around the world (probably not to restricted countries like Iran).
  • GeoEye 1's primary customer is the US National Geospatial Agency (NGA).
  • The satellite has a planned life of seven years.
  • The satellite will be in polar orbit. Will have the ability to revisit any location approximately every 3 days.


1 meter resolution


0.41 meter resolution (16 inches) - simulated.

More information is available at

Also check out their gallery of satellite images:

A Byte of Python

Need to learn python? This is probably one of the best places to start - a free e-book:

A Byte of Python


Did you have a pie today at 1:59pm?


Today is Pi day!

Its March 14th (3.14) - so hopefuly you remembered to eat pie at 1:59 pm



Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Funny ad featuring Montana!

Too Funny!


According to Wikipedia - there is no battleship with the name "U.S.S. Montana". In fact Montana is the only state to not have a battleship named after it!

USS Montana (ACR-13)

U.S.S. Montana - a cruiser from WW I. (

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Programmers' Cheat Sheets

Daniel Walzenbach has posted a list of download-able cheat sheets for .NET, SQL Server, ASP.NET, etc.

: Various Cheat Sheets (.NET, SQL Server, ASP.NET Ajax, CSS, JavaScript, RegEx, ...) - Free Download


.NET Framework


Web Development

SQL Server

Office 2007

Active Directory

Smart Client

BizTalk Server

Microsoft patterns & practices

Keyboard shortcuts can be found here:

LASIK - Day 1

MichaelClayton2007Visited the doctor in the morning. Was able to read the 20/20 line - but it was a little blurry. At this point it is expected. The first doctor's appointment after the LASIK procedure is to check for the health of the flap (make sure it hasn't shifted, folded, etc while sleeping).

I am able to drive around - though in the sun - my eyes hurt a bit - and I need my sun-glasses. I was able to watch TV and actually watched Michael Clayton - without any issues (Hi-Def without glasses finally looks like Hi-Def - and the movie was awesome).

Eye's feel dry - and I have to keep putting artificial tears into my eyes in addition to a couple of other eye drops (a steroid and an anti-biotic). The dryness of the eye is again an expected side-effect at this point. My wife had dry eyes after her LASIK for about 2 to 3 months after her procedure and is no longer an issue for her.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Icon Lasik

A little bit about the facility where I performed my LASIK eye surgery.

Icon is probably the cheapest LASIK facility in Denver. But that is not the reason that I chose it as the place where I would get my LASIK done (it was definitely the final nail in the coffin).

Icon has at its disposal multiple Lasik technologies - VISX Star 4 custom wavefront laser, the NIDEK EC5000 eye tracker, and the Intralase bladeless lasik system. This allows the doctor to recommend the best machine suited for your prescription instead of prescribing the only machine he might have to correct your prescription. In addition - the doctors are available to talk to you at all times. Dr. Rick Anderson is the person you will be in touch with most of the time, but if you ever needed to - you could talk to the eye surgeon who will perform the procedure - Dr. Timothy Christianson too. A doctor is available at all times and so you can talk to them about your concerns and questions up until the day that you will be performing the surgery. The staff at the facility is also very nice and hospitable.

A word about the Nidek Lasik Machine:

If you go to many of the other LASIK facilities around Denver and ask them about the Nidek machine - they immediately tell you that its not a good device and that it is often used against FDA recommendations. It is important to realize that the Nidek machine is extremely popular all over the world. It is just not the most popular machine in the U.S. And about the use of the machine against FDA recommendations - which is categorized as "Off-label" usage, all doctors do that with almost anything that is used on or in your body - even medication. It just means that the FDA hasn't verified the usage of the machine for certain prescriptions or in certain modes. Icon Lasik has performed over 60,000 procedures and its doctors know the limitations of their machines very well. The recommendation to go with a certain machine - definitely seems to come from their experience gained over these thousands of procedures.

In addition, Icon will tell you when the NIDEK is not for you and it would be better to use the VISX machine or one of the other technologies to perform the procedure. From my understanding - the VISX needs to remove less of the tissue and hence is suited better for those with thinner corneas. In addition it is good for those with high levels of astigmatism - cylinders. - warning - that was not a scientific explanation. You can ask the doctors at Icon as to why they recommended a certain machine over another - and they will be more than happy to answer your questions. (I had a similar question - wondering why I was asked to use the Nidek over the Visx machine - especially after doctors at a different facility scared me about the Nidek's results - which Dr. Rick Anderson answered and I was sure that Nidek would be great for me - saving me around $400 per eye).

Useful information:

NIDEK Clinical Study Results:

Information on "Wavefront vs NIDEK" and "Intralase bladeless lasik vs Microkeratome" and "LASIK vs LASEK":

Wavefront Results:

Advantages of ICON:

All my posts on LASIK:

LASIK - Day 0

dr-anderson-9newsSo I have chosen Icon Lasik of Denver as the facility that will perform my LASIK eye surgery. The doctor recommended the NIDEK machine for my eyes. 

Dr. Timothy Christianson performed the procedure. The whole procedure of going under the machine, getting operated and then walking away from it must have taken less than 7 minutes. The steps were exactly as outlined in my previous post "In quest of 20/20 - LASIK".

I was able to see almost immediately after stepping up from the operating seat - though the vision was blurry - as is to be expected. I felt no major pain or discomfort (I was given a valium and aleve).

Once home, I taped an eye shield over my eyes and hit the sack.todd-park-mohr

(Dr. Rick Anderson - top right and Dr. Timothy Christianson - bottom right)

Friday, March 07, 2008


Dr. Rick Anderson of Denver-based Icon LASIK joined 9NEWS Saturday Morning to talk about the procedure.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

MIX | Sessions

Sessions from MIX 08 are available to view online - MIX | Sessions

iPhone SDK is released!

iPhone Dev Center

index_steps_1Finally news about the iPhone SDK - a beta version has been released. Distribution of applications seems to be possible only via the itunes store - which will start in June.

The iPhone SDK is a free download. Also there are 2 flavors to the dev program (standard - $99 and commercial - $299)

 iPhone Dev Center

In quest of 20/20 - LASIK

What happens during the LASIK surgery:

These images show what happens during the LASIK eye operation.


The eyes are cleaned and a eye drop is used to numb the eyes.


An instrument is used to keep the eyes open


A suction ring is placed around the eye - which lifts the cornea - making it easier to perform the next step.


A microkeratome is used to make a small flap. (If you are using in the interlase procedure, then instead of a mechanical device, a laser is used to make the incision for the flap).


The suction ring is removed and The flap is lifted up


A laser is used to reshape the cornea - to correct for your prescription. During this time you will most probably be asked to look at a blinking light - so that your pupils remain centered. At the same time another laser tracks the position of your pupils and automatically corrects for movements in your eye. In case the laser detects that your pupils have moved by more than a threshold amount, the machine will automatically shut down and the doctor can restart from where the machine left off. The laser works by burning away portions of your cornea - so that the cornea is reshaped to compensate for your prescription.


Once the laser has completed reshaping the cornea, the doctor will fold the flap back into place.

In quest of 20/20

lasik With the date approaching for when my Flex account expires I had to quickly figure out what to do with the cash that is sitting in it. So I have decided to go for LASIK. I have been wearing spectacles for at least 15 years, if not more. It is finally time to wish them adieu!

My wife had her LASIK surgery in 2005 while we were living in Missoula. At that time, we had to drive down to Spokane in Washington to get her surgery done. Hers was a "custom" Lasik (wave front) done on a VISX machine.

Denver on the other hand has many, many options. It is extremely hard to come by any online reviews, etc on all the facilities that offer LASIK in Denver. So I have decided to blog my experience.

I have been investigating the LASIK procedure since 2004 - at which time we were thinking of getting it done in India. Due to scheduling issues that wasn't possible and my wife got hers done in 2005. She had a higher power correction that I have and she was extremely happy with her results. To this day - she has had no problems with her eye surgery and has 20/20 vision.

For my surgery I decided to look around and I checked with TLC, 20-20 Institute and Icon Lasik. I narrowed my search down to TLC and Icon Lasik (Tiger Woods used TLC and he still is a champion - that is good and I had seen the Icon Lasik doctor in a local news piece and he seemed impressive). The main reason I stayed away from eye clinics - is that a place that specializes in LASIK surgeries alone and does 1000s of surgeries every year - should have a ton of more experience than a doctor that does many different eye surgeries. Also many eye surgeons don't own their own equipment and instead rent it for a certain period of the year. Just in case you want to know - Colorado Eye Surgeons and Levinson Eye clinic are two eye surgeons in Denver that perform Lasik.

For my LASIK surgery tomorrow - I am going to Icon Lasik. The main reason that I did not go with TLC was that I felt like they herded people through a manufacturing line. My initial measurements weren't done right and you end up speaking to many more people than just the doctor - including a sales person - who tries to make you sign up for the surgery on the spot - telling you things like prices are going up, etc. In addition - I felt as though they were always trying to push me towards the higher priced packages - such as the bladeless LASIK - for no good reason.

At Icon Lasik - I got to speak to the main doctor - Dr. Rick Anderson - and I was able to go into the office multiple times to speak to him about my concerns. Icon has multiple LASIK machines on which they can perform your surgery. This includes the NIDEK and the VISK 4 machines. Apart from the easy accessibility to the doctor, what sold me on Icon was the fact that the doctor did not recommend that I use the most expensive procedure that they have - but what he thought was most appropriate for my situation.

After having called and visited the Icon center multiple times - I feel confident that Dr. Anderson would do a good job on my eyes. He recommended that I use the NIDEK laser, which will cost me $699 per eye.

Microsoft Excel: Revolutionary 3D Game Engine?

via Josh Morey ( Gamasutra - Microsoft Excel: Revolutionary 3D Game Engine?

Maybe not a revolutionary game engine - but a pretty cool demo of what one can do with Excel!

According to the author:

Cutting-edge computer games use different graphics subsystems -- so-called 3D graphics engines. Source (used in Half Life 2), Unreal Engine (Unreal Tournament), idTech 4 (Doom 3), CryENGINE2 (Crysis) or Clever's Paradox engine are well-known among the players and the game industry experts.

It's time to learn a new 3D game engine name: Microsoft Excel.

It is understood that Excel is an all-round office tool, but probably it is unknown that it has a bunch of features that makes Excel a high-class 3D graphics engine.

In this article I will demonstrate Excel's arithmetical facilities, the embedded rendering subsystems (there are two of them!) and the revolutionary approach which might just cause a paradigm shift. I hope you will discover that Excel effectively and efficiently incorporates practicality, tons of features, the multi-platform portability and the high performance with the unique and futuristic 3D engine features.

The chapters even have demo programs and movies created with the Excel 3D engine.

And here are a couple of the cool videos! Awesomeness!

In the first one - each cell in Excel has been used as a pixel. The author calls this Excel-native Cell Graphics (ECG).

The next one is called Office-level Graphics Abstraction Layer (OGAL).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Microsoft releases the Virtual Earth Appliance


Virtual Earth's browser-based capabilities are now available behind a customer’s firewall, on private or classified networks, and on portable platforms.

The Virtual Earth Appliance is designed to bring all of the rich data and functionality of the Virtual Earth internet service to the offline customer.

Vexcel Remote Sensing Ground Systems

Google Maps meets Dead Zone

Very funny!

Google LatLong: Got 3D data?

Google LatLong: Got 3D data?

Google Cities in 3D Program

via Got 3D data- and DirectionsMag

SNAG-0002 Google solicits building model data from local governments via its "Google Cities in 3D Program". Google advertises the program as a means for government to share its data with other stake-holders as well as the general public.

If you have LIDAR data for your city then you must give LIDAR Analyst a try. LIDAR Analyst not only can extract your buildings but will also export it to KML files - which can then be provided to other users either through the "Google Cities in 3D Program" or via your own website. In addition you can also provide Google with your bare-earth DEMs, as well as tree and forest layers that you extracted using LIDAR Analyst.


Here is what Google has to say about the data formats that they will accept towards this program. (

  • What file formats can be uploaded into the 3D Warehouse?

    • SketchUp ".skp"
    • Google Earth ".kmz" (LIDAR Analyst will output KML files - which need to be zipped and renamed to KMZ)
    • COLLADA ".dae"

  • What 3D data types does Google accept?

    • Photo-textured 3D buildings in any of the following file formats:
      • .shp, .kmz, .skp, .dae, .3ds, .max.
    • Non-textured 3D buildings in any of the following file formats:
      • .shp, .kmz, .skp, .dae, .3ds, .max.
    • Building footprints with heights (extruded or has z-value)
      • .shp, .csv, .kmz.(LIDAR Analyst can provide you attributed buildings with z-values in shp as well as KML formats).

    In the current version of LIDAR Analyst - features can be exported as kml files. KMZ files - are just zipped kml files. In a future release, you will be able to export features directly to the KMZ file format.


    SNAG-0000 Building footprints (red) shown on top of the hill-shaded last return DEM. Buildings were auto-magically extracted from first and last return DEMs. (LIDAR Analyst is a plugin that works with ArcMAP and Erdas Imagine).





    SNAG-0001 Building footprints exported as a KML file to Google Earth.

    SNAG-0003 Building footprints exported as extruded building models to Google Earth.

  • Top 10 Amazing Chemistry Videos


    10 really cool videos that should tickle every chemistry loving molecule in your body.

    Top 10 Amazing Chemistry Videos | Wired Science from

    Monday, March 03, 2008

    The Best Free Software - Reviews by PC Magazine

    from The Best Free Software - Reviews by PC Magazine:

    157 software tools. No fees. No expiration dates. No problems. Sometimes even no downloads. No kidding.

    Here are the ones I use or found interesting from the list (also at the end are some that didn't make this list - but are high on mine):

    Firefox (though my primary browser of choice is IE)
    Windows | MacOS | Linux This PC Mag Editors' Choice Web browser has been on top of the heap since version 1.5 came out in late 2005.

    GIMP (I mainly use Photoshop - but when I dont have it I use either Paint.NET or GIMP)
    Windows | MacOS | Linux The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) does most of what Photoshop does; the Gimpshop project ( even makes it look like Photoshop.

    ajaxWindows (This sounds very cool)
    Web A virtual operating system (aka Web OS), it uses Asynchronous Java-Script and XML (AJAX) programming to mimic the look and feel of a Windows desktop in Firefox or IE. It stores files (using Gmail) and runs its own applications, plus Web apps like Meebo and Google Maps. If you can launch a Web browser, you can get work done through ajaxWindows.

    AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (On machines where I cant install McAfee - this is my choice of AV)
    Windows Its control center is awkward, but AVG scans files on demand, upon access, on a schedule, and in e-mail. Its rescue disks will help you recover from disaster.

    HijackThis (A must have)
    Windows Run HijackThis, save a log, and then post the log on sites that support the program. You'll quickly get personalized expert help to remove any malware.

    EULAlyzer (another possibly cool software I might install)
    Windows Wonder what you're agreeing to when you click "I Accept"? Don't worry; just drag EULAlyzer's target icon onto the EULA for a quick report on any troublesome language.

    mint (This is already my favorite money management software - my post: Mint Refreshing Money Management)
    Web Mint isn't like Quicken, where you enter in all your transactions. Instead, it syncs with your bank and credit card accounts online, checks your spending habits, and tells you how to improve to save money. If you're not paying attention to your spending, it'll send you regular alerts to inform you where your money has gone (nice for making sure you haven't been ripped off).

    Google Docs (When I need to work on a document that needs constant shared access and collaboration - GDocs is what I use - though my primary office app is still MS Office)
    Web | Mobile Google's slickly designed office suite offers online shared word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations-and best of all, finally a solid alternative in the office-suite space to the totally dominating Microsoft. Upload or e-mail your current documents for storage and editing.

    Notepad++ (As a developer - I constantly use this tool)
    Windows Notepad++ handles text--especially source code-in ways the basic Windows Notepad could only dream of, with embellishments like tabs and color coding.

    Windows Live Mail (If you post to your blog constantly - this tool will make your life so much easier)
    Windows Live Mail not only reads your Hotmail, but also can check POP, IMAP, or HTTP mail accounts. It works as an RSS feed reader and a newsreader.

    SyncToy v2.0 (Another awesomely cool tool from Microsoft - keeps my life simple by doing all the back up and sync work between all my computers and the centralized backup disk).
    Windows Make sure folders across your networked computers contain the same files, even on drives that change location and name.

    CCleaner (I like this tool for how simple it makes it to clean the crap of your machine)
    Windows The extra C is for crap, and that's what CCleaner gets rid of: all the detritus left behind in the course of using Windows.

    FileZilla (Before I used to use SmartFTP - but who wants annoying ware - this works just as great and is completely free!)
    Windows | MacOS | Linux Download this FTP client for accessing multiple sites or to use as an FTP server. In both cases, FileZilla has convenient drag-and-drop support.

    NetStumbler (Useful for the laptop)
    Windows Use it to detect any Wi-Fi network in your vicinity and see if it's open for use, or just use it to troubleshoot your own.

    Google Reader (This is my favorite reader - as I can quickly move between any of the 3 machines I am working with and start of from where I left on another machine. Also you can access your reading list from your phone. One of the best online apps)
    Web | Mobile Google Reader is arguably the best RSS/newsfeed reader on the Internet. Read feeds while off-line or on your mobile phone.

    ooVoo (My main messenger style app is Live Messenger. But when I want to video chat with more than 1 person - this is the best. You can video chat with upto 5 other people).
    Windows | MacOS ooVoo video chat is more P2P than Skype (no supernodes!), with a better picture. It supports up to six co-videoconferencers, file transfers, and group text chat.

    Jing (This is the best free app to do screen captures. The interface is a little two simple and sometime annoying to work with - but its made on the platform of CamTasia - so its pretty good and fast)
    Windows | MacOSx Jing shares what's showing on your monitor with others online, or records it for future viewing.

    VLC media player (I constantly use this app - especially to play all the flv files I have. You can also convert your flv files to other formats)
    Windows | MacOS | Linux Forget Windows Media Player. VideoLAN's open-source VLC can replace it, and nearly every other player, too. VLC supports almost every audio format and video codec imaginable and doubles as a server for streaming your music and video to other PCs. Change its skin to make it look like the player you want—even WMP.

    Paint.NET (I use this app constantly. Especially when I dont need the muscle of PaintShop but need more control then Picasa - this is my go to graphics app)
    Windows This program is probably the closest thing to Photoshop you can get free, courtesy of a student project.

    Picasa (For browsing, cataloging your digital images this is my favorite. In addition I love how simple it makes it for me to post my images to the web using PicasaWeb. The only reason I dont use flickr is how easy it is for me to post images to PicasaWeb using Picasa.)
    Windows | Linux Google's photo manager makes it easy to get pictures off a digital camera, organize them, and even edit and share them.

    Google Toolbar (My favorite feature about G-Toolbar - is bookmarks. Bookmarking via this toolbar is easy and makes your book marks available on any computer - either via a web page or the toolbar. Also - I love the FireFox style search that it provides within IE. Another must have tool)
    Windows | MacOS | Linux The toolbar brings Google's search and other functionality directly to IE or Firefox. It offers extras like auto fill, spell-checking, and one-click RSS feed subscriptions. (After I got most of my family subscribed to this site - its amazing how much our family tree has grown. Its easy - that even the oldest members in my family were able to get in on the action).
    Web | Flash Share your genealogy with everyone in the family. They can contribute more individual profiles until your family tree is complete.

    Google Earth (Just install it - enuff said. Also get the Virtual Earth control for your browser.)
    Windows | MacOS | Linux Fly over familiar terrain or foreign lands with Google Earth, a searchable database of satellite images and geographical data—even images of the heavens. You can go a step further with all sorts of downloadable, gee-whiz applications from scientists, media outlets, and other third-party developers to trick out your Earth-moving experience.

    Google Maps (I am constantly using Live Maps and Google Maps - dont have a clear favorite as yet - but sometimes find the Live Maps has better and more relevant search results)
    Web | Mobile This interactive mapping tool goes beyond driving directions. View destinations in Street View, Satellite, or Terrain modes; check traffic updates; or look up info on nearby businesses.

    Other apps I like and that didnt get a mention in the above list:

    TrueCrypt: The easiest way to secure your important information. Provides you with an encrypted file which is mounted and acts like another disk drive. Simple and powerful.

    OrbitDownloader: Makes it much easier to download media from web-pages. Especially useful to download a backup of YouTube videos.

    Andrea Mosaic: Make cool mosaic images from many small thumbnails derived from images on your hard-disk.

    WinDirStat: A very useful system utility - that shows you how your disk space is being used. Use it to quickly find those large files that you no longer need and delete them.

    Saturday, March 01, 2008

    PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2008 released

    via VSX Team Blog : PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2008 released

    PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2008 is now available for free download, along with source code and a readme document. PowerCommands, is a set of useful extensions for the Visual Studio 2008 adding additional functionality to various areas of the IDE.
    The source code, which requires the VS SDK for VS 2008 installed, can be used to modify the existing PowerCommands functionality or to use as a reference sample for creating additional custom menu extensions.
    PowerCommands is the type of extension for Visual Studio that contains additional command menu functions for the VS IDE that most VS developers would use regularly. Some of these cool menu commands are being considered for new IDE features in the next version of Visual Studio. PowerCommands makes a great complementary PowerToy utility to both StickyNotes and the Source Code Outliner PowerToy.