Marius Gheorghe

Building software : make it work, make it good, make it fast

Overwrite default font in Firefox

If you're using Firefox there's no need to use the crappy fonts "designers" use for their pages. Install your favorite font and set it as default :

Just uncheck "Allow pages to choose their own font" .

Universal Windows apps - risking the quality of the apps

I've played around for a bit with a Lumia device which run the latest Window 10 mobile. To be honest the entire switch to "Universal Windows apps" doesn't seem to great from a user perspective.

The main thing is that not matter how great the API is, it is HARD to make a app "work" from a 4 inch phone (using touch as input) to a Xbox One running on a 70' TV using a controller for input. Different device sizes and different input methods are usually handled differently so "hiding" all this under a API won't necessarily make the apps great.

Just look at Android, even after all these years you can still find apps which suck when are running on a tablet (they don't make proper use of the entire screen estate). Nevermind the fact the the OS still doesn't support basic features like running 2 apps side by side (never mind the Samsung hacks, that has his own share of problems).

To me, with the universal runtime , it seems Microsoft is risking to have more apps which are mediocre on multiple devices rather than fewer apps which run and work great on each device type. Windows Mobile /Windows 10 won't compete with Android / iOS regarding the number of apps anytime soon (if ever).

Is it worth risking the user experience for "many apps" ? Personally i don't think so.

Backup up GDrive to Dropbox

So i've found out that Dropbox and OneDrive actually support junction points . That basically means you can backup your GDrive and OneDrive folder to Dropbox (for instance) .

To make this work you only need to create a NTFS junction point. For instance if you want to backup GDrive to Dropbox :

mklink /j "c:\dropbox\gdrive" "c:\users\blah\google drive"

Obviously fix the paths from the example. This will create the junction point "gdrive" in the dropbox folder which will point to the original GDrive folder and Dropbox will happily sync the content of the GDrive folder.

Neat, huh ?

PocketBook Basic 2 minireview

pocketbook

So i got a new ebook reader a few days ago. Since the Kindle doesn't do epubs and i don't need backlight and touch, eventually i've decided on a PocketBook Basic 2.

Hardware:

Plastic but nice. I like that it's very very light (specs says 188gr). The backside will get smeared with fingerprints but it's not a big deal. The only downside i find with the hardware is that the next/back buttons don't seem to always register.

Software:


Overall i would say the software is okeish, but it has some problems/missing features. As far as i can tell there are 2 reader apps in there : FBReader and AdobeViewer. My problem is that you can't choose what app to use for what format. So, for instance, i can't choose to read epubs with FBReader, AdobeViewer will be used by default (i'm guessing this is because it also supports epubs with DRM and only AdobeViewer can handle those).
Also it does have a annoying bug. You can set general settings like font name, width, size etc but AdobeViewer doesn't use those. So as a result for every book you have to set again the font, size etc. Needless to say this gets annoying very fast.
For missing features, a library search feature would be nice.

Conclusion:

Overall i would recommend this. It's cheap and gets the job done very good.

Hacking a standing desk

A few months ago i had a surgery which, temporarily, prevented me from sitting down for long(er) periods. So i had to sit up while working. I looked around for transforming a regular desk to something that can be used while standing up and here's what i have come up with :
standing desk
Basically 2 simple desk "extensions" that can be placed directly on the desk. I didn't opted for a single "piece" because, while standing up, i have found out that i'm sitting more comfortably if the keyboard is slightly lower than the monitor desk (this actually depends on the degree to which the monitor(s) can be adjusted. Mine are not really that adjustable).
The obvious downside is that, if you'd like to sit down for a short period is pretty inconvenient to remove the "extensions" and added them back again. A vertically adjustable desk would work much better here (but it way more expensive).

Rumored Surface pricing

So today possible Surface (the "cheap" version of Surface) prices were leaked152 directly on microsoftstore.com153

If those prices are real, that's a shame. It basically means Microsoft is not really in a position to take on Android right now. Windows 8 it's a great OS (from my point of view if the best Microsoft OS to date) but it sure will need some help to gain some traction. And the hardware pricing doesn't seem to help.

I guess we'll see more in the following days when the Surface price will be confirmed.


Update : Prices are real. Available for preorder here154

Reminescing about the past. Part I

Don't know exactly why but i thought i should write about some of my "computing" experiences from my childhood. My first "computer" was a CIP 03.


cip03

This bad boy was produced by the romanian company Electonica and it was basically a ZX Spectrum156 clone (not sure if legal or not).

I have to say that unlike other people i basically become interested in computers because of games (a passion/hobby which i still have +25 years later). To get my parents to buy me a CIP 03, i kind of tricked them into thinking that one would help me a lot in school (for math) and that i would learn programming (not really interested in that back then).


And what fun times i had with this little machine. Playing the entire Dizzy collection157 (Spellbound was the best), Midnight Resistance, Operation Wolf, River Raid and all the other great games were one of the happiest moments of my childhood. Heck i remember even now the sound the game was doing when it was loading off the cassette tape (beep, beeep, beeeeep, brrrrrrr :)
Incidentally, my first contact with reading/writing code was because, sometimes, i wanted to cheat in games (infinite lives FTW). On same games, after loading for 7-8 seconds, you could temporarely stop the loading process and modify the values of some variables by writing a few lines of BASIC code.


That was basically it....writing a few lines of code to cheat in a game was the spark that ignited the passion for programming and discovering how that machine works.

Opeth - the ghost reveries

Listened to latest Opeth last night. Very good album. Wholeheartedly recommended. Also...music related...i'm going to a Nightwish concert tonight in Bucharest. It should ROCK.