Archives for March 2007

Book Review: “JavaScript Phrasebook” by Christian Wenz

JavaScript_Phrasebook_Cover.jpgWhether you are just starting out with JavaScript, or you have JavaScript experience and want more ideas and tips, this is the best twelve bucks you’ll ever spend. JavaScript Phrasebook by Christian Wenz [Amazon link] is chuck full of useful information in a no-nonsense style. This pocket-sized paperback has 12 chapters spanning 245 pages: JavaScript Basics, Common Phrases, Images and Annotations, CSS, DOM and DHTML, OOP and Events, Cookies, Forms, Windows and Frames, Web Services, AJAX (and Related Topics), and Embedded Media.

I learned more in 45 minutes of reading this book than in the previous dozen hours I had spent online via Google searches. Continue Reading »

Create Windows Installers with InnoSetup, Free and Easy

Inno Setup is a tool for building Windows Installers (i.e. “setup.exe” programs). Inno Setup is FOSS (free open source software). It’s powerful and flexible; the learning curve is fairly gentle; and, the price is right. From their home page: “Inno Setup is a free installer for Windows programs. First introduced in 1997, Inno Setup today rivals and even surpasses many commercial installers in feature set and stability.” Inno Setup is a healthy, active project that gets updated several times a year. (Version 5.1.11 was just released on March 1, 2007.)


No Job Too Small: Since Inno Setup is so easy to use, it’s worth considering for even the tiniest of projects — and we’re not just talking about installing software here. If there is ever a situation when files of any sort are sent to a third-party (“the user”), and then somebody needs to talk that user through a process of doing something with those files (e.g. making sure they get placed in a certain location), then that right there is a candidate for an Inno Setup job.

Continue Reading »

Convert Many Word Documents to ASCII At Once

In a recent tip, we showed you how to convert a Microsoft Word document to plain ASCII text using a CygWin command called CATDOC. At the end of that article, we promised to show you how to do multiple conversions in one fell swoop. Well, hang on tight, because this will go lickety-split.

This job requires the help of a small shell script, as follows:


# Finds all Word Document files (i.e. named
# *.doc) that are at or below the current
# folder and converts them to plain ASCII
# text, by adding '.txt' to the file name.
# For example, Research.doc becomes
# Research.doc.txt (if Research.doc.txt
# already exists, it will be overridden).
# The original Word document is left alone.

for f in $( find . -name '*.doc' ); do
catdoc -w $f > $f.txt

Continue Reading »

Quick Tip: Removing Unused Outlook Auto-Complete Addresses

Outlook 2003, and later, has a nice feature known as email-address-auto-complete. With it, you just type in the first few letters of the recipient’s name and choices begin to appear. Press the down arrow a few times, hit Enter, and you’re done. I use it all the time since it’s much faster than it is to click “To…”, search the address book, click “To->”, and then click OK. Outlook handles auto-complete by keeping a list of e-mail addresses you’ve sent, but it’s not too smart about it. For example, after a friend changes his e-mail address and you start using the new one, you’ll have both the old and new addresses listed. Luckily the fix is simple, if not obvious.

Outlook Autocomplete
To remove an item from the auto-complete list, begin as you normally would by typing the first few characters of the name. With the list displayed, press the down arrow key until you’ve highlighted the address you want to remove. Now, press the Delete key. Presto! You’re done. You now have a shorter, simpler list to navigate next time.

Comparing Two Versions of a Word Document

Has this ever happened to you? You prepare a document in Microsoft Word and send it out for review, but when you get back the reviewed copies you find that one of the reviewers made changes without change-tracking turned on. So, how do you find out what changes were made? It turns out, there’s three ways to tackle this. (Another scenario is that you, yourself, create multiple versions of the same document over time, but then forget which is which. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that.)

The first method is to use Microsoft Word itself. It has a feature that allows you to compare two versions of the same document, and merge them into a third version. Whatever differences it finds between the first two become tracked changes in the third. At that point, you can review the changes to accept or reject them, just as if the reviewer had turned on track changes in the first place. Now, I must admit that I don’t personally use this feature very often. But, as I recall, it can be tricky to make sure that Word compares the files in the correct order. If you get it backwards, then additions show up as deletions and vice versa. (Note: My experience is based on Office 2000. The process may have improved since then.) In Office 2000, the instructions for doing this are under the heading of “Compare two copies of a document”. Paste that phrase into the “What would you like to do?” box in the help system, and it should come right up.

The second method is to use an external compare tool, such as WinMerge. (See our previous tips about downloading, installing and using WinMerge). Continue Reading »

Quick Tip: Searching for Files in Linux (or Windows)

Anyone with Windows experience who is new to UNIX/Linux/CygWin pretty quickly figures out that the LS command in UNIX is the equivalent of the DIR command in Windows. At least, it is equivalent up to a point. Issuing the DIR command in Windows (with no arguments) will display the contents of the current folder. Issuing the LS command in UNIX with no arguments will do the same. After that, however, the similarities end. Say, for example, you’re searching for a file called “debug.log” that you know to be in a subfolder, or sub-subfolder, of the current directory. In Windows, the command “DIR /S debug.log” will do the job nicely. The “/S” switch tells the DIR command to recurse through every subdirectory, while the “debug.log” argument tells the DIR command what file(s) to look for.

In UNIX, however, the tool for that job is the FIND command, not the LS command. Continue Reading »

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