Tips Tools

My own RSS synching Server using Tiny Tiny RSS

After demise of my favorite RSS Synching Service … Google Reader back in July 2013, I was little lost in quest for ultimate alternative Open-mouthed smile since like many IT guys, I don’t stick to just one device and read my feed always from there. Plus me “experimenting” on different things on same system means loosing all of my unbackedup feeds at some unfortunate event of catastrophic system failure … which is just not acceptable for me.

So after little Googling I found out that it’s not just me there are many many people who were upset with Google for discontinuing this great service in the name of “cleaning”. And unlike many upset users who switched to just other local readers… some went a step further and decided to not to be dependent of any other service but to rollout their own solution !! I was able to find two services particularly interesting, one is CommaFeed and another one is Tiny Tiny RSS (aka tt-rss). But former can be pain in back to setup since it requires to checkout project from github and then deploy it on your sever and do whole lot of juggling. But Tiny Tiny RSS (aka tt-rss) is way more simpler solution than that. So I decided to use it to take my revenge to Google Reader Open-mouthed smile. This post is about how did I setup tt-rss on my own server and use it to synch my feeds automatically.

First thing first, you need to find a hosting provider who provides hosting with PHP v. 5.3 or up. There are many providers that do free hosting with required PHP version. I decided to try for this demo (no strings attached with this provider Don't tell anyone smile).

Next is to get latest version of tt-rss from project site. And either extract whole project in your computer and upload everything from your computer OR just upload one TAR file and extract it on site.


Auto Hot Key – My new scripting platform

I like to work with scripting languages be it PowerShell or Batch or VB… One of the reasons for liking is it gives me “false sense” of Linux environment Open-mouthed smile … But the main reason I like scripting because I am lazy by nature and scripts are great way to automate lot of things which are routine of my work.

But even will all greatness there are few quirks like no GUI, cryptic syntax exists that make one bit shy to use these scripting languages. I think it is one of the reasons why usually scripting is considered forbidden knowledge for anyone other than likes of system administrators Confused smile

Expression Blend Tools

Prototyping using Expression Blend, Sketchflow – Part I

Prototyping in terms of software development can be seen as a process of modeling concept of a software with some interaction. In some cases it could be totally different than final product but in general it is really helpful process because it gives developers / product owners better idea about what to expect from product and what can be improved. There is another term commonly used among web developers called Wireframing. It is same as software prototyping but it is specifically used for web sites.

As both of these things are very visual they give better idea about product and they are usually worked/reworked to improve final product. There are many many tools available for out of which Axure, Balsamiq and Expression Blend (which is part of Expression Studio Visual Studio 2012) are my favorite.

While back I was involved in a project where I was required to prepare initial concept of application design … it was very early stage of application designing and application itself was more of an idea than actual product. So I was required to create something very basic which gives an idea to developers and product owner how application could look like and how it will be interacted etc … as I had played with Expression Blend before so I ended up using it for my sample prototyping project.

So in this post I probably give basic introduction to the tool of trade and in another post I will actually show to we can use Expression Blend addin Sketchflow to prepare prototype applications in Silverlight or WPF. I am using expression blend show the tool but it has met end of lifecycle and MSFT has integrated it into Visual Studio 2012 but usability vise you probably will not see any difference at all. I personally still prefer to use Expression Blend over Visual Studio because it loads faster and is less resource hungry Open-mouthed smile. If you look at screenshots below you will notice that both Blend for VS 2012 and Expression Blend 4 looks almost same.

Mockup11 Mockup10
How To Installer Tools

Editing MSI with OCRA

If you have worked with MSI then you probably know that it uses an internal database to store all kind of information and you can actually directly modify this information by using a great tool OCRA. It is tiny utility released by MSFT.

But unfortunately it is not “that” simple to get OCRA because it is not available as separate download , instead it is part of Windows SDK. Which means that if you want OCRA you have to download whole Windows 7 SDK. And even after downloading whole 1.4 Gb ISO, this tools is not easily visible. Once you download ISO (for x64 bit download), either make DVD or mount it as virtual drive (my preferred option) then go to \Setup\WinSDKTools_amd64 and open up Inside that you will see WinSDK_Orca_Msi_5E20C107_DAA3_4D49_AFAE_7FB2594F0CDC_amd64 , extract that file and add extension .msi to it. And that is your installation for OCRA !! I really don’t know why such a great tool is hidden so deep by MSFT (and it is not the only great tool neglected by them). Once you install it you will see an additional entry “Edit with OCRA” in context menu whenever you right click on MSI.