Monday, June 28, 2010

Programmig like there is no MS Windows OS

There is nothing worse than a Delphi programmer programming like a Visual C programmer. Delphi programmers have the advantages of being able to create applications that are relatively isolated by the Windows OS. This is why most applications compiled for Windows 3.1 are still working on Windows 7.
However, there are some areas that Borland didn’t cover (non insulated code). One of them is Internet-oriented applications. For this kind of applications the Delphi coder has to rely on MS libraries. Well, there is the possibility to rely on complex 3rd party Delphi libraries but this is not better that relying of MS libraries. Maybe worse. We all know how many 3rd party libraries died or were left to be eaten by time and rust.

I have seen that some people (especially those that are not from Europe or other countries that have lawsuit against MS) imagine that any computer in the world has to have MS Office and Internet Explorer installed by default! Well people, it is not like that. You cannot just believe (religion has no place in programming) or even hope that the client has the latest Win 7 64 bit OS, service pack, IE, IE updates, XML libraries, dot NET, Java, etc, etc, etc, etc, installed in its machine. You need to start from the premise that they have none of them installed. Only then your application may be robust and working on all Win OS platforms.
So, depending on MS libraries is obviously pure evil for a Delphi programmer (and not only). But we still need to connect to Internet and do fancy stuff such as downloading files (well, for Delphi this is indeed fancy!) while keeping the application system-independent and robust. So, we have to choose between using a 3rd party library which will probably get obsolete and unmaintained sooner than later or to use MS libraries. The thing with using Delphi code to connect to internet based on MS libraries is that the code seems unreliable. It is not multithreaded and it lacks the support for detecting connectivity problems. The application may freeze to death if the, physical connection breaks, if the modem dies, if the ISP is down, if the web server is not responding, etc.
So, let’s see the advantages as disadvantages:

3rd Delphi party libraries:
* They may die and get obsolete.
* Large libraries (such as Indy) will increase the compilation time with several good seconds!
* Are difficult to maintain
* May have poor support (if any at all)
* Many of them that anti-freezing support

Code based on MS libraries (such as IE)

* May not work in all computers (especially in Europe)
* Have no anti-freezing support
* Difficult to use (no support also)

I actually don't know what it worst: application freezing (for a long while) while trying to connect to Internet or application not downloading the file until you convince the user to manually install stuff (MS internet related libraries) in its computer. Basically if you convince the user to go to MS web site and install stuff, then you will rather send it directly to your web site and manually download the stuff your program needs :) :) :) :) :)

Some may instantly fall into the sin of thinking that the “solution” is to deliver the libraries with the application, and install them when the application starts. Well, do you really mess up with user’s system? They are so possessive about their computers. As soon as they will see you installed stuff into their system core they will immediately start posting of forum how evil your application is and how you have tried to take over their system.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

4GB of Toshiba bloatware

Toshiba preinstalls a loat of bloatware on Toshiba Qosmio laptops. I decided to tidy up my Toshiba laptop to make it boot faster. Also, after uninstalling all kind of Toshiba garbage, setup files, trial games and other leftovers, and deleting the multi-language files (except English) for all installed software, I decreased the consumed space from about 4.5GB to only 152MB.

The following processes are running by default on all Toshiba Qosmio laptops. You can safely stop them using MSConfig.

SmoothView.exe - TOSHIBA SmoothView Zooming Utility.
Is installed on various Toshiba Laptops and handles zooming and scrolling of the screen to create a larger desktop.

TcrdMain.exe - TOSHIBA FlashCards - 27MB RAM
Without it the Fn key will stop working.

NDStray.exe - 1.2MB RAM
Tray utility for network switching application which permits switching network devices and settings with a click on the tray icon. While it is not required, for people who span multiple networks and want an easy way to go from wired to wireless and change addresses and other network settings, it's a must have.
Assists you managing and configuring your Wifi/Bluetooth Components in your Notebook. Stop it if you don't use your wireless. NDS Tray is combined with the Toshiba Tool Config Free.
Can be stopped? Yes, but the ConfigFree icon will disappear from system tray.

TosNcCore.exe - Message Center - 8.6MB RAM
If you stop it the Toshiba Buletin Board icon will disappear from system tray.
Can be stopped? Yes. Thanks god!

TPwrMain.exe - TOSHIBA Power Saver - 11MB RAM
Can be stopped? Unknown.

tosSENotify.exe - Toshiba HDD/SSD Alert Utility - 9.8MB RAM
It checks S.M.A.R.T status of the HDD.
Can be stopped? Yes, but run it once per week (or more often if your laptop is over 2 years old).

Things to be uninstalled definitively:

Toshiba Bulletin Board - about 150MB
Toshiba Reel Time - about 150MB
Corel DVD MovieFactory - 708MB!
TOSHIBA Games (including "Game Explorer" and "Game Console") - about 40MB
WORKSSETUP folder - 1.1GB (location c:\Program Files (x86)\TOSHIBA\WORKSSETUP\)
Vcredist_x86.exe - This is a Visual C redistribution file. Do a search in your computer and delete it from everywhere.

Toshiba support forum:


Recommended download:


Monday, June 14, 2010

Best chargers ever


Best charger ever

What you will NOT find here:

NiCd batteries are now considered obsolete so we will not review this chemistry.

Chargers that are work at 110V (USA) will also be ignored. Portability is an important factor, as you may want to take your charger with you when you travel with your digital camera.

Weak chargers (under 2100mAh) has been ignored also. This place is not for lamers :)

What you should expect from a charger:

Powerful, portable and most of all, smart! Smart means it that it measures the voltage and temperature of the battery during charging process. This way it knows when to stop the charging, protecting your batteries.



Max charge current




Power supply Smart control Speed DISPLAY



Made in/Brand name General score Comments Picture
 AA AAA C D 9V Europe (220V) USA (110V) Car (9V) DeltaV or MaxV Temp.  protection Trickle charge Recovers dead batteries Identifies Defective Cells Reverse Polarity Protection Short Circuit Protection



Discharge mode

TurboCharger 400

2500 4 4 0 0 0 Simultaneous

2 or 4
Yes Yes no Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No 800 300mA 2 LED $25




10   charger
La Crosse 900 Alpha Power 3000 4 4 Adapt Adapt 0 Independent channels Yes Yes no Yes Yes Yes No Yes ? ? 200, 500, 700 Yes Smart LCD! $80 USA

Big brand
- As 700 but with lots of accessories.
La Crosse 700 Alpha Power 3000 4 4 0 0 0 Independent channels Yes Yes no Yes Yes Yes No Yes ? ? 200, 500, 700 Yes Smart LCD! $50 USA

Big brand
9 Very smart (shows battery voltage and capacity)

Hightech 6-Bank Universal

? 6 6 Yes Yes 0 Independent channels Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? ?   Yes Yes

1000, 1000, 1000

Yes LCD Display $80   N/A  
Titanium Ultra Fast Smart Charger 2900


4 4 4 4 2 Independent channels Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? ? Yes Yes Yes

AA -> 1600

C/D -> 1600

AAA -> 500

9V -> 80

Yes   $60 ? N/A    
Uniross Sprint 2900 2 2 0 0 0 Simultaneous

2 or 4
Yes Yes Yes Yes ? ? ? Yes Yes Yes     Red/Green LED $33 ? N/A  
Multiplier UNIVERSAL 2900


4 4 4 4 2 Independent channels ? Yes ? ? ? Yes ? ? ? ? ? ? LED $26        

You know a better charger? Please let us know (email us).



Channels - the charger can load the batteries two by two (not so great) or independently (this way you can load three batteries at once, for example, instead of two or four)

General score - Score given by other people/reviewers. On a scale from 1 to 10.

Advices for storing batteries:

Store between 40 and 80 degrees F. Do not refrigerate.

Batteries will self-discharge if left unused.

NiMh batteries should be stored fully charged and recharged every 30 days to keep in peak capacity.

NiCd batteries should be stored fully discharged.

Do not “store” batteries in the charger.

It is not recommended to “condition” batteries until after they have bee charged and used 10 times.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Toshiba Qosmio - 10GB hidden partition

I just find out where a good chunk on my free HDD space disappeared.

After purchasing the Toshiba Qosmio laptop, I have seen that only 450GB of 500 are available. Few hours after purchase I discovered that two large hidden partitions were created by Toshiba. One is 1GB large and it seems to be the standard Windows 7 hidden partition - but obviously much larger. The second one is not less than 10.3GB in size! It seems to contain the recovery software (Windows setup, drivers, etc.)
The second partition is safe to delete since the so called "recovery" tool offered by Toshiba is 100% useless because it will format your drive and reinstall Windows instead of actually trying to recover the data for you.

So, no matter what you do, DO NOT use Toshiba's recovery utility if you have and important files on your drive!


The partitions can bee seen using the Disk Management utility.
Start>Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Computer Managment>Disk Management

Just delete the last partition (not also the first one!) and expand the previous one to fill the free space.


Recommended download:


Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to restore the boot (Win7)

So, you are in trouble? Your Windows 7 system is not booting? How to repair it?

To reach the automatic recovery utility and use it to repair the bot automatically, you have two options:

A. 1) If your computer is NOT booting at all:
Insert Windows 7 installation CD and re-start your system. Press any key when you are prompted to. In the windows that will start, choose your favourite input language/keyboard. Click 'Next'. Choose 'Repair' option. Then use the onscreen wizard (first menu is what you are looking for) to let Windows repair your boot automatically.

A. 2) If your computer is booting (but Windows in not loading), you don't need to boot from a CD. Just restart your computer and keep the F8 key pressed. A special menu will appear. Choose the last item called "system recovery" and do the same as above.

If automatic recovery is not working, go to plan B.

B) Manual recovery.

These MS utilities may be if great help to you:


You will not find these utilities in Windows. These utilities are available only in the System Recovery utility (folow steps A1 or A2 to reach the System Recovery utility).

Start a DOS console (click 'Command Prompt' in the 'System Recovery Options' dialog box) and type:

BootRec.exe /FixMbr
BootRec.exe /FixBoot

After this you can list the available operation systems/disks:
BootRec.exe /ScanOs

The /ScanOs option scans all disks for installations that are compatible with Windows Vista. Additionally, this option displays the entries that are currently not in the BCD store. Use this option when there are Windows Vista installations that the Boot Manager menu does not list.

Finally type the last command; the most important one:
BootRec.exe /RebuildBcd

This command scans all disks for installations that are compatible with Windows Vista. Additionally, this option lets you select the installations that you want to add to the BCD store. Use this option when you must completely rebuild the BCD.

If it is not working, you can try to force the boot installation manually:

Bootsect.exe c: /NT60

Use the correct drive letter instead of C:.
Use /nt52 instead of /nt60 if the operation system on the disk is below Windows Vista
Use the "BootSect.exe /NT60 ALL" command to restore the boot sector on all drives.

Prevent the disaster
The boot information if kept in a file called "c:\boot\bcd". If your computer is working fine now, stop any reading you are doing now, and go immediately and make a copy of this file. You can name it "bcd.good" If later you will thank me for this. If you are playing with the above commands and ruin your boot, you can restore it by renaming the "bcd.good" file back to "bcd". Note: the c:\boot folder may be hidden (invisible).

You may also want to see this:

bcdEdit.exe command

Easy BCD - freeware
EasyBCD is NeoSmart Technologies' multiple award-winning answer to tweaking the new Windows Vista bootloader. With EasyBCD, almost anything is possible. Setting up and configuring Windows boot entries is simple, and there is no easier way to quickly boot right into Linux, Mac OS X, or BSD straight from the Windows Vista bootloader - on the fly, no expert knowledge needed!

Toshiba Qosmio - Hands on

First impression

x505 is a very powerful gaming (ish) oriented laptop from Toshiba. Actually, it is pretty powerful (of course a laptop can never be a desktop replacement) for the amount of money you spend on it.

First of all I was impressed by the amount of bloatware and crapware Toshiba installed in this computer. The size of the hard drive is 500GB. After formatting only 477GB are available for use (this is normal). From this amount, Toshiba wasted about 27GB for crapware (well, I guess 1 or 2 GB goes to Windows OS). So, only 453GB were available.
When starting Windows, then amount of RAM wasted to run all Toshiba bloatware is 1.4GB and the boot time is OVER TWO MINUTES. Amazing, huh?
Edit: Just installed Windows XP 32 bit and the boot time is about 40 seconds. Toshiba offer no support for Windows XP or any other 32 bit OS, so you are on your own if you REALLY want to do it!
See my post in July. It will give you some guidance in this big adventure. It took me more than 16 hours to do it.

Computer specs

Toshiba Qosmio x505, red/black
CPU: Intel Core i5 M430 2.27GHz
Screen: 18.4"
HDD: 500GB
Graphics: GForce nVidia GTS360M
(see details at the end of this post)

OS: Win 7 Home Premium, 64 Bit
Price: $1099 + $47 shipping
Purchased from: J&R, USA (They really suck. I paid $47 for overnight shipping but they delayed the shipment few days).

Windows Experience Index (Win7 64 bit - June 2010)

CPU: 6.7
RAM: 5.9
GPU: 6.8
HDD: 5.9

Windows Experience Index (Win7 32 bit - February 2011)

CPU: 6.4
RAM: 7.1
GPU: 6.8
HDD: 5.9

I know, compared with my ancient desktop computer, the performance of this laptop really sucks.

Included stuff

Included goodies*: none
Included software (not counting free crapware like Acrobat Reader): Microsoft Works

*I was expected to find some goodies in the package, such as USB adapters, VGA/HDMI adapters, screen cleaning cloth, car 12V power adapter, etc, etc, etc. There was nothing in the package (except the gigantic brick-like charger). Nothing. Not even the Windows 7 CD. I never receive such a disappointing empty package for an expensive product in my life.


Performance index: Windows 7 gives a shameful 5.9 to this Toshiba laptop.
For $1200, an index of 5.9 is not something to be proud of. With this kind of money you can upgrade your PC to a mega number-crunching monster.

Dead pixels: none
I was lucky here :)

Screen quality (1-10 scale): 6 (update: I just downgraded this to 5).
Screen quality is good. A bit too Very bright and over exposed. You will have to set the brightness way over 100% to get an acceptable image. At the same time, the more you decrease the brightness, the more you may want to compensate by increasing the contrast. Unfortunately, on most laptops (Toshiba Qosmio included) there is no button to adjust the brightness.
Update: I just found that I can adjust screen brightness and contrast from nVidia software. The image quality is much better. Unfortunately, the controls are not easy accessible (more than 3 clicks away). If the light level changes often in your room, it will be difficult to re-adjust your screen contrast.

TouchPad quality (1-10 scale): 2 3.
The touch pad has a rough texture. This makes your finger not to smoothly glide over it so the cursor movement is extremely jerky especially if the fingers gets sweaty.
Update1: the more I use the touch pad the more I hate it. I will go today to purchase a true touch pad tablet.
Update2: I just upgraded this from 2 to 3 after uninstalling touch pad drivers. Now it works way much better).

Quick multimedia buttons:
Some buttons have a very bad placement, so when you rest your arms or use the keyboard you accidentally touch them. Most annoying is when you want to press the Escape key and accidentally touch the "start player" button. This will start the dreadful MediaPlayer when you DON'T need it.

Sound quality (1-10 scale): 6 8
Update: The choppy sound improved significantly after uninstalling crappy sound utilities (not sound drivers) such as Dolby Surround tool. Grade upgraded for 6 points to 8.

Keyboard quality (1-10 scale): 7
Keyboard itself is not bad. On the other side, its layout is not great.

Keys layout (1-10 scale): 4

Web camera quality: average
Compared with the web camera I have on my EEE PC 1000, the quality of this web camera is really poor. The edges of objects appear extremely sharp (like in a game with no anti-aliasing) and the image is extremely dark if the room is not enough illuminated (you need to stay in direct sunlight to obtain a good picture).

Slimness: 2
Adjectives like slim, small, tiny, thin, etc cannot be used when one is describing this computer. The laptop is gigantic and mega heavy. However, I will not give a small grade to Toshiba Qosmio because it is big. I wanted a powerful and big screen laptop so I expected something big (even though it could have been better).

Battery and Power adapter:

Yes. This laptop needs a special section for 'power adapter'. The power adapter is more than "huge". I will rather use adjectives such "gigantic", "humongous", "enormous" and "brick size" for weight and size.
Here are some reviews right on Toshiba's web site. 99% of customers agree that the charger is huge:

Battery will discharge to 1% in about 3 hours. Not very bad, but also remember the battery is youg, it will get old really quickly especially that Toshiba exaggerated with the loading time - about two hours to fully charge the battery!! This will kill the battery really soon!
Test conditions: Initially the battery was fully charged. I was installing drivers for Win XP, browsing the Internet, rebooting 4 times. The screen brightness was set to 6 (out of 8).

Design: 9
Very very nice design. The red back-lights make a nice impression over the black background, especially in dark.

Boot speed: 3
Boot speed time after some bloatware was remove from start up is about 105 seconds. We can see that the low performance HDD drive put its fingerprint over computer's overall speed.

Nice things
The TouchPad has a handy button from where you can quickly turn it on/off.
Nice, design. Nice backlight for all non-keyboard buttons.
Pretty quiet when working at low capacity (extremely loud for 4-5 seconds after power on).
Nice HDD anti-shock (and anti-drop) protection.
eSATA port (I really needed that for my external drive).
Button to turn on/off the wireless LAN.

Adware, crapware, bloatware

The worst thing about this laptop (except the power adapter size and no support for XP) is the software. So, the first thing to do first after purchasing the laptop was to start uninstalling the crapware and adware.

Adobe Acrobat reader: 209MB
Toshiba Online Backup (you have to pay to use it): 2.2MB
Amazon Links (more crappy stuff that you need to pay for): MB
Google Toolbar for IE: KB
Norton Internet Security (demo): about 200MB
Microsoft Office Student 60 Days demo: about 350MB
Jerky sound utility (makes Winamp lover the volume every time the OS makes a system sound.
NetZero adware ("free" software that connects you to a service for which you have to pay)
Some blog/hosting services adware ("free" software that connects you to a service for which you have to pay)
WildTangent adware ("free" gaming platform that connects you to a service for which you have to pay)
TouchPad driver (interfere with my tablet driver; the touchpad acted weird anyway before isntalling the tablet)
Many other garbage Toshiba utilities removed...



Big and powerful.
Very good gaming performance (for a laptop).
Good speakers.
Good battery file (for this power consumption).
It doesn't get too hot.


Tons crappy software (bloatware) preinstalled.
Really bad drivers.
Poor sound card.
It came with Windows 64 bits. No software and drivers for Windows XP.
Poor customer support (no email support at all). No printed manual. No Windows CD (or at least recovery CD).
Gigantic power adapter.
Really heavy (well it is somehow expected to be that heavy).

Overall feeling (1-10 scale): 6

Full specifications

Display Type: Widescreen TruBrite TFT LCD display

Screen Size: 18.4"

Maximum Resolution: 1680 x 945

Memory Type: DDR3

Memory Size: 4GB

Memory Speed: DDR3 1066

Memory Slots (Total): 2

Maximum Memory Supported: 8GB

Capacity: 500 GB

HDD/SSD Drives Included: 1x 500GB

Hard Drive Speed: 7200 RPM

Processor Brand: Intel

Processor Class: Core i5

Processor Speed: 2.26GHz, Dual-Core, 430M

Processor Number: 430M

Operating Systems: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit

Expansion Ports: 1 - Express Card Slot/54 or 34

Graphics Description: Discrete Graphics


Video Memory: 1GB GDDR5 discrete plus up to 1274MB dynamically allocated

Optical Drive Type: SuperMulti DVD±RW Dual Layer Labelflash

Supplemental Drive Type: Media Reader

Capacity: Multi-In-1

Media Types: Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, SecureDigital High Capacity, MultiMedia cards

Audio Description: Integrated Audio

Audio Chipset: Dolby Home Theater

Audio Channels: Built-in harman/kardon® stereo speakers

Integrated Microphone: Yes

USB Ports (Total): 3

eSATA/USB 2.0 Combo: 1

FireWire Ports: 1

Audio Out Jacks: 1 - SPDIF, 1 Headphone out

Microphone Jacks: 1

VGA Ports: 1


eSATA Ports: 1 eSATA/USB Combo

LAN: Atheros AR8131 PCI-E Gigabit

Wireless: Realtek RTL 8191SE

Communications Description: Integrated LAN, Integrated Wireless LAN

Data Transfer Rate: Up to 300 Mbps, 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN

Protocols: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n

Width: 17.4"

Height: 1.63"

Depth: 11.6"

Weight: 9.7 lbs

Mouse Type: TouchPad Pointing Device

Buttons: Volume Media Enable/Disable Mute Energy Saving Mode CD/DVD Control

Scrolling Capability: multi-touch control

Keyboard Type: Premium US Keyboard

Battery Type: 12-Cell Lithium-ion

Biometrics: Kensington Security Lock Slot

Color: Black/Red

Integrated Webcam: Yes

Software Included: N/A


Recommended download:


My new Toshiba Qosmio laptop

Oh boy! There is material for 100 blogs here!

I couldn't believe my eye when I open the package and found inside a charger that was almost the size of a brick. To give more accurate measurements, the power adapter is exactly 3 times smaller than my old EEE PC 1000 and about the same weight!
Some pictures will come soon, so if you don't believe me I will show you.

Toshiba Qosmio - Hands on

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Internet and & Cheap information

About Yahoo Answers, WikiAnswers, blogs and other unreliable source of information

Today everybody is blogging, everybody can put a cheap answer on a free “social network” web site and everybody can “spit” information. But rarely the experts are speaking. Usually, there are just 15 years old kids expressing random opinion from their “experienced” life. The worst of all is Yahoo Answers where the (kitsch) avatars of the people worth more than the “information” they over-enthusiastic share.

I had a good laugh today when reading a section about hard drive failures on WikiAnswers web site. Somebody was asking how to repair a dead disk. The answer? "Although in some cases the error can be fixed by adding cooling or defragging and/or formatting…" (WikiAnserws, 2008).
Follow non-expert opinions and all you will get is a dead drive and a bunch of lost data.
This is the difference between a paid answer and a wiki answer: instead of replacing the disk for a lazy $100 you are going to spend $5000 in a Data Recovery shop.

I don't know from where the people got the idea that defrag/format if a magic tool that repair all computer's problem. Is like an urban myth. I use format just once at 2-3 years when I buy a new hard drive.
In this case adding extra cooling is like hiding the pain provoked by a serious disease with painkillers, defrag is like treating cancer with aspirin and formatting is like a criminal deciding to start a new life by making some quick money :)
A pro will never waste its time to provide free answers for newbie on such wikies (especially when it can sell its answer for a good price on other channels).

I don't think that WikiAnwers has a chance of success on long run. When you base your business on cheap content provided by random users all you can offer is answer of low quality.
The problem today is that Internet is over-saturated by these phenomena. Blogs and forums and wikies appeared all over in the last few years, all pretending that their community is better than others. I don't say that these things should not exist. Everybody has the right to express its opinion. What I am saying is that after a bloom always follows a burst (like in the case of dot net burst in 2000-2001). Soon all these free sources of (inexact) content fill filter out by themselves.

At the end all you can ask your self is how to call it: 'free content' or 'cheap information’?

PS: also ready the “User generated content: No Guarantee of Validity" declaration on WikiAnserws web site (at It speaks by itself.

Reference list:

WikiAnserws (2008) What does SMART failure mean [Online] Available from:
(Accessed: 16 April 2008)

Purchasing web hosting

Here are some comments and advices for those who want to purchase hosting, based on my own experience with miscellaneous hosting.

- Avoid low priced offers
Never go for a hosting company that offers you too much bandwidth and space for a small amount of money. Some hosts may even offer you infinite space or bandwidth. They will bitterly disappoint you. Reason? The hardware of a server is limited. You can't offer infinite hard drive space. Not even for a huge amount of money.
Additionally to this point, I will add a new advice: don't purchase hosting for a full year. Buy only one or two months. If something goes wrong, you just move your site to another company without loosing the payment of the full year. Companies promising you huge discounts if you buy a full year (or even two), are trying to get you into their trap. If the first two months are ok, then you can go for a 6 months plan and that for a full year.

- Make sure that there are absolutely no hidden charges.
If you purchased hosting and you find out along the way that there is a hidden fee, than you should prepare yourself for a bumpy road with this company. Host a backup of your web site on a free hosting server. In case your original host creates you problems you can switch to the backup until you move the whole website to a better place. Hidden fees are a 100% indicator that something is wrong - and it is true not in the web hosting world but in every commerce and e-commerce business.

- Hosts charging 'one time setup' fees MAY indicate a possible problem.
The setup of a new account is made automatically b the server's software. So, a setup fee can mean only 2 things: a) the companies tries to get some extra money from you (not so bad) or b) the company is trying to 'trap' you - many people are going to stay with a mediocre-to-bad hosting company because they already paid once the 'setup' fee and they don't want to pay it again if they move to a new company (this is more bad than point a)).

- Support - the worst thing that my happen to you is poor support. Every time something needs to be changed to your server or every time your site has problems, you will contact the support team. If they don't have a 24 of 24 hours per day support (ja-ja… they all pretend to have 24/24 support but it isn't always true), then you will have to wait until the support team came to the job and drink their morning coffee. It is easy to check this: make three phone calls at different hours (morning, day, night) and see who will answer: a machine or a person. Also send emails using different email addresses and see if you get answers in less than 2-3 hours (you can ask silly questions about their services and servers).
- Check the Internet and see the ratio of positive/negative feedback/comments. You will never find a 100% positive feedback for a company but it will be easy to see who the winner of 'negative feedback award' is.

Another few advices at the end:
- Inquiry if the host is flexible. Some hosts allow you to choose a customized package that will suit your needs in the best way. However this comes with a nice price attached. Ask for it only if you are running a big site that needs specials customizations. In this case it may be more suited for you to rent a full server and to do whatever you want with it (though you will need some Linux knowledge).
- Location: if your customers are from Europe, don't host your site in America - and vice-versa.
- Go for Linux instead of Windows. Linux never was a good OS for desktop users. However it is magic when we are speaking about servers; also it is fully customizable and very stable.
- Always choose well know and all-over-used technologies (even if they are obsolete) instead of new/unknown ones. For example you will have a much greater community for PHP than ASP. It will be easier to move you site to a different host is you choose MySQL over MSSQL …

Reference List:

Kivlehan, C. (2005) How to Select Your Web Host [Online], University of Liverpool, Penton Publishing. Available from: (Accessed: 21 April 2008).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Delphi 2007 - (bad) Review

Delphi 2007 - Same old stuff under a new hat?

We all love Delphi. It is smart, easy to understand, really fast and user friendly.
But is the IDE the one that makes is so nice or the language?
Every time Borland released a new version forced as to go through a painful learning and re-adaptation process. But not because of the language but because of the buggy IDE.
You can't argue with me: there are HUGE lists of unresolved bugs for every possible version released.
It is the same for Delphi 2007? Let’s find out. I just installed Delphi 2007 on my computer. First time I was really glad to have it because people ware speaking nice about this new version.
After the first attempt to install it failed, I tried again and I somehow succeed.

Until now I can report more bad stuff that good ones. Anyway I am still happy that I can report also good stuff.
Compared with Delphi 2005, Delphi 2007 is a charm. Compared with Delphi 2006 it is a little bit better. Compared with Delphi 7 it is worst.

* I thought that Delphi 2007 is free of .Net. Well that was a lie. Delphi 2007 refuses to install without .Net 2.0 (and other craps like this).

* The first bug I saw few minutes after I open the IDE for the first time was the fast blinking icons in the tool bar. I had the same problem with Delphi 2005 and 2006.

* The next bug, this time a really big one was the help system which in 30% is working. Imagine yourself what is with the rest of 70%.
The help system is a disaster. It takes much more time to load than Delphi itself. If you ask help for an instruction/window on IDE it always answers: 'Error. No help found for 2029. OK | Details'.
When it does not display that stupid answer then it returns allot of garbage from MS .Net and MS API help. In most cases the right answer is not there.
For example after pressing F1 for while the cursor was on the reserved word 'Function', the help system returned (after 37 seconds!).


* Sometimes the cursor has the same color as the IDE background. You can have big fun trying to figure out where is your cursor on the screen. The solution is to restart the IDE and pray to work. If not, restart again (and pray harder).

* Delphi 2007 takes a lot of time to load to memory (my system is AMD 64 x2 4.6GHz and 1GB DDR2 at 800MHz). The average amount of memory for small projects is 50-120MB. But sometimes if goes to 600-1000MB.

So you need at least 2GB or RAM to work with this version of Delphi.

* Other small problems can be observed in IDE. Many windows behave strange or you have no buttons to configure them. For example if you have error when you compile a program, the 'Messages' will pop-up at the bottom of the IDE. This is ok. Right? But after you fix the problem the window does not close itself as in Delphi 7. So every time you compile a program you need to go and manually close that window.

* The undo system is also a disaster. Sometimes is working, sometimes (most of the cases) is not. So if you made a mistake you can't undo it so you need to rewrite all that code.

I don't think that Delphi 2007 is better than Delphi 7. Actually it is a disaster. Not as big as Delphi 2005 but still a disaster. I hope that Borland (hic, CodeGear) will release a patch (or more) really soon, but until then Delphi 2007 can't be used.
I didn't post here every small bug I have found, but only the big ones. I will update this entry as I will find out more.

Now I am supposed to speak also about the good parts of Delphi 2007. Well until I will have the patch to be able to run Delphi 2007 form more than 1 hour, I will post also the nice parts of Delphi 2007, until then I will stick with Delphi 7 and with its already known bugs (and work around).

Please drop me a line if you know how to make the help system to work and how to remove the useless (MS API) results from a search.

Win7-Wrong folder permission

Under Win XP I never touched the permissions of a file/folder. I was happy with the way it worked. But recently, I have installed Windows 7 on a drive that previously hosted Windows XP (I installed Windows 7 on top of Win XP - XP is now gone). Now, some programs do not have 'read' and/or 'write' access to their own folders - and I am not talking about system folders like 'Program Files' but normal folders like 'C:\my data\my own folder\program folder'.
I see that for folders created under Win XP I have some user groups that do not exist for 'normal' folders (folders created by me recently under Windows 7).

For example, for the Win XP folder I have:
* Creator owner
* System
* Account unknown(S-1-5-21 blablabla...
* Admins
* Users

For Win7 folders I have:
* Authenticated users
* System
* Admins
* Users

Trying to delete the 'Account unknown' gives me:
Windows Security You can't remove Account Unknown(S-1-5-21-1220945662-706699826-839522115-1003) because this object is inheriting permissions from its parent. To remove Account Unknown(S-1-5-21-1220945662-706699826-839522115-1003), you must prevent this object from inheriting permissions. Turn off the option for inheriting permissions, and then try removing Account Unknown(S-1-5-21-1220945662-706699826-839522115-1003) again.

To solve this:

Add a "Authenticated users" group to those folders. You can watch other Win 7 folders to see how the permissions are set to "Authenticated users" group. To add this group, just press the 'Add...' button and in the last box (the largest one) write "Authenticated users" (without quotes) then press "Check names" button. If everything is OK, the "Authenticated users" text will get underlined. Press OK and wait for Windows to apply the permissions.
Now you will be able to access the XP folders like any other regular Win 7 folder.

Solution 2:
I have found that some junk is left behind if you are using the first solution. More exactly you will see an account called 'Unknown user' appended to all yuour old folders. The best solution is to rename the current folder for example from 'MyData' to 'Old', make a new folder using the original name ('MyData') and move all content from the old folder ('Old') to the new folder ('MyData'). The new MyData folder will have the correct permissions applied to it.


Recommended download:


Windows 7 - Review

I have installed Windows 7 some weeks ago on a separate disk but quickly abandoned it as it crashed on me with some very beautiful blue BSOD screens. As I got my last BSOD screen 3 years ago with Windows XP, I quickly returned to this lovely OS.
However, as my new laptop came with Windows 7 I have to stick with it so I had the change to work with Windows 7 for 4-5 days now.

My impression?

Installing Windows 7 on top of XP

The bad news is that you cannot install Windows 7 in top of Windows XP. However, I was really impressed to see that the guys from Microsoft decided to keep your old Windows XP files instead of deleting them during Win 7 installation. So, when the installation of Windows 7 is ready, you will find your old Windows (XP) in a folder in the root of your drive. You will find there also the "Documents and settings" and "Program files" folders. Great job Microsoft!

The installation of Windows 7 is way way way way way much easier that Windows XP. Basically you can put the original CD in, start the installation and leave for a coffee. Windows will install basically everything without asking you all those stupid questions about how to set the network or other stuff.


Windows 7 is definitively eye-candy, but the price you have to pay for this candyness is really high. I am a power user and I have many many windows open on screen. Switching between these windows is painfully slow and it is decreasing the productivity quite a bit.

Downgrades and other problems to expect

In Windows 7, Control + Alt + Del will not open the Task Manager. Instead you have to use Control + Shift + Esc. Not a big deal, but it will take a while until you will get used with it. You will definitively press Control+Alt+Del for a while until you will get used to use the other shortcut.

Some program such as "PowerMenu" will not work at all. Some other programs and old games (Stronghold Crusader Extreme) may encounter problems while accessing the disk because the new policy applied by Win 7 restricts access to some folders (for example Program File). Many of these problems can be "corrected" by running the program (if it is trusted) as administrator.

Some old hardware (my lovely A4Tech mouse) will not work as smooth as in Win XP because (of course) of drivers issues.

The Control Panel is a mess at a first glance. Everything is rearanged and over-simplified. However, there is a setting that allows you to switch the control panel to "classic" mode.
Anyway, some stuff are still difficult to use it, for example, you have to click a lot to change a simple setting such as "Hibernate after x hours".

Managing file association is the biggest mess. My (advanced) file manager has a nice and handy tool that lets you to change file type associations in just 3 seconds. However, Windows 7 does not like you to do this from any other point expect its own bulky and difficult to use interface.

New tools & other goodies

Under XP, Task Manager had less to offer so I had to use other (more advanced) tools to manage my system. I really enjoyed seeing that Task Manager is now a decent program. It now shows the full path of all running applications (oh yes!) and has a decent resource manager.

Windows Experience Index (keyboard shortcut Win + Break) is a nice tool to quickly compare the performance of two different computers (very useful when you are in a computer store to pick a laptop and you want to see/compare the performance of each one).

Windows will automatically search for drivers. Yes, Win XP could do that too, but in Windows 7 this feature really works!

Bad things to expect when upgrading from Windows XP

I never format my drives so when I upgraded, all my folders created under XP are still on the drive. The problem is that Windows 7 cannot access some folders because the permissions are a mess. So you might have to manually re-set the permissions for some folders. I will blog about this soon.

Overall performance 

Windows 7 is not much different than Windows XP as usability. 
Without running speed tests, and relying only on my 'feeling' I would say that Win 7 is a bit slower than Windows XP but not much and only in some areas. Probably if I will invest 600-700EU to upgrade my hardware it will work as nice as Windows XP. But remember: Win XP works already really nice already, without any additional investment). So if  you intend to purchase a license, be prepared to spend some extra money to upgrade your old video card and CPU, especially if you want that eye-candy Aero interface on.
Under Windows XP, while performing regular tasks (programming, music, browsing), the CPU utilization was 0%. In Win 7 the CPU is usually at 30% even more. So, 30% of your CPU will be wasted for doing nothing (well, not quite nothing, probably for displaying the eye-candy Windows interface). If you look in Task Manager, non application is taking CPU, so probably those 30% of CPU utilization goes to the kernel/GUI.

Under XP I used to defrag my disk while I was working. Under Windows 7, the computer cannot be used when you defrag your disk. Even if my disk has a nice Experience Rating of 7, while defragging, the whole computer runs like a slug.


When speaking about reliability and stability, it seems Windows 7 needs several SP releases until it gets to the point where Windows XP is. Installed from the CD, it seems to be unstable. However, I let Windows 7 to upgrade itself and I got no additional blue screens until now. Let's hope it will stay this way.


Switching to a new OS without waiting for the service packs to be released may a hasty act. But it is also nice the breath of fresh air that Win 7 offers. Think only to those poor guys that upgrade to Vista in its early days. They were used a Guinea pigs.

I will recommend you NOT to switch YET to Windows 7 definitively, but to install it as secondary OS, especially if your hardware is more than 9 months old! Then migrate slowly your non-critical software (multimedia players and so) and leave the productivity tool on the XP machine. When you think Windows 7 is stable and fast enough (after you have upgraded your hardware) you can move to Win 7 definitively.


My system:
AMD  64 X2 Dual Core 4600+ (index: 5.4)
4GB RAM DDR2 (index: 7)
GForce 7600GS (experience rating: 4)  :(
Seagate Barracuda (index: 5.9)

My first post

I decided to share some of my thoughts with the world. So, here I am.
1st of June 2010