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How to use Unicode, JDBC and Solid Database

It is not always so straightforward to use Unicode throughout your application layers. Let’s say that your Java application’s default character encoding for file I/O operations, JDBC requests and so on is Unicode. In other words you start you Java application on command line for example with: java -Dfile.encoding=UTF-8 If your Solid Database’s string types are not defined as Unicode, there is a little problem.

In the Java JDBC API tutorial it says:

JDBC driver implementations are expected to automatically convert the Java programming language unicode encoding of strings and characters to and from the character encoding of the database being accessed.

So, basically JDBC driver should do the conversion between application’s and database’s character encoding. But in the Solid Programmers Guide it says:

To convert Java applications to support Unicode, the string columns in the database engine need to be redefined with Unicode data types.

Actually Solid’s JDBC driver won’t even return strings in the same character encoding as they are defined in the database, but it mixes all “special characters” wrong. There aren’t any proprietary parameters you could use on the JDBC connection string to choose the character encoding. So, only working solution is to somehow convert strings in a Solid database in the SQL queries before the JDBC driver returns them. Luckily Solid’s SQL implements CAST function. You can for example cast VARCHAR to WVARCHAR which is Unicode variable-length character string. Here is an example: SELECT CAST(name AS WVARCHAR) name FROM... And it works like a charm.

Web Application as Desktop Application with Bubbles

BubblesUse your web applications, like Gmail and Google Calendar, just like desktop applications.

Bubbles is simply but clever way to use web applications or sites just like desktop applications. You just add your favorite web sites in Bubbles settings and after that you can use them in their own windows and they sit in the system tray. Bubbles has some web applications pre-configured and they have some extra functionality. There are Google Calendar, Gmail, 30 Boxes, Yahoo Mail and Flickr. You can for example upload photos by dragging them into Flickr.

Some applications just work so naturally as desktop applications in Bubbles. My favorites is to use SlimTimer with Bubbles.

Minimize the Software Installation Burden by Automating

InstallPadAutomate you software installation by making software list and let the InstallPad do the work for you.

InstallPad is an easy and smart program. It is a little like apt for Windows. You just make a list of your favorite programs with InstallPad or straight in xml format and InstallPad will download and install silently the ones you choose. Yoy’ll get time for more important things.

InstallPad can resume cancelled downloads and can try to find the latest version of the programs. It is still in an early stage, but it is very promising and there are coming features.

Minimal How to Order Windows Taskbar Buttons

Windows Taskbar ButtonKeeping Windows taskbar buttons always in a same order helps to minimize the effort needed to find the right button.

Lifehacker mentioned Windows program Taskbar Shuffle. I Downloaded and installed it and it’s great. It is easy to use and it it feels a natural way to order buttons just by dragging them.

I have been using TaskArrange for ages and it is also working quit well. Nice thing about it is that you can even order the buttons inside groups. You have to open the program in order to arrange buttons so if you place the program shortcut in the Windows quick launch area it is near the taskbar buttons and rather handy to use. On the other hand, there is no need for running background process. Taskbar Shuffle process seems to have about 6 MB memory usage.

I think Taskbar button ordering should be an option in Windows, but these programs fill the gap. Well, nice feature would be an option to save the preferred order. Are there any?

There is also a japanese Taskbar++.

Minimal Firefox 2 Add-ons

Last updated: November 24, 2006

Firefox 2 Add-onsUseful extensions for Firefox for web browsing and web development.

There are thousands of add-ons for Firefox. In this list I have concentrated on those extensions that minimize and cleans Firefox user interface and makes web browsing easier and more effective. Last part is for extensions for web developers.

Web Browsing

  • Aging Tabs: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Makes unused tabs fade with age and highlights the selected tab. If you usually have many tabs open at the same time, this extension might be visually helpful.
  • All-in-One Sidebar: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Sidebar control lets you quickly switch between sidebars, view dialog windows such as downloads, extensions, and more in the sidebar, or view source code or websites in the sidebar. This extensions cleans nicely the user interface by gathering all opening windows into sidebar.
  • BetterSearch: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    While waiting for Firefox 2 version look GooglePreview. Enhances Google, A9, MSN, Yahoo, Answers.com (web results), AllTheWeb, del.icio.us, Ask.com, Clusty.com, Vivismo.com, Dogpile and Simpy.com by adding preview thumbnails and Amazon product info as well as new special links to the search results.
    This extensions is great with search sites as well as with del.icio.us lists to help to memorise the tagged sources.
  • Blogger Web Comments: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Waiting for Firefox 2 version. Post and read comments on any webpage. You can see on any web page list of blogs which have a links to the current page.
  • BugMeNot: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Bypass compulsory web registration with the context menu via www.bugmenot.com.
  • del.icio.us: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Keep, share and discover all your favorite thins. For del.icio.us users. There is a new extension by del.icio.us called del.icio.us Bookmarks. It integrates more tightly with Firefox’s bookmarking system, so it conflicts with other extensions like Google Browser Sync and Foxmarks. The new extension might be worth trying.
  • FaviconizeTab: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage Added 2006-11-24
    The width of the specified tab becomes small up to the size of favicon. This is a must tab space saver add-on!
  • FxIF: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    View EXIF data in image properties.
  • Google Notebook: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Allows notetaking while browsing. Well, for Google Notebook users this is a must.
  • GooglePreview: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Inserts web site thumbnail previews in Google and Yahoo search results. This extension feels faster than BetterSearch.
  • Greasemonkey: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    A user script manager.
  • IE View Lite: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Cut down version of IE View (Firefox add-ons page). Open Internet Explorer view in a tab. IE View and IE Tab extensions does the same thing, but both of these extensions use C++ code to do their thing, which means they use DLLs, which means they’re larger than the JavaScript-based IE View Lite and more susceptible to changes not only in Firefox but in Windows itself.
  • IE View: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Opens pages in IE via Firefox menus. There is also IE View Lite (Firefox add-ons page), which is, according to the author, a cut down version of IE View. Both of them allow the current page or a selected link to be opened in Internet Explorer. Third option is IE Tab (Firefox add-ons page), which works like IE View but opens IE pages in Firefox tab. IE Tab extension uses C++ code to do its thing, which means it uses DLLs, which means it’s larger than the JavaScript-based IE View and more susceptible to changes not only in Firefox but in Windows itself.
  • Menu Editor: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Customize application menus. This is a nice way to hide unnecessary menu items.
  • Mouse Gestures: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Allows you to execute common commands using mouse gestures.
  • New Tab Button on Tab Bar: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Adds a new tab button to the tab bar. When you have only couple tabs, it is easy to open new tab by double-clicking empty area on tab bar. But when there is no empty space, New Tab Button on Tab Bar extension is handy.
    Now that Tab Mix Plus is Firefox 2 compatible and if you use it, it includes this extension’s functionality.
  • SearchStatus: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Display the Google PageRank and Alexa ranking with search-related tools.
  • Stealther: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Surf the web without leaving a trace in a Firefox.
  • Stop-or-Reload Button: Firefox add-ons page :: homepageTurns the stop and reload buttons into a single one. When you can stop, you have a Stop button, otherwise you have a Reload button. This is a small extension to minimise a little user interface.
  • Stylish: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Customize the look of websites and of the user interface. This is a must extension if you want to tweak Firefox user interface. For example to show only those web site icons on tabs that have a favicon and fade the not selected tabs icons like in Flock web browser (I guess code needs some cleaning):
    @namespace url(http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul);
    /* Fade just the icon */
    .tabbrowser-tabs tab:not([selected="true"]) .tab-icon {
      -moz-opacity: 0.25 !important;
      display: -moz-box !important;
    }
    .tabbrowser-tabs tab:not([selected="true"]) *|tab:not([image]) .tab-icon {
      display: none !important;
    }
    .tabbrowser-tabs tab:not([selected="true"]) .tab-text {
      margin-left: 2px !important;
    }
    .tabbrowser-tabs tab[selected="true"] .tab-icon {
      -moz-opacity: 1 !important;
      margin-top: 1px !important;
    }
    /* Alternatively, kill only default tabbrowser icons (no site icon) */
    .tabbrowser-tabs *|tab:not([image]) .tab-icon {
      display: none !important;
    }
    /* Show icons (no matter what) when hovering over the tab */
    .tabbrowser-tabs *|tab:hover .tab-icon {
      -moz-opacity: 1 !important;
    }
  • Tab Mix Plus: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Tab browsing with an added boost. This is a must., but waiting for Firefox 2 version…
  • Tab Sidebar: Firefox add-ons page :: homepage
    Displays previews of your tabs in your sidebar. Occationally this might come handy.

Web Development

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