Pick Your Favorite RSS Reader

For quite some time, I used Rojo as my RSS Reader.  I still Rojo quite a lot.  But I did switch to Google’s Reader quite a while back, because it’s frankly just a far superior interface.

New stats from TechCrunch (via Feedburner) show that users agree.  While Google Reader is the newest entry into the market, it far surpasses Bloglines, Newsgator, Rojo, and Live.com for readership.  They published lots of other interesting stats too. 

I’m sure the competitors are going to copy Google Reader’s infinite page layout.  I wonder what the stats will look like in a year or two? 

Who Reads Your Code? Man or Machine?

I spent entirely too much time debugging the following today:


int foo(int num, int l) {
  int baz = 1;
  int bar = l;
  return bar + baz;
What gets returned for foo(2,2)? 

If you guessed 2, you are dumb like me.  If you guessed 3, you noticed that the author of this broken code used a variable named “l”, and despite the fact that it looks like a “1”, it is not!

It’s easy to write code that machines understand.  The hard part about being a software engineer is writing code that both machine AND man can understand. 

Lookout for Outlook is Gone

In the past few days I’ve received a flurry of email from frantic Lookout users asking how they can get a copy of the product.  I thought I’d help them out and go dig out the location for downloading from Microsoft, but after a fairly deep search, it appears it has been removed from the Microsoft site, as well as other distribution sites like CNet

Since I no longer work for Microsoft, I don’t know why.  I’m not surprised, though, as the product is getting a bit stale.  If you are one of the many folks using the product, I don’t know what the support plan from Microsoft is.  I don’t have a copy of it myself any longer.

If you do know how to get a copy, please post a comment for others!

John Chow’s AGLOCO

John Chow is aggressively promoting Agloco.  John is a smart guy.  But should you get in on Agloco too?  Should you use their viewbar?  Probably not. The only thing you’ll accomplish by using the viewbar is to help John Chow get rich!

Agloco seems like a neat idea.  Agloco aggregates of advertising, referral and affiliate fees generated by their “Viewbar” (yet unreleased), and then shares back 90% of that to their users.

But what is in it for you?  Well, if you are John Chow and have the ability to build a large network of referred users, you might be able to bring in some decent cash.  But if you are an individual, why would you use this Viewbar?  Maybe you have a secret crush on John Chow and you just want to help him get rich.  That’s fair.  Or maybe you’ll like the viewbar and don’t care (I doubt it, people generally don’t like more advertisements – but it isn’t released yet and maybe they have a really cool product).  But what will your cut of their profits be?  Let’s estimate.

Let’s say the average Agloco user spends $250 per year online.  And lets assume that Agloco is somehow able to tap into half of it.  And, lets assume that Agloco manages to negotiate a very generous 10% commission on those sales.  That means that on average, a user will be worth about $11.25.  If you trust Agloco, you believe them when they say they’ll pay out 90% of revenues. That means each user should get a monthly check for $0.84 ($250*.5*.1/12)!  Not bad!  But, don’t forget that your contribution will be shared with up to 4 people that referred you (like John Chow).  After splitting it 5 ways, your check is now reduced to $0.17 per month.

Next, lets look at advertising based models.  Let’s say the average user views 10 pages per day, and that Agloco gets $10CPM for it’s page views.  That means that each user generates about $0.10 per day.  By the time you take out overhead and divide it through, you might generate $0.54 per month.

The Agloco fanatics will probably try to convince you that they’ll somehow generate more per user.  Maybe they will.  Say they magically double, triple, or heck, even get 10 times more than what I estimated.  That means you’ll get $1.70 per month or $5.40.  But that’s only if they do 10x better than what we seems to be a realistic estimate.

For Agloco, of course, this is a great business.  They make 10% of the whole deal.  If they amass a sizeable user base, they’ll generate solid cash.

And even for John Chow, this is still a good deal.  John has the ability to sign up 5000 or more users.  5000 * $0.17 = $800/mo, which is decent money. 

But for you – is the extra advertising and junk on your desktop really worth John Chow getting rich and your $0.17? 

No thanks!


Note:  John references this completely bogus report that looks well done, but provides zero facts to support it’s hopelessly optimistic and unsubstantiated claims.  (He estimates Agloco could generate $30 or more per user, but it is completely made up!)

No Single Drop

No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood.
No single driver believes he is to blame for the traffic.
No single polluter believes she is to blame for global warming.
No single spammer believes he is to blame for ruining e-mail.
No single politician believes she is to blame for our tax system.
No single litterbug believes he is to blame for the mess.
No single lawyer believes she is to blame for frivolous lawsuits.
No single employee believes he is to blame for the quarterly loss.
No single American believes she is to blame for child labor in China.

Outlook Performance Tip – Word Editor

A little known thing about Outlook is that by default, when you edit a message, you are actually typing your message into Word rather than Outlook.

Starting Outlook using the default settings causes both Outlook and Word to be loaded at startup.  Editing messages through Outlook invokes Word as the editor.  At startup, Outlook uses 24MB of RAM and Word uses 18MB.

If you’ve got a system without a lot of RAM, I strongly recommend turning off Word as the editor.  Most people never use the Word features anyway.  Even without using Word as the editor, you can still format your messages with rich text- bold, italics, mixed fonts, etc. 

To turn off Word, go to Outlook’s Tools menu, select Options -> Mail Format, and uncheck “Use Microsoft Office Word 2003 to edit e-mail messages”. 

When you startup, you’ll find that Word is not invoked, you still have all the rich-text editing features, that Outlook still only consumes 24MB of RAM.  This can be a significant performance boost.

If any readers know of good reasons to use Word as Editor, it would be great to know! I’m sure there is a reason Microsoft uses this option by default, and I would like to know why too.

Here are images of Outlook 2003’s Compose Window in each mode.  As you can see, they look practically identical.  Quiz – which is Word?

Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 SP1 Troubles

I just went to download the new Service Pack for Visual Studio which was released about a month ago.  It’s pretty beefy – 430MB to download! 

After installing, I got this error:

 “The installation source for this product is not available.  Verify that the source exists and that you can access it.”

I tried it twice (it sits for about 10 minutes before displaying that error) and cursed a lot more, but finally found the solution which worked for me posted at ScottGu’s blog:

About the ”The installation source for this product is not available” problem – if you are you using Windows Server 2003:

If you extract the .exe file and see the properties on the .msp file under “Digital Signatures” you will see that the signature/certificate is not valid. (ScottGu: I presume this is a bug?).

To ”fix” (ignore) this:

1) Open local security setting: Start -> Programs -> Administrative Tools -> Local Security Policy.

2) Click on “Software Restriction Policies” and if it shows “No Software Restriction Policies Defined” then insert a new (right click the left pane node).

3) 2 x click on the “Enforcement” entry and under “Apply software restriction policies to the following users:” section change to “All users except local administrators”.

4) Maybe reboot

This should solve the problem (it did for me)..