Archive for May, 2006

SiteMeter Web Stats is Too Funky

May 19, 06 by kenrich

Today I compared the web stats for this blog (provided by my hosting provider) with the stats reported by SiteMeter. My SiteMeter stats were pathetically low. So low, it doesn’t even take into account people who may have stumbled across my blog just by entering a typo into their browser. For a while, I actually beleived that these stats were accurate which a large part of the reason why I haven’t been posting much on the blog recently.

My web hosting stats show nearly 100 times the amount of activity that SiteMeter does. Maybe it’s just me, and I installed SiteMeter incorrectly on this site. Otherwise, I wonder if their product actually works. I am going to remove the SiteMeter link from my blog for now. I will probably switch to Google Analytics to give me better reporting of my site visitors.

For anyone that hasn’t tried Google Analytics, it is a good offering. It provides you web stats as well as help you find marketting terms that will help to bring visitors to your site. Last I checked, they had a waiting list to receive an account with them. I signed up for an account and it took maybe one or two months before I received my account. It’s definitely a valuable resource if you are serious about advertising and marketing.

Google Notebook is Another Winner

May 18, 06 by kenrich

Google Labs has just released their newest tool: Google Notebook. I’ve installed and been using this tool over the past 24 hours and am happy with it’s performance. It provides an excellent resource for all types of applications. What is particularly useful, is that you can share your notes among all your computers. Since the notes are stored on Google servers (just like Gmail), you can access your notebooks from anywhere on the Internet.

The application installs as a plugin to the Mozilla Firefox browser. Once installed, it provides a link to your notebook in the status bar of your browser. Clicking on this will give you a veiw of your notebooks and notes. If you keep large size notes, you will need to maximize the window which will basically show the notebook in your browser window. You can add, edit or delete notes from your browser without having to load the Google Notebook web page. This is definitely useful for maintaining a contact list with addresses and phone numbers.

As a programmer and web developer, this is a handy tool to store commonly used code and algorithms. The systems allows you to setup multiple notebooks. Within each notebook, you can define multiple headings. Unfortunately, they do not let you define nested headings. I’m sure that Google will fix this shortcoming very soon.

The Ajax interface is pretty slick. “Edit” and “Delete” buttons appear over a note when you move your cursor over it. As you move out of the note, they disappear again. There is also a handle that appears to the left of the note which allows you to move the note to a different position within the notebook. The edit controls allow you to change font family, color and size. You can also do bold or italicized text. I’ve noticed they also allow you to indent text using the tab key (in a basic textarea input, the tab key moves you to the next input on the form).

One bug that I did manage to find was when I went to color a section of text within a note. It worked the first three times or so, but when I went to change the color again, the application notified me that I need to select a section before setting the color. This despite the fact that I had already selected the section. I tried reloading and repeated these steps a number of times before finally giving up.

Programming Windows Forms in C#

May 16, 06 by kenrich

Lately, I’ve been studying traditional DotNet programming instead of doing web development. It provides a nice break from the monotony of building websites. When you’ve built as many as I’ve had, you need to take a break every now and then. I am considering going for a Microsoft certification in programming and web development for the DotNet platform. I’m going to look into the different curriculums available and find one that suits my skills and studies.

I’ve got some good reference books to study from and I’ve taken up learning Windows forms programming using the C# language. It’s an excellent language that has all the benefits of an object-oriented language such as Java and then some. It make developing windows applications a breeze. I used to develop windows form applications in Visual C++, but managing all of the handles and pointers and memory management was just too much of a pain. Visual Basic abstracts a lot of these details for you and is a much better alternative if you are interested in Rapid Application Development.

Anyways, I’ve built a couple of small useful utilities in C# so far. One is a password list which can be added and updated. This lives in the system tray and stores login information encrypted in an XML file. After 15 minutes of inactivity, the program will lock itself so that nobody can read the encrypted passwords when you are away from your computer. Another program monitors websites to make sure they are up and running. You can read more about this from my previous post.

Site Monitoring Tool Built

May 12, 06 by kenrich

I’ve just implemented my first multi-threaded application in C#. I’ve created a website monitoring tool that will check all the websites that I work on to make sure they are up and running smoothly. It does this by making a simpe HTTP HEAD request to the website and making sure the server sends back valid data. In the event that our host has a problem, I want to be notified immediately that our site is down.

The application is fully configurable so that you can create a configuration file that holds all of the sites you want to monitor. You can have multiple configuration files each of them with a different collection of site. When you modify the sites being monitored, the program detects these changes and prompts the user to save before quitting.

In the future, I will be adding a notification that will send out an e-mail to a user or group of users in the event that a site is down. This will be useful for using the program in a server environment where a notification icon is not sufficient. I would also like to create a digest of the failure notifications so that the program only sends an e-mail notification once every day (for sites that are continuously down).