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I am in love…

…with a font, that is! 🙂 If you haven’t guessed already, I like to write code. So, naturally, the one thing that I see the most during a normal day is fixed width font. Previously I didn’t care so much and used whatever default the operating system had. On Windows this is generally the [Courier New)] font. Recently, I started to look around to “spice up” my environment, and font was the first thing that came to my mind. So, I started looking around for options and ended up on Consolas.

A screen shot of Consolas in VIM

Now, nothing is perfect and Consolas is no different. Consolas was designed with ClearType and pretty much for ClearType because it doesn’t look very good if you don’t have ClearType enabled (checkout the comparison in the wikipedia entry). That is something that I can live with because majority of the coding that I do is either through a shell session running on Windows or in some other Windows programs so it isn’t really an issue for me. For the cases when I do have to use other operating system, there is always the similar looking Inconsolata font.

To really enjoy this font I have all my fixed width programs set to 10pt font size, which I have noticed is the best size for this font. At this size the font looks awesome and you can easily distinguish the similar looking characters like o (lower case o), O (upper case O), and 0 (zero).

So, if you code a lot or look at fixed width fonts all day long for some other reason then I suggest that you should give this font a try, maybe, you too will fall in love with it! =D It comes standard on Windows Vista, for other Windows version you can download the Consolas Font Pack if you have Visual Studio.

If you are looking for some other options you might also want to consider another excellent font that supports box drawing: Envy Code R.

Subtle details

I love it when I see programmers and designers going above and beyond and paying attention to the small details. One feature that recently caught my eye were the browser icons (or favicon) used by Google Calendar (and Gmail).

Gmail and Google Calendar conveying useful information through their favicon

Note how the blue Google Calendar icon actually has today’s date instead of some random number. Left of it is the Gmail icon showing the unread mail count. In order to get this functionality in Gmail you have enable the “Unread message icon by Manu C.”

Google folks, keep up the good work! 🙂

Palm Pre after one month (review)

Last month after posting my thoughts about choosing my next smartphone I ended up switching to Sprint and went with the Palm Pre. It has been almost a month since then and now is a good time to put up a quick summary of my experience.

Apple iPhone or the Palm Pre? Maybe the HTC Hero (T-Mobile MyTouch)?

I have been using the HTC Tytn for almost two years and my contract with my current carrier, T-mobile, expired in December. At the time the main options that I was considering were the Apple iPhone, T-mobile G1 or the HTC Touch Diamond. The HTC Touch phones run Windows Mobile (WinMo) and I wasn’t particularly excited because I have been using a WinMo 6 phone for a while. It gets the job done, but isn’t pretty or “finger-friendly.” The G1’s operating system was new, but the hardware wasn’t particularly exciting. Just when I was starting to seriously explore the iPhone, Palm announced the Pre. Looking at the initial videos of the Pre I decided to wait for it. Well, finally the Pre has been out for a month and it is about time for me to decide.

Palm Pre iPhone 3GS

Here is what I am looking for in my next phone…

Presenting at TechNow09 tomorrow

Tomorrow is the TechNow09 event happening in Royal Oak, MI. ShopFiber is one of the companies presenting. We will be doing a short skit about what ShopFiber is and how it can help the average consumer shopping for electronics. I will be playing the role of “Bob,” an average consumer and Jake will be playing the role of “Neo,” a gadget lover. We are hoping that this will be a very entertaining way to showcase ShopFiber. There is a plan to broadcast the event on ustream and I will post a link once the setup is finalized. I will tweet the link as soon as I find out, so follow me on twitter if you would like to watch the live stream.

I am planning on being there for most of the time after the main event so come and say hi if you have a chance.

Understanding Windows Vista

Unfortunately, there are too many complaints about Windows Vista. Personally, I think that Windows Vista is a pretty good OS. This article tries to explain Windows Vista and put it in an unbiased context. Additionally, one of my goals is to make this transition easier for the users, so, I will be explaining how to get things to work until either Microsoft or other software vendors have had a chance to officially fix them.

Just pre-ordered the Zune 80

Zune 80GB

I have had the Creative Zen Vision:M 30GB for a while now and I like it very much. The only problem that I have had is it’s capacity. My collection is now reaching upwards to 45GB and I would like to have all of that available. So, I have been looking around for a while and the most obvious choice is the new iPod Classic, but recently I have heard a lot about the new Zune. I am looking only at the mainstream players because these generally have a good set of accessories available, most important of which to me are the cases. I have been comparing the Zune 80GB with the 80GB iPod Classic and I have finally decided on the Zune 80GB. Below are a few thoughts.

  • For me the biggest advantage with Zune was the wireless syncing. How good this will actually work out is still remaining to be seen. I am anxious to see how the syncing will work because ideally I would like to be able to sync it with a Samba share; I don’t expect it to work out of the box but I am willing to do some reverse engineering to get it to work 🙂
  • FM Tuner is useful at times.
  • For me the bigger screen is more of a disadvantage since most of the times I am only listening to music and the bigger screen means shorter battery life.
  • I have recently bought the in-ear Griffin TuneBuds and I have fell in love with these. The in-ear style delivers very nice sound and they don’t fall off as easily, which is especially important at places like the gym. Zune 80GB comes with the Zune Premium headphones which I am expecting to be similar if not better.

I should be getting it around November 23rd so I will do further posts about it around then.

vim is awesome!

My full-time job is to implement Health Level Seven (HL7) interfaces. HL7 is a character delimited text standard for interfacing data between Health care applications. So, I have to deal with text on a daily basis. This interaction with delimited text starts to take even more time when we get closer to moving interfaces to a production environment because you have to analyze thousands of messages and possibly change a few things around in each. This analysis and manipulation is what I have been doing most of the last week and looking back now I can say that vim has saved me lots and lots of time. I love the vglobal, global and normal commands. What prompted this post was that I was looking for a way to highlight the line that the cursor was on and after a google search I found out the “cursorline” option, which does exactly what I was looking for. I believe this was implemented in vim 7, so if you have vim (or gvim) 7.0 or higher then try it out: “set cursorline”

Overall, I am so glad that I had spent time in the past experimenting with perl, awk, grep and wc. These four commands and vim have been invaluable to me. I would suggest playing around with these five tools (well, perl is a language) if your job involves working with text. Also, make sure to learn regular expressions because regular expressions are what will take you to the next level! 🙂

Rad Software Regular Expression Designer

A screenshot of the designer

I was just working on creating some C# regular expression and ran into this program called the Rad Software Regular Expression Designer. If your job involes creating .Net regular expressions then this is a must-have tool! I have only used it for about half an hour now but I have already fallen in love with it! 🙂 Check it out at http://www.radsoftware.com.au/regexdesigner/. Below is a screenshot for your viewing pleasures.