Monthly Archives: September 2007


Google Maps has just added street numbers for its Australian maps. No more wondering exactly which block the arrow is pointing at, you can now see the street numbers when you zoom in.


Read/write Photoshop PSD files in Paint.Net

Pondering switching from expen$ive Photoshop to free Paint.Net, but want to be able to read all your Photoshop files?

Just download this plugin, unzip and copy the DLL into the Paint.Net Filetypes folder. Easy.

Caveat: it doesn’t support absolutely everything in PSD files flawlessly. Discussion here. But the files I’ve been dabbling with (actually converted from CPT to PSD using an ancient copy of Corel Photopaint) work fine.

Amazon sells MP3s

Amazon launches DRM-free music sales (in beta) with 2 million songs available at US$0.99 each (cheaper for top hits).

Unfortunately when they say it’s “Play Anywhere”, they mean “anywhere in the USA”… the Terms of Use reveal:

As required by our Digital Content providers, Digital Content will, unless otherwise designated, be available only to customers located in the United States.

And given I logged in for a look with an account attached to an AU shipping address and an AU email address, I’m not sure why they didn’t proclaim that point loudly, rather than hide it away in the Terms. Otherwise, they wait until you try to buy before prompting you: Amazon MP3 Purchases are limited to U.S. customers.


How to do null dates in database queries in VB.Net

They do make you jump through some hoops, but I think I’ve got it worked out.

Dim dYourDateField As Nullable(Of Date)

…then you either set it to be a date (using DateSerial or CDate or whatever, or you set it to Nothing.

Then when you’re using it in a database query, the parameter can be set like this:

oCmd.Parameters.Add(“@YourDateField”, System.Data.OleDb.OleDbType.DBDate).Value = dYourDateField

That’s it. At least, it seems to work okay for me. Touch wood. Apparently it should be okay in the .Net Framework 2 onwards.

[Another in an occasional series of things Daniel posts about so he can easily re-discover it next time he needs to remember how it’s done.]

Real Estate Websites Suck: Part 3

So I’m receiving emails, and discover that I’m getting the same thing twice from realestateview; I wonder if they’re duplicates, or there’s overlap, or what. The emails I’m getting don’t tell me what the search criteria that generated them are, but does tell me that

The following recently listed properties match your search criteria.

whatever they are. Helpfully, instructions for changing a search are included:

To change your search, first de-activate your membership using the link above, then go to the Property Search Page to re-enter your new search.

You’re kidding, right? Delete the search, whatever it is because it’s some kind of secret, and then recreate it from the secret search criteria? How the freak is that easy to use? Not only that, when you “deactive my membership”, it’s not clear if just that email-search-thing or all of them will be turned off. Dare I try? Have I anything to lose? I dare, and I try, and it doesn’t tell me what the freak I just did, but it does tell me that it worked.

What moron designed this system?

Gaming for luddite scrooges

If you’re like me, and clinging to your “classic” XBox while you ponder upgrading to your next console, now’s a good time to go out game shopping. Arm yourself with a copy of Metacritic’s index of XBox games (if you copy it into Excel and only print the half-decent games, say those rated above 70, you can probably get it down to a fairly small and inconspicuous size) and hit the shops.

For those in Australia, JB Hifi in particular are selling a lot of well-regarded games (and some crap ones as well) at good prices. Pro Evolution Soccer (rated 91 at Metacritic): $15. Want a racing game, but can’t decide between (the late) Colin McRae 2004 (84) or Rallisport 2 (87)? $10 each. Lego Star Wars (76): I think that was $15. Forza Motorsport (92): $15 too I think, but don’t quote me on it. They also had Star Wars Battlefront (80), Destroy All Humans (76), Oddworld: Strangers Wrath (88), Sonic Mega Collection Plus (75).

Or if you just paid $30 for Harry Potter: Goblet Of Fire for the kids a few weeks ago at EB (and it was secondhand), seethe with rage as you spot it for just $20. (Grumble)

(Different games showing up in different stores, natch.)

2Clix backs down… maybe

There’s uncertainty about whether or not 2Clix has dropped its action against Whirlpool. While the Sydney Morning Herald reported it earlier today, Whirlpool commented that they haven’t had any official notification.

Meanwhile quotes 2Clix MD David Morgan as saying that the case had been dropped and Turnbull and Co had been notified.

But Whirlpool’s legal people haven’t yet seen the notice of discontinuance, and have been unable to contact 2Clix’s legal people, and have therefore concluded that until they see it formally in writing, and it’s still in the court records, it’s not over. Indeed, there’s speculation from sources close to Whirlpool that it might just be a ploy to make them let down their guard.

Watching with interest.

Outlook 2007 irritations

Why do I keep getting these? They rarely happened in Outlook 2003.

A data file did not close properly
I promise you, I did close Outlook properly. Just like I do every time. It’s good that this version can do the integrity check in the background, but I don’t see why it’s needed at all.

A connection to the server cannot be established
IMAP performance in this version is appalling. It rarely seems to stay connected to the IMAP server for more than a few seconds at a time. Just about all the time I need to keep reconnecting and/or do the Mark For Download / Process Marked Headers thing, which gets old really fast.

I like a lot of the other stuff in the new Outlook, but these are very irritating.

New iPods: Definitely Mac or Windows only

Cory Doctorow writes on Boing Boing that it looks like the newly released iPod models have a checksum in them that prevents third-party applications from synching with them, which impacts people on Linux. Nice.

Oh well, we’ll just have to wait a week or two for someone to crack it, I guess.

Mortgage ‘Calculator’

Have a go at this crappy morgage calculator. Insofaras mortage calculators go, it’s middle of the road. It doesn’t allow for being an investor, which renders it useless to me – I have a substaintial investment income (only matched by my substaintial interest expense), and I’m not trading up from my current house.

But my biggest gripe is how the calculator has been “designed” to only work if you enter a valid, live email address. So this thing turns out to be a marketting tool, not a calculator per se. The address of doesn’t work. If you enter an email address that isn’t live, it doesn’t give an error message – it barfs with an ASP error when sending the email fails. WTF? How is J Random User meant to figure that one out? Thankfully, it hands over the results (for what they’re worth) because is a valid email address. Sorry about that, Google.

No more Melbourne swapmeets

SwapmeetAlas, hardware geeks in Melbourne, swapmeets are no more. The associated Computer Trader magazine has also gone west, along with its web site, which briefly said:

Max and Dorothea have been receiving a significant amount of harassment by lawyers acting in relation to the sale of counterfeit goods at the swapmeets and by Computer Trader. They have found the allegations and threats of legal action against them to be very stressful and detrimental to their health and general well being. The allegations are untrue and the threats are without foundation.

Max and Dorothea have always been at pains to operate their businesses within the law and with integrity and transparency. They thank their staff and customers for their support over the past sixteen years.

(The site itself is gone already, but is currently available in the Google cache.)

With heightened competition from online retailers and aggregator sites like StaticIce, it’s not hard to see how this kind of game might not be as profitable as it once was. Even obscure/old equipment that once might have been found at swapmeets is probably more easily found on eBay these days. Legal issues aside, maybe it’s time was over.

(Thanks to MGM for the tipoff.)