April 2004 Blog Posts

Scott and Sean have moved their Early Adopter blog away from Radio. It is now here.

Despite the work going into Whidbey and the associated growth in the .NET Framework, today we're developing against .NET 1.1 and it doesn't support everything yet.

That said, there is a lot that it does do and the Win32 to .NET API Map is good for pointing out where to look in the framework for experienced Win32 devs.

If the framework doesn't provide what you want then you can head off to pinvoke.net to get details of how to call various Win32 and other unmanaged APIs rather than trying to figure it out yourself over and over.

A couple of months ago I was scouting around for a spam filtering service that would act as an SMTP relay and filter out spam into a separate mailbox. The primary reason for this was so that when I'm out and about, I can download e-mail onto my SmartPhone without having 50 junk e-mail clogging it up, wasting my GPRS bandwidth, and generally masking the legitimate messages.

I didn't have any luck with splagger - they didn't respond to my enquiry - and everything else similar was aimed at large business and was way too expensive.

I think I've gone with the next best thing and I've been using the godaddy e-mail service for the last month or so. The great thing about this service is that you can install an application on your desktop called Spam Xploder that allows you to train the spam filters by dragging and dropping good and bad mail from Outlook or Outlook Express and it uploads the processed data to your account. This gives a Bayesian filter but on the server-side, which is just what I wanted.

One problem area in the sign-up process is that it won't let you configure your mailboxes until you have pointed your MX records at their servers but of course once you've done that, you mail will bounce until you do configure them. Unfortunate but I guess designed to reduce support costs for average users who wouldn't know an MX record if it jumped out and bit them on the nose.

One thing that isn't clear from the site information is that if you sign up for a package including multiple mailboxes, those mailboxes don't appear to need to be in the same domain name, so if you have a few domains and one mailbox in each then this works out well.

I've been very pleased with the service - if 4 or 5 messages in one week get misinterpreted as spam or don't get caught then it is having a bad week. I just log in to the web mail every day or so to check through the filtered messages and purge them from the store. If you need something like this, I'd certainly recommend them.

Good review of Orange SPV SmartPhone audio adapters.

I've been struggling with a few connection problems trying to sync my SmartPhone to Outlook in recent weeks but since I was already running ActiveSync 3.7.1 there wasn't much to be done.

It appears that Microsoft make reasonably silent releases of ActiveSync. I downloaded 3.7.1 again and ran the installer: it told me I already had 3.7.1 installed but I could go ahead and reinstall it. When I did and checked the about box I now have a much higher build number and the connection seems much snappier now. Who knew? I guess I'll be keeping a closer eye on it now.

If you are using a hash to hide the value of a password then it is a good idea to throw in a salt so that two people with the same password will have different values stored. It also increases the amount of work necessary to perform a dictionary attack on the passwords.

In the Security Briefs article in MSDN Magazine August 2003, Keith Brown provides a SaltedHash class that does the job nicely to save you few minutes writing it yourself.

The only change I made was to substitute SHA1CryptoServiceProvider with SHA1Managed to avoid leaving managed code (SHA1CryptoServiceProvider is implemented using CAPI).

It's been some weeks since Scoble mentioned attending a David Allen seminar. He made a few follow-up posts and I was initially sceptical. However, with his and others' influence, a couple of GTD people, including David himself, started blogging and I subscribed to the feeds.

Little by little, the things that were said started to make sense to me and after perusing the GTD web site looking at the hints and tips I was convinced that this was something I could use.

I bought the book from Amazon UK and I've read 3/4 of it so far. Yesterday, I drove to the nearest Staples and bought the supplies I'd need to implement the system including one of these fancy labelling machines, some new letter trays, and a stack of new files. I've collected and processed most of the bits and pieces surrounding me and it's amazing seeing so many horizontal surfaces (desks, shelves, floors, etc.) not covered in piles of 'stuff'.

I'm using the GTD add-in for Outlook 2003 that others havementioned recently and so I have a nice stack of tasks waiting to be done. I also have a few new files and I'm running out of space in my filing cabinet so now would be a good time to restructure things and purge the stuff I don't need to keep. Having a single unified A-Z filing system already seems like such a good idea I don't know why I didn't do it before.