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Hard Disk Prices
Date: 29/5/2006
Gee let me see... where is the sweet spot in $/MB I wonder?



Wow, it really goes flat there for a bit doesn't it. Seems like 300gb is the g.o.
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Scribe Folder Load Speed
Date: 26/5/2006
It seemed to me that over the years the speed of loading folders in Scribe has got slower and slower. To the point that I grimice inside everytime that stupid progress bar comes up. Well today something very interesting happened. I was testing the mail2 export code (now almost finished!) by exporting the spam folder to a empty mail2 file. Then loading it in a clean install of i.Scribe. And I knew that with about 7000 and something messages, loading that folder should take 10 seconds or so. And you know what. It took about a second. Huh I thought?

So thus the little light went on in my head. I tried it again, still uber fast. I loaded up the dev build of InScribe and.... slooooow. i.Scribe... fast... InScribe... slooooow. Ok so what the hell is going on here?

Firstly I recompiled the dev version in release mode. Just to rule out the different between release and debug builds. That didn't make a whole lot of difference. Then I rebuilt as i.Scribe and that didn't change anything. So I tried clean installs, removing the accounts, trying every different combination until I hit upon the problem.

Everytime I load an email the to and from address are turned into objects that have links back into the contact database. The action of creating these links while loading mail in a folder is somewhat time consuming when done en masse.

The solution? Do it on demand. It then only gets done on a few email at a time, spread out over time so it's almost negligable. But that frees up the folder load to run at full speed, not bogged down with all this searching around in the address book. And man does it fly now. A folder of 7000 odd messages loads in about a second. And a lot of folders that would progress bar me every day now load instantly.

This little edit might break a few things here and there. But in the long run it'll be good for everyone. I'm sure we'll iron out the bugs in no short time with a little feild testing.

Yay for speed.

Update: Well over the last few days where I've got to use the code more and see it working on a different system it's not all as good as I'd hoped. I think the issue is that the disk cache is making any sort of meanful measurement of folder load speed meaningless. When I initially load a folder after system boot, nothing is cached and it's only marginally faster than before. Not instant. However later on after loading things a few times, it's fetching from cache and it's a lot faster. Every now and then windows dumps the cache and it slows down. So I'm not sure how much faster it really is. I expect it's really somewhere in the order 30-50% faster than before. Does anyone know how to profile code that accesses the disk? Is there a way of flushing the disk cache before running your tests?
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Zeta Install
Date: 26/5/2006
Well the old dual 400 machine I built the other night is now running Zeta RC3. Apart from some hiccups getting it to install I'm pleasantly surprised by a few things:
  • Network worked out of the box, just had to set DHCP.
  • There is a reasonably current build of Firefox for it.
  • ssh is installed and works!
  • svn installs and works!
So I checked out the Lgi codebase and tried compiling it. Hahah.. what a huge long list of (weird) errors.

I really struggled getting Zeta to run on my main machine (nvidia support), I should try it on the new system sometime. But having a old compatible system is good too. Means I might get some work done in Zeta again. Previously I was pretty ticked that svn didn't work. Now that it does, I'm in a more forgiving mood. However I still remember all too well how lame bdb is.
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Squeaky Clean
Date: 25/5/2006
I wrote a little utility today that cleans up (X)HTML that has been written by a rich text editor and has masses of styles and strange little XML tags everywhere. i.e. the sort of HTML that Microsoft Office outputs. It's called Squeaky Clean and it uses a XML parser to read the XHTML into a DOM tree, cleans out all the styles and junk tags and then lets you do some clean up by hand. Then save it out to disk or copy some/all of it to the clipboard using the built in editor.

It is somewhat configurable via the 'Clean.xml' options file which specifies which attributes and elements should be deleted.

By default it removes all the styles, so you have to go back and reimplement the styles if you need them. But now that the markup is fixed it's relitively painless. Future versions may expand upon the level of style removal, but for my needs all the source styling is just junk, hence the alpha just removing them.
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Stuff
Date: 23/5/2006
It's been a bit quiet lately because my whole family, including me, were sick last week. So I didn't do much programming or anything really.

This week I've fixed a number of newly reported issues and implemented some of the mail2 export back end. It now replicates a single folder of mail correctly. I just need to get it doing lots of folders, and put up some progress UI and implement Contact/Calendar replication etc and it'll be ready for going into a release.

Last night I was in somewhat of a weird mood so I dug up all the old computer parts I had and built a computer. I hadn't realised until then that I had at least one of everything, CPU, RAM, PSU, HD, Case, Video Card. But sure enough I do. So it all went in the box and I booted it and installed XP. It's my old dual Celeron 400 motherboard with my old G400 AGP card. I have 3 sticks of 256mb but I seem to only be able to get 384mb to show up at boot. It doesn't like all 3 sticks in at once. And one or 2 of the sticks is showing only half it's full size, probably because it's not fully compatible with the motherboard. While I was working on it I really didn't know what I was going to do with it once it was working. But now I realize this machine will probably run Zeta quite well. So I think I'll install that and build some of my apps just for fun.

My main dev box got an upgrade 2 weeks ago. I used to run an socket A Athlon 1.4ghz system with 512mb on an KT7-RAID board. The new system is a socket 939 Athlon 64 3000+ with 1GB of Geil dual channel RAM. It's still AGP but I can upgrade to a dual core chip down the track. My only problem is that the Xpertvision Nvidia 6200 video card is flakey as hell and I want to replace it. But I'm having a lot of trouble finding a 6600 based card with the right TV out options (I need composite [now] AND component [later]) by a brand that is somewhat trustworthy for less than $200 AUD. It's very hard trying to find out which brands of video cards are decent and which suck. But heres what I "feel" about them currently, ranked from most trusted down to least trusted:
  • BFG: high quality, hella expensive
  • XFX: high quality, more expensive
  • Leadtek: good quality, all right price
  • Gigabyte: middle of the road, average price
  • MSI: cheaper, but not great quality
  • Asus: cheaper, but not great quality
  • Sparkle: cheap + nasty
  • GALAXY: cheap + nasty
  • Albatron: cheap + nasty
  • InnoVISION: cheap + nasty
  • XpertVision: crap build quality + cheap + nasty
There might be other brands out there, but these are the ones generally stocked by local retailers. Getting something else would be more difficult and prone to problems with shipping / warrentee.

Is my gut feel on these brands right? Or am I barking mad?

Ideally I'd like to go Leadtek, but their TV out options don't work for me. Same with Gigabyte I think... undecided on whether I should try the Asus + MSI ranges. I simply cannot find the info I nead on XFX or BFG...
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Export To Scribe Folders
Date: 11/5/2006
For all of you wailing and gnashing your teeth over the delay of the "export to mail2" function then fret not, it is underway. Tonight I built all the UI and tested it. It's very similar to the Outlook Imp/Exp UI except it's tweaked slightly to reference a folder file rather than a profile. The settings persist between sessions so that once you have set up your export config, re-running it is simple as F7, Enter. And you would want that because the export replicates the data, so that you don't get dupelicates everywhere. I'm trying to aim this at people who want to take a lightweight email client with them on a USB key and then when they get home upload all the mail they received while away to their main install of Scribe. Amongst other things.

The external folders load nicely and I'm now ready to write the backend that does the real work. But I'm getting too tired to work on that tonight. Maybe... this weekend. Maybe.
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