I was one of the early adopters of µTorrent, having started used the first public beta 1.1 all the way back in 2005. When Bittorrent acquired it in 2006 I was concerned but decided to stick with it as it was still the best Bittorrent client available.

I even tolerated the ads added in the August 2012 build of µTorrent which I needed to update to thanks to the write cache bug uncovered by Pleasuredome users (of which I am one). However, recent bullshit has prompted me to look elsewhere posthaste.

After evaluating my options (namely Halite which I’ve looked at before, Deluge, Tixati, qBittorrent, and Transmission), I decided to set myself a few criteria:

  1. must be open source
  2. updated regularly

1. eliminated Tixati unfortunately, which I like the look of. 2. did away with Halite, which I really wanted to succeed, but it seems a bit of a dormant project.

I was down to 3: Deluge, qBittorrent and Transmission. I tried all three, but they didn’t really suit my workflow. And then, the client-daemon architecture of Transmission to the rescue. I found Transmission Remote GUI, which I found suits me just fine (i.e. it works like old µTorrent!) and now I have my new BT client.

Transmission BT

So, I guess this is goodbye µT. It has been great, thanks.

Castle Monorail has been my web framework of choice for some years now. I’ve been using the obsolete RenderEmailAndSend method as that was how it is done in the sample code. Monorail 2.0 uses Core 1.2 which features an integrated email sender component, and the old sample code does not work anymore since Castle.Components.Common.EmailSender.Message has been removed.

The “new” way of sending isn’t documented officially anywhere, hence this blog post.

First, you’ll want a NVelocity template in the ViewsMail folder. We’ll call it Hello.vm:

subject: Hello!
from: $from
to: $to

Hello $name, this is a message from $site

Now for the controller, which we’ll name EmailController.cs (I’m not very imaginative):

using Castle.MonoRail.Framework;

namespace MonorailEmailSample.Controllers
{
    public class EmailController : Controller
    {
        public void Send()
        {
            PropertyBag["from"] = "myemail@domain.com";
            PropertyBag["to"] = "you@myfriend.com";
            PropertyBag["name"] = "Your Name";
            PropertyBag["site"] = "http://mywebsite.com/";

            DeliverEmail(RenderMailMessage("hello", null, PropertyBag));

            RenderText("Email sent!");
        }
    }
}

That’s it. The RenderMailMessage method signature I’m demonstrating is RenderMailMessage(string templateName, string layoutName, IDictionary parameters). We don’t need a layoutName if we are sending a plain text email which we are doing, hence we are passing in null.

Of course, you’ll want to set up your SMTP server properly in your monorail config section as per the instructions.

Looks great, performs better. Best feature: super-powered search. Next best feature: global inbox.

Lightning doesn’t yet work on it though, so I can’t move my main work machine to it. At least Enigmail’s OK. Can’t wait…

Update: broke down and installed TBird 3.0 with the Lightning nightlies. Working OK so far.

More than a year after the last test build 120, almost five years since the last official release 4.50, 5.0 is here, baby! I’ll be having a beer in its honour tonight.

The skin’s updated a little, but the most obvious addition is album art support in the default skin.

All I can say is, SUEET! It is a project that integrates best of breed Open Source .NET software to produce an online community suite. That makes it a direct competitor to Community Server and, to a smaller extent, mojoPortal.

I’ll be looking at the possibility of migrating That Stupid Club which is currently running on CS to Sueetie. CS was nice, and for a while was the only choice, but it is just too big and too complex to customise easily.

Looks like its lights out at quinnware.com, home of QCD and QMP. I’ve still not found a suitable replacement for QMP yet and I probably was still hoping for that one last release despite the months of silence from the developer, but I guess the search is that much more urgent now.

Thanks for the years of aural pleasure.

Update 23-Nov: Looks like its a server hardware failure, whew…

Update 3-Jan: Happy New Year! Looks like quinnware.com is kind of back… at test.quinnware.com, with a new design to boot! Let’s hope we’ll get more news soon.

I’ve mentioned that I’m using Comodo Firewall as my software firewall solution. Version 3 was even better than version 2, with low CPU utilisation (even while engaging in heavy P2P sessions) and secure (ranked consistently near the top in the Matousec firewall tests).

And now version 3.5 (renamed the Comodo Internet Security) has been released and now features an optional anti-virus component. I cannot speak for the efficacy of the anti-virus component, but the engine feels very light, and the definitions get three or four updates a day. If the quality of the firewall is anything to go by, the anti-virus engine should be one to keep an eye on.

Best of all? Its free (as in beer).

The final build has been released in the forums, but the public facing sites have not been updated yet.

So Firefox 3 and Norton 360 2.0 and Internet Security 2008 do not get along at all. This was probably a shock to the millions who use and trust Symantec products but I have to say this, Symantec is not nice.

Symantec destroyed the reputation of the brand “Norton”, making the security applications bloated monstrosities. Left my beloved PartitionMagic to stagnate (where’s my new version that groks Windows Server 2003 and Vista partitions?). Killed Sygate Personal Firewall *shakes fist*.

And don’t get me started on Norton Commander…

I have not had a single Symantec product installed on any of my PCs this century and I intend to keep it that way.

Free alternatives I use and recommend:

Antivirus: Avast!

Firewall: Comodo Firewall Pro

PartitionMagic: GParted

Norton Commander: FreeCommander

Came across an article about how the newer versions of software may not be better than previous versions, most of it caused by increasing feature sets and thus bloat. I am pretty particular about what goes on my PC as I need all the CPU power and RAM I can get for my weighty development tools. Rather than sticking to the “last good version”, I try to look for alternatives based on the following criteria:

  • Free is good, open source is better.
  • Small footprint, but not at the expense of usability.

Instant Messaging Programs

Miranda IM is the best IM client on Windows. It is very light weight (the new version 0.7 features a new memory management model which makes it more memory efficient compared to the previous versions) and is very extensible, as it supports plugins. It does take some effort to set up so it works exactly the way you want it to, but I do not see that as a bad thing.

Media Players

I use two different applications for audio and video. QMP by Quinnware is my audio player of choice. It is currently in beta, but according to the creator Paul Quinn, it is very close to release now. The memory usage might be a little on the high side (compared to svelte players like foobar2000 and XMPlay)but in my opinion its usability trumps that.

I use Media Player Classic for video playback. It looks like the old Windows Media Player 6.4 but that’s the point. I do not need my video player to have some incredibly slick interface. Just make it simple and sensible, and then stay the hell out of the way when a video is playing. I usually install the Combined Community Codec Pack (still the best codec pack) which features MPC as one of the installation options.

Image and Video Software

No idea about video editing software unfortunately, not one of my interests. For image editing, Paint.NET is the tool for quick and simple jobs. I find it to be very light weight and very functional.

For image viewing and management, XnView seems the best I have tried. Very quick, and the interface is a clone of early ACDSee. Only minus is that it has no Unicode support, but I can live with that… usually.

I also have CDisplayEx installed. It is an open source clone of CDisplay which is sadly very outdated. These are really niche applications for viewing scanned comics, but are capable and very fast image viewers.

And Two More Previous Favorites

For PDF viewers, Foxit Reader is very, very fast. There’s a bit of feature creep in the latest version 2.2, but its still fast. No way am I going back to Adobe Reader without some major re-architecturing efforts on Adobe’s end.

As for email, I have used Mozilla Thunderbird for years now. It is not light weight by any stretch of the imagination but I cannot do without the extensions nowadays. Lightning needs to mature before I can consider recommending it for most of my clients though.

Stuff Missed Out

The PC World editors missed one application, the Nero suite. Versions 7 and 8 clock in at a ridiculously massive 170+ megs. I just want to burn some CDs and some DVDs… There are free alternatives: InfraRecorder (open source) and CDBurnerXP (free as in beer). Both of these are very easy to use and will be more than adequate for normal burning tasks.