Calvin Hsia's WebLog

thoughts from a professional developer

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  • Blog Post: Surface Pro 3 cursor disappears

    I like my new Surface Pro 3. Things were working fine and all of a sudden, the cursor would disappear. I just have the Type Cover and a memory card installed: no other hardware. Narrowing down the issue: if I move my finger in circles on the trackpad to make the cursor move in small circles in the same...
  • Blog Post: Unorthodox chopsticks

    Several years ago, my wife and I were walking through a local shopping mall. At the time, there was some sort of Asian festival. At a display booth there was a table upon which were two trays, side by side. One was empty, and the other had many beans. The sign challenged visitors to see how many beans...
  • Blog Post: Customer site visit: 3-D printer company

    I spent a few hours at a local company called 2Bot ( http://www.2bot.com/ ) which makes a 3-D printer that you can attach to your computer via USB port. Yep, I said 3 dimensional: you can feed it an architectural drawing of a building or landscape, and it actually can carve it out of a block of foam...
  • Blog Post: New printers are far more capable: Canon iP4300

    Our several year old ink jet printer died the other day. It was an Epson Stylus Pro 5000. I knew it was on its way out, so I had been researching printers a little recently. I knew that printer quality and features had been growing substantially in recent years. I found a review by M. David Stone...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft Sudoku article

    Several months ago, I wrote The mechanics of Sudoku and Sudoku puzzles screen capture . As a result, Stephen Toub emailed me and asked if I’d like to beta test his Tablet PC version of Sudoku. He sent me several versions over the next few months to test-drive. It was fully functional from when I began...
  • Blog Post: Phone number and wife haven't changed in 11 years

    There’s a sporting goods store that I’ve visited on occasion over the last 11 years. It’s a membership cooperative, which mails a percentage rebate check back to customers annually. I signed up as a member 11 years ago, which meant yet another card to keep in my wallet. For convenience, the store could...
  • Blog Post: What's the greatest invention of all time?

    I read this from Raymond , which prompted this post. To qualify for greatness, an invention would have to affect the most people and benefit humankind in a big way When pondering this question, I’ve heard things like: Wheel Transistor Computer Printing Press Vaccines ...
  • Blog Post: Are water and salt the only inorganics we consume?

    Of all the naturally occurring foods/drinks that humans normally ingest, is it true that all but two of them contain carbon? In any case, these 2 are very common. Maybe there’s a candy bar I don’t know about that doesn’t have carbon<g>. (Of course I mean pure H2O and pure NaCl.). I suppose...
  • Blog Post: Quiz: Infinite Continued fractions

    At the SouthWest Fox speaker dinner we were talking about continued (or infinite) fractions. I posed this question: What does this expression evaluate to? 1 + 1 _________ 1 + 1 ________ 1 + 1 _______ 1 + 1 ______ 1 + 1 … Clue: It’s adding some...
  • Blog Post: Do you know everything about Factorials?

    When I was in 7 th grade at Amity Junior High School in Orange Connecticut , I gave a presentation on Factorial numbers. Here’s some interesting code: FOR i = 1 TO 80 ?i,Factorial(i), SQRT ( 2 * PI ()*i)*(i/ EXP ( 1 ))^i ENDFOR PROCEDURE Factorial(n) IF n= 1 RETURN n...
  • Blog Post: Optimization question from a reader

    I received a question: …I've always been curious about code like this: IF wParam=ASC("a") wParam=ASC("b") ENDIF Is it more appropriate to think of ASC("a") as the Fox equivalent of a C 'a', or is it an actual function call every time through? It’s easy to test this. Try running this code...
  • Blog Post: Balloons and Planes: cabin pressure

    Next time you’re on a plane (or a submarine!), take along some scotch tape and a balloon. While you’re on the ground, waiting for take-off, inflate the balloon. Wrap the balloon with the tape around the equator and note how the tape constricts the balloon’s size (like a belt on your pants). ...
  • Blog Post: That was the worst natural disaster to hit the US

    A coworker’s family was hit hard by Katrina. She’s collecting donations in our cafeteria today and tomorrow. Don’t be surprised if you see more Foxpro conference bags/backpacks/t-shirts in Mississippi ! Here’s her blog post about it: Save Waveland, MS annihilated by Katrina! I’m driving home...
  • Blog Post: Remove double spaces from pasted code samples in blog

    If you highlight a recent code sample from my blog and paste it into VFP, you might see the code double spaced. This can be annoying, especially if there are line continuation characters: x= "This is a " +; "continued line" I’ve found that to avoid this, I can paste into a new Outlook message...
  • Blog Post: New MSN Search Toolbar allows Tabbed Browsing

    Several months ago, I saw an article about the FireFox browser, and how it could do “Tabbed browsing”. One of the main things I disliked about Internet Explorer was that in order to see multiple web pages, you have to have multiple windows. Alt-Tab to switch between windows was cumbersome. I tried FireFox...
  • Blog Post: New Tablet PC hard disk and using RIS

    My 3 year old Acer TravelMate 100 TabletPC hard disk (20G) was dying. It has served me well as a portable machine. I love the tablet features and the small size. It was one of the original prototype tablets that I started using about 6 months before TabletPCs were available publicly. Recently, the disk...
  • Blog Post: Is your Outlook mailbox overflowing? TreeMap it!

    In this post I published 100 lines of code that showed how to get a visual representation of your hard disk to see which folders take the most space. It showed that my Outlook mailbox was half a gigabyte. (“C:\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\CALVINH\LOCAL SETTINGS\APPLICATION DATA\MICROSOFT\OUTLOOK” ). I am using...
  • Blog Post: Watch out when you use another computer for a demo

    Wow…. I just had a nightmare of a time using a computer. A colleague asked me if I could do a demo in a couple hours of some of the stuff I’m working on. I said sure, but I’ll need to use another notebook computer, cuz mine’s on the fritz. No problem, he said. I thought there would be no problem...
  • Blog Post: Very Old Program

    I was doing some spring cleaning and came across a computer printout of a program I wrote in August 1974, or about 31 years ago! That brings back a lot of memories. Coincidentally, a couple coworkers were discussing the CaSing of computer languages. What languages were in UPPER case, lower case, MiXed...
  • Blog Post: April Fool's Pranks

    In the spirit of April Fool’s Day, I was talking to my daughter about some pranks that took place in my college days. I mentioned the abundance of liquid nitrogen and what happens to a flower immersed in it for a few seconds: it becomes very brittle and shatters. Then I mentioned stories about putting...
  • Blog Post: Sharing Disneyland Digital pictures

    A family reunion in Disneyland means bring my camera ! I wanted to make sure that the digital pictures I took were saved and shared. If you run out of film with film cameras, you can just buy more film wherever you are. However, when running out of digital storage, it would be nice to have backup digital...
  • Blog Post: User Interface design for numeric keypads

    I have just read Raymond’s User interface design for interior door locks which reminded me of a curiousity. Take a look at your telephone’s numeric keypad. The top row of buttons on mine is 1,2,3. Now look at your computer keyboard numeric keypad or a calculator keypad. For mine, the top row is 7,8,9...
  • Blog Post: Sending Christmas cards: Creating mailng labels automatically

    A family member sent out an emergency email plea for help: I bought labels: Avery 8160, which have very clear instructions about how to enter names and addresses manually, but nothing about how to use data from an Excel file to do so. Avery.com tells me what fancy things to buy. Excel Help only explains...
  • Blog Post: Using Outlook to manage new documents

    I like using Outlook to manage documents that I compose, such as this blog entry. What I mean by that: I start writing a document by simply starting to compose a new mail message. I have Outlook configured to use MSWord as my email editor, so I have the full capability of Word at my disposal. I can just...
  • Blog Post: Give the impression that you're an expert and earn palpable respect

    Our local bridge club uses a computer program to tabulate scores. The bridge director enters scores from each round as they finish, so within a few minutes after the event is over, the final scores, rankings and earned masterpoints are available, and they are published to the web soon thereafter. One...
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