2021-09-12

[SOLVED] In Windows, how to recover an invisible application window

Scenario: You are using a laptop with one or more external monitors at home and (a different set of external monitors) at the office.

Problem: Every once in a while, when you switch between home and office, some buggy application will not handle its screen positioning correctly, so it will open up out of the screen. In the taskbar you can see that the application has launched, but the application window is invisible.

Steps to fix:

1. Switch to the application by clicking on its taskbar icon. Nothing seems to happen, but the application does receive keyboard focus.

2. Press [Alt]+[Space]. The system menu of the application should now appear on one of the corners of one of your monitors; if not, continue following the instructions anyway.

3. In the system menu, select "Move".  If you cannot see the menu, just press the [Down Arrow] key once, and then the [Enter] key.

4. Press one of the arrow keys, e.g. the [Left Arrow].

5. Move the mouse. This should bring the window into one of the monitors.

6. Position the window where you want it, and click the mouse once to drop it there.


2021-07-27

Malicious Inaction

Actor Wayne Knight in the original Jurassic Park movie
playing the role of the unscrupulous programmer Dennis Nedry,
(anagram of "Nerdy",) the main villain.

Malicious Inaction (noun) any situation where a piece of software encounters an unexpected condition and responds by deliberately doing nothing, including not throwing an exception.  Synonyms: Silent Failure; Deliberate Malfunction; Unscrupulous Programming; Undermining; Sabotage; Treachery; Subversion; Vandalism.

I think that the term "Silent Failure" fails to express the amount of harm done.  Sure, the word "failure" indicates that something went wrong, but the word "silent" somewhat lessens the severity of the term, and it makes sound as if no feathers were ruffled, so it may have been alright.

Well, no. It was not alright. It never is. We need a stronger term to better capture the harm caused by the sinister practice of hiding error. We need a term that clearly conveys wrongdoing, a term that assigns blame and shame.

Hence, I present to the world my new and improved term: Malicious Inaction.


2021-02-12

SVG in WPF

My notes on how to use SVG graphics in a WPF application


The Goal


The goal is to be able do do things like this:

    <Button Content="{StaticResource mySvgImage}">

... where mySvgImage somehow stands for a vector image that has somehow been obtained from an SVG file.  

The solution must not involve any proprietary, closed-source libraries.

Naturally, we want one of the following:

  • either directly include SVG files into our application as resources, or, if that is not possible, then 
  • have an "asset pipeline" approach where our SVG files are automatically converted during build into some format which is suitable for inclusion as a resource.

2021-02-10

Java with Maven: Giving CI/CD a try

Please note that this is work in progress.  I am still working on it and refining it, as my understanding of it improves.

I have a set of public repositories on GitHub showcasing my work, () which is in java with maven. These projects are interdependent, so when you check out one of them, in order to compile and run it you need the binaries of some of the others. You could manually check out all of them and put them in an IDE project, but that's too much work. Solving this problem requires having Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) in place, so I decided to try my luck in setting one up using free services only.

The process involves three entities:

  • A Source Repository.  (Where our source code is hosted.)
    • I use GitHub for this.
    • Possible alternatives:
      • GitLab
      • BitBucket
  • A CI/CD provider. (Where the actual CI/CD takes place.)
    • I decided to use CircleCI for this, but in retrospect it was a bad idea, because it does not support GitLab.
    • Possible alternatives:
      • GitLab - I want to use it as a source code repository, and I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket, so I don't want to use it for anything else.
      • GitHub - I want to use it as a source code repository, and I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket, so I don't want to use it for anything else.
      • BitBucket - it is by Atlassian. Need I say more.
      • Appveyor - gives various errors like "There was an error while trying to complete the current operation. Please contact AppVeyor support." -- Lots of open source projects are using it though, so it might be worth a second try.
      • Travis CI - only works with github.
      • JFrog - overwhelmingly fancy front page followed by a not particularly fancy user experience once you get past the front page. Once I have registered, there is no way for me to log back in. 
      • semaphoreci.com - only works with github.
      • buddy.works - after you have given them your e-mail address, they tell you that it is free but they require a valid payment method.
      • atlassian.com/software/bamboo - it is by Atlassian, need I say more.
      • drone.io - not only it works with nothing other than github, they assume that I am using github, which is very annoying.
      • octopus.com - registration fails with "Please use your work email address."
      • buildkite.com - might work; not particularly user friendly.
      • codefresh.io - might work; they unnecessarily complicate things with mandatory docker images.
  • An Artifact Repository. (Where the binaries are stored.)
    • I found a place called Repsy for this; Repsy is minimalistic, unrefined, and they even have bad English on their web site, but it will do for now.
    • Possible alternatives:
      • GitHub Packages
      • GitLab Package Registry
      • JFrog Artifactory

We begin with a situation where we already have the Source Repository (GitHub) and we want to set-up the CI/CD Provider (CircleCI) and the Artifact Repository (Repsy).

2021-01-19

Data modelling

This is a draft paper about a lightweight data modelling framework that I am developing as a home project, for use in other home projects of mine.  It is incomplete; I will be amending it as I find time to write more and as my understanding evolves of what this framework is supposed to do.


Introduction


Every single software project in existence deals in one way or another with data. Some projects have small amounts of data, some have large amounts of data, some even have "big" data. The data almost always exhibit a certain well defined structure, known as the Schema, and the loosely defined term Data Model is used to refer to either the data, or the schema, or non-specifically to both.

In virtually all cases, the data model is highly application-specific, but many characteristics and operations are common or even ubiquitous across applications.

2021-01-16

The MVVM architectural design pattern

Here is a brief technical explanation of MVVM, which contains enough detail (borrowed from its WPF implementation) and examples to allow the reader to grasp how it actually works.

2021-01-03

Object Lifetime Awareness

Note: this is work in progress. It is still in need of editing to add clarity and to improve language use.

The Thinker (French: Le Penseur) by Auguste Rodin (From Wikipedia)


Abstract


Garbage collectors have given us a false sense of security with respect to what happens to an object once we stop thinking about it. The assumption is that it will be magically taken care of, but this does not always go as hoped, resulting in memory leaks and bugs due to failure to perform necessary cleanup. Tools for troubleshooting such problems are scarce, and not particularly helpful, so finding and fixing such problems is notoriously difficult. 

A methodology is presented, which differs from current widespread practices, for maintaining awareness of, and exercising full deterministic control over, the lifetime of certain objects in a garbage-collected environment. We issue hard errors in the event of misuse, and accurate diagnostic messages in the event of omissions, thus improving the robustness of software and lessening the troubleshooting burden.

2020-12-21

Coherence: The Assertable Lock

Abstract

A Software Design Pattern for concurrent systems which makes race conditions something that can be asserted against and thus deterministically eliminated rather than stochastically reduced or minimized. (Subject, of course, to the thoroughness of the assertions.)

Image by reginasphotos from pixabay.com

A description of the problem

Every Software Engineer who has dealt with concurrency knows that it is hard. The bane of concurrency is race conditions: when a thread accesses data without taking into account the fact that the data is shared with other concurrently running threads which may alter that data at any unforeseeable moment in time.

2020-12-19

The famous "Could not load file or assembly or one of its dependencies" error message

If you have ever done any software development under Microsoft Windows you have probably come across this famous error message: "System.IO.FileNotFoundException : Could not load file or assembly 'Acme.dll' or one of its dependencies. The specified module could not be found." 

Modern software makes heavy use of dynamic link libraries, and the problem with this kind of libraries is that for various reasons they might not be there when you need them, resulting in runtime errors. This is the runtime error you get under Windows when this happens.

Naturally, when you see this message, the first thing to do is to check whether Acme.dll is there, and what you usually discover is that the file is indeed there. When dealing with computers, most error messages that you come across tend to leave some room for troubleshooting, but when the system is reporting that a certain file does not exist on your very own filesystem, while the file is most certainly there, the situation seems really hopeless. You are stymied. 

2020-11-14

Ferolli HR OptiFor OT-V Ventilation Unit User's Manual in English

In a previous post I published the Ferolli BlueSense Boiler User's Manual in English.  Here is the manual of the ventilation unit.

Click on the pictures below for the documents.