The August 2002 Blog
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Showstat & Nsrvlist Utilities, TinyApps (Saturday, Aug 31)
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I just posted a couple new Notes utilities (showstat and nsrvlist), and made some minor updates to some existing ones (nrcon, nsPing, and NSUptime). Hope you like them.

Your link for the day is: -- a whole collection of DOS/Windows programs that are each small enough to fit on a floppy. Per the site motto, "Small is Beautiful".

Backing Up Files with InfoZip (Wednesday, Aug 28)
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Tonight I was looking for an easy way to back up my programming source files, because I don't like having my source code on only one computer. Obviously I need to consider a more comprehensive backup strategy as well, but tonight I was just worried about my source code.

So I started looking through the utility programs on my computer, and I came across InfoZip, a command-line zip program that I probably downloaded about 3 years ago. I checked out the man page that came with it, and wrote a one-line batch file:

zip -R c-proj "*.mak" "*.[ch]" "*.mdp" "*.exe" -x zip.exe

All I had to do was drop the zip.exe program and the batch file into my top-level source directory, and now I can just double-click to get a zip file with all the stuff I want to get backed up (the -R option recurses subdirectories). If I run the batch file again in a month, it will refresh the existing zip file with the changed data.

I know, I know, I could've just used the Backup program that comes with Windows, but I think the zip format is a little more portable. And I always get a kick out of writing batch files, even when they're small and simple.

Testing Out Opera (Tuesday, Aug 27)
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Just for kicks today, I installed the latest Opera web browser on my PC. This was mostly to see what my site looked like in an "alternate" browser (not terrible), but also because I was curious about how Opera is different from Netscape and IE. It's got two features that I wish all web browsers had:

1. An option to disable popup menus (File - Quick Preferences - Refuse Popup Windows)
2. An option for tabbed browser windows, so you can have multiple web pages open at the same time in the same main browser window

I don't plan on switching browsers anytime soon, mostly because I'm such a creature of habit, but those two options will make Opera awful tempting. Especially getting rid of those stupid popup ads. That's worth the price of admission right there.

More About the API Time Difference Problem (Monday, Aug 26)
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More information about that time difference problem I was talking about yesterday. There's a short description and a program that lets you compare 2 dates and see the calculated difference (along with the source for the program) in the file on this site.

I also posted an update to the ScriptSearch program today.

New Utilities, API Time Difference Problem (Sunday, Aug 25)
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I got a few more utilities recompiled and posted to the site this weekend: dbActivity, dblist, delstubs, and nrcon. Take a look and see what you think.

While I was polishing and testing the delstubs program, I started noticing some really funny things with calculations for time differences, especially late at night (around midnight). I'm not sure if it had to do with my time zone versus GMT or what, but I'll have to do a little more investigation before I call it a true bug. It was happening on 4.6 and R5. I definitely found a bug in the NSFDbGetModifiedNoteTable function, as it relates to things that have been created in the future, so I'll have to search the fix lists to see if that's been rectified in some future version of the client. In the meantime, I worked around the problem in my programs, so you'll never know about it from me.

I suppose you'll want a link for the day, too. How about this (totally unrelated) ASCII reference to tell you what all those characters below the chr(32) range really are.

Little-Endian vs. Big-Endian (Friday, Aug 23)
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If you've been doing network programming for any length of time, you've probably heard of big-endian versus little-endian representations of data, network transmissions, etc. I just found out that these terms are actually from Gulliver's Travels. Maybe you already knew that -- I didn't, and I thought it was interesting. Doesn't take much these days...

Here's the source I read it in (the explanation is in the Appendix). Amazing what's in those RFCs, if you actually read them.

Wireless Network Security (Thursday, Aug 22)
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Yesterday I helped one of my friends set up some wireless network equipment in his house. Getting the router working with his DSL modem actually took a little extra time, because there was sparse documentation with both pieces of hardware. We finally discovered that they were both set up with an initial IP Address of (obviously a conflict).

But when we powered on his brand new Dell laptop, the built-in wireless connection took all of about 20 seconds to set up. We went to the connection properties for the wireless adapter (this was Windows XP, so we had to search a little), and it automatically "discovered" what his wireless SSID was! We hadn't set up the WEP key yet, since we wanted to make sure we could actually make a connection, so all we had to do was select his SSID and we were off and running.

Now, this was both really cool and kind of scary. Cool because it was so automatic; scary because that meant that without a WEP key, anyone in the viscinity with a similar setup could have discovered and connected to his little home network just as easily. His laptop also discovered my network, which was a few houses down and across the street. I've got a 128-bit WEP key set up, so at least I've got as much wireless protection as I can currently get (even though I know there's software out there that can break the keys, given enough data), but I really hated that my SSID was just being broadcast to the world. And all the way down the street, at that!

What worried me even more was that there are plenty of people going out and buying wireless equipment every day, and most of them don't realize the risk. Once they've got their computer(s) hooked up to all that stuff, if they just accept the defaults then they're opening themselves up to all sorts of risk. Someone with a laptop could park down the street and start downloading their Quicken data. Sort of drive-by identity theft. Or the teenage kid across the street could get a brand new laptop like my friend's and click his way on to their network with no hacking knowledge or tools at all.

And you don't even have to be that close. Check out this article for a story about a guy who was picking up corporate networks inside other buildings from 6 blocks away in downtown Manhattan (here's another article from the same site with some good introductory information about wireless security).

So if you're wireless, make sure you've got a WEP key set up, and change it every month or so. And disable your SSID broadcast if you can (I had to get a firmware upgrade on my router to get that as an option). And probably most importantly, put a firewall on your computers and lock them down as much as possible, in case someone does get in.

Interesting "Scan Unread" Option (Tuesday, Aug 20)
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So what's the etiquette around editing past blog entries? I'm still new at this, so I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do it or not. I just cleaned up a little grammar from yesterday's entry, and now I feel guilty about it (I'm sure the guilt will go away). I guess since it's my blog, I can do whatever I want to with it.

Another question of etiquette: should I be copying stuff from someone else's blog? What the heck, I'm already driving on the wrong side of the road here. This is something I found tucked inside a Ray Ozzie story on his blog site:

"Because I owned the coding pencil, I began to experiment with technology to preserve my attention. Some of you Notes folks might be aware of the somewhat-hidden "Scan Unread" option (TAB from the Workspace). But I doubt that you're aware that by holding CTRL+SHIFT when you click "Skip This Database" in the dialog box, it goes into a perma-scan mode after which it goes BEEP BEEP BEEP when some thing new arrives in any of your preferred database. Why? So that the PC would beckon."

Now there's a Notes feature I've never used before. Not sure if it still works in R5, but I don't see why not.

P.S. -- Ray Ozzie invented Lotus Notes, if ya didn't know...

Adding Content to the Site (Monday, Aug 19)
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Well, I finally posted some utilities to the tools section of the site, so I feel like I have actual content now -- things you can download and use. Of course, at this point no one else in the world knows this site even exists, so I kind of feel like I'm talking to myself. I wonder if that feeling is going to go away after a while?

Anyway, I spent the better part of yesterday recompiling my utilities, generally after I took a look to make sure they all had help information associated with them (just type /? as a command-line argument for any of the tools that I wrote if you need to get some help). This is why everything currently has a file date of 8-18-02. I also cleaned them up a little, because writing a utility for yourself to use is a lot different than writing one for other people to use. There's a different level of detail to attend to. Then there was writing all the README files, which is both easy and tedious at the same time.

But after all that, I've actually got some things posted. Maybe now I can start thinking about writing interesting blog entries...

Blog Entry #1 (Sunday, Aug 18)
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Wow, my first blog entry. Sadly, I probably won't say too much in this one, because I'm so busy writing the content for all the pages on this site. Maybe tomorrow or later this week I'll feel a little more verbose.

I will start you off with a little background, though. My name's Julian Robichaux, and I've been a Lotus Notes developer for a while now (5 or 6 years? Something like that...). I occasionally write little utilities to make my life as a developer easier, and I decided to create a website to post them to. I'll try to share some of the information that I've gleaned over the years as well. Just getting the initial pages together is a lot more work than I was expecting, though, so I'm not sure how long it will take to turn this into a "real" site.

As far as this blog goes, I'm envisioning a sort of one-sided discussion about Lotus Notes and related technologies, but I understand that these things can take on a life of their own. I'll see where mine takes me. I'll be really surprised if I get anywhere near posting to it every day, but I'm shooting for at least a couple times a week.

If you want to whet your whistle on some other blogs (probably better than mine), try Ray Ozzie's or Jake Howlett's for a start.