Catfood.Shapefile.dll 1.10

Updated on Sunday, May 23, 2021

I've just released v1.10 of my ESRI Shapefile Reader (Catfood.Shapefile.dll). This is a .NET 2.0 forward only parser for reading shapefile content.

Sharon Tickell was kind enough to report two bugs with suggested updates. These have both been fixed in 1.10.

While working on these fixes I also discovered that there are no 64-bit Jet drivers (since releasing the first version I've upgraded to a 64-bit box for development). This is an easy fix, just target any application using Catfood.Shapefile.dll at x86. I've updated the demo application accordingly.

Download Catfood.Shapefile.dll from GitHub.

(Related: ESRI Shapefile Reader in .NET; The curious case of the missing slugs (in BlogEngine.net 2.8); State of the Micro-ISV-osphere)

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MMS Photo Upload to Facebook

Updated on Sunday, May 9, 2021

Does Facebook now hate MMS? For the past couple of weeks every time I tried to send a photo I got the following error message:

You have uploaded from an unrecognized address. For instructions on how to upload photos to Facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/mobile"

I got this sending to both [email protected] and 32665. The referenced page is no help at all, and my phone number is registered with Facebook Mobile.

It turns out that there's a new secret email address. On the Facebook site click the icon to share a photo:

Facebook MMS Upload Step 1

Then click Upload a Photo:

Facebook MMS Upload Step 2

Then click upload via email:

Facebook MMS Upload Step 3

Your personal email address is finally revealed and can be used to send a photo via MMS.

Facebook - update your error message to point this out!

(Related: How to backup Google Photos to Google Drive automatically after July 2019 with Apps Script; BlogEngine.NET most popular pages widget using Google Analytics; Sending email via GMail in C#/.NET using SmtpClient)

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Ambient Orb Controller .NET Library

Updated on Friday, December 27, 2019

The Ambient Orb is (was) an LED illuminated globe designed to display subtle information - stock market prices, weather, etc. Normally the Orb is controlled via the pager network but you can buy (or build) a developer module and connect the Orb via your serial port.

Ambient Orb

I've used my Orb via both pager and serial port for a number of applications. I've just released a library - Ambient Orb Controller - on GitHub that supports both methods of control. I wrote the library to make it easier for me to gin up new Orb applications. If you use an Orb let me know what you come up with. Two of my favorites are using the Orb for continuous integration and as a music visualizer.

(Related: Catfood Earth; Long term solar powered time lapse camera using Arduino; Catfood WebCamSaver)

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Finding NPR on Windows Mobile

Updated on Sunday, October 23, 2022

Now here's a niche:

Windows Mobile Owners and NPR Fans Venn Diagram

I'm occasionally jealous of an iPhone app, in this case a station finder for NPR. I hate hunting on a long drive or in a strange city. Luckily, NPR has an API, so I've whipped up an NPR Station Finder for Windows Mobile.

(Related: Windows 11 Bluetooth Usability Crime Report; I'm not afraid of Google; Radio 4: Can I buy you a new hard drive?)

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Licensing Fail: WinZip vs. ScanToPDF

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020
Software licensing is a tricky art - too little security and you leak revenue, too much and you leak customers. I worked on several license management systems at Ç-Dilla and Macrovision so I've spent far more time than is healthy thinking about this problem.

In general I think the best system is one that helps keep honest users honest. A speed bump that itches the conscience but doesn't get in the way of legitimate customers getting their job done.

I just migrated to a new computer and have finished several days of installing software and drivers. This is never a fun task, but I've been through it a few times and keep all my license information on a NAS drive to reduce the pain.

WinZip has a great trial model. The product is fully functional and nags you just enough that you'll eventually pay. I've been a customer for years, and as I moved to Windows 7 I emailed to ask about upgrade pricing. I got a prompt response and was up and running in no time.

I didn't need to upgrade. The old version of WinZip installed just fine using an existing license key.

ScanToPDF from O Imaging was a different story. The license is locked to a PC, and there's no way to move it automatically. You have to email them. It then gets worse - there's an "administration charge" to move a license. So as a paying customer I have to wait for the UK office to respond to email and even then I can't continue to use the product I've paid for.

I'm sure it's in the small print somewhere.

But the impact is that ScanToPDF has lost a customer, an advocate (I've suggested the product to others in the past, never again) and infuriated me enough to throw up a negative blog post. Is the administration charge really worth it?

At Catfood I use very simple license keys locked just to an email address. I'll refund any purchase with no questions asked. I'll issue new licenses as needed to keep customers happy. I have an online service to retrieve lost keys.

The products get pirated immediately, and finding a key generator doesn't take a lot of sleuthing. I don't care about this at all, because happy customers recommend products to their friends. Pain-free licensing is absolutely key to happy customers. Don't fall into the trap of putting your energy into complicated licensing and enforcing procedures. Add a new feature instead.

(Related: The Economics of Digital Rights Management; More on breaking the Internet; 1,000th Post!)

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State of the Micro-ISV-osphere

Updated on Saturday, May 1, 2021

I was a micro-ISV (µISV) for years before I heard of the term. It was coined by Eric Sink to describe a one man software shop, and is now generally used for any small software company.

There isn't much market data available this far down the long tail so I've spent some time analyzing PAD files to see if I could answer a few questions.

PAD is the Portable Application Description specification from the Association of Shareware Professionals. It's used to describe software for submission to download sites. How useful these sites are is another question — read Scott Kane on this if you haven't already.

I spidered all the PAD files listed in the ASP directory, downloading data on 76,066 products from 39,861 µISVs (companies / people / publishers). It's not a perfect data set as there are PADs that aren't software and µISVs that don't use PAD. I've also heard that some people are developing web apps these days. But here goes…

Where are the µISVs?

Countries with the most micro-ISVs

Overwhelmingly in the US. Other countries with more than a thousand listed are the UK, Russia, China, India, Canada, Germany and Australia (in descending order). Most countries have at least one µISV but the numbers fall off pretty quickly.

How much do µISVs charge for their products?

Micro-ISV product cost distribution

$29.95.

About a third of products are free and a third fall into 9 price points (all ending in 5). I found over a thousand different US Dollar price points overall.

The most expensive product was a $150,000 Green Living site license from South Beach Software (an order of magnitude more expensive than the runner up).

How large are µISVs products?

Micro-ISV product sizes

There's not much action past 20 MB. Most downloads are between 1-2 MB. There's an interesting little spike around 14 MB. I guess this is a popular framework, possibly Java? The largest download was almost 1.5 GB.

Are µISVs still releasing downloadable software?

Most recent micro-ISV product release by month

This is a tough one to get at because PAD files just tell you about the most recent version, not the release history. The chart really shows a last update distribution for the products in the PAD catalog.

There's a large number of products last updated in mid-2008 with nothing comparable in 2009. Could this be a drop-off in PAD usage? A shift to web apps? Maybe final releases before the recession hit leading to less spare cycles for side projects (my µISV certainly pays for beers rather than mortgages).

How many products do µISVs publish?

Micro-ISV products per company

This final chart shows that most µISVs have just one product. Of course in some cases there might be a brand per product and still a single entity — it's impossible to separate this out from the PAD data. The largest number of products from a single µISV is 616.

(Related: Improving the accuracy of the new Catfood Earth clouds layer; Android 11 Gripes; Better related posts with word2vec (C#))

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Catfood: Earth and Follower

Updated on Sunday, November 6, 2022

I've been busy updating a couple of Catfood products.

Catfood Earth updates your desktop wallpaper to show day, night and cloud cover. It can also display earthquakes, time zones, places and US weather radar:

Catfood Earth

Catfood Follower is a Twitter tool that automatically follows people who follow you and/or removes friends who stop following you. I think it's most useful for business accounts:

Catfood Follower

With these two out the door my next project is overhauling the Catfood website. I'm kind of dreading it, but the current architecture is over six years old and it's definitely showing its age.

(Related: Catfood Earth; The Secret Diary of a Xamarin Android Developer, Aged 48 1/3; 1,000th Post!)

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ESRI Shapefile Reader in .NET

Updated on Thursday, November 3, 2022

ESRI Shapefile Reader in C#/.NET

I've just released a .NET library for parsing ESRI shapefiles - see ESRI Shapefile Reader on GitHub. The library and source code are available under the Microsoft Public License.

A Shapefile is actually at least three files: a main file containing shape data (*.shp), an index file for locating shape records in the main file (*.shx) and a database of metadata for each shape (*.dbf) in dBASE format.

I ended up writing the library in order to convert Eric Muller's time zone shapefile into a format I could use with Catfood Earth. I found other libraries that could read shape data but not metadata, or provided a very thin .NET wrapper on top of unmanaged code and so I decided that a fully managed library could be useful.

The library - Catfood.Shapefile.dll - provides read-only, forward-only access to shapes and shape metadata. Currently all 2D shapes are supported: Null, Point, MultiPoint, PolyLine and Polygon. I might add additional types in the future, or if you have a pressing need it would be easy to extend the library by looking at an existing shape subclass and the shapefile specification (PDF).

See the GitHub project for sample code and documentation.

Updates

Catfood.Shapefile 1.60

I just released Catfood.Shapefile 1.60. This contains a fix from Libor Weigl that factors out the enumerator so that you can still access the shapefile after enumeration.

Catfood.Shapefile is a .NET library for parsing ESRI Shapefiles.

(previously)

Shapefile Update

A few people have asked for 3D shape support in my ESRI Shapefile library. I've never got around to it, but CodePlex user ekleiman has forked a version in his ESRI Shapefile to Image Convertor that supports PointZ, PolygonZ and PolyLineZ shapes. If that's what you need please check it out.

Catfood.Shapefile 1.50

I've just released a small update to my C# Shapefile library on Codeplex. Catfood.Shapefile 1.50 fixes a couple of bugs related to metadata and adds the ability to access metadata records directly via IDataRecord. 

Catfood.Shapefile 1.40

I’ve just released a small update to Catfood.Shapefile. Stephan Stapel, who implemented PolyLineM support, has contributed a patch that improves the class hierarchy. CodePlex user originSH suggested supporting the ACE driver for 64-bit systems. I’ve added a constructor overload that allows you to use predefined Jet and ACE connection strings or provide your own templates if necessary. Thanks to Stephan and originSH.

Catfood.Shapefile is a .NET library for enumerating ESRI shapefiles. I originally wrote the library to help me build some complex layers in Catfood Earth. Since then it’s picked up thousands of users and some really valuable suggestions and patches from the CodePlex community. I’m very glad a took a couple of hours to open source the library back in 2009.

PolyLineM support in Catfood.Shapefile

I’ve just updated Catfood.Shapefile, my ESRI Shapefile parser for .NET, with PolyLineM support thanks to a contribution from Stephan Stapel. The solution for the new version has also been updated to Visual Studio 2010.

Download Catfood.Shapefile.dll 1.30 from CodePlex.

ESRI Shapefile Library Update

I've just released a small update for my ESRI Shapefile Reader project on GitHub. The only change is a patch from SolutionMania that fixes a problem when the shapefile name is also a reserved name in the metadata database. The patch escapes the name preventing an exception from being thrown.

Catfood.Shapefile.dll is a .NET 2.0 forward only parser for reading an ESRI Shapefile. Download 1.20 from GitHub.

Catfood.Shapefile.dll 1.10

I've just released v1.10 of my ESRI Shapefile Reader (Catfood.Shapefile.dll). This is a .NET 2.0 forward only parser for reading shapefile content.

Sharon Tickell was kind enough to report two bugs with suggested updates. These have both been fixed in 1.10.

While working on these fixes I also discovered that there are no 64-bit Jet drivers (since releasing the first version I've upgraded to a 64-bit box for development). This is an easy fix, just target any application using Catfood.Shapefile.dll at x86. I've updated the demo application accordingly.

Download Catfood.Shapefile.dll from GitHub.

(Related: Export Google Fit Daily Steps, Weight and Distance to a Google Sheet; Migrating from Blogger to BlogEngine.NET; Monitor page index status with Google Sheets, Apps Script and the Google Search Console API)

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How many people don't read this blog?

Updated on Tuesday, November 15, 2022

This is a joke metric that I first proudly displayed on Catfood Magazine back in 1997 (it's broken on the archive of the site). Everyone had a hit counter back then, but as far as I know we were the first site with a non-hit counter.

The dirty secret was that the counter just showed the world population. The readership was a rounding error.

My new count of non-visitors uses the US Census Bureau's world population estimate and subtracts unique visitors from the Google Analytics API. The count is cached for an hour so it doesn't slow the page down too much.

Updated 2022-11-15 14:50:

The United Nations says:

"The world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion on 15 November 2022..."

And the 8 billion number is being widely reported today, however my current unread count is a paltry 7,932,915,881. That's because the US Census world population estimate is a lot lower, by over 66.8M people. That's approximately France!

(Related: State of the Micro-ISV-osphere; 1,000th Post!; Age and Life Expectancy Weighted Voting)

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How to get technical support without spending hours on the phone

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020
Them: Hello, my name is Phil, how can I help you today?

You: My DSL connection is slow.

Them: Okay, I can help you with that, have you...

You: My first thought was that the Linksys router that's been working perfectly for five years has gone wrong. So I connected my computer directly to your off-brand modem with the same result. I then thought that the problem must be with the computer, so I reinstalled it from the manufacturer discs and rebooted about seven times.

Them: Let me connect you to my supervisor...

Them: Tap, tap, tap, oh, we seem to have switched your service back to the basic package. Tap, tap, tap, fixed.
Sometimes it's fun to argue with support. Sometimes you just need to short-circuit the idiot script to get through to the person who can fix the problem.

I think it's time for CAPTGUAs or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Geeks and Users Apart. A quick puzzle or two that bypasses the first couple of levels of support.

(Related: Chromecast won't connect to wifi - finally found the fix; Staying Chrome?; Catfood Software Support)

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