Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Run Android Apps on Windows PC

Don’t ask me why I was searching for these but I found a few handy platforms to run android apps inside my windows.
BlueStacks and WindowsAndroid aka Windroy are such free frameworks.
Of these WindowsAndroid lets you run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as a native application on your on Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 machine.
YouWave is another such option albeit a paid one even though it lets you try out the framework for 10 days.
All of these softwares basically lets Android run on Windows PC.
In searching for these I also stumbled upon another interesting project called Android-x86 Project – Run Android on Your PC.
There’s of course the option of running Official Android Emulator inside Windows by installing the Android Developer SDK for Windows. Google’s Android software development kit (SDK) provides a free Android emulator, although it’s targeted at developers. You can run the latest version of Android with this method, so it’s a great way to try out the latest version of Android if you have a device that’s stuck on an older version.

First, you’ll need Java installed. You can then download the SDK Tools from Google.

Genymotion is another of these emulators. The Beta version is the evolution of AndroVM open source project and will be available in June.

These apps should help you in app testing and presentation purposes.

Have a check yourself!

Use dummy SMTP servers for rapid development

One heck of a time saver for devs to test email sending.No need to go through the hassle of configuring a full featured SMTP Server in your box. Just download this tool below and view sent emails from the comfort of your desktop:


Here’s the description off the site itself:

Windows 7/Vista/XP/2003/2010 compatible dummy SMTP server. Sits in the system tray and does not deliver the received messages. The received messages can be quickly viewed, saved and the source/structure inspected. Useful for testing/debugging software that generates email.

Papercut is another of these simplified SMTP servers.

Top UX Design Pattern and Interaction Design Resources

I was surfing through the internet (i.e. Google) for Progress Indicator Pattern as part of the UX or User Experience Design Patterns in Ajax Patterns and was merrily reading on the Quince and JS Patterns Progress Indicator Pattern articles when I stumbled upon this idea that I should blog about the UI Design Patterns or UX Design Patterns as they are more popularly known.

Going by the UX Zeitgeist, the following resources are pre-eminent:

Design Pattern Library from Yahoo! Developer Network
Designing Interfaces
The UI Pattern Factory
Quince: UX Patterns Explorer
User Interface Design Pattern Library
Designing Social Interfaces
UI Patterns and Techniques
Blog about Interaction Design and Usability
Interaction Design (IxD)
Interaction Design Pattern Library
10 UI Design Patterns You Should Be Paying Attention To
The Interaction Design Patterns Page
The Five Competencies of User Experience Design
Design Patterns – Fluid Project Wiki
Blog site on Designing Web Interfaces for Principles and Patterns for Rich Interaction
Design Patterns at a glance >> The Design of Sites
40+ Helpful Resources On User Interface Design Patterns

Mix 2009 presentation with video titled Advance Your Design with UX Design Patterns

Quite literally, UX Zeitgeist is a new tool to track the books, people, trends, and topics in the User Experience (UX) community.

If you folks could think of any top ones that I missed out on, please feel free to suggest. Just remember we are compiling the ‘top’ ones here not just few to make a list.

How to create online survey with Google docs

Today I learnt a new way of creating online survey forms but with Google. Yes, Google documents or Google docs, as is popularly known, lets you create online survey forms easily and intuitively. It also provides some analytics/analysis/summary/detail on the survey result. I must admit I am mighty pleased by the simplicity of the same. The word ‘simplicity’ of course is now synonymous with Google as we all know. Hence, I am posting couple of nice walkthroughs for creating the survey yourself. Have a try:

Introduction to Google Forms
How to Create an Online Survey using Google Documents … for FREE

Survey for the most used contemporary .NET platform

Just visit the link here folks and vote – it’s that simple!

Fixing param value passing problem into ActiveX control from html web page

This one was a hair-puller, hair-loser, you-name-it kinda problem I was facing the last few days. Visual Basic 6 or VB6, in short, not being my primary language was one of the reasons for this. But the main reason was almost nobody knew why an ActiveX control inside an html page doesn’t get passed the param value although most know how to build a simple ActiveX control in VB6.

Let me guide you through the entire process of creating the ActiveX and embedding it inside Html lest anybody should miss it.

VB6 Code for the ActiveX property getter & setter :

Dim m_propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam As String

Public Property Get propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam() As String
propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam= m_propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam
End Property

Public Property Let
propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam(ByVal vNewValue As String)
'Some code
End Property

'The following lines are important for reading the param value from inside html page
Private Sub UserControl_ReadProperties(PropBag As PropertyBag)
propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam = PropBag.ReadProperty("propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam", "")
End Sub

This is how an ActiveX control is embedded inside an html page:

<OBJECT name="activeXControlName" id="activeXControlID" width="widthInPixels" height="heightInPixels" classid="clsid:YOUR-32-DIGIT-CLASS-ID-FOR-THE-ACTIVEX-CONTROL">
<param name="propertyNameToBeExposedThroughParam" value="SomeValue"/>

This is pretty elementary thus far. In an ideal world, that should have sufficed for creating a property for the ActiveX and then exposing/consuming it through html. But hey life’s not perfect and so aren’t we 🙂 Hence read on.

Now, when I ran the html page inside the internet explorer browser window, lo & behold,  the property setters inside my ActiveX control was not firing.

I googled around for 3 days when I began trusting myself more than Googlers :). I observed that my IE was complaining whenever I ran the html inside the browser saying it is a potentially unsafe activeX. Initially, I didn’t pay heed to it for I ‘assumed’ all ActiveX controls give such warnings and guess what, they don’t say ‘Assumption is the root of all ‘f#$%-ups’ for nothing :). Then I started realizing that I might need to sign the control because IE wasn’t passing the parameter to my ActiveX for it was ‘unsigned’. You know what folks, “figuring out a problem is 90% of the solution”, IMHO. Because, after realizing the actual problem, Google asked me to pay a visit to “How To Implement IObjectSafety in Visual Basic Controls” whereby I learnt that I needed to implement IObjectSafety in my ActiveX control.

I am sure most understands implementing an interface in a non object oriented language like VB6 is less than trivial if I may use the euphemism.

According to the above article from Microsoft, one needs to create the following ‘Interface Definition Language File‘ (odl) file:


helpstring("VB IObjectSafety Interface"),
library IObjectSafetyTLB
helpstring("IObjectSafety Interface"),
interface IObjectSafety:IUnknown {
HRESULT GetInterfaceSafetyOptions(
[in]  long  riid,
[in]  long *pdwSupportedOptions,
[in]  long *pdwEnabledOptions);

HRESULT SetInterfaceSafetyOptions(
[in]  long  riid,
[in]  long  dwOptionsSetMask,
[in]  long  dwEnabledOptions);

Thereafter, one needs to convert the olb file to a Type Library (tlb) through a command like this:

MKTYPLIB objsafe.odl /tlb objsafe.tlb

Then one needs to do a Project menu -> References -> browse to and add Objsafe.tlb inside VB6.

After you are done making the reference, you need to add the following module to the ActiveX project and set the “Sub Main” as the “Startup Object”:


Option Explicit

Public Const IID_IDispatch = "{00020400-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}"
Public Const IID_IPersistStorage = _
Public Const IID_IPersistStream = _
Public Const IID_IPersistPropertyBag = _

Public Const E_NOINTERFACE = &H80004002
Public Const E_FAIL = &H80004005
Public Const MAX_GUIDLEN = 40

Public Declare Sub CopyMemory Lib "kernel32" Alias "RtlMoveMemory" _
(pDest As Any, pSource As Any, ByVal ByteLen As Long)
Public Declare Function StringFromGUID2 Lib "ole32.dll" (rguid As _
Any, ByVal lpstrClsId As Long, ByVal cbMax As Integer) As Long

Public Type udtGUID
Data1 As Long
Data2 As Integer
Data3 As Integer
Data4(7) As Byte
End Type

Public m_fSafeForScripting As Boolean
Public m_fSafeForInitializing As Boolean

Sub Main()
m_fSafeForScripting = True
m_fSafeForInitializing = True
End Sub

Now one needs to go to the code for the ActiveX UserControl itself and paste the following just after the “Option Explicit” statement like this:

Option Explicit

Implements IObjectSafety

And the final task is to paste the following code onto the end of the ActiveX UserControl code:

'Code related to ActiveX Container Signing
Private Sub IObjectSafety_GetInterfaceSafetyOptions(ByVal riid As _
Long, pdwSupportedOptions As Long, pdwEnabledOptions As Long)

Dim Rc      As Long
Dim rClsId  As udtGUID
Dim IID     As String
Dim bIID()  As Byte


If (riid <> 0) Then
CopyMemory rClsId, ByVal riid, Len(rClsId)

bIID = String$(MAX_GUIDLEN, 0)
Rc = StringFromGUID2(rClsId, VarPtr(bIID(0)), MAX_GUIDLEN)
Rc = InStr(1, bIID, vbNullChar) - 1
IID = Left$(UCase(bIID), Rc)

Select Case IID
Case IID_IDispatch
pdwEnabledOptions = IIf(m_fSafeForScripting, _
Exit Sub
Case IID_IPersistStorage, IID_IPersistStream, _
pdwEnabledOptions = IIf(m_fSafeForInitializing, _
Exit Sub
Case Else
Exit Sub
End Select
End If
End Sub

Private Sub IObjectSafety_SetInterfaceSafetyOptions(ByVal riid As _
Long, ByVal dwOptionsSetMask As Long, ByVal dwEnabledOptions As Long)

Dim Rc          As Long
Dim rClsId      As udtGUID
Dim IID         As String
Dim bIID()      As Byte

If (riid <> 0) Then
CopyMemory rClsId, ByVal riid, Len(rClsId)

bIID = String$(MAX_GUIDLEN, 0)
Rc = StringFromGUID2(rClsId, VarPtr(bIID(0)), MAX_GUIDLEN)
Rc = InStr(1, bIID, vbNullChar) - 1
IID = Left$(UCase(bIID), Rc)

Select Case IID
Case IID_IDispatch
If ((dwEnabledOptions And dwOptionsSetMask) <> _
Err.Raise E_FAIL
Exit Sub
If Not m_fSafeForScripting Then
Err.Raise E_FAIL
End If
Exit Sub
End If

Case IID_IPersistStorage, IID_IPersistStream, _
If ((dwEnabledOptions And dwOptionsSetMask) <> _
Err.Raise E_FAIL
Exit Sub
If Not m_fSafeForInitializing Then
Err.Raise E_FAIL
End If
Exit Sub
End If

Case Else
Exit Sub
End Select
End If
End Sub

Now you are all ready to go. Just compile the ActiveX into an OCX and embed it inside the html like it mentioned at the top of the post. Do remember to change the class id in the object tag. The fastest way to get the class id for the ActiveX is to debug start the control inside a browser and take a look into the html source to grab the clsid or class id as it is called.