This post will change the way you think about VB6, for ever…

Oh, no sorry it wont, but I’ve just been on Facebook!!!

This is just a link to an post over at Code Project about VB6. It highlights some cool applications written in VB6,

That all!

BTW the maths library mentioned in the post seems to be the ALGIB library, so I’m not sure that that really counts as open source, but whatever!

Best HTC One Case? Try these relatively cheap options.

My HTC has turned out to be an OK phone, I wouldn’t say I love it, but its OK, a steady performer. It’s much herald good looks are, in my opinion, vastly over stated, and the 4 ultra pixel camera is about on a par with the iPhone – no better, no worst.  Over all it’s an OK phone.

I’ve had an original HTC case for the thing from day one, I feel much the same about the case, it’s fine, but not amazing. Give the cost, actually maybe I’m a little bit disappointed – it wasn’t cheap.

Away today I drop the phone for the second like in its life, and it looks like the case has given up the ghost.

Cracking stuff - better the case than the phone!

Cracking stuff – better the case than the phone!

So off it was to find a replacementRecently I have been looking for cases for iPads, iPhone, and my nexus 7, its surprisingly hard to find any decent input on what cases are good. And trawling amazon is a pain in the backside. So here are two cases I like for the HTC One, they don’t cost the earth, and offer a decent balance between protection and bulk – although one is fairly massive I guess. Anyway I like them, and they work fine. Enjoy.

This has a kick out stand, good for the kid watching pepper pig, comes with a screen protector, and is forfill by Amazon, so postage if free. it five quid, what more do you want??

This guy is a little thinner, made of TPU, comes from the USA, cost 4 quid, and has free postage. Bargin!

Free Widows, sure, why not?

A long time ago I heard something which made me think that at some point Microsoft will have to make Windows free. I miss read this article’s headline my phone earlier today, so I thought it was happening sooner than I had ever imagined. But no, just an update on the current plan with Windows, RT and phone 8. Interesting, but not free Windows interesting!

Phones + e-mail = issue!

Phones + e-mail = issue!

Ok Ross, tell me why will Windows be free.

To me it’s a no brainer. Sure MS make money from windows – but what if they lose money because of it too? Apple have started to give their OS away for free, Google has always been “free”, Ubuntu and other Linux based open source stuff is of course free, and if Amazon made an OS I bet that would be free! The benefit, as I see it, is that you make your money elsewhere. Google is not really free, Apple OS runs on hardware only made by one company. Ubuntu charge for commercial level support and so on. MS could keep selling their OS to the enterprise, but make the consumer version free. Clearly this would be a little less capable – networking, AD, server software etc. would not be free, but making the OS free could have some serious up sides.

Everyone using the latest version of Windows is what MS want. Partly because they want the cash, but also for security and control. In windows 8, they get a bit (30-20%!!!) of every “Metro” software sale – image if that was true of all software sold on the windows platform, in history.  I don’t know the numbers but I bet that is a lot of cash! And in Windows 8 that’s the only way you can get “Metro” apps, nice! Here then Windows is a Platform, and the more people have it the more software sales there will be! Not to mention MSDN subscriptions ;-).

There are other benefits too. Windows is widely pirated, and preventing that is a PITA, for MS, but also for legitimate users. Likewise, old versions of windows are a problem, people don’t want to get off them, but MS have to, sort of, support these decade old OS’s, and it’s a bit of a lose, lose game for them. Drop support, and the tech world are OK with that, but Mom and Pop and disgusted. Keep supporting it, and you’re a bit week, plus you have a “dumb” user base working in a hostile world with an inadequate tool – lose, lose!

Giving the software away to home users also makes sense given MS’s direction toward becoming a devices and services company. Sell them some devices, then sell them some services to run on the device, the tie in is the OS that, while free, sort of (but never overtly) binds the user to the service provider – it’s not a new idea…


When will Windows be Free?

Well that’s a hard one to call. I guess somewhere in Redmond there’s a chart with a couple of lines on it, one is profit from Window sales, the other is some of proxy for lost market to Apple and Google. Where they cross, is when it becomes free – hopefully a bit before! My guess is somewhere around the back end of 2016, but knowing how slow MS can be, don’t be surprised if that turns out to be 2018!


What does this mean for Developers (,developers, developers…)

Well I don’t see it as good news, but only just. It could be good news – but I think to start with it will be a bad news, and with time it will get better, especially if you live in the MS bubble. Clear then!

The issue is deployment. Although having a store will make it easier to deploy a packaged application, there will be 2 down sides. The first is that all devs will need to register somehow with MS, making sure they are on a white list and that their apps are “Good/Secure” – whatever that may mean. A couple of things with this: 1, it will cost you – currently it about 100 dollars – I think – it will get cheaper over time, maybe it will be free at some point, but it will make it hard for someone to develop a little free app, like a bookmark tool, or a Excel Addin [:-)]. 2, it will be “slow”. MS will need to check every line of code, that will take time. Devs will have to learn how to get an app into the store, and all the jazz that will inevitable go with that – time.

All of this might not be a big deal if there is a side load option, or something similar available – but I can’t see the desktop shipping in a free version of Windows.

The second issue is that the number and diversity of languages supported will, in-practice, drop through the floor. This is more of a issue. At the moment any one can buy a copy of Windows and use that as a fairly robust template of how to write a coding language that will work on that platform. This can still continue, but what they wont be able to do is get the code on the machine in the first place. That gateway will be controlled 100% by Microsoft. In the future there may be a API (or something) for different languages to write deployment against, but that’s never going to be the same. Companies like Adobe might be ok, but small companies that don’t use MS tools will be hard pushed, they will more or less be forced to use MS tooling or die – I suspect.

Maybe its unimportant because desktop development is on its way out – well, maybe in a state of slow but steady decline anyway, time will tell and it will be interesting to see what happen.

Excel Worksheet Navigator Addin

When working with large workbooks, clicking through the tabs at the bottom of the workbook is a massive chore. I’ve seen a few different addins that offer solutions to this problem, toolbars, ribbon drop downs, userforms, there all fine, but what I really wanted was just to get rid of the tabs and have them over on the left hand side of the screen. I don’t know why Excel doesn’t not allow you to do this anyway, but it doesn’t. Clearly this was a job for a Custom Task Pane.


I quickly developed an add in that does just this, you can download it for free here:


 Alternative download link: MIE_WorkSheet_Navigator_V1,

If you’re not sure how to install this addin into Excel, unzip the file and then follow the instructions here.


If you only work with large workbooks occasionally, you don’t have to install the addin.  Once you have unziped the file, you can just click it like any other Excel file, and that will open the tool for that Excel “session”.

Once the addin is loaded it will add an icon to the Home Ribbon, which looks like this:  MIENavCPTRibBut

Click that and the Custom task Pane will open,  (click the cross in the right hand top corner of the Custom Task Pan to close it).  This picture, – click to get full size, shows you how to use it – it’s dead simple!

Please note: This addin required dot Net 4, and Excel 2007 plus, chances are you’ll be fine, if not leave a comment.


Worksheet Navigator: How To. Click for full size


For the developers….

Custom Task Panes are not available to VBA developers, so that meant, VB6, VSTO, C++, or DNA. Guess which I picked!!!

It took me a while to workout how to get the code working from a complied .dll, but I got there in the end – I was doing something stupid. Once again XL DNA is simple, clean, and powerful, brilliant!