Open Source Web Design Templates

The open source ethos is growing fast, and it has finally made its way to website template designs: No longer does one have to go to Template Monster or the likes and pay $40-$100 for a cool web design![1].

This guy ROCKS! His name is Francis J. Skettino and he’s from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Do him and the rest of the web developer world a favor and blog about him to give him lots of Google-juice (be sure to put a title in your links, something like “title=’Open Source (Free) Website Design Templates’.”)

  1. But I’ll bet the designers who upload templates get lots of consulting business enhancing those templates!

Kudos to Microsoft: Visual Studio Express Tools Free Forever!

I just learned that Microsoft has decided to make the Visual Studio Express tools free forever. This to me shows Microsoft’s acknowledgment that people are not willing to invest their time learning a product that they will eventually have to pay more for then they have funds available or earmarked, especially young people. I greatly applaud this move, and I wish more software vendors would do this with their products (and I’m thinking of component and tools vendors for .NET developers.)

But how can companies make money giving away their software? I believe software has a lot more value to someone once they’ve learned it and can concretely understand it’s value after which they would be more then happy to spend their money to upgrade to more advanced features.However, to those software vendors who think they can release a free but essentially crippled product, don’t.  No one will waste their time learning to use a crippled product. 

We are in a new era, one where software is not so much viewed because it offers value to a user but instead viewed by whether it is worth someone’s time to learn. This because of the plethora of software (and information) available and because most people won’t realize there is value is software until after they have learned it.  A software vendor’s job today needs to be to convince someone that their product is worth that person’s time to learn.

Next Generation Demo Software with VMware Player

I just spotted the new free VMware Player.  This is totally cool. 

Free VMWare Player

I can envision companies using VMWare Player to demo complete environments, like an ASP.NET & SQL Server Express application; just configure the virtual machine to have everything needed! This basically eliminates most potential configuration problems that could cause a vendor to loose a sale when the software is what the prospect needs but getting it to work is too difficult or time-consuming for the prospect.  This is especially important for lower priced software.

ISVs could even start shiping preconfigured software using VMWare Player.

This is definitely something to watch.

I wonder when/if Microsoft will do something like this with their Virtual PC/Server technology?

FolderShare bought by Microsoft, and now (currently) free!

I’ve been using FolderShare for a few months now and love it.  But I just heard that Microsoft bought it and that it is now free. Cool!

If you normally work on a desktop but need a laptop for travel, FolderShare is a "must have.’  If you need to share files with people who are not in the same location (or even if they there is network with shared rights), it works like a charm.   It’s also great for making backups on another machine in case your hard drive crashes (but like mirrored hard disks, it’s not great for protectings files against viruses, etc.)

Anyway, I need to add some people to my "Professional" account but now that it’s free I can’t figure out how.  Or maybe it doesn’t even matter anymore?

The other thing I want to know is, what’s the max number of users that can share a folder?  If anyone knows, I’d love to find out…

Google’s Personalized Home Page Feature Request: Dynamically-generated Bookmarks

Ever since I first started browsing the web, I’ve wished for a home page that would keep track of where I surfed and then show me a list of dynamically-generated bookmarks that are in descending order of the ones I use most. For example, if I go to Google News a lot, should dynamically show up in my list. After all, why not use the fact I go to these sites a lot to help me get there more quickly?

Now that I’ve started using Google’s Personalized Home Page for each of my machine’s browser home page, I see a light at the end of the tunnel as they could (probably) easily implment this to enhance their list of static bookmarks.  Of course it would need a few other features, such as the ability for me to say "do not include this URL" in case I wanted to keep the fact away from my wife that I visit a lot (well, actually, I don’t and I’m not married; it was just an example. :)

It would also be nice to be able to "pin" certain URLs at the top, and then allow me to order those URLS. Better yet, let give me a link that allows me to transfer them to the list of static bookmarks, and then omit any URLs in my static bookmarks from my dynamically-generated list.

Lastly, as with static URLs, it would be nice if it would let me label my urls so that I could have "Google News" displayed in my dynamically generated list instead of ""

Anyway, here’s hoping someone working Google’s Personalized Home Page project sees this, and/or someone at Microsoft who might build a better service than Google’s in the near future via a combination of Internet Explorer & MSN (although given Microsoft’s recent history of beating Google with better solutions, I kind of doubt it that ltater will happen.)

Google’s Personalized Home Page is the one that finally won me over!

For years I’ve kept an HTML file of links in the My Document directory called "MyHomePage.htm" because nobody ever created a home page service that worked for me.  Well, Google finally has and hence I’ve switched all my different machine’s browsers to point to my Google Personalized Home Page:

My Google Home Page

Why do I like it?  It’s clean and simple and let’s me easily create a list of bookmarks, plus it lists my recent Google searches and lets me add other things like links to news sites and/or any RSS feed out there. It’s by no means perfect yet, but it was good enough to get a jaded old hack like me to switch, and it’s only version 1.0!

Check it out and create your own Google Personalized Home Page at

FREE XDN Professional for .NET Bloggers, Redux

We’re halfway through the month so its time for me to re-post the offer to get a FREE XDN Professional if you are a .NET Bloggers, in case you missed it the first time. You can click here to learn how to get your FREE XDN Professional membership.

For those who don’t know about XDN it stands for Xtras.Net Developer Network and is a membership program targeting influencial developers who are serious about .NET, and we provide those member special offers each month.  For example, this month in May 2004 XDN Professional members can request these full commercial products for FREE:

Graphics Server .Net
From Graphics Server Technologies
Xtras.Net Regular Price: $824
For XDN Professional Members: FREE 

PDFtoolkit Professional ActiveX/.NET
From Gnostice
Xtras.Net Regular Price: $264
For XDN Professional Members: FREE 

Dynamic AutoComplete Tool
From LaMarvin
Xtras.Net Regular Price: $44
For XDN Professional Members: FREE

XDN Members can also choose to purchase these Best Sellers at 1/2 our normal price during May 2004:

ComponentOne FlexGrid for .Net
From ComponentOne
Xtras.Net Regular Price: $378
For XDN Professional Members: $189 

Xceed Grid For .Net
From Xceed
Xtras.Net Regular Price: $348
For XDN Professional Members: $174

Total .Net Sourcebook
From FMS
Xtras.Net Regular Price: $578
For XDN Professional Members: $289

So if you are a .NET Blogger, be sure to sign up here for your FREE XDN Professional membership before the end of the month. After that, its $99. I’ll finalize by quoting blogger Shannon J Hager’s reply to my comments on his post about this offer. (thanks Shannon for the acknowledgement):

I just want to help make sure people realize that this is a great deal at the normal price. I think a lot of us automatically think "free" means "near worthless" because of the things we’ve seen [so many times] that have reinforced the idea of "you get what you pay for" and when you see something for a lower-than-believable price, it raises suspicions. I had hoped that pointing out the benefits you and the component makers will recieve, as well as the benefits the subscribers recieve, will help things make sense for anyone who has doubts.

Long awaited help for PInvokers

A ton of people have already pointed to Adam Nathan’s PInvoke Visual Studio Add-in and related wiki site PINVOKE.NET, but it is very cool and I wanted to add  to my lists of free tools and favorites.

Cool Component: LaMarvin Dynamic AutoComplete Tool

For the month of May I’ve signed up a vendor new to Xtras.Net named LaMarvin, and we are offering their Dynamic AutoComplete Tool for FREE this month to XDN Professional members ($99/year.)  This component adds auto-complete functionality to WinForm Text Boxes and Combo Boxes just like the auto-complete you get in Internet Explorer’s Address (URL) box.

Check out these tutorials:

This is a commercial product we will normally sell for $44, but XDN Professional members get it for free (this month only.)  Also, since I made the offer for any .NET Blogger to get a free XDN Professional membership in May 2004, any .NET blogger can get Dynamic AutoComplete Tool for free too, so be sure to sign up.

However, what I’d really like is to get some real world feedback.  Either download the demo and/or get your free full version as an XDN Professional member, and then post a comment about Dynamic AutoComplete Tool both here and/or on Xtras.Net’s Dynamic AutoComplete Tool page. Let us know, is it any good?  Is it worth $44?  Should it be in everyone’s .NET toolbox?  Or not?  And if not, why not?  If not, can LaMarvin improve it to the point it is worth it?  Inquiring minds….  :)


FREE VB.NET 2003 Standard Edition

Paul Vick posted about VB @ The Movies. Check it out as Microsoft is giving away a free not-for-resale copy of Visual Basic .NET 2003 Standard Edition to anyone in the USA or Canada who views and rates five of their movies.  This is very, very cool. Pass it on to anyone you’d like to get started programming in VB, like a student you know. (I just wish MS decided to offer VB.NET standard for free download moving forward so students and others wouldn’t have any financial reason to avoid VB or .NET)


Offer good thru September 30th 2004 so hurry.